Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surf philosophy: Dynamicism

When I surf regularly I often look at Surfline to check the forecast to see what's going on with the water before I head out. For those of you that don't know I surf, well I surf. But even if you do know that I surf, what you might not know is that surfing to me is a way of life for me that reflects my core values in ways that I can't even begin to express... values that go beyond conservationism and driving a Prius.

Good vs. Good-looking

I think I need to clarify my TOTD post from a couple weeks back. I think I placed too much emphasis on a good-looking model vs. a "good" model.

I'm definitely in the camp that believes good-looking model ≠ good model. There are awesome models that aren't very good looking at all. It doesn't hurt to be extremely good-looking! But it's far more important to be good at modeling than it is to be good-looking period.

Working with the best model you can find doesn't mean picking the most attractive girl in the agency package. I will often flip through those packages and cross-off those that are just "another pretty face" or limited to beauty.

Of course when a good-looking model intersects with a good model then you've got the perfect package but often it's the case that good-looking models limit their looks/range and can't express themselves to the same degree as a not-so-attractive model that's willing to go all-out.

Maybe later I'll go more into what I look for in a model and pictures...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Snippets of thoughts

I haven't felt like blogging much... can you tell? :)

Went out to the Algodones/Glamis dunes down in MexiCali. Stayed on our side of the border but we could see Mexico from where we were. Fine day out there except we had to contend with the dune buggies/4x4's/ATV's/bikes/etc. Oh, they didn't bother us, but the landscape/sand showed evidence of tracks everywhere.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Workflow: Retouching and printing

The process differs for each person. There are no two workflows that are identical. While each portion of the process is critical, I'm going to just focus on just the backend portion of my workflow here.

I had some friends over yesterday. Upon showing them my "workspace" they remarked how "professional" it looked. I don't know what gave it away. Perhaps it was the converted formal dining room table? Or maybe it was the mismatched CFL bulbs from the rest of the house? In all seriousness however, the irony behind what I do is that most of it is done in an "office".

And not behind the camera.

Tip of the day: See the forest from the trees

If you haven't read this TOTD post about histograms. Read this first as I'll be referencing the other post heavily.

I know I just told you to read the histogram. The histogram is great for back-solving but don't get hung up on it. Like everything else it's just a tool. Don't be discouraged if you can't make your histogram identical to that of another image. It's just a reference. Besides, if you keep trying to push your histogram to look like that of a different image, you might very well end up down the wrong path.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ain't life grand?

Ain't life grand? I was wandering Home Depot again today, something that still makes me break into a cold sweat and halfway through my search for metal washers I thought to myself,

"I should slow down and really just enjoy this experience"

Now, why on Earth would I say such a thing to myself?

Tip of the day: Read the histogram

This is something that I constantly employ in my arsenal of learning tools. You know how you sometimes gaze at a picture just to figure out how it was lit? Well, for retouching I like to gaze at the histogram to figure out how it was retouched.

Tip of the day: Good models

This has always been an unsaid rule of my photography but I shoot the most beautiful women I can find. No one could possibly disagree with this. I mean it's painfully, "hit me over the head with a bat" obvious. I've worked with some of the most beautiful women on Earth.

Do I have to elaborate on why?


This was a response to a message regarding photographic styles and directions. The sender is inspired by Corinne Day, Terry Richardson and Richard Avedon. Since I don't know why Corinne Day is, I neglected to reference her in my response:
Photography agencies to my knowledge are more about managing your book of existing clients, than they are about getting you new clients. Basically most photography agencies sign you when you have a significant clientele and can't be bothered with the contractual, appointment-scheduling, operations-type BS, etc. They also take a good chunk of your earnings but you pay them to hold the clients' hands because you are too busy making money.

Anyway, assuming I'm understanding you correctly, you still need to decide on a specific direction. Terry Richardson and Dick Avedon are left field and right field ;) I can see how you could like both, but that's kinda like saying I'm Republican and Democrat at the same time. They're mutually exclusive. You gotta pick a side. Avedon was great with control and refinement. Richardson is great at grit and in-your-face reality. I guess what I'm trying to say is to be specific about your niche/style of photography. That way you can be more specific about how you want to build your book.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Liquifying in video

Move over Photoshop. This is amazing.

Natural light? (Part II)

Recently I've been shooting a lot with natural light. In studio and out. My education in lighting has been somewhat "backwards" in that respect because I really learned flash photography before I learned ambient lighting.

For me, understanding off-camera flash forced me to look at light differently. Not in the mundane diffuse-light-coming-through-the-window way but rather "how do I want to use light to sculpt the subject" way? You become He-Man when you use strobes because you feel like "Master of the Universe" when you control light. Or at least I do.

Studio pictures

Here's the preliminary results of the pictures at the studio. They're not large. Printed on A3+ paper but sized down to 11.5x15.25" because the matte on the frame came in that size. More work to do, but it's a start!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What's in the bag? (Part II)

Here's part I if you're interested.

Yesterday I decided to consolidate the two systems that I work with (Nikon/Hasselblad) into one bag. Up until now, I've been using a Lowepro MiniTrekker A/W for the Nikon system and a 20 year old Tamrac (single strap top-load) shoulder bag for the H3D. Problem now is that I acquired a HC-210mm and am out of space with the Tamrac bag. The HC-210mm is about the same length and girth as the the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G.

So what now?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

How to become an agency-approved photographer


I'm going to lay it out step-by-step for you. This is how I did it and your mileage may vary. I'm going write whatever comes to mind because this topic is quite extensive.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Natural light?

Katie. H3D/HC-80mm. 1/45th f/2.8 ISO200.

It was raining outside. For no reason other than I had some raggedy old white paper that could be used for some low-profile shots, I opened the roll-up gate to the studio. Overcast, cold, but soft and even light coming into the studio otherwise.

To the left of the paper (from my perspective) was "
The Box". So there was some soft shadow from the main light source which was to the left of The Box.

ISO8000 6:45PM

Brett. D3/24-70mm f/2.8G. 1/30th f/2.8 ISO5000 @70mm. 6:28PM.

At the time I was disappointed. I thought, why can't the camera autofocus properly? Why do I have to bump the ISO?

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

I've been meaning to get one of these for a while and it wasn't until my recent color calibration woes that I decided to actually get one of these. These go beyond white balance and provide custom camera profiles for every lighting condition. Now I've long seen a difference between the H3D and the D3 in their out-of-the-box color casts. The H3D exhibits a greenish tint whereas the D3 is colder and more bluish in hue. That doesn't bother me too much because all my files go through extensive color correction in Photoshop but for once.

But one day, I'm going to shoot with both cameras and really get upset that I'll have 2 separate sets of images that look like they were shot with different cameras.

Prints: My coffee table

Here's my coffee table as of this morning. There are more prints now since it's been hours since I've been up and at it. My goal now is to fine tune the color profiles for the Canon 9500 MkII but things are pretty close as is. I dunno. Judge for yourself. I think some of the skin tones are a little muted and slightly off but maybe my display is off and yours looks exactly like this?

Wait a sec, if you're viewing both the jpegs and then this image of the prints on the display, you'll just see the differences that I see albeit relatively so. LOL!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

F-Stop Watch

Because we're all geeks at heart ;)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

JustHost down... again.

For over 24 hours no email no website... nothin'

I had to submit a problem ticket via email before they were aware of the issue. But they resolved it immediately.

Why does this happen to begin with?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Knee deep in...

Yesterday Calumet LA had a vendor demo of lots of color important gear that photographers had. This was a great opportunity for me to query the experts on my non-matching prints.


I've been doing some printing at Costco. I've found that even with all my color calibration, my prints don't match my display(s). That's terribly frustrating.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rorschach geometry

In creating these images, I was subtly reminded of Rorschach inkblot tests, to which I've never been subjected. I enjoyed doing this little exercise because the geometry in these images provide structure and is often at the heart of the sets that I create for my shoots. Why do the lines behave the way they do? Why are the walls placed the way they are? Why do the gradients fall the way they fall? Sometimes it's luck. Other times it's by design. Oddly, in structure and symmetry there's lots of randomness and chance. At least in my work.

I present to you some of the driving inspirations that randomize in my mind :)

Raina Hein and architecture. H3DII-31/HC-80mm. 1/350th f/9.5 ISO100

Margaux in the box. H3DII-31/80mm. 1/500th f/8.0 ISO100

Hasselblad H3DII-31: My take (a subjective review)

Old campaign poster from the release of the H3D-31 back in early 2007. Hasselblad launched the H3DII in September 2007

I take offense when people think they can differentiate between my images that are shot with the D3 and my images that are shot with the H3D? Why? Because it implies that there's something about the quality of these images that is intrinsically related to the camera and not the processing. Yes, I'm being hyper-sensitive :)

But I can't even tell which of my pictures were shot with the D3 or the H3D! I have to reference the EXIF data or my Lr organization.