Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quotes from "The Man Who Shot the Sixties"

Interviewer: When you take a picture like that, do you know that you've captured something great?

Duffy: No, no not great, I know that I've done a very competent job, up to the standard of which I would want to work. But you can't tell how it will be responded to. To me, it was competent. Very competent. But I wouldn't take it much beyond that.

I think he was a terrific problem solver. I think he loved the technical challenge of having to fulfill a brief. Of bringing a great many skills together to make a picture that would satisfy the professional brief, work on the page, fulfill the client's expectations.

Interviewer: Why did you never have a show before?

Duffy: I never thought of it. I never wanted it. I just thought a photograph was almost immediate. Had immediate use. You know, the next day that whole thing is wrapped in your fish and chips in it. Art photography is a very very modern idea. Look at that plug I'm looking at, and it's so isolated there. And I think it's... It it's really rather pleasant looking. Now is that a work of art? That M.K. plug? It is... if you say it is. Never trust any artist ever telling you any bloody thing, they're all a bunch of liars. Artists, absolutely on any subject are always talking drivel. Why? Because the work, is the statement. Right?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Analyzing Highlights and Shadows (Part II)

I realized that I've been having sometruly inspiring and insightful conversations about some technical aspects behind lighting that I wanted to share with you guys. I'll just start mid-conversation with my response:

The next time we get together I have a simple exercise that will help you see light differently. I think it was the first breakthrough in my understanding of light. The thing with lighting is that the human brain is very easily fooled into believing whatever it sees. The average human brain doesn't analyze light. It just sees that there is light or that there isn't light. Photographers have to manipulate light and it's not natural for the average human brain. But it's obviously doable, just requires training.

Analyzing Highlights & Shadows

One of my friends is getting into portraiture and wrote the following email

Hey charles: here are a couple of pictures that I was hoping you can give me some feedback on.

The first picture is a straightforward headshot against a white background with a borrowed lighting setup. Im asking for feedback on this picture in particular because I feel like it’s a straightforward headshot, so there should be fewer variables for me to screw up, so hopefully you can point out basic mistakes that I am making.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This one's for blogger

Ever since I linked this blog to Facebook I have had to filter that kind of stuff I say here.

This one's for the flickr and blogger fans that follow this blog independent of Facebook :)

Seriously though. I blog for me (and indirectly you). I keep a Facebook fanpage because I have to (i.e. for marketing purposes). But since my FB fanpage is tied to my actual FB account, people I know in real life get to read these rather "personal" blog posts. That makes me nervous. In that sense I'm an "arms-length kind of guy". I try not to blog about realtime events because it potentially sets me up to fail. What if I called FORD and they said no? Now the whole world knows I'm a failure. I don't want that :)

The Man Who Shot the Sixties


Thanks to Brent Williamson for the heads up on this video!

Right Tool for the Right Job

As a working photographer, we have tons (yes metric tons) of gear. It partially explains why so many photographers are men, we like gear. The other explanation is that fashion means working with of female models. Together, they comprise 99.99% of the reason why there are so male photographers. Seriously.

This past weekend, I shot a lifestyle-oriented lookbook on location with the Nikon D3 and kept the Hasselblad H3DII-31 in the bag. Makes no sense, right? But given the strengths and weaknesses of each camera, it's exactly the right choice. I needed high frame-rates to capture action. Somewhat freezing motion (or at least minimizing motion blur) meant that I needed faster shutter speeds. The Nikon system has not only faster glass but also better ISO performance allowing me to push shutter speeds. I shot much of the shoot at ISO1600 since the designer didn't care about grain (and with the D3 really, what grain?). Faster shooting meant faster autofocus and fast write speeds. The only thing I was missing was the insanely detailed image quality (along with the uber large files). Didn't need either.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Speaking of color

RGB vs. CMYK has always eluded me. Primarily because I don't print, not even now in CMYK (at least I don't have to deliver my files to my printer in CMYK profiles).

But what the hell is CMYK? What is RGB for that matter?

Upon reading a few articles on colors, I stumbled across this:


- RGB together make white. CMY together make black.
- CMY stands for Cyan Magenta and Yellow.
- R/C, G/M, and B/Y are complementary colors. In Photoshop, the "color balance" layer adjustment gives you these options for shadows, midtones, and highlights.
- There is nearly impossible for CMY to reflect pure RGB values and vice versa. It's nearly impossible to make pure blue with CMY colors. You can get close but it won't be perfect. This is why displays (which are RGB) must be calibrated but fall short sometimes when attempting to show CMY colors (pure C, pure M, and pure Y).
-"They (CMY and RGB) are opposites and yet complementary at the same time" I love this line ;)

Here's a second article for reference:

Kanye's world

What I appreciate the most from the film is the color cast, reminiscent of a summer blockbuster. I enjoyed the wardrobe/styling as well as the makeup. But best of all, I enjoyed the music.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I want to live in Alex Roman's world

This guy doesn't need me to plug his work... but it's so breathtakingly beautiful that I have to. I originally blogged about Alex Roman a while back here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tip of the day: Don't sweat the details

Lindsay. H3DII-31/HC-80mm. 1/180th f/2.8 ISO200 with circular polarizer.

After I posted the above image of LIndsay, someone asked me whether or not this image couldn't have been improved with a longer lens hood or a flag to cut down on the flare.

I responded with the following: "I think it comes down to personal preference... there is no right or wrong answer ;) And yes, if you decide you don't like the flare, a larger hood could cut down on the flare. Or a flag :)"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tip of the day: Tension in the reins

I've always liked horses. They're such magnificent creatures. A few years ago I took horseback riding lessons and learned the basics. As a beginner riding around the arena, I inevitably would hold the reins with too much slack. The horses would sense the slack and toss their heads forward and yank the reins, sometimes straight out of my hands.

I asked the trainers why the horses would do that and their responses varied. One trainer told me the horses could sense my lack of experience and it was their way of rebelling against me riding them. Another trainer told me that the horses just wanted to see if I was paying attention and if I knew what I was doing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Working with Modeling Agencies Workshop January 22-23, 2011

Jana from LA Models.

No better way to kick off January than with an awesome workshop! This will be an extension of my first workshop but if you missed it, have no fear we are going to review and rework a lot of the setups and topics.

In recent months, I've been asked a lot about
shooting agency models, how to approach agencies, what the agencies look for, how do I know if I'm ready?

WIth all these questions, I figured we could answer all these questions and more in one fell swoop. So here's the
Working with Modeling Agencies Workshop hosted by yours truly on January 22-23, 2011!

-If you're still building your portfolio and trying to get your foot in the door with agencies (particularly in the competitive LA environment), this workshop is for you.
-If you're trying to improve your existing body of work, this workshop is for you.
-If you're trying to build a paid-relationship with agencies, this workshop is also for you.
-If you don't care about improving your port or working with modeling agencies, then this workshop is not for you.

Without further adieu here are the topics we'll cover:

-What agencies are looking for in a photographer and a portfolio.
-How to approach agencies
-Portfolio review
-Creating the "agency look" in capture (natural light and strobes)
-Creating the "agency look" in post
-Photographer/agency/model interaction

This will be a two-day event that will feature insight from agency models and will highlight many of the lighting setups and post-processing techniques that I employ for my own work.

General notes:

-Since good models are paramount to getting "the shot" we'll provide
experienced agency-represented models for the workshop.

-Photographers will be
learning/shooting on-the-fly. I'm not a fan of lectures but rather a constant dialogue and sharing of knowledge. That also means, you're not paying to watch me shoot... you'll be doing most of the shooting!

-One of the things I enjoy most is keeping the workshop small for more
one-on-one attention. I will cap the attendance at 10-12.

time with models is critical to the learning process. At the workshop you'll have plenty of time to work with models. There will be at most 2-3 photographers per model.

-You'll be shooting with all the studio gear including the AlienBees system with all the light modifiers and the RadioPopper JrX system. Studio is privately owned, indoors with A/C and heat, plenty of white wall space and portable set walls/props, and plenty of parking.

-Lunch is included for both days.

Cost $395 for one day // $695 for both days. Register by Christmas for 20% off! Payment in-full is required prior to workshop. Please message/email me for registration.

Here are some links to the last workshop:
Workshop details
Workshop details part II
Workshop results

Tip of the day: Look up

Last week, I had a location shoot in Topanga Canyon with Brea and Kaela. It was the polar opposite of the shoot out in Glamis/Algodones Dunes. I had time to sit, think and basically do whatever I wanted without the expectations.

And in the middle of not having any expectations, I saw something that I never saw before. Not sure if I never noticed or simply because of the particular location but I saw 2-3 different color casts on Kaela's face right before we began shooting our first set.

From one angle, the sky was casting blue. From another angle, we were getting reflected sunlight from rock surfaces and dirt casting yellow. And I swear we were getting green coming from other directions/angles as well!

To make it even more challenging we were in and out of shadow, direct and indirect, via some leaves and branches. That made for a "fussy" exposure. direct vs. shade is 2+ stops difference and looks like crap on camera, even the H3D can't compress that dynamic range well enough to make the highlights/shadows gradual. Good thing we had the white diffuser on hand.

But I suppose what was most striking about this experience was that I was seeing something new. It's been a long time since I've seen anything "new", but it got me thinking... what if there are new things all around me, but I just don't see them. Kind of like "if a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it..." You won't see anything new if you aren't looking. And suddenly I felt like a fool for assuming there was nothing new under the sun.

In Rome, our tour guide said something that will stick with me forever.

"People are always walking around Rome looking down. They're looking at the ground, their maps, their cameras... But Rome has amazing architecture. You will see the most amazing things if you simply look up"

So change your perspective... look up :)

Creating a Summer Blockbuster Film Look

This is a film about video editing that has gems of knowledge regarding color control. While I have no knowledge or expertise about editing film, looking at how Colorista manipulates film, reminds me a lot of Lightroom.

Click here for the video.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Photoshop takes forever to save...

I thought it was just me. Apparently not.

Hell if you just google "Photoshop takes forever to save" a ton of results pop up. Apparently it's bad coding systemic to earlier releases even (read: not just CS5).

What Your Choice of Camera Says About You

OWC Data Doubler

In case you were wondering!

Drobo: Long-term review

I was thinking about my Drobo (version II) and the transfer speeds. Since April of this year, I've been using the Drobo as my external storage to my MacBook Pro 6.2. It sits on my desk at home, plugged into the MBP 95% of the time. I still only have 3 disks in the 4-disk bay and I've only managed to use 891GB of the 2.7TB space.

Screenshot of Drobo Dashboard as of today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tip of the day: Buy a Wacom tablet

18 month Wacom Intuous 4 tablet. Note the darker spot on the tablet's surface where I perform most of my brushstrokes.

There are a few things that I can't do without. On the capture side, I don't mind too much between the H3 vs. the D3 vs even the iPhone. I think I could have a great shoot with only the iPhone but it'd only be natural light until I figured out how to sync the strobes. On the processing side, I can't do without the MacBook Pro but even that would be useless if I didn't have my Wacom tablet.

A previous post of mine claims I've had the Wacom Intuous 4 since June 2009. I can't find any evidence of that here on my blog via a quick search. My guess is that it's not far off from the actual purchase date. Since my original purchase (I bought the smallest Intuous 4), I've "broken" a stylus. Aside from that random incident (the stylus' cursor would twitch randomly) the tablet works flawlessly. Hell, it works better than when I first got it because the nibs are well-worn and the surface of the tablet is not smooth from having suffered millions of brushstrokes.

Tip of the day: Don't interrupt Photoshop

Photoshop can be a finicky little son of a bitch. When resizing or running any sort of function on a 31MP file, Photoshop can chug. If you (or in this case I) make any mistake in decision-making and subsequently decide to abort the operation, Photoshop will penalize you 2-3x the time it would have taken just to finish the operation and undo the procedure.

So the tip of the day is to just let Photoshop finish its task and then to undo. Never interrupt Photoshop mid-process.