Swimming in the Clouds

I was flying from New York to Atlanta after shooting a project with an actor in the city. When I booked the flight I selected a 5:00 pm departure knowing at that time of year it would be close to sunset, so I might get some really pretty light to shoot photographs & video from the plane. Uncharacteristically I had selected a window seat so I could take photos and video out of the window, typically I only book an exit row aisle seat. However I was bumped up to first class (thank you Delta) 5 days before the flight which is great because the wing causes issues for me in the photo or video. As soon as I got the upgrade I selected a window seat because my Delta profile says aisle only.

Unfortunately the weather was a solid gray overcast and drizzly afternoon, not real pretty. But I still got out my camera with the wide angle zoom lens and sat down in my seat, buckled up and waited. I still took a few snapshots & a bit of video knowing full well they would be ugly, I just could not help myself (And I was right, they were ugly.) Within 3-4 minutes after rotation (takeoff) the plane was in the clouds so I put the camera on the floor and waited for the chance to put the camera back in the bag. Within 3 minutes we were out of the solid cloud cover to a wondrous and dreamy scene of color & puffy clouds, the timing was perfect and the finished results were stunning.

Go here to look at the 40 second video.

The video was shot with a Canon Professional Digital Camera set at 160 ISO, 1/50 sec. shutter speed, 24 fps, and the Canon 16-35 mm zoom lens was at 16 mm, f8. The video file was then processed in Photoshop.

If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Any educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!

Fashion Details

This is a detail shot of an Alan Michael leather garment. To me all of Alan’s garments are more art pieces than “Just” another item of apparel. This image was shot in Alan’s award winning showroom in Denver Colorado.

I was shooting several items for Alan’s new website and I just had to shoot this close up to show the luscious details.

From the quality hides, to finding special buttons to weaving tie strings out to leather to the trimming all wraps up in a special item that people who are familiar with Alan’s work know who designed it.

Cowboy – Western Lifestyle Fashion Image

This Cowboy-Western Lifestyle Fashion image was shot for The Milano Hat Company for catalog, web & ad use near Eagle – Vail, Colorado inside an unheated 1890′s homesteader’s cabin. This was the first set up of the shoot and it was about 10 (-12C) degrees inside. Most of the light on the cowboy is from a battery powered strobe inside a softbox just to the right of the camera.


This image is from a series of images that were taken inside a Milan, Italy private home. This was part of one the oldest homes in Milan, built in the 1500′s. It is illuminated with natural daylight with a Sunbounce reflector off to your left.

Travel – Marina Grande, Sorrento, Italy

Marina Grande, Sorrento, Italy – this is an assembly of 12 images. This is how I shoot these types of images: I focus, then turn off the auto focus feature, then determine the average exposure I need to get a good exposure “Balance”. The goal in exposure is to have enough range without blowing out the highlights but still have some shadow detail. I then take a photo of my foot, this way I know where a sequence is starting, then take the photos, being careful to overlap each photo by about one third. Then I shoot my foot again showing where the sequence stops. I then open the files, adjust the color balance, exposure, sharpness etc. and assemble them in Photoshop. After they were assembled into one seamless image, I added sharpness to the clouds so they would show greater detail.

Lingerie Beauty

Miami Beach 1930′s Deco hotel room – This was shot in color and converted to B&W using a technique I developed to allow me to have more control over the conversion process. This allows me to change tones depending on what I want vs. Photoshop deciding this for me by using a “One Size Fits All” formula. I asked the Hair-M/U person for a no make up look and simple hair.


Sunset in Deerfield Beach lifestyle shot with  Tara & Duane. This project took about 70 minutes and both models were wonderful to work with. They both made the shots 100% real. Generally speaking the hardest part of boy/girl lifestyle imagery is knowing what looks real and how to move your models from “Hello, how are you doing” to them looking like boy friend/girl friend in 5 minutes. Casting is very important but so is knowing how to direct the models if what they are doing is not “Real”. This only comes after years of experience in shooting lifestyle with models who did not know each other before they were on set. It is really tough to get believability if the photographer does not know what to look for. It is just as important to know what looks wrong as what looks correct.