Author Archives: T. J. Hine

Skydiving – Lesson 2: Competition

Hi all,

With the US National Skydiving Competition coming up in two weeks I thought I would explain to my Wuffo friends what my 8-way team has been practicing for.

The United States Parachuting Association states on their web site ( that parachuting competition dates back to at least 1930 in Russia, where jumpers demonstrated who could land closest to a target.

“Group freefall skydiving, then called “relative work” and now called “formation skydiving” (FS) grew increasingly popular through the 1960s and emerged as a competitive discipline in the early 1970s. The first 4-way formation skydiving event was introduced at the 1970 U.S. National Skydiving Championships in Plattsburgh, New York. 10-way speed star formation skydiving debuted at the 1972 National Skydiving Championships in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.”

Perfect Exit. Photo by Henrik Csűri

Perfect Exit. Photo by Henrik Csűri

My team, Adrenal8, is a formation skydiving team competing in 8-way Intermediate. The “dive pool” is made of two components – Randoms, These are single formations and Blocks, these are formations with an interim to a second formation. There are 16 randoms and 22 blocks. A blind draw of the formations consists of either 4 or 5 points. 10 different combinations are drawn for the competition. As a practiced team we had to learn every formation and construct as many combinations of the formations to practice as we can. Each different combination of jumps will take a different engineering to make the sequence flow properly. We will exit the airplane at 13,000 feet at 90 knots (approximately 104 mph); 8-way has a working time of 50 seconds to complete as many points as possible. The accumulations of these points through 10 rounds comprise the winners


This will not be my first Nationals. I competed in the 10-way FS Speed competition from 1998–2002, bringing home 2 gold and 3 silver medals. Adrenal8 competed last year in 8-way FS and tied for 5th place, only 5 points out of first. We were proud to note that we had 10 good exits (a must to win) and no busts (a formation that was not complete and controlled).

Random-E - Rubick Photo by Henrik Csűri

Random-E – Rubick Photo by Henrik Csűri

Blk-13-Double-Satelite Photo by Henrik Csűri

Blk-13-Double-Satelite Photo by Henrik Csűri










U.S. Nationals is scheduled from September 12 through September 21 this year. During this time, there will be various skydiving disciplines, including 4-way FS, 16-way FS, 4-way VFS (Vertical Formation Skydiving), along with Freeflying, Canopy Piloting, and Style and Accuracy. For the complete list, go to

My competition starts September 15 depending on the weather and that the 4-way FS competition is over. We usually finish the competition in a day to a day and a half. I will try and Tweet (@HinePhoto) our results as our competition is unfolding.

Any questions or comments let me know

T. J.

Posted in Skydiving

Stuff…Part 1

Hi all,

Just want to let you know that I have stuff, I like stuff, not sure why I’ve always collected stuff, but I do. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? My wife would vote for the bad side, although living with me for so long, she has started collecting stuff too!

As a child from a lower middle class family, maybe we didn’t get a lot of stuff. Don’t get me wrong; we got gifts for holidays and birthdays and such, but we worked extra hard for our stuff. As a photographer, I’ve found that you can really use a lot of the stuff you have collected over the years. Every commercial photographer I know—especially in the food business—has accumulated stuff. It’s invaluable (or as we like to think—as soon as you get rid of that rusty car jack, you’re going to need it). You pick up and save everything you get your hands on, from cheap giveaways to other people’s trash. The saying “one man’s trash is another photographer’s treasure” runs true to my way of thinking.

Great free incentives and giveaways. You can't buy this stuff!

Great free incentives and giveaways. You can’t buy this stuff!

As I contemplate moving my business out of the neighborhood I have worked in for 30 years, possibly to a smaller venue, I started to look at all my accumulated treasures—stuff—and started wondering how I’m going to move and store it all. Should I have a sale and purge? Rent storage? Or donate to the Smithsonian? One decision I have made is to photograph my stuff, so no matter my answer to the above questions, I will forever have my stuff.


Every photographer that switched to digital format has a "Camera shelf". I have used many of these cameras, and have a few more.

Every photographer that switched to digital  has a “Camera shelf”. I have used many of these, and have a few more.

Partial collection of plates. I have accumulated nearly 300 plates and bowl offering free usage to my clients.

Partial collection of plates. I have accumulated nearly 300 plates and bowl offering free usage to my clients.











Any questions or comments let me know, and if you have and great stuff…

T. J.

Posted in Behind the Scenes

Hine Photo…More Than Just Food

Hi All,

I have been in business 30+ years. I started as an assistant at a catalog studio, Kranzten Studios, and became a junior photographer in 6 months. Left there to work as an assistant for Dennis DuBiel, one of the top food photographers in the ’80s and ’90s.

I started freelancing and shooting on my own in 1984. I shot everything and anything (except food) for many years, even did a stint shooting lingerie catalogs for Playboy! (We can talk more on that later).

I have been shooting food now for almost 20 years, but I still get back to my roots with non-food photos. Case in point:

Bleach-LabelMy client called with an exciting new concept for laundry bleach and fabric softener labels that included fabric floating in water. I had to figure out how to mimic the look of fabric floating in the blue waters of the Caribbean without the actual water…or the sun.

First I researched royalty free images of water backgrounds. Then I had to devise a way to get a piece of material that was floating in air to mimic the floating-in-water concept.

HinePhoto-Cloth-waving-We chose a muslin fabric because we liked the way it reacted to wind and because the blue background we used would show through when I outlined the shot. We bought a piece of white fabric for the bleach and a colored fabric for the fabric softener. Then we experimented with different techniques to create the best effect for the floating look. We tied up the fabric corners and used an oscillating fan to create movement.

My client was delegated to the duty of controlling the fan while I kept shooting to try and capture the perfect “floating” look. We had a great deal of images to choose from and once we selected one, we began to put the image together.

HinePhoto-Renee-with-fan_Bleach I chose two water backgrounds from stock images—bubbles and a shot looking up out of the water—to give the illusion that the material was floating down into the water. With multiple layers in PhotoShop, we experimented with the opacity of the water shots and the order of the layers to get the best possible feel. I think it worked well! The client loved the shot—we accomplished the objectives on a tight budget—all without getting sunburned.UnderwaterBubblespsd  _under-the-surface-water

Any questions or comments please let me know!

T. J.


Posted in Behind the Scenes

How to…Splashes and Pours

Hi all,
I’m recycling this story on shooting slashes and pours because I think it’s interesting and it gave me my start on doing liquids. I base all my pour and splash shots on what I learned on this job.

The job came in from Design Kitchen. The client: Abbott Labs, European division. The product: Ensure. The shot: A pour for the package design, it changed to a splash and finally it changed to a pour with a splash… a challenge.

First we started out experimenting with the liquid to see what kind of splash it would make by just pouring it into a glass. It made a mess, but no splash. Not too hard to determine that we would be doing this shot combining two elements: the splash and the pour. The viscosity (great word, look it up) of the liquid can determine how much of a splash you get by dropping different weighted objects into the liquid.

What could we use to make a splash and not break our glass? We figured out that a medium acrylic ice cube did the trick. We also determined that having one cube in the glass also helped the splash. With some testing we determined the best height to drop the cube, and with a laser trigger, we could set the proper delay. Going back to viscosity, I later used a large bolt nut (from the railroad) to make liquid yogurt splash.

Hine-Photo-Pour-NozzleThe second stage was the pour. This was the simple part. Keep the glass in the same spot, fill with ice, and start pouring. We tested a few pitchers to see which had the largest and most accurate spout. Once we determined that, we just started shooting. Because we had done the prep work, it did not take long to come up with the perfect pour. Later I discovered that a juice/milk carton with the topside opening makes a great pour, abandoning the use of pitchers.Hine-Photo-Abbott-Ensure

The final stage was picking the two best shots—splash and pour—and combining them in Photoshop. We cleaned up the extra spots and dribbles and created a beautiful pour and splash that will garnish the packaging for the variety of Ensure flavors.

Any questions or comments just let me know.

If you want my blog sent directly to you, check the RSS logo below.

T. J.

Posted in Behind the Scenes

Is it Live or is it Memorex©?

Hi All,

The question I am asked the most is—Is it real food?  Followed by— I heard you use…
And, Isn’t ice cream just Crisco®?

Well, yes and no. We use real food for 99% of everything we shoot. Truth in advertising laws state that we must show the real product being advertised, but the surrounding food can be fake or modified. That allows us to use Wildroot Hair Tonic, for example, instead of milk in a bowl of cereal. Hine-Photo-Cereal-Honey-Nut-Cheerios As I recall, part of the truth in advertising law stems from a class project by a group of law students in 1968. They wanted Campbell Soup Co. to run corrective advertising after it was discovered that Campbell’s ads had clear marbles in the bottom of the bowl to raise the vegetables to the top of the broth, making the soup look chunkier. We can’t do that anymore.

Back to ice cream. If I am shooting an ad for ice cream—or using the shot for the packaging—then the ice cream must be real, by law. If it’s just a prop in the background, it can be fake.

There are a quite few methods of making fake ice cream. The version used today by most stylists is Crisco®, Karo® syrup and confectionary sugar. This recipe has brought fake ice cream a long way since the mashed potato days. Hine-Photo-Fake-Ice-CreamThe biggest advantage of fake ice cream is that it lasts forever…well maybe not forever, but a long time. Real ice cream, on the other hand, not so much.

Shooting ice cream is a challenge and not all stylist will take on that challenge. It starts with prep work in the studio,

  1. Make sure your AC is working!
  2. Set freezer below the factory settings to “temper” your ice cream
  3. Distribute ice cream to bottom, or back, of freezer.


Ice cream needs to be frozen solid to get a good “pull” showing the proper texture. The stylist works in a cooler surrounded with dry ice to keep the ice cream hard. Even so, we only have seconds to go from cooler to set and shot before we see melting. Add toppings or swirls and the job gets more difficult. We need to keep the ice cream frozen while gently melting the frost over the swirls. We do this with a technical piece of equipment called a straw. You blow in one end, and air to melt the frost comes out the other.  It’s a lot of work, but we enjoy it, and we have produced some great ice cream shots!

And questions or comments, let me know. If you want subscribe to my blog and receive notice in your email, click the RSS feed icon on the bottom of the page.

T. J.

Posted in Behind the Scenes

Skydiving — Lesson 1

Hi all,

I have said one of my longtime passions is skydiving, so I want to introduce all non-skydivers to my sport. July is a busy jumping month for me with 4 weekends of boogies* and planned jumping events.

First, a little history of the sport borrowed from Parachuting: The Skydiver’s Handbook, by Dan Poynter and Mike Turoff, as printed at

People have been using parachutes for hundreds of years, even back to China in the 1100s. Around 1495, Leonardo DaVinci designed a pyramid-shaped, wooden framed parachute that Adrian Nichols jumped in the late 20th century. It descended slowly enough to land, but Nichols worried the heavy contraption might crush him to death. So at a safe altitude, he released from it and landed under his reserve.

The modern history of the sport began in the late 18th century with Jacques Garnerin from France who performed display jumps from balloons flying over Europe. Later in the 19th century, women, who still number only between 15 and 20 percent among skydivers, began to appear on the scene. Kathe Paulus from Germany jumped professionally in Germany around the turn of the 20th century. Tiny Broadwick, another professional parachutist in the U.S., became the first woman to jump from an airplane in 1913 and the first to make a freefall in 1914.

So the sport has been around for some time. I started in 1985 when the square parachute was first being widely used, slowly replacing the military round seen in the WWII movies. (My first jump was on one of these!)

Before showing you pictures and describing my latest events we need to talk terminology.

*Boogie – a skydiving event centered around daytime fun skydiving and nighttime party.
Learn more at:

Wuffo – An endearing label of a non-skydiver (What for you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?)

Rig – Complete parachute set-up including container and 2 parachutes

Canopy – Parachute

Point – A skydiving formation

Sequential – A series of points

DZ – Drop Zone, an airport where skydiving takes place

XX-way – Number of jumpers in a formation, i.e., 36-way

38-way Freedom Boogie. Photo by Henrik Csüri.

38-way Freedom Boogie. Photo by Henrik Csüri.

38-way Freedom Boogie. Photo- Henrik Csüri

38-way Point 2. Photo by Henrik Csüri

July 4th weekend – Freedom Boogie, Skydive Chicago (SDC – my home DZ). I brought in a guest organizer to help put together 38-way sequential formations. Roger Ponce deLeon started jumping when only 16, has 45 years in the sport with 12,752 jumps, and been traveling the world organizing small groups to world record formations with his unique style of formation dives.

We had 3 days of cloudy skies, but ended up with 10 great jumps from 14,000 feet, doing 2-3 points per jump. This was an invitational event utilizing mostly local jumpers, but hosting skydivers from Iowa, New Mexico, and even Canada.


Finale! Photo by T. J. Hine

Finale! Photo by T. J. Hine

Finale Still! Photo by T. J. Hine

Finale Still! Photo by T. J. Hine

Pizza party Thursday night and a BBQ for 45 on Saturday evening followed by a terrific fireworks display put on by DZO (Drop Zone Owner) Rook Nelson and his staff

July 10-13, I traveled to East Stroudsburg, PA, to be part of the Sky’s the Limit 40-way Boogie, again organized by Roger and longtime organizer Lou Tommaso. We fought the weather again, but managed another 12 jumps going to 17,000 feet for 6 of those jumps. With help from local jumper Dawn Pavlu, we set 4 PA state records:

Largest Formation – 39
Largest Sequential – 2-pt 36-way
Largest Sequential – 3-pt 20-way
Largest Sequential – 4-pt 18-way

Each night after jumping we BBQ’d fresh pork sausage, beef sausage, steaks, and lamb from Lou’s farm. We may not be making a lot of jumps, but we are gaining weight for the food!

20-way Sky's the Limit Boogie. Photo by August Haeuser

20-way Sky’s the Limit Boogie. Photo by August Haeuser

20-way Sky's the Limit Boogie. Photo by August Haeuser

20-way Sky’s the Limit Boogie. Photo by August Haeuser

Next up: 3-day 8-way training camp and Summerfest. More on these events in Lesson 2.

T. J.


Posted in Skydiving

Introducing…Lisa Bishop, Food Stylist

Hi all,

They say behind every good food photographer is a good food stylist. I work with great stylists!

Hine-Photo-Lisa-1I would like you to meet Lisa Bishop. She is my No.1 stylist. We have been working together almost 20 years—longer then most marriages—back when her college-bound daughter was still a bun in the oven. Today she also has a son getting ready for his final year in high school. I think they’ve got a cat too!

I consider Lisa a partner not just for her styling abilities, but also for her eye for design. We have worked together so long that she knows what I like to see with the food shots we create without compromising her aesthetics. It’s great to have a second pair of eyes. I believe teamwork creates the best images.

Lisa has a B.S. degree in Food Science from Iowa State and has studied chef’s techniques at the Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. One of her specialties is ice cream. She is a top recipe developer and works with a slew of clients designing recipes.

Over the years, I have found her many talents have helped me serve my clients in the best possible way. Check out her web site for her additional  work.

And she owns her own power tools!

T. J.

Hine-Photo-Set-up-1   Hine-Photo-Computer-Screen

Hine-Photo-Lisa-3   Hine-Photo-Lisa-styling

Posted in Behind the Scenes

It’s About Time!

Hi all, and welcome to my new website! I know it’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited to bring it to light. If you read my Bio page, you kind of get an idea who I am; if you have looked at my work, you know what I can do. This page shows you what you may not know. First, I’m not a writer, which you will soon learn. I do have the advantage of being married to a writer and editor, so most of these Blog posts should have the words spelled correctly and some form of English will be used.

So how am I going to use this Blog? I’ve been asking the same question! Obviously we will talk about photography and food; I will introduce you to my clients, and show behind the scenes photos and explanations on how and why we are producing some of our shots. I also will share some Blogs I find interesting covering a plethora of topics.

I will have my days where I need to rant—usually about my golf game (and sometimes the problems with renovating a 120-year-old home). I will fill you in on what is happening with the Chicago Creative Coalition, for which I have been a board member for more than 15 years. We are producing some exciting events, including a juried photo show at this year’s Jeff Fest.

I will introduce some of you to my second passion—skydiving. I have been jumping almost 30 years, all over the country and the world. I organize formation skydives and help organize world records. I will submit pics and video for you to watch, and hopefully you will come to understand why we participate in this sport!

So sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my work and life and would love to share it with you. I look forward to your comments on my work or my opinions. If I can answer a question, just ask.

T. J.

Posted in General