Noah Hayes

A Step Outside the Box

Call it a quarter life crisis. Call it temporary insanity. Call it whatever you want, but I call it my own personal "Summer of George". I'm a big Seinfeld fan and in the episode "Summer of George" one of the characters, George Costanza, gets a 3 month severance package. His fiancé died in the previous season and so he's a man with no responsibility or obligation. He says he's going to use this freedom to do everything he's always wanted to do but never got around to or had the opportunity to accomplish. In the end in true George fashion he winds up doing very little though. In another episode titled "The Opposite" George decides to do whatever the opposite is of his initial instinct. I decided to turn my summer into a blend of these two ideas except unlike George I'll actually be completing most of the tasks I set out to accomplish.


I definitely still have responsibilities. My work life has been busier this summer than ever before, so I'm doing all of this in my normal every day life and spare time. Also my instincts have usually served me well so I'm not doing anything too completely opposite of my normal choices, but there's plenty of activities and choices that I've previously been against trying due to a bias or other disposition against.


This all started for me a few weeks ago and may last far longer than the summer. I realized there's so much to do in life and I since I turned 26 this year there was no time like the present. There's so much I hadn't done, so many little things along the way I hadn't tried. Some things are silly and don't matter (like trying pretty common foods I had always thought I would't like) others are a bit more bold (sky diving for example). I decided I wanted to give everything a fair chance.


I decided to put up a list of things I've done or attempted for the first time this summer/year but know that some activities may seem extremely minor (like trying salsa or wasabi for the first time. I simply am not into spicy stuff so I always had no interest in trying it because I believed I wouldn't like it) or overly drastic and rash (I expect to have a tattoo by the end of the summer, I know what I want it to represent, just haven't settled on a design) but all of these activities and experiences are new to me and I've thought about why I never tried them before, and realized that most of the reasons why you choose NOT to try are because of predisposed biases or fear of what others may think or fear of embarrassment. Anyone who knows me, knows I have no problem with embarrassing myself or those around me in any situation (just ask me to go dance on a dance floor. I have no shame! I can't dance but it's still fun anyway). As sophomoric as some of these ideas may be, they're on the list because I've never tried them - some for good reason as it turns out!


Most of my friends know about this SoG and almost every time I hang out with friends or even people I've just met I either cross something off my list or add something new. It's become sort of a shared adventure. I'll have friends text or email me and say "hey have you ever tried ______?" and if I haven't, I'll add it to the list.


My only ground rules are:

1) it can't be something illegal

2) it can't be something that causes any personal or property damage either to myself or others

3) if it involves someone else get their permission and buy-in first


My list so far is below. I'll try to keep it up to date as the year rolls by. As I said, I have no shame, and feel free to poke fun at me and say "how have you NEVER tried that before!" Or "wow, I can't believe you actually did that, why?!?!" It's all about the experience! Life shouldn't be too serious, it should be fun! Take a chance at something and who knows? You might actually like it!


Here are two quotes I saw that I enjoyed that fit in nicely with what my goal is with this personal project:


Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. — T.S Eliot


The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.  -W. M. Lewis



In no particular order:


What I've Done So Far (began on June 26th 2012)


Tried salsa

Tried guacamole

Tried sour cream

Tried wasabi

Tried a class at a gym

Tried a tanning bed

Fired a rifle

Tried bacon and ice cream together

Took a sick day (see immediately above: gross)

Tried coleslaw

Tried ranch dressing

Drank before 5pm

Drank alone at a bar

Tried drinking malt vinegar straight

Drank wine straight from the bottle

Tried Nutella pizza

Tried ranch on pizza

Ran up and down escalators the opposite way on purpose

Went a concert for a major band

Swam laps in a lap pool

Tried Zumba

Tried the Cinnamon Challenge

Went to a major league sporting event as an adult

Drank coffee every day for a week (never had coffee before)

Bet on a sporting event

Went to WV

Saw a horse race

Spontaneous trip to another state

Went to a comedy club

Tried yoga

Baked a cake

Ate a crepe

Learned how to tie a bow tie

Had a massage 


Ideas Yet to be Completed 


Get a tattoo


Get into a fist fight

Skinny dipping

Try Ethiopian food

Go on a bus tour of DC

Catch a fish, clean and cook it

Gallon challenge

Play a nerdy card game like D&D

Attend a comic book or other geeky convention

Spend a night outside taking long exposures of the night sky

Any other ideas? Email me or tell me on Facebook!

Lighting - Building a Shot - DC Magazine Ad Feb 2012

Last week, we did a new shot for my friend Moshe Zusman's new ad for DC Magazine. We used BoConcept in Georgetown as a location, as we wanted to have a relaxed, yet modern urban feel to the shoot. The concept was to create an image that looks like he's in the middle of a high fashion style shoot. We needed both the models in the background lit, wanted to see some of Georgetown outside, and even with the sweet Profoto heads lighting the models, we needed to light up Moshe in the foreground in a similar style. So we were balanced outside ambient, indoor ambient, 1000w/s studio lights and speedlights (and a couple of QFlashes too!) This isnt going to be a super long blog post, but I just wanted to go through the steps of starting off with your ambient light and building up the final shot by adding and tweaking the lights. We used Pocketwizard Multimaxes to control which lights were firing during our tests so we could adjust each light independantly to get it to the power and position we needed before moving on to the next light. These images are completely unmodified out of the camera.


We started off with approximately what we wanted the framing of the shot to be, locked the camera down on a tripod. We wanted some of the floor and some of the ceiling in the shot, so we went with the Nikon 35 f/1.4 and set the exposure for 1/250th (my max sync speed) at ISO 400 at f/8. This gave us a good starting point to build from and still gave us some flexibility if we needed to open up some shadows (by using a slower shutter speed) or power down the effect of the flash (by closing our aperture more). The sun outside was going in and out of cloud cover, so we knew that if we needed a darker outside exposure, we could wait a few seconds and grab our shot then.


 Here our beautiful assisstant/model Becca Watkins was our test subject for the power and position for our key light (a 4X6 foot softbox with a Profoto 1000 watt head).


Once our key was set to the position we wanted, we powered up the primary fill which was a 4 foot long strip light with another Profoto 1000 watt head.


Tweaked the power on the key once we moved some of our subjects that were finished with hair and makeup into the shot.


Turned on our fill (lower strip light). You can see how it opens up the shadow under the model's face and adds some serious POP!


Brought Moshe in to see what kind of light we'd be working with on him in the foreground, since we had our base light set in the back for the girls.


Grabbed a SB900 with a 24" Lastolite Ezybox as a key camera right (similar elevation to our key for the girls for consistancy) and added another SB900 up high on camera right to give him a little kick.


Since we had our primary key and fills set, it's time to start popping in some hair lights and kickers to add some tone to the image. Here Moshe is setting the power for one of the three Q Flashes we used in the final shot. We wanted most of our lights to be visibile in the shot to give the impression that it was a "behind the scenes" image from an actual shoot.


Once we had the power set on the main hairlight to where we thought we wanted it, we turned on the other two Q Flashes and out other lights to get a sample of our final lighting setup. you can see that the hairlight/kicker on the right that Becca is adjusting is BLOWING the hair into oblivion. Also the light on the left is causing a little too much flair at the top of Asia's head, so we decided to raise the hairlights and reduce the power a bit on the right side to compensate.


Much better height for the lights, now just to dial down the power a bit and we'll be good!


Much better balance, hair isn't blown completely out, it has definition and detail. We're getting some nice rim light on our subjects and now it's time to bring in the final "model".


Here's the "final shot" with just a couple minor tweaks in Lightroom.

Healthy Habits: Once You Start It's Hard to Stop

I'm planning on writing at least one blog post a month here on my personal side of my blog about my progress towards my goals for the year and what's going on in my life: to make my personal side of my blog actually personal! This is the first one of the year, and it's about the 4th goal on my list.

I started changing the way I live each day about two years ago, but let myself slide after about 6 months of hard work up until about 3 months ago. It takes a while to get into the habit of doing something, but once you're in a routine of doing something all the time, it becomes natural to you, it's not something you have to consciously think of. There are unhealthy habits (e.g smoking) just as there are healthy habits (taking the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator). Some just happen, others you have to work at for a while, but they eventually become part of who you are.

These are some of the healthy habits I've "picked up" over the past few months.

Eating normal times (3 times a day)
Eating healthy (low amounts of red meat, mostly fruits/vegetables/fish/chicken)
Exercising everyday (gotta get that mayorship at the gym on Foursquare!)
Drinking lots of water (I don't miss soda at all)

This is possible due to a routine: get up, work, gym, then do whatever I want the rest of the day: It's not a burden, it's a lifestyle. It might be hard to start the ball rolling, but once you do, it's just about keeping the momentum going: a object in motion stays in motion unless an outside force acts upon it.

My lifestyle a few years ago was to sleep in, sit on my butt all day if I didn't have somewhere to be, order a couple pizzas because I was too lazy to make a sandwich and knew I'd rather not make dinner either. I was tired all the time, even if I slept in. Had no energy, and was happier sitting in front of a TV all day rather than going outside and enjoying the fresh air (okay, I still have days like that I guess). A few years ago I used to get wiped out walking a tradeshow floor! Now I have tons of energy, can go go go all day, and even if I only get 5 hours of sleep, I'm able to fully function. I don't feel like I'm always hungry, and sometimes can't even finish a full meal (so many restaurants serve WAY bigger portions than they really should). I feel like a new person, and it feels great.

So why change your routine? Well if you don't try something new, maybe you don't realize what you're missing? While I was living the life I had before, I didn't consciously think about how tired I was or how I wasn't as happy as I could be. What works for me may not work for everyone (or anyone else) the whole point of this post is just to encourage you to break out of you shell, your comfort zone and see if theres a different way of viewing the world around you. You don't know what you don't know, and just because someone tells you something doesn't make it true: you have to find out for yourself. My perspective on life has changed so completely in the past few months. Tying this back into photography: try to get a different perspective that is completely the opposite of the way you would normally approach a subject this week. If you approach a subject from far away and use a long lens, get up close and go wide. If you use just ambient "natural" light, use a flash or two (or three). If you would normally use a macro lens, take an image putting it context of it's surroundings, or take a macro of something you would have never thought to get up close and personal with before. Whatever it is, break out of your shell and try something just might like it!