Saturday, May 2, 2009

Creativity Captuting the Absurd.

Have you ever been to a location and things just weren't working out creatively. I wanted to take a moment and share a couple thoughts that can help you work through those moments of panic when creativity doesn't spark at the right moment.

Often panic sets in because the fear of going back to digital post production with amazing images but cant help the feeling of "Me too". I got this picture, oh yeah me too.

What I am not going to do is write about light mechanics and the importance of blah blah blah. What I will reveal is one word and that word is Absurd. Don't you know about absurd? Everybody knows that absurd is the word. (sorry trashmen flashback, Apologize if this song gets stuck in your head)

What I am trying to say that we as people in this age are attracted to images that are absurd. Picture an image of a bride in a church and you may want to look at it for 3-8 seconds. Put an Astronaut with their reflective helmet on in that very same church and I can get you to stop and look at that picture and look for someone to discuss it. Put the bride in the Shuttle ready for launch, there is another shot. Don't you know about absurd?

Oddities are good combination's but some are less as dynamic. For example, think about the naked baby shot. How often has that been done. Don't get me wrong, these are so much fun but since you got that shot, what can you do to avoid the "Me Too".

Get a little absurd. What are mom's hobbies. We had a mother who was very into horses. Her kids were older so I was unable to get this shot. I was thinking fresh santa fe style horse blankets and a larriet or maybe borrowing a new show saddle. She had this horse as a kid and grew up with it. It would be nice to reveal moms other love too. Oh, and it's a great conversation topic.

Here is my latest business card concept, Unique, Absurd and creative.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Classified Photographers

Caught this news story today. Funny how they focus on Craigslist Photographers. I am not saying that the economy isn't bad for everyone but if you are going to the classifieds to search for a photographer, chances are slim that you are hiring a professional. Search for quality in this tough economy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

American Spring

I wanted to take a moment and share with you an image. As photographers, we have the opportunity to capture these images every spring. The importance of capturing these images is paramount for they reveal the transition phase of our clients lives.

For them, this will be one of the few vivid memories which will be never forgotten. This spring it's their turn to enjoy the sunshine and it's beautiful rays. Pull out all of the stops to ensure their memories are incredible.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Preshoot thoughts...

Outdoor preshoots are a wonderful thing. As photographers we spend hours every year scouting new places and looking for an ideal spot, allowing our creativity to flourish. On this particular job, we were preshooting for an evening confirmation. The day for the preshoot was first class. Temperature was between 68-72 degres F., no wind whatsoever and an amazing overcast sky. Natures softbox came out to play. I was hoping for more of the same during the actual shoot but I knew better.

During the preshoot, I was looking for appropriate backgrounds. The Cathedral courtyard itself was going to be packed with hundreds of people. Brick walls, service alleys, the state capitol, composition curves and a few others were the assortment of options available. The wife knew I wanted something real creative and special for these kids. She had to reign me in. " Nobody wants a picture of their kid in a service alley" she said. It'd be cool, I thought before letting the next random thought pass though my creative process. Hmm, what about the neon of the Crest theater, that would be amazing and artistic, but it does not fit the event. Nope, she was right. These were first time clients that didn't know my work. Time once again to play it safe. I was going to be completing a simple portrait. I found the spot immediately. It was a tree on the south side of the cathedral.

Yes, this tree will do nicely, admiring the framing. Perfect spot too. Oh what is that orange thing in the background, it won't be in my shot but could be on the right angle. Oh boy, Sleeping bag? Well it was so tucked away that he was hard to see in the first place. Many transients that hang out or live in that area and appear harmless. This is based on my only experience a couple years back. One particular one liked to be photographed. So much in fact that he joined a few families in pictures, invited or not.

Time for Option 2. I started looking around for another location and noticed that a that a transit autority officer was heading back behind my tree. What was he looking for? Turns out that part of his job duties was to ensure the homeless don't establish a residence in the area. Wow, that was convinient. He said that the homeless shouldn't be sleeping there and he was planning on removing him. Great! got the spot I wanted and didn't need to say anything. The homeless have enough problems, I didn't want to add to them. Turns out, that he must have liked that spot because he was back the day of the shoot but didn't give anyone problems. Cool.

For this preshoot, I took along my favorite model, my son Andrew. He is good at taking directions when posing and is always willing to help out. This was another random concept during the creative process. Have the confirmant with a bible or rosary in hand with the cathedral in the background. The confirmant sitting beneath the amazing building would have been a beautiful shot. Unfortunately, there were a myriad of artistic, and technical issues related to this shot and concept was abandoned. During the shot the Metro rail came by and I asked him to step on the other side of the bench with the same pose. I liked the color scheme of the metro and thought I can pull an urban shot. Preshoot was taken with a 20D and Kit lens 28-135mm.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Video Monitors for 5DMK2

Working on a project to improve the clarity of my HD video. I am finding it challenging to manually focus the Canon's 5D Mark II, due to the design of the live view mode and physical camera angles. A tethered monitor can be useful to improve my visibility.

These days, very few people are made of money, and I am not one of them. I couldn't consider purchasing an LCD monitor for a service that will not be offered to clients. So I need to figure out a way to resolve this issue without having the additional expenditure. BTW, I did some internet window shopping for a monitor and learned that (prepare for sticker shock) JVC makes a monitor for this purpose. I am sure it's a fine monitor but my pocketbook opened up and laughed.

The next obvious option was to use my notebook, a little big to carry but should work great tethered. But I have a few problems with this idea. It's not as portable as I would like. The HP notebook I have been using has a poorly designed shell. HP has been addressing this and other issues. Netbooks might be an option but I have heard that they could not support most software applications and with small battery life may not be a good option.

Then I remembered that years back, we had purchased a video walkman for my kids (SONY DVE7000S). We have not used that walkman in many months. The monitor was used for long road trips and those came to a halt with the gas prices that rose through the roof. So reusing this video walkman just might work. BTW, a quick search for it reveals that now sells used for $120-150 online. Now to get the right cables and see if it's compatible.

I am getting a black and white screen. Time to go to the manual, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"...Build Confidence in the Creative Spirit."

I thought I'd share some Black and White conversion tips for the blog. For many, this is a simple philosophy but for a few of you, this may change your workflow design. I selected and cropped the image to focus in on the multiple solid colors. The colors in the crab alone make this image interesting enough for conversion. Take a moment and open the image. Look at the colors and acknowledge the transitions in color. I will get back to this later.

Looking at the histogram, I was hoping for a better dynamic range. A little highlight or specular twinkle would have helped. Oh well, at least there are some cool shadows.

If you opened the image, maybe you noticed the bird droppings, or dark cracks in the handle. What about the transition to from flat black to shadow in that same handle? How about the reflective blue upper mid tones in the brushed steel or the burgundy trim around the wheel? Did you notice the dark blue trim around the crab? Indeed a picture is worth a thousand words and I will stop here as the combinations are incredible.

In a basic conversion to grayscale, the image is converted at the push of a button. Unfortunatly, this one button, or one size fits all approach doesn't fit image I wanted. To me, this image was robbed of contrast and looks a bit muted.

The beauty of digital and amazing computer engineering allows us the opportunity to use this as a starting point for incredible options . So, I grabbed one of my primary software editors and began work on the image with the adjusting sliders. Now, you can adjust the sliders till the cows come home and eventually get where you need to be but planning this trip will get you there faster and with your creativity, knowing when to stop is important.

Ansel Adams, " No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit. "

So let me reveal myself to build confidence in the creative spirit. With this particular digital image there is some hard fast rules.
For example, this is an 8 bit RGB color image and when all three colors are the same value it produces 256 shades of gray. Within the saturated shades, you can create contrast and detail. You have a pallet of 256 colors, use them. I have placed a simple gray card at the bottom of this image, imagine this was a painters palate and 256 combinations were available.
Imagine dipping into the color pallet and painting. Start using the sliders and pay attention to the color details. In my work, I'd like to ensure the contrast captured in the color image is revealed.

When I was a kid, I was introduced to canvas painting, it was fun. I learned paint by numbers, and a little landscape painting. I find even those lessons apply to photography. For example, the Paint by numbers , taught me separation, contrast, and natural transitions of color. We are doing the same thing here, just with a different brush.

To apply advanced techniques, search out masters. I like the works of Vincent Versace, Brooks Jensen, and of course Ansel Adams. They are primary influences when it comes to dodge and burn techniques.