Friday, December 16, 2011

Did I really get to work with Rachel? Pinch me. I must be dreaming.

Rachel Brice ~ Springtime

So... what would you say if the world's finest bellydancer's agent contacted you and asked if you could make a few images? Would you A) Say, thank's but I'm booked? B) Scream and hollar, jump up and down, and run around like a chicken with it's head cut off? C) Suddenly get worried that the Muse, in all her loveliness has left you? D) B and C?

I've heard of Rachel for several years and made a rather terrible video of her during a local event. Imagine my surprise when, in spite of the video, I actually got to work with Rachel and Sol?

What I've come to realize is that creative people are creative through and through.

Rachel Brice ~ Springtime Renaissance

There was a photoshoot that I did for a Steampunk theme set where a model came in with her entourage and tried to "own" the place. Rather like they knew what they were doing. But, as you can likely already guess, they were just young and inexperienced. They'll get better with time and we came away with a few good images (which have since been published).

When I work with true creative people (professional or not), the essence of who they are, what their craft is, and how they live in the world comes through, loud and clear. The Baron Samedi photoshoot was just like that. Scream'n hot great images from the "get, go".

Such was the case with Rachel, too. Solid. Centered. Clear vision. Just perfect to work with from the outset.

Grace of Rachel

I've since spoken with one of Portland's leading photographic lights, Ted Mishima. He is a great artistst and is staying true to his vision. And we get to live his dream. Ted and I spoke a number of years back and he mentioned how fun it would be to work photography in an atelier in Paris, France.

Little then did I realize that my wife and I would be moving there. Soon.

After working with such fine people in Portland, I'm a little worried about being able to find such high caliber folk in Paris. Funny, isn't it? Yet, there it is.

If I'm lucky, creative people will like what I do there and my wife and I will be able to work with them too. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good luck.

In the mean time, I have a LOT of potentially fine images to work from in our shoot with Rachel, and Eyerish, and Danielle, and....

Rachel Brice

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Something wicked this way comes...

As a sometimes neurotic artist, I wonder if my work is "good enough". Every now and then, I take a look back and realize, to me, it's better than I could ever imagine I was capable of.

Perhaps it comes from working with such talented people?

HD version is found here. It looks good as 720p or 1080p, so check it out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

All Hallows Eve ~ Dark Themes

Occasionally the Muse reaches out and swivels my head in a different direction.

Up to some point this Fall I had been working to express beauty in white on white images. All Hallows Eve loomed and my mind suddenly turned dark.


Working with one of my favorite expressive extremely creative models, Eyerish Heather Collins, we developed a couple ideas for a photoshoot where we would work black on black.

As the photoshoot approached I had difficulties "seeing" something useful and interesting.

The day before our shoot, Eyerish asked if she could bring two friends. Meghann Rose and Myrk Kauna were to join us for the three person event in front of my lens.

Baron Samedi

When my wife and I went to pick up our models, my chin dropped at the sight of them. What they expressed and how they dressed were beyond my wildest dreams. Suddenly my concern for what to capture flew out the window as I was presented with one of the best opportunities I've had for making fun and interesting images in a rather long time.

I asked Myrk what had represented. His reply was, "Baron Samedi". That was it! Our theme and our purpose.

Muses Bow

I'm thrilled with the outcome of this shoot.

I worked to include Gothic elements from images I made earlier this Fall in Paris, France. Which reminds me. I need to start a blog on a Bohemian Moves to Paris. That aside, the images from Paris lent themselves very well to what I felt as I worked through the 1200+ images we made that day.

The Baron with his Muse and Mistress

Up to this photoshoot, I was seriously considering selling my lighting gear just before our move and never working in the studio like this again.

I may have to reconsider that position.

While I'm at it, I need to publicly thank HamburgerSteaky for uncovering the seed of desire to move to Paris that was planted nearly 30 years ago. He brought up just how wonderful it would be to have an atelier in Paris to make images in. Thank you, HamburgerSteaky! You know who you are.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A little technology doesn't hurt...

I'm about to cover a topic that makes me a little uncomfortable. Why the uncomfortableness? Well, as I've been preaching to my friends and colleagues ([laughing] sometimes it's a miracle I have either at this point), making a fine photographic image is not about the tools. It's about the fool behind the tools that makes or breaks an image.

Yet, there are some interesting changes taking place in the photographic industry that are having a direct impact on my "vision" and ability to "see" a final image. This entry explores one of the new tools that I've found particularly interesting.

I recently purchased a pair of Sony NEX5 to take with me to Europe this Fall. One had a 16mm f/2.8 lens and the other had Sony's fabulous 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 SEL superzoom. As you likely already know, Sony introduced the NEX series with the ability to perform in-camera image stitching. The function produces a jpg file from a series of images that the camera makes when the camera moved in a sweeping arc.

Reims Cathedral

When the NEX firmware was capable of creating these kinds of in-camera stitched panoramic images, I knew I had to try it out. The reason is related to something I've been pursuing in one form or another for over 20 years. At the height of my large format film camera Madness, I owned an incredible Folmer and Schwing 12x20inch monster, complete with lenses (Fuji, Schneider, Zeiss). This camera was shortly followed with an equally incredible Korona 7x17inch mini-monster.

I never really made any images of value with either of these camera systems. Well, perhaps I did with the 7x17 Korona. I have a stack of negatives I've never printed of steam locomotives that I shot using a Kodak 250mm Wide Field Ektar. So the jury is still out. The fact I don't have anything to really show for those early efforts lends credence to the rumor that I'm completely mad about camera equipment and not image making.

A decade down the road, many gallery showings, magazine publications, and awards of all kinds later, I may finally be able to dis-spell those early evil but entirely likely true rumors of my insanity. It took me that long to finally believe what I said to my friends and colleagues. The image is all that matters. How you get there does not.

Temple ~ Buttes Chaumont

Moving along to the Digital Age and thinking about how I could get a large detail filled file and create a panorama, I have used several image stitching software packages. I found I like the wide narrow aspect of panoramas. Some of my better work included software stitched panoramas from inside steam engine cabins. These software applications were used outside of the camera and on a computer during post-processing. So when working in the field, I had to rely on my abilities to provide enough overlap between frames to ensure a decent panorama result.

Enter the Sony NEX5.

Basilique St Denis

In-camera panorama creation is great! Now I can see panorama image results in the field. This allows me to make adjustments in exposure, field sweep, and composition from one image to the next. The number of, to me, interesting panoramas I come back with has suddenly increased.

When my wife and I recently visited Paris, France, I was keen to try my hand at in-camera panorama generation. The images here are some of the first results of this exercise. To say I'm thrilled would be an understatement.

Does in-camera panorama creation supplant my earlier software stitch processes? No. It only enhances what I can come away with.

The last image shared here is an example of a software stitched panorama that I took on the same Paris trip. I hand held the camera and shot off images one at a time in an upward sweeping motion. I did this because I wanted to see if I could keep the shadow area noise level to a minimum by shooting RAW images in place of jpgs.

Reims Cathedral

It doesn't matter, actually. A good image is a good image, whether it's shot as RAW or in-camera processed jpg original files. As an academic exercise, I'm satisfied with both results.

It feels like I'm coming back with more and more images that please me. Which leads me to believe that new photographic image making tools are helping me create broader range of expressions.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Something gripped me...

Tending the Humanairy

Yes, something gripped my imagination.

It started with looking at images from my favorite artists. I wanted to reverse engineer what I was looking at to see how certain effects and composition might be applied to my work.

As a line out of an old Mel Brooks movie goes, "Something funny happened on the way to the Coliseum."

Katy Swenson

I find it's true in nearly 100 percent of the cases where I reverse engineer something, work to implement changes in my own work and ways of seeing, only to come out the other end with something completely unexpected and nearly fully my own.

This is what happened on my way to shooting a series of white on white images.

One of my favorite models needed to get in front of my lens and we were kicking around ideas for what we might do. I like the very Portland style bohemian fashions that turn out in this city. So we talked about white on white, but heavily layered and heavily textured.

... By These Graces...

When Eyerish showed up at the studio both my wife and I were stunned and instantly appreciative. The level of effort that went into the costumes that Eyerish and Lulu created is nothing short of amazing.


We worked for three hours together and turned out some really fun work.

Not a month later, another model asked if I would photograph her dance troupe. She wanted to be photographed against a white backdrop too.

Taking liberties with the idea, I continued to deepen and expand the white on white theme that I started to develop with Eyerish. The results of the bellydance photoshoot are also, in my mind, outstanding. I find I really enjoy the high key lighting over textures and skin tones.

Apsara Maiden

For all the liberties that I took with everyone, I need to thank them for allowing me to risk their publish printed "look" in allowing me to work in the processing manner that I did. Behind each image is the straight, normal photographic image.

As I've come to learn about myself, I can't leave straight, normal photographic images alone. Not when where is something glimmering and attracting way down the processing line.

Shape Shifting

Thursday, July 07, 2011


I have been preparing a few prints for a show I'll have starting later this month down at Bread and Ink. They're located around 37th and Hawthorn near-in SE. It's a great restaurant that's been around for years. They use locally sourced organic foods that are then cooked up into various tasty dishes. Well worth a visit.

Bogville ~ Gypsy Dust

Taking a quick look at the results, I have to say, I can't believe these images are my own work. The works are full of detail and show (to me) incredible resolution. They also have a quality of light that I never thought I'd ever achieve (see a prior blog entry on this very topic).

Looking at my work from a somewhat removed third person point of view is rather educational. I realize that I work differently than many of my friends and colleagues. This came after an email exchange with Pete Gomena, current President of the Portland Photographer's Forum (PPF). He p0inted out something that I hadn't fully considered nor appreciated before.

Vivian Rotwang Gashly, Lord Chief Justice of the Sunken Temple ~ Momento Mori

In very broad generalizations, I feel that there are two approaches used by photographers in making their images. The first are "found" image makers and the second are "idea" image makers. In "f0und" image making, a person wanders the world looking for something that attracts their eye. *Snap* goes the shutter and, with luck, a person has a pleasing image. When I follow DP Review, Fred Miranda, and many of the camera manufacturer's "expert" advice posts I see that a great many people work in this manner. Wander the world. Look for something interesting.

For "idea" image makers, it seems like we start from something we read or saw or felt. Then we work to re-create the reading, seeing, or feeling in the form of an image. I count myself as one of these kinds of image makers. I feel I can't make a decent landscape image, but, after looking at the prints for the upcoming show, I'm not half bad at taking ideas and transforming them into images.

Wayward Soul ~ Lost Child

It's a strange feeling to realize this about myself. I worked for years to follow in Saint Ansel's and Brother Weston's footsteps. The path to enlightenment lay in the world of cameras, lenses, and image making processes (careful film selection, film exposure and development, and printmaking). Or so I believed.

Perhaps seven years ago a huge shift in how I worked took place. I rented a studio from Ray Bidegain for a year or two and started to work with models. For me, to work with models, I needed an idea. Somewhere to begin. Otherwise all I would be left with was a model, perhaps attractively attired, standing in from of a viewer like a stiff sack of potatoes.

Bogville ~ Gypsy Dust

Over the next several years I read a lot of books by Terry Pratchett, a few by Niel Gaiman, Susanna Clarke and Ian Banks, and remembered how it felt to read Jules Verne. It was natural for me to then seek out scenes and settings that reminded me of what I read. It took time for me to work the lighting to the point where the images expressed the depth and perspective of what I saw in "my mind's eye" (hmmm... that's almost like St Ansel's "pre-visualization", only turned on it's head in oh so many ways...).

This morning I read a few threads on DP Review and Fred Miranda that reminded me of where I started, oh, forty some years ago. Folks yammering on about equipment and lenses and what's best and what's junk. It's almost as if they need to yackity-yack so they can avoid having to make an image they could be judged against. Then I considered my prints. These are sharper in all dimensions, particularly in the execution of ideas, than anything I ever made from an 8x10inch silver gelatine contact print.

Bogville ~ Gypsy Dust

At this point, the camera equipment nearly does not matter. For me, it is the development of ideas that matter most. All the rest doesn't really matter. Nearly. I would like to show my work in Paris, France. But that still has nothing to do with camera equipment, now does it?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The more things change...

I spent some time studying the images of Joel Grimes. I also spent some time studying the Canadian photographer, Renaud Bergeron, and the European photographer, Eugenio Recuenco.

Tungsten Bob a mange' la Poule

What attracts me to their work is the quality of light they have each achieved. There seems to be a sense of balance between the strong off camera lighting and their somewhat subdued shadow details. Eugenio Recuenco's work reminds me of film set lighting. Perhaps something from a colorized film noir feature. Renaud Bergeron's work is stunning for his mastery of his subject matter. I found Joel Grimes through his Flickr images.

My own work seemed flat and boring by comparison. Perhaps it's that competitive streak in me. Or perhaps it's my continual striving for "perfection". I don't know, but something needed to be done about my boring lighting.

Estella Zephyrine ~ Bogville ~ Gypsy Dust

After WWII certain fashion photographers working in Paris, France made wonderful use of north light. That's where a large bank of north facing windows spilled light onto a subject. It is gorgeous, this kind of light. But the three photographers who's work I admire did not seem to employ that kind of light.

William Mortensen (St Ansel's arch nemesis, for reasons I have never understood) wrote a series of wonderful books back in the 1930's. They helped photographers understand their craft as a means of improving their work. William encouraged the use of two kinds of lighting. One gave an iconic, Byzantine tile mosaic kind of light. The other gives a more "familiar" kind of lighting effect. I have followed William's ideas for the past four years. Perhaps it was my flat lighting approach which led to boring images?

Courtesan in Teal

In any event, I reviewed my lighting equipment along with my approach and came to feel additional controlled light sources were required. Alien Bees had a PLM parabolic umbrella light system that was back-ordered for many months. One day I saw that their new materials were arriving and I ordered a PLM64.

What I came to realize was that my shoot-thru umbrellas were spilling too much light onto the backdrop, and that my main light could not be controlled in the manner I wanted. I also realized I needed to begin varying the intensity of my various lights to enhance the textures of a subject's clothing as well as to gently spread the shadow areas in certain ways.

Pensive Child ~ Bogville ~ Gypsy Dust

It took awhile and several shoots for me to gain confidence in the new approach. Yet the goal was attractive enough that I felt it was worth pursuing. By the time Ivy Slime of Wigslitters asked me to help photograph her wigs a second time, I felt I was ready. Quickly on the heals of that shoot, Tiare Tashnick asked if I could make a few images of her Bogville ~ Gypsy Dust cast.

The results are, hopefully, conveying the change in direction in a way that makes my work subtly more dramatic and approachable. It's only been two years since I submitted work for publication in "1000 Steampunk Creations." The book was very recently released and I am fortunate enough to have two pages of work printed as part of the large, beautiful compilation of Steampunk-themed work. While this is quite thrilling, I realize that I'd love to have another shot at it. I'm much more pleased with my latest images.

Ms. Alvida Wicketstitch ~ La Reve

Perhaps this is what drives me, then. Not competition. Not "perfection". Rather, perhaps what I'm really involved in is a continual exploration of the craft and art of image making.

It's a real joy, photography.

Monday, March 07, 2011


Duchess of the French Court

The longer I live in Portland the more I absolutely love it here. The creative energy is vibrant, accessible, and, well, it certainly helps me feel part of the whole "scene" when I can contribute to the image making fun.

Recently a nice young lady, whom we shall call Ivy Slime, contacted me to see if I would help her out. She runs an Etsy store-front under the name "WigSplitters". Ivy sells wigs and other Victorian style regalia.

Duchesse en Profile

I keep my eyes open for new photo-making opportunities, particularly when they involve image styles I'm attracted to. Noir Victorian Gothia, Tribal Fusion, Steampunk, Oilpunk, and Cyberpunk are themes that currently "turn my crank".

My model was stuck in another city. So I called Ivy to ask if we could/should still continue with the photoshoot. Miracle of miracles! She had someone already lined up and they were on their way to the studio.

Katarina was a complete novice in front of the camera. She was a little nervous I think. Yet she held it together very nicely for the duration of the shoot. In fact, I would never have known she was nervous unless Ivy had made the interpretation for me.

Have I ever said how much I enjoy this kind of work? Oh, maybe only a million or more times!

Energy Waveform Ingenue

Friday, February 11, 2011

SilverShotz - model credits

Fourteen images have been published in SilverShotz magazine. Since there wasn't room in the publication to credit the models, I want to do that here.

First, on the inside front cover is Eyerish Heather Collins.

Bogville - Eyelet V. Wayward

Jay Lieber

Bogville - Mordalial Abrams

Uxepi Ipexu

Bogville- Maestro Crunk Vaultz


Bogville - LadyShade

This is bad form. I don't remember who this is.


Grayson White

Bogville - just before the show

Kris White



Bogville - they Mayor's Son

Noah Mickens

Bogville - Mayor in repose

Kate Badenoch

Bogville - Malachi

Thursday, February 10, 2011

SilverShotz Magazine hits the stands...

I can't wait to get home to see how the issue turned out and which images were chosen. The anticipation... the anticipation...

Rising Motion - Age of Mutations

The Muses Steam and Hiss, Crackle and Fizz. The Muses scream of Irreversible Past and ponder Unknowable Future. The Muses close their ears to the Unfathomable and open their eyes to the Dreams of Squids and Red Herrings Daring. Laviathans of deep dark dank wriggle and slither between Coral Towers.

Reve et Savoir

Cheating Death tears the spirit to render both matter and reality substantially modified. The costs of changing forever ones fate is impossibly high.

Command to Enter

Into the vastness of time, come all ye whom dare dash the madness of life. Come all ye to whom life means little. Come all ye whom desire to taste and test the three ring circus of the fates.

Friday, January 14, 2011

... after Paris...

Portland - Streetart

I decided to take another look at the level of accomplishment in Portland's streetart. Paris, I have to admit, was pretty hard to top. But, I thought perhaps things were improving around here too.

Portland - Streetart

The site for somewhat decent graff has been torn down. I'm sure other sites are developing, but I personally only know of one active site, and it is just down the street from where I live.

Portland - Streetart

Working with saturation and tonal range, I hoped to capture some of the intensity of the original work.

Portland - Streetart