Archive for January 2010

When $3.4 million looks like a great deal

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


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


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

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.



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


My new camera

A few weeks before Christmas I was presented with an offer I couldn’t refuse; a great deal on the upgraded version of my camera, a Canon 5D Mark II. With most of my photography purchases I do quite a bit of testing to get used to my equipment and how it reacts and behaves in different situations. I figured since this was just version 2.0 of my existing camera it would just be bigger and faster. I was wrong. I’ve spent the past couple days testing it out and I still have a lot to learn.

Lessons learned so far:
Shooting with L series lenses (read heavy) without a vertical grip feels horrible unbalanced (I bought a grip)
21 megapixels equals 28-30megabyte RAW files. Add a layer or two and the edited PSD files get huge
My old compact flash cards are useless, a 30 meg file at 50x or 80x is painfully slow
An 8 Gig cards fills up quick
It reads and reacts to light a lot different than my old 5D
Editing and shooting video (it shoots HD video) requires a whole different skill set

Here’s a couple of edits form my shoot with Sheree.




Looking back at 2009

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.