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Harley Pool

We all got to get a little bit closer to our insanity every now and again. An indoor pool, a girl dressed as Harley Quinn and a bunch of inflatable unicorns, what could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all because this Harley Pool shoot was the most fun shooting in a long time. The energy was always it was pure collaboration and it’s hard to argue with the results. Things are always just a little more fun when you go a little bit crazy.

Studio experiments with Tara as Catwoman.

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I have this love hate relationship when it comes to shooting in a studio environment. On one hand you have nothing but control when it comes to every aspect of the photos, the downside is that it really does limit your creativity when it comes to composition.

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The entire shoot was done against a black backdrop using 2 1K Flouresent lights with softboxes with a 200 watt clamp light as a back light. Being from a video background I end up using continuous lighting over strobes just so I don’t have more gear than I need. While strobes do have some benefits over continuous lighting, for what I do this setup works perfectly.

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Black backdrops have a great effect of creating a void that eliminates any kind of distractions allowing you just to focus on the subject. As a drawback, however, any kind black article of clothing that the subject might be wearing will be lost without a few tricks in post.

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In order to make studio photography work you need to know how to light your subject. There really are about a million and one ways to light your subject. Going back to my video background, I go for a 3 point lighting approach. A “key” light as the main light, a fill light to lift any harsh shadows and a back light to create separation from the background. You can add and take away lights as you see fit but since I’m still learning studio I kept it very basic.

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I think for future studio ventures I’ll try playing with different set ups to see what kind of looks I can create with different lighting . The next couple of shoots that I have in the pipeline are on location and not studio which is more my element but it’s a nice skill to have when it comes to photography.

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Travel Photography: Virginia/ D.C 2015

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It’s been a little more than a year since I traveled Virginia to visit my girlfriend’s family and friends. The last time I was out there, the weather was relatively cold and I had the opportunity to experience what it was like to get two feet of snow overnight. This time around, I got to experience what a humid summer is like on the East Coast.

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To be honest I didn’t play with my camera much this trip. I came out specifically to spend time with my girlfriend and her loved ones and I didn’t particularly feel compelled to spend my time hiding behind a camera. However there were situations while we were out and about with Emilie’s friends that I brought my camera along.

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One of the first places we walked through was Old Town Alexandria, where we spent most of our time going in and out of the different shops. Normally, this would have been the ideal place to shoot some street photography, however the crowed in the area didn’t particularly catch my interest. Instead a lot of my focus here was on Emilie and her friends as we entered and exited the different shops.

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Later in the trip we took the Metro up to D.C. for the standard Museum and sight-seeing day. The great thing about being in a touristy area is that you don’t have to work too hard to blend in.

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Summers in D.C. and summers in Albuquerque look incredibly different. For starters, D.C. Is a proper metropolitan area whereas Albuquerque can sometimes have more of a wide-spread, small town feel. On top of that, it’s a lot greener in D.C. on account of the humidity.But, in contrast, D.C. doesn’t have the same sky that New Mexico does.

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While in the Museums I didn’t want to get too trigger happy; instead of focusing on the exhibits I focused on my group of people (and some strangers) while still maintaining respect for the atmosphere.

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The lighting in the museum of art was very different from what i am used to. There were areas with really soft flattering lighting, and others with dark areas that had intense falloff. Nothing I couldn’t handle especially with editing the RAW file in post.

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In the backwoods of Virginia I tried stepping out of my normal comfort zone and shooting some nature shots, a realm of photography I am certainly not native to.AJA_0153

While shooting so close to nature I discovered that I craved the convenience of a macro lens (something that I don’t own) which could have let me get in closer for finder detail shots. I found that many of the wide shots that I had taken felt a bit chaotic.

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Of course I couldn’t just get a new setting in front of me and pass up the opportunity for a portrait session. So me and Emilie went out on one of the few days that we had down time and took some photos. The seemingly constant overcast sky provided soft lighting and the foliage gave the perfect backdrop. The drawback of this was the humidity that caused my lens to fog up at the top of the shoot, which called for some editing to make it look like it was on purpose.

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Overall, it was a fun and successful trip and I look forward to going out there again.

Shooting with Girls of Geek

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One of the biggest hurdles you ever have to deal with in the world of photography is working around schedules. More often than not shoots get cancelled because one party or another has something urgent come up or they end up having to work on the day that is scheduled or sometimes you try to organize a shoot and it just never comes to fruition because calendars just don’t line up. That seems to be a common thing when it comes to my efforts to work with the Girls of Geek, but lucky for me I finally got my opportunity.

AJA_0012 Girls of Geek is group based out in my hometown of Albuquerque NM run by Delina Ellise, seen above as Harley Quinn. They place themselves square in the center of geek culture and do a lot of promotional work for events such as Comic Convention which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the name.

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I’ve been aware of the group for some time but didn’t have a real connection to them until my friend and often subject of my photography Cheese Cake Panda became part of the group and through her I became a sponsor for their recent calendar. At the beginning of the year during Albuquerque Comic Con Delina approached me about doing a shoot for the group at the convention which I was excited for but unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts (as foreshadowed) we never got around to it.

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Now fast forward a couple of months; after I whined online about wanting to do a shoot because I had been too busy moving and I had gotten the itch in my shutter finger, Delina contacted me and we finally got around to getting something set in stone. We decided on a batman themed shoot (in case you hadn’t noticed) downtown taking place between 10am and 1pm.

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Going into the shoot I was giving myself an unnecessary amount of anxiety about the potential shooting condition. Shooting in the middle of the day presents some very challenging lighting conditions so I had borrowed a gold reflector from my work and asked a few of my friends to help out. It ended up being a bit over kill because the tall buildings down town provided plenty of shade to get even lighting and we were able to find excellent locations. Over-preparation aside, it was nice to be able to get anything I needed from my girlfriend Emilie, my coworkers Anissa and Kendra, and my photographer-in-training friend Nina in any given situation.

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Being that we went with a batman theme for the photo shoot, the urban environment of Albuquerque’s down town was perfect. The only unfortunate thing was the tone of the lighting. It’s hard to do low key shots in the middle of the day without any kind of strobe lighting (which I’m not geared up for, nor do I have a high level of expertise in flash photography).

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The girls themselves were excellent to work with. All of them have varying degrees of modeling experience so their ability to take direction and give different looks without any directions made shooting with them a smooth experience on top of being an enjoyable one. Having good models to work with is highly underrated.

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What I loved so much about working with this group was how well their personalities melded together and their ability to work together in photos. A lot of the time the Girls of Geek came up with their own ideas for poses, props, and scenery and my only job was to capture the moments.

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A big gauge of the success of a shoot comes down to how much fun is had during the process. If anyone, be it the photographer, the models or anyone else is in a sour mood it can effect the whole dynamic of the photos. Luckly this was never a problem. Energy was never low and it felt as if everyone was having a good time. I look forward to working with the Girls of Geek again in the future and possibly doing even bigger projects

You can find them online at girlsofgeek.com or follow them on twitter, facebook or instagram

First Travel Photography Experience

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I don’t get out of New Mexico very often. Theirs the occasional trip out to Texas to visit family members but for the most part I’m stuck in the land of Enchantment (or Entrapment depending on who you talk to.) So when taking a trip out to Virginia to visit my girlfriend’s family and friends I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to step into the world of photography.The first rule you normally hear in terms of travel photography is travel light. This mentality has been what given rise to mirrorless camera systems, but unfortunately all I have is a full frame DSLR and a set of 3 lenses to go with it (and other miscellaneous.) in retrospective I could have left my Flash and my 70-200 at home but it was one of those things that you just can’t account for.

Virginia is completely the opposite of Albuquerque. The roads are winding as opposed to on a grid, the whether  was cold and gloomy as opposed to hot and bright and somehow the food felt empty. (Seriously I didn’t know I could miss food so much.) But the whether was the most visual part. You don’t get Snow in New Mexico (or at least not this much.)press-7

The backwoods area of where I was staying got up to 6inches of snow which in South Western standards. It’s not something that I’m particularly used to and it offered a different set of scenery that I never get out in New Mexico.

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Other than being in Virginia I got to see some the surrounding areas. The first was going up to Annapolis Maryland to see my cousin and we got to see the bay and the Naval Academy.

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Among my time in Annapolis I also got the opportunity to do some street photography in the area.

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It was rather interesting to be in a different area with crowded streets to actually take pictures. Street photography isn’t something that you can do that often in New Mexico where the streets aren’t crowded and you would stick out like a soar thumb with a large DSLR.

Another place I got to see is the nations Capital in Washington D.C. One thing that I discovered when I was their is that taking photos of the monuments is difficult. I’m not well versed in landscapes and architecture photography so I didn’t quite get what I wanted out of the photos.

However the more interesting thin that I had done was going the the museums of natural historypress-10.

Animals, Dinosaurs and ancient humanity was everything and getting photos of them was incredibly fun.

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Overall we get it was a fun experience to get to do something I don’t get to do where I’m from and get photos I don’t get to take in New Mexico. But all in all I’m glad to be home.