Sunday, December 18, 2011

Challenge number 002

Challenge number two, week two…shot the images on the 13th so technically even though this is posted on the Sunday, I reckon I've still managed to get it done as per the requirements! 

Ok, ok fine! I wasn't happy with the original results and I had another go today and I'm somewhat happier this time! 

Here is the why…the image selected for this challenge is an image that has haunted me for a long time, it's adorned my work desktop many times. Every morning it's frozen me on the spot, I've had to admire it and get lost for a moment. The vulnerability of the model and the beautiful shadows make this image one of my all time favourites! 

The photographer that shot this is Chadwick Tyler, be warned if you visit his site, entering it will reveal a wealth of emotions and texture executed with such simplicity  It's almost impossible to think that a camera was present and may make you want to quite photography...just FYI! 

What's was remarkable in trying to achieve a similar lighting and feel was how much control it took Mr Tyler to realise the reference image, this guys wasn't throwing lights around and seeing what sticked! So with multiple grunts and moans I pressed on with my single light setup and  tried to achieve the different shadows I felt were key elements in this shot: above the eyes, under the left eye, under/to the side of the nose and neck. Since I was alone to shoot this I had to use a mirror and the modelling lamp from my grid to aim the light as best I could. I'm happy with the end result and only adjusted the brightness, contrast and sharpness in post. Here's also a bonus image I felt was interesting on my journey to the final pic,  let me know what you think.

Final image

Happy mistake


Monday, December 12, 2011

Challenge number 001, the how to!

First and foremost I had to retouch the image some more, t'was driving me nuts, took that extra 10min and got the yellows closer and the skin tones warmer to match the video screen grab and added the slates just for good measure!

Here's the how to:

The shot was taken in my flat, there is not a lot of space so I was somewhat happy it would have to be a closeup. Looking at the still from the video it seemed simple enough, a two light set up and some control and I would be golden! 

I decided to use a softbox with a grid for my main light source, I used a Micropro 90X120, the grid allowed me to control the falloff of the light so that I could keep some of that mood and not have that light spill all over those pesky white walls. The light was placed camera left and didn't point directly at me, the falloff was nicer this way and gave my face the uniform soft light I was after. 

For the rim light I was very keen to use a beauty dish, I like the quality of light that it gives. After many attempts at getting the highlight in the right spot it became all too apparent that the light was bouncing off the ceiling and walls and the space available did not allow me to move the strobe any further since I don't own a grid for the beauty dish a change of plan was in order, I switched to a grid reflector with a honeycomb, I was worried about the light quality to be too harsh but after some fiddling I arrived at something I felt matched the reference pretty well, I would still love to try a grid on a beauty dish but that's for another day and another pay check! 

Finally one thing I liked about the reference image was the mood and the environment, my background was a carpeted hallway and some white walls, the image seemed plain and needed some sprucing up, I chucked my speedlight  580EX down the hall, gobo'd it with some foam I found to prevent the walls from lighting up and used the cables that's attached to my pocket wizard to create a pattern on the ground and voila. 

Here is the set up used.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Challenge number 001

Well "Challenge number 1" is done and…done! As mentioned in the previous post the goal was to mimic an image/visual that I found inspiring, the pick was:

#2 Brandon Flowers- Crossfire (0:30 min mark)

You be the judge, fail or success please share your opinions and comments; maybe I should quit my douchebaggeries (thanks Patton) and shoot an actual model all comments are welcomed! 

Here is the original and the "post" image, the colour modifications were done in the RAW format, painted some dark over that pesky flaring beard and added some blur as the video seemed to have more and it created a smoother silkier feel. The "post" image was edited very quickly and the goal was to keep the editing to a minimum. I do feel like I could spend another 10-15min and have a closer match the original.

Next post will be the making of…might even feature a video…TUM TUM TUM!!!!! And how I could have achieved the depth of field in camera instead of being a lazy ass…I might even try my suggestion :P 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A new start

As the memories of my last shoot disappear in the rearview mirror of 2011, a restlessness has come over me. The calendar days seem to fly by and the ever building desire to shoot is occupying most of my thoughts...aside from the coffee thoughts and food thoughts of course.  

A streak of bad luck has annihilated most of the shoots I was meant to do, the creative ones anyway. Now "a streak of bad luck" is probably a load of bull, one can always change their luck and motor on, instead of turning the calendar pages and wondering when the next one was going to happen I should have been trying to borderline overbook and create opportunities. 

That being said lets get some rust off! Lets start at home, a weekly challenge perhaps. I still feel very green when it comes to lighting, so the idea is to find images, videos, what ever visual makes me feel all tingly  and see how I can create those images making them my own.  I'll also have to resort to my original target, if this one flakes out I can always smack him around…. it'll be yours truly. 

Hopefully I can get some input from friends and get challenged by them, whether it's themed based or image based.

So bring it on!!!! 

Challenge numéro uno…music video moments:

#1 Biffo Clyro- Bubbles (0:54 min mark)

#2 Brandon Flowers- Crossfire (1:19min mark)

The challenge starts tomorrow (c'mon now I had to write this post, tomorrow is an acceptable time frame!) December 8th 2011.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Texture contrast

A new city equals a million new possibilities, new buildings, new neighbourhoods, etc. But lets face it a grungy alley is a grungy alley, it most likely feels more exciting when discovered in a new city because it is just that a discovery. That little piece of land belongs to you, you were the first to gaze on it, never mind those fat dudes with construction hats, they do not exist you are the king of locating underground spots! 

Back home everyone's shot at that train track or abandoned warehouse…wait a minute that dude with the hard hat is taking out a cell phone and taking a picture of that rusty bit that was placed there just for you…pop! There goes that bubble but hang on all that creative energy remains and the excitement remains! Might as well use it, find a cool model, MUA and concept! 

For this one the idea was contrast of textures, the girls showed up with a trunk full of clothes and a whole lot of enthusiasm! Never mind that they got lost and ran out of gas, probably swearing that I had given them bad directions, grubby areas do tend to have odd address patterns and badly indicated road signs, oh well! 

The delays allowed for all the morning fog to disappear and throw all my planned/metered light setups out the window YIPEE!!!! Lucky for me the first outfit was ill received (the blame goes to all 3 participants, we all picked it!) and the model wasn't feeling it! Worth noting that if your model feels or doesn't feel the clothes, you are in a good place! That model will require very little directions, step aside control freak and let her feel her way through the garments and environment! That was probably my favourite part of the entire day.

As I mentioned in my "back to basics" post, this shoot was a great opportunity for B&W, textures are something that seem to be meant for contrast. We had discussed that we should shoot a section or some in B&W. I've said before that I truly love shooting and get pretty amped when I do, this will sometimes lead to forgetfulness…so no images were shot or designed to be in B&W. I might try a couple images but this will be done in post so not what I had in mind in terms of learning, I'm sorry Mr Bresson! 

As a first shoot in San Francisco I can't ask for more, fun location, funny stories about cars running out of gas and two fantastic partners in crime actually make that three I had someone take me around scouting for interesting locations…THANKS Susan xo

For the rest of the shoot:


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back to basics

For a long time I thought: "to hell with B&W, it's for period pieces, it's artsy to be artsy…Oh look at me I'm in art school and computers and colours are bourgeois." Well that may be true for 1st year students and clearly I've gathered my information from eavesdropping on those select few irritating future Starbucks managers…shhh they don't know it yet.

Oddly enough at the very end of 2010 I started seeing B&W images that got my attention and stuck in my brain. Many came from different magazines I had purchased during that year, could it be true, could I be changing my mind, had to be a trick maybe it was from over saturation on the medium, or was it that  I was actually seeing what was in front of me? Follow this with a Henri Cartier Bresson exhibit "The art of staring" and an awesome documentary on the man. His philosophy on the art of taking pictures is so simple and fantastic that you can not help but be inspired. 

Boundaries aside I now wanted to shoot in B&W, learn how I had to shoot it or approach it. Previous attempts at converting images I liked into a B&W format had been quite disappointing; the images seemed flat and playing with the contrast didn't seem to be enough. I'm sure with more time some fancy mucking around I would have ended up with a result that was acceptable. Then again when is acceptable…acceptable? NEVER! I love projects and challenges, this should be a concept the B&W isn't a gimmick it's an asset, it's a tool that can be used to better tell a story or create a mood. The images seem to take on a new meaning or sense of drama.

The first images I was to shoot in this new universe were to be as pain free as possible and a learning experience. With my parents in town and doing the tourist stuff why not shoot more candid shots and architecture. So for once I'll make an exception and post images that aren't fashion related, I do however believe that these are a first step toward adding a new tool to my arsenal.

Images of the new shoot coming very soon!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

A laminate for Matty!!??!!

I had the pleasure of attending a friend's fashion show when I last returned to Montreal.

Turns out it was fashion week and she was presenting her latest collection. We have known each other for a long time and as much as I'm happy to be her friend but I must say I am a huge fan of her work and the dedication she puts into her collection season after season. I also get to be a pest and borrow her amazing clothes every time I shoot in Montreal, secretly I get a tiny bit nervous, what if this time she realises I'm a hack and says no! Oh the horror! Step it up Di Muro!

Unfortunately I didn't have time to plan a shoot but when I found out about the show I was really keen to attend and lucky for me she offered to get me a press pass so I could shoot it! Man was I pumped, I even changed my travel plans to make the show, my 1st chance to be part of the media, plastic laminate here I come!

I wasn't sure what type of lens to carry and how far the press box would be from the catwalk. I asked a fellow photographer what he thought and he suggested to maybe try and scout the place out. Sounds logical, put on a serious face, lucked out by bumping into a janitor working at the facility joked around and he let me in, people assumed I was supposed to be there and got to see the stage get built. So location scouted, 70-200mm ideal worst case I have my brand new 85mm 1.2 on my 5D mark I so felt like I was on top of everything!

Valerie is the 1st person to ask me what it was I wanted to do, sell, illustrate with an image. Was selling clothes, promoting a model or maybe telling a story. At that point I was happy just creating what I thought were pretty images, try and get a decent composition. She made a lot of sense and since then that question always enters my mind when I plan a shoot. Oddly enough the second time someone made that comment was after I had posted an image for review. It was from Val's 1st fashion show, I didn't not have ideal seating but none the less got images I was very content with. The picture was sort of a mix, not really about the clothes, not really about the model, it was…an image that said very little.

This time around I took a very business like approach, this was about the collection, the beautiful garments and their details. Timing the strides so the poses of the legs and feet would be elegant and not distracting, every model has a very different walk, I think it's wonderful, what a wide spectrum. One of the things I've always loved about Valerie's clothes is her backs, there's always seems to be a great idea lurking back there.

Rubbing elbows with photographers from publications had me grinning to myself like an idiot, probably a good thing my spot in the press box was marked "designer's photographer" and not my name I probably would have yelled a huge "YEAH" and point at someone in a silk scarf, not so appropriate at fashion week I reckon.

My only regret is that I didn't get to give her a big hug and tell her how proud I was and happy to be a part of that magnificent evening! She got snatched away, interviews and tossed and turned every which way, I though it best to take a couple last snapshots and excuse myself as I had a plane to catch.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Holiday shoot

So I'm very much a spaz that has trouble sitting still, even on holidays I held the nickname "sparky" for quite some time!

I recently finished a contract for a very demanding production, long hours and long weeks. To reward myself I booked a great holiday in Palm Cove Queensland, that's north east Australia and it's really warm up there all year round. I treated myself to a room with a private terrace and outdoor hot tub…hellz yeah!!!!

Since I know myself and knew that the minute I would lay down and start enjoying the sun my little brain would start to race and scream "you should be enjoying yourself more…do something…anything…HURRY…RUN!!!!" So I decided to plan a photo shoot, knowing the scenery would be absolutely amazing and that worst case I had a very expensive room would that would be well "pimp'n" and great for a shoot.

I put a casting call out on (great job doing this last minute Mat) and got a quick reply from a MUA (makeup artist), awesome, then not a peep from any models, bummer! Lucky for me the MUA is an absolute ROCK STAR ( and offered to be the model and mentioned that her assistant would also be available and was "gorgeous." Now in all honesty it's always a little frightening when a woman is really selling one of her friends, granted she is in the industry but still it's the "great personality" moment. Lucky for me she hadn't lied, the girls were a delight to work with!

One thing I did keep in mind, for every shoot, there is some mistake to be made and something to learn and regardless of who showed I should embrace every opportunity and get pumped for it! I like to take the jock approach to shooting…"GET PUMPED DI MURO…YEAHHHH!!!!!"

I am very proud of the outcome of the shots, I had ample time to scout out my locations, plan for time of day and managed to get a lot of the looks I was after. I had travelled lightly and only brought one speedlight, small reflector and my HONL gridset and snoot, I used to have a medium softbox that would fit onto my flash but alas one piece broke, it would have been perfect in two areas, but there lies yet another challenge, get creative Di Muro! For everyone of those instances I like to pretend someone is looking at me shaking their heads and saying: "nah you won't be able to pull that off, no way" and for people who know me…hehehe a fire is lit!

For a little while now I've been obsessed with manipulating shadows, my 1st attempts were huge failures, as I kept getting mixed results and couldn't quite figure out how far things should be in relations to the subject or to the light source. Turns out, the further the light source the better the shadow so this shoot was a perfect opportunity to use good old mister sun, this is where scouting out locations and times play a great part, I will never be one of those people who can place his hand on his chin look up, squint and say: "well knowing that the sun sets in the…(seriously I google this every time) so the shadows will hit this wall here and bounce there perfectly at 8h37am." So it helps to take notes, I've read that certain photographers keep a journal of times and places, I thought what a great idea for my fleeting little brain!

More images:

Next up Sand Dunes! What will I mess up that time!