Jenny light painting with steel wool
Last week my friend Jenny and I were finally able to get together and play with some steel wool. We had been talking about exploring this popular genre of photography for a while now. Since none of us had tried it before, the idea was to get familiar with the nuances and work on technique before we tackle our more ambitious creative ideas. It turned out to be some of the easiest fun I’ve had with photography in a while.
Basic light painting supplies
After some quick googling, I found out it was pretty simple to put together. There are of course way more elaborate ways of doing this but I very much prefer the path of least resistance. This means less time tinkering, and more time practicing photography. All you really need is some steel wool, a wire whisk, some steel wire/cable and a lighter. It turns out I already had all I needed laying around the house.
Our first try
Steel wool burns very fast. We did almost two dozen takes. Each take lasted mere seconds but were a veritable light show, even more so on camera as you can see. I set the Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod. My Model, Jenny, held a candle in front of her face while standing on a predetermined spot. This helped me acquire focus on her in live view. I then switched to Manual Focus, and set my shutter to about 5 seconds. This covered most of the take from start to finish. I would light the wool for her, jump out of the frame and trigger the shutter, using and infra red remote control. We got the hang of things pretty quickly. We are definitely ready for our more creative ideas. I can’t wait!
Molten steel embers/sparks can be very very hot. Although they are generally too small to be of any concern, some larger globs/chunks/drops will break loose and continue burning where ever they land. I kept a water hose close by just in case I had to put one out. I also keep several canisters of fire extinguishers on hand at all times. You cannot be too careful. Please allow ample space and nothing flammable around you.
Bixby Creek Bridge, Big Sur, California
I know I have gone missing for a while now, at least on my blog. I have fallen woefully behind and have a ton of catching up to do. However this is all for good reason. Pretty much every spare moment I’ve had, I have been doing photography or taking trips and photo outings. So there’s lots of good photography to share. You can also follow my on Instagram (@bryanallo) for a more up to date musings.
I spent last weekend in Monterey. I made the trip for various reasons which also included the Monterey Grand Prix races and a few other attractions. I was initially going to cover the races Saturday and explore the coast on Sunday, but when I realized the final heat race was on Sunday, I decided to skip the qualification races and spend Saturday exploring the coast. Due to the limited amount of time and only one sunset to spare, I had to come up with a shortlist of locations within 30 minutes of Monterey.
After a few stops, I concluded Bixby Bridge was to be my final stop. It did not disappoint. This is what beautiful country looks like. The California, most Californians don’t know about. Most of the people I ran into out there were from around the world or out of state at best. I highly recommend this quick stop as you make your way along the Pacific Coast Highway. It is only 20-30 minutes south of Monterey CA.
I arrived about 30 minutes before sunset. My objective was to quickly scout the area for a good clean shot – a shot good enough to make it to Limited Edition fine art canvas print. Above is a panorama from the west/sunset facing side. Below is another perspective which ended up being my perspective of choice for my final shot. I scouted the area with the Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens. Once I settled on my shot, I switched bodies to the 50 Megapixel Canon 5DsR body. I used a tripod, ND8 filter and then took my time as magic hour progressed. Those shots will take a while to process so I will have to post them later.
Bixby Bridge at Sunset
Bixby Bridge at Magic Hour
Big Sur coast at Sunset
The moment when Shelby’s beautiful hair went SNIP!!!
I keep a relatively small circle of creative folks around me. What I like most about them is they are just as passionate about what they do, be it for fun or profession. Whenever we get together, we are constantly coming up with ideas for our next creative project. It seems a month cannot go by without us getting ourselves into another project.
This particular project started as a very loose suggestion after our last photo shoot with Shelby. From the first time I met her I always thought she would look amazing with a shot A-line haircut, but that would be a very tough proposition. If you haven’t met Shelby, she’s a towering 6 feet tall, athletic and has (until this past week) long deep red hair down her back. She most definitely has a physically commanding presence. At the end of our previous shoot she expressed interest in cutting her hair so I began the gradual process of pitching my idea/vision to her.
What I like most about Shelby as a model, is she is very versatile, willing to push her boundaries and explore the unknown. I feel so many beautiful women often hide behind their hair and never truly explore their beauty in all it’s complexity and dimensions. Strong, sculpted shoulders and graceful necklines are almost always more desirable than the best hairdo. Long hair also conceals the back can ultimately curves that so critically define the female form. We settled on the Allure Salon and Spa downtown and were thrilled to have the owner Missy O’Daniel work on Shelby. Makeup was done by Toni Cisneros. Thank you to all the staff at Allure Salon and Spa for hosting us.
Thank you Shelby for taking a chance on my crazy idea. It was my pleasure to be a part of your first haircut and makeover of sorts. Here’s to many more creative, fun projects.
Prepping for her haircut
Missu getting to work.
Then the wash.
A little more cutting
The new look is taking shape
A little touch up
Makeup with Toni
All done and ready to shoot!
Antwerpen-Centraal railway station platforms
Going through the archives today and found this little gem from my trip to Europe. I was traveling with my superstar sister Andy Allo one of her European Tours. We were taking the Eurail to Amsterdam from Paris via Antwerpen-Centraal railway station Antwerp, Belgium. I posted before about her show in Amsterdam here: Andy Allo live acoustic at Bitterzoet in Amsterdam.
The view opposite the platforms.
As we were switching trains, we emerged from the 3 levels below ground to reveal this amazing and impressive architecture. I really love how these European cities invest so much in their infrastructure, take pride in and maintain it so well. It was a welcomed sight through an otherwise exhausting journey.
Antwerp, is a city in Belgium which is the capital of Antwerp province. With a population of 510,610, it is the most populous city in Flanders. Its metropolitan area houses around 1,200,000 people. Antwerp is on the River Scheldt, linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde estuary. The Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world, ranking third in Europe and within the top 20 globally. [WikiPedia]
I was running and gunning from one platform to another to catch our connecting train when I took these shots. I was using my Canon 5D mark III with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Each panoramic is composed of three HDR frames, themselves a composite of three bracket shots. The images were stitched with PTGui. I would very much like to explore the city of Antwerp, it’s history and architecture someday.
Shelby Mustang at the Sacramento International Auto Show
The best time to catch this show is on it’s opening day – today. It wasn’t anywhere as packed at it will be this weekend. For me this meant I could walk the showroom floor fairly leisurely, take my time to check out the coming year’s models and chat with the various representatives about their new models.
Hyundai had a very nice, well put together display and some compelling products as always.
I felt the overall energy or theme (if there was one) this year was one more of refinements, enhancements, and low key releases of new tech. Most new models seemed to be more evolutionary than revolutionary. There’s nothing wrong about that. I think it’s a good thing actually. What this meant was that almost every automaker had a better, improved product offering overall. I was hard pressed to find a vehicle with poor build, fit or finish. The designs all held their own. Quality was decent to very high throughout. I couldn’t help but think to myself “how traditional mainstream automakers have come a long way”.
Some of the latest alternative fuel vehicles on display included the Toyota FCV – a car I often wonder what it really accomplishes, considering Hydrogen is still a very expensive fuel, cumbersome to store, FCV power trains are about as complicated as internal combustion power trains but most mind boggling of all, the fact that most Hydrogen is derived yet again from fossil fuels. “At present, 95 percent of America’s hydrogen is produced from natural gas. Through a process called steam methane reformation, high temperature and pressure break the hydrocarbon into hydrogen and carbon oxides — including carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.” [Popular Mechanics]. So it really doesn’t address the bigger problem. It will be interesting to see if this goes anywhere or it ends up being just another road show for the automotive industry lobby in the capital, not unlike the rest of the vehicles at the California Fuel Cell Partnership over the last couple decades.
Cadillac ELR EV caught my eye. Great design and style. This is a vehicle I will have to research further. Overall Cadillac put on a good showing as always. There were a few Teslas on display as well. Almost every major automaker had some kind of Hybrid on display. The Polaris Slingshot was also a very interesting piece. I would like to test drive one for sure.
Aston Martin Rapide
I also got to check out an Aston Martin Rapide for the first time. Rick the representative from Aston Martin Walnut Creek was gracious enough to let me take a closer look at this piece of exquisite art on wheels. Below are what I considered the highlights from the show. I hope you enjoy them and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Airbus A380 at Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport
I was going through my archives and found a series of panoramic shots I took while running to catch my flight back to Lost Angeles (LAX) from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). I was flying back from a whirlwind two weeks on my sister Andy Allo‘s Euro Tour. I noticed this one unobstructed view of the incredible feat of engineering that is the Airbus A380 SuperJumbo. I took a few minutes to snag some panoramic shots if this bird. I was in motion when I took this shot. Unfortunately, I did not have time to make sure I got the shot right and wait for moving subjects to come to rest or exit my frame. Upon returning, I dismissed the shots and all but discarded them because I wasn’t happy with the shots.
Fortunately I have a policy of never deleting shots like these. What I’d like to do now is go back, take a second look and consider making them available to and sharing with everyone. This Panorama, while far from perfect, would make a great desktop wallpaper, especially if you have multiple displays on your computer. Please feel free to request specific screen sizes. I will see what I can do for you.
We flew to and from Paris on one of these SuperJumbos. It is a humbling experience indeed, when you take stock of all it entails to get roughly 1.2 million pounds into the air and around the world. You can read more about my photographic exploits in Paris here.
Las Vegas Sunset Panorama via the LINQ High Roller – Canon 7D Mark II + EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Las Vegas Sunset Panorama via the LINQ High Roller – Canon 7D Mark II + EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, you must already be familiar with how over-the-top everything is. At this point I’ve been to Las Vegas more times than I can count but I still often find myself laughing in disbelief every time I walk the strip – thinking to myself “No way! They actually built this! They really did!”. Much of the Las Vegas strip is the stuff dreams and fantasies are made of. Often times it is a blatant copy of the world’s landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, New York skyline, the Seattle Needle or a modern interpretation of the Egyptian Pyramids you can actually stay in, air conditioned!
One of the latest additions is called the Las Vegas High Roller. It reminds me of the London Eye. It is definitely larger than it seams. As you get closer you begin to really appreciate it’s size and scale. Like most of the Las Vegas strip, an engineering marvel. I timed my visit right at sunset. This is the best time to visit the High Roller, however I’m pretty sure the views would be quite spectacular at all times of day. The wheel takes about 30 minutes to go full circle. It never stops, and moves just slow enough for you to jump into the pod from the platform. It’s a bit of a thrill in itself, then the breathtaking views completely take over.
I wanted to catch magic hour just as we peaked at the top of the wheel. The wheel moved just slow enough to where I was able to quickly setup my shots in rapid succession. I used the 7D Mark II for most of my key shots because it was just fast enough to capture 4-5 HDR bracket panoramic shots in rapid succession to where parallax was almost a non-issue. What a camera system. The 5D Mark III was too slow and was used for just single ultra wide angle shots. This is one of those times I really wished I had the 1Dx. None-the-less I got plenty of great, very detailed shots to work with. Below are some highlights to share the experience with you. Above are two of my favorite shots. They still need much more editing if they are to make it to limited edition print. We’ll see if I can get them up to snuff.
Walking to the High Roller
Yes I was actually there…LOL
Waiting to hop aboard
About to jump in
The Vegas tram
I love sunset colors
Here it comes!
Mr Smith, my personal security detail on this trip. What happens when you give your DSLR to a random stranger? They fumble the shot.