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PIXelations 15


by fotofinish , 01-01-2007 at 04:14 PM (234 Views)

I have already started my next body of work which is still architecture related. For years I have been attracted to buildings with “character”, ie, architecture with interesting angles, shapes, patterns. I guess I also particularly enjoy a sense of mystery from these old structures and the “checkerboard” past related to the stories of the many lives that toiled within these walls.

One particular location has always fascinated me each time I drove past. So one pre-dawn morning less than a week ago, I went down for a shoot. I was a bit uneasy with the location since it is on the outskirts of a city near a river on the desolate side of town. I used Google Maps and Satellite to find the directions to this location.

The moment I pulled off the road, I knew that I had hit the “jackpot” location for which I had be searching. This place was perfect. It was exactly as I had pictured it in my mind’s eye. I walked the scene first, set up my tripod and camera with mirror lockup and remote cable, took a few test shots, and waited for the first rays of the rising sun to begin painting this mysterious scene for me. I stood in the middle of the train tracks outside of the barbed wire fence that attempted to keep the curious (like me!) out.

I did not have long to wait. For the next two and a half hours, I kept shooting, nearly filling my two-gig card with raw pixels, until the “good” light ended.

I did have a moment of excitement, though. Lost in the image frenzy, I was jolted abruptly by several whistle blasts of a speeding train as it barreled around the blind bend in the tracks. I quickly scooped up my gear and dashed off to the side until it passed. I laughed at my stupidity and my naiveness. But apparently I still did not learn my lesson (did I mention that I am half-Italian and half-Polish?) since I was shocked a second time by that train’s return voyage, about a half-hour later.

Here are a couple of samples:

I have more from this series, as well as some from a few other locations, here. I don’t think I am done yet. I still have a few other places in mind throughtout the state of Connecticut. We’ll see what develops…

Check me out!

by fotofinish , 01-13-2007 at 07:51 PM (210 Views)

The Welcome Center held a reception for me and my exhibition. But the really fun part was what they put on the internet about me here! I can’t believe they did this!

Anyway, the Center let me have a reception. Jayne and I invited a few friends and family. My sister, son and daughter came with some of their friends who we knew since they were very young. Friends each of us work with also came. The executive director of the Arts Council hosted it and provided the wine:

Here are a couple of samples:

Here’s Mike, a close friend of mine that I have known for many years:

So, these are my first steps…

Déjà vu

by fotofinish , 02-04-2007 at 12:59 PM (159 Views)

I decided to rescan some of my old 35mm color slides. Since I seem to be in a dormant period between shoots, I now have time for some special projects. I have an old Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III AF-2840 scanner which I bought back in 2002. There are two shoots in particular that I want to redevelop: my Mt Katadin in Maine hikes from the late 1970’s, and my travels through the Orient in the summer of 1978. This project will take me several weeks. All of these shots were taken back then with my Minolta SLR102 using a 50mm lense or 70-200mm Soligar lense. My goal is to make black and white images from these color slides after scanning. Here’s a couple of samples from the first series…”The Cathedrals”…

…and “The Knife’s Edge”…

These were taken during the late 1970’s of Mt. Katadin in Baxter State Park, Lewsiton, Maine, the very start of the Appalachian Trail. More from this series can be found here.

And here is a miscellaneous one, called “Sails”

More from this series can be found here.

Who would have thought…

by fotofinish , 02-14-2007 at 09:37 AM (163 Views)

…that I would actually get any interest in my work as a result of my recent exhibition. Well, opportunity is knocking, loudly. An art dealer from Boston got my name from the Welcome Center. She represents a local Hartford, popular hotel who is in the midst of redecorating their rooms. They are interested in me supplying one or two prints, which would be mounted and framed to 30×36 by another vendor, to be used in their rooms: 200 18×24 copies of each!

After my heart attack subsided, I am faced with creating some proofs that are to be black and white, and abstract images of their exterior property. Abstract was defined as closeup, detail shots of the building façade. I have a week to produce these test shots on my website for the client to view.

Assuming I can pull this off, I have to hope that my meager Canon 20D photoscan be “res’d up” properly to 18×24. Then I have to find a lab capable of quickly (within several weeks) producing 200 copies of the selected image, negotiate a price with the dealer as well as bargain the contract wording…

The next week or two should be very interesting for me.

Met the competition…

by fotofinish , 02-19-2007 at 07:59 PM (170 Views)

This past Saturday morning I was re-shooting the hotel façade, trying to catch the close-ups I need in the reflected light from the highrise across the street. Toward the end of my shoot, another photogragher appeared across the street and began to set up. I saw the familiar white of a 100-400mm L Canon lens. I suspected I knew who he was.

So I left my equipment set up and dashed over to where he was to confirm my suspicions. I was right. He was asked by the art dealer to also take some shots. Unfortunately for me, he is a thirty year veteran, a professional commercial photographer whose only job is photography. We talked briefly. He seems like a pleasant person. He was shooting with a one-series Canon, far better resolution than what my Canon 20d can provide.

I ended up selecting seven black and whites, and one montage of five other shots. I printed the proofs on 8.5×11 sheets of Hahnemuehle FineArt Pearl paper. It is the first time I have used this paper and it is the first time I have printed using the photo black ink with my Epson R2400. I must say that I really do like the paper. It shows off the detail with elegance. It has a nice smooth finish, not as textured as the matt Crane Museo Max paper I had been using recently, and it does not compete for attention with the detail of my close-ups.

Here’s a couple of the finished items:

The rest of the gallery can be viewed here.

I’m supposed to find out after Thursday if the client is interested in any of my work.

Orient 1977

by fotofinish , 02-25-2007 at 02:07 PM (167 Views)

I finished scanning my slides from my trip through the Orient in the summer of 1977. I did most of the work in Lightroom beta, then imported these into CS2 to clone out the dust and sharpen.

Here’s a couple of the finished items:

The rest of the gallery can be viewed here.

didn’t get it…

by fotofinish , 02-27-2007 at 07:53 PM (169 Views)

I did not get the big contract for the hotel redocoration. I didn’t even ask for any details. The art dealer said she would keep me in mind for future work.

Of course I am disappointed, but I am also honored to even have been considered. I learned alot about myself and what I can do under the pressure of a tight timeframe, and that I do have what it takes to give it my best.

So, time to get back to some fine art work…

Having fun with Lightroom v1.0

by fotofinish , 03-01-2007 at 07:30 PM (184 Views)

I just received my boxed version 1.0 of Lightroom. I have decided to commit fully to having it be the first part of my workflow. In fact, with the File/Auto Import feature enabled, as soon as I insert my camera’s memory card into the external card reader plugged into my computer, Lightroom opens automatically with its import dialog. I have configured the import process to rename and then save my raw file as a DNG file, putting the untouched CRW file into a backup directory, and the DNG files into a working subdirectory which is created and named by date.

At least now I will have this done easily, even though it is slower to do all of this and save as a DNG file.

On a different topic, I found a very informative link by Canon which shows how their lenses are made.

Image Management

by fotofinish , 03-11-2007 at 12:58 PM (191 Views)

Lately, I’ve been thinking about improving the way I archive my images. Here is my current workflow.

Now that I am using Lightroom as my import source, I let it create a backup copy of all imported files into my “originals” directory by shootname_date. This directory with all of its subdirectories by shoot, will contain all of my untouched, CRW files. My working directory will also be broken out by shootname_date, but these subdirectories will contain all of the imported images as DNG files. As I process and weed out the images I don’t want, any images further processed in CS2 will have the PSD extensions, also within these subdirectories.

At the present time, I don’t have a need to retain any of my images on any of my hard drives, so I like to back these up to DVD, and then delete them from my hard drive. I would then wait till I had about 3.5-4 gigabytes of data, and then I would burn these to a DVD and label the DVD in an acid-free pen with the backup date.

But of course the dilemma is that when I need to retrieve a file, it becomes an “Easter egg hunt” to try and locate the needed file. And then, even when I find the correct DVD, I need to open it through Adobe bridge, a rather lengthy process while Bridge has to process each file.

My latest brainstorm is to point Lightroom at each subdirectory in both my backup and working directories, and create contact sheets of all of the images. I then print these contact sheets to a PDF file and then name these files after each subdirectory. The end result is that each shoot’s subdirectory, both original and working, will contain a final PDF file of all of the images from that subdirectory as thumbnails. I think I will keep a copy of each working subdirectory PDF and store it on my hard drive. I will have to also include in the name of each PDF the file number range that each PDF contains. I have always retained the original file number created by the camera. This should make my “Easter egg hunt” just a little less painful.

Printing to PDF is not something that Lightroom offers. I downloaded a shareware product called CutePDF Writer. The way it works is instead of printing to your printer, you go into your Printers and Faxes folder on your computer and set CutePDF as the local “printer” and then hit the print button in Lightroom. It is that simple.

On a different topic, I needed to get out behind the camera a week ago, so I went for a walk through Session Woods, our local wildlife sanctuary. I went mid-morning, so nothing was happening. But I wanted to practice some techniques with my various lenses.

I switched my 20D into manual mode, shoot some panoramas, then shot some abstract images of the iceflows. Here are some examples:

New Camera Pre-ordered!!!

by fotofinish , 03-17-2007 at 12:25 PM (167 Views)

Top of the morning to ya all! I pre-ordered the new Canon EOS 1d Mark III. I was told I am number 11 on the wait list. I have been waiting for the right opportunity to upgrade from my current Canon 20D, though I will keep the 20D as my second body. My main reasons for selecting this camera are: (Hope it lives up to the hype!)

* All new high-precision AF system with 19 user-selectable AF points and 26 additional “assist points”; superior low-light performance and faster operation. My current 20D is disappointing in low light with my telezooms (70-200mm L IS; 100-400mm L IS).

* Dual DIGIC III Image Processors working in parallel to provide up to 50% less shadow noise and superb image quality to significantly reduce digital noise, especially in shadow areas.

* New Highlight Tone Priority option adds control of bright highlights to preserve greater detail in image highlight areas, especially in bright sunlight or contrasty studio lighting.

* 14-bit color ensures smoother tonal transitions and more natural gradations.

* EOS Integrated Cleaning System Canon’s advanced EOS Integrated Cleaning System uses both mechanical and software methods to effectively deal with dust accumulation on the imaging sensor.

* Large 3.0-inch LCD monitor, featuring Live View.

I probably won’t get it till the middle of May, though. I can’t wait!

Here is a link to an extensive pre-production review…


by fotofinish , 03-24-2007 at 11:15 AM (191 Views)

Thanks to George Barr and his great blog, I enjoyed reading Ansel Adam’s book Examples:The Making Of Forty Photographs. In this book, Adam’s relates the stories of how each of his 40 great images were taken. It makes for some fascinating and inspirational reading. He sometimes gives a paragraph or two of tips, like remembering to shoot with the heart and not just the head. I quite often get caught up in persuit of the “holy grail” of the perfect technical shot, that I lose sight of this most important of concepts…


by fotofinish , 04-08-2007 at 01:36 PM (211 Views)

Ok. So I never said I was the sharpest tool in the shed ( I’m Italian and Polish, ‘nuff said! ), but I discovered that focus and recompose is not that greatest technique to use for capturing action shots, like birds in flight. During yesterday’s late morning walk through Session Woods, my local Nature preserve, I experimented with focus then re-compose. I changed custom function #4 back to its default of allowing the shutter button to control both the focus and the exposure.

The snapshot below is a cropped result of this process:

I set my camera to shutter-priority, set to 1/400 sec since I used the 1/max focal length rule, with iso800 since I thought I might want some depth of field since there was a mix of sun and clouds…just a snapshot with only de-noising and sharpening…

I had decided I would only carry my 20D with a 100-400mm L IS during my walk, since I was more interested in taking a walk and just playing with my camera as I wished. I confess that it had been four weeks since I was last behind the camera. I have been struggling with ideas for my next project but so far I have come up dry. And I was getting frustrated. I finally realized the trap I was falling into. I knew that I just had to get out anywhere behind the camera for whatever reason. It worked. By the time I came home, I was feeling better.

Moral of this story: just do it! (Sorry, Nike…)

A Little Known Secret

by fotofinish , 04-15-2007 at 01:49 PM (199 Views)

Thanks to my neighbor’s son, Tommy, I visited a little known state forest. There is a series of waterfalls that although do not have the height, they do have many boulders to splay across. I went at noon, more as a scouting mission than an actual shoot. No tripod, or wide angle lens, just handheld with a 70-200mmL IS USM. I had no idea what time of day would be best, never having been to the location before. As it turns out, this was a pretty good time of day since the falls are sheltered in a gorge guarded by tall pines on steep slopes on either side of the stream. This will be on my autumn shoot schedule for sure. Here are two of my test shots:

You can see the rest of my test shots in this gallery here.

On a different topic, I discovered a reference in one of my forums to a marvelous website of a French photographer I now consider as one of my influences, Denis Olivier. Taking a look through his images, I was able to see that Denis truly has discovered a unique style all of his own, a style that if you see a future image of his you will be able to immediately recognize. His style, to me, has a vignetting, dreamy look with a sense of moodiness and mystery. I’d love to see full scale prints of these…

Wind Over Wings

by fotofinish , 04-24-2007 at 08:02 PM (203 Views)

I joined a local area camera club in order to learn more technique and compositional skills from the membership. It is also an opportunity to get some feedback on some of my experiments through the monthly club competitions. There are also field trips/photo shoots with opportunities to add some stock to my web galleries.

One such shoot took place this past Saturday. About twenty of us went to a birds of prey rehab center, called Wind Over Wings . At this volunteer-driven facility, eagles, hawks, owls and others are either nursed back to health and then released, or are permanently protected. Some $23,000 is need annually to feed these magnificent creatures. I had the honor to capture some of their portraits. The barn owl below had its eye shot out on purpose:

Three handlers took turns bringing out the birds perched on their arms for the group of us to photograph. I started out with my 70-200mm L IS USM. I had my 20D set for aperture priority and center-weighted metering due to the direct sun on the subjects. I later switched to my 100-400mm L IS USM. Unfortunately, I set my aperture at f/6.3 which made for a much shallower depth of field than I wanted to use. Next time I will use either f/8 or f/11. I think this should be adequate to keep the background blurred due to the high degree of distance compression offered by these large lenses.

Here are some of my favorites:

You can see the rest of this gallery here.

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