Monday, April 30, 2007

Myspace Madness

I had a response to an ad looking for models that was strange - looked like they hadn't read the ad (OK, that's not that unusual) but they were demanding samples of my work and asking if I required this rather long list of porn-related acronyms. It was written in a fairly incoherent fashion and frankly didn't sound like a woman at all, let alone somebody looking for a job.

So I put the person's email into myspace. And they're a 15 year old boy. Ah, ha! They're fishing for pictures! And apparently too stupid to realize that if they look at my email address and think for a moment they can find some nudes although not all that other stuff. Or for that matter actually use the link in the ad that goes to my portfolio page.

I had another model (an actual one this time) try to reschedule a shoot because she was so sick with food poisoning that she was barely leaving the bathroom. This went on for a couple of days. But then on her myspace there appeared lots of comments about the wild party the night before - including pictures of her smiling and holding a beer. So I guess the original note's accurate if you consider alcohol to be food, but not so much otherwise.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fire melts steel

Well, actually once it heats up it just loses a lot of its strength long, long before it actually melts, but you get to the same place.

I don't know if this is making the national news, let alone international, but it's pretty interesting so I thought I'd share it. A tanker full of gasoline caught fire this morning in the McArthur Maze which is a basically the intersection of three freeways coming together to cross the bridge to San Francisco. Well, the heat caused the roadway above it to collapse. 250 yards of it last I heard, which of course fell onto the roadway the tanker was on. So some connections between the four freeways work and some don't and I'm not even sure which at this point.

This is going to completely screw up traffic around here in a way that's hard to get your head around - some routes will work for the morning commute but not for the evening commute since you might be able to go from freeway X to freeway Y but not the reverse. Anyway, check out the pictures, they're pretty interesting.

Update 5/26/2007: It's reopened! The folks controlling the money put up a serious bonus for doing it fast - $200K per day, $5 million max. The guy doing the job has a rep for basically lowballing jobs but getting them done fast to pick up that kind of bonus. Last numbers I heard he bid around a million, spent around three million - so if he didn't earn the bonus he would have been screwed. They still have a bit of work to do - painting some stuff, that sort of thing. He did it in a third of the time Caltrans estimated - but that kind of $200K per day value changes the dynamic. If there's some problem you can solve by throwing a hundred thousand dollars at it to speed things up a day, you do it. Caltrans did their part by getting the initial cleanup and evaluation done fast, and basically camping there so inspections and so forth could be done instantly.

RSS stuff

I added a couple of buttons to the sidebar (on the right, scroll down). They're all related to adding the feed for the blog to some common readers. Feeds are very cool - makes it very easy to keep up on a number of blogs without having to remember to check in on them. But I also added a special one - Subscribe to San Francisco Nudes by Email - click on it, give them your address, and once a day they'll hit the feed and if it's been updated they'll email you the result. They seem to be a bit slow to send out the confirmation email so don't panic if it takes an hour or two, don't know what's up with that.

Anyway, for users that don't want to figure out the feeds, check it out!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Shadows in stock

I got in a small supply of copies of Shadows - enough to cover pre-orders, list one on eBay and still have a couple in reserve. I also picked up one copy of each of the prior books and listed those on eBay as well.

If you missed the earlier announcements, you can see the images in the book, go to my books page where you can order a signed copy from me, or you can order a copy right from the printer.

Since people seem pretty comfortable ordering right from the printer these days I won't be keeping a ton of copies of this book here. So if you want a signed copy I'd recommend picking it up sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Postage Increase

Well, it's getting to be that time again. On May 14th postal rates go up. International mail will cost me $2 more. The domestic flat rate envelope which is mostly what I use will be 50 cents more. I assume the packages sent via priority mail will scale by about the same percentage.

In calculating shipping I also have to add in the costs of mailing supplies and such. For some things it's pretty low, but as an example the tubes I've started using for 16x20s are $2.50 each and cost $4-$6 for postage and the mailing boxes for 11x14s including alt process prints are about the same. There's some combinations where I'm actually taking a small loss on shipping right now, and a small gain in other scenarios, and it all kind of works out.

Point being, it's a somewhat complex calculation to figure out fair rates, but I'll do that in early May and probably about May 7th I'll start tweaking eBay items (which will be no fun at all) and I'll change the prices here on the website probably around May 10th since it takes a couple of days before things are shipped anyway.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ah, hell

One of the Blue Angels went down, killing the pilot. I'm not sure which pilot at this point. Nobody on the ground was injured - the pilot manged to bring it down without hurting anybody.

I've always loved airshows, and the Blue Angels come out here most years for Fleet Week and generally shake things up a bit. In addition I've twice been fortunate enough to watch them "backstage" at Boeing Field near Seattle. It's very cool - you can see Fat Albert, their big support plane go check out conditions, watch them come out, get in the planes, take off, and you can see part of the show and then they come on home and sign autographs and such. They are so patient, it's just unbelieveable, to fly a show like that and then sign autographs over and over again and answer dumb questions. It's a remarkable thing to be there some hours later (there's a great museum there which takes some time) and to be getting a quick meal in the caffeteria and having one of them stroll on by, saying hello to the kids and so forth.

Just really nice guys, you know?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Model: Esme

I just put the Esme set online. You can also see a few shots of here in the Mamiya folder - just after the lake.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

View Camera Results

I took my view camera, tripod, and roll back to a local campus and took a couple of rolls. I initially had a problem that the roll back is kind of inside out compared to the way the Mamiya TLR works, and I managed to load the film wrong. You can do that surprisingly easily in medium format and end up with a blank roll. It's only obvious when you go to seal the exposed roll and realized the paper is inside out. But that's exactly the kind of thing I wanted to shake out instead of having that happen during a model shoot. (Hint - you want the black side OUT).

Anyway, after a couple of hours you definitely speed up quite a bit - you know where the controls are more by feel, you stop putting your hand right over the rangefinder windows (oops), all that sort of thing. Several students and one professor came up and asked what I was doing and I let them check out the camera. Nobody was hostile or anything - they just wanted to know what the heck it was and once they realized it was a camera why anybody would still use it. Given that the students were born 20 years after this camera was made and it was already going out of fashion by then that's not unreasonable.

I put up a single shot. It's frankly a pretty crappy shot but it will do as a place holder. Other shots were nicer but they're of things I already have up elsewhere so it seems kind of redundant. I'm actually not sure I'll seperate these shots out - since the aspect ratio is the same as I crop my regular shots to, I can just put these and the digital shots in the same folder and the template won't change.

Anyway, I'm confident enough at this point that the next time I have a model in the studio I can take a roll or two without feeling like I'm wasting our time, so that's the next step.

Update

If you want an interesting perspective on the VT massacre you might want to read Dr. Helen's blog - she's a forensic psychologist, spends a lot of time dealing with violent or potentially violent youth and has an interesting perspective about the kind of person who always seems to be involved in this kind of thing. It's usually pretty wide ranging but I imagine she'll continue to post more about this for a while.

I got my roll back for the new camera. This basically turns my large format view camera (single sheet 4x5 inch negatives) into a medium format view camera (6x7 cm negatives on a roll of 10). That's still a darn big negative and it will let me learn to use the thing without spending a fortune and without worrying about both using a view camera for the first time and dealing with sheet film as well. Basically if I want to use the Polaroid negatives it's $5/SHOT versus $3.50/ROLL. I'll probably take it to the local campus simply because it's attractive and there's always something to shoot. Hopefully nobody will think it's a weapon - seriously, it happens, people see anything strange on a tripod these days and they call security.

Still working on editing the latest set. I'm hoping to get them done shortly now that I have other stuff off my plate (taxes, yardwork) but no guarantees.

Update: I forgot to mention Delara Darabi. First off, go here and check out the paintings. The extremely short form is that the artist is an Iranian gal on death row for allegedly killing somebody when she was 17. That same site has the details. I mention it partially because I think her work is interesting in of itself and worth looking at. I also mention it because it's an example of something I've gotten interested in lately when is when unlikely political allies have common cause(*). In this case the anti death penalty, especially for underaged crimes crowd is allied with the conservative bloggers who a) like making Iran look bad, and b) Iranian dissidents have been trying to get the word out and all of their contacts are conservative. And of course it helps that she's attractive and has been cranking out this impressive art. I have zero idea how realistic it is to do anything for her, or how much of the complete story we're even getting, but I thought people might like to see the art in any case.

(*) Another example might be when environmentalists and Ducks Unlimited get together. Ducks Unlimited does a lot of great work to preserve wetlands, because they like ducks and they're concerned about habitat destruction. The twist however is that they like ducks because they're hunters and specifically like shooting the ducks. So they and, say, the Sierra Club might get together to fight some development where they want to fill a marsh but it's not exactly a comfortable relationship. 2nd Amendment groups and the Pink Pistols are another case - the Pink Pistols are pro-gun gays. They tend to be in favor of things like concealed carry laws because they're tired of getting beaten up. It's not too different conceptually than the 2nd Amendment Sisters - many of them are rape victims, or would like not to be - but I somehow suspect the comfort level isn't quite there...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Book 3: Shadows

Wow, that was fast. I received my test copy of Shadows (that's the title of the new book) from Lulu.com and it looks great. I've been with Lulu a couple of years now and every time I put in an order they've improved the quality but this time around the black and white images in particular just look amazing. That's good, because there's a lot of black and white in the new book!

Anyway, I've decided to make it public so you can order it direct from the publisher. If you want to see which images are in it, I put those up in a little Shadows set.

If you want a signed copy, preorder it from the books page, but it will be a while before I have some copies.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New Mamiya Pictures

There's a few new pictures of Esme and Iyah in the Mamiya set. Just scroll to the end.

As always, these images are from negatives that are about three and a half times larger than a 35mm negative, so the quality is extra high at the larger sizes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Post shoot notes: Esme

Just finished up with Esme. Most of the shoot is more on the bright/cheerful end of things and less dramatic although I did do a bit of my usual backlit stuff.

OK, back to doing taxes!

Monday, April 09, 2007

View camera news

I took my first view camera shot! Sort of a comedy of errors, really - the Polaroid Type 55 didn't come with instructions (found them later on the corporate website) but I had the directions for the 545 holder and that was nearly enough information. It took two tries but I got a plausible positive and negative out of it - man, those negatives are huge. One problem was that the holder hadn't been used in a long time and was sticking - but by the time I realized I needed to pull things apart a bit and clean it I'd ruined one sheet.

I did a terrible job clearing it - you need to soak the negative in a sodium sulfite solution. I actually use a dilute one to clear platinum prints, but couldn't find my fresh container and of course was in a rush to try it so I made up a dilute solution out of what I had. And of course while handling it I managed to scratch the negative - it's super soft while it's fresh like that and you have to be more careful than I realized. Which is, of course, clearly stated in the manual that I was missing.

That's fine - you want all this kind of stuff to happen right away. It was just a picture of the grill I always use for test shots anyway. And the bottom line is - the camera works, the exposure was decent, the rangefinder and groundglass seem to be in sync, I got a little experience with the mechanics of using the camera, and I know some things to watch out for. Sometime this week when I have a free day I'll take the camera to the local campus, take a couple of shots (Hey, they're $5 each), make up a proper clearing solution, etc. etc.

I also have a roll film back on the way - my intent is to mostly shoot with that a bit until I have more experience with the camera, and then go back to 4x5. I'll probably stick with Polaroid Type 55 until they discontinue it or I get more space for a proper darkroom - it's a high quality negative, and I'm not really set up to develop sheet film. My lab will develop it, but if I use quickloads or readyloads and then pay $3.50/sheet for developing it's actually more expensive than the Polaroid!

Update: OK, just for sake of completeness I scanned the print. Even the print has lots of detail - you can zoom on in and there's lots there. Nothing like the negative, of course, but I'm not really set up to scan those right now. (Initially I'll just be making contact prints in platinum off of them.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

New Model: Iyah

I just uploaded the set with Iyah. Fans of the athletic gals are going to be delighted!

In other news, I had a Crown Graphic arrive. More details later but it's a kind of view camera - a press camera, specifically. Small for a view camera, and doesn't have all the adjustments, but it has the bellows you associate with old cameras, and can do some basic shift/tilt/rise stuff. If you're doing something fancy you want it on a tripod but press (including WW II photographers) used it handheld. With the right backs you can shoot 4x5 inch sheet film (BIG negatives), Polaroids (both pictures and negatives), and 120 roll film. All in all you can use it for a variety of tasks. I'll talk more later about my plans - I don't have all the "stuff" yet (like, say, film!) so I haven't taken a picture with it yet but everything seems to work OK as best as I can tell.

The third book's proceeding along nicely - figured out cover stuff, etc. I have a tentative title. Probably in a week or so I'll be in a position where things will be finalized enough to start taking pre-orders.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Book 3 Notes

People seem interested in the mechanics so I thought I'd post an update. Some of this is geared towards photographers; please forgive me.

The first thing to note is that I'm now totally out of copies of the first two books, and I don't see any point in me stocking more if I have a newer one coming out, so if you want one you'll need to get it directly from the printer. I have the price set a bit lower than normal to see what happens, so now's a great time to get them if you haven't already.

I've identified a tentative set of pictures, which you can see here. There's several ways to do this, but the way I do it is to assemble them all into a folder, sRGB, 300dpi. Lulu is frankly a bit vague on color management stuff so sRGB seems safest. I get the template Word document from Lulu and set up a title page and so forth. Then I drag the files into the document in order (the order mostly has to do with what pairs of pictures I want next to each other).

Next steps are to get front and back cover images, which are uploaded seperately. But to finalize those and the main document I'll need a title. It's really tempting to call it "What Doug's been up to for the last year" but somehow I think it should be a bit more catchy than that.

Once that's done you upload everything and Lulu spits out pdfs of everything after some processing. You double check it and order a copy just to be safe. At this point I'll probably open things up to preorders at a reduced price for a couple of weeks.

Once you've checked the copy you've had printed, you can make the item public and folks can order and you can get yourself some copies to sign and sell directly.

It's really pretty straightforward, it's just a question of getting everything together in the right format and getting it done.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Post shoot notes: Iyah

I just finished a shoot with Iyah. As you can see she's in great shape. I have kind of a busy shoot schedule the next few days so I'm not sure when I'll get to her set, but as regular readers know my shoot schedule isn't exactly dependable so I may get some time sooner rather than later if there's a cancellation or whatever.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Odds and Ends

Well, I've decided to join the priesthood. (OK, fine, it's April 1st and you weren't fooled at all. Ha!)

I've had over 200 blog posts, yay.

I've had a bunch of crazy model rescheduling (all with plausible excuses and plenty of warning - if somebody cancels at the last minute I never reschedule them) but it still looks like I should have some great shoots over the next two weeks. We'll see!

WHCC
has announced that they're adding books to their press-printed line. They do my business cards and christmas cards, which are press-printed, and the quality's very good. They have things like leather covers. But they're going to be super expensive... but as far as I can tell they have no quantity discounts so I could order them as needed. This might be an interesting option - I could do something like a very limited edition of 26 lettered copies (A-Z), with say 20 favorite images for $100. They're supposed to be announcing the details in a couple of weeks, so no decision until then. If the quality's high enough it will be a real deal. If it's not obviously I just won't do it.

I will probably do a third book with Lulu in any case. I'm basically out of copies of my first two books and rather than order more and start promoting them I might as well have a book with my newer work. It's been a year and 33 model shoots since the last one, so two pictures per shoot and we're there. They're easy to put together if you already have a bunch of edited pictures handy, which of course I do. Just a question of picking two per shoot, arranging them, thinking of a title, getting their template and throwing in everything, uploading it, ordering a single copy just to check everything, and then making it public. It's pretty painless.
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