Oregonian Adventure

Greetings friends! Last month we had the privilege of flying to Oregon to hang out with some of the nicest people in the world and teach at Professional Photographer's of Oregon's "Focus" conference. We took some personal days before and after the conference to find inspiration in the beautiful Northwest. Our trip began in Portland:Shortly before this trip we acquired our first iPhone and discovered Instagram (the most fun camera app ever). You'll see a lot of Instagram's scattered throughout this post. The app captures images in a variety of retro square formats that look like this:That orange Dodge Caliber was our trusty rental car that helped us tear up the coast! Shortly after landing we met up with two of our talented and fun–loving friends from college, Björn and Lia:

After thoroughly exploring Portland, we spent a day driving to the coast and exploring Oregon's beautiful terrain and weather patterns. Over the course of the day we experienced warm sunshine, fluffy snowflakes, rain, more warm sunshine and hail. It was bizarrely fantastic:

And of course no McClanahan vacation would be complete without an awkward jumping self portrait:We brought along 2 Canon 580's with our beloved Radiopopper PX's to turn Cannon Beach into a studio and had fun creating some images for the sheer joy of it:

After parting ways with Björn and Lia, we headed back to Portland for the Focus conference...

Here's a shot of our PPO class! We spent 7 hours with these guys and we can sincerely say that they were a joy to hang out with. Lots of great questions, lots of great insights and I think everybody in attendance was inspired (including us):

We want to give a huge thanks to Millers Lab and Radiopopper for donating sweet prizes to give away to these guys! It's a huge blessing to have the support of vendors that we love! We also want to give special thanks to Chea Barns, a PPO member that agreed to let us photograph her (below) as part of a live demo during our class. We photographed Chea inside using softboxes provided by Larson Enterprises (what we use in our studio) and studio equipment provided by Lisa Dillon (We love Lisa! She organized the conference and did a rockin' job)! To create the image below we composited Chea into a Portland cityscape that we photographed the night before:Once the conference was over, we headed to Mt. Hood for some snowboarding action. Along the way we came across Multnomah Falls and photographed arguably our most extreme "little people/big world" self portrait to date:

It was raining really hard and we had to take the image from a tripod without destroying our camera. We bought a poncho from the gift shop and borrowed an umbrella from the "Friends of Multnomah Falls." The camera still got pretty soaked and it was tough to get a frame with no raindrops on the lens (because the camera had to be angled up into the rain), but we got the shot. To accomplish the image, each of us was photographed separately (Dan shot Alex, Alex shot Dan). We took turns running 1/2 mile up the slippery, wet trail to get to the bridge and combined the images in Photoshop. Here's the setup:

Another noteworthy happening was Dan's new red pants from H&M (trying to pass as an Oregonian hipster). He'll probably get beat up when he tries to wear them in Iowa, but they go wonderfully with beards and strange red cars. We made it to Mt. Hood and enjoyed some of the best snowboarding we've ever had thanks to 19" of fresh powder.

We'll end this post with a few dusk images from our beach adventure with Björn and Lia. We used combination of on-camera-flash and iPhone flashlights to mess with light-painting. If we were an indie band, these would be our awkwardly abstract promo images that adorned the walls of the dorm-dwelling cool kids:

Thanks for reading! We need to go back to Oregon again to hang out with our new friends and see all the great stuff we missed. If you enjoyed this post, do us a favor and leave a comment letting us know you were here!


A few months back we had the privilege of teaching at After Dark Education in Tucson, AZ. One of Dan's classes took a rock band (girl group RGB) on location for a late night shoot with the purpose of thinking outside the box and experimenting with creative techniques and compositions to create high-impact images. Here's a look at how the images turned out:

Here's a behind the scenes look at the setup... We used Canon speedlights for our lighting, usually with gels appropriately colored to exaggerate the RGB theme:

These gals were great to work with, as was everybody that came to the class!

HOW WE DID IT: Craig Brackins Poster

Quick update for all the Cyclone Fanatics coming to the blog: Since this whole post is about photography from a technical and artistic standpoint, I wanted to share with you my personal experience working with Craig. Craig Brackins was super fun to work with. He cracked jokes and was a good sport about me making him “dunk with ferocity” over and over until I got my shot. I was seriously surprised and pleased with his humility and attitude. He may be a beast on the court, but he’s a gentleman off the court, which makes me proud to be a Cyclone fan! We recently worked with The Meyocks Group to photograph a special edition poster of Iowa State basketball star Craig Brackins as a treat for season ticket holders on Friday’s game (DEC 11) against Iowa. If you’re going to the game, grab as many copies as you can! I just got my hands on a couple copies and it looks SWEET!: Full deets on how we created the image after the jump This is one of those images that will turn the heads of ISU fans, but the average person will have no idea how much work went into it. Heck the average person wouldn’t care how much work went into it. But for photographers, this is the type of images that makes you scratch your head and want to know how the heck it was done. So photographers, this post is for you! Merry Christmas! Prior to the shoot I was given a very rough concept to work from so I could do a little pre-planning. Here’s my starting point: I knew from limited experience (I shot a BBall game at Hilton in college) that the built-in overhead lighting at Hilton is terrible (for photography) and that I would want to light the poster artificially to “idealize” it a little bit. I arrived about 30 minutes before Craig so I had a little time to find my frame and test my lighting because I knew time with Craig would be limited (it was “media day” for the BBall team and they had a ton of other shoots and interviews to do that afternoon). For starters, I put my camera on a tripod to find my angle for the photo. Here’s a straight-out-of-camera test shot: The test shot turned out like I thought it would – pretty ugly. I shot a bunch of bracketed photos on my tripod with intentions to merge them later and create an HDR Hilton (which would “pop” more and blend better with the lighting I wanted to use). Then I had a few minutes left to test my lighting. I used 2 AB800′s with extension chords graciously lent to me by some Hilton employees to create a dramatic cross light. I used a beauty dish for front fill and a strip box for highlight: I would have LOVED to have some high end Pro Foto’s or Broncolor strobes and a MKIII to just shoot this sucker at 12fps in one take, but I was limited to my alien bees and Canon 5d (both have very slow recycle times) so I had to shoot this bad boy the hard way: lighting each individual frame one at a time. When all was said and done I think it was a blessing in disguise that I had to do it the hard way because Craig ended up looking extra cool all the way through the sequence (because I had multiple images to choose from for each “Craig”).

Since I already shot my background I didn’t have to worry about blending my strobes with the ambient, I just needed to light my subject for maximum coolness (you can see there were other photographers and media people already setting up their gear in the background by this point). The blending would come later – with hours of grueling photoshop work It was crucial that I had my lighting set up before Craig arrived due to his tight schedule. When he got there the only thing I had to tweak was raising my stands a good couple feet (because he’s a good couple feet taller than my incredibly-good-looking test subject!). Here’s an out-of-camera Craig shot: I shot the whole sequence from a tripod to make the post processing easier (because our deadline was pretty tight). I had Craig go through the sequence step by step until we were happy with every part of it. Alex moved the lights in-between every frame to make sure the crispness of the light was consistent throughout. Once we were done, we cut out each piece of the sequence and layered it together in photoshop. Here’s a rough screenshot: Once all the cutting out was finished (Shout out to Andrea Dalhberg for all the help with that part!), I blended everything together with dodging/burning, contrast and sharpening (you know, all that digital enhancement nonsense that kids are using these days!) to make it really jump off the screen for the final composite: Overall I’m very happy with how it turned out. Craig’s jersey is blown out in a few areas but I wasn’t able to fix that without messing up the overall feel of the image. White jersey + dark skinned basketball superstar = blown out jersey, but I can deal with that. This project stretched me creatively and technically and I’m stoked to start cranking out some similar commercial work this winter!

We’re skipping town to shoot a wedding for some extremely cool friend of ours and won’t be able to attend the game. If you’re going, please take some cell phone pictures of the masses of people hoarding our poster and send them to us! Better yet, get your hands on some extra copies and give them to us! We would seriously love to have some (you know, to like…give to our parents to show them what we do for our “job” and reassure them that all the money they spent on our college tuition is finally starting to pay off!)