Thursday, October 30, 2008

Studio work... on location

I'm excited to say that I'm all set up now for taking the "studio experience" on location!

While most of my clients know me as a "wedding photographer," many do not know that I also have several years of studio experience as well. That's right... while I love taking photos in the field using just the ambient light or perhaps at best a flash on the camera, I also get excited when I see images that only multiple studio lights can create. Setting up lighting ratios, making sure the backdrops or sets are done right, it's not as easy as you might think. Add in the variable of shooting this on location and you can imagine it's going to be tough!

Well, that's part of the fun!

Years ago, I photographed many health club instructors in the San Diego area. And, I even did glamour shots working in conjunction with a local beauty salon. The "before" and then "after" photos are amazing! While the photos were good, the artistry that a good hair and makeup person can do is equally amazing!

So, if you need a good studio portrait... give me a call. Let's see what we can create together!

One of the first (if not the first) to put the studio lights through its paces will be one of my past wedding clients! I shot their wedding just last year and they are expecting their first child at the end of November! So they contacted me via my facebook site and we are going to see if we can do a pregnancy session together!

This is so exciting! I'm so happy for them and also honored at the same time that they would think of me to document this stage of their life together. I just hope they will remember me when it is time to take photos of the baby too!

So spread the word. I'm doing studio work on location now along with my regular wedding duties! What kind of special images can we create together? Studio images will be posted as I build up this new portfolio.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Only Original Photography Equipment I'm Still Currently Using


Since I started shooting professionally in 1990, I've retired most of my older camera gear.

With new technology coming out every day (especially since digital), I find that I turn over camera gear quite fast. But the one item that I am still using today is my trusty Minolta Auto Meter IIIF light meter!

However recently, I found that my meter was not working! It was stuck with one reading only (showing an error) and I couldn't figure it out! I thought perhaps it was a low battery, so I went out and bought another 6 Volt battery to fix it (it's a special size.) It still registered wrong.

Disheartened, I started to look around for a replacement.

I was really upset... the cost of a new meter was over $250 but it was not that I could not afford a new one... I was not happy that my trusty old meter had died. So I decided I'd fix it the way I used to fix things at the San Diego District Attorney's Office (where I had worked in the past)... I "whacked it" on the palm of my hand! Whenever someone came to me to ask me to fix some piece of equipment at the DA's office, my standard answer was, "Whack it!" Often, it worked! So I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised when the Minolta meter came back to life after "whacking it!" Perhaps I jarred something inside or perhaps it unstuck the "measure lock" button or something, but it works again!

This meter is super accurate and I just could not let it go without giving it one last try. I'm glad I did and I'm glad it works again!

I use this meter for incident light readings and also to measure the output of my studio flashes. While it's 18 years old, it's as accurate as any of the current models out there. And, it's the only piece of camera gear I still use today since day one of shooting professionally.

The only other items I still use today since the early days are my studio backdrop stands and my light stands and one of my studio tripods. They are still around as well. But they are not as old as this meter!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Round Table Discussions - Number Four

I've scheduled another Round Table Discussions to be held at my office on December 9, 2008.

Up to nine other photographers and I will be discussing various topics which concern the wedding and photography industry. This will be the fourth session that I've hosted and moderated.

While we have social get togethers several times a year, these Round Table Discussions focus strictly on business. Open only to professional photographers who have been working in the industry for at least two years, we'll be doing some in-depth discussions on the future of professional photography.

If you are a professional wedding photographer and would like to join in this discussion group, please contact me at 847-840-4082 or at photos@russlowe.com. Only nine photographers besides myself will be admitted on a first reserved, first served basis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bowling at Pinstripes







Tonight several fellow wedding photographers and I went to Pinstripes in South Barrington for a little bowling.

Several times a year, we try to get together to unwind and share stories of the various weddings we've shot during the year to learn from one another. It's always interesting to find out that you are not the only one out there dealing with similar issues in business.

We always have a great time! Thanks to Jay C for organizing this event!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Location Photography

Lately, I've been gearing up for doing location "Studio" work...

As the economy becomes more and more difficult for everyone, photographers are finding that besides their main businesses, they have to diversify as well. I'm no exception.

I have been getting requests from people who find me via the internet or by word of mouth asking if I could do some location portrait work for them. Well, in the past I have turned many of these requests down... but today, I can't afford to do that. So, I'm "gearing" up for the challenge of doing location work again but using studio lights and backdrops.

Now I'm not a big fan of doing this during weddings... it takes time to set up all those studio lights and backdrops... not to mention that it takes me away from shooting the wedding reception itself! But a high-quality studio shot done outside of a wedding is ok with me! Headshots, 3/4 shots, full-length shots, I've done them all and am very good at it too, by the way.

New studio lights are being acquired now and so are new backdrops. So if you would like me to do a nice "studio" shot for you or your business... let me know! I can be very creative in the studio and I can even shoot these images on location at your place of business or your home! Of course, natural "environmental" portraits are always available too. But you should see my "studio" work! :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Doyle Dykes at Cascio's Interstate Music - New Berlin, WI




Doyle Dykes and his daughter Haley Dykes performed at Cascio's Interstate Music today in New Berlin, WI. I surprised them by showing up in Wisconsin!

While I try to attend every Doyle Dykes' concert in the Chicago area, I've never ventured out of the state to see him play. But New Berlin is only about 1-1/2 hours away from my home, so driving up to Wisconsin wasn't too bad.

After the show, Doyle and Haley took my wife and me to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. We had a great time catching up. The last time I saw the two of them was in Chattanooga Tennessee last year when I went there to photograph Doyle's daughter Holli's wedding. OK... I guess I have ventured out of the state to hear Doyle play since he played at his daughter's wedding!

If you've never heard Doyle play or Haley sing, I'd encourage you to go out and see them! Doyle's got a new album coming out next month and I got a sneak preview of a couple of the tracks after lunch. It was great! He's got Phil Keaggy and Eric Johnson and also his son Caleb Dykes all playing on this album with him! While you can tell this was a "Doyle CD," it had many new elements to the sound because of the other players helping out! This is one special CD from Doyle, so don't miss it!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fender Jazz Bass - 5 String


I've posted many of the guitars I've purchased (and sold) over the years, but I've never posted about my bass... so here it is... a Fender 5-string Jazz Bass.

Both the Jazz Bass and the Fender Precision Bass are the most recognized basses in the world. While I had owned a four-string Fender Precision Bass in the past, when I decided to get another bass, the 5-string Jazz Bass was my first choice. The five strings give a few extra low notes to play when you've run out on a 4-string bass. Plus, I like the sculpted shape of the Jazz Bass because it's a lot easier on the body. The two pickups make tone shaping a lot nicer too.

A 4-string Jazz Bass is definitely easier to play though. The neck is not as wide. But you get used to a 5-string. It's not as hard to play as some people think.

It seems the only time I ever get to play the bass is when the Chicago-area members of The Acoustic Guitar Forum get together for our semi-annual jam. I prefer to play bass while everyone else plays their acoustic guitars because it really helps round out the sound. With so many guitars, the low-end is neglected. But not when I take out the bass to play! Plus, I play guitar in church all the time, so it's a real treat for me to play the bass.

My daughter taught herself how to play my bass when she was in eighth grade! She's a violinist with no experience on the guitar or the bass... but when her jazz band said they needed a bassist, she volunteered! She actually did really well too! I was amazed that she could teach herself how to play, but also that should could hold that heavy bass on her shoulder during their performances! She claims that she can't remember how to play any longer now that she's in high school, but I'm sure if she tried, she'd remember.

Playing the bass is relatively easy though. It's one note at a time, most of the time. But to play well, you do need to have a knack for it. I love listening to jazz players play the bass. They really can make it sing! For me, I play the bass strictly "by ear" so I play what I hear in my mind when listening to a song. Works for me! Others who have heard me play says it works for them too... so I'll stick with this method!

Tripod Heads


After messing around with ball heads for my tripod for the past couple of years, I've decided to go back to the tried and true 3-way head.

This is the Manfrotto 229 which replaces the old 3039 head. I had a 3039 head before moving to the ball heads but thought I'd like the quick settings of a ball head instead. But what I found was that it was harder to keep the ball heads from creeping when set in a vertical orientation. So to do a proper job, you need a ball head that can handle a lot more than you think... and those are rather expensive!

The 229 head will handle a load of 26.46 lbs. whereas my last ball head could only handle 11 lbs. With the Nikon D3 and a large lens, you need all the load capability you can get! So it's back to the tried and true.

Monday, October 06, 2008

US Mint - State Quarters





Images borrowed from the US Mint Website


Since their introduction in 1999, I've been trying to collect at least one of each of the State Quarters for a collector's map for my daughter.

This is the final year for the quarters and I realized that I was missing one quarter from 2007 and all of the quarters from 2008!

So today, I reached into my pocket and found my first 2008 quarter... ARIZONA! But I was still missing the others. So I reached out to my friends at the Acoustic Guitar Forum for help and
have now found all of the coins! Hawaii is not minted yet, so that's the only coin missing at this point.

Thanks to all my friends for searching for me! Within one hour of asking for help, the coins have been located! Yes, I have friends all over the USA helping out!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Goodbye Hasselblad


The last Hasselblad film camera that I own has been sold...

This Hasselblad (I had three) was one that I thought I'd keep just for "old time's sake" but the more I thought about it, it was just wasting away sitting in a camera bag. So I decided to sell it along with an extra lens and additional film backs. I'm glad it's going to a photography student who plans to use it in his study of photography though! At least I'll know it's being utilized and that perhaps one day, this other photographer can say he benefited from the purchase of it and it furthered his interest in photography.

Hasselblads at one time were considered the top-of-the-line cameras to own for wedding and commercial photography. Today, digital has taken over. So long old faithful medium format camera!