Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My New Blog!

I am very excited to announce that I have updated my blog and have moved it to a new home: ottorascon.com/blog

You can also see my portfolio site over at: ottorascon.com

My many thanks to Google and Blogger for the great intro to blogging. I will continue to upload new content and share about my shoots. So check it out and please update your Google Reader to the new address. Thanks and Rock On!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jason - 2nd Year Portraits

The last time I saw Jason was about 6 months prior to our shoot. Now if you have a kid, or are close to one, you know how incredibly and ridiculously fast they grow. So this was my reaction to seeing him on the day of the shoot: "WHOA, YOU ARE SOOOO BIG!" I hope I didn't freak him out, or his parents. But here he was with his cool flowing hair and a lot taller than I remembered him. Gone was also his little baby face that I was used to. You can tell by the photos that it took a while for him to warm up to me. But I had him by the end, just look at that smile on the last photo!!! I love it.

Prepping For The Shoot
I wanted to give the parents a different look for Jason's 2nd year portraits. You see, up to this point I had only photographed Jason in the studio. But now that he was running around and climbing stuff I figured shooting outdoors might be a lot of fun. His parents liked the idea, so we went with it. I had with me my strobes and light modifiers, but quickly realized that I wanted to shoot with natural light. Having strobes would have slowed things down way too much and would have felt cumbersome. So I just followed him (ran around) along with a lens. You have to be quick with 2 year olds, my daughter reminds me of this fact on a daily basis!

The Set-Up
- Nikon D700
- Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens
- Lightroom for processing and exporting of RAW files

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Henry's 2nd Year Portraits

I have been photographing Henry since he was born. He probably thinks that my camera is a permanent fixture that drapes around my neck. We met his parents while attending a Bradley Method birthing class. They are both very cool, thus they have a very cool son. Both Henry and Jocelyn (my daughter) are the same age. In fact, Henry is exactly one day younger than Jocelyn. So it is really a joy to photograph this little one and it is great that I have seen him grow up right in front of my eyes (lens). What I also like about his shoots is that I know that afterwards we will hang out with his parents and have dinner and hang out. And just for the record: I love his red curly hair!

Prepping For The Shoot
I really wanted to bring out Henry's eye and hair color for this shoot. I also wanted to do an outdoor shoot since the previous portraits had been in the studio. So I used my trusty Alien Bee strobe with a medium softbox. I was able to power the strobe with a Vagabond portable battery pack, which allowed for quick recycling of the strobe. This is good thing since I knew I would need to fire a bunch of flashes in a row in order to capture any fleeting moments. The funny thing about plans is that they do not always go the way you want. Henry is a vivacious little dude that LOVES to run (he's 2!), so I had to be ready to capture him away from the strobes. The first couple of images are non-strobe images.

The Set-Up
- Nikon D700
- Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
- Alien Bee 400 with a medium softbox
- Vagabond battery pack
- Pocket Wizards
- Lastolite grey card for white balancing
- LIghtroom for post-processing and exporting

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Morty the Dog

This amazing bulldog belongs to a co-worker of mine. She LOVES her Morty. About a second into meeting him for the first time I could see why. He has this amazing feel and warmth to him that you cannot help but be drawn to him. It's kind of like when you met your best friend for the first time. You just clicked. I wanted to get down and hug him and wrestle with him, but I figured that would not be the best 1st impression to make on a dog.

I had been wanting to photograph a dog for some time. I really love dogs, but I am allergic to most so owning one anytime soon does not seem to be in my future. I also wanted to give to my co-worker, and I thought that a handful of portraits of her amazing dog would be encouraging. She loved the photos and I had a great time working with Morty.

Prepping For The Shoot
So how do you approach photographing a dog such as Morty? I had a few to ideas:
- One idea was to use an off-camera flash with an umbrella. I would use my 80-200mm zoom and use a Pocket Wizard to blast my flash. This was my preferred method. I thought Morty might stand still long enough to blast off a few flashes. That DID NOT happen.
- My second idea was to go all natural, which is what I ended up doing. There was no way that he was going to stand still. He seemed pretty excited and full of energy that evening. I also really wanted to capture him in his environment and the strobes would have gotten in the way.

The Set-Up
This ended up being a pretty easy shoot in terms of gear. I used the following gear:
- Nikon D700
- Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens
- Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
- Tokina 12-24mm f/4 (this lens rocks!)
- Post processing in Lightroom 2

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baby Camden

Babies are amazing little things. They move, cry, make noises, pee on you and fuss. They are also warm, affectionate, funny and beautiful and there is something absolutely magical when they smile. They also mean the world to their mom and dad. I love baby portraits for all of these reasons.

Babies and kids are awesome and I love being around them. Who else will allow you to tickle them, make weird faces and even weirder sounds, and yet still get a laugh? Try all of those things on an adult and see what happens! Wait... that might be a good thing to do.

So back to babies. Babies do not pretend to be something that they are not. They are exactly who they are supposed to be.

I have known Camden's mother for a few years now. We have worked together in the past, so I was totally excited when she told me that she was having a baby boy! News like that is always pretty darn amazing and cool.

So fast forward about a year and she emails me about taking some portraits of her little dude. I was excited to see Camden's parents again and VERY excited about meeting him. The session took about 25 minutes and we were done. In between shooting Camden made sure to drink a bottle, fuss just a little, and then pass gas on his dad. We were all so proud of him.

The Set-Up
For anyone interested in the techno-babble, here is my set-up:
  1. AlienBee 400 (1 strobe) on a medium-sized softbox as the main light to camera left
  2. Nikon SB-800 as fill light with plastic diffuser to camera right
  3. Black sheet material for the background
  4. Nikon D700 body with Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 and Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lenses
  5. Post processing in Lightroom 2

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vanessa & Luis

I met Vanessa a few years ago at her parents place, though I wonder if she remembers meeting me back then. I am friends with Vanessa's brother, Johnel, who is a dear friend of mine. He casually introduced us, we chatted for a second and that was that.

Fast forward a few years into the future. I see Vanessa at her sister-in-laws baby shower and she tells me she wants to talk about wedding photography (for her wedding, of course). I feel both excited and honored that she would consider me to photograph her wedding. We then email each other back and forth and set a time for me to meet with her and Luis. We chatted, connected, booked the wedding, and then later had a great engagement session. Awesome!

Vanessa and Luis are the kind of people that you want to be friends with. They are kind and love their friends and their families, which was evident at their wedding. These are just a few of the reasons why I was excited and honored to be there at their wedding.

So about the wedding. The ceremony was at the BEAUTIFUL Holy Cross Church. The church was amazing to shoot in. Period. Luis grew up attending this church and knows the Pastor, so there is an emotional tie to this amazing building.

After the ceremony the entire party went out to the Adler Planetarium for a few portraits near the lakefront. The weather was perfect (yay, no rain) and the smiles were genuine. What more could a photographer ask for? There was just enough cloud coverage to provide some texture to our portraits and to block out the sun. We all hung out there for a bit and then started to feel the heat of the sun. It was time to get in the air-conditioned bus and off to the reception.

Vanessa and Luis planned the perfect party. The reception was held at the Chateau Del Mar. One of the coolest things about this place is the golf course. The perfectly mowed grass and trees made for a fantastic view. They had a mariachi band play for the cocktail hour. Those guys could SING! And they looked pretty darn cool to boot. The DJ spun a few tunes while the guests ate. After dinner the band came on stage and played a variety of spanish music. They were an amazing band (I will have to get the band name and post it later) and really pumped up the crowd and got them dancing. It was so cool seeing the dance floor so full. I think that the majority of the guests were actually dancing. I know that every last square-inch of the dace floor was taken.

My many thanks to the Flores and Mugnaini families for having me be a part of such an important day in their families history. Luis and Vanessa, you guys are amazing and I hope the absolute best for your future. I look forward to hearing your part of your wedding story. I hope that you both had a blast.

I want to thank Gary Middendorf for his assistance and for his amazing shots. Thanks dude, you ROCK!

You can see the still images on my Facebook page: Click here!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rowena & Ephraim

I had such a blast second shooting Ephraim and Rowena's wedding with Hinojosa Photography. Veronica had informed me that they were a cool and fun couple, which is always good news to hear about the bride and groom you are about to spend the entire day with. What was extra sweet was that their bridal party (and family) were just as cool and fun. Looking at the photographs above is a testament to that.

You can see more of the images on Veronica's website here: Ephraim and Rowena.

Congratulations to a fine couple. My many thanks to Ephraim and Rowena and their families for making this day memorable. And my thanks to Veronica for having me be a part of it. Rock on!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Sweet Victory Dance

We, too many times, make commitments and do not keep them. We are basically lying to ourselves. Keeping our promises should have us dancing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My New Website!

I am so pumped to announce the launching of my new website: ottorascon.com. I am also super excited to be using the services of Showit Sites to design and create my site. This service allows me to design and export a Flash based site, which gives my clients and audience a more rich and vibrant experience . I am looking to add a few pages and I have picked out some music to accompany the galleries. So check out next week for a new experience. Thanks!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

River North Shoot with MK

Last nights shoot with Mary Kate was pretty sweet right from the get-go. The lighting was perfect and Mary Kate was a blast to work with. All equipment was working flawlessly, something I was very aware of since I was testing out my new portable power pack: The Vagabond II Portable Power System!

All was good except for the April-like weather in June. The wind started howling about and the chilliness was a bit uncomfortable. So we had to keep moving just to stay warm. I guess these weather conditions are a lot better than what Chicago normally throws our way: humidity and stale air.

There are a few more photographs to see. You can check them out on my Facebook page right here.

The "Criminal" Photo Shoot

This shoot took place on the Amtrak rails. About an hour into the shoot we were stopped by the all might Amtrak Police! The photo shoot was cut short and we were all given an "insightful" lecture about the dangers of being around the tracks. Fun Times. Click here to see the rest of the shoot.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My New Biz Cards

I just received my newest set of business cards from a company called myminicards.com. I am really happy with the service that the company provided. I uploaded my files via ftp on Thursday morning and then received my cards on Saturday! Not too shabby.

The print quality on the cards is really good. The thing that sold me was the fact that I could submit up to 25 photos for the back of the cards as well as 1 file for the front. Most companies will only print photos on the back of the card and then print text on the front.

My overall experience with myminicards.com has been great so far. The cards ship for free and come with a cool little card holder/dispencer. I might just go ahead and use them again for my next batch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vanessa & Luis :: Engagement Session

I am so excited to be shooting Vanessa and Luis' wedding in July. So this engagement session meant a lot to me. I was looking forward to seeing them both again and working with them. They are a blast (man, I have some really cool clients!). I noticed that they both love to laugh, something that I am attracted to big time. They are also willing to try different/creative poses, something that I am also attracted too.

So we met up at their sweet place in Bridgeport and took off to Buckingham Fountain and Millennium Park. Vanessa's mom was ultra cool and drove us around the city. Seriously, how amazing is her mom?! We set up at Buckingham fountain and the walked around its perimeter. That whole area has some amazing landscaping and we took full advantage of it. If you have never walked around that area then do yourself a favor and check it out!

We then drove off to Millennium Park. This place has so many places to shoot at. We went to the Crown Fountain (aka water towers), the Cloud Gate (aka the Bean) and finally the Pritzker Pavilion. Each of these places have their own feel and look to them. The last image in the series is copmosed of about 8 photographs that were merged in Photoshop. After the series were taken we took off, literally, to meet up with Vanessa's mom who was double parked on Michigan Ave. I am sure that is was a funny site seeing three people running like mad through Millennium Park.