Welcome!  Check back for updates on new photo sets and progress on my ongoing artistic endeavors.

The Decentralized Library of Alexandria

June 08, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I'm changing the way I publish digital media, you should too.

Lately I've begun publishing some of my work on "The Decentralized Library of Alexandria" - a unique, decentralized, peer-to-peer based distribution index. There's a lot of nitty-gritty stuff I could go over, but I wouldn't be able to explain it as well as the owners of the company. In any case, the important things other artists need to know are:

1. The cost to host and sell ANY sort of digital content is almost zero - right now, it costs about 10 cents per submission. You don't pay any renewal fees, subscription fees, or any of that nonsense, and bandwidth does not cost extra.
2. The uploads are permanent (though you can have them removed from the website's listing), and referred to as "Artifacts".
3. There are ZERO ADs. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
4. The system is coupled with a built-in copy protection scheme which permanently protects your artifacts.
5. You can accept micro-payments for content - as much or as little as you want! $.05 a view? No problem. $1 downloads? ok. Up to you, and you alone. The money goes DIRECTLY to you, IMMEDIATELY. No intermediate third parties taking your hard earned money.
6. Scale is irrelevant. Whether you publish two videos that sell once or twice, or a thousand that sell a million times each, it all works the same.
7. You can monetize content DIRECTLY in social media.

Sound impossible? Nah, just better tech - the system uses "Blockchain" technology, which is also a part of Bitcoin, a virtual currency which has over 10 million users as of this writing. Head on over to Alexandria, and check it out. Below is an example of one of my more recent artifacts.

 

"Skatin' With Dayton" - "Pump" Shot and edited by me.


10 Basic "Do's and Dont's" of Photo Editing

June 13, 2015  •  1 Comment

As some of you may know, I've spent a decent amount of time working in the Film and TV industry in Hollywood - as a Cinematographer, Editor, and as a Colorist. As a Colorist, I developed a skill set that transfers quite well to photography, and has served me incredibly well both in my professional work as a photographer and cinematographer, as well as in my personal artistic work.

Recently, I shot a set of photos for a client who owns some vacation rentals - I've done similar photos for her in the past, but this time, one of the final images in the set used so much editing, I thought a post on the subject was worthwhile, as it's something I haven't written about yet.



So, without further ado, here are 10 do's and don'ts of Photo Editing:

Do:

  1. Shoot with editing in mind - this means shoot RAW, and even if you can't plan every single part of your shot or your shoot, try to build habits that serve you well later in Lightroom.
  2. Underexpose for landscape, overexpose for portraits - highlights clip easily, skin looks muddy and sallow when underexposed. Exactly what the number is will vary depending on your equipment and your own personal style - experiment.
  3. Understand that even the best camera's dynamic range is limited, my A7R tops out at about 14ev.
  4. Give yourself room to crop! As you'll note, I didn't crop this image at all. This is a problem. I need to work on this. Many times I've been editing a photo, wishing dearly I could pull wider just a touch because I accidentally cropped out someone's toe, or ear, etc. You can't make it wider. You can only make it tighter.
  5. Shoot with as low an ISO as you realistically can; the lower the ISO, the more dynamic range you can eek out before noise becomes a serious problem. In the sample pic, you'll note that if I had been taking my sweet time instead of hustling through a shoot to get everything necessary in a tight timeframe, I'd have been able to shoot a longer exposure time, higher F-stop, and a lower ISO. When I'm in a hurry, I like to keep my exposure speed to at least 1/160th of a second to prevent vibration blur, etc.

Don't:

  1. Expect that what you see right out of the camera represents the true character of an image. Sometimes something amazing is hiding outside of what's currently visible.
  2. Underestimate the importance of editing your photos well. If I didn't edit my photos, I'd probably only have a dozen pictures on my entire site.
  3. Get too cute. It's one thing to see a photo and for it to be notable that it has been edited, it's another for it to be gaudy. (I realize of course that the sample image I've posted here is quite borderline gaudy) The difference is sometimes a fine line - and sometimes, an extreme edit is purposeful, intentional, and conveys a critical feeling that contributes to the photograph. Try to keep your editing tasteful, and always ask yourself if what you're adding contributes to the feeling the photograph is intended to evoke, or if it has no effect, or worse, a deleterious one. It's very easy to use Lightroom's tools to create things that look very artificial and unnatural, and while I (obviously) enjoy pushing the boundaries a little sometimes, I generally try and keep things in the range of the quasi-believable. Sometimes the key to this is a generous amount of feathering on your masks - sometimes it is a very high-resolution mask that has barely any feathering. Skies and soft shadows like feathering. Defined objects like faces and tree trunks like defined masks.
  4. Crush your blacks and clip your highlights. Look at the histogram, and attempt to maintain at least a small amount of detail in them while using the exposure slider to get the body of the image where you want it, and the contrast slider to push the boundaries until they just brush the edges. (obviously there are occasions where clipping is desirable, and in these extreme edit type situations, of course, go right ahead, I'm generalizing)
  5. Rush. Take your time. Have a cup of coffee, read the news, throw digital poo on Facebook, etc, and come back to things later. Sometimes I'll look at an edit later on and want to entirely re-do it. Using the "Virtual Copy" in Lightroom is very useful for doing this and not losing your previous edit.

 

Well, that's it for this post, hope you all enjoyed - feel free to hit me up with any questions or point out my mistakes (in a polite way please).


The Death of Paul Shephard

August 16, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Well, I've been writing lately.  As a creative person and multidisciplinary artist, I never really know what strings inspiration will strike a chord with.  While the source of inspiration in this instance was simple aging, the result is something I am more pleased with than anything I've written in a long time, which is why I am publishing it here as a PDF for download for a limited time for free releasing it on the Amazon Kindle store for only 99 cents.


For all my fellow lovers of Science Fiction, for the crazy ones, for those of us who believe aging is mandatory but growing up is optional, this is for you.  Without further ado, here is "The Death of Paul Shephard" - I do hope you all enjoy it, especially the twist in the end.

What's the old man feeding the seagull have to do with the story?  Well, nothing, really.  ...but I think the story needed an image to go along with it, it was getting lost on social media without it.


Code Fluidics Kickstarter Campaign Launch!

October 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

A Kickstarter video I produced has just launched!  This is a seriously cool project run by a fantastic group of guys, so glad to see their campaign not only beginning, but off to a fantastic start!  Way to go, Code Fluidics!

From their Kickstarter page:

"Our first project takes color customization in products to a whole new level. We have developed a technology that allows anyone to change the color of their products in real time and as often as they want. Our patented technology uses microfluidics embedded into a product to control the color. There are virtually no limits to the combinations of colors one chooses, or how often one changes the color of a CODE-enabled product, such as the CODE Case."

If you get a chance, head on over to their Kickstarter campaign page and back them!


Why I switched from iPhone to Windows Phone 8

June 24, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

What?  Heresy, you may say!  Windows?  You've turned to the Dark-Side!  I've had many comments like this from the very people I have convinced to buy Apple products over the many, MANY years I've been an Apple user (my first Apple product was an Apple IIe).  Granted, I'm typing this on a 27" iMac, but I've been doing some thinking over the last couple years about Loyalty, and it's place in the modern economy.  My switch to a Nokia Lumia 920 is a reflection of the conclusions I have drawn - allow me to share my reasoning.

First off, there's a lot to like about WP8 as an OS.  The GUI is simply gorgeous, very intuitive, and customizable enough.  It's also comparatively lightweight and incredibly fast compared to iOS, in spite of the high level of graphic quality, and advanced feature-set.  I like the LiveTiles, and the ability to scroll through an alphabetical list of everything on my phone with a simple swipe.  Folders/stackable tiles would be a nice addition, but being able to make tiles either fill the screen horizontally, go to the halfway point, or a quarter of the way means I can group them thematically or however I want.  Font choice and the way messaging and all the icons have been integrated and finessed is superb - the graphic design of WP8 is untouched - clean simple and brilliant (perhaps that's why Apple has taken so many cues from it for iOS 7).  Photography fans will love the way "lenses" are integrated with the phone's camera software, eliminating the need to navigate through the phone's OS in order to track down your HDR app, or Instagram, or whatever your photo app of choice is.

The hardware is another reason.  To be honest, the design of the iPhone 5 never really did it for me.  The 4 and 4S, in my mind, are some of the most beautiful mobile hardware ever produced, but they have drawbacks that limit my desire to use them, and it extends beyond not having LTE.  Size is a major factor.  I appreciate the efforts of the Apple Design team to make sure any pat of the frame could be accessed with a single thumb easily with the phone in one hand, the small form factor makes many common tasks more difficult.  Typing in portrait mode, for example, especially if in a reclined position, is very uncomfortable.  Typing mistakes are routine (so routine in fact that whole websites have been set up to showcase autocorrection and typing mistakes).  Not liking what I had isn't enough reason to change though.  Inductive charging, an incredible camera, perhaps the best mobile phone display I've ever seen, LTE, NFC (with secure credit card storage too), true Gorilla Glass with a dense polycarbonate case for exceptional durability, and a physical form-factor that has won it numerous awards and critical praise, the Nokia Lumia 920 is a tempting buy even for someone who was so entrenched in iOS as I was, having owned 4 models of iPhone previously.

There are drawbacks, to be sure, as there are with everything.  The first thing I'll have to mention is the App selection - it's not as good or as expansive as Apple's App Store and Google's... whatever.  That being said, it's growing rapidly (as is the platform itself), and there are a number of excellent apps available.  Part of the benefit of being on a new and growing platform is the amount of support and money Microsoft is putting into WP8.  They're paying developers to create apps and games for WP8.  Nokia has developed a number of their own apps which are all top-notch.  Notably absent are Google Apps.  Apparently Google sees WP8 as the biggest threat to their market share and is taking every effort to sabotage them.  Eventually, I'm sure that they'll cave and create WP versions of their apps, so in the meantime you may find it hard to limit your life's connections with Google.  You can sync contacts and email with Google, but Calendar takes a bit of effort.  I typically just use a pinned webpage for my google calendars, and although I initially greatly bemoaned the lack of Google Chrome (my favorite browser by far), IE mobile is actually very fast and usable in spite of (because of?) only being able to have 6 tabs open at a time.  Hardware drawbacks?  Sometimes my hand brushes against the "bing" button when reaching for something with my thumb.  ...and the battery life isn't better than my 4S (about the same, really).

There's far more to this than a list of reasons to buy something or not.  The key is emotional connection - the real secret to Apple's success.  Apple's marketing and devices are carefully crafted to give you an emotional connection with the experience.  They want you to think they care.  They realize that emotional connection to brands builds loyalty, which means repeat customers.  This is strategy to them, and nothing more.  Corporations owe us no loyalty, their primary legal obligation is to make their shareholders money.  That's it.  Your loyalty will not be returned, because ultimately they don't care about you, unless caring about you means you'll buy more of their products and make them more money.  Businesses are not people - they are machines that involved people as individual pieces and mechanisms in said machine.  I've resolved to reserve loyalty for living beings capable of returning it.  That's not to say I'm immune to feeling emotional attachment to my things - I really will only buy things that I love.  I bought a Mini Cooper S because I loved it.  I bought a Land Rover Discovery because I loved it.  I bought my Nokia Lumia 920 because I loved it.  Several weeks in, I still do.  ...but that doesn't mean I owe it anything.

Archive
January February (3) March (1) April May June July August September October November (2) December (2)
January February March April May June (1) July August September October (1) November December
January February March April May June July August (1) September October November December
January February March April May June (1) July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June (1) July August September October November December