The Empty Apple: A New York City Time-lapse
Photography Unfiltered Update
You all know Rick Sammon. Gregarious, lighting-sharp photog who scours the world in search of singularly unique subjects. To date, he has traveled to more than 100 countries, braved a much-publicized rescue from the wild Highlands of Papua New Guinea, and published 36 photography-industry books over the past 20 years. His life is the stuff of legend. Last year, Rick and I spent a good deal of time together, bonding as professionals, tech geeks, and lighting freaks; recently, he was gracious enough to travel to our studio in Petaluma to appear on yet another fun-filled TWiT Photo episode with Leo and me. Below, Rick dishes on his creative process for his “Girl with a Pearl Earring – The Photograph.” Teeming with tips and tricks for lighting up your pictures like the old, painterly masters, this guest post is solid gold.
Follow Rick Sammon on Twitter.
Post + Photos by Rick Sammon
We can learn a lot from the master painters.
One of my favorite paintings is “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. The painting has been referred to as “The Mona Lisa of the North.” Hey, I like it even better than the Mona Lisa.
One of my favorite movies is “Girl with a Pearl Earring” starring Scarlett Johansson.
Both the painting and the movie inspired my shoot: “Girl with a Pearl Earring – The Photograph.” My goal was to try to recreate the beautiful lighting Vermeer used – which included the nice catch light in his model’s eyes and the soft side lighting. Perhaps most important I wanted to recreate the mood and feeling of the painting – or should I say the model.
I studied pictures of Vermeer’s famous portrait, following the advice I give my photography workshop students: Study the works of master painters. These works will teach you about light and shadows, color and detail, posing and composition . . . and many more elements that go into making a good image.
I made the portrait in my office. I don’t have a studio, but I turned my office into one in about 15 minutes. We shoot here during my Croton Creative Workshop.
Please add Croton Creative link above:
Here is the simple process I went through to get the image:
The first step was to find a model, which turned out to be my friend’s daughter, Maggie.
Next I bought the propos: two scarves from Macy’s. Maggie already had the jacket.
Before my Maggie showed up, I set up a very basic lighting system. One Canon 580EX II Speedlite in a Westcott Apollo soft box. I fired the flash with my Canon ST-E2 Wireless transmitter. I shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 100mm lens.
Some lighting tips:
• The larger the light, the softer the light.
• The closer the light, the softer the light.
• Don’t point the light (Softbox in this case) directly at the subject. Rather “feather” it, that is, point it slightly in front of the subject.
• Don’t underestimate using only one light source. If it worked for Vermeer, who used one window light, it can work for you.
During the shoot I shot tethered, using Canon Digital Photo Processional to see my pictures on my MacBook Pro. The Beatles looked on, from a poster I got in 1967.
I had a print of Vermeer’s painting attached to the soft box, and one next to my computer, for guidance. Maggie had studied the painting and the girl’s expression for a week before the shoot.
It was finally time to shoot! My wife, Susan, helped set up the shot, while Zoe, another friend’s daughter, held a Westcott black panel on the opposite side of the soft box to eliminate any reflected light.
I did a bit of work in Photoshop: cropping, increasing the contrast, dodging the earring, and using the Color Replacement brush to change some of the colors in the image. I spent maybe one hour in Photoshop.
What really makes this image so cool is Maggie. Never underestimate the importance of a good model – and the right model. I knew Maggie was perfect for the part.
So again, study the work of the masters if you want to master your lighting.
For more lighting tips, see my apps:
Explore the light,
‘Start small! We tend to overestimate what we can do over a short time and underestimate what we can do over a long time.’ As I’m drafting my resolutions for the New Year, Gretchen Rubin’s positive, sound advice seemed to be written specifically for me. I get really excited about new projects and strive to be the best in everything I do – and sometimes, it can be difficult sticking to those resolutions when you just have an endless To-Do list. That’s why this year, I’m sticking to Gretchen’s five gems of making 2012 a happier year – Gretchen is the author of The Happiness Project, New York Times #1 bestselling book and also one of the most inspiring self-improvement blogs with plenty of witty and insightful tips and stories. Watch out for my New Year resolutions next Monday.
Follow Gretchen Rubin on Twitter.
Post + Photos by Gretchen Rubin
Forty-four percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and I know I always do. I’m more inclined to make resolutions than ever, in fact, because if my happiness project has convinced me of anything, it has convinced me that resolutions – made right – can make a huge difference in boosting happiness.So how do you resolve well? This is trickier than it sounds. Here are some tips for making your resolutions as effective as possible. Remember, right now, you’re in the planning stage. Don’t feel like you have to do anything yet! Just start thinking about what would make 2012 a happier year.
Ask: What would make me happier?
It might having more of something good – more fun with friends, more time for a hobby. It might be less of something bad – less yelling at your kids, less nagging of your spouse. It might be fixing something that doesn’t feel right – more time spent volunteering, more time doing something to make someone else happier.
Ask: What is a concrete action that would bring about change?
One common problem is that people make abstract resolutions, which are hard to keep. “Be more optimistic,” “Find more joy in life,” “Enjoy now,” are resolutions that are hard to measure and therefore difficult to keep. Instead, look for a specific, measurable action. “Distract myself with fun music when I’m feeling gloomy,” “Watch at least one movie each week,” “Buy a lovely plant for my desk” are resolutions that will carry you toward those abstract goals.
Ask: Am I a ‘yes’ resolver or a ‘no’ resolver?
Some people resent negative resolutions. They dislike hearing “don’t” or “stop” or adding to their list of chores. If this describes you, try to find positive resolutions: “Take that dance class,” “Have lunch with a friend once a week.” Or maybe you respond well to “no.” That’s my situation. A lot of my resolutions are aimed at getting me to stop doing something or to do something I don’t really want to do. Don’t expect praise or appreciation. Follow the one-minute rule. There’s no right way to make a resolution, but it’s important to know what works for you. As always, the secret is to know your own nature.
Ask: Am I starting small enough?
Many people make super-ambitious resolutions and then drop them, feeling defeated, before January is over. Start small! We tend to over-estimate what we can do over a short time and under-estimate what we can do over a long time, if we make consistent, small steps. If you’re going to resolve to start exercising (one of the most popular resolutions), don’t resolve to go to the gym for an hour every day before work. Start by going for a ten-minute walk at lunch or marching in place once a day during the commercial breaks in your favorite TV show. Little accomplishments provide energy for bigger challenges. Push yourself too hard and you may screech to a halt.
Ask: How am I going to hold myself accountable?
Accountability is the secret to sticking to resolutions. That’s why groups like AA and Weight Watchers are effective, and there are many ways to hold yourself accountable. I keep my Resolutions Chart (if you’d like to see my chart, for inspiration, email me at grubin [at] gretchenrubin.com – just write “resolution chart” in the subject line). Or you could track your resolutions online using the tools at the Happiness Project Toolbox. Or you could form a goals group – or even a happiness-project group! (For a starter kit for starting a happiness-project group, click here.) Accountability is why #2 is so important. If your resolution is too vague, it’s hard to measure whether you’ve been keeping it. A resolution to “Eat healthier” is harder to track than “Eat salad for lunch three times a week.”
Have you found any strategies that have helped you successfully keep resolutions in the past?
TWiT Photo had such a good year, and I’m incredibly honored to announce that we were rated one of three Best New Technology Podcasts on Apple’s “iTunes Rewind 2011.” The annual list shows off the bestselling, best-performing and most popular content on iTunes over the past 12 months. We were fortunate to have such a fantastic guest list, including prominent and inspiring photographers such as Pulitzer Prize winner Vincent Laforet, fashion celebrity Matthew Jordan Smith, lighting guru David Hobby, and No. 1 best-selling author Scott Kelby. I, for one, have had a blast every Tuesday connecting with and learning something new from some of my idols.
Thank you, to loyal TWiT Photo viewers, who continue to engage me with your great suggestions and feedback. I am also deeply grateful to Leo Laporte for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime, as well as to the TWiT family for producing a show that I’m tremendously proud of. Last but not least, thank you to Apple and iTunes for being so good to TWiT Photo in 2011. We were featured a few months ago on the Podcast front page, as well as on AppleTV. 2012 will be an even better and more exciting year for photography aficionados. Don’t miss our phenomenal first guest today, world-renowned FormulaOne photographer, Darren Heath!