Andrew and James – The Christmas Shoot


Had a great baby shoot – James is about nine months old, and Andrew is about one year old.

Andrew was super-serious for a long time, but Uncle George finally got him going!



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We also got Mommy (Cynthia) in there for a few, too – what a happy family!

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Joe Ferreti-Raucci on Seamless


My first foray into white seamless.  Man, I love this stuff!!!

First, the pictures of the handsome little guy:




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Any vignetting you see is caused by Lightroom plugins, not the setup.  I think a few of these could use a little dodging to get to pure white, but you get the idea.


Seamless Setup

First, hats off to the master, Zach Arias – I followed his sage advice closely when I put together my seamless setup.

I got the 9’ roll of paper at Calumet photo (locally, in Oak Brook, IL – boy, the shipping charges were insane to get it online).

Used some folding doors I had in the basement to use as flags.  Lit with two 320ws Photogenic lights (firing at 1/16th or 1/8th) for the backdrop, a 750w hot light in a softbox for fill (Westcott Spiderlite to be precise), and a Canon Speedlite to camera right inside a small softbox for the main light.  I used the nifty new PocketWizard remote Flex-TT5 triggers.  Yes, a little flaky with the Speedlite, but they worked well this day.  The Photogenic monolights also had PocketWizards, but the older style.



I will admit, it was a pain to setup the first time, but man, it was great!

Animation – A Tribute to Rush – at Bobby McGee’s



These photos are from a concert of the band

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This great show was played at Bobby McGee’s in Chicago Ridge, IL (

First, my equipment was:

A Canon EOS 40D – I think I had it set to 800 ISO all night.

Lenses: Canon 50mm F/1.4, Canon 85mm F/1.8, Canon 200mm F/2.8L, and Canon EF-S 17-55mm



For a LOT of the show, the lighting dude was pushing the RED lights pretty heavy – I converted many of the photos to monochrome to bring out some depth.

You’ll see that Tony Germann (the new guitarist) is the most common, because he actually had SOME lights on him once in a while (and because he’s the new guy).


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Great show – I can’t more strongly recommend these guys if you like Rush.

Trip to Lake Geneva, WI



My wife and I took a lovely trip (via back roads) to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  Lots of gorgeous scenery.

Geneva Lake

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The dock at Williams Bay on Geneva Lake

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And in monochrome…

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A pond just west of Delavan Lake near Delavan, WI.

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The squirrel food outside our lovely little Inn room.

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Evidence of some bark-eaters?

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Ducks in Williams Bay.

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My lovely wife, Jen.

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My good friend, John Jameson.

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Farms in Illinois on our way home.

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Patterson Family Photos


Last weekend, did a fun photo shoot at the home of the Patterson family.

The youngest girl is about two and a half years old – she really held up pretty well for as long as we were shooting.

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This one wasn’t planned – just sorta happened – and it’s my favorite of the day.  Just great!

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I wish you could put the sunset directly in someone’s face without blinding them.  I should have used a 30-foot scrim. 🙂

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Liz and Vince’s Engagement Photos


Millennium Park in Chicago is a great place for photos, and a lot of couples seem to enjoy going there.  We took these on Halloween.

Liz and Vince are having their wedding in the Chicago suburbs next summer, and they thought it would be cool to do a downtown shoot for the engagement.

First, they’re a great looking couple – very cool to hang out with.  They got pretty relaxed, but I still really need to work on my skills as a relaxer!

Started off at The Bean sculpture – had some nice golden-hour sun coming in from camera left.  Used a little Speedlight on a Stroboframe for fill and a little bit of eye light.  Used the free “BW Noble” plug-in in Lightroom to convert.


This one is around the corner to the South of the Bean – straight on sunset for Liz, but Vince was a bit out of the direct light.  Liz looked off to the side of the sun to keep from blinding herself.  Used “BW Noble” again here.


This one is on the bridge overlooking Columbus Drive.  Fill flash, sun to camera right, but pretty cloudy at that time.  Used “BW Noble” again here.



On the other side of Columbus Drive, looking back towards the park – sun was just outside of the frame on the top side, so we had a nice backlight.  Fill flash, selective black and white in Photoshop.


It started getting chilly – here we are overlooking the lake and Lake Shore Drive.  Black and White conversion was done in Lightroom using the “Vintage” plug-in.


Used my 50mm F/1.4 lens from below “The Bean” for this one.  They’re not as obvious here, unfortunately.


And Photomatix from three RAW exposures (-1, 0, +1 eV) for HDR on this one.


On my way back up to the bean, I stopped on the North end, and they stood at the concrete rail for a few – some of the best of the shoot.  Lost the sun here, but I used the Speedlight.  I really should have put the flash on a stand or something, but they look good, nonetheless.  Selective B&W in Photoshop.


I had a great time with this shoot.  Millennium Park is a great location with a lot of versatility!  It helps to have such a happy, good-looking couple. 🙂

Jimmy’s Christening



Last weekend, I had the privilege of shooting at the christening of a baby boy, whose family celebrated his baptism in the Greek orthodox tradition.

First, a few photos of the beautiful Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Westchester, IL.

OK, so I’m still an amateur at HDR! 🙂

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Fairly gorgeous place…  this is a slightly more subtle HDR image.

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Fairly gorgeous place…  this is another HDR

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This is the christening font itself.

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Little Jimmy doesn’t know what’s coming – totally at peace with the world.

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In the Greek tradition, the Godparents actually handle the whole process.


They start off ensuring the baby is exorcized of any evil prior to his baptism.

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The godparents rebuke the devil on behalf of the baby.

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The grandmothers take him and prepare him by getting him ready for the big event.  They put him in a towel to keep him warm and dry.

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The priest blesses the water in the font.

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The godparents are given oil:

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They anoint Jimmy with oil.

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He is immersed in water three times.

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Strands of his hair are cut by the priest.

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After all of this, Jimmy was taken back to change into his christening clothes.

The priests wait patiently.

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After he returns, he is anointed again with oil, and carried around the font three times.

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And finally, the priest blesses again before the ceremony was finished.

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He was very chill after all of that action.  He really was a trooper through a real ordeal. 

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Congratulations, Diana, George, and James!

Pam and Jim’s Engagement Photos in Chicago



Pam and Jim were kind enough to let me share in an important day in their lives – these are the engagement photos we took in Downtown Chicago.  These first few photos were taken at “The Bean” in Millennium Park – it’s a really cool reflective statue, seemingly seamless, in the shape of a bean.

You can see a lot of folks like to visit The Bean, and there’s a wedding party on the right there, behind Pam and Jim.


Cheated a bit on this one – there is very little room here on this side of the bean, and you’re stuck with a wide-angle lens – therefore, my DoF was a bit bigger than I hoped (even open wide).  So there was a lot of distraction in the background – I used Photoshop to pull the couple out from the background, feathered the selection a bit, and did a HUGE lens blur on the background to make them pop.



After Millennium Park, we took a taxi to the Adler Planetarium, right on Lake Michigan.  It has an awesome view of the city’s skyline, and Pam really wanted to show her family (in the Philippines) what it looks like in Chi-Town!


Purposeful lens flare here… Probably a bit more than I had intended, actually (some dust on the lens).



We were all done, and we saw this interesting sculpture (mostly impossible to see in this photo) gleaming in the sunset. 

20091010-LaChica-LaSota-Eng-0308-6180  It was a fun day in the big city!

Trip to the North Woods


So my Dad and I went to the North woods of lower Northern Michigan with a couple of friends (Mike, Mike, Tom, and Tom) – specifically, the Manistee National Forest, to do some fly fishing.  The fishing was good, but we also did a lot of hiking around the woods.

It’s a really gorgeous place this time of year!  Almost al of these were taken with my very flexible Canon EF-S 17-55mm F/2.8 lens (unless labeled otherwise).  It’s not an L-series, but boy, it’s sweet!  All photos were under natural sunlight except where otherwise labeled.

A crabapple tree is so full of color this time of year. 


The forest floor is covered in ferns, most of which don’t receive much sunlight, due to the hundred-foot pines and oaks towering over them.


Some signs are older than others…


This is a hunting “tree stand”, signs notwithstanding.


Some sunlight through the trees at f/2.8.

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Some fungus on a tree (at f/4.0 with a little bit of fill flash).

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One of about 40 different fungi I saw on our walks (taken at f/2.8).

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Pine needles with some dew.



An old birdhouse, slightly weathered. 🙂



The bark of a healthy birch tree.


An actual road, with an actual street sign (this was taken with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens wide open, focused somewhere around mid-frame)


Some trees and sky (this was taken with the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L.


And we ate some great food – no mozzarella handy, so we did Caprese salad with tomato, provolone, basil, and fresh garlic.  Taken under typical tungsten home lighting with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.8).



Great trip!  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

PocketWizard TTL5 Tests



OK, next batch of PocketWizards are working a bit better.

They are a bit flaky, and still seem to miss from time to time, but the results are pretty good.  I’m very happy with them, within 20 feet of the target. 🙂

Setup here is one flash to camera right, and one behind the bottles, both with FlexTTL5 triggers on them.

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