Thursday, February 21, 2008

Large Group Photos - Specialty Wide Shots

Those above age 30 may remember back when the photographers would come to your school, church, or business and make everyone stand on those rickety crescent shaped risers so they could take your picture with a rotating camera. Then later you'd get the print rolled up in a tube, because it was so wide... Ah, those were the days, and some really cool pictures, too! Photographing a group of 50, 100, or more people requires special methods to get a quality picture, and for decades that was the way to go.

Unfortunately, digital cameras that can take a continuous rotating picture so rare as to be virtually non-existent, and the people who do that on film are mostly retired now. Even the very fancy professional camera models like the ones I use simply can't replicate those photos in a single shot. Most of today's digital photographers don't know how to deal with this issue at all, as it's a bit esoteric. Those not "in the know" will take a one-frame group photo that simply does not have enough detail to show the faces of 100 or more people in the frame. Due to lack of detail relative to the number of people in the picture, the prints will look muddy and lacking in detail next to those great roll-up prints of the past.

Lucky for you, I have been studying the arcane art of panoramic photography for last three years! While it's still quite true that you can't take a good large group photo in a single frame, you can use a variety of special techniques to get fantastic large group photos by making a composite of multiple images.

Below is a small detail from a large group photo. Click on it to see the entire photo, and be sure to scroll sideways!

The source composite image from which that example was scaled down is a gigantic 148 Megapixels, which is the type of detail you need to capture 200 people in a frame. This shot happened when I got an opportunity to do a "team photo" with Will Ferrell. By taking several shots in a particular way, I was able to composite them into one of those kickass, old-style, super-wide group photos. And note that while this photo is in wide aspect, they don't have to be super wide. The same methods can be used to take high resolution images in more typical aspect ratios.

Do you have large group photo needs? Let me know! I'm happy to shoot a hi-res composite for your group or company.

Friday, February 15, 2008

On-site Party Pics!

I'm now offering on-site party pictures--you throw a party, and we set up a studio environment to print out pictures for your guests on the spot. At this private Valentine's Day party, we served 176 5x7 prints to guests on acid-free art grade photo paper using inks with a 100+ year rating--in other words, equivalent to photo lab quality. Your guest can have a picture printed out in as little as a minute after it's taken!

Brides and Grooms: Please note this this is a dedicated party service and not a part of my normal wedding coverage. At weddings, I spend my time focusing on coverage which is photojournalistic in nature. To add this service to a wedding would require bringing two additional staff and is by special request/arrangement only.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A 20 Year Reunion

You might remember when I was hanging out with these guys up in the Finger Lakes a few months ago. Joe and Carole, my friend Brennen's parents, did a bit of wintering in San Antonio this year and dropped by my house for a visit last week. Though I have been to NY to see them many times, they hadn't had a chance to see my brother since 1988 (gasp!). So here's the 20-year reunion.

It was really rainy that day, we did the (indoor) Capitol tour and then made the obligatory trek to the Salt Lick!

Cool Award!

Back in December when I was too busy to toot my own horn, I placed 7th in the Ceremony category of the Wedding Photojournalist Association's quarterly photo contest. Because the WPJA is a large and truly global group of photographers, placing top 10 is a pretty big deal. I always say that I'd prefer 1st but like being on the scoreboard no matter what!

I knew when I was taking this photo that it was a unique moment. Though you can see through the glass in my picture, the crowd in the sanctuary could not, because the bride was hidden in the dark. I had to act really quickly to come up with a camera approach that would allow me to capture what the crowd could not see. I like the judge's whimsical comment.

Allow me to "pimp out" my dog

In case you wondered why I have not blogged since October, here he is!

Rocky's arrival at my house almost coincides with the point in time that my blog lapse began. Rocky was born Sept. 2 at Veritas Aussies in Wimberley, Texas. Rocky is a blue merle, and I think he looks like my favorite cheese, Roquefort, which when combined with my affinity for the Beatles, resulted in his official registered title of Veritas Tail of Roque Raccoon. Here's Rocky giving the "eye" to one of his cousins.

And before one of you good Austinites shouts at me for this, yes my other two animals are rescues, and I believe that both rescues and purebreds have a right to life. Fair enough? OK, not for some of you, but at least I drive a 40 MPG car and ate a vegetarian soup for lunch (but am not a vegetarian, to be clear). Back to the point... Thanks largely to my maternal grandparents Morris and Ilene Bowen, my family has a history with Australian Shepherds and Cocker Spaniels. My earliest dog memories stem from Daisy, pictured here in her work environment.

And though I've been planning the back-from-the-puppy-induced-lapse post for a while, I have the Hillary Clinton campaign to thank for making this post far more topical (Thanks, Hillary!). Now why would I say this? Because, obviously, I am "pimping out" my dog to you. My dog has nothing to do with the quality of photography you will receive from me, but the emotional appeal of seeing my dog is supposed to influence you. Let's pause for just a sec while I pimp out Rocky and my first cousin.

Many photographers do this with their husbands, wives, and children, and I get a bit sick of seeing it, so I have to make a bit of fun at the practice. Let's pimp out another chunk of my family here!

Back to the Hillary campaign (and the Obama campaign's official concurrence in the matter),I have always been amused when Political Correctness run amok forces our leaders to feign outrage at words that may sound slightly offensive but really aren't at all. Those who feign outrage do so based on the idea that Hillary thinks someone is actually calling Chelsea a prostitute, which is not the case at all. To pimp out someone or something describes a situation in which a controlling party, for the purpose of its own self gain, influences or forces an irrelevant but more appealing third party to promote the services or agenda of the controlling party. An important concept of "pimping out" is that the appeal of the pimped party be totally irrelevant to the service being offered. For example, the amazing cuteness of my dog will not make your wedding dress look any better. Just as the appeal of Chelsea Clinton has absolutely nothing to do with the services which her entirely independent mother have to offer as a politician. Yet Hillary is still willing to peddle her daughter's irrelevant appeal for her own personal gain, and then act oh so offended when a pundit describes the phenomenon. Did I mention that Rocky has really cute Cocker Spaniel cousins?

On a slightly more serious note, the one time I think all this pimping gets out of control is when the pimped out party is a minor child. I have seen wedding photographers literally hand out photos of their own pre-K children as promotional material, not to mention the more common postings on commercial websites. I guess a fertile photographer is a better photographer. Hmmm.... Photographers, you know who you are. Someday your children will go to the sixth grade, and the eighth graders will have a google photo archive of all the funny outfits that you posed your child in for financial gain. And they will repost those photos on PhotoBucket and sites that don't exist yet. Let's just hope you put those gains in a college fund :-)

And I'll end this tirade back on Rocky, of course!