Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Today, Kevin and I were very productive and finished cleaning out the furnace room to convert into a home photography studio.  It's something that's been being worked on for a couple weeks now and most of the junk was gone.  There were still shelves and ceiling tiles and a desk though, so we took those out and made....A STUDIO!!  I am so excited about this it's kind of ridiculous.

This is it.  My studio.  Photographed with the fisheye, on a tripod, using a remote shutter release while I'm holding my second camera body.  It's not all that impressive (ok, it kind of is), but having a room dedicated to shooting is really exciting for me.  Now I don't have to rearrange my kitchen every time I want to set up my backdrop.  It's a PERMANENT SETUP.  How cool is that?  I have my backdrop on it's stands, my Alien Bee with softbox and unbrella, my speedlight and accessories, my white backdrop (not in the shot) and some reflectors.  And of course my cameras.  Hopefully I'll buy a bigger backdrop or two soon, because these ones are no where near wide enough.  I'm totally psyched about the whole thing, because it makes me feel way more professional.

I think I'll get a sign.  "elena dee photography"  Yeah.  We're open for business.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bikini Bowling Promos

My family, as I've probably mentioned before, owns a bowling alley - Sheffield Lanes, in Aliquippa, PA.  It's summer, and business is slow, so Dad, being the, uh...interesting fellow that he is, decided what we need to make bowling in the summer attractive is bikinis.  And thus was born Bikini Bowling.  Our first one was 2 weeks ago and we haven't had too many people show up, sadly.  It's been 21+, 11pm on Friday nights, and the problem is that we've had a couple girls who are 19 or 20 interested in coming by but that whole 21+ thing...yeah, a problem.  So we're going to be doing it (still on Fridays) starting at 10pm and 18+ instead of 21+, so hopefully that will help.  Another idea to generate interest was promo pictures.

Today was my sister Christiana's high school graduation party.  You'll recognize her from pretty much everything I do.  She's my default model, and she's good.  Near the end of the grad party today, I set up my Alien Bee B800 (using the umbrella) and first my friend Nora posed as the test subject to get ideas for angles and compositions.

The last pic is Nora's brother Landon, who is hysterical and got in on the test shooting, as did some of the other party-goers such as Mike, who's in my summer bowling league.  I dig.  Anyway, I wanted Nora to be my Bikini Bowling model, but she said her body isn't currently bikini ready, which is ridiculous because she's totally gorgeous and, being Cuban, perpetually tan.  So Christy, Liv, and Kels were my models, which was cool, because it's always interesting shooting multiple people.  Olivia has done a little bit of modeling (plus I did her senior pictures), and Kelsey was recently a vampire for me.

I really liked the shot of Nora from above where she was throwing the beach ball up at me, but I wanted to get the bowling alley name in the promo images, so I ended up shooting from floor level.  Plus this kept there from being huge amounts of empty lane space, but still being able to see the pins.  I kept my light in the same spot (maybe 7 feet away from them, in height as well as floor distance and pointed downward, bouncing out of the reflective silver umbrella) but it was definitely more dramatic looking when I changed my vantage point so that the light was to my side instead of behind me.

This was one of my favorite shots, but of course I screwed it up and didn't get the Sheffield Lanes text in the original image.  I messed with combining other images with it in Photoshop for, oh, probably 45 minutes before getting the second version, which I'm still not entirely happy with, but is acceptable.  Lots of trying to get angles straight and not have heads from the other shot in the lanes.  It's going to get played with more later, I'm sure, though I may have to go shoot the alley without any models to have a blank canvas in case of any other alterations I might want to do.

We only shot for maybe 20 minutes because Kels had to go to her friend's house down the street to watch TrueBlood (a completely acceptable reason to leave, in my opinion) but Christy and Liv and I took a couple more images after.  I have 2 frames of my sister by herself, and she's super cute and happy-looking.  Awwww!

This shot of the two girls is definitely one of my favorites.  They manage to sip their drinks (cranberry juice for Christy and OJ for Liv) and still have great facial expressions.  Work those eyes!  As Tyra Banks would say, it's totally fierce.  I included both the LightRoom version and Photoshop edits to show what all I did in post.  Not much was done in LR, just some white balancing, exposure and a bit of my beloved clarity.  The detail work is in the Photoshop, especially seeing as the only beach ball we had was one a local "band" called guruguru and has their name all over it.  (I say "band" because they are "more art than music" - performance art, basically.)  I did some skin smoothing and toning, opened up some shadows, brought out their eyes and played with black and white versions as well as different saturations.  Definitely dig the color version, though the b&w is pretty cool too.  I'm happy with the way this last image especially turned out.  This is going on Facebook (and possibly Myspace, but who goes on Myspace nowadays?) and hopefully we'll have some Bikini Bowlers this Friday!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Awww, hearts!

C. Howell Photography

I googled "elena dee" today to see what came up (apparently belongs to an opera singer.  I have and it suggested "elena dee photography" which was awesome of it.  Thank you, Google!  So I was looking about, and on the bottom of the second page, there was something from C. Howell Photography.  Chelsea and I went to the Art Institute together for awhile, and apparently she checked out my stuff and linked me on her facebook page (the link is above, but you can check out her stuff from there too).

Chelsea says:

"Hey guys, I was looking over my friend Elena from Pittsburgh's (we went to AiP together) photography and I think you should check her out. Out of all the crap (sorry, but I have to be honest) I see every day that people are trying to pass off as good work, her work is truly beautiful and it's good to see other young talent exists out there.  So, give a look at Elena-dee Photography."

I feel so loved!!

Baby Portraits of Cody

If I want to have a successful portrait studio (which I do) then I have to learn to do mainstream stuff.  As much as I love my bands, and as amazing at it would be to spend my life photographing them (and getting paid for it, how awesome would THAT be?!), I gotta be able to pay the bills.  I've done the senior portrait thing, and, amazingly enough, it's fun.  The seniors I photograph are cool, and their parents obviously are too, because a lot of my work is nontraditional and they have faith in me, with my strangely colored hair and portfolio featuring zombies and musicians, to capture beautiful images of their children.  These are nearly grown-up children though, high school seniors.  They have opinions of their own and can say "hey Mom (or Dad), this chick does cool stuff, let's go to her" and Mom might listen.  Small children, infants, they're a little different.  The parents pick the photographer, and I know some parents go for traditional.

I'm not traditional, but I like kids, and would have no qualms about getting into photographing them.  Kids are hysterical.  My friend Rosa, who I've known since 8th grade (nearly 10 years now!!  Wow, I JUST realized that and feel old), has a son, Cody, who will be 7 months old in a couple days time and is freakin' adorable.  Today we hung out and I took pictures of him to practice.  Some of these are edited, some aren't.  If it has a crappy background, it obviously isn't.  I really need to splurge on a nice one instead of that paper thing I've been using for the last 2 or 3 years.


This kid makes the best faces, he's awesome.  I had my softbox going, which is like 5 times the size of Cody, so he was kind of in awe of it.  The backdrop was set up in kitchen as usual, but the floor is hard, so we had my down comforter under it in case he fell over.  Which he did, so having the cushioning was good foresight.  Rosa brought some of his toys, like his lion puppet, so we played with those for a bit, then I went to see what I had.  Sadly, I could not find my giant purple bunny, but it's purple and would have looked weird with his green outfit anyway.  I did find a leopard-print octopus though, which Cody LOVED.  The shot below with his feet up (sooo cute!) is when Rosa was dangling it above him, as you can see in another shot.  Then we sat him back up, took a few more pictures, and went to the Chinese buffet for lunch.