Monday, January 16, 2012

TAMRON® New eyes for industry


Hernan Rodriguez uses the Tamron SP 17-50mm VC lens for a photo session with comedian Eddie Griffin.

Article By Jennifer Gidman
Images by Hernan Rodriguez

It’s not every day you get to laugh your way through an entire photo shoot — but when performer Eddie Griffin is your subject, expect some comic relief in front of your lens. Griffin, best known for his starring role in the TV show Malcolm and Eddie and the movie Undercover Brother, recently debuted a new DVD comedy special, You Can Tell ‘Em I Said It, and needed fresh promotional images. Photographer Hernan Rodriguez was selected to carry out the photo shoot.
One of the lenses that Rodriguez used for his session with Griffin (in addition to the Tamron SP 90mm and the SP 70-200mm lenses) was the Tamron SP 17-50mm F/2.8 VC lens. The 17-50, which produces a picture angle range that approximates a 26-78mm lens on a APS-C size sensor DSLR, also features a fast maximum f/2.8 aperture that allows photographers to blur out the background and focus solely on the subject during portrait sessions. “This is a great lens that lets you get a closer context and a wider shot for environmental portraits,” says Rodriguez. “It allows you to do more storytelling.”

Prepping for a Star
To set up for a shoot like this, Rodriguez advises, you’ll be working mainly with the personality’s representation. “Your client for the job isn’t the talent per se, but rather the agent, manager, or publicist,” he explains. “They’re almost like the art director: They determine the approach and approve all of the details.”
Nothing was left to chance for this commission, from the carefully selected wardrobe Griffin would wear during the session to the studio setup and general shooting regimen. “The stylists pulled from high-end clothing companies such as Prada and Calvin Klein — it was our job to make sure he dressed to fit the look we were after,” Rodriguez says. “Plus, I storyboard all of my concepts way ahead of time. You only get a few opportunities like this to shoot celebrities — you don’t want to be winging it on the day of the shoot.”

Although most people might think that performers are naturals in front of a photographer’s lens — after all, they spend most of their workdays in front of TV or film cameras — when they’re out of character or without a script, it takes a little finessing to relax them for your shoot, just as it would with any other subject. “People are people, whether you’re shooting a model, an ordinary person, or a celebrity,” says Rodriguez. “The common denominator: Everyone’s a little apprehensive about that initial shot.”
This is where your preshoot research comes into play — and can determine how the rest of the shoot goes. “You have to break the ice,” says Rodriguez. “The personality is the key to the whole thing — if you can get the person comfortable, you’ll have a great shoot. You have to do your research, know what projects they’re involved with and what their future ventures are, and find common ground so you can have a conversation. If you’ve done your homework, they’ll trust you.”

Rodriguez also gained Griffin’s trust by opening up the set to people who made Griffin comfortable. “Eddie’s grandpa, who’s 100 years old, came to the shoot,” he explains. “He was Richard Pryor’s manager for ages, so he knows his comedy. He was a lot of fun as well. Some photographers might feel like it’s their set and they’re the director — they don’t want any outside ‘distractions.’ But I’m more laid-back: If Grandpa was there and Eddie felt at ease with him, I was going to use that to my advantage.”

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative
When you’re shooting celebrities, it’s imperative to make sure you’re showing them in the best light: The photos you take are representing their personal brand. “It’s your job as the photographer to make them look good,” says Rodriguez. “You want to deemphasize any unflattering features and shoot at angles that photograph their best side — and you can’t be learning what their best look is as you’re doing the shoot. This should be done when you’re doing your initial research: Go online, look at other photo shoots and TV shows they’ve been on, for example, and check out how they act and how they look. Study them and determine how you’re going to do your own shoot.”

With the varying lighting scenarios Rodriguez implemented to photograph Griffin in a few different “scenes,” he needed a lens that would help him control camera shake in lower-light situations. The 17-50’s Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, which allows photographers to shoot as many as four shutter speeds slower than usual while handholding the camera, enabled Rodriguez to capture the appropriate mood in a variety of settings — even those with ambient light and a fog machine.

“We mainly used three lighting setups,” explains Rodriguez. “The background we picked depended on the look we were going for.” For example, Rodriguez featured a laughing, relaxed Griffin in a vibrant red sweater against a gray seamless backdrop for straight-up, clean photography that Griffin could use for any type of commercial use, such as editorial work or head shots. For a more classic look that could be used on a CD or DVD cover, Griffin donned a royal-blue jacket to contrast with the set’s pale-yellow background.

It was the shoot’s “lounge” look, however, where Rodriguez was able to truly portray the lifestyle of a world-class comedian. “To get that upscale lounge feel, we used a purple couch against a number of backgrounds, including a velvet one,” explains Rodriguez. “I also used a collection of colored gels in combination with a fog machine to complete the effect.” (For complete lighting setups for Griffin’s different “scenes,” please see Rodriguez’s personal take on the shoot on the Tamron “Angle of
View” blog).

What ultimately helped turn this celebrity shoot into a success was Griffin’s naturally easygoing nature and ability to keep Rodriguez and his crew laughing. “Every celebrity, or person for that matter, is different — and your shoot is always dictated by the personality of the person you’re shooting,” says Rodriguez. “In Eddie’s case, I didn’t have to pose him at all, maybe just refine a head turn here or there. We simply carried on a conversation while I was shooting and had a blast.”
To see more of Hernan Rodriguez’s work, go to
For more about the SP 17-50mm F/2.8 VC and $50 rebate through 12/31/11, go to Tamron's rebate page.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011



I recently had the pleasure of getting to know Jimmy. Jimmy does marketing at Alien Skin, he's also the video tutorial chef. He gave me the pleasure and the platform as well to present to you this blog which is primary his work. In using Alienskin Exposure 3, there are Case Studies in which the featured photographer can show their personal use and approaches in using the software.
You can see the detailed article written by Jimmy at Here are a few highlights of that blog.


I recently had the pleasure of getting to know Hernan Rodriguez, a commercial and portrait photographer who’s won more awards than you can shake a stick at. As it turns out, he’s a down-to-earth guy that really knows his way around cameras, Photoshop, and just about everything else related to photography.

I asked Hernan to tell our readers a little bit about his entire process in a typical photo shoot from design conception to final image. The rest of this article is all from Hernan. Enjoy!


Westcott commissioned me to shoot some backgrounds for their 2011 Vintage collection. It inspired me to shoot a whole vintage collection for my personal work. I wanted to portray images that would take you back to the Old Hollywood era. Influenced by photography of Judy Garland, James Dean and Joan Crawford, I wanted to capture the mood of the period. Exposure added the texture and grain of some the films used during that time, it helped achieve that feel.

This shot definitely has the feel of old fashioned photography.
To make this project work out, our creative director, Gary Parry, put together our team; wardrobe, makeup artist and talent came from Hollywood Management and FORD. As a side note I’d like to say that the final image is not about you the photographer. It is about everyone present who added something special to the process. I’m there only to record the moment and give my point of view.

Old fashioned lighting, talent and wardrobe combined with Exposure's old world processing. Left is before, right after.
The lighting was set-up to project a historic period in time. I tend to use upward of eight lights on my talent, which gives me the most control over highlights. But in this case, it was a back-to-basics approach. I used a basic three-point light setup. I was very satisfied with the end result. The majority of key lighting was shot through a satin umbrella placed very close to my subject. This made that well lit Hollywood look with quick falloff. For fill I used a small 16×20 softbox and a reflector if needed. I also used either a background or accent light on my subject for separation.

One favorite of mine is the shot of the young girl with the pink hat. It was shot with very weak window light and one silver reflector opposite side. The final exposure was 1/50th sec @ f2 with a speed of ISO 600 because of the low light. This was a great starting point for the feel I was after even before any post work. I made a few adjustments in Lightroom and fine-tuned it into the 40’s and 50’s Hollywood era with Exposure 3. The final image was that of a classic Fashion editorial shot with the styling of the old films.

This is Exposure's Kodak Tri-X 400 in action.
Another favorite shot of mine is the black and white shot of the girl pulling up her top. The strong and bold composition, in my opinion, worked much better after it was converted to black and white with the Kodak Tri-X 400 setting. I was able to enhance the blacks in the shadows on the color tab, it added some boldness. The final image now has striking impact.

Exposure 3 has been instrumental for adding a new dimension to my images. I teach Photoshop in seminars and what used to take me hours to achieve, I can do with a couple of mouse clicks in Exposure. I’m not an advocate of very many aftermarket Photoshop filters. They’re too gimmicky for my liking, their effects quickly become dated which makes your work look like everyone else’s. Exposure 3, on the other hand, adds a sense of sophistication to your images because of its accuracy of film options. I believe your work should be just as much about showcasing your art as it is about good lighting. Exposure 3 is another medium to add to your palette, it opens a new horizon to your imagery.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Westcott Top 100

Stay Tuned...!

Yes, I Bounce!


Having been selected to be on the Tamron blog team of professional photographers presents another venue to share some helpful techniques ready for you to put to use, and feature great Tamron products, so cruise by and check us out sometime...

The Fashion "ABLE" Lens...
I recently took on an assignment with Hollywood Models, to photograph four of their fashion models for print and web use. The stage was set for a full day of shooting both studio and outdoors, with a combination of flash and natural light. Keeping this in mind, my main concern, was in using a lens that was both sharp and versatile. Coincidentally, the guys at TAMRON had shipped out to me the anticipated AF70-200mm F/2.8 lens, which arrived a day before the shoot. Timing could not have been any better. My first thought upon carrying the lens was the weight. It seemed like something I could carry all day-which I did. Not to mention the sleek “fashionable” asthetics. “Very cool” I thought. Considering the lens arrived later in the day, I didn’t have much time to shoot, but flowers in the garden at the full aperture of 2.8. Nice images but I'm shooting models not flowers. LoL. Nothing against shooting nature, which is an art all on its own. I quickly decided I would use this one lens to cover the task at hand - something I normally don’t do without proper testing. Throughout the progression of the day, shooting the 70-200 in many scenerios, surpassed all of my expectations.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

CD Cover, Mario Reyes-Former Gipsy King

Congratulations Mario! Collaboration on this project was great. Thanks to Uno Productions and our collabrative team, we pulled off a great shot for the launch of Mario's new CD.

Our best wishes.



Muchas gracias Oscar & Punto por esta gran oportunidad. Estaremos pronto lanzando varios talleres con PUnto.
Porfavor visiten nos en la clase de photoshop en WPPI.

Many Thanks to Oscar, Monica, and the Punto Magazine staff for the opportunity to work with you and featuring my Photoshop article. Stay Tuned All! Look for future Photoshop user seminars Punto Magazine & I will be featuring soon.