7.29.2014

Reading the Austin Chronicle on a sunny afternoon.


Jaston Williams (of Greater Tuna fame) in costume for his upcoming one man play: Maid Marian in a Stolen Car.

Jaston Williams as "Maid Marian"
Camera: Samsung Galaxy NX

Zach Theatre will be presenting Jaston Williams' one person play, Maid Marian in a Stolen Car, at the end of August. I spent a couple hours with Jaston shooting promotional photographs for print collateral, the web and the transilluminated posters that front the theatre on Lamar Blvd. and I can ensure you that it will be absolutely funny. When we did the shoot that yielded this particular shot and several hundred others I was in a big experimental phase with new cameras. I'd been bringing two or three bodies, sometimes from two or three different manufacturers and shooting the all to see how they were different and how they were alike. 

We had fun shooting with the relatively bizarre Samsung Galaxy NX because we were able to compose on a five inch LCD screen on the back of the camera. The art director and I were standing side by side in low light while Jaston performed in the high light levels of the modeling lights on the flashes I was using. This allowed us to see the rear screen with no glares or reflections. Nice feedback loop between photographer/trusted art director/animated talent. 

It was also great to be able to move the focusing point around with a finger. Something I also like to do on the Panasonic GH4. The Galaxy NX camera had some operational quirks and I stopped using it much after getting the newer and more streamlined NX 30.

Recently I've been going though thousands of shots from hundreds of shoots and trying to find fun new stuff to stick into a portfolio. I came across this one and, after playing with it for a while in PS I realized that while the camera and I didn't make a happy couple from a UI perspective the sensor and lenses were very, very good. It will probably be lost to the small file size on the web but the sharpness is high, the noise low and the colors are great. Always interesting to discover attributes in a camera that you didn't appreciate the first time around.

Fun stuff. 


The Photo Fiction/Action Adventure Novel 
of Summer 2014.

The frames between the frames.

Samsung Galaxy NX camera. 60 mm macro lens. 


Photography, as we practice it at the Visual Science Lab, is hardly ever deadly serious business. For the most part I chose this career because when I was working at an ad agency back in the 1980's the people in the ad business who seemed to be having the most fun were the photographers. They'd show up with a retinue of assistants, set up magical lights and fill the room with glorious energy. Once they got the perfect frame they played around some more, until they got bored or ran out of time. 

The fun thing; the wonderful thing is that the images we all loved and wanted to use in the ads were mostly the ones that came in the moments after the serious shooting. Those were the moment where everyone involved felt free to just play. Like kids. 

I'm all for photographers getting their technical ducks in a row but in a business like this, with all the budget cutting, uncertainty and competition, there's no reason to be in it unless you are actively having fun with the actual process of taking the pictures and making your art. 

I shot this for Samsung. Gloria was a wonderful model. We have tons of frames of her looking seriously alluring but the ones were we break away from the expected seriousness and play around with no seriousness involved are the most fun. A photo with the joy of the experience showing through is the target we're aiming at. You get there by letting go. You get there by sharing the fun.



7.28.2014

A photograph from The Gospel at Colonus. Zach Theatre. Austin, Texas 2014


A shot during dress rehearsal. There's really nothing else to say.

Camera: Sony a99. Stage lighting. 

Meeting young Richard Linklater.

Richard Linklater, Director. 
© 1992 Kirk Tuck, All Rights Reserved.

I got a call from an art director at Elle Magazine. "Would you take some portraits of a young, Austin director for us?" he asked. This was way back in 1992. I told them that I'd be delighted and asked for a little direction. They gave me very little direction.  The art director said, "Just something casual." and then they gave me his telephone number. 

Richard had already done the movie, Slacker, and was in pre-production for a new movie called, Dazed and Confused, but he still answered his own phone and we made a date to meet at the apartment he was renting just off campus and to walk around shooting some photos. I talked an aspiring young actress named, Renee, into coming along with me to help carry a flash. There were no publicists involved, no fashion editor from the magazine, no entourages.

Richard's apartment was one of five or six that had been carved out of an old house just on the corner of 24th street and San Antonio St., a block over from the venerable and famous Les Amis CafĂ© and only two blocks from the University of Texas. When we got there he was sitting out in front on the steps waiting for us. Richard, Renee and I talked for ten minutes or so and discovered that we had all been in the English department at UT at one time or another. 

We walked down the long alley behind the main drag where we found this wall that all of us liked and we took a bunch of photos in that area. Richard even agreed to do some shots in a little brick area made for trash cans. The pictures of him laying on his side in a glamor pose are still funny.  

Everyone is very buttoned up now when it comes to things like make-up and costuming/wardrobe but on that day Richard was carrying a couple different shirts in a backpack and if we wanted to do a costume change he'd just pull off one t-shirt and pull on another one. It was Austin. He'd directed Slacker. Everyone was quite laid back. 

My favorite images from the shoot were taken with the Varsity Theater in the background. The vaguely out of focus murals in the background were of movie stills. It was cool. I've moved a couple of times since I shot those and I'm still looking for that box of medium format transparencies. I know they are here somewhere.

We ended up shooting some soft box lit portraits back in the studio but I think we all (including the magazine) knew we wanted to use the outdoor shots.

The magazine selected their favorites from six or seven rolls of 120mm transparencies. That's about 70 different 6x7 cm images in total. The image ran big enough to be decently credible with my peers and I enjoyed telling my women friends that I had a shot running in Elle. It was cool.

I shot with two different Pentax 6x7 cameras. One had a normal lens and one had a short telephoto on it. Almost certainly the lens we used was the 165 mm f2.8. What a wonderful lens...

I shot the whole collection of images handheld with ISO 100 transparency film and I can see that by today's standards the details in the images are a little soft. The main reason was that the Pentax 6x7 camera was the ultimate granddaddy for what we are now calling, "shutter shock." Back then we called it "mirror slap" but it all in the same category: unsharpness caused by camera vibrations.

Richard's newest movie, Boyhood, has opened to rave reviews from ...... everyone. And it's an amazing project done over twelve years. It's a small town here in Austin, the actress who plays the younger girl (11 or 12) is the daughter of a videographer whom I have worked with on many projects, for decades.  Another friend and one time writing partner spent part of that year as the official chaperone on the movie set of Richard's second feature.

It's fun to look back at where currently famous people started out. I will remember Richard as being one of the least pretentious and most accommodating people I've worked with. And it was nice of him to hire my assistant for a part in his next movie. It is obvious that his current celebrity was fairly and well earned.