Robert Muller Photography: Blog en-us Robert Muller (Robert Muller Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:31:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:31:00 GMT Robert Muller Photography: Blog 120 80 Head shots with Natalia Last weekend I got to help out a friend named Natalia with some updated head shots. She needed pretty traditional New York style headshots for an upcoming audition, which usually means black and white, white border, actor's name on the photo, that kind of thing. We tried some different lighting approaches and even did a couple things outside, and we got a whole lot of really good photos - it was hard to pick just a few. It wasn't difficult to make her look great, of course, but what a fun morning and what a great learning experience.

I posted color versions here because I loved them, but the black and white ones came out really, really well, too. And I sure have a feel for Silver Efex Pro that I didn't have before, it's such a great, powerful, straightforward tool for converting to black and white. As with a lot of my tools, say Aperture, there are other ways to get the same result, but even though I know Photoshop inside out and backwards from using it for almost 20 years, there's something to be said for tools that let me get through 200 images quickly. (And it's great to have tools that let me get super-deep into a single image - love having the right tools for the job!)

Most of the photos were done doing use 2 speedlites, one for key and one for fill, and a small LED lightbank for either catchlights or for additional fill. (Or in a few cases, just to have enough light to focus in the dark studio room we shot in.) I got some great octobox-style umbrellas I'd picked up just for this, and they created nice, somewhat soft and even light with my flashes, and I got to use my new Phottix Strato ii wireless flash setup, very cool - I had the key light on one channel and the fill light on another so I could turn them on and off from the camera. Still kind of a hassle to manually adjust each flash while I was sorting out the light, but overall I'm very happy with the whole setup. Got to test out one of my handpainted canvas backgrounds for the first time too. My Sigma 50mm F1.4 worked well, but I ended up using my Tamron 90mm F2.8 for a lot of it for a little better working distance, I'm still working out what my next portrait lens might be. I'm super interested in Canon's 135L or even their 85 F1.8, I love primes more and more, but I'm also tempted by a fast zoom just because of the way I end up working... I'm super happy with my 2 speedlite setup for the time being too, still thinking about picking up an AlienBees or something before long for recycle time and such.

Anyway, looking forward to working with Natalia more in the future. And if you're interested in headshots or portraits of your own, let's talk!


]]> (Robert Muller Photography) Robert Muller Santa Fe actor actress editorial product photography headshots photographer photography Thu, 15 Nov 2012 18:55:43 GMT
Counter Intelligence, 11.12 I got the opportunity to shoot a couple pieces for Counter Intelligence in Santa Fe, a family business of master craftsmen who do amazing kitchen cabinetry, countertops, and fine woodworking. Very nice people and very impressive work. This shoot was a sort of trial run and we went to one of their sites to get photographs of a couple of pieces they'd created; it was the end of the day so I lost my natural light halfway through and I ended up doing some verrrry long exposures even with the lighting gear I'd brought along. It was a fun challenge and we still got some really nice results. Indoor architectural photography has its own challenges, but it was a blast and I look forward to my similar upcoming projects. 

I had 2 speedlites with umbrellas and/or softboxes and a small LED lightbank to help me even the light out, and I used my 5D on a tripod with a remote trigger cable, exposures (at 100 ISO) as long as 20 seconds once it got dark. I picked up a Canon 20-35mm lens for the project, it worked fine despite its relatively slow apertures, and the spherical distortion was easy enough to clean up. I'd like to move up to a 17-40 F4L at some point, But for now it's about as wide as I'm likely to need for my full frame camera. I still have my Sigma 10-20 for my old 40D, and even though it's officially a crop sensor lens, it does mount on my 5D and I was ready to test that out. At 10mm the vignetting makes it unuseable except as a special effect, and I can already cover the 20mm end. (I had my 40D along as a backup so the 10-20's real field of view was available if I'd needed it.) Depending on the situation I'd also love an excuse to rent one of Canon's wide tilt-shift lenses for one of these gigs, but that's another story.

If you're looking for someone to document your interior design, woodworking, or architecture projects, I'd love to talk to you!



]]> (Robert Muller Photography) Robert Muller Santa Fe architectural photography editorial product photography interior design photographer photography Sat, 10 Nov 2012 19:36:00 GMT
Sometimes you get lucky if you hang in there with landscape photography Last Friday I saw online that the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge (New Mexico, not Nevada...) was going to have its 'fall flight festival.' Everyone around here knows there's a big Festival of Cranes in the Bosque del Apache near Soccoro, and although the LVNWR is a lot smaller, the same birds have a good chance of stopping over this time of year, and November's supposed to be the start of the busy period. I called around in Santa Fe and found that Santa Fe Camera Center rented lenses, so I rented a Canon 100-400 and spontaneously hit the road to catch sunset at the refuge. (I've never gone to any of the migratory bird events, but I'd read that sunrise and sunset were the best times to catch the birds in flight.)

We got there, and the sun was about to set but there was a little light left. We headed to the big pond, and I had high hopes. When we got there and used the telescopes to scout the water, there was... almost nothing. Lots of empty nests, and eventually my wife or my daughter spotted four or five ducks. Either the birds were waiting for the big festival the next day, or it was just the wrong time of year for it. Kind of disappointing, but it was still a lovely fall dusk, so we just poked around to see what there was to see.

We drove a little farther in to McAllister Lake, where I'd been with my daughter in the spring. It wasn't obvious when we spotted it - we thought we saw birds in it, etc. - but it was totally dry. Even once I'd parked and was unloading my camera gear, it wasn't obvious from the street that it was empty; my wife and kid ran ahead and walked out to the center, I just tried to take in the sunset light and get some pictures. If I didn't see my kid's bright pink coat in the middle, it's still hard to tell that it's dry - weird... There's some white mineral powder everywhere that helps the illusion, I don't know if it's salt or phospherous or fertilizer or what, but it's kind of surreal. 

The light was almost gone, so we packed up and took the long way out of the preserve with our minds on finding dinner in Las Vegas, New Mexico. We passed some cows, and I stopped to just look. Suddenly, the light took on pinks and baby blues that New Mexico sunsets are famous for, and I frantically tried to capture the striking sunset that we would have missed if we'd left 10 minutes earlier. 

I didn't get what I went there before, but I had a great time with my family, got some nice, albeit unexpected, images, and re-learned my own sunset lesson - just give it five more minutes...

Here's a slideshow with a few of the keepers, and see if it's not hard to remember that that lake is bone dry:

]]> (Robert Muller Photography) Las Vegas Wildlife Refuge Robert Muller Santa Fe landscape photography photographer photography Wed, 07 Nov 2012 22:49:42 GMT
Editorial product photography for Jewels That Love You My friend Karima Tatum creates beautiful, unique jewelry for her boutique company called Jewels That Love You, at this writing the website's not ready but you can always visit her on Facebook. I've been helping her with product shots for a little while, but she wanted a chance to show off her amazing work on an honest-to-gosh person. So the week before Halloween, Karima brought over a model, a bunch of jewels, and some outfits, and we had a great time. 

The lighting was a little challenging, New Mexico fall sun is super bright even indoors and changes constantly, and I learned a ton. We got some lovely shots and had a great time. Looking forward to the next one! Here are a couple that I really liked:

]]> (Robert Muller Photography) Robert Muller Santa Fe editorial product photography fashion model photographer photography Fri, 26 Oct 2012 22:02:00 GMT
Erbe Naturals in Santa Fe Some friends of mine, Peter Taussig and Carey Benenson Taussig, opened a little store on Rodeo in Santa Fe, New Mexico called Erbe Naturals. They specialize in high quality herbs and tinctures and teas and homeopathic remedies, but they've already started branching out into almost any area where a well made, natural product might interest their customers. Nice people, nice stuff in the store, please check them out if you happen to be in the area and say 'hi.'

Anyway, Carey knew from the beginning that having some unique photos up in the store would help create the atmosphere she was looking for, and after speaking and planning a little, she handed off some twigs and powders and leaves for me to photograph. We managed to get everything shot and printed and hung for their grand opening, and everything came out great. There are several 20x30" prints and one 24x36" print, larger than I'd ever printed before and with better quality than I would have imagined from my 10 and 12 megapixel images. 

Carey and Peter gave me a lot of freedom in how I approached things, but they definitely had something in mind that I was trying to capture while I worked. I love macro work and I wanted to do focus on narrow depth of field shots so I could focus the viewer's eye on just a very specific slice of teh image, and I tried to create nice, watercolory washes behind that would compliment the plant and compliment the colors in their store.

From corn silk tea to chamomile astragalus root to some kind of mushroom (I'll look the name up if anyone's interested), I'm really proud of the results and I love seeing people notice the photos when I visit the store. 

They'll have a website any time, but for now you can visit them on Facebook. Meanwhile, please check out some of the selects in the slideshow below, or even better, visit Peter and Carey in person.

]]> (Robert Muller Photography) Robert Muller Santa Fe photographer photography product photography Sat, 20 Oct 2012 21:26:00 GMT
"Why do you like (snakes/spiders/bugs/lizards/???) so much anyway?" When I'm photographing for myself, I spend the nicer parts of the year chasing down critters that a lot of people aren't comfortable with. I love getting a closeup of a spider, I've spent happy afternoons with praying mantids and staring down snakes, and my daughter and I scream when we see snakes - not from fear, but because we're geeked and are probably going to try to pick it up. 

One of my very part involvements is with a small group in Eldorado At Santa Fe (where I live) that was trained and volunteers to help capture and relocate snakes, including dangerous ones like rattlesnakes. (Well, to be accurate, rattlesnakes are really the only dangerous reptiles around here. In northern New Mexico, if the tail's pointy you're not dealing with something poisonous.) I've gone to peoples' homes to remove young prairie rattlers as well as peaceful bullsnakes and red racers, and I love it - I love helping people, I love the chance to get close to these wild and sometimes dangerous creatures, and I love occasionally getting some nice pictures as part of the package. It's a pleasure to learn more about the world around me even if it comes in little dribs and drabs...

When I post up-close shots of spiders or other insects for friends on Facebook, I get the normal "ewww, gross" comments you'd expect, but I also get a lot of unexpected interest and even compliments from people who wouldn't otherwise spend even a single second looking at stuff like this. Sometimes I get questions, and once someone's interested enough to learn a little bit about something they're actually a little scared of, they can end up being a little more comfortable. My wife hates snakes, but she's actually gotten comfortable enough to hold (very small) ones that my daughter comes across. I get not finding a huge spider photo 'beautiful,' but I love giving people an opportunity to take a closer look from the safety of a computer screen. Nature's big, weird, and almost always beautiful in its own way. 

One lady who I visited last summer on a rattlesnake call asked me and my friend Fleming who tagged along, "Why do you like snakes so much anyway?" I'd never really thought about it before, but the answer is - I don't, not really. Yes, I like reptiles and find them fascinating, but I don't especially like them to the exclusion of anything else. Mostly I just love life. I find it all interesting: bugs, spiders, snakes, lizards, bunnies, birds, chihuahuas, alpacas, flowers, trees, butterflies, bears, whatever. Cactii. 

]]> (Robert Muller Photography) Robert Muller Santa Fe macro photographer photography reptiles snakes spiders wildlife Wed, 17 Oct 2012 17:31:00 GMT