8 new grasses pictures here: http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/grasses/#1
In principle I am not that much of a fan of ‘serial’ photography – i.e. photography which appeals to the basic hoarding instinct: photographing the same thing again and again hoping to make the uninteresting meaningful by forcing infinite comparison. Nor am I attracted to career moves in which the main claim to creative genius is that the main focus is on some narrow non-mainstream interest. In the first instance, in photography one starts out by feeding ones low collecting instincts by making a copy of reality. It may not be wise to keep pushing that to it’s limits. Photography for me is about interpretation not originality. If you photograph frog spawn all your life - perhaps frog spawn is interesting but that does necessarily translate to profound interest in your photography.
But I am not fighting it – I admit I never get tired of trying to take the perfect grasses image.
In the final analysis, when a good grasses picture works it offers a touch of the magic one expects of a good abstract painting. And any time photography gets compared to painting the temptation is to throw ones hat in the air with celebration.
But photography is not painting. At at shoot time there are major visual challenges which conspire to make the final image a pale reflection of the original scene. That is always at the back of ones mind with photographs, but but it’s never really a factor when viewing an abstract painting.
The camera is mono-focal and static, while a major part of the visual magic one experiences when viewing grasses (at mid distance) is the sense of depth, definition offered by stereo vision. This sensation is accentuated by when one moves relative to the scene as one becomes aware that the ground is made up of myriads of individual grass strands.
When reviewing most of the photographs one makes of grasses, the tendency is for the texture to become a flat ill defined mass. Certainly, one could shoot high definition moving images to make a literal record which shows what it was like to be there at the time – but that is not what human memory hungers for. It seeks simple iconic still representations.
I dont plan to I will constrain myself when it comes to grasses for now. Indeed it is probably time I consolidated former work and created a projects gallery wholly devoted to grass pictures.
I took a few moments from my assignment to shoot a few pics for personal use. This was Paris Photo’s first gig in Los Angeles and by all accounts it was a bit hit.
I did not have time to care how it felt but it was strange to wander in and out of (or past) the 70+ galleries/spaces occupied by photo galleries/publishers from all corners of the world – intent on taking my own pictures, rather than admiring the material on show. Some of the work was excellent but at the time it had to compete with the environs for my attention and in the main, it lost. I did especially like Fred Herzog’s images shown by Equinox
I had little time to spare for personal pics so I feature only 6 images in my own gallery http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/paramount . As explained, the pictures are very peripheral to the event itself.
A full gallery with 22 pictures here
A fascinating day out, from cowboy towns turned wine destinations, to big views and small mountain roads through part of the extensive Los Padres Forest area. Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is 8 miles from Santa Ynez, but apart from a bevy of security vehicles and guards behind a secure gate, nothing is visible from the road.
Which came first: his infatuation with ‘product’, or the ad world’s infatuation with René Magritte?
As promised in my prior post – a properly produced version of the fish on bike picture.
I thought the whole world was familiar with the expression behind the picture. Gloria Steinem’s statement here, for context:
“… you credit me with the witticism ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ In fact, Irina Dunn, a distinguished Australian educator, journalist and politician, coined the phrase back in 1970 when she was a student at the University of Sydney. She paraphrased the philosopher who said, ‘Man needs God like fish needs a bicycle.’ Dunn deserves credit for creating such a popular and durable spoof of the old idea that women need men more than vice versa.”
Paul Ellis - creator of Stop43.org and resolute campaigner for photographers’ rights, in the face of recent UK orphan works initiatives. asked if anyone on the AOP list had a ‘fish on a bicycle’ image. He wanted a token image to distribute, which would illustrate the incongruousness of Clause 66. Clause 66 is another attempt to legislate ill thought out rules, permitting use of copyright in a manner which arguably dramatically erodes photo-creator’s ownership of their own intellectual property, without achieving much of real or lasting value for the rest of society.
I like others’ first reaction was to want to help but I had nothing along those lines. I began to think about creating something but was reluctant.
A ‘fish on a bicycle’ is an easy thing to mention in passing. It sounds like your client brief: give me a really bright and shiny photo of a black panther on a starless night. We all get the incongruity of the idea from the words - so now why do we need to have an inadequate image to illustrate it?
A passable image of a fish on a bike could be extremely arduous to produce. Who would have made such an image just hanging around? I thought of offering to photo-comp the thing if others would come up with the raw elements, but the prospect of dealing with mismatching images filled me with dread.
Just as the business of comedy is a very serious matter for a comedian, the maker of fantasy/surreal image needs to ground the work with a range of ‘very real’ visual cues. Capturing what people think is visual reality is hard enough but compositing an image such as this one, from a range of existing images, each which belongs in a totally different domain and lighting (i.e. under water versus the street), and making them relate to each other is quite another. Then it struck me that I should give it a go with CGI. At least both elements would exist in the same 3D space and lighting conditions.
That said – the request was ‘send me what you have so I can use it right now’ – not in a month. With CGI, whatever one is doing one expects to hit a wall immediately. The normal flow is to be hit straight away with so many compositional/visual options and design decisions that, none of which can be properly assessed without a mountain of building and experimentation that one just freezes unless one has independent direction. One expects most first round results to look really dumb on completion, so it frequently takes me forever to commit to a final look.
All that said - there was nothing stopping me giving it a go. No one would know this time if I started and then just gave up.
But I was surprised – thanks to existing 3D models and a set of unusually low expectations, I found I had a fairly pleasing sketch image from a rendered 3d model barely more than half an hour.That is record time for me. Anyhow here it is the token ‘in context’ on Stop 43.
Watch this space – I might develop the idea further and do a better job technically too.
I was prepared for a regular sized rain shower when I set out a week ago at Las Gallinas, San Rafael . I like shooting in the rain and in general I depend on a quite effective rainproof cover for my Tenba backpack camera case. I had what I thought was adequate protection for me also, but rather than just ‘being rained upon’ is probably better described as being ‘brutally attacked from the heavens’.
It was a day of spectacular clouds and I was about 35 minutes walk away from the vehicle (and any kind of cover), shooting a distant rainbow over the bay. The moon was visible in the blue sky above squalls perhaps 10 miles away while the clouds directly above me did reveal what was about to happen.
A gallery of 6 images is here
Suddenly big drops of rain fell out of the sky and in less than 30 seconds I had cameras stashed away. It still seemed likely that things would not go beyond the token shower I thought would catch up with me sometime. But suddenly a storm force wind appeared from nowhere followed by lashing horizontal rain. In less than half a minute the water was penetrating all of my bodily protection and I feared for my equipment. I don’t know why, but crawled under a short almost leafless, bush which in theory should have offered zero protection but somehow it had a dramatic effect. Out of the wind on hands and knees, somehow I the rain seemed to falling everywhere but on me. I could hardly believe it and t felt unreal to be in the middle of the deluge and protected only by a few twigs.
In less than 10 minutes it was all over and feeling a touch humiliated and somewhat like a a bedraggled coyote which I often see skulking about there, I crawled out and started shooting the intense double rainbow (featured here). What may or may not be apparent in the photo was how bright the arc of the rainbow was. It was near sunset and a the air was pristine and clear and the departing rainstorm was a dark backdrop and the curve seemed almost blinding.
One thing which is rarely apparent with rainbows is how bright the atmosphere is within the bounds on the primary arc, compared to outside it. It is as if rainbow is in fact a giant bubble rather than a lonely curve across the sky. The raindrops inside the rainbow clearly are acting somewhat like ‘Scotchlight paint’ which one finds on motorways and street signs. Light enters the small glass beads in the paint and the lens effect reflects it directly back to where it came from. Similarly with the drops of rain inside the rainbow but it seems amazing that the sudden cut off of this effect. Raindrops which are immediately outside the strict arc of the rainbow do not reflect the light in the same way. Apparently this is because reflections beyond this point are suddenly indirect (accounting for the secondary rainbow. this is the Alexander’s dark band (after Alexander of Aphrodisias (200 AD). I have not noticed this before, nor had a camera around to capture it.
I received and interesting response to my recent post ‘Saturday, round the Bay on Frequent Sea. And, a freakish magic city mirage effect, as the sun sets from Astronomer Andrew Young of San Diego State University. Andrew’s area of expertise is photometry and planetary atmospheres. Andrew has a page devoted to the down-to-earth phenomenon of the green flash and has page devoted to computer graphic simulations here.
Andrew wrote to request more data about where when and how high above sea level the my photos (showing the strange city like mirages) photos were made. No one suggests that the effects were caused by anything other than temperature inversion over the ocean – causing not only the cloud images from well over the horizon, but the orb of the sun itself to split into two (in the final stages of the sunset).
I was able to oblige and even to point to an archived time-lapse movie of the actual day the effects occurred from Lawrence Hall of Science‘s webcam perched high up above Berkeley. Not only that, I was able to find other images shot from perhaps 300 ft above the ocean on the Marin headlands peninsula, which show the sun actually splitting into three distinct images. Here is one of them.
Andrew’s answer was to simulate a possible atmospheric scenario behind this (included below).
this is the emperature profile I used. There are 2 thermal inversions in it. Well, the interesting part of the structure is (numerically) just this: * h T 0.00000 278.1500 0.07500 277.6000 0.08000 278.0000 0.10000 277.8000 0.11000 278.6000 1.00000 275.1500 The heights are in kilometers; the temperatures are in Kelvin. So the lower inversion is from 75 to 80 meters height, and the upper one is from 100 to 110 m. As you can see, just a few tenths of a degree suffice to produce the image structures in the gif animation.
There is not much to say: Post thanksgiving, a few minutes at sunset on a sultry winter’s evening. A magic few minutes, a few snapshots. http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/projects/Tiburonsunset/
Rush Creek, Novato - a nice place to walk and an even nicer place to cycle. A small gallery of sunset images http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/projects/rushcreek/
Frequent Sea is a 32 ft Aluminum survey vessel with 700 hp capacity and steerable turbine thrusters (instead of a rudder).
The idea was to fill up with gas in Emeryville and race out to the Golden Gate Bridge and photograph it from underneath at sunset. The following is short photo essay on the trip . The conditions were good but with serious time constraints a lot of the images had to be shot while moving. Suffice it to say that 35 knots thows one about somewhat. It requires holding on with both hands even while seated. And it requires elaborate choreography to move around and bracing for taking photos, to say nothing of protecting the equipment from damage while doing that.
To add to the sense of unreality – being somewhere rather special, suffused with the sweet sunset light – suddenly a city of skyscrapers appeared around the setting sun. To the naked eye there could be no mistake – someone had transplanted Miami and placed it apparently some 20 miles out on the Pacific horizon. See the picture series.
I had to be temperature inversion causing an interesting lens effect resulting mirages of clouds which could well be massively distant. The slice of the sun in this shot hung around at least 5 minutes after the last of the sun had passed the horizon line. This suggest that the light from the sun itself was being reflected/bent something like 1.25 degrees by this giant lens. I suppose someone might hazard a mildly educated guess as to how far away the clouds were, based on that. I prefer to look at the color of the light that appears on those stripes. If It is no ‘last red rays of setting sun’ hitting them out there.
A brief walk about on Nob Hill during Fleet week with the odd sighting of the Blue Angels flashing past in the gaps between the buildings. Notable to the flavor of the moment – the sound of the jets was constantly bouncing off buildings giving a completely false sense of where in the sky to train ones camera. Almost all the images were shot on California within a space of 4 blocks. A brief sojourn back into the streets around sunset exposed me to the extraordinary light San Francisco experiences, when fog free.
check out a gallery of the day’shots
I dont normally get my cameras out for popular historic events. There seems to be little point when enthusiastic amateurs with better vantage points are making much better photos. Getting good photos at well attended events tends to be relative to ‘access’ and access tends to be a scramble. No one was paying, so the thinking was – ‘why scramble?’.
After all, when assigned to shoot something for advertising (and frequently with editorial), someone somewhere provides the equivalent of ‘back stage passes’ and with that crucial advantage it is over to the you to come up something extra special.
Although the stage for this one was the big blue sky (Endeavor would be visible over a massive area) it seemed worth trying to photograph it alongside the Golden Gate. Makes sense does it not?
Naturally the whole world and sundry had experienced the self same flash of genius.
Then it came to planning. Predictably all the theoretical best places up on the headlands would be hard to reach relative to sheer numbers (and limited parking spaces). That is what we thought but as it turned out things were worse than that. There were wild flashing lights on patrol cars indicating the hills were out of bounds to ‘all’ vehicles at that stage. The ‘best places’ were reserved though mandate, brute force, guile, or whatever, “for CNN their like”, we were later told.
So it was to be Horseshoe Bay instead. No one would think of shooting from there. No, of course not.
The harbor was full of seals, floating near the shore, bemused at the teeming human crowds lining the shore.
Parents were worried about their offspring falling onto dog dirt, or over the harbor’s edge. There hundreds of crabs were scuttling across the rocks, just jonesing to devour the little darlings.
I lost count of people referring to the bobbing seals as ‘sea lions’. The circling pelican was ‘a stork’ to at least two birding experts close to us. No storks in the US!
Some children will be scarred for life by the circling misinformation and tons of hard drives will feature almost the same photos of the passing shuttle.
There was further adversity. A chill air blew off the water a froze those with only T shirts and the atmosphere played havoc with camera optics. That frigid ocean-chilled-air interfaced with the ambient warm land breezes, causing that bathroom glass effect. Many nice photos shot through expensive long lenses were never going to be as nice as they should be. It took hours to get back to the motorway through the tiny feeder roads.
But, who cares, it was fun.
2 new pics: all photographic with the exception of the balls on the first image.
A few new photos from the Marin and Sonoma coasts. Mostly these are about the beach side vegetation.
Amazing to be able to get away from it all after so close to base.
In architectural terms, Petaluma is one of my favorite places. Ever since I went to scout for a suburban setting for a Neiman Marcus – at sunset – I promised myself I would go back and try to capture the dreamy feel of the place. On a whim, late on Sunday I decided to race up there and shot this photo series in the space of approx 3/4 hr.
There was a strange feeling (as can be seen in some of the photos) as the Pacific fog, creeping inland at the end of a sweltering cloudless day, threatening to smother the town with its frigid air. Dinner time Sunday evening – there was almost no one on the streets and that added to the apocalyptic weather feel at this idyllic suburban spot.
…and a couple of pics, as taster
Extending my collection of photos of summer fairs – a gallery of the latest offerings. This year I went on the 4th, the most crowded day, which meant I shot on shorter focal lengths that previously.
Being relatively short, I have too shoot through the constantly moving crowds. No one gives way for a photographer so there are constantly bodies passing in front of the lens. One cannot compose – shot so shooting has to be instinctive and instant.
I tend to look past my subjects as if of feeble mind – laced with a touch of irritation – as if to say “get the hell out of my photo”. That tends to promote a “screw you Mr Cameraman, I will do what I do in my own time” response. This ends up with more natural/interesting poses
Here are a few from the set.
When it comes to capturing action or grabbing a moment, photography has always been ‘king’, but CGI promises infinite revision and fine tuning – which art directors in advertising often have to choose over raw spontaneity.
What passes for CGI in automotive now is a hybrid, but the photo requirements for successful CGI, when light is variable are often more stringent than they were which shooting cars ’for real’ on location. Special techniques were needed in this case to compensate for the limitations.
Simply put - it is almost impossible to capturing a full HDR environment for an image such as this using conventional methods. The light changes too fast at this time of day - and photos need to be taken from too many places. This is why subtle aspects such as the sweet light, which is so attractive in regular automotive photography is rarely offered as a challenge to CGI artists.
Outakes – ‘waiting for the bellboy (with the cart)’, after a recent photo session
It is probably a universal disease – shooting roads that is. Here are a few new ones.
They say: 100-percent organic American rye and water from the Snake River watershed of the Teton Range. And certainly it is very smooth.
On a photo-technical level – the unusual square bottle shape offers a range of interesting lighting options. Here we went for the stripe effect but it could be anything. Shooting ’round bottles’ can become a bit of a chore technically.
Familiar Objects: a studio still life set celebrating depth of field (with focus stacking): The geek in me would say this little series started out as an exercise in the use of focus stacking. Another part of me says it is simply because I am tired of Bokeh.
Bokeh’s persistent attraction for photographers is that shows right in the photos that the photographer is a big deal, is rich and can afford expensive lenses. And yet so often it is the lazy photographer’s passport to sophistication in visual terms. In that sense it is the cheapskate option and I am heartily sick of it as a solution (but one has to say it looks fabulous when it really works).
The rest of me denies that it has anything to do with any of the above. Having grown up with large format cameras and the ethos of F64 and the larger than life quality that small life can exhibit (when revealed with extreme depth of field), this was a chance to think of the world in miniature and to hell with anything else. Hopefully that is what comes across in the images and in commercial terms, this kind of escape is what this approach offers the viewer of the ad featuring treatments.
There is a dedicated gallery of Familiar Objects here
…and here are two more recent additions which never made it to the original set (click to see larger)
To ‘get it’ with these images you have to see them in full resolution (or on a large print). Perhaps I will include a few close-up’s another time.
The Germans love to love British understatement and see it as the embodiment of sophistication and class. This is a departure from the true inner nature, but it is aspirational and that has to be good. As such understatement in some form is ubiquitous in their branding and advertising.
The Brits meanwhile are still trying to understand their that little ‘je ne sais quoi’ which the Normans left them with way back in 1066 and are still unsure whether it has really translated into a genuine understatement – or simply represents a mild case of petulance. This too is evident in most of their branding and advertising. The French meanwhile …..oh forget it, this has gone too far already.
Like most other of my fellows (with Germans roots) I like a tidy desk and have no trouble in trying to pass muster by promoting neatness and minimalism as that magic ‘understatement thing’. But in as much as I share a common trait I also see myself as a closet non conformist. As such I am always trying to sneak a wee bit of statement into my understatements. One takes standard precautions not to descend into Wagnerian excesses – but that is taken as read.
So it is with these two images where the inevitable Audi marketing brief (that almost sterile visual understatement) is always dominant: There is a touch of satisfaction in having worked to push the envelope just a touch.
Well they have to describe it as lovable since most of the population don’t groove on actual insects. But it is not a real bug and surely we can acknowledge that there is at least a measure of cuteness in their commitment to brand it as cute.
But I have to say – as a former owner of a vintage VW Beetle – which hardly managed to stay on the road (both from a reliability point of view as well as its dire road holding) – the term ‘lovable’ just does not work – even if I pull the choke and pump the gas hard.
If the name of the game is ‘retro’, and some brand manager wants me to think of actually owning one, that falls completely flat. The ‘retro’ involved with this reminds me of nothing other than frequent breakdowns in very inconvenient places in my youth – such as remote parts of the African veld.
You might say “how romantic!” and urge me, after all this time to well up a tear for the remote places that vehicle dragged you to?. You may as well also ask me to chuckle about the times some other vehicle had to drag me out of there. Or of the times the remote workshop they took me to lacked spares. Sadly I am not chuckling. I was not amused then and I am not now.
You know the T shirt that reads “The older I get the better I was”. I am trying pretty hard to be generous and apply that principle to this car. What’s wrong with a bit of nostalgia then? Nothing – so long as one does not have to dip more than the tip of a toe into the river of time to get it.
When I think hard about it I think the only thing I can stretch to ‘sentimental’ about are the famed original advertising campaigns of the 60s – which sadly cited dependability above all. ‘What does the guy who drives the snow plow drive to work in’ was a great piece of advertising copy. Wouldn’t it be nice were that nothing but a load of old cobblers? I might have been able to binge on sentimentality about the branding – but now – not so much!
But seriously, at a visual level, the real attraction of this vehicle is not the the kind of profound nostalgia one gets from a custom car. The real attraction for the ‘branding engineer’ is that it bucks that homogeneous/indistinguishable modern car look. Nothing more! It makes a cosmetic statement which probably exploits an entire era – when cars were not designed to look more aerodynamic than they really were- rather than bringing the driver closer to the experience/trauma of owning and original beetle.
There’s the dry informative approach to car advertising (simple unpretentious product photography) which works just fine for car geeks (which by the way includes the people who make and sell us these instruments of transportation). One might get to stretch their positive response to action shots – - ‘the machine performing perfectly out there in some spectacular environment’.
But what about the rest of us who seek fun in our lives. We want to invite technology to the party.
An eerie evening downtown San Jose, made even more strange by the fact that this should be the rainy time of year. But every day it feels like summer and precipitation is such a distant concept, it’s non appearance is no longer given a token mention by weather watchers.