Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Enduring Conundrum

Two winters ago my friend Dan Vogel asked me to photograph myself so he could paint my portrait. His painting was beautiful and was recently sold to Tim Victim, the gentleman who administered my first professional tattoo. Sometime shortly after the completion of the painting, I was hired to photograph the painting (of the photograph of myself, haha) to use on bus stop billboards around the city. "How fun and easy", thought I to myself, "to photograph a flat object that won't move."

I was very wrong. Oil paintings are hell to photograph. I was hired by a woman a few months later to photograph her entire portfolio of paintings which were textured and shiny and complex. I nearly turned down the offer because of my experience shooting the portrait of myself.

I don't yet have a solution. The color balance must be spot on to accurately portray the painting. That issue isn't nearly as befuddling as the light. Because it's shiny and textured, oil paint looks different from every angle, no matter how even the light is.

Here's the photograph that I took of myself for Dan to use as reference.

I've made a note that the next time I sit for a portrait, I should adjust my bra straps and reduce the amount of crazy-eye I'm unleashing. Anyway, here are some of the photos that I took of the painting. These are unedited to show just how tricky oil is.

And so on. Below is the shot we settled on. I plan to work on this some more. Still, I think I'll try to get more gigs shooting tattoo artist's work and not so much painter's portfolios.

P.S.- On the link I've put there from Dan's name, you can see a picture of the billboard. Neat!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I finally unearthed some of my favorite portraits that I shot in 2007. I had just discovered light painting and was trying it out on my friend Leah. They're not all stellar shots. I didn't know how to frame her most of the time and I didn't know how to clean my camera sensor yet, but a few of these images I love love. So I've gone back and tried to spruce them up in RawShooter. Here's a few of my favorites.

What we did for a lot of these shots is this; I shut off all the lights and cover any sources of ambient light. Then she poses as still as possible for about 30 or 45 seconds while I move a flashlight over her. You see how lovely? I lovey!

This is the same idea as light painting but for the purpose of playing with color instead of light. The exposure here is maybe 5 seconds and I shone the flashlight just on her face, so when the color was correct on her face for skin tone, the rest of the shot would be much cooler tones.

This here is my favorite mistake ever. When we did this shoot I didn't yet have my glorious tripod with the sturdy trigger release. I had a flimsy tripod that was no better at holding the camera still than my own two hands. This was a 5 second exposure and when I released the shutter, the weight of the camera caused the tripod to slowly turn in an attempt to give in to gravity. Thanks, pull of the planet earth!

In a few of the light-painting shots indoors, her cat jumps into the frame and makes little ghosts in the background. It's so nice to have a model with a sense of humor and a sensational booty. To see what I mean, please check out the rest on my flickr page.

pool party

I think I'm going to like Lawrenceville. Yesterday, three blocks from home, there was an accordion dance party in an abandoned pool.

You know it's good if Zombo is there. Here he is explaining to me how tall he will be when he grows up, using his friend (we'll call him Toothy McAwesome) as a visual aid.

If I could be ten years old again right now, I would actively pursue the best-friendship of this kid. He played the Mexican hat dance.

Here we see the ensemble and the resulting jubilation of the onlookers. Also, anarchy.

This man arrived at the pool with suicidal intentions, but received instead a fresh outlook on life thanks to polka.

Not only were there old people and hipsters in attendance, but music aficionado marine life was represented as well.

There was an old-timey photographer. I thought black and white would be appropriate.

Inspired, I made the sound guy old-timey as well.

So concludes my visual summary of the thrilling twenty-five minutes that I spent outside of my house yesterday. Tune in next time for images of mysterious origin from either the past or the future!