Jess Strantz at Borders

I have some pretty amazing friends. Some carry cameras, some carry paper and pen, some carry vinyl, others carry instruments, all carry their own art forms in some way. It’s an expressive collection of companions I keep.

Last weekend I caught up with one such creative pal, Jess Strantz. She played some acoustic and a handful of piano songs of hers over at Borders Bookstore in Mishawaka. Such a refreshing sound, lively, chill, excellent all around. As usual I brought a camera along to snap some photos off the clock. It helps me keep sharp shooting in available light and I got to snap with the 85mm f1.8 lens, a new favorite! Even though I was just shooting for low light practice and for my own use at a similar gathering years back, I actually met some very cool musicians and ended up shooting weddings for 3 of the bandmates after snapping some available light photos of their set and sharing the shots afterward.

Jess Strantz at Borders Bookstore

Drop me a line for your live performance & promotional photography!

Easter last weekend

Easter 2008 Bu Kids

I didn’t say much about it when it was here, but Easter came to mind now that my sis is back in Missouri and it seems like things have slowed down here at the Bu home.

I spent most of the Saturday before Easter at the blue lake cottage where my dad’s family has met for holidays, birthdays and laughs ever since I can remember. It’s across from a camp that had a spooky old house we always told each other was haunted when we tried to scare our siblings and cousins.

I talked with my older, now 30-something cousins about all the topics that usually disrupt family gatherings – religion, politics, war, and taxes. And it turns out it was one of the best times ever talking about grown up things till 11:30 at night before we noticed the clock and headed home.

I no longer hold a seat at the kid table, and not because I’m soon 28. Most gatherings my cousins and I call seats at the “kid table” but with the eldest 3 cousins present with their kids I finally realized a little how we’ve all grown up a bit, and that we’ve all made some outright adorable kids. We’ve restocked the kid table with 6 great grandchildren that Grandma had a blast seeing all together. It felt like Christmas cheer everywhere with all the kids laughing and playing together. That’s the best way to describe it. Grandma didn’t want to go home till late and even my cousins from Chicago waited till near midnight to drive home to the Windy City.

Nothing better than good fun with family.

Summer Newlyweds by Holga

Last summer I picked up the classically cheap and funky photo making Holga camera as part of my creative escape from the immediacy and trigger happy shooting of digital photography. The Holga has become a quick low tech favorite of mine, and I’ve had some pretty cool candid snaps printed from some of our summer weddings. One of my favorites is… this one!

Holga Wedding Photography: Tara & Dwight by EB Photography

This outdoor wedding day was not only a fantastic celebration but a perfect day for Holga photos. I snapped 3 candid frames and especially liked the way this one came out. A high-res scan of it made it into the album too.

Check out that classic plastic lens Holga look – semi-sharp center and wonderfully “soft focused” and vignetted edges – all in camera! All that from medium format film from the mid 1990s – not too shabby!

If you have trouble seeing the photo from a feed reader check out this post’s original feed. It’ll be worth the click!

Spring has sprung – a snow leak!

March snow showers

My little sis came home from Missouri last weekend for Easter and to meet my baby Adrian. She missed her flight from Chicago to South Bend and made it to the Bucholtz (Polish) Easter late Saturday. Her flight back out early this week was canceled because of severe wind storms. The next was canceled because of this stuff – globs of slush falling from the sky. Something like 2″ of snow. It’s not Spring *yet* as far as the icy blasting snowstorms are concerned. Oh well, a few extra days to visit with sis.

Cold as it was, the snowfall got some Over the Rhine Christmas songs stuck in my head, and got me inspired enough to go shoot time exposures after midnight. This one was about 15 seconds with a little pop of fill flash just before the shutter closed. (It was still pretty windy so the branches were moving all over!)

Stay toasty. And if at all possible, play some Over the Rhine – this weather’s perfect for it.

Endeavors in Illumination

“There are two kinds of light–the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.”
– James Thurber

It’s hard to say when it began to stir, but I welcome the nudge to do something new, to try new ideas, to expand on proven practice of what I understand in lighting.

The changing of seasons always seems to inspire me. New years has its resolutions and new start, spring breathes new life into the frozen, summer lets loose with bare feet and the smell of cookouts with friends, fall paints the landscape and gets out the warm fuzzy clothes as winter returns and the circle completes. Even while this current year’s winter inundated us with shut-in, bone chilling days, I do enjoy the seasons in Indiana. There’s something inspiring about the changes happening.

Weather patterns aside, it’s easy to get in a creative rut when you stick with what you already know and don’t get to try new ideas. It’s safe, but reliable, predictable but repeatable. Peppered throughout last year’s wedding season’s celebrations were so many photos that just popped. A new look, a different angle, a moment where everything just worked the way I hoped it would come together. It is in the pursuit of these dramatic, creative photos that I find myself wanting to do more with what I’ve learned and try new ideas. Inspiration can feel dangerous.

This March especially I’ve had a lot of ideas running through my mind’s eye. It is, in fact, some of those same creative brainstorms that kept me from returning to sleep early this morning. Watching the sunrise, even if I’ve been up most of the night leading to it, always sparks a bit of creativity and refreshing. As we count down till April 26th, the start of our spring wedding season, the stirring to hone my use of lighting has been growing.

To explain what has been stirring reminds me of the first few rolls of film I shot through my first SLR. What a sound as the shutter snapped! What a feeling to hold a manual 35mm body, focus a 50mm lens, and see your ideas in print. In 2003 when I checked out some photography books from the downtown library I was surprised to find a sticky note with my handwriting on it stuck inside some of my favorite books I read over and over when I started off with my 35mm camera.

Minolta X-370 35mm film camera body

Everyone needs a creative outlet, and more so, I think, when you use your creative outlet for work. When I was so busy with photo work last summer that I didn’t get out much to shoot on my own I picked up a Holga to try new ideas and get away from the things I did for work. I loved the break from the digital realm and really love the funky photos the Holga makes. It was a shot in the arm for creativity. I even snapped a few photos with this $25 plastic gem while at “work” with $10 grand around my neck and waist in optical Nikon stock. That’ll turn some heads!

Short story long, I ran across an impressive photography and lighting blog that has really outlined this quest of creativity. The Strobist Blog outlines The Lighting Journey as such:

  1. Ambient light is best. (I love working with great ambient light and using minimal extra gear! It is, however, only one of the ways I light a photo.)
  2. Competent on-camera flash. “It is comfy and predictable – which is not necessarily a terrible thing. Warm milk is not a terrible thing, either.” Eesh.
  3. Overdone off-camera flash – going nuts with lighting setups, “nuke it till it glows” (not a problem I’ve run into, thank goodness!)
  4. Experimentation – while the other stages are “comfy and predictable, experimentation is error-prone, and sometimes random in its quality. Which I will take over predictable and boring any day.”
  5. The Bag of Tricks – knows what works, versatile and flexible, knows what will sell. Hey, can hear a camera shutter and know if it’s too slow for a sharp shot, or see a flash / lens combination and know if there’s enough range to get a good exposure. But then again, I should know it that well when I rely on reflexes to catch fleeting moments. I have a good bag of tricks techniques I use very well.
  6. Personal and Unique Lighting Style – Often with this style comes huge financial success – and rampant, blatant imitation from others. (Not there yet on either account.)
  7. Subject-driven Lightdefined by absolute mastery of the craft to the point where it transcends into art on a regular basis.

    The command of a wide array of techniques leads to a pure versatility unmatched by other shooters. The key is a variety of styles – singular or combined – from which to choose The Appropriate Response to a given challenge.

    It’s the difference between a very good cellist playing a piece, or that same piece being owned by the late Pablo Casals.

    It is being so far beyond the mastery of technique that “how-will-I-light-this” is replaced by sheer, instinctive vision. It’s craft to the point of genius. It’s Dean Collins in his prime.

So much to ponder. The sun’s bright in the sky lighting the overcast morning sky, coffee’s done and I’ve got music streaming. This day is looking pretty inspirational.

Itching to get outdoors

I’ve been itching to get outside and hike. Ok, itching and hiking aren’t a fun pair of words. I’ve been eager to go hike again soon. I came across a contact sheet print from my film classes when I lugged a nice Bronica SQ manual 120 rollfilm camera around with me while I hiked my favorite paths around Worster Lake.

Potato Creek’s Worster Lake, North Liberty, Indiana

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  No green in these B&W shots, feel free to pinch em.

awesome available light – Megan & Brian

Not only was this the first big shoot I’ve used our Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens but it was a wedding day rich with available light. A fast, meduim telephoto prime lens and lots of great light combined made for a creative day out with Megan & Brian Brooks. One of my favorite candids was shot at First Presbyterian Church here in South Bend between portraits at the church and out along the East Race. Enjoy! I’m off to get some sleep!

Megan & Brian Brooks - Wedding Day Photography

So you think you can dance? – Reception action snap

I know I can’t.

At the risk of my adorable son overtaking this blog – and you know photos of him sure could – I’m putting up some favorites from last year’s amazing year of amazing couples.

I love a good rowdy dance floor. Not because I can dance, but because I get to put my action photography into practice. Here’s one of my favorite dance photos from last year, a crazy flip or spin move that ended the rowdiest rendition of Footloose I’ve ever been in the middle of! Seconds before one gent did a jumping toe-touch splits and that was enough to break out the big guns and this move.
footloose!

Enjoy, and keep on dancing!

week of the geek, birthday of…

Unbeknown to me (what a fun word, unbeknown) today was the “birthday” of some of the most used software in my line of work. February 19th rolls around with the anniversaries of version 1.0 of Photoshop (1990), Camera Raw (2003) and last year one of my personal favorite Adobe apps, LightRoom. It’s moreso the date that the ground breaking apps shipped but we just finished cheery pie and ice cream at home so it feels like a birthday.

Adobe birthdays on Feb 19th

Need to geek out and want to read more? Thought so. Here it is.