The weather changed. I stayed in today. Well, that was because we were shooting in the studio.

It was a dark and stormy night. The winds blew through like the hounds of hell and small children cried as the thunder was so loud... It was the best of times. It was the worst of times....

So, quite a bit of feedback about my penchant for shooting under blue skies but really, I can't help it if I'm living in paradise. On the other hand, we do have the traffic...

When I was out walking and shooting yesterday the weather was perfect. Until it wasn't. The clouds started rolling in as I walked back over the pedestrian bridge away from downtown. The video shoot that had been working on the bridge was wrapping up and the models and production people were doing the mandatory selfie coda to the whole thing.

By the time I got back to my car and headed toward home the wind was starting to pick up and the temperature started dropping. Around one in the morning it got crazy windy and we got a jumbo drop sized, dramatic, inch or two of rain that swirled around and seemed to bang at every window. This morning was windy and cool.

We were scheduled to shoot in the little studio today and my client
indicated that she'd be there at 8 am, followed by a couple of product managers at 8:30 am. I hauled myself out of a warm bed at 6:30am, made coffee and a breakfast taco and sat down for a few minutes to read the news from all over the place. I made sure the bathroom was clean and then set out the muffins, croissants, granola bars, oranges and trail mix I'd bought the night before. I made a big pot of coffee and checked in the fridge to make sure we had half and half and bottled water. Double checked the art directors' perennial favorite, the supply of Diet Coke, and then wandered out the front door and across the 14 feet to my studio.

I'd set up the lighting the night before. A 9 foot wide white seamless paper background, two big LED lights in 24x35 inch soft boxes, and two diffused LED lights hitting the background. One light bouncing off the white ceiling. I pulled out three apple crates and used them to make a low shooting table with a slab of reflective white MDF board and then I turned my attention to my shooting camera and lens.

I used the Nikon D810 for the first half of the shoot. We were shooting braces and medical support devices on a white mannequins torso, against white. Piece of cake and a flat enough composition to make shooting with a full frame sensor not a dangerous (lack of) depth of field situation. I had intended to use prime lenses for the shoot but defaulted (once again) to the ease and consistency of the 24-120mm zoom instead. At f8.0 and ISO 100 I just didn't think any other choice of lens would make a real difference.

A little different shooting style today as I tethered the camera, via an HDMI cable, to my Marshall video monitor so the client and I could share view space, and collaborate more genuinely on the nuts and bolts of the project. I spent a few minutes calibrating the monitor on the back of the camera to the outboard monitor and during the day I paid almost slavish attention to the histograms. I just now finished post production and was pleased that I've narrowed the chasm of potential exposure shame by quite a bit more.

Nowadays every shoot starts out with a custom white balancing ritual, and a short prayer to the white balance gods, begging them to make Lightroom ingest the files just the way we intended them to be colored.

The client arrived with footlockers full of product and a mannequin in tow. We got to work. We worked quickly and diligently and by lunch time we were way ahead of schedule so, instead of the usual tray of Jason's Deli sandwiches or Austin's Pizzas, we took a break to head over to one of my favorite interior Mexican food restaurants, Las Palomas, where we had a lovely lunch and even lovelier service. It's a neighborhood favorite in a  neighborhood filled with well traveled and very picky people. I can't recall a bad meal there. Perfect place to take clients for lunch.

On our return I discovered that we'd be shooting various wheel chairs (mostly pediatric) that the company makes and I got to thinking that using the right focal length and shooting distance to keep from distorting the look of the products might get us into trouble, as far as depth of field and sharp near/far focus was concerned. After talking it over with the art director we switched to a different camera. You expected this, right?

I grabbed the Sony RX10ii out of the drawer behind me and put it on the tripod. I spent a few minutes rummaging through the menu to set the camera up in much the same way that I had the Nikon set. Neutral profile, custom white balance, etc. etc. And miracle of miracles I even had a micro-HDMI to regular HDMI cable in the monitor case and, since the Sony is live view all the time, there was no black out of the monitor when transitioning from shooting to reviewing.

The images all match up well and I think the camera fluidity was in the best interests of the client.

We packed everything and everyone up, distributed the left over muffins and croissants, and waved goodbye. I took a quick, twenty minute nap with the ever patient Studio Dog and then came back out to the studio to work on post processing.

Ever have one of those days when it seems that all 78 of your selected images need just a little nudge of the shadow slider, a tiny smooch of clarity slider and not much of anything else? Probably on the same kind of afternoon when you can batch all 78 files and run them out as large, uncompressed Tiffs for your clients.....

The files were on a memory stick before the clock struck five p.m. A perfect end to a perfect day in the studio.

It's getting colder and grayer here as we head toward evening. The blog is the perfect way to procrastinate when I should really be cleaning up, putting batteries on the charger and repacking the cases for the next go-around. But writing about a day in the studio is a nice way to relax and examine everything we did, looking for ways to make it all better, quicker and more fun.

The useful tools today? Any tripod, a fun external monitor and the coffee machine. Everything else is by the numbers.

Did I mention that it's gray and windy outside? And now heading into the 40's for the first time in weeks. We may yet get to use the fireplace this year. A nice break from the run on sunscreen...

Take a class: Become more skilled and knowledgable. Have more fun.

One of the original Craftsy Photo Classes and 
still one of the best! 

I met Lance a couple of weeks ago in Denver
and found him to be really fun and knowledgeable 
this class reflects what he teaches in hands-on
workshops in Ireland and Iceland, as well as 
cool places around the U.S.

How to make what we shoot into a cohesive
train of visual thought.


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