Jessica Coats Swimsuit Modeling Photos

by Danny Cruz| Follow Danny @sixstringsensei on Twitter HERE

Jessica Coats Swimsuit Modeling

This project was a collaboration between model Jessica Coats-Saenz, photographer Kreston Clark and myself. The photos were taken out in the desert in Southern California in tricky mid-day lighting. My goal for the first photo was to smooth out the look as much as possible to help make the harsh lighting less obvious. Apart from that, I smoothed out the skin tones a bit and touched up the areas around the knees. Other details included fixing one of the swimsuit top straps that was twisted, straightening the shot, removing a piece of re-bar that was showing over the top right corner and adding a subtle vignette.

Looking at the original photo, it looks like the window frame Jessica had to climb up on was quite dirty! I had to clean some dirt of her hands as well. Haha.

Jessica Coats Modeling Before and After

The photo on the right has all the improvements. I went for a smoother dreamglow effect as well. Click to view larger.

In the second photo below, I experimented by smoothing out the photo with a dreamglow effect, however I then used an unsharp mask to sharpen it again. I wanted to completely clip her out of the shot in order to be able to use the image over marketing material I was working on for – I experimented with a couple of logo locations. In the end, I ended up using various versions on the site itself as well as on the site’s Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Jessica Swimsuit with Background

Jessica Swimsuit with FloatWays Logo

Promo Videos for RavX Cycling Lights

by Danny Cruz| Follow Danny @sixstringsensei on Twitter HERE

This is mostly a graphic design blog, but as many of you already know, my interests are many and I stray from the topic sometimes.  However, video filming and editing shares a very close relationship with graphic arts.  I recently created two promo videos for RAVX Inc. to help promote 2 of their new cycling lights.

The first one was recorded mostly with a GoPro HD Hero camera while mountain biking at night in North County, San Diego, CA.  Most of the photography and some of the smaller clips were shot with a Canon 7D SLR camera with a 60mm EF prime macro lens.

The second video was recorded with the same Canon 7D and a couple of studio soft box lights and a pair of fluorescent hard lights. It was supposed to be something quick and was to be done in about a days worth of work. We had to reshoot some of the hand sequences since we were coming up with the “script” as we moved along, but in the end it came out pretty good.

Due to time constraints, I quickly put together a soundtrack in Apple Garageband for both videos. It was what I had available on the computer I had on site and I had to make it work. Usually, building the soundtrack for a video is considerable more time consuming and I reserve that to Apple Logic Pro.


My Favorite Kiteboarding Photo

by Danny Cruz| Follow Danny @sixstringsensei on Twitter HERE

Indy glide over Maui, thumbnail

I want to talk to  you about my favorite kiteboarding photo.  Go ahead!  Take a look.  It’s the photo at the very end of this post.  There’s a lot going on in that photo.  So much that it deserves an entire post.

There’s a lot going on in that photo. So much that it deserves an entire post.

First of all, the setting.  This photo was shot in Maui, Hawaii in late October 2005.  At the time, I was not living on Maui.  I had moved out about a year before that.  I had flown to Hawaii from Puerto Rico earlier that month to spend 5 weeks training before heading to Southern California on a scouting trip.  I was planning to move to SoCal the following year.

I rode almost every day for 3 or 4 weeks before the day this photo was shot.  Let me tell you, the best time to be on Maui for kiteboarding is the fall.  The waves are epic most of the time and the wind is relentless.  This fall was no exception.  I spent most of the time riding waves and was a bit less focused on freestyle tricks at this point.  I had already “retired” from kiteboarding and was out there just to have fun and not get hurt.

At Kitebeach there’s a shallow spot right in the middle.  When there are waves on the outside reefs, a whole array of awesome kickers form in the inside right over this shallow bar.  This provides excellent ramps that mirror a boat’s wake.  These ramps are ideal for doing powered up wakestyle tricks.  I don’t think there’s a better place in the world for this. On this particular session I had ridden out just before sunset.  The conditions were excellent and the wind was filling the inside quite nicely at about 20 mph.  The kickers on the shallows were rolling through nicely, and I was out with only 2 other kiters, non other than brothers Shawn and Jesse Richman.  Keep in mind, this was back in 2005 when the Richman brothers still looked up to me as a rider.  Given that now they are world renown kiteboarders and Jesse just so happened to win the world championship, now it definitely me looking up to them.

…conditions were excellent and the wind was filling the inside quite nicely at about 20 mph.

The 3 of us were hitting the kickers and pulling trick after trick. The evening was getting incredibly beautiful as the sun was setting behind the West Maui Mountains.  Usually, the clouds over the mountains are much thicker.  This renders the sunset a bit dark and somber rather than an impressive array of color.  But today, the clouds were not as thick and the sunset was showing a nice deep purple color.  The visibility was great.

Photographer Ethan Janson from Seattle took advantage of the perfect situation.  He was out at the shallows with a 16 megapixel camera and a powerful strobe light.  He shot photo after photo of us doing our thing over the kickers.  I still remember the second this photo was taken.  The trick is called an Indy Glide and it involves jumping off a small wave while fully powered and extending your body horizontally while keeping your knees bent in order to reach and grab the center rail of the board with your trailing hand.  To do the trick properly the kite must be very low in the sky and fully powered to simulate the pull of a boat.  Ideally, you must also he unhooked from the kite and holding the bar near the center with only one hand.  At the point this shot was taken, I had reached the apex of my jump and my trailing hand had just released the board.  A second later, I pulled the board back under me, landed hot and rode away.  Perfect!  This was one trick I was very good at.

This impromptu photo shoot yielded a bunch of great photos.  One of  the pics made the cover of AAA Westways Magazine in Southern California.  This particular shot however is my favorite by far.  It shows so much and the form is just perfect.  I have hundreds of kiteboarding photos from my pro-riding days.  This one is still my favorite.  -D

Be sure to click the the image to see the full photo.

Kiteboarding Indy Glide