Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Review of Flashpoint II 620m, 300 Watt Second AC / DC Monolight Strobe.

A nice little unit!

By DTPhoto from Austin, Texas on 7/27/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Attach Securely, Good Color Value, Durable, Powerful

Best Uses: Indoors, General Use

Describe Yourself: Pro Photographer

Was this a gift?: No

I was pleasantly surprised. I had no idea what to expect from a monolight that was cheaper than an Alien Bee.

I bought this as a replacement for a Photogenic Powerlight. I used one or two lights for most of my set-ups, and thus far I'm impressed!

It's nice and lightweight. The connection system is nice and easy to use. I've used Speedotrons, Broncolors, Novatrons & Dynalights. This connection system is as good, if not better, than those (for a monolight system). I've beat systems into the ground and I'm wondering if this one will last 22 years like my powerlight..

I like this unit enough to plan to order a few more!

My cat Manny - single light bounce onto ceiling,


Tags: Made with Product


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

16 x 20 is the new 11x14

Yeah - that's right.

I usually make 11x14s as my biggest display print, but after uncovering some saved art paper in 16x20 size, it's time to get back to printing in that size, which is some 40% larger.

Yeah - since 50 is the new 40 (in age) I guess I can say now that 16x20 is the new 11x14.

Model search still progresses... video at 11.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Model search... and bozos

There’s an old country saying which goes something like this… “Some people insist on pissing in the water they’re drinking from…”

I am referring to some other “photographers” in this town who are advertising for models everywhere, but their intent is not to produce art images for galleries.

These people actually shoot for adult websites but they do not have the balls to come out and say so, they prefer to hide behind the façade of pretending to be artists. But the possible models do not know this, and respond to the other ads only to find out the projects are anything but art.

So when I do start up a very rare model hunt, I get lumped into the same niche as these jackasses.

So they’re pissing in the well water, screwing things up for everyone who is legit, artists needing models for real art.

This isn’t anything new. These folks have been doing this since the 1990s, in one instance actually copying my ads word for word, except changing the telephone number.

It had gotten so bad, their bait & switch that two local newspapers changed their ad policy requiring ALL photographers use only one section of the paper (which costs 3x the usual rate), not the usual casting section. This changed only two months ago, and sure enough, one guy is already polluting that section with his ads for models.

Once they get a few complaints, I’ll bet that ad policy is changed again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Parking Lot Stalker

Urban dictionary defines "Parking Lot Stalker" as "The act of following strangers in a crowded parking lot in hopes to get their parking spot."

This time of year I tend to pick up a few when in Wally World or Target.

So I like to screw with them.

Trick #1 - walk down an adjacent parking row and when you are near your car, cut through and jump in.. stranding the stalker in the wrong row. This is especially good when you have a nice close-in parking spot.

Trick #2 - walk to your car, slowly. When you reach your car, unlock it, unload the bags... then walk BACK to the store, as if you've forgotten to buy something. This is especially good if you have a mid-level parking spot near the front.

Trick #3 - Like Trick #2, except you sit in your car as if waiting for someone... and the minute the stalker passes you up, back up and leave. Make sure to pass the stalker on your way out.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lighting Recommendations

The key to ANY photographic image is lighting. There are two possible indoor lighting solutions, studio strobe or continuous lighting.

For anyone on a budget and needing some decent studio strobe equipment, I'd suggest going with monolights, which are separate flash units that are slaved to "pop" when any other flash unit is fired. Look for a unit that can take different reflectors and that are easy to attach modifiers such as light boxes.

A good brand would be Alien Bees.

Followed by a higher level with Calumet's Genesis lights.

After that, a good old pack and head system like the Speedotron Brown Line is great!

Back in 1998 I had a brain fart and replaced all my Brown line stuff with some Novatron stuff. Although Novetron is good, it's not as flexible as a system that can take different reflectors and uses a bare tube head in softboxes.

For beginning photographers I do not recommend continuous lighting. These are typically tungsten or flourescent lighting units, they can get rather hot and really draw the power.

It's easier to get nice portrait lighting with mono-light strobes.

Photography Rates 101 - what I need from you for a Job Quote

Sometimes I encounter some confusion when I give a rate for a job request. I hope the following will help avoid confusion in the future.

But first, a joke to illustrate what a Professional Photographer is:

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail.

In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. Finally, at the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and said, "This is where your problem is." The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded briefly: One chalk mark $1; Knowing where to put it $49,999.
It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

When you are hiring a professional photographer, you are paying for years of experience, knowledge of optics and lighting, and if the job involves models, the ability and expertise in directing models into poses that are required for the job.

What type of lighting is needed? What resolution is best for the final usage?

What type of make-up will the model need? Wardrobe (if any)?

Need a glass bottle photographed which shows off the glass texture and evenly lit without losing details? Will it need to look like a refreshing drink or is it OK for it turn out bland and non-appetizing? (Probably not, but you'd be amazed at how many photographers can't shoot a damned bottle to look cold and refreshing...)

You need a professional photographer!!

And yes, many are fairly expensive. Especially photographers who have a huge studio!!

A brother-in-law or friend with a new “Olympus” DSLR and kit lens is NOT a professional photographer.

Neither probably is the guy with a new camera who’s charging $50.00 for a headshot.

Professional photographers do not have to be licensed in Texas (or other states) like Plumbers or electricians, but it’d sure help if we did have to go through a licensing process. I think 30+ years as a photographer pretty much licenses me to be a pro.

Now, about my rates….

I have several rate “tiers”. The primary two top tiers are “Commercial” and “Personal”.

The Commercial photography I do is anything in the following:

  • Product Photography
  • Executive Portrait Photography, staff and board of directors
  • Company newsletter and prospectus photography
  • Advertising, Editorial and Marketing Photography
  • Conferences /Trade Shows and Event Photography
  • Glamour magazine layouts, calendars, posters.

I further divide my rates into two distinct areas: “Editorial” and “Advertising”. I consider magazine layouts, website layouts and website only shoots to be “Editorial”, the rest is “Advertising”.

I typically charge less if I am hired for several days, or for a editorial layout which will act as promotional material for myself, versus a slick Ad shot where no one, not even the client, will know who shot the piece.

All my rates are quoted ONLY on request, and all quotes will try to include the following:
  • Usage rights
  • Modeling fees
  • Assistant Fee
  • Hair/Make-up fees
  • Film/Processing or Digital Capture fees
  • Other expenses.
You see the bit above called “Usage Rights?” That’s a term no one has ever heard of unless they’ve dealt with professional photographers or worked in advertising. What this means is, even though you’ve hired a photographer, the photographer still owns the rights to the images photographed. US Law, Title 17, states all forms of art are property of the creator unless agreed to otherwise prior to employment. Most commercial photographers are non-employee contractors and thus, own all rights to all images created. Those rights are then licensed to the client for specific usages and time limits. Any other use is considered infringement and can land the infringer in some serious legal hot water at the federal level.

Even portrait photographers have this protection. On school portrait packages you now see an added fee for “copyright release”.

Often, I get people only telling me what they want photographed, and they usually do not tell me what the image will be used for in any way. I need this info to create a proper bid on the job, and to know how to shoot the object or person so it’ll look great in its final form.

If one is targeting off-set printing of a photograph, it’ll need a different profile and tweeking to look the same as it would on a PC screen, or on a traditional photographic print.

All the other fees are needed in making any project work out. You can’t expect a model to work for free and sign a release giving you the rights to publish his/her photo without being paid. No one works for free if anyone else is being paid.

With Personal Photography, I can comfortably quote rates online, giving a price for a shoot, because 99% of all headshots or portraits will be done in the same manner and are usually only for someone’s wall or social networking website.

I typically spend a lot less time preparing for such a shoot versus a editorial magazine shoot where I need 4 models, make-up and props. I typically spend 2 to 3 days in preproduction for a shoot for every day I bill the client.

In all cases, for all types of clients, I require a 50% deposit up front before I can lock the booking into my calendar. This is because in the past I have had far too many clients fail to arrive after I’ve set-up, traveled or hired assistants for a shoot.

Before asking for a quote, you will also need to tell me the budget for the project. Without this information, I can’t determine if the job is even worth me providing a quote. There are too many variables in this to provide a "Ball Park" figure if you don't even have a "Ball Park" budget. Hell, by telling me the projected photography budget, I can tell right away if I can do the job for that or not.

I'm easy to get along with, and I can negotiate for most any budget, but I do need to charge for any shoot. The more info you give me, the better on target my quote can be.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Features...

After considerable research and comparing sites, I have decided to use two sites to launch a sideline of offering my art images as prints for you to purchase.

My prints page here...

And I have reopened a site to offer hand-made prints of my nude photography - found here...

The hand made prints are priced up there - I value my work and thus I expect collectors to appreciate my hard work and pay accordingly. Some nudes are available at the Giclée printing sites I"m on, but not the really erotic stuff. Only at Eros Texas.

Check it out!