Thursday, September 30, 2010

A godless world...

When people ask me how I learn(ed) photography I never say that I'm self-taught. Because it's bullshit. I've learned from the greats like David Hobby, Chris Orwig, Matthew Jordan Smith or Amy Dresser. Do they know who I am? Of course not (actually Matthew does). I've never had the pleasure of meeting them, but I have learned volumes from their writing, videos, and tutorials. I'm eternally grateful to the various "teachers" I've had on this journey.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Color profile issues: Blogger

Okay. Here goes:

I uploaded
this image below to blogger:

Notice the sRGB color profile.

When it finishes uploading to blogger it looks like
this (with a reddish tint).

I say WTF then download the exact same image I just uploaded. The info on the file looks like this:

Notice the missing color profile information.

So how did I get my actual version with the proper color profile to upload to blogger? I took a screenshot of the picture when it was open in Photoshop. Before it uploaded it had info that looked like this:

Yet oddly immediately after it uploads it's fine. It retains the "correct color". When I download the file and examine the info the color profile is again stripped:

Also I'm noticing a difference in Alpha Channel: Yes/No

I'm not sure what explains this discrepancy. Or why blogger is showing a different version of my jpegs than what I see before uploading.

Amy dreams

Amy. H3DII-31/HC-80mm. 1/90th f/2.8 ISO200.

*In the comments section can you please tell me if the above two images have different color casts? i.e. do they look at all different or pretty much identical except for the crop? I'm looking for color profile issue/differences. Thanks!

In testing out the SanDisk 32GB CompactFlash, I snapped a few pics of Amy. I noticed in Photoshop that her eyes reflected a sliver of our backyard. I wonder what she dreams when she's falling asleep...

100% crop of her eyeball.

The Replacement: SanDisk Extreme 32GB CompactFlash

Mikey likes it! :) Yup, the H3D takes it just fine and doesn't spit back "No CF card" or other error messages.

Goodbye Lexar... we tried.

Perhaps the Lexar price adjustment was in response to the pricing of the SanDisk cards? I'm guessing there's a supply issue at heart though...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Prices of Lexar 32GB 300x CompactFlash cards...

I bought my Lexar 32GB 300x CompactFlash on 8/30/2010 for $124.95 from Adorama with free shipping. It doesn't work in my Hasselblad H3D so I have to sell it.

Here's the invoice:

But I noticed today that the price of this CompactFlash is selling for
$169.95 at Adorama.

What happened???

Modeling: More dangerous than...

Being a model is more dangerous than letting Stevie Wonder take you on a walking tour of The Grand Canyon. Seriously. Modeling is an extremely dangerous profession. I don't think there's a more dangerous profession out there...

If I were an insurance agent, I would not insure models for anything. Not life insurance, not personal liability insurance, and definitely not auto insurance. From my own personal experience models have car problems 50% of the time. 50%! That's a coin toss! I'd just ride my bike everywhere if I knew my chances of breakdown, accident, flat tire, etc. were 50%! They must spend a lot of money on auto repair, AAA, insurance (if anyone is willing to even insure them), GPS systems (though these usually don't work for models), hospital bills (personal injury), etc. And from what've heard, their cars get broken into all the time, and you know what the thieves steal? Clothes! It's always another model or a cross-dressing transvestite with good taste that's breaking into models' cars. Nothing else gets stolen. Just the clothes. What are the odds of that?!? Amazing!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

No I did not liquify... and about the box...

Margaux Elite Model Management. H3DII-31/HC-80. 1/500th f/9.5 ISO100 @80mm.

Yes, those legs are real. No, I did not liquify. Look at the other ones of her. That's just how her legs are.

Yes, she's really thin. No, she's not anorexic. I watched her scarf down 2 slices of pizza... although she did disappear into the bathroom for a long time afterwards. By the way, that's a joke. The girl eats just fine.

I originally made this pic in monochrome. Interestingly, it looks better in color. I don't know why. But it does. Fortunately I didn't lock myself into black and white. Sometimes I do. This time I didn't.

I actually think that we'll see some return to color. I've been at "the drawing board" really looking at black and white tonality, traditional film's tonal responses to light, and taking a hard look at my own B&W conversions. Needless to say, I'm in need of a little change. The last 4 out of 5 pictures uploaded to flickr have been in color. The previous 10 before that were B&W. But this isn't the end of the learning process, it's just the beginning of the plateau during which I exercise what I've learned and see if I can apply these techniques to acquire consistent results. We'll see how that goes :)

I will take this opportunity to talk a little about the box. I think the initial results were acceptable. LOL. Who uses words like "acceptable" outside of white-collared-shirt-and-tie situations to describe results? Most of you have probably already seen this but I'll use this image as an example:

Margaux Elite Model Management. H3DII-31/HC-80. 1/500th f/8.0 ISO100 @80mm.

So let's talk challenges. I'm used to moving around. But you can't move around with a geometric object without distorting the perspectives on said geometric object. Lines get bent, distortion happens. It *will* ruin the symmetry of the object. It *can* ruin the purpose of the object.

I made the box because I like lines, symmetry, structure, and geometry. I also like white. That's why it's a white box. I'm guessing I'll have to tripod the H3D. The only problem is the H3D has 1 focus point... and it's in the middle. How will I focus-recompose? I can't. I'll have to set the focus to where I think the model should be and set a long depth of field. We'll see.

Oh and it was supposed to be a cube. But
I failed at that. Which brings to mind the second challenge. It's not 1:1 aspect ratio (6x6 if you're a MF film shooter). Which means when I crop, I can't crop square. What I've found is that it crops better 6x7 HOWEVER this will either shorten the sides (which means the model can't stretch width-wise all the way like touch both sides of the box at the same time), or leave too much head room. The box is permanently "non-square". The stripped screws and lack of carpentry skills ensure that no future modifications to this box will be possible. So I'll have to figure an alternative solution to cropping the box pics. At this point, I'm thinking a custom crop might be the only solution... dunno yet though.

But do I ever know anything for certain. Rarely :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adobe's Enhance

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to change your focus point in post-processing? Let's say your focus point was accidentally the background rather than the foreground or vice versa. Can't do anything about it now in PS right? How about this?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

L U C I M A vs. The Box

In the spirit of geometric objects parallel lines etc. I decided to make a wood box to stuff models in. I saw a picture on Google Images and I wanted one just like the one in the picture.

So I sketched out a box. I assumed so many wonderful things, such as the following:

-I can cut straight edges and create 'square' boards
-I can fit 4x8' wood boards in the trunk of my Yukon
-I can lift 4x8' boards by myself
-I can do basic math and figure out how many screws I need

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hasselblad H4D-31

Well it feels like Hasselblad's been pretty tight-lipped about this one. Having maintained a close relationship with the Southern California area sales rep, this one caught me totally off guard. All this time, I though B&H and Calumet were trying to get rid of the H3DII-31 because they were no longer producing the 31MP chips. Turns out that they were just trying to get rid of the H3DII because they have the new H4D bodies.

So how do I feel about this (because my feelings are uber important regarding this matter LOL!)?

Should I get a Ferrari or a Hasselblad?

Deliberate no longer! The solution is here!

This is not a hoax, Hasselblad's response to the Leaf Aptus-II 12 and Aptus 12/R (80MP back) is to release a limited-edition Ferrari branded H4D (only 499 of them will be made) with a Ferrari logo and Ferrari red paint job.

Good job Hasselblad! That will stop the competition! LOL!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Medium format: Do I need it? Do clients need it?

Testino shoots a H2D with what looks like a HC 120mm f/4 Macro with Sarah Jessica Parker.

Brian, asked a great question regarding my last post regarding MF and I figured this being a long-ass post, I might as well share with all :) As of right now no one has asked me for a file with more than 4000 pixels on the long edge. My D3 barely satisfies that request at 4256 pixels on the long end. So no, no one has specifically asked for MF.

But clients are much more comfortable knowing that you're shooting fashion with what is deemed a "fashion tool". I've never seen Meisel or Testino shoot a Nikon/Canon for the cover of Vogue. Check out "Vogue Diaries" to see Testino in action (above). It's weird but clients don't want to see you use the same cameras that they have at home. They think their Canon Rebel is the same as your Canon 5D Mark II. They don't know the difference.

6x7, 6x6

In creating this picture I used a 6x7 aspect ratio. The original aspect was 6x4.5 which is basically 4x3. But in creating this picture, I found myself needing more and more "background".

Got me thinking, did they create 6x7 or 6x6 because there was a demand for it? Or did they create it because they pushed it on the consumers/photographers.

Check. Your move Hasselblad.

Leaf just unveiled its 80MP Leaf Aptus-II 12 and Aptus-II 12/R.

80 Megapixels.

That's an 10,320x7,752 pixel image from the 53.7x40.3mm sensor.

My H3DII-31 has a 44x33mm sensor. While there seems to be a standard with 35mm dSLR when they say "full-frame", the MF dSLRs keep pushing the limits to what they consider "full-frame". Sensors keep getting bigger.

Sounds like Canon vs. Nikon all over again. Your move Hasselblad!

More info

Monday, September 20, 2010

Where Science meets Religion

I stare dumbly at the frescoes in The Vatican Museum. Millions of man-hours went into creating these infinitely awesome works of art. All I see are people killing each other.

Standing before Michelangelo's David the first thought that popped in my mind was not "My, what a wonderful work of art! Michelangelo is a genius!" and shedding a tear. No, instead I thought to myself, "The dude's hands are disproportionately large for his body..."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to the drawing board

Just when I think that I know a thing or two about B&W I realize that I know nothing. I've spent the last 3 days in the hole looking at different techniques and trying them out and literally just tinkering and experimenting. Curves, levels, blend modes, channels/layers, apply image... it feels like I've left no stone unturned but I know for sure that there's still a formula/combination I've not tried.

Which explains some of my recent funky B&W images. I need images to experiment on so understandably, I would mock up some sample pictures that would provide me a little playground to work in. Unfortunately sometimes those results prove less than pleasant as you've seen in my last 2 B&W images.

That's why it's back to the drawing board.

Surprisingly I'm still at the computer. 3 days later. Still trying to figure stuff out. Maybe I'm doing it all wrong. Maybe I should just pay someone to show me what I'm missing? Maybe I'm crazy.

Or maybe I'm just a day away from figuring stuff out? I truly believe what separates a good photographer from a great photographer is not front-end results but back-end results. No editor cares how well you shoot "out-of-the box".

It's the final image that matters. Yes, you can take that to the press.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saving space with JPEGs

Here's a good writeup of how Lightroom JPEG compression/exports work!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting greater tonal range from skin

Here's a great tutorial on contrast and curves. I've linked you to the most important page here.

Tip of the day: Big tonal range in B&W images

Rome's Colosseum. D3/24-70mm f/2.8G 1/400th f/13 ISO200 @24mm.

I hardly ever take pictures of "stuff" anymore. I hardly ever use my camera outside the typical photoshoot. Understandably it was quite refreshing to just be out and about shooting "stuff".

With all my my retouching skills I wondered whether or not they'd be applicable to non-beautiful women. I mean, so much of what I do is content-specific; fixing skin, flyaway hair, liquifying away chunks of flab. Would any of these be applicable towards retouching landscape per se?

Friday, September 10, 2010

What's the bag weigh?

On my flight from Rome to Paris, I weighed my laptop back. I had guessed it weighed 9 pounds or so.

Boy was I wrong.

Try 15.5 pounds.

No wonder my shoulders are killing me! Partially from a magazine I acquired that weighs like 2-3 pounds though.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

H4D-40 Review

this review while scouring the Internet. A few highlights regarding Phase vs. Hasselblad:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A few more from Florence and Rome


CGI at Photokina

CGI will be a key focus at Photokina 2010!

Evolve or die :)

Feedback from Luminous Landscape

In a discussion of beauty photography in the medium/large format forum over at Luminous Landscape, I posted my website along with afew examples of my beauty/fashion work with the H3. Two of its members objected to the current style of beauty and fashion saying,

The future of imagery

I've been predicting that the future of imagery may be done completely within a computer. Even with that idea in mind, I could not imagine how close to that reality we are today...

You have to see
Alex Roman's Third and Seventh:

Not convinced this is CG? Click here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shooting the crop... Zack Arias

I always encourage shooting the crop. It means shooting with more intent and getting the shot right (or closer) out-of-the-box rather than fixing stuff later in Photoshop. That said, I'm also a big fixer of stuff in Photoshop so I'm a walking contradiction :) In all seriousness I encourage photographers to see the image in their head first, then attempt to create the shot in the viewfinder before the actuation. Mistakes happen and sometimes you see something on the 24" screen that you didn't through the viewfinder. Photoshop provides us options later...

Friday, September 3, 2010

A few pictures from Florence

Here are a small collection of photos from my stay here in Florence. Most of them were made with Hipstamatic the iPhone app and some of them TiltShiftGen (fake tilt shift app). Yes, I know this has nothing to do with anything.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's in the bag?

Because I'm on the road as often as I am, I've opted for a mobile solution to my digital darkroom. I've found that when I'm away from the computer too long, my familiarity with my routine post-processing techniques can wither quickly. Sometimes that's exactly what I need, but usually it's nice to have Lightroom and Photoshop at my fingertips when I'm on the road.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's in a name?

I've had many "identities" in my life. I've played/assumed many roles. While I don't consider myself much of an actor (far from it in fact), I feel like I can understand why people might like acting. Acting creates something between a vicarious experience and an actual experience. Sometimes your role can consume you and you can lose yourself. This is a short story about the brand L U C I M A.

What to bring to Florence, Rome and Paris

This isn't so much a post about the following places but how much gear should one bring to a 12 day getaway? In the past I've brought 5 lenses, a body, triggers, 4 flashes, lightstands, tripod, and umbrellas, RayFlash, Lumiquest SB-III, etc.

And while I tried to use as much gear as possible, I found that most of that stuff stayed in the bag. Rarely did I opt for the 14-24mm f/2.8G or the 85mm f/1.4D, or the extension tubes, etc.

Which really means that all that I carried a lot of extra weight.