Monthly Archives: August 2010

15 Examples of Environmental Portraits

[tweetmeme]Here are the results from another great round of Epic Edits Flickr Challenge! #5 was all about “environmental portraits” (chosen by the winner of the last round), and we had another great set of entries. This round was difficult for me to choose photos because environmental portraits share a blurry line with traditional portraits and street photography.

The winner this round was Carsten Fischer, also known as “topfloor” on Flickr. As the winner, he gets to choose the next topic:

CHALLENGE #6: “CAMERA PORN”
FLICKR TAG: “EE-CAMERAPORN”

For those not familiar with the term, “camera porn” is a photo of cameras or other photography gear as the main subject. Just remember that the photos must be in our Flickr pool and tagged with “ee-cameraporn”. Now for the environmental portraits, starting with my favorite:

counting fish
counting fish by topfloor

This photo is really catchy to me… though I can’t put my finger on a single reason for liking it so much. The low perspective gives a more intimate feel to the scene. The complimentary yellow hood and blue fins work well together as secondary focal points. The man himself is an interesting subject. All together, it works very well.

On with the other selections I made:

Risky
Risky by topfloor

Surfer and Board
Surfer and Board by Brian Auer

Mahout
Mahout by KBTimages.co.uk(uk_photo_art)

Cheesman Park and Grey Skies
Cheesman Park and Grey Skies by RussHeath

Dads with crazy cameras are hilarious!
Dads with crazy cameras are hilarious! by RussHeath

La hilandera
La hilandera by Miguel Aguilar

Name Forgotten
Name Forgotten by Brian Auer

Model for the masses
Model for the masses by topfloor

Sketch Artist
Sketch Artist by breischl

_MG_0168Monk
_MG_0168Monk by Joanie H

DSC_2450
DSC_2450 by joshuamorris15

Homeless, Names Unknown
Homeless, Names Unknown by Brian Auer

Master of Light - Joe McNally is blessing us
Master of Light – Joe McNally is blessing us by topfloor

Chamunda Devi 1_Chilam
hamunda Devi 1_Chilam by SaritsInOz

New eBooks Worth Checking Out

[tweetmeme]With my lack of spare time during the move, I’ve managed to miss 4 new eBook announcements! Since I don’t want to flood the blog with a bunch of book reviews all at once, I’ll post all 4 together with brief descriptions. I have, however, downloaded and flipped through all 4 books, and they’re all great reads from outstanding photographers and authors.

So if you’re looking for something new and informative to read, start here and see if anything interests you. If you’re looking for more, check out my archive of book and eBook reviews.

This post contains affiliate links.

NEW BOOKS FROM ED VEROSKY

25 Amazing Boudoir Photography Techniques ($9.95)

“This is a natural followup to my eBook, ’10 Ways to Improve Your Boudoir Photography Now’,” says Verosky. “In this book I’m presenting a quality list of 25 solid boudoir shot examples. This isn’t just a sequence of poses to copy; I’ve designed it to serve as a very concise, flexible, and extensible set of real-world examples to learn from. Each one details, in plain language, what the look is supposed to accomplish, the general setup/blocking of the elements, the technique I use to prepare and direct the subject, and the gear and settings I use to achieve each look.”

And for those of you into flash photography, Ed is giving away a Canon 580EX II flash unit on his website. See the details for entry rules.

NEW BOOKS FROM CRAFT & VISION

SAFARI, A Monograph ($5.00)

SAFARI, A Monograph is the second in the series The Print & The Process. David duChemin unpacks the images from a 10-day safari in Kenya, first letting the images speak for themselves then diving deep into the process behind the photographs. This eBook offers an honest discussion about the issues connected to the creation of duChemin’s SAFARI monograph, including the gear used, the techniques employed, and the lessons learned. It’s a 62-page PDF eBook that will provide you with inspiration amidst the details of the Why and the How. This is not so much about how to photograph your first safari, though you’ll learn that too; it’s a look at the lessons learned, and re-learned, by a photographer who is now 25 years into his craft. Also included are the Adobe Lightroom settings used for Serengeti Chocolate, the duo-tone look in which much of his SAFARI monograph has been styled, and a downloadable Lightroom Preset.

Chasing Reflections ($5.00)

Chasing Reflections is the third in the series The Print & The Process. Eli Reinholdtsen is a creative photographer who, through her unique and skillful approach to reflections, captures moments and juxtapositions that are truly an art form at its finest. Reinholdtsen digs deep and shares tangible ways to scout, setup, and shoot complex and magical photographs that push the envelope of visual poetry. Her playful descriptions aren’t shy of digging deep into the techniques required to capture movement, timing, and contrast. Chasing Reflections is an inspiring collection of 37 photographs that stand on their own a pieces of pure art (The Print) followed by a discussion of the creation of those visual moments (The Process).

The Magic of Black & White – Part III, Nine Photos ($5.00)

The Magic of Black & White – Part III, Nine Photos, takes us through nine gorgeous black and white images with the goal of teaching more advanced techniques to give our images more subtlety and power. Clearly taught in Photoshop, and 5 of the lessons in Photoshop Elements, Andrew takes us through Toning, Split Toning, Exposure Blending, Textures, and the creation of Diptyches and Triptyches, all without losing sight of the idea that our work should be driven by intent with the goal of creating photographs that honour the Artist’s need for expression and the Geek’s need for excellence of craft. And all that without getting mired down – the examples and the illustrations Andrew provides compliment his clear teaching style and make this book a pleasure to read.

Link Roundup 08-23-2010

Okay… these are a little old, but I’m just getting back on the ball with my feed reading and link sharing. I have plenty more coming, but I didn’t want to push them all out at once.

On a side note, we’re also going to get the Flickr Challenge going again. The current challenge is “environmental portraits” — you can read the announcement here and see the current entries in the pool. I’ll be choosing the winners sometime this week.

Getting Your Work Online With a Photography Portfolio

[tweetmeme]This guest post was written by fotograf Rune Johansen

One of the many challenges of working for yourself is finding work. As a professional freelance photographer, the more avenues through which you can obtain work the better. One great way to gain exposure and get potential clients to view your work is to set up an online portfolio. An internet-based photography portfolio if designed well can really bring a touch of class to your work and allow people to view it at their leisure. It also gives you the opportunity to control exactly what your potential clients see, highlighting your best work and leading them through the information you want them to have.

HOW DO I BUILD AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO?

There are many ways to get your work online as a photographer. There are websites set up that allow you to sell prints of your work just by uploading high-res images to your account and letting the website do all the sales work. Of course they take a commission but for a lot of photographers this has become a steady stream of income. There are also websites like iStockPhoto that allow you to sell generic images for designers to use in their work such as on websites and in magazines. This can also pay well.

If you want a personal online portfolio, however, you will usually have to build it yourself. Don’t worry though if you don’t have any web design skills to speak of and the thought of building websites intimidates you. Adobe and many other graphics application developers have added the capability to build basic portfolios directly from inside their programs. Photoshop has a built in gallery feature that will automatically size your images, create thumbnails of them, and create an XHTML/CSS or even a Flash-based webpage containing all your images. Play around with the software and see what you can come up with.

Other options for a portfolio include using an open source solution such as Joomla! or WordPress to create a framework for your site, then using the many plugins and extensions available for these platforms to customise the site and turn it into a gallery based website. If this is too much of a challenge or you simply don’t have the time, hiring a designer to do this for you will usually prove to be much cheaper than having one develop a website from scratch. Have a look around freelancing websites and call some local design agencies to see what the prices are like, you may be pleasantly surprised.

WHAT SHOULD I HAVE ON MY PORTFOLIO?

It is important to make sure you have the right information on your website, but it is equally important not to overdo it. Many people make the mistake of writing their entire life story on their portfolio and crowding the images with lots of text. As a photographer it is important that your work speak for itself, so a minimal description – usually just a sentence – will normally suffice. An “About” page should be included, but should only have the minimum of information needed for your clients, such as relevant qualifications and experience you have as a photographer. Possibly include some hobbies and interests as this helps people get a better idea of who you are, but a photograph of yourself will go a lot further to winning you clients (if it’s a good picture!).

In summary, there are lots of ways to get your work online and no professional should really be without an online portfolio in this technological age. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a professional portfolio and it will serve you well for years to come.

Written by fotograf Rune Johansen

Why Aren’t Cameras More Like Bicycles?

My Baby

[tweetmeme]Mountain biking has been another one of my passionate hobbies (though I’ve drifted away from it in the last few years). But now that I’m back home in north Idaho, I’m anxious to get back in the saddle. In fact, this last weekend, I spent some time building a bike that has been long overdue.

I’m the type of rider who refuses to buy a complete bike. I like to do my research and buy each component individually, thus ending up with a custom bike that meets my wants/needs and falls within my budget. As I was piecing my bike together, I thought “why aren’t cameras more like bicycles?” Meaning, why aren’t more components on a camera interchangeable and replaceable?

Sure, the modern dSLR has interchangeable lenses, flashes, memory cards, and batteries… but that’s about it. You want more megapixels? How about a larger LCD? A different lens mount, perhaps? Your only choice is to buy a completely new camera body. And while you might get most of the features you want in that new body, there always seems to be something you liked better on the old body.

Leaving reality behind for a moment (we’ll come back to it in a second), wouldn’t it be nice to have a truly modular camera? Starting with a frame or skeleton, you could add components to build your camera from the ground up. This sensor, that lens mount, this LCD, that control panel, this processor/computer, that hotshoe, this memory card slot, that viewfinder, etc. Essentially, you could replace only pieces of the camera that are broken or outdated. And if you have some cash to burn, why not go for some upgrades?

Now back to reality. Modern digital cameras are highly complex electro-optical-mechanical systems packed into a very tiny box. Modularizing key components would probably take some extra space and increase overall cost for the camera. Not to mention that interfaces and package dimensions would need to be standardized to allow for the swapping of parts — this would probably be impossible to achieve between different camera manufacturers.

While it may be easy to sit back and compare cameras to bicycles, the truth of the matter is that bicycles are relatively simple mechanical systems in very large packages. It may certainly be possible to create modular cameras, but the general market for such a thing is small.

As a matter of fact, there are a few modular camera systems out there. RED cameras are built on this concept, but they’re very expensive (and intended for shooting cinema rather than stills). The Ricoh GXR is sorta modular, but not entirely. In doing some research, I also found Alpha brand cameras that are built for modular exchange of parts. And of course, many large format film cameras are quite modular (which makes sense based on their size alone).

Does anybody else out there wish that cameras were more modular? Are you the type of photographer that would build something from the ground up rather than buy it off the shelf in final form? What other problems do modular cameras face?

Life is Still Hectic… Summer of 2010

New Life in North Idaho: Back Yard

Well… I made it to north Idaho. I was offline completely for about a week, so I’m slowly getting back up to speed with everything as we settle into our new home. I should be getting back to the regular posts very soon — but in the meantime, here’s a quick rundown on my recent adventures and some pics of the new property.

The house thing happened very fast (about 1 month from seeing the sign to signing the papers). Once things got moving, it seemed like I was on the phone, responding to emails, or scanning documents every hour of every day.

New Life in North Idaho: Front Yard and Driveway

Getting out of San Diego was a challenge too. We didn’t have much time to pack the house or sell unwanted items, so the last set of moving boxes are just crammed with random stuff. We filled our moving truck and the two cars with stuff, but we still had to get rid of a few things (kitchen chairs, vacuum, and other bulky items that just couldn’t fit).

The drive up was an epic pain in the ass. Flat tire on the car dolly before we even left, lost a truck tire retread in the middle of the desert at high noon, and we had an underpowered moving truck with warped brake rotors. We ended up losing about 12 hours on the road, we had to unload the car from the dolly, and we barely made it up here in time to sign papers for the house. But hey… at least we’re still alive!

New Life in North Idaho: Fire Pit

Everything after the moving trip was pretty smooth. We got the house as scheduled, unloaded the truck, and started setting up the house. We still have stuff everywhere and boxes that haven’t been opened yet. Got my Internet all hooked up and the computer is mostly up and running. I’m moving right along with telecommuting for work, and I’m still hunting for a local job.

As for the new pad…

The house is nothing special, but it’s livable for now. It needs some work inside and out — most of which is minor or cosmetic. It has a front porch that runs the width of the house and it was enclosed by a previous owner such that it’s now part of the house space. Half of it is mostly finished and the other half is drywall and bare floor. I’ve already laid claim to half of it for an office and darkroom (which I hope to get started on before this winter).

New Life in North Idaho: Side Pasture

We’re sitting on 5 acres down a dead end dirt road with 8 or 9 other houses, so we don’t see a lot of traffic (or neighbors). The property is right across from my parents’ place where I grew up, so I’m more than familiar with the area. My grandmother also lives next door, so the kids have 15 acres all to themselves.

The property has a decent front and back yard plus 3 fenced pastures ready to go for animals (each with a small shelter, water, and electricity). We’re thinking about doing a few sheep next year to cut the grass, which also helps keep the bug population down. We’re also thinking about raising one or two cows for meat to split between ourselves, my parents, and my wife’s parents.

Other buildings include a detached two car garage, small tool shed, a decent size barn, and hot tub enclosure (we had that sucker running from day one). The kids also have a play area under some trees with swings, a slide, and a tree house.

New Life in North Idaho: Back Yard

All in all, it’s not a bad property, but it still needs a lot of work over the next few years. We don’t have too many trees because the previous owners used most of the land for raising llamas, so putting in some new ones is one of my higher priorities. We need to lay down more gravel on the driveway, redo the planter beds around the house, get the garden back in usable shape, finish the fire pit that we just built, fix a few fences, take down some dead trees out back… and the list goes on.

But even with our huge lists of things to do around here, I’m just glad to be back home and raise my kids where I grew up. We totally lucked out on this place with the timing, price, and location… I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I live here again and that I own the property. I feel like I’m just visiting, but I figure it’ll sink in when the first snow flies.

New Life in North Idaho: Front Yard New Life in North Idaho: Tool Shed New Life in North Idaho: The Barn New Life in North Idaho: Side Pasture New Life in North Idaho: Playground New Life in North Idaho: Office/Darkroom

At any rate, I just wanted to give an update on why things have been quiet on the blogs. I should be back in full swing soon enough.