26 April 2012

Off to a Good Start

Beach in Destin, FL © 2012 Terrell Neasley
It's a slow start, but a good one. I've been getting to squeeze off a few rounds on the shutter and have some fun. Hope to do my first nude project in a long while this weekend. This is sort of a "go for it" kind of weekend where spontaneity is in full effect. It should be fun. That's the main thing that matters.

Gotta say first, 

I'm hoping May will be my official start of the new year. I'll still be doing rehab for my knee, but other than that, I'm on my feet. I presently have a pretty nice head cold and sound like a monster, but I think that's just from the weather change and all the pollen in the air. May 1st, is my starting line and I've got to run it faster in order to catch up with the rest of you guys who are already 5 months head. Summer travel plans are still a go. Not certain about my Fall endeavors just yet. I may delay that notion for a while in order to better prep for traveling in 2013. More details on that soon, but suffice to say...Fun!

Husband and Wife, Sandestin Beach, FL © 2012 Terrell Neasley
Writing has become more important. Keeping regularly updated blog can be tasking enough, but I intend to do more writing in different venues. One of which will be for Image702 Magazine doing regular spots on a myriad of topics. I hope to be freelancing my butt off for a while. And to help me prepare for it, I'm thinking about enrolling in some online writing courses I've been considering. I'm already taking courses to beef up my Photoshop skills as a photographer. Writing will be next on the agenda.

Well, this will be a short post. I need to go lay down for a bit so I'm ready for the weekend endeavors. In the meantime, enjoy these shots from recent travels.

Pier off the Gulf Coast, © 2012 Terrell Neasley

10 April 2012

A Focus on The Print

Early work with Mary, Black Canyon, CO
There's no doubt this has been the most odd start of the year to date. I don't think I've spent this much time in bed since I was a little baby. I've been very careful with taking care of my knee, resting my body, and healing. But dang! Just as I was about ready to announce "I"M BACK!", I get food poisoning all of last week. This was such a weird experience. I've never been down that road before and hope to GOD, I never do. It crept up on my very slowly, but quickly...maybe analogous to sheep approaching you calmly and innocently only to burst out as wolves when they got in arms reach. I couldn't run. There was no escape. No amount of Pebto, crackers & Sprite, or any anti-whatever was going to save me from the onslaught once I recognized what it was. I didn't think it was going any further than an upset stomach. It wasn't until my mouth started watering and the stomach started some serious rumbling that I knew "Sh*t just got real".

Early work with Mary, Black Canyon, CO
So I'm just now getting over all that. "I'm Back". (Not all caps... a little muted, but nonetheless...) I'm ready to shoot. I'm ready to get outside and do some things. I can't hit the hard trails. I can't walk the distances, yet. But I can stand on my own two feet and get from point A to B slowly, but surely. I can't tell you how anxious I am to get some exposures under my belt and be backed up with new and profitable edits. I'm looking for my next art nude model as well as some of my business projects.

Now let me get back to the original topic I wanted to talk about. I've done recent talk about the portrait, to include capturing the self-portrait. I also want to give a mention to what I think is arguably the most important aspect of the photographic process... THE PRINT. This is just my humble opinion, but this is the final product and the end all of why we take a picture. Its the Print! To some aspect, you might be able to dissolve it down a bit and say the Picture is the final product, more so or just as much as the Print. However this is the difference. Today, many people will only use their pics for Facebook, Flikr, or some other online forum. And that's fine. Its just where we are today. Social media is the new tool of today and pictures are a major part of it. It cannot be denied. Hardly any of these need to be made into hard copies. They are shared in a more versatile medium and when hard prints are actually made, they are rarely sized about a 4x6 to hang up on the fridge or maybe the computer monitor. Or let me not also forget the novelty prints like on a coffee cup or key chain.

Early work with Mary, Black Canyon, CO
So while these points have their merit, I'm going to stay on the high road and concentrate my efforts to those shots that will hang on museum walls. I've said before, I consider myself as an artist first. I want to make art. Art shared should be on walls, not desktops. I want my work hung up in that important place in your home or office lobby and I want it shown in large format. I can't even tell you when the last time I had an 8x10 print made, even for my own personal work. I consider the 11x14 a small print and the smallest I'll do. But it doesn't have to be hung up on the walls. A print in a magazine will also suffice. This is why we do this.  We don't do a gig just to give away a CD of all the images and let the client make prints as they see fit. I can tell you I want to be in control of what quality of work my art is displayed in. 

Early work with Mary, Black Canyon, CO
This is the exact reason, I didn't allow my recent book, "A Year in Review of the Nude: 2011" to be printed in any other format other than the best of quality of paper. Will all my books be in this format? No. My next one will be way different, probably at less than half that price, more than likely. For now, I plan to only do my annual books like that. The next one I have coming out will be less so. I would like to do maybe three or four books a year and only one will be at the price point of my art nude annual. And books are a great use of the printed image. The single print is still tops. There's simply no comparison to a good quality, well presented print. Its got to be framed or hung in such a manner that the print is adorned. Much of my focus this year will be on perfecting my presentation on the print and I'm happy with what I've been able to accomplish so far. Now I want to push the envelope a little and reach beyond just the simply framed canvas print. That's the goal. 

And another of my goals is to get back to Colorado and to shoot Mary again. This particular trip was definitely a benchmark in my life as a photographer. The PRINTS from this shoot are much, much better than these digital scans. The prints were done by hand and a darkroom and I can tell you hours upon hours were spent perfecting each one. I loved it. Every minute was a learning experience. I'd like to get back to shoot some of the models I worked with early in my nude days and Mary ranks among the top priorities. I'd like to see what I can do with her today, six years after our first shoot. More experience and better equipment should result in even better art. I almost got to work with her again last Summer, but I got called back the same day I arrived in Colorado and unfortunately didn't get to shoot. Gotta try again.

02 April 2012

A Study of the Self-Portrait

The whole idea of a self-portrait is strange. I’m so strongly linked to how I see through the camera that to get to the other side of it would be difficult. It would be as if I were taking a photograph in the dark. 
- Annie Leibovitz

Maybe I've worked the Self-Portrait
more than I had initially thought
Methinks it is time to vary up what I shoot for a bit. I believe I will have 3 unique concentrations throughout this year that I will use to challenge myself and explore my creativity in unfamiliar settings using the camera. For starters, I've always been uncomfortable with self-portraits. Ever since I became serious with photography, I've rarely ever aimed my lenses at myself, which is sort of odd. I'm not the kind to shy away from the camera. I was a pro model for 3 years during my undergraduate years. I was an art model getting nude for art students for about 12 years. So its not like I'm not used to being the center of attention. If anything, I think its the lack of control that comes with my inexperience in shooting myself. Its not so easy to point the camera inwards. For me, I miss the ability to "see" myself which makes me unable to work the elements that I normally do in order to create a composition that I believe works. This can make me become very impatient with myself and not revisit the project again. This image where I'm looking like a madman, came from a vision in my head reflecting feelings at the time, but it took me an abnormal amount of time to compose and get that "just right" feel to it. 

© 2010 Terrell Neasley
When I get ready to take a shot of a model, I see everything. I don't just look at the model. I see all the surrounding elements and consider how the model integrates with the background, props, and environment. I compose based on what I see and may spot focus on a specific area within that composition. Well, I can't see myself when shooting myself and although I see many photogs excel at this skill, the talent currently eludes me. So instead of ignoring this genre any longer, I'll take it on and see how close I can get to mastering it. I would imagine it will stimulate creativity after you shoot yourself a few times, otherwise you'll quickly get bored. I don't necessarily have to be nude to do this. I've tried that before, as you can see below, and hated it. The results where unsatisfactory and it didn't have the same flair and signature style as when I do my regular nudes. And yes, I've shot guys before that I have been satisfied with. I've said I'll revisit that venture again, but I've ignored that option for now. I did a post a while back whereby I suggested every photographer who shoots nudes needs to do this at least once. Unbearable Lightness then suggested I post the images I had done, and I did. So I'll add that back in at some point, but the goal is to work creative aspects of the "capture of self" in various ways and master this skill.

A first attempt at the self-nude.
Hadn't tried it since.
A couple of other areas I think I'll pay more attention to is motion, low-light, and time-exposure photography. I don't get to do these as much, but I have a strong interest in it. I can actually combine all 3 of those doing a moving subject, at night using long shutters. Should be interesting and I'm definitely looking forward to it. Every so often, you need to get out of your comfort zone and shake things up a little. I can even try this out on myself and thus add in self portraits done, while moving around at night using extended shutter speeds. Regardless, it'll be good to just play. I hear of photographers saying all the time that they wish they could work on personal projects. That should be the priority. While I want to always earn a living from photowork, I never want to make it into a job. I don't take on assignments that I don't honestly want to do. There has to be an element of fun, challenge, or benefit just a regular assignment. You have to pay me a lot of money to make me shoot something I don't really want to shoot. I want to be successful as a professional photographer. I want to earn a really good living at it. But I don't want to chase the dollars at any cost. I'm not interested in forfeiting my love for photos for my need to make money. 

I’ve always cared more about taking pictures than about the art market. - Annie Leibovitz

© 2010 Terrell Neasley

 I'll throw in large scale panoramas as well, since I have a Gigapan that I haven't put to great use just yet. I can also add to that better artistic use of my 24mm Tilt/Shift lens. Those are probably the only two pieces of equipment that I have that I have not put hard to work. I've used them, but I haven't pushed their abilities. I haven't tapped their potential and integrated them into my workflow yet and I need to change that. Otherwise, why have them? The Gigapan system is a robotic camera mount that you sit onto a tripod. It can be programmed use your camera to take pics, one frame at a time over a selected area and then you stitch those images together for a high-resolution pano. The tilt/shift lens was originally designed for architecture use. It allows you to correct for the distortion of lines that may converge due to the shape of the lens. If you've ever tried to take a picture of a tall building, you realize you need a wide-angle lens to get it all in one frame, but then the edges of the building look as if they curve or lean backwards. With a T/S lens you can correct this by adjusting knobs on the lens that will move the front element of the lens left or right as well as upward or downward as necessary. A more popular use is capturing wide-area busy scenes that, because of the selective focus, they look like miniatures.These are the same functions you get with a large format view camera. A view camera is what you see that looks like an accordion and a person gets under a sheet behind the camera.

Last office job, State Treasurer's Office.
See? I clean up nice!
And then of course, I still have my continued nudes throughout the year. I'll always be doing that, especially now since I've elected to regularly do an annual for all the models I shoot. I'm getting better on my feet now, so I expect I'll get to do a shoot toward the end of the month. I have a project in mind already, but it will take more strength in my leg before I undertake it. I'm still not able to extend my knee out all the way and its still quite painful when I try to do so and stand on it. But I'm getting there. There is definitely measured progress, but I have to keep things light for the time being. You can even see a tad bit more muscle tone in my thigh muscle. Patience...