Sorority Row Vampires

Yes, my first project – while still developing Furies.

Website up, kinda.

Posted in Movie Business, News Tagged , , |

Sloppy borders

I see them on Instagram, on Flikr, and on Facebook.

You’re not fooling me. I know, because I’ve used sloppy borders since 1989.  Real ones, not overlays generated by an artist who maybe has never been in a wet darkroom in their life.

REAL sloppy borders are achieved in the darkroom using roughened and oversized negative carriers.  Each negative creates a unique border as it reflects the image along the highly reflective surfaces of the mangled aluminum negative carrier, this reflection appears in the print.

Filed out Beseler negative carriers. (Not actually mine, mine are in a box somewhere.. but you get the point.)

Filed out Beseler negative carriers. (Not actually mine, mine are in a box somewhere.. but you get the point.)

I first started printing B&W with these borders soon after my arrival in Los Angeles in 1989, upon moving into a cool loft near downtown. A neighboring kid, a photographer, was moving over seas and had an old Beseler enlarger he was selling, so I bought it and a bunch of other stuff.

He had filed out one of the 35mm negative carriers, and these were the older ones with bright aluminum tops, not the newer solid black carriers. These created a unique border. A huge border, but this didn’t work for all the images I was printing.

Since there were 3 35mm carriers, I grabbed one and went to work on it with a file. I made one with a smaller gap, but really rough.

Wow.  It printed beautiful borders.

Mirror Mirror, beautiful REAL sloppy borders. Click to enlarge (electronically, tho)

Mirror Mirror, beautiful REAL sloppy borders. Click to enlarge (electronically, tho)

So I went on a spree of printing all my 35mm in full frame centered on the printing paper.

Then in the mid-90s, back in Austin, I started scanning slides and along came a plug-in for Photoshop called PhotoFrame. This also allowed me to customize the frames and I scanned a large print, cut out the photo to leave the sloppy borders. I then took to placing these around color slides or negatives I’d print.

Now, with apps, you can try to fool people into thinking you shot with film, processed the film and scanned from a real print.

But I still have that border file. I’ve located it and will start using it. It creates a border frame unlike anything provided by Instagram or XnRetro.

Marissa in the old studio. Notice the way her legs are reflected in the border? Doesn't happen in Apps, people...  (click to kinda enlarge)

Another REAL print with sloppy borders.. Marissa in the old studio. Notice the way her legs are reflected in the border? … (click to kinda enlarge)

Go hit my gallery and look at the older Glamor stuff. 90% of the B&W images were scanned from an actual B&W print. Sloppy borders being the real deal there, folks.

Posted in Advice, photography Tagged , , , , |

A lot of work to mimic crappy photos from the 70s

Holga-ized Nikon image of a random mountain in Arizona.  Click to enArizonisize

Holga-ized Nikon image of a random mountain in Arizona. Click to enArizonisize


A long time ago, in a land far away, there existed a type of photography that used chemicals. Gas was cheap, the US congress had an approval rating above 25% and we had to wait hours, if not days to see what we photographed. The “good old days”.

Lenses were (and still are) sharp as tacks and the cameras used film, and the final image depended a lot of what type of film you used. You had to work hard to get a really sharp image.  Film grain and film size also determined the final results.

Cameras ranged from high end to what was basically considered toys, with plastic lenses and light leaks.

Artists would often use these cheap toy cameras to create art from the crappy images. You were limited to 12 shots per 120 size roll (24-36 with 35mm). You were a lot more careful what you shot, composing the image with an eye sharpened from years of spending money processing film to find you screwed up somewhere and the results were – at best – shitty.

Then along came digital.  Even the cheap cameras had decent enough lenses to take sharp images with nice color. Yes, film isn’t dead yet.  It’s in a medically induced coma right now, and time is running out.

Many of the toy cameras, Holga, Lomo, and others are still found, but processing is hard to find in smaller towns and doing it yourself takes a big chunk of change to get the equipment and more money for chemicals.

So digital is where it’s at…  and now with Instagram and Facebook, people are using apps to create the look of folder film based images, and going to a lot of work to take a decently exposed digital image and turn it into the by-product of a 1960s 620 Brownie camera with Meniscus lens. Yes, you can still find these cameras, good luck finding the 620 film.  My granny had a Brownie Hawkeye camera with flash. Nice big negative and processing was to be had at any drugstore.

There’s an interesting app I’ve been playing with for the Android called XnRetro.  It’s doing a pretty nice job of mimicking older cameras, especially those like the Lomo with their unique light leaks and badly masked film planes.

I also discovered XnRetro makes a version of its program for Windows, OSx and Linux.  I came across this app while looking at HDR apps.

I downloaded the desktop version and it’s essentially the same as the Android App. No annoying ads, tho. I applied a few of the filters to some existing images shot with the trusty old Nikon and nice results! I have been using it for Instagram posts lately.

Here’s a small gallery of the rework of some Nikon shots from October…



Posted in Android Apps, Equipment reviews, photography Tagged , , , |

True HDR explained and examples

I thought I’d spend the 2nd day of 2015 talking about “True HDR” versus “HDR effects”.

One is actually HDR, the other isn’t.

A bit of background. HDR is unique to digital photography, because back in the olden days (Pre-Bush Jr) most photography was done via a chemical process. Exposing film in a camera caused a reaction with light sensitive silver nitrate compounds, which were then dunked in various chemical baths to be “developed”. It was during this time/temperature process that the real magic of photography occurred. You never got to see the results until after this process, and I can vividly recall my palpitating heart the first time I opened a processing tank to view my first ever developed roll of Tri-X. Almost beat out by my first ever solo landing in a Cessna… Almost.

Film had a small range of contrast it could handle before it either made shadows go completely black or the highlights went complete white. This range depended on the film you were using. Slide film has the lowest (narrowest) contrast range; certain negative films the widest range.

With black and white negative film one could adjust exposure and then development to compress the image, also called “Zone System”. The Zone System is best remembered as “expose for shadows, process for highlights”

This was best used by photographers utilizing large format cameras, where a single frame could be processed differently from the other frames.

With digital, there is really no processing. So HDR was developed as a way to compensate for the limited exposure range of digital sensors. This is accomplished by making several exposures of a scene, bracketing each exposure to get images with good shadow detail then images with good highlight detail.

Using Photoshop or another piece of software, you then could stack the images and merge them into one single image with shadow and highlight detail. There are various effects that happen, and a good HDR image is almost like what the human eye can see.

Everything else is artistic intent.

HDR effects are simply taking a single, evenly exposed image and getting the HDR look by compressing highlights and shadows and causing edge effects. It’s not really, truly HDR. It’s just an effect.

That effect certainly can’t bring out details in shadows in a scene with extreme range.

Let’s take an extreme example. I uploaded to my gallery a scene of a piece of gnarled tree trunk with the sun backlighting the wood and pine needles. This one I did a 7-EV bracket to allow of the extreme brightness of the direct sun peeking through the pine needles.

Here’s a collage of the 7 exposure range I used….

All 7 exposures. (Click to Loupeify)

All 7 exposures. (Click to Loupeify)

Looking at the contact sheet, you can see where my trusty Nikon thought the proper exposure should be, exposure #4.  Wow…  It’s losing the shadows badly…  and the better single exposure is #5, or plus 1 EV.

And that’s where True HDR comes in.

Using only photoshop, I did a Merge to HDR pro, and played with the settings to achieve a very nice HDR of the scene.

Vola!  Click to gigantisize

Vola! Click to gigantisize

Next post I’ll examine several of the Android apps for HDR photography….

Posted in Advice, How-To, lessons, Photo Lessons, photography Tagged , , , , |

And a new year it is

Started off fine, bright, clear day in San Diego.  One single, lonely cloud in the sky.


Yes, according to the weather people, this counts as “partly cloudy”.

Go figure.

Meanwhile, it’s laundry day.

Posted in General raving and shit, General Silliness Tagged , , |

The Furies – shameless self promotion

The movie I'm directing

The movie I’m directing

I’m already breaking a New Year’s resolution, but heck with it! (It was only one shameless self-promo a week…)

If you haven’t already, go like The Furies’ facebook page.

Then check out the Furies’ website and learn all about us. See the trailer. Read the treatment, get excited and follow our path to success!

It’s the movie I’m pulling together out here in Sunny Southern California. It’s the reason I’m out here and not freezing my tail off in Texas right now.  Instead I’m freezing my tail off in San Diego, but that’s another post.

So my new resolution is to use social media to get some buzz generated about this project.

So share and like and I’ll keep this up until I get my way!

And have a safe and happy new year!


Posted in Movie Business, The Furies Tagged , , , , , |

The dog’s apartment complex

Beagle Weiner dog mix, Moko.

Beagle Weiner dog mix, Moko, basks in the early winter sun

Where I’m staying is a unique apartment complex. Nestled in the heart of San Diego’s historic SouthPark district, this little complex also houses many dogs, most of which are allowed to wander around outside like they own the place.

Only downside is sometimes the guys start barking at something, then they all start barking. Oh well.

It’s a small complex that reminds me of the old Lyndhurst Cul-de-sac of the early 90s, where my kid grew up and I made life-long friends. Sometimes history does repeat!

Posted in animals, San Diego Tagged , , , |

New Landscape Work…

Been in southern California for about 2 months now, networking out and getting my movie project buzz started. While waiting for meetings, I’ve been wandering around the South Park area of San Diego, just snapping photos with my cell phone, and then I pulled out my Nikon and started taking “serious” pictures.

By serious pictures, I mean I’m hauling around my tripod and several lenses, walking miles a day for the right pictures.

Many people will hit the usual areas of a city, but I went out looking for unusual and unique to the area photo opportunities. First scouting with my cell phone camera, and then going back when the weather was “just right” with the better equipment.

Decided to shoot “HDR” type of images this time out. Then started up an Instagram account to share them around. My Instagram is Oldtex59, or clink this link.


Even an out of the box version of Photoshop or Lightroom can process HDR images quite well. For this blog post, I’m not creating a HDR tutorial. This is mostly showing off some recent photos.

My method is to use a tripod, fire off 5 or 7 or, hell, even 9 exposures using the Nikon’s bracketing mode. I set it for a EV shift per exposure, such as -2, -1, 0, +1 and +2… etc.  I then look at the images in Lightroom, export a TIFF or PSD from the Nikon raw file, then stack these in Photoshop using the automagical Merge to HDR Pro (found under File, Automate). I’ll fiddle around with the various settings, looking at making a very naturalistic HDR or out-of-this world Vivid van Gogh image… with a touch of Tim Burton.

Check them out, in the new gallery collection, San Diego HDR.  It’ll be updated while I’m in SD.

Cheers and have a happy New Year!

Posted in nature, photography Tagged , , , , |

All people read this…

This is a short post going out to people hitting my site and then filling out the contact form asking to help with SEO on this website…

I’m in southern California shopping my movie project, The Furies, and I am sorta letting this site sit idle until I’m wrapped with The Furies.

Since this is the case, I probably won’t even read emails from my contact form asking about SEO or to buy or sell domains.


Posted in annoyances

Making movies

My latest project, The Furies, is proceeding ahead.

Our budget is nice and high, and as a result, this site won’t be updated on a regular basis, nor will I be able to accept any photography jobs in Austin, Texas as I’m in San Diego or Los Angeles.


Any other site I run will be shutting down and the domain parked or allowed to expire.

Posted in Movie Business
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