Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New at the studio. Savage Ultramarine seamless & 5-in-1 Port-a-scrim

Going to start off by apologizing, last few months have been pretty hectic in and around the studio. Just around Christmas I developed pneumonia which lasted for about a month, maybe a little bit more. Plagued by some car and truck issues and some studio repairs everything just seemed to stack on top of each other for a while. Setting this aside we’re posting a “new at the studio" blog installment. (better late than never, right?)
 Our incredibly patient Sponsor Savage Universal corporation was kind enough to send us some new gear to try out here in the studio. Once we got the news they were shipping the products we started to put together a plan featuring model Kelly McCarthy and make up artist Gianna Joy Bass
 Savage sent the #5 ultramarine seamless background. We’ve been itching to try out the color, incredibly versatile and mood setting tone.

 Savage also sent their Freestanding 5-in-1 Port-a-Scrim,  (large 55“ x 79“) version. It's comes with your standard 5 in 1 set-up with white, gold, silver, black and diffuser. A lightweight aluminum collapsible frame makes easy to manage.
  It comes with a stand to position it in a number angles and orientations. A handle is also included that attaches to the stand if you want to have an assistant hold it up and over a model to diffuse or block sunlight outside the studio...for this I've always referred to scrims as "model swatters" as it looks like the assistant is holding a giant fly swatter over the model...."didn't nail the pose?... give em' the swatter!" Kidding!

 We’ve been trying to hunt down a great large scrim for quite a while. Not only are they versatile for the studio but for outdoor shooting they're almost a necessity.
With the ultramarine color and consulting with M.U.A Gianna for the makeup color and Kelly about the clothing we decided to keep the shoot sleek and stylish for a strong fashion look in a dramatic mood. Kelly has no problem pulling that off.

 We did a two light set up at first as we had a lot of reflective coverage happening with the scrim. We implemented our Bowens Gemini series monolights triggered by the new Pocketwizard PlusIV transceivers. Moving on to a more "flowy" feel we added an additional light and had Kelly switch to a looser fitting outfit.

Though the session was pre- visualized through some planning we still did use the elixxier set a light 3-D software to have better lay out the lighting and floor plan before the shoot.
The shoot came off without a hitch, the seamless background color just gave an instant mood to the shots. Kelly matched her posing and expression to the tone of the shoot, Gianna did a great job with the make up, she really set the tone and attitude with some stunning eye makeup. She really transformed Kelly.

 The moody #5 Ultramarine seamless background is one of my favorite colors in the studio at the moment and I'm really looking forward to trying it out with some different lighting scenarios.
As far as the model swatter...um, scrim I could not be happier. Warmer weather around the corner I can't wait to use it to it's full potential outside the studio or on location!

Some of the other gear used.
Nikon D4
Sigma lenses, 24/70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm F/2.8
3 Legged Thing Frank Tripod

Kelly McCarthy (model) Gianna Joy Bass (MUA & Hair)
 Well I hope to update the blog more often, lot of things happening here and the business is headed into a few new directions so I hope you stay tuned
Rob Lopshire

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New at the Studio: Savage Drop Stand® Easy Set Light Stand

For our second installment of "New at the Studio" we're featuring a new light stand by our sponsor Savage Universal, Savage sent the Drop Stand® Easy Set Light Stands to our studio last week for us to try out. When our contact notified me of the new stand I really did not know what to think, I've heard of quick stands but never heard anything good about them, I also did not think I would ever use one as it seemed the few on the market were on the low quality end with flimsy construction and the only high end ones I found were similar to what was used by a friend of mine who is an electrician, they were expensive and no way to convert in for photographic attachments.

Happy to say the stands Savage sent me fit the bill, a good quality, well built sturdy stand with the feature I never thought I would use. Once I made a quick adjustment to the "collar limiter" I was picking up and dropping the stand with ease all over the studio. the stand is incredibly handy for a number of situations, the main situation being those days I may not have an assistant for the day.
   I never liked asking a client or model if they could "give me a hand" (though most are willing to lend a hand). Some photo shoots call for a change of scene or even just a changing of the light set-up, this proved to be pretty easy task with the Drop Stand even with gear or camera in my other hand. This may not sound like a big deal to some of you but moving a light stand in a locked position makes for a hazardous tripping situation if you don't fold the legs away before moving it.
  I found it worked very well on most hard surfaces in and around the studio, other indoor surfaces such as deep carpeting you may need to place the legs manually after placing it...same with a few outdoor surfaces but the legs dropped into position with no issues, just a minor adjustment after the legs unfold.
Up there with Bowens Gemini monolight (extended to full height)
On to the other features and specs, Savage sent us the 13' stands which are great for studio or you need to get that light way up there, the stand actually expanded a bit higher than 13' but I really don't think I would like to have anything that high unless I really had to, though it was pretty stable that high I would probably station an assistant near it or load some sand bags at the feet for safety. 
How's the weather up there?

 Back at ground level the stand has one of our favorite features the 1/4 20-3/8 reversible spigot stud that can be mounted vertically or horizontally, this comes in handy with a few continuous lights and speed lights that we use in and out of the studio. 

Other Specs:
 These are air-cushioned...so no gear comes crashing down when tension knob is loosened.
All Aluminum construction (4 section) with aluminum collars.
Supports up to 15lbs.
Max height 13' (400cm) (though ours extended close to 14' I refrain from extending to limit on all stands, but that's me being Mr. Safety).
Minimum height 47" (120cm).
Folded 45"

Sizes to be released in stores;
13' (the ones we had the pleasure of using)

 Another nice little feature is the blue leg connector joint...this makes it easy for me to spot my Drop stands across the studio among my other studio stands.
We'll probably post updates along the way but so far these stands are making life around the studio less hectic when we're on the move.
For more info on these stands head over to the Savage site Savage Universal Drop Stand

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Me and My Mantis

"From whence arrived the praying mantis?
From outer space, or lost Atlantis?
glimpse the grin, green metal mug
at masks the pseudo-saintly bug,
Orthopterous, also carnivorous,
And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us."
~Ogden Nash.

Even after I moved her to the top of the crates she waited around for me to set the shot up, when I started making some photos she figured is was a good time to groom herself...not sure if she was cleaning her mandibles or her toes. Maybe she had a big meal and was picking out some of the lovely bug bits from her mouth, mantises are a voracious and beneficial predator in the insect world.
We get quite a bit of them here at the studio, I watched a female eat a large group of hornets right out of a nest in a short amount of time...snagged them right out one by one and devoured every last one of them Mmm Mmm Mmm Crunchy! They also happen to be nature's little fashion models...they love to pose and check out cameras, this pertains to the adult females... adult males are a bit skittish and the young usually don't like to stick around for anything (in this area anyway).
Back to the gear and set-up.
For the most part I usually shoot most all my macro starting at aperture f/16 but because the mantis is quite lengthy I set to f/18 or f/22. You really need to play with your angles and perspective when capturing them.
For the most part they move pretty slow so 1/100 to 1/125sec shutter speed works well. ISO I had at 100. It was hand held for this as I was changing positions with her movements and the space was limited.

Nothing shows a mantis personality more than their big beautiful eyes so getting a nice catch light in the peepers is crucial for us with the Praying mantis or any insect really. Had the Nikon SB910 speedlight attached on camera with a Rogue FlashBender

You have a little something stuck to your mouth... no here, do you want me to get it?  Napkin Please! 1/100sec, f/22, ISO100, 180mm (Click photo to enlarge)

 Ready for the cuteness overload?

Kissy face!!! 1/100sec, f/18, ISO100, 180mm (Click photo to enlarge)
Same image as above, rotated and cropped to show detail. (Click photo to enlarge)

Friday, July 31, 2015

New at the Studio: Savage Universal Macro Art Adjustable Dual Arm LED Light

Well we wanted to call this (and some upcoming) blog post(s) "Equipment Review" or "Field Test" but we are sponsored by Savage Universal so it really would not be right to give a product review, Savage sends us some awesome gear and we wanted to share with you some of the cool things we get to use in and around the studio...so instead of "gear test" or "product review" we're just going to share some photos, our experiences and maybe some cool tips or tricks that might help you if are looking into the products.
       You might know Savage for their seamless paper backgrounds, backdrops, support stands and other studio equipment but recently they started promoting their Macro Art line up including extension tubes and the Dual Arm LED light we are featuring in our write up today.
Not going to lie...being sponsored is pretty cool and it's something we never thought would happen (more on that later in an upcoming post) so when packages show up it's like Christmas morning, we grab the boxes, run into the studio and immediately open the boxes to gaze on the gear with wide open eyes. After that we start thinking of all the different shoots and cool projects we will do with the gear. Most of the time we head right out and start shooting but it was later in the day so I decided to venture out first thing in the morning.
 It was no different when the LED light arrived but when you open the box you have gear that looks like it's gazing back at you, anything with a science fiction looking appearance is good in our book especially when it almost looks like one our favorite subjects to shoot in our spare time...insects.  I exaggerate a bit but the dual arms do resemble some bug antennae, these antennae...excuse me I mean arms are flexible articulated covered extensions which can be positioned in many ways for pinpointing lighting on your macro subject.  You can attach the light right to the hot shoe of your camera or secure it to a light stand or tripod via a cold shoe such as the enlight photo frio.
The easy to read control panel on the back has options for Flash or Continuous and each arm light can be operated separately, the lights at the end of the arms are surrounded by a cooling fin like casing.

The bug view

The other gear for the session.
 Camera Nikon D4
 3 Legged Thing Frank tripod.
 The LED light arms measure about 23" so that was plenty of length to reach around the Sigma 180mm lens (w/hood).
We were able to go above, under and around the lens for multiple lighting angles and more importantly stayed in place. If shooting insects you might want to position the lights in the desired orientation first as with most articulated arms they make a squeaky sound when you bend them...which could startle your multi legged subject. Also because the arms are pretty long you might want to remove the light if you are picking up your gear to relocate, the arms could bounce up and down when walking and you don't want to have the light hit the front of your lens...those light casings are metal.
Here are some shots we took with the dual Arm LED light starting with the image of a wild carrot called Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota).
1/125sec, f/11, ISO1600
 Here are some thistle. Love the way we were able to aim these lights.
1/200sec, f/16, ISO140

1/200sec, f/16, ISO140
1/200sec, f/16, ISO140
The great thing about thistle is they attract butterflies, butterflies can be pretty skittish at least around here in the rural parts of New Jersey so it's best to focus on the flower and wait until they land while remaining quiet and still. We were lucky enough to have these Eastern Tiger Swallow Tails fluttering around the thistle all morning. We had one arm pointed underneath to get some light under the thistle as well as under the wings and the other arm coming down at a 45 degree angle to get some catch lights in the eyes.
Hi There!
awww, shy butterfly. ButterShy?

1/125sec, f/16, ISO400

Sharing the thistle with a bumble bee

Some insects I will actually approach without my gear and gently move in closer to see if they will "bug out", if they take off I pretty much know they won't stick around for me to set up my camera. Butterflies will usually return multiple times to the same flower so as mentioned before you just want to get set up, focus and wait. Don't try chasing butterflies from flower to flower it's near impossible to capture anything that way. I've actually watched photographers chase bugs when they switch flowers or fly away and the only thing you might get doing that is exercise, not that there is anything wrong with that but I enjoy relaxing behind the camera and sometimes with a tasty cool beverage while the bugs do all the work. We will have another post on photographing insects and even hummingbirds which explains in more detail on our set-up and method.
 That's pretty much it for our little write up, still testing the waters on blogging so I hope you at least enjoyed the photos. Again hoping it did not come across as a review, more shots soon when things settle down a bit here at the studio. More than likely we will bring it inside the studio to check it out during a product shoot or two.
For more on the Macro Art Dual Arm light or other Savage gear just head over to their site HERE.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ring Around the Garden

A few years back photographic company enlight photo featured us in their blog after seeing some photos I took of an iris that blossomed in our neighbor’s garden using their orbis® ringflash. I really did not expect it lead to much but it began a great friendship with enlight photo, their CEO/inventor James Madelin and staff.
Honestly I was pretty excited as a few other photo companies at that time were blogging about us and featuring our work on their official sites as well as social media pages. 
our neighbor's iris

Since then the orbis® flash system has been our “go to” modifier for a number of shooting scenarios…not just for floral photography but for macro insect photos as well as portrait jobs in our studio. You can check out the orbis® here as well as other snazzy gear they have. 
We’re reaching the tail end of spring here in the wonderful state of New Jersey but a lot of blooms have been hesitating around here, though we had a ton of iris pop up some of the more interesting flowers we have surrounding the studio are taking their sweet time due to some weather issues. Well we were not going to let that stop us…keeping a close eye the flowers that did decide to bloom and having our gear ready at different points of the day I ventured out a couple of times with an idea I had working on for a while that involved the orbis®  flash. I had been experimenting with different lighting techniques and angles for an image style I had used with some insect photography, basically dropping the camera’s ISO to 100, setting the aperture to f/16 (or higher) and a shutter speed of around 1/125sec or a bit faster, those settings combined with a flash can cause the background to “black out”.
Though this effect is nothing new getting the light to hit parts of the subject in a pleasant manner can be tricky for a number of reasons the main being the shape of the flower and its orientation…some flowers face up, some face down and others face every which way when following the sun.
Utilizing the shape of the orbis® I was able to create some interesting lighting, with flowers facing down or out to the side I used it in an “under light” position while flowers facing up I directed the flash from above or downward 45 degrees. The under lit proved to be my favorite because it gave the illusion the flowers were creating the light like mini street lamps.
For the actual equipment set up we attached the orbis to our Nikon SB-910 with the head rotated to the same direction of the ringflash (to keep flash controls accessible) and fired it with a set of PocketWizard PlusIII Transceivers and to keep everything tidy and usable with one hand (when needed) I implemented a dual flash bracket.

Under lighting set-up

Under lit result

Lighting from above
even shooting down on under lit tulip made for a neat shot
flower facing down, under lit
Under lit, the yellow of the flower becomes illuminated
Have you met my ant? Lighting above.

 Other gear for these shots include the Nikon D4, Sigma APO Macro 180mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens and 3 Legged Thing Frank tripod.

Two more features on us from the gang at enlight

"Orb Spider orbis Macro Flash Shoot!"

"Interview: photographer Robert Lopshire"

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Model Bag Basics

We get quite a few questions on this subject before, during and after sessions...which is fine you should ask as many questions as possible about a shoot if you are not sure on anything.
The subject being "the model bag", the model bag usually contains quite a bit of items a model may need for a shoot including items the make-up artist or stylist may bring to a photo-shoot.

model/make-up artist Tarissa Rinier
It's best to be over prepared than under...even if a shoot is lined up to have a make-up artist and or stylists. We have had occasions surface the day of a shoot where someone could not make the session due to an unforeseen issue or emergency. Sometimes due to constraints it's easier or cost effective to move ahead with a shoot instead of postponing especially if it's for a client or other crew or models have come from a distance. 
Model Kara LaSpada
On a side note a model should learn to do two basic "looks" including "the smokey eye" and "the clean look" There are hundreds of videos online on how to do apply the looks on your own. 

In fact one of the make-up artists we work with has put together instructional videos.

Going back to the model bag here is a general list and I say general list because I don't want you to think you need to go out and buy all the items at once, most models build this bag over time and some even keep this bag ready to go or keep a lot of the items stored in their car if they get a call in.
So again this is a good idea on what you may need at any given time for a photo-shoot.

• Headband, hair ties/bands, bobby pins
• Brushes, combs
• Hair appliances (curling iron, rollers, straighteners)

• Skin cleanser and moisturizer (depending on the MUA you might have to arrive bare-faced or with base, best to inquire)
• Make-up kit
• Cotton balls and cotton swabs
• Mirror
• Body lotion for dry skin
• Clear or nude nail polish, clippers, nail file, polish remover
• Press on nails (French Manicure style)
• Lip balm
• false eyelashes

• Shoes (High heels and flats – black is a must)
• Slippers
• Black, white and flesh toned underwear (thongs recommended for less lines)
• Assortment of bras (black, white, nude, and strapless)
• Plain black and white socks
• Hose/nylons in Nude and black
• Yoga pants or similar for lounging
• Strapless top
• Sunglasses
• Light dressing robe

• Safety pins, small sewing kit, clothes pins, clear nail polish (for runs)
• Scarf or makeup mask to prevent makeup transfer
• Headache & allergy medication, razor, eye drops, feminine products.
• Music you like, books or magazines for downtime
• Bring your portfolio and/or any images of concepts you would like to try for future shoots.
• Bottled water & snacks
• Planner/calendar or notebook with pens 

Model Becca Allison
Here are some helpful tips to get prepared for your session.
1. Get plenty of rest: Have a good night’s sleep the night before the shoot. Avoid partying the night before a photo shoot. Drink lots of water the day before as it can hydrate your skin.
2. Try not to wear tight or restrictive clothes before a shoot. These can cause lines in the skin which can take quite long to disappear.
3. Arrive early to allow time for planning & make-up
4. Do not experiment with new skin treatments the night before the shoot. Any new treatment can cause skin irritations or allergic reactions. Test out the treatments well in advance of the shoot in order to know how your skin will react and how long your skin needs to recover.
5. Practice posing. There is a wealth of information available including hundreds of videos online that demonstrate posing technique (beginner to advanced) the more you memorize as far as posing with or without products the smoother a shoot will become.

If you have any other tips, tricks or even questions let us know, we will try to have more updates on modeling basics.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Coming up on a year...

I wanted to make sure we posted our press release from our sponsorship, pulling it up on the Savage Universal site we realized it's almost a year ago.
 Though it was not our first sponsorship it was a major one as it's by a company that is the world leader in photographic backgrounds and equipment. It's been an honor to be a part of such fantastic company, they have supported us tremendously. Our main company contact Alyssa has been an absolute pleasure to work with.
Here is the official press release  Savage Announces Sponsorship of Lopshire Photography, LLC 
pretty snazzy graphic they made for us huh?

 So if you are poking around on their site you're going to come across quite a few of our photos in the ads as well as the features.
Recently they have been using our photos for the specialty Translum background in ads appearing in Shutterbug magazine and images are being printed on their packaging, I have to say nothing beats that feeling. When I was younger I always thought  the coolest thing was to see my photos in a major publication and Savage is one of the reasons that has happened.

Model Becca Allison

set-up diagram