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CHEERS ’11 ! – HOW WE DID IT

In the world of bloggers, I think I fall into the category of the faux-blogger. Nonetheless, I am back at it for my very occasional entry.

Every year the Morse Family indulges itself in what we refer to as “our annual effort to embarrass ourselves,” namely our annual holiday card. Most years, the image speaks for itself. Some years are “straight shots” – no photoshop required, and other years are photoshop intensive – such as the restaurant photos where we four filled the place (Cheers 2006!) Curiously, two of the past three years Cheers cards have been winners in the deception department.

Cheers 2009! ,the prism photo, involved no photoshop at all (save the insertion of the text – see last year’s blog on the subject).

Cheers 2011! ,while employing photoshop to create the overlays of images, involved no photoshopping of us into water. Instead, it involved a lovely lunch with the Howe family at their pool in Carlisle, dressing up for the occasion and strolling into their pool, fully clothed, for the annual portrait. It is one of only three times when we have employed the services of another photographer for the photo. (All three report that many months in seclusion after the shoot – so as not to spill the beans – is not worth the artistic satisfaction.)

So here’s how it went.

Step 1: I asked a colleague who shoots lots of under water photographs if he could loan us his under water gear and his expertise for this year’s shoot. Unfortunately, his equipment was out of commission and he was out of the country. Not to be deterred by lack of professional equipment and a professional shooter, instead I bought an Olympus Stylus “air-and-sea” point and shoot camera.

Step 2: We asked Parkman and Melinda Howe if we could use their pool and confirmed the date with them; they promised (and delivered) a bright, sunny day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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SO YOU THINK PHOTOGRAPHING THE OLYMPICS IS FUN

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If you are looking for work that is really demanding with extremely long hours, mediocre pay, and security searches that will drive one to drink, then shooting the Olympics is for you. On the bright side, it is very challenging and a huge amount of fun. Where else does one get to see world-class athletes from the front row?

olympics_1

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IT’S MORE FUN IF YOU’RE HAVING FUN!

When on a location photo shoot with cameras hanging off me like bad jewelry, the question I hear most often is:

“Whatcha doin?” or the variation “Takin’ pictures?”

When shooting portraits, of the myriad comments uttered by the shootee, my favorite and the one I hear most often is

“This is worse than going to the dentist.”

The answer to the “whatcha doin” question is generally easy to solve. I say “I am taking pictures.” This usually clears things up. However, the thing about the dentist is more difficult because we are now in the realm of self-perception and the answer is more challenging. Generally there are two kinds of people – those who enjoy being photoed and those who do not, with very little middle ground.

When I first started this business, a subject looked at her picture and said, “This is the worst picture I have ever seen.”

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Since I took great pains with lighting and background, because I thought the shoot went really well and that she looked terrific, I was non–plussed to say the least. I soon came to learn is that she was really saying “I don’t like the way I look in this photograph.”

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Things Are Not As They Appear

Or, “When is it Photoshopped and When is it Not?”

For years my family and I have been sending New Year’s cards to friends, family and clients. It is a good way to stay in touch and to keep the creative juices flowing. An added bonus is that it is an annual event that leads to lively family debate every year and has become an integral part of our family psyche. The down side is that it is harder to out-do ourselves every year.

Photoshop has been around much longer than quality digital cameras, which really came into their own in the early 2000’s, so in the 1990’s photographers started scanning slides and negatives in order to digitally enhance their work. It was then that we started using photoshop as a creative device in creating our “Cheers” series of holiday cards. With the advent of good digital cameras it became even easier to work our digital magic. We have had wonderful fun making these cards, and in 2009 we went back to good old-fashioned photographic creativity – and to our dismay everyone thought that card was a total photoshop job. In fact, the only photoshop involved in “Cheers 2009” was the superimposing of the words over the image.

Here are some examples of how different “Cheers” photos were made.

091231_Cheers-09

Cheers 2009! – The Prism – no Photoshop

The concept for this card started with the idea of creating a “fun-house mirror” look to the photo, where one could see an infinite number of each person in the photo receding away. In order to do this, we would have needed multiple one-way mirrors and a large studio. The cost of doing this was prohibitive so we developed a prism by joining three 30” bathroom mirrors together, sitting it on our coffee table and then crowding our faces in the opening at one end. We needed to have a plain, dark background behind us or everything in the room would have been in the photo. We shot this by securing the camera to a tripod, placing a single flash on the table and firing the camera by a radio remote trigger. The set up was easy but the shoot took approximately two hours due to the trial and error required to find the right places for our faces. As you might imagine, it also involved a fair amount of contortionist behavior on the part of the more agile members of the family.

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