Saturday, March 29, 2014

Looking Razor Sharp

As with any photoshop action, there is more than one way to skin a cat. There is a true science, philosophy and art to sharpening.  Eyesight, taste and output are just a few factors that go into sharpening.  It also seems that every box of plug ins comes with it's own sharpening technique.  This isn't a sharpening technique I use but there isn't THE sharpening technique that works for all images.  When it comes to sharpening, everyone is a critic.   Remember, this is the only media that people need to get close enough to sniff the media to judge the quality. 

confession I tend to oversharpen which does things to the image that you don't really want.   The original post and action can be found here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Color Management

Back in the 90s, Color Management was a crazy science that required experimentation.  Many people lost many prints and a lot of personal color printers went in the trash due to ink drying due to a lack of use.  it's important for anyone to keep an eye on technology as things get easier to understand and the learning curve is reduced through good instruction.   The fat has been removed from this video, focusing on elements that are the most important to photographers.  Gotta get the color space right or you will be throwing money away or you work will not stand out.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The colors of the City.

For those not on the west coast, San Francisco is affectionately known as "The City" and for all of it's tourism, The City is relatively safe from 10-5pm.  At night, the City has a different feel. I would tell anyone who is vacationing there that is only appropriate for adults traveling in small packs.
At 5am, the feel is a little desperate.  Thieves, Prostitution and the homeless are doing their final rounds.  The problem is that for a photographer the light has some amazing characteristics at this time. So off I go into the wild with an expensive camera strapped to my chest.   I am a relatively large person so I was hoping that my size and presence was intimidating enough to prevent a mugging but I knew the walk was going to be interesting. 

Not more than a block from my hotel,  I notice a prostitute with what might be a pimp or john walking in my direction. They are at a safe distance,  about 1/2 block away so I change direction and avoid conversation. I walk across the street toward my assignment in a nearby alley with a beautifully colored mural of flowers.  Next to the mural was about 8 homeless people sleeping along the wall of the alley. Asleep, I didn't think they would wake if I took a few shots, after all the city has it's noises and my camera wasn't louder than the city. So, I step in take a couple shots. Artistically cropping a couple more shots for future composite projects I had in mind and then I hear a person approaching me.  So I turn toward them ready to swing.   It was the prostitute, she was still about fifty feet away but was turning around probably noticing my purpose of being in the alley  Now I could get a good look at her but she was also turning around,  looking over her shoulder in a deep black mans voice she says " HI". Oh Crap, this is a Wesley Snipes looking Prosti-dude. Dead ringer, so If you want to see what I mean click the link.  I say nothing and move out of the alley but with a little more caution about me because I lost track of the pimp.

 I walk down another couple blocks and get a few more shots of some uninspired  graffiti art and then off to the next site. At the middle of a crosswalk get greeted by another working girl with a simple "hi" walking past. I turn and look at her,  and think is she a man but saying nothing or breaking stride but when I turned back, I immediately see a police cruiser was driving by.

  I laugh to myself and continue walking, changing directions again. I bet Johns get busted all the time here. Not wanting to be mistaken for one,  I start back to the hotel, as it's a little too crazy out here besides, the murals around the hotel aren't as good as in the mission district. So I get to the next intersection and see the police officer turn around.  I am kind of really thankful to see him. As I know they are letting their presence known. I take a shot of him and let him know my purpose in the area. also because of the cool steam that was coming from the grate below his cruiser and the lines of the intersection might make for an inviting image.  Took my shot and kept moving.  I also know the rules for shooting in The City. Stick and move or faced being harassed for not having a permit.
One more detour, after all I am not deviating from the travel path back to the hotel but it's a longer route. I find my last grafitti art. most of the stuff is uninspired self glorification and expression of the artists passion but there are some amazing colors that are being used and they would make interesting backgrounds. I remember  focusing on the last one and seeing the colors but wasn;t sure what it was depicting because I wanted to be done.
I started back to the hotel when I noticed a couple of guys getting off the bus and looking in my direction. They started a quick conversation and  looking as if they were deciding to grab the camera or get where they needed to be. Maybe it was nothing, maybe it was instinct. I know plotting when I see it.  Funny thing is that they both looked in a hurry so I decided to duck into a corner store just in case, I thought if I had a fighting chance,  at least I would have someone calling the cops.  And if the cops are as good as the cabs here, they would arrive in seconds. I know the owner of the store would get involved because their store would be ruined in the hostile encounter.

 Funny because as I approached the corner store, I felt like I was in a movie.  I ran into another prostitute right in the doorway. This one was a Little Person. A little blonde wearing a mock  pretty woman pink colored dress, not the same cut but the same color.   She was digging into the pockets of an Arab man.
WHERES MY DOLLAR!  She was yelling at him but he was pleased that she was digging in his slacks. Nasty people. As I passed by and looked over at her, she looked at me briefly pausing with her hands deep into the other mans pockets and looks at me with that " hey baby" look, Gah, I wanted to laugh so hard but it was real. So I just rushed by.   I went over to the back and picked up a juice.  I can still hear her scream at him. He was throwing banter saying she should trust him, that he doesn't have it. This was a good sign as they stopped talking when I walked in and I would notice                                          anyone following as they again would stop conversating.   I go to the back and grab an orange juice.  Way to expensive for the couple swallows of a convenience size package.  Oh well it will have to do. The mini prostitute was done digging in the Arab mans pockets but still trying to get a dollar out of him.   As a courtesy to me or guilt, he says get out of my store which en flamed the prostitute more. Now she conjured up a cup of coffee.  I didn't want it on my camera so I paid my fee and got out and went around the corner back to my hotel.   I wasn't gone for more than 30 minutes and in retrospect it probably wasn't a good idea but I will make some interesting work building composites so my clients will never need to go out there. I also walked away with a funny story of this city.

On a side note, the afternoon prior. I was speaking with a nurse in the hotel lobby. She was moonlighting from her Santa Cruz hospital and was working at a local hospital, She says the prostitutes and homeless walk into the hospital on a daily basis.  They pretend that they are deathly ill to get a sandwich, sometimes a bed to sleep in and maybe some drugs for a little while.  She says that some do it two or three times a day.  Imagine the cost of each emergency room visit? Wow, who pays that bill. She said that she has a coworker who collects pictures of the small prostitute for fun.  I understand this has nothing on pride week lol.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Keepin' the Faith, a Decade Later

I will not go into detail about the imporance of the mission district. If you folliow my facebook posts, you will have read my thoughts (One of the coolest expressions of St. Augustine's  confessions, are found in San Francisco's Mission District. No Schools teach it, but the walls express a visual literature that is not found in any other media.)
One of the murals that placed my mind in reflection was a mural painted by Isis Rodriguez, The power of this mural has lasted a decade but not without it's critics in the form of tags.

I have contacted the artist today as I have started doing some digital restoration of her work.  I have taken licence with the background as it had been destroyed but thankfully I have seen a copy of the original and have that to work with.  I am hoping to use this for a digital composite but honestly, I will be happy just to see the colors and enjoy how this makes me feel. 

Here is my first attempt at restoration. for more information about the artist visit her website...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Confessions...

Let me mention something special about my wife. She absolutely loves to photograph young children. If you have known her or have watched her work with toddlers, you would instantly see there is something the young kids naturally gravitate to. Maybe it's her infectious smile, maybe it's the fact that she grew up in a daycare.  When parents would drop off kids for the first time... Dawn was quick to distract kids and make them forget those fearful feelings of being in a new situation..  This is a life skill that is critical for us working in this age group, and I don't have this skill but more importantly, our competition never will.  Dawn often interacts with the kids while I shoot.  This is not just my work or her work, this is a tag team effort of her life skill and mine.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sac Anime 2012, quick post

What do you do when you are stuck in Sacramento for 8 hours and need to burn some time?  We decided to see the latest superhero movie  Ghostrider II and stumbled upon the Sac Anime meetup...  Geared for fun, we met the most wonderful people...  And I got to play with my camera, getting the camera ready,  I gave myself a challenge. No flash, indoors, 50mm fixed focal length.  As usual, more pictures than time so I thought I would share some of the fun pix.

Amazing artist  If you think she does cosplay well check out her artwork!

So , there were too many pictures to post  these were the first two people walking inside the door and I noticed this white wall.  Pretty photogenic but I have no clue who they are...   I decided to create a comic book look out of them and it took a while but I needed to learn the process in photoshop. Once I was done I decided to do a few more.  Unforunately, they get a bit addicting and I think I got carried away.  Truthfully, they look best in 40x60" prints, that is the trouble with me and internet pictures, I believe in details and the internet is not a help with this.  Oh well maybe if I played within the constraints these would look better.
  Follow along the cheesy story.

OK, I got tired of creating a story line because I could not automate this comic process, and it took a few hours each after learning how to properly make them. Sorry.

Not really in costume, but in a blue t-shirt, my son was transformed back into his alter ego.  He got such a kick out of watching me dress him into this outfit.  the mask didn't make it because I got tired of dealing with the shadows.  Below he is in his figurative birthday suit, has the look of business in his eyes and above he is totally happy.  that also worked against the mask.  Can't beat joy.

as part of the process, this is a byproduct.  I will print them off on paper and give to my son to color.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Composite Photography, Part one

I have been working on what is called composite photography for a few years now, I guess I have been working on composites before I even knew what they were called. Composites in  this format, combines multiple images and graphic design to produce one final work of art.

 I was always in awe when commercial photographers work with graphic designers to create an amazing work of art for a magazine.  It would stop me from turning the page and stare... for me that stare is a compliment, getting a person to think is probably one of the greatest compliments a person could give to a visual artist.

Performing this type of work requires a lot of pre-planning and even more post production. Truth be told, they begin as most creative works do, they begin as random ideas or what if situations. Sometimes it's better, that the client not know these random thoughts because they begin to develop expectations as they  create their own artwork in their head.

Unfortunately, I tend to tell the client because they are unwilling to stand in front of the camera at my whim.  I guess I should tell them that even if I have this inspiration, there are only a couple of images within a complete session that might consume me enough to produce artwork and some of those may not make it to the final publishing, and some unfortunately do.

While on a mini-vacation with my wife, I wanted to collect stock footage in Seattle.  I would point things out randomly and say I want a picture of that. Get me a picture of that... sometimes it was just something I wanted to share with a family member back home. As a way to tell them this is why I was thinking of you during that trip.  Dawn and I got lost there with a purpose. I wanted to see what this town was all about and you don't get that vibe until you drive around and get lost in a town and Seattle was cooler than advertised.  
The pink elephant, awesome,  what a great tribute to PT Barnum, he has only been about 120 years but his influence is everywhere. Humbuggery (bull) at it's finest. P.T. Barnum way ahead of his time, but this is a digression for another time. Expect to see this elephant in a future work. 

As you can see, when Dawn and I came across this mural, which I later learned was called the Queen Anne Mural. It had been tagged by vandals unappreciative of The beautiful mural was painted by (Angelina Villalobos). As you can see the image had been horribly tagged but I knew i could restore her beautiful work