Subjectivity (…like walking in the dark with a dim flashlight. .)

By The Sea

By The Sea

 

Art is subjective and photography is art. I once had to sit through a three hour meeting about sexual harassment. I was working at a company and all the employees were corralled into a general assembly and given bagels, sugary pastries and coffee. Then the meeting started as a well versed speaker took the stage and proceeded to tell us all the evils of sexually harassing a fellow coworker. I felt as though I was missing something… as if something was going over my head. I certainly know the difference between right and wrong and as a man I certainly know how to not be disrespectful to a fellow employee be it male or female. But where’s the line? Where is the definitive line? Certainly the behavior the speaker was describing and some of the scenarios were explicit descriptions of things I had seen people (both men & women) do many times in the workplace and no one ever got in any trouble at all. But I sat silent trying desperately to grasp something I had missed. Maybe it was the sugar high from the bagels… I must have missed something. So at the end the speaker asked if anyone had questions and I certainly did. I asked back (in a perplexed way); “While I understand most all of what you spoke of here today, I still do not understand when a person has actually been harassed? Where is that definitive line? The speaker quickly came back with the answer “there is no definitive answer, it is subjective.” Some people may like the behavior and others may find it harassing.” I said nothing, but I wanted to kill someone. You mean I had to sit here for three hours to learn that sexual harassment is subjective. Oh well the bagels were free.

So as a photographer and creative person who loves to produce images that fall somewhere between real and not real this topic of “subjectivity” for me is like walking in the dark with a dim flashlight. Like most all people I know I want to create images that are pleasing to others… but how? How and the hell do you accomplish this task if everything you do is “subjective?” So my answer is “I gave up trying a long time ago” and now I just have fun with it. I rely on composition skills such as rule of thirds, leading lines, rule of odds and so on. The rest is “whatever mood I’m in at the moment and what I have to work with as far as elements. As for; “does anyone else like it?” If someone is holding a print in their hand and they proclaim they like it, sure I take them seriously. If someone is paying me money to create something for them, then I truly believe they like my work… or they’re blind lol. If someone follows me on social media, keeps following me and comments in a heartfelt way, then again “yes” I feel they like what I do. But for all the followers who just push the red heart or hit the like button… that doesn’t mean dittly squat to me. And for sure, to the Time for Print models that come strolling along and fawn all over my work… just save your time and breath with all the honey tongue comments about how much you like my work. Just get to the point and ask if you can have free photography. I know that all sounds a little harsh, but I’m just laying out the facts and these words come without anger, but they do come with reality. Remember it is all subjective and money is what pays the bills, not hearts & likes and sweet comments.

However I am very happy with these two images and I would like to unveil them here on my blog for the first time. Thanks for reading and have a great day everybody.

Stadium Game Face

2K17 Goals (I would go “old school” and sit and look at magazines for inspiration,)

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

Nixlot Dameus
1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 24mm

So last year I had set a goal to create portfolio quality images with “impact.” Now I felt (at the time) I had some great images in my portfolio, however the goal is always to add more. Now with that said; you cannot just keep adding, if you put something in you have to take something out and my personal preference is to keep the portfolio around 20 images and no more. After looking at ten images, a person is either going to interested or not. If they’re really interested they will look at ten more and that is why I feel the number 20 works. So creating new images that are portfolio quality is a daunting task because I am actually competing against myself. I have to make something good enough to knock something I already love out of the portfolio. This is like killing a child to make way for another. A horrible comparison I know, but I love the images I create and I don’t want to see them leave and go to the “back-shelf” so-to-speak.

I knew going into this that if I could come out with three great images I would consider myself lucky, two great images and I would feel accomplished, and one great image I would be happy.

Well let me tell you “happy” came quickly, Saturday January 16, 2016 to be exact. That is the day that a young lion named Nixlot Dameus walked into the studio. Just a mere 17 years old this amazing young man not only looked amazing he embodies “overcoming the odds.” Soft spoken and serious as a heart attack about what we were there for, Nixlot was focused and serious and that made me feel confident that what I had planned would actually come to be. The image you see posted here is “exactly” what I had envisioned. To have a seventeen year old kid whom I never met before and who is not a model walk into the studio and do exactly what I say is not only amazing, but also very gratifying. This image came at the very end of the shoot as is almost always the case with my shoots. I knew when I left the studio I had a “keeper” and I hadn’t even downloaded the images yet.

LaydeeFly Reyes

LaydeeFly Reyes

Now meanwhile I should say that this goal started on January 1, 2016, yes that’s right on New Year’s Day I was out shooting the cold and windy streets of Bethlehem PA with a local model LaydeeFly. The shoot was fun and it was cold, but the fun outweighed the cold. There were a few amazing images that came from her shoot, the one of her sitting on the street corner was a favorite of mine for sure.

Mina Santiago

Mina Santiago

Then the very next day with teen model Mina I was shooting of a forest in Tinicum Township PA and it was even colder than the day before. I did make one creative edit from that shoot that actually got a lot of attention on social media. Still I was looking for another good image, the year was young, but I wanted something to happen.

 

 

Ice_Princess-4802Instagram

The “Ice Princess” shoot with Kendall seemed promising, however due to time constraints the shoot did not last as long as I would have liked. But there was still a great shoots that came from that shoot. The portrait shots were awesome and I had one creative edit that I really liked and I felt was decent enough to put in the portfolio. So up until now I had the stellar image of Nixlot and then spring gave way to summer and I was getting worried because I had nothing in the works that would seem to yield a great image. Sure I was working doing paid shoots, but they never yield stellar shots.

 

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Model Ryan McNally

Then came Ryan McNally and again I gained a stellar image that got good reception on social media. But… Now my two best images of the year were in the same genre of male fitness and I want diversity, something with a punch. I needed to kick in an afterburner or something, I wanted… I couldn’t think anymore and it was eating at me, day in and day out. I didn’t talk about it much, hell I didn’t even blog about it. It was almost like writer’s block or something. I would go “old school” and sit and look at magazines for inspiration, I looked on Pinterest till my eyes were ready to bleed. Inspiration!  I need you so bad and I cannot find you. Then it happened, just like finding love when you least expect it and in the least likely of places. On

 

 

 

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 88mm Model Nicole Gallagher, Makeup Artist Jade Alexandra Brown, Photographer Richie Smith Jr

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 88mm
Model Nicole Gallagher, Makeup Artist Jade Alexandra Brown, Assistant Makeup Jordan Brown, Photographer Richie Smith Jr

Facebook I see a post about entertainment news and I see the image of the “new” Pennywise the clown, the villain from the Stephen King Novel “IT.” THAT’S IT! A clown and I had been thinking about a clown “crawling on a floor” (strange I know) but this would be even better. Now with all this said; I did not want to just create a duplicate of the new Pennywise, but rather I wanted to take that concept of a… I don’t even know what to call it… “Evil clown” no that sounds to generic. “Sinister Clown” sounds more like it. So I wanted to take this so-called sinister clown look to another level, same as they have with Pennywise. They made the new Pennywise look more like a doll with his wardrobe, like and old doll from the renaissance or Victorian era. So hey why not shoot my Sinister Clown in a renaissance context, such as was done with the Super Heroes by French photographer Sacha Goldberge.

And so it was to be, but this look would take a whole lot more than a model and a makeup artist. This would be a lot of work. So how to you climb a mountain? “One step at a time” and that is what we did. The clown images were stellar and I was satisfied. I would now put myself in that extremely “Lucky” category and I can now say I accomplished that goal. That my friend, is a great feeling.

So here we are in 2017 and what are my goals? I have set a goal for just two stellar images this year, concepts are in the works and who knows maybe more than two will come, but I will be satisfied with two. More-so the bigger goal is to get more content on the YouTube channel and to increase subscribers. So in-order to do that I need to improve my vlogging skills and I started working on that at the end of last year. Along with vlogging skills a drone will be needed and it may be time to update the DSLR… we’ll see. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Have a great day.

Quarry Office Shoot with Kendall (Lots of windows and wood.)

Kendall at the Quarry House 1/125 sec at f/3.2 ISO 50 105mm

Kendall at the Quarry House 1/125 sec at f/3.2 ISO 50 105mm

Been awhile since I shot with Kendall, but this shoot wasn’t really planned until the last-minute. I had planned to shoot another model at this location, the shots were all planned out with a mood board, it was to be a “catalog” style shoot with bright high energy shots. At the last-minute the model fell sick (as they always do) and I was left with an empty time slot. So a quick text to Kendall and it was a done deal.

Kendall is amazing and always has been from the day we first met and worked together on that hot summer day in Bethlehem Pa. Everybody sees the images we create, but what you do not see is how professional she is. If I say “two looks” she bring three or four, she is always on time and well prepared. I give her an address and she is there… easy to do when you’re a young teen and you’re being chauffeured by mom and dad, but now Kendall is an adult ad drives herself to the shoots.

When it is a public location as this shoot was I like to arrive early and scout the premises for anything that will be a problem. The location was the Prallsville Mill property although we were shooting in part of the old Quarry Office/House. Lots of windows and wood. So I arrive early, but no chance to scout because Kendall arrives early too and we get right to it. It was hot inside the building, I opened windows, turned on the ceiling fan, but still it was a sweat fest.

The technical: Shooting was done the whole day in manual mode except for a few shots that were natural light. Manual mode because I was using flash. All my indoor shots were made at either 50 or 100 ISO, so I used a manual radio Speedlight to light the room. Most times I bounced the flash off the opposite wall from where the model was located. Or I bounced the light off of the ceiling. At one point I found some brochures that were all white on the back, propped them against a window and placed the Speedlight aiming at them and bounced the light to Kendall. This allowed me to give fairly even light and not reflect off of the glass windows.  In-fact I wanted to see out the windows… it worked.

As for lenses; I used the 70-200mm f/2.8L and a 50mm f/1.4 prime.

The second portion of the shoot was a fitness look and those shots were all done outdoors. For those shots I used a Paul C Buff 640 watt light and a white beauty dish powered by a Vagabond battery. I’ll put a post up from that part of the shoot another time.

So needless to say we had a lot of fun… as we always do.

Thanks for reading.

Double Exposure Fun (…getting accidental double exposure would almost always upset me)

Double exposure created using Analog Efex Pro 2

Double exposure created using Analog Efex Pro 2

Double exposure photography can be fun and creative and something I like to play with from time to time. I remember back in the day getting an accidental double exposure with a film camera would almost always upset me because the image I wanted was ruined. Imaging somebody posing in front of your camera and getting the prints back only to find a double exposure of your intended photo, but with a bridge or building or birthday cake exposed into the image. Sometimes it was like this prolific image that everybody was amazed by, however most times the image was a flat-out mess.

Now back in the film days I knew a few photographers that actually loved to create double exposures and they did it quite well. For me it was a nuisance.

Cut to today with Photoshop and software like Nik/Google Analog Efex Pro 2 you can control your double exposure to maximize you creative power. Also most DSLR’s have a double exposure mode that many photographers never explore.

I leave with a double exposure created in Analog Efex Pro 2. I used two images of Kendall that were actually shot on film and then scanned.

Romancing With Film (…I never intended to put film in the cameras.) Film fun part 1

Kendall shot with a Canon 650D film body and a EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM IS II lens. Fuji ISO 200 color film. Cropped and minor color edit in Lightroom.

Kendall shot with a Canon 650D film body and a EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM IS II lens. Fuji ISO 200 color film. Cropped and minor color edit in Lightroom.

Remember the film days? We have been digital for many years now. I stopped shooting film back in 1999, hard to believe it has been that long. So August I had purchased a few old Pentax cameras off eBay to be used as props in a photo shoot and I never intended to put film in the cameras. However when the second camera arrived it had a roll of unused film inside and that got me wondering. I started to think about the film days and how much of a struggle it was for me. Of course as time passed I was leaning more and more about all aspects of photography and then along came digital. So things became a little easier and a lot more creative. Because as time passed I found Photoshop and I found a creative medium that was for me.

So I though “hey it will be fun to run a few rolls through these old cameras.” I picked up some black and white film and went out and enjoyed me little romance with a Pentax Spotmatic and an ME. Then it bit me a little and for $26 I bought a Canon 650D film camera. Nothing special about the 650D other than the nostalgia that they (whoever they are) claim the very first photo uploaded to the internet was shot with a Canon 650D. Best part about the 650D is all my current Canon EF lenses fit and focus on this body.

So back last September while shooting with the amazing Kendall Strampel we had a little fun and in the middle of a planned shoot we took a little side trip and played for a few minutes with the film cameras. I handed a Pentax to Kendall to use as a prop and I put my awesome 70-200mm f/2.8L on the 650D and fired off a few frames of Fuji ISO 200 color film. I later finished the roll while shooting Melina Martin in the studio back in March.

Now today we do have the option to scan the negatives into out computer and then edit in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Ok so I thought it would end there, but it didn’t. (To be continued)

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Split tone edit in Lightroom.

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Split tone edit in Lightroom.

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Canon 650D, Fuji film no editing.

000021970011-Edit

A lite cross process edit using Photoshop.

Canon 650D, Fuji film with basic color edit in Photoshop.

 

Digital Art Rendering (Outside a Paris Doorway 16×20 digital print.)

Outside a Paris doorway.

Outside a Paris doorway.

I worked on this last night and late into the night. Spending hours just trying different techniques fo making this image fall somewhere between a painting and a photograph. I’ll have to wait for the proof to return from the printer before I can say yay or nay to the process I used in the end. It seems strange to put Kendall into such a dark eery setting after putting her in so many light, heavenly visceral images. But I like it. The whole process has been creative, from the actual photo shoot with the makeup and headpiece to the editing. Adobe Photoshop really is such a large and vast universe with options, processes, actions, filters, plugins and on an on…

I was falling asleep in the wee hours of the morning and when I woke I couldn’t wait to see what I created. lol.

Photo of The Day (Movie poster composite…)

Movie Poster Style Composite(ala Corey Barker) with model Kendall Strampel

Movie Poster Style Composite(ala Corey Barker) with model Kendall Strampel

I have had this image for a while now. It is a composite made from a Corey Barker “Down & Dirty” tutorial that appeared in Photoshop User Magazine several months back. Not sure that it looks like a movie poster but it is a nice image nonetheless.. In Corey’s version he uses an image of a model that appears to be shot with a wide angle lens and there is some distortion to her face and body, but in a good way. In my version I just pulled a shot of Kendall that was straight on with no distortion.