Lensbaby Composer Sweet 35 location testing

Round two testing on the Lensbaby Composer with Sweet 35 optic. A trip to the park with Chris, a martial arts instructor and former gymnast.

Once again, I shot with both my Canon glass and the Sweet 35. Sure, I could have photoshopped the images to look like the results but it was fun to make magic happen up front.

Once again, it’s an added level of difficulty moving around a sweet spot on a moving target while focusing but then you just shoot a few extra frames and have fun with it. I love the lower contrast. The non auto aperture makes focusing a bit tougher even shooting in daylight. I could see where a mirrorless camera could have an advantage here but that’s not in my gear bags and just a guess.



Chris Young
Chris Young

College Board Social Media Photoshoot

This fall we produced and created images for The College Board‘s social media campaign ads. We created happy and engaging lifestyle images of students, at school Production took a few weeks, a good part of which had to do with casting, location scouting and logistics, all handled in-house with a bunch of help from my wardrobe stylist Amy Auslander. Budget was decent though not lavish by far. Weaning the client off royalty free stock, the pricing had to be competitive yet there was allowance for images more unique following a shot list. Comparison wasn’t linear scale but there was some relationship. Talent could have been astronomical so it required using “real people.” There are always trade offs as such. I’m fine working with un-seasoned talent but it’s a different ballgame. More talking/directing and lower throughput. There’s a reason good talent isn’t cheap! Still, it was a great bunch of kids, they were enthusiastic, some surprisingly stellar in front of the camera and petty much wore me out for the day.

The shoot took place in Queens NY, we rented a bunch of gear from Root, a big cargo/passenger van to move a good portion of the crew and loaded into a rented high school on a Saturday. Weather wasn’t stellar but then a little rain is much better than a lot.. and maybe better than a bright sunny day in some respect. Hair and Makeup by Jerry and Sophie.

Takeaways… after wrap, don’t eat the rest of the pizza. Orange juice is great when you’re going to be directing talent 10 hours, digital tech is good, very very good!

You can catch the ads rolling up on FB or Instagram

Lensbaby Composer, Sweet 35 and RJ, a really tall baller

RJ Brown – w/Lensbaby Composer Pro and Sweet 35
RJ Brown – w/Lensbaby Composer Pro and Sweet 35
RJ Brown – Canon 24-70 F2.8

Did I mention RJ was really tall? It’s really strange standing next to a pro ball player. I got a Lensbaby, wanted to get a few frames on it and see if it would be worthy creating originals vs Photoshop. It’s fun, some filmy sort of serendipitous feeling shooting with it though I doubt I’ll be using it on a commercial job when a frame can easily be converted to have the look. I’ll make more notes on this in the future as I play with it more.

The three images are shot within an hour under pretty similar lighting conditions. Okay, the third is shade but we’re trying to have fun without getting overly techy. I post process my RAW files in Lightroom, in this case I threw stock filters on them because Instagram is free, Lightroom is amazing so why not.

Differences to note, and partly because you can’t see the original data you just have to read my analysis.

Lensbaby Composer with Sweet 35 is fun to use, requires some coordination, some trust and doesn’t have an undo feature. You lose some frames because you can’t focus as well, you lose some because you are tilting and swinging and having fun. You shoot some more and have fun. Would I use it on a commercial shoot, sure but it would likely be to warm up, play a bit and show a client what can be done with a situation other than making it a normal shot.

Canon glass, kicks ass. I love my 24-70, probably use it on 95% of my work… at 24mm around f8. There you have it, you can now be me. It has great contrast, matches well with the camera and is easy to focus, manually, because I was born in the 60’s and still like to focus my own lens. Of course, having used the lens so much for years I know what’s going to be sharp, how to blur or defocus on demand… and what to do in post to make something look like it was Lensbaby. Have I tried to make an image look like it was done with the Lensbaby, no I’m not worried about it.





Don’t touch my threads!

“Artist-in-Residence HOTTEA transformed Viacom’s worldwide headquarters with his largest installation to date.” Artist uptown residence Dave takes Pictures was brought in to make pretty pictures of said person going by HOTTEA for Viacom. Nobody told me I shouldn’t touch the thread! Okay, I should have known… but it was just yarn hanging from a ceiling with a few kinks and tangles here and there!

One of our lights touched yarn, HOTTEA was present, he was distressed, before anyone could get a ladder we used a light stand to unstick a few stands that had stuck together. Good thing we weren’t in the elevator lobby where the HVAC had tangled up a few yards of yarn. Sure does look pretty though!

Thanks Mike for giving me a hand with the gear and running through the shots. Thanks Julie for not wanting to do it and tossing me the work… and also walking through a shot.



Hot Tea installation at Viacom NYC

The Pains of Being Pure at Scheduling

Last month, we photographed Peggy Wang, a Buzzfeed founder, for Tulane University Magazine. We had sample layouts, a bit of instruction for self AD’ing the shoot and and Peggy’s email address to get the ball rolling. We almost nailed down the time, date, place and some ideas with Peggy before the PR handler jumped in. What started as an hour shoot with an hour setup was hacked down to twenty minutes setup and twenty minutes to shoot for two to three sets. From run of the shop to two tight locations. You take what you can get sometimes, and even if you have to spend 5 of your forty minutes looking for a two replacement light bulbs. We found only one. Just do it? Photoshop the lamp to look like it has two bulbs in it? Maybe tomorrow.
Peggy Wang, Founder: Buzzfeed
Peggy, seasoned with a decade plus in public eye was easy to work with. PR advised her not to dunk the cookie for us even though she convinced Pres. Obama to dunk a cookie for Buzzfeed. Thanks Obama? Once again, you take what you can get. Though I would have liked to have some silly in the shoot, here’s the serious Peggy Wang from Buzzfeed.

P.S. stock concert shot isn’t mine.


Roxanne, originally uploaded by Davepix.

Another model test with Roxanne and Yassira on a sunny day.   Central Park.  Autumn chill and Rox’s dress was lace.  She only shivered a little.  What a trooper!

Photoshopped images?  You bet.  Just a little bit.  After many years of avoiding major tonal mod, finally, I’m tired of not having cross process and all the fun, serendipitous things film gave us.  I gave in.  My mantra was: “Anything one can undo is not pure.”  Having recently processed a roll of film, the first in years, I decided I no longer care.  I might start altering images more.  There are just too many options.  However, I’ve enjoyed saying, “I made it with lights, not the camera/computer.”