Friday, December 30, 2011

Grover Schrayer's Amazing Candle Smoke Photography

I just came across this article on Pittsburgh photo artist Grover Schrayer who takes spectacular photos of the smoke from blown out candles. Armed with his Fujifilm Finepix S8100fd 10MP Digital Point and Shoot, 18x Wide Angle Dual Image Stabilized Optical Zoomcamera, along with a snap on Raynox M-250 macro lens, he demonstrates what one can do with simple and not terribly costly equipment, imagination, patience and the ability to think outside the box. Although both the camera and the Raynox lens are discontinued, you can still find the camera on Amazon, for now, and the replacement for the M-250 is the DCR-250 Super Macro Snap-On Lens, also available on Amazon for under $80.00 and compatible with most cameras.
Although it apparently took Schrayer 25 attempts before he finally got what he wanted, what he got was worth the effort.

'I focused on the wick, or the edge of the flame, had the shutter button half-pressed and ready, and blew out the candle and snapped very quickly.

'The built-in flash gave me head-on illumination of the smoke, and that head-on lighting allowed me to pick up the refraction through the droplets of wax.

'Any other angle of illumination would not produce the rainbow effect.

'Even with all that planning, it still took 25 attempts to get a decent shot of the effect.' Grover used a Fuji Finepix S8100fd, with a Raynox M-250 macro lens attached. Each image is shot at 1/1000th or higher.

'The camera's built-in flash provided the perfect head-on illumination that made the light refract through the wax droplets and back towards the camera in exactly the way that sunlight refracts through raindrops to make a rainbow.
'I only noticed the effect afterwards when looking through the images I had taken.

'But once I saw it show up on a number of photos, I decided to capture as many instances of it as I could for good measure.'

I truly admire those who know how to manipulate their cameras to create these fabulous abstract works of art.  I recently posted about German photographer Heinz Maier, another amazing artist, and his incredible water photography. They're an inspiration to us all, and a reminder that it's not the equipment that makes a good photographer, it's the imagination and artistry that lies within.  And at less than $80.00 a pop, I think I might add that Raynox to my list of equipment, though I'll stick to Canons.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Covergirl Mascara Ad Banned For Excessive Photoshopping

Another makeup company is being raked over the coals, this time for digitally manipulating a models eyelashes to make them look longer. The trouble is, it's for CoverGirl's Natureluxe Mousse Mascara which claims the product will create "2x more volume". Granted the ad apparently did mention at the very bottom, in small print, that the model's eyelashes had indeed been Photoshopped, but who reads all those disclaimers? Certainly not those of us who have to drag out our magnifying glasses to read labels that over the years have gotten increasingly smaller. And if it's a television ad, forget it.

The U.K. recently banned a Julia Robert's Lancome ad, along with a Christy Turlington Maybelline ad, for  misleading consumers.  This time the U.S. is jumped on the banning bandwagon, and out goes the CoverGirl Natureluxe campaign. Industry watchdog, and part of the Better Business Bureau- the National Advertising Division (NAD), decided to ban the ad.

As a result, Proctor and Gamble (owners of CoverGirl Cosmetics) claims it pulled all misleading ads, and NAD seems to be satisfied.

Women spend thousands of dollars a year trying to get that flawless model-perfect complexion and those extra long lashes; obviously an impossible task, and a major waste of money, since neither can those models.

There's a major difference between portrait photographers digitally manipulating a model's face for the artistic merits, but it's not okay for ad campaigns to claim something works when it clearly doesn't.

Photo Credit:
NAD director Andrea Levine told Business Insider: 'You can’t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman’s face and then – in the mice type – have a disclosure that says "okay, not really." 'NAD was particularly troubled by the photograph of the model – which serves clearly to demonstrate (i.e., let consumers see for themselves) the length and volume they can achieve when they apply the advertised mascara to their eyelashes.'

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Video "Stand Your Ground" Photographing In Public and Private Places Experiment

As part of the London Street Photography Festival 2011, a group of photographers and videographers decided to conduct a little experiment on the limits of photographing in public and private space. Called Stand Your Ground,

On Tuesday 21 June 2011 six photographers were assigned different areas of the City to photograph. Some used tripods, some went hand held, one set up a 5 x 4.

All were instructed to keep to public land and photograph the area as they would on a normal day. The event aimed to test the policing of public and private space by private security firms and their reaction to photographers.

All six photographers were stopped on at least one occasion. Three encounters led to police intervention.

Directed and Produced by Hannah White for the London Street Photography Festival
Edited by Stuart York

The following video demonstrates what happens when they start shooting on the streets of London.

It's somewhat understandable that security would be wary of people taking photographs of certain 'sensitive' buildings like banks. And perhaps they wouldn't have had such a reaction had there not been a videographer in attendance, as well. But it's interesting, nonetheless. I have been approached several times on questionable private property, which I did not understand at the time, but it was just easier to walk away than stand my ground. Perhaps I should have.

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Artist's Perspective On Food Photography

Digital-Photography-School.Com is a great source for information.  I subscribe to their list and receive emails every once in a while with tips and tutorials that I have found invaluable.  And all for free.  I just received one that included tips on food photography.  I admit I have tried taking photos of food and I suck. To be fair, it was only for fun, and usually spontaneously at a restaurant I happen to be eating at. This photo was taken at a restaurant in Quebec City while visiting for my parent's anniversary. It's colorful, but pretty boring.

For those interested in making something extraordinary and dramatic out of ordinary food photography, this article gives some great tips on approaching it from a painter's perspective.

Will Kemp gives us 5 tips to better food photography:

1. Use a Single Light Source

This is very effective when you’re painting because it really helps to give the illusion of depth and that is one of the trickiest things to achieve when your trying to convince the viewer of your subject.

When you use one light source you produce lovely shapes of what are called cast shadows, as in the shadow cast by an object. I often study the shadows more than the subject. You don’t need an expensive light, the photo above was lit using a $5 torch.

You can use this technique when composing your photograph to try and keep it really simple, that way it looks more dramatic .
Here are the other 4 tips.
I'm going to have to do some experimenting.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Help-Portrait" Day, December 10th 2011 - Take A Photo Of Someone In Need

It's always nice to give back, and I just came across this opportunity via an email from about "Help-Portrait" Day, which falls on December 10th this year.

According to Help-Portrait's website, this is not about adding to your portfolio or making money by selling the portraits, it's about giving back to the community in need.  Taking a portrait of some needy individual or family and then gifting them with the photograph is the ultimate aim of the project.

They are looking for amateur and pro-photographers, volunteers and makeup artists.  Their website has all the information you need, including lists of groups that have already formed, all over the world. Or if there is no group in your immediate area they encourage you to create one yourself. Photojojo also has information and suggestions on how to get involved with this very worthy project.

There are so many worthy groups and organizations that would so appreciate having their members' photo taken-  for free.

Help-Portraits Mission Statement

Founded by Celebrity Photographer Jeremy Cowart, Help-Portrait is a community of photographers coming together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local community.

In December, photographers around the world will be grabbing their cameras, finding people in need and taking their picture. When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered.

Yep. It really is that easy.

This is about GIVING the pictures, not taking them. These portraits are not for your portfolio, website, or for sale. Money isn’t involved here. This holiday season, you have the chance to give a family something they may have never had before—a portrait together.

Our mission? Our mission at Help-Portrait is simply to equip and mobilize you, the photography community. We want to make sure you have all the information that you need to successful participate in Help-Portrait on 10 December 2011. We want to help you find other people in your area that are wanting to be part of Help-Portrait or have already begun to plan the event. We want you to have the opportunity to give.

The best place to connect with other photographers, download important documents, and read up on some useful Help-Portrait planning tips is our COMMUNITY SITE.

Just in case you haven’t seen it, here is our video explaining the idea of Help-Portrait.

And an intro video for more info:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Photodough and Big Trigger, The Groupon For Photographers' Needs

Group discount sites like Groupon, Living Social and a slew of others have been supplying consumers with some very tasty deals. Every once in a while some of those sites included a few offers that photographers might find useful.  Now there are several sites specifically targeting photographers that have surfaced.  I  haven't used either so I can't vouch for whether it's worth joining or not, but I figure it can't hurt.

Big Trigger has offered everything from flash websites/plus photo cart for a little over $100.00 to $62.00 for a 20x30 gallery wrapped canvas.  It looks like they started off in August 2011 and are trying to get more people signed up so they can offer bigger and better deals.

Photo Dough has been in existence since March 2011, and has offered everything from template deals to a 12x12 photo album (including design service but not shipping) for $38.00, to $99 for a 24x36 Metal Mural (including mounting hardware and free shipping.)

It's actually a great way to try a company out, especially the labs, before investing in the full price.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Incredible Water Droplet Photography Of Heinz Maier

Amazing photos by German amateur photographer Heinz Maier, who captures water droplets with high speed photography. During the day he works in a factory and plays with his art at night.  He's apparently only been at it for a year, but his beautiful macro photos certainly demonstrate that sometimes talent and ingenuity trumps experience. 

Most look like colorful, decorative blown glass. Just beautiful. The burgeoning, global recognition of his art is well deserved.

More of his work on Flickr.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!  May it be filled good friends, family and good food.  Remember to take stock of all the things you are grateful for.

With love and many blessings.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pricing Art- Andreas Gursky's "Rhein II" Sells For $4.3 million

German photographer Andreas Gursky, born in 1955, garners millions for his work.  He received $2.4 million for  "99 Cent",   a digitally maniplated photograph of a 99 cent discount store.  And his Rhein 11 (see above), created in 1999, was recently auctioned off at Christie's for a whopping  $4,338,500. Also digitally manipulated, it now holds the record for the highest selling photograph in history.  Granted it's huge, at 73 x 143in , and mounted on Plexiglas (as are most of his works) but many seem to think it falls into the "I could have done that" category.

So what makes someone's artwork worth millions while others struggle to sell for a paltry sum? That's a question most artists struggle with on a daily basis.  For those of us who sell on sites like Etsy, Artfire and the myriad of other websites out there, trying to stay competitive influences how much we sell our product for.  When you have photographers selling their 8 x10 prints for under $20.00,  prices have to be adjusted if one wants to sell.  But most people have no clue how to price their work,  and seem to be happy simply breaking even.  They fail to realize that when it comes to 'art' not only do you have to factor in your costs (and there are plenty) you have to take into the account the actual value of the work.  That, of course, is subjective, but if don't value our own work, you can't expect anyone else to.

With everything in life, you rise to the level of your feelings of self worth.  Gursky obviously felt his work had value, and that's why it now sells for millions.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

When Photoshopping Goes Too far: UK Bans Lancome Julia Roberts Ad

The Julia Robert's photo for  L'Oreal's Lancome ad is beautiful in its own right. Flawless radiant skin, a great airbrushing and photoshop job, but it's not real.  Julia's aging face has flaws, as do all of ours over a certain age, and if an ad is going to tout an anti-ageing product, then you better dang well be sure that there is some truth in advertising.   As a result, Britain has banned both the Lancome ad and a Christy Turlington ad for Maybelline's "The Erasor", a product that claims to cover up flaws. 

Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson believes the ads are misleading, and rightfully so. If you are creating art, well then photoshop and airbrush away; but when you are advertising a product that can never achieve the same results as your edited photo, then that's just plain deception.  There is a place for minor digital manipulation, as in stray hairs, shadows or blemishes that the subject might not normally have, but  crows feet, or dark circles under the eyes? Nope. If the product claims to rid you of them (and it's highly doubtful it can), then there is no place for major editing.

According to the Guardian UK, to demonstrate what 'The Erasor' foundation can do the Maybelline ad featured certain parts of Christy's face covered with the product and the rest not covered. L'Oreal even admitted that the photo had been

 "....digitally retouched to lighten the skin, clean up makeup, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the eyebrows". However, it claimed there were still signs of ageing, such as crow's feet, and that the image "accurately illustrated" the achievable results.
If I am going to pay good money for a product, I want to make sure that it does what it claims, since my skin isn't going to be 'lightened' and touched up in other ways.  I realize products work differently on different people, but if they have to touch up the image of a beautiful model, than how am I going to fare?
The company, which provided the ASA with pictures of both women "on the red carpet" to show that they were naturally beautiful, admitted that digital post-production techniques had been used on Roberts but maintained that the changes were not "directly relevant" and that the ad was an "aspirational picture".
Aspirational?  For whom? 

Good for Swinson. I think we're all tired of aspiring to stick thin, wrinkle-free models when, in truth, those wrinkles and that fat have been photoshopped out and off, by some very talented artists. 

Source:  GuardianUK

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon March 19, 2011

Yesterday, the full moon was the brightest its been in almost 18 years. That's because it was the closest it's been to the earth in that amount of time. Dubbed the "Super Moon", and not expected to happen for another 18 or so years, it was something to behold.

We were blessed here in southeast Florida to have a cloudless sky, so I was able to capture it in all its glory. I wasn't set up in time to photograph it as it poked above the horizon in a blaze of bright orange color, but I did get some decent pics of what looked like an ever changing bowling ball in the sky. The golden yellowish orange colors came first and it evolved into a brilliant, bright white orb.

Unfortunately, I don't have a super telephoto lens, so I had to make do with my Canon EF-S 55-250 mm lens, and my tripod, although there was not much distinction, if any, between the tripod shots and the handheld ones.

I set it to manual and daylight for the whole shoot, but towards the end when it was plain white, I used a flash. I kept the ISO at 100 to 200. F8 to F11. 1/125 to 1/250. I bracketed some at the beginning, and then stopped.

These are cropped, big time, with some minimal tweaking in Photoshop.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Stones By A Stream Made It To Front Page Of Etsy

This beautiful treasury made it to the coveted Front Page of Etsy early this morning. It was a tribute to the people of Japan during this terrible time.

I was honored to have my "Stones By A Stream" included.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vivian Maier- Street Photographer From The 1950s to 1970s

Vivian Maier lived in relative obscurity as a 'street' photographer for her whole life, but some recently discovered photos and undeveloped film inspired Chicagoan John Maloof to create a blog dedicated to her work.  He is now trying to get financing to shoot a documentary film about Maier's life, which sounds fascinating.

Born in New York to a French mother, she worked as nanny/caretaker, but apparently loved photography, taking a ton of rolls of film, many of which were undeveloped when Maloof purchased a box of her things at an auction house for about $400.00. Little did he know what he would unearth. He claims there are anywhere from 30 to 40,000 negatives.

Many of her B&W photos are posted on Maloof's blog, and a Flickr discussion explains the beginnings. Well worth checking out. And if you feel you want to donate to the documentary film, you can click here.