Composition Chronicles

Dec 3

Studio Lighting Class: FINAL PROJECT — The Tragedy of Reality

What to say. This was an overwhelming roller-coaster of emotion. I went from being set on one theme to changing it last-minute. I did as many as four photo shoots in a day and at one point ended up in the E.R. But I think it all goes to say something. Because even though I was stressed out of my MIND, the whole time I was having fun.

I loved this. I loved this theme and I loved that I was able to pull it together and complete it. I loved it so much that one day, when I make it big, I’m going to use a bigger budget to really embody what I was going for. Until then, I’ll explain:

The concept was taking Disney’s animated princesses (and popular animated females like Tinkerbell and Alice) and exposing them to reality. Here in the real world child stars like the infamous Lindsey Lohan start doing drugs and end up in jail. Not always the case, but very possible. Even expected.

So in these ten frames, I took those timeless females we all once loved and looked up to and tainted them. Because who knows? What if they grew up like we all did? In this era? And were constantly peer-pressured by a bunch of kids their own age?

This whole project was awesome. I got to stretch my imagination and buy a bunch of really weird props. Again, it’s all extremely low-budget, but who cares. I’m a broke college journalist, what do you expect?

Shout-out to my amazing friends and coworkers for modeling for me and putting up with all my odd requests. 

Feel free to browse through these and tell me what you think! Thanks!

Side-note (for my models’ sakes): None of the substances photographed are what they seemed. No, my friend is not actually doing a huge line of cocaine. The “alcohol” is water. And the “weed” was basil. 

Dec 3

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 11 — Stylized fashion

This assignment was inspired by our guest speaker Jeremiah Stanley. The guy’s a talented local photographer, and having him and Rob in the same room was so cool. They’re both full of inspiration and passion, and I think Jeremiah’s talk & Rob’s follow-up really kicked our class into second gear.

This shoot was something I was pretty proud of. Looking back there’s always room for improvement, but at the time, I was very happy with what I got. Again, my lights were acting up. The assignment called for two but wouldn’t you know it — only one of my lights was functioning. 

So I improvised. We found this cool little alley with statement gates and stain-glass lamps. I used the lamps as my backlight and set up a flash in front and to the side of the alley. 

This was a fun shoot. Once again, I got more experience directing my model. I made her do so many weird poses she was sore by the end of it. 

And for the record, I never thought I’d be into fashion photography. But the more I do it the more I like it. 

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 10 — Studio fashion
For this assignment, students that took the class in the past modeled for us. We got to choose the outfits they wore and had free rein to direct them as far as posing goes.
Because I’m Rachel Crosby, my lights were acting up. The powers were adjusting on their own and a couple times none of them fired.
Technical problems are the worst.
But twenty minutes later everything seemed routine. I wasn’t a big fan of my end product, but I do like the motion of the necklace and her hair. I also got more experience directing people which is really essential as a photographer.
Dec 3

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 10 — Studio fashion

For this assignment, students that took the class in the past modeled for us. We got to choose the outfits they wore and had free rein to direct them as far as posing goes.

Because I’m Rachel Crosby, my lights were acting up. The powers were adjusting on their own and a couple times none of them fired.

Technical problems are the worst.

But twenty minutes later everything seemed routine. I wasn’t a big fan of my end product, but I do like the motion of the necklace and her hair. I also got more experience directing people which is really essential as a photographer.

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 9 — Environmental portrait
This photo is of my friend Isa. She’s a pre-vet student at UF, and if anyone doubts she’ll make it into vet school, they’re crazy. This girl has spent countless hours volunteering at UF’s Small Animal Hospital, so when it came to shooting someone in their environment, she was my first choice.
First off, the room was small. And it was in the zoological medicine unit, so there were lots of weird animals in there. Like a crow and an angry iguana. But luckily we had the photo subject above — a tortoise by the name of Mimosa. 
A dog broke the tortoise’s shell, so Isa was actually working with another veterinarian to wrap its wounds when I shot this.
I’d like to think environmental portraits aren’t hard. If you think about it the location is set, so all you have to do as a photographer is capture it. But they are hard. There’s something about catching someone, in their environment, naturally. It’s intimate and it’s difficult.
Another issue with this shoot was my second light. We were supposed to use two lights for this shot, but mine decided it didn’t want to work. That happens to me a lot.
So I improvised and I used the light the vets use to examine animals as another light source. I manipulated it to shine on the turtle and worked from there.
Considering the foot traffic in the tiny exam room and the technical difficulties, I was pretty happy about how this shoot turned out.
Dec 3

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 9 — Environmental portrait

This photo is of my friend Isa. She’s a pre-vet student at UF, and if anyone doubts she’ll make it into vet school, they’re crazy. This girl has spent countless hours volunteering at UF’s Small Animal Hospital, so when it came to shooting someone in their environment, she was my first choice.

First off, the room was small. And it was in the zoological medicine unit, so there were lots of weird animals in there. Like a crow and an angry iguana. But luckily we had the photo subject above — a tortoise by the name of Mimosa. 

A dog broke the tortoise’s shell, so Isa was actually working with another veterinarian to wrap its wounds when I shot this.

I’d like to think environmental portraits aren’t hard. If you think about it the location is set, so all you have to do as a photographer is capture it. But they are hard. There’s something about catching someone, in their environment, naturally. It’s intimate and it’s difficult.

Another issue with this shoot was my second light. We were supposed to use two lights for this shot, but mine decided it didn’t want to work. That happens to me a lot.

So I improvised and I used the light the vets use to examine animals as another light source. I manipulated it to shine on the turtle and worked from there.

Considering the foot traffic in the tiny exam room and the technical difficulties, I was pretty happy about how this shoot turned out.

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 8 — Food
Everyone’s favorite subject: FOOD.
We set up shop in our classroom and made a big buffet — studio lighting style. Each station had a food item, a light kit or two and a photographer snapping away. 
It was pretty cool. We got to mingle with classmates, take photos and EAT.
Because I work part-time at a sushi restaurant, one of my awesome sushi chefs helped me out on this assignment. He made a Red Dragon roll for me, which I split with my classmates (though normally, photographed food isn’t entirely edible).
This shoot was definitely fun, but it was also good to get the food photography experience. It’s a big part of magazines, plus there’s many opportunities for food photography among local restaurants. 
Dec 2

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 8 — Food

Everyone’s favorite subject: FOOD.

We set up shop in our classroom and made a big buffet — studio lighting style. Each station had a food item, a light kit or two and a photographer snapping away. 

It was pretty cool. We got to mingle with classmates, take photos and EAT.

Because I work part-time at a sushi restaurant, one of my awesome sushi chefs helped me out on this assignment. He made a Red Dragon roll for me, which I split with my classmates (though normally, photographed food isn’t entirely edible).

This shoot was definitely fun, but it was also good to get the food photography experience. It’s a big part of magazines, plus there’s many opportunities for food photography among local restaurants. 

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 7 — Sportrait 
For this assignment we were asked to photograph athlete portraits. I did basketball because that’s the sport my model, Mitch, plays. I figured it’d be an easy location to manipulate too. I mean how hard can it be to shoot on a court right?
Wrong. The shots I was getting were very similar and I was running out of ideas. I also didn’t have a step ladder, so to get this shot I had to back my SUV up onto the court, climb on top of it and shoot through the hoop.
I definitely got some weird looks, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Dec 2

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 7 — Sportrait 

For this assignment we were asked to photograph athlete portraits. I did basketball because that’s the sport my model, Mitch, plays. I figured it’d be an easy location to manipulate too. I mean how hard can it be to shoot on a court right?

Wrong. The shots I was getting were very similar and I was running out of ideas. I also didn’t have a step ladder, so to get this shot I had to back my SUV up onto the court, climb on top of it and shoot through the hoop.

I definitely got some weird looks, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 6 — Flashlight painting, extended
Like I said, the whole class hated this assignment, so the whole class was given the option to reshoot it. Granted, some people did awesome and didn’t have to. But I took the opportunity to try it again.
This was taken at the same location, on top of a parking garage, but a little earlier in the afternoon. I caught the hot, saturated colors the sun gave off before it slipped under the horizon and I painted my model’s face with a flashlight.
It’s definitely really bright on my model’s face, so I know there’s room for improvement. This reshoot gave me a little more hope when it comes to flashlight painting though. It’s not as terrible as it seems.
Dec 2

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 6 — Flashlight painting, extended

Like I said, the whole class hated this assignment, so the whole class was given the option to reshoot it. Granted, some people did awesome and didn’t have to. But I took the opportunity to try it again.

This was taken at the same location, on top of a parking garage, but a little earlier in the afternoon. I caught the hot, saturated colors the sun gave off before it slipped under the horizon and I painted my model’s face with a flashlight.

It’s definitely really bright on my model’s face, so I know there’s room for improvement. This reshoot gave me a little more hope when it comes to flashlight painting though. It’s not as terrible as it seems.

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 5 — Flashlight painting
I think I speak for myself and my entire class when I say flashlight painting is a BITCH. Before I rant though, I learned a lot.
With flashlight painting, the lighting is entirely your control. Your frame is your canvas. Admittedly, it was pretty cool that I could literally paint the light where I wanted it to go. 
But then there’s exposure. It’s long, and as you’re lighting your subject, any little movement he or she makes can make a great picture blurry and unrecognizable. That’s where the frustration sets in.
Still, I came out with this shot. I thought it was pretty cool considering how stressful this shoot was. Let me know what you think!
Dec 2

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 5 — Flashlight painting

I think I speak for myself and my entire class when I say flashlight painting is a BITCH. Before I rant though, I learned a lot.

With flashlight painting, the lighting is entirely your control. Your frame is your canvas. Admittedly, it was pretty cool that I could literally paint the light where I wanted it to go. 

But then there’s exposure. It’s long, and as you’re lighting your subject, any little movement he or she makes can make a great picture blurry and unrecognizable. That’s where the frustration sets in.

Still, I came out with this shot. I thought it was pretty cool considering how stressful this shoot was. Let me know what you think!

Dec 2

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 4 — One light, advanced

For this assignment, we turned in 36 frames. But instead of 36 different photos, we turned in three groups of 12. Each group had photos that were normally exposed, one stop under and then two stops under. We broke this assignment across two weeks, so I had two different subjects.

Definitely learned a lot over the course of those two weeks. First off, if you’re ever shooting in a dark location, bring a flashlight to focus. I overlooked that simple step and ended up having to start a fire. (A controlled one, guys). 

After these shots though I definitely felt more comfortable with my external flash. And no real problems with bugs this time!

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 3 — One light
MY FIRST TIME USING A LIGHT KIT/EXTERNAL FLASH
Holy hell it was stressful. I didn’t know what anything did, I didn’t really know what the settings meant and I barely put the thing together. Then I ran out of batteries. I cried a couple times too.
Being a photographer is ridiculously hard work guys. Luckily I pulled it together. I was pretty pleased with this shot, especially for my first time. And honestly at the end of the day I was just glad I got a useable photo.
Also, I had another run-in with bugs. MOSQUITOES. So many of them. Wasn’t having much luck.
Nov 29

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 3 — One light

MY FIRST TIME USING A LIGHT KIT/EXTERNAL FLASH

Holy hell it was stressful. I didn’t know what anything did, I didn’t really know what the settings meant and I barely put the thing together. Then I ran out of batteries. I cried a couple times too.

Being a photographer is ridiculously hard work guys. Luckily I pulled it together. I was pretty pleased with this shot, especially for my first time. And honestly at the end of the day I was just glad I got a useable photo.

Also, I had another run-in with bugs. MOSQUITOES. So many of them. Wasn’t having much luck.

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 2 — Reflective light
This photo was taken at a farm near where I live. I was lucky to get such a great location, and my model happens to be my really good friend & roommate.
This photo was taken late afternoon, when the sun was high enough up to be seen over the trees but low enough down so it would be behind her and create a nice line of reflection. 
I used a car sun shade (I’m a broke college photog, what can I say) to bounce the light onto her face and upper body. Holding a sun shade and taking a photo is hard, so thankfully my assistant Marcella was there to help me out.
P.S. My model was a trooper. Farms have a lot of ants.
Nov 29

Studio Lighting Class: Assignment 2 — Reflective light

This photo was taken at a farm near where I live. I was lucky to get such a great location, and my model happens to be my really good friend & roommate.

This photo was taken late afternoon, when the sun was high enough up to be seen over the trees but low enough down so it would be behind her and create a nice line of reflection. 

I used a car sun shade (I’m a broke college photog, what can I say) to bounce the light onto her face and upper body. Holding a sun shade and taking a photo is hard, so thankfully my assistant Marcella was there to help me out.

P.S. My model was a trooper. Farms have a lot of ants.

This was the first of many photos I took in my studio lighting class here at UF with Gainesville Sun photo editor Rob Witzel. Our assignment was natural light.
We had a discussion about timing, because with natural light shots timing is key. This photo was taken just before dusk, a time I’ve learned to call “Golden Hour.” The warm, rich sunlight lighting up my model, Sophie, was possible because the sun is so low to the horizon. Rays are being diffused instead of shining directly down. 
The big lesson here was don’t take photos around noon unless you want harsh light and dark, shadowy raccoon eyes. Look for open shade or wait until the end of the day.
Also, this photo was taken at Paynes Prairie here in Gainesville, Fla. There are many banana spiders there. I don’t like spiders. It was a very scary shoot.
Nov 29

This was the first of many photos I took in my studio lighting class here at UF with Gainesville Sun photo editor Rob Witzel. Our assignment was natural light.

We had a discussion about timing, because with natural light shots timing is key. This photo was taken just before dusk, a time I’ve learned to call “Golden Hour.” The warm, rich sunlight lighting up my model, Sophie, was possible because the sun is so low to the horizon. Rays are being diffused instead of shining directly down. 

The big lesson here was don’t take photos around noon unless you want harsh light and dark, shadowy raccoon eyes. Look for open shade or wait until the end of the day.

Also, this photo was taken at Paynes Prairie here in Gainesville, Fla. There are many banana spiders there. I don’t like spiders. It was a very scary shoot.

The class assignment: weather.
I took this photo over Spring Break. Though I go to the University of Florida, my break was spent back home in Las Vegas, Nevada. And though Vegas is notoriously a desert, Mt. Charleston — a mountain 30 minutes outside of the valley — is not.
Even during the first week of March, snow still blanketed the ground and sprinkled the trees. While with my family, I came across a group of people sledding. 
With a telephoto lens, I was able to capture several great moments. Though I have some of kids crashing and parents bailing, my favorite shot of the day was the above couple and their mid-air moment of laughter and embrace. It just makes you smile.
Pro-tip, though: When shooting in icy locations, wear shoes with a little traction. My soaking-wet-and-slippery canvas shoes were the joke of the day.__________________________For more tips on weather photography, see: http://voices.yahoo.com/nature-cameras-weather-photography-tips-375286.html 
Apr 10

The class assignment: weather.

I took this photo over Spring Break. Though I go to the University of Florida, my break was spent back home in Las Vegas, Nevada. And though Vegas is notoriously a desert, Mt. Charleston — a mountain 30 minutes outside of the valley — is not.

Even during the first week of March, snow still blanketed the ground and sprinkled the trees. While with my family, I came across a group of people sledding. 

With a telephoto lens, I was able to capture several great moments. Though I have some of kids crashing and parents bailing, my favorite shot of the day was the above couple and their mid-air moment of laughter and embrace. It just makes you smile.

Pro-tip, though: When shooting in icy locations, wear shoes with a little traction. My soaking-wet-and-slippery canvas shoes were the joke of the day.
__________________________
For more tips on weather photography, see: http://voices.yahoo.com/nature-cameras-weather-photography-tips-375286.html 

Arnold Francisco, 23, of Tallahassee, participates in open play of the Canadian Tuxedo Invitational Bike Polo Tournament. 
_________
My editor texted me at around 5:30 p.m. last Saturday asking if I wanted to shoot a bike polo tournament. My response: What is bike polo?
Showing up at the enclosed floor hockey court at Kanapaha Park, I got my first glimpse. It’s just as it sounds: polo. Except without horses: with bikes. 
At first glance, it looks funny. But after really watching, the sport deserves respect. These guys were balancing, maneuvering, braking and actually playing polo at the same time. There were a few crashes and conflicts, but overall it was chill yet constant action. 
The shot above was taken just before sunset during a period photographers call the “Golden Hour.” The sunlight often provides a golden glow, and in the above picture, a reflection shadow on the court, complete with his wheel’s spokes.
A different, more action-focused photo went to print, but I like this one because it’s just plain interesting to look at. __________
If you’re interested in reading the article about the tournament and seeing my photo that accompanies it, see http://www.alligator.org/news/local/article_7c51b6d8-81f7-11e1-a995-0019bb2963f4.html 
Apr 10

Arnold Francisco, 23, of Tallahassee, participates in open play of the Canadian Tuxedo Invitational Bike Polo Tournament. 

_________

My editor texted me at around 5:30 p.m. last Saturday asking if I wanted to shoot a bike polo tournament. My response: What is bike polo?

Showing up at the enclosed floor hockey court at Kanapaha Park, I got my first glimpse. It’s just as it sounds: polo. Except without horses: with bikes. 

At first glance, it looks funny. But after really watching, the sport deserves respect. These guys were balancing, maneuvering, braking and actually playing polo at the same time. There were a few crashes and conflicts, but overall it was chill yet constant action. 

The shot above was taken just before sunset during a period photographers call the “Golden Hour.” The sunlight often provides a golden glow, and in the above picture, a reflection shadow on the court, complete with his wheel’s spokes.

A different, more action-focused photo went to print, but I like this one because it’s just plain interesting to look at. 

__________

If you’re interested in reading the article about the tournament and seeing my photo that accompanies it, see http://www.alligator.org/news/local/article_7c51b6d8-81f7-11e1-a995-0019bb2963f4.html 


A photo story if I ever had one: taking pictures at an apiary. 
It seems almost romantic. Beekeepers are notoriously friendly, and my subject, Mark Dykes, fit the bill. It was all wonderful. Except for the fact that there were bees. 
So many bees.
The shoot was spontaneous, so I showed up in shorts and flip-flip flops. The protective gear they had to offer me was a jacket and a face mask. The entire bottom half of my body was exposed. 
Gulp.
I went in. Mark waved his hand at me to come closer. I thought, “Does he not see how many bees there are?” But he was barehanded. In a t-shirt. I had to suck it up.
I hid behind my camera. Using my viewfinder as my eyes, I approached the buzzing hive and snapped away. A few times bees landed on my fingers. They tickled, but didn’t sting. Mark smiled reassuringly.
Unscathed, I got the shots I needed. This shoot was really special to me because I faced a fear of mine. I gained a huge amount of respect for bees, beekeepers and journalism. It was one of the first times I was out of my comfort zone yet in control of the situation, and the reward was worth the risk.
_____________
If you’re interested in reading my article on bee populations rising, accompanied by the photo that went to print, see http://www.alligator.org/news/campus/article_47eb0244-7fb5-11e1-ae8c-001a4bcf887a.html
Apr 10

A photo story if I ever had one: taking pictures at an apiary. 

It seems almost romantic. Beekeepers are notoriously friendly, and my subject, Mark Dykes, fit the bill. It was all wonderful. Except for the fact that there were bees. 

So many bees.

The shoot was spontaneous, so I showed up in shorts and flip-flip flops. The protective gear they had to offer me was a jacket and a face mask. The entire bottom half of my body was exposed. 

Gulp.

I went in. Mark waved his hand at me to come closer. I thought, “Does he not see how many bees there are?” But he was barehanded. In a t-shirt. I had to suck it up.

I hid behind my camera. Using my viewfinder as my eyes, I approached the buzzing hive and snapped away. A few times bees landed on my fingers. They tickled, but didn’t sting. Mark smiled reassuringly.

Unscathed, I got the shots I needed. This shoot was really special to me because I faced a fear of mine. I gained a huge amount of respect for bees, beekeepers and journalism. It was one of the first times I was out of my comfort zone yet in control of the situation, and the reward was worth the risk.

_____________

If you’re interested in reading my article on bee populations rising, accompanied by the photo that went to print, see http://www.alligator.org/news/campus/article_47eb0244-7fb5-11e1-ae8c-001a4bcf887a.html