Guest Post Today

Hey Everyone, I’m guest blogging over at Terry White’s blog about an awesome new product the Saberstrip. It’s a really cool product made for speedlights.  Check out the review here SABERSTRIP


Family Fun at the Krohn

Recently I did some family shots at one of my favorite winter shooting locations here in Cincinnati, Ohio, The Krohn Conservatory. The Krohn Conservatory is our local green house and conservation center. Inside the glass walls is 1,459 acres of lush greenery year round with one room changing “displays” with the seasons. Right now (as I’m sure you can imagine) they have a wonderful Holiday display including a poinsettia “tree”, several model train tracks in an elaborate display, as well as a Christmas tree that goes from floor to ceiling in the large entry way. It’s truly a great place to visit all times of the year, but especially this time of the year when things are colder outside and beautiful greenery outside is months away.

The family I had the privilege of photographing came to me through my sons football team. The little boy in the photographs was on Jackson’s team. The two of them were a blast to spend some time with and we really were able to get some wonderful shots. All of my shots this day were done with a 28inch Westcott Apollo Softbox. I used the one Apollo in conjunction with the beautiful diffused light coming through the aged greenhouse windows.  Hit the jump to see some more images from the day, and to see how they were made…

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Bodybuilders are MADE for Hard Light

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing Amanda, a local bodybuilder and fitness competitor here in the Cincinnati area. She is sponsored by Enso (a performance apparel company), as well as GX supplements. We worked together to create images for her portfolio that brought out her muscle tone and definition (I’m pretty sure she could kick my ass), as well as her attitude and style. To accomplish this we worked with solid background colors of black and white to contrast her outfits and really make her images pop.

Having clothes and backgrounds that work well together is one part of these images, the other is the right lighting. History (and pretty much everything everything that you’ve ever been taught) tells us when you’re working with females you want a large soft light, and most of the time this is a good idea. Shooting fitness models, female body builders, and women athletes is the exception to the rule. For these types of subjects, hard light is the style of choice. Hard light makes every ridge, and every muscle stand out with the harsh shadows created by the extreme angles and level of the lighting. The image above was shot with two strip boxes behind the model and to the sides. This created the hard, rim light you see around the subject. To light the subject area facing the camera, I used a large octobank on axis and above the lens. This helped to open up the dark areas of the skin not being lit by the rims light, and also (because of how high I had the light mounted) created shadows on the muscles. Check out more awesome images of Amanda, and the lighting explanations after the jump….

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Twin Golden Light



I hate school pictures… No offense to the photographers out there that work for Lifetouch or similar photo factories photo studios that have a strangle hold contract with schools, but I don’t like the backgrounds, the lighting, or the posing. Instead I’d rather take my own. My ex wife feels as though she should buy the pictures which means that she dresses them up for that day of school. During this last “picture day” I decided to take advantage of the extra cute clothes, and the beautiful setting sun. These shots were taken at Harbin Park in Fairfield, Ohio. It’s a simple park with an excellent view that lends itself to beautiful views with the setting Fall light. Since I took these shots everyone has been asking for the location, the camera settings, and lighting… Well I answered the first, on to the second and third!

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Wendy and DJ

Recently I was honored when I was asked by my friend Wendy if I would photograph her wedding to the man of her dreams. Of course I said YES!  Not only is Wendy a beautiful bride, but I was excited about the location and the photo opportunities that it would allow. Wendy’s mom and my mom have been friends since they were in high school so the pressure was on to make these images special! The location was a bed and breakfast in Loveland, Ohio which sports a huge log cabin, exquisitely landscaped grounds, and a gazebo at which the ceremony took place.

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David Ziser Masters Class Part 2

Last week I was lucky enough to help Wedding Photography Great (and all around awesome guy) David Ziser with his Masters Class. For anyone that doesn’t know David, you can see his work here. Last Friday I showed you guys my favorite image from the first day of shooting/coaching, along with some links to all of the people that I follow (as requested by a few of the participants of the class).  Today I want to share with you a little about what I learned at the class (even though I was there to teach, I’m always trying to learn from others), as well as a couple of images that I thought that I had lost entirely (more on that in a minute).  For anyone that hasn’t taken David’s masters class, you should definitely check it out. It’s worth every penny. Besides the shooting opportunity, there is a ton of marketing and business info. Day 2 we changed up the attire. While we concentrated on wedding gear the first day, on day two we changed to fashion style clothing. My first thought was “awesome! I love fashion!”.


About those lost images…

A little context to this story. I spent last Tuesday and Wednesday (all day both days) teaching for David. On the second day, we shot models in “plain clothes” which is anything besides the wedding attire that we shot the day before. The outfits were anything but plain, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The day was action packed and the students shot a lot. I took a few shots myself when we I saw an opportunity. By the end of the night I was beat. I went home and didn’t feel like even turning on my computer. The next night I was shooting an event here in town. I accidentally formatted my card that I had been shooting on the day before. I realized it immediately and took that card out and set it aside to use recovery software on later. Two days later it hit me that I hadn’t retrieved those images from the card yet with recovery software but I was at a wedding and I didn’t have time right then. I plugged in my iPad at the wedding to add 20 or 30 images for the bride to see. As soon as Lightroom popped up (this happens if you have images on it and you plug it in to your computer) I saw all of my images that I had lost! I completely forgot that I had plugged in my camera directly to my iPad and imported them on the bus back to the hotel! So there you have it. The story of me almost losing these images, and why I try to make it a habit of downloading my images immediately after returning from a shoot…

On to the images…

The first image that you see at the top of the post is from mid day at Ault Park near the overlook. Our models (Rebecca and Reid) did a wonderful job for us in this location, and in all of the locations really! Throughout the entire workshop we were using the awesome Quantum T5DR flash units for lighting. For this image, we used not only the Quantum, but a Sb-700 set in slave mode to light two separate light planes.

The first thing to do when setting up a shot like this is to get the ambient where you want it. Luckily for us, our skies were overcast. This allowed me to make the scene fairly dark by shooting 1/250th of a second, f/8, at ISO100. Once I locked in my ambient, brought in the main for Rebecca. We were using the Quantum to light her. We were about 4 feet away from her, camera left and had it set at 1/8th power. For Reid, we were using a VAL (voice activated light stand) and a Sb-700 set on SU-4 mode. The power was right around 1/4 power and was camera left about 4 feet from Reid. We didn’t use any fill, rather we turned the subjects slightly camera left into the light. Like I kept telling the participants throughout the workshop; follow the nose. If the flash is following the nose, it will “see” both eyes and they will both be lit. Because the subjects were looking camera left, and the flashes were on axis with their noses, the rear (or their right eyes) also were lit well. The reason the light doesn’t look flat, is because the far side (their right sides) were slightly obscured from view. Also, because of the flash to subject distance, the light is falling off fairly quickly on their left sides making for a nice transition from highlight to shadow. Notice how Reid has a “Rembrandt” pattern going on, and Rebecca’s cheek bones are very defined? That was by design, not by accident. When lighting a scene like this, in three separate planes, you give a 2 dimensional image depth and a 3 dimensional feel.

The skyline shot was done a little later in the evening. After we left Ault Park, we headed to the John A. Roebling Suspension bridge for some twilight shots. This was a place that I had shot from many times before but always enjoy returning to. Again we were lighting our subjects with the Quantum Flashes and David Ziser “Zumbrellas”. The light was getting really low so I told my group to meter for the lights on the pillars of the bridge. Get that exposure set, then we would add flash. The ambient ended up being ISO 1250, 1/20th of a second, f/5.6. I was shooting with my new backup body a Nikon D200 so I was a little worried about the ISO 1250, but it was acceptable enough after some noise reduction in Lightroom. We brought the Quantum in camera right and a little above eye level of the model. I was laying on my stomach as I often do from this location to place the model above the skyline. Flash power was way down (because we were in such low light) to 1/32. It doesn’t take much flash when ambient light levels are this low. Our model Christy did a wonderful job for us all day, including this location. One light, a beautiful model, and a beautiful backdrop. What more could you ask for.

What I learned…

I’m always learning! I never stop, and you shouldn’t either. It’s not too hard to learn a ton when hanging out with David Ziser.  David is full of great information and techniques. One thing that he kept talking about that I had never thought of before was having the chest and nose of your subject pointed in two separate directions. I had never thought about it like this before but it makes total sense. Imagine that there is a solid line that is coming out of your lens toward your subject. face their chest to one side of that line, and their nose to the other. It conveys a pretty posture and makes for better photos. See the photo below.

Notice how her torso is facing the left while her nose is essentially facing strait back at the camera. They are on separate axes. This is good for lighting as well as posing.

I want to send a special thank you out to David for inviting me to help out, to Jennifer (David’s office manager) for getting the whole thing setup, the participants of the class, the other coaches, and of course our wonderful models. I had a great time spending two days of learning, and shooting with you all!

If you are interested in the Quantum flashes that we were using (and you should be, they are AMAZING!), you can find them here.


See you on Friday, Jason

I’m Back!

I’m back! Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I as you can see from my previous post I was cooped up for about a month with a “bum” knee, then I was having server issues and the site was down for about a week… All of that’s behind me now and I’ve been out shooting like mad! I’ve been Shooting commercial, weddings, portraits… A little bit of everything! The shot above was done for David Hobby’s Strobist BootCamp 3 Contest. It’s a shot of Union Terminal in Cincinnati and I’ve outlined some of the “how to” and more importantly the thought process of how I came to the final image below.


The first thing that I did when I got there was determine what exposure I needed to make the lights on the building look good. I setup my tripod (because I knew that I’d be working in low light) and started adjusting. I knew that I wanted as “clean” of an image as possible so I set my ISO to 200. I also knew that I wanted a fairly wide aperture to allow the most “bang for my buck” out of my small flash units. I then put my Sb-700 on a stand to the left of the fountain set on Manual 1/1 triggered by a pocket wizard. This lit the water really nicely. I then moved to the foreground to start that lighting process. I had a few out takes of things that didn’t work so I’ll show you those and my thought process.



This shot was my attempt to rake the light across the bushes from the right. As you can see it was way too hot on the right bush so I scrapped that idea pretty quickly.

This shot was my experimentation of lighting the center. As you can see, the light was way too “hot” and not spread near enough so I decided to back it off to above my head on a stand and feather it up to spread the light more evenly over the scene.  You can see that shot here:


Once I had my foreground, background, and fountain set, all I had to do was wait for the ambient sky to drop. to the level that I needed providing the shot at the top of the post. This was good enough to get me into the finalists of the Bootcamp3 Assignment 3. In the end, I didn’t win. This beautiful shot won, and rightfully so.  I hope you enjoy this photograph, and the thought process for shooting it. See you again really soon with some more shots that I’ve done in the not to distant past. Jason



The Most Underrated Piece of Equipment that Every Photographer Needs

I want to take a moment today to talk about the most underrated piece of equipment that every photographer taking photographs outside of a studio needs; a Hoodman Loupe. This seemingly simple combination of plastic, rubber, and glass allows a photographer to clearly see their images no matter how bright it may be outside. The Hoodman Loupe 3.0 will (like it’s name implies) work on a LCD screen up to 3inches.

I resisted shelling out the $79.90 for the Loupe until one day I was shooting a model outside and completely missed a small blown out area of an image because of the bright ambient light outside. Since that day, every time I step outside to do any sort of image I have my Hoodman around my neck knowing that I will get a clear view of my LCD giving myself a fighting chance. Just like your camera, the Hoodman Loupe has diopter adjustment of +/- 3.

Overall, I know the price of the Hoodman Loupe seems a little on the steep side, but take my word for it, you’ll be asking yourself how you took pictures outside before it.

You can buy the Hoodman Loupe from B&H for $79.90 here.

Tamron Lenses and Why I love them

I started talking to the Tamron reps the other day at Photoshop World about my love of the Tamron lenses and why I use them exclusively. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against other brands. I’ve owned Nikon, Tokina, and Sigma but I keep coming back to the Tamron lenses because of their quality build, and quality optics, plus a little known fact about the 70-200 2.8 but more on that later.  The Tamron lenses are built out of quality materials, and use quality optics for superb images.  Not to say that the Tamron lenses don’t have their flaws. They are notorious for having slow autofocus, specifically the 70-200 but it’s not so slow that it is crippling.


The 28-75 2.8 is my “short zoom”.  This lens is my go to lens. With its fast f/2.8 aperture and awesome focal range, it is perfect for Shooting within 15 feet.  When I’m out of town or traveling light I use this lens. With the ability to go from 28 all of the way out to 75 mm it really allows me the range that I need.


70-200 f/2.8

The Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 is my favorite lens. Hands down. The first lens when you get serious about photographer is a 70-200 f/2.8. Some choose the brand of their camera, Nikon, Canon, etc. Some people decide that the non brand name is the one for them. I first went with a Nikon and I was happy. The autofocus is fast, the build is awesome, and the glass is pristine. One thing that I didn’t like about the Nikon however was the focus distance. The minimum focus distance for a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 is 4.6 feet according to their website but I think this is a little optimistic.  The Tamron minimum focus distance is 3.1 feet. It is very close. The Tamron has a 1:3 focus ratio which makes it a macro of sorts. I am an eyes photographer. I want to make sure that the eyes are perfectly in focus and sharp. With the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 I can make sure that it happens!


You can get the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 from B&H for $499 here

You can get the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 from B&H for $769 here

Vacation in Tampa and Lunch with Scott Kelby

My Son Jackson on Bradenton Beach FL

Hey gang. I just got back from a week long Vacation in FL, specifically Anna Marie Island and Bradenton Beach. My twins and I spent 7 days soaking up the sun and the waves. I didn’t get a bunch of shooting done while I was down there (this was more about relaxation than shooting) but I have included a few of the shots that my twins and I did on the beach below. Also While I was there I took an afternoon and visited Scott Kelby and the guys from Kelby Media. I received a personal tour from Larry Becker of the two buildings including the Photoshop User TV, The Grid, NAPP News, Dtown TV, sets. I got to hang with RC Concepcion, I got to meet Brad Moore, and of course hung out with Scott Kelby. All in all it was a great trip, a great lunch with Scott, and a fun time with my Twins. Check out these shots below that I did on the beach really quickly with my twins.

My daughter on the beach at sunset

I love this image. This is of my Daughter Elizabeth on the beach near sunset. I used the ambient dropping sunlight to light her face and a strobe to light her from behind for fill.