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LEC · Photography
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LEC Photo in 944

Here’s an image I shot for 944 magazine. Nice to see it up this month.  See the magazine here.

Warm vs. Cool: redux

Case in point.  Here is a shot in this month’s 944 magazine:  I didn’t think I was out to shoot ‘warm’ but that the lighting in the studio was so iconic and cool (in the slang sense) I ended up using available light.  We’ll see if the trend continues…

‘warm’ vs ‘cool’: interiors

A creative director friend of mine recenly made the observation that there are 2 kinds of photographers.  Those that shoot ‘warm’ and those that shoot ‘cool’.  While this may be an oversiplification, it is coming from someone who hires photographers, and therefore is a practical example of a way someone uses these categories to keep track in their head of potential matches of photographer and story.  Further, cool, it seems, is always in, whereas the same is not true for warm.  In fact, if you look at the photography being published in magazines like Elle Decor, or British and American Vogue, most of the interiors are in fact, ‘cool’.  Case in point a fantastic guy and a great photographer friend of mine, William Waldron. He does a lot of work for NY magazines.  On the other side, take a look at my previous post on interiors, or this shot I just did of the band ‘A B & the Sea.’ in a local recording studio here in SF:

Not to carry it alone, some of the coolest photography out there is ‘warm’.  I consider David LaChapelle a ‘warm’ photographer, as well as Erwin Olaf.

At the end of the day, its always interesting to hear what art directors, creatives, or art buyers think of 1 my work, and 2 how to organize categories of photographers in their heads.  I would much rather work with someone who thinks in terms of visual aesthetic, than someone who things in terms of strict categories: aka a ‘portrait’ person or a ‘fashion’ person.  Its true that your visual style can transcend genre.  Since I love shooting so many different types of photographs, (I know, this site is mostly fashion, but don’t worry, there’s more coming soon), it warms my heart to hear it.  (ha ha).

RED camera

*Please note:  I was not paid by any company or person to write this.  It has simply been in my mind.

I was on a commercial shoot recently, with a client that has been producing advertising shoots for over 25 years.  One night at dinner, the client leaned over to me, and told me ‘you should get into video.’  This wasn’t because the client liked my video work, or because we had even been talking about it (we hadn’t).  In fact, it was pretty out of the blue.  But the client went on to say that in 5 years, if a commercial photographer can’t provide the client with video clips as well as stills, that photographer would be out of a client.

Needless to say I took his advice as something worth looking into.  And in fact, shortly after that, another commercial client of mine asked for video clips from the shoot to do web animations.  A month or so later, a model friend of mine came back excitedly talking about a campaign she was in that was shot with the Red One Camera.  Mention of the capabilities of the Canon 5d aside, it seems the Red camera was intended more as a filmmaking device than a commercial advertising tool, it is capable of producing stills large enough to be printed in a double-page spread in a magazine.

The Red camera is not new news, but keeping track of its performance and usage is interesting.  According to Wikipedia, more than 100 films have been shot on Red to date.  Directors such as Steven Soderberg and Peter Jackson rave about it.  And it was used to make the very sexy viral ad for Agent Provocateur, Love me Tender… Or Else! shot by cinematic photojournalist Greg Williams:

With the affordable price of $17,500, i know this camera will be used to make many films.  Its cheaper than many Phase One digital backs.  The company already offers a higher-res version of the camera. How can this not be a revolution?  There are many ways the whole photographic landscape is changing.  This is one that I don’t think we have heard enough about.

Yayasan Bumi Sehat - Ubud birthing clinic

Every so often, when I have the chance, I try to donate my time and photography to a non-profit organization who can use my work.  I had the pleasure of recently volunteering for a birthing clinic in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, by the name of yayasan bumi sehat.  The clinic is run by a woman named Robyn, who seems to be everywhere at once, and deliver all babies on the island.  She happened to be the one to deliver my friends baby while I was there, coincidentally.  The clinic uses a mix of Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, and Western medicine, up to and including surgery.  Women come from all over the world to have their babies with her.  You can see her clinic here.

these are a few shots from that story:

It feels good to get back to the clean and spiritually rewarding genre of reportage.  One of my favorite photographers, both for his work and for his life story, is the grandfather of photojournalism, Robert Capa.  He served as one of the inspirations that led me to pursue a life of photography.  It feels good to tip my hat his way once again.

Traveling in Bali

I have been taking some personal photographs while traveling in Bali.  Its beautiful here, and hot, so while its hard to have the discipline to get up at dawn and photograph anything, its nearly impossible to take a bad photograph, so it is always worth doing so.  I have posted some of the shots on Facebook, now that they have reversed their rights policy (see previous post) and you can see more of them here.

Facebook reverses its change of Terms Of Use

Woot!!  Facebook changed its Terms of Use.  They used to read:

“You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service.”

As of today they are reverting to the old terms of use.  This was the fairly quick (five days I think) result of an immediate and strong reaction in the blogosphere and the media.  While I believe Facebook and Mark Z. that there was no sinister intentions in its old TOS, its really comforting to know Facebook is no longer taking that angle.  Now when you close a Facebook account, any rights to the content of your profile will expire.

The story was picked up by NYTimes.com and others, prompting a resonse posted today on the facebook blog. Big win for anyone wanting to put meaninful or valuable work up on social networks.

Fire #2

This is from the wildfires that burned much of Malibu a while back.  When I went to photograph it, the fires were mostly out but things were still smoking.  I remember the shock on peoples’ faces, and the stories of a raging wall of fire coming for them in the night, faster than someone sprinting.  The firemen had saved most of the houses, but they were on an island in the middle of a wasteland of scorched earth.  And some houses they couldn’t save.

There’s still beauty to be found here, though, even in the scorched earth.

Fire #1

I love fire.  Its so liquid in essence and form.  Its beautiful to photograph, and affects us all on some primal level.  Each of these flame elements were betwen 1 and 10 inches tall.

Different sometimes is good

Because I don’t shoot many interiors, I spent a bit of extra time making sure I knew how to execute a shoot for a friend in my extended community, who asked me to shoot the interior for Beretta restaurant on 23rd and Valencia for his company Language in Common.  You can see the results here:

And the client seems to think so too.  Its an honor to hear what he has to say:

“i think it’s a great thing when friends take the risk of mixing
business with pleasure and come out feeling successful. so in the
interest of celebrating a job well done, i want to give props to loren
for dropping some seriously professional science in our last
collaboration. he was easy to deal with on money stuff, super flexible
and accommodating with project management stuff, extremely
ridiculously proactive on legwork and preparation stuff, and when all
was said and done, he made me look good in front of my clients, and
the final product looked super good.”  - a.albin., Language in Common.

Lens Terms

It seems that everyone’s a photographer these days.  But oops… when you ask them about something, technical, they cry artist, saying they just like to create.  Knowledge, however, is power.  Rather than combing through the user feedback on the B&H photo website for hours, here are a few of the stand-out terms for understanding lenses you can use to sound very smart…*

Bokeh (background blur) - Every lens has a different background blur style.  Some blur points into circles, some into rings, some into blobs.  for example, mirror lenses cause blurred dots to appear as rings, while fixed-focal length 35mm lenses tend to look like filled-in circles.

Lens speed- This refers to the minimum aperture the lens is capable of.  A faster lens can shoot in Lower-light situations.

Focal length (EFL) - a measurement of the ability of the lens to focus light.  This is useful to determine the magnification of the particular lens.  Long lenses are more magnified than Short lenses, making objects far away seem closer.  The Focal Length is usually expressed in millimeters, so 50mm or 110 mm is talking about the focal length.  EFL is closely tied to Angle of view.

Angle of view - a measurement that describes the angle of light that enters the lens and therefore ends up in the picture.  For example, a wide-angle lens lets you capture an image that includes a lot of peripheral area.  This is also the measurement that determines how close or far away objects appear in relation to each other: wide angle lenses make farther objects look smaller in comparison to closer objects than ‘normal’ lenses.

In my opinion and that of many professionals, these lenses are tested and hold up to the highest standards of quality and performance: Zuiko, Zeiss, and Leitz all make lenses that have become classics. Definitely among the best glass you can find.

There’s lots more but that’s enough for now- time to impress your friends…

*note: I do not receive any compensation for listing any of these brands, websites, or companies.  They are listed here purely for informational purposes - LEC

Stars

Did some interesting graphic pieces in December for Miranda Caroligne. Clothing:


Heroes Vs Villains

This was a fun shoot for Zynga, a company that makes video games for Facebook and Myspace.  I love to come up with solutions to problems of information communication; to tell a story through images- in this case through a single image.  The psychologist Albert Mehrabian studied information uptake, and found that people absorbed information visually far more than through listening or reading, something he called the 7%-38%-55% rule.

Most of the models had way more fun being villains than heroes.  I guess it feels good to be bad…

Myspace link here.

Facebook Link here.

Panoramics

Here are some panoramic shots I have taken on travels, starting with a shot of Juneau, Alaska at 4 AM. These images are actually multiple images taken, then later stitched together using Photoshop or some third-party photo-stitching software. For this particular image, the shots were taken on a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom lense at 28mm, and at that width, I took probably about 10 images over a 120 degree arc. I usually put the images together myself in photoshop, but there is lots of great software out there to help you, such as Panoweaver or Panavue.

The key to taking good panoramic-stitchable photographs is to keep the light-entry point on your lens totally static for all the images you will then later put together, and take enough that your images overlap quite a bit, so you can match elements of each image.  Field cameras, swing tilt cameras, or aspherical lenses for 35mm cameras all allow you to do this with lens adjustments, but for regular lenses with fixed light vectors, this means rotating the camera not at the tripod mount, as it would if you swivel on a tripod, but rather at the front of the lens. The best way to do this is with a panoramic tripod mount. You can find one here, or build one yourself.

Other techniques for getting a ‘panoramic’, typically a photograph with an aspect ration of >3:1, wider than tall, is to simply crop the top and bottom off of a normal photograph (with 35mm this is typically 3:2). An example of this:

The problem with this is obvious- often you are left with a smaller sized image, and a limited print size accordingly.  Even with a top of the line professional camera you can’t print bigger than 30-40 inches wide…

In addition to photo stitching, there are several other techniques that involve combining multiple shots. One is called High Dynamic Range imaging, which is a derivative of 3d cgi, and a little-known feature in Photoshop. The technique, described here is basically exposing the same image multiple times at different exposures, up to 12 or so, and then using algorithms built into photoshop to add the extra exposures up into one image with super range in exposure.  In this way you can make a dark foreground look lighter, or a light sky look darker.

A third technique involves focus- taking a series of images with different focus points and adding them together to create a full focus image.  There is good software out there to help with this, such as PhotoAcute.

There is basically no limit to the number of images you can use to create the panoramic shot, nor how wide it can be.  I have created 360 degree views from the top of mountains, with the vague idea that it would look cool as wallpaper in a circular room.  If you look closely you can see the boarders of the individual shots near the top.  I left these in so you can see that these are in fact individual images laid on top of one another.

or simply tried to capture the breathtaking feel of the horizon opening up in front of you.

For more technical discussion, as well as some beautiful images, check out Nathan Myhrvold’s article Edge: here.

Best Covers of the Year

American Society of Magazine Editors Unveils 2008 Best Cover Contest Finalists

Best Cover Finalists

Giselle- Vanity Fair

Giselle- Vanity Fair

Slideshow here.  Pay no attention to the fact that the Eliot Spitzer cover of New York Magazine was shown 3 times…  its called subliminal loading in psychological terms…

Breaking in to the Business

It sounds so basic, and so simple.  Most people have a vague idea of what the photography business is really like, one that doesn’t go much beyond the fact that its_really_competitive.  But for those of you who had a dream last night that you wanted to become a photographer, start here.  I wish I had read this article five years ago…  note that there is nothing in this post about going to school or studying art…

I would add to this something I heard while I was an assistant, that really made me mad as hell.  I was lighting for a shoot that was going to be published by Chronicle Books, without much technical direction from the photographer.  And the photographer told the editor that there are two things that make you a photographer- one is your technical skill, the other is your vision.  The first one, it seems, you can hire someone to do for you, or learn on your own.  the second, is something no-one can teach you.  So, her advice to young photographers was to work on the vision.  At the end of the shoot, when I was thinking about my paycheck from the photographer, I knew after working hard all week to fill in the technical holes in the creative direction, that the photographer was right…

A Photo Editor

I have been reading a lot of blogs recently, gathering some ideas and resources for this blog. I -love- the blog:

http://aphotoeditor.com/

Rob Haggart answers all the questions that you don’t know you wanted to ask but are really happy to have answers to. And he should know- he spent 7+ years as a photo editor, first at Outside magazine, then at Men’s Health. A little over the pace of NYC life, he instead decided to open up a window on the clandesitne operations of the editorial photography industry. He’s “tired of trying to change the media industry from the inside… and I really want to do something to lead this industry in the right direction.” We are the lucky beneficiaries of his wisdom. Thanks, Rob. Keep it up.

You Suck at Photoshop

There is a really cool introductory-level photoshop tutorial that presents the material in a loose, really funny (read:accessable) way.  Its called “you suck at photoshop” and its all over youtube.  here is the first episode, which goes over some basic transform effects:

Even people who know photoshop well can get a kick out of watching, and still might learn something.  Its written by Cincinnati local Donnie Hoyle.  For more about Donnie, go here: Donnie Hoyle « The Night Feed.

For those interested in something a little more advanced, there is a great podcast called Photoshop User TV.  PUTV is the show from the eponymous magazine, and also presents the skills parts in a fun and irreverent way, and includes competitions, news, prizes, and advanced skills in its 1/2 hour episodes.

I sometimes say wouldn’t it be great if real life were like photoshop?  imagine… addition to the house?  done.  New car? done.  Clean your room?  check.  Endless fun…

Alaska Show up at Mission Cliffs

On Wednesday March 19 work from my travels through Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago will go up at Mission Cliffs- its not a gallery show (fun!) and lots of interested athletic outdoor cats will get to see the work. I really like the idea of going to a place for an activity and being pleasantly surprised by really good artwork on the walls. Its also a fantastic deviation from the majority of my other work, the unifying thread of which I would have to say is that its about people. I guess bears are the people of the temperate rainforests of the misty fjords…

The work is available for sale upon request. Please send an email to:

info@lecphoto.com
for pricing if you would like to purchase a piece.

Inside Passage

Pictures from a ferry tour of southern Alaskan archipelago, July, 2007