Archive for March, 2010
Well, it’s been a lot of work relocating the studio from Plano to Frisco, but when everything is finished it will be well worth it. With triple the square footage of the old studio, I have a lot more room to maneuver, which will greatly improve my options and the number of people I can shoot at one time.
Yesterday a local remodeling contractor and myself spent the day removing almost half of the ceiling to provide much needed vertical clearance in the main studio area. (What a nasty, messy job! I don’t think I can locate a single square inch of my body that does not hurt as a result of this little project…) – This provides for more options in terms of framing and distance from camera to subject. Also, when necessary, I can shoot from a ladder to get the high angle I need for certain effects. In addition, I can get lights up well out of the way so I’m not ducking under large umbrellas during a shoot. What a relief! Or at least it will be once I recover from all the work we did yesterday. We still have to add an additional barrier before the ceiling is completed, but we’re getting close – and it’s fully functional just the way it is – just not very pretty…
The other big change is the addition of a movable corrugated steel wall as a backdrop in the main studio. This makes for a very dramatic, reflective, industrial effect with limitless options for color and placement. It can be resized, relocated or removed entirely in a matter of minutes – or we can drop a standard roll of seamless or other background material in front of it:
I have also added several new boom stands to my collection, allowing for more flexibility in placement of my strobes. The big addition is a Standard Light Boom – an articulating boom that will allow me to place a light anywhere from just above the floor to about 15 feet up in the air – and at any combination of angles..
By next week out blackout shades should be in, allowing me to shoot any time of day with complete control over the amount of natural light allowed into the studio (or none at all – my preference). This will improve the thermal stability of the space in addition to allowing full control of the blend of outside light to studio lighting.
I still need to frame 15 11×14 prints for the reception area – and then hang them – before we are finished.
We will be ready for a grand opening fairly soon. Stay tuned for the announcement.
I was recently contacted by a representative of a local violin maker to bid a shoot of some violins for their brochure and website. We agreed to do a test shoot, which turned into a late-night shoot in my new Frisco studio of more than 10 violins and a couple of Violas. The entire project was shot, edited and delivered in less than 24 hours.
During the course of our project I went to take a few shots at the workshop of Kelin Zhang a Master Luthier, who makes some amazingly beautiful violins. I saw not a single power tool in his workshop and if you know anything at all about woodworking or musical instruments, you should appreciate the amount of time, skill and patience required to produce a fine instrument entirely by hand. Kelin’s work area looks much like the one my bride frequently complains about in my workshop, with piles of materials and tools in a seemingly vast chaotic scrapyard. Yet he, like myself, knows where everything he needs is located and works effortlessly amid the apparent chaos.
What impressed me most, were the “vintage” violins he produces. These modern instruments, created from scratch just this year, look for all the world to be two centuries old with hundreds of hours of use. The time and skill it must take to achieve this end result! Their website does not yet have the new images we shot, but if you wish to learn more about this local artisan, visit www.kelinviolin.com The current catalog shows violins on a black background. Our shoot was done with a white background.
You can see a larger version of this image in the Fine Art gallery.
That was an experience! This was our first outdoor art show and what a learning experience.
If you produce anything that has to be displayed vertically (like photography), simply having the obligatory white tent is just the beginning. In addition to the tent, you also need some kind of solid surface (walls) on which to affix your wares. Transporting said walls also needs to be a consideration. Upon measuring our tent at the rental facility, I determined I had 95.5″ of vertical clearance between the ground and the top of the metal bar that supported the edge of our roof. At this point, the canvas roof impeded further vertical access. Fine. Now I know my options. Trying to figure out how to construct walls that I could easily transport to the show was initially a real headache, since my little Road Rocket doesn’t exactly have a lot of cargo room. But Voila! and idea bubbled to the surface of my mind about 3 weeks before the show:
How about if we cut some conduit to the correct height, wire tie it to the nearest horizontal solid surface – then wire tie some hook type devices to the conduit wherever we want to hang a photograph? This could work. Over the course of time, a plan evolved:
- Take some 4×4 post stock and cut it to 4 foot lengths.
- Cut some conduit to 48″ and put a union in the middle to join the two pieces into a single, 8 foot section.
- Bore holes every foot in the 4x4s to hold the conduit
- Wire tie the conduit to the top bar
- Wire tie picture frame hooks to the conduit wherever we want to hang pictures.
Should be easy…
In theory at least.
So with 3 walls to build in 4′ sections, this comes to 24 lengths of conduit. So off I go to Home Depot by my office, and with the invaluable assistance of a couple of the Home Depot staff (and a brand new Ridgid tubing cutter) I proceed to cut 20 10′ lengths of 12″ EMT (conduit) into 48″ and 45.5″ lengths (boring a hole to within 1″ of the bottom of the 4×4 = 1″ + 48″ + 45.5″ = 94.5″ which should be just right. Do you have any idea how much work this is? Ever use a tubing cutter? I have. Fortunately, my father was a plumber and I learned a lot of valuable skills from him over many years. That doesn’t make it any less work though… Anyway… With a Home Depot employee measuring and marking conduit and me cutting like a wildman, we tore through our project in about 45 minutes, which I think is pretty good time. Then off to the lumber department where my new friend located some nice cedar fence posts for me and another diligent Home Depot employee cut them nicely in half for me. And then we bundled up the whole mess and loaded it nicely into the SRT4.
Testing of the assembly at home proved successful.
Now comes the day of the show.
Our load-in and set up time was 5AM to 9:30AM (early even for me) and we arrive at 6 to unload 2 cars (the SRT4 and my friend Jose’s little SUV – both packed to the gills). And wait… And wait… And wait… While everyone else is set up and ready to go, we’re still waiting. Finally, after 8 o’clock our hapless delivery man arrives and starts assembling a tent all by himself. Sometime after 9 o’clock he is finished and I start assembling my walls. Only to find they are short of the top bar by about 2 inches. NO STRESS! ARRRRCHHHHHH! WTF? As I evaluate the structure, I see one corner is the right height, but the other 3 are sitting 4 inches too high because of some eye bolt going through the vertical section of tubing in the corner. Upon investigation, it seems these are to anchor the ropes that secure the tent to the water barrels that keep our shelter from becoming air borne. OK. No. This will not do. (Thankfully we discovered this before our delivery man left…) He hurriedly begins removing eye bolts after we locate a wrench (no easy task) and I’m off to the races. The wall assembly goes exactly as I imagine. Not bad, but we can’t set up anything else until the walls are up.
Suffice it to say it was an exercise in stress and time management to assemble all the walls, fasten all the hooks in the appropriate locations, assemble an easel, 3 tables and a 37″ LCD TV and pull the whole thing together in less than an hour – but we did it with about a minute to spare.
And now down to people watching.
And the occasional sale.
We made a few $$, but not much after you figure renting the space and the tent (we’ll never do that again). We met some very nice people and had a lot of fun overall. Interesting side note: As we’re taking apart the bundles of conduit, I’m slicing the tape when our new next door neighbor says “Is that a Kershaw?” And I answer to the affirmative. She says “We made that knife”. I tell her I bought it in Santa Fe this last Christmas and she tells me they make them for the Santa Fe Knife Shop where I bought it. Also turns out she lived in the Bay Area – same place we moved from 10 years ago — and now we have some great new friends. They turned out to be the highlight of the whole weekend.
Did I mention it rained ALL DAY SUNDAY?
Ah, the joys of outdoor art and craft fairs…
Now that I have my booth assignment, here ‘s the map of this weekend’s Arts In the Square, with my booth space highlighted to make it easy for you to find me.
For the first time, I will be exhibiting a portion of my Tuscany Series, photographed in 2007. If you’ve never been to this wonderful region, this is your opportunity to enjoy it through my eyes. If you have had the good fortune to have enjoyed the Tuscan environment, now you can relive those locations from my perspective.
So make sure you carve out a little time in your weekend schedule to stop by and say hello while checking out all the other hard-working artists in our area.