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Archive for May, 2013

Untitled poem

When it comes to the genetics of art

I have often though that I got my photographic and visual artistic talents from my mother and my writing talent from my father. However, once in a while they each impress me with the skill set I often associate with the other. This poem, written by my mother during a road trip to visit my brother living three states away, is one such example.

While it is a raw version without any edits or separation of stanzas, I thought it was quite good, especially in terms of the vivid imagery. Check it out and enjoy.

mountain highway

Untitled – A Poem by Lisa Greiner

I was in a dream one morn’

As a passenger through someone’s life.

In the distance,

through the waves of green

rose puffs of white mist to the heavens

like smoke signals from Mother Nature to the divine

a blanket of soft grays moved overhead

that gave no more mention of warmth or light

and my face was bathed in nature’s shower.

What a journey someone else’s life can be.

The day will bring perhaps more gray

more dew to my thirsting skin.

A life bursting with the newness of spring

warmth and light

a dream to end.

Tomorrow I will journey again

but not in a dream.

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How’d the photographer do that?

Have you ever had a photo capture your eye

and then wonder how the photographer accomplished the effect within that piece of art? For a lot of us, this happens fairly frequently. And if you’re really interested in finding out how that particular image came together, what do you do?

In this digital age, it’s quite possible that your first instinct is to turn to Google or whatever else may be your preferred search engine. However, in many cases, you may not be able to find what you need with a simple “how to” style search. Even if you do get results, there’s a good chance you’ll end up finding some conflicting information. No need to worry though, there is a much easier way to figure out what a you’ll have to do in order to get the qualities you love into images you shoot on your own.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Flickr. For those of you who haven’t, it’s a photo storage and sharing tool with a bit of a social networking quality as well. The site has undergone some awesome visual upgrades lately but one of its coolest features still remains. That would be the ability to see the technical details of each image. With this information, it should be pretty easy to recreate an image similar to those you admire so much.

You’ll be able to tell exactly what shutter speed, aperture, ISO and more is the combination that produces the desired result. All you have to do is go out and find an image (on the site) that you want to emulate and go from there. Sure, some photographers may not like the fact that you can access this info. But the way I see it, it’s like sharing with and learning from other professionals and not really any different than when someone posts a Photoshop tutorial on Youtube. And besides, photographers essentially OK this when they decide to sign up of the site in the first place.

Check out the video I have created below to find out how to access this information for yourself. In this case, I used a model photography shot that I took myself but it works the same for every image throughout the entire site.

Cheers and jeers and even more credibility lost for the Maxim Hot 100

So once again, the men’s magazine Maxim has released it’s special Hot 100 issue. And once again, it’s got some good, some bad and some rather unbelievable.

As a photographer in Pittsburgh, my native city, I often work with models and entertainers from around the region and enjoy the opportunity to see what the major national and international magazines choose to convey as the concept of beauty. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t. With that in mind, here’s my personal assessment of this year’s collection of what Maxim considers some of the most beautiful women on Earth.

hot 100

Cheers to the magazine for the inclusion of:

#96 Kellie Pickler

#95 Zoe Deschanel

#88 Elisabeth Harnois

#73 Katherine McPhee

#72 Jessica Chastain

#64 Candice Swanepoel

#60 Stana Katic

#56 Emmy Rossum

#45 Naya Rivera

#44 Sarah Highland

#40 Julianne Hough

#39 Lea Michele

#37 Amanda Seyfried

#29 Ronda Rousey

#21 Emma Stone

Jeers to the magazine for the inclusion of:

#83 Kat Dennings

#69 Manti Te’o’s Fake Girlfriend

#49 Sofia Vergara

And about 10-15 women I’ve never heard of.

Snubs and others who could have been included:

Carrie Underwood

Tracey Spiridakos

Melissa Benoist

Miranda Kerr

Lily Collins

Megan Massaacre

Any one of the female pros on Dancing With the Stars

Good and bad calls on positioning within the top 100:

While I applaud the selections of Killie Pickler and Zoe Deschanel, both should be in a higher spot. And although Taylor Swift (#13) moved up from last year, she really should be in the top 10. Speaking of the top 10, this year’s list is ripe with questionable calls. You can’t go wrong with Kate Upton (#7) on any top 10 list but the placement of Selena Gomez at #2 and incredibly shockingly Miley Cyrus at #1 – yeah, that’s not a typo, is more that a bit out of line. No doubt Selena deserves to be on the list, but probably outside the top 20. As far as Miley goes, I’d say it was OK to include her but she should certainly be in the bottom 50.

 

 

 

 

American Idol 2013 Finale recap

Last night, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison fought it out as the last two contestants on this year’s edition of American Idol. And in all honesty, I missed the show and caught up with the performances after the fact. However, I suppose that might actually be a good thing because the judges didn’t have the possible ability to influence my take on each performance. Not that they usually do but this makes the whole thing even more pure in nature.

Candice Glover and Kree Harrision American Idol Finalists

Candice Glover and Kree Harrision, American Idol Finalists

Here’s how I rank last night’s first performances:

1. Candice (Tie) – It started off slow but she did well in the chorus. Not bad.

1. Kree (Tie) – Slow and simple adding her own country twist good but not great.

Last night’s second performances:

1. Kree – Good tone, nice vocals, got to show off her range a bit, right in her wheelhouse.

2. Candice – Nice inflection in her voice. Strong and emotional, well done.

Last night’s third performances: 

1. Candice – Showed off her amazing range in a touching and incredible performance.

2. Kree – Smooth flowing vocals and a beautiful sound overall. Amazing final note at the end.

Final thoughts:

Neither of the first performances was all that great. And that being the case, I’d have to call that round a tie. With each additional round, the performances got progressively better. Kree most likely took the second round with a song that just fit her better and a quality showing throughout.  While Kree’s third and final song was outstanding and would have likely been the best of the night on most nights, the fact that Candice gave a second performance of her best song of the season won her the round.

Being that Candice went second in each round, I would have to say she has a bit of an advantage. This is especially true when it comes to her closing song. However, with the shocking elimination of Angie last week, if either contestant is likely to pick up her fans it would be Kree. Going into the night, I thought it would be an anti-climactic finish with the newest winner being Candice. However, I’m not so sure that it won’t be a lot close than people expect. Who knows what might happen.

Classic fantasy movies that launched Hollywood careers

Every actor or actress in Hollywood got their start somewhere. But sometimes, prolonged and successful careers have come out of arguably one of the most interesting and creative film genres – fantasy films.

I happened to run into a friend the other day who is a major fan of one such movie and we got to taking about the subject. That being the case, I thought I’d take a quick look back at a few that really stood out for me, especially in the 1980s, and the starts that now enjoy household names who were part of these very cool projects.

The Princess Bride – 1987

Arguably one of the most beloved fantasy films of all-time, this fairy tale/action/love combination directed by the talented Ron Howard showcased Robin Wright (before she became Robin Wright Penn) and featured the long-time Criminal Minds series star Mandy Patinkin.

Labyrinth – 1986

With a creepy, evil David Bowie as her rival, movie fans discovered the beautiful and talented Jennifer Connelly playing the role of a 15-year-old unexpected heroine. While the movie didn’t do well at the box office, it has since enjoyed a massive cult following.

Willow – 1988

Although he had a few earlier roles (including in the film Top Gun with Tom Cruise) Val Kilmer began to capture the eyes and hearts of fans in this unusual adventure.

American Idol Top 3 week recap

With a night of very strong performances overall, it’s not a big surprise that last night’s Top 3 show is believed to be the second most competitive (in terms of how close the voting results are anticipated to be) in the history of the series. Everyone seemed to have some shining moments and I couldn’t find much wrong with any of the performances in any round. However, as usual, a few stood out more than the rest.

American Idol 2013 Top 3 finalists

American Idol 2013 Top 3 Contestants – Candice Glover, Angie Miller and Kree Harrison

Here’s how I rank last night’s first performances:

1. Angie

2. Candice

3. Kree

Last night’s second performances:

1. Kree

2. Angie

3. Candice

Last night’s third performances: 

1. Candice

2. Angie

3. Kree

Week overall (with brief commentary):

1. Angie – Her first song was smooth and sweet, simple yet captivating. The second was more poppy and upbeat while showing off her confidence, very strong overall. Her final song was simple and strong providing a great close of the night for her.

2. Candice – The first song was an interesting choice from Jimmy and gave her a powerful, great start. The second song was a nice fit featuring good inflection and the ability to show her range. She closed the night with a soft and smooth song hitting the power vocals in the right spots. 

3. Kree – Her first song had a good tone, strong vocal and worked out well. For her second song, she was in her zone and showed off her range and emotion. She finished her portion of the night with something fun, intense and upbeat.

 

Final thoughts:

While nothing is ever a certainty, especially in the world of American Idol, I personally think that Angie has remained the most consistent contestant throughout the competition. If that means anything at all, she should be in the finals. That being the case, I would assume the second spot is a battle between Kree and Candice. Of course, we haven’t really had any surprises this season, and that is highly unusual. And while Angie’s fan base has likely remained the same over time, there is a good chance that with the elimination of the prior two contestants, Janelle and Amber, the other two remaining girls probably expanded their fan base by picking up the “country vote” and the “African American” vote. If that’s the case, who knows what might happen. We’ll just have to wait and see.  

Recent graphic design project

A local actor recently hired me

to create an online portfolio and some promotional materials for him. Here’s the post card I came up with:

JPC1JPC2

The front features our home city of Pittsburgh in a washed out photo as the background. It also emphasizes his build and history as a boxer.

The back uses a plain white, non-distracting background for sort of a minimalist effect. It also shows a few different look variations with the small images as well. I’m sure he won’t mind the contact info being out there, after all, that’s the whole point of promotion isn’t it?

I made sure to use a fairly interesting font but also tried to keep it simple enough to be easily readable.

Here’s the online portfolio I built on his behalf:

Julio

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