Saturday, January 30, 2010

True Evil (self portrait)

true evil 2 (self portrait)
True Evil, "self portrait"

I have been working on some self portraits of late. It really came about one day as I was experimenting with lighting and stuff and had no immediate subject available and so decided to get in on the act. I liked the results especially when I loosen up a bit and got a little theatrical :P. So, it became a theme and I am slowly putting together and full series of self portraits. I guess it will only stop when i get too miserable to look at anymore. . .

This shot was actually a second attempt. the first attempt, a few weeks earlier did not have the right perspective I was going for and some of the background was not working.

This is on a location in that old warehouse that I previously posted about. Inside a small room with some industrial equipment behind me as well as a scary and ratty looking window. Nice ugly green walls too :)

For the strobists out there that might be interested, this was done using two 580EX2 speedlites. The main light was shooting into a bounce umbrella placed directly in front and above subject(me). The second speedlite was shooting through a Flashpoint snoot off to subject left and higher than head level. It was aimed toward the hair and side of head area. The hair was something I wanted to be highlighted and stand out. Its a natural prop :).

One very useful tool in doing these SP's is Canon's programmable remote release. I can set the delay time to the initial shot, the time interval between shots as well as how many shots overall and much more. It allows me time to set things up and reposition myself and change expression between takes.

Past readers of my blog might remember me entering a Self Portrait competition/exhibition that was being judged by some high profile people.
I entered this photo as well as another later on to the portfolio as I was able to edit it the entire time..
The voting has ended and I am pleased to announce that my portfolio made it to the top 15. You can see the top 15 portfolios here.
The judges will be choosing the grand prize winner, and so being in the top 15 i think gives me some attention. some very impressive portfolios there, and it was good fun. I'll surely let everyone know if I were to be chosen.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Portrait of Eleanor

Eleanor, originally uploaded by garyhellerphotography.

Eleanor is a warm hearted soul. She is naive, good natured, caring, sensitive and fragile. She is an artist, a dreamer and a wonderful mother and Nana.
She was an ever devoted wife to her late husband, Harry.
She is vulnerable, and yet strong.
She is a wonderful person

This was also shot with two 580EXll speedlites, one firing through a softbox and another firing through a very small diffuser for fill.

I'll spare you the diagram on this one ;)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Portrait using portable strobes

christina and dior

This is a portrait of my daughter Christina and her beloved dog, Dior.
I had wanted to get a session with her for a while but our schedules were tough to arrange a time, but we finally got it together and I am pretty much pleased as this is about what I was hoping for.

I did not want her to look like she was posing for a glamour shot or to smile really. I just wanted a very sullen, relaxed and almost introspective feel about this.

I have been using hot shoe flashes or portable strobes because I have more of a need to be able to set up small shoots on location, such as the portrait of my son Kyle and at the same time they work extremely well indoor for various situations.
I am using two Canon 580EXll speedlites and a Vivitar 285HV flash. I also have some light weight stands, a softbox, some bounce umbrellas,snoots, various reflectors and flags and a boom stand. The flashes are all controlled by the wireless Cybersyncs from Paul C. Buff. (maker of the alien Bees and white Lightning studio strobes)They are much less expensive than the famous Pocket Wizards and do a fine job really.

In this set up, I had a 580EXll mounted in a Photoflex 16x22" softbox on a boom stand just above Christinas head and about two feet in front and to her right side a bit.
On her left was another 580EXll on a light stand about 6ft high with a Flashpoint Q series snoot attached. This was aimed towards the dogs head and Christinas left shoulder area just filling in where the main light would have fallen off, but snooted because I did not want too much filled in as I wanted this to have a mood about it. Basically, I needed to have the black dogs face and fur exposed.

Behind her is a greenish linen fabric bought in a fabric store at 4.99 a linear yard. This was secured with clamps to a couple of spring loaded poles that mount from floor to ceiling much like the expensive Manfrotto Autopoles. The whole background was about 7 ft wide and 5 ft high. I attached it so the bottom started at about her leg area as I was just going for an upper body portrait.

On Christinas left side and between she and the background was the Vivitar flash on a lightstand about 6 ft up and a couple feet over. There was a 1 ft long piece of white foam secured to the flash with a rubberband so that the light would not spill out towards the camera but just skim over Christinas head and mostly be directed back towards the backdrop to illuminte it slightly enough.

The shot was basically ISO 160, 9.0 at 1/160. I am using Duracell AA 2650 NiMH batteries to power the strobes and am always amazed at the performance of these things.Very long lasting and reliable. I use a 2 hour charger as well as a 15 minute quick charger in case I needed fast recharging on the spot. To note, I was shooting the main speedlite through the softbox at about 1/4 - 1/2 power and got close to 200 shots without changing a set of batteries and still had quick recycle times to boot.(under 1 sec.)

The most challenging thing about this particular shoot was getting Dior to stay awake. He goes right to sleep in her arms! While I was shooting, I would make strange noises and dog barks to get him to look at me or at least keep his eyes open. However, Christina would break out laughing at my ridiculous sounds and so when the dogs eyes would be open, Christina would be laughing. Finally got the moment where everything looked as I wanted :)

Attached is a most ridiculous looking daigram of the basic et up for anyone out there who are thinking of using a similar approach and might be curious as to how this was done.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Artists Lounge "Anywhere"

The Kim Crawford Artists Lounge program is winding down to the final selections. I have made my second and last selection. The contributing member whose post I chose as my inspiration is one by member Joshuart titled "Anywhere".

The Artists Lounge is a forum of which members contribute their ideas and/or art to inspire the Artists in Residence(myself and three other artists) Works that were created by the Artists in Residence from the selected inspiration will be presented and given to the member for his/her personal collection.

Title - Anywhere by Joshuart (Robert Camba)
"Wherever you stand on the earth, be still and see. There is beauty anywhere. Even an abandoned industrial plant might have beauty in the patterns of light in shadow, iridescence in an oil-polluted puddle, or just the beauty of decay. You don't have to be on a mountaintop to see beauty".

Anyone who has known me for some time knows that I am fond of abandoned buildings, neglected structures, grunge and beauty in the least likely of places.
So, with that I headed out to one of the most attractive ugly places that I know nearby to find a diamond in the rough. Lots of wonderful textures and mysterious shapes and shadows and light. Also lots of Possums running about that I must have woke up as they don't get very much human company coming around. . .

The outside of the industrial warehouse.

Getting closer, the junk piled up outside.

Closing in. . .

the entrance

some inside views

more inside


view from the second floor platform

"I gotta thing for you" is one piece I isolated in the debris. I love the shape and textures and subtle color of this spot. Also the commentary is. . .amusing.

"broken glass" I like the stark contrast of the panes against the glowing panels of glass. Also, the various patterns in the wire inlay of the glass as well as the bit of iron grating outside through the cracked opening.Some subtle color glowing through behind some areas as well.

"industrial view" I thought this was intriguing in an eerie sort of way. The sharp jagged edges of the corroded window panes with pieces of glass still left hanging and then the various shapes,textures and color of the inerior below. This also is full of stark contrast which always catches my eyes.

The piece that I captured for Mr. Camba is one that i'm very proud of and is titled "Industrial Love". The title actually carries a double meaning as you will get to see in the spring at the Kim Crawford Wines Artists Lounge unveiling, where all the works that were created by the inspirations posted by selected contributing members, will be displayed.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Portrait: Kyle and Sabre

kyle and sabre

Here is a portrait of Kyle, my son. Kyle is 13 years old and autistic. I have photographed him over the years but it is usually difficult as Kyle does not like to make eye contact and usually does not look at one place for more than a few seconds. He is shown here with his beloved plush animal Sabre which is one of two Smilodons that he has become very fond of. He takes them most everywhere he goes. They are like comfort creatures for him.
Kyle is capable of communicating and can hold limited conversations, but only with people that he has become familiar with and feels comfortable around. This moment was special in that it is a side of Kyle that no one will ever see except those who are close to him and around him often.