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Monday
Nov262012

Painted Church - Serbin, Texas

About 50 miles East of Austin in Serbin, Texas is St. Paul Lutheran Church. Serbin was settled in 1854 by almost 600 Wendish immigrants persuing religious freedom led by Pastor Johann Kilian. Built in 1870, St. Paul Lutheran Church is an example of Wendish architecture and culture.  In October, I had the chance to visit Serbin.  Enjoy some of the images I captured during my visit.  Click on an image to see a larger version.

The church looks rather plain when you approach it.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Here's a monument on the property.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.A side view of the church.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.This is the view from the back of the church when you step through the doors. Notice that the pulpit is upstairs.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Here's a fisheye view of the entire ceiling.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.A fisheye view from the altar looking back to the entrance.  Notice the pipe organ upstairs in the back.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.The altar.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.

Pastor Johann Kilian's cabin.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.

 

 

Saturday
Nov172012

Town Hall in Lajitas, Texas

Got back a couple of days ago from a road trip out to West Texas.  We visited Uvalde, Marathon, Big Bend National Park, Terlingua, Alpine and Van Horn, to name a few stops.  I'll be posting some favorite images from the trip as I sort my way through the collection of photographs.  This first post is of the Town Hall in Lajitas, Texas.  The sky during the day had great clouds.  I used an 11mm lens aimed toward the sky to emphasize the impressive clouds in this shot of the Town Hall.  

For the Photo geeks out there:  This is a seven-frame HDR image processed in Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro.  I then corrected the keystoning (paralax distortion cause by angling the camera upward instead of keeping it parallel to the building) of the Town Hall and removed some distracting elements (sensor dust, a small sign in a window, a pickup truck and a golf cart) within Photoshop CS6.  The final step was a monochrome conversion using Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro 2.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.



Wednesday
Aug082012

Studio Fitness Shoot: Justin Walls

I did a second fitness shoot with Justin Walls, this time we shot in the studio.  I used two lights, a five foot octobank softbox camera left, slightly in front of the subject and feathered slightly toward the camera and a seven inch gridded reflector camera right and back behind the subject.  This added separation from the background on the side opposite the main (key) light.  Here are a few selections from the shoot.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.

Sunday
Jul222012

Fitness Shoot: Justin Walls

Yesterday, several of us got together to do a fitness shoot, on location, for Justin Walls.  My friend, Steve Wampler, assisted and collaborated with me on ideas.  Fitness model, Ashley Elgie, provided art direction and additional assisting.  

The sweat is real.  Even though we got there right around sunrise, it was hot and even I was drenched in sweat before it was over.  A big thanks to the team for getting up early and braving the heat and ravenous mosquitos.  We had a great time and produced some fun images for Justin's portfolio.  

Would love to hear your thoughts on the images.  

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.

Friday
Jul062012

How to Photograph a Baby

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. Click image to view a larger version.

My friends Mark and Shannon asked if I would shoot baby Lila. Look at those eyes. How could I resist. We set up a flexible time that was dependent on when Lila awoke from her mid-morning nap. I knew that having a well-rested baby is critical to a successful baby shoot, so we let Lila call the shots.

For this image, I used a large light source (camera right) that wraps around to give a smooth transition from light to dark. The larger the light source, the softer the edges of shadows become. If I were to back the light away from Lila it would become smaller and the shadows more defined. Seeing as this is a baby and everyone knows that babies are soft, I wanted soft shadows so that the image reinforces the viewer's expectations that a baby is soft.

I also, used a silver reflector opposite the key light (camera left) to fill in the shadows. You can see the lighting setup if you study the catch lights in Lila's eyes.

Shooting in studio, I was planning to pull out the big lighting gear, including the 5-foot octobank light but then I noticed the light coming in the glass door. I realized that if I put up a scrim, the direct sunlight that was streaming in would be converted into a large beautiful light source. Everyone knows that the sun is massive. Unfortunately, it is so far away from us that it appears like just a pinpoint. I needed something bigger. The surface of the scrim, which appears large relative to baby Lila, became the light source for this image.

Deep dark shadows are better suited for photographing coalminers than babies. I wanted to avoid dark shadow, no matter how soft they were. To achieve that, I used a silver reflector in close to bounce light back into the unlit side of baby Lila. This produced what is called a low lighting ratio. The fill light (reflector), is almost as bright as main light (the scrim).

Anyone can reproduce this simple lighting setup at home. Putting up a white sheet (or you may already have white curtain sheers) will give you that nice main (key) light source. Use anything big and white or silver as a reflector on the other side to fill in the shadows.

The trick to using a reflector is to think of it as a mirror and bounce the light into the subject as you desire. Practice with a reflector ahead of time. Bounce the light into your subject and away repeatedly until you begin to see the effects of the reflector. Figure out what angle catches the light best. Know that "angle of incidence equals angle of reflection" and you'll have a great start.

Once you've got the lighting down, bring in the baby and have some fun! Use a rattle, squeaky toy or shinny object to attract the baby's gaze to the camera's lens. Mom may have to stand behind you or leave the room if the baby wants to pay more attention to her than you.

Photograph ©2012 Alex Suárez. All rights reserved. In this image, Lila had rolled over so our lighting is now reversed (main light is now camera left). Click image to view a larger version.

Have a good tip for photographing a baby? Share it in the comments below. Happy shooting!