Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Post Shoot notes: Elise


This is the look of a model who has gotten tired of the photographer fiddling with the lights quite so much. Usual drill - I have to go through these and pick the good ones and edit them, develop a roll of B&W film I took with the TLR, drop a color roll I took with the Holga (who knows if that will come out), blah blah blah but I'll post an update once I have something more to show.

In other news I started the process of kicking the cyanotype and platinum prints on eBay into auction. The plan is still to list regular prints starting on the 1st (tomorrow!) but I thought I'd get started clearing those out. I'm not sure how many I'll list and how many I'll just end, but everything other than the tea toned and papyrus prints will be gone shortly, and then I'll be replacing them with newer stuff.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More on Data Storage

This is a followup on an earlier post on data storage. I ended up deciding to pick up a single Western Digital 1TB external. This is one of these USB/Firewire combo drives - Maxtor makes a nearly identical one for a nearly identical price ($350ish). It's something of a stalling maneuver - what it will let me do is consolidate a bunch of smaller drives, and then I'll take the largest two of those to be my next "drive pair" - after a shoot is edited I copy it to a pair of external drives, and when those are full I take one offsite in case of fire or whatever. (I also make a DVD copy of the keepers from each shoot).

Prices are dropping really fast - the basic but decent 500GB drive I mentioned in the comments to that post has dropped from $140 to $125 since I wrote it. The new drive pair will last me for 8-9 months at my current rate of shooting, and at that point I'll either get a pair of TB drives or a RAID cabinet or something depending on what prices are doing. (I'll still need some externals to take things offsite - I know some folks with huge RAID setups that are leaving themselves open to be very sorry because they don't back it up offsite).

I'm deep in alternative process test chart-land. Each time I get a new book or go to a conference or talk to somebody who makes these kinds of prints I get ideas of things to try, which basically means I end up making test charts. It's easy to fall into the trap of never actually making any prints to sell, because you're always hoping tomorrow's prints will be better than yesterday's. It's also easy to fall into the trap of never making new prints when you have old ones to sell. This second trap is something I intend to address over the next couple of months - nearly everything in the eBay store is going to be either sold or removed... and then replaced with some of my more popular prints just in time for the winter rush. That's the theory anyway.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

San Francisco Galleries

I was asked recently about if there are any good galleries in San Francisco that a tourist should check out. This is probably because I wrote a little entry on Santa Fe galleries the other day.

I don't feel like I have any particular special knowledge on the subject. The galleries in San Francisco are kind of strangely insular - it's not like they encourage walk in traffic for the most part. Many are in 49 Geary - but you would never know it. There's hardly any information that there are galleries there, just a security guard and an elevator. And there's got to be 20 galleries over five floors, some of which are pretty interesting. It's also kind of a cool building to just explore. There's also another, oh, maybe a half dozen a couple of doors over at 77 Geary. Both are basically where Geary hits Market, near Union Square. Definitely in walking distance of any tourists, but you would never know it from the street. I guess they know what they're doing but it's a strange business model as far as I'm concerned.

Don't be shocked if half of them are closed, incidentally - there's lots of "open by appointment" type places. Again, I don't really understand the business model (if their traffic is so low and people are coming to them why be in such a high rent area? And compared to their rent how much does it really cost to staff the place?)

As with most cities there's an informal day/time that they're open late and openings happen - it's the first Thursday of the month here.

Away from the city, I actually like Modernbook in Palo Alto a lot - it's in a nice shopping area not too far from Stanford. Nice space, interesting art, you can actually look in from the street and tell it's a gallery. There are some other cool galleries in Palo Alto too, actually, but it's kind of far away and I don't make it out there very often so I don't remember all of their names. There are also galleries in the Oakland/Berkeley area but I don't know any of them particularly well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Catching Up

Well, I just got the prints in the mail from the orders that came in while I was gone. I've been going through the eBay store and culling things down a bit, and there have been some sales, so I'm down to six of the the small prints on sale. I've decided that Monday after the sale ends I'm just going to pull all of the remaining ones in an effort to simplify everything. Then Wednesday the 1st I'll start listing auction items again.

The more interesting news is that I put out a couple of little notes to various places that I'm shooting another round of models and I've just been swamped by responses. Last night they were literally coming in faster than I could reply to them for a while. Very strange. I have three with firm dates, two where we have all the details except the exact day/time because they're moving out here for school and don't know their class schedule yet, and a couple of more where the discussion seems to be going well but we haven't sorted everything out yet. I never have a whole lot of trouble finding models but this isn't typical and I don't really have an explanation for it. Some of it has to do with the college thing (new people moving into the area) and some models doing a sort of working vacation sometime in August but that doesn't explain all of it.

Other than that, I have a bunch of printmaking things on my plate and some new books coming as well, but more on that later.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Carlsbad

I sunburn really easily and one thing I come to dread on long trip with lots of outdoor components (hiking or whatever) is that I have to slather on sunscreen every single day - even if I'm going to spend the day in a cave. There's enough wandering around up top that I'll burn. I got a sunburn in Ireland on a rainy day, so New Mexico in the summer's serious business.

Carlsbad Caverns is lovely - we went on a variety of guided tours in addition to all the self guided stuff. The Left Hand Tunnel tour is very cool - you have candle lanterns which makes everything look so different. See the bat flight even if bats bug you a bit - I find the way they fly rather disturbing as individuals, but get 350,000 of them together and it just kind of gets lost in the "Wow!"

I'm in my usual post trip frenzy - dealing with mail, dropped off a bunch of prints at the post office (had some international ones so I had to stand in line), arranging the next batch of model shoots (have some great ones lined up already), arranging lunch with a friend or two, getting some groceries, throwing out the loaf of bread I somehow missed while throwing stuff out before the trip (eeeewwwww!).

In addition lots of fiddling with the websites, which will take another couple of days still. I'm done with eBay for now - speaking of which I really like the way it lists the sale items - if you missed the last post, I'm trying a 1 week experiment of discounting the smaller platinum prints because I want to simplify the listings and get them to somebody that will appreciate them. Hey, if you like it maybe you'll buy a big one...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Website updates round 1

Read the last paragraph if you want to save some money!

I put up a very rough draft of a bio under the general philosophy that it's better to throw something half assed up and refine it later, because I've been meaning to do this for, oh, a year and it hasn't happened yet.

I went ahead and slimmed down the various and sundry print options. I think it's good to offer some choices and see if folks respond to them or not, but at some point you kind of have to streamline things so it's clear what's what. If you're getting more questions than sales that's probably not good. Now it's very simple - there's the lab prints and there's two kinds of handmade prints (cyanotype and platinum). Within those there are various sizes.

The intent was always to have the lab prints as affordable as possible and the handmade prints would drift up towards a more normal market value for that kind of prints as I settled into the processes. The pigment prints were a compromise that not a lot of folks were interested in, and that's fine. I also removed vandyke prints because while they can be lovely but I really love the cyanotypes and platinum prints and would rather be making those. Luckily those always sold better than the vandykes so setting the vandykes aside for the moment isn't any big deal.

I should also add that I bumped the price up a bit on the platinum prints. Frankly I still think they're a total steal and I don't know of any other photographer who will make platinum prints on demand on his entire catalog. The price for these will definitely keep drifting up on a gradual basis and I make no apology for that.

On the eBay side of things I'm trying to simplify as well. I made some smaller platinum prints in the hope that it would let people just kind of check out the process more affordably. I've sold some, but people have preferred the larger prints and it's caused confusion. People see the lower prices and ask what's wrong with the cheap ones, or why are the expensive ones twice as much - they didn't see the size info. So I've arranged the categories by size and dropped the ziatype/traditional platinum distinction (which frankly only an alt process geek would care about, and gosh, the customers aren't. What was I thinking?) I also need to go through and update the descriptions but haven't gotten there yet.

But in the long term I'd just as soon blow out my inventory of the smaller platinum prints and just keep everything simple. I haven't quite decided the details yet but I'm trying an experiment using a new eBay "sale" feature. I've set the smaller prints to be 30% off and it should expire on noon on the 30th. The interesting bit is that the store gets very little traffic right now since I don't have any auction items listed - I'm starting that on August 1st. So other than the blog readers not a whole lot of folks will stumble onto those. So consider it a benefit of reading the blog - if you want to check out a small but nice platinum print for cheap, cheap, cheap, do it now or I don't want to hear about it a year from now when they cost much more.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I'm baaaack!

Just a quick note to let folks know that I'm back on the job. Orders that came in while I was on hiatus are being processed - eBay orders will probably go out Mon/Tues, direct orders Wed/Thu since it will take a couple of days for me to get the prints from the lab.

If anybody's curious - I was in Santa Fe, NM for one event, then did some tourist stuff, then back to Santa Fe for APIS (Alternative Photo International Symposium). It's basically a conference for people who do alternative process prints. I'd never actually even met a fellow platinum print or cyanotype maker and there were quite a few there as well as folks doing all kinds of other processes. There were folks there whose work I recognized, folks whose names I recognized from the top books in the field, and all kinds of new discoveries as well. If you're a photo geek you'll be impressed with some of the speakers - Rondal Partridge, Kim Weston, Kenro Izo.

I also had the odd experience of having a couple of folks recognize my work and come up and introduce themselves and say nice things. Since I'm vaguely anonymous (Hi! My name's San Francisco Nudes, nice to meet you! Yes, I know, I really should write a bio!) for historical reasons that are no longer really relevant this never happens. I mean, people send me nice emails and it's always nice when people buy my stuff from all over the world but I'd never had somebody I didn't know just walk up and start chatting about the website. It's even odder when you've just been totally humbled at some of the work the folks there are producing - I make a pretty decent print if I do say so myself, but some of these guys who have been doing it for 30 years are just awesome.

I'll probably put up some pictures later for the tourist stuff, and I've got a nice todo list for the website since it was a good time to focus on how I'm marketing myself and my work and get my butt in gear and move things forward. But more on that later.

PS The number of folks on the plane that were reading Harry Potter was just plain scary.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Santa Fe, NM Photography Galleries

This isn't intended to be exhaustive, these are just some places I liked. I have an odd July planned where for various reasons I'm going to be in Santa Fe a couple of times so I might add some more later if I stumble onto some more places.

Frankly these are in no real order, just the order they jumped into my head.

Andrew Smith Gallery
- This has mostly older works - you'll find Ansel Adams prints along with other f/64 group folks. Lots of platinum prints and other older printing techniques. Not a whole lot of prints under $5,000. They have two locations. One's pretty close the plaza, and the other's just a bit further away and right next to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (which has some spectacular photography of its own).

Monroe Gallery - Very close to the plaza but on a side street you might not otherwise walk down. Lots of cool stuff - especially photojournalism. Lots of signed photos of things you'll recognize - the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.

Verve - They're a reasonable walk from the plaza but you probably wouldn't go there by accident. They almost try to hide - there's a huge sign that says "Verve" but I don't think it's at all obvious from the street that it's a gallery, let alone of photography. This kind of thing drives me nuts - galleries will pay for websites, run ads, have mailing lists, but then hide. God Forbid they get any walk-in traffic. At the time I was there all the work was "archival pigment" (aka "inkjet") which really looked pretty good... until I entered the smaller side room they're leasing to another gallery which had silver gelatin prints that frankly made the inkjet prints look like crap (good thing too, they were three times the price).

Photogenesis - This is actually in the La Fonda Hotel which is right on the plaza. Good stuff. Mostly contemporary but fairly traditional approaches, mostly shots of local stuff. Definitely worth sticking your head in and checking it out.

Anyway, it's always good to hit the galleries as a sanity check. The really good stuff's absolutely humbling, but at the same time there's frankly a lot of crap out there (mostly at the places I didn't mention!)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Poor Goats!



There was a terrible accident locally involving an overturned truck carrying goats - hundreds died. I actually am very familiar with these goats - they're used to clear brush on the local hills and I see them all the time. I've actually photographed them several times when they've been close enough to a road to pull over and watch them for a while - the one pictured here is the only on I had handy.

Oh, and here's a second article from the Chronicle.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

I found these to be rather remarkable.



Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Luminous

Andrew Kaiser, who used to be the editor of New Nude Magazine, just brought out the first edition of his own magazine... of sorts. What he's doing is releasing the first edition as a print on demand book throught Lulu, who I use for my books.

I believe the eventual goal is to have it be quarterly, and raise enough money with this to do small print runs. Doesn't really matter, you can just treat it as a book if you want and not worry about the future details.

It's very cool that Lulu enables creative people to try stuff like this without sinking in a ton of money up front - you can take more of a bootstrap approach.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hiatus

I'm on hiatus for a good chunk of July. You can still order prints but they probably won't be processed by me until July 23rd. You probably won't see any new work out of me until early August, although I'll probably go on a big model finding binge in late July. Same story on eBay - the store's open with a vacation notice, and probably I'll wait until August 1st to start listing stuff - July's always super dead there so there's really no rush.

If you want to be automatically notified when new stuff goes up so you don't have to keep checking back, check out the orange feed links in the sidebar on the right. There are several options.
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