Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Visiting Sabra's Studio

Sabra and Aurora, the beginnings of a night FULL of giggles!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Horse Time on Vacation

I can't thank my sister-in-law enough for taking Aurora horseback riding last month. Aurora had such a great time. For a kid who started out scared to death to climb on a horse, she was more than happy to stay up there riding for most of an hour. She loved it!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sam and Scotty

Last summer, we had the most amazing family gathering at Sam's mountaintop retreat. Between the company, the food, the mud and the fun... it was just a blast! I tried to capture a few images throughout the day. This is my favorite image from the Boccadori family reunion last July. The original image was pretty different. Here's a quick glimpse through the changes.

At the time when I shot this, I didn't think much of the image. It took a while for it to really grow on me. It's a great moment, a wonderful candid capture sure... but the horse trailer behind them is distracting, the huge amount of open space around their bodies... all of that detracts from what I was hoping to catch.

Then I started looking at it without color. Things started getting more interesting to me.

I tried a few different modifications until I returned to my favorite black and white converter, Nik Silver Efex Pro. Then I realized the image desperately needed cropping. Voila! Now I think it captures the intimacy perfectly!

Sailing on Candlewood Lake, CT

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Updating the Family Portrait-side of things

I have this bad habit of forgetting what I still have waiting (to edit) in the queue. I need to develop better workflow habits. To that end, I spent some time this morning pulling together some of the portraits I was able to make when Nancy and I were on vacation two weekends ago.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Working With Whatcha Got

As much as I liked the pose in this image, I wasn't crazy about the tonality and contrast. Needed something more.

In camera Sepia setting

Once again, I started with an okay image, but knowing that I wanted it to be a sepia toned image, I tried the "sepia" setting in-camera. I wasn't terribly impressed with the results, so I brought the image into Photoshop and worked the image in Nik Silver Efex Pro. The final image has some other minor edits (skin retouching, blemish reduction.... stuff like that.)

Final image

The final image has been cropped, edited, sharpened a little. I think the closer crop makes it all the more intimate and personal.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How to Save an Image

Tobi and Bruce on Candlewood Lake, CT, last weekend. So how did I make this image?

This is what I started with. Normally, I would say, if you don't get the image right in camera, reshoot it. Considering the ease that one can shoot digitally nowadays, combined with the ability to chimp the LCD immediately after shooting, there really is no excuse to not get it right in camera. Well, bullshit. Sometimes your best image looks fine on the LCD and you get back home and put it on the big screen and WHOA, it looks like crap. Now what?

Well, the first thing to look at is the histogram. If you haven't blown out your highlights, there may be hope. Maybe. The first thing I tried with this image was to manipulate the curves and levels in Nik Capture NX. I also tried a similar solution in Photoshop. (Yes, I am still using Photoshop 7... until I can afford the latest CS5 or someone drops a copy into my lap).

The second edit happened in Photoshop, using Nik Silver Efex Pro. For me, this program is like having my old darkroom back, minus the smells and red safelight. When I see digital black and white images where the only thing the photographer did was desaturate the image, I cringe. The least one can do is to work with selective color channels. I prefer the hands-on approach that Nik Silver Efex Pro allows for.

  • For those of you paying attention, notice the change in Tobi's neckline and the changes to her skin. Part of this was due to using a red filter in Nik Silver Efex Pro. Additionally, I made minor touch-ups in Photoshop, first with the cloning tool and finally with the Liquify filter. I figure if I can't afford a makeup assistant, (or learn to do that myself) then I need to be able to help with minor retouching.

Now, if you want more information on this process, or a more detailed tutorial, let me know. I am going to be trying to bring more technical information, along with more dialogue about the Why of what I am doing, into my blog. Questions lead to more discussion. Have at it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Putnam County Spelling Bee - Shooting at the Hangar Theater

This week I spent some time shooting at the Hangar Theater during technical rehearsals. The upcoming play is the Putnam County Spelling Bee which should be a wonderful performance. Having never shot live drama of this nature, it was a whole new experience.

If you've shot with available light, you're familiar with the difficulties of trying to shoot in low light conditions. The extraordinary contrast between the dark of the room/audience and the brightness of the stage made for a huge challenge in balancing exposure. Seeing as how I was basically trying to be invisible, the last thing I felt I could ask of the cast was to hold still so I could get a good light reading. So I wing-ed it. Made do and chimped to my heart's content.

The first few images were less-than-stellar. The rest were closer to what I wanted.

So here they are, unedited, in their initial glory. Your thoughts? Suggestions? Edits you think would improve the images?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


©2009 Alex Solla Photography

To me, this is what it means to be ten.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Vacation

I know, you want to see ALL the vacation pictures... but I like you too much to inundate you with ALL of them at once. Let's start with a nice sailboat picture. Here's Aurora on her first day on the water in her sailboat. (Thank you Tobi!)

Monday, August 16, 2010


This was what I awoke to on Saturday morning. Not a bad way to greet the day. Thank you Tobi and Bruce. This was exactly what I needed!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Couple of Ideas

Here's another couple of ideas for the project. Playing around with the idea of shadow vs glow. Not necessarily looking for realism as much as impact.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Project : Hands and Fire

I think Joe's right, this needed some work. So I went back in and redid the right hand. Looks cleaner and less affected by the flames within. Thanks Joe!

©2010 Alex Solla Photography

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Working Hands

I have a new project. I have an artistic director who has some amazing ideas she wants to illustrate. My job is to come up with some photographic representations that can be photo-manipulated for the final illustration.

The goal: upheld hands, holding fire.

So today we had our first hand-model arrive at the studio just before 10am. Half an hour later, we had a few good shots and were ready to see where this is going.

The first shot was more or less just to make sure the damned strobes were firing. Right off the bat we had problems with my speedlites. Normally trouble free and pretty darned simple to work with, today they wouldn't fire. Didn't matter what I did to crank them up. I tried and tried, but they failed to fire every single time. I figured there had to be something wrong with the way my camera was set up. (Sure enough, after we had finished with our hand model, I figured out that we had the camera on the wrong channel for the flashes! Duh.)

The second shot is pretty close to what I was hoping for. Nice glow to the skin, and nice contrast.

The third image is closer to what my mind saw from the outset. Now I need to see what I can work up in the way of fire. Ideas anyone?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Early Morning by the Inlet

I had the most wonderful morning yesterday. Up at 5am, on the road by 530am. Shooting by 6am and wrapped up by 7am. Home for tea and eggs and I was still finished earlier than I would be most days. I miss early mornings! The light was fickle and Ithacan... but my subject was patient and far too kind.

Nothing is more frustrating to me than to keep a model waiting. I was having to figure a few twists and turns with my new camera, and all the while Carol kept up a steady repartee. Together we found plenty of fun and before we knew it, we had a pile of images to look through.