Inadvertent exercise.

I guess the real definition of a creative person is to have a short attention span and a distaste for doing anything the same way twice. That, and always wanting to do something in a different way from everyone else.  At least that's the way I see it.

I bought some Panasonic cameras last year and to make the most of their  (nearly) square footage----available sensor resolution---I really should be shooting in the 4:3 format. Anything else crops out useful information. But that seems to dictatorial when it comes to creative composition. And it may explain why, after months of compulsory full format shooting with the those m4:3 rascals I've come to enjoy the 16:9 format. It defies logical good practice when it comes to maximizing image quality but it's weirdly dynamic. You lose the top and the bottom of the frame but then you have to use your brain to make things fit in and make the size and shape make sense.

Last Fall I was doing a demo and the camera I was using at the time was hooked up (wirelessly) to an HD television set. The technicians and I decided to set the camera to the 16:9 format to match the full screen of the television. I shot that way for two full days and now, when I look at the images I shot, I am happy to have cropped different. 

I guess it's also an active exercise in learning how to compose for videos and films. All of the cameras I'm using for those disciplines are locked into the 16:9 format. Since I'm traditionally a square shooter it's almost a necessary exercise to see in a new way and to break out of that mould.

Makes my brain hurt a little but it does change the way I see things in the finders. I like the variation.
But....this essay in no way creates of permanent contract for me to only shoot long and skinny. I'll be back to my fat and sassy 1:1 format soon enough.

I'll take a pass on getting excited about the new Fuji Camera. Or the new Sony Camera. Or the new..........

I'm feeling kind of flat about cameras right now. Maybe I've been through too many of them or maybe I've seen the way we've become in our constant and relentless thirst for the newest thing. It's almost scary. I have cameras I bought because I convinced myself there was some feature or another that I couldn't live without only to find that I could. And some of those cameras have the equivalent of one roll run through them before finding semi-eternal rest in drawer six of the red tool cabinet. That's the drawer that's set aside for cameras I have every intention of using but which somehow sit fallow until the batteries can no longer take a charge.

Why am I feeling this way today? A couple of reality checks. One client called to confirm a two day shoot next week and to talk about technical parameters. They'll be going up to poster sizes with some of the images and wanted to be sure that I'd be using a high res camera. Funny that last week my thoughts were about how good the m4:3 cameras have become and how a photographer could probably do a whole business with a Sony RX10 and yet here we are again spending the afternoon testing the sharpest apertures on the sharpest lenses I'll want to use on the Sony a99 or a850 at ISO 100 on a stout tripod with electronic flash lighting in a studio. You know, to wring the last drop of image quality out of them.

The big Sonys no longer seem sexy to me but I know that the 14 bit raw files from the Sony a99 have the best chance of fulfilling the client's expectations short of rushing out and getting a Nikon D800 or a Sony A7r (the shutter shock champion...). And I'd rather shoot with something familiar.

The other convergent event was finally getting around to opening up the folder of images I shot with an APS-C camera at the Photo Expo last Fall. To be honest I never liked the finder on the camera and I really could care less if my camera has Android Lollypop running inside but I think I figured out that what was really important was what I've been saying all along: Lighting and rapport. The cameras really are the team's second string. The varsity team is Lighting and rapport.

If we could make images that I really liked with a camera I found somewhat problematic to operate then why confuse the issue with yet another foray into the camera market and another search for the holy grail? I know, I know, I rushed out an bought a Sony RX10 but let me let you in on a little secret: That's a video camera, not really a still camera. And for what it does in video it's a freaking bargain/must have.

So, what cameras am I lusting after right now? Can't think of any and that's probably boring the hell out of the people who come here looking for product porn. I'm just not up to it this week. Not when I have so many pretty images to look at from cameras past. It just doesn't make sense. Or does it?

Every portrait photographer has stuff they need to work on.

Gloria. NYC 2013. Samsung Camera.

I'm working in putting more "air" around my subjects. I guess we got into the habit of cropping tight back in the days of skimpy sensors with low pixel counts. We wanted to make every micron of space count. But these days I feel like some of my images from that time and some that were offshoots of a style that became habituated at the time feel claustrophobic to me now. A little more space might be a  good thing. Next I'll work on adding context and stuff in the background. That should be a seismic change....

One note on the series I've been playing with today: I was using the Samsung Galaxy NX camera at the time I took this image and since then I have more or less ended my active participation in their Imagelogger program but when I examine the images I can't help but admit that Samsung got their flesh tones and gradations on human skin down to a good science. The files are very pleasing to me. While the camera's EVF bothered me and the connected side of the camera slowed down the interfacing process the actual imaging----the thing we mostly used to use cameras for --- is pretty darn good. Just thought I'd toss some credit where it is due. 

OMG!!!!!!! All of my books are back in stock at Amazon....

....Just in time for----------next Christmas season? Thanks a lot, Amherst.

As you know if you tried to order one of my captivating and remarkable lighting books to give to your most loved loved one over the recent holidays, three of my five books were out of stock at Amazon for nearly the entire month of December...

How nice that we have them back in stock just in time for the spendy tax season. Hmmm.

My Amazon Author's Page

After working alongside Nick Kelsh I've added a few medium sized soft boxes to my lighting inventory.

Gloria. NYC. For Samsung.

When I presented in New York at Photo Expo I tag teamed with an incredible photographer named, Nick Kelsh. I had originally spec'd a very large soft box for my lighting demos but the size of the booth made that potentially unwieldy and when I arrived I was confronted by a mid-sized box. Probably two by three feet. I was a little unsettled about it because, well....I am used to getting my own way, but then I watched Nick work the smaller box in very close to his model and get pretty spectacular results. 

When it was my turn I worked the light in closer than I usually do and, frankly, I like the results very much. So when I came home I looked through the stack of umbrellas and soft boxes looking for my little collection of mid-size modifiers. Sadly, these things don't last forever. Rods break and fabric deteriorates and rips. I had one or two very small boxes that I used for backgrounds but the 3x4 footers I used to have had all been destroyed and discarded over the years. 

Last night I ordered a new box from Amazon.com. It's an inexpensive Fotodiox branded box that measures 32 inches by 48 inches. It should be here Weds. in the late afternoon just not in time for my Weds. portrait session with a communications company. But that's okay, I've been practicing with umbrellas too. 

Here's the one I bought. It even comes with a speed ring for my Elinchrom flashes. If you have a different flash they sell with different rings.