That Teal & Orange Thingy Has To Go (just whack them upside the head and say “don’t ever do that again.”)

International Model Zhan. Location Javitz Center NYC Very lite Teal & Orange LUT applied.

That Teal Orange Thing

Happy New Year to everybody and with a new year we hope for new and better things in our lives. We wish everybody from family, friends and colleges joy and happiness in the new year. We set goals and overall it is a time to “throw away the old and bring in the new.”

Now there are many things I would love to throw away from 2K18 and wish to see very little of in 2K19. As for photography; That putrid “teal orange” bullshit has got to go. Most of you know what I’m talking about and I would guess there are others who have no idea what I’m talking about, so I’ll elaborate.

Beit a filter or a LUT the teal to orange look has inundated the photography world, particularly on social media. It is akin to the horrible “HDR look” that took place several years back and still happens to day when a new photographer very first discovers HDR. He/she will jump into Photoshop and create the horrid mess on an image with halos and virtually no shadows and think they “really have something here” and then they run off and post it on Flickr and elsewhere.

However, hopefully this photographer has a good enough friend who will pick up a big stick (not just any stick, but a big solid stick) and just whack them upside the head and say “don’t ever do that again.” Kind of like teaching your dog not to poop on the kitchen floor. Now to be honest I would never hit a dog in the head with a stick, but I would whack a photographer who creates bad HDR. Why? Because it is that bad.

Same goes for this teal orange thing. So where did the teal orange thing come from? Legend has it there was this German photographer named Berger Meister, Meister Berger that hated other photographers so much that he… Ok so of course I’m pulling your leg there but here is my opinion on where the teal orange tide came from.

Instagram or IG for short has filters for your photos. I think by now everybody knows what IG is and how it works. So, some IG filters are more popular than others and people love applying the filters because it gives them a quick way to edit a photo into something a little more interesting than the color profile their phone assigned to the photo as it was shot. Essentially everybody wants to be a better photographer but without doing a lot of work. I don’t say that as a bad thing really, its just human nature. Who doesn’t want to have a beautiful physically fit body without going to the gym?

So, IG is only part of the equation, there is more to the teal orange tide than just IG. Ig is in my opinion what spawned the everyday photographer the ability and desire to apply filters and again this is not in and of its self a bad thing.

I feel LUTs are maybe a bigger culprit than IG. LUT is short for Color Look Up Table. I’m not going to go into all the details of LUTs because what a LUT actually is and how it “really” works is a topic as about as vast as the Iceberg that the Titanic hit. But here is the short answer; LUTs are generally used to color grade video because they have the power to change one color to another and a LUT can just overall enhance a scene by conveying a look and feel to the viewer that enhances the movie, video or photo. In a nut shell it helps to tell the story the creator wanted to tell.

At this time more and more creators are shooting video on cameras that record in logarithmic format or “log” for short. Log format is a very flat looking style that is void of color saturation however this in-turn allows the camera to capture video in a higher dynamic range, essentially meaning more editable information in the shadows & highlights.

Log format is not new, it was reserved for very high-end expensive cameras, but now it is readily available on many prosumer cameras. Many vloggers shoot in log format everyday and using a LUT or more than one LUT allows the editor to put color back in to the video footage I a creative way.

At this point you may be asking “how does this log video thingy relate to photography?” It relates because of a few reasons, but mostly because most DSLR cameras are hybrids that capture both video and still images. I honestly don’t know who started using LUTs on digital images, but I first heard about them from a British photographer when he did a tutorial about them on his YouTube channel. He showed how you could stack them and blend them using Adobe Photoshop (he did not use teal & orange). I found this very interesting and I’m always exploring new editing techniques for my photography. Around this same time a realized LUTs were used in Adobe Premiere Pro and I also stared using them to edit my video. I downloaded free LUTs from the internet and they were horrible, they did not enhance my images at all, in-fact were not usable at all. The reason for this problem was because the LUTs I downloaded were for log format and my images and video were shot in standard format using whatever camera profile that was in my camera.

Now with all that said I find that there are many photographers that us LUTs to an extreme much the same way that photographers over used HDR editing a few years back. So, for whatever reason the “teal & orange” look seems to be the hot flavor that has risen above the rest, with the teal color (or some variation thereof) being more common than the orange. I will admit it looks good on some images and I have used it myself… on some images. But I have seen some photographer using it on every single image they post to their IG or other social media. I mean like every single image on the IG for the past two years, almost as if that is their signature thing or their style. If this is your style; what happens next year when this fad passes? What happens to your style when the teal & orange tide recedes and your left holding the bag (so to speak).

Maybe I’m just ranting, however I really do feel it is a look that is very over used. I will be the first to admit I’m not a color grading expert but do as much as I can to learn more about it and about using LUTs.

So, let’s hope 2019 is the year the teal & orange look recedes.

Happy 2019!

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.

Creative Fun (Cameras are designed and engineered by geeks, nerds and trolls.)

1/200 sec at f/11 ISO 11 18mm

1/200 sec at f/11 ISO 11 18mm

I guess I’m kind of forced to talk about this image due to the amount of feedback I received from it soon after it hit Instagram. I do not have a massive amount of followers but I do have some really cool and interesting followers. I have several professional photographers from various parts of the world who hail from different genres and styles, from fashion to fine art to commercial print. Then I have followers who are in the entertainment industry in Hollywood & NYC. With that said… I also have a lot of cool everyday people from all walks of life who see my images and I see theirs too.

For this image I received four direct (private) messages asking how did you take the image and what filter did you use? One question was from a young lady who is a singer, song writer in Hollywood and the others were from photographers in the UK and Russia.

First I want to say this is just a fun image and is not mean to be a portfolio quality photo. However what comes into play here that makes the image stand out are a few different, but really not so different things. So let’s look a little deeper and I’ll talk about what was going on and how the image came to be.

First and foremost is the subject, my beautiful niece Alyssa and I were walking the dogs at the lake up the street from my house and I had the camera… I always have the camera.

Second and I think most important element here is the camera… no not a $20,000 Hasselblad, not even a flagship Nikon or Canon. The camera I used is my (new to me) Canon EOS-M3. What made this image achievable is the fact that I was able to capture the photo from an angle and perspective that would not be possible looking through a viewfinder. Unless of course I was to kneel down next to or in front of the subject and ask her to stop and pose. In this image I had been walking next to her as I captured video and when I had the clip I wanted I quickly switched to Av (aperture priority) and had previously set the camera to ISO 100 and f/11. So given the extreme back lighting from the sun over her shoulder I instantly flicked the “flash release” to allow the tiny on camera flash to give some much-needed “fill flash.” Without the fill flash Alyssa would be nothing more than a dark shadow. Also know the f/11 setting helped create the “star” effect coming from the sun. And of course the sun flare is because the camera is looking into the sun. Then there is the “wide angle” factor; shooting close to the subject at 18mm (wide zoom) makes things look a little “off.” Her extended arm and distortion on her lower torso is not very noticeable, but enough to give a creative effect.

So the big thing here is that I composed the image from the screen on the back of the camera and not a viewfinder (the M3 does not come with a view finder). The screen articulates and I was able to hold the camera low, but still angle the screen up toward me. I am actually very familiar with this technique because my old 2005-06 Canon A640 point & shoot had an articulating screen and I loved, loved, loved that camera for just that reason. And I must note that this is one of the three main reasons I purchased the M3. The articulating screen screams creativity… so why doesn’t an EOS-5D Mark IV or the EOS-1D X Mark II have articulating screens? Here is the secret… ready for it… Cameras are designed and engineered by geeks, nerds and trolls. These are people or beings that have not a creative molecule in their being. While they can make something that can auto focus and face detect and face track within milliseconds they could never understand creativity. So they rely on the outside world to tell them what creativity is and how to incorporate it into a product. The have stopped putting articulating screens in cheaper cameras because they want you to but the more expensive camera and I get that part of the equation… it’s about $$$. Even the geekiest of geeks wants to make money. “But let’s not make our $4000+ plus cameras with creative features like articulating screens because that would make us look like we have common sense.” And everybody knows geeks, nerds and troll have no common sense. Right!

Ok so after that rant we come to;

The third thing and that is the edit. So it is a little tweaking in Lightroom, about all of 30 seconds and then it’s off to Photoshop for about 2 minutes and I use a Nik Color Efex Pro 3 filter recipe that was created by me (yay me, I’m not a geek I can create). Also there is the use of Photoshop blending modes; in this case “multiply” was used. Then back to Lightroom and whala… done.

So in conclusion the real game changer is the camera with the articulating screen. It did not have to be the Canon M3, it could be any camera with a pop out screen. It allowed me to capture the “up angle” perspective and the candid expression all at the same time without stopping to pose the subject. And last, but not least… No you’re not gonna get this image with your iPhone. Sure you could capture the image with a phone camera, but it would be the same as using any other camera with a view finder. So put your iPhone away you little Apple worm and go get a real camera.

Thanks so much for reading and have a great day.

 

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.

Life… A Series of Problems. (But somewhere between the written words of some wise sage and our actual daily existence…)

 

 

 

Shantae Taylor 1/125 sec at f/16 ISO 50 70mm

Shantae Taylor 1/125 sec at f/16 ISO 50 70mm

It started off as a photo shoot to update headshots in a studio and it ended as classic car shoot outdoors. But aside from the strange twist from how it started to how it ended, the really amazing part was being able to work with model Shantae Taylor. I had not worked with Shantae for just over two years and although we stay connected through Instagram I knew the day would come… and it did. Finished with school and carving her way into a broadcasting career it is amazing to follow a person as they make that journey to follow a dream. Sure it sounds easy and fantasy like when you write about it or as you are reading about it. But we all know the true reality is that life is not easy and things never come fast. It has been said that “life is nothing more than just a series of problem and our job is to solve the problems.” That statement when read makes life just seem “so easy,” and the statement could not be any truer, life “is” a series of problems. But somewhere between the written words of some wise sage and our actual daily existence this so-called “series of problems” is really nothing more than a murky abyss. A place where you cannot see through to the other side, a place where some days you can’t see your hand in front of your face, a place where moments of clarity appear and happiness abounds, but never stays. A place where sometimes nothing seems real and yet in the blink of an eye it can all becomes so real it hurts or even kills.

Maybe this blog post seems a little off pace for a photographer who just had an amazing shoot with an amazing person. We talked about all kinds of things, her career path, creativity, jobs, and life and so on… But all the while I’m working with her my mind drifts back to a mere 24 hours earlier where I sat with a wonderful and courageous friend who was recovering from a horrible motorcycle accident that was no fault of his, in which he sustained massive injuries and worst of all he lost his wife. A problem that came into his life with no wrong doing of his own. While my friend is on a long road to getting life back to a somewhat normal state it was a drastic contrast to my conversation with Shantae. She is young and full of energy and focused… As we finished up our shoot and she departed, I just sat there thinking… “Life… just a series of problems… all we have to do is solve the problems.” I wish her the best.

Shantae Taylor posing in a 1957 Chevy 1/25 sec at f/7.1 ISO 200 85mm

Shantae Taylor posing in a 1957 Chevy 1/25 sec at f/7.1 ISO 200 85mm

Romancing With Film (…he posted an image that just captured my photographic heart.) Part 2

Shot on CineStill ISO 50 film using a Leica M3 with a 50mm. Photo credit Madajoshua on Instagram.

Shot on CineStill ISO 50 film using a Leica M3 with a 50mm. Photo credit Madajoshua on Instagram.

(continued from previous post)

So the other day he posted an image that just captured my photographic heart (see above). Sure there was a very beautiful lady in the photo, but that was secondary to what was pulling me into this image. It is Instagram… you look at something for a second or two and you move on, not to mention I look at hundreds of images every single day. But this crazy photo was stuck in my mind; I kept going back to it throughout the day. Finally I private messaged Joshua and inquired about the photo. He said it was shot on film. “No way” I replied. He said all his images are shot on film and I was blown away. He shoots with a Leica M3 camera and a 50mm lens, certainly a classic film camera that has a stellar performance. His image encouraged me to revisit film shooting once again.

So this weekend I will play around some more with film. I say “play” because digital is where I make my images and that is where my creative heart & mind is at this time. However it really is fun shooting a little film now and again. It gets really fun when I shoot a person who has never held a film camera nor has ever had their photo taken on film. Even funnier is when I push the shutter and the person asks to see the image on the back of the camera. I show them the back of the camera and the look on their face is priceless. Then they ask “how do you see the photo” and I reply “you don’t it’s a guessing game.” lol Even myself it is natural reaction now to push the shutter and look at the back of the camera… only to see… “the back of the camera.” 🙂

Day 2 (there is always something learned from these kinds of experiences if you take the time to bring something away with you. )

Mina Santiago sticking to a commitment.

Mina Santiago sticking to a commitment.

Day 2 of the New Year brought yet another cold weather shoot; in fact it was colder than day one. 16-year-old model Mina wanted some time in front of the camera in a wooded setting. The location would be the beautiful and rustic Tohickon Valley Park located up in the hills above the Delaware River in the Point Pleasant area of Pennsylvania.

The weather a crisp 28° F, with a light wind, mostly sunny and just an all-round normal winter day for this area. You know… one of those days when you look out the window and it looks so nice until you step out the door and turn around and go back inside.

The shoot was short about 45 minutes at best. Mina did not handle the cold as well as the previous day’s model. But I have to say she did follow through with her plan and got a few new images that she needed.

I feel there is always something learned from these kinds of experiences if you take the time to bring something away with you. I found that the camera and lens were not working in the same manner as it would in warmer weather. I had some focusing issues that I had never had before in cold weather. Most times that I can remember if I was out in the cold I would be shooting a landscape and had plenty of time to get focus. But on this day the shoots needed to be captured quickly before it was time to wrap the model in a blanket. Then there was the inevitable redness that would soon appear on the edges of the nose and spread to her face and bare skin. Goose bumps… and then it’s time to say “stop” and we did.

So for next week’s shoots I’ll into the studio and get creative.