The BBC and Chicago Pedway

I'm excited to say my photos made a major news network. I'm fortunate to have had my Chicago Pedway photos accompany a BBC article written by Ella Buchan, which you can read here

They used a good chunk of my photos, but I've got an expanded gallery here for you to check out. The Chicago Pedway is truly an amazing place within Chicago. As Margaret Hicks says in the article, “I really do think the Pedway is one of Chicago's neighbourhoods." It is. It has it's own feel separate from any other place in the city.

I encourage everyone to take a day and check it out. Click on any of the images below to view the full, un-cropped photo.

The Kiss Kiss Cabaret - Expanded Gallery (3/08/13)

It brings me great pleasure to present you with an expanded selection of images from last weeks Kiss Kiss Cabaret, Chicago's finest weekly comedy & burlesque cabaret.  This shows featured performers were Donna Touch and Vikki Badd.  If these images pique your interest, consider getting some tickets for tonights performance.

If you do, look for the guy with the camera and say hi!

The images below are Not Safe For Work.

The shoot that was a year in the making...


fop |fäp|
a man who is concerned with his clothes and appearance in an affected and excessive way; a dandy.


It all started Valentine's day 2009.  I was hired by the Belmont Burlesque Revue to set up a photobooth for patrons, and also to photograph the show.  This was a special show titled "Broken Hearts Burlesque Ball" and was held at the Abbey Pub here in Chicago.  For those of you not familiar with the Abbey, it's a larger venue than the BBR normally plays, making this show more of a rock concert than a vaudeville theater experience.  Burlesque performers from around the city came to perform.  Chris, who usually plays Second Cousin Joe in the show, wanted to do something different since this was a "Ball."  He wanted to come in as a fancy gentleman.  Top hat, tux with tails, cane, etc.  But when he went to Chicago Costume, the owners son had a very different definition of "Fancy Gentleman."

Chris made his grand entrance as Lord Toppenbottom.  A mask wearing fop, prepared for decadent fun.  He was an instant hit as he walked around the floor playing with the crowd.  It was the ultimate in audience participation, patrons would walk over and spank Lord Toppenbottem.  Ask to have pictures taken with him.  He would cap any encounter with a laugh straight out of Amadeus.  It was a HUGE hit with the crowd.  Chris really owned his character and made a big impression on all of us.

Ever since that night I had been thinking of ways to capture the Toppenbottom experience.  But what would I do?  Period shoot?  Burlesque shoot?  What tells the story?  I decided that the only way to tackle this was to charge in and hope the dice sing (D&D expression).  The initial thought I would riff on was "Party like its 1710 in 2010."  I'd need a fop and modern girls dressed like they were going out clubbing.

I talked to Chris about models and gave him the ultimate decision who he wanted to work with.  He came to me with Natanya and Elise.  Both of whom I hadn't worked with, but have known for a long time.  Chris explained the basic concept to them, they'd need clubbing dresses, and that we might strip down to bra and panties.

I arranged to meet with Chris at Chicago Costumes.  I arrived before Chris and really had no idea what I was looking for.  It was close to closing time and we were having some trouble finding Chris' costume based on my rough description.  After about 20 minutes of me pulling pirate costumes that could work, Chris came in, walked right over to the rack and pulled the exact same costume he had for the Abbey show.  Chris regaled the clerk and I with stories from the year before, being made to look like a fop by the owners son.  Everything came together when the clerk found the poofy horn wig that ties the whole outfit together.

Chris and I left with our rental and met up with my girlfriend, Shauna, for pizza.  I tried to explain what I was going for in the shoot.  A few basic ideas, but nothing fleshed out in the slightest.  I could see Chris getting a little nervous that maybe this wasn't such a great idea getting involved in this... what would I make him look like?

That night I put some more thought into the shoot.  A few more ideas to riff with.  My new take on things was "One of these things is not like the other."  Lord Toppenbottom, in all his decadent glory, would be mirroring what the girls did and exaggerating what the girls were doing.




We shot everything on a white background, with the lights close to the subjects to gray it out.  I shot mostly with an 85mm 1.8 lens on my Canon 5D MKII.  This shoot was an absolute blast to work on.  I recommend Natanya, Elise, and Chris as excellant models.  Shauna was an excellant assistant and DJ.  I can't wait to work with this crew again.

As always, I'd love to hear your feedback.


 EXTRA TIDBIT - The following photo is not safe for work, but I'd feel awful to not post it.  It was one of the last set ups we shot and was Shauna's idea.  If you were wondering what Lord Toppenbottom has in common with Mine That Bird...







Not at work? Click for larger version.


New Gear.


Pylons in Lake Michigan. Click to see a larger version.Well the day has come.  After a lot of researching and debate I've finally gotten a Canon 5D Mark II.  I'll spare you a lot of technical jargon and simply say it's a very nice camera.

So we've had such a lovely weekend here in Chicago that I've had a lot of time to try out the body as well as what is quickly becoming one of my favorite little lenses... the Lensbaby Composer.  This lens is what you'd call a "selective focus" lens.  That means you can select a single focus point in the image and from that point, everything blurs outward.  Some of you may be familiar with a Tilt-Shift lens which acts similarly.  However, a tilt shift lens will give you a line of focus, the lensbaby gives you a circle.

I took a lot of photos this weekend, three more you can see here after the break.

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Pan that camera!

Lincoln Park Zoo, ChicagoI'm very excited to present my first Greg Inda Photography "How-To." Today I'm going to talk about panning with the subject to eliminate annoying vertical bars at zoos.

At the zoo you find lots of great photographic subjects. Lions and tigers and bears Oh My. But unfortunately you'll also confront cages. A photographers worst nightmare. Might as well be a big screen that says "No Photography Allowed!" Someone looking at a photograph wants to be brought into the world your creating, and the bars disconnect you from that world. So the way we get around this is panning with the subject, in my case the lion.

To understand panning I need to explain two concepts. The first is shutter speed. Shutter speed is the amount of time light, or to simplify things, the amount of time the lion is being shown to the camera sensor. That amount of time can be anywhere from hours to minutes to thirty seconds to 1/8000th of a second. On your average photograph it's usually around 1/60th-1/250th.

The next concept is panning. Panning is when you follow the subject with your camera. It's used frequently in auto racing photography to produce that blur you see around a car. Picture locking your camera to a tripod and only being able to rotate left and right.

So now let me lay this out there, a slow shutter speed + panning creates motion blur. Note that a slow shutter speed is determined by the speed of the subject. 1/20th is slow for a lion but really fast for a slug or three toed sloth.

Now, on to the images top to bottom.

Image #1
This was the situation when I arrived at the lion habitat. Big male pacing back and forth. It was dark in the lion house, so I was shooting at ISO 1600. I wanted to get an initial look at the situation and evaluate my settings, so this image was a test. Other settings were 1/100th and f/4. My biggest concern from this point on is eliminating the vertical bars in front of the lion.

Image #2
This was my first attempt at panning. I propped my elbow against the guard rail to stabilize myself and my camera so I could pan with the lion. I dropped my shutter speed to *1/40th and increased my apeture to f/9 to compensate for the change.  Upon review I realized the shutter was still too fast and the bars were still too visible.

Image #3
One fear with regard to panning is focus.  Since the subject is moving while your shutter is open, you are generally going to lose some degree of focus.  So the slower your shutter speed is, the more in sync you need to be with the panning speed of the subject, keeping their features in line while you pan.  For this image I dropped my shutter speed to 1/8th of a second and managed to eliminate the bars entirely from the scene.  As you can see scrolling from the top down, you start off with a strong sense of the cage, but by this image you start to feel near the animal.

Image #4
This is the final product after taking image #3 through photoshop.  I've stretched the lion to the left to eliminate the blue bar, but more importantly, to give the lion more space in the frame.  I don't want the lion to seem constrained or shrunk within the image, so this was a simple selection and stretch.  After that I warmed up the image to better represent the colors as I saw them in the exhibit.  You can view this final image large in my Animal gallery.

*For those of you with point and shoot cameras, you can manipulate these settings by using "exposure compensation." Though a lot of things are happening to create proper exposure, in most cases if you want to increase the amount of time your shutter is open you will compensate to the right (otherwise known as the + side). And if you want a faster shutter, open for less time to freeze motion, you want to compensate to the left.


I hope you found this helpful, if you have any questions or or feedback, feel free to leave me a comment below.  Thanks for stopping by!

Greg Inda