Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving. And thanks to those who influenced me.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to list some people who have influenced me greatly, either directly (I've taken classes with them, know them personally, etc.), or indirectly (I've followed their work for years, or they've done something that changed my life). This list has to start with my college photography professor, Ed Scully. He was a crusty ex-Navy photographer teaching at Ramapo College in NJ. I started out there studying electronic music and synthesizers, but had an interest in photography from high school. I started taking classes with Ed and got turned around. He could be a difficult, critical teacher. I remember a story about him where a student stood up in class and asked why he never patted anyone on the back. Another student shouted out "because he is too tired from kicking your ass." That pretty much summed it up. I attribute my strong technical background to Ed. I still have my notebooks from those classes. Sadly, Ed died about a year after I graduated, and I never got to see him again.

After college I started working in catalog houses, producing photos for big catalogs like Sears, Montgomery Ward, etc. My mentors there were Jose Tese and Serge Lacks (not sure on the spelling of the last names). After that I went on to work with Jeff Morgan (advertising still life) and Dennis Gottlieb (food). Then I started renting a studio space with Tony Verga and, when he moved to Chicago, Paul Gelsobello. Then I got out of photography and discovered computers and typesetting. I put away the 8x10 camera at that time and went back the 35mm cameras I used in high school and college. I mostly used a few different point and shoot cameras for the next 15 years.

During this time I got to know Paul Brainerd, founder of Aldus in Seattle. PageMaker was becoming my life. Thunder LIzard productions hired me to work on the PageMaker Conferences and I moved to Seattle. At a tradeshow event in Boston Paul Brainerd introduced me to John Warnock and Chuck Geshke of Adobe. This was in January, 1994. Here were the three folks who had the biggest impact on my "computer" life. Just a few months later they announced the merger of Adobe and Aldus. In January 1995 I was hired on at Adobe (where I still work today).

Around this time I was also introduced to a relatively new program called Photoshop. For that I thank John and Thomas Knoll. And Ctein and Bruce Fraser for being there to answer my questions about photography and digital imaging. And Ole Kvern and Steve Roth. And David Blatner. Steve and David wrote a book called "Real World Scanning and Halftones" and asked me to take a quick photo of them for the back cover of the book. That got me to pick up the camera again. It was still a minor part of my life, but interest was growing again.

A few years later I decided to take some photography workshops to freshen up my education. One of the first people I took a class with was Steven Begleiter in Missoula, Montanna. Everything came back and Steve was very complimentary. The passion was re-ignited. From there, I've taken classes with Martha Casanave, Margaretta Mitchell, Jay Maisel, Greg Gorman, Craig Tanner, Art Wolfe, Patricia Ridenour, and Kim Weston. All of whom I need to give great thanks for inspiration and keeping the spark alive.

I also need to thank some great women in my life. My mom is in her 90s and has always been totally encouraging. Never questioning any turns I took in my life. My wife, Kim, is just as encouraging. And totally understanding/accepting of the naked people often traipsing through our house.

I am sure there are a few more names that should go in here. I'm blessed with a wonderful life and wonderful community.

And finally, a great big thanks to everyone I've had the pleasure to photograph over the years. You are what keeps me going!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quotes? Yeah, we've got them...

Continuing collection of photography quotes...

Jerry Uelsmann
"Art cannot afford compromise"

"There is more than one right answer"
John Rawlings
"A great deal will depend on the model: on how fluid and expressive she is in her bodily movements. For the photographer, his model is much more than a "subject," she is, by way of being, a collaborator"

Andreas Feininger
"Interest is the indispensable factor which sparks any creative activity"

about people interested only in photography:
"their pictures are sharp, grainless, colorful, technically unassailable, and totally devoid of feeling because they didn't feel anything about their subjects, their only concern being with the technicalities of photography"

"amateur--does something because he loves to do it. Unless you love what you are doing, unless you "love" the subject you intend to photograph--i.e., unless you are genuinely interested in it--leave it alone and save your film for a better occasion"

"amateurs make pictures to please themselves, they are their one bosses, they are free"

"It doesn't matter what you "see" nor how you see it, because what matters is what you "see" in it. In other words, it is less important how you photograph something than why you photograph it. The "why" is the key to "how:" if you know why you want to photograph a certain subject, the "how" will take care of itself; it is the consequence of the "why.""

Man Ray
"Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask "how?" while others of a more curious nature will ask "why?" Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information"

More quotes...

Continuing posting of quotes about photography...

Andre Kertesz
On the F/64 Group:
"Their idea of art was to make everything technically perfect, everything sharp from foreground to background. Art was killed by super technique. Every detail that the eye never saw was revealed...In reality, your eye adjusts itself to the things you see. If you look at something close to you, then other things around it are not sharp. Or if you look at something far away, the things close to you are not sharp. A photograph should correspond to the reality of the way we see the world"

"Do what you like and what you FEEL. Liking something, of itself, is not enough"

"Intensity of feeling comes first; recording what we see is secondary. Many photographers can see, but seeing is superficial without the stimulus of feeling"

"Your photography should reflect what is truly interesting to you"

Duane Michaels
"There is no such thing as an innocent nude. The viewer still responds out of sexual curiousity"

"One of the things a photographer should talk about is the pleasure it gives him to photograph the nude"

"I like to use the body as a vehicle in a drama. I think the real strength of my work is in the establishment of tension in a relationship. Ultimately, photographs of the nude have more meaning when a second and a third layer of tension are revealed"

"I am very conscious of the use of gesture in my work. Paying attention to gesture is paying attention to detail"

Edward Weston
"We sweat and groan that we might buy tickets to have some other person dance for us when we should dance--or sing when we we should be singing"

Lucien Clerge
"The model has to be respected and celebrated"

"A model is equal to the artist. She expresses herself as well as we do with our medium"

Kim Weston
"Paramount that the model and photographer know what the finished piece should be. The model is not just a plug-in naked person, they are an integral part of the photograph"

More to come...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quotes and Inspirations

Over the next few days I will be presenting a collection of some of my favorite quotes from photographers.

Manuel Alvarez Bravo:

"It isn't necessary that art be explained, its only necessity is to exist"

"When art is being made the artist is not conscious of his philosophy because he is not a philosopher"

"There is absolutely no reason for having a pre-determined theme in mind"

"I never know what I am going to do until the problem is in front of me, and then comes the resolution"

"In the moment of taking a picture, I have no idea of a title. It would be absurd to have a title in mind inasmuch as I am not pursuing an idea while photographing, but an image"

"The titles are suggested by the image, as the image is suggested by the person being photographed"

"The photographer should always be seeing something"

Henry Callahan

"I wanted to photograph the person for whom I had feelings. It wasn't enough to just photograph a nude"

Lucien Clerge

"In working with a nude the process of creation is something that cannot be predicted"

"YOu have to be responsive to what the model brings you. The models are not objects. They are real people, who with a single gesture, can convey a special feeling"

"Many of my most important lessons have been derived from sculpture. Laurens, Renoir, Maillol, Lipchitz, and Rodin are among those whose sculpture is so important to the photographer of the nude"

"(I) start with the navel (center), and work outward in triangles and circles. Each part of the body has its own life, each woman is different"

"When I am photographing the nude I am completely content. It is never work. Both the model and I may be exhausted at the end of a picture-taking session, but it is a good kind of exhaustion"

More quotes tomorrow...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blast from the past

I was going through some old papers and things recently and came across this issue of Popular Photography from March 1987 where I did the cover photo and seven interior pages about Senior Editor Bob Schwalberger's collection of Practical Classic 35mm cameras from the 50s and 60s. Included in the group: Retina IIc, Contax IIa, Exacta VX-IIa, Pentax S1a, Canon IV-S2, and Leica M3.

What are some of your favorite old film cameras?

One day sale on photo workshops at Photo Center Northwest

Photo Center North West (PCNW) in Seattle is offering a discount today (Mon, Nov 22) only on their Crash Course in Digital Photography. Normally $135, today you can get the class for $49 via a Groupon offer. Go to the Groupon site (you may have to register for free) to take advantage of the offer.

Here is their description of the workshop:

Crash Course in Digital SLR Photography
Janet Neuhauser, Keeara Rhoades, Patricia Ridenour, Leslie Saber & Staff
December 1, 2, 5, 5, 7, 8, 9; January 9, 30; February 20 (Check back soon if you don’t see a date that works with your schedule!)
$135 (before Groupon Discount)

This is a workshop for those who love to take photographs, but would like to know how to use their digital camera to its fullest potential. Learn how to navigate the menu options of your camera, how to make practical adjustments in aperture, shutter speed or white balance, and how to read histograms to evaluate images in-camera. Discover a broader range of possibilities in digital photography, and pick up essential skills that will help you capture meaningful places and experiences through digital photography.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Image Size vs File Size vs Pixel Dimensions vs Saved Size

This article has been moved to my new blog space.

What's with those numbers? Understanding aperture and shutter speed numbers.

1.4, 1.8, 4.0, 5.6, 25 or 6 to 4*... What's with all those numbers on your camera?

Shutter speed is usually easy to define and understand. The progression is logical. 1 second, 1/2 second, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/8000. OK, 1/15 and 1/125 aren't exact half/double, but close enough to understand. Each step represents either twice the exposure or half the exposure of the previous number. They are fractions. So 1/2 is larger (longer exposure) than 1/4 or 1/8. Pretty easy to follow.

But it does sometimes get confusing when you get down slower/longer speeds around 1 second. When the shutter speed dial says "2" is that 2 seconds or 1/2 second? On Canon cameras 2 seconds is shown as 2" and 1/2 second is shown as 0"5 (5/10 of a second). 1/4 second is shown as 4, but there is also a 0"4 if you are set to 1/3-stop exposure level increments in your camera's custom functions. If set to 1/3-stop increments you will see 1", 0"8, 0"6, 0"5, 0"4, 0"3, and 4. At 1/2-stop increments you will have 1", 0"7, 0"5, and 0"3, and 4.

Whew! I thought that shutter speed was going to be easier than that. And compared to aperture, it is pretty simple. Now let's look at the standard aperture scale:

1.0, 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, 45, 64, 90

Looks kind of simple at first. Every other number is double or half. But unlike shutter speed, 2.0 does not give twice the exposure of 4.0. It gives four times the exposure. And what's with 2.0 being greater than 4.0?

Well, apertures are fractions. The full values are 1/1, 1/1.4, 1/2, 1/2.8, 1/4, etc. So that should help understand that 1/2 is larger than 1/4. But what about those numbers in between? 1.4, 2.8, 5.6, etc? Aperture is a measure of area. And these numbers are based on the square root of two (1.4). Each full stop is 1.4x the previous. 1.0 x 1.4 = 1.4, 1.4x1.4 = 1.96(2.0), 2.0 x 1.4 = 2.8, 2.8 x 1.4 = 3.92 (4.0), 4.0 x 1.4 = 5.6, etc. Each step in the full list (above) is one stop more/less than the next number. so 2.0 is twice as much light as 2.8, which is twice as much light as 4.0, which is twice as much light as 5.6.

But, what happens in the lens when you change these numbers? Back in the good old days of film you could open the back of your camera and look through the lens as you changed the aperture and see what happens. For those who haven't seen what changing aperture does, take a look at this illustration:

Here you can see what happens at f/5.6, f/8, f/22, and f/32. I'm hoping that seeing these various apertures, along with knowing that they are fractions, helps understand that "smaller" numbers (1.4, 2.0, 2.8) are larger aperture values (openings) than "larger" numbers (11, 16, 22).

Once you have a good understanding of the progression of shutter speeds and aperture you are well on the way to being able to use your camera without having to stop and think about the numbers. Eventually they should become second nature and not interfere with the process of photography.

The next step is to learn how these numbers affect your photos. Shutter speed affects your ability to stop motion or introduce motion blur. Aperture controls the depth of field (the area between the nearest and furthest objects in the scene that appear to be in focus). But that is for another blog entry.

Please feel free to send questions.


*25 or 6 to 4 isn't photography related. It refers to a song by the band Chicago that is talking about 3:35 or 3:34 (25 or 26 minutes until 4am) in the morning and not being able to sleep. Sometimes these camera numbers keep people awake worrying about them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Almost nude...

Some recent black and white images with sheer fabrics. I've had some good feedback about including the pole and clamps in the image. What do you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Underwater Figure Photography

Underwater Figure Photography gallery slide show.

Mouse over the slide show to go full screen or to visit the gallery.

Thanks for taking a look!

Chai Couture Fashion Show

I took one of my first tries at photographing a fashion show recently for the Chai Couture Fashion show in Seattle. The show featured Butch Blum, Cameron Levin Couture, Karen’s Vintage Couture, Katerina Yedidim, Jarbo, Marge Design, Tatters, Whitney Heather Stern, Ben Bridge and more. Here are a few sample photos.

Some of my photos are featured on the Fashion Network Seattle Blog and on Butch Blum's blog. For those who miss my photos from Facebook, you can find all of them online on my Zenfolio site.

Still photographing people... have been doing a lot of work with performance groups recently. But yes, I still photograph portraits. Here are a few samples from a photo session last night with Adrienne Jack-Sands, who some of you might now from the Aerialistas girl gang aerial group here in Seattle (and now international with members traveling to Spain, France, and Germany).

Lighting for these was a 24" square softbox, a small strip light from behind on the model's left side, and a foam-core fill card opposite the softbox.

There is still time to get some beautiful photographs done in time for the holidays. Email me to schedule or to get more information.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Embrace the blur!

I often somewhat jokingly say that focus is over rated. Sure super-sharp, crystal clear photos are great for entering in competitions. But there are times when blurs enhance the mood and help tell a story. The examples below are of a band called McTuff here in Seattle, featuring Joe Doria on Hammond Organ. Static shots of the players are nice, but by introducing some motion blur and defocusing of the lens I think you get more of the emotion to be captured in the image.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Orchestra Seattle at Benaroya Hall

On Sunday I was privileged to be able to photograph Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers Memorial Concert for George Shangrow at Benaroya Hall. Highlights included Bach's St. Matthew Passion,  Beyer's Turns of a Girl, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125. It was a very moving experience that left many teary eyes. George is sadly missed.

More photos are available on my website.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Zombie Wedding

I don't usually consider myself to be a wedding photographer. There are so many great wedding photographers out there who do that so well. But I recently photographed a wedding at a Zombie Convention in Seattle that was picked up by a wedding blog. Visit the blog for info about the wedding and some photos. Malcolm McDowel and Bruce Campbell were the featured guests at the convention and Bruce officiated the wedding.

More photos are available on my site at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vertical Girl Poster

Recent poster for a new line of climbing clothes for women from Vertical Girl, featuring Beverly Sobelman of Versatile Arts Studio.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You Are Here with Naomi Hummel

I recently photographed the production of a new short film called You are Here being put together by Naomi Hummel. This film illuminates and personalizes the consequences of our stubborn investment in an oil-based economy. Through the focused lens of cinema, theatrical dance and aerial acrobatics, YOU ARE HERE tells a tragic love story between the ocean and humankind, uniting the fury, grace and love of artists from multiple disciplines to pull focus back to the unfolding situation in the Gulf and continue the conscious dialog about humankind’s relationship to oil.

Film Director- Ben Rapson of Breathing Media
Cast- Naomi Hummel (actor, dancer, aerialist), Ryan Barret (actor, dancer, choreographer)

Here are some of the production stills:


On a sadder note

I got a lot of exposure this year through Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers. Unfortunately, this was due to the untimely death of conductor George Shangrow in an automobile accident this past summer. This was a tremendous loss. George was an amazing person/personality. Well loved throughout the music industry. This is the poster for a recent performance...

Cabiri Halloween Performance

Here is a poster I photographed for the Cabiri. It was taken underwater in a swimming pool in West Seattle. We had 5 or 6 people in the pool--photographer, models, and a safety diver with air tanks.

Recent Work

Yes, I know. It has been months since I've posted here. Life has been busy. So, it is time to show some recent work. Here are two photographs for Cafe Nordo in Seattle that are running on their website and in a lot of local press and blogs. Would've been nice to have photo credits, but somehow they always get lost...
Here, in the first photo, we see, from left to right, Ray Tagavilla, Opal Peachy, Billie Wildrick and Mark Siano.