Thursday, February 28, 2008

CK - the really important shot

I'm just taking my first pass through the digital shots (the film's all developed and scanned). So in keeping with the traditions of the site, here's a test chart shot! In this case it's not all really in the light - I'm mostly using it to get a white balance off of any square in the neutral row, which is why it's also upside down.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yosemite - Digital

And that same shot just for comparison. Hey, it's a classic. I've uploaded a bunch of shots to my much neglected personal/travel/whatever site. This is basically what's going in the scrapbook (plus some extra coyote pictures for uninteresting reasons). I'm not really a landscape guy, this really was more of a vacation than a photo trip. I think only one image even got cropped - they're mostly just extracted from the RAW files and slapped up there. Many of the shots aren't so much artistic as "Here's the snow berm outside our hotel window! Kids were sledding down it and crashing into our door!". I may slim down the web version and add commentary, then again I may not, we'll see.

Landscapes with the 5D, the coyote with the 40D, the bobcat shots with the point and shoot I always have with me.

I probably will revisit these the next time I make platinum prints and come up with a couple of snazzy black and white shots and make platinum prints of those. But mostly they're just for fun.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yosemite Film



I'm still going through the digital shots, but when I was in Yosemite this month I took a couple of rolls of film. One was with my Agfa Isolette, a German medium format folder from the 50s. Just scroll past the pictures of the naked women and you'll see them. Two were with my Holga which is a crappy $23 Chinese plastic toy camera that they still make. Some people find the Holga pictures charming ("dreamy landscape") some find them crappy ("out of focus"). I like them as an occasional change of pace in the studio but don't usually use one outdoors. But what the heck.

I've put one of each from basically the same place here. If you can't tell which is which, well, you might want to renew the prescription on those glasses! That's not really fair, though, because I think where the Holga really shines are pictures like this one of the stop sign - look as the trees are sharp in the center and go crazy on the edges.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Platinum ACEOs

I have some ACEOs listed in platinum now. The start price is a little higher than the cyanotypes (but not too far off of the average cyanotype ACEO ending price, so it will be interesting to see what they actually go for). The editions are smaller - 10 instead of 25 - because it's a much slower process and I know I'm not going to want to make more than 10 of the same images anyway.

They're mostly the same images as I did in cyanotype so people can compare processes, but there's some substitutions as well.

I'm not quite there yet with the copper process I mention occasionally but when it works probably ACEOs are the first thing I'll make. It's great to be able to see a new process on a variety of images, and then customers can check them out inexpensively as well. Works great for everybody.

In other news I have a bunch of shoots scheduled including a lot of portrait work - for some reason that's picking up. Maybe it's just the mostly decent weather we've finally been having - people can imagine getting out of the house more! In addition I have a big laundry list of alternative process things to do, film to develop (3 rolls CK, 1 roll Yosemite so that's two batches since I can do two at once), the Yosemite pictures to finish up and the CK studio pictures to do. The exact order I do things depends on the weather (some processes work better at different humidities) and if the models actually show up for their shoots and so forth so I'm not quite sure what will happen when, but in any case there should be some interesting stuff going on, so check back!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Post Shoot Notes: CK



Yep, I was able to spend a couple of hours with CK in the studio. In an even more impressive fit of laziness than normal I just grabbed two shots from the first few to be copied to this computer - the rest are still coming in as I type this.

I have some assorted small updates (including platinum ACEOs!) but I'll save those for tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Model: Treasi

The shots with Treasi are up - I decided to do those before the Yosemite pictures because it was a short shoot and pretty straightforward.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Post shoot notes: Treasi

For various reasons I want to beef up my clothed portfolio. To some extent I'll just do that by asking the nude models to bring a cute outfit for if we have time at the end of the shoot, but I also wanted to do maybe one totally clothed shoot per month to kind of kick start things a bit. I did the first of those today with Treasi.

It was my first studio shoot for a while, and the first shoot with the 5D (more on that later) and I haven't shot a clothed model for a while. Clothing is very limiting from my perspective - since I'm basically a lighting geek at heart and getting outfits to work with dramatic lighting is a big pain. We shot lighting like the blue-background one for the most part with a couple of different outfits, but also did some more dramatic lighting since it worked well with the outfit seen here.

As always, I just grabbed a couple of frames for the blog, these aren't necessarily "keepers". The black background is literally the last frame I took, and the blue background is just one that looked nice on the thumbnails. There's no kind of post processing other than cropping, this is all done in-camera.

Oh, and the 5D was great. The somewhat slow speed (3 frames per second) is a non-issue in the studio. I did shoot away too fast for parts of the shoot and you could tell the buffer doesn't write to the card nearly as fast as the 40D but it's really no big deal. I still think I'll grab the 40D for sports, wildlife, etc. but I'm glad I own both now.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Note on international shipping

Somebody was mentioning to me that he leaves international packages out for the carrier instead of standing in line with them. Here's the actual text from the USPS

International packages may NOT be placed in a USPSĀ® collection box. Please present to a retail associate in a U.S. Postal Service retail outlet or hand to your letter carrier at the time of mail delivery or schedule a carrier pickup.

So if you have a nice carrier they just don't worry about it and pretend you handed it to them. My carrier changes all the time, so I go to the post office. Historically if I went at the right time of day it was no big deal - just walk up and hand it to them. But they've made some changes and there's almost always a big line now. I'm basically auditioning other post offices in the area to see what they're like. So far oddly enough the main post office in town is the best - they always have a line, but they always have a big line of clerks so one bozo can't screw the line up too much and it's just a couple of minutes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Model: CK

OK, the set with CK is now up. I'm really pleased with it - which of course means it's a little big and unwieldy but I'll trim it down eventually. That's basically a constant process - about a month ago over the course of three days I reviewed every shot on the website and removed about 10% of them. Sometimes it's rising standards, sometimes I was trying out some new lighting technique and just pleased it worked at all, but after refining it in later sets it won't seem so miraculous.

This set has film and digital mixed - the film's from the TLR but cropped to 8x10 (it's square on its own). Tri-X was developed in Rodinal so it's a bit grainy but edges have a crisp look. The digital's from the 40D.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting there...

CK's shoot will most likely go up tomorrow - I'm basically there but want to make one last pass through the images. I've been swamped since getting back from Yosemite so everything's taking a bit longer than it should.

The 2nd round of the ACEOs finished on eBay - 8 of the 9 sold. Average price slipped a bit but is still about $10 (but now it's just a bit under instead of just a bit over). I went ahead and listed them once more, and then probably I'll give it a break for a bit. It's good on eBay not to let people take it for granted that you'll relist items immediately! It's been successful enough that I'll definitely do a platinum run at some point but I'm a bit behind in platinum printing and the humidity isn't cooperating so it might not be for a while. I'll probably go with half images I did in cyanotype (so people can compare) and half new images.

I have I think six model shoots scheduled over the next month and more who are interested, but as always you never know how it will all work out. For every dedicated, reliable model like CK there are half a dozen people who think maybe it would be fun but aren't really serious. Sometimes I get great shoots out of those people despite everything, but you definitely have to wonder how others manage to hold down any job at all.

A note on bandwidth - the site's pulling about two and a half times as much bandwidth as it did a year ago. Some of this is a popularity thing and some of this is because people are spending more time on the site in a visit. I think the more time is largely due to some website changes I made at the same time I upgraded Dreamweaver several versions, put in some basic CSS and changed some navigational things. (There's a Lunarpages button on the right sidebar if anybody wants to check out my host - they've treated me well so far).

I've been doing the blog for two years and selling prints online for three now. At least one of my original customers from the first couple of months pops in and buys the new stuff now and again - this kind of repeat business has made a huge difference. Sure, you'll get the occasional nutjob customer (thank God for the blocked bidder list on eBay), but generally speaking the folks buying art and supporting artists are a pretty nice bunch of folks and it's definitely been an interesting experience selling online.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Post Shoot Notes: Yosemite

I don't manage it every year, but around my birthday turns out to be a great time to visit Yosemite. Tons of snow on the ground but not actually falling from the sky which is pretty ideal as far as I'm concerned. I ended up skipping the usual 4WD rental and took the Honda which was barely fine - you had to go slow over icy patches and a couple of idiots who didn't know how to drive in the ice were funny enough we stopped to watch them try to get out of their parking spaces, but all the main roads were perfectly safe. (although you should always carry chains in that part of the world).

The 5D did great on the landscape stuff - it's so nice to have a full frame sensor with a relatively wide lens but also to grab the 40D with a long lens and blast away like crazy when there's a critter (we saw a couple of coyotes and a bobcat). I'm hoping to get back to my roots and do more nature photograhy this year so that should be a nice combination.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Well alrighty then

This is turning into an odd day - some extra kelpy model-wannabies (again, most actual art models are very cool, but I work with maybe 10% of the people who contact me about shooting and there's definitely some crazies in the bunch, flakes, people with an over inflated sense of what their marketability is, 13 year old boys trying to score free samples, people saying they'll work in exchange for drugs, people from another state who think I'll fly them in, and just generally kelp for brains). It's not just me, by the way, all photographers have similar stories. The models have stories about kelpy photographers and especially photographer wannabies where goal #1 is to see a naked chick. (Public service announcement: If you go to a strip club it's cheaper. But remember, there's no sex in the champagne room.) I'm sure the makeup artists and stylists and such think we're all insane.

I had a directory on my RAID mirror get corrupted somehow and windows repaired it by deleting the directory. Um, thanks. Luckily being the paranoid guy I am and knowing that RAID mirrors are great against physical drive failures but not so good against Windows screwing up (or me for that matter) I have a third drive that gets a daily backup as well so no harm done. But that reminded me that although the 1TB drive that holds my old stuff does have an offsite backup, I do occasionally re-edit old sets or just go through and slim them down and remove pictures that wouldn't have made the cut today. That means that losing that drive would be a pain so I ordered another one. You can get a USB-only (aka "slow but cheap" which is fine for my purposes) 1TB external drive for $270 now. Probably less if you hunt around and aren't too picky about brand.

Oh, and also, it's my birthday.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Updates

The good news is that I'm making good progress on the CK set. I've developed and scanned the film (shown here). Developed in Rodinal. I'm going through the digital to see what's worth keeping. This always takes a while, but since I went a little nuts with the 40D that doesn't help any.

The bad news is that I had time to make a lot of progress this morning because a model flaked on an outdoor shoot today. Which is a shame because the weather was perfect. But there's no arguing with kelp.

I do have five studio shoots scheduled but that's over the next month and none of them are right away.

Oh, and my last copy of Shadows sold out, so all of the Lulu books are out of stock. I haven't quite decided what I want to do about that yet, but if you want a book and can afford it I definitely recommend the "plain brown wrapper" book - the quality is very high.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

ACEO ATC Update

Well, the first batch of nine all sold on eBay - I've relisted all of them with #2/25. So far keeping the numbers straight is easy - when they get out of sync I'll have to be careful.

They went for $91 and change collectively - which is great, because I was hoping for $10 each and that's right on target. it will be interesting to see if the demand dies off after a couple of rounds or if frustrated bidders come back with aggressive bids. Often somebody will put in some crazy high bid "knowing" they won't really have to pay it - people will nibble against it and then give up. But when two people do that on the same item the results can be spectacular.

It was also great to see some new bidders and some of the email I got from people - it's clear I'm hitting both folks who usually get my stuff and either knew they liked cyanotypes or were just curious but also ACEO/ATC collectors who were new to my work and of course might be tempted to buy the normal size after seeing how nice the little ones are. And if not, well, I'm having fun - they're really cute little prints - I've actually bought some myself from other folks on eBay. Just search on ACEO and they'll come right up.

Monday, February 04, 2008

5D First Impressions

Wow, that shot really looks like crap after Blogger is done compressing it. Good work, guys!

Actually it's not that compelling anyway, it was just one of those shots photographers take when they're playing with a new camera. The 5D arrived today and I took it with me for a stroll after a post office run. It works - the whole situation is a bit weird because it was introduced 2.5 years ago and still doesn't really have any direct competition (I think the next cheapest full frame camera costs about twice as much although I haven't price checked recently). So Canon's never updated it - probably won't for about six months - and while it's still incredible in some respects, and arguably all important respects like, oh, image quality, it's missing a variety of little features the much cheaper 40D has (rear screen size, anti-dust, 14 bits instead of 12, frames per second, write to card speed, some basic weather seals, live view, blah blah blah) and for many features it's the only camera left in the lineup that's missing them. And everybody "knows" it's going to be updated sooner or later, possibly split into a higher end and a lower end model, but as of now Canon would rather sit on their butts until somebody challenges them in that space. Which, admittedly, probably won't happen soon because everybody else is playing catch up with full frame sensors and they're focusing more on the high end - those $5K+ cameras. Still, companies that leave the door open for the competition often find themselves playing catch up themselves and hopefully they won't overdo it.

The good news is that the price has come way, way down - especially if you want the kit lens you can get some great deals. The original release price was $3300 and if you get the kit and subtract out the lens street value you can get a 5D body for about $1700 now.

Having both cameras should be nice - there's definitely pros and cons to both sensor sizes and if you need a backup anyway getting one of each works pretty well as a solution. So this should be a pretty nice setup, especially with the 25-105L lens which made a nice first impression. Probably the next model shoot I do I'll use both cameras just to compare and contrast a bit more.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

More Post Shoot Notes: CK

CK is the model who
I was attempting to shoot when the shutter on my 20D failed completely. She was kind enough to return for another shoot with my new, fancy 40D. CK was wonderful, of course, you'll notice the bay water is up to her knees and there's nothing quite like laying down nude on a big piece of concrete this time of year at 9:30 in the morning when it's been raining on and off. In addition to the digital shots we did a couple of rolls with a film camera and I'll go through all of that when I get a chance.

The 40D worked fine - it's really easy to take an absurd number of pictures. It's just very responsive and the buffer is very large and it writes to the card very fast and when you have a lovely model doing a nice pose it's just too easy to hold that button down for a second and you just filled 78MB of your card. It's going to take a little getting used to, because with the 20D you always had to be a bit careful of the buffer or you would have to stop shooting for a bit and let it catch up.

But all in all it's a very nice camera. I'm actually getting a 5D as well with the 24-105L lens and that should be a great combo. I hate to spend that much money on cameras all at once - that's pretty much my 2008 hardware budget - but I really don't want to be caught without a backup with somebody who's not as understanding as CK and I have some stuff this summer where it will be really nice to have both a full frame and a crop sensor.

If anybody's curious that will put me at a 17-40L, 24-105L, 100-400L, 50 f/1.8 100 f/2.8. Some of those lenses are back from the film days - it's worth buying nice lenses more so than expensive bodies in the sense that the bodies get worn out or "obsolete" and replaced and the lenses just keep chugging along. (Well, I did drop one in Ireland, but that's a story for another day).

Post Shoot Notes - CK



We were actually getting rained on during that rainbow shot. It wasn't raining while she was in the water but the wind was very, very strong.

More later. Very cold - must drink hot chocolate.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Book note

I had a weird little flurry of book purchases from a couple of different people in the last 24 hours and I'm out of the first two books, and I have one copy of Shadows left. So if you want a signed copy and it sells out first I don't want to hear any complaining, you've been warned!

Note that you can always get the older books from the printer, or the "plain brown wrapper" book is from another company but you can order it from me until the edition runs out.

Friday, February 01, 2008

RIP

Well, the last nail has been pounded into the Netscape Coffin. AOL finally dropped all support for it. I actually worked there for a bit in the mid 90s. This was at the height of the browser wars when you would read on the front page of the business section of the newspaper (remember newspapers?) that some new security hole had been found. I had a weird position - I was doing emergency fixes for the 3.x version which was actually shipping while the other engineers were working on the 4.x version. So it was this kind of thing, or if there was a bug that was irritating some major customer. So basically I'd come to work in the morning, and sometimes there would be a copy of the newspaper on my chair with the headline circled and "Fix this" written next to it. (no pressure) otherwise I'd just hit the bug list and see what was in my queue. All my bugs had things like "A half million dollar Ford contract depends on this being fixed ASAP!" (no pressure)

This was back in my contractor days so I was there only six months or so, but it was an interesting time to be involved in a company like that.

That's Fierce in one of the ACEOs I've been plugging lately.
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