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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

••◊ Nature Photography

I spent last Sunday evening with Clarence and Laurel Scovie in Balboa Park behind the San Diego Air and Space Museum. It was a last minute decision to go since this was actually set up between Clarence and Laurel. I-5 was right behind us and further off in the distance was downtown San Diego and the bay with sunset quickly approaching.

Clarence started off with some pictures of Laurel sitting below a tree, but I was having trouble finding inspiration there...so I asked Laurel to climb up in the tree. We used a single beauty dish on her. It was about 6pm, so you can still see a bit of blue sky in the background. The way I look at it I was taking nature photos because let's face it...Katy Perry is right. The natural species of southern California is the California blonde! Their usual habitat spaces are the beach or a convertible; maybe a combination of the two. This was a unique chance to capture Laurel.

I saw this tree across the parking lot with a unique and beautiful bark that matched Laurel's skin and had to photograph her there. For this photo we used two side kickers and a beauty dish overhead. I think it makes for a good surfer girl look photo.

Is it any wonder that I'm a bit of a tree hugger? More filming this weekend with Go Gadget Comedy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

••◊ What is With the Color Purple?

I'm working on a project and I have a quick question...which purple color scheme do you think I should go with; The lighter one surrounded by black on the left, or the slightly darker purples surrounded by white on the right?

Even if you're color blind you probably already failed the first question. Why? Well our eyes see lightness relative to the surrounding ambient. The purple boxes are exactly the same left to right. I stole this image from Billy Biggs page talking about chromatic adaptation. I think this issue comes up for me most often when I prepare an image on the computer, think it's perfect, then print it and find out that the print is too dark. It's all relative to your display environment. Yes kids, this is a science lesson, but a valuable one.

Subconsciously I think we all develop a picture in our head a split second before taking a photo - the saturation, the hues, the contrast... Does it ever match reality? Hardly ever. Now at least we have a good excuse that doesn't involve the camera performance. Different environment, different viewing results.

Second question. What is the opposite of purple? Before reading on stare at the purple square in the center below for one minute, then look to the white area to the right. The answer will reveal itself.

This is another case of chromatic adaptation. When you look at the purple long enough your eyes adjust to somewhat counteract that stimulus. What you should see in the center when you look away from the color blocks (with a white background) is green. I found this example on the HP labs web site from a paper published by Nathan Moroney titled "The Opposite of Green is Purple?".

So looking at an image for an extended period of time changes how we perceive the image. Another science lesson. That's all for today. No homework scheduled.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

••◊ The great international beauty shoot

Last Sunday was spent herdin' cats at a Penthouse near downtown San Diego. My friend Duygu thought it would be fun to have a girls glamour day where she could do some art direction. Well...things didn't turn out as planned, but that's nothing unusual for a shoot. I just kept telling Duygu, "this is normal, relax." We roll with the punches.

It all started at 7am when Clarence called me to say that our hair dresser had been out drinking all night, texted him that she wasn't going to make it at 3am, and was currently praying to the porcelain god. Oh boy...didn't plan a backup there. Then when we arrived we found out that two of the girls had decided to flake out at the last minute, so we were down to 3 women. However, Duygu's roommate Christina came through with two of her friends and Duygu made a call or two. Suddenly this became an international beauty photo shoot. We had three Mexican women (Cristina, Bernice, and Sandra), one Turkish/Swedish woman (Duygu), and one Brit (Katie), and a Yank (Jodi).

You read correctly above. Duygu is Turkish via genetics and Swedish via nationality. I generally refer to her as "trouble." I told her at the shoot that she's the type of trouble that mothers warn their sons about and fathers tell their sons to look forward to. Gotta love that.

I now wish I had taken a picture of all the lighting gear we had in one room. It was nearly pornographic. Most of the pictures below were taken with a 48" soft box, a bare flash near the lens for fill, and my beauty dish shown in the previous post. David Hobby mentioned just using a bare flash crammed up to the barrel of the lens as a poor man's ring flash. Turns out it really works. I was able to easily crank up and turn down ambient lighting.

So...the pictures - In alphabetical order there's Bernice, Christina, Duygu, Jodie, and Katie.

Hopefully we are shooting another comedy bit this weekend. More to come after that.

Friday, August 6, 2010

••◊ Creating beauty in the machine shop

Just a quick post before the weekend. I spent my lunch hour this week in the machine shop. After picking up a beauty dish I needed a way to mount it to my speedlight. Of course, no one really sells such a contraption, so I had to custom make one (joy!). The brass post was custom lathed. The top and bottom curved washers were milled and the mounting bracket was also custom milled. The speedlight mount was borrowed from my Chimera "magic slipper" setup for my softboxes. I just need a PC sync cord and "I'm so there, dude!" I have four beautiful women lined up for a shoot this weekend so this dish better live up to it's name.