Sunday, April 19, 2015

I'd be lying...

...if I told you that the reason you haven't read a blog post from me since April 4th is that I've been too busy out there taking pictures in the burgeoning spring weather. Not true. Fact is, I'm going through somewhat of a dry spell, photographically. There are a few reasons, maybe by writing them down they might go away.

While it might be Spring on the calendar, it's just getting started here. I'll admit that the last few days have been nice but where I live, the grass is still brown, where you can see it through the melting snow piles (not fair, I suppose. The snow's mostly gone, but the ground is brown and soggy, muddy). Just not interesting...

In Toronto, spring has sprung but they don't believe me when I say the lake here is still mostly ice covered. This winter, the ice was thicker than most people can remember – my neighbour said over 30" thick in places where it's usually half that – but I wouldn't be venturing out there, it's paper thin in places! 

But here's the good news: the birds are back. The other day I saw (for the first time) a pair of sandhill cranes in flight, 'way too quick to get the camera out but Gawd, those are elegant birds in flight! All the usual suspects are back, turkeys galore, robins, osprey, mourning doves, American goldfinch, and the usual blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers and grackles. I'm looking forward to heading down to Carden Plain in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of birds, this snowy owl was still hanging around last week. Guess he'll be heading up North soon.  

Also speaking of raptors like owls, our outing to the Canadian Raptor Conservancy is now booked and full up. Looking forward to that too!

I find myself looking at images online for inspiration and not getting much. After a while they all look alike. I want to make my work stand out from that crowd, so I'm waiting for the creative juices to flow. 

You ever have so much to do that you don't know where to get started? That's where I'm at right now... I'm on deadline for both a presentation and judging a large  competition... I really have to stop saying "yes" to people! I'm working through some other issues too, which leaves little time for writing (I really want to get back to my creative writing!) but I'll be back, so don't go away mad. 

Johnny Ferreira photoshoot

I did get out to shoot one assignment last week that I thought I'd share. My friend Styles called and asked me to do a headshot for a musician he's working with. I only had an hour to shoot, but spent a day so far on post-processing.

This is the image he wanted. The original, straight-out-of-camera is on the left so you can see that I did a little retouching work in addition to swapping out the background. I used a technique called "Frequency Separation" which did a good job of NOT turning him into Barbi (OK, "Ken"). It's technical, but not difficult, so if you're interested, go to YouTube and Google it. The tutorial I found most useful was by Frank Doorhof, here.  Notice the teeth and eyes, by the way.

Just for fun, here are some shots I liked for ME, not necessarily for him. 

I shot this while I was setting up the lights, just as a test; but I really like the feel. By the way, I used an off-camera strobe with a Gary Fong Diffuser on it, and later, a reflector disk (but not in this shot). I told Johnny just to do what he wanted, I was only setting up. Have to do that more often!

This was an interesting sketch created from one of the images. I added some layers with the guitar in different positions, then ran it through a complicated Photoshop action from John Stevenson in Colorado that makes use of Topaz Impression. 

I did a colour version too. Click to blow it up! 

But this is the image I liked the best from the shoot. Styles said they might consider it for a CD wrapper on an upcoming album:

I just liked how he was framed by the neck and headstock of the guitar. I added a textured background from Flypaper textures within Photoshop, as well as the retouching tools I mentioned above. 

The other thing I've been doing is painting. Here's one that's almost done, using a technique called 'sgraffito' which entails scratching off a fresh wet paint layer to reveal what's beneath it. 

I did take the easel and paint stuff out to Ritchie Falls the other day. It's a LOT more difficult than I'd imagined! I took some photos from the same spot, which I'll show you when the painting is a bit further along.  

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