Archive for the ‘Photo Effects’ Category

Deal Toys

CMM cover image.-1100px-jpg

Recently, I did some photography for Carter Morse & Mathias, a boutique investment bank based in Southport, Connecticut. Part of that project was creating the image above.  (Click on the image to see it in a LARGER size.)

You may be familiar with “tombstone” ads that appear in the financial press – announcements of deals such as mergers, acquisitions and stock offerings. A “deal toy” is a Lucite block of a tombstone ad – the ones pictured here are about 5 x 7 inches. The client wanted to represent as many of the deal toys as possible, in order to project the breadth of their experience over nearly 30 years in business.


This shows how I set up the shot. I used light blue paper as the background. The camera was set fairly close to deal toys – more about that below – fitted with a very wide angle lens. The lighting was all from one “strip box”  placed over the camera – a long, skinny softbox which produced the dramatic lighting.

This all seems pretty simple, right? But it took about 2 hours to set this image up. I’d take a test shot, then see that one of the Lucites had to be moved a fraction of an inch in one direction. I’d move it, then take another test shot.

There were two interesting challenges here.

First, the deal toys were shiny, so I had to figure out how to light them in such a way that we could see their reflective nature but not hide the lettering on each deal toy with reflections from the light source. Having the strip light set up high achieved this and also provided the dramatic lighting the client desired.

Second, we wanted to feature the main deal toy in a large size and have the others taper off on each side to much smaller sizes. To achieve this, I used a very wide angle lens, set quite close (about 18 inches)  to central deal toy. It is a 12-24mm Sigma zoom lens, set here at 13mm. This is very wide, almost in the “fisheye” range, which causes a fair amount of distortion on the sides of the frame. The Lucites were bending sharply at the edges – not good! I straightened them all out in Photoshop so everything lined up vertically.


Here’s the view from behind the camera. The sturdy tripod kept the image sharp. The little gizmo on top of the camera triggered the flash.

341 Studios, a marketing and graphic design firm based in Darien, Connecticut, did the website design for Carter Morse & Mathias. To match the image to the home page of the firm’s website, 341 Studios made some further refinements to the photograph. See how the final image looks on the firm’s website at Carter Morse & Mathias.

This was a challenging but fun learning experience – I’m now ready to shoot more deal toys!

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”


Building Light for a Beauty Headshot


In the studio, it’s easy to control and manipulate the light. In this blog post, I’m going to show how I build up the light for a beauty shot, step by step. I have two Barbie dolls I use for  lighting tests – a brunette and a blonde, pictured here.  (Still hoping for good names for them – any ideas?)

Click on any of the images in this post to see them in LARGER size.

In the first shot above, I used one beauty dish, above the camera, aimed down at the model. This provides a very soft and flattering light for women. (This is normally not a lighting setup I would use for men.)


Here you can see the beauty dish above the camera, with a silk “sock” on it to further soften the light, and a black foamcore background behind the Barbie.

I liked the lighting in the first shot, but perhaps the shadows underneath the chin were too dark. So –


For this second image, I put a white foamcore board right under the frame, to bounce a bit of light back into her face. Notice how much softer the look is. Still using just one light.

Next step – the background looked too dark, so I put a small light hidden behind the Barbie, aimed back at the black background. Pretty subtle, but you can see the difference –


The background light helps to separate the figure from the background.

Then, to further soften the light even more, I put two vertical foamcoare boards on either side, just outside the visible frame. This give a very glowing look to the skin, but some detail and contrast are lost.


There were no Photoshop adjustments made to any of the images – they’re right out of the camera.

Whether I’m shooting a beauty portrait or a business headshot, the process is the same. I start with one light, gradually add lights and reflectors such as the foamcore, until I get just the right look.

Are you ready for your portrait? We can light it to get just the right look for you!

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”


iPhone Picture Quality

by Blake Robinson

October 20th, 2014    0 Comments     Add Comment
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This photo was taken on my new iPhone 6 on Sunday, in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The cameras in smartphones are getting better and better, and it’s easy to take this for granted. But I continue to marvel at the quality of the pictures that can be taken by phones.

See some of the whizzbang specs on the new iPhone here.

Please click on the picture to see it in a LARGER size. And even in the larger size, my blog provider still shrinks the size of the image (number of pixels). The actual image is much sharper and clearer than you see here.

For client work, I’ll continue to use my heavy Nikon cameras and lenses – and phones will never be able to compete with DSLR cameras. But as the old saying goes, “the best camera is the one you have with you.”  We  mostly always have our phones with us.

I liked the composition in this image – some of which was unintentional – or perhaps serendipitous. For example, I didn’t notice the blue plastic chair in the lower left, but it provides a nice contrast in scale to the tree – and a place to sit to enjoy a beautiful Fall day.

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”