Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Critical Inspiration

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

As I slowly plod along in my journey to become a better photographer (emphasis very much big time on SLOWLY), I come across some things that are helpful in ways I hadn’t thought of before. Pro photographer Zack Arias has, by request, begun critiquing photo sites of photographers looking to make a career of something they enjoy doing. They’re getting feedback from someone who’s experienced and who doesn’t mind dishing out the advice. His critiques of photo SITES, as opposed to the photos themselves, are perfect reminders that photography is about 80% business/marketing and only about 20% shooting photos.

Zack was asked to do a guest blog post on Scott Kelby’s site and made an insightful, creative video instead. It was as inspirational as it was depressing, however. If someone with Zack’s skills feels his work is crap sometimes, then what chance have I got? You know? It’s all about the journey though, and how we get to where we want to be.

I’ve been reading a lot of Zack’s blog lately, and really enjoy how much of his content he’s putting to video, and like how he’s going about some of his more helpful posts. Eyes will be glued.

Photo Phriday 40 – En Guarde

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Ninja and Juan seem to always be fighting. They fight so much, in fact, some may confuse them for brothers (they are absolutely NOT, by the way.)

On a personal note, things have been going on in the background that have me ready to take some steps towards meeting a few photography related goals. I’m eager to see these things in motion, but I’m not sure what lasting effect it may have on the comic. I’m still having a blast putting this thing together every week, so I’m going to try my hardest to make sure nothing interferes.

I know I’m not winning any awards for this here strip, but I hope at least the few sets of eyeballs coming back every week enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy putting it together. Take care.

Re: Pick Of The Litter

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

In today’s comic we learn that there is a test to become a member of the Juan In A Million fan club. Kuno and Momo are the only two who could pass the test, proving their skill and prowess. In real life, I’m trying to pass some tests I’ve given myself, to get better at phtography, and the myriad other skills necessary to perhaps one day do this for a living. The baby steps have already started, and by next year I should be well on my way to getting some of my larger goals and projects together.

Speaking of next year and projects, if I play my cards right and get organized I’ll be doing a photography/webcomic experiment/project/thing. I’m keeping it cryptic for now, and for a while, but Amu’s World readers will be the first to know if and when I get moving on it. Keep in mind this will not effect THIS comic at all. It will continue as long as I keep having fun doing it.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

Photo Phriday 53 – Teamwork!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

When I put the comic together I do one of two things. I script it out with full panel descriptions (rare) or I scribble notes on what will happen and what people may say (often.) What I’ve noticed is that on those days when I write a full script I tend to get more adventurous with the panel photos to fit what I’d described. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. I’m going to work on that.

Above is my favorite panel for the comic I’ve shot so far. It’s two different photos combined and I put a lot of work into covering that up. I like the implied action. I like the anticipation. I look at this panel (dialogue removed) and I see the bar I’ve set for the comic so far as it relates to the photography involved. I not only want to be doing MORE work like this, but I hope to be doing BETTER work than this.

Now if I could only quit procrastinating and write full scripts more often. 🙂

Re: Making A List

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Seems I’ve continued the trend of not updating the blog very often. To a degree, it seems, that I’ve even forgotten a Photo Phriday last week. I’ll be making that up. Things have been busy with holiday craziness or I’ve been preoccupied with lots of thoughts. Setting goals? EASY! Breaking those goals down into easily accomplishable tasks so that I don’t give up right away in a fit of frustration? VERY HARD! Working on that.

Last week we had what they’ve now called a blizzard here in Baltimore, and I documented it. Kinda. I decided to experiment with time lapse photography and set up my camera, tethered to my laptop, and pointed it out of our window to capture the snowfall. Unfortunately this drains the batteries something nasty and I don’t have the power cable for my D80. Batteries died and I didn’t get a complete account of what THIS GUY coined as SNOWKILL 2009. I did put this together though:

Roughly the first 10 hours of snowfall. It kept going for at least another 10, so you can imagine how crazy it got. Later that evening I went out with a buddy to shoot, at midnight, the aftermath of all the snowfall once the storm started to die down. Posted them on my Flickr [I actually like these, so please look at them and stuff.] Below is my favorite:

The Curve

This next year I hope to re-work how I do the blog, and will probably be sharing a lot more non-comic stuff. Not sure anybody really gives a hoot who the guy is behind the lens, but maybe I’ll start being a bit more open now. Maybe.

Trends In Pessimism

Monday, January 18th, 2010

As a rule, I’m not a very optimistic person. I get discouraged very easily, sometimes to borderline depressing levels. As a method of survival, I’ve adopted the “if I’m pessimistic and things go right it’s a bonus and if things go bad I at least expected it” mentality to going about life. It’s not a very good default position, but it keeps me from the paralytic grip of disappointment. Such is the way of self preservation in a world where I set high expectations I cannot possibly meet and failure is a given. I’m the bad kind of perfectionist where if it isn’t 100% perfect the first time I don’t keep on trying until it IS perfect, but give up and assume I can never do it. Fingers are crossed I can change this about myself. Is that possible? I dunno. Maybe I’ll find out, but if yesterday was an example of what I have to look forward to things get bleak.

Last week I was thinking how I’d never gotten up early to photograph a sunrise. I’ve just never done it. My routine involves the pug getting me up early to go for a walk and after I get back I crash on the futon or under the kotatsu. To further my efforts to just stop talking about it and start getting it done, I scheduled a week in advance a day to go out and do just this. I can’t do this during the week because of work. On Saturdays I have the Farmer’s Market very early in the morning. This leaves me with Sunday. So it was decided by my availability that Sunday was the only day I could do this. And I did. Sort of.

Got up early. Kept quiet so the pug didn’t wake up. Gathered my gear and snuck out the door to find…rain. Wonderful. At this point I usually say to myself, “plans ruined. Not worth trying. Go back to bed.” No. I’m on a mission this year, right? I’ve set out to prove I can just DO IT, yes? So I go. In the rain. Walking to the park to the top of the hill overlooking vast swathes of Baltimore. Well it’s raining. That’s fine. I have my gear. Tripod went up, and so did a light stand, umbrella mount and bounce umbrella pointed straight up to cover the camera from the rain (setup shot). Camera up. Now I wait. For what, I had no idea.

Typically, if I’d hadn’t gone back to bed instead, I’d have gotten to the park, seen the clouds and went straight back home, cursing the entire time. Nope. Not this time. This is a NEW me. Yep. So I stood in the rain, staring out into the horizon for the clouds to break, or a nice clear patch in just the right spot to rise up and show some light, some color, maybe create this glamorous floodlight patch of awe in the sky. Remained optimistic. Entirely unlike I’d normally act. So what happens? Nothing. Flat, gray sky getting slightly brighter gray as the sun began to rise. This is optimism, huh? So I change some settings on the camera and bang out a couple of shots. This was the best I was going to get.


Looks like a night shot, right? Nope. Sunrise. Replace the blue with gray and that’s how it’d have looked white balanced to daylight. Switched to tungsten for blue sky, and the exposure dropped to bring the window lights down so they weren’t blown out. Instant midnight shot just before 8am. Literally the BEST “sunrise” photo I could think to take given the circumstances. With that I packed up, defeated and feeling as blue as the color filtered sky I just shot.

Got home, noticed Amu and the pug were still asleep, and crawled back into bed…just in time for Amu’s alarm to go off, the pug to wake up and poof goes my shut eye. Am I happy with that morning? Not remotely. I don’t like the shot I got. It’s just the best of a bad batch. Did I get discouraged? You bet. Still am a bit. I can’t make magic happen, and I’m positive there are photographers out there who could have still made a phenomenal shot from that dismal light. I’m not there yet. Not even close. But maybe things are changing ever so slightly, because where I’d normally crash and mope and accept that I’ll NEVER be that guy who can do magic with a camera I think I can get close enough if I keep trying. What’s most unlike me is that I kind of believe it. Maybe THIS is optimism? Only time will tell.

There’s Going To Be A Fight!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

I have the good fortune to know some very cool, very productive people. They are hyper-creative folk who get a lot done, and have been not only part of the inspiration behind why I’m doing this comic in the first place, but contribute to helping me continue. Every once in a while they let me play Event Photographer for one of the most fun live events I’ve ever been to. This Saturday I’ll be taking photos of Super Art Fight 6!


If you’re in the Baltimore area this Saturday head on down to The Ottobar and see a live art battle, live music, and wild crowd. If you’ve never been, and have the time, you owe it to yourself to experience THIS MUCH AWESOME!

Photo Phriday 61 – Testing, Testing

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

WOAH! Almost missed posting a photo. Cutting it close because of a wonky bit of scheduling and simple forgetfulness. Today I’m going to break from the traditional photo for the week’s end and get a little behind-the-scenes. Every time I set up for shooting the comic I get my table together, place the backdrop where it needs to be and set up my lights. Lately I’ve been bouncing a flash into an umbrella and I have a reflector up on the opposite side. Works alright for what I’m doing. I then do this:


I shoot my hand. I could do any number of things to test my light. I could put one of the characters there as an example. Instead I take what’s readily available. My arm, out stretched, popping up my hand where the characters will be standing. It’s always with me and I know what it’s supposed to look like under the right light. When you’re concerned about the result first and style later, use whatcha got, right?

Photo Phriday 62 – Best Camera?

Friday, February 5th, 2010

I’m going to do a little something different with this Photo Phriday. Instead of putting a focus on the characters I’ll talk a bit about photography in general, and some things that get beat into my head on a regular basis. It kind of starts with pro photographer Chase Jarvis, who once said that “the best camera is the one you have with you.”

It’s true, and as someone who regularly suffers from gear envy (it’s very silly but absolutely true) I constantly forget that it isn’t about what you can’t do with what you have available, but what you CAN. Chase just blurted out this quote once, and rode with it. After what I’m sure was a brutal period of brainstorming and work he launched an iPhone app and book, both called “The Best Camera,” and it’s created this community of people using their phones to take serious photos. Well, sort of.

See, Chase was using his iPhone, made videos of him using it for photography, blogged about it, had a huge gallery show if his iPhone photos, and launched an app and book. Problem is the entire community’s enveloped in the Cult of Mac, and anyone NOT on an iPhone kind of can’t play along, or at least not with the rest of the bunch. A little unfair, sure, but that’s how cliques work. I can’t be a part of the “best camera” community, not as marketed to me at any rate, but I can go out and take photos with my phone.

These are some of the photos (lower res because the camera on my phone is total crap) from my Palm Centro. I don’t even have data for the thing. It was a phone with good native PDA applications that was affordable. It serves its purpose. When waiting for the bus, or for Amu to meet me, walking the dog, or wherever else, I began using my camera to take some shots. I wasn’t exactly expecting much out of it.

I decided to go and pull the photos from my phone and look through them. I confess I haven’t exactly taken a Chase Jarvis amount of photos (reportedly hundreds a day) on my phone but I used it when I thought to. Above is a tiny collection of those comprising the entirety of shots I deem fit to share. They’ve all been edited slightly with some minor post processing, but nothing more than contrast, sharpening, cropping and resizing.

Could I have done more with an iPhone? Probably. Does this mean I shouldn’t be using my crappy phone whenever I see something interesting? Nope. Not one bit. I need to get it into my skull that the idea and concept are the most important part of the image. Creating a good image is all that matters. I keep letting myself get distracted by all of the things I can’t do with what I have. Well I promise to start sharing some of the stuff that I CAN do.

Thanks for reading.