Photo Notes

January 26, 2016

El Matador #4

Filed under: Fine Art,Fine Art Portfolio,Landscape Photography — John Siskin @ 11:11 am
El Matador #4

El Matador #4

Another shot of El Matador, this has been named #4 or long exposure for a while, so I’m going to continue referring to it as #4. This is a very long exposure, which is why the surf has the ghostly effect. I’ve always liked the shot, but I like a lot of the stuff I shot at this beach.

It’s another shot I made with the super-wide camera, you can see more about this shot by checking this other shot from El Matador:

I also wanted to tell you about Living in Los Angeles. Often people forget how great it is to live there. I got up early and drove to Mt. Pinos, a little more than an hour from where I was living. I spent the morning cross-country skiing. I left in the early afternoon and drove down to El Matador. Did some body surfing. I was actually in the water when a pod of dolphins went by. Try to do that anywhere but Los Angeles. No picture of the dolphins. Stayed at El Matador to watch the sunset. When I was growing up San Onofre was the family beach. I learned to surf there, then we spent summers at Manhattan beach. I choose El Matador as my beach, everybody should have a beach.

If you’d like to buy a print of El Matador #4 use the PayPal link below. You’ll get a print mounted an matted to 16X20-ready to pop into a frame. Why not order one now?


I’m going to give a Micro-Photography Workshop soon (http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3105) and another Lighting Workshop, probably in March. Please check them out. You can find out more about my workshops, and access some FREE Classes at my website.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

January 21, 2016

Union Station, Los Angeles #2

Union Station #2

Union Station #2

Another shot of Union Station in Los Angeles. This is a beautiful place fallen on hard times. It’s still busy, but people in L.A. don’t use transit service like they do in New York, and trains just aren’t part of the mix in California. Still I’ve take trains out of here a couple of times, and it’s always interesting. It’s also a fabulous place to shoot, but don’t take my word for it-look for Union Station on television. It’s used for a lot of shoots. Consequently the management is difficult about using a camera, and won’t let use a tripod at all. I really like the way the super wide effect changes this building, and I also like the way the people appear in the shot. I particularly like the child on the left side of the frame.

Super-wide Camera

Super-wide Camera

This shot was made with the super-wide camera I build. I used the same one for shots at El Matador and other places. I’ve included a scan of the original negative so you can see the way the lens cuts the corners off on a 6X6cm piece of film. This was always an interesting camera to use. It wasn’t possible to really predict hos the camera would see, or even if the negative would be sharp. So it was always exciting to see the film. You can check out an article I did on making cameras at this link. I hope you’ll check it out.

 

original scan

original scan

 

Just so I’ve mentioned it my family’s company Angelus Furniture built the benches and some of the other furnishings in this room.

If you want a print of Union Station, Los Angeles #2, use the link below. I’ll send you a print mounted and matted to 16X20 inches. No additional charge for shipping in the U.S.


I’m going to give a Micro-Photography Workshop soon (http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3105) and another Lighting Workshop, probably in March. Please check them out. You can find out more about my workshops, and access some FREE Classes at my website.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

January 19, 2016

Ghost Dog #1

Filed under: Animals,Fine Art,Fine Art Portfolio,Portraits — John Siskin @ 2:22 pm
Ghost Dog #1

Ghost Dog #1

This image is from a recent shoot, about a month ago. I like to revisit my images a few weeks after I shoot them, it improves the way I edit the images. I really like the images from this shoot. The dog is huge, and still growing. He has a sort of Mohawk hair cut which gives him a sort of goofy look. The way he’s leaning into the frame builds on this feeling. This is one of the few images I’ve used without cropping, surprisingly one of the others is a dog as well.  This dog is a cross between a poodle and a St. Bernard. I’m sure he’ll be interesting and a challenge!

My own dog, a simple chocolate lab, is still unsure of how to behave in front of the camera, but we’re working on it.

Coco & Her Favorite Toy!

Coco & Her Favorite Toy!

I used my Nikon D800 and a Tokina 28-70 f2.8 lens for Ghost Dog #1. I was in the studio with my Norman 900 series strobes. I used the big soft box, a converted Broncolor Hazy Light, and a light panel. It’s important to give enough light, and to have some direction in the lighting, or the dog will appear shapeless.

Anyway if you want a print of Ghost Dog #1, use the link below. I’ll send you a print mounted and matted to 16X20 inches. No additional charge for shipping in the U.S.


I’m going to give a Micro-Photography Workshop soon (http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3105) and another Lighting Workshop, probably in March. Please check them out. You can find out more about my workshops, and access some FREE Classes at my website.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

January 14, 2016

Wheelock

Filed under: Fine Art Portfolio,Micro Photography,Micro Photography — John Siskin @ 12:17 pm
Wheelock

Wheelock

This was one of the first images I made using a plastic ice cube to diffract light. There are a couple of other images made with the ice cubes at my blog:
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3005
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=2954
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3099

I found it difficult to title this series of images because the images are about light and color rather than images of things. I thought that Plastic Ice Cube #1 and #2 and so on were not really very good. Finally I decided to use language terms for the images. I learned most of these terms in Latin classes. Eventually I branched out and so this title is the name of the person that wrote my Latin textbook.

The technology I used to make this image was very complex because I was using large format film to get the kind of resolution I wanted. A smaller film format, such as 35mm film, would have been too grainy. I used a 63mm Zeiss Luminar lens on the camera. The lens was almost three feet from the film. Of course there was no built in meter on large format cameras, so figuring exposure was quite complex. In addition to figuring how much light was actually coming through the plastic I had to compensate for almost eight stops of bellows extension. The exposure was several minutes long. The film image is about 20 times the size life size, and any enlargement is bigger still.

Digital cameras have made it easier to visit these kinds of extremely close images. Of course there is still a great deal of confusion about how to do this. I’m offering a Workshop on February 28 that will be a sort of tour of micro photography. You can find out more, and sign up, at this link.

Of course you can order a print of this image, about 12 inches wide using the link below. This image will be about 80 times life size.

A version of this image is also in my book B-Four, however the current image is a significant re-interpretation. I really like the process of re-visiting my images that these blog posts have given me. Even though this image has changed, I hope you’ll consider purchasing the book.

You can buy one of my other books by clicking on the titles below:

Beyond 1 to 1 – Going Into Uncharted Territory

Filed under: Micro Photography,Uncategorized,Workshops — John Siskin @ 9:21 am

New date coming soon

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This workshop will give you the ability to photograph things smaller than a human hair. You’ll be able to photograph the scales on a butterfly’s wing or the tip of a pen.

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The workshop will explain how to use simple tools to shoot amazing pictures. And you’ll have a list of the tools to take you back into the very small whenever you want. The tools are much more inexpensive than you might think: a reverse adapter, which will make a 50mm lens into a powerful micro lens, is only $12! You can get a microscope that will enable you to make an image that is 40 times life size on your sensor (that would translate into an 8X10 print that’s 320 times life size) for just over $100. It’s amazing how a few pieces of inexpensive equipment will unlock an unseen world.

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This workshop is a guided tour into this world, but unlike a safari to Africa or voyage to Alaska, you can return to this world whenever you want. You’ll get a chance to experiment with tools you can throw into your camera bag and the tools you’d use at home. This isn’t the kind of gear that you need a lab to use, you can explore at a kitchen table! We’ll work with bellows and extension tubes. You’ll see how to shoot through microscope lenses and enlarging lenses, in fact you can make fabulous micro image with a simple 50mm lens. You’ll also get to shoot with the microscope, and learn how to shoot with your own scope!

03

The workshop is limited to just 6 people. Each person will be able to use the equipment and make shots during the workshop. If you bring a flash card you’ll be able to keep your shots! You’ll also get an extensive list of tools you might want to get, including a list of gear you can get used. The idea is to unlock the door-to give you a ticket into the unseen worlds!

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Please visit my site to see my other workshops and to check out the Free On Line Classes!
You can buy one of my books by clicking on the titles below:


January 12, 2016

Micro Photography Workshop

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Siskin @ 5:40 pm
Ablative Absolute, yes that's the title

Ablative Absolute,
yes that’s the title

I do a lot of microphotography, images of things less than a quarter inch in size, some times small than a human hair. Much of the time I’m exploring the relationships between color and texture and line. I’m trying to explore the unseen, looking for the unexpected. That’s certainly the case in this shot. However one of the first things I get asked when someone sees these images is “What is it?” The idea is of course that a photograph must be a picture of something. I guess I could say that it’s a picture of light, but that usually doesn’t satisfy. So this is a picture of a plastic ice cube. I used to say a fake plastic ice cube, but of course it’s a perfectly real plastic ice cube, intended to be used as a prop. I’ve often made images of plastic ice cubes because, under the right circumstances, they’ll refract light in very interesting ways.

You can get a print of this image by using this PayPal link. Like all of the images I’ve been adding for the fine art pages it’s going to be $125 for a print that’s about 12 inches wide, mounted and matted onto 16X20 board. That includes shipping inside the U.S. I hope you’ll consider purchasing this shot.

 

MICRO PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

I think that very small subjects give photographers a unique place to look for images. Often people want to travel to take pictures, as if they can’t find anything interesting unless they go to Africa or Alaska. I’ll admit that travel can open your eyes, give you new ways of seeing, but when you come back everything looks mundane. I want to find inspiration in the everyday, even in a piece of plastic. I want to want to make new images everyday. I can take a voyage to the land of the tiny any time.

Many photographers think of macro lenses when they think of shooting small things. While macro lenses are good tools, they really don’t go small enough. You’re still just looking at a flower or a butterfly with a macro lens. You can go much closer and find that a butterfly’s wings are coated with ribbon like scales, or that a small piece of broken glass could be so interesting.

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glass

It costs a lot of money to go on safari. It’s inexpensive to travel into the small worlds. It’s less expensive than buying a new macro lens or a dedicated flash. It can provide endless opportunities for a photographer. Of course it’s good to have a guide, so I’m offering a new Micro Photography Workshop:

Beyond 1 to 1
Going Into Uncharted Territory

This workshop will give you the ability to photograph things smaller than a human hair. You’ll be able to photograph the scales on a butterfly’s wing or the tip of a pen.

The workshop will explain how to use simple tools to shoot amazing pictures. And you’ll have a list of the tools to take you back into the very small whenever you want. The tools are much more inexpensive than you might think: a reverse adapter, which will make a 50mm lens into a powerful micro lens, is only $12! You can get a microscope that will enable you to make an image that is 40 times life size on your sensor (that would translate into an 8X10 print that’s 320 times life size) for just over $100. It’s amazing how a few pieces of inexpensive equipment will unlock an unseen world.

This workshop is a guided tour into this world, but unlike a safari to Africa or voyage to Alaska, you can return to this world whenever you want. You’ll get a chance to experiment with tools you can throw into your camera bag and the tools you’d use at home. This isn’t the kind of gear that you need a lab to use, you can explore at a kitchen table! We’ll work with bellows and extension tubes. You’ll see how to shoot through microscope lenses and enlarging lenses, in fact you can make fabulous micro image with a simple 50mm lens. You’ll also get to shoot with the microscope, and learn how to shoot with your own scope!

F2394881

The workshop is limited to just 6 people. Each person will be able to use the equipment and make shots during the workshop. If you bring a flash card you’ll be able to keep your shots! You’ll also get an extensive list of tools you might want to get, including a list of gear you can get used. The idea is to unlock the door-to give you a ticket into the unseen worlds!

The workshop will happen on February 28. It’s a one day workshop and the cost is only $175, but if you sign up in January the cost will be just $135! You can use the PayPal link below to sign up for the Workshop!



You can buy one of my books by clicking on the titles below:


January 8, 2016

New Workshop-Micro Photography

Filed under: Micro Photography,Photographic Education,Workshops — John Siskin @ 12:21 pm

When was the last time you were inspired?
When was the last time you saw something Truly New? Or looked at something and saw it as new?
One of the challenges for a photographer is finding new subjects and new ways of seeing. Of course it’s possible to build a career shooting subjects you have an affinity for, but isn’t important to walk into unknown territory?

06 05
My upcoming Micro Workshop will open doors to terra incognita, the unknown and the unexplored.
There are many ways to explore the merely small, those things you see when you look closely. But this workshop will enable you to see the worlds on the back of a fly and the oceans in a piece of opal, the miraculous rainbows in a piece of plastic. This is your opportunity to photograph an unseen world. This world isn’t too far away, and the tools that take you there are within your grasp. You need only have a good camera and a few adapters to begin. If you choose to go further good microscopes are cheaper than a new lens or speed light.

12 09

I want to act as your tour guide on this journey. I’m asking you come on a safari to the land of the infinitesimal. Unlike most journeys this one will give you the opportunity to return. You’ll be able to go back to this territory because this workshop will give you the keys; you can unlock the door again whenever you choose. This workshop will give you the ability to explore within the heated comfort of your own home. You’ll get extensive information on tools and where to find them.

03 01

Right now I’m looking for a few bold photographers that want to go on this journey. I haven’t set a specific itinerary or a price. We could go for a one day tour or even a two day trip that would include a microscope that you’ll take home. I’d like to know what you want to take home from this trip.

12 07

Please get in touch with me so that this trip can happen, and so you can join us! Right now the tour is scheduled to start on May 15. You can reach me for more information at john@siskinphoto.com.

02 08 11 10
You can buy one of my books by clicking on the titles below:


January 7, 2016

Planetarium

Planetarium

Planetarium

The last blog was about my Super-Wide Camera, which has 110º angle of view. Of course it’s possible to go even wider, and I built a camera to do that also. The thing is that when you go beyond super wide you get distortion. Just as it’s not really possible to make a flat map of the entire planet that makes all the continents and distances look right, it’s impossible to show everything in front of the lens without distortion. This camera/lens combination shows everything in front of the camera: 180º in all directions, but the images bows out in the center. This is called fisheye effect.

The shot was made at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, maybe you’ve seen it in an old James Dean movie? There is a pendulum in the center of this shot, but it’s hard to see because it’s moving. The pendulum demonstrates that the earth is moving, but I’m not sure how that works. I made the shot on 4X5 Ektachrome film, and the exposure is long enough for the pendulum to have moved from side to side. Didn’t use a tripod, but I did have the camera steadied against the rail. The transparency looks a little like a Christmas tree ornament. The actual image is about 80mm across on the film, pretty impressive.

Fisheye Camera

Fisheye Camera

I should say that I didn’t build these cameras because you couldn’t get super wide lenses or fisheye lenses for 35mm cameras. I did it because the resolution of film was so poor. If you made an 8X image of shot like this from 35mm film the image would already show grain and a loss of detail. Because this shot uses at least 10 times more film than there would be with a 35mm shot the grain and detail are much better! I’ve made prints 24 inches wide that looked fabulous. You can use the PayPal link below to get a print that’s about 13 inches wide, on a black background. I normally mount and mat on white board, if you’d like something else let me know when you order the print. I’ll be adding more links as this project goes forward.

The camera started life as a Speed Graphic, a classic press camera. The lens is from a Russian Kiev 60 camera that shot 6X6 cm images. The lens made full frame (edge to edge) square fisheye images on the original camera. I modified the lens by removing the built in lens hood. Then I customized the Speed Graphic to take the Kiev lenses. I also had to remove the base board (front) of the camera so it wouldn’t show up in the shot. The camera was a junker when I began, with a very rough appearance. I took the leather off the outside of the camera and refinished the mahogany surface. On the whole, I think it is the best looking camera I ever built. The camera focuses using the ground glass or the focus scale on the lens. Speed Graphics have a built in focal plane shutter so that’s what the camera uses. You can see my article about camera building here.

I’ve attached a couple of the other images I made with the camera below. I hope to add posts and PayPal links for these images soon.

Wat Thai Temple, Los Angeles

Wat Thai Temple, Los Angeles

 

Castaic Power Plant-Pulling Rotor, California

Castaic Power Plant-Pulling Rotor, California

I hope you’ll order a print of this image. As usual the price, $125, includes mounting and matting. The image will be about 1X13 inches. Please let me know about the mat at john@siskinphoto.com. Also contact me if you’d like the print shipped outside the United States. You can also get the image, and many others, in my book B-Four.


You can buy one of my other books by clicking on the titles below:


January 6, 2016

Carousel #1

Filed under: Do It Yourself,Other,Photographic Education — John Siskin @ 2:36 pm
Carousel

Carousel #1

First off I’d like to thank everyone who’s registered at this blog, NOW AT 4000 REGISTER USERS! Wow!

This is one of my all time favorite photographs. I like it so much I’ve posted the shot on the blog before.
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=39
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=85
http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=249

I don’t know that I’m adding anything new here, but I am adding a PayPal link so you can buy this image, and it’s also in my book B-Four.

I like this image because I think it captures the excitement of a boy ridding a carousel. It has a real sense of movement, and the horse almost looks alive! Of course it means more to me because of the experience of making the image. I’ve often talked to people about how making an image affects my perception of the image. So in order to make this image I had to make a unique camera.

Super Wide Camera

Super Wide Camera

This camera started as a tool to shoot Polaroid materials with 35mm lenses. Before digital the only way to preview your lighting and exposure was to shoot Polaroid instant shots before you committed the image to film. This was pretty easy with a large format camera because you could exchange the film back for a Polaroid back, but it was a real problem for 35mm cameras. It was possible to get a Polaroid back that was built to fit on a 35mm camera, but since you couldn’t exchange the back in the middle of a roll of film you needed an extra camera body. A dedicated camera with the custom Polaroid back was a pretty big expense. I designed this camera to use a Polaroid back built for my large format camera and to shoot Nikon lenses. That the thing worked at all was pretty amazing, but it turned out to be pretty useful. As you can probably tell I’m not the world’s best craftsman.

When I finished the camera I realized I could attach a film back as well as the Polaroid back. With most lenses the really wouldn’t mean much, but Nikon builds a few lenses that provide a unique point of view with this camera. These lenses capture a much larger angle of view than a 35mm camera can shoot. They are designed this way so that they can be used to shoot architecture and maintain perspective. This camera is able to capture more of the image from these lenses, which gives you a well corrected extreme wide-angle view. With this camera the lens has about a 110º angle of view, similar to a 17mm lens on a full frame digital camera.

The shutter on the camera is a pneumatic Packard shutter, activated by a bulb you hold in your hand. The shutter speed is about 1/30 of a second, really pretty slow. So in order for the horse to stay sharp I had to move the camera with the horse as I activated the shutter. This is actually a pretty neat trick; it’s called panning. Panning works pretty well with a 35mm camera, but frankly I didn’t expect it to work here because the camera is so awkward. I was amazed and pleased that the pan worked.

Scan of the negative

Scan of the negative

One or two of the earlier posts was about editing, which is so important to any photographer. I’m including an un-retouched scan of the negative (does un-retouched mean touched, probably not). I’ve used a lot of the image in the final presentation. I hope you’ll like it and want to buy a print. The link below will let you order a print of Carousel #1 mounted and matted. The image will be about 13 inches wide, and about the same height. I hope you’ll consider ordering one, the price is just $125, which includes shipping in the United States. If you’d like me to send a print somewhere else let me know at john@siskinphoto.com, I’m sure we can work something out.


I should also mention my book again B-Four. I put this book together with many of my favorite images. I’ve added links to the book from other images that are included. You can see all the images if you go to the link.

You can buy one of my other books by clicking on the titles below:


January 5, 2016

Dodie the Reader

Filed under: Animals,Basic Photo Technique,Portraits — John Siskin @ 2:55 pm
Dodie the Reader

Dodie the Reader

In my experience shooting animals is a lot like shooting children: you must be set up and ready because the subject won’t sit patiently while you get ready. With an adult or a non-living subject you can work for hours looking for the right combination, but not with a dog. I got less than a dozen shots before Dodie, that’s the dog by the way, wasn’t having anymore. Treats will only buy you just so much attention. I had the lights and the camera ready, the exposure dialed in as well, before I brought Dodie over to the table. I also had a pocket full of treats. I think I only got three shots with the glasses. I stood between the dog and the camera, trusting that everything was properly set. If I had moved behind the camera Dodie would have moved as well. The sitting was over in about 15 minutes.

I used a Calumet 750 travel light and a 60-inch umbrella here. The camera was a Kodak DCS Pro 14n. This was my main digital camera for quite a few years. One of only two full frame cameras when it was new, and the only one with a Nikon mount.

I got two shots I thought were special from this sitting. This second version, which I call Smart Dodie looks like she is giving a lecture. I’ll probably put up a separate purchase link for this shot soon, but for right now you can see a larger version by clicking on the image below.

Smart Dodie

Smart Dodie

I should also mention my book B-Four. I put this book together with many of my favorite images. I’ve just added links to the book from other images that are included. You can see all the images if you go to the link.

The link below will let you order a print of Dodie the Reader mounted and matted. The image will be about 13 inches wide, and about the same height. I hope you’ll consider ordering one, the price is just $125, which includes shipping in the United States. If you’d like me to send a print somewhere else let me know at john@siskinphoto.com, I’m sure we can work something out.

You can buy one of my other books by clicking on the titles below:


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