Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Image Selection & Retouching Rebroadcast

B&W Image from the Image Selection & Retouching Online Workshop

Several people inquired about obtaining a copy of the Image Selection & Retouching Workshop we did on December 15. I'm pleased to announce that the rebroadcast is available for purchase here!

The payment for the rebroadcast lets you register an account that can access the rebroadcast from indefinitely. So you can watch it as often as you want and as many times as you want (as long as you don't share the video). You will also have all the controls that Vimeo provides; play, pause, fast forward, rewind, HD 1080, etc.

Please email if you have any questions!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Retouching and Image Selection Online Workshop II

Just sold the last spot for the online workshop this Saturday! However if you're reading this and still interested in the class I am doing a recording of the class and will make it available to a select few photographers. Please email me or feel free to contact me via my fashion photography workshops at!

Thanks for all the continued support and interest in my work!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Retouching and Image Selection Online Workshop


So you've got hundreds of pictures from your well-executed shoot.

Now what?


Perhaps the most overlooked part of photography workflow is Image Selection. From my experience with previous workshop photographers, Image Selection is the most underdeveloped skill set and consistently weak link in the workflow. Time and time again I find photographers taking fantastic shots only to select the wrong ones for their portfolio.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The Ebb and Flow of Creativity II

Outside the box with Sharon

Q: Quick question... how do you keep from burning out? I feel like I'm hitting a creative wall!

A: That depends on where your creativity comes from! It also depends on how you "burn out" and how much momentum you need to keep creating. Every photographer is different, so we have to define your "system" and then address the causes for the breakdown of that system.

Do I sound like a consultant or what?!?

For me, I don't benchmark myself too much on what other people are doing. I do what I want to do when I want to do it. Meaning I don't look for external sources of inspiration a whole lot (ie. magazines, other photographer portfolios, etc.).

And with my "cycles" which span 1-3 months at a time, I have plenty of time to reflect and consolidate my gains. This is important for learning and true growth. Otherwise you never really know what you know. You're just on a whirlwind journey through your shoots!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Photoshop CS6 Save Speed and File Size

Lloyd suggests that we disable compression of PSD and PSB files for up to 20X faster saves and opens.

I'm a fan of Lloyd over at since he's the expert on all things Mac and most things technical as it pertains to Photoshop code.

I was going to reblog this.

So I tried it. But I realized that this only pertains to .PSD and .PSB files. I usually save .TIFF files. Why? Because I was taught right. PSD/PSB are proprietary files that will go away if Adobe ever decided to stop supporting them. And while that's unlikely to happen, I'm fundamentally against proprietary file formats. Formats like the Drobo's RAID files or CR2/NEF/FFF RAW files. All things being equal, I always opt for the non-proprietary, royalty-free protocols.

Scalable Storage and Backup IV: OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2

Got my 2nd OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2 from when it was on sale as a refurbished unit. With 4x1.5TB WD Caviar Green units in the first Qx2, I was running out of space.

But this second Qx2 has always given me problems. Not sure if it's because of the 4x1.5TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drives in there but for the A and B drive bays (they're labeled from left to right A, B, C, and D), I've lost a total of 4 drives now. 3 in the A drive bay alone. I'd often hear lots of clicking and unnecessary repeated drive activity from the A bay which probably prematurely kills the drive. Eventually the red light flashes and even pulling the drive out and putting it back in and letting the enclosure rebuild the drive doesn't fix the problem. Just a matter of time before that blinking red light for that drive bay lights up again.

Hardware: Wacom Mouse KC-100

I have 2 Wacom KC-100 mice for the Intuos 4 tablet. My first one had a inconsistent left mouse click that would sometimes register a double-click when I intended to single click. This led to a opening a lot of files unintentionally. Extremely annoying to say the least.

Well, my second KC-100 has failed. Not as terrible but the "Back" button that I use to control my browser (Safari) has failed. Won't register a click at all. Opened it up. Cleaned it out, got it to click on certain click angles when it was opened up but when I put it back together it still won't click.

Have reverted to using the first KC-100 with the double-click issue and seeing if the double-click issue is now resolved with either software updates or just the collection of dust from being on the shelf so long.

Otherwise, I haven't had much issue with the tablet. Probably my own fault that the mice fail because I drop them occasionally. But hey, they should withstand basic drop tests. It's not like I'm chucking them at the Eizo when I lose my temper during a retouch.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

dSLR vs. iPhone

Rodney posted this in the Facebook Workshop Group:

here's a pic from day 1 of the Malibu fashion workshop. I took this with my iPhone and edited with a few apps... makes me wonder why bother with a dslr if the lighting is right.

And he's right. Why bother with a dSLR when the lighting is right? I did a whole shoot with the iPhone4 (not 4S) and its crummy sensor. And I survived! So what is the difference really between a camera-phone and a dSLR?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gry Garness Retouching e-book

Some of my workshop photographers have asked me where else they could learn advanced retouching. Coincidentally, Kevin from PhotoWhoa partnered with me to offer you guys the Gry Garness retouch e-book. Click the image below for the jump:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Processes and Meta-Processes

Processes are a funny thing.

1. Without learning basic processes, you don't have the fundamental building blocks with which to construct more complex processes.

2. However, if you limit yourself to simply learning processes, you might never learn to construct more complex processes.

3. I believe that with a strong "top-down view" you can learn how to create better processes.

So, what's a process and what the hell am I talking about?

Several months back, Model Mayhem started their EDU section designed to provide more educational material for their members. One of the admins found my blog and asked if he could reblog some of my existing material. I obliged.

Well lo and behold, some of the things I said got people worked up. Posts like Blondes do have more fun... in B&W and The Baggage of Film made people hysterical. And not in a haha kind of way. I mean they were upset.

Podcast: "Free Work", Your Market Value, Complaining on Social Media

Back with podcasting! Will be uploading a few more episodes shortly!

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Contributors

Since I've been slacking on the content, I've decided to bring in new contributors to beef up the blog. You've all heard Rodney on the podcasts and now you can read about his adventures, thoughts, philosophies and whatever I prod him to write about ;)

This is a wonderful way for me to expand my own perspectives as I get to read about another photographer's journey. As I have mentioned before, I don't get out much. Actually I think the exact words are, "I live in a cave". As a tidbit of trivia, if you search "I live in a cave" on this blog you'll find (now) 4 posts spaced roughly 1 year apart dating back to 2010.

Hopefully this is a permanent arrangement and we can hear more from Rodney soon!

California Sun

So Charles invited me to be a guest blogger.  While I could of rehashed some of my old content from my own blog that would be too easy.  I like to be challenged.  Sometimes. 

Let's start off with a quick introduction.  My name is Rodney Alan.  I like to shoot rocks, unicorns and the occasional double rainbow.  However I specialize in fashion and beauty photography.  You've either heard my voice in Charles' podcast, seen me briefly in one of his Fashion Video productions or maybe even met at one of his Fashion Photography or DSLR Video workshops.  

For the life of me I couldn't find something intriguing or relevant to write about until it popped into my head while editing my latest shoot. Why not talk about my recent desert adventure in regards to lighting and how I addressed it.

Modeling Agencies Q/A

Q: I was in NY testing with models with my buddy who got an agency to send us 3 models and I got another agency to send us 4 models. And so I took photos of his models from the other agency I don't know, and they just called me and asked if I can send them the hi-res pictures of their models because they love them and want to use them for portfolio.

I don't know if you've shot for agencies for testing with their models, but would you charge them? Or just hand them over since it's a "test"?

A: The answer is "It depends..." Because it's really all just a game.

If you say, "Pay up" you run the risk of offending the other agency and getting black listed. After all, you didn't have their permission to shoot their models and you took pictures anyway. Furthermore, unless you're a really famous photographer, chances are the agency has never heard of you so you have no clout or pull over them.

I would instead use this opportunity to form a relationship with said new agency and let this be an "introduction". Get to know the agent/agency and allow the conversation to flow into the requirements for paid testing (your ultimate goal). Find out what you need to do to become a paid tester and give them the opportunity to see what you can with these first pictures.

This gets the relationship off on the right foot and leaves the agency with a good impression of you. Win-win for everyone and hopefully they'll eventually let you shoot paid tests if you are good enough! :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Way of the Agencies

$150,000 worth of advertising from 2 full-page color ads in Seventeen and Teen Vogue

"Given that you no longer test girls directly from the [modeling] agencies, aren't you afraid that you'll become irrelevant with them?"

I'm absolutely afraid I'll become irrelevant.

Afraid I'll be irrelevant with the agencies?


My clients have hired girls from all the top agencies here in LA. And while agents might forget to call you back, they don't forget to call me back. Neither do they forget who I am.

Lest I decide not to cast from them for my clients' next campaigns.

Agencies are businesses. Let me repeat that in case you didn't get that the first time.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Malibu Perfection on the day of our workshop

Planning a workshop 2 months out is a tricky proposition. Ty asked me yesterday how I knew we'd have perfect weather, swell, wind, and tide conditions. To which I responded,

"I didn't. This is fortune"

And then I smiled and thanked my lucky stars.

But I did my homework. I drove out to Malibu on 2 Sundays ago to scout out the locations. I made sure I was informed of the upcoming swell, wind, and weather patterns. When I heard we were getting the Santa Ana winds, I rejoiced because I knew that would bring offshore winds, balmy temperatures, and low humidity. In fact, the only predictable factor was the tide was set since it is tied to the moon phase.

But did I know it would be this nice? No. We got lucky. Really lucky. I didn't know what to expect. For all I knew 2 months ago, we could have been shooting in the rain.

But it would have been a phenomenally unique workshop/shoot.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Eve of the Malibu Workshop

It's been about 6 months since my last group workshop and tomorrow is the big event. Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in the workshop photographers! 

As I put together the curriculum for the workshop I realized that what I was really assembling was my process for how any one of my images happen, from start to finish.

Basically you can take any of the pictures you see on my tumblr or website and I will be explaining the entire train of thought from concept to post-process. The real meat of the process lies in the selection of background, lighting, location, angles, etc. It's one big moving puzzle that I will be breaking down in detail. Sounds complicated and it is. But I have a formula for photographers to replicate that will really help break down a shot into bite-size pieces. So it's never overwhelming. And always repeatable.

After all, if it's not repeatable what good is it?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Core Competency

My favorite Avedon

According to Wikipedia:

A core competency is a concept in management theory originally advocated by CK Prahalad, and Gary Hamel, two business book writers. In their view a core competency is a specific factor that a business sees as being central to the way it, or its employees, works. It fulfills three key criteria:

It is not easy for competitors to imitate.
It can be re-used widely for many products and markets.
It must contribute to the end consumer's experienced benefits.

Core competencies are particular strengths relative to other organizations in the industry which provide the fundamental basis for the provision of added value. Core competencies are the collective learning in organizations, and involve how to coordinate diverse production skills and integrate multiple streams of technologies. It is communication, an involvement and a deep commitment to working across organizational boundaries. Few companies are likely to build world leadership in more than five or six fundamental competencies.

Friday, October 19, 2012


I've always loved these Obsession ads

It must be an obsession in order for it to be truly a part of you. It can't be just a passing craze or something you do to pass time. You must live, breathe, love, hate, and not be able to live without it. It must consume you. It should be the last thing you think about before you fall asleep and the first thing you think about when you wake up.

And it must last. It must stand the test of time. It must not be a "crush" so to speak.

It will draw from sources deep within you. So far down inside you that you can't see that deep. All you know is that this thing is drawing from inner passions, inner inspirations, inner psyche. It is the vehicle that allows you to excel.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Black Magic Cinema Camera

Crushing the 5DMIII in side-by-side comparison footage. But without 60fps, it's a deal breaker for me. But maybe it's just right for you...

Click here for the original page.

Dark Horse: Nikon D600

I had no clue this camera could be remotely competitive to the top dogs from Nikon and Canon.

Here's the full review at DxOMark.

Guess it's one more camera to consider!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Q: I am still struggling a bit (but improving) in my editing. I'm considering having a private session with you on this topic, as I am unsure about what tool to use to get what effect. I attribute what success I've had to have some good basic tools available from other edits and some luck, but I am hard pressed to work from scratch in deciding what tool or effect gives me a look that I want for my image. I'll pull out some previously used actions and hack away but I admit that that I can't say exactly how to get down the direction that i am hoping to get to...its much more random than I'd like.

However, to make the best use of our valuable time during a one-on-one session, I'd like to make sure that I have some basics understood. But when I go into any LR or PS training module (Lynda, etc) I get to learn about EVERY tool, effect, option, etc. Then, to make things worse, many times the instruction says to "adjust xxxx slider until it looks right". Yeah, I get the idea, but a lot of times I don't really know what I'm looking how do I know what I'm adjusting is the correct tool and what is "looks right" for a particular effect that I am trying to achieve?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rules of Engagement

Ladies, I know it's tempting but please resist the urge to throw your underwear at us.

I'm pretty good at most sports. I tend to learn the rules of engagement and create basic strategies that allow me to excel/win. Combined with decent coordination and athletics I'm more than happy to play most sports recreationally or competitively.

That being said, I suck at golf and soccer. I've demonstrated time and time again that the best I'll ever be is a double-digit handicapper and my coordination doesn't include foot "dexterity".

For the games that I can't win in, I'd rather not play.

Chalk that up to my competitive personality.

But what if you have to play and what if you have to win? And what if you're disadvantaged in every way? That if you play the game as it is designed, you're bound to lose?

Then you better change the rules of engagement.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hasselblad MILC Lunar

Hasselblad is going the route of Leica. Exclusive. Expensive. Small mirrorless camera.

I suppose if you're not going to innovate you should capitalize on your brand value.

Click on the link for the jump!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

On Social Media Feedback and Winning

Loungewerks 2 over the course of a few weeks

The following is a question from an former private workshop photographer.

Q: Are the likes and shares you get on tumblr and Facebook something that built up for you over time with a fan base or if you just always had a lot of strong positive feedback based solely on the quality of your images? Occasionally on my tumblr I'll have an image that hits 100 notes or so (my highest is something like 450 notes), but on average I only get something like 2 or 4 notes (or likes on FB). Not sure if I should be interpreting that as my images suck or just aren't provocative enough (which I don't think is the case because I feel like I have a decent grasp on quality) or if maybe I just don't have enough followers or my name isn't out there maybe if I had 3,000 friends things would be different. It can just be discouraging at times.

A: On average I probably get something like 100 (but it ranges as you can see from 60 to 6,000) notes on tumblr and about 100-150 likes on Facebook. No doubt a result of having 5,000 friends on FB and 1,700 followers on tumblr. And no, it wasn't always like that. I started out at 0 just like everyone else.

Just checked and the above image above of Jordan now has 7,200 notes on tumblr.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thinking Big versus Having a Big Image

Was listening to Bloomberg radio yesterday and caught Barbara Corcoran on with Vonnie Quinn and Kathleen Hays.

Lots of the interview was very interesting but no more than the part where Barbara says (around the 6:00 mark),

"Thinking big, lemme tell you, is so overrated. You know what I value most of all? Thinking in
detail. Are you going to have the follow through? Are you going to nail down the price? Are you going to negotiate that contract to the finest point that you can? Are you going to spend the time hiring the right people? There's a million things [to] building a business. The idea of thinking big, I don't believe in that. I don't believe in a big business plan that's all ironed out cuz the truth in the end is you're reacting to the reality around you. But I do believe in a big image... When I started my Corcoran [Report] business from day one I saw myself like the pope kind of in a beautiful pink or white gown, go figure why, and everybody lining up to kiss my ring. I just saw myself as the queen of New York real estate. And you wanna know [something]? Having a big image especially if you're visual can get you a lot farther for a lot of people than having a rock solid business plan which doesn't make any sense six months after it's issued."

I have a lot of respect for Barbara since my wife and I watch her on Shark Tank (reality TV show produced by Mark Burnett). She's not only a self-made businesswoman but she also legitimately cares about people. Her deals on Shark Tank reflect that she's not underhanded like Cuban (Mark) or Kevin (O'Leary). She's down-to-earth and honest. She and Robert (Herjavec) are my favorites although Kevin and Mark are very entertaining to watch.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tip of the Day: Exposing Your Weaknesses with an iPhone4

Operation iPhone4 in full swing

In some martial arts forms, the practitioner improves his reflexes and heightens his senses by blindfolding himself in combat training. By temporarily removing his ability to see, the practitioner is forced to rely on his other senses and shore up vital weaknesses. This serves to decrease his dependency on his eyesight while ensuring that he is more responsive when he regains his vision.

And if they want to get fancy, they can also tie an arm (or both arms) behind their backs. This forces the issue of balance and overuse of the hands in combat. This also tremendously improves his chance of getting hit in the face.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Things I like about Photoshop CS6

CS6 in action

Lens correction and adaptive wide angle (filters) - Since getting the NEX-7 I've noticed that I've been shooting in the wide side of things which introduces lots of perspective distortion resulting from wider angles. The adaptive wide angle tool was what got me to test out CS6 in the first place. The Lens correction tool is also very handy and powerful. Two thumbs up for two great tools.

Saving in the background - While it still takes a long time to save my files, at least I can do other stuff while the files are saving. I'm happy. Though overall it feels like the save might be even slower than before? Just when you thought it couldn't get any slower...

More control with Liquify - They've added greater range for brush size (though this scrunches the smaller diameters which makes it hard for me to get something smaller without overshooting it tremendously on the slider). But the diameter slider is much more sensitive and I'm no longer pushing against 0 as a starting point for some of the selections. As an avid fan of Liquify, I like how they've given me more control. I feel like I could have more precision with these tools.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tip of the Day: Photoshop - The Choice is Yours

A classic example of choice

Photoshop is amazing. I remember the first time I opened Photoshop as a photographer. It was like looking at a canvass with a bunch of pastels and being told, "Here you go. Now go and paint me a Picasso"

Umm. What am I even looking at?

Years later, I love Photoshop like you'd love a redheaded stepchild. Just when you think you've seen all her tricks. Bam! She'll pull out a shovel and f- you in your ass while you're sleeping.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tip of the Day: Add Value II

Neither in focus, nor necessarily properly exposed... and wtf is going on with the bottom image???

The following question stems from a discussion on the Facebook LUCIMA Workshops page about this particular blog post.

One thing you've pointed out, but should elaborate on more, is the "quality" of the photographer. Some businesses that pay their photographers are still struggling with photographers that can't deliver. While beauty is in the eye of beholder a quality photographer must deliver sharp, well-exposed, properly contrasted, white balanced pictures if shooting catalogue/website. Because these clients need to post these images online within 24 hours or their sales will suffer. And if you don't budget enough time to finish the shoot the client might have to overpay just to complete the project. So there is much more to a qualified professional photographer than what appears in the portfolio.

If heaven forbid you find yourself shooting a catalogue then I certainly hope you know your fundamentals. Otherwise you'll lose out on that particular minimum wage job. Or was it TF? Is that sarcasm you hear in my voice? :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tip of the Day: Don't be a Bonehead

This is a rant.

I posted an opportunity for retouching on Facebook today as a service to the community. Basically a headhunter called me up and asked me if I wanted to retouch for FOX Sports. I declined the offer but mentioned that I'd pass the opportunity along.

Verbatim, this is what my Facebook status update said,

"Came across a retouching opportunity for FOX Sports if anyone is interested. Pays $20+/hr.

Email me and I'll forward you the details! :)"

And suddenly I get 3 FB messages about the retouch job. One of them actually says, "Can you give me your email?"

No joke.

Tip of the Day: Add Value

My most recent angle of adding value for my clients. Fashion (or in this case lack thereof) videos.

It simply isn't good enough to be a photographer. As photographers around the world have demonstrated, taking pictures is the easy part. Every week I get a forwarded email from my mom that contains a set of amazing images ranging from landscapes to animals to portraits. And the more I see, the less impressed I become.

And that is the fundamental problem with images (and music too).

Frames from the Edge - Helmut Newton

I watched this a while ago and I thought I posted this video/link here but for whatever reason I can't find it. It's a great documentary about Helmut Newton that I will be referencing in a post. Forgive me if I've already posted this here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ironman NYC

A little over a year ago, my wife and I were vacationing on the big island of Hawai'i. During our stay, there was a half Ironman event hosted at our resort. Lots of excitement surrounded the event as I watched participants wheel in their multi-thousand dollar bikes. The idea crossed my mind that I should do a full Ironman triathlon, but it didn't stick. All it did was get me to run a few miles... and those few miles exhibited exactly why I shouldn't run an Ironman triathlon. During a mere 4-mile run, I wound up walking about 2 miles. I was terribly out of shape.

Less than a week later I was talking to a buddy of mine. He had done IM Louisville and he can run 7:30/mile pace for an entire marathon. I mentioned that I would like to one day do an Ironman and he said, "If you sign up, I'll do it too"

And that was all it took to sign up for IM NYC.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sony NEX-7 Review: Mythbuster

Summers. NEX-7 with kit lens.

Y'all cray cray if you think that the NEX-7 can take the place of your D700 or 5DMII.

I've been running some conversations over at the LUCIMA Workshop FB page and I want to dispel some myths that seem to run amuck regarding the NEX-7.

L U C I M A | Condition One

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

L U C I M A | Condition One: Concept/Ping

Transition between Jessica and Codi

[The following is an excerpt from the Fashion DSLR Video Workshop lesson plan]


Borrowing the technical term of Internet connectivity, I love bouncing ideas off of like-minded individuals. Like Jacqueline or Rick [Craft]. And if you haven't read this article, it's a must read. I'm not supposed to say this because it's self-serving. But seriously, in the interest of your education it makes one very important point:

Monday, July 30, 2012

L U C I M A | Condition One: Behind the Scenes

This one has been fun. Really putting me to the test when it comes to visualizing music and choreographing action. I wanted to share a few behind the scenes images showcasing the construction of the video.

Death by 400 cuts. There around 300-400 edits that made it into the final cut of this video. Which means there were thousands of ones that didn't make it.

L U C I M A | Condition One: Preview

Here's a sneak peek at the 400-piece jigsaw puzzle I've been working on for a few weeks now :) From the rough cut so it's not yet (color) graded.

Video: Non-Linear

As I'm finishing up the grading to the workshop video, I had an epiphany.

While stills are two-dimensional I consider video to be four-dimensional. The added dimensions are time and sound.

I'm going to save the sound portion for another day and really try to verbalize my thoughts on time in video.

As human beings, we experience time linearly. We're on a one-way train from A to B. There's no going back. There's no rewriting history. There's no changing the past. Likewise there's no telling the future.

But what if you could?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sony NEX-7 Review: Suitable for Clients?

Q: I am guessing that this is a camera that you'd only use for model portfolio development, and NOT a camera that you would use to shoot a client's commercial project on IN FRONT of the client, especially if it's in a studio. On location just you and a model, yes. In a studio with pro lights, a full crew, and 4 people from the client company, no... right?

A: Most photographers would answer this question based upon technical differences between the NEX-7 and whatever camera you also own. They might argue that the NEX-7 has better dynamic range, it's sharper than most cameras, has great resolving power, blah blah blah. And that if it's what you need then you should bring it to the client shoot.

I'm here to tell you the NEX-7 has no place being in a professional client environment.

Because size matters. On a client shoot you need to bring out the big guns. Perception is king. Sometimes at the cost of results. Even if the NEX-7 were a better camera on all accounts (compared to my Nikon or Hasselblad), I'd be worse off for not having the respect of the client if I pulled out what looks like a toy camera.

It's the same reason why I acquired a digital Hasselblad. I didn't want the client saying, "Hey, I have a 5DMII or D700 too!" Because what they're really saying is, "Hey, I have the same camera as this professional photographer. Is he qualified? Did I overpay? Could have done the shoot myself?"

In a nutshell, the world isn't ready to accept the possibility that a mirrorless camera can rival the DSLR/DMF (digital medium format) in many respects. And for that reason, which is all the reason you need, it does not belong in a professional environment. Given time, clients might understand.

But not yet.

Same with digital, for a long time clients still asked for film. That's because clients aren't well-educated. We have to respect that since they pay the bills.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

L U C I M A Workshop Facebook Page

There are lots of Facebook groups out there but there's only one forum/group where I'm a member (and an active one at that). It's the L U C I M A Workshop Facebook page. Admission is free but most of the group is comprised of workshop members new and old. It's where I share many of my insights and thoughts for learning. In fact many of the discussions there lead to posts here.

Check it out!

Sony NEX-7 Review: Errors of an Armchair Quarterback

Red Riding. Kendra with NEX-7.

Being that much of my growth is derived more organically and less externally, I rely on a host of experiments and random events to provide me with fresh perspective. It's why you'll never hear me bemoaning not having enough "inspiration".

As I mentioned in a previous post, experimenting with the "What if..." game, shooting different models, and going to different places all help me mix things up.

And that's where the NEX-7 comes into play.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Podcast: Bekka Gunther Part I

As a multi-part podcast with Bekka Gunther, Rodney and I catch up with Bekka and find out what's going on in the world of Bekka Gunther!

Sony Nex-7 Review: Video Thoughts +

Stilts. Codi with NEX-7

Video - Shot some video the other day and it's interesting. What you see in the EVF is what you get. So in my case, if you display in B&W, then it records in B&W. I should try to remember to set it back to color when I'm shooting video. In fact I'm worried that by converting it to B&W in camera that the camera algorithms automatically add contrast that I typically don't want/need

Video record button - Yup, it's poor placement. I hit it accidentally too. Didn't think it'd be an issue but it is.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Avedon Quote

Been looking for this on my blog and I can't find it or I never posted it here:

"I've worked out of a series of no's. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no's force me to the "yes." I have a white background. I have the person I'm interested in and the thing that happens between us."
- Richard Avedon - 1994

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sony NEX-7 Review: 2-shoot post

IQ with Macy Nicole.

2 still shoots later with the Sony NEX-7 I have a pretty good understanding of this camera. Lemme talk about them in no particular order.

- Not sure why the histogram doesn't appear in the EVF when it appears on the Live View display. Slightly irritating since I'd like to see a live histogram if possible.

- People talk about dynamic range and IQ all the time. Here's an example. You draw your own conclusions. It was lit like you'd imagine. And the shadows were much darker than they appear. But fortunately they were recovered in post.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lie to You

In late April, Ksenia called me to discuss a potential music video. Ksenia Ranger had been singing for years and with her first album almost done, she wanted to shoot an music video to showcase her first release Lie to You.

She referenced the Siren Song video I shot with Jordan for the feel and wanted something similar.


I've started an Instagram account and though it seems redundant seeing that I have a twitter, flickr, tumblr, FB, blogger, etc. account I've decided to make my Instagram account a look behind the scenes at my shoots, my work, and other "live" images that reveal how I do things. So follow me @charleslucima on Instagram!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sony NEX-7 Review: Initial Reactions

Cargo Net 1/125, f/4.5, ISO3200

Dogball 1/1600, f/7.1, ISO3200

Glisten 1/500, f/5.6, ISO800

Goldilocks 1/320, f/5.6, ISO200 (unprocessed only resized)

Understandably I caught heat for saying that the NEX-7 and X100 wouldn't stack up to my shooting.

So to give these cameras a fair shake, I dropped by Calumet and picked up a NEX-7 to see what all the fuss was about. It came with the standard 18-55mm kit lens and the minimal f/3.5-5.6 apertures. Lenswise, it's far from impressive.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fuji FinePix X100 and Sony NEX-7

Sensor size comparison. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Last year it was the Fuji FinePix X100, this year it's been the Sony NEX-7.

Many of you have lusted after these smaller APS-C sensor cameras. For their portability. For their dynamic range. The NEX-7 even shoots 1080p at 60fps. They are the crème de la crème of today's small camera technology. They offer a bridge for many prosumers that don't want to use a standard DSLR. These cameras have the same size sensors as Nikon DX (crop) cameras. They are much larger than the Four Thirds and even slightly bigger than the Canon APS-C sensors like those in my Canon 7D.

And many of you have jumped on over and purchased one of these bad boys.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Workshop Q/A II

Q: I have a huge interest in advancing my fashion shooting and editing skills. I have done some work for local modeling agencies using a small strobe kit and I'm looking into various workshops around the country. I'm self-taught and hope to gain from a group educational setting.

I have five years as a freelance travel and food photographer under my belt, however I've only been supplementing my income with odd jobs. I'm young and hope to eventually advance enough in my market to support myself with photography, so education and experience are my current main goals. I'm glad to see that you offer some course time on professional practices as well!

Could you please give me some more information about your workshop schedules and pricing? I would be looking at attending a course next spring, and while I'm sure you do not have a firm schedule, I just want to confirm that you have offerings year-round. Thank you! I appreciate your time!

A: Thanks for the message! I am still putting together my next group workshop and I don't have specific details just yet. I will soon though. It looks like the class should be sometime in September. I'll put your email on the notification list so you'll know soon!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tip of the Day: The Back Door

Doors. Macy Nicole.

I don't know about you but at our house, friends and family come in through the back door. Strangers, solicitors, and guests come in through the front door.

We treat those that come in through the front door differently from those that come in through the back door.

For example, we qualify the people that come in through the front door. It's much more formal. We ask questions before we let them in. And as a result, very few people that knock on the front door actually make it through the door. Most of them get turned away.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tip of the Day: Thumbnails

It's been a while since I wrote a TOTD.

I'm sure a lot of my posts can be categorized as TOTD, but I'm too lazy to go back and redo them. Private workshops and videos have been keeping me busy.

This TOTD stems from a reviewing images (image selection) over email from a recent private workshop. The photographer asked if I wanted to see the RAW files, I asked for thumbnails. I should have been more specific because I got 800x1200 pixel files.

Way. Too. Big.

Which leads me to question how you are all evaluating/selecting your images. If you're looking at them with your entire display. You're way too close to the picture. You'd have to stand 5 feet back to see it in its entirety. Which is why I review my images like this:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Podcast: Posing/Flow

As a followup to the previous entry regarding posing/flow Rodney and I decided to talk about posing and flow for our most recent podcast. Have a listen :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Conversation on Flow

I had this email conversation with a former Magic workshop photographer.

Q: Its just a thought, and something that could compliment your workshops or help people along as well. Obviously would have to use your own images. Its just a thought - as no-one here really 'moves' like girls in LA. :S

[presents slideshow containing images like these]

A: I like it. This would be a very good asset for girls that don't move well...

But can they translate what they see into an actual pose. That's the question.

Will they overthink things and try too hard to emulate? That's a risk.

It's a good tutorial though. But the challenge in getting a girl to move is part of the exercise for me. It's like a psychological Rubik's cube!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Retouching without Expectations

Office Romance. Impromptu shots of Jessica in the makeup chair getting her hair done.

Q: Even though we selected some wonderful images from your last workshop, I have hated all of my retouching attempts. Oh, they have been all very professional and technically appealing, but they just don’t speak to me.

I cannot render them all in black and white and most do not lend themselves to the beauty-image style I normally do. I have to find some middle ground between technically perfect/emotionally dead and black and white. Do you have any suggestions? I love how you have been able to retouch some of yours so that the colors are muted, yet still interesting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beauty Reboot

Evoke. Shot by Ali Al Marzooq. Retouched by yours truly. Kathleen Ty MUA. Tiffani Chynel styling. Jessica Today model.

Taught a private workshop recently where we shot some beauty and I had an opportunity to retouch it live and relive some of the fun I had when retouching beauty.

It's been a long while since I've had to retouch beauty but the beauty retouching skills have not waned. If anything they've gotten stronger with the thousands of faces I've dealt with through the years, regardless of whether the shoots were for beauty or not. It really goes back to my previous post about lighting, retouching, and understanding the human face being all overlapping perspectives.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vision * Execution = Results

Steve Jobs * Steve Wozniak = Apple 1977

100% Vision * 0% Execution = 0 Results

0% Vision * 100% Execution = 0 Results

Leave it to LUCIMA to convert photography into a mathematical equation :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Video: Song Editing

Song selection and song editing comprise some of the earliest steps in the creation of my videos. My videos are largely driven first by sound and then by visuals. Much like how I would suggest lighting follow the concept, I believe that the visual cues should follow the audio cues. The song sets the mood and creates the foundation for our story.

For that reason I sometimes draw inspiration from the lyrics of the song.

A little more about song selection. For fashion videos, progression and build are really important. Songs that offer no progression throughout the entire length of the track are poor choices for pairing to video. Just as a story must have a beginning, middle (and climax), and end, so too should a song have beginning, middle (and climax), and an end. The song, while not the focus of the video, must complement the video and push the story along. If it's flat or boring or too much of anything, it will fail to pair appropriately to the video.

Apple to Professional Users: Screw You

Apple to Professional Users: Screw You

Lloyd's a smart guy and I follow his blog now to keep updated on the hardware developments. With each WWDC Apple moves further away from their original diehard supporters. It used to be that graphic artists were the core of Apple loyalty. Not so anymore. Apple caters more to their fanboys than their old-school user base. But mark my words, if Apple continues its current trajectory, a revolution is just around the corner. The professionals, the artists, and the power-users won't tolerate being left in the cold.

It's just a matter of time. Make your next move carefully, Apple.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Video: Stick to the Script

Shot list from Lie to You

This is a rant.

A while back I shot a video. I had a script all set with shot list, angles and all. But on the day of the shoot I deviated from the plan. I won't go into the details but the point is I deviated from the plan.

The problem with video is that execution is paramount. Unlike stills, you have much less latitude to fix stuff in post production. Furthermore, your camera angle is (or least should be) constantly changing. So you have to consider much more than your typical still image angle. Toss in proper storytelling and sequencing and you have a medusa monster that is infinitely deeper and more complicated than still imagery.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Deus Ex Machina

Adjustment Bureau. Perfect example of deus ex machina.

If I could just win the lottery. If I just could just get on American Idol. If I could just get published in Vogue. If someone would just discover me.

I'd show the world. Because I'm a superstar.

No. You're not. What you are is delusional. What you want is a handout. What you believe is unreasonable given your track record of success.

Let's rewind a little.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Matt Lauer on Interviewing

Apologies for the volume discrepancy, please crank it up. From an Piers Morgan Tonight interview where Donnie Deutsch filled in for Piers and had Matt Lauer on the show talking about interviewing.

"The worst thing you can do... is go in with an agenda and a set schedule of questions, and say "I've got these 10 questions, these are what I'm going to get through" because then what you're not doing is listening. And you're not taking the time to let the interview become organic and go where it should go"

So you gotta ask yourself. When it comes to shooting, are you the former or the latter? :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Notes from the Great Outdoors


In response/followup to an outdoor workshop I did last week!

I'm very pleased the sun decided to make an appearance so we could practice our lifestyle-esque photography with Jessica and Kat and Tiffani. I think you demonstrated good control of the camera with regards to shooting with and against the sun. Here are some parting thoughts that I feel can help you along the way in getting from 7+ to 10 (in terms of comfort with shooting outdoors).

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's Just a Tool: Why I don't own a Rangefinder camera

Arsenal. The Nikons are in the camera bag. And yes that's a N90X in the corner.

Q: Hey Charles, I'm not quite sure if you ever answered this before, but I never encountered it on your blog. So I'm taking my chances by just asking I saw that you use a Nikon D3. I love Nikon. Not the owner of a D3 but okay haha. What I was wondering, as you being a professional photographer, why the Nikon? I have a thing for the Leica Rangefinders. Of course, way out of my budget. Though I hope to be able to buy one someday. So here's a bit my question. I can imagine that you are at the point of being able, or have being able to buy a Leica. Maybe I'm comparing two different worlds here but I love the images most of the photographer with a Leica produce. And I'm trying to look at the aspect of the camera/lenses other than the skills of the photographers.

Well, basically, I was just wondering why you haven't chosen to own one?