Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First shoot of 2010

Counting by when they'll be on the site, not when I took them!

Here's a good example for when people ask me "where do you get your models?". Well, she wrote me a couple of days ago saying she liked my work, and wanted to try shooting nude, and could I fit her in before she went back to college. So we gave it a whirl and she turned out to be great.

I'm going to shoot for having them up in a week but it might be a little longer depending on how things go.

PS I've updated my templates and regenerated the website in preparation for the price increase Jan 1st. My plan is probably going to be to actually upload the files while I'm watching the Rose Parade and just get it done. So it's really going to be sooner rather than later, and if anybody's waiting for the 1st for some reason you're not going to have much time.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cirque du Soleil - Ovo Review

Well, once again Cirque has put on a touring production, and once again after doing their hometown and Toronto they've come to the US, specifically to San Francisco. And once again I feel compelled to write a little review. But re-reading my review of Kooza from last time it's kind of the same in terms of which areas were strong and which were weak. Most of the actual acts are very good. A couple really give you that sense of wonder that makes the otherwise absurd ticket price worthwhile. The clowns aren't funny and drag on way, way too long. Additionally the whole pacing's a bit off - both weird slow sections (mostly clown related) and the first half ends rather abruptly. And there's no one crazy big apparatus like the Double Wheel of Death although there's a combination of trampolines and a wall that are pretty cool, and many of the simpler acts are incredibly well done.

The other problem they have is a bad case of not knowing where to look - there are often extra characters trying to be clever for no obvious reason and you look at them to figure out why they're there and you miss the main act doing something incredible. Grr.

The music was good, the costuming was excellent, the basic idea of "let's make everybody some kind of bug" was good but they were trying too hard to make a story out of it, relying on the lame clowns to advance the plot, such as it was. They could have chopped 5 minutes of clowns out of the first half, ten out of the second, and nobody would have felt shortchanged and it would really have kept the energy level up.

But as always, when they're good, they're just incredible and there were a number of wonderful moments. It's just that they need to keep the big picture stuff in mind - especially pacing.

Update: I thought the Chronicle review was unusually spot-on, although I liked the music.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Market Research - Accordion Mini Books

One of my labs, WHCC, keeps increasing their options, and they've added these Accordion Mini Books. Click on that link to see what they look like. I ordered some with baby pictures for various relatives and they were a big hit. If you didn't click the link - they're little fold out books, cloth or leather cover, with wallet sized pictures in them. The quality is very high. They have little magnets to hold them shut.

The only downsides are that you have to buy them three at a time (all the same), and they're a little time consuming to put together - you have to give them one image for the whole front, and one for the whole back, so you have to do a lot of resizing and copying and pasting and moving around.

Would anybody like some with pictures of beautiful naked women? If so, all of one model, or a "best of"? What would you be willing to pay for it? Would it matter if it were signed or not?

I probably won't make this a normal buy option, but if there's interest I might order a half dozen and see what happens. If you have any thoughts please feel free to leave a comment or use the email link over in the right hand sidebar --->. (If your option is "this idea sucks" keep it to yourself - I'll take any deafening silence as indication of that!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I, alas, did not get an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle. (*) Still, it's been a very good week. I hope everyone else's has been as wonderful!





(*) On the plus side, nobody's shot their eye out with that thing, and I kept the turkey away from the ravenous dogs next door.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New pictures: Sammi

Nude shoot #32 for the year - right on schedule, it's Sammi. I might fit in one more shoot between Christmas and New Years - if so there would be some teaser shots here before the end of the year, but not the actual set.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Creepy Self Portrait

It's becoming traditional to take one of these per light painting session.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Models: A cautionary tale

I've always said that it's really best to assume people are going to find out if you model nude. There's some obvious things you can do to make that relatively unlikely (using a fake name if your name's unusual enough that it might come up high in a Google search) but you never know.

So my latest story with this - a model I know received a cell phone picture from a friend that was of a print of the model hanging over somebody's fireplace. The friend didn't know the model had posed nude so it was kind of like "what the hell?". Well, it was apparently a print I'd sold to somebody.

Luckily the model thinks it's wonderful that people buy her prints and frame them and hang them up, and the model's friend thought it was cool once they knew that the model knew that the pictures were out there and all that. It was a male friend so he gets to brag "Oh, yeah, I know her."

I think that's actually a nice test to see if you should pose nude or not. If you would be delighted if that happened, do it. If you would be horrified, don't. If you want the experience consider a portrait shoot.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sammi

I shot with Sammi twice in 2007, most recently here. It's always fun to have somebody back after a couple of years.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday schedule notes

Just a reminder that things slow down a little this time of year. My lab has some days they're closed around Christmas and New Years. They ship to me 2 day UPS which doesn't slow down as much as ground, but I ship Priority Mail which definitely gets slower starting around now and doesn't really recover until early Jan. In addition sometime in the next month there's a decent chance we'll get out of town for a couple of days.

Also remember that I'm retiring the current book Jan 1st, and prices go up Jan 1st.

I'm tentatively planning on doing another book sometime soon but it will be a little drawn out since I want to test a couple of options and see what makes the most sense. So even if I get it put together over the holidays it probably won't be available for sale for a while. It will be the usual kind of thing - 50-75 pages, and material from roughly a the last year. In this case I skipped doing one in May 2009 because we had the baby in April so it will probably be a little thicker than normal but nothing extreme.

All lit up

Still not obvious? I'll try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A little more model

I'll see about getting this set up sooner rather than later. It'll be the last one of the year - I might do another shoot if something works out but this is the last one I expect to get edited. It was kind of a long shoot - two hours of mostly normal studio stuff although I did try a couple of new things that worked pretty well, and one hour of light painting (which will probably just produce a few usable shots but that's OK).

Still don't know who it is? I'll post something a little more lit up when I've had a chance to look at those.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Post Shoot Notes

You'll want to click on that to see it bigger.

Speaking of light painting, I had a chance to do some tonight. This is with a laser on a thermometer I've been using to check some insulation issues (it just lets you know where you've pointed it). I'll reveal the model later.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Light Painting

I haven't had a chance to do any myself since the set with Maria but I apparently inspired Ronald Puhle to give it a shot and he did very well - check it out! I'm afraid I've been meaning to mention it for about six weeks and since then he's done additional experiments as well with light painting and long exposure work, so if you're interested I'd start at the top and check things out from there, or maybe just check out this one which is very cool.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas trees

So I was driving on the freeway just now, in a light rain, looking at the Christmas tree tied onto the top of the car a ways in front of me and one lane over. I'm alongside a truck on the other side and going just a tich faster because the truck is spraying water and I don't want to be behind it. So I'm passing but it's pretty low key.

But mostly I'm staring at this tree, because it doesn't look like it's all that stable and thinking maybe I don't want to be behind it, either, and once I'm past that truck I should pop over a lane just in case. We're going maybe 60 - 5 under the limit - and hey, 60 mile an hour winds are serious stuff. And as I'm looking at it - bam - it comes off the car.

It turns out that Christmas trees have some interesting aerodynamic properties that include high drag, because the moment it separates from the car it slows way, way down, almost to a stop, and starts rolling into my lane. I want to make an evasive maneuver, but the only option is to the left, where I'm just clear of the truck. And there's no way I can stop, and if I slam on the brakes I'm going 60 on a slick surface. It's not raining super hard or anything but it's been raining on and off all day and the pavement's quite wet.

Did I mention I have the baby in the back seat? Of course I have a baby in the back seat the first time in 39 my years I find a Christmas tree about to impact my car at freeway speeds.

At that point I basically got lucky. Religious folks, feel free to thank anybody you like, because I'm not entirely sure how I didn't hit the tree. Scooted a bit to the side, luckily the truck saw it too and slowed down, and I accelerated a bit and managed to get past it before it rolled too far into my lane and I only had to go about a foot into the truck's lane.

Hopefully nobody was hurt. The car with the tree pulled over immediately. I don't know if they were stupid enough to try to retrieve it, or if the next car was as lucky as me, or what. Hopefully somebody else called 911 because I didn't think of it until just now.

Bringing a tree home? Feel like the top of the car's the only option? Secure it properly. And you know, surface streets aren't as slow as all that.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Yosemite

I finally went through the pictures from my semi-recent Yosemite trip (October!) looking for the ones that weren't baby pictures and put a couple in the Landscapes section.

Monday, December 07, 2009

December 7th, 1941

That's the USS Arizona, destroyed on this date in 1941. The associated memorial is remarkable and I highly recommend a visit if you're in the area.

In my neighborhood the little covers that cover the water meter have the date on them. Sometimes with the exact day, sometimes with just the month and year. I'm not sure if they were installed when a house was finished or started or what but since the houses were all built at different times as you walk down a given street they'll jump up and down over a few years so they were clearly installed as needed as the houses were built and it's a good indication of what sections were filled in when.

Mine says 12-41. It's interesting to sit here and think about the folks who were building a new house just as we were on the brink of WW II. I wonder if they thought they were taking a risk, or if things would surely blow over soon.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

New Model: Wolfpup

I was planning on doing a longer blog post, but I'm home for literally five minutes before heading out again and I won't have time to hook her up to the main website until this evening but I thought I'd at least get her on the blog. Crazy weekend. Anyway, here's Wolfpup, nude shoot #31 for the year. That's the last of my pre-semi-hiatus shoots I had banked. I have a shoot scheduled for Tuesday which I'll talk about more later (don't want to count chickens before they hatch and anyway, I have to run.) (Update: Especially it's a week from Tuesday. Darn kelpy photographers getting their weeks mixed up!)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Portrait Client Shot

I normally would never share a portrait client shot, but we found this one to be charming and she decided it was anonymous enough to let me post it. And I do love a good color chart shot, so there ya go.

I've had a good run lately with the portrait work - lots of nice folks.

On the modeling end of things - I've uploaded the next set and put the link on the social networking sites and the picture feed (links on the right sidebar or just become a fan on Facebook via the little widget below). I'll do a real blog post about it and link it into the website properly tomorrow when I have more time.

Next model shoot's scheduled for Tuesday - I'm not shooting models much until the end of the year but this one should be worth it...


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Boulevard Burgers - San Leandro

I probably only have a couple of readers in range of this place but perhaps people will find this post via Google as well, and anyway it was an interesting experience.

So a nearby restaurant at 1027 MacArthur Boulevard closed, and that happens to be on one of the walking loops I take with the baby. (Sleep, baby, sleep!) They've been remodeling for a while and they had a kind of soft opening today. I noticed the open sign was lit, and they'd only been open about five hours. They'd printed out a copy of a really basic menu (couple kinds of burgers, fries, sodas). The seating didn't really seem to be all there and it looks to me like the remodel maybe isn't quite done yet. People were trying to figure out basic things like how exactly the register worked. The guy running things (owner? manager?) was apologizing that they hadn't thought to add combos but they'd do that someday soon so it would be a bit cheaper to get burgers and fries.

There were some loose wires hanging from the wall. Hopefully nothing too important.

But hey, you have to open sometime, right?

They were actually doing a pretty good business. People were sticking their heads in and introducing themselves and saying they were glad the place was open. We ran into some folks my wife knows. Clearly folks in the neighborhood have been keeping an eye on the place. It's a good location and a good fit for the area, I think. The burgers were on the expensive side but they were clearly high quality fresh beef, fresh produce, etc. Then again, how old could it be?

I imagine they'll start doing a weekend brunch at some point - there's kind of a gap in that area since another local place, called the Cornerstone Cafe, closed, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're going to add some pasta dishes and such. The words "pulled pork" were uttered. The restaurant that used to be in that location was pretty high end so I think they have a pretty good kitchen back there so I think they could go in a couple of different directions if they wanted.

It was nice to see somebody kind of feeling their way into the business. They aren't starting with some massive menu of redundant dishes. They aren't trying to do everything at once. They aren't exactly replicating Cornerstone Cafe (that had pretty good pasta but really mediocre burgers). Start with really nice burgers, get some word of mouth going, get an income stream going, and see what works. Hopefully they have deep enough pockets that they can play with things a bit until they get it dialed in, but they should be really successful if they play their cards right.

I'd provide a link but as far as I can tell they don't have a website yet. Shocking, I know...

Update: Day eight - they've added burger-like-objects. Veggie burgers, chicken options. Also some salads. One high chair which is a bit odd - they stack so it's not like they take up more space as you add them. And places of that size usually have 2-3. Right after we went in for a bit of early dinner they got a serious dinner rush so people are clearly getting the message that they're open.

Update: Day 21. I've eaten there five times I think. They finally added more high chairs (3 total - 2 in use when we were there) and they have good chocolate shakes although they're not actually on the menu yet. Pretty much everybody there had at least one kid so both moves are in line with that. It's right off the freeway and I've seen a line of Highway Patrol motorcycles out front, but it's mostly neighbors and people who go to the ballet and akido schools in the same block.

They actually posted hours - closed Sunday. (Update: they're now open each day 11am - 9pm except they close an hour early on Sunday)

Update: Day 28 - It's funny when you look at some of the food review sites - there are reviews saying they don't have milkshakes and they added them two weeks ago. Are they just not observant? Did it just take them a couple of weeks to post the review? One person said nothing tasted right, including the salt and the onion. Um, if everything tastes weird, maybe it's you. It's winter, it's not like it would be unusual to have a stuffy nose or be taking something for it that might affect the taste. Duh. Really makes me wonder about the people on those sites.

Update: As of Jan 21st I'm still eating there regularly and it's always been great.

Pricing News

Well, it's that time of year again where I start thinking about pricing for the next year. Traditionally I've tweaked prices in February and August. In 2009 I skipped the August price increase because of the recession but in retrospect that was probably a mistake and I really do need to continue to move away from the extremely low prices of the past so that I can get near market rates before my 7 month old is in college. :-)

I basically started with the end goal - the August 2010 prices - and worked backwards, splitting what would normally be a February increase into a January and May increase to ease things out a bit. So if there's some unevenness in the way the prices progress it's just a question of rounding and it all works out in the end.

I should also note that this applies only to lab prints - I haven't decided details yet on the others, but I thought I'd give people a heads up as soon as possible. It's never a bad thing to know when an appreciating asset's about to appreciate.

Anyway, here are the numbers. Assume the first of the month but if I get busy it might be a couple of days into the month. As always eBay auction prices will start at about 10% lower (rounding to some convenient price).

Size Current Jan-2010 May-2010 Aug-2010
8x10 50 65 75
100
11x14 100 125 150 200
16x20 150 200 250 300
24x30 225 300 350 450
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