Sarah here. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my other creative outlets is tribal fusion bellydance. Every year just before Halloween, my teacher produces a show/event called Raven’s Night. Each year has a different theme (this year was Supernatural), and dancers from all over come to perform. The audience is encouraged to dress up in their finest steampunk, goth, or otherwise fantastical attire. It’s always a blast and a rich feast for the eyes and ears.
This year I performed in my teacher’s piece, so I was too distracted to take pictures. Andrew, however, was tasked to photograph the pre-show festivities, and since he was there and had a camera, he shot the show as well. He edited the pre-show pictures himself, but as is our usual arrangement for dance events, he handed the raw image files from the show over to me to process. Considering how dark the theater is, how much the color and intensity of the stage lighting changes, and how quickly the performers move, taking good pictures is no easy feat. Andrew always does a great job… and I’ve dragged him to enough shows over the years that he’s developed a knack for catching dramatic moments.
Raven’s Night pictures are a treat to play with, since the performances and costumes are so dramatic and full of intense energy. This year we had a multi-sword-wielding Celtic goddess, banshees, angels, vampires, a truly epic take on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and many other awesome pieces.
You can see the full gallery of pre-show pictures here, and show pictures here.
Sarah here. Andrew has family friends who grow absolutely breath-taking (and prize-winning) dahlias and zinnias; if you’ve poked through my galleries on our site, you may have seen some of them already. I fell in love with the huge dinner plate sized dahlias, and this year our friends were kind enough to give us a handful of dahlia tubers so we could try growing them ourselves.
One of the plants (Wanda’s Aurora) just bloomed for the first time, and I was thrilled to see that it makes those enormous lush blossoms I’d been dreaming of. It’s so much fun to play with flash direction and intensity with these luminous, sculptural petals.
Orc Stomp 2015 Gallery
Sarah here. I don’t know if it’s been obvious in my posts so far, but I am a big geek. I love fantasy and sci-fi and comic books and video games and non-video games (Dungeons & Dragons ftw!). In what seems to be a nascent tradition, a small group of my friends have been attending GenCon in Indianapolis for the past few years as a fun excuse for an annual reunion.
Two of my friends are runners, and this year they signed up for the Orc Stomp 5k fun run bright and early on Friday morning. While I admit I wasn’t thrilled to wake up at 0445 for the second day in a row, I was excited to cheer them on and get some photography practice in.
We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous morning, and for once I was actually awake and ready to take pictures at golden hour. It also turned out that the event had an unanticipated photographer shortage, so I tried to catch as many people as I could. I wish I’d had a longer lens and a little more practice shooting runs, but it was a super fun event.
The most fun –and surprising, for me– part was how many people grinned and posed for the camera. I’ve always been camera-shy (that’s why I’m on the other side of the lens), so it was a happy shock the first time a runner looked straight at the camera and gave me a big smile. It was awesome! There was so much positive energy that morning, it still makes me smile to think of it.
Running dinosaurs! What’s not to love?
So while I was shooting, this guy staggers up and asks if I’ve got any “hot scoops” on what to do when your thighs really hurt. As I blinked and tried to figure out what was going on, he said something about how he got really drunk, woke up early, and ended up following the runners. I don’t even know if he was part of GenCon, but I can’t make this stuff up.
Sarah here. Andrew received his prize from the ViewBug contest: a very spiffy National Geographic camera pack. He asked me to take a still life of it (apparently I’m the household product photographer), so we pulled together the most explorer-appropriate gear we had around: Middle Eastern feedbag-turned-rug, Russian bayonet, Australian bush hat, desert boots, and a steamer trunk.
The pack is very retro-cool, and it’s got lots of organizational pockets and some great features, like a nice padded modular camera insert that’s similar to my Lowepro pack but smaller. Andrew hasn’t used it yet, but our first impression is that it feels pretty rugged. I like the map-printed fabric inside some of the flaps. Some parts are so retro that they’ll probably be annoying, like the chest strap; where any modern backpack would use a simple buckle/clip, here you have to loop the strap through two metal rings. It’s also not the lightest (it’s canvas instead of high-tech fabric, etc.). It’s obviously not meant to be the most high-speed-low-drag of gear, and it’s a bit on the small side, but it’s cool and reflects its NatGeo roots nicely. It looks and feels like it wants to tag along on some grand adventures.
[And here it is with all its accompanying swag, and the picture that won it.]
Sarah here. I took this picture while walking along Alki Beach (Seattle) on Father’s Day, and it’s been rattling around in my head since then. I finally worked on it this weekend. The moment between these two was so sweet; I’m glad I caught it.
I showed the picture to my mom this morning, and she said, “I bet the two in this picture would love to have it.” Of course, I don’t have any idea who they are. If anyone sees this post and knows them, or if you think you know someone who might know them, please pass it along. The picture was taken on 16 June 2013, on Alki Beach in Seattle, Washington State.
(And if it does make its way to them, please tell me!)
Sarah here. Andrew and I hang out on a few photo-related sites, including one called ViewBug, which runs regular photography contests. Since he won’t brag about it, I will… Andrew won the Healthy Lifestyles contest with his picture of kayakers at Silver Falls.
(As an aside, that picture was taken with my old camera –a Nikon D5200– since his D800E was several thousand miles away in the shop for repairs at the time. Just goes to show that you don’t need the fanciest gear to capture great shots; the photographer and the subject matter a lot more than the camera.)
And today, I noticed that ViewBug used Andrew’s shot of Gljúfrabúi – Hidden Falls as the headline picture for their summer photo contest. Ironically, the picture was taken during an Icelandic winter, but never mind. I still commend their taste.
To wrap up with a little joint bragging, the picture on the homepage of Langdon Tactical was a tag-team effort between Andrew and me: Andrew took the picture, and I did the Photoshopping.
Whew… it’s been a busy week! Andrew and I are pretty new at putting our stuff out there, so it’s very exciting to see our work getting some attention!
Sarah here. Andrew and I went to the zoo last weekend. It’s been hot and muggy here recently, but we lucked out and got a cool and (very) rainy morning. There weren’t many people out, the light was soft if not exactly plentiful, and some of the animals didn’t mind the wet at all. Like this little guy, for one.
It was also a good test of rain gear. Even our cameras were wearing rain coats.
Sarah here. In my quest to learn how to bend light to my will, I’ve been working through the Lighting 102 class over at the Strobist. I did the early exercises, but got stuck for a bit on the first assignment, aptly described as “deceptively simple”:
The assignment is to photograph one or more kitchen utensils – knives, forks, spoons, whisks – whatever you like. The look you are going or is that of ordinary object elevated to high art. Or at least commercial art, as this is the kind of thing that might appear as a catalog cover or in a calendar or on the wall of one of those ubiquitous “fast casual” restaurants.
It’s harder than it sounds. I finally buckled down and knocked it out today, using my super-fancy homemade cardboard light box to make a single speedlight nice and soft and less unidirectional. One of the harder parts was getting my subject to stay in position; I built a little mountain out of a dome diffuser and old corks to hold the corkscrew at a good angle, but it was less stable than a house of cards. More than once, I got everything set up perfectly, was juuuuuuuust adjusting the focus, had my finger resting on the shutter button……… and then the whole wobbly structure collapsed unceremoniously. Le sigh.
But eventually it held together long enough to pull off a few shots, and I actually kinda like a few of them.
Sarah here. After fighting with speedlights in my last attempted portrait shoot (and eventually giving up in favor of window light), I’ve been spending a lot of time over at the Strobist. If you haven’t already heard of him, David Hobby is a genius with flash and a great teacher. I read through Lighting 101 and am now making my way through Lighting 102, exercises and all. I’m a bit stuck on an assignment right now, but more about that later, perhaps.
In the meantime, I poked through the Strobist page on DIY projects, and came across these instructions for a cheapo light box. It’s super easy to do (materials: one box, white tissue paper, tape), and makes lovely soft wrapping light for small objects. If you wanted more even light, you could put a second light on the other side (maybe the top and front, too, if you really wanted to go nuts?). If I’d closed the barn doors (i.e. box flaps) a bit, I might have gotten some bounce on the front… especially if I lined them with white paper, too.
I’ve told Andrew that I’m claiming any reasonably sized cardboard boxes that come into the house, because I have my eye on a cheapo softbox next…
Sarah here… I promise, we’re not dead! We’ve just been swamped. I stole a little time this weekend for an impromptu photoshoot and Photoshopping, though, which was very soothing.
I fought with speedlights for a while but just wasn’t getting the look I wanted, so I eventually scrapped the flash and used window light instead. Filtered through the blinds, it was very soft and smooth light, just like I’d been hoping for. I still want to master the tricks of artificial light, but sometimes you just have to admit that nature does it better.