Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pencil Hollyman The Devil Dog

Photograph Pencil Hollyman
Yes, it's true. Cindy Sherman lived down the hall from me in a loft here at South Street when she was just starting out. So inspired, my rescue dog, Pencil likes to dress up and have his photograph take in different roles, even though I tell him that he's a bit derivative. You may have read the previous post where he dressed up as a Bollywood star.

Derivitive or not, he knows I've been a slacker as of late on posting on this blog, too busy with other work. But he is persistent. So he nuzzled me awake this morning with a poke of his pointed nose, all dressed for Halloween in his Devil Dog Suit. He asked me to take this picture.

So Happy Halloween from this girl and her dog!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Festivus & Allen Salkin

I mentioned Allen Salkin, the freelance writer with whom I worked last week on a NYTimes assignment. Do check out Allen's website " for the rest of us", Festivus. Salkin tells us there,
This is the home for all things Festivus, the holiday most people believe, wrongly, started on an episode of Seinfeld. This Website was set up by the author of Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us, the book which shows in hilarious and 100 percent accurate detail the stunning, bizarre and sometimes controversial ways real people all over the world are actually celebrating Festivus now.

Salkin's site tell us that

Allen Salkin is an investigative reporter. He is the author of the book Festivus - The Holiday for the Rest of Us.

Allen has written on subjects ranging from the last true waterbed salesman in the San Francisco Bay Area to corruption in the Brooklyn courts for The New York Times, Details, Yoga Journal, Heeb, and other publications.

Allen has been a rubber ducky salesman in Las Vegas, a farm laborer in Crete, a casting agent in Hong Kong, a busker in Melbourne, a stand-up comedian in New York, a cafeteria cashier in Squaw Valley, a slacker in San Francisco, and a chocolate chip cookie maker in Waikiki.

For Allen's blog, journalism and photos, visit his website: www.allensalkin.com.

Magic Flute Glow

Photograph Stephenie Hollyman Copyright 2006

Here's another example of my Magic Flute operatic lighting using Gary Fong's light dome with my Canon 580EX flash off camera. This was taken last week for a New York City museum.

In a previous post I spoke of letting ambient light burn in with the flash exposure to warm up a subjects'face, to produce a glow. For this portrait of elegance and elan I held the flash low and to the left, shooting with a slow shutter speed.

Operatic Footlighting

If you have read my previous posts on Gary Fong's Light Dome you know what an unabashed fan I am of the effects it can produce, when used off camera axis. This last week I shot three evenings for The NY Times for a story called "Fame at 72 Proof." I worked with the tremendously talented and charming Allen Salkin, who is among many other things, the author of the book Festivus. Our assignment was a story about owners of boutique liquors and how they promote their product by donating their branded booze to hosts of high profile parties and events.

To take this shot of the maker of African Starr Rum, Jeffrey Zarnow, I used Gary's Fong's diffused milk-white dome instead of the translucent version over my Canon 580 EX flash. This cone-like covered dome really produces a nice soft white light. But don't count on using it for subjects far away. The fall off is incredible.

I held the flash with the light sphere low, using the flash to emulate a footlight at the opera. I call this my " Magic Flute"effect...sort of like when Pappageno ( sp?) plays his flute.

Careful though. Doing this can cast wicked shadows. Check your screen " chimping" after each shot to make sure you have it in the can. Try to get the subjects away from walls where shadows' " hash marks" will land. Or if you do have a wall, place the flash so the shadows become a crafted part of the photo.

Shake and Bake Event Photography

Photography Copyright Stephenie Hollyman 2006
Last week while shooting an event for a major New York City Museum I played around with what I like to call " Shake and Bake " photography. No, I don't sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs over my subjects. I shake the camera as I shoot a long time exposure and let the ambient light " bake" in...while a nano-second pop of the flash produces an occasional surprise or two.

I set the white balance for the flash rather than putting an organge gel over the flash and setting the white balance for tungsten. It makes everything glow warmly and orange in the background. But the subjects in the foreground come out correctly balanced.

But do beware. There is an element of digital voodoo at work here. The ambient back ground blurs and the subjects lit by flash stand out in sharp relief...if you're lucky. So play it safe and take the standard shot before shaking your camera camera around for the next one.

And set your flash to overpower the ambient light by one stop. Otherwise your the orange from the tungsten will " burn" in to the exposure on your subjects' faces and make them look like pumpkins. ( Although occasionally I will warm up a pale subject by lengthening my shutter speed to allow a " glow" to burn in under the flash exposure.)