Archive | February 2010

CAMERA REPAIR

About a month ago, while taking pictures of my brother skiing, my camera had a fit. Instead of recording an image, the LCD rejected me with an “ERR 99” message. Numerous forums and blogs gave tips and tutorials on how to clear this problem. Like a woman on a diet, I tried everything without any sort of success. I contacted United Camera Repair who would service my warranty and I shipped them my camera. Estimated wait time: 10 days.

That ten days went by. Then another ten days went by. Then another ten days went by. Finally the Fed-Ex delivery person called to inform me that my package was tied to the mailbox. I ripped open the packaging, excited to be able to go out and shoot.The body was cleaned up so well it looked like a new camera all-together. But the same problem still occurs.

I can take pictures as long as I remember to reinstall the battery before turning the camera on. This complication isn’t the end of the world and I am still contemplating whether I should send it back or not, as it could be another month without a camera. For the time being, I was able to enjoy having it back and I got my brother, Blaise, to model. He complained but I know he enjoys it deep down.

His range of facial impressions never ceases to amaze. He likes to mess me up. If I ask for a certain expression, he’ll give me the exact opposite. The two pictures shown above were lit via shoot-through umbrella; high camera left. Flash was a vivitar 285hv connected with pocket wizards. Lens: 50 f/1.8 at about f/2.2.

The photograph directly above is by far my favorite. Blaise doesn’t agree. As usual he thinks there should be a better view of himself. Almost the exact set up as before. All I did was switch out the shoot-through for a DIY mini beauty dish.

take a picture,

jack pope

DISAPPOINTED

A few recent events have caused me to question the virtual community I have always sworn by. The leaders of this community are pumping out amazing blogs, videos, and images. The current problem is that the people viewing the content have become quite obnoxious.

On Jan 28th, Chase Jarvis announced via blog that he was going to broadcast a photo shoot live. Is that great or what? I thought to myself “what an amazing community this is where people enjoy spending their time and resources to bring people together just because they all enjoy photography.”

Somehow my mother agreed to letting me stay home from school to watch the live shoot. As I sat down to my computer at the start of the broadcast I found the chat room under the video feed and logged in. Fortunately, more good than bad came out of the chat. People were able to give feedback to the team and answer Chase’s questions.

The more bothersome comments came as the models were being introduced. Some users continuously messaged about the sex appeal of the models as if they had to be reminded it was not a porno that was about to be produced. Chase Jarvis Live is not about attractive women but about pictures, inspiration, and the community.

Another instance of a poor audience came recently on Scott Kelby’s blog. When Scott wrote about his feelings towards the iPad. People got into obnoxious arguments on his comment section. Scott handled it well reminding everyone he did not recommend the iPad, but simply stated he plans to buy one. Scott also referred to the engadget blog shutting off their comment section.

Since these few events I have not heard of anymore obnoxious comments. We will see during tomorrow’s Chase Jarvis Live.

take a picture,

jack pope

BACK TO BASICS

This semester I am taking Art Foundations: 1 at my high school. It is an introductory art class, hence “foundations.” The assignments so far are focused on relearning critical skills. I have rediscovered how to use a pencil, to estimate space, and to see. Projects are simple, but they have significant impact. The concept is one that can be practiced in any form of art or skill set.

Bring it back to basics, then move forward.

take a picture,

jack pope

HUSTLE

Hustle is a photo project, which emerged from this video. Last November I was lucky enough to attend one of Chase Jarvis‘ Underground meet-ups. One of the topics he spoke on was the necessity of taking a tremendous amount of pictures. The Best Camera is the One That’s With You has a profound quote, “The dirtiest secret in photography: shoot a hell of a lot of pictures to get the ones you want.” Something he recommended doing was to make a stop-motion video. After things began to wrap up I left the studio and walked a few blocks to meet my parents at lunch. With my camera around my neck I hit the shutter at everything and everyone. I did not compose my shots, or correct my exposure (as can be seen with the video). I simply walked through SoHo pointing my camera at people I found interesting.

The idea for the pictures came sometime after I had finished the video. I noticed a few of the images from the stop-motion were rather interesting. I ended up editing 16 out of the 800 I shot. Most were blurred or out of focus. The resulting collection of pictures is an album I fell in love with. I want to go back to NYC as soon as possible just to continue this project.

The dirty, punchy, black and white aesthetic appeared in the images after experimenting with the channel mixer in Photoshop. I came up with a set of adjustments I really like and used them as a way to unify the album. To transfer the look of the pictures into the video I created a Photoshop action with the adjustments I liked and batch processed the pictures before putting them into iMovie.

I thought twice about publishing the video with a copyrighted song. Finally I decided to go ahead with it. If someone wrote a song and put my pictures in the music video without crediting me I would be angered. So here is the credit: The song played to the video is She’s a Rainbow by the Rolling Stones. I thought the song worked well because of the beat and its reference to rain, which is something that is very apparent in the video through the large blown-out puddles. The song and video also contrast because of the music’s expression of color, and the videos lack of it.

I will definitely be continuing the Hustle project with my next trip into the city. Maybe I can even work something out to add onto the video portion of it.

take a picture,

jack pope

INSTANT AGE

I left school early last Monday with a splitting headache. After sleeping for about five hours I was awoken by my mother asking if I would like to run an errand with her at Target. On our way there it occurred to me I had yet to check my twitter feed, email, and facebook since the night before.

I spent the next 15 minutes trying to steal borrow wi-fi from the local businesses.

I was waiting on information from a few emails, especially from United Camera, who I sent my camera to for repair. Even if an email appeared in my inbox from them, saying my camera was being shipped back, there is nothing I could have done with that. It would not have made a difference if I read such an email there in the car, or two hours later at my house.

I know this. Yet I still itch for live updates. It makes me wonder what it would be like if things weren’t so fast. Maybe I would have never found so much joy in photography. I have only developed film a few times, but that is enough for me to decide I would rather plug in a memory card.

Some argue that things like text messaging, twitter, and facebook have negative impacts on society. And maybe I should ease up on checking my twitter feed. But, I say anything that helps someone share what he or she has created can only be positive.

take a picture,

jack pope

BEYOND EPIC

Yesterday afternoon a friend took me to go see Avatar in 3D IMAX.The film was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. It may have just bumped out Across the Universe as my favorite movie. Having heard people rave about it, Avatar still blew away all of my expectations. It is a powerful film that speaks about the dangers of environmental degradation through the language or romance and human interaction. Beyond the deep message Avatar hosts every other feature that makes a movie enjoyable. The concept and acting are equally ingenious to the acclaimed visual effects.

Seeing it in 3D made it more of an experience than a viewing. Whether I was passing through the jungle with trees right in front of my face or watching  Jake Sully’s star-struck gaze with the seeds of Eywa flying over my head, I had to remind myself it was just a movie. The graphics team did such an amazing job that Pandora’s level of perfection has caused viewers to report withdrawal systems after leaving the theater. Although that seems ridiculous, I felt similar emotions. While the film was wrapping up, I begged under my breath for it to resume after every black transition.

Avatar has been nominated for a great deal of awards and will without a doubt claim many of them. As of today it holds a record-breaking total gross of almost two and half billion dollars. China even went so far as to rename the Southern Sky Column as the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, yet they claim it has nothing to do with the movie.

I recommend Avatar to everyone and if you get a chance to  see it in 3D IMAX, take it.

take a picture,

jack pope

WHO DO YOU SHOOT FOR?

As a photographer, when I am looking at other photographers’ pictures, I am more critical than the average viewer. Anyone else next to me is content with enjoying the image for whatever reason while I judge the light, concept, and composition. Anyone else may say, “That’s cool,” while I say, “Those are great catch-lights,” or, “It isn’t very sharp.” Anyone else is impressed with a photograph which employs selective color while I bash it for being cliché.

Who do you shoot for? The average person who makes up 99% of your clientele? My advice (which probably does not count for much) is to shoot for yourself. Not that you should stop sharing your images with the public, but when taking the pictures, do so for yourself. For your passion, inspiration, or comical relief.

Why? Say you shoot portraits and your clientele consists of people with little or no photographic experience. If you shoot for them it will be doing the bare minimum. You will slack off and your pictures will never improve. A good deal of customers have what I would consider low expectations and may not push you to be more creative or ground-breaking. Most parents will buy prints of their children’s school picture; even if they are crap. A good photographer knows that this does not mean it is acceptable to take mediocre pictures of children just because they can. Can and should are very different concepts.

Last week I attended a friend’s band practice. I was sitting there listening, bobbing my head like an idiot, and loving the music. They stopped. The beat of the vocals and drums did not match up. They could have fooled me- or anyone who attended a show. Yet the beat was continuously pounded until it was felt to be right. The band, No Excuses, knows how to create. They do it for themselves.

Inspiration comes from your heart. Places you go and experiences you have will cause inspiration but without you to comprehend the inspiration, it is all useless. So shoot for yourself, shoot out of passion. Personalize your images. Become in touch with yourself and your photography will improve.

take a picture,

jack pope