Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Pictures: Sarah Ellis

I just uploaded the pictures from the latest adventure with Sarah Ellis. At this point I was still in a lot of pain because of the cuts from my fall so it was a bit of a short shoot but I think there's nice stuff in there.

So right now I've finished recalibrating some platinum print stuff - I'll be making lots of new platinum prints next week and hopefully there will be a studio shoot in there. (fingers crossed)

I'm also working on getting the Mouse set online, finishing up the last two parks from my trip, doing a pass through all the pictures on the site and weeding things down a bit (it's a constant process to go back and weed older sets so if you see something you like don't assume it will be around forever). What else... well, once that's done I want to go through a lot of old non-nude material, get that online here and for sale, and then make another platinum printing pass and get some landscapes and things out there. I've had decent luck selling platinum prints of Yosemite and such before and it will become a bit more of a focus in the future.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Mouse


OK, I peeked.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Post Shoot Notes: Mouse


Actually today Mouse was more like Lab
Rat since I spent most of the shoot testing various things - some different lighting techniques, and the first nudes with the lensbaby (seen here in B&W), and what happens when you try to put clothing on a nude model (click it to see it a bit larger).

Things basically went OK - the Lensbaby shots in particular I need to look at on the monitor to really evaluate them, since you don't really get the sense of the focus dropoff on the camera LCD. But it was educational and there's at least some good stuff in there.

Basically the next week or two I'm going to be doing platinum print related things (there should be some new ones for sale later this summer) and finishing up the Sarah Ellis set this week and the Crater Lake pictures and hopefully Lava Beds as well. But I probably won't even really look at the Mouse pictures for a week or so.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

More music

What the heck, let's make it a musical weekend. Here's Sara Mann. If you don't see a video below here's the direct link. Her new album's on iTunes among other places...


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Flogging Molly

There's an entire fairly recent concert up at moshcam.com. If you don't know the group, try track 6 - Drunken Lullabies first which is fairly typical. If you're not sure what you think let it run for a bit - at least through Tobacco Island before passing judgment - sometimes it takes people a few tracks to kind of get it.

Warning: Contains drinking, swearing, BDS, and it's loud (or if it's not, turn it up.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Glacier National Park photos



I have some more vacation shots up on the other site, this time from Glacier National Park. Regular readers will recognize that bear - I posted a shot during the trip. It was shot out a car window - she was really close. The weather was crappy and there was nobody else around so I just stopped for a minute or two, took a few shots, and left. It wasn't really an option to park and get out - it wouldn't have been safe.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quick book note

I'm totally out of two of the older books, and there's one signed copy of Shadows left at the eBay store as well as the new book, cleverly named "Nudes". I don't plan on keeping the older books in stock anymore, so consider this a heads up.

Because of the way Lulu works they can print one for you on demand. I'd actually like to start retiring the older books since it's kind of an annual ritual to add one at this point, but the way Lulu works if you sort by best sellers the oldest book comes to the top since it's been around the longest and they calculate it over all time. So I hate to lose the exposure. It's a quandry. (It's really lame with calendars because that means at the start of the calendar season anybody who didn't delete LAST years calendar floats to the top of people trying to sell THIS years calendar).

Oh, and for those who care I'm going to try to get the Sarah Ellis stuff uploaded by the 1st. I've got a lot on my plate right now so it's good if I make a date public because then I have to do it. :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Pictures: CK

I've just uploaded the set with CK. That's the shoot where I took a spill down the hill - I'm mostly healed up but there's a cut on my ankle that drives me nuts if I walk for any distance. It's making progress, though, so hopefully it won't be much longer until the whole thing's over with. Meanwhile I'm not getting any exercise and I'm getting cranky.

Stuff that has nothing to do with CK...

I'll get the Sarah Ellis shots up in a week or so and I still have vacation pictures to deal with but I also have some alternative process stuff that needs to get done so I'm not sure of the timing.

A couple of little things I've noticed - I've always had a problem with people doing big searches for "missing images" - they see files numbered 2, 3, 5 and wonder what happened to 4. (answer: 4 sucked) On a large scale this means hundreds of thousands of 404 errors a month as people run automated programs. I did occasionally have an extra picture or two on the server that wasn't linked in because I do edit the shoots down periodically. But I'm now very careful to delete the old files for just this reason - I don't want to encourage this kind of thing. But lately it's gone to directories as well. So if I have a Maria set up and post on the blog that I've done a second shoot people immediately start looking for /Maria2 or /MariaOutdoors - and they might have gotten lucky occasionally because I will sometimes put up a test set so I can check it on another machine. I'd rather people not stumble into partially edited sets so I'll just start putting them on a thumb drive or a local server or something.

The other trend is that I'm getting way more people not only asking me to shoot again with a favorite model but pretty much demanding. And of course these are people who have never bought a print and probably never will. Seriously - if you like a model and want to see more of her, buy a print. It's not the only factor in who comes back for a second or third shoot but it's a factor and you can bet if there's a nice little flurry of sales right when I put up a new shoot I try to get the model booked sooner rather than later. And if you can't afford a print but still want to comment, that's great, but be respectful to both me and the model if you want anybody to take you seriously.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Boyfriend Kelp

I had a potential model recently say that her boyfriend didn't approve of her shooting nude, so he wanted to come to make sure we weren't going to do anything naughty.

Now ask yourself, why would I let this person into my studio? He doesn't approve, he's constantly going to be paranoid about poses showing too much, if he doesn't manage to make her cancel or otherwise miss the shoot he's going to be trying to rush things and get her out of there as fast as possible. Plus every photographer's heard the stories of the boyfriend who hit the photographer because he said the model was sexy, or pulled a gun, or stole something, or showed up the next day demanding the negatives because he'd changed his mind about if it was OK for her to do it, or beat the model the next day because he thought she was posing "too sexy".

Seriously, life's too short, find another hobby. And a less clingy boyfriend, while you're at it.

(Yeah, I know, I'm a big ol' grouch. The best part, of course, is that when you say "no" it sounds like you won't allow it because you must be up to something, which "proves" him right. You pretty much just can't win.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight

So I went to see the new Batman movie yesterday afternoon, and I was at the matinee at the local one screener ($5 tickets!) and they had some kind of a problem with the projection and it started a bit late. Some poor lady came in towards the end of the previews and was clearly looking desperately for her date and couldn't find him. Finally somebody in the audience yelled "It's OK, it's still the previews, call out to him!" She looked mortified but finally shouted "Hey, Jim!" Interestingly two people yelled "I'm over here!". There's a joker in ever crowd.

Speaking of which, it's a good film. It has some flaws but there are some very nicely done bits as well, and the whole thing basically works. And it's not often you see a Prisoner's Dilemma set up so nicely in a film.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bear

This picture has all kinds of problems, but I thought the tongue was cute.

I've uploaded the Yellowstone pictures in two sets - Critters and everything else on my hobby site.

The plan is to get the CK pictures done around Monday/Tuesday (21st/22nd). Sarah Ellis the week after that. I have three parks left - Glacier, Crater Lake, and Lava Beds which hopefully will get done soon as well. Then I want to get some shots from this summer up on this site for sale and go through the back catalog of some prior trips. This whole process of dealing with old stuff can be slow but hopefully it will be worthwhile.

I don't know what the heck's going on in terms of new studio shoots - I have lots of "maybes" and not a lot of firm commitments. Frankly I think half of it is that the weather finally turned nice - between the fires and everything else it's been kind of a crappy summer here in the Bay Area.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

eBay tidbits

eBay just released their earnings info, and there's a couple of interesting tidbits. I'd mentioned one of the changes they made was to lower listing fees and to raise the final value fees - which encourages you to list lots of stuff even if it doesn't sell, and they make it up on the ones that actually sell. Well, listings are up 19% even though the number of active users is only up 1%. That means you have a pretty good glut of extra items that probably aren't selling. How exactly does that improve the user experience?

They've made a ton of changes this year on the selling end, most of them stupid. Even they are admitting some of it and they're actually rolling at least one of those changes back in August (why they couldn't do it immediatley I don't know). But a lot of the really stupid stuff is staying. I just had a guy buy quite a lot of stuff and not pay - in his feedback there are multiple positive feedbacks saying something like "NOT A POSITIVE - buyer didn't pay" because you can't leave negative feedback for buyers anymore. So many of them feel like there's no reason not to pay. It's a real mess.

eBay's trying to push people to have cheap/free shipping because they don't get fees on shipping and they have this whole DSR - detailed star ratings I think it stands for. I'm running mostly 4.9's out of 5 which is really solid but the one that trips up most people is the shipping cost. Mine's a 4.8 which is still really high - top 10%. It's hard because most buyers don't realize how expensive it is to ship stuff, and that it's not just postage, it's the cost of the packaging and all that. Most of why I stopped selling ACEOs, at least for now, is that the bubble envelope was $1 and I was getting seriously dinged on shipping because they weren't factoring that in. But what's hilarious is that among people who exclusively offer free shipping they average a 4.8 - same as me. And the reason is that some people who see this, instead of thinking "It was free! Nothing's better than free!" and giving it a 5.0 - they make it a 3 because they think it doesn't apply so they just pick the middle one. Well, the way they have their scale set up, you lose your powerseller status if you average less than 4.5 so a 3's a major hit. So people actually find it better to have shipping where they take a loss versus making it totally free - they actually get better ratings. Makes your head spin.

You should see the powerseller forum - everybody thinks the new CEO is a moron. That can't be good when all of the big sellers are figuring out how to move things offsite. I need to get a bit more aggressive about that myself - making sure customers know that they can buy direct.

As I type this their stock is down 14.41% since yesterday, and down quite a lot from their 52 week high.

And I doubt if eBay will let this stay up very long, but there's an auction for the actual stick eBay stuck up their sellers butts...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Funny Blog

But first, a bit of background. I've been doing some light house hunting, seeing if the market's fallen enough to make it worth it to get a larger place. The place I'm in now is tiny but has a perfect studio area, so it's actually turning out to be pretty difficult to find someplace worthwhile, but I'm poking around a bit on the weekends. And it's amazing how people are just throwing crappy houses on the market - filled with their crap, absolutely filthy. Don't they watch Sell this House with the lovely Tanya Memme? (PS check out her photo galleries - wow!)

So I thought this was just about perfect. It's Lovely! I'll take it! - crappy pictures of houses people are selling, taken from MLS.

Seriously, people, the market's way, way down, hire that maid and make an effort. And in the case of the July 9th people - flush the toilet before taking the picture!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Generation Gap

So one thing about college aged folks is that they don't use email that much with their friends. It's too slow and they see their friends pretty often and they have text messaging and instant messaging and all that. Forget the phone.

I got reminded of these recently the hard way... but let me tell somebody else's story first (I saw it on a forum recently but have forgotten which one, sorry). He went to buy a mobile phone and wanted a very basic model, no extras, no texting. They went back and forth on this - he didn't just want a minimal package, he wanted no texting at all. Finally in frustration the young clerk asked "But how will you keep in touch with your friends?"

(For those of you under the age of 25: the answer is - with the phone).


Likewise I had a shoot scheduled tomorrow and the model seemed very interested but when I went to reconfirm a couple of days ago I got no response. The messaging system on this modeling site lets me know she read it, so that's not the problem. Finally I sent a followup note saying that she really needed to commit 24 hours before the shoot or I couldn't be ready in time. I basically have a script for all of this - there's also a call the morning of the shoot.

Eventually - well within the 24 hour limit - she sent an excuse. It actually is probably a legit excuse, that's not the point. The part that was funny is that she admitted that she'd read the message but not responded, but that she hadn't replied because she was using her phone for Internet access and it was hard to type on the little keyboard.

Now, never mind that I've used an iPod touch to reply on that same messaging system and it's OK, and she could have just said "can't shoot will explain later" - that's not the point either. The point is... wait for it... she was using a mobile phone. It was in her hand. And my phone number was in the message.

Hmmm... if only there was some way that you could reach somebody with a telephone other than by using its Internet access feature.

Sigh.

It's a shame, too, I would have rescheduled her no problem if she'd contacted me more than 24 hours before the shoot. I'm pretty strict on that rule - it's not philosophical or anything, it's just that every time I make an exception they end up doing it again and after a while you realize that the odds just aren't worth it.

As always when I tell a kelp story - real models who shoot often aren't like this or if they are they learn really fast how to do basic business communication or they don't last. It's the wanna-be gals who do this stuff for the most part. If you're a newbie photographer - hire an experienced model, it's so much easier. You should only be tempting fate with the beginning models if you're like me and you've worked with most of the experienced models in the area and are willing to wade through the muck to find some gems.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New Maria Pictures


I just uploaded the new pictures of Maria.

I'm not sure if I'm going to edit the CK outdoor set or the Yellowstone set next. It will probably depend somewhat on how my shoot schedule works out for the next week or so - I have a number of shoots scheduled in the near future but there's an unusual number of first timers (who sometimes get cold feet) or tentative scheduling or whatever. It's a big waste of time but I've worked with lots of gals who were wonderful that weren't established models and sometimes you just have to take a risk.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kelp

In the last couple of days I've had three different models write to me asking to model (in response to a craigslist ad) and then when I asked if they have any experience posing nude they wrote back "I don't do nudes."

Update: Four. (And it doesn't matter how much you put in the ad that it requires nudes - some gals think it's faster to just reply with a form letter to every single ad and then see which photographers reply than to read all of them and find the relevant ones up front.)

Also I just ran into a gal who says she has a couple of years experience shooting nudes. And that she's 18. Hopefully she's lying about one or the other.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yet more vacation pictures



OK, making progress on the vacation pictures. The EBR-1 and Craters of the Moon sets are up on my hobby site. I do generally write commentary for these things but I'm going to do it all at the end.

I've started looking through Maria's set but at this point I hesitate to speculate on a timetable - I took a ton of pictures, and she's a very good model so it's hard to choose the best few.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More Vacation Pictures

I've uploaded the pictures for Zion National Park to my hobby site (some pictures will eventually be for sale here once I've gone through more of the archives).

Next up - some smaller things we did on the way to Yellowstone - EBR-1 which is the first experimental breeder reactor (did I mention my degree is in physics?) and Craters of the Moon National Monument. Those won't take too long - I didn't take a huge number of pictures and I basically want to knock them off the list. I'll do the Maria set next because Yellowstone's going to be a big job. We spent I think four nights there and with animal shots I tend to take lots and lots of pictures - especially if an animal is slowly working towards you basically you don't know when it's going to stop or leave so you just keep shooting and see what happens.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Post Shoot Notes: Sarah Ellis


I spent two hours hiking around the east bay hills with Sarah Ellis this morning. The air quality's improved - you can see the sort of blue sky back there - but no sweeping vistas like normal, it was too icky. But we found lots of little corners that worked well and it's kind of a complex area in terms of microclimates so there's some nice variation in the shots - grasslands, tule reeds, forest. As always I'm writing this to kill time while things are copying - I just grabbed a couple of shots that looked fun from the thumbnails.

It's also a good thing we got an early start. We were in the park at about 7:20am and it was already kind of hot. It was in the 90s yesterday and it's supposed to be warmer today. But since my leg's still beat up pretty bad from my spill the other day I couldn't go that far anyway, so it was a bit shorter than normal. If the lights good sometimes outdoor shoots will be more like 3-4 hours but in a good area with lots of variation and with a good model you can get a ton done in just two.

For those of you keeping track that means I've put up post shoot notes of Maria, CK, and now Sarah Ellis that I still have to edit. Plus I'm not done with my vacation pictures yet. And it gets worse because I'm switching gears away from the smoky outdoors and I've scheduled a bunch of studio shoots out the next week or two. These are mostly with newbie models - frankly a lot of them are bored college students who have extra time during the summer, and they aren't always reliable (kelp levels are high) so I make no promises but there's potential for some great shoots with some charming young women. Basically given the seasonal issues I'm just going to shoot like crazy while the shooting's good and edit later. Print sales are always really slow around July/August anyway (people have better things to do than poke around the Internet all day) so there's not a lot of incentive to rush things. Worst case I'll catch up with my editing when school starts up again and the models kind of dry up for a bit until they get settled into their new classes.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Post Shoot Notes: CK


Well, the air quality still isn't everything it might be, but it was good enough for a shoot right on the coast as long as I didn't try to get any kind of sweeping vistas or whatever. You can pretty much see it in the second shot - that's partially just haze but most of it has to do with smoke from all of the fires.

The shoot went well - this is one of my favorite locations on the coast of Marin County but it's about an hour and a half from my house so I make it out there once a year. CK's one of my favorite models so I was really delighted we were able to make it out there.

There was one bit of unpleasantness when I slipped and went down the hill a ways - I have all kinds of scrapes and gouges and things. Luckily I have a little ultralight first aid kit for backpackers that I leave in my hydration pack when I'm not backpacking, and I've started using my hydration pack instead of my camera backpack for nude shoots just because I think it's lower profile and it holds a spare body and flash and extra batteries and such just fine. It's not like I need a huge kit most days. So I could patch myself up a bit before hiking back to the road which was good I think. And I seem to have avoided hitting my head or camera so it could have been a lot worse. And it was basically at the end of the shoot so it didn't affect that at all.

That's a great first aid kit for hiking by the way - it's surprisingly complete and light and it's sealed up against water. There's no real instructions though - if you haven't had training you should probably get something with a guide book (and read it before you need it!) or better yet get some first aid training. And they have even lighter 7 and 5 ounce versions if you really just want something tiny for a day pack.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Have a happy fourth!

Just try not to blow off anything you might want to use later, 'k?

(Yeah, I know, this post is real useful to my readers in Slovakia or whatever.)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pictures and stuff

I'm slowly getting the vacation stuff online on my other site. I'll be putting a few of the shots on sale here as part of a move to getting some of my non-nude catalog up for sale, but if you're just curious about my vacation I have the first couple of sets up.

Death Valley
Hoover Dam
Grand Canyon

In other news...

The air quality is much improved where I am - hopefully it will hold next week and I'll get some shoots done.

I'm hoping to get Maria's set edited in a week or so but I need to make more progress with the vacation shots first.

I removed some ads from the blog that were slowing things down but added in a little visitor map - it's on the right hand sidebar. If you click on it you can see things bigger and with more data. Kind of interesting that of the European traffic so much is from Germany - France and the UK result in a lot more sales. It's just blog traffic - the main site gets enough traffic that you would probably see a lot of time of day effects since it only remembers so many hits back.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fire, Fire, everywhere

By the way - if people don't know, there are fires all over California. It's not so bad right here at the moment but there's all of this high altitude stuff - the light is a little orange and for that matter if you look at the hills even a mile away you can see the air quality's really bad. In many areas they're recommending that people stay indoors as much as possible.

I was planning on doing a bunch of outdoor shoots and now I'm not sure what to do - I did the one with Maria on the coast, and that was OK (although I had to color correct out the orange cast), but I was going to do more in the east bay hills and that's not looking so great. Or at least not so great for the "sweeping vista" shots - the more close in ones should be OK.

Basically I'm just going to have to muddle along as best I can.
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