12.10.2014

Nikon versus Olympus versus how the camera will be used and who will be using it.


I get asked ( a lot ) about what camera a person should buy. If the person seems to be looking for an easy camera with which to document their family life, their kids and their vacations I generally always recommend whatever the cheapest Canon Rebel package currently available at Costco or someplace like that. I could tell most people until I'm blue in the face about mirror less or ultra high resolution or fancy rangefinder design but if they are looking for just a step up from their phone they are pretty much destined to buy the Rebel no matter what I tell them. 

For most people a Rebel outfit with two kit zooms is just the right kit with just the right price. It's a big step up from a cellphone and a 55-200mm is a surprisingly good focal length range, coupled with an APS-C sensor, to cover most of the buyer's outdoor, kid sports needs. The big benefit is that it's a brand they've heard of and when they head out to the soccer field about 80% of the other parents also have Rebels and they can happily group source their panicky technical questions. And, optimistically, they can learn together. Those are easy camera questions to answer. 

But in the last few weeks I've consulted with three other kinds of users and I've offered three different sets of advice. I got a call from a college student I know. Friend of the family. Against all advice he'd like to make a career as a photographer and video "artist." He's been through a bunch of classes, banged his way around with the family Canon Rebel and is now ready to get into the biz. He anticipates shooting stuff like products, portraits, landscapes and architecture and he wants to do it right. He's got some financial backing from his parents as well. I suggested that he get a Nikon D750 along with the 24-120mm VR lens and also a 14-24mm lens. This will get him started and the full frame camera with good video controls is pretty much a universal tool of the industry. I might be comfortable shooting with smaller formats but I can pretty much guarantee that he's going to need the psychological boost of bringing an "A" game camera system to all his early assignments. It's the old "talisman of power" thing where the "magic" of the camera conveys competence to its owner. I could have recommended the Canon 5D mk3 instead but the Nikon is more of a running start right now. Give Canon time to get the new sensors in play and then it would probably be a coin toss. 

This person took my advice and I've heard back from him. He is happy as were his first three, real clients. But this would have been the wrong advice for another person who came to me to see what I would recommend for a good travel system. Now, I have travelled with big, medium format cameras on several personal, international shooting trips and I wouldn't trade the big negatives I got from those trips for anything but times have changed. Airplane seats are smaller, there are no longer porters everywhere and we're all moving a lot faster. Add to that the fact that no one wants to pay for film and processing anymore.

The person asking for advice is an accomplished amateur photographer whose last camera purchase was a Nikon D2Xs. She just didn't feel like she could handle the big body, the two enormous f2.8 zooms she'd been carrying any longer and she was ready to ditch the tripod too and get something that could be reasonably handheld. We talked about mirror-free cameras and she liked the idea. Then we narrowed it down to Fuji versus Olympus and we made a trip over to the camera store to handle them both. She loved the EM-5 and the EM-10 and she ended up with an EM-10 and a single 12-40mm f2.8 zoom lens. I counseled her to load up on some after market Wasabi Power batteries and now she's set. Early feedback is that after helping her make her first plunge into the (onerous) menu she's thrilled with what she is getting from the camera system and it fits in her purse. She was pretty amazed at how far the high ISO performance has come in cameras since the days of the D2X. She never went above ISO 400 with that camera and I wouldn't have advised it either. Now she's got the auto ISO set to cap at 1600 and she feels like she's rediscovering the joy of shooting. Also, after years of only taking the "boat anchor" out when she anticipated shooting seriously, the new camera and lens follow her everywhere. Like a puppy. 

Finally I had a long, long telephone call with a fellow photographer and long time friend who shoots in NYC. He's doing portraits kind of the way I do them. He's been shooting there since the 1990's and he was complaining because the town has almost as many people constantly trying to break into the business in the city as NYC has rats. Everywhere he turns all his competitors are using one of the same two cameras: The Nikon D800 ( or some version thereof ) or a Canon 5Dmk3. They use the same 70-200mm zoom lenses and everyone seems to own or rent Profoto Strobes. He wanted my take on how he should differentiate. I told him about a mutual friend here who shoots only architecture. Very high end architecture. When his market got flooded with the same cameras and a whole raft of beginners who were shooting without lights and saving their images with desperate HDR he realized that he needed to rise above the pack and market himself as the top (and most expensive) of the photo artists in his field. Part of his branding was to cast off the ubiquitous camera choices (Nikon or Canon with 24mm TS lens) and take it all up an notch. 

He dropped serious money into the Hasselblad system and then discovered the Leica medium format system and transitioned into that. Now he's shooting his platinum level, $20 million dollar residential projects and his high rise commercial projects with a couple of the Leica S2 bodies and a case full of very, very costly but incredibly good glass. Clients really can see the difference, especially when the photographer starts whipping out detailed 20 by 30 inch prints. I figured my portrait photographer friend in NYC could undertake the same basic strategy. 

We talked about the Pentax 645Z and he jumped in. He only needs two lens, a normal for full length stuff and a 140 or 150mm for headshot style portraits. He's raised his rates and is busier than he's ever been. The camera was not much more money than the Canon 1DS Mk3 he bought nearly five years ago and he's been able to source some used lenses to soften the blow but to the clients the important message is that he's shooting bigger files on a bigger sensor than 90% of the competition and he can deliver images with less depth of field and more snap. 


gratuitous image from Fall in Saratoga Springs to sparkle up the middle of the article.


In the end I gave out three totally different suggestions for three totally different kinds of artists. Too often I think the magazines and websites that shill for the camera makers assume that everyone needs the same stuff. That everyone is chasing the highest degree of weather proofing in their cameras bodies, that everyone craves being able to shoot at ISO 100,000, that everyone needs 12 frames per second frame rates and tracking focus that locks on like a demented badger and won't let go even if the hummingbird you are trying to track in continuous AF buzzes chaotically through an obstacle course. But really? Everyone does photography in a different way and they each are looking for a different solutions that aligns best with where they are in their imaging journey. 

It would be sad if everyone shot with the same camera because in this art endeavor the tools really do nudge us in certain directions. When everyone uses the same kinds of tools everyone gets nudged in the same direction. When you make a truly universal camera I think you make a camera that really no one loves. Viva choice.


Resume following me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KirkTuck

Just working on an image and playing around with tones.


When I go into the studio to photograph a person I'm rarely looking for the "big grin" of the "happy face" shot. When I have the luxury of doing so I like to settle in with the person and try to find a point at which they stop role playing, let their defenses down and become real humans. It's hard to do in the work arena because the people we tend to photograph for big companies are on tight schedules and have agendas they have to follow. The most satisfying sessions for me take hours. I recently photographed a commissioned portrait for a real estate agent. She intends to use her final, selected images from the shoot for a wide range of professional applications and also on the social media sites she uses. In that session we ended up spending an hour and a half and going through three costume changes. I didn't mind because she was into my particular style and I was having fun.

Lately, the sessions that have worked best start with tea or coffee in the kitchen of my house. We might sit at the dining room table for a few minutes and just get to know each other. I always seem to ask directly, "What do you want to get out of this shoot?"  It's an honest question and it helps me know that we're either on the same page to start with or that I may have to compromise and do things in a way she'll appreciate and then also do a separate layer of work that I want.

When I think about photographing beautiful women the stories about two great photographers come to mind. The first is from an interview with Richard Avedon in which he says (and I am paraphrasing here...) that his best work comes when, during the session, he falls in love with the model. He goes on to say that when the session is over the spell is broken and life goes on but he strongly implied that there needs to be an emotional bond during the session that creates the impetus to make the person in front of the camera look amazing. I think this is true. The words might be wrong and the idea of falling in love may just be a clumsy attempt to verbalize a feeling or a thought that is about the nature of attraction more than anything else.

Occasionally I'll think that someone is not very attractive or engaging until they sit under the lights and face the camera and the dance between the photographer and model or portrait subject begins. There is a give and take in the conversation and in the best sessions almost an unspoken agreement to find a level of intimate sharing that unlocks emotions that are different from a routine session. But at the same time the interplay is different than a sexual attraction in that the conversation and collaboration is the vital ingredient rather than anything prurient.

I've seen many glamor shots that, while well crafted technically, are devoid of any sort of correspondence between the model and the photographer, as though the thing missing is some sort of real, human connection. Almost as though a person uncomfortable with intellectual intimacy compensated by trying to leverage the most titillating poses and exposures into the shots instead of taking time to find the interesting aspects of the holistic person. And these kinds of images are hardly ever compelling or interesting on any satisfying level.

The second photographer whose portraits I have always loved, is Irving Penn. He was the subject of an article by anthropologist, Lionel Tiger, who sat for a portrait done by the photographer. Irving Penn, via the article by Tiger about his experiences sitting for him, expressed very plainly that he felt a good portrait was the result of a certain intimacy between sitter and photographer. He was adamant that after his assistants had gotten the lights exactly right and had loaded enough film for a long session they must leave the shooting room at his studio and allow him to be alone with his subject. That audience reduction eliminated a lot of the self censoring that naturally occurs when a person splits his attention with two or more people of differing levels and interests. It also keeps people from looking beyond the camera to seek the tacit approval of the other spectators in the room.

Having been photographed before by a number of more traditional photographers Tiger expected to the session to be short and sweet. A bit of "look over here, turn your head, smile" and then we're done. But that's not the way Irving Penn conducted his editorial portrait sessions. He set up his camera and did not linger behind it. He seemed immune from technical concerns and engaged Lionel Tiger at length in a discussions about anthropology, art, music and culture. Occasionally Penn would trip the shutter.

Tiger pulled out all the routine "tricks" of a sitter trying posed pose after posed pose but eventually he tired of trying and a sort of sleepiness came over him at which point Penn, alerted to the falling of his subject's social "shield" began photographing in earnest. And those are the images that were used from the session. Essentially he needed privacy, time and shared conversation to move past the rote face, the clich├ęd pose, and into a series of expressions and manifestations that were a more genuine portrait of his sitter.

I learned early on in my career that people will rush you through a process whenever they can but I also learned from watching brilliant photographers that the ones who made photographs or portraits that I cared about made themselves immune to the coercion to rush through processes. They insisted on taking as much time as the art allowed. In anything I've done that is at all good the secret ingredient has always been my penchant to push back on the arbitrary clock and bring people to understand that time is part of the process. That and being bored. A portrait is a shared moment between two people. Three or more is a crowd.

The image above started life as a big raw file from a 24 megapixel sensor. It was shot in color as most digital images are. While the color version is good and useful I've spent the better part of an hour playing with black and white tonalities. Not because there is a single "right" answer but because the playing is part of a process of constant learning that informs our work going forward. Play. It's good for the brain.


The Modern Black and White Workflow for fun. At least this is how we roll in Austin...

Belinda in Verona.

I mentioned buying Tri-X and shooting "old school" in a blog yesterday. Yes, to the kinder-digi, shooting Tri-X means shooting with actual (not virtual) film. One of our readers wrote into the comments and bemoaned the lack of processing options, etc. in their town and opined that he hoped my darkroom was still functional. I thought I'd just outline my process for playing with film for the pure fun of it (as opposed to doing it for money as part of a commissioned "look"). 

If you don't have a film camera sitting around don't worry, you can pick them up from the used market all day long for under $250. And that's for something really good like a Nikon F2 with a 50mm hanging off the front. Everyone should have one good film user around even if it's just a souvenir of a different time.

Starting at the beginning I must council you that in the realm of black and white films Tri-X is the ultimate and most perfect black and white film ever created by the hands of man. Well, there are a few others that are close but.....you know what I mean. Don't pussyfoot around with lesser varieties of black and white film. I did go through a protracted Agfa APX 25 phase but that was another lifetime. 

Here in Austin we can walk through the front door of Precision Camera and one of the happy, courteous and knowledgeable salespeople will be happy to get you a fresh rolls (or ten or twenty) for the price of a large, fancy coffee at Starbucks (about $5).  Once you've got it loaded into your camera of choice you'll thank me for steering you away from the esoteric slow films and toward the ISO 400 king of black and white specifically because we've been trained via digital to shoot at higher ISOs and finally, here's a real reason to make that choice. 

I know that no lens is perfect and most of my older cameras have strange meters so I shoot my film as though it was really ISO 250 and meter with a handheld meter. If you are shooting outside the light doesn't change that quickly and the meter reading is valid until the light changes. You might find your exposures are more consistent without the constant intervention of new, smartypants metering in our current generation of smartypants cameras because they are not infallible and are prone to subject failure induced mis-metering. 

Next step is to shoot happily until the film runs out. Sooner or later it always does, unless you've loaded it incorrectly and it does go on forever and forever because it never got started. Many tyros have shot hundreds of frames on a roll only to discover that the film was never traversing the film plane correctly....

After I've shot my 36 frames of Tri-X I could find some tanks, mix some chemicals and take my chances with my agitation techniques or I can drop it off for same day processing at my favorite, local lab, Holland Photo on South Lamar Blvd. I can get the film back sleeved or I can ask them to leave it as a long roll and also to scan it and give me decent res files of everything on the roll. They will also make nice contact sheets for me which is almost a lost art. 

At that point I hit the next three way decision intersection: Print at home or scan individual frames myself or have the master printers at Holland Photo make prints for me. Or (sneaky) I can take advantage of Holland Photo's black and white rental darkroom and go back in and print my own stuff under a real enlarger. It's not that expensive and satisfies the need to get your hands wet (although I think they much prefer people to use tongs....). 

So, scan, print, have prints made, whatever. In Austin all things are still possible. Kind of like living in Photo-Camelot. And, having done a number of jobs in NYC and using the premier pro labs there for B&W I'll stick my neck out and declare that they've got nothing on Holland Photo!

Well, there it is. A happy black and white workflow. Now, just dig in and learn the Zone System and you'll have the entire adventure wired up. If you live in some hell hole with no film dealers and no black and white lab you can always use the ones we have here, you'll just have to do some shipping.
But it's a fun city and you might even want to hand deliver your film, spend a day snapping around town and then come back to the lab the next day and print your own stuff. You could have a self-guided B&W workshop all by yourself and probably at a good savings to boot.


12.09.2014

I am thinking about the power of experimenting with one's own vision, with no regard for clients.


Fadya.

I know that people who don't photograph for a living, as a rule, photograph exactly what they are interested in and in a fashion they want to explore. When you start photographing for clients the scope of aesthetic flexibility shrinks quite a bit. Many times the potential to explore a subject or a portrait session is limited by the preconceptions of the person with the checkbook. The old saw is that they are coming to us for our vision or our sensibilities, and that is part of the equation, but for the most part the clients show up because we have a track record and they are reasonably assured that they'll get what they need nearly every time with get up to bat. Might not be an artistic "home run" every time but it's generally at least a single.

That means experimenting with new styles (or old, favorite styles) is something that professional photographers need to do for themselves. Clients tend to want the deep shadows filled in. They want compositions that reflect popular culture and design stereotypes and they especially want everyone in nearly ever image to be deliriously happy. But they can be sold something closer to the styles that we want to shoot in if we remember the cardinal rule of being a client: They don't know what's possible until they see an exact example. (A riff on the common phrase: "I'll know it when I see it."

This puts the ball firmly in our side of the court. If we want clients to hire us to shoot something cool or personal or even just a bit nuanced we have to show them what we can do and what we have done. The only way for them to warm up with new ideas and styles is to let them get cozy with work that works.

I think about this a lot because many corporate portraits conform to pervasive styles. Why, well it's driven by client's desires to run with the herd, to be part of the tribe, to not go too far outside of what's commonly accepted by their peer groups in order to ensconce themselves safely as members of the group so they can enjoy the economic bounty of acceptance. 

Personally I like it when a portrait does more. I like playing with all kinds of light and lots of different poses and expressions. Especially honest expressions. 

About a month or so ago Fadya called me and asked if I was in the mood to play around in the studio and make some new images. I was thrilled. It was a time in which I was using new lights and pushing them to see what I could do with them. I was using a new camera as well. We had fun, shot a lot of images and got caught up on social news and what not. I was very happy with our collaboration and displayed some of the images here on the blog. 

Now I find myself discussing the chance of using the images in an ad that would run in national media. It's really wonderful when doing the work you love creates a direct connection to new opportunity. Keeps me wanting to shoot my own work during my downtime from client work. And that's a good thing.




It's a recreational day. Which camera am I using right now?

You caught me. You know me so well. It had to happen sometime. You know what I'm talking about, I woke up this morning and I just had to have a full frame camera. That big ole 35mm frame that confers so much on a photographer. And you could tell what with my flirtations about Nikon and what not which direction I'd head in. I mean, it was like a trail of bread crumbs, right? First the dalliance with the D7100 and then the manic acquisition of two D7000s in short order. It was only a matter of time before Photography's most fickle practitioner reached out and grabbed up a working, big, sexy full frame Nikon. 

I've got the camera set up just the way I want it. I've got an AIs 60mm lens on the front and I've got the internal mechanism set to shoot monochrome (or black and white) at 400 ISO. I takes a little bit of getting used to, I mean the positioning of the controls and the very, very, very understated menus, but I seem to be getting the hang of it. The weird thing is that the body I picked up, while huge and very heavy, seems to be following the new Leica-trend in terms of minimizing features in favor of unimpeded operation. This unusual full framer does have three metering modes but it doesn't have any special AF point distribution modes. As best I can tell it's limited to only using the center focusing point. The finder doesn't light up in red like a Christmas tree when I half press the shutter button. It does seem to snap into sharp focus with gusto! 

I've also been over every square inch looking for picture looks or profiles but I can't find any at all. Then there is the relief of not having the stupid features resident on so many competing cameras. Things that clutter the mind and suck on batteries with reckless enthusiasm. Crap like GPS (who, besides cartographers actually uses that frivolous feature? And you really depend on it? Sure.) The camera maker kindly resisted efforts to include wi-fi, bluetooth or AM radio as well. Which is good because I understand that the model I have chosen requires a ridiculous amount of post processing before  the files are usable. Nothing you can pop up on Facebook that lets you tell all your friends, "I am standing in front of the middle urinal at the south Costco and things are coming out fine..."

While I loves me the EVFs there's no option for that here. Just an OVF but a pretty nice one. It's usable for interior and exterior shooting and does a good job conveying bokeh if I squint just right. Excuse me for just a minute but I need to look at the manual again because I can't figure out how to switch back to sRGB.... Oh, right, there's no color management on this camera. But it's heavy enough to anchor a small boat. And when it first came out the magazine reviewers fell all over themselves to praise its operation. 

What is today's usable camera? See attached.


I woke up this morning with a strange desire to shoot some Tri-X black and white film in a camera that's really just no fucking nonsense. I guess it's a reaction to shooting and processing well over 20,000 digital frames over the last two months and just being bone tired of remembering to switch color balances, switch to uncompressed raw from Jpeg when switching from a web assignment to a magazine assignment mis-remembering whether or not I turned off the I.S. when I put the camera on the tripod and the frustration of hitting the video button when sticking my camera back in the bag only to find an hour of so of very dark video resident on the now full memory card after lunch.

I know, I know; I'll soon (probably mid-afternoon) chaff at carrying this primordial beast around all day without sherpas. I know that the digital revolution has hacked away at my once great attention span and by 4 or 5 today I'll be so anxious to see what I've shot and so ready to blog about it.... But I guess this is another one of those ill-fated, Zen-Like, self imposed exercises where we try to re-learn patience, humility and focused thrift. 

Call it a day off with an old friend. 


A review from a reader:

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cure for a Sluggish Pulse June 24, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I recall reading “The Exorcist” one night (back when it first came out – the early 70’s), and I just could not put it down. Page after page, tension mounting, my heart racing, I pushed through to the end. At about 3 AM!

“The Lisbon Portfolio” got to me the same way. I began reading on the plane from Philly to Dallas. (To about 20%, according to the Kindle reader app’s little gray note on each page.) We were visiting with some of my wife’s family, but there were periods when I had time to myself, so I’d open the Nexus tablet and plow on. All were amused by my periodic “percent complete” reports. I finished it by the end of the second day.

If you have followed Kirk Tuck’s Visual Science Lab blog for any length of time, you can get a sense of who the man is. And I think Kirk Tuck is “The Lisbon Portfolio” protagonist Henry White. But, Henry White is not Kirk Tuck, even though they both hail from Austin, Texas. Not unless Kirk has been keeping his NSA and CIA adventures a secret from us. Just today (Monday), Kirk describes his gig at the RLM Math Conference in Denver, and it could easily have been a passage out of the book, as Henry Smith describes how he plans to shoot the Global Data Systems (GDS) 4-day international conference in Lisbon. He even brings in references to his Leica cameras. (Hint: a film Leica plays a significant role in an exciting scene in the book.)

Having spent the last several decades in the Corporate IT world, I could relate to his depictions of the GDS annual sales conference, aka “the dog and pony show,” intended to entice current and would-be customers to take the chance on the next (buggy) software release. More interesting to me is the depiction of GDS itself, (which seems to conflate both IBM and Ross Perot’s EDS), as the kind of amoral and controlling transnational corporation ably portrayed in Kim Stanley Robinson’s epic “Red Mars,” “Green Mars,” “Blue Mars” trilogy. The minor notes also ring true; for example, GDS’s ability to remotely access the hardware it sells, and reconfigure it on the fly. I can attest that that’s not fiction.

This is one of those stories where I wish I had taken notes of each new character as the plot-line moved forward. Good guys, bad guys (and gals), who they work for, or against, or both at the same time. And an increasing body count. The timeline jumps back and forth, with rapid scene changes typical of an action movie. The narrative flow reminds me of Tom Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising.”

Do I recommend it? You only get one guess. And remember to look up from the page every so often to catch your breath.

Good job, Kirk!


12.05.2014

While my work life can seem disjointed the common thread lately is that it's all about portraits. All of which are embargoed until the clients use them.


One of the frustrating things about making photographs on commissions for clients (as opposed to making them for myself and trying to license the usage rights afterwards to clients) is that in most cases we are required to keep them out of circulation at least until our commissioning clients have used them for the initial rights license we've negotiated. In the industry they call this an embargo. But what it means to me is that I've done a zillion photographic portrait sessions recently that I'd love to show off except the fact that they haven't wended their way through all of the processes and found their way to client websites, magazine ads or posters---just yet. 

This means talking a lot about portraits when showing them would be more fun and enlightening. But there's not a lot I can do about it. Today I shot a portrait that worked out really well. I was commissioned by a magazine in Chicago to make a portrait of an executive from the big computer maker/cloud services provider here in central Texas. The image will be used on the front cover of the magazine sometime in the first quarter of 2015. We started talking about the assignment about ten days ago but I didn't hear back on the shooting date until yesterday morning. I got a brief e-mail from the art director who was hoping we could do something the very next day. Today. I put some post processing aside and said, "yes."

The portrait needed to be an environmental one so I headed out to the corporate campus, scouted a location and waited to meet my subject. I lit the entire shoot with one light. It was an inexpensive Yongnuo electronic flash firing into a 72 inch white umbrella. The rest of the lighting was supplied via the back lit graphics that covered every square inch of the walls at our location, augmented by pillar of corrected fluorescent lights in the center of the room. I was a bit miffed because in using the outer AF sensors of the Nikon D7100 with a 24-85mm zoom lens the camera hunted like Hemmingway. It was all over the place. I was embarrassed for the camera because I can think of three or four m4:3rd cameras that would have handled the situation with ease. 

We were in an out of the location in less than an hour and I pause to remember one of our first shoots in that location about 15 years ago using enormous Profoto strobe packs, soft boxes and medium format film cameras. Every set up was time intensive and I'm going to bet we got seven or eight good set ups in a day back then. We did four set ups in an hour today; from the unzipping of the camera case to the tossing of the bags back into the car and driving away. So different. And such a clear contrast when you've worked in the same particular location over such a span of years. 

After I got back to the studio I edited (meaning "delete unusable or crappy shots") the take, did some post processing (color correction and contrast correction) and then output a gallery of images to put up on Smugmug.com for the magazine art director. But this weekend has barely begun.

As soon as I put the gallery up I got busy unpacking and repacking. We're booked again tomorrow on a full day shoot at an elementary school to photograph kid models, an iPhone product, and app. My favorite assistant was already booked on another adventure so I'm working with someone new. We'll head over to the location right after my early morning swim practice and shoot with the same collections of Nikon cameras (I'm almost temporarily over them... and already flirting with doing the next shoot with m4:3 cameras again) and lenses. The ones that have all been auto focus fine tuned and exposure tuned. Hope it sticks.

I'm packing three of the 72 inch umbrellas with which I hope to create walls of light where needed or to supplement big banks of windows, where possible. I'll take along an assortment of other lights like some LED panels and batteries for some smaller interiors. Probably a couple of bigger strobes in case we need to push some light from the outside through some windows or onto the playgrounds. 

On Sunday I'll be editing and then globally post processing the edited images for initial delivery to the advertising agency that's handling this job. And I hope to be very efficient in my computer work because I need to repack for an assignment early Monday morning. We'll be going into the offices of a large, national real estate company in order to make a series of group photographs of their various executive teams. Same cameras but for this job a selection of four or five 400 watt second monolights and various modifiers (a mix of umbrellas and soft boxes). I hope to have the shooting and furniture moving part of that job done by 10:30 am so I can meet up with an creative director from a different agency to go and call on a new manufacturing client. We've gotten approval on a day long project photographing their key people in environmental set ups, as well as some lifestyle-y images of their employee's craft work, but I always like to meet the new clients first when I can and do a thorough scouting of the facility we'll be shooting in. I can't always arrange it but when I can it makes great sense and informs the gear selection and packing that I'll need to do. 

Midweek is post production, delivery and billing along with a collection of random head shots and portraits and then Saturday and Sunday in Charlotte, NC. (Hate those over night turn arounds) to make one or two portraits before getting back into the studio Sunday night to recharge batteries and repack for a shoot with 12 to 15 people in Johnson City, Texas first thing Monday morning. And it continues like this right up until the week before Christmas. But it's fun. When you are shooting portraits all the time you fall into a nice rhythm and if you want to challenge yourself it's as easy as changing to different camera or lighting gear or trying something you've never done before. If it works then you are an artist. If it doesn't work we'll hope that you are smart enough to back yourself up with some normal safety shots. But the portrait process builds in its own sense of continuity and fluidity that makes the work fun.

And this is a long, rambling one sided conversation that I guess is my way of saying, "Wow. We're busy and it's sidetracking me from doing the blogging as regularly as I'd like. Sorry. And it's also keeping me from doing the much needed marketing for the novel. To which I'd like to circle back. But hey, there are only so many hours and with dog walking and swimming being the alpha priorities, well, something else has to give. 

Speaking of the novel....
If you've finished reading the novel and you enjoyed it please consider leaving a review for me at Amazon.com. Every review is wonderful marketing. Except the bad reviews. But if you read it and didn't like it you are probably way too busy---what with the holidays and all--- to trouble yourself with writing a review. Just saying.   








These were all taken one afternoon with the D7000 and the funky, cool Nikon 25-50mm f4 manual focus lens from a previous century. I love the look.