As I was looking in the archives for shots of live theater production photos I kept stumbling across portraits that I love.
This shot is part of a series of original buildings that lined Congress Ave., the street that leads right up to the state capitol. Congress used to be lined with many two and three story brick or stone buildings that had been there since early days. The image above is of the side of a building that started out as a clothing store and at some point became the home of one of our city's most beloved Mexican food restaurants; Las Manitas.
The whole block was recently demolished and flattened to make way for the amazingly bland J.W. Marriott Hotel. A cookie cutter convention hotel that, I am sure, generates money hand over fist for the Marriott corporation. I'm sure the property now also generates thousands of times the tax revenues of the old restaurant and also the surrounding businesses that proceeded the hotel. We've gained some revenue and lost a bit of our heritage.
Progress waits for no one. At least we have a continuing series of photographs that tells a two dimensional story of what was there.
Shot eight years back with an Olympus E-1 and a 50mm macro lens.
Photograph the stuff you grew up with before it vanishes. You might want to reminisce.
It's about one hundred and one degrees here in Austin, Texas. I thought I'd find a ski shot to look at for a while.
A few years back Jennifer and I decided to do a series of sports photos with a bit of a twist. We'd shoot them as portraits in the studio. Back then I was working with one big 4x6 foot softbox as my main light, very little fill light and then one light on the background for separation. Here's the shot we did with Jennifer in a down ski jacket wearing a pair of goggles.
We shot the series with a Hasselblad 201f camera and a 180mm Zeiss lens onto Agfapan APX 100 film and then printed them. This is a copy shot of one of the prints. When I see the photo it reminds me of how cold it was on the day of the shoot --- and how much fun we had doing it.
In retrospect I should have toned it a bit cooler (more blue) to align with a wintry theme...
Playing with new photos over on Instagram. A quick way to put up an new gallery: https://www.instagram.com/kirktuck/
Kirk Tuck Presents his Ideas About Photography for Live Theater this Thurs. in Dripping Springs, Texas.
Practice something enough and you tend to develop some proficiency at it. I've been doing photography for live theater production marketing for over 30 years now and I think I'm just about getting the hang of it. I've been asked to do a presentation about photograph to a group of photographers in Dripping Springs, Texas this coming Thurs. (June 28th) and I decided to actually talk about something I know: The Nuts and Bolts of Live Theater Photography.
Here's a link to the group's website about the evening: http://photographersofds.us/2018/06/19/pods-june-meeting-june-28-2018-630pm/
I'm going to concentrate on walking people through my methodologies. I'm not going to set up and shoot anything. But I promise to at least try and be interesting. Now I've just got to spend a little time going through the archives with the idea that I might want to show some work.....
If you're in the neighborhood I'm sure you are welcome to drop by.
In other news: The West Austin News interviewed me and ran a full page profile. It made me sound smarter and more interesting than..... Sadly, it's print only and they seem picky about copies ending up on the web. I'll ask once more if I can publish just the article here on the blog but it's nothing you won't glean from reading the "Contact/Info" page on my website....
Mousumi. ©Kirk Tuck
For many years there was no question in my mind as to which camera I'd be casually hauling around for the day; it was always a Leica M3 with a 50mm f2.0 Summicron hanging on the front. In the same way that some cultures use "worry beads" to keep their hands busy and their minds focused I'd find myself sitting, waiting for a meeting or the start of an event, and my hands would be busy working the aperture on the lens while counting f-stops, or rotating the shutter dial while memorizing the positions of the shutter speeds. The camera and I were so well bonded I could load film in the dark and set exposures with my eyes closed.
I've traded, and bought and sold, digital cameras so often since those days that I have never attained the same level of workaday comfort with any of them. On most of the cameras we use now there are really no physical aperture rings, no nicely knurled shutter speed dials, and, of course, no need to load them with film in the dark. All the tactile cues have been stripped off and replaced with buttons and dials that have no beginning or final set points. You can't set a Canon 5DmkIV's shutter speed only by touch - you have to look at an LCD panel. You can't set a Nikon G series lens aperture from memory - you have to look at a screen. It's not the way we first warmed up to cameras but it's the way things are...
Lately, I've been defaulting to my simplest camera. That's the Nikon D700. That camera has the fewest menu items, the most streamlined settings and the fewest control distractions. I think the smaller set of choices appeals to me even though more "feature rich" cameras from the same maker can be used in a similar, simplified mode. It's not having to make additional choices that seems to be the appeal.
When I left the house on Sunday to drive to San Antonio I remembered the full cloudscapes I'd shot the week before. I used the D700 and the very ancient 37-70mm f3.5 lens to make them and I was struck by their unique look and color when I pulled them up on my monitor.
I'm using the camera in a very standard way. I set it to Jpeg fine and select the "standard" color setting. The only modification I make is to drop the saturation by one click. The files look better to me that way. I can always add a bit more saturation in post, if the image requires it.
I also like using a non-AF lens. I've been pulling over and shooting a lot of scenic stuff from the car lately and it's great to set the lens at its widest focal length, set the aperture at f11 and the focus at infinity. When I've got the camera set that way and I'm in aperture preferred mode I can just point the camera and shoot without having to fine tune anything. Occasionally I'll have to dial in some exposure compensation but that's hardly traumatic.
All in all it's a fun way to shoot. And a very big departure from the way I shoot in the studio.
The photo of Mousumi is the result of a much different approach. I spent lots of time getting the subject to background distance just right and even more time lighting the whole scene. I focused carefully and used a flash meter to get my exposure into my favorite printable range. And, finally, I spent half an hour working with Mousumi to get a range of expressions and engagement that we would both find satisfying. The camera didn't need any automation, and that's a good thing since it was a completely manual Hasselblad mechanical camera. The only setting on that old 500C/M was the shutter button. The aperture and shutter speed rings were on the leaf shutter lens. Old school.
House camera versus road camera. Long seeing versus reflexive snapshots. All fun.
It's Saturday. We swam well. The West Austin News Published a profile piece on me that ran to a full page (with photos). I'm researching daiquiri recipes because we have friends coming for dinner and it's the perfect cocktail for a 100 degree Summer day.
But then I walked out to the studio to store a couple of MacBook Pros that were loitering on the dining room table and driving my wife nuts. I started looking through an image folder and got lost until the boy texted me from Trader Joe's to ask if he was getting the right hot sauce. After three posts with photos from his phone we finally nailed down the one I wanted.
I miss silly productions like "Hairspray." Stuff that makes you laugh out loud every five minutes. I hope all the theaters in Austin take a hard turn and go from "serious drama" to "fun comedy"....at least for part of the season..
Can't believe the cropped Canon was so good...... I guess it all works well if you take the time to read the instruction manual...
I've wrapped up a bunch of family and legal stuff and feel comfortable enough, at the moment, to re-engage with the core of my photography business. When you are working your way back from nearly zero to a level which you enjoy and which pays the bills I think it's a good strategy to go all the way back to the genesis of your work and to figure out what kind of content brought you to the highest point of your historic achievement. For me that's always been making portraits.
With that in mind I've been ramping up a series of mailers directed toward existing, previous and potential clients that inform or remind them of some of the strengths of our essential business. And for me it's the portrait work.
We're doing a bit of painting and renovating in the studio space; may put down a new floor, but the real work lies in the development of a new
This lens is a Nikon 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G VR. It got launched into the market around 2006, covers the FX frame and has second generation VR. I guess the question is, "is it good enough to use in place of the much more expensive Nikon 70-200mm models?" Of course everyone's lens use will vary and some readers will have very high standards for imaging output while others will be more than satisfied at the performance. That's just the way the granulated market falls out.
Will it be sufficient for nearly every use we would normally have for this lens's faster and pricier brethren?
I've used a number of f2.8 telephoto zoom lenses that fall into the range of 70-210mm. I owned the Sony Alpha series version as well as the Sony Alpha f4.0 version. I've owned a number of Nikon 80-200mm f2.8's (both push pull and dual ring) and I've owned versions of each from Canon). In every case, if you desperately need that full f2.8 aperture