Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Halloween

Last Friday I had an unusual opportunity. I was invited by my friend Greg Daily to do a haunted house shoot. I really don’t do much in the way of people or scary creature photography but I was excited to give it a try. I had lots of ideas on how I wanted to shoot this event but Greg brought me back to reality. This was a volunteer effort and the monsters have families and day jobs and would not be available for a professional photo shoot.

Plan B (in my mind) was to dress in black and try to blend in. I managed to scare a few kids along the way. Perhaps I’m a really scary person in the dark. We literally worked with the monsters between the tour groups which at times were a minute or two apart.

I did a little lightpainting but for most of the shots I just used my R1C1 Macro Flash and a remote SB-800 with a red gel.

Click here for a small gallery.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

West Virginia Wrap Up

I think it is time to wrap up the details of my recent trip to West Virginia. The original purpose of going to West Virginia was to spend the night in the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. I’m very happy with how that part of the trip worked out. See my October 4th post for details and pictures.

Rather than go to West Virginia for just an overnight trip I decided to make the trip a mini vacation. I stayed in Canaan Valley with the exception of the one night spent in Weston. I was hoping to do a lot of shooting at Bear Rocks but I only shot there once because the weather was cloudy and rainy most of the time. This was great for waterfalls!! I did a lot of scouting and checked out locations that I had not visited before. Some are certainly worth returning. I hiked to the top of Seneca Rocks. That was a surprise. The cliffs are only about 10 feet wide at the top and when I arrived at the top the wind kicked up to about 30-40 mph and I could not get down quick enough. There was no way I was taking off my pack and shooting in those conditions.

On my first morning in Davis I met the US Army Golden Knights Parachute Team. They were doing a jump at a fall festival in Davis later that morning. After seeing these guys at air shows over the years it was a real thrill to meet them. I wish I could have stayed for the show.

It was a little early for fall color, although Blackwater Canyon was starting to look nice.

Click here for a gallery.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Junk Cars

I decided during my recent trip to West Virginia to try and seek out a few junk cars to shoot. I found a few but not as many as I had hoped. Many of them had been swallowed up by vegetation or were just not in a situation I found photogenic. On my last day I did find a hidden gem. The “Top Kick’s Military Museum”, a very nice private collection, but I had reached my saturation point and did not give this location the treatment it deserved. Hopefully I can return sometime.

I’ll write a little more about the overall trip on my next post.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Night in the Nut House

Recently I join friends from the Manassas Warrenton Camera Club for an overnight trip to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV. The site was formerly known as the Weston State Hospital and operated from the mid-1800s until 1994. The current owners are operating the site as a tourist attraction. One of the tours offered is an overnight Ghost Tour. Apparently ghost hunting is quite popular because we had to book our tour several months in advance.

The tour started about 9:30pm and we were taken to a floor and given a 15 minute tour, then allowed to work freely for another hour or so. We would then move to another floor. By 4:00am we had covered all of the floors. The staff had a ton of good ghost stories but I was there to make pictures. This was the first time I have done any serious interior lightpainting. As usual, I learned a lot. In photography light is everything. I’m convinced that my prior experience with lightpainting gave me a leg up on this latest venture, but I also made my share of mistakes. One was bringing too much light. All of my lights were brighter than what I needed for an interior environment. A simple Maglite would have been sufficient in most cases.

The other obstacle was each shot required planning and thought. When doing my more traditional photography, I tend to analyze the conditions and react in order to make the best picture available for that time and light. With lightpainting I had to spend much more time thinking about each shot, how to compose, how to light, and how I was going to tie them altogether into a finished product. The other really surprising thing was that I did not take that many pictures, perhaps 25 or so the entire night.

After catching a few hours sleep, I returned the next morning to take a few shots of the exterior. The clouds that morning were great!!

Click here for an image gallery.