Welcome to the M Palma Photo Blog

Hi, my name is Mike, a professional wedding and portrait photographer born, raised, and based here in beautiful, Silverlake, Los Angeles, California.

On this blog, you'll find the daily inspirations, images and musings of my life.

I love photographing people, places, and anything else that catches my eye. I describe my style of photography as modern, fun, and energetic. So stay a while, check out my work, and get to know me better through my images and entries.

If you'd like to visit my main wedding and portrait site, click on this link, or click on the "connect" button up top to drop me a line via e-mail.

Like I said, stay awhile, and enjoy the entries. And please, do leave a comment. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter (via the icons above this paragraph) for even more up-to-date happenings (don't worry, I won't put up meager posts like "I'm standing in line at Starbucks" (my favorite coffee spot!). Only the really cool and important stuff!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for 'Baxter'

Happy last week of April folks. Sheesh. Heading into the fifth month of 2015, can you believe it?! Is it just me, or the older you get, the quicker time goes by? I’m sure I may have posed this question to everyone before, but with the passage of time, your brain cells also pass, pass away! Just kidding, hope not! It just feels that way.

As my title implies, when I’m not photographing, I’m STILL photographing. It’s what every artist HAS to do. You get inspired, try things out, fail, succeed, try, and try again. It’s what makes you better at your craft. Plus, it’s fun. Downright fun!

Always looking for inspiration, I find myself following a lot of pages, and photographers on FB and other sources. The other week, I came across a blog entry from Sue Bryce, an uber talented photographer I’ve been following for quite sometime since first sitting in on a class of hers during a WPPI event/workshop. She’s a great inspiration overall, not only with her photo work, but as a person as well. She posted a story about her latest lighting set-ups, and how she achieved her particular lighting for a specific shoot. (You can view the post here). In her post, she talked about how she set up her lights, what equipment she used, and then, some examples from her shoot. I’ve been doing the same every so often, so it was nice to see another photog’s work, and then try and apply it to my own work.

Inspiration in hand from Sue, and I was off to try her set-up. Not duplicate it, as no one can ever really duplicate someone else’s work, but definitely try it and see what type of images I can get.

Here’s my set-up:

2015, lighting diagram, lighting set-up, m palma photography, einstein


In Sue’s set-up (see photos in link above), her set isn’t as “cluttered” as mine, plus she was using a deep Octobox, similar to this set-up below:



2015, lighting diagram, lighting set-up, m palma photography, einstein


I’m using a large Octobox camera left, skimming my cousin Johanna from the front, and then filling her left side with the silver reflector camera right. In the set-up above, with my lovely assistant Jully, you’ll see that I went with a magnum reflector instead of the octobox cause I wanted more contrast in the light for her shoot.

Check out Sue’s work with this similar set-up, and then see how my images fared.


2015, lighting diagram, lighting set-up, m palma photography, einstein


This above image was done using the octobox with my Einstein 640WS. Jully is rimmed with a Lumopro from the back, camera right. The silver fill fills in her left side. (Processed with LR, Exposure 7)


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Here’s one done without the octobox, but with the bare, reflector. Note the more contrast in the shadow to highlight detail; not as “soft” as the previous photo.




2015, lighting diagram, lighting set-up, m palma photography, einstein, exposure 7


Here’s what it looks like, straight out of the camera (SOOC). No editing done whatsoever. You can see the higher contrast in the shadows, and the slight fill from the strobe behind her, with that highlight on her left shoulder. (Hope Jully doesn’t mind!)


2015, m palma photography, fuji x100s, dogs, family

Here’s a screen shot of some of the other images we made during this session.

Side note: I still “freak” out that these photos are taken in my small studio. You’d never know it unless you saw it (as you have been with my behind the scenes posts). See? You can make beautiful photos anywhere!

And there you have it! You look around, find something that inspires you, you try it, and you get what you YOU get! I’d like to thank Sue Bryce for her post and for inspiring myself and other photographers. Thanks Sue! A huge thank you to my cousin Johanna T. for the use of her hats (awesome hats!), and for my muse Jully for slaving away with me in my quest for the perfect light! Thanks Jully.

Finally, for no reason at all, here’s a photo of our dog Baxter:




2015, m palma photography, fuji x100s, dogs, family



Thanks for stopping by everyone. See you in MAY!



Happy Tuesday everyone! Hope your week is going rather swimmingly :)  For a lot of us, this is a short week due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, honoring a great civil rights leader. Hope everyone took a minute to appreciate what he did, as well as countless others who have helped make our country what it is today :)

As for the title of this post, I’ve been wanting to do this type of entry for quite some time now, and perhaps in the past, I’ve tried to, but not as comprehensively as I would have liked. I’m going to try and remedy that with my first personal project shoot of the new year, a lighting test shoot, inspired by a fellow photographer I follow and admire, Clay Cook. As a professional photographer, I am constantly scouring the web for inspiration and education in my never ending search for that “perfect” photograph I will someday make, which will most definitely have to have great light! Just recently, I found some of Clay’s posts via the website Fstoppers, detailing his own fashion shoots using a POV camera. From those videos and his insights, I was able to try out one of his lighting set-ups (finally!) here in my small home studio. Ironically, he shoots all his projects in his small space as well, so it was easy to relate and kind of replicate his lighting and process. Kinda.

Now, I’ve always been a firm believer that cameras or lights don’t make great pictures, PHOTOGRAPHERS do. Just as pens don’t write amazing stories or novels, nor do paint brushes create beautiful paintings. (Yet, if I had a nickle for every “Wow, what kind of camera is that? It takes great pictures!”… Aiyai yai! You know the rest.)  What’s great about Clay and other great photographers is that you don’t need the super fancy equipment to make great photos. Plus, in my case, I’m sadly far removed from ordering my Ferrari La Ferrari, so I’ll just have to create beautiful images using this thing that’s 12 inches behind the camera, my brain.

So, when I’m inspired to photograph my own personal work, I call my camera muse Jully in to help me experiment and learn lighting techniques, all of which transfer rather nicely to my wedding and portrait work, so I’m killing three birds with one stone in a sense. Thanks to Jully as usual for being my human test mannequin once again.

My set-up was inspired by Clay’s set up in his great on-going “First Person Shooter” videos. In it, you will see that he uses two black V-flats and with a dark background surrounding his model, and then lights her using two light sources on camera left. One larger diffused umbrella/octo/photek softlighter to illuminate the model’s face, and then a strip bank under that to add detail and illumination to the clothing she has on. The V-Flats will suck up a lot of that light which will give the final image some nice shadows and contrast. Clay has a “hot light” softbox facing the camera, and I’m not sure what that was for, so I didn’t use it. Here’s my set-up, complete with model and stand-in Jully, all in one, with a special guest appearance by our new dog, Baxter.



2015 M Palma Photography, Los Angeles photographer, Silverlake, fashion, lighting set-up, tutorial, Clay Cook inspired, model, dog, Einstein parabolic,



I don’t have a dark enough seamless background, so I used a gray one that I had lying around. As you can also see, I only have one black v-flat, so I used my Calumet branded black panel to serve as my camera left flat. My Einstein Parabolic with front diffuser is at the Rembrandt position (45 degrees to the left and 45 degrees up), and my 24×24″ gridded softbox powered by my new Lumopro flash serves as my lower body fill. It sits directly beneath my parabolic.

As you can see, my space is rather small, and not as long length wise, as what Clay has, but in the end, no one will know. Well, you now know, but otherwise, who cares?! From the set, I’m roughly about 8-10 feet away tethered to my Macbook using Lightroom. I’m using a cheap, no-name camera, that starts with an “N” and has the numbers 810 on it. Probably the area code where it’s made. I don’t know. Not sure what my settings on my lights were, but I basically metered using my eyes. I started at about 1/125 at f/5.6 and went from there, seasoning to taste. My go-to lens is the 70-200mm which I used for this shoot.

Now, despite “copying” a lighting set-up, I knew well in advance that there is no way I was ever going to replicate Clay’s work, style, or photographs, but that’s what’s great about getting inspired – you try new stuff and then add it to your own style and creative development. So there’s no shame in copying, cause no two things will ever be alike! Besides, I’m giving mad props to my source Clay, so no plagiarism involved.

Here’s one more look at my set-up from a slightly different angle:




2015 M Palma Photography, Los Angeles photographer, Silverlake, fashion, lighting set-up, tutorial, Clay Cook inspired, model, dog, Einstein parabolic,



With this rather spartan and rag tag set-up, I went to work and began photographing and got some pretty cool images. Again, this was just a lighting test and a rather impromptu one, so it’s not stylized whatsoever, but we were able to get some solid results nonetheless. Plus it helps to work with creative people like Jully who can add to the creative aspect of the shoot. Here’s what we came up with. There were more, but I wanted to share these three photos with everyone:



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2015, M Palma Photography, fashion, vsco, los angeles photographer, clay cook, einstein flash



These final three images were edited in Lightroom and OnOne. And yes, Baxter wears t-shirts.

And that’s it! My first set-up tutorial/bts post for the year. Again, I have to thank Clay Cook Photography for posting his amazing videos on YouTube and inspiring all of us, thanks Clay!

There are a few other set-ups that I’m going to try in the near future, so check back to see how I’m doing, and how I’m getting inspired. If not for that, check back in for either my photo muse Jully, or our cool dog Baxter. He selects and wears his own t-shirts daily.

Have a great week everyone and as always, thanks for checking in :)






January 8, 2015 in Anytime, Baxter, Family

Happy 2015 everyone! Hope everyone had a terrific 2014 holiday season. We braved through some of the coldest temps L.A. has had in a long time; saw snow in places that never get snow; and had one of the largest storms pass through as well! Weird. Despite all that, I sincerely hope you all had a merry Christmas, and of course, having a great new year.

As for me, I got caught up in the day to day workings of self-employed life. Photographed some pretty cool people and events, and got lost in editing that I didn’t continue to blog as much :( (Bad me!) But the best thing to come out of all this was that we got ourselves a puppy. Yup, after three years of co-op’ing with my mom’s dog Gunther (who we still love and adore), Helen and I decided to get a dog. It happened kinda on a whim. You see, we subscribe to the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society Facebook page, the same place we got Gunther. And one day in December, – Wednesday, December 17th to be exact, we found a little mini-schnauzer/terrier mix, shelter named, “Draco” on their Facebook page. Low and behold, the next day, there we were, at the shelter, Gunther in tow, to meet this new prospect. Draco was a 3 mos. old puppy, filled with puppy energy, complete with a little red doggy sweater that read “Bow Wow” on it. He had braved that cold storm we had, and somehow made it to the shelter for us to “find”.

With all his puppy energy, and cute looks, it was a no brainer to adopt “Draco”, who has now been lovingly named “Baxter”. And I have to say, he’s been a blessing :) It’s so cool to have yet another heartbeat running around our place, especially one filled with love, appreciation, and playfulness. If you ever wanted a great addition to your family, I say, go to a shelter. The dogs there truly know what a gift it is for you to adopt them, and they will spend the rest of their lives letting you know it :)

So that sums up my absence from my blog this past fall. My days are currently filled with doggie duties, and catching up on stuff. No worries though, as I now have a cool little office assistant to let me know that it’s time to get up off the computer and let him out! Oh, lastly, a big shout out to Tamlyn T. for her 3 year campaign towards us getting another dog. Her playful nagging kinda helped. Kinda. LOL!

Happiest of everything the new year has to offer everyone. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!


2015, San Gabriel Humane Society, shelter dog, m palma photography, los angeles, silverlake, portrait photographer.