11.30.2005

A lot of time to post lately...

Not having a camera in my possession gives me a lot of free time.

If anyone really reads my ramblings, you may recall my mention of being a 50/50 personality type and how photography plays to both my analytical and artistic sensibilities. I think these past few posts are a stark contrast to those made during the time I was shooting well and regularly. Rather than just lighthearted musings that have accompanied photo posts, I, lately, need to analyze and clarify and sort and explain. I am not as happy a person when I am like this. I feel incomplete. My mind is churning out thoughts a million-a-minute and I hate trying to make sense of it. Instead of moping, and droning on about how I am not shooting now(cause I ain't), I'll detail my future plans so those closest know where I am mentally and those reading for amusement can get a good chuckle at how impossibly ambitious I am about photography.

In the next 3 months:
First and foremost I need to purchase a camera. For all my eventual needs, the most appealing option is(everyone say it with me now,) the Nikon D200. It is a good option for school, its a good option for work and it is approved for submissions to stock photo agencies. I have contacts in need of assistant shooters, so as soon as I am equipped I'll look into new photo work opportunities. I also have a contact that will set me up with a stock photo agency, so I need to find out how much income potential is there. I plan to join the local photographer association within the next few weeks, before school begins January 17th. Its a requirement of the curriculum so I figured I'd get a jump on it now. My classes are going to conflict with work much more than I thought. I believe it can be worked out though. So by the time school starts my plan is to continue to work fulltime with current company with adjusted hours of 7-3pm(no lunch), attend class on days scheduled throughout the week, shoot for whoever needs me ,practice and profit, on weekends, and spend every single moment in between with my Queen and Princess.
If the stock photography thing materializes, I'll ask my wife to devote some time to shooting for those purposes. Also, I have looked into having my photos displayed in some local shops and though I don't have anything I'd be confident selling now, I will once I start shooting again, I'm sure of it.

the end of May
will be the next big event as we have a trip to Hawaii scheduled and the semester will have ended. Maui will be my first real vacation and I hope to thoroughly enjoy it. I will bring back the definitive photos of that island and hopefully be rested enough to start it all again as I will attend the summer sessions as well. The program is initially only 5 semesters before I look into transferring to complete, so the sooner I knock those out the better. Maybe by this time, I'd have worked enough events to have a name for myself and can freelance on my own instead of assisting. I have made my current career through marketing so perhaps the obvious advantage of experience in promotion will lend itself to this endeavor.

A year is not a lot of experience in anything.
But by July of '06, I'd have been shooting and learning for one full year. What should I expect by this time? I'll still be a student. I have goals of what I would want to achieve for my family but what do I want for myself by this time? I have a meritocracy sense of success, so any recognition for my improvements will be great. Maybe through constant networking and marketing of myself, I can be recognized on a broad scale, even among the best of our many great local photographers.

In 2 years time,
Brooks Institute of Photography should be an open door, as should whatever employment a science degree in Photographic Technology can provide. I'll have a lot to think about at this time. My daughter will be 3 years old. Moving to California to continue my education would be a big step but probably easier to do before she'd start school. And what of my wife's dreams, what is necessary for her to accomplish her own goals? In 2 years I'd like to make a comfortable living from photography, comfortable enough for us to sustain as she followed her heart.

By 4 years end
I want to have taken a least one photo that has changed a life, or saved one, or inspired someone else to dream. If I do this at anytime in my career, I am a success. Fame and money are nice, but not what I am about. I photograph to share and to create, so I'd really like nothing more than to enjoy doing it as a career that can support the family and the habit (Lens acquisition Syndrome).

Wow! I feel so much better than when I started writing this. I could flesh it out a bit more but its 2am and I have tired my eyes from this and the constant web browsing for lens and camera research I have been doing nightly.

To all a wonderful day!



The Waiting Game

"No sense in buying something you’ll outgrow shortly especially if the resell value won’t be significant."
Okay, so I did pick and choose a quote among the large amount of feedback I got from emails, calls, and comments left here at P360, but this one comes from a very close family member who has my family's best interest in mind. Not to say others do not, just to say it really means something to get a Waterboy-like"You can do it!" from an in-law. Thanks Dalia! There were several excellent points made for both camera options (the D50 and the D200). I also recieved valuable insight from those currently achieving what I aspire to, and though I may not be where they are, they have walked my road before. So, my decision is... postponed. In fact, I think that although i had a few issues with the grip and usability of the XT, it was an excellent camera and still offers big advantages over the D50, such as the ever important "mirror lockup" for macro photography and depth of field preview which I was just starting to take advantage of. Then of course there is the 20d,(with rebate) that, prior to the announcement of the D200, was king of the hill in layout and pro-level functionality. I still really like the 20D and both sides have their respective advantages, Nikon D70s had the upper hand in metering and ergonomics, Canon had their low noise, high pixel count CMOS, excellent feature set and marketing. The D200 is stripping away Canon's advantages. I have seen the high ISO shots (nearly noise free) and the feature list is extensive. Couple those things with the advanced compatibility of old lens lines and add the weatherproofing and durability of an ergonomically "perfect" design (yes I held the F6 body yesterday) and you have got the best value in dSLRs.
"There are things on the D200 you won't know how to use. It is a difficult camera for an amatuer." When this was first told to me, I was naturally offended. Then I thought of how great that is! I'd have more to learn, more to experiment with, more to grow into. I still question the motive behind the statement but am thankful for what light it sheads on my decision.

of other note,
I was invited to attend another photography class held by one of my first instructors. He promotes me very well and I got to show off, and I loved it. We got to talking after class and he has some big plans for next spring. He wants to hold photographic workshops in a rural Texas town. Excellent idea and though I will have school, I will try to be as big apart of that as he wants me to be. It is nice that, even though my class has ended, he still keeps me in mind and mentions my name and exploits to others. I am attending another class field trip this Sunday but will be shooting with film as I don't have a camera of my own. I'll be using the classic Pentax ME Super! Really looking forward to it actually, although I will miss the instant gratification of digital. Thank you, to my uncle for lending it to me to shoot with during my time without.
Isn't family great?!

I will decide on my next camera once I have used the Nikon D200. The release date is vague and they have only specified "mid December" so it may be awhile. In the end, I will make the best decision for me as only I can. I have appreciated all advice on the matter and will take all into consideration. Thanks to all who have cared enough to respond. Happy shooting and happy holidays to everyone.

11.27.2005

I Have No Camera!

I am still swallowing that fact. I sold the camera today through craigslist. I stepped outside myself, watching as I exchanged such a sentimental item for money. I reasoned that, to get the price I was asking, I had to sell it now with Christmas approaching.
A photographer with no camera produces no photographs. So for now, I am not myself. I haven't gone longer than 24hrs without a shot since we purchased it in July. I credit this camera with opening the door to the world of photography. I have a strong feeling that it will do the same for the ambitious lass who purchased it.

Canon Powershot S2 IS July 14- November 27, 2005.

Looking ahead, I have further researched my options for a future camera purchase. Without the hands on reviews and credible photo samples, it is hard to be completely sold on the new Nikon D200. However, given the company's recent entries into both the SLR and dSLR markets, its hard not to be wowed by their promises. The newer,
more expensive camera from Nikon has caused quite a stir among the photographers and photography publications and websites, but, nostalgia doesn't breed a great camera. I have looked into what the features offered will mean to me and honestly I AM EXCITED TOO!

When I first began looking into dSLRs I had no experience and relied heavily on what I was fed by publications and websites and the "must have" camera system was the EOS. Canon makes a great camera and I was plenty pleased with the Rebel XT I shot with and I still believe the 20d is one of the best cameras out there for those pursuing photography as a profession. I did look at the Nikon D50 then and loved the feel and price and SD support but it was as I used an slr that I started to better distinguish what is really important; image quality, lens selection, ease of use and comfort with equipment. One big selling point for the D200 is that it has advanced support for older lines of Nikkor lenses produced as far back as the 1970's. I got into researching high quality used lenses and the prices amazed me. The amount of money that can be saved on lenses justifies the price tag. Here is my preliminary list of future glass investments.
Nikon 300mm f/4.5 as low as $200 (for nature use)
Nikon 105mm f/2.5 Mirco as low as $250 (for macro use)
Nikon 50mm f/1.2 as low as $300 (for portrait/indoor use)
Nikon 75-150mm f/3.5 as low as $150 (for landscape use)
or possibly just the
AF-S DX VR 18-200mm F3.5-5.6G IF-ED Zoom-Nikkor as an all purpose utility lens.

Nikon D200 digital reflex AF-S DX VR Zoom Nikkor lensNikon D200 digital reflex camera

Other specs of note include the beautiful button layout as I can't stress how great it would be to not have to refer to the LCD menu to change settings while shooting. It is very fast, shooting at 5.2 fps. I haven't held it but if it is really better than the D50 or 20D I am sold on comfort. Presets, presets, presets! Fastest startup in its class,instant! And lastly two big things that most amatuers dont give thought to but are EXTREMELY important- metering (3d color matrix) and white balance(fine tunable per Kelvin scale).

I am excited but still not decided and I still have several things to consider before I buy, but it is hard to find much wrong with pursuing this purchase!

underfaces

In what may very well be the last of my days of shooting with my Canon Powershot S2 IS, my wife, cousin and I had a photoshoot. Using the p&s, some very creative lighting arrangements and a makeshift backdrop, we had a great time capturing photos. My cousin was a willing and patient model and allowed us to be creative.
I did perform portrait work briefly and one of the things I noticed before is that people usually have a strong conception as to how they should look. So they wear these faces that are not their own and the character rarely comes through (as evident in my self portraits). Sometimes its confusing because the camera may pick up on something we'd otherwise not notice. My cousin keeps the demeanor of a very serious guy, but I know him as playful. We wanted to shoot him as stern and serious but as we flipped through the shots of the "serious" faces, you could always see a trace of that joyful grin, especially once we were purposely trying to avoid it. I think it's always there, in spite of the look he'd like us to see.

Here are my favorites of that fun-filled night of shooting!




The Priority Report

How much should we invest into our passion? If we wish to achieve a goal what level of sacrifice or disregard should we stake? Should priorities be rearranged to accomodate short term goals that play to the bigger picture? More simply put, can I, with so many other responsibilities and obligations right now, justify redirecting finaces toward a new camera system for my photography. The catch here is that while I will need a dSLR, I don't necessarily need the one that I want, but can benefit from the advantages in use and future savings . I have researched photography and photographic technology and well understand the difference between what I get out of the "affordable" dSLR and the latest and greatest (more expensive) one. I have also felt the frustrations of investing too soon in a camera that was affordable at the time versus saving for one that I could put to better use.

How my brain has wrapped itself around this:
Being able to make the most out of every photo opportunity is probably the most important thing to me. I think this is true for most all photographers. It is absurd, that photography is a very expensive, very equipment driven career and hobby, but it makes sense. We all want to capture the world we see as best we can. But for each of us, the amalgamation of components necessary to produce the best photograph is different. Some of us lean heavy on lens selection, others it may be dynamic composition, or lighting or subject matter or color accuracy or even just catching the perfect moment, but our needs drive the development of the tools available to us. I want the best for my craft within the limitations of what I can conviently maintain and afford. So even though film can produce higher quality photos, the convience of digital is a greater benefit, and while there are better "professional" digital SLR cameras out there, I can't afford them nor yet justify the expense. Sound like a contradiction? It is not. Even though the camera I have my sights set on isn't within my finacial reach now, it is obtainable in a much shorter length of time than a $5k rig. If I were to buy a lower end model (Nikon D50) now, but could afford a more robust and capable camera (Nikon D200) within a few months, I would be paying to upgrade much sooner. This is similar to what I am experiencing now with a current purchase, it is a quite capable camera, but photographically, doesn't meet my needs. This particular camera can still be resold at a reasonable price because it is still very new and a big achievement in its class of camera. Looking at the entry level dSLR end, such an emphasize is being placed on this market that resell values here will be minimal, especially in a years time, so I would most likely not see a return on that investment(D50).

The big problem here is that now that I am selling my current p&s camera, if I don't move into another camera soon, I miss all photo opportunities. The even bigger problem is that if I direct funds toward getting what I want, it will still be a ways off and other things have to be sacrificed in that time, and I still couldn't shoot. The biggest problem is that if I do get a camera, I will feel selfish to put my desires in front of others who are more important to me than photography and who will already be sacrificing along with me once school starts again and I have even less time with them.

With the camera purchase my hope is to start building a camera system
with a brand mainstay, so that all I invest goes toward fulfilling class requirements and a future career in photography.

11.23.2005

2nd Interview with Flickr Favorite Rebekka


Here is the follow up interview I promised so many weeks ago. Rebekka wanted to clear the air on some things and what better place to do it than here at Photography360. Additional Q&A will be held at http://www.flickr.com/groups/photography360-interviews/, Join today!



Christopher:
So, Rebekka, what have you been up to lately? How is school going? The kids?

Rebekka:
School is just great, I’m really enjoying myself... its challenging, but mostly in a fun way.
Kids are fine as always. I've been busy today preparing my younger sons birthday which is tomorrow... they're growing up much too fast.
Christopher:
So creatively, what have you been up to?

Rebekka:
Well... most of what I’ve been doing, I’ve posted on flickr. Been concentrating on the photography at school and during most of my free time. Now I’ve decided to take a short break from that and am working on a series of drawings.
That project is very much in its beginning stages so I cant really explain what its about. If I like the outcome I’ll most likely post that on flickr as well.
Christopher:
Are you looking to diversify your works? I have noticed over the past few weeks a little bit of everything coming from you.

Rebekka:
Yes, I'm very determined to try and keep everything open. Its much too early in my progress for me to get stuck doing the same thing over and over again, so right now I felt the best thing to do was to go back to my humble beginnings (the pencil and paper) and try to find new ways to look at drawing as an art form. I had been neglecting it in favor of my camera.
I’m sure it will open my eyes to something new and refreshing that will in turn help me find new and refreshing ways to approach the photography...
I don’t think anyone can produce endless work using one medium without beginning to feel a little burned out creatively...
I had been feeling that quite a bit in the past few weeks~
Christopher:
Have critics of your self-portraits played any part in this time of collection and refocusing? Have they played any part in how you view your work or what you have looked to produce?
Rebekka:
Well, yes, of course all feedback I get causes me to step back and take a more critical look at what I’m doing, to question my motives for doing what I do.
I admit the rather harsh criticism I occasionally get on the self portraiture, accusations of being obsessed with myself and repeating myself, do sometimes hurt, but such comments in no way make me feel I have to stop doing self portraits...
In fact, the drawings I’m working on now are self-portraits, but of a completely different nature than what people are accustomed to seeing on my flickr page.
I realized the other day that I’ve been focusing on showing only my pretty side. But no one is pretty all the time. I actually don’t really see myself as pretty on a daily basis. So right now I’m busy studying my other side. The everyday me, not trying to look good, just me as I am when I’m alone and nobody's looking.
It’s a lot harder to work with.
Christopher:
Let's talk about the more provocative "clone" photo you posted recently. You know which I'm speaking of I'm sure, elaborate on that photo

Rebekka:
hehe..
Yeah. That one was fun to make.
It was done very late one evening when I was feeling extremely frustrated because I was unable to make an idea I had for some photos work like I had planned...
So on the spur of the moment I set up the tripod by my bed and had some fun acting out a scene in which it appears I’m about to make love to myself... something I’ve often wondered what would be like (I’m sure I’m not the only one)
I wasn’t trying to be original, and felt like I was pretty much repeating myself (using the clone technique) but I very much loved the result.
Christopher:
Is this part of a series or the final result of the project?
Rebekka:
It wasn’t a project at all; completely spur of the moment, one time sort of thing.
At least until I figure out how to make the two me's touch.hehe.
Just kidding~
Christopher:
So how flattered must you have been to have a group setup in your honor?

Rebekka:
Pretty flattered.
And certainly surprised when I saw how many people actually joined and contributed pictures to it.
Wasn’t expecting that at all.
Christopher:
And despite the fluff you still remain grounded. You are much a flawed human like the rest of us yet in the face of your popularity you seem unphased.

Rebekka:
Probably because it seems very strange to me...
Christopher:
If fact, to speak to the subject of popularity, tell everyone about your latest ventures

Rebekka:
Aha... well. I was interviewed the other day for an Icelandic magazine...
Just a small publication, but it will be the first time an interview with me is published, and I’ve very excited about it.
Somehow being recognized by someone here in Iceland is different than being "popular" on the Internet. Probably because it’s closer to me. Closer to real life. And hopefully will lead to something beneficial for me~
Christopher:
Well, over 2000 viewers read the “internet” published piece we did but I definitely understand the "real life" aspect.
As for the viewers, there was a bit of a flame war in the comments following our first interview,
Rebekka:
Yes. That surprised me a bit....

Christopher:
This is my first follow up interview and you were my very first interviewee, what did you think after the first interview? And now? How do I measure against the professional?
Rebekka:
Hehe...you're actually a lot more knowledgeable about art and photography than the journalist that interviewed me. At least I feel a lot more comfortable discussing things with you
Christopher:
Nah, I just fake it real good.
Rebekka:
hahaha
Christopher:
Why do take so many photos of yourself?

Rebekka:
Because I enjoy it, for one...
And because it helps me to understand myself
I think it’s a necessary phase... I doubt I’ll always work so much with the self-portrait, but while I feel the need to, I will.
Even my closest friends have criticized me about it... but that hasn’t caused me to stop doing it.
Christopher:
I have noticed there aren't very many women who don't do that, so I'd assume most of your critics are male, is that correct?
Rebekka:
Well, among my personal acquaintances, I’ve received much harsher criticism from females.... but when you mention it, most of the people that have been negative on flickr are male... I’d never really thought about that before....
The relatively fewer women that do comment, are generally very supportive and tell me I inspire them, which delights me of course.
Christopher:
And what do say to those you call it vanity, conceit, or say it is playing directly to your popularity?
Rebekka:
I say that’s they're problem if they see it that way.
I’m not all that bothered by it any more.
Christopher:
Good for you. It’s a wonderful thing to elevate above the negative.
What are your most immediate goals?
Rebekka:
Well, besides doing well, in school, and finding new ways to explore my art, I very much hope also to find some way to make a little money off what I’m doing. After all, I have two young mouths to feed besides my own...
Christopher:
Tell your son I said happy birthday,
How old will he be turning tomorrow?
Rebekka:
He’ll be six.
Christopher:
Wow. Making you feel old?
Rebekka:
Yeah. I mean, his brother is seven and a half... when he turns eight I’ll probably experience some sort of crisis!
I feel like I’m still 18
Sometimes I just look at these boys and feel amazed that they're mine. They’re so great.
Christopher:
Our original interview really helped my blog take off. Alot came for the interview and stayed, now I have a ton of regular visitors who browse my musings.
Rebekka:
That’s cool....
And I had no idea over 2000 people read the previous interview. . Wow
Christopher:
It has been nice having you share your thoughts and stresses and triumphs every week.
Rebekka:
Well, you're very easy to talk to
I’ve enjoyed it as well
Christopher:
Is there anything you'd like to close this interview with?

Rebekka:
I would just like to thank you for taking an interest in what's going on behind my photos, and giving me the chance to open myself a little bit to the people that enjoy looking at my work.

11.16.2005

Why Photography? part 2


Cloud Play
Originally uploaded by christopherd6.
My initial answer to this question was playful and superficial. Having been haunted by my answer for the past two days, I figured the only way to satisfy this feeling would be to pour myself into the answer.
Why photography?
Photography because it's the perfect blend of art and technology, satisfying my 50/50 personality, allowing me to be analytical and creative about every capture. Photography because it can be history, it can be art, it can be emotional, humorous, sensual, thoughtful,... nothing. It can be all these things and it can be nothing. Photography beacause it only takes one shot. A career can be forged, history can be made, inspiration can be ignited, lives can be changed from a single shot. Photography because I'm in control of the outcome, like so little else in life, I know that with the turn of this knob and the push of that button I can achieve "my" perfection time and again. Photography because I love connecting through that lens, with every subject, every scene, every soul. It's like grabbing something and never having to let go. Photography because when I am out in nature with my camera by my side and my music playing through the headphones over my ears, everything makes sense. Everything. Photography because its so simple to do and so difficult to master. Photography because I am not that good at it and will never be as good as I'd ever hope to be. Photography because I can always improve.
Photography to go back to school. Photography to see the world I never cared to see before.
Photography because honestly, I never dreamed before it.

I didn't intend to sound as prose. I wrote it and now I feel naked. The truth is, I prayed for this. Not photography specifically but for some direction in my life. I knew there was more to who I am and I for the longest time felt lost. I as grew into the role of husband and father I became more stressed at the idea of never having a goal. I still remember the heartfelt conversation with my wife about how I didn't know what I wanted out of life. I wouldn't say my life was in turmoil but it had been a little rough and though I am an optimist, things had started to wear on me. When I was told I'd be able to attend school, I was happy but I honestly would have let the opportunity go by again if not for the strange sequence of events that transpired. The encouragement of my blind step father, the confidence of my loving wife, the generosity of my best friend, these are the things that brought it into fruition. It feels wierd to say it changed my life, but it did. I know myself better than I did before, I'm enrolled in school, I have purpose to most all I do. It didn't take alot of thought, my path was laid clearly before me. Now, I find it hard to believe its only been 5 months. I think that with photography has come an appreciation for each day, as everyday was a new experience, a new subject, unique in its own way. Sunday, November 13th, the sky was a beautiful blue, the clouds were out dancing across the sky. Today was clear and by sunset the sky was lit with a hundred shades of orange.
I have read 13 books on photography in the passed months. Taken 10,000 photos since July 14th. Interviewed 10 amatuer and semi-pro photographers since late September. All this and more, just to learn. And I'm far from done , but it doesn't seem obsessive in the least, it feels like I've always wanted to feel, dedicated.
I'm not far enough up the road to see the end of it, and like I said, "it didn't take a lot of thought" I just started walking in the direction I was led. I may end up the photojournalist for the local newspaper, I may end up a fashion photographer, I may shoot sports for a professional league, I may do stock photography or National Geographic, shoot celebrities or crime scenes... I don't know, but I will be a photographer.

11.15.2005

Why Do I Photograph?


in his eyes
Originally uploaded by christopherd6.

someone asked, "Why do you take photos?"

What a question. My answer is very simple.
I have an ego when it comes to sharing my views, coupled with a strong meritocratic ambition. Thoughts, ideas, observations, likes and the like aren't shared often, but when they are, I expect others to take notice. Photography is a natural creative progression from pencil drawing I did and obsessed over in my early years, followed by a seasonal trade off with poetry. As I came to be responsible for other things I had only the time-in-between to create. It eventually became habit to only be creative in the tedious down time of work or school. The urge would creep in and for 5-10mins here and there throughout the day I would write or draw. This satisfied the urges.
Enter the first digital camera purchased in accordance of the birth of my beautiful nephew. I became the documentor of his early life. Some shots were good, some were bad, all were snap shots. A year later, came my own beautiful daughter and being the proud Papa I was, I again began to document. So did my wife. I began to notice her shots appealed to me more than my own, but happily I shared our photos with everyone with eyes.
The oohs and ahhs of my daughter and nephew's images became misconstrued in my head with ohhs and ahhs in regard to my snapshots. So I took more and tried to best my wife.
Fast forward- our anniversary approached and I figured a great gift to ourselves would be a new camera to better capture our lives with our little girl. First the Samsung v700, which I returned and then the Canon S2 IS, both chosen for thier video capabilities. In chosing I became so entranced by the technology that I absorbed every bit of info I could which spilled over into the art of photography. I begin to shot other material, subjects and in new ways. 12x optical zoom will do that to you. Soon, I was carrying my wife's gift everywhere with me and photographing everything. Photography had taken over my dreams. My urges while sitting at work went from doodling, to leaving work and finding a nice place to shoot. I knew it was what I was suppose to be doing with myself. All the stars aligned, I enrolled in school, assisted other photographers, thought of interning, chased news stories, I was a photographer and felt envigorated everytime I could show my work. So a few months later, through a big push by family, I happened upon a Rebel XT as a dSLR was a requirement of a class I was taking. Deeper still I fell.
So now, 4 1/2 months after the purchase of the Canon S2, I am moving toward my career goal.

So to answer, why do I photograph?
Because my wife took better photos than I did.

And more deeply, because i want to share my "view" with everyone


11.14.2005

Shots From Trip to Lockhart




Here is what I came back with on Sunday. It was a great day and everyone was in good spirits. It was great watching Joe at work(my instructor). He has a highly developed eye for composition and so meticulous and quick at the same time. I realize where my next plateau needs to be.
The photos.
These are all I have processed so far. I came back with 20 solid shots out of the 180 I took (not anywhere close to as many as I thought I'd shoot) so not too bad as far as keeper ratio goes. Some may be turned off by the more "process heavy" shots. I don't care, its my art. I see these processing opportunities as I compose the shot, before I ever click the shutter so this is just as accurate a representation of what I saw as any. I tend to get very liberal when I have multiple shots of the same subject as to never see the same thing twice. I am most happy with the first image and the hard light and color burn. I think it screams industrial. I also like the tractor pics alot and they are "as shot" .

Lots of new material on flickr so check it out
www.flickr.com/photos/christopherd6

11.13.2005

Interview with Flickr's Carpeicthus

The Ghost of 23rd Street

Christopherd6: seize the fish? why Ryan?

carpeicthus: It actually was my high school quote, back when I entirely embraced the nonsensical
when I started out in the blog world, I thought I would remain pseudonymous
that lasted about 10 seconds, but when I chose my name, I reached back to my past and came up with this
that was in 2002; it's stuck ever since
Christopherd6: And who are you beneath Carpeicthus
carpeicthus: A lot of things, I suppose, since I was Ryan long before Carpeicthus. I'm a 26-year-old New Yorker with a restless mind, and a ever-growing photography obsession that sometimes clashes with my long-term drive, which has been to do more or less everything.
Christopherd6: As I understand you earn an income from your photography obsession. How did that come about?
carpeicthus: Well, I categorize myself as semi-professional, in that photography is part of my full-time job and all of my part-time job. My real background is as a journalist and newspaper editor; I was Editor-in-Chief of an upstate paper when I was just 21. The thing about working at small papers is that you end up doing everything. I had only been there a few weeks when someone thrust a camera in my hand and told me I was the pool photographer for President Clinton and his family when he came to visit in 2000. I only knew the basics of photography, but just simple tenacity, getting as close as I can and taking shots until something came out, won me a statewide news photography award
from there I eventually moved on to Columbia, where I was hired partially because of my photography skills, but mostly because of my writing and editing (since my skills were still comparatively wanting at that point) This job gave me full-time access to a digital SLR, and I used it to the fullest, trying to figure out how the darned thing worked.
after a year and change of that, I ended up shooting Columbia's graduation
we'd had freelancers, so I was just shooting because I didn't want to be bored and would have something to post to flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carpeicthus/sets/352541/
but we ended up using more of my shots than the extremely well-paid freelancers, which made me thing "Hmmmm… maybe I can do this on my own."
Christopherd6: you have an artful quality to alot of your photojournalist type photos, and I think that is quite rare and quite unique. How did you develop this, was it simply through experience or did you have a determination to distinguish yourself in that field of photography?
carpeicthus: From there I quickly got some excellent jobs due to my connections and, though I'm still getting the business end on its feet, things have been great.
carpeicthus: I think a lot of that came from looking at other people's photos. Even though I didn't take a lot of photos when I was a newspaper editor, I did constantly receive a barrage of AP photos, so every day I'd be looking at hundreds of photos taken by some of the best photojournalists in the world. I think that helped give me a sense of what was a strong composition
Christopherd6: and long term goals?
carpeicthus: Eventually, I would like to use photography to supplement my income substantially. More importantly, though, is personal development. I want to be great; I would love to regularly produce images that can startle people, change minds, tell stories and get at the heart of my subjects. That's where the obsession goes. The money is just so that, along the way, I can eat.
Christopherd6: so I can understand making the most of situations you were thrown into, but really give us some tangible advice to get to a point to support our own obsessions
I mean, what did you find integral in earning something from your work
carpeicthus: Well, portfolios. Nothing matters as much as the image. Photography is a profession laid bare, so you have to know how to sell yourself. There are many wonderful photographers on Flickr, much better than I am, who will never make a dime, because they don't want to do the sorts of photography that can make money, or they aren't comfortable selling themselves. And then, of course, there are many, many photographers who are very good at selling themselves and making money but really suck at taking pictures. Almost none of these are on Flickr.
Christopherd6: lol
carpeicthus: The bottom line is the image, but you have to know what you're selling. A fantastic picture of a flower probably won't sell very much, because there are billions of fantastic pictures of flowers. But if you can get a fantastic picture of an event, capture a person in a new way, etc. you're in a unique place. With so little supply, you'll have greater demand,
Christopherd6: your personal inspirations? who or what drives you?
carpeicthus: a lot of people do event photography, wedding and such only because it makes money, and secretly hate it, though. don't do that. I love event photography. I like working with people. (previous question)
My #1 hero is Steve McCurry
The guy is fabulous. There is a novel lying behind every photo he takes
Christopherd6: what tools were instrumental in your skill development
carpeicthus: Other than the absolute greats, I don't pore over a lot of famous photographers' work, though. There's enough at Flickr that is wonderful in its own right, and I more enjoy particular studies of a subject than particular names.
First, a camera that's hard to use. The harder the better. My first camera was a Minolta SRT 101. Manual everything, steam-powered. You had to know how things worked to get a good image out of it. The same was true with early dSLRs -- it's much harder to get a good image out of a D1 than a D70. That teaches you things
Second, shooting. Lots of shooting. The wonder of digital is you can shoot just to see what a setting does, and you waste nothing.
Third, the Net, the other side of digital.
EXIF in net-based photos is a college course in itself
if you see a photo you like, you can always answer the question "how did they do that?"
I did that for hundreds of photos, teaching me about apertures, ISO values, etc.
And then there's the rest of the Net, where there are thousands of different places to answer any questions you have
that's why I try to keep the EXIF in every photo I post, so other people can figure out how I got what I did.
Christopherd6: where would you define your current skill level? how much more do you feel you need to develop
carpeicthus: well, time wise I need to develop forever, and I hope I never plateau
skill wise, I don't feel I'm anywhere close to plateauing, but I've moved from figuring out how basic photography works to trying to expand my creative options and understanding more complicated things, like how to get the best image from a complicated lighting set-up. I know what the relation between f/2.8 and f/22 is, I know how to get the best results out of lenses, etc. Now it's about getting emotion and stories through the camera, and I know I can always improve.
Christopherd6: As I have gone through these interviews my goal has been to learn and improve, yet as often the case, if bad routine goes unchecked it becomes bad habit, and I feel I have began to develop bad habits. How do you keep certain "bad" photographing tendencies in check?
carpeicthus: I love feedback, of all kinds. I am blessed to have friends who won't praise me just because they like me, for example, so if they say I've done something well, I can believe them
such as on my recent Smokey Robinson set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carpeicthus/sets/1314961/
and that includes constructive criticism. God knows I criticize my own images, so why can't others? If they're thinking those things, let me know. Maybe I'll disagree, but it can inform me.
I'm not sure about bad habits. For me, that would be mostly falling into a creative rut, which I try to shake up by introducing something new, or giving myself an assignment. When I rented an 85mm f/1.4 last month, it brought me out of a creative rut I felt I was settling into by giving me a new toy to use in a new way.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/carpeicthus/tags/85mmf14d/
Christopherd6: so equipment, what do you own, why do you own it and what will you buy next?
carpeicthus: right now for bodies I have the Fuji S2 and D70s. The S2 is for work, but it's a great backup camera, if starting to feel the technology lag. I will get the D200 the minute it comes out
For lenses I have the 17-55 f/2.8, a fantastic documentary lens, a 30mm f/1.4, which is on my camera most, an incredible low-light shooter, and a 70-200 f/2.8 VR, which is an unbelievable lens whenever I'm in a situation to bring out that beast
I just hit eBay and got a Canon Powershot s45 for when I can't bring a dSLR around, and a 50mm f/1.4 manual focus lens in anticipation of the D200, which can provide full metering with it
My next big buy is the D200 and accessories, but I would also like the 85mm f/1.4 and something wider, probably the Sigma 10-20mm.
carpeicthus: I like equipment.
Christopherd6: indeed you do.
When you were choosing your camera system, what pushed you toward Fuji and Nikon?
carpeicthus: Well, I'd been using Nikons ever since my newspaper closed out darkroom and bought Nikon D1s back in the day, so it seemed a natural step. I had an opportunity to go to whatever system I wanted before I bought the D70s, but I like the feel of Nikons and it's a great lens system, so I stuck with it. Of course, as you can see from my array I'm not as much brand-conscious as pragmatic.
Give me enough money and I'd have Nikons, Canons, Hasselblads, and large-formats all together.
Plus, of course, the D200 looks freaking fantastic.
Christopherd6: other than the next big D200, what's your next goal?
carpeicthus: That's a big one for me, since I'll finally have the camera that I want, instead of saving up for a giant like the D2X. For what I do, I'd rather have a camera with an optional grip so I don't need a giant rig, so it's sort of a paradigm shift; I'm set. From there, my main goal is to expand my freelancing business, particularly getting the word out for wedding work and to companies in the city that do a lot of events.
Guess that means I should finally print my business cards, haha.
Christopherd6: How did you get into model work and what equipment is preferred there?
carpeicthus: well, it's in my hands a good part of the day. I don't own a car, so I have to obsess over something…
I actually got into model shoots because I ran out of friends
I just wanted to shoot people, and eventually my friends were like "No. No more."
Of course, some of my friends were models, actresses and singers, so I already had a model-like portfolio
So I went over to ModelMayhem.com and looked for more people to shoot, not because glamour is what I want to do with my life (god no) but because I like shooting everything and giving myself new challenges
Christopherd6: seems you have met with success, will you continue?
carpeicthus: That's where I met Mehak, Noa, and Cindy. I met Mercedes and Mimo at OneModelPlace. Like I said, though, most of the people around there want to hang out with hot chicks, whereas I just want to make good pictures. I think a lot of the models really like that, knowing that I'm not there to drool over them
I will continue mostly as a means to an end. I'm looking for shoots that serve a purpose in my portfolio now, like couples shoots, bridal shoots, or things I haven't done before
but I never, ever want to have a studio. To me, photography is wonderful because it forces you to be versatile, not putting you in the same place every day.
Christopherd6: how long have you been shooting so far?
carpeicthus: I've only been really shooting obsessively since about march or April, and I think you can see it in my stream.
before that, it's hard to say. sure I took photos, but everyone does that. I just did it a little more because I had to figure out how to work a dSLR
Christopherd6: your most fond photography experience?
carpeicthus: Probably getting to meet and shoot James Watson, the guy who figured out what DNA looks like along with Francis Crick. Of course, I'm a geek, but this guy is a seminal figure, and I got to spend a good part of an afternoon talking to him and his wife. It was also my first freelance job, and it seemed at that moment that everything was opening up to me, everything would be OK, and photography was where I was meant to be. Even if he was a bit eccentric and didn't want to pose for photos. After all, I got to use the word "phenotype" in conversation with a Nobel-prize winner.
Christopherd6: lol, priceless
Do you mind us getting back into techniques
carpeicthus: no problem
Christopherd6: Can you detail your workflow for us?
From creative process to finished product
carpeicthus: sure. creative process depends entirely on what I'm shooting. Because my background is in photojournalism, I almost never do extensive set-up for a shoot -- generally lighting at most, but usually I'm recording the world as it is.
carpeicthus: I shoot entirely in RAW since moving to the D70s, and use Adobe Bridge and CS2 to go through the files.
I have a set tone curve that I apply to every image, discarding or altering it only if I don't like how it turns out, and then I work through all the RAWs.
I delete the ones that, for some reason sucked, delete the RAWs but keep the JPEGs for those that were OK, and keep the RAWs for the ones I really like
Then I figure out which ones I want to present (post/give to client/whatever) and bring them into CS2.
I have several commands that are set macros, such as a default contrast sharpening, default saturation algorithm, etc. These are set slightly higher than I would ever want to go, so I can then fade them into the exact setting I want
Christopherd6: elaborate on the tone curve? why?
carpeicthus: for most of my images, that's it.
well, I like to give my images a bit of punch by bringing down the shadows, and I like to protect my dynamic range, so I have designed a curve that does that. In fact, for a while I was even making a large swath of my shadows into absolute black, but it was bringing out noise a bit
by applying it universally it also gives my images a "look," so if someone else applied the curve, someone might say "hey, that looks like a picture by carpeicthus." consider it branding.
that's for the Web, though. Output would be slightly different for printing.
My production background is with newsprint, remember, which is of slightly worse quality than toilet paper, so I'm always conscious of how a photo will look on a given medium.
Christopherd6: Ideal subject?
carpeicthus: that's hard to say because I like shooting everything. given that I want to move beyond to images that tell great stories, the ideal subject would be either those stories taking place or people that just project themselves, their emotions and thoughts, right through the lens.
I've also vowed to try to take a flattering photo of Joel Klein. It's hard.
Christopherd6: advice to an aspiring photographer?
carpeicthus: first, get a camera. those are important. as I said before, SLRs are great not only because they take good images, but because they're hard, and will force you to learn. In that light, I recommend making it as hard as possible for the best results. If you have a zoom lens already, get a prime lens, especially a dirt-cheap 50mm f/1.8. If you have that, work on manual focus. If you have film, try digital. If you have digital, try film -- and not just 35mm film. Noted reviewer and photographer Thom Hogan has said that he had a sadistic photo teacher who made them use the exact wrong tool for the job -- such as having to shoot a track meet with a TLR, in which the motion appears upside-down and backwards. That seems like a amazing learning opportunity to me.
(oh yes, I also have a TLR, a Yashica Mat 124G, but I'm awful about getting film developed)
Christopherd6: it has been a fantastic speaking with you Ryan. As we rap up I'd like to turn the interview over to you for any closing words, discussion or questions.
carpeicthus: Thanks, it was great talking to you as well. Hm, in conclusion I'd just like to note that Flickr has been an incredibly positive force. I never would have felt so strongly about photography to go freelance and devote a chunk of my life to it if it wasn't for Flickr. I visit a lot of other photographic communities, and the energy is totally different. People tend to tear each other down to justify the money they've spent. Whereas while Flickr tends to skew toward the amateur, it's filled with people who love pictures in all their forms, who take pictures because it makes them happy, and not only are the results better, but the community strengthens the photography of each member. I love this site with good reason.

House Keeping

Some regulars may be wondering, "What happened to the site redesign you have talked about?", well, as things go, it became less and less a priority as photography has set in. Much of the reason behind my intial need to redesign was for sake of generating interest in design services. As some know I did attempt a career in web design and, by my measure, failed to generate substantial enough income or interest. I owned the necessary tools and did make a slight profit but really lacked the patience and passion I believe are cognative of a successful creative career. The experience has made me more cautious of future ventures such as the idea of turning photography into a business. What a thought!, to turn pro from less than 5 months experience. My patience in this will pay off as I'd hate to run the risk of dirtying a reputation before I even have one. I still have school to finish and mouths to feed and several things I need to take care of first. And more importantly, I love being Daddy more than being the "Christographer", so work, school and more work wouldn't work. Ashley's work must be seen as well as she has come along so much these past 5 months also. See her gallery here at Raya's Mommy on Flickr.
Interviews have been irregular. This is a result of just having so many other things to do. For fans of the Flickr Favorites interviews, I apologize for this. Know that many have volunteered and been contacted so its simply a matter of coordinating a time. Carpeicthus is next up and his interview will be posted this afternoon.
Another great observation to share, the counter in the bottom left corner tracks unique visitors. Since I added it only 2 months ago we have had 6925 unique visitors and over 10,000 pageloads. I'd never have expected that response to my little slice of the internet. I will be taking down the counter soon as I have found a more robust system for tracking traffic. This way, should i decide on expanding, I know precisely what brings people here and can do some predictive marketing based on content. No ads just yet.

One thing I am thinking of incorporating is Camera and Accesory assessments. Not like reviews, these assessments will be based on reviews by others and information provided through the web. May be a ways off though, but I am really excited to see Canon's response to the D200 monster.

Here is a screen shot of the layout I had built initially:
possible design idea

11.12.2005

"Relatively" Closeup Nature Photography

butterfly28bee28butterfly23softbees paradisemonarchover sharp beegrasshopper... on a stickhide and seekbw grasshopperthe beesee me large!pink petalsbutterfly02leafy butterflytouch

Per my last post, my new initiative is to begin again in my development as a photographer. My focus will be soley (mostly) on closeup nature photography as macro photography (the defining difference being a matter of magnification and reproduction ratio) isn't within my budget, but donations are welcome. My TOOL is a book by Robert Thompson called "CLOSE-UP & MACRO, a photographer's guide" It is a wonderful book that doesn't linger just on equipment and basic photo knowledge but ventures into useful field techniques and educates how to deal with adverse conditions, where to look for types of insects and vegetation, insight into what expectations are if you plan to sell, compositional practices for different subjects, etc. Among the many books I own now, this is by far the most complete.
My latest shot since reading it is this one below and I see a tremendous improvement as result of a better approach to my subject. Please feel free to comment!

Kung Fu Grasshopper

11.06.2005

I've only begun to learn!

grasshopper... on a stick bw monarch

"It is pointless to learn new techniques if you haven't mastered the old ones...if you intend to be a photographer of any substance then the techniques of photography should fit like a second skin.",-Paul Duckworth

I am not a patient person. I have often taken shortcuts to what I want to acheive, and while I have enjoyed few successes, the failures are numerous. There are several things in my life now that I have been patient for, but have never truly learned patience from these things.
Photography requires different levels of patience usually dependant on subject. My wife for instance, being much more patient than I, always manages to capture better shots of my daughetr than I do. Another example would be that I chase my sunsets and butterflies, I drive/walk from one locale to another quickly snapping off shots rather than waiting for my opportunity.
Moreover, I have been in photography for only near 5months and am frustrated with the limitations of my skill. I haven't really exhibited the patience to refine the basic principals of photography so my developement isn't on a track that I am happy with. I often rationalize my eagerness to tackle different fields so quickly with being "passionate" about photography. I now understand that my "passion" is misdirected as, had I focused on a single field I'd have a better comprehension of the aesthetics to make a great photograph. I will never limit myself to one type of photography, but I will, for sake of developing more completely, concentrate on mastering one field first.
I must be patient and understand that it will be far more rewarding to practice other fields of photography once I am more knowledgeable and the basics are like a "second skin."
For now, I am keeping a journal of all the ideas that pop into my head, for experimentation at a later date. Aside from whatever work and school may require my focus will be on nature photography. I am choosing nature for a few reasons, I'll share:
* Nature photography requires an extreme amount of patience.
* I haven't taken any classes or read any books on nature photography yet, so I'll be less likely to "shortcut" due to what I may have heard/read/learned before.
* It's the most accessible and the inital investment is minimal as I have most of what I'd need already.
* I am very intrigued by insects and flowers and can learn more about them.(then I can name my shots something other than "Pink Flower" and "Butterfly")
* Macro photography of insects is so freakin' cool! Those are the shots that I spend the most time admiring even before I really got into photography.


And to show how serious I am about being more patient, I am going to wait to post this entry until Sunday night. LOL

11.03.2005

Flickr to a Flame!

I completely disapprove of all that has gone on in the comments section of Solea's interview. It is unfortunate and discouraging to know that the work has been a defiled by the disgusting displays there. My intention has been to shed light and insight on the many types of very talented photographers that can be found on Flickr. My hopes were that through sharing techniques and goals and passions we could all benefit and grow as photographers.
I wasn't very proud of this interview as it was incomplete and didn't address many of the things I have tried to bring about in every other interview, yet it has been the most read and most talked about and most controversial. That says a lot about what visitors look to take from the interviews here.
Why bicker? Art is subjective. Popularity is circumstantial and conditional. Why does it all matter? We can all be successful without disparaging one another! For goodness sakes people let take whatever good we find in anyone and use it to better ourselves.

I am not a moralist and I will not close comments and prohibit expression here. I will remove the whole interview if necessary to circumvent the integrity of my blog and the interviews! My family reads this blog too and I am admittedly embarassed by this but, those who continue to come and read and comment, I give each the opportunity to redeem yourself and retract your comments if you see fit. If this continues as is, it will be removed!