Monday, April 19, 2010

365/107 Their first dance

365/107 Their first dance

Saturday, our good friends Sam and James got married. It was a beautiful wedding, held down in San Antonio at one of the local historic missions. There was much merriment to be had. James had one of the biggest grins on the entire time. I don't think I've ever seen him so happy. Sam was just stunning. They make a lovely couple.

A few more photos of the first dance.

First dance II

First dance III

365/106 Timeline

365/106 Timeline

I love old, decaying buildings. They have character. The wood is faded with the ever-beating shine of sun. The paint, possibly lead-filled, is slowly peeling off in sheets, revealing grain that hasn't seen the light of day in years. Boards cover the windows like eyelids. Or maybe sun-glasses ("The future's so bright, you gotta wear shades ..."). Cracks appear between the walls as the saddened weight of decades of use slowly push the building into the mud.

This particular building used to be a dance hall. The roof is held up by 12-inch thick posts, whitewashed to match the paint on the walls. There's a low, dropped tile ceiling that shows the stains of storms that have passed over time. For awhile, the building was an auction house. I'm told it was filled to the brim. The backyard ... or what might be considered the backyard ... was filled chest-deep with trash. Boxes of crap, things that didn't sell, overgrown with weeds and mesquite. They blazed through it with some bulldozers recently, clearing it out so the place could transition to new occupancy.

It's now the location of my dad's furniture restoration shop. Smaller by a short degree than his previous place, this one feels more open and useable. It's far enough out that he can do the work he needs at whatever time he needs without risking annoying the neighbors.

I took a few other photos while inside: the one that caught my eye was the two-foot tall doll with the faded blue dress. Left over in a pile of things that were still to be removed from the auction house. Creepy reminders of what this place was I guess.

We visited with my dad for about half an hour before heading back out. We were on the edge of a storm and still had a ways to drive before getting home.

I'm definitely going back to take more photos of the place. This place has a lifeline that needs to be documented.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

365/105 The horror of realization

365/105 The horror of realization

"Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty."

H.P. Lovecraft

Yeah, it's another hand shot. I wasn't sure what else to do this evening. I've been waiting until the whee hours of the evening to do my photo for the last few days and it's coming back to bite me. The last few weeks have found me lazy when it comes to carrying my camera around, so I've just been snapping things with the iPhone. Quick, easy, and oh-so-horrifically vapid.

I'll have to work on something better once the garage is cleaned up. It sorely needs it. I can't do any setups in there while it's in this bad of a shape.

For now, it's just cheesy hand shots for you!

365/104 Expiration dates? Who needs those?!

365/104 expiration dates?  Who needs those?!

So it appears that my flickr account has expired. Back to the upload limits of the unwashed masses. Le sigh. It's going to stay that way for a few weeks, unfortunately. We have to replace our roof, which has suffered some reasonably extensive wind damage (according to the insurance adjuster) due to some storms earlier in the year. I figure it's slightly more important to come up with the cash for the deductible than it is to be a pro Flickr user. Who knew?

Anyway, I'm still going to be uploading stuff to flickr with the caveat that you probably won't see any of my older stuff for the next few weeks. Such is life.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

365/103 Vampire laundry day.

365/103 vampire laundry day

Last post for tonight.

This is my new favorite shirt. My wife poached it for me a few weeks back and we've finally gotten around to washing it. The laundry pile was on the verge of attacking us, but it was soundly beaten back and mauled by the washer. The dryer, of course, just sat there and yammered, full of hot air. "No, no, you're doing it wrong ... it's lather THEN rinse ..."

Everyone's a damn expert these days.


365/102 Mr. McNally in the Library with a C-stand

365/102 Mr. McNally in the library with a C-stand

I was sitting in front of a portion of my library this particular evening and thinking about my habit for book buying. You see, I'm a recovering bookaholic. We're a big book family, so there are shelves and shelves of books throughout the house. I recently went through and tried to organize things a bit and gather all my photo books in one place. It's almost a full shelf now. I don't know what that says about me (too few? too many?)

And while thinking about this, I was again reminded that I've wanted to do a few book reviews of the ones that have really helped me out in the past. I've done a few before, early on in the life of this blog. You can see them if you click on the book label. Four so far. Stuff I was using when I started out with my D40 for the most part.

But, as you can see here, I have my collection. This isn't all of them. The shelf extends another foot or so beyond the left edge of this photo. Some Annie L, some random crap photo books ... VisionMonger still sits on my nightstand waiting completion. I'm such a slacker. But, I promise, I will begin writing reviews anew. At some point, I need to find something new to write about other than this pesky 365-a-day thing. Right?


365/101 Bring out your dead!

365/101 Bring out your dead!

"I knew a man who once said, "death smiles at us all; all a man can do is smile back."


On day 101, I shot for the third time in the new studio. It is becoming familiar again. Slowly, I'm learning how to best use everything that the place has to offer me. Including the automatically locking door. A curious statement if you will. You see, all along I knew it would lock on it's own and, therefore, require that I always carry the key. I was the KeyMaster, the door was the GateKeeper and Zuul ... Zuul was now locked somewhere inside the studio. With my key.

Good way to start a new relationship with a model and makeup artist, eh?

"Uh, yeah. So, nice to meet you. We'll begin shooting in a bit, as soon as one of my studio partners comes and unlocks the door! Ha ha ... so, how about that weather?"

In all seriousness, it wasn't that bad. They were very gracious about it and we only had to stand outside for about 15 minutes. We chatted a bit about the project and some of the other work they were doing. The model is a local burlesque dancer and her friend a costumer and MUA. Seemed like the perfect combination for the evening.

The idea behind the shoot was Día de los Muertos. Day of the dead. I'd been wanting to shoot something like this for awhile and when she brought the idea up, I jumped at the chance. I've always liked the idea of the painted skulls.

I had an idea of how I wanted to light this. The face would be the focal point of most of the photos. I wanted the light to be up high and moderately directional, falling off slightly as it got farther and farther from the makeup. Went with a 22" beauty dish for the main light, boomed up above her head. Had a sock over it, so it acted more like a softbox at that point, but still had that nice beauty dish light quality to it.

A second light was set on the far side of her, opposite the key; it had a gridded stripbox on it, helping to provide a nice bit of separation from the rest of the scene. Carving her out of it, almost. In later photos, we took a third light, gelled with a nice red, and splashed that up against the black muslin background, providing a bit more separation of her hair from the blackness. It was a good choice and helped to create one of the best photos of the entire set (shown below).

Dia de los Muertos II

I think, if I had to do this one over, the only thing I would change is the use of the black muslin background. I think a charcoal gray or black seamless would have worked much better here; the wrinkles in the muslin are somewhat distracting and divergent. Just a bit too much chaos. But then, I'm probably being picky. Yeah. Probably.

We had a few other ideas we wanted to try out, but didn't have much time to fully develop them because of how late we started. She's very into corsets and had brought one along, but we'd only gotten a dozen photos out of it before we realized what time it was (and it takes a fair amount of time to get a corset on and cinched up properly, let me tell you). We were going to shoot a few pinup-styled poses with a chromed stool. Next time, though. Definitely next time.

Dia de los Muertos III

The model is Haazard. She's on Model Mayhem. Definitely fun to work with and definitely plan to work with her again. The makeup was courtesy of her friend Morgan.

And finally, I leave you with one last photo from the set.

Dia de los Muertos I