El Dave Photography

A photographer and his toys. Updated weekly.

Happy Holidays! (0)

6:51 AM by , under

Happy holidays from El Dave Photography! I hope this year has been great for you all and that 2011 will be even better.

Christmas Card - 2010

As for us, we're taking our end of year break and will resume posting the 2nd week of January.

Be good,
-Dave



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Riddle of the Sphinx (0)

7:27 AM by , under

Inspired by this week's Macro Monday theme of "In the Dark", I was reminded of the riddle of the Sphinx. "What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?" By way of interpretation, I wanted to add what man looks like... In the Dark.

Rimshot.

In the Dark

Be good,
-Dave

You look so hard and you never find nothin'



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On the Workbench 1

7:30 AM by , under

Since the desktop is down for a bit, I thought it would be fun to share what I've been working on. Sort of a progress report.

Remember when I mentioned working with Hirst Arts plaster molds? I'd been having trouble painting them consistently, but after a quick trip to Games Plus, I tried Vallejo's Weathering Pigments and I stand before you a changed man. Holy moley is that stuff amazing!

What started as a mass of plain, whiteish grey plaster bricks was transformed. I primed the bricks with black gesso and covered that with a very heavy wash of off-white. When that was dry, it was time to break out the weathering powders. I brushed it on very heavily, massaging it into all the nooks and crannies. When I had it looking just how I wanted, I took my spritzer bottle of rubbing alcohol (the fixative for the pigments) and gave it a once over.

Seriously guys, you have to try this stuff out.

Hirst Arts: SciFi Floor Tiles
Hirst Arts: SciFi Floor Tiles

Be good,
-Dave

when the saints become the beggars
and they live down among the fray



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Tech Support Ninja 1

7:05 AM by , under

So the computer problems I mentioned in my last post turned out to be a little more complicated than just a bad hard drive. I put in a call to tech support and when the technician arrived, he announced that it was most likely a motherboard problem. I could fix it, but I built the PC over 5 years ago and I would need to buy all new internal components (it still used IDE hard drives, so you know...) or I can save up a little cash and buy a modern computer.

Either way, this machine needed to be put down.

Tech Support Ninja

"Do it."

Be good,
-Dave

there's no one here to tell you about the depth of the water
or the trouble that you're in



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Iron Mans 1

7:27 AM by , under

This week I wanted to take a little break from the usual format and just take a short series without a narrative and see how it turned out.

Who better to use than Iron Man?

Mk 1
Iron Man

Mk 2
Iron Man2

Mk 3/4
Iron Man3

Mk 5
Iron Man4

Mk 6
Iron Man5

Overall I'm very happy with the set. Straight out of the camera, with only the lights added in Photoshop. The one thing I would go back and do differently would be the glowing lights. I don't think I did a super great job on them (some of the effects are pretty jarring) and would like to go back and repost the originals.

However, when I tried booting up my desktop this morning I was greeted with a loud, rhythmic clicking indicative of hard drive failure.

Dang it.

Be good,
-Dave

my eyes are alive in this place



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Halo Reach: Grunt Ultra (3)

7:05 AM by , under

Filed under: Things I Never Considered.

You guys have played Halo, right? Running through the first stages, shooting and exploding Grunts with wild abandon only to get bored and start trying to smash them with the butt of your rifle. Pretty fun, yeah?

Have you ever stopped to think about how the Grunt feels? Me neither. Well, not until Grunt Ultra shuffled into the studio. Two regular grunts "secured" the door and the lot of them swept in, guns drawn. Because of a previous incident, firearms aren't allowed in the studio. My assistant, Reflector, told them that they would have to put their weapons away or leave. We don't want any trouble.

"Trouble?!" And then they panicked. Limbs flailing, plasma going everywhere, it was a mess.

Grunt Ultra sighed and slumped in his armor, shaking his head. "Every time! Every time!" He whipped around at Reflector, "Listen camera guy, I need help-"
I interrupted, "Actually, I'm the photographer. Reflector is my assistant."
Ultra looked at Reflector, then at me, then back to Reflector. "Um, I think not. He is clearly the camera. Now, Mr. Camera," another big sigh, "I've got... problems. It's the Brutes, you see. They think because they're big they can do what they want and they can just hit us all the time and-"

I'll spare you the entire story. Cliff's Notes version: Years of bullying by the Brutes has left the poor Grunts with something of a self-esteem problem, to the point of them developing phobias en masse. They collect them like baseball cards. This little Ultra, hoping for a confidence boost wanted a couple shots to hang around his bunk.

Let's see how this goes...

Dramatic lighting!
Halo Reach: Grunt Ultra

Turn to your left so I can get a shot of that cool backpack. What's in that thing, anyway?
"I need Methane to breathe!"
Grunt2

Oooook. Don't think about cow farts. What's your favorite map, Ultra?
Ripping his helmet off in what I assume was enthusiasm (and not cow farts), "I love Blood Gultch!"
Grunt3

Alright, big guy, we're almost done here. Gimme a roar!
There went the gas mask, "RAAAAAAAR"
Grunt4

Reflector burst in holding a Brute Spiker handgun. "Hey Dave, check it out! I'm a Brute!"
Grunt Ultra, his bravery completely forgotten, screamed and ran.
Grunt5

Reflector?
"Yeah Dave?"
...nevermind.

Be good,
-Dave

oh, you can take a penny
you can put one upon each eye



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New Studio Space: First Shots (3)

7:09 AM by , under

Last weekend was all about getting the new space finished. It started with casting a huge number of Hirst Arts plaster blocks. I'm pretty sure I'll be finding plaster dust on everything I own for the next few years...

The hardest part was trying to decide how to paint them. I tried sponge painting, priming and then basecoating, washes; you name it, I probably tried it. In frustration, I put the painting on hold for a while, which led to me setting up the lights and reflectors and taking a portrait of Jorge-052 from Halo: Reach.

Jorge-052
(click image for larger view)

Right. Yeah, I'm very happy with how that turned out! The new studio really sings and I think this first shot is a good example. Did I mention that this is straight out of the camera? Because, yeah.

Going back to the plaster blocks, I remembered the can of metallic spraypaint that I bought specifically for the blocks and went to work spraying. 20 minutes and some superglue later, I ended up with this:

Untitled-5
(click image for larger view)

To give a better idea of what the set looks like, here's a full view of my little table:

Desk
(click image for larger view)

What do you think?

Be good,
-Dave

she's got a bottle and a paper
so she can forget her name



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Under Construction 1

6:58 AM by , under

WARNING: You must wear a hard hat for this blog post.

Here's a little behind the scenes look at one of the sets I'm working on for upcoming shoots. One of my goals has been to really focus on building a new and improved studio space where I can have elaborate sets and experiment with new techniques. To that end, I've started ordering plaster molds from Hirst Arts. The first one to come in was mold #301 "Starship Wall Mold" and I couldn't be more pleased with it!

Initial pre-mold prep:


I'm soaking the mold in a solution of tap water and Jet Dry rinse agent to decrease the surface tension. This lets the plaster flow down into the cracks and crevices, giving you a better finished piece.

The fun bit:


The first time I poured the plaster, I was way too high up and plaster splashed everywhere. Make sure you do this in a clean area (more clean than my desk). You don't want to be finding dried plaster months from now!

Scrape smooth:


Using my scraper, I wipe the excess away. This is the part I like the least, to be honest. The container says the plaster sets in 20-30 minutes, but my first run resulted in soft, easily broken bricks that I had a difficult time removing from the mold. I've found that giving it a full hour is perfect.

Pop out the pieces:


He he he! Look at the pieces!

Test assembly:


Each piece is flat and smooth, so they're easy to assemble in as many different ways as you can imagine. I just stacked these pieces into an impromptu wall section to see how they look. As you can see, the detail is great! I'm really very impressed with how the pieces turned out.

Let's put it all together now:


What do you think? Are you as impressed with these blocks as I am?
I can't wait to see how they look painted!

Be good,
-Dave

it came across the land
like the spanish influenza



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Pardon our Dust (0)

7:02 AM by , under ,

Halo Reach: Emile

Apologies for the short post, but with summer coming to a close, it won't be long before access to the outdoor studios will be limited.

With that in mind, work has begun on some new indoor studio space. New backdrops are under construction, lighting rigs are getting hauled in and some promising new clients have signed on for shoots.

Halo Reach's Emile is just a teaser of bigger and better things.

Please pardon our dust.

Be good,
-Dave

I'll take my chances on the land
I'm not doin' time



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Predator (2)

7:03 AM by , under ,

Every summer, when it gets so hot that you just can't stand it, these guys show up. Not only do you have to contend with the heat and humidity, you have to constantly check for laser sights, wrist blades and throwing discs.

And man are they jerks.

Their English is really bad, so they tend to work with an interpreter. This poor guy tried holding the door open for the Predator, only to be picked up and shoved through the studio entrance. I guess it was afraid of booby traps or something.

"Mister, ah, Dave? My client is interested in having some shots taken. You know, to sign at conventions."

To sign at conventions, the Predator clicked. It sounded like it was mocking him.

As I gathered up my gear, I asked if Reflector if he was ready. "NOPE." He hasn't been the same since the Bionic Commando shoot went south...

We started off slow, with just a couple quick snaps to get him used to the camera.

Predator

Apparently, that was the wrong thing to do, because those arm swords started swinging a little close to my face.

Predator

"Hey, that's a cool mask" I said and moved in for a close-up. "Uhhhh, Dave? I, um, I don't think you should be doing th-" Click.

Predator

And then it started yelling.
Predator

"The, ah, Predator would like to negotiate on your price."

Predator

Did I mention that Predators are jerks?

Be good,
-Dave
(Today's post inspired by Edward Lee's excellent Predator pic)

your heart is in my pocket
and there's a lie inside my hand



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Monev the Gale (2)

7:00 AM by , under

Monev the Gale

I love portfolio work for celebrities. Even pseudo-celebrities. The hurried phone calls from their agents, run ragged trying to meet their demands. The awed hush that comes over the studio when they finally arrive.

Or not.

Monev the Gale fell out of the public eye several years ago. I mean, let's face it, Trigun didn't end well for the guy. Sure, he got a cool action figure made and made an appearance in the anime, but publicity is all about the now. So when he came into the studio, I'll be honest, I was surprised.

"Dave, you gotta help me. My career has completely tanked and I can't get anyone to return my phonecalls. I need some shots for my portfolio." He kept looking at the floor while we spoke. A real shame to see a guy broken like that.

Monev2

Stepping over to the outdoor studio, he seemed to perk up a bit. A little awkward at first, but he fell into his groove pretty quickly.

Monev1

Fortunately, we only had a single incident. Reflector sometimes forgets that he isn't the boss...

Monev-Outtake

We needed one more; something for him to sign at events. This one had to be a stinger!

Monev4

BAM!

Be good,
-Dave

Even though you think
I might just set you free



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Godzilla (2)

6:56 AM by , under ,

Godzilla (by ElDave)

Godzilla (ゴジラ, Gojira) is a fictional Japanese dinosaur, first appearing in Ishiro Honda's 1954 film Gojira. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Company Ltd. The monster (daikaijū) has appeared in numerous other media including video games, novels, comic books, television series, and an American remake. An American reboot is currently in the works by Legendary Pictures.

With the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the Japanese conscious, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear explosions and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. As the film series expanded, the stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla in the role of a hero, while later movies returned to depicting the character as a destructive monster.

(Courtesy: Wikipedia)

One of the most interesting parts of being a photographer is the variety of subjects. I really don't know what I'm going to be working with from one week to the next. So you can imagine my surprise when my able assistant came in with this week's assignment.

What am I supposed to do with Godzilla?! Ok, ok. Deep breath. You are a professional. You can do this. Try not to think of Hank Azaria...

Let's start with a profile shot. That's always good.

Godzilla2 (by ElDave)

There, see? You can totally do this. How about a vintage-y, black and white look? Something dignified, but still showing off his age.

Godzilla1 (by ElDave)

Good. This is easy. Textbook portraitu- GIGAN OUT OF NOWHERE.

Godzilla4 (by ElDave)

If they start fighting, I'm-

Godzilla5 (by ElDave)

-out of here!

Be good,
-Dave

How do you know you?



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Wall-E (0)

7:02 AM by , under

Wall-E (by ElDave)

WALL-E, promoted with an interpunct as WALL•E, is a 2008 computer-animated science fiction film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and directed by Andrew Stanton. The story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up a waste-covered Earth far in the future. He eventually falls in love with another robot named EVE, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity.

(Courtesy: Wikipedia)

You may have noticed some similarities between the last few posts, and that is due to my amazing outdoor studio. I'm fortunate enough to have this great little secluded stream within walking distance.

WallE3 (by ElDave)

I've taken several figures down there, and I'm rarely disappointed by the results. The variety of landscapes offers a tremendous variety of potential shots, even though I mostly just dunk them in the water.

WallE1 (by ElDave)

It's even shady enough to bring the Starflex out to play.

WallE5 (by ElDave)

Ok, I think that's enough for this week. Say bye, Wall-E!

WallE4 (by ElDave)

Be good,
-Dave

Some of us live life
Like we didn't know it exists



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Variable Threat Response Battle Suit (by ElDave)

The original "Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, Mark I" is a solar charged carbon-composite-based steel mesh armor which provided its user with superhuman-level strength and durability as well as utilizing laser guided munitions. Stark gave Rhodes a modified version of the armor, Mark II Model JRXL-1000, created just for him with the inclusion of repulsors in each palm of the armor's gauntlets and a multifunctional unibeam projector in the chest. The armor could be modified in the field with various modular weapons and has an improved tactical computer system with automatic targeting. Additional weapons included pulse bolt generators, retractable shoulder minigun, variable-configured double-barrel cannons on each gauntlet, gauntlet mounted flamethrower, plasma blade on the left gauntlet, missile box launcher, micro-rocket launcher, particle beam discharger, and an electromagnetic pulse generator in the unibeam projector that could shut down any electronic device in a 50 mile radius. The battlesuit also includes a photon emitter that created a force shield, forcefield-based stealth technology, boot-jet propulsion, and a self-contained breathing system.

The second version of the armor, reconfigured by Stark, contained upgraded improvements such as heat seeking missile launchers, pulse cannon, and retractable weapon pods located on its back. Rhodes utilized different types of specialty ammunition as well as non-lethal weapons such as rubber bullets. Though Rhodes lost the original armor, he still possessed a functional prototype helmet and gauntlet.
(Courtesy: Wikipedia)

War Machine 2 (by ElDave)

This is my last post about Iron Man 2. Promise.

War Machine 3 (by ElDave)

One of my favorite scenes is when Justin Hammer is making his big presentation and showing off his drone armors for the first time. I got goosebumps when he announced the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit.

War Machine 4 (by ElDave)

Out of all the armor designs that have come from the Iron Man films, War Machine has made the largest impact on me. I find myself playing with the movie War Machine WAY more than the movie Iron Man...

War Machine 5 (by ElDave)

Be good,
-Dave

I have changed the world in front of me
One against all; I'm starving this world



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