Articles

Articles and various ramblings from my mind

Let me take you on a journey

Twelve years ago, on this very evening, I embarked upon a journey down a road that I am still following today. A risk taken on a leap of faith that exploded in glory and wonder, which was to become the very foundation on which I built up my passion for photography. A defining moment in my life, for sure, and one that has led me to who I am today. This journey has shown me what it truly means to love, be loved,¬†and to share in life’s wonders. It has also shown me loss and sorrow, separation and rejoining. This road has taken me to the highest highs, and the lowest lows, yet I am thankful for the experiences it has led me on none the less.

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Help Me Decide!

So today I came across two images that were taken many years ago, but just jumped out at me. I spent some time with both images and really like both, but they are very similar so I’m trying to choose which one of the two to publish. Instead of racking my brain and going back and forth between the two for who knows how long, I have decided to open up the decision to YOU!!!

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Well well, what a day! I woke up this morning to find that one of my art nude images made it to the published online gallery over at 1x.com! And, to make it even better, PhotoVogue’s editor accepted the same image to be displayed on their website as well!!! The image (shown below) is an older art nude of mine from back in 2007, though I never released it until late 2013. From reading the editorial reviews over at 1x.com, this image was fairly controversial in regards to it’s technical composition, but in the end the curators decided to publish it. A big thanks to the curators over at 1x.com and PhotoVogue for including this image in your galleries! ūüėÄ

This image, titled “Floating Free” features Jenn floating down a small stream up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The light texture being cast on her legs and lower torso is stunning! While difficult to really see the detail in a web-sized image, this one makes for a great print to hold. A great location that we visited a number of times for both shooting and just enjoying a nice day. This was taken on our very first visit to this location (near Roaring Camp) when we teamed up with fellow photographer Andrew Kaiser¬†and spent the day exploring the area. The water was a bit cold, and Jenn sure took the brunt of the water temperature, but everyone involved in this shoot got a bit wet that day.

Prints of this image can be purchased at the following links: Open Edition | Limited Edition

Happy 4th of July!

Here in the bay area the weather could not be better for some All-American festivities. BBQs are lighting up all across the area this afternoon in anticipation for the various fireworks shows happening all around the bay tonight.While you’re out celebrating, I’d like to remind everyone to be safe! No doubt that with the heat wave happening here in the bay, that the fire risk is¬†extremely¬†high. Many counties and cities have a fireworks ban in place and while I know the novelty of celebrating with sparklers and other festive fireworks is tempting, just be responsible.

With that out of the way, I’d like to offer you a special discount on prints and products that will run through the weekend!!! From now through July 7th, take 40% off ANY order. 4 days only to get in on this special summer deal!

This will probably be my last coupon as I am dropping the ability to offer them with SmugMug at the end of the month. The extra $150/yr isn’t really worth it for me, so get in on this deal while you can!

Now that all the business stuff is outta the way, HAVE FUN today and this weekend! Enjoy your day off work, eat some BBQ or salad, drink a cool beverage, and marvel at the fireworks displays to come! #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 25%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; }

A long and ongoing story¬†here with eBay “support” that I hope NOBODY ever has to deal with:

eBay removed a listing of mine for being in the wrong category last week. This listing, along with 300 other listings that I repeatedly do on a regular basis, is a photo print listed in the Art > Direct from the Artist > Photographs category.

The subject of the photograph is a nude woman, and as such (per eBay policy, more on this later) I added the “item specific attribute” of “Subject: Nudes”. The photo is not a “spread eagle” closeup of a woman’s crotch, in fact the only nudity visible is bare breasts.

eBay’s own policy regarding nudity in images specifically states that they are allowed in any of the “Art” categories as long as the above mentioned item specific attribute is present.

So why then was my listing removed? Good question! One that has gone unanswered for the past week and 5 phone calls to eBay’s “support” staff. I’ve been told such crazy things in this endeavor like “an image on eBay can only be defined as containing nudity if it is in the ‘Adult Only’ category, so the policy you referenced does not apply”, to most reps just flat out denying that such policy page even exists, to being told that there is no “Subject: Nudes” item detail option in the art categories despite me staring right at it.

But enough about the actual listing, the staff in the Trust & Safety Dept would be laughable if not for the sheer pathetic way they handle these types of cases. Upon my first call a week ago, and after being led in meaningless circles by a dimwitted rep on the phone, I was told to just reply to the removal email explaining my appeal. I was assured that the maximum timeframe for a response to such an appeal was 48 hours.

Guess what!? Yeah, no response by Friday afternoon. So I call back asking why I had yet to receive a response to my appeal. After ~30 minutes of the rep making herself look like a complete moron by dodging my question and reciting policies that related to erotic films, I was yet again assured and promised a reply within 48 hours. With the weekend and the holiday coming up, I specifically asked if either would affect response time, I was told “No”.

Knowing full well that I would no get even a hint of a response over the weekend, I decided to wait 48 hours NOT including the weekend/holiday but to no surprise I had still not gotten anything back from eBay on this issue.

I called again today, a full 7 days since the initial appeal was filed, asking why I had not yet gotten a response. The woman on the phone insisted that she NEEDED to look up all the information on the case before she could answer that question. Of course, she didn’t even come close to providing me a reason why twice now the Trust & Safety Dept had failed to meet required response deadlines. Instead she wanted me to explain my case to her, that didn’t get very far.

When I asked her if she could look at the policy page with me on the phone, she refused, stating that she knew the policy and didn’t need to “look it up” and told me that I wasn’t reading “whatever page you are on” correctly. Crossed the line by a mile with that one, So I asked to speak to a manager. She instantly, without pause, said “he’s not available”. I informed her that she didn’t even check and again asked to speak with a manager. Again she refused. Finally I told her that I was done dealing with her and asked to be transfered to someone else in the same department, you know, since the manager wasn’t available. Again, she refused. I hung up the phone after muttering some focused obscenities her way.

Called right back, hoping to get someone that would let me speak to a manager. No such luck but at least this new woman seemed to take the time to actually attempt to get a manager. When she couldn’t, she took down my phone number and assured me that I would receive a call from the department’s manager within 2 hours.

Well…..yeah sorry, the surprise factor has worn off by now. No call 4 hours later. Third time’s a charm (no, not really), and I call yet again this evening. By this point I’m less concerned with my listing being removed than I am at just how awful the support is. So a new woman on the phone, I skip the mention of a listing removal and dive right in to the fact that It’s been an entire week yada yada yada.

This woman was at least kind enough to be the one person in all of this to actually look at the policy page with me. When I pointed out, and she read back to me, the specific bullet points that make it quite clear that my listing was valid and in the right place, she paused for a moment and just could not come up with a response. Stopped dead in her tracks almost mid sentence, she fell back to looking for the elusive manager again, which of course was not available.

She said the best she could do was make another note on the case for the manager to call me within 24 hours. I ended the conversation by making sure that she also noted that If I didn’t get a call by then, that I was going to file a formal complaint with the BBB as well as send a detailed email of the situation to eBay’s CEO (who’s email address I got from this website, thank you very much!)

If I were a betting man, I’d be banking on writing that report to the BBB tomorrow afternoon.

Here is the policy page for reference: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/adult-only.html

Part three of my article series with tips on managing your Lightroom workflow. In this installation, I’ll go over my method for the post-processing stage of my workflow. I’m going to be covering the use of picks and flags, color labels, and the use of a couple key metadata fields that were mentioned back in Part 2 ¬†of the series. By the end, you’ll be set up and ready to use some of the best management features that Lightroom has to offer.

Table of Contents 3.1 – Your Lightroom Workflow so far 3.2 – Pre Post-Processing 3.3 – Post-Processing 3.4 – Image Naming 3.5 – The Grand Recap

3.1 – Your Lightroom Workflow so far

So far in Part 1 I covered the organization of your files and the steps involved in importing to Lightroom. In Part 2 I got you set up with keywords, explained some of the metadata I use, and showed you how to easily geotag your images from within Lightroom. At the end of Part 2 I gave a brief rundown of how my typical workflow looks up to that point. Below is that recap for ease of reading:

1. Import photos as outlined in¬† Part 1 . 2. Select all images in the grid view and apply a metadata preset that only contains copyright and creator information.* 3. Select similar images in the grid view and apply ‚ÄúSetting & Theme‚ÄĚ keywords.* 4. Select similar images in the grid view and apply any ‚ÄúLocation‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúModel‚ÄĚ keywords.* 5. Head over to the Map module. 6. Select photos from the same location in the filmstrip and drag them to the appropriate area on the map.

* Can be done during the import process with a properly configured metadata preset.

 

3.2 – Pre Post-Processing

When I finish a shoot and get my images imported into Lightroom, I don’t always have the time to dive right in to the post-processing. This is especially true when traveling as I usually only have a striped down copy of my Lightroom catalog on my laptop. In these situations, I’ll give the images a quick glance and “pick” the ones that I feel should be given closer inspection for post-processing. I will also “reject” any images that will¬†definitely¬†not be making it to post-processing.

This is a quick step that should only take a few minutes. The hotkeys used are “P” for flagging an image as a pick, ¬†and “X” for flagging an image as a reject. Simply select the images in the library window (I use the grid view for this) and press the appropriate hotkey. You can also use your mouse to do this by clicking in the upper-left of the image’s tile to flag individual images as picked, or by adding the “Flagging” icons to the bar below the grid view (an icon for “Pick” and an icon for “Reject”). Using the icons in the bottom bar is the same as using the keyboard hotkeys in that it applies the flag to any selected images.

I don’t spend the time to apply a flag to each and every image, like I said this is just a quick glance through. This flagging process is really just for images that stand out one way or the other. Over the course of time I make regular visits to folders of old images and repeat this pre post-processing step of flagging images. After all, its quite common for an image to stand out amongst the others once some time has past (as I write this I’ve just picked two more images that I had previously passed over during my initial flagging).

 

3.3 – Post-Processing

It is well beyond the scope of this article for me to tell you exactly HOW to post-process your images, there are just too many variables and methods. Weither you use only Lightroom to make adjustments, or use 3rd party software like Photoshop it completely up to you. One thing, however, that everyone can benefit from in the initial step of post-processing, is to crop your photos to a standard ratio.

If you ever want to print your images (either yourself or professionally) you’ll soon notice that the dimensions offered by today’s cameras are ever so slightly off from the dimensions of prints. For me, shooting with a Nikon D300, the adopted aspect ratio is 1:1.5 or 4×6″ (and any print sizes with the same ratio; 8×12, 10×15, 20×30, etc). So before I do anything else, I apply a simple crop to the RAW files in the Develop module of Lightroom using the Aspect preset of “4×6”.

Its difficult to see the difference this crop makes in the above thumbnail image, so either click the image to see it full sized, or better yet go try this in Lightroom yourself. You’ll notice that as soon as you select the 6×4 aspect that the crop lines will be just inside the edge of your image. This step is completely optional, and is more nit picky than what most people will do, but it has its payouts in the long run. Now you can move on to actually post-processing your images in whatever way you see fit.

3.4 – Image Naming

After you’re done with post-processing and you’ve got the image just how you want it, you’ll either have one or two files of the same image. If you did all of your post-processing in Lightroom, you’ll have the RAW file with all the edits from Lightroom applied to it. If you did your post-processing in another program that supports re-importing the processed file back into Lightroom (Photoshop does this), you’ll have at least two files for the same image. Either way, at this point the image is “done” and no more visual edits are planned for it.

Before I continue, the rest of this article and future articles are based on having two copies of an image at this point (the RAW file, and your post-processed file). If you only do edits in Lightroom, now would be a good time to make a “hard copy” of your post-processed RAW file. I use the TIF format for this.

After you finish with post-processing an image, you have to give it a title, or name. Of course, you don’t HAVE to name your images, but doing so is much better than using the filename. And once again, naming your images will only serve to help you in the long run.

3.4.1 – You don’t have a name/title ready for an image

I usually find that coming up with names/titles for images requires time and thought, so if I don’t already have a name/title in mind while doing my post-processing on an image, I assign it a color label and move on.¬†The color label I use for “Processed, to be named” images is Yellow, and is applied much the same way as flags are. I apply the yellow color label to both the RAW and TIF files.

This creates somewhat of a stalling point in my workflow, but at the same time gives me work to do during the down time when I’m not actively shooting as much. As I write this article, my Lightroom catalog has over 100 images that are just waiting for a name/title. If this is where you’re at in your own workflow, then for all intents and purposes this article ends here for you. Read on however to find out what the next steps are in your Lightroom workflow when you DO have a name/title for an image.

3.4.2 – You DO have a name/title ready for an image

So you’ve got a name/title for your image? Great! Select both the RAW and TIF images in the Library module, then head over to the Metadata section in the right column. I’ve you’ve got the default set of metadata being displayed, you should see a text field labeled “Title”. Enter in your image name/title in that box.

Just like I use a color label for images that have yet to be named, I also use a color label for images that have names: Green. After you’ve entered in the name/title for your image, give the images the green color label. You can now move on to any other images that need names/titles and repeat this step as long as time will allow (or you run out of images that have been post-processed).

 

3.5 – The Grand Recap

Just as I started out this article out with a recap of my Lightroom workflow so far, I’m going to end this article with the same recap,¬†amended¬†to include the steps outlined in this article. If you’d like to go back and reference the previous articles here are a couple links for you: Part 1 – Importing and Part 2 – Keywords, Metadata, and Geotagging. And here is the step-by-step we’ve got so far:

1. Import photos as outlined in¬†¬†Part 1¬†. 2. Select all images in the grid view and apply a metadata preset that only contains copyright and creator information.* 3. Select similar images in the grid view and apply ‚ÄúSetting & Theme‚ÄĚ keywords.* 4. Select similar images in the grid view and apply any ‚ÄúLocation‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúModel‚ÄĚ keywords.* 5. Head over to the Map module. 6. Select photos from the same location in the filmstrip and drag them to the appropriate area on the map.

7. Quickly glance over images and flag any that stand out as either “Pick” or “Reject”. 8. From the picks, procede to do whatever post-processing is needed to get a finalized image (2 copies: RAW & TIF). 9a. If a name/title is NOT ready, mark ¬†both copies with a yellow color label. Move on to the next image starting from step 8. 9b. If a name/title is ready, enter the name/title in the “Title” metadata box and mark image with a green color label. Move on to the next image starting from step 8.

* Can be done during the import process with a properly configured metadata preset.

And thats it for this installment on managing your Lightroom workflow! Next time I’m going to get into bringing all these keyword and color label concepts together in one of Lightroom’s best features: Smart Collections! Until then, if you have any questions or comments, by all means leave them below or contact me directly.

Any successful photographer (or sculpter, painter, etc) will agree that networking plays a huge role in broadening your audience. In the age of the internet, there are a plethora of available outlets to satisfy this need. But what happens when your work involves nudity? Some websites allow it, and some do not, and each has its own way of handling the subject. Below is a brief, and in no way exhaustive, list of some of the more popular networking websites that artists use and weither or not they allow content with nudity:

  500px Nudity Allowed   DeviantArt Nudity Allowed   Flickr Nudity Allowed   StumbleUpon Nudity Allowed   Twitter Nudity Allowed   Tumblr Nudity Allowed   eBay Nudity Allowed   Behance Nudity Allowed   Blogger Nudity Allowed   Facebook Nudity NOT Allowed   Google+ Nudity NOT Allowed   Myspace Nudity NOT Allowed

As you can see, most of the websites above allow nudity. Now keep in mind that “nudity” is NOT the same as “sexually explicit” or “pornography” (never has been, never will be…I don’t care what anyone’s personal beliefs are here, there are hundreds of years of history to back this up). Some websites clearly define in their Terms of Service where exactly they draw the line on what is and is not acceptable. DeviantArt is one such website, detailing that nudity is allowed but that erections, physical sexual interaction of the genitalia, or sexual lubricants are prohibited. Other websites, like 500px, Behance, and Tumblr use a much broader approach in that content is flagged as “NSFW” (Not Safe For Work…a generalized and adopted term that basically referes to any content that would be frowned upon if you were to view it in a typical American office environment).

While I don’t agree with the “NSFW” method, mainly because of the prudish mentality that it encourages, I do see the reasoning behind websites using this method of content tagging or filtering. It gives them free reign to just blanket over various types of content without any clear¬†definition¬†as to what is or is not acceptable. That being said, I would much rather see a website utilize this (VERY simple) method than to completely stifle and alienate a potential user base.

And that is exactly what Facebook, Google+ and Myspace have done! I know that most people probably couldn’t care less about Myspace these days, but thought I’d include it here since they did a recent relaunch. What are these three networks so afraid of really? Each of these websites strictly forbid nudity, and worse still is that they all lump nudity in with pornography or sexually explicit content. Thats quite the insult to any artist that works with the nude form and there have been little to no answers as to why these websites take this hardline stand.

My Facebook page is clearly marked as 18+ in the page settings, so Facebook has some form of age filtering capabilities in place, though it would seem that its only really used for pages that relate to alcohol. Why not take the next step and apply the already in place age restrictions to user profiles or photos/videos? Facebook really only stands to gain by making this logical step forward with the massive increase to ad revenue such an action would produce.

Google+, while it may have failed to be the¬†usurper of Facebook’s dominance in the social media domain, has found itself praised to no end as an outlet for creative types and artists. UNLESS THERE IS NUDITY! Google’s restriction on nudity in the G+ community strikes me as totally¬†bizarre,¬†¬†given the fact that google is the single leading¬†referrer to all kinds of “adult” material with simple nudity being among the tame. Granted that G+ does not have any kind of age filter in place anywhere on the service, which they really should given some of the content I’ve seen published there.

And Myspace, well like I said, who cares about myspace anymore? But the fact remains that there is no stated reasoning behind not allowing nudity in posted content.

 

 

Thats my rant of the day, if you’ve found an excellent networking outlet for you work that contains nudity, please share your experiences!

In this day and age of multiple online outlets for photographers to showcase their work, the need to have a successful, coherent, and stable workflow is paramount. There are a number of programs that photographers use to catalog and organize their work, but since I only use Adobe’s Lightroom I’m only going to focus on that program.  Continue reading

In this day and age of multiple online outlets for photographers to showcase their work, the need to have a successful, coherent, and stable workflow is paramount. There are a number of programs that photographers use to catalog and organize their work, but since I only use Adobe’s Lightroom I’m only going to focus on that program. Continue reading

Images that POP!!!

Ever wanted to see what kind of images REALLY thrive on¬†metallic¬†paper? Well here are a few hand picked images of mine that make full use of the Kodak ENDURA Professional Metallic paper! Of course, these aren’t the only images of mine that look stunning on this paper, generally any image with sharp contrasts and/or vibrant colors will look amazing as metallic prints.

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