There is a relatively narrow window for observing north bound migrant Foster’s terns’ flocking behavior in Marin. They might hang out for a few weeks before heading north to their major nesting areas. And there is even a narrower window for photographing their beautiful balletic flocking formation. Most of the time they hunt, scattered and occasionally, as if by magic they come together, seemingly expressing joy at bonding.
By happy photographic accident in 2014 I made an single unscheduled motion trail Fosters’ photo, which turned a few heads. http://philipchudy.com/blog/?p=1346 .
2014 – the original lucky long exposure grab shot of a flock of Fosters terns blurred as they flocked in the dusk
Having lifted the camera to my eye without having checked any settings, I found that they camera was set to ‘small jpeg’ and the lowest ISO setting, the image was far from optimal in photographic terms. And then the subjects flew off.
I did not notice the merits of the image until I returned to base and then regretted that I had not shot more like it at the time. Since it seemed that the photo could never be retaken gave it no more thought.
But, a couple of weeks ago I noticed a few individual birds fly past, when I was out for a walk – and it struck me that I should at least show up the next day and make a token attempt to capture similar images in higher quality.
It was a bleak mostly overcast evening. the birds were scattered all over the water and I shot a whole bunch of ‘nothing’ pictures just to convince myself that I had ‘tried’. I was ready to give up when suddenly they came together, made a couple of rounds of tight coordinated flight before disappearing into the great beyond of the North Bay.
I checked the photo metadata and the entire flocking event lasted around 60 seconds and then they were gone. I shot about 40 frames and I selected 12 for this gallery.
This is a short photo essay of 21 Marin county landscape images, taken on a short walk on a rainy, stormy day in late March. A few are classic landscapes in the sense that they present a wide vista but, I also like details and textures including my unending fascination with fields of grasses.
Rainly day, Rush Creek
California Oak – spring foliage
Marin-scape on a stormy day.
http://philipchudy.com/galleries/leavesETC/#1 see 11 images
Crushed Foster Grants off the edge of the highwayh
This common threads to this batch of images is that they were all created in roughly a common time frame and scale, are all similarly super high resolution (up to 400 megapixels) and that they all adhere to the bland/banal documentary/forensic style long established as ‘product style’ in the advertising industry. Also the gallery is fully Zoom-able – meaning you can see the finest details of the originals in the linked gallery by zooming in on them.
A common thread distinguishing them from their polished commercial cousins (the preened idealized product image) is that they are all imperfect/dirty, verging on unhygienic (even).
Obviously that was intentional and, repeating what I said many times in my blog: a large part of the brief is to promote a sense of ‘larger than life scale’ based on larger than life levels of detail.
Detail at this level tends to be retouched out in most comparable commercial images because no one wants us to notice imperfections in the products which vendors are trying to get us to buy. These images start out parodying the advertising image but hopefully the engender wonder as well.
used/disposable sauce cap
I would have been somewhat more productive had my brand new ‘shoot in the rain’ umbrella survived longer than 1 second after unfurling in a sudden gust. An under water housing might have been good although what do you do with all the water droplets on the lens.
This new gallery is exciting because it includes brand new ‘deep zoom’ functionality. The viewer can finally experience extraordinary detail on a web page. This ‘banal objects’ image series could not be better suited to this emerging web technology, relying as heavily as it does on photography with unprecedented detail and fidelity.
The featured images have been presented under various guises such as ‘roadkill’, ‘familiar objects’ and ‘surreal still life’ in the year or so I have been producing them. Despite some change in direction with work, it all flirts with banality and shares a common fascination with scale. I have enjoyed seeing and presenting everyday objects in ways which are beyond our normal experience.
All of the images are designed to be seen as large hyper detailed prints on gallery walls. But there has always been a big disconnect between looking at online imagery as opposed to viewing quality print in the form of posters, or large high fidelity gallery prints. This gallery cannot substitute for that ‘one to one’ experience but I think it goes some way to bridge the gap.
The madness of coding this (with Zoomify’s latest HTML5 software) was justified because the common thread of all the images in this series is astonishing resolution and depth of field. This was achieved photographically by digitally combining hundreds of images of each image with a meticulousness and patience matched only by that required for capturing the digital images in the first place.
The technology (both photographically and web) cannot be fully separated from the ‘message’ but in essence, the narrative is common to a lot of Art, namely ‘here are incredibly unimportant grubby objects and things presented to you full fanfare, as if they were a royal treasure trove: go ahead – find that funny! (or something).
Detail and the complete bottle image
SF Bay Area 2017 New Year fireworks on the Bay
http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/NewYearNewBB (65 photos)
A front seat on the New Year display and a jaunt thereafter to cruise under the New Bay Bridge following a course which took us into restricted areas which others would avoid.
Before the fireworks begins the area is chaotic with many boats positioning themselves for the best view. The coast guard are busy chasing everyone off to a safe distance from the pyrotechnics barge.
Although the fireworks generate light there is no option to shoot from a tripod on a rocking boat – so increasing the ISO on the camera to astronomical limits was the only solution to hand held photos.
2017 New Year fireworks on the Bay
The spectacular explosive crescendo over we went round Treasure Island to check out the some not go areas around the New Bay Bridge.
As it happens our skipper who powered the 600 house power survey boat has recently done GPS ocean floor mapping of the entire area and knew which precise areas were free from the large barge anchor blocks and cables. Barges with cranes (etc) need to be securely positioned for work on the new bridge and the underwater infrastructure to achieve this is a threat to passing boats.
It was way darker there – you can see that in the grainy images.
The rump of the New Bay Bridge.
Finally back to Sausolito at 45 knots. In totally flat conditions this boat can reach 52 knots (60 mph)
What drew me to the shore was the promise of 8-20ft swells (didn’t quite materialize except for shoals further out in the ocean ). And it being the shortest day of the year, blowing the blues away came in a close second.
As always a touch of sunset magic does the trick. I think it worked for all who were there too. Judge by the expressions!
I ended up shooting the breeze with some surfers till pitch dark when the scene was only lit by starlight and odd flash from ships far out at sea.
http://direct.philipchudy.com/galleries/CronkhiteWinterSolstice/#1 (27 photos)
Surfer Fort Cronkhite, Marin Headlands
Sunset Fort Cronkhite, Marin Headlands
Fort Cronkhite, Marin Headlands
These new high definition/high fidelity images are in the vein of the set mentioned in my last blog entry, Three feature a toy revolver from the Dollar Store and crushed crayons describe the word ‘crushed’ itself.
3 images feature a cheap plastic cowboy revolver from the Dollar Store.
3 images feature a cheap plastic cowboy revolver from the Dollar Store.
Continuing my ongoing Familiar Objects series – featuring extraordinary high fidelity gallery print images glorifying ‘everyday’ items – this gallery features a couple of new traditional food/kitchen images (tomatoes and garlic/onion).
But a quadriptych featuring chalk crayons, marks a stylistic departure for me.
Close up reveals the extraordinary detail of these images
Image 2 of a quadriptych ‘Chalk But No Cheese’
I am not a fan of ‘conceptual’ images, nor of ‘image series”.
For me, irrespective of whether it’s Fine Art of advertising: a great concept – which can be described – should just be described. It should not be illustrated as an afterthought.
Nor am I a fan of photographing Art objects and presenting a photo of the Art rather than the Art object itself directly to the audience.
I put most of that aside in this case partly because what was photographed was an object in transformation. Crushing the crayons transformed and destroyed them and photography recorded the process.
I enjoyed making the image. Only time will tell whether I value them especially.
The images are intended for large high resolution prints. A couple of detail shots are included in the gallery to stimulate a sense of seeing the images ‘larger than life’.
This sped-up, compendium video (showing how the posters came together) was designed not to contradict the prevailing YouTube ethos – namely that brevity is the primary goal. Communication comes in second. Prior blog posts have covered this content of the video.
Unexpectedly 30 frames/sec, which one might expect would be adequate for what after all is no more than a glorified slide show, was clunky. Making it run at 50 frames/sec made it smoother and loaned it a touch of class.
Full screen is good with a 4k monitor- It is encoded 1440P.
This is a small, cute, footloose photo essay with pictures taken on Highway one, CA.
There is not that much to say, except that there was precious little network reception (with Sprint) and even FM radio seemed to be a luxury in places.
One gets used to a wide range of micro climates in the Bay Area but it is always a surprise to see that variation does not begin and end there. The light was dismal in some senses but magic in photography terms.
Fort Bragg, CA
Fort Bragg, CA
Mendocino Coast, CA
Russian River, CA
Fort Bragg is a slightly surreal Mendocino town on California’s northern coast which, while hip in many ways retains a lost coast aura – – a place which time has passed by.
Here is a new gallery (107 pics) of Zoppe Circus’s last performance of the season on a bluff near the Pacific. http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/Zoppe_CircusFB
This fresh set extends prior recent photography in late October of the same circus in Napa Valley. That photo series included behind the scenes for the Circus’ pre show day and a performance the following day. Although it seemed hard to imagine what I had missed by not being present when the tent was being erected (or taken down for that matter) I felt that something was lacking.
In order to correct that I was invited to live with the cast and crew and experience the last performance of the season.
I was familiar with all elements of the show this time and took the opportunity to photograph many of the performances from different angles, with less pressure to capture every single action.
I was present for the immediate dissolution of most of the circus infrastructure right after the show, followed finally by the lowering of the tent the next morning.
Fort Bragg is in a different climate zone, autumn was coming on and there was a strange haar off the ocean. There were no horses or dogs but the small, small town audience was as enchanted as any audience would be.
This time I was familiar with almost all the people in the show and felt part of the family. Not only that, but I was able to build a picture of their llves from our conversations. Some, I believe are sixth generations circus people. It was a rare exexperience for me. I hope this is apparent in some of the photos.
Zoppe Circus in Fort Bragg, CA
Zoppe Circus in Fort Bragg, CA
Zoppe Circus in Fort Bragg, CA
Zoppe Circus in Fort Bragg, CA
This gallery contains 3 new ‘how it was done’ animations. It was created to support a promotional email marking the recent collaboration between myself and Olivia Hellman (HSB2016 poster). Finally all the last years’ HSB poster work I worked on is one place, for easy viewing.
The email was titled ‘Hardly Strictly …Donkeys!’
Olivia Hellman and Philip Chudy worked on the annual, exclusive, limited edition poster for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass since 2011, but this year was different.
From the start of the festival in 2001, Claude Shade (senior art director and photographer at Goodby Silverstein and Partners, SF) was the creative force behind this much vaunted series. Claude’s passing in 2015 left a long shadow.
Olivia created the 2016 poster to double as a tribute to Claude, working with fellow photo-artist Philip Chudy and a team, who were all intimate with the unique HSB festival ethos
Zoppe Circus, Napa
Zoppe Circus is an Italian Family Circus (since 1842) which tours North America. I photographed it in Napa in the beginning of October 2016.
This behind the scenes photo essay began on the final set up day and concluded with a performance the following day.
I cannot say as some do, that I ever thought of ‘running away and joining the circus’ as some do. I suppose I had a sense as to how hard one has to work and how grueling life on the road can be. Performances in Napa were for a mere 2 days and then everything was disassembled and it was back on the road. This gig had been preceded by ‘Oklahoma’ with an ensuing mad dash to California.
Not only was it a privilege to get a behind the scenes insight of to life on the road, I did not expect to be welcomed and accepted by the performers to the extent that I was, But more importantly I also got a strong feeling of the satisfaction and pride they get from their work. People refer to it just as ‘show business’ but I got a powerful sense that all the joy expressed in the performances is a genuine expression of how they feel for their audiences. I hope that comes across in the photos.
The photos in the gallery more or less follow the actual timeline, so the so called ‘best images’ are not highlighted.
Zoppe Circus, Napa
Zoppe Circus, Napa
Zoppe Circus, Napa
I shot relatively few photos this year – many of the images which presented themselves (such as massed crowd shots) were ones which I had made while shooting the festival last year.
But the reduction in statistical probability did not mean that today – when I had only just found time to select and produce the gallery – a total stranger, who was at my studio for a corporate photo session, should not comment that she recognized a close friend of hers in one of the photos. Her friend was not just a ‘figure in s crowd’ but the main focus in one of these photos and posing for the camera.
Coincidences seem to be rolling in thick and fast these days.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Poster 2016
Here is a small ‘how it was done’ animation – a bit of patience is required for it to load http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/HSB2016/
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Poster 2016 Detail
This year’s exclusive, limited-edition poster for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass performers was a unique tribute to its legendary creator, Claude Shade. Shade, who passed away in 2015, was the Senior Art Director/Photographer for Goodby Silverstein Partners SF, and the creative force behind the vaunted poster series. Olivia Hellman (granddaughter of HSB’s patron creator Warren Hellman) assumed the creative, directorial and photographic mantle this year and called on Claude’s veteran production compadres to create this year’s poster: Lauren Parks (model), Philip Chudy (extra photography of hills, environment etc.,compositing and retouching) and Philip Sweet (production).
This is the 5th Poster in the series I worked on. Here are links to prior blog entries for the others:
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2015 – the poster
Photo-composing – the famous Hardly Strictly Bluegrass limited edition poster (2014).
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Poster 2011
Claude Shade – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Poster
Continuing my personal ‘Summer Fairs’ project, here is a gallery of 75 new street style photos
Sonoma County Fair 20164
Sonoma County Fair 2016
To prove itself – with a heavy duty workhorse truck, such as the 2017 Ford Super Duty – you would expect the message and photo brief to be “The Beast and the Ugly’. Meaning; the ugliest, dirtiest and most macho of industrial environments. But the times, they are a changing!,
Apart from the new super stiff light-alloy construction, at its core, along with the new pampering luxury interior, the exterior is changing too. Most notably the new LED headlamps, a redesigned, powerful front end (with a ton of reflective chrome), described by one observer as ‘almost futuristic’. Seen from this angle the new styling changes are unmistakable. It looks similar to earlier models, from other angles.
Meantime, some are happy to see brand continue to ‘green’ a bit – and be seen to be ‘in harmony’ with ‘something quite pretty’, for a change.
Philip Chudy – new image – The Beast and the Beauty – 2017 Ford Super Duty
Back in the days of chemical photography this kind of a look occurred when things went wrong (old chemicals. bad paper etc). But the look was intriguing and in rare cases ‘happy accidents’ created highly memorable images.
Nowadays a mindless digital auto-filter is expected to deliver the same effects. Truth is that really successful treatments are as rare as they ever were. No tonal treatment suits every image or is predictable.
Being tasked to deliver a specific high quality graphic/illustration effect ‘on demand’ remains as ‘challenging’ a task as it ever was. This is not least because retaining visual integrity of ‘the product’ is a priority in advertising. Mood, atmosphere and sensual textures come a big second.
Da Vinci Mod’s (Dodge Challenger: hybrid graphic/photo image)
Rule 1: Because ‘only God is perfect’, the artist must make deliberate mistakes in their work. This rule has been traditionally associated with hand woven rugs.
This tapestry- like image contains a lot of deliberate imperfections, but ‘the creator’ has nothing to do with that.
Patterns and repetition are effective in attracting the eye, but it soon tires of too much mathematical perfection and symmetry. This idea here was to try to ‘have ones cake and eat it’
The image avoids ‘closure’ and visual boredom because the spaces between the perfectly symmetrical vehicle profiles are variable (and only partly readable). This image needs to be seen large for best effect.
Oh, and Rule1 never made sense to me. Surely, the person who made the rule was impudent and seeking way too much perfection.
Mini Clubman wallpaper
The show goes on!
It seems folly not to show up and take more summer fairs photos every year.
143 images http://philipchudy.com/galleries/SanRafaelSummerFair2016/
All of life, it seems takes place on the ’roundabouts’, and everyone of every age and social demographic seems to show up and wear their hearts on their sleeves. As usual I shoot a lot of images in very little time (190 minutes for 143 shown images = avg.45 secs between each shot)
Some of these new images will eventually migrate to the Summer Fairs ‘hall of fame gallery’ on my fine art site.
San Rafael Fair (July 4, 2016)
San Rafael Fair (July 4, 2016)
Russia’s Communist Party wants the red star copyrighted – to the chagrin of Macy’s, Heineken San Pellegrino and Jetstar . No one wants to take this sitting down. Heineken is on parade.
Heineken Parade – composite from a recent promo showing 2 of the 4 images.
http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/RussianRiver2016/#1 Gallery of 15 images.
As usual for this time of year – it was hot summer weather fewer than 10 miles from the beach. But, demonstrating massive bravado with shorts and no head protection, my hands were soon numb and speech slurred from exposure to the cold wind. The Harbor seals were unconcerned – I expect to them it was a sweltering heat wave (see to their sleep -in)
Jenner – here’s looking at you
The most dangerous beach in the USA, in terms of undertow.
7 Images – pre/during WW2. And all but one from Central Africa – see gallery.
An early (? non military) Anson with David Chudy (father), Ellen and Fritz Rotschild (mother and uncle) and unknown in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia
David and Aaron Chudy, London 1935, George V’s Silver Jubilee May 1935
Kafue River Hippo Hunt circa 1940
I discovered a small bunch of negatives I never thought I had in my possession. I had seen tiny, faded contact prints but was able to scan and restore the images in high resolution. The negatives had been stored without protective sleeves in non-archival conditions for around 80 years and were in remarkable conditions considering. They come alive now that one can study the details. Some of the negatives were a strange size 4.25″x 3.25″ roll film. Film of this size was unknown through my entire career. In the days before Leica and 35mm this offered plate camera performance without the inconvenience of carrying plates around and as can be seen – it was good for a deal of action and spontaneity.
Only 4 images contain family members of the family and the others in the images are unknown. There is no one alive to ask who was in the images, but I can guess at a few things and a bit of detective work narrowed down the time/location of others.
The river shots are likely to be the Kafue River in Zambia. The shot of my father was dated a placed in London in May 1935 by a colleague who deduced that the stands, which are plain in the shot but are not ordinarily present, were for George V’s Silver Jubilee in May of that year, at which his father was also present. The shot of the Anson was apparently made in Southern Rhodesia on a visit. The steps contain the letters S and R which would have been ‘Southern Rhodesia’.
My sister collated a document written by my mother which documents her flight to Africa from Germany. It should be edited, but is probably suitable for publication. It could be made available for anyone who is keen to read it.
I have been posting galleries the last few years of individual events’ imagery, but never made a ‘master edit’. Now, that is done and I am enjoying the overview of a fairly mature collection. The update to the projects gallery on my fine art site is 2K px resolution, which looks great on a large high resolution monitor. There is a slide show button as well as a full screen on the top – if that helps.
http://www.philipchudyfineart.com/projects/proj1/ (250 images)
For a special occasion, playful, illustration links the brand with Art and Surrealism.
The brief was to extend the normal/traditional wine brand vocabulary both in terms of image content as well as color palette. The details may not be apparent on the above – enjoy a larger version here.
CGI product image
The product image above is also exclusively a CGI rendering. Hopefully it impresses with a degree of style and atmosphere one expects from the best photographic studio capture. For a technical observer, it is impressive enough to achieved a a base ‘photographic look’ with CGI, although the viewing public cares only how good an image looks – not at all how it was produced.
Whereas, making technically perfect wine bottle photos is far from the straightforward process many expect it to be, creating the same thing with CGI has it’s challenges too.
With photography, apart from having to compensate for physical imperfections on real production wine bottles, it is often necessary to expose wine product images multiple times, with lighting suited to different parts of the bottle – and then to laboriously combine them later in Photoshop. For example – lighting which makes the label look good will be terrible for the bottle.
With CGI on the other hand – the tendency is to construct too perfect a wire frame model and to texture it such that the final image lacks many of the subtle cues which give it a tactile presence. One needs to work with the right level of imperfection to make the object feel real.
CGI may be coaxed to produce many of the lighting and textural subtleties which one finds in real life but mostly it is at the cost of massive computation. Simply turning up every possible quality option in the software is not an option because the image would never complete. Extensive experimentation was needed to find which quality parameters actually make a difference and which don’t.
CGI permits one to cheat in some ways which are physically impossible with real life photography. While this is an advantage it also requires extensive testing to find out what ‘cheats’ actually are effective in producing a better image.
Although in pre-digital times I shot most of my personal urban and landscape work on 8×10 film and had my own E6 processor, I never took color seriously.
Well, it was easy to take that approach, because in the fine art photography world, prior to the advent of pigment inkjet technology, regular color photo prints themselves were not thought of as legitimate Art objects.
C prints would fade in no time and therefore were not really collectibles and Cibachrome which was fairly light fast was way too contrasty for many transparencies.
Black and white was my main focus. But I usually loaded 2 to 4 sheets of color film into dark slides when I went out. Once in a while I exposed a color frame as a kind of an afterthought when shooting B/W.
This gallery contains a mixed bag of 25 large format color images. http://philipchudy.com/galleries/europe_uk_colorsscans/#1
Most of the images have been scanned in monochrome and can be found on my fine art website www.philipchudyfineart.com.
Here are some small sample images:
Midnight sun in Lapland
Scotland spring growth
Hamburg urban scene
Balsall Heath in the 70’s
A recent spate of scanning old film images produced most of the pics in this small mixed collection from my student days in ‘Brum’.
http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/Birmingham70s/#1 (26 pictures)
Balsall Heath was being being demolished as part of slum clearance which is why it was cheap for students to live there.
I cannot pretend it was a happy period of my life. After the bright light of Africa to the slums of Birmingham – I may as well have been sent to a gulag. Wikepedia says: ‘By the 1970s the area was notorious for street robberies and drug dealing’.
I was never robbed or troubled but it was certainly the weirdest of places. Although I did not identify with it, nor felt it was my brief to document the period, at least I went out with a camera on a few occasions and made these few pics.
Balsall Heath in the 70’s
Hybrid pinhole/lens nude in landscape – an early tribute to Bill Brandt
I got an email from Artsy who were researching BIll Brandt when they came across references I had made to his work as a source of inspiration early in my career. This is their Bill Brandt page on him, by the way, and this is where I referred to him: Canis Lupus Familiaris.
Bill sparked an interest in me for strange perspectives and massive depth of field and that interest has been rekindled in recent times digital focust stacking techniques. Whereas this finally permits photographers to exceed the physical optical limits and produce crystal clear images with massive depth, I have not used it in a ‘landscape’ context in recent times.
Stacked images dont suffer diffraction blurring and artifacts which are unavoidable when using small apertures for depth of field. Bill Brandt’s famous nudes were shot with large format lens-less pinhole cameras. The degradation of the images due to diffraction is not at all upsetting in his work – in fact it enhances his chosen subject matter.
I never made or shot images with a pinhole camera. Instead I took apart a wide angle lens for 35 mm and had some disks made with tiny apertures (0.6mm) which I dropped into the lens substituting the existing aperture. The lens focal length defined the angle of view in this case but the pinhole defined the depth of field. Naturally very little light reached the film so exposures were very long and direct sunlight was required. And diffraction limited the crispness of the images. I played around with this for a while and did not persist.
I include two very early images I made using the technique describe above.
With miniature fast sensors and lenses as found in cell phones, these extreme perspectives are easily achieved these days and they don’t shock as much as the perspectives in Bill Brandt’s work did in his day.
Hybrid pinhole/lens image – tribute to Bill Brandt
Trion’s hyper-car Nemesis (goddess of divine retribution)
Boasting a price tag of $1 million/2000 horsepower/8 speeds/270 miles per hour/ 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, US hypercar maker Trion wants the Nemisis to leave everyone in the dust.
The only time you will see a front view of this ‘rocket on wheels’ will be a for a fleeting moment via you rear view mirror. Chances are you will be be transfixed, which won’t help your driving.
We made this photo so you can cognize the Nemisis’ amazing profile at your leisure without craning your neck, or drifting out of lane.