Sunday, May 10, 2015

Prom and Graduation Season

It is the best part of the transition from Spring to Summer... the onset of Prom and Graduation Season. I know it isn't on everyone's calendars, but if you have a teenager in High School, this is the season they have been looking forward to all year. While HS seniors get ready for their graduation day photos with their family, juniors are calling to make sure they can get their senior photos made during the cross-over from Summer into Fall... right as school resumes. It is a wild and exciting time. Seeing all these great faces I have come to know over many years, all getting ready to fly the coop. 

We do have a few remaining available dates for portrait work in both May and June. Yeah, I know... availability in June? We decided to cut back on our wedding schedule this summer and there are still a few slots available for location portraits this summer! Now is the time to call and reserve a session. Fall dates are already booking. 

Lastly, while we are not scheduled to photograph any of the local proms this year, we are available on a very limited basis to create images of individuals and couples before prom. Call asap to reserve your date!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Features of Lightroom Creative Cloud

Yesterday's big news all across the interwebs, was Adobe's latest release of Lightroom CC. Up until about a year ago, I would purchase LR whenever it went on sale (usually in the late fall)... and I would enjoy it until the newest features of the latest release compelled me to upgrade. I joined the CreativeCloud subscription service so that I could skip the waiting for the latest release. Now whenever there is a new feature being added, it automatically upgrades. The monthly cost was initially met with resistance, but now I just chalk it up as one more cost of doing business.

So what was the big deal with yesterday's release? Lightroom now can see faces!

Yeah, I know Facebook and Google have been identifying us for quite a while now. The difference with LR doing it is that now it takes that facial recognition and makes it into a searchable keyword-like function. In the first image, with Kyoshi Robin and Aurora, I can search my entire database of hundreds of thousands of images... just for Kyoshi Robin... and it will go and find them (assuming of course, that I turned on facial recognition and let LR go find them all). It is not perfect but it certainly is a huge step in the right direction!

all of the images of Aurora in this collection... even the blurry images of her face!

One of the best aspects of this new facial recognition is that (much like in FB) you can add folks manually. Granted, you could always keyword people's names into your keywords in LR, but now you can actually select their faces specifically... and then when sorted by names you can see them ALL at a glance.

Today there is a class on CreativeLive where all these new features are discussed in incredible detail!  Apparently CreativeLive will keep this as a free class indefinitely. This will be hugely helpful for folks who choose to upgrade to LR-CC.

After I do some more work with panoramas this week, I will post my thoughts about the Panorama Stitching and HDR possibilities in LR-CC. I am super excited to see how these new features with this latest release affect my workflow and the image possibilities.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Textures and colors of Spring

Spring is finally here. Our crocuses bloomed fast and furiously this year. They turned over the show to the daffodils a few days ago. The iris reticulata came and went in a heartbeat. The scilla are blooming left and right.

It's a heck of a time to be photographing flowers!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Wrapping Up

Over the next few weeks, Nancy and I will make another visit to Roosevelt Island to hang the images for the bedroom and a digital picture frame. You would think that at this point in the project we would be old hands at this. Nope. The next stage is going to require some interesting logistical solutions. Very excited to see how we pull the bedroom together!

Here are a few images of the finished prints, hung in place in the apartment. 

This is the entryway/hall into the bedroom. As you exit the master bathroom, this is what you see. These are metal prints, made on aluminum. I wasn't sure I would like the frame-less approach, but after seeing the first three metal prints last month, I am sold! I love the depth of color that this process can provide.

This is the wall which I was shooting the laser level at in the last blog post. Imagine: each print requires two nails to hook onto the floating block on the back of the print. So in order to hang this arrangement, we had to find the exact spot for all 8 nails before being able to drive the first one. Makes hanging frames from a single nail seem seriously easy. I think companies who use this sort of hanging device should include a nailing template. A sheet of paper exactly the size of the print, with the mounting holes marked out... that way you can lay it out without having to split fractions of an inch at 1am while the apartment was finally dark enough to see the laser markings on the wall.

This is the guest bathroom. The image was made from the southern part of Roosevelt Island. I had just purchased a series of Neutral Density filters (ND) and was trying to capture motion blur from the sky and the water while the sun set behind me, over the Manhattan skyline. By the time I had started figuring out exposure times and settings, the light was very nearly gone from the sky. I think at the time this was taken, my exposure was close to two minutes. Luckily the Fuji XT1 has the ability to be triggered by my iPhone, so I could have it set up securely on a tripod, open the shutter and control the exposure manually. It is hard to imagine that to my eyes, it was totally dark at this time. There was zero color in the sky. But leaving the camera open for that long let in the most marvelous hues! Definitely something I want to spent more time exploring this Spring.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Project in the Big Apple

About a year ago, a friend of mine asked if we would be interested in taking on a photography commission. Having never done such a thing, I wasn't really sure what that entailed. The commission was to fill a beautiful apartment on Roosevelt Island with our photography. Site specific... fill these walls. Part of the deal was that we were invited to come to NYC and stay in the apartment while we scouted and photographed to our heart's delight.

The image creation took the better part of the summer with multiple visits to NYC and Roosevelt Island. Over the winter we edited images and tried to sift through the mountain of images we had created. Part of the process was figuring out what would look best on these walls. It's one thing to make a great image, but the best image - printed at the wrong size, or on the wrong wall - is just useless. The uppermost image is the southeastern most bank of floor to ceiling windows... facing Queens and eye level with the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. From this vantage, you can see the old hospital being torn down to make way for the new Cornell Tech campus.

On our trip down last month to start hanging artwork, we realized we would need to measure the walls accurately, so that when it came time to place the artwork, it would end up exactly where we wanted it. This image is where we started realizing that even with the shades drawn, the apartment gets so much sun during the day, that our laser level lines were tough to see.

Everything coming onto the island arrives via FedEx or UPS, including the artwork and our gear. On our last trip we were shocked/appalled/scared to find one of the boxes with metal prints, quite crunched up. Luckily, the inner packaging kept the work in perfect order. Whew!

When you have twelve foot ceilings and big maps of the New York waterways to hang, you start with the big stuff first. Set a level for the whole room, and start measuring everything on paper. In this case, we were able to use a fantastic collapsible ladder. Perfect for apartment dwelling!

Nancy was absolutely essential during this process. Inevitably, one of us needed to be across the room shooting a laser level or judging space along a wall.. and the other person would be trying to hold the artwork flat to the wall. Each of these metal prints has two small holes bored in the foam block that allows the print to float on the wall. That means each piece requires two perfectly horizontally hammered nails that are also perfectly in line with all the other pieces in the cluster.

This last image is a slightly wider shot showing the laser level at work. Over two days we hung nearly two thirds of the artwork for the apartment. The next trip in April will be filling the bedroom with massive framed black and white prints!

Now that you have some idea what we've been doing during the installation, the next post will be the "finished" images... the "after shots" if you will.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Getting Up Early

Most mornings I struggle to get out of bed. There's always something that aches. Whether its my bad back or some weird post-surgical pain... there's inevitably something. Usually my first step to joining the land of the living is to ice my back for a bit, sip some tea and try to regain my wits. A handful of Tylenol or Advil and more tea. More ice for my back.

All of that gets thrown aside if the sky is lit up like this. To hell with waiting for my body to feel better! I am out the door in sub-zero weather in hopes of capturing the crazy light that is painting the morning snow! It is usually when I am standing by the road, in near-darkness with my camera happily clicking away as I make images... that I suddenly realize I forgot to grab a coat. And that I cant feel anything south of my nose. Yikes!

But, I am awake! And the camera is full of wild vivid images that ten minutes later had faded to merely pleasant. Totally worth the effort!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thaw Is Upon Us

Taughannock Falls at Taughannock State Park, Trumansburg, NY

When the ice begins to melt and the creeks start to rise, it can happen very suddenly here. The past few days have been quite warm, especially when compared with the bitter cold we had in February and much of March. Three days now have been above freezing! That means that water is flowing freely. In some places, that water has nowhere to go... which means creeks backing up, ditches are full of icy water and even basements are flooding. My plan is to head down to the Falls this weekend to see how the melting has effected this wall of ice. I have a strong feeling that most of the ice will be gone by the weekend.