Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Large Format, The Way of the Future

Well, at least it is for me! While I am getting together information on my next post on developing a website, I would like to jump in my next venture after my portfolio class is finished, View cameras and large format photography.

Last week in my Intermediate class, my teacher introduced us to probably the most flexible, time consuming, and incredibly customizable area on the shooting side of photography. I never imagined being able to make an entire object be in focus just by tilting the front of the camera. Nor did I think it was possible to adjust the composition without having to move the entire camera. Its incredibly mind blowing after spending the last few months with my twin lens trying to get the subject just in the right area. Moving this way, moving that way. trying to get it just right.

There aren't too many downsides to large format that I can see. The main ones are the cost of film, using a ground glass to focus, the weight, and the cost. Well, the cost of film is debatable. Some, like Ken Rockwell, say that shooting large format is actually cheaper than shooting 35mm, since you shoot less and you get more. (I tried looking for the article where he said that, but I found a good Film vs. Digital one instead. He has a section where he compared the cost of shooting digital to the cost of shooting film.)

I think, I'm going to jump in the easy way. I just started looking on eBay at Graflex Crown Graphics and Speed Graphics for an inexpensive way to get into the format, even though they are somewhat more of a middle ground between 35mm and View cameras. With the Graphics, they are only able to tilt and turn on the front by the lens instead of being able to do it on the front and back And they both come with a Rangefinder, a ground glass, and a wire sports finder frame for multiple ways of focusing and setting up the shots.

If anybody has any comments on the Crown Graphics or view cameras in general, leave a comment below

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Web Site Planning Part 1

One of the most important issues that artists have to deal with is how to show their work and how to get paying jobs. There are convenient sites on the internet that solve the issue of how to show their work such as Deviant Art and Flickr, but these sites can only take you so far. These sites are great tools for entering contests and getting noticed if you don't want to pursue a professional career, and they can help you get feedback from other knowledgeable artists. By the way, I have profiles on DeviantArt and Flickr where I actively post my work. Mostly my unedited shots go up on Flickr and my edited shots go on DeviantArt.

I'm at the point where I need something a bit more professional so I can get side jobs in the future, and having my own website is the way to go. The problems I face are very few but somewhat overwhelming. I, like most other photographers, am really cheap. Not so much cheap as I am frugal, which is a concept my friends don't ever get about me. They look at my over sized nose and go straight to cheap. So, I am looking to build and design my own website but there are a ridiculous amount of options these days for making a website. Before, you used to have to go down to the bookstore and pick up a book on HTML and Javascript and hope you don't get bored after 10 minutes. These days, there are about 15 different ways to make a site. The most plausible options I have seem to be either Flash or Wordpress.

Wordpress is a content management system that is basically a template that is very simple to add new content with very little to no change to the site other than the new content. It has several add-ons used for automating and simplifying the entire process so there is less to learn and less to do which is very easy for a person with little knowledge of how to run a website. There are several different addons to facilitate showing off my images, but it seems to be a bit too much for what I am looking for.

My other option is to design my site using Adobe Flash. Flash is a design system with an incorporated programming language called Actionscript. The hardest part about going this route is that I have to do every part of the process myself as opposed to wordpress where all the functions are done and ready to go and the design needs to be changed.

On Part 2, I will be going over the actual process of planning and what factors to think about when devising a concept for your site.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last Set of from LA for Awhile

Its been about 2 weeks since my last post. I went for a night shoot in Hollywood, where all my pictures still came all washed out which leads me to believe that there is something wrong with my camera. I realized afterwards that I took the wrong meter measurements with my SLR to match up with my meter on my Yashica so I screwed up again. I'm going to get the whole apature issue down one of these days, whether it be depth of field or overexposing my film. The most important mistake I learned was don't meter for 250 ISO when your film is clearly marked 400 ISO. You let too much light in and then your pictures look like crap. I'll post the examples at the bottom of the post.

Other than that, I was having some weird issues where some spots are really sharp and other spots were not focused correctly, and it was happening on the same negative. This issue has been happening since my first test roll since fixing the shutter mechanism in February.

I was going to go back and re-shoot everything that I jacked up with my incorrect metering this past weekend, but the intense rain on Friday and Saturday ruined any chance at that. I wont be able to get out there for another two weekends which is a major bummer.

Here are the most decent of what I shot on my most recent trip.
I started my night off at Staples Center with a nice shot of what I presume to  be a statue of Magic Johnson

Took the Metro Red Line to Pantages

Cut on over to the Arclight Cinemas

And I ended up down at the House of Blues and walked to The Key Club about half a mile down the road.

These next two shots are from my Intermediate class. They are substandard and I didn't work very hard when I took these since I developed the roll with only half of the exposures used. They really aren't substandard, I just didn't get the reaction from my teacher that I was hoping for. I shall do better on the next project. I need to show off more.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ansel Adams Exhibit at DRKRM Gallery

Last week, I was fortunate to go to Downtown Los Angeles to see the series of photos Ansel Adams made for Fortune Magazine in 1940. This was my first gallery viewing as an artist. I cannot really count my trips to MOMA or the Metropolitan Museum, when I went to New York in 2006, because I wasn't viewing the pictures, paintings and other art from an open mind.

Now that I have a bit of a background in photography, these pictures were very interesting. Most of what I was interested in was how fine grained the shots were, I use a high grain film made even higher since I mostly expose my film for 800 speed instead of its 400 ISO rating, and trying to figure out his reasoning for picking a specific location or point of view of the location.

There were quite a few pictures that I don't even think modern photographers would do, like this one of blurred bowlers and this double exposure right next to it. I also liked this long perspective shot. I understand that these pictures were for a magazine, but was not able to get an opinion on the point of these pictures other than to show the diverse and incredibly vast differences in lifestyles in as little as 10 miles apart. He caught these people living in ridiculously small trailers in Santa Monica, then went over to the densely populated Downtown and then to what looks like homes in Beverly Hills. He also spent a bit of time over at Lockheed in Burbank.

All in all, this was a very interesting Gallery series that had its ups and downs with what I found to be interesting. All the links go to thumbnails from the Drkrm website but you can view larger versions of the pictures at their website drkrm.com. The exhibit is around for two more weekends. It ends on March 17th, so if you have yet to see it, or would like to see it again, I suggest you get over there. There is no telling when It will be viewed again.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Portfolio Shoot in Downtown LA

This weeks shoot was a bit different from the last few shoots I went on. I went to see the Ansel Adams Exhibit that was being held at an independent studio in Downtown using prints provided by the Los Angeles Public Library. I'll talk more about the photo exhibit in a different post.

I didn't really really shoot too much this week. I had one roll left in my Yashica Mat and I needed to get it finished ASAP. Right around the corner from the exhibit just happened to be the Tower Theater. I visited this theater a few weeks ago on my initial visit to the Broadway theater district. For me, the place seemed to be fairly difficult to shoot as the front of the theater is blocked by an ever so stupid looking street light placed in front of a magnificent looking building. The last time, I got a similar shot to what was printed on the main page of the theaters website. So this time, I thought I would focus more on the side of the building and shooting it from the back.

The majority of the shots seemed to be of the kind altered by the parallax between the two lenses, but I did get a pretty great shot, in my opinion, that I probably shall be using on my portfolio.

As I've noticed recently while shooting film, at least I got one.

Part two of my shoot was just a few blocks down from the Tower Theater. The Mayan Theater and the Belasco. I've been seeing the Mayan Theater pop up ever since I first learned about it, like on Storage Wars.

Well, that's about it for this week. I think I am going to go on Thursday or Friday evening to get some good pictures of The Roxy, The Palladium and the Keyclub.