Tag Archives: Photography

EarthMover Credit Union


DSC_2917_8_9_tonemapped ps.jpg, originally uploaded by ecfman.

Now , why did this property become the subject of my camera? Well, I felt fairly comfortable doing HDR photography and decided to see if there was financial gain in shooting commercial photography using this technique. Both the Earthmover Credit Union and Cozhiar Harley Davidson seemed like good subjects.

The plan was simple, go shoot a business* on a day when the sky was filled with dramatic clouds. The first attempt was not successful but learning from my mistakes, I went back for a successful second crack at it. After processing the image, sending it off to the photo lab and getting it back, I then personally delivered the print to the person in charge of marketing. I figured by giving out a couple 8x10s I stood a change of gaining future work. Nothing ventured nothing gained..right?

Well, after finally tracking down the right person and delivering the photos, the story ends with a rather anti-climatic conclusion. While the woman was happy** to accept the photo, she stated that there was no money in the budget for any type of this kind of work. I am not sure if my catching her by surprise (it was a cold call) hurt the reaction, but either was I got no work from this. But I do like the photo.


* Just to clear up any confusion..I was using a camera and not a gun. I am a peaceful person and do not even own a firearm. I am not suggesting that anybody take arms against a business. Do not take such expression as “shot a business” as to be adding to the already charge political climate. Any attempts to defame me through implications to any acts of violence not committed by myself will be met full force with a video of me decrying “blood libel”. You have been warned.

** Actually I am not certain she was happy. I think I am merely projecting my wishes upon my memory of the past. While I like to think that these pictures were hung in a vp’s office, they could just as easily been filed away…or even thrown away.

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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in About a Picture


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The Man in the Reddest Suit Ever

One thing I love about shooting in Chicago are the surprises that walk right across your path. Something wonderful will happen, something you can never anticipate. To me, a man walking absent-mindedly wearing the reddest suit ever made is one of them. The minute I saw the man I knew I was on to something wonderful.

During the time I photographed him I would sprint a block ahead and take pictures as he approached. Then I would then spent another block ahead and take pictures as he approached. The pictures here are the final point at which I followed him. Being stopped by the light provided a great opportunity to catch some fun shots.

Man in the Red Suit 2

Yet another shot of the owner of the red suit standing at a street corner.

While normally my running….shooting….running….shooting would be noticed by the subject, this man appeared oblivious to it all. I am not sure the man’s story nor can I provide any other background except that the way he acted demonstrated some sort of mental illness. But as oblivious to his surroundings as he seemed, he followed the “rules of the road” as a pedestrian.

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Posted by on January 6, 2011 in About a Picture


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The Happy Thoughtful Man

I got this shot while working on a project to photograph panhandlers in Chicago. This is one of those pictures that resonate with me more because of the situation than of the picture itself.

Looking at this fellow, he has a beautiful face. With the right hair cut and the right clothes, it looks like this man could be anything he wanted: model, actor, lawyer, businessman, engineer, etc.

While this shot indicates a serene and thoughtful man, he is crazy. I don’t mean crazy like Robin Williams is crazy, or Evel Kenievel crazy. I mean not living in this clear and present reality kind of crazy. He was muttering to and gesturing to a non-existent person as he ate and drank out of garbage cans.

I guess there are some different ways to look at this photo. Perhaps this represents what this man could have been if only he were in his right mind. That in this one photo at this one moment of time we gain a glimpse of him in full mental health.

On the other hand, maybe this shows us that appearances are deceiving. That when we look at people, and maybe even when we talk to people we make certain judgments that are completely wrong.
There are people we admire based on what we see, but those same people would repulsed us if we knew about the things that we don’t’ see. I think too often we look at movies stars as being embodiments of the characters they portray, but in reality their morals or their intellect may be a vacuous as space and that if we had to spend a weekend with those people it would seem a week too long.

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Posted by on January 5, 2011 in About a Picture


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George At Weldon Springs

Man standing in prairie 

Wissmiller–5.jpg, originally uploaded by Jeffrey Jones.

For the start of the new year I will share my thoughts on my favorite pictures I took in 2010…in somewhat of a chronological order.

George and I have been friends for years but we don’t see each other much. But, one day he called needing pictures for his political campaign for public office. He has interesting facial features, given his intense eyes and rambunctious brows, so this was a treat for me. We shot a number of pictures in various locations at Weldon Springs and had a good time.

This picture isn’t the type of photo one posts on the website for political campaigns. But it is the type of picture photographers create/take because it answers to that inner muse. Often, among the many pictures we take for the customer, there are some we take for ourselves.

There are two reasons that I chose to do this photo in black and white. The first answer I would give is that the aesthetics which a monochromatic pallet give and that treatment compliments this particular photo the best.

There is, however, a hidden reason, one used to cover up mistakes or hide problems as they relate to color. You cannot tell from this shot, but the sun was rapidly setting and as the sun goes down it produces very warm, orange light. The kind of light that gives a feeling of life and vitality. On the opposite side of that warm orange sun is a perfectly blue sky. We think of the sky as a passive background not as a light source, but it is a light source like the sun, just much less intense. At this time of day the sun was at a very low angle shooting orange light at his face but the blue light from the sky was reflecting off his head. There was no way to easily color correct for a head that is partially orange and partially blue. So the simplest answer was to remove the color entirely.

Had I caught the problem as I shot, I still didn’t have the equipment nor the extra hands to correct for it. But even so, I am well pleased with the result. And who knows, even if the color balance on his head was right, I still may have converted it to black and white anyway.

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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in About a Picture


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Thoughts on Black and White Photography


Batman Jack-8184, originally uploaded by Jeff Jones.

I like black and white photography. I might even go so far as to say, in general, I prefer black and white photography over color. Obviously, not all pictures work best in a monochromatic format but black and white photos produce a certain vibe that color can never produce.

It is rather ironic that, for something like 100 years, photography either did not have the ability to produce images in color or could not do so in a cost-effective way. In the days where “everything” was black and white people went through great lengths to add a color palate to their images. My parents, who graduated high school around 1950, had their photos painted, or at least touched up with some dye. Some red for the cheeks, some brown for the hair and maybe some blue for the dress. It wasn’t perfect, but it provided a splash of color that people felt were missing.
Once color hit the portrait studios, TV screens and movie studios, there was no looking back. People wanted, nay demanded, that their consumption media was in color. In order to increase viewership of older movies he owned, Ted Turner even when so far as to go back to the classics digitally rendered them in color, much to the dismay of movie buffs.

But yet despite that it is a technological throwback, many still enjoy black and white photography. Why is that?

It forces us to look at the world in a different way. Most of us see the world in color and are used to viewing objects and backgrounds tinted in the unlimited pallet of colors and hues that this universe offers. The act of taking a picture compresses the three-dimensional world to that of a flat piece of paper. Because we remove the important element of depth, we are left with fewer visual clues about the picture. The flattened picture becomes less about subjects and objects and more about interplay of color. It is no longer a green dress against a beautiful green grass, but rather a splash of red against a swath of green. Even with a person’s features, it is more of an interplay between colors more than about the subject itself (i.e. the blue of the eye against the pink tone of the skin)

Stripped of color the photo allows us to pay more attention to the lines, the textures and the shapes of the image. The interplay of the elements of the picture changes, it becomes a different animal all together. With portraits, monochromatic treatment allows us to concentrate on the subject and the characteristics of the subject.

Also, since we don’t see in black and white, black and white photography causes us to look at subject in a way not found in nature. While the term “abstract” is not correct, there is a somewhat abstract to black and white that facilitates introspection rather than a passing glance.

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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Pictures Never Lie… Or Do They?

Most of us, we snap our pictures, send them to the local Walgreens and have new prints in our hands within an hour. The pictures we take are the pictures we get back. If Bobby has a mole on the side of his nose when we take the picture, he has a mole on the side of his nose in the print we get. If Martha is putting on a little weight during the family snapshot, she continues to carry that weight in the photo. Throughout the aeons (or decades rather) we mere mortals were stuck with reality, at least in regards to our photos. But magazines were never satisfied with reality. Customers and consumers, in America, at least, expect perfection from their media stars. There is only so much one can do with hair stylists and makeup artists. There is only some much one can do with posing techniques to hide or minimize this or that. For decades professional studios air brushing was the answer to fixing the flaws in their models. Who can count the amount of paint spread over the photos of actresses and models over the years.

With the advent of Photoshop the game changed. With each successive release, it becomes easier to performing tasks that were almost impossible decades ago. Before, what took years of skill to master now becomes routine tasks that most photographers , with a little bit of computer skill, can do in minutes. As we demand physical perfection in our movie and media stars and technology makes it easier to make sure that a photo of anybody can achieve that level of perfection.

I am not such a purist that I rail against covering pimples, whitening teeth and removing stray hairs in my portrait subjects. After all there are a number of things that interfere with a good photographic representation of a person. But what is occurring are physical standards that are set which are physically impossible for them to occur in nature, namely the size of women’s hips. This is nothing new as far as having standards which are impossible to fulfill as the ancients all had ideas of perfect human proportions which they used for art. But with the photography, we no longer look at figures in sculpture and paint as physical ideals, but physical reality. Women (and to some degree, men) look at women in these photos and assume that unblemished skin, the full lips, the vibrant eyes, etc, etc. is actually representative of that person in everyday life. But that could not be further from the truth. Undoubtedly there are a few that have the look, the skin and the body that comes close to those ideals, but even those people are not safe from being savaged by the hands of Photoshop artists.

My point is not to get into some discussion about women’s self-image, media using sex to sell products or anything along those topics. Rather, my intent is it show and to make people realize that they should not expect to what they see in and on magazines to reflect any sort of reality. Nor, should they expect ANY picture to reflect reality (more on that subject later).

Now for some examples. The following video shows, through the power of time-lapse a woman of mediocre looks transformed through the magic of makeup, hair styling and Photoshop into a gorgeous woman.

The picture below is from a Ralph Lauren ad wherein they modified this woman’s hips to the point of physical impossibility. I am not exaggerating, the proportion of head to hips is not possible, biologically speaking.

Ralph Lauren Model

A model with impossibly small hips.

Below shows how the face of a famous person was transplanted on to the (bizarre) body of a model for an advertisement.

Woman with transplanted face

Woman with transplanted face

Even senators are not immune from some major touch ups. Witness a rather recent cover shot for a rather old Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi Photoshop

Nancy Pelosi never looked so good.

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Posted by on August 15, 2010 in Musings


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How to Improve Your Photography – Pt 3 Podcasts

C. S. Lewis has this great quote which goes  “the next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a company of people who are.” Last post I wrote about libraries and the vast wealth that is found in books and magazines. While podcasts will not replace need of students of photography to pore through “printed’ works, they do perform an important role in education.

So, what is a podcast?

Generally they are audio only productions recorded in an electronic format distributed through the internet.

Why is that a big deal?

Well, since these are in electronic format you can listen to these on computers, either streaming or as downloadable files, and with mp3 players (not just Apple devices like IPhones, or IPods). This allows for easy storage and flexibility to listening.

Who put out these podcasts?

A number of professionals and high-level enthusiasts put out these shows in addition to their already hectic schedule.

What is their motivation?

While there is some self-interest with podcasting, they are all done in a spirit of giving and sharing. Some of the podcasters do put on seminars and even sell books, but their podcasts are not 50 minute infomercials. Generally their intent is to build their reputation and which may eventually, (for some it is happening now) pay off in $$ either directly or, more likely, indirectly.

What types of things do they talk about?

If you listen to one, is there any need to listen to another? To be a bit flippant, they are all like snowflakes, individuals putting out work that, even if the format is similar, it comes across quite different. Some podcasts are interviews with high-end professional photographers, some are philosophical insights while others take a question and answer format.

What is the easiest way to get them?

While going to each site on a weekly or monthly basis is one way to manage the files it is not a very efficient method. Personally I use the ITUNES store, which will require you to download their program, which is about 90 megabyte file. From here you simply search for your shows (under podcasts) and subscribe to the ones you like. Then every time you run the program, it will automatically download new files. There are other ways to subscribe to various podcasts, but I find this to work very well.

What are some of the photography podcasts that I listen to?

  • Camera Dojo – Kerry Garrison – Great all around podcast and wonderful blog.
  • F-Stop Beyond with Ron Dawson – While Ron seeks out famous photographers to interview he focuses the discussion in areas that most photography interviews do not go – people’s personal history, feelings and circumstances.
  • Frederick Van – Various interviews.
  • History of Photography – An honest to goodness lectures from an ongoing college photography class.
  • Lenswork – Great short morsels of insight, philosophy and speculation from the editor of Lenswork Magazine.
  • Lightsource Studio Photography – Interviews with high end commercial photographers.
  • Photofocus – Scott Bourne and a guest answer questions submitted by readers.
  • The Candid Frame – Ibarionix Perello – Great interviews with various people in the photography field. Not just “big names” but even promising students.
  • This Week in Photography – Discussion about news and events related to photography. This is in an Apple media file, which, to me, is very inconvenient as Windows Media player will not recognize the file and nor am I able to play t on my Sansa MP3 player.

    There are other photography podcasts to be found on the internet. The intent was list every single podcast, but to give you a “starter pack” to some that I feel are worthwhile and will have a broad range of appeal. Feel free to share your thoughts and favorites with me.

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Posted by on August 8, 2010 in Photography Advice


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