Wednesday, December 25, 2013

After deliberating for more than a year, I took the plunge with the Canon Powershot G15. None of the smaller cameras on the market are ideal for what I generally shoot, but I wanted something that was likely to work as a backup camera when I don't want to carry two SLR's. It's one of the few non-SLR's with an optical viewfinder and a lens that has a wide aperture (from 1.8-2.8 as you zoom from wide to telephoto). One thing I also appreciate is the focus assist lamp that is great for extreme low light conditions without flash.

Here is a sample lit by the tv, about 8 feet away, and a street lamp filtering through the mini-blinds (the stripes).

More to come, after I've had a chance to look at some daylight photos. So far the camera handles well.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Big Summer Fun

This photo is copyright Phil Kampel Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited and extremely upsetting. Violators are subject to pursuit. If you'd like to use the photo, please just ask. Thank you.

This month I've been doing photography at the California State Fair. It's my 4th year and it's as much fun as ever. Mainly I've been covering the Meet and Greet sessions with the artists that play concerts on the Golden 1 stage.

In addition, I've been asked to cover a few other events.

Rather than post a lot of the photos here, I'd feel great if you would check out these links:

To see an album of each event, please click HERE.

Some of my photos are also featured on the State Fair's website, on the media page, including the official photos of the CALIFORNIA letters which were donated by Disney, and now have a permanent home outside the Cal Expo main gate.

Here is a link to that page:


You can also enlarge the four photos from that group by clicking on each.

To my delight, Disney has also used a few of my photos in one of their blogs.

Disney Parks Blog

I hope you're all enjoying your July as much as I am!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


My photo assignment on Friday night was to capture some images that will be used to promote what are being called "reunions" of the Constable Jack's family. These events will be a way to keep the CJ spirit alive, even though the venue itself (in Newcastle, CA) has been closed since July of 2011.

The owners of the club, the Looper family (and various in-laws, fiances, BFF's and supporting cast) hosted a spectacular show at the Auburn Event Center, featuring three bands that played on a monthly basis when the night club was open.

Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers, supplemented by a couple of locally legendary sax players, got things cranking to start the show. They were followed by Mr. December, another local/Sacramento area band that features original music of various genres. For this gig, saxes, trumpets and flute, known as the Mofunkity Horns, also took the stage with Mr.D for both originals and covers. The Daniel Castro Band, on Friday a stripped down, no-nonsense trio, kept the crowd's excitment level at a fever pitch to close the show.

The vibe was great, the food, highlighted by Jacquie's burgers, and full bar made this the place to be on a long summer's night and the show ran as long as some local festivals.

Photo opportunities were great and also presented some creative challenges. For dance floor and crowd shots, I mostly used fill flash along with the lowlight ambient lighting to capture the mood of those in attendance. Here is one of those photos, with Jim and Dana on the dance floor:

One of my pet peeves is a flash photo with a background that is very dark or black, because it lacks depth and tells you nothing about where your subjects are.

The stage lighting, although certainly bright enough, had many areas lit in different colors not necessarily suitable for any one white balance setting. Some of the hard work came after the show, while processing the photos.

Just as an example, here is a before and after pair of the same photo:

When I first looked at the photo, I thought my only option would be to go black and white. That would have also worked (see below), but I thought I'd try a few adjustments and see what I could do with the color. The steps involved were first reducing the saturation. Next, taking advantage of the fact that there was a little of Jim's Stratocaster in the frame, I used the white of the guitar as a reference for a one-click color correction. To finish off, I raised the level of the highlights and midtones slightly to prevent the photo from looking flat.

Here's how the photo looks in black and white:

I like this too, but I'm glad I invested a little time in working on the color.

I'll be glad to hear your opinions or field your questions, either here or on my Facebook business page. You can find that page here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

For those of you who haven't come across my work before, or maybe see me at events and don't know much about me, here is a little information.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A few reflections on shooting on a movie set.

From the set of Child's Play-the Movie, the directorial debut of Rich Ehisen. Coming soon!

Below are some thoughts about working on the set. To view more of the photos of the production, please click here.

During the recent Memorial Day weekend, I had the pleasure of shooting production still photos for a movie that was filmed at the CA State Capitol. We all seemed to be in agreement that every angle looked good. There was beautiful wood and glass furniture, drapery, US and California state flags, artwork, awards and various mementos. In addition to hallways and the rotunda, we had access to rooms that very few of the public ever see. We were very appreciative of the generosity of President Pro Tem of the Senate, Darrell Steinberg for the use of his office suite, and the sergeant at arms for keeping a watchful eye on everything.

Even so, this was not an easy assignment. Understandably, most of the best moments happened while the video cameras were rolling. My responsibility was to get the best possible photos without disrupting the process.Years of covering both public and private events have taught me to be aware of everything, even what is happening on the periphery of the scene.That allowed me to get many photos of the crew and of things that won't end up in the film, but what I needed just as much were images representative of the story. By observing the flow of all the principals (director, producer, sound and camera operators and the actors), it was possible to develop a rhythm that permitted me to capture the best possible images.

Here is an example of something that happened between takes.

This was just a matter of being aware and active, even at times the film crew was doing something entirely different. The next photo was more difficult in terms of timing and anticipation.

After a little while on the set, it was observable that the sequence of events before and after a shot was fairly consistent. The lead-in was typically someone (generally the director) checking in with sound, then cameras, which when ready would elicit the verbal and visual identification of the scene, in frame, followed by the clap of the clapperboard. Up to that point, I could shoot without spoiling a scene and was able to get photos of the actors as they were about to start. Once the director called action, I had to be silent and invisible. Here are two photos taken as the cameras were beginning to roll.

In order to get these shots, I had to be aware of the line of sight of each of the cameras and be sure I would not get into the scene. I also had to stand out of the way of the person holding the sound boom and not be reflected in any mirrors or furniture glass in the room. Fortunately there were only a few times the crew had to ask me to move my position. Most of the time, these things were obvious, but by the end of a long weekend of filming, even the obvious was not easily recognized.

The reason I couldn't shoot during a take was pretty simple. The click of the shutter would be out of place in the sound track. There have been a couple of times in the past I had cameo roles as a photographer, and the shutter sounds and flash were part of my character. Not this time.

It was easy to remember not to shoot with cameras rolling. But it also would have been easy to miss good opportunities. While a scene was being played, I was able to pre-focus and compose a shot that would be taken just as the director yelled cut. However, there were times I could also shoot when a brief rehearsal took place during filming, or when the cameras continued to roll while something was repeated for one reason or another, but I had to develop a sense of when something was being shot that might actually be used.

This is a shot taken of actual action, but not at a point when the footage would be included in the film.

That will be about all for now, but at some point, I'll also talk about some of the technical aspects of shooting in these conditions. Lighting, angles, lens selection, size of the space and other physical issues all figure into the success of capturing good images. In the meantime, I'd like to thank everyone involved in the production for allowing me to be a part of the project and for being so helpful. Here are photos of some of the people involved.

If you'd like to see more of the photos, Day 2 is currently online in one of my web galleries. Day 1 will be posted sometime this weekend. To view more photos, click here.

Friday, April 27, 2012


This blog will be connected with my website, as well as my Facebook business page. In addition to sample images, there will be tips on how to approach a variety of subjects and get the most out of your photo opportunities and experiences.

Thanks for stopping by and our first tips will follow soon!