As most Arizonan’s know, this past Tuesday February 14, 2012 marked the Grand Canyon State’s 100th birthday. There are many events going on around the state to celebrate the centennial, among them is a photography show at the MonOrchid Gallery in downtown Phoenix. “The Forty-Eighth: Contemporary Photography at Arizona’s Centennial,” with co-curator William LeGoullon, sets out to highlight the work of eleven photographers, but uniquely does not include any of your typical Grand Canyon landscapes as one would assume. Instead, LeGoullon’s purpose was to create a show that captures various points-of-view of the state’s changing landscapes, all the while, helping to promote some lesser-known photographers in the community. LoGoullon states, “All the artists show a different side of Arizona through a similar aesthetic, but very different perspectives.”
This seems like an intriguing show that is worth a look. It would be interesting to see Arizona’s changing landscapes in regards to its ever-growing urban societies. In that respect, the exhibition will not only be about Arizona and its past as it celebrates its centennial, but also about the current living and growing view of the state today. It almost sounds like the exhibition will be more like a documentation of the history of the state mixed with the present. And somewhere in between you may discover and see things in everyday life that you may never have noticed before.
The exhibition is currently on display in the MonOrchid Gallery located at 214 E. Roosevelt St. The first showing was this past Tuesday, but there will be another reception tonight, Friday February 17, at 7:00 p.m. I strongly encourage you to attend if Arizona landscapes, culture, and history are of interest to you, as well as fine art photography. If you are unable to attend tonight, the exhibition will be open until March 23.
See Downtown Devil article for more information.
I was recently approached by a client of mine that wanted me to create a logo for his softball team. I have done some logo work for this client in the past, but this time he came with the most ingenious idea. It was one of those ideas that make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” But, I can still take credit for making it all possible.
The idea behind the logo was to take an old photo of the client’s grandfather in a batting stance, in full baseball get up, and cut him from the photo to essentially make a logo out of him. This is very comparable to the Jordan logo for instance. The client just wanted a silhouette figure of his grandfather that could easily be put on his team’s softball jersey, and maybe a softball hat, and why not a hoodie while we are at it.
All-in-all, this was a relatively easy design to make using Photoshop. I simply cut the grandfather from the photo using the lasso tool and then smoothed some of the harsh edges with a layer mask. Then filling the figure with color finalized the design. Piece of cake! The hardest part was making a design to show this process and creating samples of what the logo could look like on different articles of clothing as seen in the design above. I also included sample swatches to match the client’s desired color scheme and text to specify logo locations and where it was to be placed on the clothing by either a screen printing process or embroidery.
It was been a long while since I have done any stargazing with my 6” Orion telescope. Astronomy used to be one of my great obsessions when I was younger. It’s still a passion of mine, but not as much as it once was because of where I live. I don’t like stargazing in my town that much anymore because the sky is just too bright. There is a big difference from what I can see in the night sky today versus ten years ago. I would have to drive about an hour out of town to get away from the big city lights. But it is a terrible waste to keep a $300 piece of equipment locked up, so I decided to break it out the other night to see what was shining bright. I was able to see Jupiter, Mars, and the Orion Nebula fairly well, but still not with the amount of detail that I remember; partly due to the brightness of the waxing moon, but mostly due to the city lights. The moon was my main subject for the night anyway, so the city lights didn’t matter much.
I wanted to try and take a photo of the moon through the eye piece of my telescope like I have successfully done in the past. But, this time around I was going to use my Canon 60D, my Canon 50mm Compact-Macro lens, and try for an HDR photo. It was no easy feat, but after about an hour of patience and fortitude, I achieved success once again. It is very difficult to try and take a photo through the eye piece of a telescope, and even harder trying to take an HDR photo. I had to make sure that my telescope was focused sharply, line my camera up on its tripod perfectly level and centered with the eye piece, focus my camera, and hold the shutter button down for three consecutive shots, all while the moon was constantly moving in the eye piece. Yes, there are more conventional ways of achieving a photo of the moon through a telescope, but my type of telescope does not allow for such electronic attachments made for astrophotography, it is rather basic. Instead, this is the trouble I am faced with. Nonetheless, this way works for me and I can still get beautiful photos like the one seen above.
After I finally snapped three bracketed shots that I really like, it was time to edit. I took the shots at ISO 6400 so that I could put my aperture at f/10 for a sharper image and my shutter at 1/160, 1/250, and 1/100 to prevent motion blur. This time around, Photoshop’s built-in HDR worked better than Photomatix. For some reason Photomatix was cropping the processed photo weird because it was having trouble lining the three photos up. Then, it really overexposed all of the grain to an unacceptable extent. Photoshop proved to be much easier to use in this situation and it was much more grain friendly. The ending result is a slightly grainy photo, but who really cares when you can achieve this amount of detail. For the trouble I went through to capture this image, I think it came out exceedingly well.
It’s always a wonderful feeling when you finally get that camera lens that you have been wanting for years. I recently found a good deal for a macro lens on Amazon, a deal that I could not pass up. You just can’t beat a $250 price tag for a Canon macro lens. I have never seen a macro lens under $400, so it made me wonder why it was so cheap, having been marked down from $480. Therefore, I was sure to read all the reviews just to make sure that it was a good quality lens and that the majority of the people who bought the lens were satisfied with their purchase. This was in fact the case. It had a 4.5 star rating with some very positive reviews posted. This was enough to convince me of its excellence and I immediately purchased the lens for myself.
The lens is a Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact-Macro. It is a stubby looking guy, but the pictures that I have taken so far are just amazing. They are so sharp and I love the large depth field that I can achieve with the lens. Look at the four HDR photos below to see a sample of the results. I just finished editing these photos to add to my portfolio under my Abstraction series. Each photo is a compilation of five shot taken with my Canon 60D at different shutter speeds and combined in Photomatix. From the results, it looks like this lens is going to come in very handy in my endeavors to add all of the macro shots I have wanted to take for this series.
The only thing I was bummed about is that I also order a macro LED ring light to go with the lens, not realizing that it did not come with a 50mm adaptor; a stupid error on my part. I’m still working on a way to figure out how I can make it work with my macro lens. Brainstorming is in progress. Aside from this mistake, the lens by itself is great and I would recommend it for anybody looking to buy a cheap, yet high quality macro lens. I am currently saving up to buy the next lens on my list…a fisheye.
It was a sad day when Kodak made it publicly known that it, America’s largest film company, was filing for bankruptcy. It was an end that most deemed was inevitable since the company never seemed to be up to par with its competitors in the dawn of the age of digital photography. Still, this horrible truth is shocking news for a company that has been around since the 19th century.
Kodak’s bankruptcy will not only affect its employees, but also the traditional photographers that still practice the film aspect of the medium. Even though the company’s several attempts to enter the digital camera age failed, Kodak still stood as one of the major suppliers of film, photographic paper, and developing chemicals. Nevertheless, there are countless other companies that are still around to supply such products for traditional photographers, despite the fact that their numbers have dwindled and various products have been discontinued.
Having studied photography at Arizona State University, I had the opportunity, like most photographers, of being exposed to the roots of the art of photography that originated in the darkroom. I have now moved on from the darkroom to digital photography, following the trend of numerous photographers today. However, I feel that the true art of the medium still lies within the darkroom.
There is a strong physical difference between working in the darkroom with enlargers, light sensitive paper, and developing chemicals versus sitting at your computer, clicking a mouse button, and finishing with an inkjet printer. Both forms take a vast amount of skill, yet I still feel that the darkroom yields a much more artistic manner to transform of what was once envisioned behind the lens of a camera to a visual representation on paper. There is just an enormous difference between exposing a piece of paper to light and soaking it in four chemicals to develop an image that is practically etched into silver halide, versus loading a photo into Photoshop, editing it with various tools, and printing it in ink on paper. Even though I choose to practice photography in the latter manner described, it is important to me, as it is for all photographers alike, to remember where the art form came from. We cannot forget the roots from which digital photography derived. Speaking as a photographer to other photographers, I think it is vitally important, as an artist, to know the history of your medium. You will have a better understanding and appreciation of your art if you know the history of where it originated, how it was invented, and have an in-depth perspective of the great photographers and their work that helped shape photography into what it is today.
We must view the bankruptcy of Kodak not merely as company that perished because of new advances in technology, but as the grounds of giving way to the evolution of photography. Kodak was one of the major companies during the 20th century that revolutionized the medium of photography for all Americans and its legacy and contribution to the art form will hopefully live on through digital advancements and not be forgotten.
According to Walter Isaacson, the author of the Steve Jobs biography, there were three things that Steve Jobs wanted to reinvent in his lifetime: the television, textbooks, and photography. Well, there have been many rumors that Apple is working on a Siri TV and they just recently announce a plan to bring a new iPad Textbook experience to education, so could the use of the Lytro in Apple products be his final reinvention that was never finalized? If so, this could mean having the most powerful camera in the iPhone, any phone for that matter, with the power to shoot first and focus later. But how exactly could the workings of the Lytro fit into a compact device?
Take the iPhone 4s for example. Imagine stuffing an array of lenses inside that small casing, along with a large sensor that has the capability to capture 11 million light rays. Seems like no easy feat when the Lytro sensor looks to be about the size of a phone battery, at least from a virtual perspective. The Lytro is designed in such a way that it seems nearly impossible that it could be squashed down small enough to fit in an iPhone 4s. However, I’m sure Jobs was already working on new designs that would accommodate for the Lytro’s size to fit in the iPhone, even if it meant revolutionizing the design of the iPhone. Furthermore, one would have to consider that the Lytro camera costs around $400. So what would an iPhone cost with such a pricey technologic device onboard?
Nonetheless, having the Lytro in the iPhone would not only revolutionize one of Apples best selling products, it would also revolutionize photography and the way people communicate through the medium. People would be able to take photos and share them almost instantaneously, with no lag of waiting for the camera to focus, and better yet, the ability to avoid all of those horrific blurry photos that are often the result of phone cameras if one does not have the right patients when using them. And when the photos are shared on social networks, image your friends being able to re-focus your uploaded photos as a way to share interesting new ideas that you may have never seen or thought of when you initially took the photos. Such an idea could mean wonders for the way we use images to communicate on social networks and possibilities for the evolution of photography seem endless.
I am actually pro Android, so if the technology of the Lytro was ever integrated into the iPhone, there would be a good possibility that I would crossover. Given that fact, imagine the marketing lead Apple could take in the smart phone division with this technology. This is not to say they are not doing awesome already in that area, because everybody knows they are. Then there’s the fact that they already have a good majority of photographers on their side that swear-by their high quality iPhone cameras. So it seems to me that photographers could be in for a real treat as the smart phone wars may become a little more interesting in the coming years.
View video at Mashable.com:
Jobs’s Last Photography Wish
With the advancements in smart phone cameras in the past few years, it seems as though they are becoming as good, if not better, than some point-and-shoot cameras. Many photographers are actually turning to their smart phone cameras as their main on-the-go camera, because of convenience and ease of use. Without a doubt, it is more convenient to whip out a smart phone rather than lugging around a point-and-shoot camera. There is even a wonderful site called Photojojo.com that sells all kinds of cool photography gadgets for your smart phone. The gadgets are designed with the iPhone in mind, which I think is a little unfair to Android lovers such as myself, but many of the lenses that they sell will most likely work on Android phones as well. I highly recommend this site for any avid photographer because of their array of cool odd and end things for the photographer in all of us.
Well, back to the topic at hand. I, however, have not completely fallen into the category of relying fully on my Droid Bionic with an 8 megapixel camera as my go to camera when I am not carrying around my Canon 60D. On most occasions I will have with me a 12.1 megapixel Canon PowerShot SX230 HS with a 5.0-70mm 1:3.1-5.9 lens. This camera is a fun little guy that is compact, as well as, fully loaded with some pretty awesome features. However, I found that most of the features on my Canon are just as easily accessible on my Bionic, but I am not going to go into any specific detail about the features the devices have in common. So, after careful examination of the two devices and how alike they are, I determined that there really is no reason why my Droid Bionic could not be my camera on-the-go. But, just to be sure, I thought I would do a little test.
So, just the other day, I went out in my backyard and started snapping a few pictures. I took one picture with my point-and-shoot and then another just like it with my phone. I was sure to keep all the settings consistent with both devices and ended up going with the auto setting on both in order to see how each device dealt with the changes in lighting for each shot. The results below were actually quite surprising. Can you tell which one is the Canon camera and which is the Bionic?
Well, at first glance, I would say that the Canon photos are on the right. I would be wrong. Quite contrary, the Bionic photos happen to be on the right of each pair of photos, and from the looks of it, they seem to be a better looking photos. Keep in mind that these are both the originals of each shot. I did not do any post processing to the photos. The Bionic clearly captured a wider range of contrast and color within each shot, even though the Canon photos more closely represent the actual color of the oranges. But, the overall quality of color, contrast, and clarity/crispness of each of the photos taken with the Droid Bionic (I am surprised and a little sad at the same time to say) easily surpass the quality of the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS. I find these results to be very odd indeed. I was sure that the Canon PowerShot would have no problem out doing the Droid Bionic, but the photos don’t lie. The only place I see the Canon winning is in higher image quality due to its larger pixel count. In the future, I will be sure to do more tests utilizing the manual settings and features of each device and see how the results compare. But for now, it looks like I may be using my smart phone more often for on-the-go shooting.
I have seen some people posting various images on Google Plus lately that show the before and after look of their work. So, I thought this would be an interesting little project to try for myself and see what my work looks like raw and uncut next to the after affects of Photoshop editing and manipulation. The group of photos shown here, I thought, would be the best examples for this analysis. I selected photos that I did extensive work to with the use of multiple photos and/or manipulation, and some photos that I did very little work on, but that still show dramatic changes between the before and after transformation.
The before photos in all of the images above are the raw, unedited version of the photo to the right or below each one. As you can see, there is a lot of post-processing involved here, especially for the “HDR” photos. For all of the photos with “(HDR)” in the caption, I included all of the images that went in to make the outcome of the processed image. HDR or High Dynamic Range imaging is something new that I started experimenting with lately to achieve rather more polished off beautiful and realistic look to my photographs. It is a process of taking multiple shots of a scene to capture a larger range of light and combining them either in Photoshop or HDR editing software such as Photomatix. I have practically fallen in love with this technique because the high definition qualities of these photos are just phenomenal.
Overall, the series of photos here show how much a little Photoshop editing can enhance your work dramatically. Personally, I would never show work that did not have some sort of post-processing work done to it. No matter how awesome or expensive a camera you have may be, and even though it takes nice photos, I strongly believe that some sort of enhancement needs to be done to all the photos taken for professional presentation. Don’t get me wrong though, my Canon 60D takes beautiful photos. I can honestly say that I saw a major improve from shooting with my Rebel XT of six years. For everyday snapshots, it takes wonderful pictures, and for my creative photography, it gives me a great starting point from which I can elaborate upon and turn everyday snapshots into a works of art.
See more work at http://brandonburris.com/
One of my favorite hobbies and passions, aside from photography and graphic design, would have to be wood design/wood crafting. I would honestly have to say that if I had the means to be in a woodshop everyday designing and crafting, that is what I would be doing. I absolutely love working with wood and can just loose myself in the woodshop for hours on end. But, I was only introduced to wood crafting a couple years ago while attending Arizona State University. Never having been in a wood shop before, I took Woods 1 my junior year as an undergraduate to fulfill my 3D design requirements to graduate. Within days of being in the class, I fell in love with wood design.
Sadly, I was only able to take one more class of woodshop before I graduated from ASU in May of 2011. But, my time spent in the woodshop will be something I will never forget, and I hope one day I can return to. Below, you can see a few designs I made through those years. I am really proud of these designs, and still today, I amaze myself that I created these pieces with no prior experience working with wood. I’ve had these designs for a while and I am happy that I finally got around to photographing them to share with others.
This leads to my next point, HDR photography. Recently, I have been studying HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography since I saw a lot of talk about it on Google+. I saw HDR images on there that just look amazing compared to regular single shot images. Isik Mater, Alex Koloskov, and Trey Ratcliff are photographers I found on Google+ that do an amazing job at creating HDR images. So, after learning as much as I could about the technique I decided to use it to photograph my wood designs because I wanted moredynamic range in the lights, darks, and colors, so that the pieces would pop out more.
To begin, I set my bracketing meter on my Canon 60D to take three bracketed shots of each of the three pieces I was photographing. I set up the pieces in my studio, and kept my lighting and white balance consistent throughout the various shots. When that was complete, it was onto the editing process. I was introduced to an HDR photo editing software called Photomatix, which will take multiple bracketed shots and combine them into one HDR image. By using this software, the process of combining my images was a breeze, and using the many image adjustment sliders in the software, I got my images exactly how I wanted them to look. A few more edits in Photoshop CS5 and I was done!
The whole process was a lot easier than I had expected, and although it may be a little more time consuming, it is totally worth the quality of images that can be produced. However, I do think that maybe a studio setting may not be the best place to use this technique, even though I like the way my images turned out. I say this because I did have some trouble with overexposed highlighted areas in some shots that needed a little more tending to. Therefore, I can’t wait to take this technique out into the field where the magic really happens and see what kind of shots I can create using natural light.
You can also find these images and more on my website: brandonburris.com
brandonburris.com…this is a site that has been a long term goal of mine to create. I can finally say with confidence that I have achieved this goal. I can also say that my web presence has increased exponentially because of this new website that I have created, but, there were a lot of tribulations along the road to success.
The planning, or rather thought of wanting to produce, my website had been brewing for about two years before the design process started. Why so long to finally produce a working version you ask. Well, since I was still in school the past two years and working a part-time job, this kind of situation doesn’t give a college student much time to design these days. Another reason is because I still needed to build up enough work to have an interesting website, and those two years were crucial in building up my work both through school and through work. As an art student at Arizona State University, I had a strong focus in photography, which makes up a good 60% of my new website. As an employee at ASU working as a student graphic designer, I have had great experience in design, which makes up the other 40% of my website including the personal designs I have done for myself or for school. However, after graduating in May of 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Art Studies, I finally found that freedom I had been waiting and searching for. Check out my resume at bradonburris.com/resume.
Enough of the background story, time to get to the real reason for this posting. Although my site is fully up and running, and looks awesome I might add, it was no easy task getting to this point. As an amateur, I had initial trouble starting with my design. I kind of knew what I had in mind but I did not know how to get there. At the time I started to take on this endeavor, I was an amateur with html, CSS, and using Dreamweaver. Therefore, since I am professional at utilizing Photoshop’s many wonders, I thought my design should start with using Photoshop as my tool and canvas. I would just configure the coding of the image slices later. This idea could not have worked more perfectly. I ended up with an awesome design, which went through two major revisions, but in the end became a design that is unique and different from anything I have previously done in either Photoshop or Dreamweaver. Of course, as the amateur coder that I am I had to research various lines of code that I needed to get the effects that I wanted, like the rollover images and the lightbox effect.
The design process was grueling and took about a month to completely finish, and then it was time buy a domain and start hosting.
*A little minor note at this point I think is necessary because as I was an amateur with html and CSS, I was completely lost when it came to domains, hosting, and that entire networking lingo. Oh sure, I have set up a few routers in my day, but that is about all of the networking experience I have had. But, now I can truly say that my skills as a network technician have tripled after all of the research and video tutorials I watched on networking and setting up domains and hosts.
In the beginning, I wanted to try and host my website myself on an old HP laptop that I don’t use anymore. Had I know it was going to be so much trouble I would never had attempted it. After about a week of trial and error and the use of numerous hosting techniques and software, to my dismay I was not able to get my website live on the web. This sad defeat still burns a hole through my soul every time I think about it. In the end, I had to move on and I extensively researched hosting services and ended up going with Bluehost, where I got a great deal on my domain, hosting service, and email service. I had some difficulties with setting up Bluehost to host my website, but they provided wonderful video tutorials and help forums throughout the process that I gratefully took advantage of.
In the end, I can say that this was more than a new experience, it was an adventure. After about a month and a half, from the design stage to the point of live hosting, I can confidently say that I designed my own website, set up hosting and a domain, got my own personalized email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and set up this fancy new personalized WordPress site. It was a learning process, I’m not going to lie. There were many frustrations, but in the end, those minor frustrations paid off and presented me with a great web presence that I have waited years to have. But, that is how we learn, through trying new things and taking on new challenges. I can confidently say that this whole endeavor was one big learning process for me and has made me an even stronger designer and tech savvy person.
By the way, Flavors.me is a great place to create a home page that will link to your entire stage presence. I encourage you to check it out.
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