Monday, September 27, 2010

A hundred blog posts

I must have about a hundred blog posts that have never been published... Someday, I will use these random incomplete thoughts (on the subject of photography) for a book. Until then I am practicing and am recording this journey.

Part of the reason I blog in the first place is my ability to go overboard when I talk. So, I write to an audience of one, me. I do this just to clear my head but hope that someday the outcome is a philosophy that will be a list of my core competencies that will help any photographer on their journey. Until then, I open some of these confessions to you.

I can tell you now, much of this is not original thought but a compendium of knowledge drawn from many sources. I will have stood on the backs of many ancient and modern philosophers and educators, including my wife and children, as they are the greatest teachers in my life. They ask the greatest questions, and they know I can put them to sleep with my answers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sympathetic Harmonies

Finding what makes a photograph beautiful is really easy. It's just the smile on your child's face as they are playing outside. It's the moment you said I do. It's the Halloween costume that made your child light up and turned them into their favorite superhero. One of my favorites was when Diego donned a chain mail outfit at the Scottish festival. I was so nervous that the heavy mail was going to make him buckle his knees. He loved it but didn't expect it to be that heavy. These have been a few of the pictures this week that changed my mood and brought joy to my heart.

Being a family of photographers we tend to have extra prints lying around almost everywhere. Guilty little treasures to be found in a book, hidden in the visor of the car, in a desk drawer, I mean they are everywhere. These are not always our best shots but are just simple pictures of our kids being themselves at that age, and that brings me joy. They reveal the way things were
yesterday, last month, five years ago, and are funny little portals in time, to see how things never seem to change.

I guess the point I was trying to make is that photographs shouldn't only stay archived or stored on a computer hard drive. Try to treat them as little treasures in your day. Print up a few extras to make sure they are found. Be a little pirate and hide your treasures in obvious places for others to find, keep them hidden in the mattress, junk drawer, or even on the fridge... happiness is contagious.

My kids grow up way too fast, and using the photographs in this way also slows my life down, they are the chords that strike the sympathetic harmonies making my heart sing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jessica Simpson Reinventing Natural Beauty?

I was in the grocery store yesterday and seen the May cover of Marie Claire with Jessica Simpson in her natural beauty state. The headline tags were: The Real Jessica, No Make Up, No Retouching, No Regrets.

I look closer at the cover and did not see the person but a photographic concept telling a story. Am I to believe that a celebrity without make up is Shockingly CONTROVERSIAL!? But why? I can pop up TMZ on my Ipod and see her without makeup? What is she selling... After a few clicks on the laptop the truth was revealed. She is probably promoting her new reality show... " the price of beauty on VH1". Digging a few clicks more, I begin to laugh because, Miss Jessica Simpson was trying to bail out her Make Up artist from jail only four months ago, (link) but I digress. Let's get back to the picture.

If I am not mistaken the Marie Claire image (found here) was captured by the professional photographer, James White. The cover image may have not been retouched but was manipulated by light and camera. The photographer was telling a story. He wants you to focus on the flawless skin... but she must remain beautiful. After all the magazine must sell! I assume he saw the roots growing out and decided to crop the image close so the MARIE CLAIRE font across the top will detract from the roots not being maintained. Mr. White knows what to do to make someone beautiful and controversial.

He uses a specific lighting technique I would only reserve for the 16 year old model, not the 30 year old starlet... unless I was selling this concept. Does Jessica pull it off? I don't think this is a very flattering picture of her but it does the job selling the Marie Claire cover story and create controversy.

The image appears to have been shot with a single strobe, slightly camera right with a butterfly lighting configuration. The wardrobe specialist added in a plain cotton outfit with neutral colors to continue the illusion. Nice work James.

Here is a vimeo interview with James White on twilight series.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of All Ages....”

When was the last time you have been to the circus. Honestly, It's been a few years for my family. The first time I went to the circus was with my kids. We saw the famous circus clown Bello Nock. The kids loved it... We loved it. There wasn't a moment that we didn't have fun.

Over the years, I've developed a strange fascination for the Circus. There is a lot to learn. For example, the term "hold your horses" came from the circus. This was because when the elephants walked by the horses they scared the heck out of them.
The term " Toss your hat into the ring" became a political boxing term when President Wilson famously tossed his hat into the center ring of the circus.
I also learned that the most famous circus phrase "Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of all ages..." must be said by the Ringmaster of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily Circus before every show.

The last phrase is my favorite... Children of all ages is not about the show being age appropriate for all your kids. the phrase speaks to the child within... its about the spirit of the person, regardless of their age. To me, the circus brings out the children of all ages.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Pregnancy of Robin

With a nod and a wink to both Cecil B. DeMille and the dutch painter Rembrandt. This image "The Pregnancy of Robin" (Rembrandtweb) uses a lighting technique popularly known as Rembrandt lighting. This image was an outlier in the photographic session because of the post processing.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Raw Mash Up Technique

The image to the left uses a relatively new technique in the realm of post production. This is affectionately referred to as the Raw mash up. Click on the image to see better detail.

The secret is a sequence of raw images that are color managed for each zone then dropped into multiple Photoshop layers using a zone technique. Obviously, the zone system was popularized by Ansel Adams for black and white images but this variation is much different. This one takes on the form similar to Vincent Versace, another B&W artist who pioneered this technique for the digital realm. Each raw layer was crafted for exacting tone. the color never went into a hyper reality but in itself the layers revealed eye popping colors that violently hated the original. When reveling each masked layer, again in itself the image took on a Frankenstein creation. To reduce this effect, a basic post production process was introduced as a layer and that with opacity were the keys, then the image took on a life of it's own.

Many more enhancements can be done on top of this technique and is a great base for dodging and burning. This technique is meant to reveal what is lost by the camera sensor.

"When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." George Washington Carver