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Portrait Practice: Round 2

While visiting St. Louis for new years, I ran into an old friend that was visiting from New York. She had been a great sport about jumping in as a model for photos I had done while in New York a couple years prior, so I asked if she was up for another round. She happily agreed, and after a few minutes of fussing around my friend’s house looking for a place to hang black sheets, we had a little mini studio setup. The following photos were taken using 2 Canon Speedlites, one with a small 6″ softbox (on the left) and one with a larger 24″ softbox (on the right).


Portrait Practice: Round 1

So one of my goals for the summer and fall is to get better at controlled lighting. The majority of stuff that I shoot for Marquette is either available light or on-camera strobe.  This set of pictures is just a practice run I took using one strobe (off-camera), which I bounced off of an umbrella. All pictures were taken with a 24-70mm lens on a Canon 5D MK II, and a Canon 430 EX strobe.


Spring, Full Frame, and Macro

With spring weather comes a change in photo opportunities!! It is always nice to get back to the more colorful, vivid nature of spring and summer after the long, somber winter months. Marquette’s campus is especially fun to photograph because they go the extra mile to plant lots of flowers to enhance the aesthetics of campus. The following pictures are a mixture of subjects that I found on campus and around my apartment.

Joan of Arc Flowers 1

Shot on a Canon 5D w/15mm fisheye lens

Joan of Arc Flowers 2

Shot on a Canon 5D w/16-35mm lens

Joan of Arc Flowers 3

Nap time near Joan of Arc

Macro of Dandelion

Dandelion shot on a 40D w/50mm macro lens

Water Beads Macro 1

Shot on a 40D w/50mm macro lens

Water Beads Macro 2

Shot on a 40D w/50mm macro lens

Sunday In The Park With George

One of my favorite things about working for the Instructional Media Center is getting to photograph the theater performances. Growing up my parents always used to take my sister and I to theater performances at Saint Louis Univeristy, where my dad worked at the time. Because of this I find myself always giddy when I get to photograph one of the performances at Marquette. The assignments are a combination of a nostalgic past time and a present passion. So far I have photographed Marquette University’s performances of Moon Over Buffalo, The Heidi Chronicles, The BFG, Spitfire Grill, Censored On Final Approach, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type, Nickel and Dimed, and most recently, Sunday In The Park With George.

There are a couple challenges to photographing theater performances. The main challenge is light. The lighting varies SO much between each performance. Some performances like Spitfire Grill and Sunday In The Park With George are well lit, making for an easier photo-taking experience. Performances like The BFG are a little more challenging, because some of the scenes are very dimly lit.

Spitfire Grill

1/160sec f/2.8 ISO 800 (Spitfire Grill)


1/60sec f/2.8 ISO 800 (The BFG)

Sunday In The Park With George was one of my favorite photo shoots as far as the quality of the pictures that I got from it. Below are some of the shots I took at the performance.

Sunday In The Park With George

1/320sec f/2.8 ISO 1000
1/200sec f/2.8 ISO 1000
1/200sec f/2.8 ISO 1000
1/320sec f/2.8 ISO 1000
1/160sec f/2.8 ISO 1000
1/160sec f/2.8 ISO 1000
1/160sec f/2.8 ISO 1000
1/200sec f/2.8 ISO 1000
1/160sec f/2.8 ISO 1000

Creating an HDR Photo


Not long after I started interning for the photo department, I was introduced to HDRs. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The general idea is that by taking three (or more) photos that are of the same subject with varying exposures, and then adding them together in post production to make one photo, you can show a greater range of tones. The neat thing about HDRs is the incredible color, detail, and contrast that can be shown through them. In the rest of this post I will be showing an example of how to put together an HDR after the pictures have been taken.

For this example, I will be using three different exposures of a waterfall in Italy. One picture is evenly exposed, one picture is two stops underexposed, and one picture is two stops overexposed:

Even Exposure

Two Stops Underexposed

Two Stops Overexposed

There are a couple different programs that can be used to fuse these three pictures together into an HDR. I like to use Photomatix Pro. After dragging the three pictures into Photomatix Pro, I get to this screen:

It has been my experience that the photos turn out best with the above settings selected, although depending on the picture I do sometimes select the “moving objects/people” option when applicable. After hitting “OK”, the program gets to work putting the pictures together, and I come to this screen:


Click to Enlarge

At this point you can already see the difference in the detail and color of the rocks and the algae. From here I will tweak the settings on the left. I have not found any sort of formula to doing this as of now, I mostly operate on a few general rules and then adjust the controls until I like the way the picture looks. Here is a rundown of the changes I made and a screen shot:


Click to Enlarge


Strength: 70

Color Saturation: 46

Light Smoothing: Medium-High

Luminosity: 0

White Point: .250

Black Point: .000

Gamma: 1.00


Strength: 100

Color Saturation: 80

Light Smoothing: Medium-High

Luminosity: +2

White Point: .143

Black Point: .006

Gamma: 1.00
This is a very simple example of what can be done with this program. I essentially just gave the picture a little more saturation, and then brightened it up a little bit with the luminosity control. After the modifications are complete, you hit process, and the program crunches on it for a minute before spitting out a TIFF file. This can then be edited further in Photoshop, if desired. I like to tweak the photos a little more in Photoshop and add an Unsharp Mask filter to sharpen the image up, because generally I find the images that come out of Photomatix Pro are a little soft. Here is an example of the photo after it has left Photomatix Pro, before Photoshop:

Click To Enlarge

And then after I add a little contrast and an Unsharp Mask filter in Photoshop:

Click To Enlarge

*NOTE: It may be hard to tell the difference in the before and after Photoshop picture due to the size limitations of this blog’s format.

WNPA Photo Contest Madness

So Friday was the deadline for the Wisconsin News Photographers Association Picture of the Year contest. The best part about this contest is that it is free for students, and you can have up to 2o entries. There are several categories to enter: General/Spot News, Feature, Pictorial, Illustration, Sports Action, Sports Feature, Portrait/Personality, General News Story, as well as a couple others. While I spent most of the month telling myself I needed to get started on my entries early, I found I was not really buckling down like I should have until the end of last weekend. Regardless, after a long week of searching through thousands of images (I shot quite a few events/games in 2009) and then narrowing those down to 20 or so which then had to be edited, cropped, and captioned, I submitted my entries via FTP with 30 minutes to spare!! While this is only my second year entering this contest, I found that it was a wonderful way to take a retrospective look at my work, remind myself of the progress that I’ve made, and also evaluate how I can improve. The following pictures are my entries for this year. Enjoy!!

Corpus Christi Parade in Cagli, Italy

A baritone player marches through the cobblestone streets of Cagli, Italy, during a procession held in celebration of Corpus Christi, on June 14, 2009. Corpus Christi is held to commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

Northern Bends

WI-42 winds through the forests of Northern Door County.


Marquette University guard Maurice Acker (2) attempts to inbound the ball against leaping Syracuse defender Andy Rautins (1) at the Bradley Center on March 7, 2009.


Marquette University guard David Cubillian (10) battles against Georgetown guard Omar Wattad (31) at the Bradley Center on Jan. 31, 2009.

Guitar Prodigy

9-year-old guitar prodigy Tallan Latz performs at the 2009 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards Show on April 27, 2009.


A static puddle reflects a group of jovial band members from Waukesha High School during a game between the Waukesha Wolverines and the Whitefish Bay Blue Dukes in Waukesha, Wis., on Aug. 28, 2009.

Family Weekend at Marquette

A young boy enjoys bowling at a family weekend event hosted by Marquette University on Oct. 3, 2009.


Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones is warmly received during his visit to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission on the last day of its City Camp program on July 30, 2009. City Camp is a summer school program aimed at educating at-risk youth in neighboring communities.


#5 of the Catholic Memorial Crusaders barely misses the ball as it floats in to #5 of the Pius Popes during a game played at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., on Oct. 16, 2009.


#43 of the Catholic Memorial Crusaders looks to hold off #13 of the Pius Popes during a game played at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., on Oct. 16, 2009.

Building a Career With Photographs.

I’ve decided to kick off this crazy blog assignment by putting up some links and thumbnails of the work I have been doing over the past year. I started to get serious with photography only a couple years ago, when I was approached by the IMC, who were looking for a student photographer. Although my time working for IMC has been brief, the opportunities and experiences have been vast, and my motivation fierce. I have great mentors and have been fortunate enough to have interned for Channel 12 for two semesters (and still doing shoots for them occasionally), who gave me access to the wonderful world of press passes. Since, I have had the opportunity to cover stories ranging from Winter festivals to car shows to the WAMI Awards. I also spent a semester shooting high school football games for their iconic Operation Football section. All of my work has been published on the wisn.com website, Links are to the right. For Marquette, I have had invaluable photo opportunities. Recently, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to photograph events held on campus for the Little Rock 9. My knowledge and experience with photography grows everyday, and I plan on using this blog to display that through my photographs. Happy viewing.


2009 Auto Show



Marquette Alum Charles Hall Visits, Shares ADPR Experiences

My Best Of Gallery From 2009 Operation Football