Chad Blotner Photography and Gallery | Blog

Getting the Shot!

September 18, 2015  •  1 Comment

It’s been a few weeks since I posted anything, as I have definitely been busy.  Several people have asked about my night time shots, set up, and lighting. I am going to cover how I achieved the above photo.

I shot this at Black Balsam Mountain off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Tuesday night around 1030 pm.  My vision required me to pack in lots of equipment. It took time and planning to get some shots and others were able to be candid.

The planning started with wanting a night shot that included the milky way. This would require a clear, moonless night. Next was location.  Living near big towns and cities requires travel to areas where there is little light pollution. Several different websites offer direction to areas with minimal light pollution. I had already went up on Monday night so I knew I liked the location but you can use ( to help you decide on a location.

My vision was a couple laying in a tent and staring out into the night sky taking in the beauty that God has given us. The shot would require a couple (guy and girl), tent, backpack, camping items... And of course camera and lighting equipment.

Once everything was packed and loaded in our packs, we were off on the short hike up the mountain.  Once there, we set camp as if we were staying for the evening. I oriented the tent to the milky way so it would be in the center of the tent opening. The backpack, chairs and jet boil were staged where I wanted them. The camera was set up in the tent with a wide angle lens set to 10mm. Several test exposures were taken to solidify the composition and exposure.

After a couple adjustments, we were set to ISO 1600, f-3.5 and shutter speed was 20 seconds. At this point, I was ready to add a couple of flashes.

Two flashes on light stands were placed approximately 12 feet away  almost even with the front of the tent (one on each side). Imagine a clock face. The camera is at 6:00 position, the left flash was at 9:00 and pointing to 2:00, and the right flash was at 3:00 pointing to 10:00. Settings were 1/128th power and zoomed to 70mm.

After everything was set, we got into place and started shooting. We changed positions of our legs and feet several times and ended up with this photo being as the final product. After multiple other positions and poses we packed up and hiked back out for our drive home.

This shoot was so much fun and I'm happy with the outcome. I know this post was a little long, but I hope it was informative for those who may want to add this style to your portfolio.  Thanks for reading and happy shooting!

Hot Spot Skate Park

August 19, 2015  •  1 Comment

Hot Spot Skate Park Last week I stopped by Hot Spot Skate Park in Spartanburg, S.C and photographed a few skateboarders and Inline skaters. Hot Spot Skate Park opened its doors in 2009 and was the first public concrete skate park to open in S.C. The park has lots to offer skaters from rails, walls, 2 half pipes, a bowl and even some stairs.

I was amazed at some of the local talent out there skating. One who stood out to me was a young lady by the name of Kennady Kent—a twenty-year-old who grew up in Greenville, SC and who is currently attending Converse College here in Spartanburg. Kennady surprised me simply because you don't typically see females doing aggressive inline skating. Growing up, her family was active in the local pavilion with ice hockey and skating, but she had never tried inline skating.

Kennadys boyfriend Kheven surprised her with her first pair of inline skates back in April and after that she has hit the rail grinding.  Kennadys first grind was a Soul grind (pictured above) but her favorite is the Miszou grind. She constantly strives to make her form better with each session whether it is the mount, her speed or her landing she just wants each grind to be perfect.  She credits her boyfriend Kheven and close friend Anthony for teaching her everything she knows. Kennady tries to skate the park at least 1-3 times a week depending on work and school schedules between her and Kheven.

Kennady likes rollerblading for several reasons the first being she gets to skate and spend time with her boyfriend kheven while doing something he also loves. It is also great exercise, inexpensive and is very rewarding when you learn a new trick. Her current goal is to ride the quarter pipe and get some air on the ramps by the end of the year. I personally don't see this as being too hard for her to achieve after watching her skate. Kheven and Anthony tell her she is a natural at aggressive inline skating and I couldn't agree more with them. Best of luck to you Kennady!

Safety Gear

August 08, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Hello and welcome! Sunday was another good day out on the Green for the most part. I'm getting use to the hike in not the hike out so much. lol Its a moderate hike with a couple strenuous spots near the river. After a month of hiking in and shooting I pretty much know what I need and don't need as far as gear goes. I've taken everything out of my camera bag that I feel I don't need but have added a few things I normally don't carry. I've been scouting the river looking for different perspectives and different rapids to photograph. A few of these spots are right on boulders in the water and some I have to be in the water standing on slick rocks.

I've had safety instilled in me from working in a Nuclear Power Plant for many years. Safety first! They preach it over and over. I've never been the best at safety but over the years it finally sunk in. When I am out scouting a new location the first thing I think about is safety because of what I have been taught from being in a very safety conscious work environment. Some of the spots I have in mind they are very dangerous. I like to be up close to the action with a wide angle or fisheye lens but other times I'm good being off in the distance with a zoom lens. I invested in some safety gear this past weekend to help keep me safe when getting into those dangerous places. Fast flowing water and slick rocks are a combination for disaster if you're not careful. I bought a Astral GreenJacet PFD and a Liquid Logic 75' speed bag (safety rope) to protect me from an accidental fall. I also wore a helmet which I already had. All gear worked out great and allowed me to get at the very bottom of the seal launch and Gorilla and feel safe about being down there. I managed to get a few good shots but not what I was really hoping for. I was basically trying a few things out that I don't do a lot of. (panning and flash) This was the first using both while shooting kayaking for me. I did learn that I do need to get a cover for my camera to help keep the moisture out of it. It never got wet but the mist eventually got into it a little and caused it to act up. 

Once home I checked the  camera  and it was still acting up.  After trying to download my pictures with no success I had to download a recovery app to retrieve them from the memory card. Thankfully I was able to get them all back and in the process learned a valuable lesson and that is to keep moisture off your camera the best you can. I have never had this issue before and have shot on the river plenty of times before but there's always a first time for everything. Lessons learned from this trip is it's just as important to protect your camera as it is to protect yourself while being on the river. Until next time be safe out there!

Taking on Gorilla!

August 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Hello and welcome to my first blog post! A little bit about me I'm Chad and I live just outside of Spartanburg, SC. I am an I.B.E.W. Union member (local 379) also, on the Board of Directors for the Spartanburg Photography Guild and have a exceptional passion for photography. Though lately I've had a hankering for photographing Whitewater kayaking. Whitewater kayaking is an extreme and breathtaking sport to say the least. Over the last month I have been photographing and meeting kayakers on the Green river in beautiful Saluda NC.

The Green river is a well-known destination for whitewater kayakers in the southeast and luckily for me it's pretty much in my backyard. It has a lot to offer from easy class I to class IV  rapids for the adrenaline junkies. There are several large rapids on the upper Green but the most photogenic is Gorilla (flume). A couple weeks ago I captured Andrew Reed going over Gorilla for his first time and like a real gorilla it's a beast. Andrew actually caught up with me a little later after seeing me out there taking pictures and asked about getting a copy of the photos or where he could view them at. That's when I knew I needed a website so I can share these moments with these guys and girls. They are risking their lives at times for the rush of adrenaline while running the Green or any river for fun. 

Andrew is a 23 yr. old weekend warrior from Rome, GA. He kayaks on the weekends and sometimes during the week if he gets the chance. He started kayaking about 4 years ago and after taking many of lessons from other boaters and veterans in the kayak community he took to the upper Green. It took him 3.5 years to get ready to take on the upper Green as it's not for the faint of heart. He wanted to be prepared and have confidence in his abilities before risking his life for a couple hours of fun on the river. As Andrew paddled the upper Green for months he still spent many times bypassing several of the rapids as they are pretty massive until he had the mind set and the confidence in his abilities. Finally he had the confidence, mind set and feeling of being ready to conquer Gorilla. A few of his buddies gathered at the bottom with safety ropes and were ready to help him if he was to get into trouble. Off he goes and over he went not the best line but he made it. He had a little trouble at the bottom but was safe and made it out unharmed. It was amazing to watch all the other kayakers cheer him on, help him out and congratulate him on his accomplishment. This was a big deal for him. The following week I was able to photograph him going over it again this time a great line and nice landing with no issues at all. 

Talking with Andrew about his experience running the green his advice to anyone wanting to take on the Green is; know your limits, be confident in your skills and don't run anything you don't feel comfortable with. Don't let your buddies push or pressure you into running any big rapids you aren't comfortable with as it will only get you hurt or killed. Andrew is planning on doing the Green River Race which happens the first Saturday in November. He plans to continue practicing each rapid, working on getting the best lines, work on building more confidence and  making sure his stamina is up to par. I know the race is a ways off but best of luck to you Andrew and thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me and I'll see you on the Green!

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