Saturday, June 18, 2016

People I've Met - Jimmy Carter

This is a photography blog, but photography is a story about vision that comes about as a result of how a photographer sees a subject.  I have lived an interesting life over the last 40 years. During my lifetime I met or saw several famous people.  These interactions added to my life experiences that brought me to a stage of life that added to my vision or at least to how I reacted to the vision.

This series of articles is about my short interactions with these famous people.  Just because I have met these people doesn't mean that I was famous or involved in organizations at a high level.  I was just a worker bee in several causes that brought me into the circle that exposed me to the famous.

In 1978 I was working as a lobbyist for the Communications Workers of America (CWA).  Each year the CWA would have a political convention in Washington, D.C. where the delegate would meet with their state representatives to espouse the political agenda of the CWA. 

Jimmy Carter (James Earl Carter, 39th President of the United States) had been elected in 1976 with the help of labor unions.  On April 5, 1978 many of the delegates were invited to a reception in the White House to meet the president and hear a major policy speech.  This was not a small intimate group, there were from 300-600 people invited. 

I had been on a tour of the White House where we were shown down the corridors of the main floor with a line of tourists behind velvet ropes and heaven forbid if you needed to sit down on one of those Duncan Phyfe chairs. 

Being invited to a reception is a totally different experience.  It is like being invited to someones very nice house.  The velvet ropes were down and we were allowed in many of the rooms on the State Floor of the White House.  Many of rooms were set up with wine and cheese trays.

 I was thrilled with the special cheese ring that was included on the trays and got the recipe later ( Rosalynn Carter Cheese Ring). I was in the White House from about 1 PM to 5 PM. 

At one time Amy Carter came home from school and went up the grand staircase to the living quarters.  Spread throughout the rooms and at certain doors were very large formally dressed Marine guards that were tasked to keep the quests from wandering through another area of the house.  One impression I had was that those famous rooms in the White House (Blue Room, Red Room, Green Room) were small just like in a real and regular house.  I did sit in those Duncan Phyfe chairs and in fact did drink a little wine as a sat (maybe a little more than a little). 

Around 4 PM the President came into the East Room of the White House and delivered a major policy speech (I don't remember the subject at this time, just like a regular house guest). What an honor to be able to be in the home of President of the United States. 

While I did not get too close to the President I was impressed about how confident he acted and how gracious he was about invited me and my group into his house. 

As I mentioned at the top of this post I have met some famous people in my life but these interactions were small and should not imply that I was buddy's with the famous. 



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Friday, June 10, 2016

People I've Met - Muhammad Ali


This is a photography blog, but photography is a story about vision that comes about as a result of how a photographer sees a subject.  I have lived an interesting life over the last 40 years. During this lifetime I met or saw several famous people.  These interactions added to my life experiences that brought me to a stage of life that added to my vision or at least to how I reacted to the vision.

This series of articles is about my short interactions with these people.  Just because I have met these people doesn't mean that I was famous or involved in organizations at a high level.  I was just a worker bee in several causes that brought me into the circle that exposed me to the famous.
Public Domain Photo

Today I have witnessed the memorial ceremony for the life of Muhammad Ali, the three time heavyweight boxing champion, peace activist, philanthropist and self-proclaimed "Greatest". Ali died from the ravages of Parkinson's disease on June 3, 2016 in Phoenix. To hear Billy Crystal and former President Bill Clinton eulogize a truly great man. 

In 1973 I was working as a community organizer in Logan Utah. I was active in the Democratic Party as a precinct chairperson and was active in environmental issues in Northern Utah.  Muhammad Ali was invited to speak at Utah State University.  Ali had just had his suspension overturned for draft evasion that him kept him away from the ring at the peak of his career. 

While I was active in the environmental movement I had not had a lot of contact with the civil rights movement.  I attended the speech and sat at the rear of 15,000 seat basketball arena.  My first impression was to hear the crowd chanting "Ali, Ali, Ali" and then "I am Ali, I am Ali".  I'm not sure that I quite understood the "I am Ali" chant, but learned more about that later. 

Muhammad Ali, bounded down the aisles to the stage and worked the crowd into a frenzy with his charisma and poetry.  I heard him speak the famous quote “I’ve wrestled with alligators. I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning. And throw thunder in jail.”.




I was excited after the speech to know I had witnessed something special that day.

Later I learned that the "I am Ali" quote was a chant for those supporters of the champ that were stating their support for living their lives in the principals that Ali espoused. 


I was quite impressed the rest of life with that short interaction with a great person of color that had risked all in support of their principles.


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Photographing Portraits with LED Lights

One of my great challenges is management of lighting for a traditional head shot portrait session. My favorite lighting is a continuous lighting product using inexpensive LED lights. Continuous lighting means that the light is turned on the subject all the time instead of briefly lighting the subject with a flash or strobe.

1/100 sec at f/4.0, ISO 640, 50mm
I have both kinds of lighting, but the LED's provide a very easy way to measure the exposure exactly the way they will look in the camera.

 The lighting shows the main key light on the subjects left side, a hair light to highlight the top of the head, a reflector to bounce back some of the light on the right side of the face and a small light below and behind the subject to illuminate the backdrop. 
 The diagram below shows the lighting  for this portrait shot from a recent photo shoot


 The "Key" light, or the main light is created from three LED lights mounted together to provide more light from inside the softbox.

The softbox is a Westcott Apollo softbox that is designed to be used with flash strobes, but I have attached the three LED units to the triple holder that will fit inside the softbox and will provide about 2400 Lumens of very soft diffused light. 



.









 Each of the LED units has a A/C adapter installed in order to run the light off of regular power and not have to worry about changing out batteries. 

The hair light is a single LED unit that is screwed into the end of a boom arm and this provides a diffused light above the head.  This LED unit also has an A/C adapter.  Sometimes I add a small fabric softbox made for the LED units to further diffuse the overhead light.

The final lighting touch is another of the LED units placed on the floor beneath the subject and pointed backward to light up the center of the backdrop.  I also sometimes add a white reflector on the side opposite of the key light to bring up the light ratio on the shadow side of the face. 

 This particular lighting setup is very inexpensive, fairly portable and provides a good quality of light for portraits.   The costs are shown in the chart below.  The total cost, if I had to buy everything new from Amazon would be $ 586.99.  I purchased many of the components over several years and only had to buy the LED lights to change to this most current configuration. 



The prices above will change over time, but the affiliate links below will have the most current price information for those links. 













Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lightroom 6 is Here!

On April 21st Adobe released the much anticipated Lightroom 6.  Actually they released two versions of Lightroom: Lightroom 6, the stand-alone version and Lightroom CC, the version included in the subscription service Creative Cloud.  On the release date both versions are mostly feature identical, but as time moves on the CC version will receive more updates and improvements.  One major feature that was not included in Lightroom 6 were the Lightroom Mobile features.

It appears that Adobe is moving toward a subscription only based model.   In my case, the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography bundle at $9.99 per month worked out.  However, you still have a choice with Lightroom 6 although I think losing the mobile features would be a major detriment.

The major improvements in this new release included: HDR Merge, Panorama Merge, Performance improvements, Facial Recognition, Filter Brush Improvements, Adding to Collections on Import, Slideshow Improvements, CMYK now supported in soft-proofing an Pet Eye Removal.

While the performance enhancements are hidden from view they are remarkable.  In my limited use of the new product I have seen up to a 200% increase in speed on some tasks.

You can now perform an HDR Merge from within Lightroom and it is impressive in its simplicity (as compared to third-party products) and its speed of operation.  I tested the feature with some of my HDR images and it worked great.  One of the great features of the HDR Merge is that the output is to a DNG file (in other words, it is a full dynamic range RAW file that you can adjust and enhance in Lightroom just like a regular image).


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Paintings


After a long drought of painting I have several new paintings being published this month.  All of these paintings are 16" by 20" gallery wraps with gel embellishment.  More of the techniques later in this post.  The subjects of the paintings highlight the spring time in Arizona with two related with Cactus League Spring Training,  and one scene from the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park Arizona.


Three time baseball All-Star Yu Darvish is the subject of this painterly rendition of an original photograph taken during the 2014 Spring Training season in Surprise, Arizona.  At 6' 5" and 215 lbs Darvish creates an imposing figure on the mound.  This particular composition shows what an opposing batter sees from home plate as the determined pitcher sends a 98 mph fastball down the lane.  

This painting starts with processing with several digital art software products that allow me to create impressionistic brush strokes following the lines and patterns in the original image. I simplify the detail of the photograph to capture the essence of the scene and then I intensify the colors and create brush strokes like an original painting.   

The painting is then produced as a GiclĂ©e print on a canvas medium.  I then embellish the print with a clear gel medium to exaggerate the brush strokes and impart an impasto effect to my paintings that exude a third dimension. Utilizing traditional artist's brushes and palette knives the resulting brush strokes emphasize the lines and form of the original photograph.   This method creates an original one-of-a-kind piece of art. There will be no two paintings that are alike.  Each canvas is numbered into an edition and hand signed.  


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure