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!

Monday, August 31, 2009

50 today.

Today is my 50th birthday.

On a day like this, one tends to reflect upon the past. What has happened to me in the past 50 years? A lot. 10 years ago I was one of the stars of online photography.

Now people ask “Who is that guy?”

Well, that’s gonna change!

But what else after living 50 years?

We’ve went from barely getting a man into orbit to landing a man on the moon, then suddenly barely able to get a man into orbit again. Thus I’ve learned that no matter how big of an achievement a country can pull off, it can always be reversed by politicians who can’t see past the next election or news cycle.

We went from having a B&W TV set and only one or two TV channels with nothing to watch, to ultra sharp wide-screen TVs with 5 to 1 Dolby sound and over 1500 high definition TV channels… and still nothing to watch. But it’s in HD!!

Went from listening to music by placing a 12” black vinyl record on a record set, the mechanical clunking it’d make then the scratchy music would come out of small plastic speakers.… to CDs and not-quite-as-good-as-vinyl sound but no scratches and pops… to small devices which can carry thousands of CDs, download music from anywhere… all the way back to 12” black vinyl records because they simply sound better.

Computers took up whole FLOORS in buildings. Apollo had the computing power of a digital calculator. Now everyone has one, often two, computers which more processing power than all of the Pentagon in 1959. In 2009 almost every computer int he world is connected. We went from 300 baud modems and dial-up bulletin boards to uncountable websites. We also went from acquaintances and friends being people you actually knew and saw in person to people you think of as best friends being folks you've never actually met in person.

We've come from landline telephones with rotary dials to completely wireless devices. You got to hate people with lots of 9s or 0s in the phone number, it’d take forever to dial the number. The telephones were wired into place and everyone could overhear you talking. Now I don’t have a wired in phone at all, can take the thing anywhere. But after 50 years I’ve learned the damned phone will still “ring” when you’re busy. But the phone also has no right to be answered anyway.

Twinkies haven’t’ changed one bit.

Models haven’t changed one bit – they’re all still young, beautiful and damned flaky. But now if I don’t hear from a model before meeting her, I know she’ll probably not be at the meeting, and the further I have to drive to the meeting, the greater the chances the model won’t show up. Radio silence means the model is a flake.

After 50 years, my opinion that family & friends takes priority over any job or career still stands. Jobs come and go, family and friends can’t be replaced.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things picking up.....

About time... I am jumping into photography again with both feet, into untested waters and without a life jacket, and there is no life guard on duty.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The olden days

I installed a new hard disk yesterday. 1.5 terabytes. Which got me to recalling my first hard disk install. Around 1985, it was a 20 meg MFM drive.

Folks have it easy today, but back then, you started the system. Booted from a floppy, then ran “debug”. The command was “g=c800:5” followed by “E” for execute. This placed the debug program to a point in the hard drive controller’s BIOS to run the initialization routine.

After that – it was fdisk, to make a partition, followed by making that partition active and system. Then it was format – all this took HOURS.

We’ve come along ass way.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Bitter Pill

It has really hit home for me now just how much the Republican Party has lost its mind. Especially after the latest soap opera.

During the months that have passed since John McCain “tapped” Sarah Palin to be his running mate, I’ve had more and more trouble reconciling the obsessive adoration of Palin by so many in the GOP, including a lot of my relatives, (some of whom are very smart and successful people) with the obvious dangers of having someone like her as president. The bizarre behavior. The vapid thinking. How do they not recoil at the smug way in which she wears her ignorance like a badge of honor? It’s just amazing to me how every word out of her mouth is taken as gospel, and when she can’t even answer a softball question without struggling to form a semblance of coherent opinion, then set off against the "liberal media".

Never mind the implications of her “word salad” responses. It’s quite sad actually, especially for me to see how my own family has changed. There’s been this kind of de-evolution from a thinking, reasoned, disinterested opinion, into an irrational, crusading, narrow banded thinking process that has really made me step away from the words Republican and Conservative as labels that apply to me.

Oh well, I'm perfectly cool in the land of Independence.

The new Darkroom

Now that we’re settled into the new place, it is time to build the darkroom!
I started with a cluttered walk-in closet.

Added 2x4s for shelving brackets, then some cut plywood as the shelving.

Connected power to the light in the closet, and now to unpack my darkroom items. Most everything is already unpacked. MUCH better than what I was working with....

I use an ancient Beseler 23C II which gives me those cool borders on my prints. That and the bright aluminum negative holders. The new ones are all black.
Next few days I’ll put up the darkroom cloth and begin printing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back in the '29

After living 2 years and 2 months in a tiny apartment nestled between a busy Anderson Mill Road and a strip center with midnight food deliveries, I’m back on the other side of 183 in a nice townhouse in the 78729 area. I’ve lived in this zip code for 12 years prior to moving into Anderson Mill, now I’m back.

I hate to move though. All that packing and the pain in the back, plus I always misplace things, forget which box it’s packed in. Drives me crazy!!

We actually moved on the 31st, but I’m still hauling boxes from the storage unit. It’s so very nice to have a washer & dryer handy again. My washer was a nesting spot for a rat while in storage. Every piece of rubber hose was chewed, so $80.00 later I had the washer working again. F**king rat.

I figure to be back in business shooting stock within another week. Models shortly after that.

But first, there’s the Wendy’s incident.

I pulled into Wendy’s last week for a fast lunch. I ordered a Jr Cheesburger, and asked for MUSTARD not Mayo. A garbled voice repeated this, the screen showed OK, and I ordered fires.

At the window, a small oriental woman asked me if I wanted “kitchen!!” What? “Kitchen!! You wan KITTCHEN???!!! “

I’m baffled. Kitchen? “For FLIES? KITCHEN?? YOU WAN KITCHEN?”

Oh. I say, politely…. It’s called “Ketchup”.

“No CATCHING UP, it KITCHEN!!!” Jesus. Probably some idiots in the back laughing right about then.

I give in and decide to be humorous. “Yeah, gimme two KITCHENS! And howabout a Mini-Bar to go with it?”

“We no sell candy heh!” as she shoved the bag at me. I have no idea what oriental language she used then, but it probably translated into “Asshole”….

And there was MAYO on the f**king cheesburger..........

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Infra Red Results

Scan from Rollei 35mm IR film, spring scrimmage at UT, April 5th.

Scan from 35mm contact of frame 15, Efke film tests, Nikon N90s, modified with #87 filter (note light blooms from inaccurate cutting of #87 filter).

I’ve shot Infra red film off and on for most of my 35 years shooting B&W. I loved the Kodak film, liked the Konica, and that was about it. The Ilford is OK, but not as good of an IR effect.

I ordered the two most recommended films from Freestyle. I've shot at least two rolls each of Efke/MACO IR820 and Rollei IR.

Of the two, Rollei is the easiest to use. The results are nice, good "Woods" effect, enough speed to be able to hand shoot without a tripod. I shot a roll with it in a Yashica Electro-35 and most failed to turn out because I had the exposure way.. WAY off with the IR720 filter. The next roll, in the Yashica Lynx 5000 turned out nicely.

I modified my Gossen Luna Pro with a piece of #87 gel filter so it'll read the scene for a better exposure. A test with it at 100 ASA and a roll of Efke showed almost perfect exposures, if a bit long. f/22 at 30 seconds. But the results shows this to be a good exposure. Setting my Nikon at 6 and placing a filter Between the Film Rails didn't work out too well, but relying on the Gossen showed better exposures. The example above shows a scan of a frame shot with the Nikon. 25 second exposure at f/22.

Processing data was a slight push to an adjusted pre-filter ASA of 50, then add in filter factor and get a result of about .5 ISO. Quite slow.

The Rollei, shot in the Yashica at a football scrimmage on a bright sunny day showed a decent ASA of about 4 with a 2 stop push in processing. Hand held exposures were good, most at f/8 at about /60th shutter speed.

My conclusions are mixed. I like the effect of the Efke, but the load in darkness and horrible curl to the 120 loads make it hard as hell to work with, and the extra speed of the Rollei is better for hand held work even if the IR effect is a bit more muted. More tests to follow with different filtering techniques.

Back to the darkroom

My current set-up

I processed my first roll of film in 1974. 35 years. That first roll caused my heart to beat fast as I unwound the finished roll, still wet, and saw my very first processed negatives. That first processing tank, Sears Tower brand plastic tank with a hard to load reel. You had to thread the film from the opening to the end unlike using a stainless reel. Caused quite a few kinks and this first roll had a spot where the film touched and caused an issue. I still have this thing somewhere.

But it was my first roll processed. Just I recall several firsts in my life, such as first time to solo an airplane and land it.

It’s really no big deal. It takes a lot of practice to get to where you can shoot and process and get exactly the type of negative you want.

Now, after a 9 year hiatus, I am again processing film. I have to use a changing bag, which get a bit sweaty while I load up a reel. But it’s like riding a bike, I got back into the mental calculations on adjusting the processing to fit my shooting and type of enlarger I use. Sometimes you have to pull the processing a bit if the scene had a lot of contrast, sometimes you have to push a bit if the scene is flat.

I like a bit more snap to my images so I push about 5%, and agitate a bit more. I start with the recommended developing times and adjust from there. Without a good temperature control, I process the film at room temperature, or about 73 degrees.

However, I never process film if the developer is so warm as to cause a development time of under 5 minutes. Then I’ll add ice to the water bath and allow it to drop.
Like a lot of things, developing film is a personal issue, what works for me probably wouldn’t work for you. Unless you used the same printing paper and enlarger.

I have managed to be able to put a darkroom into almost every place I’ve lived. Currently, I darken my whole bedroom and set up the enlarger on a folding table. I prefer a walk-in closet dedicated to this, but it’s what I have to work with right now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Infrared photography

The Yashica Lynx 5000 rangefinder.

I have decided upon a project for Fine Art using Infrared film and landscapes, perhaps “Monolithic” structures.

To this end, I quickly found out the my favorite two IR films were no longer made, Kodak’s High Speed IR film, and Konica’s 750 IR film. UGH!

There are two new films on the market, Efke’s (Maco) IR820s and Rollei’s Infrared film, so I had to buy sample rolls of both and do some testing.

But first, a camera. The film should be shot through a visually opaque filter which makes using a SLR-type camera difficult. The process is compose, focus, adjust focus for IR, attach filter and hope you didn’t move the focus, then shoot and bracket. A twin lens or rangefinder allows you to keep the filter on the lens and compose, focus and shoot without removing your eye.

A medium format camera would be best, as the larger negative allows for larger resulting prints.

I sold my 6x6 camera back in 2001, so first step was to get another one. EBay is full of medium format cameras. What is obvious is the level of idiocy surrounding these cameras on eBay. Pretty typical, actually.

My town is minus decent used camera stores. My only source is mail order or eBay, sadly. I have no idea when the next camera swap meet may be…

The Yashica Mat 124-g was sold new for about 175. I once had three of them. None ran me more than 180 mail order, new with warranty.

Last time I checked, you could get one used for about 80.

Even given inflation, why are the prices at or above 200? Many are listed as having sluggish shutters or problems, but the bids are still well above a price associated with a broken or parts-only camera. Stupid people.

I settle on a Russian camera, the Lubitel 66 by Lomo. It shows up for a total of 40.00 including shipping. It took a week’s worth of using a bid sniper system to get this one. There are a lot of people who still have more money than function brain cells out there. Good for the seller, but they’re idiots none the less.
The Lubitel has a 40.5 filter size, so a 40.5 to 52 was also found. No batteries so you use a meter.

Now for a rangefinder. One that’s totally manual with a lens that uses an easily found filter size. Well, research indicates to me another Yashica, the Lynx series of cameras, made in the 60s & 70s. Not the Electro models, which are semi-automatic, aperture priority. Lynx rangefinders use a 46mm filter, with a step-ring I can use 52mm on them nicely.

Again, online research shows these cameras to be worth not much more than 70.00 as many have shutter issues. Many on eBay are going for about 20 to 30. Some sellers are trying to sell “like new” cameras for about 2x what they went for new.

I have yet to get a fully functioning camera, as the sellers are morons who can’t seem to be bothered with even TRYING to see if the shutter works.

It easy. Advance the film lever to arm the shutter, look in the lens as you fire it, does the shutter move? Set it at something like 30 to see if it sticks. Yashicas have simple Copal shutters which can be dirty causing either too fast or too slow speeds.

I had two show up thus far, and both had poor shutters even though the seller said “Perfect working condition”. Also, all sold “as is”… except I probably could push a dispute about one as it was poorly described as to both the shutter and film sprocket.

(Free advice to sellers – TRY to figure out what the f*** you are selling… at least test the damned things. Karma, baby – karma. It’ll get ya even if you don’t believe in it. Trust me.)

So I have learned to open up this type of camera and clean up the shutter. It’s not rocket science, and about on the level of changing out a starter or alternator on the car, but cleaner and a lot less cussing involved. Now it’s fairly simple to get a shutter working, they basically need to be flushed out with a solvent (I use 70% alcohol) which dries after freeing up the shutter. NEVER lubricate a shutter. Just get it clean and it’ll work, no adjustments needed.

However, one of the cameras has a broken film sprocket. This causes the occasional overlap of frames. I have no idea how to disassemble it that far to replace it, so I am hoping to find a similar camera online for parts, so I can tear into it and see how it goes together. Only repair manual available is an assembly manual. For as much as a camera.

Apparently, if the seller lists an item as “vintage” many people will assume it’s extra valuable and bid insane amounts for it.

I need two or more as the 35mm IR film needs to be loaded in complete darkness or almost dark to avoid fogging the film through the felt opening.

I did find out you can use a #87 Lee filter in a SLR if you carefully cut it to fit between the film rails in the camera, placing the filter right over the film itself. This is not as easy as it sounds. I tried on my Nikon N90 and the filter isn’t cut very well, I used scissors and it left a gap at the top. Test shots yesterday show some issues at the top & bottom of the frame, but otherwise cool shots.

Next up – film tests and results.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Disturbing images

A photograph does not have to show graphic nudity to be disturbing.

I titled this image "Double Crossed (by religion)". Photographed in 1989, at an artists' house in Los Angeles. The model is wearing leg braces, a straight jacket and has a huge cross-shaped head clamp attached. Reflects the crippling effect blind adherence to (any) dogma has on someone's spirit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back to film

The Nikon N90s

Digital has it's place, for microstock and stuff where one needs instant results and digitized images, but for real B&W and especially Infrared IR, nothing beats film.

To this end I have resurrected my revered Nikon N90s. Heavy, solid camera. A very advanced camera - at the time it was released, it was Nikon's most advanced pro camera until the F5, then F100. Nothing I'd ever held had focused faster in Auto mode. First time I shot with it, my daughter was swinging on a swing set and it tracked her swinging towards me and away with ease. Heavy SOB, tho. With the battery pack attached, it was twice the size of my Minolta X700 with rewinder. Twice as heavy, I recall the first few shoots I did with it my right hand and arm ached.

I ma planning several projects, some nudes in infrared, and some landscapes. I've also ordered an Russian knock-off of the Leica III, called a Fed-3. Talk about "old school"... plus I've ordered some B&W film from Los Angeles that is formulated on a 1940s B&W film, so paired with the Fed I'll recreate some interesting 1940s effects.

This is the Fed-3...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mental Health Break

One of my favorite cartoons....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Unlicensed Plumbers

Ok - "Joe the Plumber" who isn't named Joe and isn't licensed to even clean out a drain is now a GOP adviser. In the midst of an economic crisis, and after balking at a stimulus package, the GOP is turning to an unlicensed plumber/campaign prop to discuss legislative strategy on economic policy. The line between Republicans' approach to governing and satirical performance art blurs just a little more.

But being an unlicensed plumber can be very, VERY bad.

Case in point right here:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ebay store opened

I have placed some nice art prints of my landscapes on Ebay for sale. Included is this shot of a tractor under fresh snow. Both 8x10 and 11x14s are offered. Something like this should brighten your office walls.

You can find the listings here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Photo Lesson - Create Morning Light

Assignment: Morning Breakfast

(This lesson is from my old Texas Glamour site - and originally written in 1999. It shows just what a pro had to go through when shooting real film. You needed a polaroid back to see what was happening before shooting rolls of film. Digital gives almost instant feedback, but still this lesson is valuable.... )

During a recent shoot with model Kristi Daniels, Lauriel had an idea to shoot her while seated for breakfast. The house we borrowed for this shoot had a perfect breakfast nook, but a few problems existed:

#1: By the time we got to this specific shot idea, it was well past morning...
and #2, it was a gloomy rainy day,
and #3, this breakfast nook has no morning sun anyway!

The task fell to me (Lauriel didn't even consider this..) to create a morning scene.

Well, it's easy if you've had training and experience in film lighting, and apply a bit of common sense.

Morning sun is soft, filtering into a scene, giving a sense of comfort and serenity. The best lighting for this is a broad source off to the side. I didn't have my large 4x8 silk frame, so I improvised by testing one lighting scheme with Polaroid and then making adjustments.

First, I placed two umbrella lights to the right side, with some rip-stop nylon to further soften the light. Not bad, but not what was needed. I added a light outside the nook's window, as the outside was showing up like night. We let the house owner's huge dog Cerebus into the garage, so he wouldn't chew up the light, and I aimed the bare light towards the window from a downward angle.

This Polaroid shows that result. Better... but not quite there. I pulled one umbrella back several feet, and kept the one umbrella scrimmed, as the light was casting two shadows and not quite soft enough. The outside light was direct through the window, more like a street light in a bad neighborhood, than morning sun. I went out side, removed the storm screen, and replaced it with a sheet of rip-stop nylon. This brightened the light enough to overpower the window blinds, creating a glowing effect, as the last Polaroid indicates.

Then final adjustments were setting the F/stop down another 1/2 stop to f/8.0, and I gave the camera to Lauriel to shoot away.

Such on-the-spot adjustments is made possible by several factors: Having a Polaroid to proof the scene, years of training and experience, and not saying "Oh, this is good enough".... Further fiddling with a polarizer would have eliminated the window's reflection in the glass table, but I did not have a filter for this particular lens with me.

Here's the final result. Certainly appears like morning light to me....

You can fake sunlight at anytime if you keep in mind the sun is simply a very bright point source of light. Adjust or eliminate any visual clues to what time it really is, and you can shoot night for day anytime. Film makers do this all the time.

On Upgrade-itus

Upgrading as soon as a new bit of technology comes onto the market. I have a friend who seems to buy a new big screen TV each time a new version comes out for HDTV, he had the first Digital Light Projecting TV even before I knew they existed. Then you get folks who slap in new system boards and CPUs as soon as the latest is released, going from dual core to quad-core every 12 months.

I call it “Upgradeitus”.

I don’t know if that’s a real medical condition or not, but it has struck my kid. It all started two years ago with a gift of an IPod Nano, 1st generation. 1 gig of music.

Last year, right before our trip to New Hampshire to see my sister, she accidently left her IPod in her hoody’s pocket and it was pulled when the jacket was in the dryer. The ear-phones were melted and the screen was black. It looked really bad. So we rushed to Best Buy and I got her the LAST IPod Nano 3rd gen, 4 gigs, that they had left.

At home we discovered her old PC couldn’t handle the new ITunes, so we had to get music on her new IPod with my system. That’s when I found out the older IPod was somehow still alive. Using a nifty back up program I found, I pulled the music off her old one and onto the new one.
She so graciously gave me her old one. I put a few songs onto it and have been using it as a “go to sleep” aid.

This year the “old” IPod was full. She wanted a new one, this time in Lime Green. I mean, seriously, how can anyone listen to all the music a 4 gig IPod can hold? Oh yes, the new one is small like her first one, which means it fits her pockets better.

But somehow the money arrived for her to go buy the new one. 8 gigs of space, plus numerous ITunes cards as gifts… I bet this one is almost full.

Oh yeah, she also gave me this old one as well. I filled it with enough music I can drive to LA and not hear the same tune twice, and I still have 2 gigs free. OK – 1.5 gigs after downloading some video podcasts by the comedy channel.

I’m betting next year it’ll be a 16 gig IPod in neon purple that must be found….

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On Bland Cold-cuts

Why are all the meats I find in the cold cut section so bland lately? They stock 97 different types of bland HAM, but rarely do I spot pastrami or decent a corned beef. They stock turkey and chicken cold cuts, but those are very bland. Even the so-called “smoked” flavors are lacking in smoke flavoring.

No wonder people seek out adventure – it’s because we can’t find decent food. It’s all bland. It’s 99% fat free, which means 99% TASTE FREE. Fat is where the flavor is… combined with salt to allow the flavors to be enhanced. Many are now using non-salt preservatives. This will most likely be shown to be much more dangerous to us than salt or fat, in the long run.

So last week I spotted a display with a package of what appeared to be a tasty pastrami, looked to be loads of pepper and spices on the crust, and a decent amount of fat marbled throughout the meat.

$5.99… still I plunged.

I get it home, and with quivering anticipation I open the package and drop a generous amount onto a slice of bread. I drop a slice of extra-sharp cheddar onto the pile and cover.
I dive in.

I taste… bread… cheese…

and my tongue feels a rubbery substance that could be meat, but is more likely sliced tofu without the flavorings.

Yeah – somehow someone at this meat plant figured out a way to totally drain any taste from pastrami. I thought this’d be impossible... but somehow they managed to do it.

In this world of the Nanny-state, where it’s no longer the choice of the individual to eat foods that MIGHT be somewhat risky as far as fat goes, where stores simply stop risking killing off their customers by allowing them the CHOICE of fat-free or regular, loaded with fat and salt meats, now we the food buyers and eaters have severely limited choices when it comes to cold cuts. No wonder men who eat sandwiches packed by their wives stay late “at work” – most likely it’s because they’re out trying to spice up their life. Not by shagging a stripper named Bambi, but they’re probably at a deli buying a real sandwich with real cold cuts that are packed with spices and fat.

I queried a store manager about this and I was told that a lot of the people are from “up north” and they like blander diets. I replied with “Bull”… the last time I was “up north” (New Hampshire), I found the best tasting pastrami ever – loads of spices, juicy with liquid fat.
We, as a nation, are doomed if all we have are bland cold cuts. I can’t trust any cold cuts I buy anymore. Even if I find pastrami again, I feel it’ll have as much flavor as a white pencil eraser.

Texas is supposed to be a state that is bigger than life, and this includes our food. But lately – unless I make it myself – barbeque at a chain barbeque place was bland.

Sure, you can get “HOT” food, but that isn’t flavorful food. True Mexican cooking isn’t hot peppered beyond reason. It’s got delightful spices such as Cumin and cilantro.

Is it too much to friggen ask that I can buy decent cold cuts at my local grocery store and not have to hunt and drive to find decent pastrami and corned beef, really favorable cold cuts made with FAT and preserved with SALT? If I want enough preservatives to keep me from decomposing for 50 years when I die, I’ll eat Twinkies.

PLEASE, if you are a buyer for the Austin, Texas grocery chains, PLEASE buy cold cuts with the old fashioned recipes which include FAT, SALT and PEPPER. Yes, risk killing off your customers with “risky food”… but this will allow us to have a life filled with pleasures, one of which is eating luncheon meats. I do not derive pleasure from having to spice up my sandwiches with condiments. The meats and cheeses should contribute flavor as well.

That $5.99 pastrami is slick, gooey and very much unlike any Pastrami I have ever encountered. It’s more like a ham with coloring to fool people into thinking it’s actually beef that has been injected with salt and spices, smoked after being rubbed with pepper and coriander and other spices. Cold smoked.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Art prints for sale

I've uploaded a bunch of art nudes for sale on Ebay.

My listings are here - things will change daily. If this is successful I will place more images up for sale.

Next week I intend on placing up for sale some rare prints of Skinny Lori...

Those will be in the Adult Only section.

This image has never been in print before.