January 29, 2006

Search and Edit and Arrange, Oh My!

I'm hip deep in photos right now as I get a new portfolio together for my rep to show around. It's not a pretty sight. In slogging through my collection I am a bit overwhelmed. Add to that the task of pairing up images in spreads. Unlike the web, a portfolio is an actual 11x14 book where images sit side by side. Its important for those images to play will together. While I'm no stranger to laying out images, it's super time consuming nonetheless.

One of the nice things about my mundane diptychs is that each photo talks to the other. They are created with that dialogue in mind. Most of my portraits however, aren't made that way. So now I'm sitting looking at images wondering how in the world to arrange them. Complicating the whole deal is that most of my celebrity portraits are horizonal and the book is vetical. Yuk!

Last night I stumbled into this Streetstudio pairing that I really like. I made the image on the left last week in San Antonio and the other in Laos last February. It was just a "happy accident" that they fell next to each other in the process.

So that's what I'm doing. I thought I'd share.

Jury duty should end tomorrow.

Take pictures.

January 24, 2006

Pretty City

I can't take a camera in the courtroom so I rode home today with just my eyes. The day was coming to a close and the light was hitting the Empire State Building beautifully. It was one of those moments that happen more often than not in this city when the light just bounces around and makes everything look lovely. The sky was different in every direction.

The Empire State Building is like Half Dome for me and anyone who lives below it is constantly treated to it's presence in the skyline. I took this shot years ago on a rainy day at the office. One day it may be part of a diptych but for now, it stands alone.

FYI, today looked nothing like this but I was reminded of this shot coming up Sixth.

Take pictures.

Score for the Hardware Store

I have two extension cords in my bag of gear and lighting. One is blue and one is orange. The orange on came in handy Sunday when I needed something to compliment the clothing of this Coyote. I simply held the thing coiled up in front of my lens and shot through the holes. I like this one 'cus it looks a little like flames. Other than some burning, dodging and running my "thing" action on this image, it is all done in camera.

As the title of this entry suggests, score another point for hardware stores over camera stores. I made over 70 different setups in the same small space over the last two days and most of what I used to bring unique qualities to each photo wasn't photo gear. It was random bits of hardware and crap that I found in the bar. At one point I was shooting through my fingers holding a pink cell phone. I think the Coyotes thought I was nuts. Also, I never used more than two lights.

I'll post more shots later so you can see that it's not about gear. Sorry folks, it's true.

Take pictures.

January 23, 2006

Good Timing

My mac died and the timing couldn't be better. I head home today for almost two weeks during which time the little silver beast can get repaired. It stuck with me the past month like a wounded soldier. I finished shooting last night around 10pm and it stopped working shortly after. The poor thing must have been exhausted. I shot my ass off the past four days.

In the gender assumption game I lost again. It turns out the "guy" from the plane is a "girl." Cooler still.

Take pictures.

January 22, 2006

San Antonio Encore

I had a 13 hour day of shooting San Antonio Coyotes. Luckily, I was on today. The muses spoke clearly and quickly as I returned to the sight of the calendar shoot. I was concerned that I would be stuck for ideas and lighting scenarios but my worries were for naught. Good stuff came of the day. Three down, one more to go. Fingers crossed. Then it's home for jury duty.

If you care, here's some things on my mind as I sit in the Coyote apartment on the Riverwalk:

I love that a guy I sat next to on a plane commented on my earlier post with the Mundane Buenos Aires/Aeroparque Diptych. That's cool.

I wish I had the time to even open Lightroom. Thanks for the comments from those who did have the time.

I am getting sick of my D2X acting like it should have cost under a thousand dollars. Between the flash inconsistencies, focus issues and shit results at high speed, I'm ready to go get a D200. Maybe I could even see what Canon has to offer. Imagine?

I need to take some pictures off my site. It's overloaded. Less is more.

New Orleans is a go. I'm psyched.

Take pictures.

January 20, 2006

Streetstudio Coyote Ugly

Another long day of shooting ended with some Streetstudio action on the balcony of the Austin Coyote Ugly. Two natural beauties, Strong Island and Kelly, posed for me in the wondrous light that 3PM provided. I left this one in color because it seemed better that way. That's been happening a lot with my recent Streetstudio shots. Color has just seemed more appropriate. So be it.

I am a bit wiped out today so I'll keep it brief. I'm saving my energy because I have two more marathon days and nights ahead of me with the San Antonio Coyotes.

Take pictures.

Mundane Buenos Aires

I've made mention of my window seat preferences in the past and this little dipych is a nice example of what it's all about. I made this on my way to Uruguay last weekend as a storm coalesced above Buenos Aires' Aeroparque. It's also one of those rack focus pairings that have concerned me of late. Happy stuff.

Also, I still haven't gotten a chance to play with Adobe's Lightroom. Has anyone else? Is so, post a comment.

Take pictures out your window.

January 19, 2006

Back in the Saddle

That was fun. I spent the whole day shooting in the Coyote Ugly in Austin, Texas. I met lots of new Coyotes and caught up with one, Strong Island, I'd shot for the calendar a few months ago. All is well. I love the spontaneousness of these shoots. No rules apply. No preconceptions exist. I simply make the photos I want to make. I shot 9 women by myself twice in 8 hours with each one getting their own light. I did all that having only eaten a doughnut and five glasses of Coca-Cola. Not healthy, I know, but doable. Don't tell my mom.

It was good to be back shooting for a client and fun to be playing with artificial light. I may break out the Streetstudio tomorrow for a few folks. We'll see.

Take pictures, eat well.

January 18, 2006

This and That

2006 seems to have inspired lots of feedback from folks who come to this blog and my site. Thank you to all who share your thoughts and apologies if I can't respond to everyone. I'll do my best, just no promises.

I spent the night on an airplane returning to windy, wet New York. I leave for Texas this evening so most of my day will be spent doing laundry and packing gear. Glamourous eh?! In the meantime, I am inspired to shoot more RAW (thanks to a heathy nudge from a guy in Chicago) and excited to hit the ground running now that the past month's vacation travel is over.

It looks like I am going to go to New Orleans with my Streetstudio in early February. That poor place. I am intrigued to see the faces of those still there and those who have come to assist. That trip will actually start in Kansas City and include a little road trip.

Oh, and it looks like Adobe felt the heat from Apple's Aperture and released a beta version of something it calls Lightroom. From first glace, it looks pretty darn cool. The fact that it's a free download is also a treat. Should my laptop (which is suffering major malfunctions) not crap out on me on the flight to texas, I'll play with it. Everyone should, it's free!

Take pictures.

January 16, 2006

Streetstudio Punta del Este

The rain finally stopped down here. Lucky for me it left me just enough time to set up my studio and shoot a few people on the beach in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. It was a first for a number of things. It was the first time I shot on the beach with my new studio. And the first time I shot in high winds without being blown away. Thanks to a random helpful guy who found some beach umbrella stakes and some bungee cords I was pretty darn secure.

Punta Del Este is known to be the San Tropez of South America but I found it much more quaint and less pretentious. It's certainly expensive and filled with beautiful people but everyone was super laid back and friendly. Again, I was lucky to have friends here who knew where to go and how to get there. Thanks Matias!

Take pictures on the beach.

January 13, 2006

Tick Tock

Not a lot of grand photography moments the last few days here in Argentina. It's been too rainy to shoot with the Streetstudio. I have only taken about 5 pictures total the past few days. Sorry.

Otherwise, my friend Mario sent me this little news item about Nikon discontinuing all but two of it's film cameras. It's Friday the 13th for film for sure.

Take pictures.

January 09, 2006

Confession

I have a confession to make. No one, not me or Stephan has shot with the Streetstudio in New York since 2001. I haven't touched the streetstudio.com website in over five years. I tell you this because I got a call today from a nice guy in Chicago giving me props for that work and I had to tell him what the deal was.

Simply put, permits are a pain and the perfect natural light I'm so fond of shooting with these days is a tad hard to come by in the canyons of New York City. While the parks would be fine places to shoot, that doubly complicates the permit process and substantially diminishes foot traffic. The Streetstudio has moved on anyway. After shooting almost 20,000 people in New York, it's time to see what other places have to offer. That's what I'm doing. I have my fingers crossed that I'll be taking it to New Orleans in early February.

Take pictures, be honest.

January 08, 2006

Streetstudio™ Update

I added shots of the folks from Ramiriqui, Colombia. Enjoy.

Take pictures.

Breakfast Beer

Traveling allows for some odd moments way beyond photography. This morning I used iCal as an alarm clock so I awoke to some random audio sample of South Park's Cartman playing over my computer. I have no idea where it came from but it was the only audio sample I had beyond the built in beeps and bings that came with my mac. I popped up, took a shower, packed my bag and caught a local bus to the airport. I just flagged down the one I needed and as they pulled over they yelled out the door to me, "Come on! Come on!" They were laughing as I ran to catch them with eighty pounds of gear on my back. I smiled as I knew I was in for a ride. I jumped into the bus victoriously, humming the theme to Rocky. Everyone laughed and I noticed everyone on the bus, about nine people, including the driver, had a beer in their hands. The driver's beer was in a cup so it could have been whiskey. It was 7:20 in the morning. The salsa was cranked, the bus was named "El Gordito De Oro" and the rear view mirror was heart shaped. We were off to the international terminal in style. I was dropped off about ten minutes later and thirty feet from the airport door. I had to insist on paying for my ride by pushing the money into the driver's hand. That is one fine way to start a day.

Once in the terminal I noticed that there was a direct flight to Newark leaving one hour before mine. Being Venezuela, I asked to switch flights instead of going through Houston. They did it without hesitation and without a fee. Perfect.

I made this mundane diptych upon landing in Venezuela but only got to making it last night. I should make more of these out of focus things more often. They are pretty and they exploit a way of seeing that is unique to peering through a lens. You can put your eyes out of focus but it's hard to sustain that as easily if you have decent eyesight. For me, this particular image is a fun way to look back on first impressions. After spending a week here, this image seems more foreboding and mysterious. Today, as I sit at the same airport, basked in early morning sunlight with my breakfast beer settled in my stomach, very different images could be made.

Take pictures.

January 07, 2006

Plans Change

Well, the highway to the Caracas airport closed due to a bridge failure. I missed my flight. Check it out. I found this story with lots of pictures.

I´m going to the beach.

Take pictures.

Listo

Caracas is ready for viewing. Check 'em all out but remember, it's unedited. Everyone I shot is represented. I haven't yet made choices based on any other criteria. That's part of the fun after all. Plus, my favorites may not be yours. Enjoy.

Take pictures while I fly home.

January 06, 2006

Mundane Caracas

I did a little sightseeing yesterday in downtown Caracas which isn't exactly awash in oil wealth and the splendor you might expect from to see in an OPEC nation. Coming out of the subway into the hustle and bustle felt good. The place has lots of movement and a lovely mix of faces. Downtown is much more working class these days as the rich folks have all moved East. I was just blocks from the birthplace of Simón Bolívar so off I went.

Along the way my route was blocked by some army men and a blairing pre-recorded political speech being blasted from a makeshift stage in front of some government building. Having had to pause in my approach I noticed a painting of Jesus on the wall and snapped away. Not five minutes later I found myself at Bolivar's birthplace and continued my picture taking. Mundane was on my mind.

Returning to the house later in the day and starting the process of making some diptychs prompted my friend to suggest combining Jesus with something more political. He's been living here for a while and is sensitive to the shared territory of religion and Venezuelan politics. His idea sat in my head overnight and this morning a new mundane diptych was born. Just yesterday I heard this quote said by Simón Bolívar to sum up his life in his depressing waning days. (He died disillusioned, depressed and pretty much alone.) He said, "There have been three great fools in history: Jesus, Don Quixote and I."

Take pictures.

January 05, 2006

Streetstudio™ Caracas

When you drop into a city you've never been in before it's good to have some friends with a car. It's even better to have friends with time on their hands and an interest in your streetstudio. That's what I have here in Caracas, Venezuela. After one false start in a more buttoned-up neighborhood, the four of us set out for the district know as Bellas Artes and set up right by the subway entrance under a perfect high roof with near perfect light. I didn't need to add the roof onto the studio because of the existing structure and the overcast skies made the positioning so much easier. We found a great spot with plenty of foot traffic and an art-friendly crowd.

Once set up the process went smoothly and without incident. A downpour finally sent us packing but not before having shot plenty of folks. From street performers and ice cream vendors to business people, children and lots in between, the hours we spent lived up to the streetstudio vibe I mentioned in my last post. In terms of subject matter, if something is missing it's probably the more well-to-do crowd and women with breast implants.

I am not kidding when I tell you that this city's richer areas are absolutely overrun with surgically enhanced cleavage. I had heard about it but didn't really believe it. I have never seen anything like it. If I have the time, I'd love to get that to come across in the photographs. Since the streetstudio is based on random encounters I can't make any promises. It's just so wacky I'd like to try. Please don't take this the wrong way ladies. I'm being completely objective. It's nuts.

I'll put all the pictures from Bellas Artes up shortly. I told everyone to check for themselves in two weeks so the pressure is on.

Take pictures.

January 03, 2006

Streetstudio™ Ramiriqui

Here's just a quick look at two of the folks from the shoot up in Ramiriqui on market day. This is a slightly bigger town than Jenesano and about a 30 minute walk up the hill.

I had some excellent help getting the campesinos to pose from my friends who came along for the shoot. I think I've mentioned it before but I'll say it again. Streetstudio™ is a treat for everyone involved. It puts you in a good mood whether you are just watching the folks pose or trying to get them to do so. Every person who walks by transforms into a potential subject and you can engage them in a way that wouldn't be possible without the excuse of photography. I've always told my friends that you can never leave a Streetstudio shoot in a bad mood.

This shot of the woman is currently my favorite of the past few days. The light is just right and the composition is spot on. My standard photoshop conversion to black and white action really favored her too. I love ruanas. They allow for a hint of texture and a nice solid color to keep the picture clean. It's a far cry from Old Navy t-shirts that's for sure.

I was going to post some shots from the institute but out of respect for those folks I am going to hold off. I got some strong images but I want to wait to see what comes of the fundraising project before posting them here. Sorry.

Take pictures.

January 01, 2006

Streetstudio™ Jenesano

I've got a nice sunburn on the back of my neck from the few hours of shooting with my Streetstudio™ in the little town of Jenesano, Colombia. I did the same thing back in 2001 with my Hasselblad. This time I shot with my Nikon D2X but the experience was the same. The campesinos are a remarkably weathered bunch and the eyes of the young children are as profoundly deep as any I've seen. It's a complete pleasure to have them posing for me. I feel like each one is a gift that I get to share with the world.

My main issue of late is shooting in the 6x9 format knowing I am going to crop to 4x5. I really don´t like the vertical 35mm image so I struggle looking through the lens at the moment of taking the picture only to resolve that discomfort when I play with it later.

Tomorrow will be a full day of portrait making. The plan is to head over to the next town to make some portraits because it's market day and the locals will be in abundance. That should be a treat of wrinkles and campesino magic. Then around noon I'll come back to Jenesano to shoot portraits at the local institute for mental and physically challenged children. Those images, hopefully, are going to be used to make a more persuasive fundraising brochure for the institute. Too often my portraits sit idle so it's nice to know that some real tangible good may come of my efforts. I'll be sure to share what comes of both shoots.

Take pictures, wear sunscreen.