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After Earth GFX Reel

Cheers to Matt Law for putting together this awesome GFX and UI Reel for After Earth. source


I had the honor and privilege of collaborating with great compositors and motion designers while working on post production for the After Earth movie. Matt Law put together an excellent GFX Reel highlighting the soft and clean treatment of the UI for the movie After Earth.  The project involved 2D/3D composting combined with motion graphics for a distinct and unique look. Thanks again to Matt, not only for putting together this great reel, but for all the long hours, laughs, and tears along the way.

Shared by: Jay Axe

Hendrix … what a dog!

This weekend I had the opportunity to photograph Hendrix.  He is an eight year old boy that still maintains all the excitement from his youth.  With every snap of the shutter release, Hendrix’s curiosity peaks.  It was quite an amusing photo shoot. Click on the photo to see more photos via Facebook.

Posted by Jay Axe

Atomic Fiction!

“Light Ring Portraits” made it to the Atomic Fiction Blog! Click on the photo above to check it out and all of the other cool things going on at Atomic Fiction.

Posted by Jay Axe

Light Ring Portraits!


Check out the following portraits shot with a “build your own” Light Ring. Then, click here to see the behind the scenes setup for the process on how it was made. Enjoy!

Click here to see the behind the scenes setup for the Light Ring Portraits!

Enjoy, -Jay

Light Ring Setup (Easy to Make!)

Interested in a little variation on your normal portrait photography? Well, here is cost effective (just under $50) way to make a ring of lights to customize the look of highlights in your shots. What makes this lighting solution unique is the ability to quickly turn lights on/off with a tap of a light to alter the look of the light on your subject.

Curious how this all came about? There are a whole bunch of light rings and beauty dishes on the market, some at a good price. Most of the inexpensive ones leave little room for modification. I knew I wanted to make a light ring, but not sure what items would be best to construct it. While shopping at target, I was looking for a light to put in my apartment’s dimly lit bathroom. (Shaving has been a challenge these days…) I came across some tap lights and suddenly thought this could be used to build a light ring. I ended up leaving the store with a cart full of them. Then I made a quick run over to Michael’s Arts and Crafts to get a couple wreaths as an armature for the light setup. The check out guy asked if I was into making wreaths, and I sadly had to disappoint…

Ok, on to the setup. Here are the supplies you will need listed below.


- Energizer Tap Light 2 Pak  – $6.89 (x4)

- Batteries 24 Pak – $10.89

- Box Wreath Frame $2.99 (x2)

- Duct Tape $3.74

Total Cost: $48.17

The first pass at the design was simple (as it should be!) I wanted to test out the effectiveness of the lights and if the angle of the lights need altering for the best results.

After some test shots, I felt the lighting setup would be benefit from angling them in towards the subject’s face. To do this, I altered a metal (wreath) ring to make the slope necessary for mounting the lights. Duct tape was used to hold everything together. The rigidity of the compressed cardboard ring made a solid shape for the metal ring. Otherwise it would have been quite flimsy.

This close up shot shows the approximate angle of the light inward toward the center of the ring. It is probably about 10-20 degrees. Also, the duct tape makes a good place for attaching the lights to the angled surface.

That is basically the setup for the light ring. Not too bad! What makes this setup uniques is it’s ease in customization. It is easy to change the lighting design. I have provided some examples towards the end of the post. Here is the equipment used for the photo booth session.

Photography Equipment Used:

- Nikon D300

- Nikkor 60mm Micro 2.8

- Flash SB-900

- Floodlight

- Tripod

- Lightstand

Software for image capture/processing:

-Soforbild (Free!)

-Adobe Lightroom

Check out the shot of us in action (below) that my wife snapped during our photo session.

Yes! The photo booth is our bathroom! Sometimes you gotta go with what works!! You can see in this shot, I am shooting through the light ring with the 60mm at the subject in the bathroom. The key light (flash) is mounted to a light stand to the right of the shot. The flood light (illuminated in the photo) is assisting with some fill on the background and puts some rim light on the subject. Out of the shot to the left of me is an iMac tethered to the camera via USB. I am using Sofortbild to get immediate feedback after each shot. Additionally, it saved every shot to the hard disk as it was taken. Nothing new, but a convenient way to work when it is available…

Finally, I will leave you with a few different light layouts that I took the liberty of naming. From the left: Half Dome, The Turtle, and Bird Foot!

(give it a second, you will see it!)

I hope you find this post useful and can find new ways to modify your light setup. And of course, thanks to the lovely models: Dorothee, Adam, Kimo, and Lynn, who patiently take the time to participate in my photo experiments! It was a blast!

Adam looks like one of our favorite plumbers in this one.  :)

Click here to see photos from the shoot!

Enjoy, Jay

Stinson Beach Fun


Hanging out at Stinson Beach is always a good time. On our most recent visit during the holidays, we joined Kimo, Lynn, and friends at an awesome beach house right along the water. It was a casual fun day with plenty of opportunity for some candid photography. West coast sunsets make such a beautiful light. Enjoy!

Check out more shots via Facebook and via Flickr. Enjoy! -Jay

Some Christmas Magic!

Still trying to hold on to the holidays? Well if you missed it this year, there was an enjoyable little Christmas special titled: Ice Age “A Mammoth Christmas.” This was the last project I working on at Reel FX in Dallas before moving to San Francisco. It was a fun time. As a Keyshot Artist, I developed the CG look for many shots in lighting and compositing. Below is a still from a fun shot introducing the reindeer family. Check out more of my CG work here: Jay Axe Demo Reel 2012.


Ice Age “A Mammoth Christmas” aired on Fox throughout the fall 2011, but if you still want to grab a copy, take a look at

Enjoy, Jay

Meet Suki, a friendly Shiba Inu.

Suki and (super-sized) Champi

Hi Everyone, meet Suki, a friendly Shiba Inu. And yes, Champi (right) our Japanese Akita, Is the big version of cute little Suki. There is a little bit of a back story for this shot. I am thrilled, and actually amazed that I even had the chance to take this photo. It all began back in early 2010. At the time, I was just getting into photography fairly seriously and purchased my first DSLR (Nikon D300.) Dorothee and I were living in Dallas and trying to decide what breed of dog we wanted to have for a puppy. We watched the AKC Dog show, animal planet, researched online and in books. You know how Dorothee is, she is a researcher at heart. So back in mid 2010, we narrowed our breed search to Husky, Shiba Inu and Akita. We thought we were dead set on getting a Shiba, but we tracked down some Japanese Akita breeders just an hour south of Dallas. Small world!  So we were set, after waiting about 2 years, we finally brought Champi into our home.

Now for the Suki connection. While researching dog breeds, I found some amazing photos of Suki (left) in a 52 weeks of Dogs project. Not only did we fall in love with the Japanese breeds, I was drooling over the great photography by Jonathan Flemming (Suki’s owner.) I remind you, at the time, we just brought Champi in our lives and still living in Dallas. So the combination of great Suki photos and having a great new pup inspired me to join the 52 Weeks of Dogs project in 2011 for Champi. Furthermore, in March of 2011 Dorothee found a great cancer research position in San Francisco. And SF is the home of the Suki. So amazingly enough, today we see Suki and Champi sitting side by side. 2 little stars that have way too much internet fame!

I hoped you enjoyed the little story and look here to see Jonathan’s take on the experience. Also, click on the image above to see more shots via Facebook. -Jay

52 Weeks of Champi!

Have you ever visited my blog and thought…another dog photo!? Well, I am happy to report that the “52 Weeks of Champi” is complete! The project (to take a photo of your dog once a week for a year) was fun, hard work, rewarding, and  I learned a lot about shooting with a dog. You can make your own assessment, but I feel like the repeated exercise over the year improved my technical knowledge of how to get the best out each one of my lenses more than the artistic direction. Not sure why that was, but I guess all things are related. I know this year was a little rough with 2 moves and one being across the country, but we still got a lot of Champi action. :)  I am sure I will continue to take pics of Champi here and there, but probably not the intensity of this year.  Champi deserves a break from a camera in here face. It’s a hard life for a pretty girl.

Click on the image to see more via Flickr. Enjoy, -Jay

Fooling around with Flashes!


Happy Halloween! Adam and Dorothee were good enough to pose for an impromptu photo shoot while camping at Big Sur. I really wanted the sun to go down so that we could start the camp fire, so I made the best of the fleeting natural light. With an off camera SB900 at a low dramatic angle, I started snapping away. Fun times… =)

Click on the image to see more via Facebook. Enjoy, -Jay

Champi Headlines another Blog!

Look at that popular little girl! One of the contributor’s to the Bernalwood Blog found a picture of Champi hanging out at the Bernal Heights Park in San Francisco. Champi unknowingly is standing on very stable ground. Bernal Height’s Chert is very safe rock to be standing on during earthquakes. Click here to learn more…


Please enjoy this TV spot that aired on ESPN last week. Director Thaddeus D. Matula and Editor Jordan Haro contacted me to request the addition of my timelapse photography in their commercial promoting SMU football. So, of course I said YES! Check out the opening clips of the Dallas Skyline for my contribution.


For more information and HD version, check out YOUR CITY. YOUR TEAM on Vimeo.

Beware…Giant Dog!

Now that I am permanently in San Francisco, Champi, Dorothee, and I have some time to relax and go walk on the beach. This shot was captured along the shore in from of Pedro Point. (Check out the previous post. It was taken somewhere along that stretch of shoreline.) In the time that I was away, Champi has grown and become more confident with the ocean tide. Not only will she wade in the water to her kneecaps, I witnessed her go in deep enough to get her neck wet!  This is pretty unheard of for Akita Inu dogs, but when Champi gets overheated, she rather be cool and wet than remain hot. Yes, this girl knows what she wants…!

I hope you enjoy the perspective in this photo. Champi just turned 1 year old yesterday and is now a huge pup…look at where she has come from.  She looks so huge compared to her surroundings.  And I pity the poor sea plant she is chewing on too!!

As for me, Dorothee and I are figuring out our routine, and I am on the job hunt here is SF.  No bites yet, but it may take a little time. Well, for the time being, it will give me some time to brush up on photography and a little bit of blogging too.

Until next time,


Pacifica Beach overlooking Pedro Point

On our first night in Pacifica, the 3 of us took a walk to Pedro Point for dinner.  I think we were excited and overwhelmed by all that was new around us. Looking back, it was a beautiful night and a great first experience in Pacifica.  I captured this photo almost a month ago, and I am sure Dorothee and Champi have become much more familiar with the area.  My next visit to Pacifica is in 2 weeks and I am definitely counting the days.  Preparing our Dallas home for sale has kept my mind off it, but it really is great to take a break from that and look back through these photos.  From what I’ve heard from Dorothee, she is happy with the Pacifica so far, and potentially a place where we will stay for a long time.  Works for me. =)

Enjoy! -Jay

Road Trip to San Francisco (Day 3)

These photos were taken on the 3rd day of the great road trip to San Francisco.  We started our morning with a long walk at sunrise…since we were conveniently still on Dallas time.  Barstow had an interesting little setup.  The town has clearly embraced the fast food industry and made a unique little “stop and go” that is called Barstow Station. Champi enjoyed the morning exploring while I snapped a few photos of the sights.  Not so oddly, I was the only pedestrian I saw the entire morning.

I wonder if those train cars have actually been to Santa Fe.

I really enjoyed how it was impossible to take any photo without getting the big “M” in the view.  Makes you hungry. right!?

All of the excitement of the Barstow (McDonald’s) Station was directly across the street from what appeared to be an abandoned Barstow Mall.  Not that one form of consumerism is better than the other, The fast food was definitely doing better this morning.  I think we all had our fill of Barstow, and shortly after, we hit the road for the last leg of our trip.  The drive went well on Saturday, but I did not get any more shots till we arrived in Pacifica.  I remember it being a looooong day. =)

Enjoy, -Jay

Road Trip to San Francisco (Day 2)

Our first stop on Day 2 of the road trip was in Gallop, New Mexico.  It was a nice place to take a break and get the Champi Chien out for a little walk. Dorothée found a nice place to grab coffee and I found a little local market that had an assortment of dried fruits.  Great to have for the car ride, of course!

The town square was nice and quiet in the morning.  I am glad we were walking around before the heat of the day…and little did we know, there was still snow on the ground!?  I guess it stays extra cold in the desert at night.

We made it all the way to Flagstaff, Arizona for lunch.  It seems very pleasant in the photos, but it was windy and dusty.  It got even worse as we drove west into the Mojave Desert.

Look! You can see some snow in the bottom right of the photo!!  But, it looks like it had been there for a while.

Someone was ready to have a snack!

The sunset in Barstow, California.

The day was filled with a lot of driving, but we made it all the way to Barstow, California.  The 3 of us were happy to be quiet for the night, and we ordered take-out from a local mexican diner and ate in the hotel.  We all needed to rest up for one more day of driving!!

Enjoy! -Jay

Road Trip to San Francisco (Day 1)

The first day of the drive started a bit  slow just trying to get out of Dallas. The first images were in a field along the highway in Texas that turned out to be an ok place to take a little snack break.  The following images are from Santa Rosa, New Mexico.  We stopped there for dinner to find that there were not too many dog friendly places.  We decided it would be easiest to make sandwiches from the local food mart and eat in front of the courthouse.  It was the only place in town with grass!! And, the only somewhat exciting piece of history was knowing this town is along the historic Route 66. Needless to say, we did not linger too long and made our way to Albuquerque for the first night.  Stay tuned for Day 2!

Enjoy! -Jay

Hello Pacifica!

Hi Everyone, we survived the great road trip to California! It was a whirlwind of a week, but Dorothee and Champi are now set up in our new apartment in Pacifica. The new place is still a bit empty since we are still trying to sell our house in Dallas. Because of this, we only packed the essentials, which included all the dog stuff, of course! Our trip took us through some nice little towns along the way. And thanks to Champi, we did take a little time to stop here and there to stretch our legs. This was a good thing because it is always a good idea to take a break when doing long car trips. Champi did very well. She is an excellent passenger, well, as long as we had the AC cranked up. It was kind of a comical situation. We felt like we had to freeze ourselves in the front seat to keep our furry pup happy in the back. All things considered, it worked out really well. This photo below was taken on Champi’s first experience with the beach. And after a little bit of hesitation, she began to play in the sand immediately. The ebb and flow of the surf definitely grabbed her curiosity, as she would bite at it with every new wave. And as expected, she naturally ran away from the water every time it crossed her ankles. It was a fun puppy moment. =)

Our road trip took us 3 full days of driving, but we made pretty good time. I took photos at just about every place we stopped so I will post some of them. We made it all the way to Albuquerque the first night. Other little stops along the way included Santa Rosa, Gallop, Flagstaff, and Barstow. So stay tuned for some more travel photos!

And as always, you can check out more photos at my photostream jayaxe04. Enjoy!

Micro Rouge!


What!? Not a dog photo…?  (Shh…don’t tell Champi. Actually, she is probably happy not to have the camera in her face today.)

This past weekend was fully booked, as seems to be the case lately.  But, there was a slightly unexpected surprise on Friday…I bought a new lens!  It all came about very quickly too.  Every once in a while I will browse craigslist to see if there are any good deals out there, or at least to see what people are getting rid of.  I have been in the habit lately of making an offer “below the going rate” for any specific lens, just to see what price people will settle for. Up until now, people have not really budged that much in my experience, but Friday was a different story.  And well, I am a proud new ower of a 60mm micro lens. (And, thanks Walton for your assistance in the transaction.)  I do have to say, the lens is hardly used, and in great condition.  Out of curiosity, I asked the seller, “Why the change?” and he replied that he was switching to Canon. These are my kind of people.  :)  I am not sure why people are in such a rush to make the switch, unless you primarily shoot video.  I do have to say I was very tempted with the Canon 5D II, but I am glad I have stuck with the Nikon D300.  I am learning very quickly that it is not really the camera but the shooter that makes a good photographer (well obviously) and for my level of shooting experience, it really does not matter which brand you carry in your bag.  It’s really a matter of preference.  And today’s preference is Nikon’s 60mm Micro, all the way!!

First Impressions. Good. Really good!  I know it is not a new lens to the Nikon product line, but it is new to me. From the first use, it feels very natural to use.  Maybe I know my Nikon D300 camera body better these days, but this has been the easiest lens to use “right out of the box” compared to learning curve of my other lenses.  Honestly, I am not sure why that is.  I have not done any extensive research on this one either. I have even tried out the Nikon’s 105mm Micro VR lens and had much more trouble with that one.  I think it is a level of closeness or intimacy of the 60mm focal length that works for me. Meaning, you can get very close to your subject, which feels right, since you want to get close to the details.

I was initially drawn to the 60mm Micro lens because it also doubles as a portrait lens.  With my current arsenal of lenses, I do not have the 60mm focal length that can open up to an aperture of  f/2.8.  I think my 16-85 won’t open up any further than f/5 at 60mm.  This is a hugh difference in the amount of light let in the lens, especially in low light shooting. So, this will be one great advantage.  Now, it probably won’t compare to the 24-70mm, but it is compact and light weight…and don’t forget, I don’t have that lens either. I will probably do some portrait tests to see how my lenses compare.

Portrait shooting aside, the real reason for getting the lens, was to shoot the little things up close.  As I said earlier, the 60mm Micro feels very natural to use.  For testing close up shots (within 1-2 feet of the subject) the auto-focus felt comfortable.  Not extremely snappy, but then again, I am not asking it to be more that what it was designed to do…or better yet, it’s price range.  At the 1-2 feet distance, I felt that the auto-focus does a very good job, better than I could do myself.  With that said, you can switch the lens into an extreme close up focus range, that allow you to get within inches of your subject.  At this point, your depth of field is extreme, but works well to provide a focus on what you want to highlight in your subject.  I found at this point, it was much more accurate to switch to manual focus.  Very slight movements make a large impact at this degree of closeness and I became frustrated with the “hunting” auto-focus.  To me, at these close focal ranges it gets very artistic and a manual focus is the best way to shoot.

Nikon D300, 60mm Micro, f/8

Long story short, when I made the switch to DSLR, I gained many strengths with interchangeable lenses.  One thing I lost, was the ability to get in very close (with my choice in lenses) to a subject and capture all the great micro details.  I knew it was only a matter of time before I would buy a camera the does micro photography well or get a lens that would fit on the D300.  I hope this will be the case for a while because I think the 60mm Micro will do the trick.  Oh, and for the red theme…I am not really sure why…I just have a lot of red things. =)

Nikon D300, 60mm Micro, f/8

Nikon D300, 60mm Micro, f/22

Nikon D300, 60mm Micro, f/3.2

Nikon D300, 60mm Micro, f/8

Nikon D300, 60mm Micro, f/11

Thanks for reading, and dont forget to swing by my flickr photostream jayaxe04 for more updates.



Champi gets her own page!

52 Weeks of Champi

Lucky her… Champi has become such a big part of our lives, that I have made a special page to keep track of all the photos I take of her for the “52 Weeks for Dogs” project. Now, it is easy as clicking the link at the top right of my blog to get all the updates on Champi. What you see here is what you see on Flickr…(minus all the great comments that people leave.) I will update it weekly with every new shot of Champi.  (Click on this photo to jump right to her page.)

I hope this makes for easy browsing and this way we will be able to quickly watch Champi grow up over the year!


Akitas: American vs. Japanese

Hi Everyone! The “52 Weeks” project already seems like a hit! There were comments in my Flickr photostream about Champi being a Japanese Akita breed. Questions arose about the differences between the American and Japanese Akitas. I thought it would be worthwhile to start a discussion thread to hear all of your thoughts. And then blog about it of course!

To get started, our Akita, Champi, is a Japanese Akita pup in the right of the picture with an American Akita pup on the left.  At first glance, they look very similar, but if you look closely, you may notice some differences.  This is a hot topic among many Akita breeders including the breeders of our Japanese Akita, Champi.  It is my understanding that the AKC currently does not recognize the Japanese Akita and American Akita as separate breeds.

Please take a look at the following photos and let’s hear your thoughts about the breed.  In the end, we are casual pet owners and love our Akitas for who they are, but it is still fun to have a light conversation about characteristics of Akita dogs. Who knows? This may be the beginning a new breed recognized by the AKC. Today, you are the judge…Enjoy!

Tora, a male Japanese Akita (brindle coat)

My photo blog seemed to be the appropriate forum for me to place my views about this discussion.  I do want to repeat that our standing is that we appreciate dogs for who they are, and that any comments are to pose questions about the Akita breeds in a positive light.

Initially, when Dorothée and I were researching different breeds of dogs, (almost 2 years ago!!) we found a breed called a Shiba Inu.  We found many traits of this breed interesting, such as there quiet nature (no barking!) and somewhat calm and aloof demeanor.  Check out Suki a great fellow Flickr member. We thought this was the breed, but we still thought we wanted a breed of dog that could do more activities with us like running, and rollerblading. Then we discovered the Akita breed.  At this point, we had no I idea of any distinction of the breed, American or Japanese.  We saw this breed as a larger form of the Shiba Inu.

An American Akita

Lulu, a female Japanese Akita (Champi's sister!)

Dorothée is naturally an amazing researcher, and dove right into this topic of Akitas. With some internet research, book reading, and Animal Planet watching, we slowly started to see more documentation about Akitas that shows differences between Japanese and American Akita breeds.

I think the day that really made the distinction clear to me was when we first met our breeder’s Japanese Akita dogs.  These dogs did not look the same as the American Akitas we watched on T.V.  We noticed quickly that the American Akitas were often much brawnier or thicker than the Japanese, and typically were larger in size.  They seem to have a more guard dog look in stature and even broader shoulders.  Whereas the Japanese Akitas seem to be slightly smaller and possibly more slender.  It is all really hard to tell, it was all so new to us!!

A common Japanese Akita feature is the triangular shaped head from the top view.  It may be hard to see from the photos, but the tip of the ears to the nose should make a triangular shape. You probably can see this is somewhat mimicked on the front of the face as the fur pushes out to the side of the snout.  It’s very “fox” like!

We personally love the red coat, which is what Champi wears, and Lulu here to the right.  This is a notable feature of the Japanese Akita breed.  But, knowing this, you cannot deny the beautiful brindle coat that Tora wears in black, red and white.  He is a gorgeous dog!

So yes!  Dorothée and I obviously notice a difference between Japanese and American Akita breeds. I personally hope with time there will be more features that distinguish both breeds and will be recognized by the AKC.

The way is see it, the more “foxy” the look, the better!

Thanks for reading, swing by my photostream jayaxe04 to see more Akita photos.

And check out the discussion thread on “52 Weeks for Dogs.”



Looking Forward into a New Year!

Happy New Year!  2011 is here and hopefully full of many fun and exciting things.  A new project that the I am committing to is “52 Weeks For Dogs.”  What is this, you might ask?  Flickr has many online galleries for photo sharing, but the catch here is that this project requires you to take a photo of your dog every week for the whole year totaling 52 photos!  And of course, no cheating by pulling images from archives or multiple images per week!!  Dorothée, Champi and I hope this will be a fun creative way to combine our artistic and dog walking skills… we know which one Champi is more interested in.  This project will be a big challenge so we are starting the year off right and took our first shot today.

52 Weeks of Champi

For the past couple of months, I have been able to watch the sunrise on my morning walks with Champi.  It has been a major change of schedule for me, but it does have some benefits… (especially with the quality of light for photography.)  Dorothee and I knew Champi would be ready to head out in the morning, so we bundled up for a cold and windy New Years Day walk. Naturally, Champi was already prepared.  =)

When we arrived at the lake, we did not have a shot specifically in mind, I just knew that I wanted to get a start for the week. Whether or not we got a shot today, did not really matter to me, as we were feeling a little tired from celebrating the night before.  We made our usual stroll along the shore of the lake and came across this big hunk of concrete.  It seemed like an ok place to take photos as it created a barrier between us and the water, knowing full well that Champi would not mind perching up to survey the area.  Not far from the shore is where a lot of birds feed so it kept Champi’s attention. I knew the sunlight was nice and warm coming from the left of the shot, so all I really needed was to get Champi to look in my general direction.  I still have not found the best way to get her to pose, whether it is with treats or calling her name in an excited manner, but in this case, we were patient and let her take the time to look around and snapped when she looked my way.  I feel that we are very lucky that Champi will naturally stand still as she looks around.  The biggest challenge so far is getting her to look into the sun, as she naturally keeps it to her back.  We might try the other side of the lake, or maybe sunset for another shot.

Well, this is the first of many, wish us some luck and patience…we are going to need it!

Come see weekly updates of Champi at flickr photostream jayaxe04.


Jay Axe’s Photo Blog just hit 1,001 views!

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to look at my work in photography and support me along the way.  I was not sure if I had it in me to keep a blog updated enough for people to visit again and again, but it feels like it is on the right track.  I hope to keep things exciting for 2011 and even try to post some lighting and photography exercises of my own.  Here are some fun quick stats for ya!

Jay Axe’s Photo Blog Stats for 2010

And of course, 1001 thank yous to all the readers out there. =)


100 Paces – Photography in Black and White

The end of the year is a great time (as we all know) and sometimes a slower time for the lighting department in a CG company.  It must be somewhat a nature of the ebb and flow of work since we are further towards the end of the production pipeline.  All of us know this at Reel FX, and I like to say it is the quiet before the storm…meaning we should have a big flow of work that will pick up after the holidays.  It’s probably similar for many businesses that do a greater majority of work for the year from January to August.  With that said, the lighters have been busy with research and development for our lighting team and preparing for new shows that start early next year.  I am very excited for the work we will be doing this year…more to come later.  It gets to a point where we have looked at our tools on the computer enough and and we want to get out of our chairs.  It not like an uprising or revolution per se, but a chance to stretch our legs and get a little taste of sunlight.  =)

Which brings us to today’s post of the 100  Paces Lighting Exercise. Tiffany (Reel FX friend) showed me this article that talked about various lighting exercises for a new photographer.  After a quick read through, it certainly did have some nice ideas for ways to freshen up your photography skills…or even just break it down to the basics.  I would say that all photographers (not just the beginners) could benefit from taking part in these exercises.

To kick things off, a handful of us at Reel FX decided to do black and white photography so that we would really focus on lighting and composition.  And I do have to say, it was very refreshing to do this. We use the 100 Paces photography exercise to have an organized photo shoot for a 2 hour session of shooting. It was focused, but in a non-pressure situation. This way were able to really slow down and take a look at what was in front of us. It felt very similar to the idea that when you walk down a street, you notice so much more that in you were passenger-ing in a car. The goal was really just to find beauty in ordinary things.  Sometimes you need to slow down for a minute to see them, but it’s there.  As long as your picture tells a story, then that is all we are really after…!

Speaking for myself, I always have tried to incorporate some of these concepts such as the rule of thirds in my shooting.  But, some of the other ideas, really, quite often slip my mind…or I just rely on intuition to accomplish them. This is all good and well, but even if any of you photographers out there have a natural talent for “it,” well, it never hurts to take an afternoon and try to refine some of those skills…or find some reasoning behind that “gut feeling ” when composing a shot.  It will definitely push your photography forward and may possibly assist in finding  a shot that could have be previous overlooked.  It’s always good to shoot for the greatness, but sometimes you just need to switch things up, and make it simple.

1/200 sec, f/9, ISO 200, 85mm (Nikon D300, 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6)

1/30 sec, f/9, ISO 200, 85mm (Nikon D300, 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6)

1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200, 200mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII)

1/1250 sec, f/4, ISO 200, 200mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII)

1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200, 200mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII)

1/250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200, 200mm (Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII)

See more on my flicker photostream jayaxe04.


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