Thursday, April 26, 2012

Canon 5D: Old School?

Recently, I was shooting some glamour sets for a client. One of  the models had brought along a friend. The friend stood nearby, quietly watching us shoot. After a bit, the model needed to take a quick break for some reason or another. As she walked off, the model's friend approached me and asked what kind of camera I was shooting with.

"A Canon 5D," I told him.

"Mark two or Mark three?" the friend asked, indicating some level of knowledge regarding Canon cameras.

"Neither," I said, holding up the camera and pointing the lens towards him so he could see the front of it. "It's an original 5D."

"Whoa! Old school," the model's friend observed before heading off to look for his friend, the model.

Old school? A Canon 5D is old school? Wow!

Once again, I was reminded how equipment-centric so many new-ish photographers are these days. For the record, my Canon 5D gets the job done and gets it done more than adequately. Even more so since quite a bit of the work I produce is intended mostly for web use. You know, where it will viewed at a much lower resolution than print work. And that's not to say my Canon 5D doesn't capture images with enough resolution and detail for print work. It does. Without a doubt it does. And since it does, why should I spend thousands of dollars on a new camera body that I don't need to adequately do my job? A job, I should add, where the output is also used in a lot of print work.

There's plenty of other stuff to spend my hard-earned income on. Heck. Just this past week I bought a new tripod and head, a fairly good one, and I also purchased another Pocket Wizard to add to my collection of Pocket Wizards. Two weeks or so before that, I purchased another monolight, a Photogenic StudioMax 160,  to add to my lighting gear. All of that stuff will make my job more productive and efficient, giving me many more options on shoots than a new camera body will.

And here's something else that occurred to me when the model's friend asked about my camera: Why is it other photographers are so often interested in little more than the camera another photographer is using? On that particular shoot, I had 4 monolights going, plus a reflector, I was adjusting lights using a light meter and the only thing the model's friend was interested in -- a guy I later learned is pursuing photography himself --  was the camera I was using; not the lens, not the lighting, not much of anything else. To top that off, he thought using a Canon 5D, a digital SLR that isn't all that ancient and still represents some fairly high-end camera technology, is old school.  I can only imagine what he might have thought if I had pulled out one of my film cameras and snapped a roll.

The model with the pink and white polka-dot dress at the top is Faye. (Click to enlarge.) It's one from a set I snapped with my old school Canon 5D, at night, just a few feet outside the door of her "garden complex" apartment's front door. I was using two lights for this set: A main light in front, modified with a fairly large shoot-thru umbrella, and a bare bulb monolight, outfitted with a 30° honeycomb grid, coming from behind.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's in a Name?

The bard wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I'm not sure I buy into that observation. It might work for roses and young women like Romeo's Juliet. It might work for many other people and things. But it doesn't work for everyone and anything.

I'm currently working on my upcoming e-book, "Flash-Free Model Photography." Leastwise, that's the working title at this point. Whether I stick with that title or not is of less consequence to me than how I'll credit myself as its author. At this point, I've decided I will probably release the book under my family name, Giordano, rather than the name I use (and have used for nearly 20 years) for much of my professional work. Believe it or not, my family name and my legal name aren't the same either, but that's a whole other story. Regardless, whether using my family name ends up hurting sales or helping them remains to be seen.

You might be wondering why I'll likely use a different name (as author) for my next e-book? Simple: I'm hoping some of the work I've done, i.e., work that is associated with my professional name, will not be considered as a factor by some photography web sites when they're considering whether or not to promote my new book.

There have been a number of high-profile photography sites who decided not to promote any of my previous e-books because, according to them, a few of their visitors might make the connection between my name, as the author of those e-books, and the work I've done as a glamour, nude, tease, erotic photographer. It wasn't simply my Guerrilla Glamour book they declined to pimp, but my Guerilla Headshots and Zen and the Art of Portrait Photography books as well; both of which are entirely "G-Rated." 

The fact that both of the latter two books are suitable for anyone and everyone, content-wise, and that the web sites who declined to represent them admitted they liked the books very much and could and would probably sell a whole lot of them, earning them some decent affiliate commissions, didn't seem to matter much. What mattered was my name and how any association with my name might somehow and in some way, no matter how small a way, impact their self-defined wholesome reputations.

As a result, my thinking regarding the author's name I'll use for my next e-book, another which will be "G-Rated," goes like this: If I use my family name, Giordano, as author of this next e-book there will be no association between the book's author, in terms of his name, and any photographic work that might offend a few people no matter how much time they spend researching that name.  While I feel like I'm catering to the asses, not the masses, that's what I'll probably do. There is a risk that my next e-book will suffer (in sales) as a result of it's author having  zero "name value" but that's a risk I'll probably have to take. A rose by any other name sometimes doesn't smell as sweet. Sometimes, it smells sweeter. Other times, I suppose, it smells like crap.

The pretty girl at the top is Tera Patrick. (Click to enlarge.) It's one of many photos I used in my Guerrilla Glamour e-book. It's indicative of a lot of work I've done. I guess it's also indicative of the sort of work which resulted in all my three of my previous books being rejected by a number of well-known photography web sites.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

World's Oldest Supermodel

World's oldest supermodel? That's what they're calling octogenarian model, Daphne Selfe. Who's calling her that? Well, the NY Daily News, the UK's Daily Mail, and E!, just to name a few.

Daphne created quite a stir when she recently modeled wearing a bra and corset ensemble first made famous by Madonna during her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour. That's Daphne wearing Madonna's costume in the picture on the left. Ms. Selfe, BTW, has been modeling since the 1950s.

Here's an article in the NY Daily News about the 83-year-old supermodel.

Personally, I think what Ms. Selfe is (still) doing is terrific in spite of that gawd-awful Madonna outfit. I'm not saying I'd regularly prefer viewing images of octogenarian fashion and glamour models, although there's probably some people who are totally into that, but it's refreshing -- well, maybe there's a better word than "refreshing" to describe my reaction, one that I can't think of right now -- let's say it's cool to see someone like Ms. Selfe, and at her age, doing something which ordinarily remains in the exclusive domain of much younger models.

Plenty of those much younger models, by the way, could benefit and probably learn a lot from Daphne, especially in terms of self-confidence... something that often projects itself, or fails to project itself, when they're out in the lights in front of a camera.

I definitely admire Ms. Selfe's hutzpah! You go girl!

Alrighty then. Much like clearing your palette by munching a cracker after drinking some fine, aged, wine while wine tasting, here's a pretty girl shot I snapped not too long ago featuring Dana on the left and Jessica on the right. (Click it to enlarge.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shooting Models with a Photo-Kalashnikov?

I was perusing eBay this afternoon, something I do fairly often as I'm always looking for good deals on photography gear, when I came across this 1970s era, Made in the USSR, Photo Sniper kit, aka the Photo-Kalashnikov.

Wow! I want one! The Photo Sniper adds a whole new dimension to shooting pretty girls. You say the model is pissing you off? No problem. Relieve your angst by shooting her with your Photo Kalashnikov.

Apparently, the Photo Sniper, aka Photo Kalashnikov, was manufactured and sold specifically for the bird photography crowd as a way of eliminating tripods. Hey! I shoot birds! Well, I shoot birds in the British slang version of the word, "birds."

The Photo Sniper kit was made during the Cold War by KMZ Krasnogorsk-Moscow, and comes with the case, the faux-rifle mount, a Zenit E3 full-mechanical 35mm SLR camera body, a Taïr 300mm f/4.5 M42 screw-mount lens, and a few other accessories. The current bid is $50 U.S. but there's more than five days left in the auction so who knows where the price might go. Also, the seller resides in the Netherlands and wants almost $80 for shipping and handling to the US.

Obviously, the winning bid may end up being considerably more than fifty bucks. Plus that shipping cost ain't cheap. Still, I put it on my "Watch List" just in case people don't get stupid with their bidding and I can end up purchasing it for a decent price... you know, just to have it.

Below is a pretty girl pic I snapped of a model named Alexis a while back. (Click to enlarge.) Alexis was lots of fun to work with so I didn't feel I needed a Photo Kalashnikov for angst and stress relief while shooting her.

P.S. If you haven't already done so, check out Ed Verosky's new ebook, DSLR: The Basics.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Focusing Your Imagination

Mark Twain once said, "You cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." There's more than one way Twain's observation might be interpreted and applied. Since this is a photography blog, I'll interpret and apply it to photography and photographers.

As photographers, our vision isn't limited to our eyes. Sure, our eyes are wildly important to our photography. But our mind's eye is also, at a minimum, equally important. Our mind's eye, of course, is the eye we use to see things with our imaginations.

When our imaginations's eye is out of focus, our creative visions are hazy and difficult to see, making it even more difficult to capture with a camera. If you can't adequately see what your mind's eye conjures -- see it with a fair amount of clarity, that is -- you'll be left with little more than what your physical eyes are seeing, coupled with a vague idea of what you'd like the photographic results to look like.

There's nothing inherently wrong with only using our physical eyes to see, even when there's a camera's viewfinder pressed to one of them. Often enough, our two eyes are all that's required to get the shots we're intent on capturing. You don't even need two eyes. For many years, I got by on one eye. How so? I was 100% blind in my right eye as a result of a major cataract covering my entire pupil. Surgery and an artificial lens implant fixed that a few years ago but, for over a decade, I was a working, one-eyed, photographer. What made if more difficult was that it was my right eye. Most cameras, whether they're still or motion picture cameras, are ergonomically designed for a user's right eye pressed to the viewfinder. I only had my left eye to use.

As photographers, only seeing with one's physical eyes (or eye) can be quite limiting. From a photographer's point of view, reality often sucks. That's why we work so hard to use our cameras, coupled with post-production techniques, to alter reality, embellish it, recreate it, make it more interesting or beautiful or, sometimes, for whatever reasons, make things uglier than they might be.

Still, without the help of our mind's eye, all that photographic embellishing, recreating, and making things more interesting, beautiful, or even uglier can suck worse than reality.

So, how do we keep our imaginations in focus? (Please note: I'm not talking about increasing our abilities to imagine, I'm referring to how we might keep whatever it is we're imagining in focus, give it clarity, and at some point, recreate it with a camera.) Well, since we don't always have control of when our mind's decide to imagine things we might want to photograph -- that is, it doesn't always conjure those imagined images when we have a camera pressed to our physical eyes and a model in front of us -- it might be a good idea to notate the imagined image on a piece of paper, either in words or with a drawing, or in a vocal description voiced and recorded with some sort of audio recording device. Even if you don't jot your vision down or voice-record it, it's best to be thorough when you're describing it, even if you're merely describing it to yourself.

The best way to describe your vision is to include as many of its details as you can imagine, I mean see... You know what I mean. Good photography is in the details even when an imagined photograph is still in its imaginary state. When you notate something from your imagination, i.e., some idea you think you might want to shoot, the more accurate, descriptive, and detail-oriented your imaginary photo is, the more your creative vision comes into focus. Obviously, the more your creative vision is in focus, the better you'll be able to transfer it to a photograph.

Here's an example of out-of-focus imagination: I want to shoot a beautiful model in a run-down, falling-apart, abandoned building.

That's cool. We see plenty of those kinds of pictures but they can still be cool even if it's been done a million times or so.

Here's the same idea, but in somewhat better focus: I want to shoot a beautiful model, dressed in an elegant, brightly-colored gown, in a run-down, falling-apart, abandoned building. The model and her wardrobe are juxtaposed against the filthy, near-colorless environment of the building's interior. I want to light her in a way that further separates her from the shabby environment. I want her to project a sense of immunity to her surroundings via pose and expression. She looks as if she holds herself above the reality of the environment she finds herself in. You can take this second description and add more details to it, things like props or wardrobe accessories, more accurate descriptions of the lighting or the poses and expressions you'd like to see, perhaps details that seem to say why the model is in the environment she's in or something else she's trying to communicate, and more.

Once again, we've seen photos that depict what I just described. But in my second description, I've focused in on the elements that are important components of the vision I imagined with my mind's eye. Even if, when shooting, I deviate from my originally imagined image -- which I likely would do -- many key elements of it still remain. (The wardrobe, the environment itself, etc.) Since those things are still in play, I can better focus on imagining other ways to alter reality, embellish it, recreate it, make it more interesting or beautiful or even uglier (if that's my intent) than it might be. The original vision remains mostly intact but some of the details have changed. And it's those details which also change the "feelings" and the "stories" contained in the finished photos.

None of this is to say we should ignore spontaneous and creative visions that suddenly appear in our mind's eye while we're shooting. Spontaneity is often responsible for some kick-ass photos. Instead, I'm simply offering one way (there are more) to sharpen our preconceived creative visions.

The pretty girl at the top is Roxy. I shot her against a green seamless and I also green-gelled the accent light coming from camera left and behind her. At the time, I had a repeat client who specifically wanted all their artwork to have a green background. They didn't need it because there were going to key in and composite some other background for the images. They wanted the green That's why I was also able to use the green gels in my lighting schemes and allow the green to bleed onto the model's skin and elsewhere.

By the way, if you haven't already done so, check out Ed Verosky's new ebook, DSLR: The Basics. You can do that by CLICKING HERE.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New eBook by Ed Verosky: DSLR: The Basics

My good buddy, Ed Verosky, a terrific and passionate photographer as well as awesome ebook writer, has just released his latest-- DSLR: The Basics.

As the title suggests, Ed's new ebook covers all the basics of shooting with a digital SLR camera and then some. There's plenty of focus (pun intended) on evaluating exposure and shooting in manual mode. If you're not shooting in manual, at least some of the time, you're not taking full advantage of your camera's capabilities. Shooting in manual mode takes best advantage of a photographer's greatest asset: themselves.

Ed has priced his new ebook at $9.95. Such a deal! If you'd like to learn more about DSLR: The Basics, perhaps purchase and download a copy for yourself, CLICK HERE or on the graphic in the right-hand column.

The pretty girl in the picture is Chloe. (Click to enlarge.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


As many of you may have already heard, Facebook announced they're purchasing Instagram... for a cool $1B!

Wow! One billion smackeroos! Talk about a super-lotto, mega-money, winning ticket for Instagram!

Congratulations Instagram! I personally celebrated your good fortune by deleting the Instagram app from my iPhone. I also won't be installing it on my Android tablet when it's available to do so.

To be truthful, I never was much of an Instagram user. The app has been sitting on my iPhone for quite a while and I might have used it twice. (I guess I'm not much of a hipster.) But that's only partially why I found it so easy to uninstall Instagram from my iPhone.

Some time ago, Facebook deleted my professional (business name) account along with my photography fan page which had nearly 3,000 fans. They never told me why they did so but being the clever investigative reporter that I am, I figured it out: Facebook kicked me to the curb because of repeated flagging of photos I posted. Who repeatedly flagged me? I have no clue. Anonymous rats are the foundation of Facebook's Terms of Service (TOS) enforcement. For all I know, the same individual rat was responsible for every flag of every photo I posted that was flagged.

I should also note the flagged photos in question did not violate Facebook's TOS. They did not feature nudity. They were not overtly sexual. They were all glamour photos of pretty women with their private parts covered by bras and panties and other sexy wardrobe. They were no different than the many photos posted, almost daily, by companies like Frederick's of Hollywood, Victoria's Secret, and others on their Facebook pages. Those commercial entities, of course, may also be paid advertisers on Facebook which, I'm guessing, means they may have different Terms of Service to abide by than individual FB users and, as such, are immune to the effects of flag-happy, self-appointed, morality cops, AKA FDBs. (Fucking Douche Bags.)

Facebook offers no recourse for users who are suspended or banned because some unknown individual decides something violates their personal moral code. In other words, when it comes to individual users, Facebook, with all it's money, offers zero customer service. But wait! Silly me! I almost forgot: Facebook's individual users aren't customers. They're the products.

What's all this have to do with Facebook's acquisition of Instagram? In my opinion, everything.

I'm guessing the same sort of censorship that can be wielded on Facebook by anonymous individual users will be extended to Instagram once Instagram is completely absorbed into the Facebook collective.

Resistance is futile!

Or is it?

Unlike resisting a Borg hive's cybernetic assimilation, resisting your Instagram user life from being assimilated into Facebook's collective is easy: Just quit using Instagram. It's not like there aren't any other photo-sharing and photo-app, image-altering, alternatives in the galaxy.

Besides my issues with Facebook's enforcement of their TOS, I have other reasons to resist assimilation. On Facebook, we aren't the customers. We're the products.

Facebook makes its money by collecting data, often very private data, from its users and selling that data to others. Those others can include everything from corporate entities to the CIA. (The CIA was an original investor in Facebook, if you didn't know that.) Now, with FB's assimilation of Instagram, Facebook has even more data to mine and exploit about the private lives of its products via Instagram users.

I don't know about any of you, but I'm done allowing Facebook access to so much of my life. I'm drawing a line in the sand when it comes to my photography -- photography being such a big part of my life -- including any Instagram aspects of my photography that I may, at some point, have begun introducing into my life had Facebook not acquired Instagram.

By the way, according to ABC News I'm not alone in my dismay over Facebook's assimilation of Instagram. Here's an article that will tell you more about that.

The pretty girl at the top is Jayme. That non-nude, sexy-but-doesn't-portray-a-sex-act glamour photo of Jayme is one that someone flagged and, consequently, was deleted by FB (with a messaged hand-slap) and contributed to getting me permanently tossed off Facebook.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Who Knows What Lurks Under...

If there's one thing I've learned after all these years shooting pretty girls it's this: Don't pre-judge the model till she's in front of the camera.

That lesson reveals itself in many ways, from what she'll look like when she comes out of makeup and hair, how naturally or effectively she "sells it" in front of the camera, how much the camera "likes" her, to what kind of shape she has hidden under her street clothes.

Take the young lady above. (Click to enlarge.) She arrived at the small studio I was shooting at yesterday wearing sweat pants, a tee shirt, and a pair of flip-flops on her feet. She was short, fairly petite, and girl-next-door cute. The last thing I would have thought was that she was sporting a pair of near-perfect, female body parts hidden under her plain and simple attire.

It just goes to show that, once it's shown, you suddenly know you never know until you know. Unfortunately, first impressions sometimes turn out the other way. You know, as in disappointing. Bummer when that happens. Oh well.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Are Photo Apps the Digital Equivalent of Paint-By-Number Kits?

Chapter 15 of my ebook, Zen and the Art of Portrait Photography -- currently on sale for $3 off through the end of April, BTW... as are all my ebooks -- begins with a quote from the noted author, playwright, and screenwriter, Gore Vidal, who once observed: "Photography has been the art form of the untalented. Obviously some pictures are more satisfactory than others but where is credit due? To the designer of the camera? To the finger on the button? To the law of averages?”

Dude! That's harsh! (Even if, when you said it, it may have been more than a little prophetic.)

Photography, like all art forms, has its wildly talented artists and its less talented artists. Many of them, talent aside, are pursuing photography as a creative or artistic outlet regardless of the artistic talent their work may or may not represent. There's nothing exclusive to photography from the perspective of artistically less-than-talented people pursuing it. If those with little in the way of traditional artistic talent didn't sometimes pursue art, any sort of art, whoever invented and sold those “paint by number” kits wouldn't have made a dime... and I think whoever marketed those kits made significantly more than a dime off them.

Thanks to the evolution of digital photography, we now have many new ways to pursue and express art in the form of photography, even if many of those new ways of producing photo art somehow -- mostly in our own minds, I'm afraid -- make art (sort of) out of non-artistic photos. These new ways of producing fauxto art (pronounced photo art... of course) have many names, Instagram being the most famous and popular.

Now don't get me wrong. It's not that I think Instagram, or any other digital apps and their filters, are a waste of a photographer's time from an artistic or most any other point-of-view. They can be fun and engaging. Sometimes, when coupled with photos that are already artistic as captured, they might even help produce final images which qualify as legitimate art. But let's be straight with each other, photographer to photographer: As fun and engaging as these apps might be, they do not, much like "paint by number" kits, generally produce "art" that is anything more than digital facsimiles of art. In other words, fauxto art.

Beyond talent factors, Vidal also wondered if the designer or manufacturer of the camera deserves the lion's share of the credit for those "more satisfactory” images, i.e., do camera designers and, these days, do photo app and filter designers, mostly deserve more credit than the photographers who use them?

Any photographer who uses a camera, any camera, whether it's a sophisticated dSLR or one integrated into a cell phone's design, and then applies one of the oh-so-many photo apps and filters available -- apps and filters specifically designed to add artistic touches to the images captured -- knows that unsatisfying photos can sometimes be made into satisfying images even if they may only be satisfying to the photographers who snapped them and who then applied the app or filter... if to no one else.

Once again, don't get me wrong. For many photographers, their work only needs to be satisfying to themselves, or so they say. If it works for them, it works. Period. Okay, nothing inherently wrong with that sort of perspective on one's work. If that were entirely true, of course, those photographers probably wouldn't feel the need to so enthusiastically share their work with others, especially via social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and elsewhere, where so many others can view it. It would be enough to keep it to themselves. But that's okay too. The reality is, certainly for most photographers, why shoot it if not to share it? I'm good with that. More than good. Just please don't act as if it's bona fide art unless it somehow is... bona fide art, that is. Which, I'm sorry to say, it rarely is. (I hope that didn't burst any bubbles.)

Is the law of averages, as Vidal wondered, mostly responsible for “satisfactory” photography? Sometimes, I suppose it is. Especially for photographers who use a spray-n-pray approach to their photography. Never in the history of photography have so many photographers been so able, thanks to digital photography, to benefit from the law of averages. Better yet, even if photographers who count on the law of averages to produce a decent photo here and there don't manage to produce particularly satisfying images from those spray-n-pray sessions, they still have apps and filters and more to fall back on if or when the law of averages fails them.

Is the finger on the button, the photographer's finger, most responsible for “satisfactory” photography as Mr. Vidal asked? Well, call me Old School but, for the most part, I'd have to say yes. Enthusiastically yes! In fact, I'm quite sure of it. Satisfactory and better than satisfactory photography is most often produced -- law of averages, cameras, and apps 'n filters aside -- by better than average photographers with actual talent, a keen and creative eye, and terrific craft skills. None of which can be truly replaced by trying to mimic or fake those things with apps or filters, except in gimmicky, paint-by-number, sorts of ways.

The naked art model in the diptych at the top is Dahlia. (Click to enlarge.) As you can plainly see, it's two versions of one photo; one I snapped a year or two ago at El Mirage Dry Lake, Victorville, CA. I converted the camera original to B&W in Photoshop then imported it to my Acer Android tablet. Once it was on the tab, I imported it into the Pixlr-o-Matic photo app and used three different filters to add a touch of fauxto art to the image.

Do I think the result is kinda cool? Yep. I do. Do I think it's art? Who the fuck knows? It's certainly gimmicky. If gimmicky can equal artsy, than I suppose it's artsy in a gimmicky sort of way. Did it feel more like I used a paint-by-number approach to making what it ended up being? Yes again, at least in terms of the photo app's impact on it. Is there much of my own personal creativity exhibited in the shot? Sure. I directed the model. I chose the exposure and the shooting angle. I composed it and I snapped it. I also think, beyond the image's inherent artsyness, my visual sense of aesthetics are further indicated since I was the one who chose to convert it to monochrome. Also, I decided which of Pixlr-o-Matic's fauxto magic filters to apply.

Bottom line: Is the final image, the app-processed image, personally satisfying? Sort of, I suppose. I do feel that credit for much of the final image's wow value, if any, belongs, as Gore Vidal remarked, to the camera's, or rather to Pixlr-o-Matic's designers. Still, I'll take credit for some of it, certainly whatever credit belongs to the finger on the button.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

$3 Off All My eBooks!

It's time to discount my ebooks again. I haven't done so in a while and this beautiful Spring weather has me thinking of all things new. So, I decided a new ebook discount should be one of them. From now till the end of April, I'm offering a Spring Fever $3 discount on all my ebooks.

Yep! That's right: $3 off on any and all of my ebooks! If you're like me and you're mathematically-challenged, that comes to a terrific sale price of $6.95 for any and all of my ebooks. Hey c'mon. You probably spend more than that on a fast food lunch and what did a fast food lunch ever do for your photography besides providing some empty calories energy?

Check out my links for "Zen and the Art of Portrait Photography," "Guerrilla Glamour," or "Guerrilla Headshots" in the right-hand column of this page and click on them. When you arrive at the sales page for the ebooks, click the "Add to Cart" button. Your discount will be automatically applied to your total when you purchase.

What are you waiting for? Don't miss out! This is a limited time offer for the month of April only. I have thousands of satisfied readers and I'm incredibly happy to report that I've received nothing but good words from those readers who took the time to comment or to email me. If you've read one of my ebooks and not the others, now's the time to purchase and take advantage of this offer. If you've not read any of my ebooks, now might be a great time to do so with this terrific deal.

(Please Note: For now, I'm not selling any more of my Pretty Girl Shooter tee-shirts. I haven't done that because too few people bought them but because I've sold out of of them. Actually, I sold out of them a couple of times and had to re-order more. When I re-ordered (admitedly they weren't extra-large re-orders) I sold out of those as well. I'm not saying I sold thousands of t-shirts, I didn't, but I sold quite a few of them, certainly more than enough to make the endeavor worth my while even if, lately, t-shirt sales have slowed. I shipped my last tee I had in stock a week ago. Plus there's this: It's a freakin' hassle to package them, trek to the post office to stand on line to ship them and all that stuff. I'm a photographer, dammit! Not a mail order entrepreneur! Perhaps I'll bring them back at some point in the future or should I decide to lease the storefront pictured below, snapped recently in Paterson, NJ, by an FB photographer friend. Photo is ©Andrea Kerbusch.)

The behind-the-scenes shot at the top was from a shoot with super-star glamour-model Tera Patrick.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

More Light Power Ain't Always What You Need

Last week I made another ebay purchase: This time it was a used, Photogenic Studio Max II, 160ws monolight. According to UPS tracking, it's out on the truck for delivery today.

160ws? Kind of wimpy in terms of power output, you might say. But here's the deal: I've often found myself in situations where I wish I could dial down a strobe to emit less light than my collection of monolights are capable of putting out at their minimum power settings... you know, as in "less is more."

Please note: I rarely shoot with small flash instruments like Canon's speedlites, of which I own two. Why? That's a subject for a whole other update. I do have a bunch of reasons for not regularly using speedlites. Some of those reasons will probably make sense to others, perhaps some of them won't. Anyway...

All of my monolights are either 300ws or 500ws. I find those approximate power ranges generally ideal for shooting glamour, portraits, and that sort of stuff. Still, having a source available that's capable of less light output than my 300ws or 500ws strobes are capable of firing with is something, I think, will make a nice addition to my gear. BTW, I picked up this Photogenic monolight for under $100. And, with free shipping. I thought that was a pretty good deal. A new one costs between $250 and $300. The seller advertised it as being 90% of original cosmetic shape and said everything works perfectly. Like a brand new one, it comes with the flash, reflector, mounting bracket, modeling light, bulb cover, and power cord. The seller also threw in a sync cord, although I rarely use sync cords. I'm a wireless sync kind of guy.

Here's how I'll mostly use this 160ws strobe: Either as a fill light or for specific highlights and accents. Also, I'll probably sometimes use it as a light to gently illuminate specific background areas. I'm sure there's more uses I'll think of once I start using this light in my production workflow.

I should note I've used my 300ws monolights to perform the same duties this 160ws will be performing. Often enough, however, I found they kicked out more light than I wanted. Sure, when that's happened I've knocked those lights down a bit using a scrim or diffusion material material, but I'd rather have a light available that's capable of doing what I want it to do without having to scrim or diffuse it. Plus, there's been times I wanted such a light to be more of a hard light, perhaps a bare light, rather than a soft light. Scrimming or diffusing softens the light. That's the down-side, leastwise when I don't want such a light source to be soft. Bouncing the light off some white foam core or other reflector will also knock it down, but using any sort of reflector means less light control. Most of the time, I don't want my light sources having too big of a spread.

A client has me booked for a shoot this Saturday. I'll be shooting 3, maybe 4, pretty girls. I'm anxious to try out my new/old monolight and put it through a few paces. Probably like most of you, whenever I acquire some new gear I'm always excited to give it a whirl.

The pretty girl at the top is Ally. (Click it to enlarge.) I understand Ally has been cast as the latest "Emmanuel" for an upcoming new version of the long-running film franchise.

Monday, April 02, 2012

PGS Featured Photographer: Farley Magadia

One of the cool things about being a working photographer and videographer is I get to meet, get to know, and get to work with other people who do the same sort of work. Many of these people are truly good at what they do. Really good. Sometimes, incredibly good! Photographer Farley Magadia, IMO, falls into that last category.

CLICK HERE and check out Farley's Model Mayhem profile and portfolio.

Farley has a full-time photography job, one that a fair number pretty girl shooters might envy: He's the in-house staff photographer for a large toy company. Make that adult toy company. Also make that a VERY large, manufacturing and distribution adult toy company with many millions in annual sales.

As you probably are aware, many adult toys are aimed at women. Because of this, Farley gets to regularly shoot plenty of beautiful, hot, sexy models for the marketing, advertising, and product packaging needs of the company he works for. As such, Farley is both an accomplished glamour and tease photographer as well as product photographer. In the hierarchy of this company -- cuz, you know, all companies have hierarchies, even mine, and I'm a company of one -- Farley reports to its well-staffed art department where he also performs much of the post processing and re-touching on his photographic work. He shoots other stuff, of course, but this being a glamour photography blog and all, I'll stick with what's most relevant to this web page.

Besides having this enviable job, the company provides Farley with a well-equipped studio, i.e., a very well-equipped photo studio, to help him work his magic. I've been to the studio a number of times. I've also worked in it, although I was shooting video, not stills.

Recently, I worked for the same toy company which employs Farley, albeit I was working for them as an independent contractor. I spent three days in a commercial studio (apart from the company's in-house studio) shooting product videos. While I was tasked with all things video for this shoot -- lighting it, shooting it, and all that goes with doing that stuff -- Farley was also there. He was there to shoot stills, be a 2nd unit video cameraman (as needed), and for shooting behind-the-scenes video.

That guy was running all over the place! Often, with more than one camera in his hands! I, on the other hand, spent most of my time with the same camera in my hands, my ass perched on an apple box or standing and moving around in a confined area, shooting the principal photography (video) for the project. There were times when Farley made me dog-tired just watching him run back and forth between sets all the while capturing stills and video with multiple cameras. His cameras ranged from multiple point-n-shoots to a Canon 5D Mk II (which he used both as a still camera and to capture video) and to some other cameras he had with him, although I don't recall what they were.

Anyway, this may be the first time I've featured another photographer on this blog, leastwise one who isn't regarded as an iconic photographer or is someone quite famous for their work. Maybe I'll do it again from time to time?

And Farley... Thanks for making my job so much easier on the recent shoot and also for your willingness to share your abundant knowledge of photography with me each time we've met. You are such a passionate, creative, and skilled photographer and all of that shows in your work! I enthusiastically look forward to the next time we get to work together.

The pretty girl at the top is one I snapped of 1991 Miss USA, Kelly McCarty, who also regularly appeared from '99 to '06 in NBC's daytime soap, Passions. Got MILF?