snow

Windy Winter Mountain Shoot with Nicholette in Utah

The wind was bitter cold as we hiked up through the snow to a small overlook in our nearby Utah canyon. The climb was slippery and full of tall new powder that went well past my knees and nearly to my waist at one point. Once at the top, the wind was stronger and even more frigid so we worked fast, also because we needed to beat the setting sun. The entire shoot was maybe 20 minutes long before we headed back down the mountain, yet in that short amount of time we got some great photographs. Here are some of my favorites.

Utilizing some specialized lighting techniques, I punched up background with more blue tones to enhance the cold feeling, while simultaneously adding warm light to the model. It makes her stand out dramatically, while also creating a visual separation between her and the background. And with her beautifully dramatic features, I used a more sharp, commercial/fashion style of lighting too to really enhance her cheekbones and eye shape. I love how these all turned out.

For this one, I also created an animation with slow motion snow that falls around her. Notice that the snow falls around her, some in front, most in back.


I love the changing direction, the wind, and how great these all look. This time of night worked beautifully for this deep-blue look. And the final images are captivating.

If you’re in need of a great set of images, either for work or commercial use, or for your own personal needs – give me a call. 801-728-3317. I’d love to create something amazing for you, outdoors in the Utah snow or here in the studio. It’s a great time to create some wonderful photographs.

And until next time, America.

My “Company Party” Christmas Card

Merry Christmas, everyone! This year I re-used my previous card because it took so much work to create it originally. It’s a group portrait of me, taken at my company Christmas party.

Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-2-finalChildren especially have told me that they like my cards and can’t figure out how I can be in so many places at once. To see how it was made, check out my original post that explains all of the time-consuming details.

I love that this holiday is about people taking the time to go out and specifically shop for others. It’s a great time for selflessness, and a time to remember the reason for the Savior. I hope all of you have a joyous season with family and loved ones. Merry Christmas!!

And until next time, America.

How I Created My New Christmas Card, A Self Group Portrait

My Christmas Card is out and in the mail. If you haven’t seen my past Christmas cards, for the last few years they’ve all been group portraits of me, but in the studio. My idea is that it’s a funny company group photo from my own Christmas party. My clients know that because of the custom work that I do, I personally see each job through from beginning to end, which also means that I wear a few different hats. The card is a growing joke, and each time I’ve done it a little better. But this time I really wanted to out-do myself!

Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-2-final

Clients, especially children that come in are always asking me how I shoot my group photos of myself, so I decided to share with you my process.

First I mapped out the entire shot, and decided on which images I’d need, where the various people would be positioned throughout the image. I needed depth, but didn’t want anyone in front of anyone else. I even have three people tied together with garland, all handing each other the same strand. It all has to look real and work. Each person had to be working together naturally, and that meant thinking about how the angles and lighting should be.

Once it was mapped out, I began photographing the pieces. I started with my studio/home. I needed to use open area of the front and didn’t want it covered with the cedar fence and line of trees in front. So I used a wide angle up close to get the entire home in the shot without the fence and trees you’d see from the street. This gives me the best angle on the place but causes bending on the vertical lines, that I will fix later.

Cox_Christmas2013-104

Next I photographed my folks’s tree in their home. My mom always puts together the best tree.Cox_Christmas2013-114

Then back at the studio I photographed each remaining part on my fashion gray background so that they could be extracted off the background easier. Extractions are not easy nor fast, but a solid gray background makes it easier at least.

To fit a large ladder in the studio on gray, I chose my smallest ladder, and doubled the size of the legs digitally, adjusting too for the perspective of the steps. I then photographed each version of myself, imagining where each would be positioned in the final image, but used the same step on the ladder to stand so that I’d fit in the studio shot.Cox_Christmas2013-groupEach photograph was fired with a remote that I am holding with one of my hands. For instance, in the shovel image, I’m holding the remote up against the shovel’s handle. Once I’m in position, I fire the shot. After each shot, I change clothes, set up the next image, and shoot again.

Cox_Christmas2013-198-2

After all the camera work, the digital work begins. I started with the individual versions of me, each extracted off the gray background and placed in the shot where they were mapped out. The ladder was also extended taller, being key to making sure all the other people were in the right spots and in proper perspective.

Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-1b

Slowly the group began to grow, and the star was added in the hand on top.Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-1c

Then I extracted the tree off the living room background and prepped it.

Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-1a

The tree was brought in and more details were brought together.Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-1d

 

Then to the background. I corrected the vertical lines, and the image was cropped to fit the final piece.Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-1e

I then created snow from scratch and added it throughout, fading out the home as well for a misty look and to keep the background from being too busy and competing visually with the foreground.Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-1f

The background was added to the crowd, and more details were added like sparkles on the Christmas tree’s lights.Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-1g

Once the background was in, people needed to be moved slightly on the right side to work better with the background. Once they were in place, shadows were drawn in so that each person and object cast a shadow that matched the lighting from the sun behind. Each point of contact with the snow was then painted up close so as to “drop” everyone into the snow so they didn’t look like they were on top. That, along with the shadows, help give the final piece a more 3D look and not a flat, fake look. There’s much more I could do to make it look real, but a little of that fake look will help with the comedy effect.

The star was also given a nice sparkle. More snow was added around the edges to create a natural white vignette to keep the focus inside the image, and the tree’s trunk was finished as well.

Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-2h

Finally, I used one of my custom edges to finish the piece, added the text, and the legend of who everyone is at the bottom. And the finishing touch as always, is adding my signature, in this case in the bottom left.

Cox-Christmas-2013-Card-Design-2-final

So what’s your guess on how long it took to complete this project? All in all, it took about 23 hours including both the camera and digital designing time, and that doesn’t count working with the printer and mailing company to get it all out to each of you. Hopefully when it comes, it brings a smile to your face. If your address has changed, let me know so that I can update it for the next mailing I send out.

I hope all of you have a joyous season with family and loved ones. Merry Christmas!!

And until next time, America.

Outdoor Snow Portraits of Lowe Family

Christmas is a great time for creating family portraits because it’s one of the rare times that families are all together. For lots of reasons, snow is really difficult to shoot in, but when done right it makes a great backdrop and can set a mood of warmth and love.

Here is the Lowe family that I photographed during their vacation outside their cabin in the Utah mountains, one of the rare times they were all together because they are a family of traveling world-class musicians (9Lowes.com).

Cox_KLowe-F-116

Being a family of performers, they are also very fun with each other and somehow the idea of a crazy photo came up, so we created this one as well.

Cox_KLowe-F-119

If your family is going to be together for the holidays and you would like me to come create an updated family portrait, then give me a call, 801-728-3317. It could be outside or even inside your home. Call me and we can talk about options.

And until next time, America.

 

Temple in a Snow Storm During Bridal Show

This last week I was one of the main vendors at the bridal show held at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake.  It is always a great show.  I look forward to it every year.  Here is a look at my booth if you didn’t make it.

During the show, there was a beautiful snowstorm and I created some wonderful storm images of the Salt Lake Temple looking out the window.  I created a few variations and I’m still deciding which one I like the best.  Which ones do you like?

I’m also excited that all of these were processed out using my new duo-tone black & white effects that I recently created, and are finished with my new line of  custom edges that I’ve been working on.  I create and sell these effects and edges to photographers around the country when I speak to save them time and money.  These are a part of my new line of effects.  I really love how they look, especially with these images.  I’ve also tried them with portraits and absolutely love it!  I will post them on my blog soon.

After looking out the window, I had to step out for a couple images outside.  Again, I shot two variations and can’t decide which one I like better.  One is shot faster to catch the flakes in the air and the other is slower which creates some really cool diagonal lines.  Both work for so many reasons.

Before running back in, I got a passing tourist to take a photo of me with my camera.  I love the snow in the air, but hate that I’m out of focus.  DANG!

Anyway, soon I’ll have those temple images ready to purchase in my art site.  But until then, let me know which ones are your favorites.