Had lunch at the basement bar in Cheers on Beacon Street in Boston — the inspiration for the TV show and the place you see when they would show the outside shots. It was a tiny little place and spots at the bar were coveted but I happened to come in at just the right time to get a spot. There was also an upstairs bar which mimics the set of the show but frankly the room had none of the feel of what the show looked like…not very impressive. Downstairs was the place to be. While waiting for my food I set the camera on the bar and fired off some brackets. Even though I used f/10 the DOF is really shallow due to the close focus distance. I didn’t want super long shutter times given the movement of the bartender and the people seated on the other side. f/10 was a decent balance (I shot brackets at f/4 and f/22 also and later picked what I liked the best).
In the gift shop they had this infant onesy. Pretty funny when you think of the words to the theme song.
Quick post tonight…
Today at lunch I joined Pete Talke, Steve Wampler, and Alex Suarez for a photo shoot in downtown Austin with a model named Tiffany. We took turns shooting pics and holding lights and reflectors. Tiffany was very easy to work with and we all got some great shots.
We started out in front of some cool doors on Colorado Street and in the course of an hour only moved a total of fifty feet. Next door to these doors is the entrance of a new bar called TenOak (the grand opening is tonight) — an entrance with another set of cool doors. We had been shooting for a while in front of the doors when one of the bar owners popped out and invited us to shoot inside if we’d send him some of the pics. Very cool…had the whole place to ourselves and he graciously encouraged us to shoot anywhere inside.
Rather than show pics of Tiffany just now, I thought I’d post a few environmental shots from our little shoot. Sometimes we all get so busy shooting that we forget to step back and grab some shots of the whole scene. I snapped a few shots of the group when we were out on the sidewalk and just before I had to take off I grabbed some bracketed shots in the bar with HDRs in mind. I didn’t have time to be very thoughtful about my compositions so bear with me. The image at the top shows a view of the bar with Tiffany posing on the bar itself (far side). Pete’s flash is on the bar at the right edge of the frame. He got some very cool shots with Tiffany’s reflection in the frame along with her (watch his blog — maybe he’ll post a couple).
The shot below is another view of the place and if you look carefully you’ll see Tiffany posing beneath the “E” in the “ELIXIR” sign.
Simple processing on both images: Photomatix, quick masking from original exposures, tweaks in Lightroom.
Today I’m putting in a plug for a Raul Touzon workshop being held at the Dragonfly Gallery in Austin, TX. This workshop is called “The Portable Sun” and focuses on creative flash techniques. I’ve attended a Raul Touzon workshop in the past (please read my review here) and highly recommend him as a teacher. The images you see above and below were taken while attending that workshop. We spent some time on “the portable sun” although that wasn’t the focus of the previous workshop.
I’ve messed around with flash techniques (both on and off-camera) enough to know that you can get bogged down in the technical details in a hurry. That’s fine in some situations but there are times when you just need to know enough to make it work. I haven’t attended Raul’s portable sun workshop but based on my previous workshop experience I can say that he strikes a great balance between getting technical (he can go deep if you need to) and not missing “the moment” because you’re fiddling with dials and buttons on your camera and flash. There are times (especially in journalistic photography) when you just can’t get a flash meter out or fire off a series of test shots. The image of the lady in the bar (The Broken Spoke in Austin) was taken spur of the moment — no setup or test shots. You can see that I need some practice…but that’s why we attend workshops.
Go take this workshop. Registration info is here: http://www.dragonflygallerytx.com/workshopraulportable.htm
Here are links to my posts which have some reference to my Raul Touzon workshop experience:
[Update: Some very important edits — mainly a shout-out to Dave Wilson — stayed on my desktop rather than making it into this post. Adding them in the second paragraph now…]
I took a photography workshop this past weekend (my first) and learned first and foremost how much I have yet to learn about photography. Teaching the workshop was Raul Touzon, a documentary photographer who does work for many big publications, including National Geographic. Thought I’d share a bit of my experience here.
The first thing I need to do is call out Dave Wilson and thank him for setting up this workshop and inviting me to it. Dave recently took a workshop with Raul and has been regularly posting images from that trip over the past few months. When he sent out a note saying that a workshop was being held in Austin AND it was very heavily discounted due to a mix-up in dates, I jumped on the opportunity. I’m extremely glad I did. Great learning experience. Great social experience as well — awesome, encouraging classmates.
Raul doesn’t mince words in his lectures and critiques and I got the definite sense that he rankled a few feathers among some students. Admittedly I was scared to death in anticipation of my first critique, and unfortunately I was the last (of 20-ish students) to be critiqued…had butterflies in my stomach for a couple hours. I did find it helpful to sit through the earlier critiques and by the end could predict much of what I would be critiqued on. I thought that Raul kept a good balance between getting in your face and encouraging you — I came away without any emotional wounds 🙂
For our photoshoot on the second day we spent the afternoon inside the Broken Spoke — an iconic Austin country bar and dance hall. We had models to shoot and were to work with the many different light sources in the place and to use off-camera flash when appropriate. We had the following general rules for our shoots:
(1) Use your widest lens — 10-20mm in my case
(2) NO headshots or plain-old portraits — if you’re shooting people make them
environmental shots. Use interesting angles.
(3) NO edits allowed — images presented for critique in front of the class had to
come straight from the camera w/o adjustment or cropping.
These restrictions were quite difficult for most of us — weren’t used to shooting this way at all.
I enjoyed shooting with the models (I can’t ever get my kids to model for more than 3 clicks these days). As the day finished up I approached the young lady in the image above (a customer) and asked if I could photograph her. She was more than happy to oblige and began to tell me about herself and some of the other ladies at the table. This is one of the shots that the instructor picked as keeper-ish out of the 20+ I had to submit. I was shot handheld with the camera in my right hand and the flash in my left.
While no one would describe this shot as “way out there”, it definitely is something I never would have shot before. Wide angle for a portrait? Would never cross my mind. Angled composition? Nope. That half sign in the background? No again. What did the instructor like? Unique angle, foreground of the hands on the menu, menu has the name of the place, the sign adds to the sense of where you are and explains the lighting on the hair, the contrast on the face. The eyes — while normally you want to get those eyes lit the shadows exaggerate the heavy mascara put on for a night of dancing. He explained much that could be improved of course but he pointed out some positive aspects that I could keep in mind for future shots.
I was certainly challenged to approach photographs in a new way. While I need a lot of work to consistently execute what I learned, I have another set of tools and more ways to approach an image moving forward.
Dave Wilson’s site: http://davewilsonphotography.com/
Raul Touzon’s site: http://www.touzonphoto.com/