Tag Archives: workshop

Tuesday Viewsday: Hanna City HDR

Uh oh… triple X… guess we’re going to be a little naughty for today’s post! No, don’t worry; nothing like that, I promise. Instead of looking at an image from the past few years, let’s take a look at one I shot this past weekend during the Hanna City Work Camp HDR workshop.

For those wondering, the workshop was a total blast and those who attended really learned a lot, even if there were some computer difficulties there near the end. In the days since our excursion to Hanna City, I’ve seen a whole load of new HDR images in the Flickr streams of attendees and have received some really great questions about the process, which always means good things; I believe that curiosity truly is the mother of creation.

As for the site, Hanna City Work Camp is an abandoned detention facility located just west of Peoria. For an HDR shooter, this place is truly heaven; even the students were begging to stay for a few more minutes when we left. I hope to return there in the spring and our faithful guide, Rick, was more than kind enough to let us come shoot and said we can come back anytime.

HCWC is now maintained by Peoria County (a special thanks to Jenny at Peoria County for all her amazing work arranging the site for me), but it has a long history; starting off as a radar station for the Air Force, it eventually became a detention center for juveniles, then for adult prison trustees with less than six months left on their sentences.

In the years since, the radar was purchased by the FAA and is still used to this day, but the funds to keep the facility open were diverted elsewhere and now the County maintains the property until such time they can look at a proper use for it in the near future.

Until then, it’s a photographer’s paradise loaded down with abandoned buildings, broken windows, peeling paint, rusty metal, and loads of litter scattered throughout; when I imagine the Rapture, this is what it looks like as if everyone just left in a hurry and didn’t care what happened when they left. Simply put… it’s awesome.

So what do you think of the shot? What do you like or not like about it? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

HDR Workshop – September 12

Better Days

Better Days

A few months ago, I was approached by a local photography group to present a workshop on my high dynamic range (HDR) techniques and I jumped at the chance.

I love shooting and processing HDR images and I love sharing my knowledge with those around me so why not combine those two things together and help others experience the joy of photography that I do?

Well, after some initial planning, the group decided that a HDR workshop wouldn’t bring out the crowd they were really hoping for and they dropped the idea. I, however, felt like I was being challenged and became even more passionate about the idea of holding a workshop here in Peoria. I knew I wanted to do something unique especially when it came to the location so that attendees had something to remember and images they couldn’t get anywhere else.

I called in a favor with one of the many contacts I’ve made in the marketing industry and after some back-and-forth, I was able to get special access for us to shoot at the Hanna City Work Camp, a former minimum security prison and juvenile detention facility located west of Peoria that was recently sold to the county by the State of Illinois. Let’s just say that with all the rundown buildings, tall grasses, barbed wire fences, and guard towers, this is surely to make for an awesome HDR class.

Want to know how you can get in on the fun? Check out the details…


Date: September 15, 2012
Time: 4 to 8 p.m. (meet at 3:30 p.m. at Campustown in Peoria)
Location: Hanna City Work Camp & classroom TBD
Fee: $25.00 (only 8 slots open as of this writing)

Full details are available on Flickr.

2012 Strobist Modeling Workshop

In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, I like to talk and I like to share. All too often, my friends and family have to poke me in the side to get me to shut up. This “word vomit” stems from a drive I have to pass along my knowledge, the small amount I do have, and to share my experiences with others. Ultimately, it is this passion for the things that I love to do, whether it be photography, web development, music, or home improvement, that led me to teaching.

I remember the first time I knew I wanted to teach; it might be a little cliché, but for me, it was the final scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus. My mother had taken me to see it because of our mutual love of music and Richard Dreyfus and we both fell in love. If I ever need a good cry, this is still one of the movies in my “tear jerker” collection that does it every time. I love the idea that one person can impact so many in the world without fame or celebrity outside of a small group of individuals; that is truly powerful and inspiring to me.

As for photography, those who know me know that I push myself to learn, explore, and reach for every scrap of knowledge and experience I can to build that expertise in my craft and to provide adaptation to my creative vision as I move forward in life. While I will always hesitate to say that I’m good at this thing I do (it’s not my place and there are definitely better photographers than I out there), I think I have grown over the past few years. Okay, Mike, what’s the point of all this rambling? Here it is… these things have pushed me toward diving into doing a few workshops and education sessions when I can.

This year, I wanted to take the Peoria Strobist group, of which I am an administrator, and push it to another level of experience. My friend and fellow admin, Lily, and I came up with a schedule for meetups and, for the first time, two workshops. We wanted these to have small registration fees and would be designed to purposely bring in professional models in the hopes that everyone would learn and be educated from the experience.

So that’s what we did! Back in May, I organized and held the first Peoria Strobist Modeling Workshop and it was a total success! We had about 10 to 12 photographers attend and three professional models who were set up into different “stations” that we rotated every 45 minutes to an hour. I was even able to get Rachel, one of my lovely MUA/stylists, to come do hair and makeup. Everyone had a total blast and learned a lot. The portfolio building alone for both the models and the shooters was worth it.

I have a few other ideas for workshops for this year so stay tuned to the website for those. I also hope to hold another modeling workshop again sometime in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy the following images and the “Behind the Scenes” gallery above!

Final Modeling Workshop Images

Want to take a closer look at any of the images on my website? Simply click on the image to enlarge!

As the host of the modeling workshop, I didn’t have a whole load of time to work with the models myself. However, I was able to step in near the end of some of the shoots to snap a few images. With Amanda, our fitness model, I wanted something a little different from everyone else so I had her sit down on a wood palette. I put my trusty SB600 with a Lumiquest Softbox III (my preferred soft light modifier) on a stand off camera right, dialed in my ambient pretty dark and my flash up to 1/8th power, and captured the two shots above.

In case you’re wondering, Amanda wasn’t sweating; I had the forethought to bring a little spray bottle with me and created a little more of a “fitness” look with a little spritz of water! That’s a fitness photography tip if I ever heard one!

To go along with the fitness theme, I asked Amanda to bring along a couple of dumbbells. I used the same setup as above minus the softbox and turned my camera back wide to capture more of the environment. I worked with Amanda to get the right look on her face: determination, struggle, and a little teeth-gritting.

I knew that Amanda had recently been hitting the gym and focusing on her abs (can you believe she has a 6-month-old at home?) so I wanted to feature those during the modeling workshop.

I went back to my glamour roots and had Amanda sport her stylish sunglasses and black jacket, slightly opened to show her torso. Again, I threw the SB600 with the Lumiquest SB III up on the stand off camera left and had her look right into the light. To finish it off, I asked her for the standard “I’m a female badass” pose… hands on the hips!

The last images of the modeling workshop were taken as everyone was packing up. I asked Nick, our grungy outlaw/lumberjack, to run across the parking lot to a pile of concrete for a few last-minute snaps with his sledgehammer.

Once again, I threw the SB600 up on a stand with the softbox, dialed in my ambient exposure (I wanted moody lighting so I went pretty dark on the environment), and pumped the power on the strobe up to 1/4th. With Nick standing up there on the pile, and me being only 5’3″, I had to push the stand up to the very top of its reach, but we got the shots.

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