It’s not illusion …

… it’s magic! Seriously. Ok to make sense of this it’s confession time: I am a multitasker in a major way. I have two monitors and the secondary one is where I put my tool bars and such when I’m editing photos or video so that I can have my bigger main monitor dedicated to my image workspace. However over on the second screen I often have the news, YouTube videos or when I find something cool a tutorial/webinar going on. I don’t need 100% of my brain working to edit photos, work on promos or send out invoices. Thus I use my ability to process multiple streams of information to my benefit/need for information. It works for me and it freaks my wife totally out that I can do this. She needs total silence when she writes.

I was listening to a webinar the other day from a highly successful commercial photographer and he kept saying two things that really stood out. 1) I’m not so much a photographer but an illusionist, and 2) sell the fake!. This is because like so much of commercial photography his work is based on composites rather than single “straight” images. Not that there is anything wrong with this practice; it’s just not what I do. Nor is there anything wrong with the photographer that I was listening to. He’s very good at what he does and is an inspiration to many. Heck, I have one of his books of portraits! More like what he does is the opposite of what I do.

I don’t want to fool people into believing that some amazing image is real that really isn’t. That’s why I don’t do fashion or glamour photography: I like imperfections in people as it’s what gives them character and frankly I dig character. What I want to do is show people amazing things that are totally real only they didn’t get a chance to see it until I revealed it to them. No slight of hand, no mirrors. Just letting them see the magic that is hidden in the mundane.

The other day I was out with my friend Dan the architecture shooter and I grabbed this frame:


I showed it to him and he said “Wow! Where did you find that?” I pointed to the staircase that we were standing next to. I loved that he sees buildings and space with his wide angle “all seeing eye” perspective and I do the same but with my pseudo-macro funky details view.  That’s my job: give perspective to the dazzling but hidden things that surrounds us. That is, to me, an more interesting trick than to make up something and convince people that’s its real.

Insane in the membrane

Shortly after making the last post, about the crushingly not-much-happening protest I had a reflection upon the state of mind of someone who gets excited to make photos of things such as protests. Ya see, news guys and gals aren’t right in the head. We don’t spend our time trying to find the perfect face and find a way to light it angelically to produce an etherial and other worldly image that sells stuff. Nope. We aren’t interested in creating any sort of fantasy. Just the opposite. We are obsessed with showing things that are real and happening underfoot in many cases especially because it’s not pleasant. News-ies want to make you stop and pay attention to things that we think are important.

Paul, one of my news shooter friends, and I decided that there is something completely wrong with us. We aren’t wired normally. He noted some time ago while musing on the patio of a local coffeehouse that if out of the blue someone came running down the street screaming in a panicked voice “Look out! He’s got a gun!” everyone would duck and run away from the source of the danger while he and I would grab our cameras and run towards the maniac in order to get a good image of the chaos. Who with a fully working brain does that?

Back when I was getting started I contacted my local Associated Press office to try and become a stringer for them. The head photog was out on vacation and so I had to wait a few weeks to see him. However the guy I was talking to told me to keep up the good work so to speak. “Oh,” he said, “in the mean time if you get anything good: barricaded gunman, jumper with flames, send that in.” Jumper WITH flames became stuck in my head for years to come. Get a shot of a dude in mid air while jumping from a building? Meh. Shot of a dude in mid air while jumping from a building that is engulfed in fire? Score!

So as a result even when I’m headed to an assignment with the car loaded with lighting gear for a complicated portrait of some head of industry I still have my gas mask stowed away next to the spare tire. You never know when you will need it to get “the shot”.

Ugh, there is something wrong with us!

On a lighter note, here is a shot from the Ferret Cam.


Another rainy night

As there are droughts in part of the country, it’s been very wet here in Colorado. Loads of storms and everything is very green. So when the wife and I were roused from watching a movie by the thunderous roar of torrential rain and hail we watched in awe of the power and beauty of it all through our sopping wet porch screen.


With feet come eyes

I made an appointment to get some work done on my car and that got me thinking. Not about the car as I have an amazing mechanic in Boulder – Hoshi Motors (shameless plug). No I got thinking about what to do with the time that my car was in the shop. I didn’t schedule any assignments so I pretty much had the day to muh-self. I figured that I’d put some gear into my small backpack and take a walk about until the car was done. This came from a recollection of my week in NYC where I walked or took the bus everywhere that I went.

When I was in NYC I made plans to meet up with a buddy of mine who lives in the area. My phone rings and it’s a local number and thus I get hopeful that it was an editor who wanted to meet me. I answer and it’s my friend Doug and he asks me “What are you doing?” I tell him that I’m on a bus headed to an appointment with an editor. “Bus? What the heck are you doing on a bus? Take a cab man!” Well I had to explain that I had plenty of time and taking the bus was to me preferable to a cab because I get to be next to other people and I might learn something. That didn’t seem to make much sense but the fact that I actually wanted to walk everywhere really went past him. I did walk most of the time in NYC, at least six miles a day, as it enabled me to learn the city and be inspired by it rather than to sit in a padded seat in air conditioning and maybe watch things through the window. No, I want to stop and linger if the moment strikes me.

That’s when it dawned on me: you drive everywhere here in Denver. Partly because the mass transit is pretty much a joke compared to all the major cities in the US and partly because things are soooo far away. We spend a fair amount of time at highway speeds here so walking isn’t going to happen unless you are headed to the end of the block. Also when I am going to an assignment I often have way too much gear to just walk around with it. Yeah I’ve a small camera bag but also a case with lights and a case with stands and modifiers. Not the kind of load you want to walk around with for more than a few feet. Thus I rarely just walk around. A pity.

So with a few things in my little backpack incase I could use them for a project that I’m starting – that’s for a post to come – I dropped of my car an took it on the hoof. The idea was to just walk around a city that I’ve been connected to for over a dozen years. I know Boulder quite well but there is a difference between knowing a place by driving around it and by walking its’ streets.


When walking you know it intimately and you get the chance to stop and look. I recommend that everyone take a walk even around their home town and really get to see it. It changes your perspective; you see things either you didn’t notice before or new subtleties you overlooked or would never see from a vehicle. If it is a new place walking is the gateway to what is actually there.

Along the way which ended up being about a five mile hike I found:

3 restaurants that I intend to take the wife

A park that I never realized existed

4 locations that would work great for impromptu portraits

2 ideas for photo projects

Lots of pretty things

I didn’t ever take the “serious” gear out of my backpack but I did use the Cam-o-Phone to take little sketches as I like to do. The slow pace of walking even on routes that I often drive made those places seem very new and as a result I saw things differently. I would often stop and just look at the weathering on a wall, the pattern of leaves on the sidewalk or the light falling on the rocks of the creek. No real pictures but lovely little moments.


More from the Pola-pocket-cam-o-phone

This is more from my doodling with the CameraFX application for my G1 phone camera. I really wish that it didn't reduce the file size so much but eh' what do you want for nothing huh? I is nice to make delightfully trashy photos without so much as real gear or anything that resembles professional control. Ahhhh!


Made me think of Weston

I'm a huge fan of winter light. It makes a good portion of the day that fleeting "magic hour" which is normally about 20 minutes long. However unless you are shooting outdoor sports winter here in Colorado tends to mean a lot of indoor shoots so that glorious light goes to waste. Ugh! Worse still are the days when the light is superb and I'm stuck in the office.

Like today. I did a quick early morning shoot of the new head of the Colorado Medical Society and then it was in the office setting up appointments and photo sessions for the next few days as well as tracking down a model for a shoot that I will be doing in about a week. Boring! But I went to get a fresh cuppa joe and noticed the long shadows on my kitchen counter. Egads but it's only 3PM and we get this light! So I get the Ferret Cam, my Panasonic LX-3, and make an image that reminds me of that one that Ed Weston did of his toilet. Only my image is more sanitary. I love the idea of Ed lying on the floor of his bathroom with his giant 8×10 camera aimed at his commode. But then you sacrifice for your art, right? Eh, back to the grind. Have to pack my bags to shoot a basketball game tonight. That is winter light that is never inspiring …

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