The Rocket Summer

Back in December I was assigned to shoot The Rocket Summer for Alternative Press Magazine. I rounded up some assistants and my girlfriend Emily and headed to Cleveland. We got an early start, about 7:30 am. The shoot was going to be at my friends apartment, which coincidentally is the same building AP is based out of. We got there early so we could get everything set up on time. Brad Heaton and Aaron McKee met me at my house and drove up.

Bryce showed up and we got to shooting. I was feeling under the weather and recovering from a mouth full of canker sores so I was definitely not wanting to be interacting and trying to be personable, but I think I pulled it off. We shot for about an hour at a total of five locations within the building.

I can only post one photo for now, but I figured I’d break down the process.

The Freight Elevator

As Bryce was getting ready for another location, I figured I would run down to the basement and grab the elevator to the top to try a few shots. I was freaked out by this thing, it’s a huge elevator in a big empty hole basically (then again, that’s what every elevator, ever is {except that glass one in Willy Wonka!} ) I get it to the top and throw the idea over to Bryce, he didn’t really like the location, so I asked if we could get a few shots. I took just one and considered it done. I lite the shot with an Alienbee B1600 above me into a Large Octobox.

Here is the original shot:

Obviously the tilt is annoying as can be so first things first I cropped this in Lightroom (and rotated) I than noticed how bland his shirt looked, very washed out. I did my basic adjustments in Lightroom and then exported it to be edited in Photoshop.

Here is the Dodge and Burn:

I spent about two hours total Dodging and Burning this, my lack of a tablet is annoying but so is the price of one.

Here is the Haze:

One thing I wanted to try was to add some haze in the background to give it some atmosphere. The room was very dry in my opinion so I added the smokiness in the background. I accomplished this by brushing in with a lower opacity brush and then masking out around him, it was very simple and effective.

The Lights!:

I felt like adding the lights in the shot because it was just hanging there, so vulnerable to my editing. So I added in some faux light.

And here is the final!:

And after all was said and done, here is the final image!

I hope reading through this was interesting! Let me know if you have any questions!

Aaron Van Dike



I did a shoot back in October for the band Hellogoodbye. I found out about 4 days before they came through while I was on vacation. I was with my family in Hilton Head, South Carolina when Alternative Press contacted me about it. Due to the fact I had a shoot in Ohio in two days for Hit The Lights and now this shoot, I was nervous.

The day of the shoot came, I had to work that day until 5 and the shoot was at 6:15. I had to go to Cleveland, so that clearly wouldn’t work. I decided to take a few hours off of my pay and leave early. I gathered all necessary gear that I need, which included, but is not limited to:

  • Canon EOS 5D
  • Canon EF 50mm F/1.4
  • 6 Alienbee Flashes (only used three)
  • 6 Alienbee stands (some assorted ones as well
  • 10 Foot backdrop
  • Backdrop support system
  • One Octabox, two softboxes and two stripboxes
  • Beauty Dish
  • Sand Bags
  • MacBook Pro

I packed all of that gear as well as the props (scene in the photo) into my small little Mitsubishi Lancer. I got there, had no where to park and couldn’t get ahold of their tour manager. I finally got a hold of him and got a spot in the back lot behind their bus. I unloaded all of my gear and placed it in any random spot I could find. We had no where to shoot. The back of the House of Blues is very busy and it leaves small amounts of space to shoot. Since I was shooting on a 10 foot background with a 50mm lens, I needed as much room as I could get. Luckily, we destroyed the green room and made it happen.

We spent about an hour destroying the electronics I bought, along the way Forest, the singer, cut his playing finer on a circuit board, not once, but three times. I was to blame for him being injured of course – good job Aaron. We got ready to shoot and all went well! I shot for about 3 minutes and called it a day!

Below are the original photo and the final photo!

Have a wonderful day everyone!

On my mind

I have been doing so much thinking lately that it’s driving me crazy. I discuss it a lot with my family, friends and of course Emily. I just can’t help but wonder if I went wrong with my choice of schooling and the direction of my career. I am working on my associates degree in Graphic Design currently (I should’ve been done nearly two years ago, but only go part time), and to be honest I am not sure if that’s the degree I want.

I think my big concern is how will I provide for myself and my family someday. I obviously do my freelance photography right now and work full time as a designer. I don’t know if I’ll be able to support myself with my freelance someday and that’s just always been the plan. I worry that I should’ve gotten into college for something that will be more beneficial for me someday.

I guess I am just ranting, but do you of you guys ever feel this way?


2010 Goals

So I have been actually reading the Twitter and Facebook updates of some friends of mine and decided that I too should write a blog post about this year and the year to come. I certainly have no reason not to write one!

I guess I don’t really know where to start but I suppose I could start with a general overview of the year. The key points of what happened in my “Photography Career”

  • Began the year with the Five Giants Studio.
  • Purchased a Canon 5D
  • Decided I was having a heart attack after a photoshoot in Toledo, ended up in the Hospital.
  • Had my first photoshoot for AP Magazine with Hit The Lights, two days later shot Hellogoodbye and two months later shots The Rocket Summer

I guess looking back I didn’t complete nearly as much as I had hoped this year. I was hoping to be further along in my career then I am right now. I have been thinking a lot about the future of my photography career latley and I am driven more than ever to complete my goals for 2010. I am going to do what I need to do in order to get to where I need to be. I will even kill, okay, kidding of course.

Following are a list of my goals in 2010!

  • Form my LLC and take further steps to legitimize myself as a business, not just a kid with a camera
  • Network myself better with Social Networking and Actual human interaction
  • Continue with, I’ve been slacking hard for the last few months with that
  • Work on more creative concepts and lose the girls holding flowers in fields crap.
  • Work more with my Bronica ETRS Medium Format camera
  • Develop a consistent branding across everything. Networking, Business Cards, Mailers, etc
  • Work on my lighting and editing techniques
  • Work on getting more camera gear – Mainly lenses
  • Most importantly, refine my style as a photographer. Work on messing with my techniques a bit more than I have been in the past

As you can see, I have a lot I want to work on in the next 366 days before 2011. These goals of course aren’t a sure fire way to get me to the top of my game, but I am going to work my hardest to get to where I want to be.

Of course I have more goals than this, goals outside of photography, I guess just general life goals, which are as follows:

  • Continue the no red meat and no dark pop policy I have been doing for the past few months
  • I am 22 year old and living at home, I’d enjoy to move out on my own.
  • Continue the relationship I am in with Emily, spend everyday how we have been and just being happy to the max.
  • Save a little bit of cash up again

Well I hope that was an informative look into my goals and such. I hope you all have thought about yours and plan on working to achieve them as I will with mine.

New Blog – New Post

Hello everyone,

I have had so many blogs and I ALWAYS say this, but I am going to keep up with this one. I figured I could start it out as photo post. I wanted to talking about my most recent photo of Dave and I:

Dave and I

This photo was created using two photos from a work assignment that we had. We shot this photo on a Canon 5D with a Canon 50mm f/1.4, the two images are the un-edited versions.


What else have I been up to?

Well things have been pretty calm latley. I’ve been hanging out with friends a lot more and doing some more family oriented shooting, and by that I mean Senior portraits and Babies. I can’t say I hate it, although I enjoy the more creative spectrum of things.

I have been talking to someone about management recently. I won’t say who until anything becomes official or not, but I’m very excited! I feel this will bring many opportunities my away in the future and allow me to push my career to a whole other level.

I suppose only time can tell! Keep checking back in as I will try to keep this updated as possible!

Thanks everyone,