Projektor with Lady Aera

Projektor Lady AeraProjektor with Lady Aera

 

This weekend I was able to shoot the first set in the art book concept we are working on “Projektor”.

 

Working with the only lighting being a 1500 lumen projector is an interesting prospect. We shot raw, 2.5F and around 3 seconds on the shoot. We also shot in bursts of 3, high, low, medium so we could merge the pictures in Lightroom and Photoshop along the way to make sure we were getting a decent exposure. Lots of chimping because of the low light process on this photo shoot because if the model moved during the burst shoot (high, low, regular) the image would come out blurry in the final product.

 

If you want to shoot like this, I highly recommend any 1500 Lumen or better projector, a tripod because no one can hold the camera still enough, and work with the model so that they know low light means a lot of smears. My defect rate on this shoot was somewhere around 40% (where I am deleting about 40% of the pictures I take) because they are blurry or otherwise show model movement. It is hard holding still for three or so seconds.

 

You also want to make sure that the studio is warm, that is one of the things about the studio I work out of, it might have heaters, but they don’t work. Most of the rooms in the studio are cold and if you have a model, posing nude, cold will not work out all that well.

 

Make sure you do use an MUA for this, even if the backgrounds are heavy and it is hard to make out the makeup, you still want to have a period makeup job for this depending on what period of makeup you want. For this we chose to use a 1920’s style makeup routine, heavy eyeliner, skin lightener, deep red lipstick to work with some of the images that were lighter than the darker backgrounds.

 

In all, shooting in low light is a lot of fun, but practice first with a friend before you pay for a model to do the work. Camera sensors differ and it can be difficult to work in low light. It can be amazingly rewarding though, and a skill worth developing for your portfolio. Sadly, most of these pictures need to remain behind passwords for the time being because I don’t want to deal with the voyeur web sites.

 

Advice on taking pictures in a riot

Occupy SeattleAdvice on taking pictures in a riot

 

This is probably one of the most dangerous things that you can do as a photographer. When the press gets shot at, and photographers get arrested for taking pictures of Ferguson, you know that you are entering a dangerous environment. While Photography is not a crime, there is a wide held belief in law enforcement that taking pictures of the police in action is illegal.

 

Plan on not resisting what ever the police tell you to do.

 

First things first, make sure your camera is connected to the Internet so that as you take pictures they are uploaded to a secure cloud service like Flickr, Smugmug, Zenfolio or other service that can take the storage of pictures as you go. I also highly recommend taking advantage of the Comcast XFinity public WIFI and carrying your own cell hot spot for your camera. You can expect jamming or at least the use of Stingray equipment so do not contact anyone on your phone just use it to upload your images to the net. Police will have a copy of everything you send when they use Stingray, and it might not transmit to the Internet depending on how Law Enforcement has the system set up.

 

You might want to transfer data laterally using Blue Tooth to a number of connected devices (more below).

 

In some ways it would be better to use an IPhone or something else that connects automatically to the internet, however you can set up your camera to use a WIFI enabled card on your camera like EyeFI and/or Transcender cards that way you have your local copy and one that is already on the internet. It is possible to jam the signals from your camera, which was seen in Hong Kong during the recent protests, but you can always use Blue Tooth to share the pictures laterally amongst a number of cell phones or connected devices.

 

If you transfer data laterally via Blue Tooth, carry a spare cell phone on you to store data, or travel with a friend that can also try to upload the pictures for you onto the Internet. The thing to remember is that you can have 7 devices connected, and that there is one master node with six slave nodes, however, the slave nodes can be masters in another mesh. This does work, but requires set up before you get to the event, and understand that you will want to have an in-depth mesh for this process to work. However it worked in Hong Kong to successfully get data out of the local Law Enforcement jamming of cell phones and networks.

 

Use twitter as a sending channel as well on the spot understanding that the signals can and probably are being intercepted. What you share with the Internet Law Enforcement will also be keeping an eye on.

 

If you are independent, hang out with a local news crew; some of the pictures I have taken have been from right behind a local news crew. We hung out, we talked, I told them I was an independent stringer, and I sold pictures to the local TV station while I was at it. This is one safeguard, as Law Enforcement will see you with a local news crew and make the assumption you are news and leave you alone along with the news crew. Don’t be an idiot about it, move around the crowd to get the pictures you want, but when it gets hairy, be close to a news crew.

 

Use professional equipment; using your IPhone to take pictures immediately says you are not a pro. Take professional DSLR gear with you; use your IPhone in your pocket to get the images onto the Internet. Your DSLR gear can take video as well as stills, you goal is to make sure you have access to the images and video you took off your devices in case you are arrested and have your gear confiscated.

 

Always cooperate with Law Enforcement requests, if they want you on the sidewalk get on the sidewalk.

 

Don’t argue, don’t complain, just do it.

 

A number of times Law Enforcement has after the protest asked me for copies of the pictures, that one is up to you. Your goal is to sell the pictures; you can sell them to Law Enforcement as much as you can sell them to the press. That one is up to your own ideas, but as long as they are in a public gallery Law Enforcement can also download them unless you have set up to sell the pictures first.

 

Cooperate with Law Enforcement, if they tell you to move on, move on. Find another vantage point to take the pictures from.

 

Stay out of the way, your goal is to document, not get arrested. Have a camera for close in, but if you are moved out of the way along with other media, find a roof top vantage point, and a super fast F1.8 200MM or 400MM lens to work with.

Try not to look like a sniper, police will have an issue with that, I highly recommend an orange reflective vest and a sign that says “PRESS” so that the police do not thing that you are a sniper.

At least you will get some good long distance shots. Shoot RAW to get as much data as possible, but if not shoot JPG Fine. The problem is going to be the upload and distance from the picture. Make sure you have plenty of remaining room on your cell phone or hot spot plan to cover the event. If you think you are going to shoot a full 32 Gig card, plan accordingly with your data plan so you don’t get over runs and the higher cost associated with that.

 

Be careful about flying drones around the area if you are using one. The FAA might have declared it a no flight zone. Make sure you are streaming the video to a storage system in case the drone gets shot down or gets interfered with or jammed. Use a cheap drone with a cheap camera because it will be likely that you will lose it. Fry’s electronics has a good collection of sub $100.00 dollar drones that have enough lift for a small video camera. You can hack a small video camera like the $20.00 Bang Good HD video camera and connect it to the drone and transmitter. You need to transmit it and connect it to power, but that won’t be hard to do either. Have a separate power source for the camera so you don’t interfere with the battery life of the drone you are using. In all you can cobble a good video drone for under $100.00 if you are of the type. You will need to be aware that they run on the same frequency as Cell Phones WIFI 2.4GHZ, and also subject to jamming. Some transmitters have multiple channels and work in the 5.4 GHZ range, so test your drone before you fly to make sure audio and video is coming through and not being jammed.

 

However, cheap disposable drones are an exciting advance in photography for covering important events. That cannot be understated, it keeps the photographer safe and somewhat untraceable, while capturing amazing photography and video of an event.

 

While the goal here is not to antagonize Law Enforcement, being an independent stringer for covering riots and other actions carries its own risks. If you are detained expect your devices to be gone through, and in some cases the video will be copied or erased from your devices. It is easy to recover the data using commercial off the shelf forensics tools, but you might need help with using them, or pay for the data recovery.

 

Be prepared, be realistic, and above all be safe when doing this. There is something sweet about close in photography, but the inherent danger might require that you move out of the way and go remote.

 

Kickstarter for your photography project

kickstarterPhotoKickstarter for your photography project

 

With the news today that Kickstarter was moving from Amazon payments to Stripe Kickstarter is back in the news. In the photography category there are some 1259 photography projects that have been successful, while there are 759 that have not been successful.

 

The good part about moving over to stripe is that the payments experience suddenly got a whole lot easier, and you don’t have to leave the Kickstarter web site. Stripe looks like a fairly solid company, and if my own experience with trying to use Amazon payments it might be time to review my application to run my own Kickstarter for Projektor. I got hung up in Amazon Payments, I am a company, I have my own EIN, but Amazon payments would not accept it, and not let me have access to it to make sure I typed it in correctly. There is nothing more fun than a logic loop in a program that says something is wrong, and then does not let you fix it. Since then my own Kickstarter has not been deployed because of that.

 

On the idea of running my own Kickstarter for Projektor I went and did some homework, you can pull up funded and non-funded projects on Kickstarter and review the ones that were successful or non-successful. From the initial data pull it looks like books, unique projects that have a value, and some gallery shows were successfully funded

 

What does not look like it was successfully funded were requests to purchase new gear, start a photographic company but there were also some really interesting projects in their like photography for breast cancer, 3D objects, and other items that would have been interesting.

 

I think that in a lot of ways what matters is how well you interact with people on projects. I know that in my history of backing Kickstarter projects the folks doing this are all doing the same thing.

 

Weekly updates.

Marshaling their friends to raise the noise level

Last week push (most projects get a lot of funds in the last 24 hours)

Develop a flash community of backers; get them to share on their social media

Show production work in your kickstarter

Offer exclusive content to your kickstarter backers only

Answer questions from the crowd

Keep the project alive by not being too annoying but every couple of days, checking it and seeing what is happening with it

 

Stripe payments are a good thing as it might open the door for more people who get suck in Amazon Payments like we did. But having a successful Kickstarter project is even better. If you want the list of successful projects click this link, if you want the list of unsuccessful projects click this link. Let us know if you are doing a kickstarter, we might just help you plug it.

 

 

 

 

Using Deviant Art for Stock Photography

Fantasy Couple Using Deviant Art for Stock Photography

 

Some photographers end up using a lot of stock photography, and sadly many of the stock photography sites out there can be pretty lame. The pictures are not what you want to use, the keyword system does not cough up what you are looking for, and in other ways they simply don’t have what you are looking for.

 

The good part is that there is an excellent alternative to stock photography sites for some of the work you want to do. One of them is Deviant Art, especially if you are looking for fantasy backgrounds for your images like the one we used for our cover picture for this article. It is a stock background from Shinobinaku from deviant art who left this beautiful arch for people to use for their stock photography needs.

 

Below is a short video on how to use deviant art for stock photography.

 

 

Some ideas though you need to be aware of.

 

Not all stock photography is free for any use, sometimes the people who make the images want final editorial approval of the image, other times they want to make sure you are not using it for any commercial purposes (this includes advertising on your web site if you use it). There are other restrictions that people put up that can kill off the creative flow.

 

While at times you want to just say screw it, it is better to ignore any stock photography that comes with any encumbrances to your creative output. If they want final creative say so, or no commercial purposes, respect that and move on even if it was the best background creative image you could imagine. In the longer run it is not worth the hassle.

 

I hope you like the video, the audio is a little weak, so you might need to turn up the volume.

 

New eBook Demons with Poetry by Mikhail Lermntov

New eBook Demons with Poetry by Mikhail LermntovNew eBook Demons with Poetry by Mikhail Lermntov

 

We make picture books, usually for the kindle, although some of them we will print up from time to time. This year we are kicking off some changes in how we do eBooks based on the feedback we got from customers over on Amazon. There is nothing better than a good review, and even a marginal review can offer some good insight into the book.

 

You can purchase the book Demons here.

 

The biggest issue (3+ reviews) was that we didn’t include any text in our picture books. Rather we just focused in on the art, but that was not quite what people were looking for we started going through some of the older books, finding amazing stuff written around the turn of the century, the 1800’s to be precise and we found this amazing author Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov, a Russian poet and play writer. He is a lot like Edgar Allen Poe, and you know if you are into horror Goth hopelessness then Poe is your guy.

 

We had been working on a number of demon pictures, and decided to marry the two together.

 

The book of poetry that was used for this book was written in 1918 with the original poetry written before 1840. The document we used scanned by the Internet Archive. The book in its entirety reads like a play, and in some ways was probably meant to be a production piece. The Publisher of the original book was Douglas and Foulis of Edinburg after being translated by Robert Burness.

 

Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov was a fascinating person to read about. Essentially a rebel he was exiled on multiple occasions by Czar Nicholas for being irreverent. He seems like the kind of person that would do well in this day and age.

 

By no means did we use the entire book, we picked and chose what we thought would work best as an accompaniment to the pictures we had produced. There is something elegant about Victorian Poetry that sums up that age of steam, science, and the holding onto fairy tales, demons, faeries, and other assorted phantasmagoria that ran rampant through the common person as the age of science began to take root and take hold of mans thinking. As the Witch Craft delusion began to fade, so did the mystery of the countryside. Along with the loss of demons, we also lost the fae and the magical countryside.

 

You can read the book in its entirety from the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/demonthe00lermrich and it is worth working through the archaic language to understand that this was written 170 some odd years ago, and printed 100 years ago. It is worth reviving older books long past copyright so that the art, the words, the emotions and the feelings can be translated into more modern language while retaining the wonder, fear and hope of a long forgotten age.

Follow up to the Great Smugmug Hack of 2014

example of geolocation of IP AddressFollow up to the Great Smugmug Hack of 2014

 

Earlier this year we talked about the exposure of boudoir pictures on Smugmug, and I was one of the lucky winners. 8 months or so later it is still happening, people are still not password protecting their galleries, or making the passwords easily guessable. I get a report from Smugmug almost daily (early on it was a report 3 times a day) about people trying to get to the galleries.

 

Needless to say that we have implemented a much stronger password policy on the naughty bits so that they do not end up on “hot or not” or some other web site that ends up rating the person in the picture. Believe me there is nothing more unfriendly than a call from a model wanting to know why their pictures are on a “porn site”.

 

What is interesting is that the methods that the “hackers” are using have changed from exterior links (many of the voyeur web sites cracked down on that when it went public on much more public web sites than mine) to using Smugmug’s own internal search mechanism looking for those pictures we have posted, and made them Smugmug searchable.

 

Usually when you mark a gallery with a password it will not be indexed in Smugmug search, but the gallery keywords will be. So if you want to really annoy someone, post a bunch of pictures of cats, and keyword them with nude pussy. I am not above pranking people using Smugmug’s internal search mechanism to annoy someone.

 

If you use Gallery (Folder, Page) Key wording (like we should be doing to get more attention on the site, and in Google) then those will show up even if the gallery is password protected (as much as I can tell, for naughty pictures I stopped using Gallery, Folder and Image keywords and most of the “hacking traffic” has dropped to nill) and there will be a result in the search if they are looking for galleries.

 

This is one of the more interesting aspects of what we think we learned about Smugmug internal search.

 

The internal search tool is amazingly good, and absolutely relies on the keywords and text that you wrap around your images. Again you should be using text captions, you should be using key words when setting up your images either in Lightroom or photo editor of choice, and then going through and making sure that Smugmug picked up the keywords by looking at the images after the upload. A lot of photographers I have noticed do not use this function, it is critical if you want your stuff picked up by internal or external search engines.

 

But it is also a double edged sword, if you do not set a password on your gallery, or your pictures, then it is easily picked up by Smugmug internal search, and the “hackers” have resorted to using that tool to keep up to date on all the groovy naughty stuff being posted to Smugmug.

I have to applaud Smugmug though for their efforts to help photographers understand what was going on early on in the year. Indeed voyeur web sites and some amateur porn sites had picked up the boudoir and other pictures that were being posted online because of faulty use of the Smugmug system.

 

The bad part is that the “hacks” are still happening, but based on what we are seeing inside our Smugmug and Google Analytic statistics, 90% of all the attempts are being driven by the Smugmug internal search feature now, rather than the majority of this coming from outside sources.

 

Let us know if you have any questions, we would love to hear your side of the story.

 

Projektor – New art book

Projektor a Justine Nude in Texturenew art book

 

For those of us who have a deep love of what was happening in the 1920’s post      World War I as the world exploded in relief from the end of the first industrial        mechanized war, Projektor is for you.

 

There are main characters in the Bauhaus photography using sharp contrasting shadows, projected images, collage and other ways of putting together an image that would be of interest to the public. Add to that the graphics, graphic design, font design, and the influences through furniture, fashion, industrial design and you pretty much have a movement that influenced a generation between the two World Wars.

 

Projektor is a book that is focused on rediscovering some of the enthusiasm for the era, and the art that was produced by using models as a living canvas with projected images on them.

 

The same projector can be used if you followed any of Liquid Light processes that we had set up and talked about earlier in the year. You want a clean white wall, and you want to shoot only under the light that the projector gives out to the model. This requires a tripod, and exposures of 30 seconds to 60 seconds. Everyone has to stand really still, and the model needs to be nude to get the full effect of the image.

 

It seems like it is going to be a fun project to do that will end up as a book. We are thinking about doing this as a kickstarter, but probably won’t go in that direction, too many hurdles and too many unknowns for a project I can self fund if I have to, and see through its completion.

 

We will be talking about Projektor throughout the year and hope to have it done by midyear as a paperback and hardcover print on demand book. We are also planning on doing photography by project this year, specific projects that we will set aside time and resources as long as the project seems viable to do.

 

Welcome to 2015, as we try to expand where we are going to give it specific products that we can then turn around and sell, it is going to be one amazing year for us I think. Feel free to chime in, we have a lot of ideas, some of them are going to extend well into 2016 and beyond because the projects are so complex to pull off. We will give out all the details of the pictures as we take them so you know how to do the same thing.

 

 

Art, Dreams, Design, Reality