Posts tagged “Studio

Finding a Vision



Vision is seeing the potential purpose hidden in the chaos of the moment, but which could bring to light new possibilities. In our current and probable future environments a certain amount of chaos is inevitable. Often emerging possibilities must be sought out and acted upon before all relevant information is known. Old predictable patterns must be relinquished as comfortable as they seem. For many, this is a terrifying prospect. Vision is seeing what life could be like while dealing with life as it is. Vision deals with those deeper human intangibles that alone give ultimate purpose to life and in the end, vision must always deal with life’s qualities and not with its quantities.

If we wish to be open to new possibilities we also need to be aware of the unexpected ways in which they can surface. Limiting the creative process to officially designated “brainstorm session” we may miss something that may have been there all along, something not visible catching the sun. We must be aware that spontaneous moments of possibility exist, the things that owe cannot touch but know instinctually that they are there.

Take a moment to think about your own experience, core values and what you truly care about in your life. What types of habits, people, things, situations do you gravitate towards and what do you avoid and move away from? Recall your past and identify times where you felt closest to inspiration and vision, and the times you were furthest from it. This should provide a few useful signposts.

In the words of a great German writer, Goethe, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now”

It all starts with a vision…

Pearls of Wisdom


Epictetus was a Greek philosopher that lived about 1900 years ago. When he was young he was a slave in Rome but was later released and started to teach philosophy first in Rome and later on in Greece. Epictetus was somewhat of a lonesome minimalist. He lived with few possessions and by himself for a long time. He also seems to never have written anything, but luckily his thoughts were recorded by his pupil Arrian. Here is one of his Pearls of Wisdom:

“When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.”

This one is interesting because it deals with how we relate to each other. What someone says something negative about you, it may not so much be a reflection of you but of the person that said it. This is a good thing to consider and also applies whenever you are feeling negatively about someone else. It can not only help you forget about your negative emotion, but can also help you learn more about yourself and how you perceive things and situations.

This is another in our series of water drop shots. Using a ten gallon aquarium, we dropped various objects and captured the action with some high-speed strobe lights, or flash units. They key is timing the flash. Freezing the action is easy as the speed of the flash is very fast, so your camera shutter speed should be set at its Flash Synch Speed. Using a small aperture (f-stop) and low ISO (Film Speed for us old timers), a couple off camera flashes with remote triggers, a Nikon D7000 and Nikkor 105mm Macro lens all mounted on a sturdy tripod allowed us to record this dynamic event. Oh, and keep a few towels handy and cover those flash units with freezer storage bags…things can get a bit wet! Drop us a note if you would like to learn more about this relatively simple shot and how to do this yourself!



In the blink of an eye

In a blink of an eye, a lot can happen. A lot of astonishing things happen in a split second, but they are moving too quickly for us to see. High speed photography is the art of recording  just such events.

Depending on the event to be photographed, methods range from use of ultra-short time flash exposures to producing lots of exposures in a split-second, using for example, a strobe light, or a more exotic sound triggered system (useful for popping balloons, gunshot punctures and the like).  A typical camera flash lasts around a few thousandth of a second which is easily quick enough to freeze most anything.  The speed of the camera’s shutter is not really that important provided it is open when the flashes fire – synchronizing the camera shutter opening with the flash firing is the key…as well as deciding when to trip the shutter itself.

In this series of pictures, I constructed a setup in my studio which consisted of an aquarium, two inexpensive speed light flashes, wireless flash triggers, black muslin backdrop, DSLR on a sturdy tripod and various veggies and fruits. I filled the tank brimming with water and set one flash above the surface pointing down and the other below the surface pointing in. The tripod mounted camera (Nikon D7000, 17-70mm lens, ISO100, f18, 1/250sec) was in front of the tank and equipped with a wireless transmitter that would trigger the flashes when the shutter was tripped. The veggies and fruit were dropped from various heights depending on their size and density – I found that limes descend much faster than bell peppers, eggs and coconuts being the speediest.

The lighting angles and intensities of the flashes were adjusted periodically. One should also use a plastic zip-lock bag over the flash units, have plenty of paper towels at hand and check the camera lens after every drop – this technique can be a trifle wet! I also discovered that eggs are super fast and tend to crack upon impact on the bottom of the tank and other materials, such as yogurt just make an awful mess and cloud the water. I was contemplating dropping my small dog in the tank, but he quickly caught wind of my thoughts and beat it out of the studio!

Our “Birthgifts”

Truly wonderful, the mind of a Child is ….”Yoda”

The power to discover our true voice lies in the limitless potential that was given to us at birth. Here the seeds of greatness were sown. We were blessed with magnificent “Birthgifts”, such as talents, intelligences, opportunities, capacities, privileges that would remain largely unopened except through our own decisions. The potential within each of us is  tremendous, if not infinite – we really do not know what we truly are capable of.

All children are born geniuses – only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn’t developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things we don’t expect to see. A baby may be the most frail and dependent creation in the universe, yet within a few short year, becomes the most powerful. The more we exercise our given talents, the more talents were are given and with that, our capacity just keeps growing.


The Year of the Dragon

This is from the Studio of Kerstenbeck Photographic Art in San Diego and commemorates the Chinese Lunar New Year for 2012, The Year of the Dragon! Again, the lighting here was quite simple with a large softbox to wash over our model’s back, black backdrop around ten feet in the rear. Nothing fancy at all! No Catch Lights, not even in the Dragon’s Eye!

Dragon, as the name suggests, is the boss of every affair. If a dragon stands in front of audience and delivers a lecture, everyone keeps quiet and calmly listens to it. The dragon always has his head high. Dragons are the winners eventually at any cost. They are on their toes always and lead others. They are born to lead. The well-earned reputations of Dragons make them loud with their voice and imposing gestures.

Down to earth nature of Dragons is his/her trademark. Delightful, spontaneous, go getter, triumphant and learned Dragons are profound thinkers. Their egos are quite evident at work but people are still forced to respect their views. They have a big self-respect. They can make loyal and trustworthy friends. Dragons most often sit at the top of the corporate affairs. They have a congenital power of pulling crowd towards them. They want their subordinates to act in accordance with Dragons and they like to select the way for others to follow. It is really tough to say “no” to them and dragons don’t understand or accept the word either.

Although the Dragons are truthful but they never consider other’s emotion. Angry Dragons are not open to criticism. Sticking to the old issue is not their cup of tea. They want to move ahead of time. They never follow the past; rather thrive for a smooth and nice future. They don’t consider themselves irritating and arrogant. Dragons always desire to be forgiven for their booming effusions. They think themselves as the greatest and brilliant creation of the all mighty.

Dragons always want to be in the action. They always push themselves for something new. They crave for back to back work. Restlessness for getting into a new venture is one of their hallmarks. It is difficult to keep them away without any challenge. Dragons want to see themselves busy all the time.

Happy New Year!




Red White and Blue Shoe

Jimmy Choo - Next Stop!

This was shot during a Studio Session with our Model, Dinah Wolf. We experimented with High Key Lighting. The idea is to use a white backdrop, light it up with strobes from behind the Model to wash out the scene and then light the Model from the front using strobes from left and right. You can reverse Engineer the front lighting from the reflections in the shoe. This is a great tip for Photographers for Studio work. It is often very easy to tell how the lighting was set up by looking at reflections, especially with Portraits. Look for “Catch Lights” in the eyes of the Model. Often you will see one, or several. If the Catch Light is circular, they used a Beauty Light which is quite popular.

Now a bit about Catch Lights!

Catch Light is a photographic term used to describe either the Specular highlights in a subject’s eye from a light source, or the light source itself. They are also referred to as eye lights or Obies, the latter a reference to Merle Oberon, who was frequently lit using this technique. A catch light may be an artifact of the lighting method, or have been purposely engineered to add a glint or “spark” to a subject’s eye. This technique is useful in both still and motion picture photography. Adding a catch light can help draw attention to the subject’s eyes, which may otherwise get lost among other elements in the scene.

We experimented with Catch Lights during this shoot, not with eyes but with the shoes – fun!

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Kathleen and Erik

Closing Time

This is another shot from our Studio in California – not a complicated lighting set up at all. We used one Alien Bee strobe (you can see the rectangular reflection), the Martini Glass was lit with some LED Lights from Stage Ape. The multi-color reflections came from a Wallace Ting piece we own. Glass empty – time to go Home.

Now a bit about “Closing Time”

Closing Time is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Tom Waits, released in March 1973 and was produced and arranged by former Lovin Spoonful member Jerry Yester.  Closing Time was the first of seven of Waits’s major releases through Asylum, the final being Heartattack and Vine (one of our favourites!). The songs on Closing Time are often noted for their lyrical content, which like the music, vary in form. “Ol’ 55” narrates the story of a man riding “lickety split” in a car and is often seen as a song about escapism.

Closing Time features an eclectic mix of musical styles. While tracks such as “Ol ’55”, with its “gentle slipnote piano chords”, and “Old Shoes”, “a country-rock waltz that picked up the feel of ‘Ol’ 55′”, are usually considered folk-like numbers, other songs such as “Virginia Avenue”, “Midnight Lullaby”, whose intro features an instrumental segment of the nursery rhyme “Hush Little baby”, and “Grapefruit Moon” reveal a quieter, more jazz-like temperament. “Ice Cream Man” is often noted as being the most “up-tempo” song of the album, whereas “Lonely” is toned-down and slow-paced. The sophisticated piano melodies are often accompanied by trumpets, typical of the jazz sound that Waits originally designated for the album. Noticeable string arrangements are also featured on the album, on “Martha” and the final “Closing Time”, the latter being purely instrumental.

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