Environmental by Stefaan Conrad

This week was almost too busy to get out and shoot but early this morning I remedied that with a quick trial run with Alex on some trails behind the dorms. I wanted to see what it was like taking a few shots with my own strobes versus using natural sunlight while out on the trails. It was freezing cold and my fingers wouldn't function but I'm happy with how this first shoot went. 

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Here is the shot I worked up using a little bit of strobe power. There is a flash in the bushes on rider left with a small umbrella to soften the light and give it a little more natural feel. The sky in the background was blown out so I put in a hint of a sunrise which I haven't decided wether or not I like. We'll see how far I take this one.  

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This one is using just the early morning sunlight to bring Alex out of the background. I had him pull up off the ground just as he rode out of the shade. Having him in the air gives it a more dynamic and active feel. 

I hope to get out and shoot again this week and, of course, I'll put up what I create here next week. Enjoy! 

A Little Bit Rugged by Stefaan Conrad

Last week I had a chance to squeeze in a shoot that I think worked out to be far more successful than the week before. The location of this shoot was no more that 20 feet away from the first shoot yet the look is quite a bit more fitting, in my mind.

I utilized the giant double doors we have in the studio and set my camera up just inside the doors with a 90mm tilt-shift lens aiming out the doors. The tilt-shift lets me put my camera almost on the floor and, while keeping it horizontal, capture the whole bike in the frame. Outside in the parking lot I set up one strobe with a 6 foot umbrella soft box on a boom pole. Umbrellas have the ability to create a zone of light that softly fades out farther from the center of the light direction. I like this effect because this way I can keep the subject nicely lit but the light will softly dip out away from the subject. The boom pole allows for the light source to have a great range of location and direction. This meant I could position the giant umbrella above the bike, behind it, or next to it with ease. With this technique I made several frames with the light coming from different directions, highlighting different parts of the bike in every shot. 

Having several different frames all with distinct highlights lets me pick and choose what I like from each image in post-processing. After several hours in Photoshop and Lightroom retouching, blending, removing stands, and color toning here is the final image from this shoot. 

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Any critique from whomever makes it this far would be greatly appreciated! You can comment here on the post what you like or what you don't like. 

Thanks for reading!

First Shoot by Stefaan Conrad

After prepping for my first shoot last week I was able to get into the studio and make some images. It was a good practice session. I say practice because after looking at my frames in Lightroom I realized that what I'd come up with isn't what I'm looking for. 

Let me explain...using some imagery. 

Here is a raw, unedited shot from the studio session. 

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On a small screen or at a glance this looks like a decent place to start but when I looked closer and sized up the retouching nightmare this would be I realized I'd be better off starting with a new shoot. Here's what I mean.

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Now it's pretty easy to see the amount of clean up this would need to have a 'studio style' effect. The hours I'd spend cleaning up this image would land me with a bike on clean white-to-grey. I thought about this look and decided that's not what I want for this image. 

My new thought is that for my studio bike image, I'll still use studio lighting but in a non-studio location. This allows more room for a 'dirty' or 'grungy' scene (mountain bikes are made for the dirt...rather fitting in my mind) and definitely might lead to a more interesting image by having something for the ground and the background rather than pure white/grey.

To end this post on a more positive note, here is one of the tight angle shots that I do rather fancy (pinky fingers up). The shape of the handle bars becomes organic up close which is conflicting seeing as an aluminum bar has very few innate organic qualities. Enjoy. 

Till next week

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10,000 Hours by Stefaan Conrad

They say it takes 10,000 hours to master something...I'm nowhere near that in anything I like to do but maybe someday I'll have spent a large number of hours behind my craft. This is another project that'll get me closer.

I've decided on a printed image presentation. I want to pursue a product photography angle on a mountain bike in two different environments. My concept goes as follows: two large prints (one each from studio and environmental scene outdoors) and with each large print, three small accent prints showing tight angle shots relating to each environment shown in the large print. Of course this is subject to change at any time but that is my current direction.

I made a few frames to document the progress of my project board so I could share on my blog what my workspace looks like. Here it is...my desk...aka my new living space. 

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Along with collecting some inspiration on my board I've started to prep for my first studio shoot. I plan to use my own bike for this shoot just to familiarize myself with the way light plays on the geometry and assembly of a bike. I spent a chunk of time cleaning my bike, as it was literally caked with mud from my ride last week, and I documented the process so I'll have a record of the steps but also to share some visual activity here on my blog. 

PRESENTATION!!! by Stefaan Conrad

Greetings again, blog-sphere! Or blog-iverse? Maybe blog-world works better. 

Progress update on my Junior Thesis is as follows: NONE!

That's not completely fair, though. I have spent many a moment deep in thought pondering the direction of my creative efforts this quarter. However, if all I do is think, then I won't really have much to show for myself. I haven't started sketching, mood boarding, scrap collecting, or shoot planning but that will surely happen...soon...ish. 

I guess the best way to show what progress I've made in my pensive moments is to share what I am hung up on: presentation. I know presentation is typically THE LAST thing you focus on in a creative project but I've reached a state of limbo in which I don't know how I want to present so I don't know how to shoot. In my mind, the strongest project is going to be created from the ground up with the presentation as the focus. Sure, I can shoot a series and then worry about that later but the cohesive value and overall impact will feel so much stronger if presentation is the emphasis. 

Currently some presentation ideas I've been mulling about are as follows: a 'zine (baby magazine, smaller than a typical mag with fewer pages), a printed series (potentially two large images with several tight angle shots complementing each large print), or maybe an online gallery here on my portfolio. Honestly I'm very open to any ideas...as I'm clearly a little stuck. That being said...

Please feel free to suggest anything you like!*

*No need to know content to suggest, whatever you imagine could be helpful to me.

Now, if you've made it this far through my post, I'll share what I did work on this week. I am working on some product work for a friend. This project is still in progress so I'll share some more as it comes to fruition shortly but here is a wee teaser of what I spent several days on this week. Enjoy!

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And we back by Stefaan Conrad

I haven't blogged in over 9 months. 

RIP...

However, Ill be back with a weekly post from now until the end of the school year. Not entirely out of my own will, rather due to my need to meet class requirements. Needless to say I am thankful for the nudge I've been given from Junior Studio 1 to document my processes. I hope to take this aspect as far as I can and use this journal as a platform through which to share that process.

The Process

For the next two quarters I'll be working on two separate photography projects, one each quarter. The idea is to go through a baby version of what next years senior thesis will be like. Idea generation, inspiration collection, documentation, production, post-production, and presentation. 

I hope to use these quarters as stepping stones for my thesis idea by sticking with projects that are in a similar genre. Right now, I'm thinking that I'll spend this quarter producing a series of images through a product photography perspective on mountain biking; both studio and field shots from close ups to wide frames. 

Stay tuned for updates to ideas and initial stages of thesis development.

 

Here's a picture from my trip to Hawaii. Just for fun. This is a photography blog after all. 

Cliff dive scouting

Cliff dive scouting

Winter Quarter by Stefaan Conrad

The past three months have been a whirlwind of trips and excursions. Not even three weeks had passed since the holiday break and my friends and I were off across the Mediterranean to Milan for a birthday weekend. Five of us from Spain met up with two from France and one from Italy for a weekend of cooking and gelato.

I came home from that trip and was browsing my email inbox and saw an alert from Student Universe, a flight search engine that offers student discounts, saying that "today (January 30) was the last day to enter" some competition in which the winner would receive $1500 towards their travels and any student abroad could qualify. I whipped up a video submission in less than an hour and turned it in hours before the deadline. Long story short I won the competition and was selected to become Student Universe Snap Chat ambassador for the rest of my time abroad. Since then I have been putting that prize to good use and taking pictures and videos in the name of Student Universe. 

Two weeks later I was back in Italy for a visit to my sister in Florence. I got to spend a few days with her in her city and doing the things she does on an average Tuscan day. 

One day of school bridged the gap between my trip to Florence and our school tour to Barcelona. I had been to Barca before but I had no qualms with returning as it is one of my favorite cities here in Europe. We spent the week exploring Las Ramblas, El Barrio Gotico, and even had a day trip to Girona which looked like a mini version of Florence with a dirty river and colorful houses, only difference was the lack of basic tourists which I suppose we made up for in some way.

A rather spontaneous trip was planned the next weekend to a small coastal town called Xabía. We rented a car and an AirBNB and spent the weekend driving tight roads down to precious little coves and beaches that seemed to be hidden away from the rest of the world.

Three weeks after my visit to Emily in Italy it was time to go see Reuben, my brother, and Nephta, my other brother-ish, in France where they study. We saw some of Geneva for an afternoon and the next day climbed the Saleve, a cliff face of a mountain, in rather unfavorable conditions. The wind was so incredibly strong and the last 100 meters of elevation brought us to temperatures below freezing and the small drips of rain turned to snow. Needless to say our thin jackets were soaked and our shorts-clad legs were frozen stumps from knee down. The next morning we woke to see that a solid layer of snow had accumulated on the cliffs where we had just been scrambling the day before. 

The following weekend I joined the local highschool on a trip to the Pyrenees outside of Barcelona for a ski week. 12 of us college students had three days of bliss with three days of pure blue sky following a storm the night before we arrived. The whole three days there were little powder stashes to be found and us Americans pushed the limits of skiable terrain that Boi Taull had to offer, finding off-piste lines through rocks and gullies in seek some fresh snow.

Ski trip left us with one day to take our final exams from winter quarter before our first spring break took off. This break was for Fallas, a Valencian festival which compares to absolutely nothing I've ever experienced. How an entire region of a country can party that hard for that long is beyond me. Take my word for it; absolutely wild!

The next weekend I took off to Tenerife, a Spanish Island that is part of the Canaries off of the African Coast. We spent two days on the beach, tanning and surfing what little waves there were. 

Another week of school followed before my next trip took me, first, back to Italy to a small town called Trieste before I took a bus down the start of the Dalmatian coast to a small Croatian town called Rovinj. Between the coastal views of the town and the national park just a short walk down the coast, this was probably the most beautiful place I can remember visiting. The breathtaking tranquility in the crystal clear waters and the tiny streets filled with boutiques and local restaurants were so unique.

Later that week we hit a deadline that every student had been stressing over since late fall quarter: DELE Day. April 7 was the scheduled test day on which we were tested on our writing, listening, and speaking abilities in the Spanish language. Fortunately our teachers had prepared us well and the majority felt that the test was easier than expected.

Easter weekend came a week later but due to incredibly high flight prices I decided to go with a group just a few hours south of Valencia to another coastal city called Alicante. We spent the weekend cooking, tanning, playing games, and we even climbed the castle for a gorgeous sunset above the city. 

That brings me to today, April 17. Summary of the past three months; 14 weeks, 10 destinations, 10 flights, 6 buses, and innumerable experiences. I have 51 days until I arrive back home. Between now and then I will have seen Toledo, Segovia, Madrid, Kings Day in Amsterdam, Peñiscola, and Porto. The last hoorah of this year is going to be a week spent in a camper van driving the ring road of Iceland with 4 other adventurers. Yikes...6 days later I'll leave home for another summer in central Oregon.

La juventud es como una ola, si no te subes, la pasará. 

 

 

 

One Month on the Run by Stefaan Conrad

One month of travel is both incredible and exhausting at the same time. In 4 weeks I passed through 9 countries, twice as many christmas markets, and probably that many light shows. I had my first chimney cake and goulash in Budapest, found the most delicious tomato soup in Bratislava, felt the legacy of the Beatles in Prague, witnessed my childhood hero and favorite futbol team play in Munich, met up with Nephta in Geneva, experienced the pure majesty of the Alps in Les Menuires, fell in love with my new favorite city in Utrecht, got blown up by wild fireworks in Amsterdam, ran into the North Sea with hundreds of other orange clad dutchmen in Zandvoort, and ate as many Belgian waffles and chocolate as possible in Brussels. 

This Christmas season has been and unforgettable adventure with some outstanding friends and family. 

England by Stefaan Conrad

Castle fever, coffee fanaticism, and concert fandom; three ways to attempt to put words to this rather indescribable week in the UK. Our rental car took us the 1200 miles from the midwest of England, across Scotland, and all the way south to London along the way lending us views of 14 castles, seven distinctly different cities, five inches of snow, three rather extreme Christmas season parties, two concerts, a few farm shops, and some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. Rough weather made it difficult to get quality images of all our experiences but here are a few of the best!

Marruecos by Stefaan Conrad

Viví en África durante los primeros años de mi vida. Después de dejarla no había vuelto desde 2001. Yo sé que Marruecos es muy diferente de Madagascar pero esta era la primera vez que volvía a África. Fuimos juntos en barco desde Tarifa hasta Tánger. Aquí fuimos por la playa para montar en camellos y después regresamos a la ciudad para comer algunas cosas marroquíes y pasear por las calles pequeñas donde había muchos vendedores. Compramos muchas cosas baratas y vimos mucha gente muy diferente de a los españoles. Bebimos té de menta marroquí que estaba buenísimo. En general fue una gran gira a Marruecos.

 

Marbella y Gibraltar by Stefaan Conrad

Después de Granada, fuimos a Marbella durante, más o menos, tres horas para comer y pasear por la playa. Marbella es la ciudad más turística de toda España. El clima era perfecto para estar en la playa. Entones visitamos Gibraltar. Es una pequeña parte de Inglaterra que está en el sur de España. Paseamos por la frontera y cruzamos la pista de aterrizaje a pie y entramos en la ciudad. Montamos en teleférico hasta arriba donde viven los monos. Nos sacamos muchas fotos con los monos antes de regresar al autobús. Fue un gran día de turismo en dos lugares muy divertidos. 

Granada by Stefaan Conrad

La semana pasada fuimos de gira a Andalucía, en el sur de España. La primera ciudad que visitamos fue Granada. Es una ciudad muy bonita con un monumento muy interesante e importante de la cultura de España que se llama La Alhambra. Muchas de estas fotos las saqué por los jardines del palacio donde hay árboles que tienen forma de paredes. El palacio tiene una gran influencia de los moros (árabes), quienes vivieron aquí, en el sur de España, hace muchos años. También tiene algunos lugares muy importantes como el cuarto donde Cristóbal Colón se encontró a la Reina Isabella durante su viaje desde España hasta América. Espero que pueda añadir más fotos mañana. 

Rediscovery by Stefaan Conrad

I only brought my 50mm 1.8 with me to Europe because I thought a small lens could be nice on occasion (drastically smaller than my 16-35 and 100mm macro alternatives). I used it for the first time in a long time last week on a trip to the beach and I rediscovered the beauty that it held within. Using it to make intimate, monochromatic portraits of those with whom I spend my time with has been relaxing and eye opening. 

Flam by Stefaan Conrad

Never have I ever biked up a hill like I did today. The flat ride along the fjord form Flam to Aurland wasn't difficult but as we left Aurland the incline was steady and steep! In 8 km we climbed 650m on a single lane road that switched back and forth numerous times before bringing us to the Stegastien viewpoint, a large walkway built straight out of the cliff with a glass pane at the end so as the walkway slopes off, viewers can look almost straight down on to Aurland. The sheer size and majesty of the fjord walls were a wonder to take in at every angle. The cloud cover today made for a dramatic experience but also kept us cool on our ride up. What took us 80 minutes to do going up took 9 minutes going down. Talk about adrenaline...

Norway by Stefaan Conrad

Part of the experience of our adventure through the nordic countries are the train rides. Today especially I saw some of the best views and scenery I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. We took the train from Oslo to Myrdal and from there Emily opted to take the train to Flam while Reuben and I made the impulse decision to ride the 21 km (870 vertical meters) on rented mountain bikes. Wow...that is all. Enjoy this glimpse of Norway that isn't Oslo. 

Oslo by Stefaan Conrad

Due to dodgy internet at my dodgy hostel I've taken to accessing wifi at the local McDonalds down the street! We couldn't have asked for a better weather day here in Oslo. We took an impromptu swim in the fjord in our skivvies before falling asleep in the sun for a nice nap.  

Searching for Zlatan by Stefaan Conrad

*Disclaimer; We're not actually looking for famous people, but if I would happen to bump into this Swedish giant I would most definitely be elated.*

We arrived in Gothenburg mid afternoon and in just the few hours of evening that we have been here we've walked, biked, and climbed our legs off. Here are a few shots from this evening. Looking forward to seeing so much more of this city tomorrow. 

Copenhagen by Stefaan Conrad

I can hardly even begin to describe the incredible day this city has give us. From countless coffee shops and beautiful botanical gardens to colorful canal buildings and the greatest and most happening food cart collection I've ever experienced, Copenhagen has proven itself to be unlike any other city on earth.