Your home for everything artistic

Within the art of photography, there are many sub-categories.

Most of us can probably come up with some of the more common ones without giving it much thought – portraits, landscapes, wildlife… But one of the ones that has a huge industry onto itself that may not necessarily rank high on your list is food photography.

Think about it, many major restaurants, grocery stores and other similar businesses use images in their advertising. And just like is the case with any other form of photography, a well shot, well edited image is essential.

bad food phgotography

Example of bad food photography:

Notice how the color is bland, the image is washed out and it is actually quite hard to even know what the item may be.

good food photography

Example of bad food photography:

This image blurs out background distractions, features nice and even light and really captures the texture of the meal.

Here are a few tips that might just help anyone interested in delving into this sort of work.

1. Lighting and white balance

- Make sure you have an adequate amount of light for your shot but don’t do overboard. You don’t want to have hot spots in the image that can distract from the main focal point. Nor do you want to see harsh shadows.

2. Color and texture

- Do what you can to make the color as accurate and inciting as possible.  Same goes for texture. A few Photoshop tools that can help here are playing with the satiation and using the dodge and burn tools.

3. Remove distractions

- If there are any items near your image that might take away from the food itself, do what you can to remove them.

Good luck and have fun.

For almost the last two weeks…

like many people across this planet, I’ve be captivated by the spectacle that is the Olympics.

And as a photographer and artist at heart, I truly appreciate the artistry of athletics and the creative wonders such an amazing event can produce.

Given my appreciation for such things, I thought I would include some scenes that both chronicle and inspire.

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These first three photos where taken when workers at the Sochi games formed a giant heart on the halfpipe in honor of the late Sarah Burke, the woman who was instrumental in getting the event into the Olympic Games.

1

Canadian skier Alex Bilodeau celebrates with his special needs brother Frederic after winning gold.

2

The storied Jamaican bobsled team making their entrance during the Opening Ceremonies.

3

Maddie Bowman sailing her way to gold in women’s halfpipe skiing.

4

Bode Miller speeding down the slopes in what will likely be his last Olympics.

5

A unique perspective taken from the Bobsled venue.

6

An amazing long exposure shot of a downhill snowboarding race.

7

This one is of the beautiful Sochi sky over the Biathon course.

First off, I’d like to appologize to the readers of this blog for the delay since my last post. Thanks for being cool about it. And just for that, I figured I’d give you guys a real doozie for this one.

Here goes.

Anyone who works with studio photography knows that as a general rule, the setup includes multiple light sources. This is for a number of different reasons which include reducing shadows, evening out the exposure and thing along those lines. However, at times, the use of a single light – mono lighting, can produce some really awesome artistic effects.

One thing it can do is add a sense of drama to your shot.

Check out the image below as an example of a single light setup I used for a photo shoot last week.

mono lit model

In this case, I used a light on the left side and as it stretches across the model it fades into a darker shade. This accentuates the points closest while sort of leaving an element of mystery about the elements hidden in the dark distance.

Give it a try for yourself some time. You just might love the results.

While there seems to be an ever-growing number of awards shows out there these days, when it comes to music, the Grammy Awards are still considered by many to be the elite in terms of this particular art form. Sure some might argue that the People’s Choice holds more meaning since it is directly from the fans or that other shows that base their winners primarily on sales figures are more relevant. However, the Grammy Awards are still essentially the Oscars of the music industry.

With all that being said, here are my personal thoughts on the awards show that took place this past Sunday.

On Live Performances:

As has been the case lately, there where a lot of unusual pairings for duet and group performances. A few worked, most didn’t. When it came to the older guys out there, such as the two former members of the Beatles, many of them have lost their vocal skills and really just need to ride off into the Sunset of musical history. Probably the best performances in my opinion were a few of the most subtle. The collaboration between Pink and Nate Ruess stuck out for sure. And the subdued piano playing Hunter Hayes with inspirational quotes on the screen in the background was quite memorable.

On the Nominees:

For the most part, the selection of nominees in each category was pretty good. Of course, the fact that Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift among a few others weren’t up for more was a bit surprising. Two examples of where they mostly went right where the categories for “Song of the Year” and Best Pop Solo Performance.”

On the Winners:

It is the tendency at the Grammys for one or more artists to dominate a few major categories in a given year. Those who decide the winners get hung up on a particular song or artist. Often times they fade away a bit after that. The first part of that equation did follow the typical pattern.  And I suspect the second will as well.

Overall, this year, it seemed as though those who decided the winners tended toward rewarding mediocrity. The bestowed coveted awards on acts with one or two OK songs and sort of left others out in the cold. Good examples of this include wins by newcomer LordeDaft Punk and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

What Should Have Been IMHO:

Of the available options:

Record of the Year should have went to Sara Bareilles for “Brave.”

Song of the Year should ahve been a given for “Just Give Me A Reason” by  Pink and Nate Ruess.

Best Pop Solo Performance should have went to either Sara Bareilles for “Brave” or Justin Timberlake for “Mirrors.”

I could go on but that would make for one long post.

Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles

Pink and Nate Ruess

Pink and Nate Ruess

Making art from snow

I don’t know about you but in my neck of the woods…

winter is in full force. And with that, we often end up with a fair amount of snow.

So, some creative minded people like to take the following approach – when nature gives you snow, make art.

The photos below are some samples of sculptures made completely of snow during an event held in Breckenridge, Colorado. I hope you enjoy them.

Workers shape a snow sculpture at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, mime-attachment (2) mime-attachment (3) mime-attachment (4) mime-attachment (5) mime-attachment (6) mime-attachment (7) mime-attachment (8) mime-attachment

Editing is crucial

For any photographer who takes his or her craft seriously, editing is just a fact of life. And while it has its creative qualities, a lot of shutterbugs would agree that it’s not exactly their favorite part of the process.

When all is said and done though, the time used doing a thorough editing job is well worth it when you see the final product.

Some causal photographers make the mistake of thinking that some of these “editing” apps, online tools or quick-fix type programs can get the job done almost instantly. While it might not take a long time to edit an image sufficiently, any real quality editing can’t be done with just a click or two of the mouse.

Below is a sample of some photography editing I did after a recent promotional shoot for a young lady starting her own life coaching business. I hope these before and after images along with the basic steps taken to get from the original to the final version will give you an idea of what I mean.

Please note that all edits where made using a combination of Adobe Photoshop and a program called Portrait Professional. However, some of these edits can be made using any number of other programs that offer a wide range of similar features.

headshot editing

General overview of steps taken to edit the above photo:

1. Adjusting exposure

- Started out with “Auto Levels” before increasing the exposure a little more.

2. Tweaking colors

- An increase in overall saturation was used to add color and vibrancy

- Using the “Dodge/Burn” tool also helped.

3. Airbrushing

- Basic tuning with Portrait Professional softened the skin, reduced blemishes, removed pores and took care of assorted imperfections.

4. Small details

- It was necessary to use the” Clone Stamp” tool to match some skin tone areas and clean up shadows and glare cast by the glasses.

- Did some final burning to minimize hot spots and even out the color of her hair.

When I make plans to shoot artistic photos of skies, landscapes and architecture, I get out my professional-grade DSLR. However, there are times when a beautiful shot presents itself and you just don’t have the big gun handy. So, you can either miss the shot or make do with what you have. And what many of us have these days are mobile phones with workable cameras.

Here are a few pictures I thought I’d share that feature some amazing skies, a very cool rainbow and some stylish lights inside one of Pittsburgh’s largest entertainment venues. I hope you like them.

pastel sky

sun going down

purple sky

bright sun

Point State Park rainbow

colored lights

blue light

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