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Archive for October, 2011

A Simple DIY Solution for Transporting Large Prints

by on Oct.28, 2011, under Instructional, Projects, Recommendations

For my fellow photographers and artists of 2D media (prints, paper, canvas), here’s a solution I worked out for transporting large prints to my framer.  The problem is that if you have anything larger than about 11×17 – or maybe 13×19, protecting them and making the process of transportation un-cumbersome is a bit of a challenge.  The “regulation-size” paper can be put in the box it arrived in, of course.  But throw in some precipitation and the possibility of having to make a panic-stop in traffic and you need a better solution than a cardboard box.

With the acquisition of my Epson 9900 large-format printer, I realized I had now created a real problem for myself in getting these very large prints ( a 44″ x 71″ image is drying on my coffee table at the moment…) to my framer.  What I needed was a protective, water-tight tube to transport my prints.

If you’re a do-it-yourself-er and don’t mind a little DIY project, read on.

For smaller stock, you can buy architect’s tubes if you can find a supply store, but I’ve never seen one four feet long.  And I’ll bet it would be expensive as hell if I could find one.  So wracking my aching brain, I came up with a plan.  Needing to stop at Home Depot anyway, I decided to detour down the Plumbing aisle and scare up the biggest PVC pipe I could find.  Unfortunately, the largest size pipe they have is 4″.  Not ideal, but “close enough for government work”.  The ideal product is their 4″ sewer pipe.  This is a much thinner construction – and therefore lighter – than standard schedule 40 PVC.  But they don’t make end caps for this thin stock.  Drat.

So I bought 10 feet of the standard PVC and a couple of end caps.  This set me back about $29.00.  The nice people at Home Depot will be happy to cut the sucker in half so you can fit it in your car, if like me, you don’t drive a gas-guzzling beast.  When you get it home, you need to cleanly cut the pipe down to about 4″ longer than the widest stock you will ever use.  In my case, this is 48″.  I use a chop saw.  A radial arm saw works better, I suppose.  If you’re really careful (and accurate) a hacksaw or crosscut saw will do the job just fine.

Next, I recommend sanding off the exterior of  each end to make it just enough smaller that the end caps fit smoothly – and snugly (remember, you want a water-tight seal) but not so tight you can’t easily remove them.  You could lubricate the ends with silicone, but then you’d risk getting it on your print, so I do NOT recommend this approach.

Then you need to smooth the opening with sandpaper so you don’t cut yourself, snag your clothes, or more importantly, scratch the print sliding it in (photographic prints will go in finished surface out…).  Wipe it down really well after this.

After the cleanup is done, you need to give the interior a bath to get anything out of the tube that might be abrasive or soil your print, so a washcloth or loofah-type product on the end of a rod can be run through it several times with hot soapy water.  Like cleaning a gun (cannon) barrel.

Next, it’s a good idea to pack the end caps with silica gel packets.  A small mesh bag to put them in is a good idea, then double-stick tape it to the center of each cap.  This keeps the contents dry.  I also suggest a dry washcloth stuffed in each end to keep your print from sliding and give you something to wipe down the exterior with.  If you’re out in the rain, this will be important.  You can wipe down the open end after removing the end cap – and before taking out your print.

The finishing touch (not shown here) can be a shoulder strap to make lugging the beast easier.  I’m a fan of guitar straps.  You can get them in any color / pattern / design you can imagine and they’re very comfortable.  Designed to suspend a heavy guitar or bass for hours at a time on a musician’s shoulder, this aspect has been well thought-out for decades.  I also use these for camera straps.  Fasten the guitar strap in place with large wire ties.  The kind used for A/C ducts are perfect, if a bit of overkill (Home Depot has these).  After you cut the excess off the wire tie, I recommend filing the end smooth with a file.  Otherwise they are incredibly sharp!  Until you’ve been sliced by the end of a cut-off wire tie you can’t appreciate this.  Profit from my experience.

You could also wire-tie  simple handle to the center of the tube if you prefer this approach.  You could even make one out of duct tape and it would probably work great.  I would use Gorilla Tape if I were to go this route.

Note:  This photo was taken under low light with an iPhone, so yes.  It’s noisy.  I will update this with a studio shot of the completed tube in a few days.

Warren's Amazing Print Transporter Tube

Warren's Amazing Print Transporter Tube

 

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Texas As I See It Book Signing Press Release

by on Oct.26, 2011, under Events, News

October 26, 2011

Press Release: Book Signing

Frisco photographer Warren Paul Harris, in conjunction with the release of his first coffee table book, Texas As I See It, will be available to sign copies of the book in several locations over the coming months.
Warren’s view of the Lone Star State is evocative, compelling and insightful. Capturing everyday vignettes from our surroundings and processing them to enhance texture, color and detail, much of his work seems more illustrative than simply photographic.

With a keen eye for composition, Harris brings us the mundane, as well as the unusual with compelling results. From the amusing to the poignant, his combinations of light and shadow, texture and relationships, evoke a visceral response in the viewer.

As a long-time contributor to many local papers and magazines, Warren has captured some amazing events included in this book. But Warren’s love for his adopted home comes from exploring the back roads and small towns of Texas on his Harley and by car, for no other reason than to see what he can discover. A Licensed Texas Investigator, his natural curiosity serves him well in ferreting out the unusual among Texas’ hidden treasures. His experience as an architect, designing and building recording studios for 20 years, gives him a unique appreciation for line, light and shadow – and copious examples punctuate this volume.

While Warren has been best known for his time-exposures taken from unusual locations in the middle of the night, this first volume of three books is entirely daylight-centric. “After creating the prototype for this book in 2009, having the time-exposure work next to my daylight images seemed in conflict” says Harris. “As a result of adding a lot of new material from my library, it seemed best to break up the work into three volumes, which keeps the production costs lower and allowed us to produce a higher quality product.”

Spanning 158 pages with 204 images, the book is hardbound with dust jacket and sells for $34.95.

Published by Brown Books in Dallas, Texas As I See It is endorsed by Ebby Halliday and Terry Box, the Sheriff of Collin County, among others.

Texas As I See It website:

www.texasasiseeit.net

Warren Paul Harris Photography:

www.warrenharris.net

Member:

  • PPA (Professional Photographers of America)
  • SEP (Society of Sport and Event Photographers)
  • ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers)
  • NPPA (National Press Photographers Association)
  • IAAP (International Association of Architectural Photographers)
  • PSA (Photographic Society of America)

Book signings for Texas As I See It – a coffee table photography book by Warren Paul Harris

Guests will be able to purchase copies of the book during this event, in addition to Fine Art note cards from the book’s contents. A small selection of very large canvas prints from Texas As I See It will be on display (and for sale) as well.

The first printing of my book arrived in the local warehouse on November 7, 2011 and can now be ordered from the website for immediate delivery. Books can also be ordered from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

November 12, 2-4 pm

Cute Little Shop
3245 w. Main Street, Suite 225
Frisco, TX 75034
(214) 705-0907

November 17, 6-8pm

MarketPlace at Frisco Square
8861 Coleman Boulevard
Frisco, Texas 75034
972.377.9400

November 26, 1-3 pm

Bishop Street Market
419 N. Bishop Ave. at W.7th.
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 941-0907

 

 

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How I Do It – Exposure Control

by on Oct.19, 2011, under Instructional, Recommendations

I get a fair number of questions regarding exactly how I create my hyper-realistic images.  While I won’t divulge the exact details, there are some valuable insights I will share to assist you in taking better photos.

You do not have to shoot in full Manual mode to achieve results similar to mine, but there are advantages to using Manual as opposed to Automatic mode.  There are also drawbacks, mainly speed.  If you are trying to capture fleeting moments, manual mode will interfere with this a lot.  Most decent DSLR cameras will allow you to modify exposure, even in full auto mode.  Read your manual to familiarize yourself with the features of your camera to get the most out of it.

First, I expose for the highlights so that I can achieve a high level of detail in clouds and other light-colored areas.  Why?  Because a blown-out sky is boring, flat, uninteresting and effectively absorbs all the depth you might otherwise achieve in the image.  This is especially true in architectural or landscape photography.  I am usually shooting anywhere from 2-4 stops under-exposed to accomplish this.  Shoot and preview the image to determine the correct exposure.  Once you have the right setting, you are fine to continue shooting as long as a cloud does not impact the sun falling on your subject, or you move to a different vantage point.  Always double check your exposure when you change locations.

Exposing for the highlights produces an image coming out of the camera that is darker than usual, with buildings and other foreground components apparently lacking in detail.  However…  If you shoot in RAW, the file has massive amounts of detail you cannot always see with the naked eye.

Second, I process the image for the shadow areas.  This is exactly the same as we were doing in the lab, decades ago.  Any decent photo manipulation software allows compensation for shadow detail.  I use Photoshop, of which there are many versions – all perfectly capable of achieving the results you see in my prints.
Select the shadow areas first, so you don’t take the detail out of your sky.  Bring up the shadows only, until you can see the detail you want, but before it starts to look “fake” or blown-out.

Remember to deselect the shadow areas right after you’ve finished working on them, or any further adjustments you make will affect only the selected area.

Now you are free to continue manipulating your image to add or remove saturation, hue, contrast, etc. until you see what you like.

Below is an example, based on a church steeple in New York City that I photographed in August 2011.  At first glance, the casual observer might think the original image in unsalvageable.  Actually, I shoot this way intentionally.

Click on the image below, of the 2nd Reformed Church of Harlem for a larger, detailed view.

Before and After Processing

Before and After Processing

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New (Earlier) Arrival Date for My Book!

by on Oct.18, 2011, under News

Well, today is a great day.  The good news just arrived from my publisher via email that we have guaranteed delivery of our books by November 11th, maybe sooner.  This is excellent, as it gives us more time to get books on the shelves for the big Thanksgiving shopping week.

We could receive our books as early as November 8th, but by the 11th is not bad at all.

If you’ve already ordered your copy, now you know when to expect delivery.  If not, you still have just over 2 weeks to do so and receive free hand-delivery of a signed copy.

You can always order directly from our website:

 

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The Lost Art of the Hand-Written Letter

by on Oct.10, 2011, under News, Recommendations, social commentary

Until recently, I had not given the letter-writing issue a lot of thought.  The only instance where I actually even type out a letter and mail it is when communicating with one luddite (close relative) with whom I cannot communicate via email.  So I have to actually sit down, compose, write, sign and mail a letter when I want to find out what’s going on in his world.

Then we decided to produce a line of Fine Art note cards and the topic of hand-written letters surfaced in a different way.  Why do people actually hand-write anything these days?  Thank You cards and Sympathy cards seems to be about it.  Handwriting is becoming a lost art.  And writing in cursive is almost unheard-of.

Then I received a letter in the mail.  An actual letter.  Not printed on a computer – or typed on a typewriter (remember those?) – but actually hand-written on letterhead.  This was from the VP of a vendor with whom I used to spend a lot of money regularly.  She wrote me a full page letter in a beautiful back-slant script to say how much they valued my business and would love to have me back – and to sweeten the deal,  included a 10% discount.

Upon seeing an actual hand-written letter in cursive, I picked up a magnifying glass to determine if it was actual handwriting (It was).  Then I actually read the entire letter.  And then I looked through the enclosed catalog.

And now I’m about to place an order with this company.  Some of the reason is that I now need their products again.  But I could find an equivalent product elsewhere.  But this is the company from which I received a full-page hand-written offer.

It makes a difference.

Maybe if we spent the time to send the occasional “real” letter to our friends and colleagues, it would have some tangible results.  Like keeping the Post Office in business…  And generating increased revenue in our respective businesses.

If this sounds like good advice to you, take a look at our line of Fine Art Note Cards to get the ball rolling.

 

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Beware of Hautelook

by on Oct.02, 2011, under Instructional, News, Recommendations, social commentary

One of the newest shopping sites is Hautelook.  I don’t know how my wife found them, but it looked like there were some good deals on clothing and jewelry so we both signed up for their site ( you can’t even browse their site without creating an account and logging in ).

Then we start getting daily emails on their “deals”.  They offer big discounts on different products each day.  Your have to buy those products on that EXACT day to get them.  After that, they’re gone.

But that’s not even the problem.

My wife’s first shipment was some costume jewelry.  It turned out to be badly made – guaranteed to fail in short order, so she scoured the shipping invoice trying to find a way to return the poorly-made merchandise.  What she discovered is that, on every item, the description stated it could not be returned.

Doing a little research on Google, it seems the phrase Hautelook SCAM is popular enough to come up automatically when you type in Hautelook.  Researching the results, I found others who felt they were ripped off by inflated prices used to offset the “large” discounts.  An illegal practice in this country.  I found this little tidbit on PissedConsumer.com.  There are a total of eight bad reviews of Hautelook on this site between June and October of 2011.

Doing some more research, I found they are a BBB Accredited Business with a “B” rating.  Should be A or A+.  They have had 38 complaints (30 in the last 12 months), which seems like a pretty high number for a legit business.

Sitejabber.com has a lot of reviews on Hautelook, with far more bad reviews than good ones.

Complaintsboard.com has similar complaints about Hautelook.  Essentially, no matter what the reason, they will Never accept returns on merchandise.

Caveat Emptor (Let the Buyer Beware)

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