June 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I recently bought a couple of new Photoshop Plug-ins by Topaz. I watched a couple of tutorials featuring these plug-ins and decided to purchase them and play around. Although I use Photoshop extensively, I usually lean towards a more rich saturated color, but real look. Some photographers normally have a more muted look when it comes to color, but I’ve always loved the rich earthy colors, whether on location or in the studio shooting a still life. One of these new plug-ins, “Clarity” can give you a super sharp, saturated image without getting that fake looking “haloing” around the edges of buildings or other objects, especially when shot with a sky background. Some other options include getting a more “gritty” look with your images. I included a number of images I shot last Memorial Day weekend, which is really known as “Blossom Time” here in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. As an aside, this is something of an “anniversary blog” since my very first blog years ago was about “Blossom Time”. Anyhow, I’m getting older, hopefully wiser, and more willing to experiment with my photography! So here’s a sampling of some of the images I shot along with some of the various post processing techniques I used on them. You may like them or not…actually I look at some and love them, and then I look again the next day and I’m not so sure, but that’s not the point. What I’m doing here is experimenting, “pushing the envelope” if you will with my personal creative vision…something we all should be doing as creative people…o.k., I’m getting “preachy” again! :D. Let’s talk about the images. ”Blossom Ride” shows a normal and then a more gritty look…a little bit less saturated too. The “Ferris Wheel” was composited with a stormy cloud background, then made gritty and desaturated, with a tone added. The “Father & Kids” was made gritty, desaturated, and on one version, I added a border…but first I removed a lot of stuff like the garbage can etc. This shot in particular is one where I waver between liking certain versions and then not liking them, but that’s fun in itself, experimenting with the image. Finally, “The Bearded Guy”…wow, what a look. You know I had to bring out the great texture in that beard!! I also desaturated the image to increase the gritty tough look! Like I said, I realize that not everyone will like some or maybe any of these, but I do hope it causes some of you to stop for just a second with your “tried & true” images and do a little experimenting.
Thanks for following along!
May 24, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Just a reminder with all the picnics and parties going on what this weekend really means. The first shot was a Marine standing guard at “The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier”. I shot this years ago and made a composite with a shot of a flag I have in my files. The second image is one of a “greeter” at Colonial Williamsburg. When listening to a guide describing how a group of young men decided to break away from their own country to form a new country, realizing the trials and hardships, including war, this decision would bring. We’ve fought many wars since, some not too popular to say the least, but we should never forget that so many young Americans sacrificed their time and even their lives for that cause, no matter what their personal beliefs were. Lastly, on a personal front, my father’s birthday in on Memorial Day…May 30th. We always joked that they threw a parade for him(he did serve in the Pacific during WWII). He would have been 99 this weekend, but passed away in ’97. Anyhow, here’s hoping all of you have a great and happy holiday!
May 13, 2013 § 2 Comments
This past Thursday was the final day of my son’s freshman year at Kent St. He did great in all of his classes…o.k. we won’t talk about math here, but I blame myself for that…kinda like one of those genetic things I guess! Anyhow, I was down there for his “freshman sign-in day”, shot and blogged about that last fall, and I figured I’d shoot and blog about his final day too. Actually, I was able to go down to Kent at least one day a week for most of the year…usually Friday morning. It was a great time for me. My son would drive us down, we’d park in the stadium lot(where freshmen had to park) and take the bus to the Student Center. We’d grab breakfast, and then my son would head off to class. While he was in class, I’d “hang out” at the Student Center reading the paper, reading my Photoshop books, or walking around campus. After his classes were over, we’d eat lunch at a campus restaurant. I would always come home totally energized after spending the day with these kids. Let me tell you, after spending the week dealing with the “business of art”, and all that entails such as estimating, bidding, copyright, bills, and waiting for the phone to ring, being around these kids with all of their positive energy, how they just know that when they get out of school, they’re going to knock the world on it’s ass, well it had a very positive effect on me. I couldn’t wait to get back and “create”! So Thursday I took my camera with me and walked around campus shooting everything I did on my weekly visits. I shot Steve, the guy that made my Friday morning omelette. I shot the buildings I passed when I took my walks, I shot the Student Center, but by far, my favorite thing to shoot were the students, as they walked to class. One of my favorite viewpoints was right in front of The Mac Center…the building that serves as a backdrop for these outdoor images. All sorts of people pass by, some walking, some jogging, some on skate boards, and some riding their bikes. Anyhow, let’s talk about these shots. The first one is a composite of several different shots, combined to form one image. The second one is also a composite of different people shots, combined with two different versions of sky from my files. Also, you’ll notice that I took creative license with the roof of the building by removing the black roof. That’s something I wouldn’t do if shooting for a client, but for my own vision, it had to go. The final shot is a girl walking down a spiral staircase into what is a perfect “pool” of available light. I did remove the floor mats, door and wall and just extended the pretty blue floor into infinity…again, not an exact recreation of the scene, but my creative vision. I included all the composite images except for the sky images…with them, what you see is what you get. I did include both versions…I’m curious, which sky works for you? So on to the images!
That’s it this time, but remember…”STAY IN SCHOOL”!…or at least visit from time to time.
May 6, 2013 § 4 Comments
I’ve been busy lately shooting some jobs, and also doing model comp work for models and actresses. Robbie, a local actress, contacted me recently so we could do some images for her portfolio. We started out doing some headshots with studio lighting. I noticed some nice light coming in from my window, so I suggested we do some natural light portraits. I wanted to check out the light, so I asked Robbie to sit in while I did a couple of test shots. This was the very first shot, and while it made for a nice moody look, the outdoor area was pretty much lost. I added some fill, and adjusted for the outdoor sky, and then shot a number of shots Robbie could use for her book…this wasn’t one of them. While this wasn’t good for her, I thought the way her glasses stood out against the washed out background was interesting. I decided to see if I could make something interesting out of a simple lighting test shot. I added a simple piece of wood for the window sill, and “stretched out” the image in Photoshop. I stripped out Robbie, found an image from a trip I took to Maine a few years back, added an image of window panes and curtains to the Maine image, softened the focus a tiny bit, and finally added Robbie to the new background. I used OnOne’s Perfect Effects to bring out some nice color, and then used Topaz’s Adjust to add some texture. Not the greatest image I’ve ever done, but a nice “save” of a “throw-away” test shot.
Just a short blog this time, but I hope you enjoyed it!
April 2, 2013 § 6 Comments
The 2013 baseball season is officially underway…my Cleveland Indians start tomorrow in their quest for a World Series title! O.K. maybe not this year, but they’re going to be better than last year…a lot better! I’ve loved baseball since my father taught me how to play waaaay back in the ’50′s. He played baseball back in the ’30′s, and through him I also gained an appreciation of the history of baseball. So many tales of superstars of bygone eras…Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle. I could do a whole blog of just the names of these players. As I got older, my interest in the history of baseball grew to where I also collected baseball memorabilia…old gloves, bats, pennants, cards…some of the same cards that I bought for a nickel a pack, now cost me many dollars each. At the same time I was nurturing this love of baseball, I was also falling in love with photography. I never got into sports photography, but I did photograph my son’s little league games. There’s a special talent that the great sports photographers have, mainly the ability to capture the “decisive moment”(a phrase made famous by Henri Cartier Bresson, who while not a sports photographer was one of the greatest photojournalists of all time). One of my favorite baseball photographers was Charles M. Conlon who photographed baseball games and players from 1904 to 1942. If you want to see an amazing collection of baseball photographs, check out the book “Baseball’s Golden Age…The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon”. We’re talking about a guy who was out on the field using a view camera and glass negatives…not a digital camera and a memory card! Anyhow, every Memorial Day weekend, a couple of teams who dress up like it’s 1845, and play by the rules of that era, and even talk like the players did back then, play on the local high school field. I love photographing them, but usually the background is cluttered with modern buildings, people sitting in lawn chairs, and cars in the parking lot. With Photoshop, I’m not only able to remove the offending objects, but I can even add an old world feel by making the images into a monotoned image. I included the before pictures just like they were shot so you can see the “evolution” from now back to the 1800′s. Now I need to run out and buy some peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jack for tomorrow’s game…hope you enjoy this one and GO TRIBE!
I’d like to finish with a shout-out to an amazing Photoshop artist…Dennis Dunbar. I’m guessing you’ve seen some of Dennis’s work…if you’ve ever been to a movie theater. Those posters that adorn the lobbies of movie theaters worldwide…many are the work of Dennis Dunbar. You can check out his website by looking to the left of this post, and clicking on his name…but don’t stop there…when you’re done looking at his site, check out his blog. His most recent blog shows what he did for a Boeing campaign. Dennis’s work always amazes me, but not only that, he’s helped me out numerous times when I had a question…check him out and see how many of those images you recognize!
March 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
Recently in one of my Linkedin groups, a photography student mentioned that her instructor said that she is lighting for the subject, but not lighting for the mood. Commercial photographers understand that the most important thing in creating a mood is the lighting. Sure, props, clothing, and styling can help, but how we light something is the most important element in how we create a mood…any mood. In the studio, we can have total control over the light and thus have total control over the mood. We position the lights, ratio them, add any number of light modifiers, and finally add gels and filters to get the look and “feel” that we want. The possibilities seem endless. Outdoors, it’s a little more difficult, but we can also do a lot to create a certain mood. Obviously, the time of day we shoot something can greatly add to the mood of the shot, but when trying to get an assignment done, many times the pro simply doesn’t have the luxury of waiting. This is usually solved by adding filters to the lens, using portable lights and mixing natural light with strobe, and even adding a gel to the portable light to tweek the results. Now in the digital age we have programs such as Photoshop to help us create something in post processing that wasn’t there to begin with. I started looking through my files to see what I could come up with and I hit on three candidates. First my dog Zeus…a once magnificent animal is now 11 years old. He went totally deaf just these last few months and he’s developing cataracts. His hips bother him, which is pretty common for these large dogs once they get up there in age, so he takes the steps really slowly now…he’s pretty much like me with my bad knees! My next thought was the approach of the new baseball season. I love baseball, and I especially love the history of baseball. I’ve collected baseball memorabilia for many years now, and you can see some of it in various images on my website. Every Memorial Day weekend, we have baseball re-inactors from the area who play just as if it’s 1840…same uniforms, old time rules, and no gloves! What a great subject to impart a moody feel to. While looking at the baseball shots, I saw an image of our local high school marching band marching in a past Memorial Day parade. The shot is a bit underexposed, but I thought that could actually help in creating a nostalgic feel or mood to the final image. So using multiple images to create “Zeus On The Dock”, and using a couple of different programs to change the tone and “age” of the image I came up with these three final images…hope you enjoy them!
Thanks for Looking!
March 5, 2013 § 6 Comments
Wow, it’s been a month since my last post…sorry about that! I kinda got into a “winter blues mental funk”. Anyhow, it’s March, the sun’s out and Spring is on it’s way…just a couple more snowstorms to go! A couple of weeks ago, I watched a video tutorial by Tim Wallace. Mr. Wallace shoots different things, but is far and away know for his car photography. His images of cars look more like fine art than your typical car ad. His close-ups of things like wheels and rims are astounding! It got me to thinking about how dramatic lighting and maybe coming in closer to a subject or shooting from a different angle etc. could make for an interesting image of an ordinary looking object that we walk by everyday. I decided to try some light painting on a few things around our house. One night after everyone was sound asleep, I grabbed my tripod and went down to our kitchen, looked around and saw some things that, with my new “semi-winter blues mental funk” attitude,(thanks to Tim Wallace) took on a whole new look. I was back!…well not quite…since these images stayed on that memory card for another week…until I watched a week’s worth of live tutorials on CreativeLive called “Photoshop Week”. For those of you not familiar with CreativeLive, it’s a company out in Seattle that has live tutorials featuring an expert in whatever subject they’re featuring. It started out a few years ago with mainly photography, but now does a ton of stuff on photoshop, and even more recently, on business techniques for the small business person. They used to have around one 3-day tutorial a month, but now it seems like there’s something new every few days. I’ll leave some links to Tim Wallace and Creativelive at the end of this. Anyhow, “Photoshop Week” pretty much got me out of my “winter blues mental funk” and I decided to shoot one more shot of something I look at everyday…my computer, and then process all of these recent images. I guess one of the lessons that I learned, and hopefully can pass on if you find yourself in that same situation, is to change things up, look at things a bit differently, try that lens that usually stays in your camera bag and gets the least amount of use, shoot subjects that you don’t ever shoot…whatever it takes to stir up those creative juices that we have inside of each and everyone of us…those feelings that made us want to get into photography in the first place! O.K. I’ll stop pontificating and show you what I did.
I decided to add the links on the left hand side of my blog with the others listed there.