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Posts published in “Galleries”

Isa in New York

My sister Elizabeth came to visit me for a few days last week here in New York. It was her first time, so we did all the normal touristy stuff you do on your first trip to New York City: we hit Central Park, we went to Times Square, Juli and Isa walked around Soho and Chinatown, we ate at John’s of Bleeker Street, we ate cannolis, we took the Staten Island Ferry, we went to the gigantic candy store on Third Ave, we went to Motor City, we ate Polish food, we hit McCarren Park, we drank coffee, we ate, we hung out. It was a successful trip, overall, with Isa already planning her return trip this summer with her roommates in tow.

Of course, it was an opportunity for me to be out and make some pictures.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Here’s the whole gallery: Isa Visits New York Gallery

I spent a lot of time during the development of this set playing with spot adjustments in Lightroom. I typically don’t like the photos to look TOO processed, but I like a crunchy richness to the final photo. I found there is a fine line between looking processed and looking natural with the paintbrush and graduated filter tools, and while they can definitely help an image maintain its focal point, they can really make things look cheeseball if used inelegantly.

When I sit in a telecine session watching the colorist color film, I’m always in awe of the ease with which he makes adjustments to specific color ranges within a defined area. He throws a window on the image, tells it only to color a certain value of red, feathers that, and makes whatever adjustment he likes. Awesome. The local adjustment tools in Lightroom are a little like that, without all the super powerful masking tools. It’s like telecine light. I would love to have a comparable toolset within Lightroom. I know I can do all that stuff and more in Photoshop, but that means I have to start Photoshop and that can go to hell. Lightroom has certainly matured since its 1.0 version, but it can be even better.

Now I just need a computer that doesn’t choke to death on my raw files.

JC Brewing 2/21/2009

While I was at home, my brother Charlie invited me over to his house to embark on a wild beer-brewing trip through the furthest depths of space and time. Well, mostly he invited me over to hang out while he and his buddy Justin brewed beer in his back yard. He christened the beer “Blasphemale” based on a suggestion I made. My ego was pleased. I took pictures. It was also my opportunity to finally meet my brand-spankin’-new niece who shares my name, Sienna Jo. There’s a picture of her here; see if you can identify which one she is.

Here are some of my favorites. Click on them to view them larger.

And here’s the entire gallery: JC Brewing Extravaganza 2/21/2009

Here Charlie is playing his banjo in a self-made promo for JC Brewing.

Notice his bare feet while at the office. Real classy.

McCarren Park – 03/07/2009

We had our first Spring day here in Brooklyn on Saturday so what else to do but take the rabbit and go to the park for a little while?

Here are a few of my favorites.

And here’s the entire set.

I’m really growing on the 85mm f/1.8. I’ve had a hard time learning how to use it effectively since it’s a focal length I don’t normal go toward, but I really like the dreamy quality it imparts to pictures when it’s wide open and you’re shooting things that are far away from you. Even the severe chromatic aberration it shows wide open doesn’t bother me. I bet that if I spent 1500 bucks or whatever the 85mm f/1.2 L costs, that the chromatic aberration would go away, but who cares? It’s a great little lens for what it is. I also like that it forces me to find the composition from where I am, or move, rather than try and create it as I would with a zoom lens. It’s a good exercise when I’m not on the move or in need of the most flexibility possible.

And damn, it makes nice pictures.

Photo tally for 2009: 1904/5000 (note, this includes a load of photos I shot while in CA but haven’t posted yet.)

Secret Lounge Party – 03/06/2009

My friend Jermaine asked me to photograph a party he had coming up at Secret last Friday. I’d never heard of the place before, but, knowing Jermaine, I knew that the party was probably going to be worth shooting. Here’s the beginning of the set. I have some thoughts about the shoot after.

If you’re coming here because I met you at the party and gave you my URL, welcome! I hope you like the photos.

Here are the rest of them: After Dark at Secret 03/06/2009 GalleryNote that there are some potentially non-work-safe photos toward the end of the set, so you have been warned.

So, it feels like my camera has a warm up time. I’m not talking about the typical 50 or so frames it takes me to warm up when shooting situations like this, but that the camera itself seems like it needs to be broken in a little bit each time, like stretching before exercise (not that I know anything about that). It’s weird, and I might just be imagining things, but it really feels like there’s a period at the beginning of a shoot, especially under difficult conditions, when the camera just doesn’t respond like it’s supposed to. It’s extra strange that I don’t have the camera set to use any automatic settings; everything is manual. You would think that with everything in manual the response time would not be an issue, but it was. In the long run, it doesn’t matter. It’s just an idiosyncrasy I’ve noticed over the last few shoots.

Another challenge for this shoot was photographing black people in the dark. It basically meant that my metering was not useful. Once I had set a good exposure for inside though, I just went with that for everything since most of the light was coming from my flash anyway. Even worse was that the ceiling in the club was black, so no bounce flash for me.

Furthermore, I keep getting weird skin tones with the camera set to a high ISO (1600+) while using the flash with the orange diffuser. I experienced this with the Metric System party and I see it again here. It’s reflecting REAL hard off some lower layers of skin or something and make people look really yellow. Fortunately, setting the highlight recovery to a modest 20 in Lightroom completely removes the harsh yellow cast and allows normal skin tones. You know, thinking about it, I had the same issue when shooting How To Disappear Completely for the photos shot under the stage lights. Maybe something is happening with colored lights and skin at high ISOs? I mean, there’s no maybe about it—there is definitely something happening. I just don’t know what it is. At least it’s easy to fix.

Overall, I feel this was a very successful shoot for me. It was wildly different than anything I’ve shot before and a lot of fun. I hope that I can come back and shoot this again and that these things open some doors for me because I would love to shoot more events like this, especially when I’m given sort of free reign to shoot how I like to shoot as I was this time. The one thing I learned was that I need business cards. And probably to set up as a more professional counterpart to the wild bastion of heathenish debauchery and immorality I have set up here.

Welcome, Lightning!

Last Saturday was a cold, snowy day here in Brooklyn, so what did Juli and I do? We went for a walk. Obviously. We went for bagels and then to the bookstore and then to get hot chocolate. All in all it was an adorable day. Then she asked, “Can we go up and look at hamsters? It’s kind of a long walk…”

To which I replied, “Sure. Let’s roll.”

So we went up to the pet store on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint to look at hamsters. We saw little hamsters and black hamsters and gray hamsters and pregnant hamsters and a few hamsters that were the size of small dogs. But in the end, Juli settled on a little black hamster that was only a few weeks old. We decided to name him Lightning because A) that’s an awesome name and B) he has a streak of white down his chest. He’s been very nervous the last few days, so we’ve avoided picking him up or disturbing him too much so he can acclimate to his new environment better. He’s very little and has been hiding, but is growing more adventurous and less timid.

Here is the first photo I managed to take of him.

Here’s a more clear photo.

Here are the rest of the selects.

Isn’t he little? I have tremendous faith that he will turn out to be a very special hamster.

Photo tally for 2009: 23/5000

The Metric System – Naïveté party photos

The ultimate yield from the party photos I took was something like 441 usable photos. In the selection process I basically only rejected photos that had some major technical defect (soft focus, bad exposure, horrible). Usually I only pick and process photos I like, which would have probably cut this set in half or even a third, but since these pictures are for The Metric System to use as press I went ahead a left in a bunch of technically fine, artistically lacking photos.

Because there are so many, I’m only putting the first 35 into this post. A link to the whole set follows. I encourage you to check it out since the real party pictures don’t start until well into the triple digits.

The Metric System – Naïveté @ Flickr

How To Disappear Completely

On Saturday, Juli, Jesse, and I went to see our friends perform in a musical/dance/multimedia/burlesque extravaganza called “How to Disappear Completely”. I figured it was a good time to put the 5d Mk II through the ringer a little, so I did.

Here is the set with a few random photos at the end.

You can view them in high res here: How To Disappear Completely @ Flickr

Some thoughts on the low-light capabilities of the new 5d Mk II—awesome. About half of the play was shot at ISO 1600 and the other half at ISO 3200. Those two settings are effectively unusable on my old 20D so it was with some trepidation I threw the camera in 1600 to shoot. It was just too dark and my focal length was too long and there was too much movement not to use a very high ISO. It was a grand experiment and, based on the sample shots I’ve seen from the 1d Mk III and 1ds Mk III, I was reasonably confident that it would work out in my favor.

Well, it worked out and then some. Besides some fairly minor chroma noise at 3200, I have absolutely no objections to the amount of noise coming through. What’s more is that the lighting conditions were FAR from ideal—severe pools of light and dark, wildly shifting lighting, colors like you wouldn’t believe—yet I was able to capture images at a decent enough shutter (1/30ish) at a good focal length (200mm IS) wide open (f/2.8) and still get sharp as tack photos. Are you serious? That is so fucking awesome it hurts. It absolutely does away with any complaints I had with my 20D not allowing me to take the photos I saw in my head. I don’t feel limited by my camera which is really nice.

There is one strange thing I noticed though. Early in the shoot I had the camera set to Highlight Expansion mode and I noticed on the RAWs some very strange effects, almost like the air boiling around very bright areas that were next to very dark areas. It’s pretty obvious around Brian’s arms (on the left) in this photo. You might have to look at it in full size to really see it. I will post a real full size crop when I get home to demonstrate the effect fully since I resized the images for Flickr.


It’s not really that bad, and would be easily removed in PS if I were so inclined, but it is strange nonetheless. When I turned off Highlight Expansion, I didn’t see it again. Now, it might be some weirdness because Lightroom does not yet have a proper profile or even real support for 5d Mk II raws, but it might also be an issue with the camera. When I get home tonight, I will check the original CR2 in Canon’s raw converter and let you know what I see. Only minorly annoying, and since I can’t really be sure of the cause, we’ll have to wait and see what happens when full support is available. At least it’s not like that horrid banding noise on the 20D at ISO 1600.

More to come!