Archives for Personal

Week 30: The Formal Portrait

Week 30: Formal Painting After last week’s high-tech look, I decided to go the opposite direction with this image. I wanted to create a very antique – almost Old Master- look with a strong, directional light and a limited color palette. I tried to be very aggressive with the brushstrokes, getting increasingly loose as I moved away from the center of the image. The final image has a dramatic, but subdued look – which I liked.
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Week 29: Snapshots

I had this idea pop into my head, but was having trouble sorting out the logistics. How could I chop up the image in different ways and still retain a somewhat visable photographic image? After toying around in Photoshop for a while, I came up with a system and started working. I took 16 pieces of the same image, kept the size consistent, then pieced them back together in the exact location where they belonged . It ended up being a fun project – once I figured out how to make it happen.
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Annie, Age 40 (sort of)

I was unpacking my camera bag in the studio this week and noticed my faithful sidekick, Annie, sitting by the door watching me. Not sure what made me think of this, but it occurred to me that she turned 6 last month. Some quick calculations and I realized that she had hit the big 40 this year – if you went by “dog years.” I figured that was a good enough reason to include her in my little project! When Annie was only a couple of months old, I photographed her on a white backdrop and created an image that would become my first PPA Loan Print. I thought it was only fitting to recreate this historic image with the older, wiser, over-the-hill Annie. How cool is that!!??
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The Latest 4040s

The 40@Forty Project is doing well, but I’ve fallen a bit behind on posting them on the blog. Gotta work on that! For those of you who are not on Facebook, this should bring you up to speed. Week 27 was an experiment with light. Instead of using studio lights or even sunshine, I decided to try a portrait entirely lit by candlelight. It presented quite a few technical challenges, but I was happy with the overall look and feel of the image. The next week, I went in a totally different direction – with a highly-processed, studio shot. I took the iconic look of Apple’s iPod ads and put a bit of a spin on it. Since I’ve been focusing on painting for the past several months, I wanted to incorporate my graphics tablet and pen into the story. Here is what I came up with…
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Week 26: Abstract

Week 26: Abstract Some weeks I have a very specific concept in mind and go after it. More and more frequently, however, I find myself pacing about trying to figure out what to do. Trying to think up something that I can actually pull off before the deadline -but still be something cool. At this point, Heather usually makes a few suggestions and I quickly refuse to do them…. however, during that moment I usually get an inspiration. I head off to create the image and Heather shakes here head and promises to not help me next time. This week, I KIND OF used her idea. She suggested I do a profile shot that was a silhouette. I originally had nixed the suggestion, then had an idea – I would do the profile but crop and color it in a way that would make it almost abstract. I think if someone saw this image by itself, they might not even know it was a person – which is kind of cool.
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The Four Seasons

Back in May, I was helping out with the Westwood School’s Shakespeare play and loved how they were doing really complicated makeup on some of the kids. We decided to try and put together a portrait of several girls – all sporting different makeup. The summer, we gathered up a few brave models and my buddies Sami and Gusi went to work on their hair and makeup. Each girl was made to represent one of the four seasons. I photographed each of them individually on different colored backgrounds and intended to combine them later into one piece in Photoshop. At the end of the session, we did a group shot of all four – just for fun. Months later – when I finally got around to working on the images – I realized (for better or worse) that the group shot was actually the best image. I worked some Photoshop magic to give it a more painterly, antiqued look – which unfortunately makes it really hard to distinguish the different seasons. However, I loved the overall feel of the image and decided it was the one to keep anyways. Maybe someday I will go back and work with the individual
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Week25: The Guitar

My son Dean has been taking guitar lessons for the past month or so. Watching him practice kept reminding me of how I used to love wasting time trying to learn songs on the guitar in my dorm room. Last week I finally broke down and bought myself a guitar. It has pretty much consumed every free minute I have had over the past week – so I figured it should be featured in this week’s portrait. I had to play around with a few different lighting styles until I found just the right look. From there, I tweaked the contrast and added some color in Photoshop to get the final image above. I love the way it is very dramatic, yet very low-key.
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A Few Days By The Bay

We just got back from a great visit to San Francisco. I was speaking at the ProPhoto Expo over the weekend, so Heather and I decided to go a few days early for a little mini-vacation in one of our favorite cities. It is so strange to be on vacation in August and wearing jackets the whole time. Since we had been to SF a few times before, we decided to avoid the tourist spots like Fisherman’s Wharf and the Bridge. We stayed in a tiny hotel near Union Square called Hotel Rex (great place to stay – unless you want a good night’s sleep). We managed to figure out the Muni and took it to the SF Zoo on Friday, which was a lot of fun. Afterwards, we walked down the street to the beach and watched the surfers for a while. A guy was sitting there reading the paper and we asked him to take our picture. He proceeded to work his way through what seemed like an entire photo shoot, taking pictures of us from every angle. Here is one of the highlights from his portfolio! From there, it was off to the convention hotel to get
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Week 24

As daunting as it can be to have to create a self-portrait every week, there is one big upside to this project: I’m not really accountable to anyone except myself. I don’t have to follow any of the rules of traditional portraiture. I’m not restricted by any guidelines whatsoever. It really is quite freeing! As photographers, we are taught to not use this style of lighting (called broad lighting) in most cases. It tends to be less flattering, makes people look heavier, etc. Even though I set out to do a broad-lit portrait, about halfway through shooting I thought, “this might look better by switching back to a more traditional lighting setup.” I made the switch and it did look better – in most respects. Luckily, I came to my senses and reverted to the original plan. After all, the whole project is about branching out – so I had to proceed with the plan, regardless of the result. I chose my favorite image and went to work with adjusting levels and playing with the tones a bit. I even spent a lot of time adding several scenic elements to the background – but as the portrait progressed in Photoshop,
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