Josh's Photo Blog

June 26, 2009

Shadmehr Aghili @ Nokia Club 6/20

Filed under: music — Tags: , , , , , , — joshuaps @ 7:17 am

´╗┐´╗┐Last Saturday was an extremely long, but fun, day for me… hot on the heels of a for-fun shoot, I was hired to shoot an Iranian pop star at the Nokia Club. I figured, hey, why not?

These are the guys who opened for him, above. I’d always wanted to shoot at a venue with a balcony, like the Nokia Club had, but I think I’m finding I prefer the tight intimacy of a lower, close-on angle where there isn’t as much distance between you and the artist, and where the artist is level or elevated relative to you.

I had no idea what he was saying (he was singing in Farsi) but damned if this guy wasn’t flexible. He was on the guitar and violin, doing great vocals the whole time.

This is where I found out the guy had a rabid following in the Iranian community in LA.

Every song had a different set of dancers – they had dudettes on stilts, the Flamenco dancers above and a bunch of other ones.
I was ON the stage for this shot. As in, audience could see me (barely). Nobody batted an eye. I think they were all too busy having fun.


June 25, 2009

Bruining my life with Jane and Cathryn

Filed under: friends — Tags: , , , , — joshuaps @ 6:15 am

Had the pleasure of spending last Saturday shooting around with two great people who have the misfortune of going to that school on the other side of town, UCLA.. Cathryn (left) and Jane. We were all feeling a little down because of the weather, but luckily that cleared up in the afternoon when we started shooting.

I love stuff like the shot above, behind-the-scenes stuff that really makes a shoot come alive and feel real.

I stuck to one little speedlight with no modifiers as my light for the shoot. Didn’t bring any stands either, so it was one or the other holding the light as I shot. I’m starting to see why people like Joe Mcnally are such huge fans of Nikon’s CLS wireless lighting system. One pop turns boring shade light into a sunset scene, as above, or provides some amazing fill like in these shots here:

June 17, 2009

My new housemate, Pebble

Filed under: friends — Tags: , , , , , , — joshuaps @ 5:40 am

My housemate Gary decided to get Pebble, a Welsh Corgi the other day.. he’s been giving her lots of TLC ever since!

June 15, 2009

Lakers fans celebrate/riot after win, 6/15

Filed under: news, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , — joshuaps @ 8:39 am

June 14, 2009

Kicking off my Photos of Friends series – Evelyn

Filed under: friends — Tags: , , , , — joshuaps @ 1:31 am

For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m working on a Photos of Friends series. I’m quickly running out of time at school and in Los Angeles, and I’d like a little record of the people I’ve known at USC. It also helps me keep in practice and, who knows, a little portfolio might come out of it too. This is the first of what I hope will be a great series.

Yesterday, I went out with my friends James and Evelyn to shoot a bit at the 2nd Street Tunnel in LA. I drive through this tunnel a lot on my way to Little Tokyo for yummy food, and I’ve always wanted to shoot in there because of how long it is and the way the white walls reflect light. James was a little camera-shy last night, which worked out because I needed someone to hold my latest invention – a softbox-on-a-stick

From the get-go, I knew that I would need to add some light to the scene. Even though I’ve got night vision with the D700, that doesn’t change the fact that I need to place flattering light on the subject – something that’s hard to do when the light is a lot brighter on the roof of the tunnel (where the lights and the headlight reflections show up) than it is on her face.

I needed to solve a handful of technical problems to make this work. Space on the sidewalk was extremely tight – I actually had to stand in the middle of the street for some of these – so I knew that having a bunch of stands wouldn’t work too well. So I made the nifty contraption you see above – it’s a mini softbox on a monopod (or, in non-photo terms, a big light on a stick) that puts out nice, beautiful light if you can get it close to the subject. I stuck a SB800 strobe in there and let it run at 1/4-1/16 power. James did a really good job of holding it over Evelyn (helps that she’s about a foot shorter than him), and of scrambling in and out of the way of oncoming traffic. A normal stand would just get run over.

Another issue at hand (and one often seen with photos taken at this tunnel) is color temperature. Basically, even white light has a bunch of different colors – colors we don’t notice because our brains are so good at adapting to them. I was dealing with three different colors of “white” light – the “true white” color of the daylight and of my strobe, the really green color from the tunnel’s sodium-vapor lights and the really orange color from the car headlights. You can actually see all three of these in the photo above, which is shot with natural light. Dealing with it required a custom white balance (where you point the camera at something that’s white, like the tunnel walls, and tell it to use that as a reference point for the rest of the color in the picture) and a color gel on the flash to make it match the color of the lights in the tunnel.

Solving these problems was actually pretty straightforward – just applying stuff I’d read about but never tried, or doing my research. We all had a great time – though Evelyn’s nerves were a little frazzled by her having to be a lookout to make sure James and I didn’t get run over.

Some more photos from the shoot:

June 9, 2009

Arlington West

Filed under: news — Tags: — joshuaps @ 6:04 am

These photos actually go all the way back to Memorial Day, I haven’t had a chance to put them on the blog till now.

I was coming back from Dragonboat practice on the eve of Memorial Day and, after hanging out on the Internet for a bit, realized that something interesting would probably be going on at Arlington West, the Iraq War memorial that is set up and taken down every weekend at Santa Monica.

A quick Google search told me all I needed to know. I hopped into my car and sped off, hoping to catch the sunset.

I’ve started working full-time at a nonprofit dance company, which explains the sporadic updates. Luckily, summer = later sunsets, so I plan to keep shooting through the summer.

Blog at