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  • Nov10

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    I’ve led a photographically themed session at the annual BarCamp “unconference” in Charleston since 2010, with sessions on post-processing, lighting, retouching, and iPhonography. This year I tried to tap into the technical aspects of creative photography that have existed since the film days – Multiple exposures. We explored two different techniques, one involving a long exposure with multiple speedlights, and the other using the in-camera multiple exposure feature.

    The first demonstration involved off-camera lighting. I used two speedlights and radio triggers to get this effect. I use Cactus v5 radio triggers, which allow me to assign a separate channel to each flash as well as fire them both at the same time. I set the flash on camera left to channel 3 and the one on camera right to channel 2. I set the camera to bulb mode, shut off all of the lights, and shot at ISO 100 and f/9 from a tripod. Rachel is the model, and her brother controlled the radio channels. As I held the shutter open, I had her do each pose and had her brother switch to the appropriate channel and fire the flash. This was the result:

    Rachel - BarCampCHS

    That’s not a Photoshopped image. It’s all one exposure as far as the shutter actuations are concerned. The multiple exposures come from the separate speedlight actuations. Pretty cool, huh?

    The next technique is a function of most DSLRs – a feature called “Multiple Exposure”. I learned something new about this feature on my Nikon – It’s not available when you’re shooting tethered! Oh well, after a long minute of trying to figure out why I couldn’t get it to work, I unplugged my camera from the presentation computer and got started. The way I set my camera up this time was to set the Multiple Exposure setting to 2 images in a series and then disable the auto-gain. For the effect of constraining the 2nd exposure within the 1st exposure’s silhouette, I wanted the background to be blown out (which is why you want to disable the auto-gain). This technique doesn’t require any special lighting, but since we were in a classroom, I used my speedlights to blow out a white wall behind my subjects.

    This is John, who certainly had the best beard in the whole conference (probably in all of the Charleston peninsula for that matter). Another attendee had this vibrant purple paisley laptop bag with her that I used for the second exposure. Together they made quite the juxtaposition:

    John - BarCampCHS

    We had time for one more example, so using the same technique, I had this idea that came from something I saw that day at the College of Charleston campus. All over the walkways there were messages about speaking out about rape. There were hashtag messages such as #nomeansno and #itsnotyourfault written in chalk everywhere.

    I asked my daughter Mackenzie to pose with a very sad and angry expression, and then I got a few people to stick their hands out for the second exposure. The idea of the shot was to see where you can take the technique creatively. In trying to make a visual interpretation of these messages we all saw that day, this was the result. I didn’t let on that that was what I was going for while we were setting this up because we were having fun during the session, so I hope that anyone who was there didn’t misinterpret my light-hearted presentation as making light of the seriousness of sexual assault in all of its forms.

    Mackenzie - BarCampCHS

    Finally, I once again had the pleasure of shooting the group photo for the conference. Here’s most of the attendees and volunteers who make BarCampCHS happen every year:

    BarCampCHS 2014 Group Photo

    And here’s a photo of me taking that photo, courtesy of Andy Paras form the Post & Courier:


  • Oct16

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    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Welcome to the 300th post on my blog! I’ve had some posts here that have been pretty popular, a lot that have been virtually ignored, and hopefully some that have struck a chord with my readers.

    But this isn’t about that, this is about Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk 2014. Just take a look at this crew of local photographers who ventured out on the historic streets of the lower Charleston peninsula:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Weather-wise, it may have been the most perfect day ever conceived. It was like San Francisco perfect. I brought my daughter again this year, and she invited 4 of her art-school friends who all took to the streets in true teenage fashion.

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    I was sporting my trusty Fuji X-T1 camera, and my approach this year was a little different than the past. Possibly because I was herding 5 teenage girls around, or maybe because I was carrying a smaller camera, but I just let the pictures come to me instead of seeking them out. Plus, I was able to get the girls involved to make a memorable and creative experience with them.

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Using the environment to influence a photo, I was able to setup a shot with the girls, but then this woman walked into the frame walking this massive dog, making for a cool street photo:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    It’s pretty common this time of year to see another photographer earning their living by shooting a beautiful couple. When I stumbled upon this scene, I thought to myself, “What better street photo in the French Quarter than one of a wedding photographer at work?”

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Cooler still, the entourage had a limousine complete with a silver-haired driver in a tuxedo. I asked the driver if I could make a portrait of him, and asked him to stand naturally just like he was before I approached him:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    My favorite shot of the walk came by the harbor in the reeds. I saw this cool lone purple flower in the reeds and decided to get low and shoot it. One of the girls came walking into frame and this photo came together – I asked her to turn around and look back in my direction to capture this:

    Worldwide Photowalk 2014 - Charleston SC

    Strange thing about this photo – It became one of the most viewed photos of all of the photos in my Flickr stream overnight. Sometimes the less you try to create something special, the more likely something special will present itself to you. You just need to have the eyes to see it when it happens and enough skill to capture it in a concise fashion that lets the photo do the talking. As Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

  • Sep28

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    Dream Mural Mac

    Last weekend I took a trip with my daughter to see one of my favorite reunited bands, The Replacements, play at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. It was their first show in NY in 23 years, and it was the 3rd Replacements show I’ve been lucky enough to see since they reunited in Toronto last year. It was also the best one yet, but that might be influenced by all of the friends that were there to witness it with us.

    The Replacements 9/19/2014

    The Replacements Group Photo

    Traveling with my daughter, I didn’t want to impose ourselves on my friends’ couches and spare rooms, so we used airbnb to get a sweet apartment in Brooklyn. Just a block away from McCarrren Park & Pool, we were in a great location for wandering around and checking out the Brooklyn scene.

    Brooklyn, NY

    Brooklyn, NY

    We took full advantage of the great weather and spent a lot of time walking/shopping/eating in lower Manhattan as well.

    Marta on the High Line

    We also caught a nice Sunset over NJ from the High Line:

    High Line Sunset

    It’s hard not to miss my old stomping grounds when you’re sharing a bottle of wine with friends on a rooftop in Brooklyn while looking at the Manhattan skyline. Good food, good music, and good people. That’s a good life right there…

    Manhattan Skyline

    You can check out the rest of my photos from our weekend trip on this Flickr set.

    One last thing – I’ve joined Ello (thanks for the invite Patch Whisky), which is branding itself as the Anti-Facebook – an effort to cure all of the evils of the biggest social network. Check me out here.

  • Jul4

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    Mackenzie With A Sparkler

    It’s been a very busy year so far – July 4th seems to sneak up and remind me just how fast time slips by. I’ve been busy growing my other business while still working this one. In fact, I surprised my crew yesterday by dragging in a light and a backdrop to the office for some surprise headshots:



    Speaking of headshots, I’ve been doing a lot lately for various professionals in the area. A few years ago, you could only thrive from doing headshots in a major market, but because of social media every professional needs one, not just actors and comedians.

    Here’s a couple I did this past week:

    Dr. Kelsey Harris Headshot
    Dr. Kelsey Harris

    Molly Slade
    Dr. Molly Slade

    I’ve also discovered that my Fuji X-T1 is quite the capable headshot camera. The two headshots of the guys in my crew were taken with the Fuji, while the two doctors were taken using my Nikon D800. While the flexibility gained by the controls, full frame sensor, and lens selection of the Nikon are paramount to shooting professionally, the Fuji’s results are almost indistinguishable when the output is simply an internet profile picture. The only drawback I found with my current lighting rig is that I need to close down the aperture on the Fuji a couple of stops because it shoots natively at ISO 200 and it’s a cropped sensor. That leads to more depth of field when shooting with strobe lights. For headshots like these, it’s not a problem though. For creative portraiture using these strobes it might be limiting, but I think a ND filter or two would help in that case. The look of a lens at it’s proper focal length that you get from a full frame sensor when compared to a cropped one can’t be beat, but like the US Soccer team’s performance in the World Cup game against Belgium, it comes really close by giving it its all – And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

    Sorry, I fell into a technical wormhole. Back to the photos…

    Sottile Theater Installation Obey
    Shepard Fairey Installation At The Sottile Theater

    If you haven’t stopped by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art to see the exhibit of Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns, you’ve got ’til July 12th to do so. The work is amazing and inspiring. Shepard Fairey has a few installations in the Charleston area, including the one above at the storefront of the Sottile Theater on King Street. There’s also a few murals that he’s put up, such as this one on one of the College of Charleston’s dormitories:

    Shepard Fairey Mural in Charleston, SC
    Selective Color Still Lives!

    I do love some street art. In the right places, like the back alleys of the city where people store their trash, they bring color and joy. I find the story told by the street artists to be just as compelling as the story told by the architects on the main streets.

    Fire Escape
    The Other Part Of King Street

    On another note, every once in a while I get reminded of just how amazing the camera in my pocket (the iPhone) is. I snapped this little dragonfly while walking into a client’s office the other day:

    Dragonfly posing for an pic!
    Dragonfly Instagram

    I also got to go to a wedding that I wasn’t working at for the first time in a looooong time. I still managed to take a few photos, but only because I wanted to, not because I had to!

    Samantha & Jerry
    Samantha & Jerry

    Samantha & Jerry
    Samantha & Jerry

    I’ve been seeing as much music as possible and spending some great time with my daughter in the process. We had front row center seats to see the Head and the Heart and Valerie June recently:

    The Head and the Heart in Charleston 2014
    The Head and the Heart

    "Time tells all, but we only get a little slice of it... Then we gotta change" #ValerieJune
    Valerie June

    At the start of the summer I surprised my daughter during our “school’s out weekend trip to Disney World” with a visit to Universal Studios to see Huey Lewis & The News!

    Huey Lewis & The News at Universal Studios
    Huey Lewis & the News

    Speaking of Disney World, I captured this family photo with a Rokinon fish-eye lens on my Fuji X-T1 while we rode Primeval Whirl in the Animal Kingdom:

    Animal Kingdom 2014
    The Nienstedt Family

    And while we were walking through Epcot’s World Showcase, we ran into some old friends. It’s Paulie Latex and Jenny Jelly of Latex Generation fame! Paul used to sing and play guitar in my band and Jen was our merch girl. I wrote a song about them when we were teenagers about how they would never last. I then wrote a song a few years later about being astonished that they were still together. Now they’ve got 3 girls and have been together for somewhere near 20 years. Holy crap was I wrong!

    Latex Generation Family Photo Disney World 2014
    Photo by Mrs. Edel

    Local artist Patch Whisky asked me to shoot some of his artwork to be reproduced as prints that he’s now selling on his website. It was a different animal to shoot his monsters, but they sat well for the shoot…

    Patch Whisky
    Patch Whisky

    On the topic of artists, I sadly had to say goodbye to one of my favorite artists who gathered his family up and moved to the West Coast. Here I am getting one last tattoo from Rob Junod at Holy City Tattooing Collective:

    Getting the Junod one last time (In Charleston) #holycitytattooingcollective #tattoo #IWantYourSkull #nipslip #organicsweater
    Rob Junod & a Shirtless Me

    Rob’s wife, Amanda Rose, is a talented hair & make-up artist. I worked with with her recently for Shelly Waters, who hired me to shoot the cover of her upcoming CD. I’m bummed that the Junods had to leave, but I’m happy to see where their journey takes them as they are both immensely talented.

    Shelly Waters and Amanda Rose
    Shelly Waters and Amanda Rose

    And finally, since we’re on the topic of tattoos and art, my wife Amy paid a visit to Margo at Holy CIty Tattooing Collective just yesterday to start work on a new piece on her bicep. It’s just an outline in this picture and it already looks amazing!

    Amy's New Tat Sunset

    I think that about wraps it up for this post. We’re planning a road trip later in the summer, so hopefully I’ll capture some fun photos of that adventure. It’s gonna be filled with plains, trains, and automobiles for sure!

  • Jan26

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    You Never Know…

    Posted in: News

    Cover of Post & Courier Screenshot

    I jumped on Facebook this morning to a message from a friend linking to this article about the state of tattooing in the Charleston area. I was a bit surprised to see my “selfie” as the lead image of not only the article, but as the top story on the front page of the Post & Courier’s website!

    Traditional Dagger Tattoo With Fire Ant Hilt and Palmetto & Crescent Moon Pommel

    After a minute of surprise, it kind of made sense to me – The tattoo in question is a Lowcountry tribute, with its fire ant, crescent moon & palmetto tree hilt/pommel. The idea I had was to incorporate a fire ant into a traditional tattoo dagger, and Jason Eisenberg over at Holy City Tattooing Collective made it way better than I envisioned. The reason I wanted the design was due to my recent discovery that I’m allergic to fire ants and how it made me feel like the south is trying to do me in – But what doesn’t kill me…

    This is my #tattoo #sleeve that @MargoVenomous did for me at #holycitytattooingcollective in #charleston #sc featuring original art as well as elements of the artwork of @tatunga @caiakoopman @patchwhisky #art #ink #chsart #firedragon #demon #lowbrow #pop

    The part that does kill me (and every photographer who gets their photos published) is that you never know which photo an editor is going to use. And it’s never the ones you work hardest on! This photo of my sleeve just above represents many hours of sitting in the shop as Margo Venomous worked her ass off putting ink into my arm. It features multiple designs from some of my favorite pop-surrealism artists that Margo expertly corralled into a very Todd Schorr-esque mural on my flesh. I shot it with a full lighting setup and spent time putting it all together in Photoshop. They didn’t want that, instead they used a selfie that I quickly shot in my bathroom mirror to post on my personal Facebook page to show off my new ink.

    What I’m getting at is that how we shoot is never as important as what we shoot, and the story that the shot is illustrating is the most important thing when it comes to getting published. Even if it’s a damn selfie.

  • Jan4

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    White Keys

    It has been awhile since I’ve added images to my Fine Art Gallery. The image above is a brand new image that I created just moments ago, while the other four images are ones I created in 2013. The following two images were created recently while staying at Occoneechee State Park in Virginia. The first was at sunrise on Christmas Eve, while the other was taken the day before during a rainy sunset.

    Occoneechee State Park Sunrise

    Occoneechee State Park Rainy Day Sunset

    This next image was taken during a commercial shoot for a local magazine here in Charleston. It’s a group of Citadel cadets standing in front of a construction wall off of King Street that people have been writing their dreams on. I happened to get a girl walking by in this shot:

    Citadel Cadets

    And finally, this is an image I’ve posted here before. It’s Sullivan’s Island at sunset on a glorious summer day:

    Sullivans Island Sunset in July

  • Nov12

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    Just a quick update on my Movember campaign. I’ve teamed up with Dollar Shave Club to try and raise some funds for men’s health. If you sign up for their razor subscription this month, please use this promo code:


    When you use my pro-MO code MOVEMBER094 they’ll donate $10 to my Movember page to help fight prostate and testicular cancer. You get great razors for a few bucks a month, we beat cancer. Everyone wins.

    Here’s my week 2 progress photo:

    Movember 2013 Week 2

    Thanks for reading!

  • Nov11

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    Ashley And Set

    Gotta Love a Low Country wedding in the fall. On a beautiful day back in September, Ashley and the ladies in her wedding party polished up their boots…

    Ashley And Set Boots

    Ashley Set Prep

    It was a perfect day out at The Gatherings of Dorchester to get married. It can be a gamble having a wedding outside in the south, but this day was absolutely perfect.

    Ashley Set hands

    Ashley And Set

    Ashley Set Cake

    Ashley Set hands2

    Ashley And Set

    Ashley And Set

    Ahh, to be so young and in love. So much energy & passion. I hope one day, when they’re old and gray, they can look back at these photos and smile like it was yesterday. Congratulations Ashley & Set!

    Ashley And Set

  • Nov3

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    Movember 2013 JoeL8X - Week 1

    It’s that time of year again folks. The air’s a little crisper, the trees are full of color, and I’ve shaved my mustache in an effort to raise awareness about men’s health issues as well as raise money for the organizations that are fighting the good fight.

    This year I’m flying solo as a “MoBro”. Can we lose the “bro” monicker though? Seriously, the term “bro” makes me think of beer coozies and fist bumps, and that’s just not me. Anyway, here’s the link to donate through my page: MoBro.co/joeL8X. I’m thinking of doing some fun stuff to raise money this year, so be sure to follow me here, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

    If you don’t know about Movember yet, you can read all about the organizations vision, values, and goals here.

    Swingin' at the #coastalcarolinafair with @frostymac #fair #swing #ride #charleston #sc

    While I’ve got your attention, the Coastal Carolina Fair is in effect again. All the rides, attractions, and deep fried things that probably shouldn’t be allowed near a deep frier are available for your enjoyment at the Ladson Fairgrounds.

    More importantly, I’m proud to announce that my daughter Mackenzie has won 2nd place in this year’s photography contest for division 3 (Students)!!! She entered shots she made during last month’s World Wide Photo Walk, and her shot of a rusty old bicycle bell earned her a red ribbon.

    Mackenzie Wins 2nd Place at the Coastal Carolina Fair Photography Contest

    Next up in the information department is that Halloween was this week, and of course my family had to pose for pictures in our costumes:

    Halloween 2013

    Kegan’s buddies came over and were promptly stuck in front of my camera. Some kids are so cooperative in getting into character. These kids rule.

    Kids Halloween 2013

    My Satyr costume was inspired by this new Halloween themed tattoo I got from Rob Junod over at Holy City Tattooing Collective:

    I got my #Halloween #tattoo by @robjunod at #HolyCityTattooingCollective in #Charleston #SC Check out that #Satyr fiddling the night away! I admire his goatee...

    In sadder news, we lost a New York legend last week. Lou Reed passed away after losing a battle with liver disease. When the kids and I carved our pumpkins, I decided to make mine a tribute to one of rock n’ roll’s most influential people. From the left to right, it’s Mackenzie’s “Hedgehog-O-Lantern”, my “Lou-O-Lantern”, and my son Kegan’s “Boo-O-Lantern”:

    Pumpkins 2013-6

    The sadness didn’t last long in our family though, because the day after Lou passed away, Karlina Josephine joined the world:

    Brian & Mira's Baby Girl

    Welcome to the family, kiddo. Brian & Mira are going to be great parents to you, and you will have more professional photos of yourself than any other kid in your neighborhood, so just accept it and be prepared!

    Brian & Mira's Baby Girl

  • Oct5

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    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-8

    Today was the 6th annual World Wide Photo Walk organized annually by Scott Kelby. I’ve been walking in these for a few years now, check out this and this. Last year my daughter joined me and she had a blast, so she signed up once again for this year’s event.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-4

    Last year we did the evening walk at Shem Creek, so this year we went on the morning walk in historic downtown Charleston. We started out in Waterfront park and made are way through the streets of the lower peninsula.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-5

    To shake things up this year, I decided to stick with one fixed length lens. My choice? A 50mm f/1.4.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-36

    Only having one lens to choose from at one focal length is quite freeing. I had to pick my shots carefully and instead of working it and solving problems like I do on a daily basis, I either had a shot, or I didn’t. My feet are my zoom, and there are no ultra wide angles either. Just one normal focal range. It’s kind of like drawing with just one pencil. The limitations free you up to keep it simple. And that’s what most of the shots I took reflect.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-30

    My first lesson for my daughter was to isolate the subject. “How?” she asked. Composition. Move around until you can see just the subject of the photo with the least amount of distractions.

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-3

    Lesson two was to look for contrasts. Big and small, light and dark, and also contrasting colors. Reds and blues are one of my favorite. Add some green, and I’m excited!

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-15

    I did look for some people to shoot as well. A mother and daughter were sitting in a pastry shop that we had stopped in to grab a drink in. I was taking a shot of my coffee cup and the mom said, “Why don’t you take a picture of us? We’re more interesting than an inanimate object!” I couldn’t agree more. She then said I should Instagram it. Unfortunately Nikon hasn’t figured out how to post to Instagram from their DSLR’s directly, but that didn’t stop me from giving her some instant gratification. iPhone to the rescue!

    @skyfran 's mom told me to post this. I don't know these ladies! #wwpw #wwph2013 #CHS #strangers #streetphotography

    I saw this guy power-washing a building and loved how the spray was glowing in the sun:

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-22

    We took a detour looking for some graveyards because my daughter wanted to shoot an angel statue. She said it was because of the “Weeping Angels” from Doctor Who. Who am I to say no? Unfortunately, all of the cemeteries that we went to were chained up. As we were leaving the walk, we came up this awesome little magic shop, and guess what was outside?

    World Wide Photo Walk 2013-33

    I guess it was magic? Whatever you believe, I had a great time shooting with my kid. You can see all of the shots I took in this Flickr set.