Monday, February 28, 2011

Links for February 28th.

Chase Jarvis always has interesting things to say. He recently did a 3 part video blog about scouting locations. It's interesting to me since we're starting the planning on our summer vacation.

The Luminous Landscape also ran an article on planning your trip.

A good explanation of Shutter/Flash Synchronization.

Lifehacker ran a series of articles on Learning Photoshop Basics.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is April 24th. Build a camera and take part.

For your Monday amusement, the LOL Cats edition of Charlie Sheens rants.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Architecture at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

The Grand Rapids Art Museum historically has not allowed cameras inside. That's always annoyed me, since it is such a nice building with plenty of opportunities for great photographs of the architecture. It seems they've finally changed their minds.

The museum has sponsored talks on Friday nights for quite a while. Usually they have something to do with an exhibit of work that's currently being shown. February has been photography, in conjunction with an exhibit of portraits by Dawoud Bey. Hopefully more on the exhibit in a later post.

This past Friday the sponsored talk was about the architecture of the museum and how to photograph it. I jumped at the chance and attended. My friend Sam also attended, though he was smart enough to bring a tripod. The turnout surprised the speaker, there were easily 75 people there. People were trying to photograph using anything from a point and shoot camera to a DSLR. The speaker, whose name I can't remember at the moment, gave a short talk about camera settings and handed out a sheet with some info and a scavenger hunt. We then walked through the parts of the museum we had access. The third floor was off limits since they were tearing down the just closed Princess Diana exhibit and we could not photograph certain pieces of art.

The speaker really didn't do much with the scavenger hunt, she suggested a couple of photographic types to satisfy the first couple of entries, but that was it. Other than that it was fun to photograph the architecture without getting hassled by the security guards.

The evening went fast. Between the talk and looking at the exhibits, the museum closing time came fast. That was the bad part. I'll just have to go back. The good part was I learned the museum has relented on it's photography policy and now lets cameras into the museum. I'll have to go back with the camera and make sure that's true.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WYCE Jammies

A take off on the Grammy's, a local radio station host an annual award show called the Jammie's. WYCE, a local station that plays mostly local music, hosted its twelfth annual awards show at the Intersection Tuesday night.

Admission was free, and twenty bands played on 2 stages. All different types of music, blues, jazz, rock and folk. I decided to go for the first time and took a camera. Not knowing what to expect, I went light, just a camera with a 85 mm lens on it. I figured out later that I could have brought a lot more equipment in if I wanted, but actually what I took was enough. I didn't stay for the whole show, only a little over two hours. I got to hear a lot of good music though, and ran into a bunch of people I know.

I'm already planning on going next year, it's a good break from the winter blahs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finding Vivian Maier

After hearing about the discovery of Vivian Maier, a 1950's street photographer, Mike, Sam and I decided to head to Chicago to see her work. The Chicago Cultural Center has an exhibition of her work that ends on March 24th.

We met early on Sunday, Superbowl Sunday. None of us are that interested in football, so we had the whole day. It tooks us a bit to get to Chicago, we kept running into lake effect snow on the way down. But a lot of good discussion, photography, art, friends, and even politics.

We decided to go the the Art Institute to see a couple of photography exhibitions. We spent more time than planned, since I had to look at how the Japanese Prints exhibit had changed since the last time I was there, and we wandered through the Impressionist wing for a while. There were other side trips in the museum as well. It's great that such a resource is so close to Grand Rapids. While I like the local art museum, it doesn't compare.

After the museum, it was lunch time. Sam managed to persuade us to grab a cab and hit a Mediterranean place called Reza's. A lunch buffet with selections that changed, and more good conversation.

After another short cab ride, we finally ended up at the Cultural Center. I had heard about the exhibit, some thoughts good, a couple bad. Most of the bad comments were about the printing. The artist used film, and some people think that the prints should be made using traditional materials, rather than modern digital methods. I don't really care much for that argument. I wanted to see the images rather than quibble about the material the image is put on.

I wasn't disappointed. The artist, in my opinion, had a great eye. The images were excellent, nicely composed and capturing slices of daily life where Maier lived. I was especially enamoured with some of the portraits displayed. Overall, an excellent set of images, and my only complaint was that there was not enough of them.

We spent some time photographing in Millenium Park, before heading back home. A fun day overall, and I'm going to keep an eye out for more of Maier's images.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Some links to other posts I like.

A how to on creating spiro-graph type photos. Overall I like I've gotten some good ideas on the site. is the latest with copies of the Federal notice reminding the police that it is legal to photograph public buildings.

The Discerning Photographer has a list of inspirational landscape photographers.

Terry White has an article on the 5 things he does to portraits.

Carl Sagan takes on Homeopathy and other myths.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Figure it out....

I had a chance to do some work with a professional nude model a week ago. A 26 year old student who has been modeling for 6 years. A wife, whose husband also models and is a part time photographer.

I've been wanting to do some figure photography for a while. My wife is ok with it, we've talked about it over the years, but I've never had the opportunity before. I have a hard time asking acquaintances to model for me, much less get up the nerve to ask them to take their clothes off. I know it's supposed to be the best way to find models, but I haven't been able to do it.

When a local studio announced they had hired a model to come in to be photographed, I signed up.

I started to get a little nervous the day before. How would I pose her? Would I embarrass myself some way? I also had another talk with my wife just to make sure she was still ok with it.

Once the day came, it was ok. It was a little disconcerting to walk into the studio and shake hands with a woman who was already nude, but after that it went good. I was introduced by the studio owner as the "find art" guy, since I had told him that is what I wanted. She asked me what sort of poses I wanted, and even had some suggestions.

We started out with some poses in front of the windows for the natural light coming in. Since the studio is in an old brick building, it is an interesting contrast between the human form and the bricks and wood of the building. I know it's been done to death, but I haven't done it. We then did some photographs against a white background with a softbox to the models right. That was the lighting used in the photograph above.

Once we'd been introduced, I quickly got past the fact that she was nude, and she was just another model in font of the camera. I was worrying about getting the exposure right in the camera, and making a few suggestion for poses, while she was asking what kind of photography I did. I got some good photos, and I'm thinking of entering one in the local Festival art contest in May.

Nudity is funny in American society. I live in a conservative part of the country, while I think I'm on the liberal side. I've showed the photos to people and they tend to be of two minds at first. The first thing they usually ask is whether my wife would let me do that. They seem to be thinking I'm doing this without her knowing. They don't know my wife very well. She's as liberal as I am, and better yet, we trust each other.

The second thing they say, is "I couldn't do that, I would be too embarrassed." That is probably a more valid reason, for a lot of people nudity equates with sex. Especially in this neck of the woods. While I probably would have agreed with them in my younger years, especially before I started photographing a lot, my feelings have mellowed. There are only two sexes in the world, it seems to me to be no reason to be prudish about either one.

Reading some threads on a forum for models and photographers, a constant comes up about the GWC or PWC. Those stand for Guy with Camera or Pervert with Camera. I have to admit to showing someone these photos who asked how to sign up, and it was apparent he was more interested in the much more erotic type of photography, if not to hit up the model. I didn't tell him anything about the studio....

I'm interested in doing fine art nudes, and conservative fine art nudes as well. I'm more interested in form, shadows and highlights than I am in objectifying anyone. Whether male or female. I now have contact info for this model and I will probably doing another session or two with her in the future.

I'm looking forward to it.