University of Tampa

Tampa Portrait Photography Mother & Baby Son in black & white University of Tampa

Mother holding her young son up in the air at University of Tampa - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/250thThese are a pair of black & white images from my first ever paid portrait session in Florida.  Somehow I had never written about them before.  These mother and baby son portraits were made on the University of Tampa campus.  I learned a lot from this portrait session, especially to not rely on the Nikon Creative Lighting System's commander mode for triggering speedlights!  I soon switched to using dedicated radio triggers.

Mother holding her baby son - Tampa Portrait Photographer - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR micro @ f/8 ISO 200 1/125thI chose the above photo out of several others of similar composition because in this one the baby boy is grabbing his mother's necklace producing a natural smile in mom and a natural act that I believe all babies do.  

Panorama Tampa at Twilight Views from a Parking Garage

Downtown Tampa Panorama at Twilight Bird's Eye View - click for 1200px image - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 5 sec 3-frame panorama tripod mounted with cable release

It is hard to pry me out of St. Petersburg.  Thankfully, a new client hired me to make some images of Tampa for their new website giving me the opportunity to cross the Howard Frankland Bridge with my DSLR and tripod in tow.  Of all the photographs I took that afternoon and evening, in this post a selection of images taken all from the same spot atop a parking garage are featured.  I had never been to the top of this parking garage before.  I just stumbled upon it as I was searching for bird's eye vantage points of downtown Tampa.  It was a little hard to get into, as I had to risk walking up the narrow entrance ramp before I found an actual parking level that had elevators to the top.  I later found out the actual entrance is inside a building on the other side.  After walking the last three flights to the roof (the elevator I was in did not go to the top) carrying all my gear, I was glad I as always was properly attired with the best footwear possible.

University of Tampa from above at dusk with light trails - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/16 ISO 200 5 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseIt was a very unique feeling being alone on the top of that garage.  There were only two cars left parked on the far side from me.  It was after 5:30pm and everyone had already gone home for the day.  I felt like I was in a secret spot with a view of all downtown Tampa.  All this added up to a feeling of peace.  My Nikon D300 was on my Induro CT214 tripod, so I had no weight on my body from gear.  I could move about freely looking for shots.  At first there was too much light to make the light trail shots I wanted to, so I passed the time by observing and wondering.

Blue Skyscraper to Blue Infinity with Moon - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1.6 sec tripod mounted with cable release - lens correction in Photoshop CS5 to straighten buildingBehind where I knew I wanted to do most of my shooting stood a tall blue skyscraper trying to reach to the Moon.  I thought it interesting how the color of the building nearly blended in perfectly with the twilight sky.  I debated for awhile on which to include in this post, the lens corrected image you see above (building is straight) or the non-corrected one with the building bending inward appearing to reach for the heavens.  

Sykes Building Downtown Tampa Twilight - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/16 ISO 200 10 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseI really enjoyed being alone atop that parking garage waiting for the evening to transition from dusk to twilight.

DSLR Photography Lesson with Carie & her Canon 50D at University of Tampa

Carie already has a full gear bag with her Canon 50D as the centerpiece - University of Tampa CampusI ventured out of St. Petersburg this morning for a DSLR Photography Lesson with new student Carie and her Canon 50D on the University of Tampa campus.  I had not had a lesson there in almost a year.  The campus was much busier than I expected for an early Saturday morning, but I was lucky and got the last parking space in front of the Plant Building.  

Carie has had her 50D for some time and has done some studying of photography terms and techniques on her own.  What my 1-on-1 in the field lessons offer is instruction on how to actually make photos in common situations with situation specific settings.  One thing Carie wanted to be able to photograph better are her very active children who plays sports.  The variable cloudiness allowed us to use sunny actions settings, and higher ISO settings for when the sky clouded over and available light dropped significantly.  One important thing I told Carie to keep an eye on was shutter speed.  For action the shutter speed should (usually) be at least 1/500th of a second and faster.  When the clouds came and the shutter speed dipped below 1/500th, increasing to ISO 400 got shutter speeds up to an adequate 1/640th.  Of course, the faster the subject is moving, the faster the shutter speed needed to freeze that action is.

For the final part of the lesson we went down by the Hillsborough River to practice using fill flash for portraits.  I had Carie first take a shot (of yours truly) with no flash then the exact same shot with her external flash on.  It was easy to see the better results having the flash on produced.

Carie was also the only student (out of dozens) that naturally both held the camera correctly and more often used portrait orientation than landscape.  I was impressed! 

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  • Engagement Session with Mary & Jason at University of Tampa

    Matching the pose with the curve of the tree - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/250th strobist: SB-600 off camera to left

    I met Mary & Jason early this Sunday morning four our engagement shoot hoping to beat the heat.  That worked for about 10 minutes before the heat starting beating us.  To keep things simple we met on the University of Tampa campus and then all rode in my Lexus to the Tampa Convention Center nearby before returning to UT, where all the photos in this post were taken.  I have photographed on the UT campus many times before, and each time I try to find a shot I never made before.  The above tree shot was the new find this time and gives, I think, the best PAN'S LABYRINTH type atmosphere possible in a city setting.

    Did the tree WANT to be a seat? Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 200 1/250th strobist: SB-600 off camera to the left

    I specialize in candid style photography, which means always being ready to take a photo, even in-between moments.  This was a spontaneous kiss that I luckily happened to be ready for (another recently photographed kiss).  As a photographer you may even want to pretend to be checking something else on your camera to see what the couple does in a more relaxed moment.  

    Show the ring! Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/125th strobist: SB-600 off camera to left

    New gear (Yongnuo radio triggers, review soon) that just arrived from Hong Kong yesterday, allowed me to make shots like the hand holding shot above and the curvy tree top image that I would not have been able to before.  Since radio triggers have a much greater effective distance for triggering an external flash, I could get far away and use my Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8 lens to get in close for a distance and take advantage of that lens' great bokeh and sharpness.  

    It was a fun engagement shoot that allowed me to explore new creative avenues, which is always a win for both myself from an artistic standpoint and for the client with regards to the images I can create for them.  I look forward to photographing their wedding in September of this year.

    Street Portrait Series 02 - University of Tampa 2

    Tanya volunteered for a street portrait on the University of Tampa campus - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens @ f/11 ISO 200 1/320th Nikon SB-600 handheld to frame left

    This is more a part 2 to the first entry in the Street Portrait Series, as these shots were made on the same day.  This series is about asking people you just see on the street if you can make their portrait.  Tanya, pictured above, was just hanging out on the University of Tampa campus.  I asked her (and Stephanie) if she would not mind letting me take a few photos of her.  She said sure.  So the hard part in street portraits is just getting the nerve up to ask someone.  In my experience so far it seems many people are willing to let you photograph them.  They just want to know what you will do with the photos, so I tell them it is part of a street portrait series I am doing and that I will use them on my website.  That is usually good enough explanation for them and they agree to let me photograph them.

    Downtown Tampa provides the backdrop for this shot - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th Nikon SB-600 handheld off camera

    Both of these shots were done with my "quick and dirty" method of off camera flash, which just holding the strobe outstretched in my left hand while holding my Nikon D300 in just my right hand.  

    How I processed these photographs: 

    • RAW files first processed in Aperture 3 (Nikon D300 default setting)
    • exposure & color correction in Nik Color Efex Pro 3 (polarization, pro contrast, tonal contrast filters)
    • Unsharp Mask applied in Photoshop CS4 (exported from Aperture as a 16-bit TIFF)  
    • some cloning out of the edge of a building in CS4
    • lens distortion filter used on the top image to straighten the building

    Street Portrait Series 01 - University of Tampa

    Street Portrait of Candid Coeds Chatting -- f/11 ISO 200 1/125th SB-600 handheld off cameraWant to get new ideas?  Go to a photography workshop, even a free one.  My newest photo series, "Street Portraits," was inspired by a workshop by the Lighten Up and Shoot crew who talked about just approaching people on the street and asking if you can make their portrait, or even have them be your model for a little while.  Their workshop was free.  

    Combine the inspiration from that workshop with the experience I had during my 2nd DSLR Photography lesson with student Kelley in downtown Tampa, and boom, the Street Portrait Series was born.  All these shots were actually made during Kelley's 4th DSLR photography lesson.  See our setup for the bench shots here, though I only used a single off camera strobe for mine.  He used the dual-strobe setup.  

    These dudes were all business -- f/11 ISO 200 1/125th SB-600 handheld off cameraThe basic concept of the street portrait is to setup your lighting gear, then anyone you see walking by, ask them politely if they would like to have their portrait made.  If they say no, just say thanks.  If they say yes, say thanks too!  I always offer to send the person(s) the photograph as well.  Basically you combine street photography with candid portrait photography with off camera flash, with a good amount of being able to be outgoing and brave enough to just ask a stranger to let you photograph them.  I will admit, it certainly helped to have Kelley there, as he is not shy about asking people to let us make their portrait.  

    People on the UT campus were very open to be photographed -- f/11 ISO 200 1/250th SB-600 handheld off cameraHowever, I approached the girl (and her friend) above to join in our street portrait experiment.  I would have to say things went very well and several more people (not pictured) let us make their portrait.  Now, all these people were on the University of Tampa campus, no doubt a more likely crowd to let themselves be photographed.  It will be interesting to see how different areas of the city prove to be for street portraits.  I am excited to continue this series and just hope my nerve holds up, especially if I try it alone!

    How I processed these photographs: 

    • RAW files first processed in Aperture 3 (Nikon D300 default setting)
    • exposure & color correction in Nik Color Efex Pro 3
    • Unsharp Mask applied in Photoshop CS4 (exported from Aperture as a 16-bit TIFF)
    • "Portrait Drama" filter in Topaz Adjust 3 applied  

    Kelly a Canon 7D and 2 Strobe DSLR Photography Lesson

    Kelly checks the angles for his 2 off camera strobes during our 4th lesson - UT Campus

    Very quickly Kelley has taken his 4th DSLR Photography Lesson with me (1st, 2nd, 3rd).  Also, the streak of lessons on the University of Tampa campus continued today (follow me on Gowalla to confirm this).  Though not without a few hiccups still, it is getting easier to setup Kelley with his two Nissin strobes and Canon 7D out on location, and get the 7D to trigger the two strobes remotely without using a dedicated trigger and receiver.  

    We also put into practice our "street model" practice to best effect today.  In all we were able to get nine people to let us make their portrait today!  I will be putting up a dedicated post on the street model methodology soon.

    We continued to practice using manual settings to achieve the strobist results we wanted.  However, we also witnessed how Aperture priority mode, with the exact same shutter speed, can produce a different exposure!  There are still ghosts in machines in 2010.  

    A lot more attention was paid today to the setup and position of Kelley's two strobes in order to achieve the least amount of shadows on the person's face, as well as controlling the ambient light using shutter speed to show as much or little of the background that we wanted to.  This skill proved necessary when photographing a person being backlit by two open windows.  Increasing the shutter speed all the way to the max flash sync speed of 1/250th (max for a Canon 7D) allowed us to make a well exposed portrait subject and not blow out the windows behind the subject.  

    Kelley will be doing some traveling abroad in the next few weeks.  His 7D will of course be traveling with him and I hope he practices the street model style in Amsterdam!  I look forward to seeing his travel photographs!  Have a good trip Kelley, see you when you get back.