Family Session: Bob, Teresa, Becca, Cameron, Laura, & Kevin

Blogging this family session made me realize that I don't blog enough of my sessions (I will try to add more editorial and commercial work here as well).

It was a gray and windy day but this was one of the most enjoyable family sessions I have had the privilege of photographing.  There was lots of laughing and it felt, personally, like I was shooting my own family.  The session took place at the National World War I Museum & Memorial and Loose Park - with a wine and cheese picnic in the intermission (a standard that I am now thinking needs to be instituted in all of my adult family sessions).  These photos just made me smile while I was editing them and I think you can tell how warm and personable this family is just by looking at the photographs.

Kansas City Chiefs on the Pentax 67ii (Medium Format Film)

I had sideline access to the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Tennessee Titans while shooting for VisitKC (Kansas City tourism).  In addition to my digital kit I took along my Pentax 67ii medium format film camera and two lenses (105/2.4 & 300/4.0).  This is significant because this camera not only produces a dramatically different image from my modern dslr cameras in terms of bokeh, focus, and dimensionality but pragmatically this camera is not well-suited for sports photography.  The camera is massive and handholding below 1/250 second is almost impossible with the weight of the lenses/camera and the massive shutter on the camera.  Additionally, the camera is manual focus (and the 105/2.4 is equivalent to a 50/1.1 on a full-frame 35mm camera) which makes moving subjects difficult to nail with focus - besides the focus is so narrow I've had to become really adept at focusing this camera on the fly.  I was on the sidelines with photographers shooting 10 frames per second and trying to create something that I think is unique but with a film camera that only gets 10 shots per roll.  I feel this camera made for a great companion camera to my digital setup and I'm really pleased with a few of the images.  There is just something about this camera, and the resulting images, that I get really excited about and I thought Arrowhead stadium and the KC Chiefs was a great venue to try and create a different kind of sports image.

 

... Stay tuned for the digital photographs

Josh & Lauren

Wedding Photography

Initially, I started professional photography as a wedding photographer and as second shooter for top photographers in Miami.  When we moved from South Florida to KCMO I didn't really continue to pursue wedding photography for a variety of reasons: my wife's schedule as a physician resident wasn't conducive to the schedule; I was finishing up my doctorate and working on my academic work; I was receiving plenty of paid gigs through tourism/travel, family sessions, and image licensing.  Besides, wedding photography requires significant word-of-mouth and networking foundation which takes a while to build up. So needless to say, I put the wedding photography on the back burner, relative to other photography endeavors.

Recently, I have started shooting weddings solo (see Tim & Colette's wedding here) and as a second-shooter once again.  I linked up with Lindsay (website, Facebook, Instagram) and had the opportunity to shoot alongside her last month.  BTW, I can highly recommend her photographic services  - so check out the links.  

I really enjoy shooting as a second-shooter for photography and it is a departure from the norm of being a 'wedding photographer'.  What I mean is that being a second-shooter is a welcome change from the often pressure/ stresses/ expectations of being a first-shooter.  As a second-shooter, I have the ability to get different angles than the norm and to exercise the creative muscle that I love about photography.  Lindsay gave me the option to shoot differently than usual since I was there in a support capacity (in this instance I free lensed, used prisms, and searched for different/ unique views & candid moments).  Often, as a second shooter, I don't even edit or have to deal with the post-production associated with weddings - which can be a big job in itself.  However, I did edit and cull the photographs in this instance so as to have an example of what I can deliver as a second photographer (so obviously these are my edits which are undoubtedly different than what will be delivered to the couple).  Anyways, it was a real blast jumping back into wedding photography and I am truly excited about the possibility of shooting even more weddings here in the future.

Groom:

First Look:

Ceremony:

Couple:

Venue:

Mr. & Mrs. Moduno

The thing I love most about Kansas City (and believe me there is a lot to love about Kansas City) are the people and the sense of community created here.  I met the Modunos at Second Best Coffee but I met them way before that on Instagram.  My daughter and I were able to spend the morning with them recently while they were on a stay-cation.  

What is apparent when you meet them, and if you just look at their personal accounts (@mrs_moduno & @mr_moduno) or webpage (@moduno.co), is that this is a couple who loves each other - a love that is deep, and genuine, and proud.  That love and kindness and companionship they exude is contagious and made a simple morning out shooting fun and memorable.  

I'd highly recommend them if you're looking for someone to shoot your wedding and make sure to say hi if you ever run into them while out for coffee.


Here are just a few of the photos I took:


Additionally, I shot hybrid (film and digital) so you can compare and contrast the two photographic mediums.

Photographs from the Pentax 67ii and Fujifilm 400h film. Developed and scanned at TheFINDLab

A month with the Pentax 67ii

I managed to get my hands on a Pentax 67ii medium format film camera along with 3 lenses (55/3.5, 105/2.4, & 300/4).  This is just a quick preview of the images I shot and a few take-aways after a month of shooting.

Week 1-2:

The two weeks were spent just shooting street photography and scenes around Kansas City.  Everything shot was handheld.  I had been warned about the mirror-slap associated with the 6x7 camera so I managed to shoot everything between 1/125 - 1/1000 of a second.  It was quite a challenge for the first roll but it was a rather short learning curve working within these parameters for street photography.  Also, the right film selection based on the scene/ time of day/ light became really crucial to shooting these handheld.  For the record, that 1/125 of a second recommendation was for the 105mm lens - there are undoubtedly different requirements for handholding the other wide angle and telephoto lenses.  I did shoot 2 shots under the 1/125 recommendation online (1/60 & 1/90 of a second) with the mirror-up function and the images turned out perfectly.

The images from the first two weeks were shot with a variety of films: Portra400, Acros100, Fuji400h, & Ektar100. 

Week 3: 

The third week I took the camera to Tennessee for a family visit/ vacation and tried the camera out in a setting outside of street photography.  I walked away with a handful of images that I am certain I wouldn't have been able to capture outside of this camera system.  I used the camera on a tripod and handheld in a variety of settings.  I had read many reviews about the vibrations of the mirror online but I didn't have any issues whatsoever - even with the camera + 300mm lens atop my travel tripod (which is significantly smaller than every recommendation I came across).  I really have found the dimensionality/ focus/ degree of focus of the 67 format to be an ideal camera for me personally.  Some of the images are reminiscent to images that I see coming out of some large-format photographers.  I shot the image side-by-side with digital camera just to see how different the images are from my normal output.  I shot slide film, Velvia100, and Fujifilm Pro 160ns for the first time ever while on this trip and with this camera.

Comparisons between Pentax 67ii and Digital Images:

I have put some images side-by-side with my digital images as comparisons.  With some of the digital images it took significant time to edit the images to where I wanted; whereas, the film shots are either unedited or just minor adjustments. Both of the comparison shots were taken atop Roan Mountain at different times of the day - the Velvia shots were at sunset and the 160ns shots were midday during very harsh, direct sunset.

Pentax 67ii + Fuji Velvia 100 film (left) versus Nikon D750 (right)

Pentax 67ii + Fujifilm Pro 160ns film (left) versus Nikon D750 (right):

Overview:

I am really happy with my first couple of weeks with the Pentax 67ii.  I had originally planned on selling my 645 medium format camera but I think that there is still a place where the 645 is still necessary and it does have some pros when compared to the 67.  Same thing goes with the digital cameras.  I didn't get the 67 as a replacement for any camera system I currently own. Rather the 67 is a different tool and one that I think will complement other tools I currently own and use.  Now I know there is no perfect camera but I do think that this camera is my ideal film camera.  Yes, it is touted as being large but I had no problem using it as a daily carry-along camera (the grip on the 67ii, not present on the earlier iterations, even made carrying the camera without a strap a possibility - although a full day of shooting may prove that this is not a great idea).  The manual focusing wasn't a problem or difficult and I could find focus extremely quick even in street photography.  I did have a few shots with a soft focus but I am not concerned with that.  FYI, this camera is not one of those covert street cameras (in all honesty I am not sure if many other people would even use this in a street scenario) due to its size.  The camera really shines for portraits and landscapes.  The portraits really shine with regard to focus and dimensionality (those film-like qualities that I can't really put into words) and the landscapes with regard to film negative size and detail.  I am really excited and optimistic about this camera and continuing to grow as a photographer with this piece of equipment by my side.

 

Software Review: Imagenomic Portraiture

Imagenomic's software, Portraiture, was one of the first plug-ins I ever purchased - now over six years ago.  I actually started using Portraiture as a plug-in for Apple's photo editing software Aperture.  Then Apple went and discontinued Aperture and I was left in a lurch with all of my plug-ins because once I moved over to Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop I wouldn't be able to use the plug-ins that I had incorporated into some of my workflows.  I actually contacted Imagenomic about the ordeal and they gave me a 50% off discount so that I could still use the software within Lightroom.  This is software that I actually use, although I have been using it less and less as of late, so I actually have purchased it twice.  Additionally, I am only reviewing software that I believe in, or have a strong opinion about, and I am not being payed or endorsed for my thoughts.

OK now that the backstory and disclaimer is over, let me get into the details of what Portraiture is, the pros/cons, etc.  The software "intelligently" smooths skin and removes imperfections while still maintaining skins texture and other details (hair, eyebrows, etc.).  Essentially, the software selects just the skin areas of a photograph and selectively smooths only the skin tone areas.  No need for manually retouching pixels and selective-masking.

The unique thing I like about this software is that there is (1) an Auto-Mask feature or (2) you can manually fine-tune the different features (e.g. sharpness, smoothness, contrast, warmth).  The auto-mask feature comes in several strengths in a drop down menu.

Cons:

- This is a technical component that I've discovered but you have to soften the skin before you convert an image to Black and White.  If you try to smooth the skin on a B&W image then nothing happens.  If you run the software and then convert to B&W then everything works great.  This is only a problem because the skin softening is typically the last thing I do with an edited image and this mainly just interrupts my typical workflow.

- The skin softening is almost too good.  I go back in with a brush and sharpen the facial hair on men and quite often more features on men because the skin may be too smooth and feminine.  I also go back and sharpen some of the other features such as hair, eyebrows, and sometimes the eyes or nose on occasion.  I know the software uses selective masking for skin but I have noticed a slight softening of the hair and eyebrows, and eyes after using the software despite the claims that it maintains these details.

- The price is a little steep at $199.95 but the software is solid and if you shoot a lot of portrait sessions or weddings then it is easily worth the money.

Pros:

- Super fast and it is so easy to use anyone can, even a beginner, can start using it today.

- The obvious use is for model portraits and the bridal portraits from weddings but I also have found that I use it a lot for newborn and children's photographs. 

- Really quick usage as plug-in for lightroom. Lightroom opens up new plug-in window and saves new edited version beside original photograph.

- There is now a plug-in version for video but I have yet to try it.

 

Sample Images: Side-by-Side Comparison

She really didn't need much, if any, skin softening in the original photograph but the software still brings together a slightly more polished look.

Top: Final Photo - Skin softened and reduced red saturation slightly; Bottom: Previously edited photograph

I think it is easy to tell the subtle but still noticeable difference. The image on the top is with Portraiture and the image below is before.

I ran this one through at the lowest setting but there is still a minor, discernible difference.  I zoomed and cropped this photo to illustrate the differences on the face.  Right image is using the software. I included this image because (1) it illustrated the minor softening of the hair that occurs and (2) I think it makes it a slightly better photograph with the smoother, more delicate skin.

Overview:

Overall, I'd recommend this software to anyone who finds they are spending a lot of time masking out blemishes or who manually smooths out skin.  Like I said the software does an amazing job, almost too good sometimes because kids can start to look like porcelain if you aren't careful and portraits can start to look almost too photoshopped.  My family members have gotten to the point where they ask for the pictures to be run through the software.  I tend to use this on a normal to medium setting, take care of any redness/ blemishes with a brush in Lightroom that might not be completely gone because of the lighter setting, and then go over the the hair, eyebrows, and facial hair (on men) with a sharpen brush just to contrast with the smoother skin.  I have often come to view my photographs as a better version of the self and this software definitely helps facilitates that philosophy.

There is a free trial that can be downloaded or you can buy it from the link below.

Buy Portraiture

Lynch Family

I photographed a family session for the Lynch family on a beautiful morning a couple of weeks ago.  These images were all taken in their amazing backyard.  Such a warm, kind family - I believe that comes through when you look at their photographs.

Upcoming Reviews/ Blog Posts

Software/ Plug-Ins:

  • Imagenomic Portraiture
  • Nik Collection
    1. Dfine 2
    2. Color Efex Pro 4
    3. Silver Efex Pro 2
  • Alien Skin Exposure X
  • VSCO
  • HDR Software Comparisons:
    1. Photomatix Pro
    2. HDR Efex Pro 2
    3. Photoshop HDR

Cameras:

  • Nikon D750
  • Mamiya 645af
  • Nikon F100
  • Pentax 645

Film Stocks:

  • Ektar 100
  • Portra 160
  • Portra 400
  • Fuji Acros 100
  • Fuji Pro400h

Technique:

  • Brenizer Method - Shooting & Processing
  • Free Lens