First time in a long time!

Hi! I really appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog but more importantly my website. I’m going to do my absolute best to blog on a regular basis from now on. I have TONS of weddings completed since the last blog post and many, many more coming up. There is no shortage of things to talk about and share!

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Today I want to share a wedding that I did a few years ago in Columbus Ohio. The Bride (Chrissy) looked stunning in her modest length dress, while Adam (the groom looked dapper in his traditional tux with the added custom cuff links to give it that personalized feel.

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The day was beautiful. Partly overcast (the way I like it) and warm. We spent the morning in the bridal suite where Chrissy enjoyed mimosas and good friends. After makeup was done, hair was pinned, and the dress was on, we made our way out to the beautiful courtyard for the nuptials. The wedding went off flawlessly leaving us plenty of time to do photographs around the beautiful grounds of Pennicle Country Club where the wedding was being held. Below are a few more gorgeous photos that we were lucky enough to be a part of. Even though it was a few years ago, this is still one of my favorite weddings. Thanks again Chrissy and Adam for letting Jason Lykins Photography be a part of your day!

 

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X-Rite Color Checker… Why YOU need one

You all know (or should know) that light is the most important thing when it comes to photography. When it comes right down to it, without light there would be no photography. When we talk about light though, we talk about it not only as a whole, but we talk about the different aspects of it as well. We talk about the quality. Is it soft, hard, wrapping, etc. We talk about the direction. Is it a loupe pattern, is it a butterfly pattern etc. We also talk about the color of it. Are we talking golden sunset light, are we talking sickly green light from florescent lights, are we talking the warm glow of tungsten light… The descriptions go on and on. The important thing is that we are aware of the different light colors and that we adjust our images accordingly. That’s where the Passport Color Checker from X-Rite makes life a whole lot easier.

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Love the Rain

I sit here writing this as a therapy of sorts. My 5 year old twins are busy with a pen and the latest “Toys R Us” flyer circling what they feel is life or death important to them. Every toy that they don’t currently have that catches their eye, some that they already have, but have forgot about, and pretty much anything princess or pirate that is contained within those pages is getting circled to let me know that they “need it”.  So I sit here writing this post to tell you all about why I love rain on a wedding day, and why I actually look forward to it.

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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

Spent the Week Teaching Alongside of David Ziser

 

Whew…. What a busy week. I spent the first part of the week helping out the always fun David Ziser (Of the critically acclaimed Digital Pro Talk). I was humbled that David asked me to help teach at this Masters class. I really hope that I added a different perspective and aspect to the class. The shot above was from our first day in the field shooting at a local church in Covington. The wonderful model Rebbecca really knew how to make her body contort and look good for this shot!  I had a great time meeting everyone and spending a few days with the class. I really think we were able to get some wonderful shots and most everyone was happy with what they learned.

Today I had an event to shoot for my buddy Steven Easley. Tomorrow and Saturday I’m doing weddings.  I’ve had a really full and packed week…

A few of the people that came to the masters class asked me to list some of the people that I follow, and links to the things that I was talking about to them. For those of you not at the class, check out some of these links, you may find something interesting that you like!

 

http://www.BestAppSite.com -This is the iOS App Website that I write for. We review iOS Apps and give you the best of the best every week.

http://www.terrywhite.com/techblog -This is the mutual friend of David and I who works for Adobe. Besides working for Adobe, he is one hell of a photographer and THE MAN when it comes to technology. You should definitely check him out.

http://scottkelby.com -This is another friend of both David and I who most of you probably already know but it’s worth putting his link up here just in case.

http://www.strobist.com -This is David Hobby’s site. David is the godfather of off camera small lighting. Spend some time reading over his site. Pay particular attention to “lighting 101″ and “lighting 102″. Everyone can stand to learn a thing or two from David

http://www.joemcnally.com -I was surprised to find that a lot of photographers didn’t know who Joe McNally was. Joe is a National Geographic photographer, Time Magazine, etc. The list goes on and on for Joe. You can definitely learn a thing or two about a thing or two from Joe.

http://zackarias.com/ -Zack is another really good photographer whom I follow. Zack is awesome with lighting and he is equally as awesome at teaching. Zack is definitely one to check out.

I had planned on showing you a few more images from the workshop, however I accidentally deleted an entire card, and I haven’t done the recovery on it yet. Come back Monday and I’m going to do a complete how to step by step process on how I did what I did to the shot above in post. Don’t miss it! See you all on Monday. 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

 

 

Improve Your Images with Three Simple Steps

I recently read an interesting story on my favorite new iPad App Zite about simple reasons why most people’s photography does not improve. Rather than be negative, I’m going to give you three ways that I try to improve my photography. These three ways are not by any means rules you must live by, or the only way to make you better, rather the top three things that I do to improve myself. So read along, make a mental note, and improve your photos too!

Try something different…

I was talking with my best friend the other day about this. She was telling me that she feels like her images are starting to look the same to her. My advice to her was this; Take your “bread and butter” images first. Take the images, the poses, and the lighting that you know work first.  Once you get the shots that you know work, and that you’re comfortable with, step outside of your comfort zone. Do something different. Had a different lighting style on your mind for a while? Try it! Want to try a pose that you’ve never done before? Why not? By doing this you are always pushing the envelope. You are always pushing forward to new areas that you have never been before. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. On the image at the top of this post, I followed this thought process. By the time we arrived at that location we had been shooting for about two hours. I knew that I had some really good shots. I wanted to push it a little. I used an off camera flash and umbrella in a different way than I normally would to create the dramatic lighting on my model. In the end it worked out. This isn’t always the case. Some times it doesn’t work out like this. Some times going out of your comfort zone doesn’t work out so well but the times when it all comes together more than makes up for it.

 

Shoot for yourself (self projects)

Shooting for clients is awesome. After all, that’s what it means to be a professional right? To shoot for paying clients.  The problem with paying clients is that you have to shoot what they need, which is usually similar to something you’ve shot in the past. The conversation usually goes something like this; “hi, my name is John Doe, I saw those great ad shots that you did for the ABC company. Can you do something similar for me?”.  This doesn’t leave much room for experimenting. When you shoot for yourself however, you have all of the creative freedom in the world. You are the one deciding the goal of the shoot, or series of shoots. You cast the models, and provide the theme.  This is really important for growing as an artist.  A lot of the time you can find willing models to work for image trade with services like Model Mayhem or One Model Place. The other option is to find a friend that is willing to pose for you like my image above. My good buddy Dave Concepcion better known as DaveyC. He’s an up and coming DJ in the Cincinnati area and perfect for my shot. I really wanted to get a darker shot showing a profession without spelling it out. I think this worked really well. Dave has the perfect look for this style. He was more than happy to pose for me and in exchange I gave him the images to use for an upcoming album cover. It was a mutually beneficial shoot.

 

Shoot Something different…

I shoot people. That’s what I enjoy.. That’s what I’m good at. I prefer portraiture over any other type of photograph. That being said, I often times stop what I’m doing to take a picture of something that I wouldn’t normally photograph. This photo was taken a few years ago in Hamilton Ohio of a train bridge that I thought was interesting. When you go outside of your comfort zone you tend to think differently. You compose differently, you think about the lighting differently, and you photograph differently. This helps me grow as a photographer, and I know this will help you grow as a photographer.

I hope that these three things will help you as much as they have helped me.  See you next time. Jason

5 Great Ways To Use Dropbox

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite programs that doesn’t get enough attention. Dropbox. Dropbox is a file sharing program that runs seamlessly in the background on your computer allowing you to share files across the internet with anyone else who has Dropbox. Dropbox isn’t just for your computer though. If you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android, or blackberry you can download the Dropbox App and sync the files between those devices as well! Let me tell you really quick how Dropbox works before I tell you my 5 favorite ways to use it. When you setup your FREE dropbox account over at Dropbox.com getting you 2Gigs of storage, a new folder will be installed on your computer named (you guessed it) Dropbox. This is a local folder housed on your local drive. You can treat it like any other folder you have on your computer. You can store files, create sub folders etc. The difference between this folder and regular folders is everything that you put in this folder is AUTOMATICALLY synced with your corresponding folder on the Dropbox cloud. This cloud folder syncs with any other device that you have a Dropbox account installed on. So now that you know how it works, let me show you my favorite ways of using it.

 

Lightroom!

My good friend Frank Tuttle expressed to me not too long ago that he wished that there was an easy way to sync his Lightroom catalog between his two laptops and his desktop. My reply was “put it in your Dropbox folder”. Even over the phone I could tell the look on his face… You know the look. The one that says why the heck didn’t I think of that before!  Since Dropbox creates a local folder on your drive, you can point Lightroom to that folder to load and save/backup your catalog. This does two things. First, it saves your catalog in a place that is synced automatically with a cloud server, thus backing your catalog up for you in the case of a catastrophic system failure, or natural disaster. Second, if you have Dropbox loaded on another system using Lightroom, you can work on the same catalog on both systems! It’s perfect!

 

Mobile Devices

With All of the major mobile devices covered, syncing your Dropbox files to your mobile devices couldn’t be easier. I like to save important PDF’s, photos, and other important documents that I might need to access on my iPhone or iPad. I also used Dropbox to save a HTML copy of my bookmarks from Firefox to load into my mobile browsers. There are some files that you don’t use enough to merit permanent storage on your phone or iPad, but from time to time it would be nice to access them. Dropbox is the perfect place to store them.

 

Sharing With Friends

Besides my Lightroom catalogs, sharing with friends is probably the way I use Dropbox most. I have what’s called shared folders (folders that show up in both my, and whoever I invite to the folder’s Dropbox as a subfolder) with all of the people that I routinely share files with. Many of you know that I an a contributing writer over at the Best App Site where we review and rate the best iOS Apps available. Terry, Erik, and I are constantly sharing files back and forth so Dropbox is the perfect way to share them. Not only for the speed and ease of use, but because there isn’t a file limit, we can share large files between the three of us, something we wouldn’t be able to do through email. Besides the Best App Site, I share folders with my other photographer friends where I will put images to get their opinion on, model releases from recent shoots that we may have been co-shooters on, and/or any other files that I need to share with them.  When Tom Seibert of Light And Pixels designed this website, we used Dropbox folders to send files back and forth. Images, logos, text files, PDF’s, PSD, PNG’s, it doesn’t matter they can all go into Dropbox.

 

Sharing With The Public

That’s right, with Dropbox you can setup a public folder and give anyone the address to access the files on there. I used this feature when my buddy Don Giannatti came to town last summer to teach a fantastic two day workshop. I was helping Tom Seibert, and Frank Tuttle organize models for the event. I created a spreadsheet with the days and times that we would need models and placed it in the Public folder. This allowed models to quickly look at the spreadsheet to see if they were available for the times that we needed.  Another great use for the public folder has to do with the workshop. We had multiple shooters at the event, all of which needed a copy of the model releases. We converted the signed model releases to PDF’s and placed them in the public folder for both models, and photographers to download.

 

Backup

Dropbox offers 2Gigs for free but also has two larger paid options. For $9.99 a month or $99 a year you get 50Gigs of space. For $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year you get 100Gigs of space! The free 2 gigs isn’t really enough to store massive amounts of data, but if you upgrade to one of the two larger options, Dropbox can be a great place to store your important files offsite.

 

Dropbox is for you..

Dropbox is free, easy to use, and secure. There is really no reason not to have a Dropbox account. I have set my parents up with Dropbox on their laptops just so I can share images with them of their grandchildren. There really isn’t a reason not to have Dropbox.

 

Bonus!

If you’re reading this blog chances are you’re a photographer or Photoshop user. If you sign up for Dropbox here, and shoot me your email at @Jason@jasonlykinsphotography.com I will add you to a special folder containing my Photoshop actions and (in the future) special Dropbox friend only files tips and tricks.