Ashley

Here is another shoot which I did over the last few weeks. This is another indoor shoot with a simple three light setup with a white background. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get tired of shooting against a white background..;-)Time will tell.

The Model: Ashley. Was super cool to work with and was very patient through out the shoot. Nothing short of professionalism and she very quickly picked up my vaguely described pose ideas. Like I’ve mentioned in several of my previous posts, I suck at guiding the model with the pose ideas in my mind. The last picture in this series was a fun one and took a while for us to achieve. The setup was simple but it didn’t work as I thought. But we decided to make do with what we had. Ashley posing on the bed, covered with a white sheet. With one flash light from behind her and the other one to my left, facing her. I held the camera in one hand and the white sheet in other. Me being more concentrated on how the picture came out after clicking, I kept dropping the sheet on Ashley’s face and didn’t even realize it. I was amazed to see how cool she handled it. I don’t encounter models who are usually this patient.

The light setup, One light from above Ashley. Two lights behind her to illuminate the background. And a reflector in front to light the shadows. All lights triggered wireless-ly with PocketWizards and zone controlled with AC3 ZoneController.

Model: Ashley Wilke
Lights: 3 x Canon 580 EX II
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II L and Canon 100mm f2.8 L
Wireless triggers: Pocketwizard Flex TT5 & Mini TT1, controlled with a AC3 ZoneController

Here are the pictures from the shoot.
Warning before you scroll down: Some or all of the pictures below are NSFW.

Thanks for stopping by..:-)

Andrea

As much as I love shooting portraits outdoors, I love the control over light while shooting indoors. This shoot came together when I started discussing my ideas with Andrea. I figured, I’d do the whole shoot in my home studio setup.

Nothing fancy, a simple three light setup. Two of them right behind Andrea from the right and left to illuminate the background and give my favorite seamless white background. The third main light with a 580ExII in a 30 inch octagonal soft-box, front of her from above.

All these lights triggered wireless-ly with PocketWizard TT1 & TT5 combo.

Andrea was absolute fun to work with and is very open-minded on at that too. As I was the lone ranger in this shoot, she was very cool and patient throughout the shoot while I was moving around the tiny space which we had to position the lights & such. Would love to work with her again.

Model: Andrea
Lights: 3 x Canon 580 EX II
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II
Wireless triggers: Pocketwizard Flex TT5 & Mini TT1, controlled with a AC3 ZoneController

Here are the pictures from the shoot.
Warning before you scroll down: Some or all of the pictures below are NSFW (You’ve been warned!)

 

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Thanks for stopping by..:-)

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The Pictured Rocks Lakeshore was on my places to visit list in my previous trip to Michigan but I knew it wouldn’t be practical to get there along with the other places I had on the list already. And later I figured it would be a prefect road trip during the Labor Day weekend.

Based on my homework about this place, I decided to setup shop in Munising,MI. A small city on the Lake Superior’s southern shore. My reading also educated me, the word Munising was derived from ‘Ojibwe’, A North American indigenous language. When loosely translated, means ‘near the island‘.

I left Chicago a bit early on Friday to beat the weekend traffic around Milwaukee. The 7 hour drive(remember that I lose an hour in the transition) from Chicago to Munising with a couple pit stops wasn’t that bad but it’s the detours due to road constructions sort of slowed down the traffic now and then. It’s very scenic, as the route runs a lot along the Lake Michigan.

Before I started, the weather guys forecast-ed a good percentage of rainfall on all the 3 days I was planning to be there. The explorer in me whispered, ‘What do they know? That’s how they get the bonus money… Let’s roll….
Boy… Was I(he!) wrong! It started to rain when I pulled into my campground and didn’t stop till the time when I left from there Monday afternoon… Moral: Listen to the weather guys! (Maybe…!)

But it wasn’t that bad after all. There were times when it only drizzled and that Sunday(Aug 31st) had a truly beautiful afternoon in terms of weather. The good thing about the rains, all those waterfalls were flowing nicely. I always like the slow and steady flowing ones. The ones with rapid gushing waters bring out the Potamophobia in me and I start to summon Tethys to come save me!:-)

Coming to details on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, it’s on the shore of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Extends approximately 42miles, starts at Munising, Michigan and ends at Grand Marais, Michigan. And these 42ish miles is nothing but spectacular scenery.

Mineral-stained sandstone, Waterfalls, Sand-dunes, beaches, natural archways, streams, lighthouse and more.

Waterfalls are a must-see when you get here. They are in every variety. Tall, Short, wide…But each of them is nothing short of the words, breath-taking. There are 17 waterfalls in and around this region of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Some of them really hard to get to but a whole lot of them within easy walking distance.

If you are into hiking, the ‘North Country Trail’ covers all the 42 miles along the lake shore with lots of amazing viewpoints all along the route but there are also a handful of day hiking trails which leads to waterfalls and beaches with little effort to no effort.
One of the places which is really easy to get to and is also worth spending time is the Miners castle. Has a well maintained pathway, rest-rooms, a souvenir shop and a couple of park rangers, in case you need help. There is also a beach close by which was really crowded when I was there on Sunday.

Another ‘not-to-miss’ experience when you are up there is, seeing the Multi-colored sandstone cliffs or the pictured rocks from up-close. There are a couple places based in Munising which do a variety of cruises during the high season, I took the ‘Pictured Rocks Cruises‘ which was reasonably priced and the crew were very friendly, they also offer pop for a dollar each. Trust me, the cruise experience is well worth the money spent if you decide to take this cruise.

The week(Starting Aug 24th), When I was researching on this place there were lot of chatter on solar activity on the websites I follow and I kept my fingers crossed thinking I’d get to see the Aurora Borealis(The ‘Northern Lights’ for those of you, who got C in physics) But when I saw the rain and clouds after reaching Munising, I lost hope.

But as I said earlier, Sunday afternoon was beautiful. I spent most of my time at the Miners beach…Blue sky and turquoise waters… Sounds great… Doesn’t it?

It’s one of those places that you have to be there to see how beautiful it is.

My hopes got up a little, as I saw the blue skies and I’m also aware the skies are really dark up here as there is very little to no light pollution. So, I stayed late at the beach near the AuSable lighthouse to see the night sky light with a gazillion stars and the milky-way rising. Right around midnight, while I almost lost track of time looking at the Milky-Way…I happened to look north-west and there it was. I’m not sure how long it’s been there for. The green/purple and bluish green lights just floating in the sky. The picture below from that scene doesn’t do justice though.

If you are on a budget and have the desire to see the Aurora Borealis, if the trip to Iceland seem a little far-fetched… Check the NOAA website for the forecast and if it’s around new moon days, even better.. Make a trip here. The Upper Peninsula, Michigan is one of the few places in CON-US where you can see the Aurora Borealis. Winters will probably have more clear skies and less humidity which raises the chances of seeing the Milky-Way and if you the lucky enough, even the northern lights.

It was a fun trip overall.
In my view, I’d take a whole week to explore this region in leisure but oh. Well…;-)

The shots from the trip are below. Enjoy.

Picture 1: Lower Mosquito Falls
Picture 2: Upper Mosquito Falls
Picture 3: Sable Falls
Picture 4: Wagner Falls
Picture 5: Milky-Way raising over Hurricane River Campground near Au Sable Point Lighthouse
Picture 6: Milky-Way and the Northern Lights near Au Sable Point Lighthouse
Picture 7: Bridalveil Falls from the cruise
Picture 8: Pictured rocks on the bottom of the cliffs
Picture 9: Kayakers on Lake superior with the Pictured rocks in the background

Gear Used: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5D MII, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, Manfrotto 055MF3 MagFiber Tripod + Manfrotto Q5 054 Magnesium Ball Head.

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Thanks for stopping by..:-)

Valley of Fire – Zion – Bryce Trip

This is a trip I’ve been longing to do ever since I took the Route-66 drive a while back. I knew I had to plan this over a long weekend and as much I hated myself for planning it during the weekend of July 4th, I didn’t have much of a choice.

Here is what I planned and figured I’d be able to cover in this 5-day trip of mine.,

IMO, except for Valley of Fire… the rest of them are destinations on their own. Which basically means, you can spend weeks exploring these national parks and no other time than the summer.

I flew into Vegas and as much as I wanted to hit those blackjack tables, sipping 2for1 Jello shots and also probably throwing up on a shrimp buffet.. I decided that’s for a different trip and drove up to Overton-NV, which is the closest city to Valley of Fire State Park.

Valley of Fire – If you are visiting this park during summer, plan a visit early in the morning. It gets so hot, so soon thus reducing the possibility of exploring the park. The park had enough warning signs for hikers to avoid day hikes and if they did, to carry lot(a lot) of water. The day I visited, mercury found its way all up to 105 deg F. From Overton to the park, the road takes you on a very quite and breath-taking scenic drive which loops till the end of the park. In this park, you will get to see rocks that glow with an unusually bright crimson color. The area offers some of the vivid colors splashed on some of the oldest natural rock formations.

The rough floor and jagged walls of this park contain brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes more than 150 million years old. These features often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays, hence the name. There are a few short hikes if you want to check out those cool rock formations and such, up close. The visitor center which opens at 8.30a.m has some nice information on the surrounding geology and you can fill up your water bottles too. The first picture in the collection below is from this park.

I drove upto Springdale in Utah from here, which is where I was going to setup shop for the next two days. Springdale, Utah is the place I’d suggest if you are planning to explore Zion National Park. It is a tiny town with a lot of great accommodation options.

Zion National Park – “Enchanting” is the word I used to describe as my eyes raised to view the elegant monoliths of this park. This park reveals its eight layers of sandstone, displaying what has taken two-hundred-million years to carve and mold. A masterpiece of towering cliffs, deep red canyons, mesas, buttes and massive monoliths. Describing how great this park is, wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention about its lofty peaks.

This Park, where plentiful beauty would stop you in your tracks and leaves you gaping in awe. The severe violence of Mother Nature has created perfection here, where years of raging storms have pit water and winter’s ice and snow against rock, producing astounding formations which are now protected by the National Park Service(NPS) and kept pristine for all the world to enjoy. The park offers plenty of campgrounds and atleast one of them is on a first come basis, if you hate the habit of reserving camping spots online. Also, there are other private camp/RV parks which offer facilities.

In the collection below, Pictures 2 though 8 were shot in Zion.

The NPS,  to preserve the fragile eco-system and control the overwhelming visitor attraction to this park, The Scenic Drive is only accessible by shuttle bus till October. The shuttle service leaves from the Zion Visitor Center and is available in plenty. The visitor center mentioned that this park, on an average attracts 3-4 million visitors a year and I kept thinking if all those 4 Mil visitors picked this specific July 4th weekend(!). Because that’s how much crowded it was. One thing to keep in mind, if you want to explore this park and sink in its beauty.. Start early and stay late.

If you are looking for short family-friendly hikes or a fit hiker who wants to do a longer strenuous day hikes, the park offers a wide range of hiking opportunities. The two most famous hikes: Angels Landing and the Zion Narrows. Beyond that, there are still many more prospects to explore. Incase you decide to do just one hike, pick the Zion Narrows. Hiking The Narrows means hiking in the Virgin River. Most the hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river. Please don’t look for a maintained trail because the route is the river. Here, the magnificent walls of the main canyon close in to form a tall and narrow canyon with beautiful dark corners and the Virgin River flowing around you. With beautiful flowing water and barely any direct sunlight reaching the bottom, this is the slot canyon that all other slot canyons are compared to. Picture 8 is from the Zion Narrows.

The reason I mentioned ‘stay late’ is because Zion has one of the darkest skies and there is so little light pollution, you get to see an amazing view of the night sky which is well worth staying up at night.

The starry sky shot shows the ‘Milky way’ rising above the Zion’s Watchman peak. This was shot on a no cloud night which helped so much in getting the shot. The light on the peaks is from the lights of Springdale which kind of adds as a nice contrast to the picture. You might ask, “Is that how the Milky Way looks like, when you look up the night sky? Can you really see that many stars?” My answer is, “Yes and No.” You really can see it quite clearly with your eye (if you are in a place like Zion), it’s just not as bright as I can see with my camera. The reason is because my camera is manually controlled to take the images at a longer exposure (typically 8 to 30 seconds), so it gathers more light for its sensor than my eyes can.

After two days of exploring Zion, I started to Bryce Canyon which is a 60-mile drive, to spend the next 2 days of my trip.

Bryce Canyon National Park – This is not one main canyon, but rather a dozen smaller gorges eroded into the east side of a ridge running approximately north-south at the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southwest Utah. This erosion has resulted in thousands of strange and flimsy rock formations, large and small, in many subtle shades of pink, white, yellow, orange and red, extending in quite a narrow band for over 25 miles along the plateau rim.

This park offers a lot of different view points(Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce).  I think, Sunset Point has perhaps the finest views of all, as it projects out a little from the rim and is situated in between the 2 ravines that run through the hoodoos – Campbell Canyon in the north and Bryce Canyon in the south, at the center of Bryce Amphitheater

Bryce also has very dark night skies and staying late will be an awesome experience if the skies are clear. Both the nights I stayed here were cloudy and I didn’t get to take a shot worthy of posting it. If you are not into camping, the Bryce Canyon lodge would be a perfect place to stay here.

In the collection below, Shots 9 through 13 are from Bryce Canyon.

Gear Used: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5D MII, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, Manfrotto 055MF3 MagFiber Tripod + Manfrotto Q5 054 Magnesium Ball Head.

Here are the shots,

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Thank you for stopping by…:-)

Pure Michigan – It is!

“The perfect trip begins here. Your perfect trip begins at Pure Michigan”- sound familiar? Yes, it is the infamous Pure Michigan Commercials. The magical voice of Tim Allen, trying to attract you by Michigan’s beauty and it’s hard not to get sucked in. And yes, that was the destination on my recent road trip. More specifically, the Upper Peninsula. As it’s even more north(I meant, from where I’m at now!), it’s early spring there still or more like.. end of winter. The trees, shrubs and the grasslands are yet to wrap themselves totally in green. As some of the major news outlets reported… The Lake superior is still partially frozen. This should give you a perspective on how far north this place ought to be.

Chicago to Upper Peninsula, the drive was a pretty decent one and it took me 8 hours(ish). There is construction going on at so many more places with new traffic patterns and this slows down the traffic more than anyone wants to deal with. Plus holiday season adds up a bit more frustation to this traffic situation.
I decided set shop at Houghton, MI and drive to get to the places I had in my destinations list. One primary reason to choose Upper Peninsula is to see more waterfalls and drive the Lake Superior shore drive up north from Houghton.

Places around here offer lot of  outdoorsy entertainment activities. One of my favorite, ATVs.. Yup… These are super fun to ride and there are a boat load of places that will rent you one. These ATVs have become fancier and easier to handle. If you ever get there and into ATVs, give them a try for guaranteed fun!

The water fall shot below (Picture # 5), is of The Bond falls which is in east of Paulding, MI in western part of the Upper Peninsula. This waterfall is very impressive and if you get there early, you would get to see the falls with much less distraction. There is a deck that takes you semi-circle around the waterfall to watch it from and is very easily accessible after climbing down a couple dozen stairs. The Michigan State Park Recreation Passport will get you at a parking spot very closer to this falls.

Next on my list, The Lake Superior shore drive which is such a feast to the eyes and there are several spots all along that will take your breath away.
One such place to visit in this route is, the McLain State Park. With Spectacular scenery, beautiful ice formations, sand beach and the striking Keweenaw Waterway Lighthouse (Picture #12). If you have a Michigan State Park Recreation Passport (which I mentioned earlier), I believe the entry is free to this state park otherwise you have to pay 8$ and it is well worth it.

The more north you drive, the beaches along the lake shores are less crowded. If you decide to walk on the pebble beaches or take a dip (if you dare the cold water) or just lay down on the beaches or simply unwind with a short picnic or fire up the grill with an awesome view of the lake, there are a lot of places all along this drive.

Another hidden place which is a little off road is Hunter’s Point Park (Picture #7) and located a little ahead of Copper Harbor, offers a very unique view of the lake. This place is barely crowded. Keep in mind, that a considerable amount of road which gets you here is unpaved. I drove there in my sedan and got there Ok without any issues. I’m saying this to give you a heads-up!

One more place which is hard to miss along this route is, Eagle Harbor Lighthouse (Picture #10). This red brick light station also has a Maritime Museum which contains details of some of the many Keweenaw shipwrecks.A lot of fascinating shipwreck artifacts and marine exhibits are on display here. This museum is open Mid-June till October. Also, if you end-up staying closer to this place, don’t miss the sunrise view by the lighthouse which is simply astounding (Picture #10).

The rest of the pictures are a result of more driving around, prior location scouting and pissing off drivers behind me with sudden stops, detours and such.
Here are the shots…

Gear Used: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EOS 60D, EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, Manfrotto 055MF3 MagFiber Tripod + Manfrotto Q5 054 Magnesium Ball Head.

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Thanks for stopping by…:-)

F o l l o w   M e !