Winter Video Project (So there is collateral fun to this project ) Part 1

Part:1

So my latest ongoing project is video editing. This project is a little different from my photography projects in the sense that it is not planned out in detail. However the purpose of the project is to create a small amount of video content each weekend that I can then use to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro. The end purpose is to better my editing skill and become more familiar with Premiere Pro. Each weekend my wife and I take the dogs (Pixie & Jake) and head out on day trips. We try to go on both Saturday & Sunday however weather is the main dictator as to whether or not we can get out on both days. Either way I bring along my Canon EOS M3 as my main video camera and I will fill in with my mobile phone if needed.

This now leads me to answer the question that most people have been asking me; Why does you video look strange or different? And the answer is because I have been trying different things that I am very unfamiliar with. See in the past most of my video content was edited in Adobe Photoshop. Yes, you can edit video quite well in Photoshop, however it is a very different way to edit and with very different options as opposed to Premiere Pro. So as I push forward with vlogging I feel the need to expand my video editing abilities, not to mention the fact that if a customer requires a specific kind of video with specific kind of feel I would be able to achieve the task. At this time photography, Photoshop and Lightroom are my strong points, but I would like to add Premiere Pro to that list as well.

So there is collateral fun to this project and that is getting out and having fun with my wife and the dogs. Getting out of the house for an extended time in the winter is not always easy, but this project has given purpose and my wife loves it too.

End Stage Creativity (once back to Lightroom that is where I find it easy and fun to play)

1/125 sec at f/10 ISO 50 50mm

1/125 sec at f/10 ISO 50 50mm

Can Adobe Lightroom be a creative tool? While “hardcore” Photoshop users will beg to differ, I find for me personally Adobe Lightroom can be what I call a great “end stage creative editor.” I say this because I will always start my edit in Lightroom with basic prep adjustments preparing the image for Photoshop. Then after Photoshop the image always comes back to Lightroom and while it may be finished and ready for output with a watermark I will spend time playing around doing some creative editing. It fun and it is easy, and sometimes this is where I will create something I had no idea I would do to that particular image. Best part is that if I find something I really like I can save it as a preset and use it again and again.
This image of LaydeeFly is a perfect example. The image that went to Photoshop had a color cast removed and some hair fixes as well as a few blemishes taken away. These are all standard fixes that would be done to any image I work on. But once back to Lightroom that is where I find it easy and fun to play with what the end view of the image will look like.
With this image of LaydeeFly I ended with a look I rarely ever use, although for this image the intense split toning, curves, HSL and adjustments proved to be amazing.

Simple Life (One island, one family)

1/250 sec at f/3.5 ISO 640 18mm Canon M3

1/250 sec at f/3.5 ISO 640 18mm Canon M3

While staying on Koh Chang (Thailand) I had taken a small boat and traveled out to some of the surrounding small islands. Koh Wai is one of the larger of the small islands and there really is not a whole lot on the island. However if you travel around to the south side of the island there is a beautiful lagoon located at Latitude:11.89815 Longitude:102.40552 (see map link below).

There is a man who lives at the lagoon with his wife and son. I had visited with him in 2014 and we traveled back to visit with him again this year. We found him pretty much the same as when we last seen him, although now more snorkel boats come into the lagoon and that I personally did not care to see. But for him it means more business, he sell fresh coconut water to the boaters who come and stay a while on his well-groomed beach. I had a chance to photograph is simple homestead as he invited my wife and I up to his home, something most people would never really get to do. The house is located about 100 meters from the beach area, you can see it from the beach. Also my boat driver is very good friends with the man, he brings him supplies from time to time and also brings snacks for Tula the man’s 5-year-old son.

It truly is interesting to see how this man lives, because many times we have all had that dream of “living in an island” and not having to deal with the outside world. …and that is exactly what this man does everyday.

Stay tuned and I will do a more in-depth post about my visit to this lagoon. It was very interesting and you’d be surprised what I found about his son’s behavior… being isolated and the only child on the island.

Thanks for reading and check out my Thailand video series on my Youtube channel.

YouTube Koh Kai

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Koh+Chang/@11.8980418,102.4052624,239m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x310416b31770cc1f:0xdfd424b9e3ad2a9!8m2!3d12.0479159!4d102.3234816

 

Soul Searching for Goals (Now I know every click of the shutter cannot be a winner)

Nixlot Dameus 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Nixlot Dameus
1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Soul searching… Something that I do about this time every year, however this year is a little different because I will be traveling to Thailand. The trip to Southeast Asia is something I would like to do every year but between jobs, plastic people and a budget I can only go every other year and that really hurts. I have family there now, a family I deeply love and if you were to imagine only ever being able to actually be with them every two years… well that hurts.

So why the soul searching? Truth be told it is not all about family, but rather this is the time of year I start to think about my goals for next year. Now if you have followed this blog (I know that is hard because I am the world’s worst blogger) you know I do not make New Year resolutions. Why? Because resolutions fail, but goals lead to dreams. I set goals for many things in my life, I didn’t always do this because I did not know how to or even why to set a goal. However, through the help of a wonderful friend who really took the time to care about me many years ago and explained and showed me how to work at goals, needless to say I cannot thank him enough. Not just for sharing his wisdom, but just for caring about me… priceless.

So because this blog is for the most part about my photography and all other things “creative” in my life I will share a little bit of my creative goal setting with you. And I will not share my deep personal goals… the messy things in my life like “to stop eating peanut butter out of the jar” or “my plans to over throw the world.”

Let’s look at 2015’s goals. The main creative goal I had set was to “create images with impact.” And what that meant was to create an image/s that would just make people stop and look, hopefully a “wow factor” kicking in. Now I know every click of the shutter cannot be a winner, but I wanted to really get three to four awesome images in a style unlike any of the images I currently had in my portfolio. Well… I did it and it wasn’t easy, it just took a lot of planning. I think the Image of Nixlot Dameus was killer as was the Sinister Clown. I had other great images too and I really do feel that by setting a goal and putting importance to it really allowed me to reach up and accomplish the task I sought.

So on the years I go to Thailand I have a long and peaceful talk with myself, no distractions and with my mind at ease I look at the new year coming and contemplate what I would like to do. I can tell you this year my creative goals will take a different direction. Yes, I will continue with my photography (that is a given), but I think that next year’s goal is to focus on the YouTube Channel and my vlogging skills. I know another area of my life that will see a change in direction is my catering business. After 20 years I am so fucking bored to death mere words could not express the trauma that is created when I have to think about dealing with a catering customer. It’s like wearing the same pair of shoes for 20 years and that is all I have to say about that. However something happened last year that changed me and that was when I put together a small fundraiser for a man and his family. It was a challenge and it was emotional for me on the inside and that might just have saved me from throwing the catering business to the lions. …we’ll see.

So in two days I set forth on a trip to Southeast Asia to visit family and heal my mind. All the while thinking about and setting my goals for 2017.

Thank you so much for reading.

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Drifting Away (…the “joy” of autumn is drifting away.)

1/15 sec at f/8 ISO 100 24mm

1/15 sec at f/8 ISO 100 24mm

Autumn 2016 is starting to wane here in New Jersey. While out for my bicycle ride today the weather was nice, certainly sunny and not too chilly. I was testing my new camera and trying to enjoy what I know is inevitable… While autumn season is not truly over until December 21, I have always found that by mid to late November the “joy” of autumn is drifting away. Like a small boat that has come detached from its mooring and starts to ever so slowly drift with the current, drifting till it is further and further downstream. At some point you look away and when you gaze back the boat is gone.

We will have our nice days and we’ll have our rainy days. The rainy days are the times we look away and when the sun shines again… the days are colder, shorter and less color till soon we enter the “grey days” of late November early December. The only cheer at that time is to look forward to the Christmas  and New Year season.

I will leave for Thailand the day before Thanksgiving and miss the whole Thanksgiving holiday. 40 straight hours of hell as I travel from my home in Linvale, NJ to Ko Chang (Chang Island). That is 40 hours with no bed, just a plane seat and or an airport floor or bench to sleep on. Yes I will have fun in Thailand… I sure hope so after 40 hours of travel. But when I return back home to the USA autumn 2016 will be of just a memory.

Photo taken with the Canon EOS-M3 with the 18-55mm lens and I did apply my personal Photoshop recipe. Camera settings were 1/15 sec at f/8 ISO 100 24mm.

Autumn Fun (…the leaves were not at their peak color yet, there was still a great vibe in the air…)

Ryan McNally 1/125 sec at f/3.5 ISO 50 70mm

Ryan McNally 1/125 sec at f/3.5 ISO 50 70mm

Ryan is new, but a fast learner. We had a great outdoor shoot in Stockton, NJ along the Delaware River. It was a beautiful autumn day and while the leaves were not at their peak color yet, there was still a great vibe in the air that added to our mood. The Prallsville Mill adds such a great backdrop to any photo shoot, be it wedding, engagement or model. On a weekday there is always a few people walking or riding bikes and of course they will stop and look and that just adds to the fun. We’ll see more edits from this shoot in the coming days.

Only a Year Late (So being a guitar player in another lifetime I pulled out my trusty Fender Strat…)

1/125 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 70mm Nicole Gallagher, makeup by Jasmine Benton

1/125 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 70mm
Nicole Gallagher, makeup by Jasmine Benton

It has taken me well over a year to complete this “behind the scenes” video of a shoot I did with model Nicole Gallagher. Why? Because I am stubborn and when I want something to be a certain way… well I want it that way. Childish? Maybe. So the problem was… ok so here is where you can laugh, smack my head and call me crazy. I couldn’t get the music right. I wanted a certain piece of music, I wanted Santana/Everlast “Put Your Lights On” and while I have that version done, it was done two days after the shoot, I could not get it uploaded. And rightfully (pardon the pun) so because Youtube, Vimeo and Facebook all threatened to ban my accounts if I tried to upload it again. What a bitch and I really can’t complain because I know the copyright laws very well when it comes to intellectual property, after all I’m the guy that makes everybody sign a model release to protect my images.

But then I had an idea… ahhh… what if I record the song myself. All I wanted was the music and not the vocals. So being a guitar player in another life time I pulled out my trusty Fender Strat and fires up my GK amp and laid down a fairly decent instrumental version of  “Put Your Lights On” and edited it using Adobe Audition CC (which by the way I love Audition CC). But still no luck, YouTube slammed me with even nastier emails. …oh well I tried.

So then I got discussed and I set the project aside. I revisited the project no less than 8 times since June of 2014 and to no avail. So my last attempt was the other day and like all the other attempts I crashed & burned after an 2 hours of sifting through clip after clip of “royalty free” music. However tonight I hit on a song that I liked and the video has been uploaded. Did I win?.. hell no, but I do like the song “Hey Girl” and it seems to work. Check it out and hit “Like” if you would please, you can also subscribe to the Channel too.

 

Sinister Clown Project Shoot (As far as looks Nicole is everything Pennywise is not. )

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I am just a week away from my most planned out project shoot of 2016. I had set a goal at the beginning of the year to “create images with impact” and unlike the typical new year’s resolutions that fall by the wayside a few weeks into the year, my goal still haunts me. It has been a struggle; however I have created a few images that are portfolio worthy. When it comes to my portfolio it is like a game, there are self-imposed rules. First rule is that there are a certain number of images in the portfolio and in order to add an image I must take an image out. So essentially the new image has to dethrone another… and that is the hard part, deciding what goes and what stays and what new images are worthy to add. So this first rule really does dictate most everything.

With all that said I started the year off pretty good with the close distorted facial shot of Nixlot Dameus, it was different, it was creative and it was planned. I hit my mark and I was happy. I could also say the same with the “Ice Princess” look I did with Kendall. Although the shoot was cut short due to time spent on makeup I was able to get an image that was worthy of making a composite that was then worthy of portfolio contention. Then came Ryan McNally and his shoot while being more of a test shoot, it still yielded a good image worthy of gracing the portfolio pages. Many times people helping me with a shoot such as an assistant or even the model are often surprised to hear me say “well… if we come away with five good images today I’ll be happy.” They usually look at me like “he’s got to be kidding” or “he must be a horrible photographer,” when in reality I’m totally serious. Hell if creating portfolio worthy images was that easy, life would be no fun.

So this leads us to the present day turmoil of the “Sinister Clown” shoot. I spoke about it in my latest video update on the YouTube channel, but I will elaborate a little more here.

So to recap; Stephen King wrote a short novel of 1156 pages called “It” and there was a movie or rather a TV mini-series created in 1990. The book is impeccable and King is at his best. The movie was not so great. In my opinion the movie started off great but it started to falter about midway through. In all fairness putting King’s writing into a visual form like a movie is extremely hard to do. So when I see the new revamped images of Pennywise the dancing clown that will appear in the remake of “It” due to be released in 2017, I was really taken back and became very interested. So much so that I decided to use those images as an inspiration for a detailed project photo shoot. Pennywise is one of the many forms that “It” takes on while in our universe and he feed on the flesh and fear of young children. …I know …King is a master at this kind of stuff. So I called the shoot the “Sinister Clown” shoot and proceeded. Now truth be told I had already had an idea for a clown shoot and my original idea was very much the same although not as intense.

So there were many things to plan. Who would be the model, who will do make up and where the hell can I get decent wardrobe. After all I want this to be… as makeup artist say “an HD look” meaning “high definition.” “HD” is the big buzz word these days in the makeup and FX world. We used to say “movie quality” and now it is HD… Whatever!

So I asked a cosplay model who dresses up as a clown often and she was all in. Well until her personal life took a turn and she was relocating. So here we go we are hitting barriers before the race even starts.

I put a casting call out on Model Mayhem. Well let me tell you there is a reason why it is called “Model Mayhem” and that Mayhem part is a wild ride. I specifically asked for models that had experience in “cosplay” and it resulted in getting hits from models who clearly can’t read.

Then I get one model that looks valid and appears to be creative, says “yes” and she can do her own makeup and I tell her what the inspiration is for the shoot. She agrees and then starts adding her own inspiration that is not in the same direction as mine. Essentially what turns me on about the new Pennywise is that he does not look like a standard clown. In the 1990 movie the clown was very standard Claribel-ish or Ronald McDonald-ish. The new Pennywise scares me… and I’m not afraid of clowns at all. So this model wanted to go in a different direction AND… after all that she tells me she will be free in a few weeks. Hello…

Here again it is hard to convey your passion, inspiration and importance to others. So when you do find that special person that clicks it is like being in love, two creatives on the same level is rare and amazing all at the same time. I have to stop and say that every one of my project shoots gets treated as if it is a paid shoot. That my friend is how you learn and how you get better. My projects have deadlines and must meet my expectations to be considered a success in the end. Sure it creates stress, but I always say “no stress, no success” and that is how I roll. Now I don’t always transfer that stress to a model because I want him/her to be relaxed and natural. All the while I’m the one stressing over the shoot.

So two years ago a young lady by the name of Jade left a really nice heartfelt comment on my Mayhem page after viewing my work. I reached out to her and thanked her. We had a wonderful phone conversation and I got the feeling she was a true creative person. I ran off to Thailand a few weeks later and we lost touch. But I remembered her and I found her again. I presented the idea to her and she was down with it, so I commissioned her to do the Sinister Clown look. She has given me a hope of confidence that she can create an HD look.

So now for the model… Oh the model? So I changed direction and went 180 degrees the opposite direction. This cannot be a Time For Print model, this has to be someone who can take direction, someone I can trust to show up and someone I like to work with. So I asked Nicole Gallagher the beautiful face you see on the opening page of my website. As far as looks Nicole is everything Pennywise is not. She is pretty, elegant, female and just a really sweet person to work with. Pennywise on the other hand… well is an evil rotten clown with fangs. But Nicole holds all the qualities to make for a great shoot. On time, takes direction well and is a cool person to work with. So I asked and she said yes, yes to sitting for 2 plus hours while Jade applies the FX makeup that will be composed of a special prosthetic head-piece that Jade will custom make.

Now we have a model and a makeup artist, all we need is wardrobe. So I got an idea to shoot the Sinister Clown in a “Renaissance” context. I had seen it done with Batman, Robin, The Joker, and The Cat Woman and so on. This then entailed many hours of searching on the internet and those hours turned to days and finally I found a rental place in Oregon that had something that I hope will work.

And lastly I will say that I am currently working on lighting diagrams for all the different shots. So yes this shoot is complexed. Will it turn out great images? Time will tell. And as a side project I hope to shoot a time-lapse of the makeup application as well as behind the scenes video.

Please stay tuned and I will be talking more about this project in the coming days & weeks.

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Good But Not What I Wanted (realizing you have written nothing but drivel and ripping the half written page from the typewriter)

Nicole Smoke Dress Final

I would like to talk a little about this image that I recently created… well maybe talk a lot about it and what it really is. Ok so the truth be told it is not at all what I wanted to create. What you see here is the “second draft” so-to-speak, but there were four of five more versions and I tossed them all out of frustration. It was like back in the day when a writer would sit at a typewriter trying to make something happen and half way through the page realizing you have written nothing but drivel and ripping the half written page from the typewriter, crushing and crumpling and tossing it into garbage can in the corner. The garbage can that is overflowing with dozens of other half written pages. I saw something that inspired me and it gave be a vision and an idea for a really cool image… well at least I thought it would be cool. So I headed into my stockpile of images and I knew exactly where to look. But when I found the images I was thinking of, the wardrobe was all wrong. I wanted to create an image of a model with a rather “moonscape” like background, but I wanted her dress to be blowing away in the wind and turning to smoke. Similar to the piece I did back in 2013 called “Shattered” where the motocross racer’s helmet was shattering and blowing away.

I just could not get it to happen and keep it looking like a dress. Why? Because in this particular image the model is not actually wearing a dress, she is wearing a shirt and a skirt. So now after two nights of working I end up going back to the second version that I created in about 30 minutes and I said “done.” Done, but not at all satisfied. While many people love this image and I received good feedback across all platforms of social media, I myself am not satisfied. Not satisfied because I wanted something very different. With all that said… this is a good image. Model Nicole Gallagher is striking a stellar pose as she can so easily do and I have blogged in the past about her eyes and her talent of “posing with her eyes.’ This is a perfect example, I mean all we see here of the model is her arms and her face and her eyes. And for me the eyes say it all in this pose. So to recap, there is nothing wrong with the model or the pose, but the wardrobe is not right to complete my vision. So we know what that means… “project shoot!” If I am going to complete this vision I have in my mind I need to shoot the model correctly with the correct wardrobe. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.