Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Postcards from Playa: Grunion Run

Playa del Rey, California
Who doesn't enjoy a good day day at the beach? Or a good night. Even the fish come out to play in Playa. In the summer nights, grunions spawn on the beaches of California and Baja during high tide.

Michael and I take a walk to see if we could find some grunions on our local beach. We find a few other people searching for grunions with their flashlights. But no grunions.

We walk, and look, and walk, and look some more. Finally, we see some fast-moving silver creatures right at the wave's edge.

beach grunion run night Playa del Rey California.

I don't want to use my flash so I take some photos with the flashlight lighting the fish.

Ready for her close-up.

Then off she goes.

Bye, bye grunions.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the great dads out there!

I've met a lot of great dads - and granddads - during my family portrait sessions. Nominate a dad you know for the first-ever Polka Great Dads contest. Post his first name under comments and why you think he makes a great dad. Act fast - prizes awarded this Tuesday.

b&w photo class photography fine-art black and white

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Learn how to take better pictures!

Everywhere - Classes are Online!!!!
Do you want to learn photography? Don't have time for traditional classes? Welcome to Polka Photos Class. PPC is designed to fit your schedule. Lessons are presented online and you can access each lesson at your own convenience. Take your photos to the next level! 

For more info go to 

Next class is Back to Basics: Learning DSLR photography in black & white 

I love black & white. This class is inspired by my first photography course at Boston University. The lessons I learned there over a decade ago I still use every time I shoot. If you're on facebook, check out my page where I posted some more of my personal photo work in black and white:

b&w photo class photography fine-art black and white

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thank you Pictage U!

San Diego, California
Many thanks to all the instructors, Pictage U team members and models. I can't thank you enough for a wonderful experience. If you're a photographer, I highly recommend this workshop.

This last photo is my favorite and was taken during a shooting session led by the famous Carlos Baez. I loved photographing Victoria who is gorgeous, talented and fun.

Pictage Pin-Ups

San Diego, California
One of the funnest workshops at Pictage U was the pin-up session led by the wonderful Anne Ruthmann. Anne showed us the white seamless and lighting set-up she uses for her The Moxy Girls photos. She also brought in books showing pin-up girl art and photos from the last century.

My job was to pose the super cute and sweet Nirvana in a style reminiscent of pin-up photos - and I only had a few minutes to shoot.  What do you think?

Quick wardrobe change for one last shot...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pictage U: Something Vintage

San Diego, California
I loved working with Victoria during Kelly Segre's class. She has the perfect vintage look. And before I forget, I need to give props to Paul Spataro for doing an awesome job with hair and make-up.

The lighting was a single light set-up similar to what I use during my Polka Pin-Ups shoots.

I was going for an Old Hollywood look here, à la Hurrell. What do you think?

I looked at some Marilyn Monroe photos after toning the above shot and realized my toning was similar to this shot of MM.

I adore these last two photos of Victoria. Not sure which one I like better: 
serious & sultry or cunningly cute.

Pictage U: Part Two

San Diego, California
I had the opportunity to work with a couple of models in Kelly Segre's portion of the workshop. Eleanor and Victoria are not only beautiful, but also lots of fun.

Here's Eleanor with a studio lighting set-up on gray seamless.

It had been awhile since I last used strobes. I was shooting film if that gives you an idea. Anyway, I completely forgot about strobe recycle time as I asked Eleanor to flip her long hair back and started shooting. This was the only frame caught by the lights. Oops. At least it's a good oops.

I love this shot because it's an unposed moment - Eleanor smiled at something Kelly said and I clicked.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pictage U: Something New

San Diego, California
I have a ton of photos to share from Pictage U's first workshop: Boudoir & Lighting.

I love learning techniques I can use every day. I adored Kitty Maer's Photoshop class. There's so much that can be done with PS - Kitty keeps it simple but good - that's my kind of PS. And I was happy when Kitty mentioned she can spend 20 minutes working on one photo - because as most of you know I take my time when working on images to make sure they're perfect. Quality trumps speed in my book.

I also love learning techniques that I might never use. Outdoors I use mostly available light and some flash. Lan and Vu Bui taught an outdoors lighting class using two different lighting set-ups. The idea behind the first set-up was to overpower the sun using Profotos. You can see two of the lights in this shot.

And here's what the result looks like. I didn't have a lens hood on resulting in some sun spots. The background is intentionally under-exposed but Lauren the model is lit perfectly by the Profotos.

The second lighting set-up consisted of two Canon 580EXes - which are the flashes I use. Thank you to Simon from Pictage for indulging me and posing with his serious look.

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Back to School

San Diego, California
One of the things I love about photography is there is always more to learn. Recently I went back to school to Pictage U's first workshop: Boudoir & Lighting. I cannot say enough great things about this event. All of the instructors are truly celebrities in the photography world. When Lan and Vu Bui sat down at my table for lunch it was like lunching with Luke and Owen Wilson. Although I think the Bui brothers may be funnier.

All of the presentations and shoots rocked. The highlight for me was having my Polka Pin-Ups portfolio reviewed by the incredibly talented and super sweet Anne Ruthmann. Anne I can't thank you enough!

My real photo editing just started. But I wanted to share some quick pics from the awesome Christa Meola's shooting session.