19.10.2010

Photo-Diagramm: a great online tool!

Perhaps you have seen this fancy diagramms showing the setup of the lightning and accesoires used for a shooting and asked yourself: hey, I wanna make this kind of diagramms myself, too! Well, here is a online tool which is perfect for this!
Go and Check this one and then you´ll be able to create this ones:


It´s very easy to use and you get a lot of items to move around and depict the setup. I actually use it and often save them with the pictures I took in order to remember how I did the lights for a certain shoot. After printing them you can write some notes on them, for example the ratios you used.

I like it :-)

p.s. if you like it more complicated... check this one :-)

p.s.s. and if you want to really impress the world about how "mobile" you are

... well, then you may use this one! (picture of mobiles courtesy of www.strobox.com)

14.10.2010

Catching liquid drops (DIY) - Setup

Ever wondered how this kind of pictures are achieved? Well, actually it´s not that difficult. Just gotta catch the droping liquid in the right moment and with the right lightning.

Actually you can do this right now: go to the kitchen, open the tap just a bit, so that only drops pour down and put a bowl underneath. Now wait for the drops to reach the surface and pull the trigger. Now, under normal light situations (not all kitchens do have the full sunlight coming through the window or really strong lamps on the ceiling) you wont be able to get over 1/125 even with wide open lense. This speed is much to low to really freeze the moving of the liquid. So, you will need your flash.
You can use the build-in flash of your camera, but this will not give you satisfying results: the light will come from the front and take all the 3-dimensional effect of the situation. Try it.

The best setup is using proper studio-lights or a slave flash unit. Put either one of them to one side of the scene. Doing this will give you the depth and 3-dimensional effect you need for making the drop look crispier and vivid. Also, it will let you achieve the complete "freeze" of the plumping drop.

So, now you are able to catch the drop of water pouring on the bowl and hopefully making some fancy figures. The next step is to use different colours: try a coloured bowl... a blue one, a yellow one, a red one. See how the reflection of the light gives the drop different "moods". Depending on the angle of the incoming light you will get some awesome colour-effects.

The last step is to try out different liquids: dont only use water dropping on water... try milk on milk, coffe on milk, milk on coffe, coke on coke, etc.

The most important parameter in this kind of pictures is: time and patience. You will have to take hundres of pictures in order to get THE ONE. But, hey, it´s always about beeing in the right place in the right moment. In this case this applies, too.

Here I found an example of a good and easy setup for this kind of pictures:


Current Waterdrop Setup, ursprünglich hochgeladen von *Corrie*



Happy shooting and don´t forget not to use the biggest apperture on your lense: you will need some depth (3-4 cm) to get the right figure.



Liquid Gold

*UPDATE* Here you will find some great examples of this kind of pics! Enjoy :-)

DIY PVC Skater dolly (Table Dolly)

Well, sometimes you can spend a lot of money for gadgets needed for your photography/video productions... and sometimes you can achieve the same effects of the gadget without spending too much :-).

This is a good example of a DIY project for building a dolly (click on the picture to see more details about how to build it!). A dolly is a mobile (no, not phone!) device that lets you achieve the moving effects of the camera that you know from the movies. Specially for the "camera surrounds the object" effect.

Ok, this one isn´t planned for high movements of the camera, but for stills and table-tops I think it´s a very good alternative. Actually I am going to build it myself in the next days!

08.10.2010

Photographers be aware... Facebook!

Just as an update to my blog about watermarking your photographies or not... here is the last piece of information I have gotten today through Twitter. It´s specially important for those photographers who also have a Fan Page on Facebook. Please be aware that Facebook has made an update to their picture features: before this update was alive the pictures you uploaded to your gallery on Facebook were automatically resized to a standard Lo-Res size (independent of the size you uploaded your picture). Now, with the update alive, if you upload a big picture (more resolution) anybody will be able to download this Hi-Res version of your work. So, if you don´t watermark and upload a big size picture... actually you´re giving it away for free. Even people that are not logged in can download them.

With so many photographers using Facebook as a marketing tool they should rethink about watermarking their pictures or at least uploading just a small-size version of it.

Here is the video post made by Mpacphoto.com today:



Part of my workflow is to create different sizes of the pictures (with & without watermarking) when I am ready, depending of the use I will give them. Perhaps you should do the same...

Food Photography



Hmmm... food photography is one of the photography fields I like most! One regarding thing about it is: you can eat all the fabulous content after the shooting!... NOT :-)

Actually, producing appealing pictures of food is one of the most difficult tasks for a photographer. There are several parameters he has to control:

1. As always: light is the most important key to get a subject presented the right way. Depending on the atmosphere and mood you want to create you can use flashes or daylight... or a mix of both. Daylight component gives the food a more natural mood and if you want to present the food in a "rustical" way if should be the way to go. If you want to present it the "cool" way or stylize the result with strong contrasts then flashes are the right tool. I actually prefer a mix of both worlds: I try to use as much natural light as possible and use the flashes to enhance the whole scene. Try not to get to many shadows but keep the textures... which takes us to the next parameter

2. Presentation: there is even a job called "food designer"! This peoples task is to present the food in a way that acomplishes the task of food photography: to make the viewer get hungry! To wake up one of the most basic human needs and to want him to get this tasty whatever right now into his mouth :-). There are many tricks used in this step: besides artificial components (think of ice cubes) there are the use of hair spray (yeah, you heard right) in order to let the meat/vegetables look shiny. Water colours to "paint" the food (think of the tasty brown colour for chicken) is also used and sometimes even the "burning lines" on the steak are painted. Also, be sure to have the right dishes and props to wrap around the food. Inform yourself about how this specific food is presented traditionally. Check the details!
Think about cultural differences of the aimed viewers or that are connected to the specific food: years ago, I made some pictures of asian bowls and sticks in order to create a serie for shushi restaurants. I sent them to my stock agencies and they were actually selling good... but the ones with the bowl and the stick...? Well, somebody later explained to me that positioning the sticks INTO the empty bowls was seen as a "bad sign" by some asian cultures. You learn all the time...

3. Use the right lenses: allthough there are many different ways to shoot food one of the most used is to implement a shallow depth of field. This makes the viewer concentrate on the main subject and don´t get distracted to much by the surroundings. Your task is to get the viewer hungry and to want the steak immediately... not to think too much about what kind of dish is there on the table.

4. Composition: try new angles. The normal way to look at the dish infront of you at the table is not the most appealing for the viewer. It doesn´t make him curious, ´cause that´s the way he always sees food. Try to shoot it from a lower position or perhaps from above or a little from the side.

5. Try & try & try: the best is to have the pc monitor connected directy to the camera so that you can check the results immediately, so that you don´t loose time... because food, different to a flower or a still life... doesn´t get better with the time... it gets bad. And if you need an hour to check the pictures and you realize you need to change some thing, well, then your dog will be happy to get a steak :-)

I found some interesting videos showing the work behind a food shooting. Check them out!



And here you can see a short reel of really tasty pictures:



And here a more longer collection of food pictures:




Well, after seeing all of this... I wish you a happy shooting and Bon Apetit! :-)

07.10.2010

Still/Video Convergence: Alexx Henry's 'Living Art'

VIV Mag Interactive Feature Spread - iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.


Hmmm... with the venue of the tablet-pc (Ipad and the likes) I am sure that the whole landscape of publishing, specially the magazines, will change drastically in the next years.

As I walk around the city I see more and more people (all ages) holding a mobile device and interacting with it. Not only talking and writing SMS or emails (which means they are having a dialogue), but also just consuming (which means they are having a one-direction monologue) news, articles and posts. So, you can now say "what´s the difference? People have always been consuming one-directionally contents like magazines and newspapers!"... well, that´s true and this will not change. BUT... the contents will change! Because of the limited media options paper has (obviously...) traditional publishing can only offer 2-dimensional, non-sensorial (just the eyes) contents, i.e. static pictures and text. The new media devices are capable of crushing this limit and offer almost unlimited ways of presenting the contents (static pictures, text... + video, sound and even sensorial, when the little thing beginns to vibrate).

This article at PDN shows some new possibilities publishing companies will have in order to offer their contents to the consumer. In the depicted case the topic of a magazine is featured with short "living pictures"... not movies, but kind of video-teasers which illustrate the topic via dynamic pictures containg interaction possibilities (buttons). So, the reader/viewer has the choise to go deeper into the content or not, as traditionally as if he would choosing which page to read in a conventional magazine.

So... what does this all have to do with photography? Pretty simple: I am sure the demand of the publishing companies for still photographies will always stay, there will always be a need for static pictures, ´cause not everybody wants to consume "moving pictures" (aka video) and there will be always products which because of physical constraints aren´t able to offer other contents (books, calendars, postcards, posters, etc.). BUT I think the demand for this new kind of visual appealing products will increase in the future (as the grwoing proliferation of the mobile media devices, too) and will bite a big chunck off the market the traditional photography has had till now. Photographers will have to expand their skills beyond the production of stills and adventure into new sectors like video or at least produce pictures which can be used for it. At last, as a photographer you are an educated visual artist... and the visual scope does offer many different sectors beyond the stills.

Time to explore new ways of presenting the world your visual impressions!

06.10.2010

Relaunch of my website! YEAH! :-)



Well, after many, many hours of work (last 2 days) I finally uploaded my brand, new homepage! After more than 2 years the old design wasn´t "sexy" no more.

I´ve done a bit of re-design to the whole site making it more "smooth"... and learned a lot about fireworks & dreamweaver... so, here I am now shouting it out to the world :-)

Hope you like it! As always, comments are welcome!

05.10.2010

SpiderPic: a smart way to compare prices!



Surfing around the net I found this quite new (at least for me) way of searching the microstock-agencies for certain pictures: SpiderPic.

Ok, a search-engine that searches diferent stock-agencies isn´t something really new... BUT this one also lets you compare the different price tags of the same images in the different agencies! If you do a bit of research you will notice that you may actually pay for the same picture and the same usage (mostly RF) very different prices depending on the agency you choose to buy from. This clearly has something to do with the different paying modalities (pay per picture, subscription plans and so on), but you can also compare the different pricing policies that the agencies are applying. It´s not quite perfet yet (beta-stadium) and it only searches the main microstock agencies... but it´s quite interesting! Give it a try :-)

04.10.2010

Updating my Galleries...



Well, I gotta admit I´ve been a bit lazy the last months and did not upload none of the new pictures I took in last time. But today it really caught me and I did some refreshing of my opening showcast in my homepage. How do you like it?

Bit by bit I´ll be updating all the other galleries... first one updated is the Animals Gallery: here I´ve updated the new pictures of peruvian camelids (llamas, alpacas, vicuñas) which I made on my last trip this year. Hope you like it :-)

More updates coming soon.

03.10.2010

Trying new things out: Timelapse Photography

As a curious Photographer I am always searching for new ways to visually present my work and improve my knowledge in the imagery area. One interesting method is the so-called "Timelapse Photography". What is it? Well, actually it is a visual presentation of a serie of pictures of mainly the same subject/place taken within certain time intervalls. Then you put the single pictures one after the other in a video file and present them. The achieved effect is very interesting and you may have seen it many times in the media, for example when showing the weather changes within a day or the traffic in a city during the day:



Photographer Nicole Young has put a very nice tutorial in Youtube showing how to achieve this effect using a DSLR and Lightroom:



And part 2 here:



But you can even go further and create some awesome videos like this here:



And the final product here:



Well, this one isn´t one you can do for yourself in one day... but it shows what very impressing effects you can make cross-walking the media Photography and Video!

29.09.2010

To watermark or not... that is the question!

One of the first questions you should ask yourself when posting your photographies online (in your blog, flickr, facebook or whatever) is if your going to put some mark on it stating that you ARE the owner of it, that YOU are the artist behind the picture... or not. One method which has proven to be valid is the use of a watermark on the picture. Like this:



There are several discussions about this topic on the net (here and here) and as always, there are pro & contras. I personally even have had some bad comments about putting it on some of my pictures as "it would destroy the image".
After beeing active some years in this Web 2.0 world (where everything and everybody thinks that all content is for free) and beeing a professional photographer (i.e. somebody who earns money for producing pcitures) I gotta say: if you put your pictures online in order to just give them as a gift to the world... well, just leave them without a mark. Also, if you´re such a prominent photographer that your pictures are immediately going to be id´d as yours or you have a service like Picscout running... well, just leave them without a mark.
BUT... if you are aware that it is almost impossible to block the unlimited use of your pictures (or whatever content) all over the world by whoever wants to do it... then you should think about an efficient way to mark it. If the user really wants to use it in a "clean" way... well, then he should contact you.

That is my opinion on that matter. And by the way, as an advice for the ones who will follow this advice: when choosing a watermark... don´t you just use a symbol... I know, it´s fancy to have an own logo... but, if you don´t put more information on the mark (for example YOUR NAME or URL) how the hell is anybody going to know you are the artist behind that great picture? How is he going to contact you?
And trust me: it takes a looooong time till your logo is so widespread that everybody could recognize it :-)

logoBy the way: TinyEye is a great tool for scanning the web and finding your own pictures. Give it a try!

Polylooks schließt zum 31.12.2010

Soeben kam die Mail mit der Kündigung des Lizenzvertrages mit Polylooks, die Online-Bildagentur der Telekom. Gerade mal 18 Monate lang hat sie dann überlebt...
Genaue Angaben zu den Gründen sind noch nicht bekannt, aber ich wage mal zu behaupten, dass trotz starken finanziellen Backgrounds (immerhin reden wir hier von der Telekom!) Polylooks es nicht geschafft hat genügend Marktanteile zu erobern, die eine weitere Existenz hätten unterstützen können. Somit reiht sich Polylooks, gemäß dem Motto "another ones bites the dust", zu der größer werdenden Liste an gescheiterten microstock-Agenturen, wie hier an den durchgestrichenen Namen zu entnehmen ist.

Schade... bei der ersten Kontaktaufnahme damals (Mai 2009) klang das Ganze sehr verheissungsvoll... aber irgendwie hatte ich ständig das Gefühl, dass zu wenig Marketing betrieben wurde... ich meine, bei dem vorhandenen Kundenportfolio der TELEKOM hätte man durchaus mehr draus machen können, oder?! Jedenfalls habe ich nie Werbung gesehen...

Und hier noch die offizielle Meldung.

Why you should never work for free as a photographer

How many times have you been asked for giving your work for free? With the promise "hey, you´ll get a lot of exposure!"? Well, let me tell you that with EXPOSURE you cannot pay BILLS. It´s as simple as that. I´ve been contacted several times by media/content producers asking me to give them my work for FREE. I would then be mentioned somewhere in the text below, "so people/readers would get to know my name and then they would search for me and buy my pictures..." WTF? How many time have you seen a great picture or an imagery which really impressed you and have you taken out a pencil in order to note the name of the photographer? Because "´cause of technical reasons we cannot publish your fully homepage, but we´ll post your surname!". What if your surname is SMITH?
Photographers, specially the young generation, should take advice about this strange (perverse!) behaviour which has penetrated wide areas of the media producers minds: never, ever give your work away for free! Learn to valuate your work, learn to valuate the advantages the OTHER ones are going to get from your work.

Here is a good post of John Harrington in the Black Star Rising Blog about this topic and here is another rant at Lighting Essentials. But if you wanna see a fantastic rant about artists giving their work for free watch this video of Harlan Ellison:




So, keep in mind: the world is only going to valuate your work as far as you´re going to valuate it yourself.

Should I even stay in the photography business

Interesting post from Beate Chellete in the Black Star Rising Blog talking about the actual state of the photography business and the state of mind a photographer should have IF he wants to stay in business:



Well, as far as the state of mind concerns I totally back her up... but things are getting hard, specially when working through stock agencies. You can read the opinion of the veteran Jim Pickerell about this topic here in his post "Why full-time stock-photographers are an endangered species".
As far as I am concerned I really think that the times of only relaying on your stock portfolio as your only income source are gone... but, this should be seen as a wake-up call for diversifying your income sources as a photographer and engaging in other venues related to imagery. There are sooo many different fields where you can still be creative, passionate about your love to photography and images... and still beeing able pay your bills. It´s all about looking out for them and not letting your head down only because a door seems to be closing... if it does, look for another one. Be flexible, be curious, be active... and open your eyes and mind!

25.09.2010

Ferris Wheel


Ferris Wheel, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

With such blue sky... I cannot just walk by without taking a picture of this ferris wheel! This one was at the "DOM" festival which takes place in Hamburg every year. This is a good example of the use of a polarizing filter... blue gets bluer :-)

Autumn coming...


Autumn coming..., ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

While walking through the Wutachschlucht in the Black Forrest in Germany (11 km!!) you could see how the autumn is coming close... wonderfull light and colours! Autumn is in my eyes one of the best seasons of the year to go out and take some nature pictures! Try it... go out... keep your eyes open... and shoot, shoot, shoot! :-)

Sunflower


Sunflower, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Well, after spending a week with fantastic weather in the region called Black Forrest in Germany, I´ll be heading back to Hamburg on Sunday. I´ve taken lots of pictures and visited some cities over there (Konstanz, Freiburg) and even made the 11 km walk through the Wutach-Schlucht... kind of the "German Grand Canyon" :-). Pictures will be coming soon!



You may find the region here:

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15.09.2010

I am cute :-)


I am cute, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Little duckling taking a sun-bath in an ocean of flowers... cute as can be :-)

Nasca Lines: The Hummingbird


Nasca lines: the hummingbird, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

This is one of the symbols (know as the Nasca Lines) carved in the sand of the desert of San Jose, department of Ica in Peru. It is assumed that this ancient drawings were made by the Nasca culture around 100 and 600 AD. Allthough known by habitants and diverse travellers through many years, they became officially "discovered" in 1941 by Paul Kosok. The german Maria Reiche spent her whole life trying to figure out what the meaning of this symbols were. Until now, there is no certain explanation for their existence. Some believe it was an astronomical calender others believe it was a religious cult. Allthough some of this drawings can been seen by standing on a watch-tower, the best way to admire them is by flying over them. This Picture was taken from a plane at 500 meters altitude.



You may find it here:

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Temple of Demeter, Naxos


Temple of Demeter, Naxos, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Ever been to the greek islands (Cyclades)? No? Well, gotta do it :-)... beautiful places, great nature and sometimes & somewhere always some interesting remains of the ancient greek culture. This one was taken in the island of Naxos.
I spent two weeks there drinving and walking around. Weather was fantastic and the food... hmmm... terrific :-)

More to come!



You may find it here:

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Uros reed-boat in the Titicaca Lake


Uros boat in the titicaca sea, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

A picture of one of the tipical reed-boats of the Uros People with the Titicaca lake (Peru) in the background. It really was an impressive trip! More pictures of this trip to come!




You may find it here:

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Where the hell is Matt?

I know, this video went around the internet world 2 years ago and is kind of "old"... but I still love it! It gives me just a warm und fuzzy feeling about how easy it actually is to share happyness and enjoy life!



So, check it out and smile... just smile :-)

13.09.2010

Sunset at St. Peter-Ording


Sunset at St. Peter-Ording, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Just walking along the beach and thinking about how beautiful and calm nature is. Sometimes, a break from the stressy life in the city can be really helpful to find inspiration :-)



Looking for this great location? You may find it here:

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11.09.2010

Freedom


Freedom, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Paraglider infront of an amazing sunset in southamerica. Very warm colors and a bit of motion blur in the ocean. Had to sit 2 hours on the hill in order to catch him flying just infront of the sun... hope you like it :-)

Two little Llama-Babies


Two little Llama-Babies, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Driving around in the sierra of Peru I had to stop and take a picture of this cute dudes :-)

On the road again...


On the road again..., ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Lonesome llama standing in the middle of the road... don´t even think about passing by without paying your tax! :-)

Splash-serie: green apple


Splash-serie: green apple, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Try this out: get yourself a glasbowl, fill it with water and drop some fruits in it... but get yourself a towel, after this session my studio looked like a swimming-pool :-)

Highkey Experiments


Highkey girl looking at you, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Sometimes you can get real nice effects when playing with selective Highlights and Shadows!

Liquid Gold


Liquid Gold, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Playing with liquids... nice! :-)

Sunset at St. Peter-Ording


Sunset at St. Peter-Ording, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

A beautiful sunset in St.-Peter-Ording, north of Germany... hmmm, summer :-)

Two little Llama-Babies in Peru


Two little Llama-Babies in Peru, ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point

Still testing connection Flickr & Blogger...

The Cathedral in Cusco, Peru


The Cathedral in Cusco, Peru
Ursprünglich hochgeladen von Latin-Point
Testing the connection between Flickr and Blogger :-)