My Sister’s Birthday Thursday, Oct 4 2012 

As I write this, it is intended to be the October 4 post, but back in the homeland of Bosnia, it’s already Friday, October 5, and the birthday of one of my favorite people in the world, my sister Una.

She is also my favorite traveling companion. She likes to say that she doesn’t need to own a camera, because when she goes somewhere worth photographing, I’m usually there to do it for her.

I never get tired of taking her pictures.

Happy Birthday, Seki.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 2007

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 2007

Dubrovnik, Croatia, June 2009

Dubrovnik, Croatia, June 2009

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 2010

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 2010

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, January 2011

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, January 2011

Rome, Italy, July 2012

Rome, Italy, July 2012

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Model Shoot: Ashley Sunday, Jan 30 2011 

Last weekend, I was invited by the photographer Ray Dauphinais to assist him on a photo shoot he did for The Angels Foundation. I worked with Ray a few times before, and I didn’t mind helping around with lights and equipment and learning something in the process.

Most of the shoot took place in a gym of a downtown Dallas residential building, but then Ray and I went exploring the building with one of the models, Ashley.

Ashley had a great attitude and a photogenic face highlighted with brilliant eyes. The impromptu shoot started when she changed from the gym clothes into a little black dress. As she sat down by a window to wait for us photographers to get our gear ready, we put away our flashes and worked with available light. We made a makeshift reflector to fill in the shadows and this quick portrait with her smirk was the best of that series.

Ashley, digital

Ashley, digital

Then we took a quick trip to the roof of the building. The downtown skyscrapers provided great background for Ashley and her dress. After a few digital test shots, I felt brave enough to put a flash on my medium format Mamiya 645 1000S. The idea was to use a few last frames of a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 100 that I had in the camera for months. I climbed on some patio furniture to eliminate the whitish overcast sky and fired off two shots, of which I prefer this one.

Ashley, on color slide film

Ashley, on color slide film

Finally, on our way down from the roof, we walked through a narrow hallway with distressed walls and tall windows. Again Ashley’s face looked great in natural diffused light framed by her flowing hair, so I used another film camera to capture the image. There was a roll of Ilford HP4 Plus in my Canon Elan 7 since my trip to New York in November, and I wanted to get a few shots to wrap it up. Sure enough, this “look”, showing Ashley’s “femme fatale” side, was what I was looking for.

Ashley, on black and white film

Ashley, on black and white film

Point of Inspiration: Alan Ross Wednesday, Jan 26 2011 

This past Saturday, I met Alan Ross, a master photographer, who spent some time in the 70s as the assistant to Ansel Adams. An exhibit of his work opened at the Sun To Moon Gallery in Dallas and he was on hand to schmooze with the Dallas socialites, which, for an hour or so, included yours truly.

Alan Ross

Alan Ross, inspiration

On display was about 20 of his quite exquisite silver gelatin prints, in formats up to 24×30. My favorite by far was Bridalveil Fall in Storm, obviously an homage to Ansel’s Clearing Winter Storm. The touch of genius was a river at the bottom of the frame, which miraculously picked up some great light from the clouds. Then there was Farm and Clouds, New Mexico, layers upon layers of rich details and flowing lines, truly a magnificent work of art.

Then I saw a few others and realized something. I’ve been fortunate to visit some really amazing places the last few years with friends Scott, John, Tyler. All those places were on the walls of the gallery – Bryce Canyon hoodoos, Monument Valley rock formations, and scenes from Yosemite that nearly retraced my own steps.

Which is telling me I’m on the right track. Sure, those are places of world-wide known beauty, visited by million people every year, but my friends and I have done some amazing work there. I have little doubt that we’re getting to where we’d be able to post our own work in galleries. The way we see things, the way we make decisions about what to shoot, it’s all leading somewhere. A lot of the shots I’ve seen at this exhibit are of fragments of nature; a group of aspens here, a pile of rocks there. There was always something outstanding though, and it was usually the weather – the clouds or the fog. So, not always the golden light (it’s black-and-white, after all), but often something to enhance the subject and transform it from ordinary to extraordinary.

Alan signed my copy of Ansel’s Autobiography and we talked shop a little, which inspired me to establish my 2011 resolution – start developing my own black and white film. This was taken with my Canon Elan 7 camera with 85mm lens on great Ilford HP5 Plus film. The only thing that could have made it more exciting would have been to develop it myself.

Model Shoot: Elizabeth Wednesday, Sep 22 2010 

About a year ago or so, I joined Model Mayhem, a web site where photography professionals and enthusiasts get together for creative purposes. My goals were modest, to connect with some local people who like to do the same types of things I do, and maybe get involved with some fun shoots, and hopefully learn something.

Elizabeth contacted me and offered to set up a shoot; after she gave birth to her son earlier this year, she was looking to get back in front of the camera. Her “port” (home page) looked very versatile and interesting, but we could not get our schedules lined up. Then, in July, another model I shot with before, Crystal, set up an impromptu shoot with three models and three photographers in historic West End in Downtown Dallas. Elizabeth showed up wearing a tight-fitting retro dress and a winning smile.

We had a great time with different poses, from which I picked four for my Flickr gallery. She was a terrific sport – not only did she indulge my insane idea to come out into the scorching July sun for a few minutes for some natural light portraits, she even deftly changed into another tight-fitting retro dress. That dress is featured in this shot where her curvaceous body is highlighting the banner for the “Bodies” exhibition (“An Exhibition of Real Human Bodies”).

There’s also this shot where she’s framed by a service elevator opening; that one was a real pain to clean up. It was taken from very close distance with a very wide angle lens, which is usually a no-no for portraits, due to the distortion those lenses create. First I used the lens distortion correction, based on the numbers published by a photographer and blogger Ken Rockwell to get the lines straight. But then I had to change the vertical and horizontal perspectives to get everything properly lined up. I doubt the haywire lines would have distracted from what’s a very nice portrait of Elizabeth, but I’m pretty pleased to have helped keep the focus on the model.

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