Glyphs of Time :: a blog by jarvis grant

January 27, 2011

A Quick on Location Shoot

Late afternoon, Wednesday, I did a quick and dirty location photo shoot of a piece of art for my friend Martha Jackson Jarvis. The shoot took place at Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center, in Brentwood, MD. Martha will be in an exhibit, Resonant Forms, with artist Frank Smith, and Alonzo Davis.  OK. I was at the gallery to photograph a piece for Martha titled, Scarecrow. The reason why this was to be quick & dirty was that by the time Martha & I got to the gallery about quarter of an inch of slush from freezing rain was on on the ground. By the time I had set up my lights, about 20 minutes later, the freezing rain had turned to heavily falling snow. With about an inch of snow on the ground and an early rush hour, we all wanted to hurry up and get out of there. DC doesn’t do snow very well! 

Light setup at Brentwood Art Center

Here I'm setting exposure and angle before final shots with tripod.

Setup at the Brentwood Art Center Gallery

Me getting the setup exposures before the final shots with tripod

 The setup was pretty straight forward. Two Calumet Travelite 750 strobes. One with a small Chimera lightbox as the main light, and another Travelite with a 24 inch Calumet umbrella, as the fill. Because of the sudden state of urgency, along with Alec Simpson, director of the Art Exchange, & his staff wanting to get out of there, I didn’t have a lot of time to finesse the lighting. So after I got things up, and Martha was OK with the basics, I started shooting.  

When I was shooting this shot I was thinking of how I would be doing the re-touch in Photoshop. When doing this you don’t want to be sloppy.or the retouch can go horribly wrong. This shot is for the exhibition catalog and other PR for Martha and the exhibit. So I want it to be very tight for publication. So when I got back in an choosing the best exposed RAW file, I first brought the image into Adobe Camera Raw. Here I did the basic exposure & color cleanup adjustments before exporting it into Photoshop. Next, I use Nik Define 2.0 to quickly reduce any luminous noise. I shot at ISO 200 so there really wasn’t much, but Define cleaned it up. After Define I used the Stamp tool to get rid of pipes and light fixtures that where in the way. I actually cropped the image first to minimize this work. Next there was some tonal enhancement to accentuate the lighting that was already present in the shot. This help the over all contrast. Finally I added a touch of drama and place with a burn & dodge hand painted vignette. 

I thought I was done, (and I pretty much was!) but the shadow on the image’s right side was too strong, So, I cloned it out , but that looked strange. Since the cloned data was on its own layer, I simply reduced its opacity. Now I could control that shadow, as if I changed the intensity & placement of the actual fill flash. Now I was done. I always keep the layered files, ya never can tell! I created a JPEG for Martha to give to the Gallery, and now I was done! 

Comparison of RAW & Retouched Images

The image on the left is the unprocessed Nikon RAW file. The one on the right is the retouched file.


January 25, 2011

My New Photoshop for Photographers Class

SAAC Photoshop Class

I discuss some of the finer points of Photoshop as Karen Baker works on her images during the class. ©Baba Kuroji Ntu-Patrick

On January 22, I gave my first class through the an organization called, Social Art and Culture, founded by Karen Baker.  The mission of SAAC is a broad yet focused one. It means to, “…encourage design that affects social change. SAAC “Art Activists” will use the power of the performing, visual, music and literary arts to address AIDS, education, housing, health and the environment within disadvantaged communities.”  I think of it as Proactive Arts Education.

Well, Karen had approached me in November of 2010 about teaching a Photoshop class for photographers. I was pretty excited about this opportunity. I have a tendency to try to squeeze in a lot of information into my adult classes, and such was the case with this one. As I had stated in another post, The Occasional Student, adult students really want the information, but you still have to make the information practical and accessible. This class of students ranged from seasoned veterans to people who just bought a camera. There were also designers in the mix, for both web and print.  My goal is to be sure that each student comes away with information that is useful to them and their photography. So, I mixed it up a bit with straight lecture, demo tutorials, and hands on tutorials. What I observed was that, all three worked, but the Demo/Hands-on seems the way to go. That seemed to flush out all issues people had with their computer/software setups. For me it meant getting of my butt and going to students with unique issues. Ah, back in the classroom again!

All in all, it was a great afternoon of fellowship and learning for everybody. Karen, a graphic design and PR pro was right in the mix! Toward the end of the class she announced that she would organize a “Part II” for this class. I wanted the students of go outside to shoot some new images, but at 16°F we opted to  “shoped” and stay indoors!

I’m looking forward to Photoshop for Photographers: Part II this spring.


January 13, 2011

2011 New Year’s Night Queen

Filed under: Gallery,Observations,Photography — Tags: , , , — Jarvo @ 1:59 am

Night Bloomimg CereusOn New Year’s Eve, I wasn’t exactly surprised to see that around 9:00PM, my Night Blooming Cereus was starting to open up. From the first sighting of the bud to the final bloom, takes about 10 days.  I always know when it’s blooming, not by sight but by smell. The Cereus has a distinctive mild, sweet, aroma. I have always had the belief that my Cereus bloomed at special occasions. Sometimes these occasions are happy and sometimes not. Yet, the Cereus’ flower presents itself at some magical interface. So I look for 2011 being a magical positive year!

These photos were made with my Panasonic LX3. This camera has an incredible macro mode. It’s small and light enough to hand hold in awkward positions. Plus its superb Leica lens is a beautiful piece of glass. yet to make these images I had to use an ISO of 800. I wanted to use a somewhat fast shutter speed to minimize blur and an f/stop that wasn’t wide open. The noise was lowered using Nik Software Define 2.0.

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