Saturday is a day that's set aside for finding a model and shooting her with one of my shooting buddies. So this Saturday we didn't have a model to shoot.
Hassan & I decided to go out looking for some interesting people to shoot.
It was a good choice. Almost right away we came upon these four people who were more than happy to pose for us.
Left to right is Nathan, Brien, Samantha and Kiera (I hope I got the spelling correct).
They are part of a theatre group in Brantford and Cosplay enthusiasts. All but Natan live in town too.
This is one of many photos I took but the only one with all of them together.
It was a VERY lucky shot too. I was using my 135L Prime set to f2 and my 580EX II set on ETTL and High Speed Sync. I got almost all their eyes in good focus. Considering it was a hurried shot and the super shallow depth of field I think you could almost call this a miracle shot.
We talked for a bit after the photos were taken and it looks like Hassan and I may become their official photographers.
That would be awesome.
So if you see two strange looking guys on the streets of Brantford carrying around some Canons with 580's on them - that might be us. Come on over and introduce yourself and we'll take you picture.
The first time I met "Lish" I was right in the middle of doing my 100 Strangers Project. I got her to pose with her boyfriend for a kiss. I gave her my card and that was that.
Later by chance I ran into her again and arranged a photo shoot in studio on black.
See dropped off the grid for about a year when I ran into her again on Model Mayhem and set up a shoot on white.
She was one of my first models I ever shot and I loved shooting her all three times and am looking forward to doing it again.
Here is her Facebook link:
Here is her MM # 2731117
Here is the link to the "Kiss" doing my 100 Strangers Project:
Here is the link to my shoot with her on black:
And last but not least is the link to my blog where you can follow my photographic adventures:
Dave stood out as the best dressed and most photogenic of all so I approached him about filling in. He was happy to oblige. I found a wood shaving path and set up a B1600 with a huge PLM. He posed very naturally with little to no direction.
He gave me his business card and I promised to share the best shots. I picked this one and when I got home I added the text and sent it off to him via email.
I was at the local plaza looking to talk to my new friend Mike ( flic.kr/p/bZWeA7 ) who is a street musician. Standing in for him was Chris. Chris also does some busking. Something we both have in common.
I waited until his song was finished and asked if I could shoot him while he played. The result you see here.
Thanks Chris for letting me take the shot. Contact me and I'll send you a larger size.
Jun my PA introduced us and we decided the first photos would be done in studio.
She's brand new to modelling so Jun and I did a workshop with her where we all taught and learned off each other.
By the end of the night Vanessa was quite comfortable in front of the camera and was enjoying trying out new poses.
We plan to do another session soon. This time on the bridge where I usually do my first shooting.
She makes a great looking cowgirl doesn't she?
This is a three light setup. A B1600 high right through a gridded beauty dish. A B800 camera high left and back turned down as a hair light just strong enough to define the hat. A B400 floor level through a gridded beauty dish for front fill.
Well this is my 100th Stranger. The journey is over. I have learned so much and developed in so many ways. Joining the 100 Strangers group is the best thing I have ever done with my camera hands down.
Arranging to shoot Vanessa in studio allowed me to make my #100 a nice finishing touch.
My next project will be a blog called "Nice 2 Meet U". I haven't launched it yet but I'll post the URL for anyone interested in following my further adventures when it's set up and running.
Cheers to all my 100 Strangers friends
Then McMahon (he wouldn't give up his first name) rolls past on an electric scooter. We called him over and ask if he would let us shoot him and he kindly said yes. Patrick held a large gold/silver reflector and I bounced the 580 off that for fill light.
McMahon was intrigued with the project and wanted to know how the photos would be used. Pat and I took turns explaining it in our own ways.
The available light was terrible. A cloudless sky and no shade to duck into for a shot but I didn't want to waste the opportunity. The best I could do was split lighting without a reflector or flash.
So this is Mike. He sure can pick and play. Did I mention he's a pretty decent singer too.
One stranger per day so here's Randy.
He and his brother lived just down from me and I never knew it until his house went up for sale and he moved away.
Bob was pretty patient with me while I set the camera up and got this.
Available Light/No reflectors
f8 @ ISO 400 & 1/45 sec.
Rodney was a great guy to talk to. Jun was my PA directing some light back at Rod with a large reflector as Rod told me stories about his life. The most interesting one was when he electrocuted himself and died briefly. I love stories about NDE experiences so Rod had no problem holding my attention. I told him I would squeeze off a few frames as he talked to get a nice candid of him.
This was shot at 5.6 and I was lucky to get the focus just where I wanted it. f11 would have cancelled out the background too much.
Well it's a new shooting season and I've got 4 more strangers to go to make my 100.
I've never met Santa before. When I was young I tried to sleep under the Christmas Tree but my parents wouldn't let me. Today was a treat. My shooting buddy and I volunteered to shoot Santa and a group of under privileged children. It was the first time I worked under pressure. We got there with barely enough time to set up a B800 and B1600 with large silver PLMs.
It was chaotic; kids running everywhere on sugar highs banging into the light stands and almost tripping over the cords. A real learning experience. I'm still a long, long way away from getting the courage to try a wedding shoot. THAT's scary stuff for me.
So anyway, Eddy and I get things set up and pop off few test shots - then out walks Santa!
I walk over and introduce myself and we settle into the shoot.
I shot a lot of plain vanilla portraits but I always like to be ready to nail the "In the moment" frames like this one.
So Santa is my 94th stranger for my 100 Strangers project. I asked him and he said he was the real one. I didn't have to courage to tug on his beard so I took his word for it.
The little girl with the Rudolph nose I didn't get the name of. The hosts were taking care of that part of things.
Erik rode by on his bike checking out what Eddy and I were doing with the cameras and light. I took the opportunity to call him over and ask him if he wanted to get a few photos taken.
He thought about it for a minute and said "Yeah sure, why not?"
We explained the 100 Strangers project to him and he stepped right up to the light. He's employed as a roofer and is involved in the Martial Arts. I talked shop with him for a while as he relaxed more and more. We got some good frames. He tried several poses including this one that I call his "Game Face". Those cold steel grey eyes really worked nice for that.
This one's worth blowing up full size for a better look.
This was shot with my favourite outdoor portrait light - a B1600 with a beauty dish.
It was a dark and dreary night. Oops, I mean it was a grey and wind blown day when Phil and Sarah (not pictured) strolled past the bridge. They had just met on POF (Plenty of Fish) and they seemed to be clicking.
Phil works for the city of Guelph, a city similar in size to Brantford a little farther north. Phil was pretty tall; six feet and change. I was thinking I should have brought a step ladder when I was focusing on him. It was windy that high up and the wind kept blowing his hair around. I liked how it made for a more candid looking shot.
This is my first time out in quite a while. Eddy my PA wanted to get some stranger shots in so we set aside some time and braved the wind by the river. He shot two people and I shot two people and they all turned out pretty good. This was done with a beauty dish and a B1600 powered by a Vagabond Mini. The whole rig was swaying in the wind but it never tipped. The overcast sky added a nice diffusion to the shot.
Alicia was my stranger #73
She called me up and said she was going to dye her hair red in a few weeks and asked if I wanted to shoot her before she did.
I jumped at the chance.
This girl is just soooo photogenic and easy to shoot. I remembered her from the bridge and how she was into trying new things and creative poses. She didn't let me down.
This time I took my time and did a studio session using the beauty dish and a hair light.
Isn't she gorgeous?
When I shoot strangers I always tell them I'll send them a copy if they email me. That's how Alicia and I stayed in touch.
Boy am I glad I started this project :-)
Laura and her boyfriend Steve were crossing the bridge when Eddy and I called them over and asked them to do a few shots for us. Laura had just met Steve through texting on Facebook and I have to say they made a great couple.
I had the beauty dish on the B1600 as usual powered with the Vagabond Mini and it was set up ready to go.
I set Laura up about a foot and a half back from the dish and got her to look right at the centre dome.
Doesn't she have great looking grey blue eyes?
A couple of shots and we were done.
The B1600 lets me turn the day into night and the grid on it lets me sculpt the light just the way I want it. It's a great little single strobe kit to work with.
Thanks Laura and Steve :-)
This picture is #91 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page
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Eddy and I were doing some daytime stranger shooting again with the gridded beauty dish. The number of strangers has really dropped since the fall weather has set in. Fortunately Girish came by.
I asked him if he wanted to take part in the project and after a few questions he was quite into it. He even asked if he could have all the photos we took of him :-)
I think I took about five because we were working with a gridded dish without the benefit of a modelling light in quite a bit of ambient light.
I shot with my Canon 70-300 which has fabulous IS and a minimum aperture of f45; perfect for day into night work.
I had the Vagabond Mini powering a B1600 triggered by a Cyber Sync Trigger. Plenty enough power for the job.
Girish told us he has been in Canada for about four years and works in the pharmaceutical industry. He presents as quite intelligent and was able to relax into the job of modelling for us with little effort. He took direction well.
Hope you like this portrait Girish :-) Don't forget to email us for the large size.
Randi & Eddy.
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For a two man crew (Eddy and I) it's a nice portable setup and I'm loving this new dimension of Strobism I'm tapping into. This 100 Strangers project is a great way to find willing models to hone the craft.
Edith and her husband Nik were crossing the bridge where I do a lot of shooting and were curious as to what was going on. Nicholas was hesitant until he understood the project but Edith stepped right up to the plate and she loved the results.
She is very photogenic.
With the transitional weather as of late I've been hiding indoors experimenting with different lighting but my shooting buddy Eddy came over and we decided to "take the show on the road".
Eddy has been inspired by what a Beauty Dish can do as in turning day into night.
This is a shot of Eddy taken with said beauty dish:
I packed up the beauty dish with a Vagabond Mini and B1600 and we headed down to the bridge crossing the Grand River where I knew there would be traffic.
I shot Eddy a few times and he shot me so we could get the lights set up right.
One tricky part of this lighting outdoors is you lose the modelling light due to battery drain. With the B1600 that comes with a 150W modelling light you can flatten your battery if you leave it on any length of time so there was a lot of firing up and tuning it off while waiting for our strangers to straggle by.
Now for the day into night part. Before Eddy got over to pick me up I was out on the back deck test running things using my 24-105L and found I couldn't get the background black. The glass was too fast even stopped down all the way. I swapped it out for a 70 - 300 which at the extreme telephoto end gave me f45 and that's what I took with me for the shoot. It's a nice lens for portrait work.
Eddy took his 100mm Macro and it did a beautiful job of things.
When we were set up and tested out on the bridge we had samples to show people on the camera LCDs and explained we were doing light experiments. Once the people saw the beauty dish shots we had little trouble getting people to pose.
One tag team that has inspired me a lot is Mickey and Andy's "Lighten Up & Shoot". They are two guys who do strobist work and cart around a soft box. I think I prefer a dish and it's better in wind.
After shooting a few we got some reflectors out and did bounce fill. I figured a white one for females and a silver one for males but in the end I was most impressed with the gold one. we were using Eddy's so I'll be putting one on my shopping list.
For anyone out there that's inspired to start working with a beauty dish you should know how to get the best out of it. You don't want to sock it. You want to grid it. That gives the best control and light for this kind of work. It's not a hard and fast rule though. There are no rules in photography - only guidelines.
A bit on beauty dish lighting. A beauty dish gets rid of the hotspot in the middle so the light you get is something like the corona in a total eclipse of the sun. It's very unique and flattering. To get it you have to be up close or you lose the advantage. My dish is a white 22" and I try to put the subject between 22" and 44" max.
So, so much for the tutorial part.
Eddy and I tag-teamed switching back and forth as shooter and PA. He shot Sharon:
and I shot her "Soon to be" Karl.
Karl was relaxed in front of the camera and made a great model. I got the "keeper" in just a few frames. Eddy did a nice job working with Sharon who had a really nice smile once she was relaxed.
My shooting buddy/PA also has a presence in the 100 Strangers group and his work can be found here;
That's where I ran into John and struck up a conversation since we were both shooting Canon. The place was busy as you can see from the people constantly in the shot behind him. I didn't mind. That is part of the story I wanted to tell.
John asked me how I wanted him to pose and I said "Leave your camera pointing at the bridge and I'll get you to turn and look a little past me".
I dropped the DOF and focused directly on John's face.
I was able to get two other reasonable shots out of the stop and I'll post them on Flickr as well.
Everything happens in three's.
What made it all bearable was three nice young ladies came along with their dogs and posed for me. Kara and her best friend Max were the first to pose and are the ones pictured here. Kara is a student at Mohawk College and she really loves her dog. I liked him too. I almost got him to smile and that's hard to do with a doggie :-)
Darlene helped me with getting the names of everyone. She even stepped up to the plate and asked a few passers by if they wanted to get their photos taken. That broke the ice for her and I hope to see her take on the 100 Strangers project as I have.
I just wish I could have gotten the wireless system working for me. I took this shot with on camera flash.
I think I'll post her friends and their dogs as an addendum in my blog listed below. 100 Strangers has a limit of one post per day so you'll have to go there to see the others.
Eddy and I caught Joe in my new location for shooting strangers near Laurier University. I called him over while discussing the lighting and asked him if he would like to be my next stranger.
He was apprehensive at first and thought we were 'nuts" but after talking with him for a while he thought we were still nuts but harmless and we got the go ahead ;-)
When he gave us his name and info he also said we could call him Jose since he spends his cold weather days down in Mexico.
He left us with a smile and I told him to email me for a copy of this photo.
This picture is #85 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page
My strobist buddy Eddy and I were trying out a new spot near the Laurier University campus here in Brantford for shooting strangers. I called this young lady over to help us get the flash settings correct and she said we could use her if we could do it quick.
We did it quick but in my hurry I missed getting her name. The timing was good though. This gust of wind came by and I took advantage of it blowing her hair to get this studio looking shot.
This photo was taken in the downtown core of Brantford near Laurier University and I think I might shoot here more often. It's a real target rich environment for doing my strobist stranger thing.
That's where I met Mandi and her family. From left to right they are Emily, Joelle and Bailey - all with nice big smiles :-)
I am happily surprised at how willing people are to pose for me. I must be very non threatening. What ever it is, I'm glad I've got it.
Mandi sent me an email shortly after I took this picture giving me the names of her children and saying how much she liked my 100 Strangers blog which I thought was nice of her. I sent her copies of this photo and promised to make her my stranger of the day.
Here ya go Mandi and a big thanks for posing :-)
She used to live around the corner from me and I would see her taking her Chihuahua for a walk past my house. It's nice how events like this can break the ice and let you get to know the people in your neighbourhood.
She spotted me with my camera out and wanted to take my photo but I got mine in first while she was fiddling with the menu on her point and shoot.
I lucked out with the focus because the DOF was quite shallow. I got some nice bokeh out of it though.
They are full of energy and quite gregarious. That's one of the nice side benefits of living a healthy life style.
We took their photos quite late in the day and I used a very high ISO. They are a bit grainy and the DOF is too shallow for my liking but their poses are great.
Welcome to Brantford folks and thanks for the poses.
There was a local event celebrating the reopening of Shallow Creek Park here in Brantford and Dave was there as part of the ceremony.
He's entertaining and very likeable. We talked on many subjects from Jazz music to local history and much, much more. The more we talked, the more I grew to like him.
I started off with a few plain vanilla shots but I like to shoot some of my strangers in a candid pose. That's why I picked this one to present here.
I offered to let Dave send me some information on himself to post to my 100 Strangers blog as I have found it has a growing local following:
David V. McKee
Duly Appointed Town Crier
The City of Brantford, Ontario, Canada
“Audible & Laudable”
David V. McKee, often escorted by his good wife, Betty Jean, is proud to be the Official Town Crier of Brantford, a city whose numerous and varied virtues he has announced World-wide since 1991. David is also honoured to have been featured on Rogers Cable 20 series “Hometown Heroes”, and was nominated Brantford’s 1999 Citizen of the Year. In 2004, he was awarded the Ontario Guild of Town Criers Exemplary Service Medal. In 2010 and 2011, the City of Brantford presented him with special Certificates of Appreciation for his many years of service. However, his greatest honour was receiving the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.
In the competitive arena, David placed 2nd at both the 2001 Town Crier World Championships and the 2002 North Americans and, 2nd and 3rd, respectively, at the 2001 and 2004 Lord Mayor of Chester’s Invitational World Tournaments. From 1997 till 2003 he was the Top Ranking North American Town Crier in the World! The increased attention has placed him in high demand both in Brantford and beyond. He is also 5 times Ontario Provincial Champion.
For any occasion that demands colour and ceremony, David V. McKee adds a presence that is always “audible & laudable”.
e-mail: HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org; web: HYPERLINK "http://www.thetowncrier.ca" www.thetowncrier.ca & HYPERLINK "http://www.gopromusic.com" www.gopromusic.com
They huddled in nice and close for this shot and it made for a great portrait.
A special thanks to Vanessa who told me I was awesome :-)
This is one of my all time favourite shots. The reason isn't obvious but it is a stranger shot, a set up shot and an action shot all rolled into one.
What am I talking about?
Well first you will have to blow it up full size and look at the reflections in both lenses of Marks glasses.
Eddy was my photo assistant and he is holding up a softbox with a 580 shooting through it. I have a 580 mounted on the camera. One lens shows me holding the camera and taking the shot. The on camera flash fired. In the other lens you can see the softbox and the 580 that didn't fire. So this shows the action of taking the shot, the set up for the shot and Mark acting as todays stranger. It's also my 77th stranger - two sevens - my lucky number doubled. That can only happen once in 100 strangers.
It was a one in a million shot and I didn't notice it until I got home and was cleaning up the final for posting.
At first impression he is a bit intimidating with those massive silver earrings but he is quite approachable and presents as a really nice guy.
I showed him a good pose with his bike and took the shot. Les assisted me with the off camera flash. I think only my on camera 580 fired in this shot though.
This is Lee, my 75th Stranger marking the 3/4 mark of my progress through this project.
I saw him walking around in Mohawk Park with his gitbox and loved his folk singerish look.
It turns out he's actually the bass player in a Punk Band. Go figure :-)
We got talking and I explained about the 100 Strangers project and I promised I'd give the details of his band since they have a gig coming up soon.
Here's the details:
They have a female lead guitarist named Emily Jackson. Aaron Lloyd sings and plays rhythm guitar and Kevin Ronson is on the drums. The bands name is "The Dollar Store Deities" and they will be playing locally on Saturday the 17th of September. Their Facebook site is:
I'm going to go see them if I can.
This is Alicia, Arron and their dog Tycho. They have both done some model shoots out west and thought it would be great to do an impromptu with Les and I on the bridge. Alicia even had some photos from her last shoot and they were impressive. I think (hope) I'll get a chance to do some more work with these folks in the future when the snow comes. I have never done an outside shoot in the winter.
We tried a few different ideas out but since I can only post one a day to the 100 Strangers group I picked this one; the last shot of the day.
I really wanted to get this pose with Tycho looking up at mummy and daddy but at the last second he was distracted and looked camera left.
I really enjoyed this unexpected photoshoot and am looking forward to working with this couple again.
This is Brad. He's another AMTGARD member I was able to grab a few frames of before the heavy rain started and we all made a run for it. He's an interesting guy. Besides being active in the local AMTGARD group he also crafts his own armour. I think that's pretty cool.
When talking to him he mentioned another group out of nearby Hamilton. They craft actual weapons. Swords, armour, you name it.
He told me there was a date coming up when the group would be wearing this gear. I don't want to miss that!
I liked his outfit because it suggests a peasant warriors garb. He wears it well. I'd like to see him all kitted out though.
These guys beat each other silly with padded swords and when there are enough of them they form armies and get down right medieval.
I was asked to mention that they get together every Sunday at 1:00 pm at Mohawk Park and there is a minimum age limit of 14 for participation. Weaponry has to be constructed according to code. There are rules of engagement you need to know before you can enter combat.
So here's the story behind this shot.
I got there before things started and figured out the lighting. I used one B1600 with a PLM and a Vagabond Mini to light things up. I didn't do any shooting while they were fighting. I did all that after they had finished so I could get some sweat on their brows and scrapes on their knees.
This is Dan holding his Thor Hammer and wearing the perfect expression. You can see the sweat dripping off his nose and the fire in his eyes if you blow this up full size
It was a cloudy day and I wish I had my flash with me for this.
Evan and Roan hammed it up a bit for the camera and also called called Nick to come over for the shoot. Nick is the one with the "Loot" hat. After Nick arrived we got this photo for the 100 Strangers group.
Here is a man that when you look in his eyes you can sense his past and feel his energy.
Brian rode past while I was doing a family shoot on the bridge and I almost missed him. Fortunately he slowed down to see what was going on and I was able to get him to pose for me.
It was a dark and stormy night and the weather matches the mood of this rare photo that captures a soul. None of the Olan Mills plastic smiles with a pull down paper backdrop stuff. The setting is as real as he is.
I thanked him and he was on his way.
Shortly after another stranger turned friend came by and asked how the shooting was going. I chimped a few photos on the back of the camera for him to see and he recognized Brian. He said he was amazed that I was able to get him to pose for me. He described a colourful but tortured past that explained the energy I had picked up on.
I've done something different this time. I've posted a much larger version of the photo on Flickr and I encourage you to look at it full size. Please take the time to look at the largest version. You can really see his "Million Mile" stare.
Dana has actually done some modelling in the past and I think her daughter River has what it takes too. The family dogs are called Ganymede and Luna.
I didn't have to give any direction and they posed nice and naturally. Dana even thanked me for the chance to get in front of a camera again. I thank her for posing for me as well.
This was shot with the 5D2 on manual and two 580EX II's. One on board as the command unit and the other on a stick my light man Les was holding. I think the ratio was 1:4 on ETTL.
I told Kayla I would love some details for when I post their photo in the 100 Strangers group and she gave me this:
"Andrew and I met in high school but we were both too shy to let each other know how we felt. About two weeks ago we reconnected. Now we both couldn't be happier. We both love the outdoors and walking on the trails."
We tried some standard "couple" shots, then we tried this "fun" shot. It's based on Hollywood posters where the guy takes a "Hero" pose and the girl(s) hang on his leg(s) and look up at him worshipfully.
We did a few takes but in this one I think they both nailed the expressions.
I wish you both all the best and thanks again for taking the time to pose.
Victor is a Steel Worker with absolutely no fear of heights. I should have asked him to pose standing on the wall of the bridge. That way I could have gotten lots of the nice evening sky into the shot. It's a long way down to the Grand River though. You wouldn't catch me standing up there.
We tried a few poses and it was hard to pick the best one for posting. This one seemed to catch the best sense of happiness and intimacy. You can tell there is real love there.
Les was holding the light on a stick for me and this was shot ETTL 1:8.
Dawn (pictured here) was doing the same thing. Les, my light man was with me ready to go when I asked Dawn if we could set up our camera and lights on her. That's when she asked if we were doing the 100 Strangers project.
My other Light Man Eddy had shot her as one of his strangers (we both like to work the same areas). That took me by surprise.
I thought I'd ask her to pose for me too :-)
Dawn worked at Dura for years but now kicks back (like me) and just enjoys retirement. That must be why she has such a nice smile :-)
I tried some different settings from my usual. This time I set the ETTL ratio to 1:2 and upped the ISO to 320. The speed and aperture were 125/f11. I find the full frame handles noise really well compared to crop sensors.
I ran this through Topaz Clean rather than sharpen it. I prefer Topaz because it adds a slight texture when you get the settings right.