"The Guest Room" by Blake McCollum

Have you ever seen a movie where the character enters a secret bar? Well you can experience that in person now. If you haven't been lucky enough to experience "The Guest Room" in Starkville, MS it isn't because you missed their new big sign. Let me try to paint the picture for you. This "speakeasy" type bar is only accessible through a back Entry. A short walk down an alleyway into the basement of an existing business. There is no sign, there is no menu on the exterior wall. Only a small street light and a large wooden door down a short flight of stairs. If they are at maximum occupancy when you try and enter, they will politely tell you they are full and try back soon.  But once inside it is in my opinion one of the most interesting, best styled, and coolest vibed places to have a drink or even dinner in town. Bowties and aprons are a regular for the bartenders  who squeeze fresh fruit daily for their drink masterpieces. No loud music or TV's all over the walls just a great place to relax. Seriously my short summary of it does not do it justice, so go check them out and see for yourself (located under Restaurant Tyler in Starkville MS.) And if you want a bit more information on "The Guest Room" you can Click Here

Don't miss their feature in the May issue of  Town and Gown  floating around the area. P.S. my last name is "McCollum"

Don't miss their feature in the May issue of Town and Gown floating around the area. P.S. my last name is "McCollum"

As far as lighting these images (I am going to start trying to do lighting setups on a majority of my future blog post) they all change from scene to scene drastically, but most of the imagery included one octobox as key with a strip box gelled extremely warm (to match the existing lights) for a rim/hair light. The location might not look it in the photos but is very small area with low ceilings. Lighting gear was extremely tight in here. The area itself is extremely low light but was scattered with wall mounted tungsten burning Edison bulbs which would act as my fill light. 

Camera: Canon 5d III 
              Canon 85mm 1.2L 
              Canon 24-70mm 2.8L

Flash: 2 Alienbee 400
          Cybersync reciever/trasmitter 
          47" Octobox
          10x36" Grided Stripbox (gelled warm)

          Vegabond Mini Power 
            Manfroto Q1 Tripod

Mississippi State University Fashion Board by Blake McCollum

And so it comes to a close, another great year with Mississippi State University Fashion Board. For some of you who might not know anything about Fashion Board, and are thinking "What is Fashion Board?" Let me tell you a little about it. It's a group of like minded college students ranging in majors from merchandising and fashion design to education and engineering. It's a melting pot of awesome people from all over the country coming together to do great things including bringing the community together through advertising local vendors and promoting shopping local. Honestly it's just great people.... period. Most well known for their fashion shows they do in and around campus, I have photographed shows themed from Beyonce, Circus, Masquerade, Alice in Wonderland to True Maroon, DJ Battles, and the forever famous Trashion Shows. Now you might be wondering how I got my connection with these people. I have been photographing Fashion Board now since 2009 when I did my first show with them. I was randomly asked when I was just transferring to MSU to photograph a show and it has snowballed since. 
I have met some amazing people through fashion board and made some life long friends. Some that have went on to pursue careers in TV, modeling, styling, and anything else you can imagine. Many of these people have ended up in my personal work as well like my Down at the Water's Edge series along with my recent Carnival editorial.  Thank for another great year Fashion Board and to my seniors that are leaving after this year, it's been fun! I wish you all the best in your upcoming years and Hail State. 

La Mode Bohème poster for this show (I will have a future blog post on the making of this image)

La Mode Bohème poster for this show (I will have a future blog post on the making of this image)

Photo Credit:  Joyce Li

Photo Credit: Joyce Li

Seniors + Photobombing  Gl0tron

Seniors + Photobombing Gl0tron

Old and new executive board. 

Old and new executive board. 

As far as the lighting setup goes for these shows. They stay relatively the same but I try and mix it up with different rim, hair,  and fill lights. You can go back to the top where I linked my first show where I believe I was using a single shoot through umbrella to camera right. I have upgraded a bit to a three light setup. This time with one white bare beauty dish high and to the left. I mix up my gel filters for background lights and went blue and purple this time trying to follow the decorations along with the earth day theme. I'm not 100% sure on exact color #'s.... I usually just say "yeah that color looks good" when I hold it up and look through it. Both rim lights were bare 7" reflectors. Like I said I shoot each show a bit different but the diagram below shows for the better part of how this one worked. 
Shot on a canon 5d iii with an 85mm 1.2L lens. Shot at F3.2, ShutterSpeed 1/200, ISO 50. 

Carnival by Blake McCollum

I have been wanting to try photographing a few new things to expand my portfolio a bit and learn something new. One of these new styles I have been wanting to attempt and learn more about is high fashion. I believe any photographer should take a break for a few days and just do something new, learn something, make a few mistakes, but mainly just have a good time behind the camera; in essence I guess I am "recharging my batteries". 

This past weekend, the 37th Annual Railroad Festival was underway in my hometown, and ever since I was a kid there has been a carnival that came to town with it. I will admit in my younger days it was all about arm band day and any ride that I wasn't tall enough to ride, but for the past few years I have thought that carnival style would make for a fun series of portraits.  I finally made that happen with an amazing team (check them out below). 

Hair: Lindsey Johnson
Makeup: Katie Leach 
Clothing: L.A. Green  
Assistant: Joyce Li
Models: Janna and Kelbey

This entire series was photographed on a fully functioning and crowded carnival. We got a few awkward looks and stares and even a few people asking for photos with my models but was an overall great time. Thanks to the Amory Railroad Festival for getting it cleared for me to shoot as well as L.A. Green for the styling. 

Camera: Canon 5d III 
              Canon 85mm 1.2L 
Flash: 1 Alienbee 400
          Cybersync reciever/trasmitter 
          47" Octobox
          Vegabond Mini Power

For those of you wondering how these images were lit, it was pretty easy! I used 1 
Alienbee 400 with a 47" Octobox (double diffused). The flash was always to camera left/right depending on the image and with varying distances but always above their eye line. I tried often to get a nice colored rim light on my models that was naturally put off by the carnival itself. (you can see this best on the last group in the series) The entire evening was powered off one charge of the Vegavond Mini Lithium (love that thing). Photographed on a Canon 5d iii with a Canon 85mm 1.2. Camera settings varied quite a bit depending on where we were located in the carnival with some locations being lit drastically different. The one thing that stayed consistent was the extremely low aperture (1.2-2.8). For those that are move of a visual type learner there is a diagram below. 

Photo courtesy of to Mr.  StrangeBrew Coffee  himself. Glad Ms. Brew and himself were able to come hang out and experience the festival as well. (check out their page as well)

Photo courtesy of to Mr. StrangeBrew Coffee himself. Glad Ms. Brew and himself were able to come hang out and experience the festival as well. (check out their page as well)

Lee Edens Farms by Blake McCollum

Building a cattle calendar is something we can now put on our resume! Lee Edens Farms of Okolona, Mississippi does a yearly calendar to distribute to their clients and this year they asked us (myself and Joyce Li of Joyce Li Design) to photograph and design it for them! Being new to the cattle world after a few tours of the pastures, meeting and greeting a few thousand head of cattle, a cold afternoon on a mule, and a good shoe cleaning, we ended up with the final product that you see below. Be on the look out around the south for them.