Thursday, February 15, 2018

Natures Beauty - Malana


True beauty is rare. Malana is a rare, true beauty that I met through a Craigslist ad that I had recently placed and while I am still hopeful to find a model that wants to be more of a muse than a one and done photo shoot model, I feel extremely fortunate to have built a nice foundation of trust with Malana. Enough for us to go on this short road trip for her first serious photo shoot. And we are planning more photo shoots for what appears to be shaping up as a short stay in El Paso for her, as she has other plans and will not be staying in the area.

We met at a local cafe for our first face to face meeting, and I was immediately taken back by her youthfulness and naturally beautiful appearance. She doesn't wear very much make-up, she doesn't have to. But what was more impressive than her good looks, was the substance and depth of her personality and interests. She's a talented writer and artist who has an awareness of the world that not many people her age can even comprehend. She was nice enough to let me read some of her poems and I knew right away that I wanted to create with her, be it photos or whatever.

Through our initial conversation she told me that she really loves to hike and explore, with that in mind, I thought that a short road trip up from El Paso to Elephant Butte Lake would make for a fun day of shooting, culminating with a sunset shoot by the lake, so that's what we agreed on. I had no idea what to expect, having never been to Elephant Butte. But it turned out to be an excellent location with lots of great spots for photos. 

I really wanted to capture Malana's natural beauty in a way that would compliment her and to me that meant shooting with natural light only. I knew that would be a tall order when it came to capturing images at sunset, so I opted to bring one of my best low light lenses, the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8, which, mounted on my 42 megapixel Sony A7RII, yields excellent results in low light. I wanted to travel light, since I was expecting to do some walking and hiking, so I only brought along that camera/lens combo and my compact, yet superb Sony RX1RII with the Zeiss 35mm f/2 fixed lens. Those two set ups are probably my very best, and I felt she not only deserved my best efforts but also to be captured with my very best gear, given the conditions. In the future, however, I also want to shoot her with some of my top end film cameras.

Our first location didn't really yield any usable images, for several reasons, not the least of which was the bland, brownish, dry landscape under the bright mid-day sunlight simply wasn't very flattering or eye catching. Still, we broke the ice and I felt that getting some snap shots under our belt would help relax her, and I think it did because our second location (see above) resulted in a number of stunning images, as did the rest of our locations.

Malana and I had discussed our mutual appreciation of the female form and beauty and I felt that she would be a perfect candidate for capturing some artistic, tasteful, sensual images, but captured in a natural way that was positive and artistic, and I really think we both did a great job of that. Especially when it came to the sunset photos in the water (more to come on that).

The marina also gave us some great results, then again, when working with a model as lovely as Malana, it's almost impossible not to get great images. There was a strong breeze blowing, which added a lot of nice motion and flow to her hair, but definitely made it impossible to get any reflections from the water. 

Almost all the photos in this gallery are untouched, straight out of the camera, not edited. I did, however, as in the above photo, try out some "vintage" effects and in this particular case, it worked quite well. The black and whites all turned out amazing too! Some are converted to mid-tone and others to high contrast. The high contrast worked best with her white bikini, simply stunning!

We had to hike about a half mile or so to get to the East side of the lake (so that we could shoot towards the sunset) we really had no idea what we would find or where exactly we would shoot, but as it turned out, we found a nice, secluded spot along the water. It's still winter and the weather has been chilly, meaning the water in the lake was ice cold, but Malana wanted to GET IN THE WATER for some photos. I told her she didn't have to, I certainly would not have, but her beauty is second only to her desire and creative drive and I could tell she had her mind set on getting in the water for some photos.

We snapped a few shots in the water before sunset, she didn't go in very far at first, but when the pinks and purple hues started appearing in the Western skies, she didn't hesitate. 

This was one of my most enjoyable photo shoots ever, it's safe to say Malana and I worked well together and as we spent more time, the trust in our model / photographer relationship grew stronger. I made sure she knew that she was ultimately in charge and I think that put her more at ease. She was a little hesitant when it came to topless images, but that's to be understood and I didn't press, she's still young and this was her first shoot after all. In the end, I think the way we captured all of her images were truly beautiful, artistic and complimentary to the female form.

This group of high contrast black and whites are my favorite images of the day. It just played so well with her white bikini and dark clouds in the background. 

I think she's got lots of potential, not just as a model, but as a creative soul. I am trying to talk her into working on a project for her poetry in which we compliment each of her poems with a corresponding photo or piece of her art work. In the meantime, I am content in looking forward to our next adventure. We might head up to Albuquerque and make a video to tell the story of our road trip and show how we captured our images. So stay tuned!

I hope you enjoy the photo gallery.

A big thank you again to Malana for her time, trust in me and extraordinary efforts (getting in the freezing cold water!).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Boyce Thompson Arboretum - Sony A7RII and RX1RII

Boyce Thompson Aboretum just East of Phoenix, Arizona

If you travel East out of Phoenix on highway 60, you'll find a little known desert oasis called Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Highway 60 offers a leisurely, scenic alternative to Interstate 10 for those traveling through Arizona and New Mexico. I was on the return leg of a trip from my home in New Mexico, to Phoenix and back, which included a stop at the Pima Air and Space Museum which you can read about and see the photo gallery in my previous blog post. For this trip I had brought along two cameras; the Sony RX1RII featuring a fixed focal length 35mm f/2 lens and the Sony A7RII with a manual focus Zeiss 50mm lens f/2 and a Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens. Both cameras feature an extremely high resolution, 42 megapixel sensor, I've included some cropped images so you can see exactly how much wiggle room high resolution cameras can give to a photographer, it's incredible really.

If you're traveling East, you can take Highway 60 to Highway 70, the two of which meet in Globe, Arizona, and you'll eventually find yourself in Lordsburg, New Mexico and can jump back on Interstate 10 to expedite the rest of your trip. This is exactly the route I chose to take on my return trip from Phoenix a few months ago. My hope was that I might see places and sights I might not otherwise get a chance to discover, I wasn't disappointed.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is officially designated as a state park but calling it a park really sells short the fact that it's marvelous and inviting oasis in the desert, complete with a lake and streams! For a small entry fee, guests can enjoy the foliage and wildlife that is found along several miles of well-maintained and manicured trails. 

I spent a couple hours enjoying a nice walk along the trails, taking in the sights and smells of herbs and flowers, it was extremely relaxing and delightful. There's so much to see, but you have to take your time and really pay close attention. I even encountered a few surprises along the way.

Below you can enjoy my photos and please consider making a small donation to help support my continuing artistic endeavors.

Here's the first of several examples showing the resolution power that the 42 megapixal Sony sensor can capture. Above is the original image, below you see how sharp the cropped image is, it retains a great deal of detail even when cropped more than 100%.

Another sample of the cropping capabilities, above the original, below the cropped image.

Another crop. Above the original image, below the cropped image.

Here are a series of 3 crops, above the original and the two images below have been cropped more than 100%, you can even make out fine details like the rivets and rust on the water tower.

Along the road home, New Mexico State Highway 9

If you're in Tempe, try out Snooze for a delicious breakfast and champagne mimosas.

The Arboretum offers a full schedule of fun and interesting events.

The drive home offered an endless number of breathtaking sights