Archive for July, 2009

Family Fun

Posted in photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , on July 21, 2009 by cliffmichaels

This week’s paid photo shoot was glorious. The weather cooperated. The husband and wife cooperated. And six of the seven children cooperated. The smallest child, a blond headed toddler about three, wanted nothing to do with me or my cameras.

This made group shots of the entire blended family tough. I must have twenty plus photos of the entire family with the toddler acting out, or with one of the other family members looking at him instead of the camera. So I cheated. I blended two shots by removing a head from one and pasting it into the other. No one will ever know!! All Hail Photoshop!!

This shoot will result in a Blurb book for the couple: One American Family. The group was well “blended” with five kids of  the husband, one of the wife and one of  the two of them.

As much as I enjoyed this shoot, I was even happier with the shots. The Flickr set is here; two samples:

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Been There, Done That

Posted in FLICKR, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 19, 2009 by cliffmichaels

I live in Blount county, Tennessee. For more than three years I’ve been traveling the county with my camera and have documented the landscapes, buildings, barns, sheds, outhouses, streams, rivers, lakes, trees, dogs, cats, bushes, hills, dales, mountains and valleys of the place. I’m not going to count, but my guess would be I’ve posted more than three thousand images on Flickr taken in the county.

I’ve just about run out of new places to shoot! Almost every time I think I’ve got a promising venue I discover I’ve been there. Been there, done that. Sigh.

Sure, I know no spot is ever really the same: different time of day with different light, different sky, different season, different perspective, etc., etc.

But I like new places (and I like them not too far away)!

So I’ve decided to move to refresh the photo opportunities. I’m thinking of Argentina. I hear there are som really passionate women down there (not to mention all that fine scenery).

A Blount county view:

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Kids in the Hall

Posted in FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , on July 19, 2009 by cliffmichaels

I am almost recovered from shooting thirty-two kids in an unlit theater camp production of “A Disney Spectacular” last week. The kids were great, but what was really spectacular was the lack of light.

The show was supposed to start at 7:30 pm in a large, high ceilinged room with about five or six small flood lights thirty or so feet off the floor. The only other light came through a row of windows along each wall. During the performance (not on a stage) the children faces were parallel to the windows. After speeches by all the adult principals of the camp, the show finally started about 7:45 pm.

This is how dark it was. Even with my 50mm f/1.8 wide open on my D50 I was shooting at ISO 800 at 1/125.  I had the Nikon kit lens, 18-55mm, on my other camera (D40) at ISO 1600 but it proved near useless (until after the show when I could use flash). The lack of light also made autofocus slow. Several times I’d have a good shot lined up only to have the camera fail to focus.

Thank god for Capturenx, Photoshop and Noiseware. Of course using Noiseware came with a price. Most of the shots taken sans flash came out very soft, like those old gauzy photos of aging actresses.

But I shouldn’t complain! I will clear about $130 when its all said and done. That’s about $8 an hour. It takes a while to process a couple of hundred photos and make a CD of the best shots for the doting parents (the show itself was sixteen minutes long…)

For the first time I found myself realizing the limitations of my two cameras. I kept thinking of how easy it would have been in that gloomy room with a D300. Between its great low light performance and the higher frame rate, it would have made such a huge difference (nowhere near so long in processing!)

So why do I do this? The truth is I enjoy it all. The shooting and the processing. I think its the control. I pick what to shoot and I modify that image as I choose. Getting paid, even the relatively modest amounts I earn, is just icing on the cake.

All 60 of the theater camp photos are here. This is one of my favorites:


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Ageism, Yes – Sexism, Maybe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 5, 2009 by cliffmichaels

I run a group on Flickr called Faces of Maturity. While my rules allow photographs of anyone older than forty, the vast majority of images are of individuals over seventy.

Faces of “old people” are rare on Flickr. Even in portrait groups they make up a very small fraction. Out of the first five pages of the group Portraiture (150 images) exactly seven are of “senior citizens”. This disparity of mature faces, by the way, is one of the reasons I started Faces of Maturity.

Today, as I reviewed the latest additions to FOM, I noticed for the first time a significant imbalance in photos of men and women. A review of the last five pages revealed a ratio of three to one in favor of men.

When the subjects are young, on the other hand,  there is a marked preference for women on Flickr.  A survey of portrait groups shows a ratio of something more than three to two in favor of women and girls.

Why is my group tilted toward men?  And why did it take me so long to notice? Sexism? Or is there some other, more benign explanation. I have no firm opinion although I lean toward sexism, especially for that second question.

Your opinion welcome…

Here’s one of my photos of the mature face:

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Sorry, Your Comment is Not Worthy of my Photo

Posted in FLICKR with tags on July 4, 2009 by cliffmichaels

Suppose you were a guest in someone’s home. You notice a lovely painting hanging on a wall in the living room. Impressed, you tell your host, “Oh, what a lovely painting!”

Instead of simply saying, “why thank you,” and then asking after your health, suppose your host sternly said, “what a lame comment. You must tell me why you believe this painting is – as you so inanely put it – lovely,”  then sneered at you,  clearly expecting a more suitable  response.

Some people on Flickr seem to have the same rude attitude.  They post their pretentious photos on Flickr then try and control the level of commentary they receive.  “Please no graphics or short comments like: ‘this is great’.” It is as if these folks are teaching a class in photographic composition and you are a somewhat dull student and must defend your judgment.

Every week or so I post a graphic on dozens of photos I like (“your photo is IMPRESSIVE!” in fancy gold type, made in Photoshop). The image links to a long explanation of what I like in photos. The majority of the time the recipients of my “award” respond favorably. Every now and again, however, I get an indignant response objecting to my comment. I got a response once from someone who explained to me – in a somewhat angry tone – why his photograph was actually a piece of shit and totally unworthy of any award.

Of course it is outrageous that just anyone at all can post an inane comment. Flickr needs to alter its comment rules to allow members to restrict who may comment on their photos. Or, as with groups, allow the member to approve a comment before it appears. Such a change would insure all visible comments were suitably intelligent and knowledgeable (in the photographer’s opinion).  Maybe Flickr needs to test all members to insure they have enough discernment to post proper comments.

Why, after all, should just anyone be allowed to demean my wonderfully artistic photograph with an inane comment like, “oh, what a lovely photo!”

Here’s my photo with the most Flickr comments:

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Flickr Guilt

Posted in FLICKR, photographers with tags , , on July 4, 2009 by cliffmichaels

I’m a bad person. A very bad person.

I did not  get up this morning until 9:30. Nine thirty!! I did not get up at 5:30 as I had planned.  As I should have. I confess I did not take my camera bag and travel around and fulfill my duty to photograph the glorious wonders of east Tennessee. Nor did I get up that early yesterday. I lollygagged in the sweet comfort of my sinful bed until 8:30. Eight thirty!!

A very, very bad person. I wear my shame like a penitential pilgrim’s coat of nettles.

All those photos I did not take. All those waiting landscapes left unrecorded,  like abandoned, darling children.  Will those patient flowers I missed now wilt and die? Will those proud hilltop, solitary trees now turn brown and wither? Oh God! Will those  little children whose cheerful faces I failed to photograph now grow up bitter and alone?

I am sorry. So very sorry… I am unworthy.  I am a bad, bad, BAD person. I shall perpetually burn in Hell, tormented endlessly by the shades of Daguerre and Adams as I  writhe slowly in those righteous flames. May the great God Flickr have mercy on my soul…

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