One of my favorite commissions is shooting an artist working in their studio. The best results are when an artist lets me come in for a couple hours when they are working on one or more pieces. We start out with more talking than shooting. Pretty soon the artist forgets about the camera (not always easy when strobes are going off every few seconds) and I start to see both the Art and the Artist’s personality emerge.
The shots in this post are from a shoot I did last week with with Ria de Neeve, a Missoula-based artist who’s work you may have seen in my prior posts. (You can view some of Ria’s amazing paintings at her website: www.iamariver.org.)
The purpose of these shoots is to provide artists with (more…)
Yesterday I was climbing Blue Mountain, just west of Missoula, MT with our dog Angua. I ran into some great flowers and took a number of macro shots using extension tubes.
It wasn’t until I was doing post processing this morning that I found an added bonus. I was doing sharpness checks at 1:1 in Lightroom 3, and suddenly there was …. a dustspot? No, it was…. a spider! A very tiny one to be sure, hiding in the petals of the subject flower.
Can’t see it? Here it is close up and personal. In retrospect I was extremely lucky that it fell within the depth of field. I’ve shot bugs before, but I believe this is my smallest wildlife subject to date.
When people learn I shoot art professionally one of the first three questions they ask is “How high a resolution camera do I need to do that?” (The other two top questions are – ‘Will people really pay for that?’ and ‘How much do you charge?’)
My answer to their first question is a question: “How big a copy does your customer want to make, and do they wish to print it, or just show it on the web?” You’ve seen perfectly good images of artwork on the web that were taken with a 4 megapixel (or less) camera. However, you probably haven’t seen art prints of any size from that camera. (The answer to the other two questions – “Will people really pay?” and “How much?” are “Yes,” and “It depends…” (More on the last question in a future post.))
Let’s cut to the chase and do some quick calculations about camera resolution and what it means for final image size – both printed and web:
What really matters is pixels-per-inch (or centimeter) sent to the output device. Note that this is NOT the DOTS per inch your printer brags about, its PIXELS per inch, the little dots that make up the image.) For printing, you need to send at least 150 (bare minimum), and preferably 240-300 pixels per inch to a good quality printer to achieve crisp results. Over 300 DPI, and most observers aren’t going to be able to see it (and many printers won’t print it any clearer). For on-screen viewing (web, slide shows, conversion to video) you only need 72-96 DPI (dots per inch). Here is a quick way to calculate how well your (more…)
Are you self-employed and using the web to look for health insurance you can afford? Be careful or you could get – or give – much more than you bargain for.
Self-employed means self-insured. Self-employed people (like me) have no employer to pay – and hide from us – the true cost of our health insurance. We get to figure out where to get the $10,000 – $20,000 insurance costs each year for coverage that doesn’t kick in until you’ve spent that much out of pocket.
But this posting isn’t about how screwed up our health care system is – you know that already. It’s about people who I believe are taking advantage of people’s need to find health insurance they can afford.
In my own search for affordable (more…)
A day for celebrating our independence in the United States. Why do we HAVE that independence? Because a hell of a lot of people gave up a lot, and continue to give up a lot, to see that we keep it.
I extend my thanks for the democracy I enjoy to the people who made it possible. The obvious group are those who serve or served in our military. Some, like my father and my good friend (and fellow photographer) Tom Ferguson gave up years of their youth. Others, like my Uncle Roger, were severely wounded, and spent the rest of their lives living with pain and disability so that we could continue to live in freedom and democracy. Countless others gave the ultimate sacrifice, (more…)
No, this is not about great art shots of nature and/or abstraction. I love taking those, and I frequently spend my free hours seeking them out. But these days it’s tough paying the bills with art photos. On the other hand sculptors and painters often need photos of their Art for their business selling art. Press releases, catalogs, fliers, and small run reproduction needs all create a market for the agile, technically proficient photographer with the right gear. So if you can’t ORIGINATE the value chain by creating the original art, as a photographer you can at least still eat by JOINING the value chain!
Artists are not generally wealthy, and there is plenty of competition, so shooting art is not a way to make a LOT of money. But it IS a way to meet some creative people, to test your technical skills, and to have fun taking photos of people within their creative space. Who knows – it might also help cover your costs in slow times, or at least keep you from getting bored.
For me, shooting artwork breaks into two kinds of sessions: commercial recording gigs and creative celebrations. Recording gigs often don’t even directly involve the artist. It’s a straightforward job that pays $10 to $100 bucks for each delivered image depending upon quantity, complexity, and location. You’re expected to produce perfectly color balanced, proportionally correct, glare-free, spotless high resolution TIFF and JPEG images of the artwork – sometimes in your own studio, often elsewhere.
The real creative photography fun begins when the artist gets involved. (No, I’m NOT being sarcastic. Artists are great – or at least they can be – if their ego isn’t too big or too bruised.)
What makes them so much fun to work with? (more…)
There are several good sunrise/sunset calculators available, some of which you can print out in table format. But The Photographer’s Ephemeris takes this a giant step forward. Tied to Google mapping it lets you pick any location on the globe.
As expected, it gives you sunrise/sunset, and moonrise/moonset, plus twilight times for each day (Civil, Nautical, and Astronomical for both a.m. and p.m.). But it does something FAR better, something I’ve never found before. It shows you lines that represent the angle at which the sun or moon will (more…)
At a time when it seems like so many things have gotten worse with age, I was thrilled to experience something that has improved immeasurably. Thursday evening, June 10th, I attended the graduation ceremony for the University of Washington School of Art. You know – cap and gown, stodgy people saying stodgy things far too stodgily. And taking far too long to do it. Follow that with a line of Regimented drones marching in a black ant-line, collecting their certification; identical beings proceeding on to their next mission. I recalled the feeling I had when I graduated from college – It felt like a lemming run of (more…)
Photoshop gives you the power to do things to photos that can make anyone with with a sense of taste beyond the one found in their mouth cringe. This do-everything monster does have a bit of a learning curve (which sometimes feels more like a WALL as you struggle through it…). But once you get over the frustrations, it’s well worth the climb (see link below).
I started with GIMP several years ago, switched to Photoshop about 12 months ago when I got serious about doing professional photography again, and by last fall (more…)
I always have a camera at hand. You never know….
But this morning, at 7:24 a.m. I was just too rushed – had to drop off my son at school, and get a set of DVD’s delivered to a client before 8. As I headed out the door and reached for my 20D, I realized the batteries were still in the charger, and the CompactFlash chip still in my PC. I hesitated, grabbed my car keys and shot out the door behind my son.
The universe can be a heartless bastard when it has to re-teach you a lesson. Especially if it’s a lesson it’s taught you before, like “If you think of yourself as a photographer, always take your camera. Even for the short trips…” (more…)