04 December, 2007

My Triumphant Return to the Internet

After an extended absence from the internet, I am happy to formally announce my return with the launching of my new website Dimagiba Photography! This has been my first attempt at constructing a website and I do have to say that it has been an arduous task (and the edges are still a little rough and could use a little bit of clean up). It has certainly been a wonderful learning experience that I recommend everyone having, but there are certain other things I must say as well. As a photographer, it is good to know how my images are going to be displayed online, especially knowing how to make sure that they still look the way I intended them. On the other hand, as a photographer, spending the time to construct a website is probably not the best use of the time I have. Yes it was a great learning experience, but while I was working on the website, I could have been at an event taking pictures. So there you have it. Until I can afford to have someone build and maintain my website, it will be much like this blog…not updated often enough.

In other happy news, here are some shots from some recent events: the 30th Starz Denver Film Festival, and Clear Creek History Park’s participation in the Golden Candlelight Walk. Both of these events were primarly night shots, which meant I had to use an on camera flash (or “strobe” for those yearning to learn some lingo to impress your friends). Now, as probably none of you know, I much prefer to work with natural light. For starters, it’s much easier, particularly when it comes to color balancing an image. Well, when you have to use it, you use and I think my results came out. I certainly still need more practice, but I think I’ve got a good start.

30th Starz Film Festival

Clear Creek History Park Candlelight Walk

Well, for the Candlelight walk, I actually did not use a strobe. I thought I forgot it, but turns out it was at the bottom of my bag. But for the duration of the event, I shot with all natural light. Because of the (extremely) low light conditions, I ended up shooting at a very large aperture, which meant I had to think very carefully about the focus point I wanted because of the shallow depth of field. Not all of my results were as successful as these, especially since I'm still learning to focus in the dark. It's just as difficult as one would imagine.

31 October, 2007

Before I Go Trick or Treating...

Once again I find that I have been so busy, that I haven’t been keeping up with my blog. So I am here to remedy that. First things, you may be wondering what I have been up to that has been keeping me so busy. For starter, I still continue to focus on event photography, which means every weekend I have been out and about. As I have said before, I enjoy capturing the moment and the most recent moments include

Day Out with Thomas at the Colorado Railroad Museum

Race for the Cure

K9 for the Cure

K9 for the Cure was an amazing event and if you checked the link I put in above, you'll notice that my picture was published on their webiste. Yep, without me, it's just aweso.

Boo at the Zoo at the Denver Zoo

And a little bit of the World Series (just the outside because like I would be able to get a ticket)

Oh yeah, and from a while back, I also attened the Member Education and Training Seminar for the Rocky Mountain District Circle K International, for which I am an Assistant Administrator. At this event I shot mostly Holga, which if I do say, came out very well. I mean, it is Holga. For this particular one, I did a "holgarama" which is not completely advancing the film so that each frame overlaps the next.

And besides all of that I have been fairly busy with some portraits as well as beginning work on putting together a nice and presentable portfolio.

Putting together a portfolio has been both immensely fun and infuriating at the same time. Both of these options are generated by the shear number of options available, which I had not really considered fully before. For starters, the cover of your portfolio should be representative of your work; nice clean product and advertising would be complimented by one of Lost Luggage’s Looking Glass covers or perhaps Pina Zangaro’s Satin Finish Aluminum Machina covers. But what cover identifies “event” or even photo documentary, which is an aspect of what I focus on, though I do need to go into further depth at times. I had seriously spent most of my time focusing on paper: do I go with a nice Innova paper (because I really like their Fiber semi gloss warm tone), or maybe with a Hahnemuhle photo rag? Texture, brightness, sheen: it’s all very complicated, but as I said it’s exciting to rifle through all of the different papers, some smell exactly like the darkroom while others feel safe and comfortable like a familiar memory. Of course, there are papers that I just want to try out, like Moab’s moenkopi Japanese Washi and Booksmart’s Fine Art Metals. Of course, I currently don’t have any images that would be complemented by either Japanese Washi or gold, but soon.

So while I contemplate, I’ll leave you with a little bit extra. Jay Kinghorn will again be presenting, this time at the Colorado History Museum in the Boettcher Auditorium, November 8, 2007. I’m hoping to attend if my schedule allows, and I would encourage you to attend too.

Have safe and happy Halloween!

05 October, 2007

3.2 Seconds

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to meet two great professionals. The first, Jay Dickman, a Pulitzer prize winning National Geographic photographer and master storyteller, and the second, Jay Kinghorn, a literal digital photography guru. They were opening their limited show at the John Jellico Gallery at the Art Institute of Colorado, which had begun using their new book Perfect Digital Photography as one of the primary texts for incoming photography students. Now, I haven't had the time to completely go through the book, but from what I have seen it is not arrogant to call title the way it is. The author's skill sets compliment each other completely as the text goes through the process of taking a picture. I say process because that is what it is. Sure, anybody can click the shutter, but as Jay Dickman put it, it takes a lot more to make someone spend more than the 3.2 seconds most people give to an image. Now I may have gotten the numbers mixed up (I've also been told 20 seconds), but stop and think about how long do you look at a picture in a magazine before you flip the page? Do you think that the images that you linger on were really and truly taken with very little planning?
One of the best things about the Jay Dickman's talk was how he described the way he told a story. This really resonated with me because that is what I really consider myself: a visual storyteller. It's what I want to be. His explanation of how you put together a photo essay made so much sense, yet I had never really thought of it in that way before. Even as we talked at the reception, he did nothing but inspire me. And of course, when he asked me what I wanted to be doing 10 years from now I drew a blank. That's a consitent problem with me, nowing here I am in the moment, but in the distant future, things get a little foggy, but we're getting off topic.
Talking with Jay Kinghorn was pretty much the same way. He really emphasized and reinforced Jay Dickman's comments (see, just like I said about their book) about how the great images, the ones that move you and inspire you are all previsualized before the lenscap is even removed. Yes, there is an element of "right place at the right time," but on the same token, it took a little bit of planning to put yourself in the right place at the right time. I'll admit, that I end up more lucky than anything, but on occasion I'll see the perfect location and I'll wait for just the right moment to come along and the picture will be exactly what I envisioned.
As a side note, I just got around to getting my film scanned this morning, so with any luck, I'll be able to post some new pictures in a couple of days.

28 September, 2007

I'll trade you one day for night.

So, it's been quite the span between posts. As you can imagine, I've been busy. In the past month I think I've done more than anybody should attempt to do and remain sane. Most people will tell you that I was never sane in the first place, which probably clears up why the last month happened the way it did. Anyway, not wanting to leave the few readers I have hanging, here is a "day for night" portrait I took. What the in the whose its now? Day for night is simply a technique to make day look like night. Nice how that name works out, isn't it. The basics of it are that you meter your background and your subject seperately. Once you have that, you under expose the background by about 3 stops. This number will vary based on the look you want, but its a good start. Now, you may be wondering how the subject remains brightly lit. What you do is set a manually adjustable flash to expose the subject properly. Wa-la! The background now looks like night while the subject is properly lit. One of the keys to doing this is setting up the shot such that it looks natural. Overhead street lamps and brick walls make for perfect settings. Most of the time, out in nature doesn't quite work, unless maybe you are going for an alien abduction look. Or maybe the on camera flash look. But if you were going for that, why not just wait until night and take the picture then?

17 August, 2007

So not a poser.

I am not a poser. By that I mean that I am not good at telling someone how to sit, which way to turn, what face to make. This makes things difficult when that is exactly what you are supposed to do. I'm sure I just need more practice and then I will be a poser among posers. Until then, I will just resort to asking people to do the bird because I remembered it from an episode of Flight of the Conchords.

08 August, 2007

The other side of the camera

I was recenlty tasked with creating a self portrait. For those that know me or have at least seen my profile picture, I am not really comfortable on that side of the camera. Well, as many would say "get over it." The self portrait is probably one of the most interesting portraits that can be taken. It can simply be a photo of the photographer, or perhaps it could show how the photographer sees him or herself. It's one thing to look through the lens and see someone else's story, but to try and capture the essence of one's own story...now that's difficult. As self examination goes, it can be quite therapeutic if one allows it to be. It can reveal many things and may just as easily pose more questions. The one that seems to come up the most is "do you have a remote or did you do that in 10 seconds?" Perhaps I will take a self portrait annually, just to see if I've become someone else while I wasn't looking.

31 July, 2007

An Eventful Month

This last month has been rather eventful to say the least. Here is some of what’s been going on as I try to build up a portfolio with an emphasis on event photography. You may ask yourself what exactly is event photography. You may also have some cake, but that is beside the point. Event photography is somewhat a commercial extension of photojournalism. As an event photographer, you are often set to the task of documenting things like fundraisers or conventions or the like. The goal is to represent all that goes on while at the same time meeting the client’s needs. For example, if you are photographing a major corporate function, you will likely have a list of executives that you have to have a picture of by the time the event is over. Of course, there are clients who are just as likely to put little requirements on what you photograph, so long as it shows the event. Tricky isn’t it?

The first event I worked on was the Relay for Life event in Lakewood, CO. This is fourth Relay that I’ve been involved with so I had a general idea where and when all of the images would come from. Of course every event is different, so this was by no means a walk in the park, if you’ll excuse the pun.

This next event was actually for two different organizations. I spent part of the day with the Kiwanis Club of Golden photographing their adventures through the Buffalo Bill Days Parade. The rest of the day I spent at the Clear Creek History Park photographing Pioneer Days. Pioneer days was especially fun because they had special root beer provided by Golden City Brewer to make root beer floats with as well as some cannon firing demonstrations.

The last event was the Dragon Boat Festival. This was my first time at the festival and I have to say that I had an amazing time. Between the races and the cultural demonstrations, this was just a great amount of fun.

Now for a little background; Buffalo Bill Days, Pioneer Days, and the Dragon Boat Festival all happened in the same weekend. Yep, it was the longest, shortest weekend ever and I had a blast. The only thing is I have a tendency to not go prepared. Certainly I attend with all of the camera equipment I may need, but I usually forget to bring things like sun block, hats, water. So after such a long weekend, I pretty much began to suffer the effects of heat exhaustion and fatigue. It’s not really pleasant and a very strong reminder that whenever you spend a lot of time out and about, drink plenty of water.

10 July, 2007

Glenwood Springs by Holga

About a month ago I had the opportunity to photograph the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis “Ball Roll.” The ball roll is pretty much ridiculous. Similar to a lottery, people purchase balls, which are then rolled down a big hill and the first one down wins. All of the money raised goes to various projects and charities that the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis participates in or supports.

Certainly, I could have shot this digitally and come up with images just as strong as many of the images I have posted here, but for this entire weekend I shot nothing but Holga. (I just recently was able to get my film scanned and that is why this post is a little late.) For those of you unfamiliar with Holga, it is a very inexpensive camera with minimal controls (shutter speeds include cloudy and sunny and focus is indicated by pictures of one person, a group of three, a larger group, and a mountain). The viewfinder doesn’t even look through the lens, so if you use it, there is the possibility that all of your images will come out not exactly the way you saw them. Additionally, the camera is primarily molded plastic and even the lens is plastic and light has a tendency to leak in or do other things you normally don’t like it doing inside your camera.

You may be asking “why would you use a Holga?” The answer lies in all of the little deficiencies and the unique way in which the Holga captures the world. From the vignetting (the darker patches about the corners), light flare, etc, the Holga is able to literally create a unique image with every frame. Sure, one can argue that any camera can do that, but with all other cameras, is it the camera itself or the photographer?

The other thing about the Holga is that it really makes you stop and consider your shot. With the use of digital cameras, there is this immediate reward system where you can see the image immediately. If you don’t like it, you delete it and take a new one; memory doesn’t really cost you anything. As a side note, I usually don’t delete. I like to see the progression of the image and it gives me feedback as to how my photography is changing and growing. But that mentality is there that you can literally take a thousand pictures and walk away with one quality picture. Stepping back, putting in the film, composing every frame knowing that you only have a few shots…it’s all a good exercise making every shot count. A philosophy that I try and follow is one I learned from photographer Mo Lukins and it is very simple. Even though you are shooting digitally, treat every shot like it is film. It makes sense. You end up with a lot more strong, memorable images.

If you're interested in getting your own Holga, check out Freestyle Photographic. This is a good source for a lot of photographic supplies, from darkroom and print lab to studio.

24 June, 2007

Action Packed

Theatre Mama and the Action Angels were at it again, this time promoting Cirque du Soliel - Corteo at PrideFest 2007 in Denver. I had the opportunity to join them throughout the day, catching their antics. Theatre Mama and all of the Angels are wonderful to work with and a joy to photograph. If you've got a show that you want to get the word out about, Theatre Mama is who you should call.

23 June, 2007

The Moment's Decision

I’ve spoken before about how I like “street photography” and capturing the “decisive moment.” First used by Henri Cartier-Bresson, the decisive moment is exactly what it sounds like, a moment in time where we are at the precipice of action. This is the moment that can occur in an instant and in that same instant be gone, so it is the trick of capturing it that makes street photography part art, part skill, and part luck. Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time and others it’s about patience, and looking for people or places that will create the moment much later on. The prime example is children, and I apologize for sounding quite despicable, but just watch children play on the playground. Untroubled by the world around them, they embrace the here and now and do what they do.

The example I came across was a promotion for Cirque du Soleil down in Denver. Theatre Mama was promoting the opening of Corteo and unleashed the Angels in Action. Throughout the day, these angels had fun, made noise, and quite simply, enjoyed their job. From playing leapfrog in the streets to swinging from poles, they got people to look. Each of the following images was completely unposed. I simply watched them, and at times waited for them, do what they had to. Sure, a couple asked me if I wanted them to do anything in particular, but I said “no.” Street photography is photojournalism: completely unrehearsed and uncontrollable…to an extent. Instead of creating the composition, the street photographer has to look for the composition to present itself. Color, shape, pose, lighting, is all done in reaction to the moment. The trick to being a good street photographer is to find all of this.

I hadn’t done street photography in quite a while and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. This is one direction I would like to take my photography. I’ve done a fair amount with my involvement with Kiwanis and Circle K International, but one can always do more. The street is always there and people will always be out there.

PS: If you happen to know any of the angels, let me know. I’d like to share my images with them as well as all of you.

12 June, 2007

High Dynamic Ranger! Tone Away!

The human eye and the camera, whether film or digital, are not equals. It’s simple to say and as much as we want to, neither film nor digital can reproduce what the eye sees. Sure there are tricks to get around it, multiple exposures for film and an increase in the use of High Dynamic Range or HDR. Basically, what it’s doing is increasing the range of light and dark that can be captured. Really, its multiple exposures for digital, but we’ll skip the technicalities. For example have you ever tried to take a picture of a gorgeous sky only to have the landscape underneath disappear (as seen on the left)? Or maybe the opposite, you took a fantastic landscape, but then the sky went white and lost all of it’s detail (as seen on the right)?

And this is what can be done with HDR.

“Belmar #2: Lakewood”

Beyond the HDR to bring out all of the tones, I’ve actually desaturated the image to produce black and white print, which I then followed up by selectively split toning. Split toning is a traditional darkroom method to add color to traditional silver prints (black and white). I did mine toning digitally since many of my captures are digital (and as it turns out, many toners happen to be carcinogenic, but then again, what isn’t these days?). The main difficulty in producing “Belmar #2: Lakewood” was that I knew I wanted to do a color HDR as well as a black and white, and a selectively toned image. I haven’t had much practice switching between thinking in color and thinking in black and white. You either think solely about the light and shadows or the use of color, or at least I do. We'll work on changing that. I f you are interested in some more toning work, check out Phil Borges, who does absolutely incredible work. Also take a peek at the work of Mark Eshbaugh.

01 June, 2007

"Put four walls around an idea."

After a long day of shooting probably the most difficult subject I have ever undertaken, I along with some fellow photographers attended the Nick Vedros talk sponsored by the Art Directors Club of Denver. Vedros was one of the first, if not the first photo illustrator whose work I was introduced to as inspiration for my own photo montages. What amazes me the most is the simplicity with which he constructs images. I don't mean to say that how he does it is simple, but the end result is a seamless image that one could expect to walk out the door and see the scene as if it had happened right before their eyes. It is this quality which I find in many of my favorite illustrators, such as Mark Beckelman and Charles Shotwell.

Though it's Vedros's quote, I think the idea of giving form, structure, and stability to an idea is something worth remembering and something that does not apply solely to photography. In everything we do, if we cannot concretely form our idea, how can we expect to bring it to life. Dream big because if you don't, you don't expect enough from yourself.
Oh yeah. I plan on making a regular outing to "First Fridays" in Denver. This is a wonderful opportunity to view art and galleries here in Denver. So on the first Friday of every month, many of the galleries down on Santa Fe Dr. are open and waiting for people to stop in and just look around. Feel free to come on down and see what people are up to.

25 May, 2007

A Little Bit of Information

I am very happy to announce that I am now a part of a limited gallery showing. "Curiosity" is on display at the John A. Jellico Gallery at the Art Institute of Colorado. I spoke last about high and low risk shots and how some very simple shots that look like they were thrown together in five minutes actually take several hours. "Curiosity" is completely the opposite: it was shot in under five seconds (cats are fast). It was very much a right place at the right time.

I do like this style of photography, much more photodocumentary or photojournalism, but I find that it is a lot harder than one thinks it is. Studio work is something you know when you get up in the morning you can walk out with a great shot. The "decisive moment" shots are very much you wake up and hope you can get one out of maybe a thousand shots. It takes a while to learn patterns, to look out for the moment before the moment and then to capture it with the same feeling as when you see it. I need more practice, and I hate to make excuses, but much of my work in studio does keep me from just walking out the door and seeing what we see. We'll try and get out more.


Special thanks to Beth and Lisa, who cheerfully answered my questions as I learned to be a photojournalist.