Photo Notes

September 26, 2011

Workshop In Indianapolis!

Filed under: Indianapolis,Photographic Education — John Siskin @ 3:49 pm

I think that I have some important news in this issue of the blog. I’m offering a live workshop here in Indiana. This is the first time I have done a live class in a couple of years, so I hope you will appreciate that this is a special opportunity. One of my students from BetterPhoto is here in Indianapolis, and she is opening up a new rental studio in the Stutz Building. This is great for me because it offers me an opportunity to teach here in Indianapolis. It also means that my students will have an opportunity to check out the new studio. Even better: each person, who signs up for the workshop, will get two hours to work in the studio on their own. Of course you can get more hours or work with another student. This time will give you a chance to get hands on experience with lights.

The workshop is set up over two days. The first day, October 15, will be lecture and demonstration. Because there are only ten students in the class, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the material in a way that suits you. We’ll have a model so that you can really see how light affects a person. I hope that everyone in the class will ask questions and get a chance to examine everything we do. Over the next two weeks each student will visit the studio individually, or with another student, and work with the studio and lights themselves. If you do team up with another student I’ll try to come by during your studio time. Finally, we’ll meet again on October 29. During this session we’ll review the work each student did and discuss any issues that came up during the shoot.

We are going to cover several topics in depth. How lights work. How to manipulate and control light. How to control color. The differences between hard light, soft light and projected light. How to achieve a sense of three-dimensionality with light. We’ll discuss how to light the face, products and spaces. You should gain an understanding of how the basic tools of light can be applied in a variety of situations to create the image you want to make. Most people take pictures, they point the camera at a subject and press the button. Photographers MAKE pictures: they control light and image to make a photograph that is more than just a record. This workshop will give you the tools that you need to take control!

One more thing that you’ll get from the class a copy of my book: Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers. The book will help you integrate the ideas from the class in the pictures that you make.

Please visit here to sign up using PayPal, at the bottom of the page. Or you can call me to ask questions or to reserve a space: (317) 473-0406. I really hope you’ll join me for this great opportunity to learn how make the photographs you want by controlling light! The class is just $295, so I hope you’ll reserve a space now.

September 17, 2011

Updates and Marketing

Filed under: Indianapolis,Marketing — John Siskin @ 11:59 am

I really like the long tonal range created by the windows in this shot. This is Grand Central Station in New York. I like this angle because it makes the window look monumental.

I’m going to try putting the shameless plugs at the end of this message.  I hope you’ll take time to read them.

I sent off more images for my architecture book this week. I’ll do whatever the editor wants. I’ve used some of these additional images here in the blog. I don’t know if anybody out there has much experience with blogging, but I have an issue: I get a couple of spam posts to a few of my old posts every day. These are annoying to remove. Any suggestions?

I went back to two photo clubs this week. I will be doing live presentations at both of them soon. I guess I should practice my presentation. I’m hoping to do a workshop soon, somewhere here in Indianapolis. I’m still sending out e-mail on a daily basis. I’m going to try to get to a chamber of commerce function next week. I know that soon I’m going to have to pick up the phone and actually call ad agencies and designers, but I am still putting that off. Agencies are supposed to take time to learn about creatives in their area, but that doesn’t always make them receptive. The other thing I need to do is contact the schools that teach photography around here, maybe next week. It’s always difficult to present yourself to strangers.

The room is really just a background for the lifestyle shot. You often need to light a space to create a shot that tells a specific story. In this case the shot advertises a small winery.

One of the clubs I’m attending had a print competition last night. On the whole the images were quite good. I know that this is a very important part of any group of photographers, but I wonder if photography is inherently a competitive art form. Actually I wonder if art should be competitive? Regardless I wanted to a few thoughts about competitions. First, if you can, get information about your judges. I’ve known judges who just seem to like versions of the same thing; reflections or patterns for instance. Second, most competitions have a lot of images; one way to make your image stand out is to make it big. Last night the images where presented to the club, the 8X10 images were too small to see. In a group of images a small shot is at a disadvantage.

I took a design class in college that talked about three kinds of space: positive, negative and equivocal. I have a friend who shoots wonderful images that are mostly equivocal space. They can be fascinating, but you have to spend time relating to the image. You can’t just get a quick gestalt of the image. These images, while great, aren’t going to win any prizes. If you want a prize build a strong image, with good graphic qualities. Then add detail to keep the eye entertained.

This is the entry of a new home. The low angle defines the height of the entry way very effectively. This was a very difficult angle because of the many interesting aspects of the room.

One more thing: consider entering contests that have fees. They usually publish the list of judges and they often have better judges. Keep in mind that most gallery owners and other taste makers have better things to do than look at the thousands of pictures that may be in a good contest. So they get paid. Also a fee keeps people who don’t really believe they have great images from entering. I don’t enter contests often, but when I do I pay a fee.

I also like contests that judge prints. Lot’s of things look good on my monitor, but when I print them, not so much. High quality prints have a resolution several times as high as a monitor. So you can really see more detail, for good or ill. When I want to see the work of a photographer I want to see prints, not just phosphors on a screen. I have hundreds of photo books so I can see the detail in a good reproduction. Looking at a classic photograph on a screen is very disappointing. Unfortunately there are fewer print competitions than there used to be.

I suggested an alternative to competition to the club: giving the members a chance to present a small portfolio. Perhaps two or three members would present at each meeting. That way the members would have more of a sense of what the other members do. But I do know they love their competition.

This is a really dramatic room, particularly the staircase. Because the room is shot with a very wide lens the staircase looks a little more dramatic than it does in the room. There are lights on both floors and at the back of the room, so a shot like this takes a while to set up.

First in the list of shameless plugs: it looks like I will be offering a workshop here in Indianapolis. I might have a location lined up, I’ll know next week. I hope to do this in October. It’ll be about lighting. If you’re interested please let me know what you’d like to learn. More information soon! Here are some plugs for my books and classes: you can get the books from Amazon: Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers and the class is at BetterPhoto.com. Here is a sample chapter from the book. There has been nothing but good feedback on this book, so I would guess that you’ll like it. Of course I still hope that you will please consider purchasing my fine art book B Four: pictures of beach, beauty, beings and buildings. Purchases of B Four mean a lot to me, and it is also a fine gift for any occasion. I lowered the price a couple of weeks ago, and that has helped. As you know I teach for BetterPhoto.com. I really hope you’ll sign up my class: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting. Remember that the books and the class keep me updating this blog. My new book, Lighting For Architectural Photography will be out in February.
BetterPhoto.com, The better way to learn photography

September 8, 2011

Now In Indianapolis!

Filed under: Indianapolis,Marketing — John Siskin @ 1:13 pm

Here are some plugs for my books and classes: you can get the books from Amazon: Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers and the class is at BetterPhoto.com. Here is a sample chapter from the book. There has been nothing but good feedback on this book, so I would guess that you’ll like it. Of course I still hope that you will please consider purchasing my fine art book B Four: pictures of beach, beauty, beings and buildings. Purchases of B Four mean a lot to me, and it is also a fine gift for any occasion. I lowered the price a couple of weeks ago, and that has helped. As you know I teach for BetterPhoto.com. I really hope you’ll sign up my class: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting. Remember that the books and the class keep me updating this blog. My new book, Lighting For Architectural Photography will be out in February.

Dodie

I am now in Indianapolis. The transition from Los Angeles has been very difficult. Our dog, Dodie, an old English sheep dog, passed away on our trip. I still find myself turning around to look for her. I keep hearing her. She was a very good dog.

I had hoped to be further along with marketing and networking by now. And so it goes. I have been to a few photo related events, including a club out in Carmel. Also I have made some connections with instructors at Ivy Tech College. The most important thing I’ve done is to set up my office. I know that many people work well in a sort of chaotic state, but that leads to chaotic work habits for me. So, while much of our stuff is in boxes, my office is pretty nice. I have a local phone number: (417)473-0406. I though about leaving it off the blog, but I spent hours updating all the pages of my web site with the number, so it’s not hard to find. If you haven’t checked out my web site you can see it at www.siskinphoto.com. I hope you’ll take a look, after all this blog is about promoting what I do.

I am going to get more serious about marketing this week. I have already sent out an e-mail introduction to some local advertising agencies. This week I started contacting people involved in construction businesses. I wish that businesses would find me in some magical fashion, but that isn’t likely. One of the biggest problems is how to let people who might need your services know about them without being too annoying. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years: mail pieces, cold calling and so on, but e-mail is basically free and you can contact a lot of businesses at one time. I’m attaching a screen capture of one of my e-mails. Keep in mind that all of the pictures are linked to the web site when you get the actual message.

Photography is more than just a fine art. Just like English is more than just poetry. It is a language that communicates directly with almost any viewer. It makes sense to use visual skills to communicate with potential clients. In the piece I’m sending out I’m SHOWING people that I make images for their kind of business. I’m not going to tell them I make great pictures of saxophones, odds are they don’t care. If I can’t communicate with potential clients, how can I help them to communicate?

I’m going to a camera club this evening. I hope to find out more about photography classes and about suppliers locally. I am also wondering about rental studios and labs. All of this is sort of fun, but it’s also a little intimidating.

I spent some time reviewing and editing the version of my second book the publisher sent. I think it’s working quite well. There is now going to be some material about shooting exteriors of buildings. This should make the book more useful. I did a shot of the exterior of the Indianapolis library at several different time of the day to show how the light changes. The book will be published in February now, rather than November. I hope you’ll get a copy.

 

When I teach a class I ask people to practice. I suggest that they work with a Styrofoam wig head and cheap flood lights. The wig head is all white, which makes it easy to see the shadows. The flood lights are easy to see and to manipulate. This gives you a sort of a lighting lab where you can practice and experiment. I still use the wig head when I get a new piece of lighting gear. I know I’ve said this before: musicians practice so they can play, why shouldn’t we? If you can only practice with a live model you won’t be able to take the same risks you can with a hunk of Styrofoam. Most models don’t have the patience of the wig head. So, if you’re thinking about a lighting class why not mine?

BetterPhoto.com, The better way to learn photography

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