Archive for People Photography

Inspirations – Maureen Murphy

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by sabrina

© Maureen Murphy

The topic chosen by my photography group Dante Was Here for a show was “New Realities ” and my new reality was a fear of getting Alzheimer’s. Here is the artist statement:

The subject “New Realities” has a very significant meaning for me.  My reality involves the aging process and how my parents’ history will affect my life.  My mother died of Alzheimer’s and my father (93) has dementia.  My course seems to be pre-ordained – or is it?  These photographs explore the parallels between me and my parents and how they relate to my fears for the future. What can I do to postpone or avoid dementia?  How can I live with the probability that I will experience a loss of my cognitive functioning?  These are questions underlying my everyday life as I move towards my mid sixties – the age my mother was first officially diagnosed. The intention was to display part of my parents’ history and the stage my father was experiencing at the time – living with memories.  The words are a mix of possible thoughts he was thinking and questions I had. Once I wrote the words, I did not edit them.

I took the photo of my father in front of a window camera (D300 1/200 @ 4.8 55mm ISO 1000). I scanned a photo of my mother in her wedding dress and in Photoshop,  combined the two photographs. Then I wrote the text in MSWord and pasted it in as a layer. ~ Maureen Murphy


Inspirations – Jeremy Center

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , on March 16, 2011 by sabrina

© Jeremy Center

One of the creative obstacles I constantly encounter is that my mind is much better skilled at making images than I am. It’s kind of like how I’m a much better piano player in my head than in real life. Never having taken any lessons doesn’t help much either. But when it comes to photography, I kinda have some chops. When it comes to digital artistry, I’m kind of a hack.

What is fortunate though is that my mind makes pictures in the first place. This one is an example of something my brain thought up all on its own. I consider my job is to make the pictures that my brain makes into a reality.  I can’t recall what it was that inspired this one.  My brain works in mysterious ways.  But what I can tell you is how I went about making it.

First I needed to figure out where to get the pieces. I had in my capacity to create almost all of the elements myself. There are four pieces to the image: sky, foreground, football player and rhino. The ground and sky were found locally at the dog walk area at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA.  The football player I shot in my studio.  And the rhino was obtained from a stock image site. When I built the image in Photoshop, I wanted to keep all the components as independent of each other as possible. To make this happen, I put the elements into three groups: Background, Football Player, and Rhino. Doing this lets me work on each of the parts independently and maximizes flexibility as I can make changes down the line without interfering with the other components.

Once all the pieces were ready, I placed them against the background.  The next part, and most difficult and probably the weakest element, was to create realistic looking ground contact so the two pieces didn’t look like they were floating over the background. The last part was overall tonality matching, component sharpening and unsharpening, and final touches on the ground contact points. (Click here to read more about the entire process.) After I thought I was done, I walked away and watched some TV for awhile before returning to the image to make any final adjustments I may have missed.

I think the image as present, although not perfect, is pretty good. At some point one needs to move along. But the key thing here (for me at least) was to get this image out of my head and onto electronic paper. That’s where the true value of the work lies. That and now I have something pretty cool that I made. ~Jeremy Center

Inspirations – Confidence Man by Mark Krajnak

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2011 by sabrina

© Mark Krajnak

As I like to say…. “There’s noir…and then there’s JerseyNoir.” It’s a widely held belief that New Jersey is a corrupt state. From the politicians in Trenton to the way we’re portrayed on the small screen via The Sopranos and, more recently, Boardwalk Empire. Maybe it’s our proximity to underworld scenes in New York and Philly…or maybe we really are like that…I don’t know.

What I do know, though, is that the noir genre is one of my favorite conceptual photographs to put together and shoot. Whether it’s the Man In The Fedora or a femme fatale,  it’s fun for me to harken back to the to the good ol’ days of mystery and suspense,  when a  bottle of whiskey, a pack of Lucky Strikes and a smoking gat got you through the day, though you always had to look over your shoulder.

The image above is part of my JerseyNoir series, a series of conceptual photographs I started a couple of years ago and have continued to add to. I shoot everything in color JPG/RAW and usually convert these images to black & white using Nik Silver Efex Pro. Silver Efex Pro, and its many filters, usually give me the best results when I do color-to-BW conversions. However, I decided to keep this image in color and not do the conversion.

My lighting here was extremely simple. Camera left was a simple desk lamp, the kind you can find in any homegoods store, loaded with a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb. No other on-camera or off-camera flash was used. The minimal post processing included just pulling up the blacks in camera RAW.

The crop here was set up in-camera, and what appeals to me about this image is the use of negative space to the left of the subject.  The constant light also bounced nicely off the polished table while illuminating the smoke from the cigarette. The positioning of the light source provided some separation between the subject and the wall, or else the dark hat would have faded into the background.

Simple but direct. Like a good noir story should be. ~Mark Krajnak

Inspirations – Two Sisters in One by Kevin McElheran

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , on February 27, 2011 by Darwin

©Kevin McElheran

I had this crazy idea at the last swim meet I photographed to capture two sisters that swim together and then to take both photographs and join them down the middle making an image of what looks like one swimmer. I’ve never viewed this done by anyone so not knowing what this would look like, I’m glad I went ahead with the idea!

Both photos were taken, one in the early morning before sunrise which is why the left swimmer has a dark background and the other swimmer was taken during daylight hours showing the bright background.

Joining up the two down the middle lined up not too bad… the only digital work needed was blending the lips to remove the transitional and style differences . The nose is untouched. Kevin McElheran


Inspirations – Snacktime by Justin Van Leeuwen

Posted in Inspirations, Techniques with tags , , , , , , on February 9, 2011 by sabrina

© Justin Van Leeuwen

Canon 7D with a 24-70mm F/2.8 L lens at 50mm f/5.6 @ 1/100th sec ISO 400

This image is a composite of three separate, horizontal, photographs stitched together in Photoshop–all shot with the above settings. I used two Canon speedlights to light the scene; details can be read here.

I usually fire my strobes in manual mode, but it’s good to work with the parts of your gear you’re less familiar with, so I hooked up a Canon 580exII to my 7D, but I moved it off the camera by using a 16′ TTL cord from  I was able to use Canon’s Flash Control Menu to adjust the ratio’s between my lights so that the front flash was lighting my subjects (ie: kids) and the rear was pumped up enough to create a rim light behind us.

I was inspired to do this (as part of a series I’m working on) as I’ve been a Stay-At-Home-Dad with my two young boys this year, and I can get kind of restless when I’m not working my brain. I also wanted to keep my photography sharp for my clients; who usually book me on weekends and evenings.  My kids love Goldfish crackers and I wanted to put a playful (though possibly dark) spin on the literal meaning of having “goldfish as snacks.” I pre-envisioned the scene, set it up, making sure my lighting was right, and then brought the kids in one by one.  Even the photograph with me dangling the goldfish is a separate composite (the fish itself was acquired from, not my local pet store… no live goldfish were hurt in the making of this image, though many wheat-based treats were consumed afterwards).

The image itself may seem complex, I find it MUCH easier to photograph my sons one at a time instead of all at once, with them prone to running off or quickly getting distracted while I’m trying to occupy the other boy – it can be an endless cycle resulting in no usable images.  The composite also allows me to have a wide selection of images to work with, so I can make the best match between the three of us for the final photograph.  Hopefully this will create a unique archive of fun and different images for my boys for when they’re older – it beats the standard embarassing “baby Justin with no diaper on” shots my mom has. ~Justin Van Leeuwen

Inspirations – Mark Ridout

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , on February 6, 2011 by sabrina

© Mark Ridout

Canon EOS 5D 28mm 1/25 sec f/2.8 ISO 400

I had just finished photographing Mom and the baby on the bed together and when Mom got up to adjust her clothing, the baby looked content and safe. I asked Mom to back out of the frame and I photographed the image. I wanted to allow as much light as I could get from the window behind the baby, so shot manual mode to allow the light to come in and wrap the baby. By placing the baby in the bottom left of the frame I could show the light source, clean feel of the room, the calm, serenity and the simplicity of the shot. Sometimes less is more and in this case I believe it works. ~Mark Ridout

Inspirations – Edwin Koo

Posted in Inspirations, Instruction, Techniques with tags , , , on January 30, 2011 by sabrina


© Edwin Koo

During the Swat Valley crisis, I was photographing the refugee exodus, following the conflict between the Army and the Taliban. I came to this refugee camp in the plains of Mardan in Pakistan, and noticed a few auto-rickshaws parked in a row. One of the drivers – Sher Zaman  – was washing his windows, dust-caked after a full day on the road. After receiving a nod from the kind driver, I started photographing him. As I clicked, I struck up a conversation, through my interpreter, and asked him how he escaped. He told me he squeezed 10 people onto his auto-rickshaw, which was meant for about 5 normally. As I talked and photographed, more curious onlookers gathered. Some children squeezed into the rickshaw, re-creating that crowded scene for me. I took a few shots. But the harsh afternoon light made photographing the shaded interior a challenge. That prompted me to look for other angles. It was then that I realized the rickshaw had many mirrors. I pointed to Sher Zaman to look at me through the mirror. The onlookers and children were already crowding around. After shifting myself a little, the subjects fell neatly into the mirrors and behind the window. The half-cleaned window cut the exposure of the background by perhaps two stops, so it worked great for the image. 

I think the take-away lesson is really to try all angles when you have a hunch about the image. Midday sun does not always ruin images – you just have to improvise and make the harsh light work to your advantage. In this case, the mirrors and half-cleaned glass windows became improvised reflectors and filters. ~edwin koo

Photographer of the Month – Larry Louie

Posted in Inspirations, Photographer of the Month, Photography Gear with tags , , , , , on January 15, 2011 by sabrina

©Larry Louie

Darwin: Congratulations Larry on your prestigious win as Travel Photographer of the Year for 2010! What does winning the award mean to you and to the type of photography work you do? 

Larry: I am very honored to have won the TPOY award. It verifies that my work is recognized by prominent judges and peers. It also allows me to emphasize my goal in photography which is to increase awareness of SEVA whose mandate is to eradicate blindness in the third world. Being an optometrist, this is very important to me.

Darwin: When we were both in Images Alberta Camera Club in Edmonton way back in the Pleistocene I recall you did almost all your work in colour. Now you seem to work exclusively in black-n-white – why the change?

Larry: I feel the work that I do is more powerful in B&W. I have always loved B&W, especially ever since I saw an exhibition of Josef Koudelka in NYC. I still love color work though!

Darwin: I notice you seem to photograph project based work like “A Working Day in Dhaka” or “Factories”. Do you find giving yourself a project with a theme helps focus your work and return stronger results?

Larry: I do like to give myself a project so that I will focus. Since I only have a limited time, I want to make sure I spend the time wisely and not waste time. I do my homework before I travel to my destinations usually by the internet and arrange all necessary details such as hotels, local guides and transportation. The projects that I like tend to have a humanitarian cause or purpose, instead of just shooting pretty scenes.

Darwin: Your street photography of people looks so candid, like you are an unseen presence and yet a lot of the work looks to have a wide-angle point-of-view. How do you manage to get into the thick of the action and yet seem to not affect what the people are doing?

Larry: Thank you for your comment. It is very hard to get that in the photos. But the easiest way to obtain that is to make the subject feel relaxed, usually by spending some time with them. A smile goes a long way. Also, one cannot be shy and must push some buttons, but still respect the subject’s wants. 

Darwin: How many international travel trips do you go on per year and how long do you usually go for?

Larry: I usually take one week in the spring time, usually April, and a two-week trip in October. I have an optometric practice so I can’t go for too long so being organized is important. I still will keep my eyes open for any circumstances that may occur that will surprise me and may create a great photo opportunity.

Darwin: As a travel shooter I assume you keep gear to a minimum? What makes up your camera kit these days?

Larry: You are right. Sometimes I would need to hike a long distance, such as in Tibet or New Guinea. Other times the location is very crowded such as Dhaka, Bangladesh. Therefore, I travel very light in most people’s eyes. I have usually 1 Canon 5D mark 2 body and 2 prime lenses: 24mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.2. I also carry an Epson P7000 to download all my daily shots. Recently, I have also brought a backup camera body just in case. Luckily, I have never had to use it.

To see more of Larry Louie’s work, please visit his website.

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

©Larry Louie

Inspirations – Metropolis by Tim Engle

Posted in Art of Photography, Inspirations, Videos with tags , , , , on January 12, 2011 by sabrina

© Tim Engle


Nikon D200, AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/60 second

The painter, Michael Rosner of Eye Level Studios is truly the mastermind behind this series of images as he came up with the designs and color schemes. The technical part for me was the lighting. We tested many different lighting sources until we came across, by chance, using shop lights. If you look closely at some of the images you can see the catch light in their eyes. Using these allowed me to have a repeatable lighting setup that could be duplicated so that the images became more about the painting than about the photography. I shot with the Nikon D200 and on these images a 50mm fixed. For most of these images I used Apple’s Aperture and Adobe Photoshop CS3. Most people think there’s some sort of digital manipulation involved but there isn’t. It’s all paint. Each session takes anywhere from 10 to 13 hours to complete and consists of multiple layers of paint. Click here to view a behind-the-scenes video to view the process. ~Tim Engle

Travel Photographer of the Year 2010 – Larry Louie!

Posted in Art of Photography, Good News, Inspirations with tags , , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by Darwin

I am super thrilled to share the great news that my friend Larry Louie of Edmonton, Alberta has just grabbed the prestigious title of Travel Photographer of the Year for 2010! Congratulations Larry! Larry is a great guy who I first met when I was a member of Images Alberta Camera Club in Edmonton. Larry has long inspired me with his fine art photography but over the last few years his B+W travel work has garnered a lot of deserved recognition. Larry lends a fresh eye to oft-photographed travel themes and it’s his personal vision which likely appealed to the TPOTY judges. And best of all, Larry is part of SEVA Canada – an international non-governmental organization whose mission is the elimination of preventable and treatable blindness around the world. Click on the photo below to check out Larry’s winning portfolio and all the other winners!

©Larry Louie