Death, Life and Everything In Between


Friday, January 22nd got off to a bad start. My cat, Paxton, had been at the vet since Tuesday. This was the day I had to decide whether to put him down. I made the call. Hardest thing I’ve had to do in 32 years. 

Cat Yawning

Paxton Lim. 06/01/02 - 01/22/10

I could go on about him. I want to. I want you to know how much I hurt. But that would be selfish; because this day is about more than my buddy, Paxton. This day, Friday, January 22nd is my father’s birthday. The big 6-OH. And except for a brief visit with him right after Paxton’s death, I couldn’t be with him that day. Because this day, Friday, January 22nd is also about Lisa and Ryan. 

Lisa and Ryan

I shot Lisa and Ryan’s engagement pictures in Baldwin Park, FL a few months earlier. And today was their wedding reception at Casa Feliz in Winter Park, FL. “Casa Feliz” means “happy house” in Spanish.  The Spanish-style estate was built during the Great Depression at a cost of $28,000. The elegant brick house was actually moved and now sits on a golf course in upscale Winter Park. 

Casa Feliz

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I arrived just as Lisa and her family pulled up. After the traditional family photos, I had just a few minutes of daylight left to take some photographs of Lisa and Ryan by themselves.    

Lisa and Ryan at Casa Feliz

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Then I was in photojournalist mode. I am most comfortable here. Spending the early part of my career in broadcast journalism as a news videographer, I enjoy melting into the background. Being a fly on the wall. Observe and report.  

There was a moment or two during the night when I thought of Paxton. But I pushed it back. Had to. Had to focus on the task at hand. I can’t screw this up. Lisa and Ryan are relying on me to document their night. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having. This is their night. 

I did make myself laugh once. As a kid playing football in the backyard with my brother, I remember him telling me to cover my guy like “white on rice”. So I reminded myself to stick with the bride like “white on her dress”.  Afterall, the bride is the focal point of the night. To paraphrase Scott Kelby, no one cares about pictures of the uncle. 

Lisa and Ryan's wedding reception

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Most of the night was spent just roaming, looking for those special moments. Not much use for off-camera flash in these fire-and-forget scenarios. I first tried my Lumiquest Bouncer on my 580EXII flash; but I found the results too harsh. So I switched to my Sto-fen Omni Bounce with more pleasing results. There was one area of the house, a porch, that gave me great color and saturation. I was bouncing my flash off the ceiling of the overhang. Maybe it was the weathered paint, but I loved the rich colors on my LCD screen. Whenever I stepped out there, I just dialed in the same settings (ISO 500, f/4.0, 1/45th)  and I knew I’d get the same results. 

Lisa and friends

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There was dancing. 

Friends Dancing

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There was cake. 

Lisa and Ryan cutting the wedding cake

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And then I was done. As I packed up my gear I looked back at the house and I saw one more irresistible shot. The interplay of blues and greens and orange under a full moon…well see for yourself. 

Casa Feliz

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 Then I came home and cried for my dear friend Paxton. Friday, January 22nd; helluva day. 

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Published Works


Hey Guys-

 Just wanted to take a minute to share some of my recently published works. First up is the cover of the latest issue of Baldwin Park Living Magazine.

Baldwin Park Living Magazine

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 The shot shows Chris Lacey, Executive Chef at Jack’s Steakhouse in Baldwin Park, firing up a tasty dish. Baldwin Park is gearing up for the Food and Wine Festival in March to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  There are several events going on leading up to the festival. On this night, volunteers met at Jack’s for drinks and to discuss how to help sell tickets to the event. This past Thursday night, there was a “Martini Night” and fashion show (pictures may be forthcoming).

  You might remember my blog titled “Dancing with the Dudes” from last November. It was about two male championship ballroom dancers. Well, the article is in the latest issue of Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine. You can read the entire article HERE.

Article in Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine

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 More recently I wrote about a shoot I did for CFL Magazine. In the blog ,”Two Days, Two Shoots” from last month, I talked about the headshot I did for Winter Park financial advisor Hera Bakthy. Well that shot was also in the latest issue. That article is HERE (no picture in online version).

Article in Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine

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 I also wrote about the Steinway Society of Central Florida donating a piano to Stetson University Student Heidi Ordaz. You can read the full article HERE.

 Well, that’s it for now. I recently shot two events for Baldwin Park Living, including that fashion show I mentioned. Stay tuned for those pics in the next issue!

-Harry

Dancing With the Dudes


The editor of Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine contacted me about a story they’re doing on two championship ballroom dancers. Here’s the twist: they’re both men. Apparently that’s a category in the competitions.

I met Richard and Stuart at Annie Russel theatre at Rollins College in Winter Park. This link gives you an idea of what the theatre looks like. Well there were a couple of problems off the bat. First, it was pitch black save for a single light bulb on a stand with wheels (I’m sure theatre folk have a name for this light). I managed to find the control panel for the lights and that brought up two more problems. The curtain was up, which meant if I shot toward the stage from the audience the background would only show electrical boxes. Great for an industrial shoot, not so great for ballroom dancers. And shooting toward the audience wouldn’t work either because the stage lights produced too much lens flare.  So we settled for one of the ornate alcoves on either side of the stage (you can see the one on stage left in the picture in the link above).

Ballroom Dancers

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If you’re not a photographer, skip this paragraph and jump to the next. Okay, now that I have the rest of you, here’s the geek speak. The picture above was taken at ISO 500, 17mm, f/5.6 and 1/90th. The light was a Canon 580EXII camera right through an umbrella set at ETTL. This proved to be a problem for this shoot. Here’s why: on ETTL (i-TTL for Nikon shooters) the camera thought the scene was too dark. It was. And the black tuxedoes didn’t help. So the flash thinks it needs to pump out a lot or power. That means the scene is exposed correctly but the subjects’ faces are overexposed. I did set the flash to manual eventually and dialed in the power to get a nice exposure. I still had to tweak it in Lightroom 3.0.  In the picture below, I was still at ISO 500 but I changed the aperture to f/8 because I wanted more of the background in focus. I also wanted more ambient light in the back so I dialed down the shutter speed to 1/45th.

Richard and Stuart were fun to work with. They were very professional and patient as they started and stopped their moves so I could get a shot. For almost every shot, they held a pose for what seemed like an eternity while I snapped away and adjusted my camera settings. I’m sure it wasn’t comfortable but they handled it like the pros they are. At the end of the shoot, they wanted something a little more casual and fun.

Stuart and Richard

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Good luck to them both!

-Harry

Sharon and Derek’s Photoshoot


Derek Hudson is a local jazz musician. He and his wife, Sharon, collaborate on projects and have released CDs under the name “Inspired Jazz“. A few months ago, Derek asked me to take some pictures of him for his website. (you can see some of them at his site under “photos”.) That shoot resulted in one of my personal favorites:

Derek Hudson

Well, last week, Sharon asked if I could do another shoot for the cover of a CD they are about to release. Most of the pictures were just of her, others included Derek. They asked for a plain background so a graphic artist could change the background. First, I suggested a plain white seamless paper background. We were going to put it up on their garage door, but when I got to their house at around 10am, I saw the garage faced east and the sun was blasting it full force. No good for pictures. The subjects would be squinting…and hot! So I scouted around the house and chose the shady north side (photographer’s love northern light!).  I decided that I could shoot against their brown wall; I figured with some separation and a large aperture (f/2.8 to f/5.6) I could render the wall out of focus. Anyway, here is one of my favorite shots from that day. You can see the before with the wall and the after where I replaced the color with gray.

Original image with brown wall

Original image with brown wall

Same picture with a gray background

Same picture with a gray background

The gray background and empty space should make it easy to add text for the CD cover.

Image Info:

f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/250th, 28mm
580EXII Camera Left, ETTL, Diffusion Dome on