Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Strange "Alien" Clouds

Hey, just thought I'd share this with those of you who follow my blog.

I was driving home the other day, April 17 to be precise, and saw these weird clouds to the north. The first thing I thought of was "Alien Invasion".

The gallery you are about to see are of the images as I shot them. There is no Photoshop touch-ups or even corrections/adjustments to these images. They are as I shot them (Pentax K20, 12-24 smc pentax lens, 1/125 at f9.5, 100 ISO). I did use a ND filter as usual and processed them through LightRoom (since I shoot everything in RAW) to make this gallery. But that's it.

I have never seen anything like them. They gave you a weird sensation. Although you were looking straight at them it was as if you couldn't get them in focus, but they are.

If anyone can pass on a brief explanation, other than hidden space ships, please share it.

Here's the [LINK].

Enjoy, Derek

Monday, April 13, 2009

Okay, so here I was pondering...

Okay, so here I was pondering a seminar I attended, about the wonderful history of the font Arial, a while back. Yeah, really.

Anyway, like I was saying, I was pondering the seminar and what struck me most was the speakers trite remarks, as an "experienced designer", how certain font choices automatically told him that the designer was either experienced or a student straight out of the gate.

It bothered me, as these things sometimes do, that maybe this "experienced designer" needed to take a step back and look at what works with a fresh view instead of a tired eye trying desperately to come up with something fresh. I know I use some of the fonts he talked about, even now. If they work, they work.

In the middle this "pondering" I started watching one of my podcasts of Photoshop TV and had a blog entry brought to my attention. Now you may be saying to yourself right about now, what the F@*! is Derek going on about.

Well I suggest you watch the video on this blog, that caught my attention, I'll give you the link in a moment. It all sort of lead me to understand what we do when others judge us on their standards.

We tend to start judging ourselves on what others think of us and our work instead of just moving forward, learning, growing and creating. Maybe we should use something like a font or technique that a student would use from time to time. After-all if an uncluttered, fresh mind says it works and explains the message easily then why not use it. Hey if it speaks the message we're trying to express then it's right, right?

Hey, maybe I'm reading more in all this then needed. It has been a long winter.

Just watch the video on the Blog [ LINK ] by Zack Arias on Scott Kelby's site and tell me what you think.

until next time, Derek

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Last but not least

Okay, last but not least.

This is one of the coolest basses I've ever seen.

It's also a Tim Wilkinson design with Humbucker pick ups, three way toggle, master volume and two separate tone controls.
This has big funk and screaming all over it.

The neck is a solid through neck. Yup, on piece laminated neck from the but to the head all mahogany and maple with a tiger maple top under a loud red sunburst finish.

Photo specs: Pentax K20, smcPemtax 16-50mm f2.8 at 100ISO, 1/10 at f8.0.

That's enough from me for now.
Hope you enjoy, Derek

Gettin' Er Done!

Hey, I'm back. Gone for a while then full er up get it done.

Well I have to attribute it to the weather. Indoors and warm gets me in the studio and this is a great subject as far as I'm concerned.

This is my second guitar. It's a hollow body electric by Crafter. Happened to be in my brother's store ( J and H Music ) while the distributors sales rep was in. She had some sweet deals.

What's interesting with this guitar is not that it's just a hollow body electric but it also has active acoustic pick-ups inside for a very distinctive sound. You can plug this into an A/B switch and use both an electric guitar amp and an acoustic amp.

Anyway I love the tiger maple top on this very sweet guitar.

Hope you enjoy the shots,

Both were shot with a Pentax K20, 1/90 f6.7 at 100ISO. smc Pentax DA 16-50mm f2.8

One of My "Other Passions"

Okay, so here it is the last day of March and winter just doesn't want to let go. We got 8-10cm here and I'm not liking it one little bit.
Although it did prompt me to share two of my passions with you.
I have recently picked the guitar back up. Mainly because of my brother Jeff took over a guitar store recently and of course I can't resist a good thing.

So here I am playing guitar agin and photographing them as well. Gotta mix them up.

What I'll do is I'll post a couple of each at a time before I make a web gallery of them together.

Here's the first one. It's a Vintage AV1 special gold top. Designed by Tim Wilkinson in the UK and modeled after the famous Les Paul body shape, but
that's the only things they share (along with the fret inlays of course).

She has 2 stacked Humbucker pick-ups which lets you choose a single or double pick-up arrangement along with neck, bridge or both at once. She has an all mahogany body with mahogany neck and rosewood fret board. This is one Boisterous guitar when it wants to be.
Hope you enjoy.

The next one is a unique concept. That's all I'm going to say.

See you next time,

Monday, February 16, 2009

Smokes was his name!

Okay, here's one from my archives. It's just one of my favourite shots on slide film back in 1981.

This is one of my cats I had then which I saved from the SPCA. He was a siamese mix and about 6 months old when rescued. My wife and I had him, or should I say he had us, for about 10 years.( He's 2 here ).

We lost him in Mount Uniacke to an irresponsible neighbors dog. I mean the neighbor was irresponsible by letting their dog run free not the dog.

Anyway, I would have shot this here in Prospect with my K1000 and probably my smc Pentax-M 1:2 50mm f/2 on Fuji RD 35mm slide film.

Hope you enjoy, Derek

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Update on that mini flash

Hi everyone, I realized a couple of things I omitted from yesterdays post.

First, let me clarify. Regardless of the fact that I use a Pentax does not mean I abhor Canons and Nikons. As a matter of fact I think they are great cameras. And to each his own, as long as you can make great pics. It just irks me when product is shoved down your throat. Enough on that topic.

Second, the lower image yesterday lost it's link to the larger view so I'm including it in today's post. There is a little noise in the shadows and I didn't want to put it in a noise reducer. I wanted to show what ISO 1600 at 1/750 second sync produced.

Third, I mentioned the "cheap" slaves I picked up but didn't give a link. Well here it is [slave link DigitalProTalk] and B&H [link]. I looked for it up here in the great white north but no luck.

Anyway, have a great Thursday, Derek

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

High Speed Sync

Hey everyone, here's a little tidbit I find facinating. It stems from photographers who have decided Canon and Nikon cameras are the "ONLY" cameras in the world. One of the main excuses I hear is high speed sync. If it don't got it then it's not a professional camera and therefore not worth shooting with.

Well, one thing I'll agree with, is high speed sync is great.

I shot these two after I received my most recent order from B&H. I ordered, on David Ziser's recommendation a couple of Smith-Victor wireless slave flashes, along with a few mounting attachments and extra diffusion umbrellas. 

Remember me mentioning the philosophy of finding what you need, with as much as you'll use for as cheap as you can get it for? Well this was one example. 2 wireless Slave flashes, two umbrellas and 2 Impact umbrella mount brackets. The brackets allow you to mount a flash, umbrella, clamp or anything else you can think of hanging off a stand. All for under 160.00 cdn including shipping and taxes to here in Halifax from New York.

Anyway, the theme here is do it for less. The main photo was shot hand held with a PENTAX K20D fitted with an smcPentax 12-24 lens at ISO100, 1/250 second at f/4.
The second was at ISO1600, 1/750 second at f/4. 

I mounted my main flash, a PENTAX AF-540 on top of the camera instead of another stand to get upper and side bounce on the shots respectively. I played with the main power for both to get just the amount of light I was looking for.

The vignetting was added for product focus. These aren't being used for a client just to demonstrate the concept and to try out the flashes and umbrellas which, if you hadn't guessed, I used and found they cycled as quick as my bracketing at 3 frames per second demanded.

Enjoy, Derek

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Winter Sunset

Hey everyone, just wanted to share this with you. The shot was taken just as dusk was approaching here in Prospect. So I had to run out and shoot it. ISO100, 1/4s, f8 at 24mm with my K20D and the smc PENTAX DA Star 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM lens.
Here's the [link] to the other photos I took.

Enjoy, Derek

Friday, February 6, 2009

Showroom shoot

Hi everyone, I'd like to share this shoot with you. It's the interior of one of my clients showrooms I shot on Wednesday.

As you can see they sell pianos.

What I want to share is the results of a challenging space. Or at least I thought it would be.

I used my K20D at 100ISO and a multiple of lenses I find helpful when shooting interiors. They include an smc PENTAX DA 10-17mmF3.5-4.5 ED (IF) Fish-Eye ( which is what I shot the lead photo with ), an smc PENTAX DA 12-24mm F4.0 ED AL (IF) and a smc PENTAX DA Star 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM lens.

The showroom had plenty of available light. As a matter of fact I turned off many of the over head flouresent bar lights and waited until sunset to really start shooting so I wouldn't be adding natural light from the front windows. For fill light I used two portable studio lights ( Opus Pro SE 250's with a 36" and a 48" softboxes ). I like using these because I can still shoot at low ISO with relatively slow shutter speeds, still bracket my shots and not overpower the ambiance of the space I'm shooting.

The lights, although not incredibly fast to cycle are always up when I need them and add a nice diffused source. As you can imagine, photographing incredibly shiny surfaces in a multitude of reflective angles isn't easy. That is if you don't want to see you, or your lights in the frame, that is.

Fortunately, I was able to use everything wirelessly, since I would always be in line of sight, which meant I could focus on the best angles to capture these beautiful instruments.

The lead photo was shot out of creativity more than commercial usage, although I may use it on a cover. The specs are as follows: ISO100, .7sec, f/9.5, custom WB with my 10-17mm fish eye at 10mm with one Softbox at full strenght for the side fill light. Post processing was done in Adobe Lightroom 2.0.

Here's a [link] to the rest of my chosen shots from the shoot.

I hope you enjoy, Derek

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Winter Photography?

Hi everyone, here it is February 1 2009 in Prospect. We had about 8cm of snow last night. Kind of pretty actually. But snow isn't something we always have at this time of the year here.
I want to share a photo I shot last year at this time in Prospect Village. Camera: Pentax K10D, f/8, 1/125, ISO 200, fitted with a Pentax SMC-DA 12-24mm at 18mm. I used a circular polarizer to create the sky effect you see here. The effect is something you wouldn't normally want and shouldn't use a polarizer on an ultra wide but hey, it's the aged effect I was after.

Oh, on a different note I wanted to pass along a link to a blog by a very successful Wedding Photographer I have been following. You may not be into wedding photography but this guy will teach you more about photography in general than you ever thought possible.

His name is David Ziser and his blog is Digital ProTalk. [Link] It's definitely worth a visit.

Enjoy, Derek.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Last Day of Boating Season

Hi everyone, or at least the few who drop by.

I know we're now in the dead of winter and spring and boating season seems like light years away. Well maybe 6 weeks away. But still I'd like to share these images with you. They were taken in mid November here in Prospect. It's the day we took our dock out for the season and my first attempt with Lightroom 2.

Click the [link] to see the gallery of these images.

Hope you enjoy, Derek

Thursday, January 29, 2009

About Digital Photography

Well guess what. I finally added a post to this blog about one of my passions, photography.

What I'd like to talk about is my experience and transition into digital cameras.

In early 2005, I decided it was time to put my film camera away and buy a decent DSLR. Now I may get some flak on this but I don't care. I do all my shooting with Pentax cameras for two reasons.

One, I learned on a Pentax SP1000 in college, (NSCAD) (last thread mount if I'm not mistaken). It was great. It was completely manual, no bells at all and it gave me great pleasure since all I wanted to shoot was b/w and make my negatives sing in the darkroom. As a matter of fact, the first camera I bought (actually it was a gift) was the famous K1000 which I still have today.

Two, they cost a lot less than many of the "professional" grade cameras, as some would say (that's a topic for another day), with millions of production lens available and usable on all Pentax DSLRs.

Now you have to remember I wasn't a professional photographer, not that I consider myself one today, I just loved to shoot like so many others. I actually shot a few weddings to get extra money while in college as well.

But when I started Just That I realized I could do more than just shoot and give my prints to people as their wedding gifts.

So off I go looking for the great DSLR. I bought an ist Ds. It worked with the lenses I had and I could pick up practically anthing used and it would work. Sounded good to me.

Since then I have added two more digital bodies (K10 and a K20) and started to update my lens and lighting to suite my new adventure in photography. It has all worked well for me but I must say it has been an up hill climb.

My problem hasn't been with the cameras, they do everything I ask of them, iregardless of what some others say are "cameras for the professionals". lt's been the software.

To let you in on a bit of my past. I have worked in the prepress industry for over 25 years and I was one of the very first in my market to embrace the apple computer and desktop publishing, as it was called back then. I used a Macintosh SE30 in my design work with Photoshop 1, Illustrator 88 and Quark Express 2.

I have worked on large horizontal copy cameras producing continuos tone separations for the printing industry. I'm talking 20 feet long. And have reproduced some very fine lithos of some great art. As well as the large Hell drum scanners ( analogue computing ).

As I moved forward with the new technology I became the general manager of one of only two service bureaus east of Montreal. Mind you that changed very quickly as the technology became more readily available.

Anyway, I'm starting to move away from my topic. You get the idea, I've been involved with this stuff for quite some time.

But, when I decided to start using my first camera and shoot in RAW, that's when it all got tough. No one really explained the simple fact that if I use anything other than the processing software that came with the camera I wasn't getting the settings I set the camera to. So here I was, shooting jpeg and adjusting and it did what I wanted. I thought that moving to RAW just meant that the settings just weren't permenant and I could change it all later. What's funny is when I started shooting RAW I was using PhotoshopCS and the RAW version was pretty close to what I expected, or thought that's what I should have expected.

So as I moved on, to shooting to suppliment my design work, I thought I needed special software to handle all these big RAW files I was shooting. I would go out and shoot, come back in, upload the photos to my laptop, check them out quickly in the browser software supplied with the camera. All seemed fine so I'd burn everything to disk (to be safe) and move on.

When I got back to the office I would then import them into what was my processor/organizer of choice at the time and start to work on them. Everytime I would do this I'd find I wasn't seeing what I thought I'd seen after the shoot. I would end up comparing the original browser software image with the organizer software then finally bring it into Photoshop and get completely confused. They all looked different.

Turns out not all venders write their software within a standard set, at least not in 2006. Recently I have re-evaluated my needs, since I just upgraded my computer equipment and have gone back to all the adobe products I have grown accustomed to. I have been using the CS suite for some time, I use CS3 at the moment and have added LightRoom 2. When I purchased the previous organization software there really wasn't anything else to choose from at a reasonable price and although I'm not going to name the software, because really it's not their fault, it's mine for not digging deep enough at the beginning. I figured hey it had to be right and I must be wrong.

My mistake was looking at the cameras and software and thinking, hey, I shouldn't have to do much of anything and this gear will give me exactly what I want. What I putz I turned into.

In the past I always took my negs, or slides, as an intermediate step and finished my piece in the darkroom, or scanned the neg/slide into my computer and finished it there. Even when I was reproducing other peoples images I added a part of me into everyone of them.

These days I fly through my images and produce what I feel they should look like not what they were shot like, or what the camera shot.

I suppose what I'm trying to get to with all this is, if you think you have the wrong camera and think you need to buy the latest and greatest marketed gear to get great pictures, stop and think. The camera you use should simply produce a usable image you want to start with, at the highest resolution you can afford. I hear, and read, this all the time, professionals spend as little as possible for their equipment because they just want to shoot and get the best return for their buck. But their idea of inexpensive is pretty steep for me, price a Nikon DX or Canon 5D mark II recently. Not that there's anything wrong with those but hey, you got to practice what you preach right?

Well one other thing you need to get is software you're comfortable with and what produces what you want or what you can sell.

Photography is still about what you want to finish with not what you think the equipment should be giving you. Creating great images is what matters.

Here are two images I would like to share with you. One is a b/w I shot in college, at the beginning of this blog. It's a shot looking south down Granville Street in Halifax in 1979 after a good rain. The second is one from Ottawa in 2007. Click on this [link] to view the Ottawa shots. I shot the first one in the gallery, put it in my software of choice and thought it wasn't worth using. I've since re-evaluated the shot and realized the shot was fine, the tools weren't letting me do what I wanted to do.

Hope you enjoy and talk to you soon.

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