The Digital Photo Guy

Kim Weston Art Nude Workshop

by on Apr.03, 2016, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Photoshop CS2/4, Workshops

An Outstanding Workshop

Over the years, I’ve attended many workshops. Some were good and others were forgettable. Kim Weston’s Nude Photography Workshop was among the best I’ve attended in a long time. Kim is the grandson of Edward Weston. What I most enjoyed was that I was the least talented among the nine attendees. Every person I met was an opportunity to learn new, exciting and insightful tips and techniques. I was teamed up with two digital photographers (the others were large format film photographers) who had wonderful, wild and creative ideas for posing the models. And, the models were top-notch and at the top of their game.

Here are five samples I submitted for critique. Keep in mind, these are works-in-progress. I’ll try to have the first batch of final images processed and posted in 1-2 weeks. All these photos were made with a Canon 5D Mk II and a Canon 24-105/4L IS USM. At this time, all post processing has been done in Photoshop CS4. When I get home, all final processing will be done in Lightroom 6.

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The first two are Dascha, a wonderful Russian model. It took a bit more time to “sync” with her but, once we connected, she was dynamic and fun. In the first photo, I posed Dasha’s blonde hair against the beautiful blonde dining table. The second is a high key image which wasn’t Kim’s favorite but he grudgingly admitted it worked.

Gwen, with whom I’ve worked previously, is in the third photo. This was a simple pose that she “flowed” into. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had a winner.

In the fourth image, I again captured Dascha on the blonde dining table with a tray of colored rocks. She is holding a heart shaped stone near her heart.

The last photo is Sara. I loved Sara’s profile and tried to incorporate it at every opportunity. I tried hard to include the elements Kim discussed in his lectures and the only critique he had of this photo was that I could have included a bit more of her knee.

I probably made about 200 frames over two days so it will take a few weeks to process everything. Stay tuned for more photos.

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Wonder Valley, CA – A Target Rich Environment

by on Feb.21, 2016, under Articles, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos

Abandoned Homesteads: Fascinating and Sad

I’d heard of Wonder Valley for many years but never got the opportunity to photograph the area. It’s east of Twentynine Palms, CA in an area dotted with abandoned homesteads interspersed with currently inhabited homes of varying conditions. Many are very nice, well maintained homes while others are decrepit to the point of being trashy.

The Small Tract Act of 1938 was passed to encourage people to buy up to 5 acres of land the US wanted to sell off. A history of this area can be found HERE. The Act took off after returning WWII GIs wanted a place to call their own to escape the hub-bub of SoCal. Plank by plank, brick by brick, stone by stone, they hauled, cut, shaped, fitted and built their own weekend cabins. Some were simple prefab designs bought from Sears, Roebuck and Co. Others were beautifully designed, carefully planned and skillfully executed structures that reflected their owners’ hopes, dreams and aspirations. Today, many lie crumbling and vandalized among the desert sands.

(Hover cursor over thumbnails for a short description.)

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Mary and I spent a few hours exploring the area but quickly concluded one day wasn’t enough time to do the area justice. We barely explored 2 square miles of Wonder Valley and there’s probably 150-200 square miles of abandoned homesteads.

We plan to return in the future when we can spend more time. We feel it’s important to treat the homes with dignity. Too often, we discard and dismiss our heritage without regard for future generations. It’s hard to connect with the distant past but Wonder Valley is less than 50 to 75 years ago. The people who built these homes shared many of the same aspirations as today’s population. The big difference is that those who built in Wonder Valley were willing to work to attain their goals. They didn’t sit around, waiting for someone else to build it for them. Wonder Valley resonated deep within me.

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Rockabilly Reunion, Car Show & Fireworks

by on Feb.19, 2016, under Articles, gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos

It Was a Blast! Literally!

The Rockabilly Reunion and Car Show was at Lake Havasu City, AZ on Feb 12, 13 & 14. Due to bad planning, I was only able to take in the extravaganza on Sat morning, 2/13. The car show appeared to be twice as large as last year but that may be because I was there on Sunday last year and some people may have left early. In any case, it was a lot of fun. Here are some photos to prove it!

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The first photo is of a contestant in the 12 & Under Pin-Up Contest. I got Mom’s verbal permission to take lots more photos including many after she had her hair and makeup applied but I’m hesitant to post them until I have Mom’s written permission via e-mail. So, Mom, if you see this, send me an e-mail with your full name and your daughter’s name giving me permission to post her photos. I have about another half dozen of your cute daughter. If not, I’ll look for you next year with a Minor Release in hand.

The long, tall drink in blue is Shawna who checks in at 6ft so, with 5 inch heels, you do the math. She’s posed with her hubby’s rat rod but I was in love with her red stilettos. LOL I photographed the nurse and her daughter last year. They were fun but before I got a chance to make more photos, they were mobbed by GWCs (guys with cameras) who simply wanted to copy my poses so I bagged it. The last pair were friends who were opposites. The one in green was shy and didn’t want to pose but her buddy in black & red convinced her.

The photos are in no particular order. I have lots more but there are only so many photos of hot rod engines I can process before I gag. Next year, I plan to spend the weekend at LHC and photograph the entire pin-up contest. All photos were made with a Canon 5D Mark II, a 17-40/4L and Canon 580-EXII. I don’t often use the 17-40 but it was the perfect lens for this situation. All post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Winter Blast

This was a blast but I’ve concluded that there are only so many fireworks photos I can make. Here are the last three I ever intend to post on this blog unless it’s something historic like the end of the zombie apocalypse.

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We parked our motorhome about 1.5 miles away to avoid stressing out our cat. Unfortunately, from there, I couldn’t hear the mortars fire so it was difficult to judge when the charge would burst. Also, because we were behind a small hill, we could only see the high bursts. The low to medium altitude bursts weren’t visible. The ATV on the hill had great visibility but I wasn’t about to drive the Tracker up an unmarked, unlit, unfamiliar trail in the dark. Mrs Otsubo did not raise any fools. I thought the ATV added a nice touch to the few photos I made.

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Art Nudes in Sedona – Final Images of A

by on Feb.06, 2016, under Articles, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos

A Warrior Model

While the other models were bold, A is fearless. The words “fear” or “timidity” do not exist in her vocabulary. A is what I imagine when I think “Amazon” or “gladiator.” Yet, as these images prove, she has a soft, beautiful feminine side that complements her tomboy, kick-your-ass exterior.

A told me after the shoot, she found the experience “exhilarating.” The only time she had been photographed nude was at Burning Man but, as she said, “Everyone’s nude there!” When she told me about getting branded at BM with a branding iron and blow torch, my mind screamed, “TILT!” She also told me that, since she was hitchhiking to BM, she walked the last 20 miles pushing a cart filled with all the supplies she would need for the duration. A is one tough chick!

A was the last model I worked with so I was tired and mentally worn out by then. I made a number of dumb mistakes that caused my keeper rate to plummet. Plus, my brain was having difficulty keeping up with A’s ideas. She wanted to stand on her head and do splits. My mind, once again, cried, “TILT!” I couldn’t begin to comprehend how to frame that shot. At the same time, her enthusiasm and energy was infectious. She is the epitome of a free spirit.

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Again, the first three are my favorites. The first is one of A’s contemplative moments. Since the shoot, I’ve learned that A is quite insightful and intelligent. She’s not the “crazy wild hippie” that she  portrayed in the studio. The second shows her toned body and fearless pose. In the third, I carefully thought about the crop. I don’t generally focus on a model’s “lady bits” but, in this case, I felt the artistic merits outweighed potential for prurient interests.

The last two are different orientations of the same pose, one is portrait mode and the other is landscape. In all the photos, I tried to emphasize A’s lean, toned muscles while also focusing on bodyscapes. I hope we can work together again in the future when I’m sharper and not so tired and error prone.

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Art Nudes in Sedona – Final Images of Z

by on Feb.06, 2016, under Articles, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos

An Irrepressible Soul

When Z was first proposed as a model, I was asked if an “older” model would be of interest. My first question was, “Is she photogenic?” followed by, “How old is old?” When I saw Z’s photos, I immediately knew she was perfect for the shoot. I won’t divulge her age but let’s just say she’s closer to me in age than she is to the other 20-something models but Z proves that age is just a number and her attitude is that of a young woman, ready to try anything.

If anything, I had to work to tone down Z’s big, wide grin as she wholeheartedly tried anything I proposed. I haven’t had that much fun working with a model in ages. Z is an irrepressible free spirit who knows who she is and doesn’t try to pretend otherwise.

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The first three are my favorites. In the first, the viewer needs to look carefully to tell if Z is facing left or right. The second and third are classic.

The fourth and last two are examples of Z’s constant grin. I often say of an experience, “It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” In this case, Z was having a lot of fun with her clothes off! I appreciated how she completely trusted me and, without hesitation, threw herself into every idea I presented.

Other than a few age spots, I didn’t edit Z’s photos in any way except what I would have done in a chemical dark room. I Cropped, adjusted Levels & Contrast, softened focus, and sharpened selective areas. I could tell Z was comfortable in her skin and wouldn’t want me to make her look like a 20-something with Barbie skin.

I hope I captured the true essence of “an older model” whose mind, attitude and outlook are as young as any 20 year old. I’m looking forward for the opportunity to work with Z again in the future.

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