Thursday, February 25, 2010

More on science and art

For those of you who weren't put to sleep by my rant on light and physics.....

Here are a couple of books you might be interested in

In case it isn't obvious, am kind of obsessed with how changes in theoretical physics influence the way artists make and perceive art, and how theories that are obscure mathematical formulas eventually filter into mainstream culture. We now have two popular TV shows that are based on Hugh Everett's 1954 Phd. dissertation on Parallel Universe Theory, but no one knows who he was. We have many art history courses offered that will talk about how religion, disease, philosophy and the economy all influenced the history of art, but none on how the theory of relativity directly influenced cubism, or how Einstein ( the first physicist to prove a theory without physical experiment) influenced Duchamp ( the first artist to make art without actually making it).

In another life I used to test motorcycles for magazines and review their racetrack performance. You would think that riding motorcycles at 180 mph with a full pit crew to do my bidding was the best part of the job, but the really great thing was all the other people I met in this amazing world of moto-journalism. After testing the bikes, the manufacturer usually took us out for a spectacular meal and I would get to sit at a table with a couple of ex World Champions racers, a bunch of other writers and other motorcycle VIP's. It was always a table of amazing people, and it was treat to know that no matter who I sat next to they would be fascinating. One of my favorites was a guy named Charles Falco, who is an avid motorcyclist (co-curator of the Guggenheim "Art of the Motorcycle" show) and one of the worlds foremost optical physicists. Charlie was the scientific side of the Hockney/Falco analysis of old master paintings. You might be interested in him because his work (along with David Hockney) completely shattered everything we thought we knew about the Renaissance.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I just wanted to acknowledge Sam's post on painting with light by showing a few photographs by Chip Simons, one of my old competitors (back when we were the two photographers that magazine editors had typecast as "funny").

Chip was always much funnier, and he took the painting with light concept farther than just about anyone else.

Remember that there is no Photoshop in these images, and if I am not mistaken they are all shot on transparency film

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The first place to research your legal rights

The digital revolution cuts in many ways; It's easier to market, but harder to get noticed, easier to share but it is also easier for someone to find your photo on flickr, infringe on your copyright and use your work without paying for it. I know of three cases involving recent alumni in the past couple of years.

Here's great blog on the ongoing fight for photographers to protect their livelihood.

Carolyn E. Wright, LLC has a blog called that has great simple advice for photographers who are starting out

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Alternate Lighting Techniques #1

I am Sam Heesen, age 21, and this is the first blog post of my life.

To the photographer--What is time?

Time is fluid, but we freeze it. Time runs, but we catch it. Time moves, but we stop it. Yet so rarely do we let it bloom.

The studio photographer has planted his flag in a world of strobes and sub-second shutter speeds. In most cases, we only care for the smallest shards of time.

But there's another world out there, one as foreign to our eyes as dali's cat frozen in edgarton's drop of milk. In taking a picture, the photographer takes time as his own: to shape, to stretch, to compress... to fold time in upon itself. He can make a moment out of eternity.

And he doesn't need photoshop to do it.

The image above was shot at f/4 and exposed for 12 seconds. It was lit with a fiber optic attached to the end of a flashlight. Red shift is controlled by proximity to the skin, as the fiber optic grazes it, light passes through the first few layers and illuminates our blood, which glows red. Too much pressure will cause the fiberoptic to 'skip and skitter' across the surface, causing a jagged illumination path. The light acts as a brush with which you must paint your photograph. "Lightstroke" is akin to the brushstroke, ultimately determining the texture of the image.

Quality of the light (soft/hard) plays by new rules in this realm; distance matters little, motion is key. Dynamic movement over time increases the effective size of the illuminating source--a 5mm source-aperture can mimic a 4 foot softbox. Nonetheless, the true beauty of painting with light is that it doesn't usually look like an octobank, a beauty dish, or a fresnel--but something we've never seen before. Such lighting operates in a time-space continuum, thereby imparting your photographs with the visual possibilities of an entire renaissance.

The photograph killed the painting. It's time that we made amends.

Fifteen Seconds: One Instant.

Key Light, Fill Light, Back Light: One Light.

Painting with light is a remarkable technique, but it doesn't have to spend all its time in the dark alone. In the next image I worked with 8 second exposures and blended the chiseling of a strobe with the sparks of a cigarette lighter.

My few forays into time-variant illumination have barely pierced the darkness. May your adventures into this realm map out new light for new times.
Where is Light born?
In the dark.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New authors and a new theme

This blog has been dormant for quite a while as I have been busy writing a book and shooting professionally more and more lately. It's nice to be busy again, this is the third recession I've been through as a photographer and the hardest part for me (aside from money) is that I just miss having projects in production. If I could, I would be on a set shooting at least three days a week. I just love the work.

I've found that the NYU blogs that I have set up in the past for individual classes are a little cumbersome, and since I originally started this blog as away to archive useful information for my students (even though they might have graduated) I figured I'd just open it up to my current students as a place to share information or thoughts about photography. Dig around a bit and you'll find more stuff on 5D video and even a couple of tips about health insurance that might be handy in the future.

I know that I've been kind of obsessed with the video capabilities of the 5D for a while now and I do think it's the future of what I do: create content and stories, but I actually think there's another very bright horizon for studio/still life photographers.

Check out my friend Charles Nesbit's website. Charles and I were talking one day about the death of print catalogs, which were the bread and butter for a bazillion studio photographers.
But what are ebay and amazon but giant interactive catalogs? Why are they still using still photography? Studio photographers have mad skills to light and portray things perfectly and digital photography allows us to take these images and animate them. Why aren't we seeing machines and appliances working? Why can't I shoot a video of a car driving down the road and then have the viewer click on the wheel and get detailed information on the tires and brakes?