Josh's Photo Blog

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:


May 17, 2009

Medium-Format Fun

Filed under: film — Tags: , , , , , , , — joshuaps @ 9:38 pm

I was really bored last night, so I decided to pull out my roommate’s scanner and scan my medium-format slides.

I’ll be writing more about medium format in detail in another post, but as a quick intro, medium format is film that is four times the size of “normal” 35mm film. Its trademark “look” is the square format (6×6 cm), but you can also shoot it in a more rectangular 4:3 aspect ratio. This is the special film that Holgas use; I’ve been running mine through a Holga and a Yashicamat twin-lens reflex camera.

For now, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite medium-format shots:

April 27, 2009

HapaSC’s Mix n’ Match

Filed under: music — Tags: , , , , — joshuaps @ 9:08 pm

I was asked by a friend to come in and shoot a benefit concert at Ground Zero, USC’s performance cafe. It turns out her organization was putting on an event to raise awareness about leukemia and the difficutly people of mixed descent have in finding bone marrow donors – hence the event being called “mix n’ match”.

They brought in some good music – the beautiful Marie Digby managed to drop by, and Antonio Pontarelli rocked out hard on stage, violin and all.

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