Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Workflow: Retouching and printing II

Yonex Isometric Tour 300. Circa 1995.

This is an addendum to my original post. I've been asked to touch more upon either (or both) of these subjects. Though that post was written over a year ago, it rings truer than ever.

When I played high school badminton for my school in Taipei carbon technologies (like graphite) were finding their way into the racquets we used. The "best" racquets were integrated "unibody" racquets where the handle, shaft, and head were all a single monocoque piece. Traditionally racquets were made of some metal in multiple pieces and then welded together. These "newer" racquets were not only lighter due to their materials but were also lighter without sacrificing structural integrity. For all intents and purposes these racquets were more structurally sound because they were designed as a single piece and not welded together. That being said, traditional welding was pretty good and I wouldn't necessarily bet on an old racquet falling apart at the welds.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Everything that has a beginning has an end...

Nearly two months ago I received a letter at the studio that the property management company was terminating my lease at the current location for LUCIMA Studio. For 20 months I've been operating out of a 1,300 sf. warehouse space in Alhambra that I've called "home". It wasn't anything spectacular but it was the beginning of LUCIMA Studio. While I didn't have any immediate plans to leave, I also knew I wasn't going to be at that location forever. I had purposely signed a 1-year lease at the beginning so I wouldn't get stuck with a long-term contract. At the time I had no idea if I could sustain the cost of the studio...

20 months later I'm not only still here but have signed a 3-year lease for a 2,100 s.f. space. much closer to my house.

Tomorrow I move out of my current space and move into the new studio.

Tonight I reminisce the time spent at the old space.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scalable Storage and Backup III

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2

Since January/February, I've been running an OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2 with 4 Western Digital 1.5TB Caviar Green drives.

The Caviar Greens are not rated for RAID but they are cheap and easily acquired and have served me well so far.

Until last weekend when one of the drives failed. The drive light began to flash and the audible beep came on. I turned off the beep. Reset the box. It came one again. I pulled out the drive, reset the box and still it refused to go away.

Ordered a new drive, put it in. Rebuild light came on, beep went away, flashing drive light went away.

Sent in the old drive to WD and got a (presumably) new one back. You're advised (by Lloyd Chambers) to always keep a spare in case this stuff happens. You don't want to sit around too long without protection. If a second drive fails, there's a high likelihood of data loss. Then you're SOL.

Then your backup solution comes into play. Do you have a backup of that box? What if you get robbed and someone steals the box AND your backup solution? Yeah, both drives at the same time. Highly likely if they're sitting next to each other as mine are.

Always have an off-site backup even if it's a few weeks old. Rotate through so you are protected against "mayhem" as the Allstate guy would say.

If you're curious just do a search for "Scalable Storage" in the search box to your right.

The Revolving Door of Models

Around and around we go. Saint Tropez. September 4, 2011.

I subscribe to the revolving door philosophy for models. Specifically that models come and models go. As a photographer you should never get hung up about a model because there will always be others that can replace her (or him).

This of course doesn't apply to your muse(s).

I'm talking about seeing a model's profile and going gaga over her beauty and then jumping through hoops to shoot her. Tell me, when in the history of mankind has that technique ever worked out well for the one jumping through the hoops? Odds are it (she) isn't worth it. Beyond that, you're selling yourself short and if the model finds out how desperate you are to shoot her she'll lose all respect for you anyway.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why I rarely use skin-processing techniques anymore...

100% crop of a full-length image I am currently working on. Courtney from Next Models. H3DII/HC 80. 1/250th f/2.8 ISO 200. No skin techniques applied.

Had a conversation with a fellow photographer yesterday and I realized a few things about skin-processing techniques that I wasn't consciously aware of.

Imagenomics Portraiture, frequency-separation, high-pass, even Gaussian Blur all do the same thing... they attempt to make skin more evenly toned through blurring.

This is true of every technique above. Even though you might not know what's happening in Portraiture, it's really just automating the frequency-separation technique and that includes blurring (I use the Surface Blur with frequency-separation).

But what each of these techniques fails to accomplish is to discriminately attack the problem areas. What it does is provides you a more even skin tone across the board (face). And therefore by definition these techniques behave indiscriminately.

The "What if..." game

San Gabriel Canyon Road approximately 3,500ft elevation. iPhone4 HDR'd.

The overarching LUCIMA philosophy that drives my learning is the question, "What if..."

Curiosity perhaps? Maybe. It manifests itself in many different aspects of my life. As an example, I was jogging in the mountains as part of my triathlon training and I kept wanting to see what was around every corner uphill. This caused me to run at least 1.5 miles uphill.

The following day I cycled 20 miles into that mountain. Of course, around every corner was another corner and just more mountain to cycle.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Baggage of Film

Jessica Stam by Mariano Vivanco. Numéro Korea.

People tend to like to comment on conflagratory posts so here's another one that many of you will balk at.

First my personal disclaimer. I didn't really shoot film. Sure I had a 35mm film camera like everyone else. As a kid I had my negatives developed at the local camera store or sometimes at the supermarket. Never spent any time in a dark room.

For me that's worked out just fine.