Tag Archives: LED

Stranger 97/100 – Atiyah

100 Strangers - AtiyahStranger 97/100 – Atiyah

“I’m just so eager for that next level in my life…”

Meet Atiyah.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “I would definitely tell myself that everything that you desire… just be patient. Be prayerful and be patient most of all. I feel like I’ve tried to speed up the process, and the process takes time. Anything that you want to be great… it takes time.”

How did you learn that? “Time… and I have a lot of wise people in my life that have mentored me, and I’m grateful for them.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “It’s so weird because I just gave my younger self that advice about being patient, and I’m still working on that. I’m just so eager for that next level in my life, my career and right now I’m in preparation for it. I’m just setting myself up for it and… I’m anxious.”

So that begs the question: what are your goals? Where do you want to be in ten years? “In ten years, I hope to have my own business, make-up service, where I can, you know, just work behind the scenes… setting up to work, to go do make-up jobs. That’s what I’m doing now… I’m being sent out to do the make-up jobs. So, in ten years, I want to be doing the sending out.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Limitless. I feel like there a limitless possibilities in life.”

What is the biggest misconception people have about you? “A lot of people don’t understand me because I’m very assertive. I guess my mean business face looks like I’m mad, but I just mean business that’s all.”

Technical Notes: I used a small LED panel to reduce the shadows on the right side of Atiyah’s face.

Stranger 95/100 – Emaan

100 Strangers - EmaanStranger 95/100 – Emaan

“I’m just sort of trying to find something that I like doing… I haven’t found it yet.”

Meet Emaan.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “I feel like I don’t even know yet. I guess that it’s ok not to have everything planned out.”

So, when you were younger, you wanted everything in a certain way? “Yeah… tried to plan everything out and scheduled everything.”

Did something change that? “No, just the plans not working out… life happening… realizing that I can be open to other possibilities.”

What is your biggest challenge right now… getting through this interview? “{laughs} I don’t know… being more comfortable. Also realizing that if everything does make me uncomfortable then that’s ok… I have to do it anyways.”

What are your goals? Where do you want to be in ten years? “Independent. Career-wise… doing something that I enjoy that I can make a living off of. I’m just sort of trying to find something that I like doing… I haven’t found it yet.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “I really would want it to say nothing… maybe a nice picture or something. I feel like I get too distracted trying to read stuff.”

What picture would it be? “A picture of what was directly behind the billboard.”

What is the biggest misconception people have about you? “Maybe that I’m not friendly… that maybe I’m too standoffish.”

Technical Notes: I used a small LED panel to add light to Emaan’s face.

Stranger 94/100 – Matt

100 Strangers - MattStranger 94/100 – Matt

“The number of times I regularly get asked if I have any weed…”

Meet Matt.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “I feel like the things I didn’t know were part of what made me who I am today. I don’t know that I would want to tell my younger self anything.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Being able to say no to really good things for even better things. I think that would be my… the thing I’m wrestling the most with right now.”

What are your goals? Where do you want to be in ten years? “{laughs} We laugh because we just had this conversation a couple days ago. In ten years our daughter is going to be out of high school. I don’t know. I’m trying to figure that one out right now too. I know that, right now, I’m doing what I need to be doing, what I’ve been called to do, so I’m going to keep doing that until I know that next piece. Right now it’s the figuring out how much do I wait for it and how much do I go out and try to figure it out… try to get there myself. I love what I do.”

“So I work part-time at a school teaching music… I teach songwriting and beat making and music production. I taught math for eleven years. I love my school. I love my co-workers. I love my students. I work part-time at a church… also on the music front.”

What is the biggest misconception people have about you? “The number of times I regularly get asked if I have any weed… I got nothing… sorry man. That’s a fairly regular misconception. I get asked if I’m in high school a lot. I’ve been teaching high school for a long time.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “There’s more.”

Technical Notes: It was an overcast day, so I used my small LED panel to light up Matt’s face.

Stranger 93/100 – Derrick

100 Strangers - DerrickStranger 93/100 – Derrick

“Check your spiritual capital…”

Meet Derrick.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “You should read The Bible so you’ll know who the father is in heaven, and you’ll know how things began. So, if you ever run into a situation like me of being shelter-less… because we’re really not homeless because you’re homeless in heaven. So sometimes god is sending you in the streets like boot camp.”

“So the advice is keep the faith, have ethics, try to be as honest as you can, work hard and don’t let nobody discourage you.”

What’s the biggest misconception people have about shelter-less people? “They think they’re all trifling and don’t want to work, and it’s not true.”

“Some people have been homeless in cars. Some people have been homeless in the sticks… the sticks is when you’re sleeping outside on a bench… and in the woods.“

“You actually give a shit because you’re trying to talk to people. You’re not trying to take advantage… you’re trying to understand what’s making their clock tick, what’s happening, what’s the truth.”

“I’ve found the churches spend 98% on administration costs and half a percent on actually helping the people.”

“Now the church is given $10,000 every time they pick a busload up, every two weeks, each church. But it still leaves some people out in the cold because the men’s shelter is a biohazard, and it just closed a month ago. They have no shelter because Urban Ministry is closed, but yet they’re government funded. Now, they have money for housing that they could give to the people that are homeless, but they chose to give it to the church who let them stay one or two nights. Instead of giving it to them, they give it to the church to keep them homeless, so the people who work there can pay for their cars and their houses. In other words, it’s a business… if we get them off the street then, hell, we don’t have a job. So, it shouldn’t be like that.”

Technical Notes: It was an overcast day, so I used my small LED panel to light up Derrick’s face (and give him a nice catch light in the eyes).

Stranger 92/100 – Amala

Stranger-92-Amala.jpgStranger 92/100 – Amala

“Relationships are the reason why we exist.”

Meet Amala.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “Just live and enjoy the moment. Everything will be fine. Just live! {Laughs} You don’t have to get married before you’re thirty. You don’t have to have kids. You don’t have to ride the styles. You don’t have to have this job. You can be happy without any of that.”

How did that become clear to you? “I read a lot, so reading and getting to hear other people’s perspective. I follow a lot of world news. I’m in finance, so for me it’s always interesting how people equate money to happiness, and that’s never going to stop because that’s what you’re bombarded with in your day-to-day lives. I’m like you… I love talking to strangers and getting their perspective. Expose your mindset to different ways of thinking. That’s the most important thing.”

So you’re a believer in the idea that we’re not set in stone from birth but that we can learn and change? “Absolutely. The things you find hardest in life are the things you don’t want to change. So, if you really want something, you can develop your mindset and you can cultivate to the person you want to be. It’s not impossible.”

What is your biggest challenge right now? “Making sure that my family is happy… taken care of. Relationships are the reason why we exist. Loneliness can cause sickness, so when you break that connection you have with other people, it will come back to haunt you. So, my goal is just to make sure that my family maintains our closeness.”

If you could put a billboard up in Charlotte, what would it say? “Laugh… smile. I want it to be a big naked person who is just laughing so hard that it looks like they’re on top of the world. Even though society doesn’t agree with that image, you see this person is truly happy in their form.”

Technical Notes: We were under a covered walkway, so I used my small LED panel to add more light to Amala’s face.

My first music video

I’ve always been drawn to music videos. After doing a lot of concert photography, I wanted to do something more substantial. I first toyed with the idea of making some behind the scenes videos of bands, but after doing just the basic research, I realized that video is much more complicated than I thought.

As I scoured YouTube to learn more about video, I came the the conclusion that making a music video would be a great project to get started in video work. First of all, the sound is already taken care of. Also, the production takes place in a controlled environment where you can adjust the lighting, the position on the subject(s) and do as many takes as you need.

You can watch the finished product below and read on to learn more about how it was made:

I approached my friends from the band Trash Room and posed the idea of making a music video for their song Words Like Daggers. They very quickly said yes and we were on our way.


Since it was winter, we needed an indoor location and ended up using a large workshop that we had access to. This brought up another issue which was lighting. Shooting inside meant that we needed more artificial lighting than I had. I ended up acquiring two Aputure Light Storm LS C120d units and rigged up a set of two lights using LED work lights from Lowes (see below).


My first big mistake was in overestimating how much I could get done.  We had scheduled about 6 hours of filming.  I planned to film a whole intro (complete with dialogue), the song performance with isolated performances in front of a green screen and an ending filmed outside.  In reality, it took me over 2 hours just to get the equipment set up.  I quickly abandoned the idea of the intro and focused all of my energy on getting the performance shots.

Our first challenge was getting the band to play in sync with the prerecorded song.  We had an iPad mini connected to a PA system for playback, however, the live drums were so loud that it was hard for the band to hear the track and they would get out of sync.  After some volume adjustments and a little bit of practice, the band was able to lock in.


My biggest challenge was wearing so many hats.  I was in charge of directing the band, operating two SLR cameras, setting up and adjusting the lighting and overall time management.  Apart from being very stressful, I found myself making mistake after mistake such as forgetting to start the cameras before a take… very frustrating.  I also found myself so occupied with the technical side of things that I wasn’t properly directing the band.  Lucky for me they we able to nail their performances without much direction.


We pushed through all obstacles and managed to film the footage we needed.  Other than a few test shots, I had never filmed a subject in front of a green screen before and made some mistakes that cost me a lot of time in the editing process.  The main issues were not lighting the green screen evenly, not straightening out the wrinkles and keeping the subject within the boundaries of the green screen.


Once I got home and imported all of the footage, the first step was to start a new project in Adobe Premiere and assemble all of the clips.  As I added each clip, I synchronized it with the song.  The playback track we used during filming had four synchronization beeps before the song started.  I was able to use the sound from each clip to match the initial beep from the clip to the same beep in the audio track for the song,

Once all the clips were in place, I spent the morning evaluating the footage and choosing what clips to use for each part of the song.  I considered this to just be a first draft, but it ended up staying fairly constant through the whole process.  I think what happens is that you get used to seeing the video in a certain way and it gets stuck in your mind.


Once the basic video was edited, I set about adding the special effects.  Being a video game developer, I naturally wanted to be able to combine the 2D and 3D objects that I use in my games with the film that I shot for the video.  I ended up writing my own video effects software using Unity — the development tool I use to make video games.  The details of this custom system are beyond the scope of this blog post, but in a nutshell, my effects system allows me to import one or more video clips and place them in three dimensional space.  I’m then free to add 3D objects to the same scene and have it all combine in a realistic way.  For instance, the video clips can cast shadows onto the 3D objects and, likewise, the 3D objects can cast shadows onto the video clips.


In this video, the main special effects element was the flocks of crows flying around the band.  The crows were basic 3D objects that I had already used in my last video game.  I had to choreograph the crows to enter the room from the outside, fly around in various ways, circle the lead singer as she grew in size and then finally exit the room in fear.

The other main special effect element were the various 3D objects that were constantly falling to add to the feeling of chaos in the room.  These objects, including saws, barrels, buckets and more, were placed high up on each side of the “room”.  I programmed my system to drop them at various times in the song when I knew they would be in the shot. I used Unity’s 3D physics engine to ensure that they moved in a realistic way when falling and bouncing off the floor.


Unfortunately, I was using a 5 year old MacBook Pro to do most of the video.  A single render of the video took over an hour for the most complicated setups.  Much of the process of making the video was spent waiting for renders to complete.  I’ve since upgraded my computer system and have optimized the code, so it’s much faster now.  Luckily, the song was only a minute and a half long!


Overall, I’m very happy with the finished product and definitely want to make another music video in the future.

Stranger 48/100 – Shequita

100 Strangers - ShequitaStranger 48/100 – Shequita

What brings you uptown? “Date night!”

Meet Shequita.

What advice would you give to your younger self? “To pay more attention and to get close to Jesus at an early age.”

Is that something you didn’t do when you were younger? “When I was younger, yeah, I was a little rebellious…”

What do you do in your free time? “I minister to people, encourage people to live better, to apply wisdom. I love encouraging the youth… I like to encourage them to live better and to walk in their identity and their truth.”

What would you do if you had a million dollars? “If I had a million dollars, I would invest it. I would invest it in my gift. I would invest it in something with purpose like to help the homeless, help somebody else.”

How would your friends describe you? “They would say that I’m outgoing, strong, fun person, family person.”

Technical Notes: This is my first night shot with my new LED panel, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out. I set it to a warm setting (3200K) and adjusted the color temperature in Lightroom to 2960K to make the colors cooler. In the future, I will add more light on the subject to help me bring down the ISO and to avoid burning in the bokeh so much.