Chuck Espinoza Photography

Los Angeles Based Freelance Photographer.
Architecture and Design

When $3.4 million looks like a great deal

By on January 31, 2010

I’ve photographed a lot of great homes and last weekend I had the pleasure of shooting a beautiful house for Karen & Kate of Deasy Penner. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many great homes or because I’ve lived in LA for too long but I was surprised when they told me the house was listed for $3.4 mil. Only in LA would that seem like a great deal.

3320 Sumac Ridge Rd in beautiful Malibu California has five bedrooms, five baths a great floor plan and kitchen for entertaining, a pool and oh did I mention the hilltop ocean views? (click on the link for more photos and MLS listing)

living room and dining area with ocean views
living room and dining area with ocean views
kitchen
Cooks kitchen with Viking Appliances and Ocean views

Master beadroom with two walk in closets and ocean views
Master bedroom with two walk in closets and ocean views
Master bedroom sitting area and patio with fireplace
Master bedroom fireplace, sitting area and patio

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Photography business

Make it work – Using My 5D Mark II in the dark

By on January 20, 2010

Over the weekend I got a call from a real estate team that I shoot property photography for. They needed an editorial portrait of Tami, one of the partners, and they needed to deliver the image to a client by tuesday morning.  They wanted a fashion inspired editorial portrait using a Range Rover as a prop. In atypical Southern California fashion the heavens opened up and the rain wasn’t expected to stop for a week.  Plan A was a parking garage and plan B was the beach. As luck would have it the skies parted and we were able to schedule it for sunset at the beach.

It was cold, windy, the ocean was chop but at least it wasn’t raining. I got there early in order to figure out how I was going to make Tami look great without the photo looking like a cliche “girl on a car” photo. Worse yet, I couldn’t have the photo look like a Range Rover commercial with Tami as the prop.

I shot a few pics of the ocean and sunset and waited…..

And then I watched the sun go down. So much for Plan A.

Sunset
Sunset

Jim and Tami arrived a few minutes after the sun went down and in order to keep Tami’s hair intact and keep her warm, I used Jim as a stand-in.  By the time we got the framing we wanted and had shot a few tests, the sun had been down for 15 minutes.  While there was some ambient light in the sky I was getting away with using strobes. After the light began to fade the background became dark and lifeless. Because I thought we would be shooting into the setting sun I packed a reflector. We turned on the headlights, I cranked up the ISO on my camera, and we were able to light Tami using just the bounced light from the headlights.

A year ago I would have never considered shooting at an ISO of 2500 but I needed all the help I could get. In a lot of circumstances professional  photographers are asked to make it work.  We have to adjust to the circumstances and make great images with what we’ve got. In this case it meant shooting in the dark.

Canon 5D Mark II - 50mm F1.2 shot at F1.8 1/100 ISO 2500
Canon 5D Mark II - 50mm F1.2 shot at F1.8 1/100 ISO 2500
Canon 5D Mark II - 50mm F1.2 shot at F2.2 1/100 ISO 2500
Canon 5D Mark II - 50mm F1.2 shot at F2.2 1/100 ISO 2500

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Architecture and Design | Family, Kids, Maternity and Weddings | head shots and portraits

Looking back at 2009

By on January 1, 2010

Over the past couple weeks I have been digging through the archives to pull images for this year’s slide show. The slideshow represents all the assignments I shot in 2009 as well as follows the growth of our 20 month old daughter Grace.

It’s great to reflect on what worked and what didn’t and it has planted a few seeds for new business plans for 2010. The slide show is laid out chronologically so if the newborn shot next to the architecture shot next to the model seems out of place, now you know why.

Enjoy the show. Hopefully you will see some new images as well as think back to our photo shoot together. Maybe you’ll even see some images that will inspire another shoot for 2010. Thanks for your support and referrals, they keep my business alive.

The song is 28 butts by Little Jackie. I was introduced to Little Jackie by our local friend Jason Bently at KCRW. Enjoy and thanks for a great year.

If you missed last years check out the following from 2008:

Chuck Espinoza Photography – A Slideshow of 2008 Photography from Chuck Espinoza on Vimeo.

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Architecture and Design

Images that help you market your business

By on December 20, 2009

A few months ago I shot a job for Engineered Custom Systems, a custom audio and video installation and design firm based in Redondo.  My job was to document ECS’ work throughout a 10,000 square foot home in Rolling hills. ECS installed all of the audio, video and custom control features in the house. There’s nothing like being able to walk into any part of the home and control the lighting and audio with a touch of the button. In addition to a media room with five flat screens the home also has an outdoor spa area with a TV, golf simulator, wine storage room, poker room and speakers installed both inside the pool and above-ground to insure that you can always hear your favorite song when you’re swimming.

In our pre-production meetings we discussed how best to show the quality of ECS’ work. Many of the custom features don’t read well in a still photo but I think that conveys the quality of the work and craftsmanship. The speakers aren’t supposed to be the focal point in the living room and when people overlook the install because the speaker grills have been painted to match the ceiling they know they will receive a high level of service when they work with ECS. Interior designers especially love the fact that with the help of ECS they don’t have to worry about the audio or visual installation taking away from the decor.

Indoor/Outdoor living area
Indoor/Outdoor living area
Pool and back yard
Pool with underwater speaker system
Bar in game room
Bar in game room
Gym
Gym
Media room
Media room

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head shots and portraits

Emily’s Closeup Portraits

By on November 17, 2009

While I was waiting for my model this morning I came across some tear sheets I had saved of Martin Schoeller’s work. For those of you who don’t know his work check out this gallery page.

The goal of the shoot wasn’t to shoot this type of portrait but I felt inspired enough to shoot a few frames before we went with the shoot as we had planned it. I started with a giant softbox but didn’t think being that close with that much in focus was flattering. I ditched the strobes and just used the light coming through the garage door with a sheet of foam core to bounce some light back. These shots were made at F1.2 so the depth of field is super shallow. The dept is so shallow that with her eyes in focus her eyebrow is already soft and out of focus. I liked them enough that I felt inspired to share. I’ll post more from the shoot later.

Emily Pledger Portrait - 1/400 at F1.2
Emily Pledger Portrait - 1/400 at F1.2
Emily Pledger Portrait - 1/400 at F1.2
Emily Pledger Portrait - 1/400 at F1.2

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Photography business

The Annenberg Space for Photography

By on October 29, 2009

There’s nothing like a deadline to motivate me. I got an email from the Anneberg Space that the Pictures of The Year exhibition would end on November 1st. Today I finally made time to visit the museum for the first time.

I was blown away. The photos in the PoY exhibit are the result of a contest of over 45,000 entries by photo journalists covering the events of 2008.  The exhibit included images from the Olympics, the Presidential Race, struggles in Georgia, Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to stories from around the globe. One of the main images used to promote the PoY exhibit is Emilio Morenatti’s image of a Pakistani Lawyer leaping over barbed wire trying to get away from tear gas. At first glance the photo looks staged. It seems too perfect and constructed. The photo on display is printed at 24×16 and is amazing to look at.

©Emilio Morenatti/AP Running from Gas
©Emilio Morenatti/AP Running from Gas

As you progress through the exhibit you encounter digital photography being broadcast on LCD screens as well as various documentaries covering past and current exhibits.  In one room I watched interviews of the contributing photographers and listened to them how their image was created. When it came time for Emilio’s interview, the image above was displayed on a 60 inch plasma TV in HD.  After seeing the image on a monitor I realized that nothing compares to a beautiful print.

I highly recommend checking out the exhibit in the next few days. As powerful as these images are at depicting historic and current events, nothing compares to the power of a beautiful print.

Here are a few shots I made with my trusty iPhone.  (Even the bathroom is an experience)

beads - Anneberge Space for Photography
beads - Anneberge Space for Photography
Men's restroom self portrait - Anneberge Space for Photography
Men's restroom self portrait - Anneberge Space for Photography

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