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.