Monday, January 31, 2011

Jim Carrey quote

On acting and working in the industry from his interview with James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio:
"I believe we're creators. And I believe we create with every thought and every word... every moment is pregnant with the next moment in your life"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Scalable Storage and Backup

A while back I bought a 4-bay Drobo. FWIW, it's still sitting on my desk. Hasn't thrown a light or any errors. Slow as f*ck but rock solid.

How slow? How about 8-10MB/sec slow? Yeah. That slow.

But it houses my 1.5TB of files which include all my full-layer-intact Photoshop TIFF files (250GB) and 1.3TB of images. By the end of the year I should see this double in size. Accumulating full intact-TIFFs really taxes the system since the files average 450-500MB per retouched file. With my retouching speeds increasing, I'll need more space. Plus I've only been keeping full files since May 2010 so going forward my storage needs will grow faster.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Ebb and Flow of Creativity

January was a big month for me. I'm talking like it's over. That's because I'm done with January. My January started on December 6th 2010 when I returned from Asia.

I'm officially burnt out.

I bit off more than I could chew for January. The 2 day workshop starting when I was already 4 shoots behind, then shooting again on Monday. I'm still exhausted. I thought I could keep pace. But more importantly I thought I had an endless supply of creativity on tap.

About that... I don't.

Whoa, that's a lot of disks

Keep in mind we're on a laptop LOL :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

OWC Mercury Pro Extreme SSD

Since using the 240GB OWC Mercury Pro Extreme SSD as my dedicated scratch disk, I've been beating it up pretty good. Being that I'm curious in nature, I wanted to see what kind of speeds it reads/writes. Quick test shows it averaging 253MB/sec. That's fast considering my Apple 256 SSD only writes at 174MB/sec.

But maybe I made a mistake by using the OWC SSD as the scratch disk instead of the boot disk since page files are bigger, badder, and more fragmented and are always on the boot volume?

Tip of the Day: Chimping

Chimping is not for everyone. It's not for beginners. It's not for die-hard elitists and photographers that are intractable. It's not for photographers that must have and use every piece of gear in their bag...

But if you can wrap your mind around the potential benefits of chimping, read on...

I realize that everyone has a different method of chimping. I don't use a lightmeter because I can chimp 3x as fast as using my lightmeter in the studio. How accurate am I with my exposures? Pretty darn accurate in the studio. My goal is to be about a 1/3 stop away from the top of the histogram. Call it margin-of-error. Do I blow highlights? Occasionally. But look at what I gain in time, flow, and additional confidence by not wasting the model's time on set... all while maintaining a conversation :)

While I'm referencing my experiences in-studio, the procedure is the same elsewhere. I'm usually setting the H3D to 1/500th shutter for sync (Because most of my strobes don't T1 at 1/800th at my power levels). Aperture-wise I'm around f/9 to f/13 depending on the modifier. Base ISO is 100 on the H3D. With the basic beauty dish gridded or gridded softbox on the X3200 I'm looking at something along the lines of 2/3 power. On the B1600 I'm looking at 3/4 power with about f/7.1 to f/9 on aperture. All of this is at my typical working distance for these strobes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tip of the Day: Learn to shoot with one hand

Sounds crazy but it's not. While our equipment is heavy if you can manage to shoot with one hand you can use the other hand to direct and motion to your model. I find myself doing this to either instruct the model to move left/right/forward/backward, use her hands in a specific way, point to things, all while dynamically shooting with the other hand. It's been surprisingly effective in addition to verbally communicating what you want from your model.

The next step is to learn to shoot with your left hand because you are now afforded the use of your right hand. In specific lighting situations where you must hold a reflector with your right hand, now you can still shoot with your left. Impossible? No. Difficult? Yes.

Dear Hasselblad,

Today Phase One unveils its new IQ series digital medium format backs touting the highest resolution display of any SLR available (read: 3.2" retina display). Please please answer in an appropriate fashion. For example, please give us a sensor with more megapixels, faster sync speeds, a vertical grip, a better camera-back display. Please DON'T respond by releasing a limited edition Lamborghini yellow H4D-31.


Charles Lucima

Friday, January 21, 2011

Workshop Dry Run

This evening I ran though all my presentations for the workshop this weekend.

I talked to an audience of empty chairs for about an hour and a half.

I had no idea I missed training this much... I seriously had so much fun going through the slides. Laughing, joking around, going off on tangents...

The only people I know who have this much fun talking to themselves wear white gowns and adult diapers! :)

Q&A: Christopher Nolan on Dreams, Architecture, and Ambiguity

Wired Magazine did an interview with Chris Nolan about Inception and asked a lot of insightful questions. In his answers I find a process of creativity that is interesting and definitely something that I would like to explore going forward.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Learning II

I got a message on MM about the following:

Anyway, Im currently going through a phase where I don't like most of my photos. Everything just seems eh to me. It may be partly because I always strive to get better and humbled everyday by photographers like you, and partly because I get bored of things quickly.

Do you ever go through this? One of your blog posts led me to believe you may go through something like this..and if so do you do anything about it? I'm fighting between the side that wants to get rid of all my work and start fresh and the side that wants to keep everything and continue on with my journey. I thought you would have something insightful to say . Love to hear your thoughs....

File Storage Upgrades: Part 5

So I finally acquired an OWC Mercury Extreme 240GB SSD. OWC was backordered on these for a week so I'm about a week late in the process. But it finally arrived at my door sometime this afternoon.

I was very anxious as I tore into my 15" MacBook Pro. Several times I had to remind myself to slow down before I broke something out of haste. I remember thinking the following things as I opened the MBP:

- It would seem very easy to crossthread the screws in the MBP, I hope I didn't do that.
- They use Loctite Blue on the screws (or some version of Loctite).
- It sure is dusty in my MBP. Canned air and a soft brush ought to do the trick.
- The instruction manual isn't nearly as good as the tutorial video
- Man, I gotta pee...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Status Report January 2011: I'm tired

I walked half of my run on the way home from the gym today. Those of you who know me, I'm pretty lazy. I hate walking. I'd rather run. And I hate running. I'd rather drive. So of all things, I decided to forego the drive to the gym and walk instead... there and back.

Something's wrong.

Only I can't figure out what's wrong. Deep down inside, I'm afraid that I'm going to get a physical and after all the tests the doctor's gonna tell me that there's something really wrong with me. Then I'll say, "Damnit, I knew something was wrong!"

Except it's not that severe. I just haven't been sleeping well.

File Storage Upgrades: Part 4.2

The OWC Mercury Extreme 240GB SSD arrives tomorrow. Since I've been running a scratch disk folder on the Drobo I've accumulated 50GB in files. That's about a week of retouching (excluding actual image files). That folder on the Drobo shouldn't exist, it was created only because I didn't want to fragment my boot disk which is also an SSD. When I install the OWC 240GB tomorrow, I'll be moving the 50GB of scratch over to the new disk. I have yet to decide whether or not I should use the 240GB as scratch or boot though I have a feeling the speed might be better utilized as the scratch disk.

Can't wait to see how the new disk performs :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Workshop: The Language of B&W

It dawned on me as I was driving to lunch today that B&W is about the most creative thing that I do when it comes to photography. It's creative because there's so much interpretation as well as presentation... and I'm not that creative.

For me, it's the probably the medium in which I get to express myself the most. That is to say, I get to break the most rules. When we learn photography we're taught a mess of rules. Rules such as "don't blow your highlights", "don't lose your darks", "use a proper shutter speed to prevent motion blur", blah blah blah.

I break all of those rules in B&W. And more. Why? Because I can.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wacom Intuos 4 Mouse Double-Clicking Issue

I rely on my Wacom tablet for everything that I do. When I'm not using the stylus, I use the mouse as I would any other mouse. The benefits of the mouse is that it doesn't require batteries and functions perfectly for everything I don't want/need a stylus for.

Except when it mistakenly registers a single-click as a double-click.

I've had this issue off and on for a while now but never as bad as it has been recently. It got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore. Randomly/Accidentally opening files that I didn't intend on opening is just the tip of the iceberg.

I was looking to have it serviced or replaced when I stumbled upon this:

File Storage Upgrades: Part 4.1

Been running on the reconditioned 256GB Apple SSD and using only the Drobo as my scratch disk for PS, Lr, and all images. I thought I'd say a few things about the overall process:

-When I booted from the external HD I was stunned by how long it took to boot the MBP
-That said, overall operations on the MBP didn't take much longer. Once everything boots and loads to RAM it's just as fast
-Using the Drobo as a scratch disk is painful. Because it's painfully slow.

Really looking forward to installing the new OWC 240GB Mercury Extreme SSD as my scratch disk. I'm considering still using the OWC SSD as my boot disk and the Apple SSD as my scratch disk since I can more easily recondition the scratch disk anytime I want. Of course, it has to first ship from OWC which it still has not. They're backordered on all disks...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Meaning of this Journey

If you watch what I do closely, you find that I hesitate a lot. Wanna know why? Because I'm not sure... not sure if it works, not sure if I want to do it, not sure if people will like it, not sure, not sure, not sure...

But that's the way I do things because it's a function of my personality.

As an example, I started snowboarding back when there were only two companies making snowboards; Sims and Burton. That was circa 1995. Several years later I was launching myself off of 20-30 foot tabletops. My thing has always been airtime. I find no solace in rails and funboxes or even just carving through fresh powder or dodging trees. I love being in the air.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Workshop Update!

We're about 10 days out from the workshop and just about full. Models have been scheduled... we're looking to have at least 3 or 4 models for the 9 students at the workshop!

I've made a special effort yesterday to really put in a hard agenda together with presentations and scheduling that will work for the two days. I've discovered that there's way more material and shooting than can possibly be done in even 7 days so we'll have to be extremely efficient to maximize the learning and shooting for each photographer. Here are some of my notes for the workshop:

Multiple beauty setups: I don't wan't anyone standing around waiting to shoot so I'm setting up 3-4 beauty stations each with a different lighting setup. After going through each station with everyone and presenting the setup, we'll have photographers rotate through and shoot each station.

-Multiple fashion/editorial setups: Same as above but different :)

Getting your foot in the door: I nearly forgot about this segment of the workshop! I've put together a small presentation for how I approached the modeling agencies in the beginning that is nearly a bulletproof plan for "getting in".

Soft skills: I haven't ironed this portion out but there are a lot of little things that go into a great shoot. A few talking points will be; building rapport, projecting confidence, clear communication, and having fun. I will go over some own "learning lessons" (read: failures) to show you what I'm talking about!

The full agenda for the workshop should go out latest today or tomorrow morning! :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

File Storage Upgrades: Part 4

Steps #4 and #5 went smoothly. Carbon Copy Cloner works like a charm and it allowed me to recondition the hard disk while booting it off the external HD.

We're back up and running. I'm redirecting some caches and scratch disk data away from the newly reconditioned Apple 256GB SSD and into the Drobo for the time being. When the OWC 240GB gets here, I'll point it into the new internal scratch disk.

The wait begins. In the meantime I shall suffer the longer waits from the Drobo doubling as my scratch disk! :)

File Storage Upgrades: Part 3

When everything is going well, I somehow introduce drama into my life.

I should be editing the last 5 shoots. Instead, I've decided to reformat my SSD in the middle of a very tight schedule. Now why oh why would I do this if I weren't slightly obsessively compulsive or insane?


But here I am staring at DiskTester as it's crunching through my Apple SSD clearing what is essentially months of speckled fragments of cache, downloads, and most of all pictures. DiskTester needs 1GB of contiguous disk space in order to work its magic. As of 3 months ago, I did not have 1GB of contiguous disk space even though I routinely deleted files to free up space.

Sad ain't it?

So I've done step 1, skipped 2, done 3, and onto 4.

Wish me luck! Until I get my boot disk back up and running (step 5) I won't feel safe... even though it boots fine from my external USB HD.

File Storage Upgrades: Part 2

Where the hell has all my space gone? With all my images moved off the boot disk, I find that I'm still using close to 100GB of space.



Here's how:

File Storage Upgrades: Part 1

Last night I decided to segregate all images from my boot disk. This will be a multi-step process that will include the following steps:

1. Transferring all image files onto the Drobo
2. Backing up the Drobo
3. Cloning my boot disk
4. Reconditioning my boot disk
5. Cloning boot disk back onto the Apple 256 SSD
6. Acquiring a OWC 240GB SSD
7. Installing a new OWC 240GB drive in place of the optical drive
8. Formatting the OWC 240GB as my dedicated scratch disk

Today we're on step 1 :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Holy Tumblr Batman!

I have never gotten this kind of attention from blogger. All thanks to bikinifetish over at tumblr! :)

What's crazier is she blogged this picture of Cailin and got twice as many reblogs as the above image of Anneliese...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Out of disk space and 5 shoots deep

I'm out of space on my internal SSD. Comfortably out of space at least. I still have 60 or so GB that I save for page files etc. I can probably load 1 more shoot onto the SSD before being really out of space.

The real "situation" is that I'm 5 shoots behind now. I haven't been in front of a computer for more than 30 minutes for the last couple days either.

I'm a little frazzled and very tired. The upcoming few days will be a good little reprieve for me to catch up on things.

But things have been good. The year has been off to a great start. With the workload and sleep issues, I have been reminding myself that it's way too early in the year to burn out. Slow and steady. Slow and steady.

Hope all of you are well! :) Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Sometimes you get a sequence of images straight from the camera that can actually be used in a row :)

Really tired of saving TIFs...

I'm writing this between full TIF saves. I save all my edits with all layers intact, the largest file I saw today was over 1GB large.

The problem isn't the size but the time it takes PS CS5 to crunch through the save. It's sometimes over a minute long. Sure I'm saving to an external but I'm telling you, it takes 85% as long when I save to the internal SSD.

On Fame

"Fame is the perversion of the natural human instinct for validation and attention."

Heathcote Williams, playwright