Off Topic – from Oakwood Cemetary

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On November 11, 1982, the Haggerty lion was placed in Oakwood as a memorial to Michael Charles Haggerty who died at age 14 in an auto accident in 1974. His brother Thomas, who was two years younger than Michael, was an art student at Syracuse University when his parents asked him to create a special and original memorial. Michael had always liked lions and his mother thought a lion would be appropriate – a friendly protector, inviting but with claws. Thomas began work on the monument in the summer of 1981. He formed the clay image in his garage, spraying and wrapping his work each night. After this initial phase, the large figure was moved outside of his home and his work was supervised by an SU instructor. After a year’s work, the 620 pound bronze statue was ready for placement. Michael had originally been buried at St. Mary’s in DeWitt, but the authorities responsible for the diocese cemeteries objected to the monument. Michael was then reinterred in a special spot at Oakwood with the lion standing guard. Many people do not know about the Haggerty lion because it is situated in a wooded area and during seasons with leaves, it is well concealed. The lion can be found across the road from the Chapel. At the corner where the woods begin is a small trail which leads about 20 feet up a small incline to the monument.

 

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Why I use a light meter

Why I use a light meter in the studio.

Many photographers don’t use a light meter. I prefer to at least start the photo shoot with the meter. It’s a jumping off point that helps me to create a balance in the shoot. Later on, I do tend to try different flavors.

The main reason I use a meter is that when I work with strobes, my modeling light can only give me an estimate for coverage. For most strobes, the modeling light is maybe 100 watts but the flash from the strobe is much 300+ watts in some cases.

So, why doesn’t the eyeball mark 1 work for me? Well, when you trigger the strobe, it pulses for a brief fraction of a second. That split second isn’t enough to visualize where the strobe is going to cover. You really can’t visualize the intensity and falloff of a flash of light on a subject.

What I do is take several meter readings on my subject in order to get an idea for coverage and shadows. Even when I’m shooting beauty close ups, it helps me to understand where my highlights and shadows are going to be. I’ll admit it’s not a perfect solution either.

Finally, I have also found that a meter isn’t exactly where I probably will shoot. I usually find myself going either 1 stop brighter or darker than the meter. This comes partly from the differences between a meter and the camera sensor. But it’s also a matter or taste. The meter give you a baseline for mid key lighting. The artistic choice comes from either exposing higher or lower than what shows on the meter.

A word about collaboration

I  want to talk a minute about collaboration. So many times photographers around here don’t want to work with each other. We see each other as competition. But the one thing I’ve found in the last few years of collaboration is that you learn from each other.

See, if we had some big name photographers that shoot fashion & glamour, I’d try to apprentice with them. But we don”t. I find myself instead working with other people at the same level as myself, and yet still learning a lot. I can watch other people and how they shoot and learn what works and what doesn’t.

We also work as art directors for each other helping newer models to try new things.

You need to work as a team so that each person can push each other.

Having a closed mind

In the past, I was a little disappointed the comments by a respected photographer I resepected. He mentioned that he doesn’t look at photos that have a watermark on them. I really respected his opinion on photography and really wanted to believe he had something valid to contribute.

However, my position is that I sometimes use a watermark. Right or wrong It’s my choice to add a watermark to some of my images. But to invalidate my work because it has a watermark (or NOT) is like people who are short-sighted with regards to Photoshop or HDR images. You’re not giving the art a chance.

The so-called purist who doesn’t edit his photos and hates all things photoshop or HDR is a very short-sighted person.

A person who won’t review an image because it has a watermark is also short-sighted.

Here’s the real lesson, the day you close your mind to some side of art because it doesn’t fulfill some arbitrary limit your vision becomes clouded.

Therapy

Therapy

I am an introvert. I think that’s why I’m drawn to photography. I don’t socialize very well. At parties and online chats, I prefer to listen rather than actively participate. At work, during lunch, I stay in my cubicle and read a book rather than talk to anyone in the cafeteria.

At home, I have a small office, but it’s really my hovel. I don’t spend nearly enough time with my wife and son as I should.

Why don’t I socialize more? I’m not afraid of people. It’s just that when I talk to people I like to listen to what they say. I have never been any good at small talk – How’s the weather gets real old for me. I find myself saying nothing unless I have something of substance to contribute.

I would much rather ask someone to talk about themselves than talk about myself.

When someone tells me they like one of my photos, I am not very good at saying thank you. It might seem like I’m not gracious, but instead I just don’t know how to react. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud when they say that, but I’m also made nervous. I feel like I’m really not worthy of their praise

A learning experience

So, I’ve been trying to teach myself to work with models better during my photo shoots. I bought the +creativeLIVE class with Matthew Jordan Smith. I think the thing I learned the most was his rappor with the models. He vocalized a lot and that helped the models move into each pose and just give him what he wanted.

I’ve always been the quiet guy and never given to talking much. However over the last couple weeks, I’ve worked with a couple models and I tried to talk to them more during my shoots.

One of the big things is that here in Syracuse, the models aren’t as experienced as NY city models. Also, America’s next top Model doesn’t show the byplay between the model and the photographer. So it doesn’t tell the whole story to a wannabe model.

I need to find a way to bring out the creative spirit in the models. One thing I think will help is that next year I’ll be doing more personal projects and not working with other photographers quite so much and so I’ll have my own agenda and can work one on one instead of 2 on one.

I’ll still be working on my group projects, but I’m also going to try and do my own things.

Why your photography looks like shit

You had asked if/.why someone might think your shots are snapshots or artistic. To me, artistic expression comes in many forms and even snapshots can be considered art.

I think that people are saying that because of their lack of ability to categorize your photos as “STRONGLY ARTISTIC.”

Now, ask yourself this question, what is your reason for taking a photo? If it’s to capture the moment, or memory, then it is less artistic and more a memory photo. If your reason for taking the photo is artistic then it is art.

Finally, you need to train your artistic eye. It comes from looking at photos from other people and deciding what you like and what you don’t like about them. You should also start to chose what genre you want to work on – be it portraits, nature, architecture, etc. Then go out and find every resource on the internet you can about that genre – look at hundreds of photos in the genre and train your eye to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Good luck.

What really matters in this world

She walks to school with the lunch she packed
Nobody knows what she’s holding back
Wearing the same dress she wore yesterday
She hides the bruises with the linen and lace, oh

The teacher wonders but she doesn’t ask
It’s hard to see the pain behind the mask
Bearing the burden of a secret storm
Sometimes she wishes she was never born

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can’t rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she’s loved
concrete angel

Somebody cries in the middle of the night
The neighbors hear but they turn out the light
A fragile soul caught in the hands of fate
When morning comes it will be too late

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can’t rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she’s loved
concrete angel

A statue stands in a shaded place
An angel girl with an upturned face
A name is written on a polished rock
A broken heart that the world forgot

Through the wind and the rain she stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can’t rise above
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place
Where she’s loved
concrete angel
-Concrete Angel – Martina McBride

Why Occupy NY won’t work

Why Occupy Wall Street Won’t work

They say they speak for the 99%. And yet 99% of Americans don’t support them. Why is that? Everyone has their personal reasons why they can or can’t identify with these people. But what are the underlying issues for the majority of people. I think there are several reasons.

1. Lack of a coherent issue. Explain why you’re pissed. Ask 20 protesters and get 20 answers. 1/2 The signs of the protestors are pissed at wall street, but who on wall street are they pissed at? Oh, and the other 1/2 want world peace, want to cure world hunger, and some of the protestors want to legalize marijuana. WTF people, pick 1 mission and stick to it. Get your agenda straight.
2. Lack of a coherent solution. No one has a clear idea how to fix it. Many people know the tax system is broken, but no one has come up with a viable alternative.
3. Lack of a Standard Bearer. Call it LEADERSHIP. Every yahoo is out there doing their own thing. It’s like a carnival and every nutjob is coming out of the woodwork to raise their own issue. The civil rights movement had Martin Luther King. LEARN FROM HISTORY WHAT WORKS.
4. They can’t stop themselves from escalating to violence. How many people who attend a tea party rally have been arrested? You may not like the tea party, but they follow the law. Let’s face it, NOBODY likes a punk.
5. We’re not buying what you’re selling. Here’s the MAIN reason why it won’t work, and here’s your byline people. Every man woman and child in America has grown up with just one belief/thought/dream/hope/prayer in common. That somehow, someday, through a miracle, the right combination of numbers on a lottery ticket or old fashion hard work, we all want to strike it rich. And this reason extends to the whole world. Everyone wants to be rich, and THAT’S the 99% that you haven’t sold your idea to.

Planning a photo shoot

Planning a photo shoot.

When you plan a photo shoot, you need to script it out ahead of time. The big difference between a good shoot and a great shoot is a shoot that has every detail possible worked out in advance.

Here’s how a great photo shoot develops.
1. Concept. Someone sits down and writes out a concept. It needs to be like a business plan and should include all aspects of the photo shoot.
2. Research. Collect several examples of the concept so you can share with your team.
3. Action plan. Should be on paper – how are you going to execute the concept. List any extra items you need to procure. Start to consider lighting. Pick a location.
4. Scout. Go out to your location and take photographs. Look for any impediments to your shoot – local regulations or permits. Areas of safety concerns. For studio shoots, consider layout, backgrounds and equipment needs.
5. Recruit. Pick your team. Choose a MUA, hairstylists, & wardrobe people, model & photographers, as well as art director & any assistants you’ll need.
6. Hold a meeting. Either teleconference or in person. Meet with the team and discuss the concept. Go over everyone’s role in the process and explain what you need. Share location and concept photos with all members of your team and discuss special needs
7. Reconfirm. A couple days in advance of your shoot, touch base with everyone involved and confirm they are still on board and on track. Check for any last minute snafu
8. Work the photo shoot. Keep everyone on task and refer to the concept photos from time to time.
9. After action wrap up. Sit down and make notes about what went right and what went wrong. Add the items you missed to your todo list for the next photo shoot and learn from your mistakes. A note here. If other people on the team made mistakes, list them for yourself so YOU can learn better and next time be proactive in your planning.
10. Followup. Let people know they did a great job. This isn’t the time to list mistakes they made. It’s time to thank them for their hard work and ask them to let you know if they’d work with you again.