Tag Archives: coffee

Recharging your creative juice

It happens to everyone and not just photographers. You just can not get the creative juices flowing, nothing jells, nothing looks fun, you just feel blah. Sometimes it comes from shooting the same thing over and over, other times it comes just from the endless days of trying to make a living. But everyone gets there now and then.

I was in a bit of a funk several days ago when I was invited to a local car show here in Orange County at the proverbial crack of dawn. “Maybe” was my response to the invite from my friend when he sent me the email telling me about the show. About the same time,  I read a blog post by Scott Borne who is a photographer who I have only recently heard of but have really “connected” to via his blog, photofocus,  and other articles.  This particular post was called “12 tips for car show photographers and a second post was about why fast glass matters was about shooting cars with wide apertures and why you needed to use something other than a wide angle lens.. He talked about  using cropping and strong lines to make art instead of snap shots. This kinda of clicked with me on several levels since I have been a car enthusiast for years. Car show? blog? hmm.. a way to get out of a creative funk? Possibly.

So I found myself getting up at 5AM to meet my friend at the Irvine Cars and Coffee meet and greet along with my Nikon D300 and my 17-55mm F2.8. It did not start off in a  very promising way or so I thought, the light sucked, the coffee was weak, I had more excuses than carter has pills. But, I stuck with it and starting to shoot. And it was hard, harder than I thought it would be. But as the morning wore on, I really started to get into a nice rhythm and feeling like I starting to get traction for some nice “keeper” shots.

Here are some of my results from breaking out of a creative funk with some help from a blog entry.

Like I said, getting this pictures was harder than I thought it would be. I really had to look at the subject very differently and shoot a bit differently that what I am used to shooting for the majority of the time. With the shallow DOF, I had to nail the focus on the money so I was using my spot focus mode. I paid very close attention to my histogram to make sure I was not blowing out the highlights at all, I needed all the information I could get since I wanted to have a very saturated look. Angles were everything and I made a point of getting all the way down on my butt, stomach or standing on something to get up then down. Anything to get away from the normal 5 foot high shooting position. I also went in very tight alot both in camera and in post on a couple of images. A tight crop can work wonders on art like this.

My lighting was very overcast which at first I was cursing under my breath, ok, maybe out loud some too, till I understood that the very flat light would help a lot in keeping the image’s contrast flat till I brought it up in post to exactly where I wanted it. It did mean I had to shoot with a relatively high ISO even with a F2.8 aperture. So noise reduction software was a much to clean up the images. High pass filtering was used to really get the images to “snap” and show off nice sharp lines. I used LR3 for the majority of my post work and CS4 for the final touch up and finishing.

In the end, I had alot of fun at the car show, I got some cool images and made a few new friends and managed to get out of my funk. I meet a couple of car owners who I gave a few images to to thank them for letting really get up close to shoot their cars. In both cases, the owners were intrigued by what they saw as very weird angles until I showed them the images on the camera. So not only was I able to get out of my funk, I managed to make a few business contacts too. This was a win -win day for me all the way around, I just had to embrace it.

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Posted in photography, technique, training Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Smiles for you and me

My wife found a very cool service on the net for making slide shows to share pictures with friends and family. It’s called “SmileBox” and the basic service is a freebie and not too offensive with ads and such. It ties into iPhoto on the Mac and makes it very easy to assemble a slide show to email or if you buy the plan, burn to DVD using iDVD. The same features are available for Windows but I do not have any experience with them, only on the Mac.

I have a “gallery” show at a local coffee house (Chapman Coffee House) and my wife and I made a slide show using Smilebox to send it around. But an important part is that I can make a DVD of the show and give it to the owners of the coffee house for their own use. This keeps me and my business in their good graces and shows off that I can take foodie pictures of their wares, nice architectural shots of their business and more. Well worth the 39 dollars a year membership fee.

The membership also lets you using your own music but gives you a library of 2,000 or so songs to choose from which is very handy. You can choose from sideshows, ecards, scrapbooks, postcards or photo albums with a nice assortment of templates for each. And when you are done with your creation, they have it set up to post to all the major and minor social sites like, for example, WordPress 🙂

You can see a live sample in the slide show below of my gallery showing at the coffee house.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Chapman Coffeehouse August 2009
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Posted in Album Software, Business Aids, photography, Uncategorized, workflow Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

We dont bounce as well as we used to

OK, not so much photography except my plate removal surgery ruined my chance of playing in the worldwidephotowalk this year 🙁  I really thought yesterday I could muscle through it today for a two hour walk, even got the Doc to change out the dressings on Friday instead of waiting till Monday. That was till I could not get to sleep till 1am and even then, very strange dreams. Ever since the surgery, my sleep has been bad, not restful at all.

So whats a person to do? Play with Lightroom of course 🙂  I had a “gallery show” coming up at a local coffee house  called:

Chapman Coffee House

505 N Glassell Street
OrangeCA 92867

Nice plan, good coffee and good rice balls (???)  No, I’m not telling the story, you gotta go there to get it.

Back to Lightroom, I found out I was not able to sort on images that are “broken” or in other words, LR is unable to find the original image. It would be the same thing as putting the images on a removable drive and then removing it after importing the images. You can see them but not edit them in LR. Seems to me to be a bit of an oversight.

Other fun news is that  the Kodak Zi6 pocket “Flip type” of video recorder actually works pretty well. At least for 120 bucks it does well and yes, even in HD 720. It needs image stabilization in a bad way but maybe next time. Rechargable batteries work but not for long. The device is sensitive to the 1.2 volts dropping much below that. The normal alkaline batteries at 1.5 volts will last a considerable amount of time longer.

Other news?  I dumped Backblaze as a backup solution. Its Mac application went stupid too many times and when it does, I have to reboot AND almost always have to spend time repairing permissions and whatnot since it’s a power off,  not a clean reboot. So I canceled my account and nobody there seemed to care enough to even send a form letter. I keep telling people that the Amazon S3 services is the best bet and after 2 years, nobody has done it better yet.

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