This week I felt a little miserable, mostly because my nose wouldn’t stop running for 2 days straight. There are few things I hate more than a runny nose and a sore throat. Luckily this time it was only my nose…

Out of this misery came the idea for this week’s photo. It’s pretty weird, but all I really wanted was a nose-head that had snot running out of it. Instead, it kind of turned out to look more like a depressed and crying nose-head. Again, I don’t always intend for these things to happen, but it’s interesting how it works out that way…

On to the lighting –

I couldn’t depict it perfectly, but to get this dramatic lighting, I placed a 28 inch softbox directly overhead.

These are the two photos that I used –

It took quite a bit of retouching and editing to make it look decent. Part of that required me to select a color range of my hair, invert that selection, and then paint in my nose over my face to make it look realistic. I also played with the pen tool and layer styles to create the tears/snot.

That’s all folks, I think from now on I’ll try to take a step back and give a set-up shot of the lighting instead of diagrams. We’ll see how it goes…

-Rob Rice


I get a lot of inspiration and ideas from 500px, as is the case with this week’s photo. While thumbing through popular photos, I came across This Image created by Alexey Oborotov and flat-out wanted to create my own. Just being honest.

On to the lighting…

I went with a simple lighting setup to make it seem more natural – one speedlight aimed at the ceiling in front of me. This created a large softbox above (and in front of) me and provided good contrast and as well as shadows under the eyebrows/chin. I ended up using only two photos to make this image – one head on shot and one profile (side) shot –

I know that I wanted the final result in black and white, so I mostly worked on it in Black and White by adding an Hue-Saturation Adjustment Layer and turning the saturation all the way down. I could easily hide this layer if I wanted to see the color version as I was editing.

Combining the two photos involved stacking one on top of the other (so there are two layers), lining them up (which I do by reducing the opacity of the photo on top and moving it where it best fits), and begin masking areas out. A lot of this is trial and error, hiding and revealing (blending) until it looks right. this is what the two photos looked like on their own –

After I had the main foundation done, I went ahead and did some dodging and burning, adding a few textures to the background, and threw on a High Pass Filter to finish it off. Boom, done.


It’s been one full year since I released the Kansas EP,
so I thought I’d take a moment to remind you all of it.

It doesn’t cost you anything
and is something close to my heart.

If you don’t have it, download it.
If you do have it, listen to it.

That is all.

-Rob Rice


This week’s photo is brought to you by the idea of overcoming the addiction of sleeping in to engage in healthy and productive activities.

…let me just say that I’m still not very good at waking up early, but I am being better about doing yoga, meditation, and/or exercise everyday.

Anyways, this photo represents what I wish would happen when I first wake up – levitation through meditation. For some reason, getting out of bed is always the longest process for me… It’s just so dang comfy! But the idea is to rise above that comfort to pursue living a balanced and healthy life every day.

At first, I was planning to do a levitation-type photo where I was laying down flat and floating upwards with a sheet over me, but then it just started looking like something out of Paranormal Activity, so I scrapped that idea.

One thing I’m learning from this Project is that I’m not very good about planning, or maybe just sticking to the plan or original idea. Part of that may be that I don’t plan enough details ahead of time, and part of that may be that plans change and that it’s good to play around with an idea until you have something that you like.

On to the lighting setup…

What you may not have realized is that it was actually around midnight when I got inspired to create this photo, and when it hits I run with it. So to recreate a morning sunrise, I put a flash with a CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gel outside of my bedroom window so that it would give light to the window area. What was really nice is that a streak came through the window and hit my arm and bed, which added to the realism. And what was super funny is that Lucy probably thought something crazy was going on outside of her bedroom (her room is directly above my room, and that flash was probably leaking into her window as well).

Another thing I’ve been learning is how to light the interiors of rooms, and from that I decided to use a simple technique to create a large light source – aim a flash into the top corner of a room. Assuming that your walls and ceiling are white, you’ve just created a 3-8 foot umbrella/softbox/reflector. After adding a CTO gel to that flash as well, it matched the outside flash’s color temperature, and made midnight look like 7am.

Now on to the magic…

It wasn’t really magic, just photoshop. I was sitting on a footrest to elevate me to about the height I wanted to be. I also took a second photo of just the room so I could simply photoshop the footrest out, draw back some of my leg and foot, and draw in some more of the shadows behind me.

I also took some time to play with the color temperature with a Curves adjustment layer, sharpened the photo, and viola!!

-Rob Rice


I have been described multiple times (mostly by one dear friend in particular) as a ManBoy – A male adult with boy-ish features (such as being skinny, having no chest hair/patchy facial hair, and acting/being playful/goofy like a child in general).

As fate would have it, I was asked to babysit my 7 year old nephew Zander one evening, which is when this manifestation of the ManBoy photo occurred – I envisioned my semi-manly (goofy) head on his boyish body wearing my clothes.

Here’s the lighting setup for the studio (basement) shot –

This is a lighting technique that I love and continue to use (abuse) – One medium sized softbox in front of the subject and a bit overhead, and two softboxes beside and behind the subject providing a nice, soft rim.

And here are the two photos that were combined to create the final image –

Editing consisted of cutting my head out and compositing onto his body, as well as cleaning the background up (bed, electrical outlet, blanket/door, etc…) The hardest part of this shoot may have been keeping his pants held up. Apparently 7 year olds don’t do too well with size 30 skinny jeans…

Until next week,

-Rob Rice


Let me start off by showing my lame-ness and saying that I have not yet seen The NeverEnding Story…

I have heard many great things about it. I may have seen random parts of the movie years ago. I do plan on watching it very soon, and I’m even more inspired to enjoy it after this week.

There’s that. On to the photo…

My main goal for this was to go for a ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ (which I have seen) vibe of me riding my grandmother’s dog Myaki. See the following sketch…

And for you lighting nerds…

Large Umbrella up front slightly off to camera right, a speedlight behind off to camera left, and I think I was entirely shaded by the tree line above, so only minor soft ambient light.

First off, it’s very hard to get an animal to do what you want. Especially untrained animals… It took awhile for me to get a shot of Myaki that I thought was suitable enough to use, and then I had to shoot myself based on the photo I chose.

All this time, my grandma Lucy was staring out of the kitchen window laughing and wondering what the heck I was doing.

After finishing the composite of us riding through the backyard, I realized how ridiculous we both looked with our goofy smiling faces – I literally snapped Myaki running across the backyard with the wind in his face, and I just wanted to look like I was having fun.

The goofiness of the expressions wasn’t matching the backyard setting for me, so I searched through old photos and came across this shot I took from the window seat while flying back from Colombia, and it just pushed it to the next level of ridiculous. So much, in fact, that it reminded me of the young boy Bastian riding Falcor, and I went with it.

Now all that’s left is to watch the movie.

-Rob Rice


While I was sitting the meditation course this summer, I spent a lot of time enjoying the beauty of nature that surrounded me. It’s amazing what you’ll see when you allow yourself to take the time to just sit and witness. I especially loved watching the trees, I would spend hours just laying in the grass and staring up at the tall, incredibly strong trees swaying in the wind. I was quite infatuated with this, and during those 10 days I envisioned a lot of neat photography ideas related to what I saw. I plan to build upon this first photo and continue with the One with Nature theme during this Project 52, and I’m really excited about it!!

On to the details…

First off, I’m introducing a new stage of BTS, and that is the sketch. Let me warn you ahead of time (although your eyes probably went straight to it) that I am awful at sketching. I will probably get better over time, but honestly, I don’t really need to. The point of sketching is to get a ROUGH idea down of the picture you have in your head, and this was my idea –

There it is, the simple idea of my body and the tree bark molded in to one. As I’ve mentioned before, I love the way the sun pokes through the trees in the mornings and evenings, so I decided to do this shoot all natural. Lighting (ambient) is as follows –

That big circle behind me is the tree (there was no icon for that) and the sun was coming from camera left (my right side).

It doesn’t get easier than that. The main idea was to take a photo of the tree by itself, and then to take a photo of me pressed up against the tree (the awkward stance was unintentional), and to make some magic happen in Photoshop. You have to be quick this early in the morning, because the sun moves really fast!

Originally, I thought it would be cool to have the tree bark creeping up my stomach/chest (like my illustration) while my arms, shoulders, and head were out, but then it looked a bit like a tube top which I wasn’t crazy about. I played around with a few variations until I finally settled on this version which gave it a Tarzan-like feel.

In photoshop, I layered the bark photo on top, created a layer mask to have the bark appear only where I wanted, added some shadows in certain places to make it look like I was actually coming out of the tree, liquified some areas of the bark to give it some depth (like it was wrapping around me), and added a dark bark area on the ends to make it look like the bark was chipped off.

I also cropped it in quite a bit to give the focus more to the tree (and myself) rather than it’s surroundings. As much as I liked seeing the ground and the bottom of the tree trunk, it was a bit distracting to the eye (which I’m becoming more aware of when editing photos).

Not quite what I first envisioned, or the route I thought I’d take editing-wise, but I definitely learned a ton and had a lot of fun creating this one!!

-Rob Rice


Wait, did you think I meant it would be just girls in bikinis?? You should have known better than that…

There’s not much story to this photo except that it was a hot, summer day and some friends were having a pool party, so I brought my gear and we played around with splashing, jumping, diving, hair-whipping, etc.

My good friend Adam was gracious enough to take the photo, and it turned out very manly. That doesn’t happen with me very often…

Here’s the set-up –


Big ol umbrella in front and to camera left, and two bare speedlights behind on both sides. It’s pretty much the same type of setup as last week’s, but notice how different the quality of the lights are and how they effect the outcome.

This one was pretty extensive in Photoshop because I had to (unintentionally) cut three photos together, and they are as follows –

Can you guess what comes from which photo?!?! Go ahead, scroll up and piece it together…

Alright, well, I didn’t intend to photoshop anything really, but I wasn’t happy with any of these three on their own, so I ended up taking the girls from the first photo, adding in my body from the second photo (my posture and composure were much better in this one), and covering up my creepy accidental wink (I was protecting my eyeball from the splashing water) with the eyes from the third photo. Not too shabby…

After all the compositing was done, I took some time to dodge and burn my body (enhance highlights and shadows) to make me look a bit stronger than I actually am. I also played with the color some to make everyone a bit more bronzy, and the standard high-pass filter.

And there you have it, the manliest you’ll ever see me.

-Rob Rice


I got the chance to spend an entire evening shooting photos of my good friend Hebby and his girlfriend (my new friend) Courtney, and we had a blast! We hit up a few different locations in the downtown KC area including the Union Station, the Kauffman Center, as well as an alleyway in between the two that had some awesome textures/features. I had a great time catching up, as well as setting up a bunch of lights in an outside environment (nothing fell over!!), so I’d say it was a successful night!

-Rob Rice


Working in a Gymnastics Gym (with a Rock Climbing Wall on the back wall), it never occurred to me (until recently) that I should take photos of these amazing young athletes. I often get distracted while at work just witnessing them doing phenomenal physically-demanding movements on rings, bars, poles, and floors.

Wanting to expand my portfolio and try something new, I decided to organize a couple hours one morning where a few of the upper level guys could show me their best moves, and in return I can give them some cool photos. Parts of this shoot were a bit more difficult than I had anticipated, mainly because they’re flipping on poles and bars that are 10-15 feet off of the ground, so trying to get my lights (and myself) on the same level proved to be challenging on certain events. I feel like I got some great ones though, and my favorites are as follows –

-Rob Rice

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