Dog Days of Summer

The Great Sadness

The Dog Days are the hottest and most humid days of summer and it certainly feels as though they’ve arrived. Historically, they are experienced in July and August which typically observe the warmest temperatures of the summer months and the name itself is derived from the star Sirius. Also called the Dog Star, it was believed in ancient Greek and Roman cultures to cause the hot weather when it was in close proximity to the sun. Some even believed that it was an evil time when the sea boiled, dogs grew mad, and everyone else grew lazy. I may be a little lazy with the sauna-like conditions outside, but in honor of the Dog Days I’m posting up a few photos of dogs that haven’t yet seen the light of day.

Self-Critique!

Reflections

The theme for this week was reflections and I wanted to do something interesting with either water or mirrors. I had a few ideas that I won’t even try to explain and that I scrapped due to lack of time, but with the heat and humidity I wasn’t too keen on venturing outside. I grabbed my infrared filter and stole away to the river for an hour to become food for mosquitoes and then realized that I was being very harsh on the photos that I took, so here we have a few of them followed by my thoughts.


This was a test shot to make sure focus worked, to check the custom white balance, and coincidentally, the only one that included a part of the sky in the reflection. I didn’t notice the bird was even in the shot until I was in Lightroom. The composition doesn’t speak to me and proves uncroppable without losing either the bird or the blue. I’m not even sure what the subject of the photo is. Perhaps a different perspective would have placed the horizon differently and given the image some depth, instead I think it’s just crap.


I liked the sharpness of the reflection in the puddle and spent next to no time setting up for an interesting composition. I blame the bugs, but I should have worked the shot a lot more. At ground level with the glassy water filling up most of the foreground, I may have had a far better photo. This has a decent background with a boring mid and foreground and as a result feels like there is no real subject. A person crouched and staring into the puddle or doing anything in the scene really would have benefited the final image. As it stands, it’s another empty photo.


Here we have something I kind of like. The composition is simple, contrast is good, there is plenty of detail, and unlike a lot of my initial attempts into infrared, it’s actually in focus. The reflection is well defined, but then the white of the trees makes it difficult to keep the viewers attention in the image. The first thing anyone sees is the white and it immediately leads the eye out of the frame without connecting to the bottom half of the photo. Maybe I’m wrong, but it creates a situation where there’s no reason to delve into the bottom half of the image. A bright subject to break up the bottom half, maybe someone in a canoe/kayak, would have created something far more interesting.


I rotated the camera back into landscape mode to try to capture a little more width and everything I like about the last photo is the same for this one. I love the contrast and detail and still feel that it suffers from the same issues with the white pulling the eye out of the image. I darkened the edges with a vignette, which helps slightly, but it still needs a human subject to give it some depth.


I discarded the black and white version and went back to the color infrared version to see if I could come up with an alternate version of the image that I liked a little more. I wound up with something equally mediocre. Same strengths, same weaknesses, just with different colors. These two edits were the two I liked most of the few shots I got in and yet I don’t think I like them enough to use them for anything. They’re all just missing something special.


This image is clearly insane. As with most self portraits, I had trouble getting the focus where I needed it to be and couldn’t exactly compose the image with me in it. Setting up the tether didn’t seem worth it, so it all came down to trial and error. The progression of the shot started with me just staring at myself in the mirror, then attempting to do something to my eyeball with tweezers. Baring my teeth came next, then after scouring the apartment for props, I decided to pull some teeth. I swapped my glasses for the goggles of insanity, added some fake blood that wasn’t nearly bloodlike enough and triggered the shutter remotely until I had something worth using. The more I look at it, the more I find wrong with it. The focus was off slightly. There wasn’t enough fake blood. My expression is too cheery instead of pained or crazed. The lighting wasn’t harsh or rough enough. I worked the blood in Photoshop, added a texture to rough everything up and decided to call it quits. Maybe I’m being harsh on myself, but the only thing I think I accomplished was being creative yet again and I’m having the urge to do something completely new.

Fun With Post It Notes

Post It

The movie Office Space was released while I was in college and working at a theater. I kept the poster of a man completely covered in Post It Notes and partway through this week, it occurred to me to try shooting something similar. This week’s theme is yellow after all. Once I know the theme for the week, I try to come up with all of the obvious ideas and then try to avoid them in favor of something that challenges me to try something new. Yellow, like blue a few weeks ago, as a theme can be relatively simple. All I have to do is find something yellow and as I look around the office I already see eight yellow objects. None of them particularly appeal to me as subjects, so while I thought about what to do for the theme, something clicked when I picked up a pad of Post It Notes. Roughly one hundred and fifty Post Its later and the result is something that at least makes me laugh at myself.

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A Different Medium

Outtakes

Tanner Sandals asked me to produce a few quick video segments for their website in addition to the product photos. To be honest, I was hesitant because I haven’t worked with video in years. I still have hours of footage from old projects left unedited, one of which I’d love to add animation to. The following videos are the three segments for Tanner Sandals, the outtake reel, and an old project that I’m surprised to see has been viewed at least 1,300 times. As usual, my own critique would be that the audio quality is lacking, but it’s at least passable. An external mic would have been useful and if I venture into video further I may have to consider picking one up.

Outtakes
[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″ video_id=”FH1QxDe6AKU”]

Adjusting Your Tanner Sandals
[vimeo width=”640″ height=”360″ video_id=”41092050″]

Adjusting Your Timeless Sandals
[vimeo width=”640″ height=”360″ video_id=”41092049″]

Tracing Your Foot
[vimeo width=”640″ height=”360″ video_id=”41092048″]

Get Sent!
[vimeo width=”640″ height=”480″ video_id=”5247565″]

Tanner Sandals

Kids Feet

Tanner Sandals, a minimalist sandal company based in Southern NH, offered me the opportunity to photograph the entire product lineup for their website and I happily accepted. They needed images of the sandals from multiple angles including the top, bottom, and side as well as images of the sandals being worn. I anticipated using a lightbox for a portion of the shoot, which worked well, however for the top angle and bottom angle shots I had to get a little creative on my setup. Rather than shoot the product flat against a surface I used a paint pole and duct tape to suspend the sandal away from the white backdrop and then added lighting for both the sandal and the background. This had the advantage of removing any shadows on the background and let me easily blow it out to white. The only hurdle came when Tanner Sandals slightly redesigned all of their products necessitating a reshoot of everything I had done.

In shooting the additional images, I added a frontal angle that I found visually appealing and then we decided not to use the bottom angle shots because the same tread was visible in the angled image of the pair. An image showing how the sandals begin to shape to your foot as they break in was also on the list to be done and I attempted a few ideas. In the end, simplicity won out. The shot of the lone sandal proved to be the most eye catching, and all that remained to be done were photos involving feet. Now, I know a lot of people are grossed out by feet, so we tried to go with the best looking feet we could find. The shoot lasted roughly 10 minutes as the sun set and I captured a female foot wearing their Timeless model using a small roll of seamless white as both a fill reflector and a backdrop and then snapped a few shots of kiddie feet against granite steps.

Head over to the Tanner Sandals website now to see their current products and consider getting your own pair of minimalist sandals!