sexy, designer fragrances

Done!  What a fascinating semester!  The final assignment was to create a 5 image product portfolio of all new work.  The portfolio was to be stylistically cohesive yet completely separate shoots.  Elements such as similar lighting, subject matter, colors, design and composition shape a cohesive portfolio.

My inspiration – Sexy, provocative, designer fragrances in muted pink, black and white

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Done!  Many, many thanks to my assistant, models, and those who happily lent their shoes, fragrances, cars, boxing gloves this semester.  And to my classmates who held foam core till their fingers cramped.   Also to my ever so supportive squad who motivate me by their high standards and support me every single day.  And my instructor who kept telling me I could do it!  🤓

my playlist this semester:


After I set all my foam core on fire,  I’ll get a few days of rest then head off to Cuba!!  😃

Considering car photography?

I never fully appreciated car photography before this assignment. In this post I’ll show you the work that went into creating the image above.

First some lessons learned:

1.  Location. Cars are just super huge shiny appliances like a million toasters or Kitchen Aid mixing bowls.  They reflect whatever is in a one mile radius of them. I could not find in Los Angeles an area that was totally devoid of cars, trucks, poles, trees, houses, people.

2.  Time of day. Only sunrise and sunset will provide the lighting you need.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sunrise.

3.  Turn front wheels so that you see more wheel and less black rubber tire (I forgot).

4.  I also forgot to focus on and highlight identifying features e.g.  wheel caps, bumper insignia, etc.  Next time!  👍

I met my Bentley owner aka BFF at Dockweiler Beach just below the takeoff pattern at LAX.  Sunset was 4:45 we ran off about 40 shots.

The lot was totally vacant except for a huge ass RV, poles, houses are on hill – all reflected in the car.  OMG!

I was happy with the soft reflections from the clouds and the warm sunset colors on the bumper and passenger door.  So here’s our SOOC image replete with dull lifeless sky, reflections of all sorts (including me) in the body, the requisite windshield stickers, cracked passenger side bumper (oops, how’d that happen?), etc.  Let’s see what we can do.


Really enjoyed Pandora’s Sunday Brunch station while working on this image.

cosmetics and count down

update Nov 18 – Got through it!  The second cosmetic shot:  color product on same color background.  It was not without quite a bit of angst, but here it is.  Now I think I’ll try it; packaging says results are guaranteed  🙂


#BTS  building a house of foam core 

During post processing I rediscovered and seriously grooved to Oh Honey by Delegation.  Released in 1977, Yikes!  🙂

We’re counting down.  4 more weeks to go.  Only cosmetics and a car remain.  The cosmetic assignment is 2 shots:  Black product on black background and color product on matching color background.  Whatever, we’re getting it done!  🙂  If Trump can become president, I can shoot this assignment.   (expletives, deleted of course)  OMG!

This is what I have so far for black on black background:

sized cropped black bottle.jpg

Color shot is giving me trouble, still a work in progress.  We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.

On continuous repeat for at least the last hour is Smooth Sailin’ Tonight by the Isley Brothers.  OMG!

hi tech assignment

Last class is December 14th.  Guess I’m getting ahead of myself, but so it is.  🙂

Only one shot was needed for the high tech assignment and I couldn’t think of a piece of equipment to shoot to save my life.  I scoured Best Buy for something photogenic, cheap, I could possibly return, etc.  I finally settled on something I could actually use; a dock for my iPhone.  We’ll call it “retro high tech”.  I guess I could have shot my Sonos controller and speakers, but I’ll save it for next time I have a high tech assignment – Never.

Hard to make an iHome clock radio look sexy, but here’s my best shot. Yes, it took some shutter dragging and photo stacking to get the screens to display.


I think what was missing was the music.  On to cosmetics.


As the rambunctious 2016 political campaign winds down to a tumultuous end and the title starved Cubs and Indians are playing for Baseball World Champion it is fitting that this week’s assignment was about beverages.  The assignment was to capture a frosty cold beverage and a splash shot.  Both are inherent with all sorts of challenges.   I quickly discovered  when shooting a cold beverage you must:

  1. Light the cap and light the label.
  2. Light the liquid from behind so it appears bright and refreshing not dark and muddy.
  3. Create soft reflections that highlight the shape of the bottle so that it doesn’t look 2 dimensional.
  4. Spritz the bottle with a combination of glycerine and water (50-50) so that water droplets will not dry up during the shoot.
  5. Shoot against a complimentary background on plexiglass to add interest.

beer for blog.jpg

And the splash, OMG!  I threw strawberries in water, lime wedges in water, Oreos in milk, strawberries in milk – the list goes on and on.   I forgot about the ice cubes where I missed the entire glass.  The kitchen was a mess! Here are a couple of the hits and misses:

Lessons learned here are not to pursue splash photography. OR more positively my splash photography needs work!   Credits to my assistants who kept me going and more importantly kept me laughing and dancing.  🙂

For this assignment I seriously needed a little Los Van Van: La Boberia and La Maquinaria, two of my favorite songs.

que hora es?

Mid way through the semester 8 more weeks to go.  I think classes should be 8 weeks instead of 16.  Just saying . . .

5th assignment was to shoot a watch using focus stacking.  Huh?  Well if I knew what I was doing I wouldn’t be in school.  Focus stacking is a processing technique which combines multiple images taken at different focus points to give a resulting image with a greater depth of field (DOF) than any of the individual source images.  Well, here you go.  I took about 25 images (after I got the exposure right)  and used 6 in Photoshop for focus stacking.  Probably could have used more, but I digress.

I’ll be all set the next time I need to shoot a WATCH!  🙂


ISO 200, 60 mm Nikon macro, 1/250 sec f/11.  Dynalite strobes and foam core (my new best friend)

The best part is the continued support I get from my instructor who refuses to give up on me.


24K Magic by Bruno Mars is on repeat!!  “I’m a dangerous man with some money in my pocket . . .”  “Everywhere I go they be like . . .”  “hashtag blessed . . .”  May have to take out a 2nd  on the house to see him in concert!  🙂  Is it me or do I see a little Morris Day and the Time in Mars?

shooting food . . .

is not as easy as it looks.  4th assignment was to shoot 3 images from the same meal – home cooked or restaurant meal.  This presented all sorts of challenges.  So many that I may not post the dreadful before images.  🙂  Challenges were:

  1.  First problem, I enjoy cooking when I have tons of time (like a long weekend with nothing to do)  That never happens.
  2. The food you cook has to look good.  What looks good on the dinner table does not necessarily look good on camera.
  3. Shooting food that looks good, e.g. sushi has to look good by the time you transport it to the studio, rearrange it a million times, and light it.
  4. Poorly styled, poorly lit food does not look appetizing.  The primary objective of food photography is to make you hungry.

It took three shoots and over $100 worth of sushi to get these shots.

Thanks to the sushi chefs at Kotosh Restaurant in Lomita for providing the sushi in the 2nd shot below.  I routinely got an order to shoot and an order to eat.  🙂

Below are my three shots – appetizer, entree and dessert:


Loving Video by India.Arie  and Ordinary People by John Legend right about now.

Shiny Kitchen Appliance

October 10th update:  Before and after images.

October 5th update:  Plan is to reshoot to open blinds and blur out background, get dust off counter, fill pot with coffee to hide photo props, get real sun flowers.

As promised 3rd Product Photography assignment was to shoot a shiny kitchen appliance in an upscale kitchen.  Think Sur la Table, Crate and Barrel advertisement.  Sounds easy enough, you try it without getting lights and/or your face reflected in that shiny appliance.  OMG!

I built a light box, I guess it’s called, and surrounded the entire set with white foam core. In the front of the set I hung a roll of white seamless from C-stands and cut a whole in it for my camera.  The black vertical band in the center of the pot is where my camera was. I set up one strobe with 3’x 4′ lightbox behind the set to camera left.  There was a second light behind the set at camera right with a snoot made of Cinefoil bouncing off foam core to illuminate the front name plate.

Nikon D750; 140 mm, ISO 100, f9.0 at 1/160 sec.

I’m missing hair and makeup, but we can get through this.  🙂  Next up food!

Listening to Below the Baseline by Ernest Ranglin.

2 many shoes?

A girl can never have too many shoes!  And this from an avowed Zen preaching, Feng Shui living, minimalist.  🙂  Second Product Photography assignment was two shots:  one pair of athletic shoes, one pair of high end designer heels.  Okay, I do sneakers, not a problem.  High end designer heels, not so much.  To my rescue again is my bff, Hera, to loan me pair after pair of jeweled Prada, crystal Louboutins, strappy and studded Christian Diors, Jimmy Choos, etc.  Size “way too small for me”, but perfect for the shoot.

Above is the sneaker shot.  #NikeCallMe

Below is OMG, can you believe, pair of strappy, studded Christian Diors modeled by my other go to fashionista friend, model and dancer – the girl whose legs never stop.



Streaming some Teddy Pendergrass, R&B crooner.  Teddy was the third album by Pendergrass, released on June 23, 1979.  Singles:  Come Go With Me, Turn Off The Lights, Do Me.

Product Really?

Hard to imagine I’m going to spend a semester photographing watches and toasters, but I’m gonna’ give it a try.  Plus it’s required.  🙂  Much to my surprise the first assignment was athletic equipment.  Hey, I’m athletic, this should be a perfect fit.  Two shots:  one product hero shot and the other shot with a model on location using the product.  Model!  I’m all over it.  🙂

I chose boxing with the intent of capturing the gritty intensity of the  sport.   Luckily, I was able to snag wrestler, boxer, long distance runner, MMA referee, David Magallanes, between training sessions to pose for me.  Here are the shots.



Streaming The Best of Sam Cooke:  You Send Me, Only Sixteen, Wonderful World, Cupid.  The compilation contains most of Sam Cooke’s most well-known hits from 1957 to 1962. Serious old school!  🙂