Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quick book and other scheduling note

I made a slight miscalculation and am running out of books again. I have some on order, but they'll be a while. I have one last one on eBay and if I get really desperate I'll sell my copy (and replace it when the new ones come in) but if you want one sooner rather than later, get it now.

You can still get one direct at Lulu of course but it won't be signed. I'll be removing the oldest two books sometime tomorrow as promised. It's part of keeping focus on the newer work, and also Lulu's raised their prices and the margins have gone from bad to worse (if I bought a few, had them shipped here, signed them, and sold them on eBay between the extra shipping step and eBay fees I'd lose money).

And speaking of that focus thing, I'm doing one of my purges. I hate to even mention it, because every time I do some bozo decides to download the entire website. Luckily everything here is static HTML so it doesn't hammer CPU, just bandwidth. (At most hosts like Lunarpages you'll hit their very very fine print CPU limits long before you hit their massively printed bandwidth limit). But something like 10% of each set is disappearing, on average. It's just something I do a couple of times a year to tighten things up, keep the quality level OK even on the older sets. When a set gets slimmed down to the point of being too little to keep I remove it entirely and maybe put one or two in a little one hit wonders section if I was keeping the set around mostly because I got lucky once or twice (there's a link to that set on the top of the archive page).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Surprise!



Nothing like setting up one last shoot at the last minute to finish off the year... this is SaraKay.

As always, I just grabbed two shots from the shoot as I checked to make sure everything copied OK. The one with the golden light is a couple of minutes after sunrise. The one with the not so golden light is a couple of hours later.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Harrumph!

Just venting a bit - after two Mondays in a row of getting rained out, tomorrow's supposed to be a great day to shoot, and I have a model all lined up. Tonight about 13 hours from the shoot, she mentions she has to be at such and such a place at such and such a time and can I drive her. Driving her wouldn't be a problem... if it were after the shoot. We would only be able to be at the location for about an hour, and it takes probably 15 minutes to walk to the first good area to shoot, so we'd be shooting for about half an hour. I stay out as long as the light's good or about three hours, whichever happens first. I'm not going to do all that running around before dawn to shoot for half an hour, so I guess we're not shooting. Weird.

This is exactly why I almost never shoot outdoors with somebody unless I've worked with them in-studio first and know they're 100% reliable. Oh, well, at least I found out now instead at 6:00am tomorrow or when I picked her up.

The good news is that this should be the last year of me running around trying to shoot outdoors during the rainy season because the studio's out of action. With the new, dedicated space it should be a lot easier to schedule things. I still like shooting outdoors this time of year - it's very pretty - but at least it can be on more of a "we'll shoot outdoors unless it's raining and then we'll just use the studio" basis.

I do still have a pre-meet with a model tomorrow, and I think three studio shoots scheduled next month but I think the CK and Maria set is going to be the last of 2008. That's not so bad, it was a nice shoot, and it ended up being #32 for the year which is right where I wanted to be. And coincidentally a gorgeous gal just wrote to me asking if I would like to work with her... funny how that works out sometimes!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More on Google Checkout

I revamped my Google Checkout test page to be GC only and not have the PayPal buttons. I was thinking that I might run with both systems for a bit (kind of a contest) but it's ugly as sin and for testing purposes isn't really necessary. I've modeled it on the introductory price template I use for the first 2-3 days after a new set comes up. I'm thinking that might be a good strategy - that will be the catch if you want the low pricing, you have to be a test subject! In the meantime, the buttons are live - feel free to buy from it, and if you have a problem please use the email address on the sidebar of this page to contact me.

The longer term roadmap is to use a 3rd party checkout that would allow a choice at the end of Paypal, Google Checkout, or a merchant account to take credit cards directly. But this will let me test the GC system without going to all that trouble, and in the short term if there's a problem with PayPal I can get the whole website switched over pretty quickly at this point. (PayPal's mostly worked pretty well for me, but I had a coincidental outage last night unrelated to my hosting company's DNS problems and it just reminded me that depending so much on one company is just asking for trouble.)

I've found it's better to just do incremental things like this and experiment a bit and see what people's reaction is rather than try to do everything all at once and then find that you've gone to all the trouble to use system X and nobody wants to use it. Or you find there's a huge response and then you know right away it's worth moving it up in priority. I know a ton of photographers who are always saying they want to sell prints but won't do it until they have EVERYTHING in place. And somehow it never happens. Whereas if you just start to get some kind of cash flow going it's a real encouragement...

The new studio - during



Here's where we stand today, more or less. The cutting in has been done near the floor in that second shot but it's the only one I have that shows a side without the built-ins.

To do:
  • Change out light fixture (new low profile one is on order)
  • Paint trim - all the yellow/white stuff around the windows and between the two greys will be painted a neutral white. It's funny - against the paneling it really looked white but against the neutral greys it looks darn yellow.
  • Buy and install two pulls on cabinets
  • Window treatments - probably going with some kind of honeycomb
  • Get floor refinished (scheduled for a couple of weeks)
  • The electric isn't quite done yet (next week)
  • Add baseboard - probably just some quarter round (after floor's refinished)
  • Move in all the lights and stuff (haven't decided)

Friday, December 26, 2008

DNS blues and Google Checkout

My hosting company (who has been having more and more problems lately) has apparently been having some kind of DNS problems all day. People have been able to see the site, and then not. It's kind of random. If you're seeing this things can't be too bad, but if you run into any problems I'd just try again later. Also apparently they've had email problems all day - as far as I know I haven't been affected but I wouldn't necessarily know, you know? If you've written and I haven't replied you might want to resend just in case. (Update: Everything seems OK now but if you got a bounce it wasn't one of these ones where it resends later - you need to resend your mail. Sorry about that.).

On the plus side I revisited Google Checkout today and they added a shopping cart option. I'd investigated them in March and they had the ability to buy one item, and the ability to integrate with a cart, but not to use their own cart. I'm trying to get away from dependence on eBay and PayPal (both companies can be very frustrating) and long term I'll probably end up with a full merchant account and shopping cart software but as a baby step this will be a nice option.

I set up a clone of my sample page with both checkout systems. The red add to cart ovals (OK, orange, but play along) are PayPal and the blue ones are Google Checkout. (Choose the red pill or blue pill?) As a limited test I've set the lab prints to the same introductory pricing I offer for a couple of days after I upload a new set. The threshold for free shipping is lower, too. I'm hoping that people will buy some prints for it so I can test everything out. I'll leave it up for... oh, probably a couple of days but no promises. I'll probably be fiddling with it and if I run into serious problems or get plenty of test data (i.e. "sales") I'll just take it down.

Curious? Want to save some money? You can test it out over here. Let me know what you think (email's over in the sidebar on the right) but please focus on the functionality, not the looks. I haven't really tried to make it pretty yet.

The new studio - before




That first shot is how it looked when we took possession. The second was after I pulled up the carpet - in fact the nail strips are still down and those lines are from the first pass sweeping up years of fine dirt that had filtered through the carpet. Remember, this is a "before" picture, you should be thinking "has potential" not "holy crap that's ugly paneling."

It's always hard to judge distance in a room without any furniture but it's a decent size. Click to see them larger - you can see there's a bench that runs along two walls. The soft wood floor was a surprise - I was expecting concrete and to add my own floor.

Here's some thoughts on a basic studio space. This isn't intended for somebody wanting to shoot fashion editorials with huge sets - we're talking art nudes, portrait work, that sort of thing.

Space: A standard roll of seamless paper is 107" wide (call it 9 feet). In Europe I'm not sure what they use but let's imagine there's some comparable size that's around 3 meters or a bit less. That's pretty much your minimum. Your maximum depends on how far you want the modifiers to be from the model. I usually want them pretty close so the lights are often right along the edge of the paper, maybe sticking out a foot or two. I don't remember the exact dimensions of this room but I took a little seamless with me at some point and there's plenty of space on either side along the smallest dimension. In terms of length it depends on how far you want to get from the model but the further you can get the better. You could probably make do with a square room but a room 1.5 or 2 times as long as it is wide is nicer.

Ceiling height: Taller is better. Some styles involve hanging a huge light source right over the model. Photographers also like to store modifiers up high by pulling them up to the ceiling out of a shot. I'm not going to be doing any of that - unfortunately the ceiling is rather low here. They're higher elsewhere in the house, and if I absolutely needed the height I could probably take over that space, but just given the architecture in the area I knew going into it that if I wanted a dedicated space I was looking at the family room - usually the lower part of a split level, and those basically always have low ceilings. I basically just did the best I could here. Also note that the light fixture has to go - it's projecting into the space in an unfortunate way.

Color: Massive fail. You want the walls to be reasonably color neutral. People argue about how dark but basically some kind of mid or dark grey is popular. All that paneling will reflect light back into the space - it all needs to be primed and painted. (I went with a dark grey below the trim, and a light grey above. It keeps it from being totally cave-like but still should be pretty neutral.)

Floor material: Something firm (imagine paper over carpet and then walking over it in heels). Something not quite so hard and cold as concrete. Wood's pretty perfect, and it's OK that in this case it's probably fir. It just needs a very light refinishing, sealing, and we're good to go. If you're thinking about shooting in a garage you'll want to get some glueless floating floor material - $1.15/square foot at Ikea or even less if you don't mind hyper ugly.

Storage: It's nice to be able to store a bunch of stuff right there. This is a big win - the bench lids open, and there's the built in stuff in the rear.

Power: I calculate my studio strobes pull about 5A when they're recharging. 4 lights? That's 20 amps. Normal house circuit breakers are in the 15-20 range. If you can, put in at least two 20 amp circuits. That's what I did, in addition to the few outlets that were already there (which will probably be relegated to recharging batteries).

Privacy: Obviously an issue. Those wooden shutters would be OK but they'll probably get replaced at some point with something a bit more color neutral. Also think about the rest of the house - if you want to do a shoot while, oh, your wife's around maybe there should be a door that closes so that she and the model can stay out of each other's hair.

A bathroom/A place to change: Even nude art models sometimes don't want to dress/undress in front of the photographer, and in any case it's good to have a place to do the necessary. This has a really small half bath (that door on the right at the end). Hopefully that will be enough, and if not I guess they'll have to change in the kitchen or something.

A place for an escort to hang out: Oh, gosh, sorry, there isn't one. Guess they'll have to go to the cofee place down the street. They have free WiFi. Actually this is a slight problem because for the maternity shoot it's not unsual to bring a husband, and as it stands they'll pretty much either get to sit on that bench or I could bring down a resin chair or something. I'm going to have to think about this a bit.

Warmth: This can be a real issue with converted garage studios. This isn't that bad but it is the lowest place in the house and a bit cool - there's some things I can do in terms of insulation (including replacing the shutters with honeycomb blinds). Just remember that if you need a space heater to factor that into your power requirements.

Natural Light: It's always a nice option to have some kind of window - these are actually pretty nice if I wanted to have a model sit on the bench near the light. I'll have to play with this a bit. My current space has great natural light but it's hard to use (just a question of where it's coming from).

Natural Dark: If you want to do long exposure stuff or light painting it's nice if you can make the studio really dark. This is much easier than in my old place since the windows are smaller and I can reasonably temporarily put up some darkroom plastic if I have to. It's also possible to get honeycomb blinds with blackout material which works surprisingly well - if you get the ones that lower from the top you can drop them six inches if you want light in but still maintain privacy. They're really expensive though, so I'll probably be sticking with more conventional blinds and deploying plastic if I want it to be really dark in there.

So I think that covers the big stuff anyway. It's just a big empty box that you fill with photo stuff and a subject, after all. If I'm missing something drop me a note or comment and I'll add it. Again, we're not talking about a studio where you can drive in a car and light it from above - I can rent one if it comes to that - this is really for art nudes and portraits so please keep that in mind.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of how it looked a couple of weeks after - mostly painted and with power, although the trim still needs to be painted and the floor hasn't been refinished yet.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Small milestones

I'm always setting little goals or sometimes noting little milestones that pass. It can be as simple as running out of shipping tubes (you have to sell a lot of 16x20s to sell out a 25 or 50 pack of shipping tubes). I know over at Magnifique she just got her 100th sale. That's when you really know you're doing OK - it's not just a fluke, or just a friend took pity on you - there's actual customers and you probably have repeat customers by now. (Go back and click that link and pick some up - it's good stuff.)

Mine? Just had to buy a new pencil.

OK, maybe I should explain. I use a #8B pencil to sign the back of the prints so it will be dark without having to press hard at all. In a pinch I'll use a #6B but a #8B is better. They wear out pretty fast since they're so soft, but still, I'll take milestones where I can find them.

(Speaking of which, if you're thinking of selling prints - ink usually smears and doesn't dry well on the back of photos. Trust me - get the #8B pencil. Just go into an art store and ask - they'll know what you mean. OK, on a mat you're supposed to press hard to leave an impression, but you should still sign the back anyway in case the customer wants to re-mat it when they get it framed. Which 99% of the time they do, which is why I don't sell them that way.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2257

Well, for those who don't know, the new 2257 regulations came through. I should explain - 2257 is the body of law that involves record keeping for naughty photos, video, etc. In theory it's anti-child porn. Specifically it's to make things easier for the feds to prosecute because you have to keep extremely specific records and if you don't they can put you in prison for 5 years - for the record keeping violation alone - it doesn't matter if it turns out there was no child involved.

And it's not just ID. Like most sensible people I copy the model's ID, have them sign things saying they're an adult, etc. But that doesn't cover it. You have to have all aliases the performer's ever used (including maiden name) and everything has to be by itself with no other records mixed in and indexed a certain way blah blah blah. It has to be accessible 20 hours a week so the feds can drop by to inspect your records without making an appointment. No hours posted? Not there when they show up? You're in violation.

This law's been around since the mid 90s (Clinton era) and it was amended to make it stronger a couple of years ago. Since there were various court challenges to the old law the DOJ was slow to publish the actual regulations that implement the law... until the other day. You have 30 days to comply if you shoot actual porn, and 90 days if you fall into another category.

"But Doug, you don't shoot porn, what's the problem"

That other category is "lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area". Note that the shots don't have to be nude - shoot a gal in a swimsuit with her legs a bit too open and a sultry expression on her face and you've triggered the record keeping requirement even if she's 30. Now, I know my work isn't lascivious, and you know my work isn't lascivious, but does a jury know my work isn't lascivious?" So like many artists (and there's no exemption for art) I'm thinking that even though I think I'm exempt keeping the records as a CYA move is prudent.

The one bit of good news is that they now allow you to hire somebody to keep your records for you. So if you don't have a real place of business with regular hours (like, say, an artist) you can hire somebody. And hopefully by mid-March when this second category cuts in these people will exist and will have a care package with some forms and things to have the models fill out and if you send everything in you're covered. Hopefully it won't be too expensive.

One other bit of good news is that it applies only to work produced after that date, so it's not like I have to re-index everything from the past and try to get everybody's aliases, etc. It is a good thing that I can prove these were all produced before the effective date of course.

One other odditiy is that the nature of the IDs are regulated. For a US photographer shooting in the US the model's ID has to be US issued. Traveling nude model from the UK? Sorry, you can't shoot nudes here, even just for fun. Quite a few gals on this site are vacationing or here on student visas and doing a shoot just for fun, so that's going to be an issue.

And remember - it's not a defense that the model's actually 35 - what they're finding you guilty of is a recordkeeping violation, not child porn.

Anyway, it's a mess. Hopefully it will get thrown out at some point but nobody wants to be the test case and the guy with the worst records loses. Unfortunately Obama's new DA has made statements that he wants to nail a bunch of little guys on this (who can't afford to defend themselves) so that he can build a body of precedent to use against the big guys.

If that surprises anybody - I don't want to get too political here - but the religious right is anti-nudity/porn/fun because of the religious part, but the far left is just as bad they just get there from a different direction. (nanny state/women are helpless and need to be protected/nudity and porn are oppressing women) So basically it's of no consequence to me who's in power - this stuff always passes with huge bipartisan votes. As long as they keep claiming it's for the children (it isn't) nobody's voting against it.

I'm not a lawyer and even the lawyers are still sifting through the 150 page regulations. But if you're a photographer in the US or who does business in the US get your butt on some photographer forums and see if you can figure out if you need to comply. Remember - nudity isn't required so it's probably more of you than you might think. I know a lot of people who do clothed fetish photography are freaking out as it's sinking in that the fall under this as well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Spam story

So this guy is using a friend's hosting account for his email, back in the days before gmail and such. Well, the years go by, and apparently this person hasn't been practicing safe computing because this email box becomes spam central. Megs and megs a day of spam arrive at this guy's mailbox every day. When he goes on vacation for a couple of days he runs out of quota.

Finally he's convinced that it's time to go get a free email account, and without telling the guy who's hosting him he gets a yahoo account and until everybody's switched over sets up forwarding to the new account.

Forwarding. Of megs and megs a day of spam. To Yahoo.

Yahoo blocks everything coming from that IP address - a shared server with thousands of domains on it - and submits the IP address to spammer lists, etc. so all over the Internet sites are now refusing email from anybody on any of those domains. Luckily the hosting company figures it out and kills the forward and hopefully everything will be back to normal shortly.

Yes, I was affected... and I think I'm still seeing some bounces, so if anybody thinks they should have heard from me, and didn't... give me another shout, 'k?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Droplet effect




I get asked sometimes how that water drop effect works. It's simple enough. There's more than one way, but usually it's some variation on this theme.

1. Oil up the model. I did some quick experimentation and found that baby oil works best (held here by Hourglass). But feel free to grab a bunch of household oils (olive oil, canola oil, whatever) and put some on your skin and spritz on some water and see what gives the effect you're looking for. Oh, and if you're actually planning on applying the oil yourself for God's sake bring it up well before the shoot. And think about how you're going to get the oil off your hands before picking up that expensive camera...

2. Spray her. I just use one of those plant sprayers. Water works OK. If you go to a drug store and buy some glycerin and mix it half and half with water that works better, especially in terms of how long it last before just running off. Don't use it straight - it's a moisturizer if there's other water around, but if it's pure it can do bad things to your skin. It's non-toxic - it's a bit sweet, actually. Try just a little on the most fine setting to start. You can get different looks depending on how much you add so you'll have to experiment.

Depending on the pose/lighting it can look cool. Usually in more of a glamour photo way but maybe that's what you want. I think it's kind of fun to do maybe once a year at the end of the shoot if you have a little extra time and the model's up for it.

Some people will also shoot the model just with the oil - 99% of the time this actually looks pretty stupid (with blown out highlights and no texture and it's usually uneven) but it never hurts to experiment. Maybe you'll get that 1%.

PS I've had both models and customers refer to this shot as "the sweaty boob shot". Ew.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

eBay store restocked

I just listed a bunch of items in my eBay store. For those of you who aren't eBay experts (and I don't blame you one bit) the "store" section basically doesn't appear in searches, but if you find a seller you like you can see more of their stuff. It's not an auction - the items just sit there until somebody buys them, more like a regular store. The advantage from a seller's perspective is that they're super cheap to list, but the downside is if one sells they really nail you with fees and there's a monthly fee to have one. The main reason it's worthwhile is impulse purchasing - since they're all in stock if you buy one and pay right away you get the prints super fast. A secondary reason is combined shipping - people will get a couple of auction items and then skim through the store looking to pick up one or two items while they're at it. So it's good to have, although if you don't mind the three business day wait for me to get prints from the lab you should order here (better selection and free shipping if you buy enough).

Anyway, what happens over time is that as pictures sell it starts to get kind of stripped of the popular stuff and so basically now and again I need to see what's missing and see what models are newer than the last time I listed items and beef it back up. I just did that. Mostly black and whites because those have been selling really well lately and that section was getting pretty thin.

Model news...

I had a great pre-meet with a lovely and charming 18 year old who wants to pose for me. And it was a big surprise - she just had snapshots and they don't do her justice at all. Unfortunately it will be a little while before we can make the shoot happen (she might end up being the first gal in the new studio depending on timing). The weather continues to frustrate outdoor shoots but I keep rescheduling them and we'll just have to see how it goes. But it's quite possible I won't have any new material in December.

And a kelp story...

A bit of background - there are a lot of these model shooting events that I don't quite understand. Somebody with a studio will make some extra money by basically booking in a model all day and then line up photographers to shoot her at a higher than normal rate and pocket the difference. This one charges extra if you want to borrow studio gear and get some help using it, so it becomes more like a workshop. But usually these things don't check out the "photographers" at all - you get these guys who just want to check out a hot nude model and couldn't get one on their own, but the model feels safer because it's not at some guy's house and presumably the studio owner's around and all that. Maybe there's a bouncer too, I have no idea.

Anyway, I got a flyer from a model for one of these things. Mass mailing to photographers and she kept the whole list in the to: field. No "how are you" not even any "Could you please post this to your blog" - it's hard to say because there was no text at all but she apparently thinks I might be interested. I've worked with her twice and the rate for this one shoot would be the same as both of our shoots put together (and it's short, so per hour it's four times what I paid her). And the kicker? Of the five shots to show how attractive she is? Yep, one of them's mine - taken over a year ago (which is kind of a long time for a model's portfolio). So she's using my own shot to sell me the opportunity of driving Lord knows where to drag all my gear to some studio that might not be as nice as mine to pay four times the prior rate to shoot her with a "standard" model release that probably doesn't cover my needs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Little Updates

I'm still spending an awful lot of time doing painting and such. The studio area's taking the most time - it's fairly complicated - but it's getting there. The paneling is all primed, dried, and the room is mostly painted. Now it needs more power (even strobe units are power hogs when they're recharging) and the floor to be refinished, and some little stuff like there's a light fixture that has to go.

But you know how it goes - there's always a million little unanticipated things like you pull off the old thermostat (the kind with enough mercury to turn the place into a superfund site if you dropped it) and find that the new modern thermostat is much smaller and doesn't cover the hole, so you get to do some wall patching. Or you go to change the locks and realize they have old-style holes and you need to cut modern ones. It's no big deal but a lot of things that should be 5 minute jobs then require a trip to get some tools you didn't think you would need and suddenly it's a project.

There's a full week when I won't be allowed in the new place while the floors are being refinished so if I put together that lighting guide I've been considering it will happen then.

On the plus side I did get a couple of million dollars as part of the federal artist bailout package. Unfortunately I'd intended to buy a Senate seat with that but they're apparently really cracking down lately.

I'm trying to get some outdoor nude work done but as I noted the other day the weather hasn't exactly been cooperative. I might squeeze in one last studio shoot if I can make it work before the tree goes up but we'll see. I did I think 32 nude model shoots for this website in 2008 so far which is quite a few, really.

I haven't set any goals for 2009 yet in terms of numbers - I need to think a bit first about direction. I'd like to do more two (or more!) model shoots, and track down another fire spinner, and do more outdoor stuff with artificial lighting (people are doing amazing things by getting portable strobes off camera with wireless setups). The new space will be much better suited for some kinds of long exposure work, especially light painting - it has some great windows but they're much easier to block off than the current space. And of course if some great traveling model is going to be in the area I'll crank out some figure work, plan or no plan. Like with Tavia - I found out the night before I could shoot her for two hours, so I did. So basically the approach is to find some goals so that I can start looking for the right people for the more exotic stuff, but at the same time being flexible enough to take advantage of any short term opportunities.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Silver Fiber Status

I've been really happy with the new lab and their silver gelatin fiber base prints. I've officially removed the wording about test periods and such from the site. I've decided to leave the prices alone because I'm about six weeks out from the next general price increase and it makes more sense to do them all at once.

Also, I ended up making some test prints to check out specific things, and added them to the silver fiber section on my eBay store. So if you want to get one without waiting a couple of weeks, now's your chance. I don't like carrying inventory of these prints (they're expensive and it's just another thing to keep track of) so don't expect this to be a regular thing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Final Book Reminder

The oldest two books get retired 1/1/2009. If you want one, get it now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Monday's shoot


Looks like I'm not going to be doing that shoot on the bay in the morning...

...and a low of 22 degrees on Wednesday? Seriously? My orange and lemon trees are going to love that one...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sigh

It doesn't seem to be getting much news play, at least at the moment, so for those who don't know I thought I'd mention that Bettie Page died.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Life of Prime

So pretty much my time is being spent doing the minimum to keep the business running (ordering prints, mailing them out, that kind of thing) and the rest of the time talking to contractors and painting things. Well, mostly priming things. The primer you use on wood paneling's kind of fascinating. It's a bit like rolling on toothpaste, or maybe that old style sunscreen. Basically it's thick 'n' chunky style. (It needs to do two things - bond to the surface and block out dark things like knots). Basically it's a big pain in the butt but it seems to do the job.

Oh - and the floor guy says he can do a light sanding of the softwood floor and coat it and it should be fine for my purposes, as long as I understand the drawbacks, etc. etc. (aka "it ain't oak"). So that should save me some cash/time and should look better than the cheap Ikea flooring I was going to use. Frankly it's going to have seamless paper over it a lot of the time - it just needs to be a bit warmer/softer than the concrete slab I thought was down there.

I am going to make some platinum prints tomorrow morning, and next time there's a good place for a break I'm going to do some "quick" large format photography - take four shots with some new film holders I just got. And hopefully in a couple of days the studio will be far enough along to post some before and after pictures and write up a little discussion of that - anybody thinking of doing a home studio might find it interesting although it's not exactly commercial grade (you can rent studios that are basically whole warehouses if you really want). But for figure work and the kind of simple portrait work I do it should be really nice.

Some lab notes - my regular lab (WHCC) just saved my bacon. They caught a slightly corrupted file - there was just one line of garbage on a 16x20 and they caught it and stopped the job and called me and left a message saying to reupload the file and name it such and such and they'd keep an eye out for it. I uploaded a good file and I checked back with their internal tracking system and sure enough at some point the job restarted and last I heard it was in packaging.

It also looks like the lab that's doing my silver gelatin fiber based prints is doing nicely - I just got a couple more literally as I write this (UPS is working late this time of year!) and I need to look at them a bit closer in the morning but I haven't had any unpleasant surprises since that first batch. This means I'll probably be ending their test phase and raising the prices sooner rather than later, although the next overall one is going to be early in the new year so maybe I'll just do it all at once.

But anyway - it makes a huge, huge difference being able to fire off a file and know exactly what I'm going to get and when I'm going to get it and that they'll call me if there's any concern. That's always true but it's especially appreciated when it's the busiest time of year in term of print sales and I'm trying to move at the same time!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Heh



Not sure if this is the best Pearl Harbor Day post ever but I blame the paint fumes. (If you don't see the video, try the direct link).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Surprise!

So I officially own the new place (well, mostly the bank owns it, but you know what I mean). And really, the best way to make a new place feel like yours is to rip something up. I headed into the studio area, pulled up the carpet and underlay expecting to find concrete slab and found fairly attractive wood - possibly fir but I'm not sure. Which is interesting, because I had already purchased a bunch of cheap Ikea flooring because asking the models to pose on concrete seemed like a bit much but at the same time it's mostly going to be covered by seamless paper and doesn't need to be as impressive as all that. (carpet's no good - imagine putting paper over carpet and walking across it... in high heels...)

I need to talk to the floor refinishing guy who's coming by Tuesday to talk about the rest of the house (mostly oak) about options - it might make sense to just clean it up and wax it or something since refinishing fir is supposed to be a bit of an adventure, especially if it's second growth which is pretty soft. But I think most likely it will make more sense to just give it a bit of TLC and I can always add a fancier floor later if need be. Thankfully the wood I bought is returnable and none of the boxes were opened. I'll still need to sand some unattractive paneling and paint since it's not only ugly but it reflects some very strangely colored light into the room. (I think in retrospect the paneling and carpet were probably added in the '60s - the house was built in the early 40s - but I'm really just guessing. Perhaps the floor guy will know more about local construction patterns).

I also need some better power in there - studio strobes aren't as power hungry as old fashioned hot lights but they still need some decent power. Speaking of which, the contractor thing I mentioned earlier is still up in the air but I'm seeing a much more cooperative attitude. Hopefully that will continue.

Anyway, this might be a bit of a construction blog for a bit, but I'll see what I can do about the beautiful naked woman thing... around this time of year I usually shut down the studio anyway, because, um, that's the only place to put a Christmas tree... yet another nice change about the new place.

Friday, December 05, 2008

New Pictures: CK and Maria

I just uploaded the CK and Maria set.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Non-nude alt process prints

For those interested - I'm listing a bunch of non-nude alt process prints (2 cyanotype, 9 platinum) in two batches.

And really, who doesn't need a platinum print of a marine iguana? They only live in the Galapagos Islands. Darwin called them "Imps of Darkness". Gotta love it.

With a little luck this search will put the most recently listed alt process prints on top... (and if you're not a big iguana fan, perhaps the sea lion will be more to your taste).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Updates

I'm still working on editing this set. I don't have a backlog of sets to edit after this one so there may be a gap after these get posted (hopefully on Friday). I have some tentative model shoots scheduled but I also am hopefully going to get the keys to a new place on Friday. It's larger than where I am now but it needs some TLC - there's painting and laying down some new floor and some electric work and... well, there's a list. Luckily I can do a lot of the work myself but I don't do plumbing (Other than snaking drains and so forth) or tile work as an example. But it does mean in the short term I'll probably just be fitting in a few outdoor shoots. In the long term I'll have a much more permanent shooting space (read: I won't be setting up and tearing down in my living room for every shoot) which will especially make shorter shoots like portrait work easier.

It turns out to be a bit tricky to do the bare bulb stuff with two models, especially if they have very different skin tones. But it turns out that if you use one light each and fiddle with the power you can make it work.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sigh

I'm supposed to take possession of a house on Friday and I've already had a contractor try to screw me. The sellers are actually paying him but we set it up - it's all very complicated but basically getting some fire trap electric stuff fixed before we take possession so that the insurance company won't freak out.

Interestingly enough the real estate agent recommended the guy, and we went along with it because we weren't paying for it but suddenly all this crap and expense is getting dumped in our lap. It really shows you need to be careful about recommending people - the agent probably just lost the chance to sell this place and it should be as easy a sale as any can be in this market (It's small but it's one of the few around here that have remodeled kitchen and bath, and once I paint it and have the floors refinished it should be a great starter house for somebody - the reason why I'm able to trade up is because of the market compression and I'm basically moving from a smaller nice place to a larger fixer). The contractor also just lost out on some additional electric work because while I can do a lot of it I'm sure there will be plenty left over - I know I can do a lot of it myself but I'm not so sure about getting some decent power upstairs.

Likewise one of the great reasons to check references on models is so that you can go back to them and let them know the model flaked. If the photographers giving the references aren't total morons they'll hedge their bets next time, and once they hear from a couple of people that she's flaked that's that.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Post Shoot Notes: CK and Maria




Really, you can never have enough color charts. Or models in one shoot, for that matter...

Pictures on Friday.
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