On Tuesday, November 15, I was honored to photograph And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank at the Jersey City Theater Center. Produced by Normal Avenue Productions, the show is a poingnant multimedia play by award-winning playwright James Still, directed by Susan Kerner. It weaves videotaped interviews of teen-age friends of Anne Frank, Holocaust survivors Eva Schloss and Ed Silverberg, with live actors, recreating scenes from their lives during WWII.
The message of senseless persecution of people worldwide, based on nationality, religion, race and gender, could not be more timely. Eva Schloss, an internationally honored Holocaust educator and posthumous stepsister of Anne Frank, participated with the actors and director in a post-play discussion.
Fortunately I was available when I received the invite to photograph. I’m happy I was able to provide this amazing group with my photography, and I hope the shots help as a reminder of what intolerance and hatred did in WWII.
Much thanks to Eden, Jeremy, Susan, Olga and all the cast and crew of Normal Ave Productions and Jersey City Theater Center. Please support your local arts centers.
I added sound to this set of slides and happy to share. It’s HD, view it large and crank up the volume:
In reality, it’s the female bumblebee that stings if threatened, the male is basically harmless 😕 . This has nothing to do with the movie, but I wonder if Tamara, this Bumblee’s owner, may have something to say about that! Tamara? (hehe)
Tamara and her husband Greg are good friends, and when Tamara announced she bought this car, I had to photograph it. Much thanks that she agreed, and so we spent an afternoon photographing, here, in my studio/garage. It was pouring rain and miserably cold, so we were unable to do some planned rolling shots. Instead, I concentrated on details and made the best of the bad weather.
This car has awesome lines and with patience adjusting lights, moving the car into position, I came up with some shots that I think turn an ordinary shoot into something much better and befitting of this car.
First, some specs:
Year: 2010 “Transformers” Camaro – US build quantity was 1,900 with 200 delivered to the Canadian market.
It’s a type LT2: LT is marketing short for Luxury Touring and is used to identify high-optioned models.
Colors: Yellow, black racing stripes, “Transformers” badges and a black leather interior.
Engine: V6, DOHC, direct-injection w/variable-timing, 304hp @6400 rpm’s and 3.6-liter/220 cubic inches. This is a quick car.
Mileage: EPA 18 mpg city/29 mpg highway. Impressive economy for a performance car.
Transmission: 6-speed manual. Manual is more fun, period.
Brakes: ABS 4-wheel disc
Tires/Wheels: p245/50R19. Nineteen-inch tires are big, mounted on solid 19×8 polished billet Aluminum.
Suspension: 4-wheel independent, MacPherson struts front, Coil over gas shocks multi-link rear. Stabilizer bars, front and rear. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Weight: 3,872 pounds. This is heavy. Could benefit from a diet.
Audio: AM/FM/Sirius XM/CD, Aux. audio input via USB, 9-speakers, Boston Acoustics Premium, total 245 watts. Yay.
Comfort and convenience: Leather seats, leather shift and steering wheel, driver seat 6-way power adjust, heated seats, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power steering, brakes windows, door locks, reading lights, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control. Me like.
Instrumentation: Classic style “meter” gauges, oil pressure, transmission temp, tachometer. I love old-style metered gauges, I hate digital.
Telematics: wireless phone data link via bluetooth.
I’m sure I missed something, but you get the idea.
Here’s the light box with some favorites:
My fondness for Camaro’s goes back to high school. My first car was a 1974 Type LT Camaro, in Inca Bronze, with a 350 cubic inch v8 and I purchased it used in 1977. So glad I found these old Polaroids.
Eight years ago, I first stepped into the auditorium as a volunteer at the campus of Bergen County Academies, to photograph “Metamorphosis” a show in which my daughter was performing in.
I have completed my last show “Evita”, and it’s been an amazing journey since! I learned so much and made many new friends along the way. I will miss my time at the Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts, and miss those amazing productions, gifted students, generous parents, and the best teachers I have ever met. I owe everyone a debt of gratitude for providing me the opportunity to photograph so many shows, while improving my skills, and most important, giving back through photography.
It’s been a joy, and I”ll never forget.
Here’s some numbers!
8 Years 23 Productions 71,633 Total Photographs, Including Outtakes, Sets,
Portraits and Behind The Scenes
2008Metamorphosis 2009Into the Woods 2009The Cradle Will Rock 2009An Absolute Turkey 2010Children of Eden 2010The Caucasian Chalk Circle 2010Ghetto 201142nd Street 2011Loves Labours Lost 2011A Civil War Christmas 2012The King and I 2012Madeline J. Small is Getting Smaller 2012The Madness of King George III 2013Brigadoon 2013 You Can’t Take it With You 2013Antigone 2014Bat Boy, The Musical 2014Macbeth 2014Seventh Son 2015Kiss Me Kate 2015DoXXED 2015Our Town 2016Evita
I was attending a conference in Florida a few years ago and noticed this beautiful car parked under the hotel entrances’ canopy. It was the perfect photo opportunity as the canopy blocked the direct sun and most of the reflections. I took advantage and shot a few quick ones. I had forgotten about the shots until recently, and decided to process one.
Here’s the before-after. Not too bad for a spontaneous photoshoot, using the existing light!
It slips away fast and before you know it, the face you see in the mirror is not the same. A few more lines, a little more gray. One thing is guaranteed, nothing stays the same. I always had a tough time with that. I love new experiences, but I like some things to never change. Feeling nostalgic!
This is my first in a series, featuring detailed automotive photography.
I used a Jeep for my first shoot because I own it. Owning your own car for a shoot makes it a heck of lot easier to work into your schedule.
There were several challenges, but most of them were in the prep work.
First of which, my car is not new. It’s a 2010 Jeep Liberty with approximately 30,000 miles.
It has it’s share of wear, with dings and scratches, and worn tires.
I needed to clean the car thoroughly with a good car wash, and detailing. Yeesh! That was hard work! The dark metallic gray color took a lot of hours to wax and polish. Getting all the streaks out was a challenge, and I was not completely successful.
I knew if I didn’t do a careful job, all the wax and spots would show up in my shots, so I did my best to do a good job.
All of this work was done during a heat wave, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it was in the garage. I used a fan to help take the edge off, and planned the shoot to take place in the evening, when it was a little cooler.
In preparing the space in the garage, the floor was too dirty for the shoot. So, I decided to give the floor a fresh coat of paint!
Ugh, more work!
I spent the next few hours power-washing the floor and when it dried, I gave it a fresh coat of paint. Not the entire floor, for that would have involved moving everything out, which I didn’t have time for. So, I pushed all the stuff we’ve accumulated as far to the side as possible.
So far, that’s two days of prep invested in this project!
Finally, time to shoot the car!
I setup a single Einstein 640 strobe with a 10″ x 26″ strip box. In addition to the small strip, I used a huge Fotodiox 12″ x 80″ strip box for the wide shots of the car’s front end, and side of the car, but I much preferred the small strip box for most of the detailed shots.
I sandbagged an Avenger stand with a boom arm, to be sure it wouldn’t tip over.
It took the usual trial an error to see where the light fell, but eventually I figured it out.
Here’s the shots (click photo to enlarge):
This was a tough shoot, but fun to do, despite the challenges and the heat and humidity!
24-105mm L f/4.5
85mm, f/22 @ 1/200
(1) Einstein E640 @ 3/4 power, w/sync cord
10″ x 28″ PCB strip box
12″ x 80″ Fotodiox strip box
Avenger A5043 stand with extension boom and grip head
Giottos sand bags
When I’m photographing into the sun, I often do so with the intent on silhouetting or purposefully adding lens flare.
When it doesn’t happen, I can add the effects in post processing. By adding sun rays and lens flare, it can add mood to the scene. Here’s the before and after on a shot I took a few years ago while hiking in the Ramapo Reservation Park, in New Jersey.
Here are the abbreviated steps in Photoshop (Substitute CTRL for CMD if you are using a PC):
1) CMD -> Click on the RGB channel to load the luminosity. Create a new alpha channel and fill the loaded selection with white.
2) Boost contrast of the new alpha channel with levels. Use the black eyedropper and click on a dark area. Use the white dropper and click on a bright area.
3) Load the new alpha channel as a selection in a new layer and fill the selection with white.
5) Go to filter menu -> Blur -> Radial Blur -> set amount to 100%. In the preview window, move the center of the radial blur to the relative brightest spot in your photo.
6) Hit CMD-F to Re-apply the filter to soften the blur.
7) In filter effects, add an outer glow with a yellow-to-whte gradient, if you want to enhance it further.
8) To add more contrast and drama, add a new layer above the bottom-most layer. Load the alpha channel, invert the selection, and fill with black. Use the opacity slider to lessen the effect if it’s too dark. Use the Output Sliders (Know as the “Blend-If” sliders) and drag the black and the white sliders in towards the center to add more contrast.
9) Add lens flare – Create a new layer on top and fill it with black. Go to Filter -> Render -> Lens Flare. I chose the 50-300mm zoom and left it at 100 %. Choose Screen from the blending mode.
A new addition to our Smiles Are Free bag of tricks, courtesy of Mike Abshier, is a virtual background system. I was put in charge of the equipment, and asked to test it out. Being the skeptic I was doubtful this would work, and be a viable piece of equipment. Although I have to admit, I was intrigued with the concept.
How it works — you place a 2.25″ slide transparency in the machine and it projects the image onto a special screen. The lamp works like a strobe, so you never see the image until it’s exposed. There is a modeling lamp, but the only way to preview it through the lens. This allows you to alter a pose or reposition your model. The screen is about the same size as an 9′ backdrop. Your subjects stand a few feet in front of the screen. Miraculously, the background appears in your shot. There are some issues. Your strobes must be feathered away from the background. Any spill will wash out the background image.
Here’s the setup:
Test 2, I finally got the image to appear. And yes, this has got to be the ugliest room I’ve ever seen.:
Test 3, with me in the scene. One beauty dish with strobe, on low power. f/4 at 1/160, ISO 100.
Here’s my quick review:
The system works. Do I love it? Uh, not so much. Does it have possiblities? It might. I don’t like locking my camera into a machine that can’t move easily. This can be solved with more expense, but you are still limited in movement. I’m not a tripod shooter when I do portraiture. I like to move around and be spontaneous. This system locks you in. The backgrounds they offer are cheesy-wiz schmaltzy. It comes with about 22 backgrounds. You can buy more and they sell hundreds, or you can shoot your own film. This opens up some possibilities. I’ll shoot some more and post soon. There may be one or two they provided that might have some merit, but most of them I don’t like very much.
It’s a very controlled system. Your lighting needs to be spot on and gelled to match the lighting in the projected image, otherwise, you look cut-and-pasted into the scene, as I do in the un-gelled example above. This takes some doing and a lot of experimentation.
Portability – the screen weighs a ton. It’s actually two screens, sandwiched together. A silvery backing and black mesh in front. It rolls up into it’s own holder and mounts to standard background stands. The projector mounts to heavy gear-head tripod. This thing also weighs a ton and has a fragile glass – beam-splitter mounted to it. It will need to be broken down and packed in an optional hard case, to be portable. It’s a big deal to move it, set it up and transport. Not very practical.
If you are looking for a way to minimize Photoshop collage work (I happen to love Photoshop colgaging!), and like the idea of instantly changing a background scene, and providing a customer a quick, on-the-spot instant photo, there is a business model here. It reminds me of a mall photo studio where moms bring their babies. Ugh. In reality, you could actually make a business out of this thing. Is it creative? it could be, if you shoot your own backgrounds, have a wardrobe of accessories, makeup artists, costumes… whatever. Will I use it? Hmmmmm. For Smiles Are Free…, I might, since we now own it. For my own work or anything else… no.
THESE ARE TEST SHOTS ONLY and NOT indicative of my photography, creativity or skill. The background scene of a velour couch in the ugliest room I’ve ever seen, came with the system. It is absolutely awful. The shot is tilted…because i’m still figuring out how to align… and the color is off… no correction gels were used yet.
After being inspired by the latest Perfect Inspiration video by Brian Matiash, I remembered a shot I took of an old rusting tractor in 1999. I thought I’d go back and re-visit post processing to enhance the shot further.
I think you’ll agree, it’s a decent improvement. As I do more, I’ll continue to post more before and after shots.
I used Lightroom 4 to make the initial minor adjustments, then OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 6.1 to add the gritty feel, vibrance and selective focus. I created several layers with various blending effects to bring out the rusty decay in the photo. By adding the focal-point, selective blur effect to the background, it brought out the tractor, adding dimension.
Below is the before-and-after. Drag the slider left or right to see the comparison.
Much thanks to OnOne software’s Brian Matiash, for his terrific series of videos that inspire and teach at the same time. It’s helped me learn to use their software.