I did a long-form article for My Modern Met. Do you know this site? It’s pretty cool — run by a friend named Alice Yoo. They feature many different artists from various disciplines, and we decided to do this thing together!
When I was out in California recently, I met Om Malik, the guy behind GigaOm.com. I didn’t really know what to expect. I got the vibe that he was either a long-time fan or a new one…either way, he could not have been nicer. And, of course, I was a fan of his too, since I’m a tech-news junkie. Anyhoo, we talked about all sorts of things, and he ended up writing a story called “Now Starring You in a Movie About You“.
While I was there in SF, I ended up stringing a bunch of little meetings together. A few hours later, I was still at Om’s secret hideout coffee-shop, and Frederick Van from This Week in Photo came over to get me on video (will be posted soon). While we were recording the video out in the little garden area, Om came right back out with another one of his tech paramours and sat at the table beside us. He has a knowing nod and wry smile that kind of sets you at ease…
HDR Tip #7 – the Last One
Today’s final one is Tips from the Clubhouse in my contribution to the week of HDR Tips with Rick Sammon. We have a private area here of StuckInCustoms that people get access too when they get the HDR Tutorial on Video. I asked them for some of their thoughts, and got some good ones back!
Did you miss the other tips? Here they are, listed out:
My bulbous 14-24 lens is a problem in the rain! If you haven’t seen the Nikon 14-24 (see my Nikon 14-24 Review) before, then most people think it is a fish-eye lens, but it isn’t. The apex of the glass juts out almost just beyond the tiny bayonet, and it seems to suck rain drops into it! I’m always wiping down that dang thing.
But… here’s another little hint. That lens can shoot at F/2.8. That means you can focus on infinity for most of your landscape shots, and you’ll only see a few, if any, raindrops that form on the lens. It’s a very nifty trick! And, with a wide-angle lens, infinity ain’t that far away.
I still see this all the time… I used to do it back in the day too, so I’m as guilty as the next. It can be a cool effect, but, for the most part, it just makes people look dirty. And not the good kind of dirty.
It’s also a big problem with some of these HDR videos, no? There are a few of these floating around out there… and people always look really really really strange in HDR video, and I don’t really like anything I’ve seen yet in that department. Anyway, this is not about video… it’s about photos… and try to avoid the HDR temptation when it comes to people.
Ron Martinsen’s New Tutorial
Ron is a friend of the blog here, and he’s an avid user of a lot of the little things we sell. He just put up a new free tutorial that has a nifty trick, and made mention of the special Textures package that we sell. See his new tutorial here.
Daily Photo – On Golden Borg
If I had stayed a little longer in this area, I’m sure I would have been assimilated too!
Not only were all the little buildings perfectly modeled, but the insides of the buildings had little lights. Every few minutes, they would flicker and change, and the lights in the overall room would dim.
So here’s a good idea if you go to Shanghai or Beijing, or any of these Asian megacities that have city-planning museums. These huge models are great for scouting sunset shots from a nice perspective. I usually use Google Earth, but taking photos of downtown areas require some thought about the altitude of the shot. So, for example, you don’t want to go to the tallest building in a city to take the photo, because you actually want the tallest building to be in the photo. So that means you need to find a nearby building that is “high enough” that still has a good angle towards the big building. Also, preferably, you’d like that second building to be east of the big building so there is nice light at sunset. Well, there’s a lot of things to think about, and these models are a perfect playground for perspectives.
The week of HDR Tips continues with Rick Sammon. Today, I called mine, Tip #5, Don’t Forget the Zooms. I have haphazardly used the word “zoom” in a plural manner that is both irresponsible and confusing. But that’s the way I roll.
Daily Photo – Stone Steps in the City
How do you guys feel about hyper-manufactured situations like this?
I don’t always know what to think. There are a lot of urban areas like this around Beijing where they create little natural-looking areas. They certainly look cool, and perfect in many ways. But, perhaps it is a little too perfect. No, that’s not the right way to say it. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something doesn’t feel right about it. It’s almost because I can picture the designer deciding to put a tree in a certain spot or the selection of a certain shape of stone in another part. Maybe if the placement of items was truly accidental — true randomness — then it might look more natural.
But I see a lot of this in China. They have communities with giant apartment blocks. The new ones are all very modern and nice. And in the middle of them are fountains, small groves of trees, paths, swings, and everything. There are families out mucking about and enjoying it… but I wonder if it “feels” as funny to them as it does to me. I sometimes feel like I’m on a holodeck.
Now that the app is out, all the beta testing has closed off – thanks again!
Join our private testing group!
100 Cameras in 1 for the iPhone has been a huge success, so it gave us the chance to redesign everything from the ground up to take the experience to a new level for the iPad. And, well, with the upcoming iPad 2, it’s gonna be even more awesome (even though it will also work on the existing iPads, especially since we notice a lot of people enjoy re-processing existing photos). I won’t say more than that now, but you can get a hint as to some of the varied goodies in the screenshots below.
Want to join the testing with us? Just leave a comment below, and I’ll randomly select people and contact you via the email you used (or FB) when leaving the comment. So, it’s just not all fun and games… you need to crank hard on the app, try to break it, send us feedback, bugs, and all that sort of thing to be a good tester.
The Week of HDR Tips continues!
Today is Tip #4: Let the Time Flow. It’s been a great week so far, yes? Yes. Rick Sammon and I are each providing a good tip to help you take your photography to the next level… I hope you are getting something out of it. I enjoyed putting these together!
I thought it was interesting that yesterday, people discovered inside the tip that the object in the middle of the arena was a dirt-zamboni. I guess I looked at it so long, that I figured everyone would get to that conclusion.. but interesting that the mystery worked even better than I suspected!
Daily Photo – Icelandic boy after building treehouse
When I stayed at Helga’s delightful farmhouse near a northern fjord in Iceland, her brother came over and brought his son. They built a treehouse in the backyard and filled it with all kinds of goodies — all in one day! The sun was low, as it always is there that time of year. He was running around, silently playing in the back yard. I thought his eyes were so other-worldly blue that I just had to take a photo.
This area was very close to the little town of Akureyri. It took me about three visits to this place before I was able to pronounce it correctly. I feel like a damned fool trying to say some of those Icelandic words!
Do any of you use Aperture to organize your photos? If so, my friend Joseph Linaschke, has released some New Aperture Presets with my Textures. Really amazing stuff… After you follow that link, just click on “Adjustment Presets” and you’ll be in the right area.
Joseph plucked some of his favorite textures out of my texture tutorial package and integrated them into those presets. It’s a pretty dang simple way to use them!
Besides the presets, Joseph has all other kinds of goodies in there too… ebooks and a little bit of everything. He wrote that remarkable ebook for Flatbooks.com about the Canon camera, so he’s a real pro. His stuff is the EXACT opposite of mine! I’m Nikon/Lightroom, and he’s Canon/Aperture. But we get along fine… like ebony and ivory.
You might remember this shot on the right from Nimes, France. It is of an old Roman colosseum where they still have bullfights and concerts. I was thinking about visiting my friend Fabien (the website designer) this summer to see Sting there. It’s supposed to be an amazing place to see live music.
Daily Photo – The Terminal
You guys know I love the Asian airports. I can’t quite figure out why they are all so awesome. I suppose that the government just pours a ton of money into them. But, I don’t really understand the economics of airports, even though I spend a lot of time in them. I know the airlines have to lease the gates, so that provides a regular income, but probably not enough to pay back the billion dollar pricetag to get it built. I’m pretty sure there is a lot of incestuous stuff that goes on… I know some giant Asian airlines are subsidized by the government, which in turn give money to airports that are owned partially by the government, and it all gets more messy from there. I suppose I’m just used to the government doing everything badly here.
This is one of the smaller terminals in Beijing. The main terminal is huge, and you get to this one after you pass through security. The floors are so glossy, I feel like wearing ice skates!
What do you think? Any feedback? It actually might be best to leave them on the YouTube page.
Free Photowalk Reminder
Want to join us in Austin for the PhotoWalk? It’s coming up during SXSW, and it’s gonna be great. Join the invite here.
The week of HDR Tips continues!
Today I’m talking about reflections, and new ways of planning for them in HDR situations. Rick Sammon has his new tip as well. For more, go see HDR Tip #2, along with links over to Rick’s blog.
I’ve always said there is no “right” way to make art, and I enjoy seeing other perspectives on it too — and I’m sure you’ll agree. Sometimes when I watch other people do things, I get a little confused and mistakenly see things. But I find that those mistakes make me think about things in a new way, so you never quite know where learning will take you.
Daily Photo – Tableau Vivant of California Dudes
I’ve had a nice ten days or so here in California. I started in LA, went up to San Francisco, then came back down here just before the Oscars. My agent invited me to some fancy-schmancy party in Hollywood. It was quite a problem to figure out what to wear to something like that. I felt like a girl. I mean, with the confused-about-what-to-wear thing… this is not something I usually think that much about.
It was interesting and fun. I didn’t even really fit in… here’s the basic conversation: “Are you a director?” No. “Are you an actor?” No. “Oh, you must be a producer!?” No.
But that night, I ended up staying at the Hotel California. I put a little photo there to the right… I found out I could check out any time I liked but…
And for our California photo below, here’s a bunch of guys that I guess have nothing better to do than walk around the beach all day with incredible bodies. Since I don’t have this, I can only rely on my personality, which frankly runs out after about five minutes.
Cali Lewis and John P are giving away my downloadable HDR Video tutorial. Head over to the Geekbeat.TV page to find out how to enter.
A Week of HDR Tips!
I’ve got a special thing-thing for you this week! A special week of HDR tips! Rick Sammon and I are doing this thing together for fun, and I hope it helps give you some good ideas to take your art in new directions.
Go see HDR Tip #1, along with links over to Rick’s blog as well!
This first tip is entitled, “Create Your Own Future”.
Daily Photo – A Gentle Stream Through New Zealand
All this news out of New Zealand is still upsetting. I’ve got a lot of contacts and friends down there… and I know it’s a rough time. Not much I can do… feel a little useless… so about the best I can do is post some serene and gentle photos of the nicer side of nature. I hope all my friends down there find it gets a little easier as the days move forward.
Besides the video below, there is an extended article with more behind-the-scenes stuff you might enjoy. Jim Swift from KXAN here in Austin did a nice story on the whole thing. And, thankfully, he cut out the parts of the video where we REALLY look like idiots.
If you scroll to the bottom of the KXAN Article the question came up and we addressed it there. I know you are excited about it! So am I, obviously!
The big video release is just two days away… It took me a small eternity to finish, but you’ll zip through the whole thing in a matter of minutes.
Daily Photo – Girl in Hat
One morning I woke up early to go visit the Summer Palace in Beijing. Since it was the week of the national holiday, I was not the only guy that woke up early. Around the outskirts of the palace, there were thousands of celebrants in all sorts of garb. And plenty of cute kids in fanciful headwear. I saw this little girl, so I got down to her level and took a quick shot with the 50 prime.
I hope this one is sharp enough for you… I know on Flickr sometimes I get a few photo-nerds that complain, “errr…you’re a little soft in the lower right quadrant.”.
I’ve been talking about this for a long time, so I wanted to go ahead and give you some free tips for on-the-street people photography.
From various conversations, I think that photographers are REALLY interested in taking photos of people they see on the street. We can’t help it, right? Our eyes are drawn to interesting “things” — not just landscapes. And if we see an interesting person, we really want to take their photo, yes? But then, often times, we don’t even pull the camera up to our eye because we are shy, embarrassed, or think about all the horrible things that could go wrong. So, maybe these tips will help!
Look, honestly, I don’t know if these will do you any good or not. But these are some things that I personally think about. So, insofar as some of my insights are useful to me, maybe they will be useful to you too!
Even though I’m known for “landscape photography”, I actually enjoy all kinds of photography! I take hundreds of people photos, object photos, food photos, model photos, B&W photos, etc. I assume that you take many types of photography too.
1) If you prefer to take photos of people as they are acting naturally, go ahead and take the photo before they notice you. You are a photographer, and this is you. You capture life… if you see something interesting whether it is a landscape, a pile of peaches, or a person that strikes your fancy, go ahead and do it. If you like and it is convenient, you can always go show them the photo after you are done. I do this whenever it makes sense, and I have a nice little interchange with the person.
2) Keep an extra camera ready for people shots. When walking the streets, I normally have my “big” camera ready to go for city landscape shots. My tripod is on. My wide-angle is on. It’s in that “mode.” If I am going to have to switch lenses, it will take forever, and the moment will be lost. So, I carry a second camera on a sling around my shoulder for people shots. On that camera, I have an 85mm or 50mm prime lens. Now, you don’t have to have this exact setup by any means, but having ANY kind of second camera for people shots is recommended.
2b) I find that the 85mm prime keeps me outside something I call the radius of intimacy. That is, when you use a 50mm, you are so close that people often stop acting naturally, unless they are a professional model or a natural thespian.
3) If they ARE likely to notice you, be confident and deliberate, softly asking permission with your eyes. This is a very subtle and hard thing to explain. I usually raise my eyebrows while I raise my camera, clearly indicating, “I’m about to take a photo. Everything is okay.” If they don’t want you to, they will make it clear. Usually, they say it’s just fine. People like to be thought of as interesting.
4) If they are very close, I ask permission out loud. Often times, I don’t want them to pose… so I say something (smiling!) like, “You look very interesting — can I take a photo?” Once they say yes (98% of the time they do), I usually ask them not to pose and carry on about their business. Then I start taking a bunch of photos and enjoy the pressure of capturing the moment.
5) Don’t be shy! If you feel overly shy, it may be a larger indication that you are letting fear motivate you rather than the opportunities that life provides. So, if you feel doubt or fear, just try to channel me and be brave and forthright.
Regarding that last one, seriously, folks, just be cool and confident with it. If you want to do it, and it feels right, just do it. Do not worry so much about rejection. Yes, you WILL get rejected 2-10% of the time depending upon how likable you are. Out of 500 people photos, I’ve been rejected maybe 10-13 times. It doesn’t bother me a bit. So what? People say no… big deal. The fact is that MOST people LOVE to have photos taken of them. To be interesting in a world of same-ness is a tremendous thing. Chances are that no one has ever taken a photo of them before, and they will feel special that you thought they were special.
Most of the time, after I take a photo and people look over at me, wondering, “Why did you just take a photo of me?” I usually say, “You look cool!” Or, “You look awesome!” Or, if they don’t speak English, I give them a thumbs up and a facial indication that I think they look cool. 99% of the time, they smile and carry on.
If you’re taking a photo of a kid, just get a steady nod from the parents before. Bend down to take the photo, look up at the parent, saying, “is it okay?” with your eyes. They’ll say yes or no… There is a significant number of moms out there that watch too much sensational news and assume that 50% of the population are pedophiles… but, maybe you’ll hit that other 50%! Again, we’re all just photographers, and if we see a cute or interesting kid, of course we want to take a photo! It’s what we do! There is no need to apologize for it!
Daily Photo – Salaryman in Tokyo
While I was in the middle of making a time-lapse sequence (see the video below the photo), I was using my D3S on a sling to take quick photos of interesting people. They were everywhere!
Behind me, waiting for the light to change, was this young salaryman. Salaryman is the Japanese word for “businessman”. That word salaryman always cracks me up for some reason. Anyway, he was this young kid, standing there in a most unassuming way in this nice suit. I spun around and grabbed a quick shot.
He looked a little confused at me after I took it. I gave him a nod of thanks, and he smiled in a surprised way then went merrily on his way.
Videos – Life in Japan
While I am busy shooting landscapes and people in Japan, I also take time to make some videos. Below are a few of them from recent past. The music from both is by the great Patrick O’Hearn (buy his stuff!). Enjoy!