Category Archives: photography

Street Portrait gallery online

My street portrait gallery, People of Occupy Austin, is online.

I’ve changed the way the images load, it loads low rez images at first to help speed viewing of the images.

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Street Portraits

It’s a sub-set of photography I’ve always loved. Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of my earliest inspirations, and I’ve always loved his work. The idea of taking a camera out and simply shooting people, random people, is hard these “Photographers might be terrorists” days.

The Occupy Austin movement brought me the opportunity to shoot some street portraits. I was asked to shoot many portraits for a video that is being made of why people are at the Occupy Austin movement.


It’s a knack to get people you’ve never met to pose in such a way as to illustrate their basic personality – I hope I’m developing some of this… I was able to get these folks to relax, and I hope I brought forth their personalities, who they are, what makes them an individual.

In some cases, I used some filters to bring out some uniqueness in each portrait. I do a layering, filtering, layering technique.

More to come.

Also posted in Occupy Austin, portraits Tagged , , |

A nice, inexpensive 6x6cm camera

Nope, not a Hasselblad

Back in 2000, I felt the need to get back into the darkroom. I was still shooting film – but I wanted something bigger than 35mm. I was introduced to the Kiev cameras.

Beth - Agfa-25 studio shoot

My first one was a basic model, the Kiev 88. No hand crank, basic Hasse-style A100 film backs. It had some issues, like a copper focal-plain shutter and reflective interior. Once I stopped all the light leaks and reworked the interior, the images were startling sharp and vivid. I mean, with Agfa-25 film in my studio, I got very good images.

I’ve had occasion to use a real Hassie, never owned one. This is very similar, except in one important way.

Where the Hasselblad has a shutter in the lens, the Kiev is a focal-plane shutter. The Hasselblad can sync with a strobe outside at any shutter speed (thus controlling ambiant light in the shot*) the Kiev 88 can only sync at 1/30th.

This beast is HEAVY. Be prepared to use a tripod while shooting. Especially compared to a DSLR.

Thing is – I haven’t really done a lot of photography with this Kiev for a while. That’s gotta change here real soon!

Also posted in Equipment reviews, Photo Lessons Tagged , |

First Circuit Panel Says There’s a Clear Constitutional Right To Openly Record Cops. | The Agitator

From Balko at The Agitator comes this important report.

The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, “the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.”…

As a photographer, I have read with dismay the reports coming from the various blogs, including Photography is not a Crime about how photographers & private citizens are being targeted by police and citizens when they try to do their job or record possible police misconduct.

This ruling, while limited, goes a long way towards establishing our protected rights to photograph subjects in public.

Buildings, people on the sidewalk and anything and anyone else *in public* have no assumed right to privacy, yet daily I read about police, security guards and self-appointed protectors harassing or interfering with a photographer. It’s in-fricking-sane.

Prior to 9-11, we were living in a free society.. but slowly the neo-cons have eroded these rights into a farce. Combined, the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terrorism” have us living in a country with fewer freedoms than many countries in eastern Europe in the 1970s.

Also posted in News, politics, Uncategorized Tagged , , , |

Irene and the hurricanapocalypse.

Even here in Texas you can feel the hurricane’s effects… aside from having Family in the projected path, I called Adorama to use the credit I have (after a problem with some grid spots not fitting – see below) and they’re closed! So the ordering of the 16″ beauty dish will have to wait a few days.

Last week I ordered some grid spots for my Flashpoint II monohead strobes. The had been on back-order for weeks, but they were shipping, so I ordered them.

Grids are needed to control the light from a strobe’s output. A grid will narrow the light by the angle of the grid, like 20 degrees. It’s not as hard of a light as a Fresnel spot, but almost as good.

The grids (and some HUGE CFLs for my continuous light rigs..) and there’s is something odd. The expected set of 4 only has TWO in the box. So I called them up and asked about it. The CS girl put me on hold, then got back to me telling me she’ll call me back in a few hours or the next day, while she checks on it.

So I next go to test them out. They do not fit. The grids are about 1/8th of an inch too big.

I call them back, the girl I speak to next is suddenly puzzled as the system is showing that item is now discontinued. What? I *need* some type of grid to modify the light for some set-ups… I ask her how can I even use Flashpoint monoheads without the needed light modifiers.

She transfers me to a product specialist. This guy and I talk for a few minutes, he puts me on hold to ask someone, then he has to transfer me to a manager and the guy purchases the flashpoint system.

Now I’m on with a very classic sounding New York Jew. These guys I can talk to..

He explains to me he just now pulled the item off the market because of the 5 that were shipped out – all 5 were missing two grids and too big. We chat about what I can do until they get a new vendor who can read machine plans and make them the right size…. I tell him I could tape the ones I have onto the head for now, so he credits me the full price and tells me to keep the grids if I can make them work.

So today, this morning, I call to use the credit to get a beauty dish (more on these later)… and I remember that New York city is being evacuated and the sales line is down. I know, being a company run by orthodox Jews, they close at sundown on Friday until sundown Saturday to observe the sabbath… but it appears they’re also evacuated.

I just hope all is OK… and I wanted to write a post with the word hurricanapocalypse in it…


Also posted in annoyances, hurricane Tagged , |

The new site design….

I”m using Photocrati and WordPress to power this website now.

Several sections have yet to be finished and go online, but the rework has only taken me a day, including making new images.

This platform will allow me to publish updates to my galleries as new images become available.

Let me know what you think!

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My Review of Flashpoint II 620m, 300 Watt Second AC / DC Monolight Strobe.

Originally submitted at Adorama

Flashpoint II 620m, 300 Watt Second AC / DC Monolight Strobe.

A nice little unit!

By DTPhoto from Austin, Texas on 7/27/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Attach Securely, Good Color Value, Durable, Powerful

Best Uses: Indoors, General Use

Describe Yourself: Pro Photographer

Was this a gift?: No

I was pleasantly surprised. I had no idea what to expect from a monolight that was cheaper than an Alien Bee.

I bought this as a replacement for a Photogenic Powerlight. I used one or two lights for most of my set-ups, and thus far I’m impressed!

It’s nice and lightweight. The connection system is nice and easy to use. I’ve used Speedotrons, Broncolors, Novatrons & Dynalights. This connection system is as good, if not better, than those (for a monolight system). I’ve beat systems into the ground and I’m wondering if this one will last 22 years like my powerlight..

I like this unit enough to plan to order a few more!

My cat Manny – single light bounce onto ceiling,


Tags: Made with Product


Also posted in lighting, Photo Lessons, product

16 x 20 is the new 11×14

Yeah – that’s right.

I usually make 11x14s as my biggest display print, but after uncovering some saved art paper in 16×20 size, it’s time to get back to printing in that size, which is some 40% larger.

Yeah – since 50 is the new 40 (in age) I guess I can say now that 16×20 is the new 11×14.

Model search still progresses… video at 11.

Also posted in Models, people Tagged , , |

Lighting Recommendations

The key to ANY photographic image is lighting. There are two possible indoor lighting solutions, studio strobe or continuous lighting.

For anyone on a budget and needing some decent studio strobe equipment, I’d suggest going with monolights, which are separate flash units that are slaved to “pop” when any other flash unit is fired. Look for a unit that can take different reflectors and that are easy to attach modifiers such as light boxes.

A good brand would be Alien Bees.

Followed by a higher level with Calumet’s Genesis lights.

After that, a good old pack and head system like the Speedotron Brown Line is great!

Back in 1998 I had a brain fart and replaced all my Brown line stuff with some Novatron stuff. Although Novetron is good, it’s not as flexible as a system that can take different reflectors and uses a bare tube head in softboxes.

For beginning photographers I do not recommend continuous lighting. These are typically tungsten or flourescent lighting units, they can get rather hot and really draw the power.

It’s easier to get nice portrait lighting with mono-light strobes.

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Photography Rates 101 – what I need from you for a Job Quote

Sometimes I encounter some confusion when I give a rate for a job request. I hope the following will help avoid confusion in the future.

But first, a joke to illustrate what a Professional Photographer is:


There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail.

In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. Finally, at the end of the day, he marked a small “x” in chalk on a particular component of the machine and said, “This is where your problem is.” The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded briefly: One chalk mark $1; Knowing where to put it $49,999.
It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

When you are hiring a professional photographer, you are paying for years of experience, knowledge of optics and lighting, and if the job involves models, the ability and expertise in directing models into poses that are required for the job.

What type of lighting is needed? What resolution is best for the final usage?

What type of make-up will the model need? Wardrobe (if any)?

Need a glass bottle photographed which shows off the glass texture and evenly lit without losing details? Will it need to look like a refreshing drink or is it OK for it turn out bland and non-appetizing? (Probably not, but you’d be amazed at how many photographers can’t shoot a damned bottle to look cold and refreshing…)

You need a professional photographer!!

And yes, many are fairly expensive. Especially photographers who have a huge studio!!

A brother-in-law or friend with a new “Olympus” DSLR and kit lens is NOT a professional photographer.

Neither probably is the guy with a new camera who’s charging $50.00 for a headshot.

Professional photographers do not have to be licensed in Texas (or other states) like Plumbers or electricians, but it’d sure help if we did have to go through a licensing process. I think 30+ years as a photographer pretty much licenses me to be a pro.

Now, about my rates….

I have several rate “tiers”. The primary two top tiers are “Commercial” and “Personal”.

The Commercial photography I do is anything in the following:

  • Product Photography
  • Executive Portrait Photography, staff and board of directors
  • Company newsletter and prospectus photography
  • Advertising, Editorial and Marketing Photography
  • Conferences /Trade Shows and Event Photography
  • Glamour magazine layouts, calendars, posters.

I further divide my rates into two distinct areas: “Editorial” and “Advertising”. I consider magazine layouts, website layouts and website only shoots to be “Editorial”, the rest is “Advertising”.

I typically charge less if I am hired for several days, or for a editorial layout which will act as promotional material for myself, versus a slick Ad shot where no one, not even the client, will know who shot the piece.

All my rates are quoted ONLY on request, and all quotes will try to include the following:

  • Usage rights
  • Modeling fees
  • Assistant Fee
  • Hair/Make-up fees
  • Film/Processing or Digital Capture fees
  • Other expenses.

You see the bit above called “Usage Rights?” That’s a term no one has ever heard of unless they’ve dealt with professional photographers or worked in advertising. What this means is, even though you’ve hired a photographer, the photographer still owns the rights to the images photographed. US Law, Title 17, states all forms of art are property of the creator unless agreed to otherwise prior to employment. Most commercial photographers are non-employee contractors and thus, own all rights to all images created. Those rights are then licensed to the client for specific usages and time limits. Any other use is considered infringement and can land the infringer in some serious legal hot water at the federal level.

Even portrait photographers have this protection. On school portrait packages you now see an added fee for “copyright release”.

Often, I get people only telling me what they want photographed, and they usually do not tell me what the image will be used for in any way. I need this info to create a proper bid on the job, and to know how to shoot the object or person so it’ll look great in its final form.

If one is targeting off-set printing of a photograph, it’ll need a different profile and tweeking to look the same as it would on a PC screen, or on a traditional photographic print.

All the other fees are needed in making any project work out. You can’t expect a model to work for free and sign a release giving you the rights to publish his/her photo without being paid. No one works for free if anyone else is being paid.

With Personal Photography, I can comfortably quote rates online, giving a price for a shoot, because 99% of all headshots or portraits will be done in the same manner and are usually only for someone’s wall or social networking website.

I typically spend a lot less time preparing for such a shoot versus a editorial magazine shoot where I need 4 models, make-up and props. I typically spend 2 to 3 days in preproduction for a shoot for every day I bill the client.

In all cases, for all types of clients, I require a 50% deposit up front before I can lock the booking into my calendar. This is because in the past I have had far too many clients fail to arrive after I’ve set-up, traveled or hired assistants for a shoot.

Before asking for a quote, you will also need to tell me the budget for the project. Without this information, I can’t determine if the job is even worth me providing a quote. There are too many variables in this to provide a “Ball Park” figure if you don’t even have a “Ball Park” budget. Hell, by telling me the projected photography budget, I can tell right away if I can do the job for that or not.

I’m easy to get along with, and I can negotiate for most any budget, but I do need to charge for any shoot. The more info you give me, the better on target my quote can be.


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