Feb 28, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

One of the reasons I moved Jay Scott Photography to the Blogger platform was for the monetary cost being free. The larger reason was to leave the maintenance, updates and performance of the site up to professionals. As the internet evolves and the languages used to build sites grow the complexity increases and I am not able to keep up. I probably could, but a person only has so much time to give and I would much rather outsource my website and focus on photography. Even the opportunity to make a photograph into more than what it is straight out of the camera with post processing techniques is something I could be much better at but I prefer the time with my camera in hand over even more screen time.

What I have noticed lately is that some photos on older posts have started to stop loading from their source location at 500px. All that appears is the clickable text which will take you to the photo. I mentioned this in a previous post. For reasons beyond my knowledge they have stopped loading even when certain techniques are tried such as clearing my internet cache and force refreshing (pressing Ctrl + F5 at the same time). You can still click the text to see the image, but it interrupts the flow or reading a post or, if I have not written anything, makes the post pointless.

I will work to fix this and try alternative methods of inserting the photos. For now, would you my readers, please just leave a comment to let me know if any photos are failing to load on your computer or mobile device. Thank you for your help.

Oh, and it is not the fact that Blogger is free that it is happening. I don't know if it has to do with me, Blogger, 500px or a gremlin in the system. :)

Feb 26, 2012

Not Jean-Paul The Pope

A few years ago I received a bottle of Jean-Paul Gaultier cologne from my dear wife. It will last me many years, yet, but I had been meaning to photograph it just for fun. this afternoon was the day to shoot it. I was not in any way thinking about the fact that the Oscars are on tonight when i shot this. Ironic. The self indulgent industry that is in full support of SOPA and ACTA, celebrating their own "achievements". Sounds about right.

Feb 24, 2012

Sticking Your Neck Out


First, let me apologize for the recent hiccups in images being displayed. 500px.com, the site where my photos are hosted, have been making some big changes including an even more attractive layout, flow of image display and a marketplace. Of course, that means outages and bugs in the short term. I have also noticed some images not loading, just the alternate text showing up. You can still click that text to be taken to the photo on 500px, but it's one more step in the reading process and interrupts the flow of my posts. Often a forced refresh (pressing Ctrl+F5) will resolve it.

I have not dug that deep into it yet but it may make it possible to automate print sales. I will see how their pricing is, the commission they will likely take, the print lab they use and product quality before I decide to activate it. The one reservation I have is the 150+ photos I uploaded that have a watermark on them. The market will not allow sales of watermarked photos and I wouldn't want to sell them. The watermark is to deter thieves, not penalize paying customers. I will decide if the time it will take, the cost of lost ratings and feedback and careful organization is worth it. Of course prints can still be ordered through me, knowing I have inspected your product before you receive it and that we are both supporting a local photo lab.

Speaking of supporting local business, I saw a tweet/Facebook post from Hot Racks Bakery a few days ago that despite a number of advertising and awareness initiatives on their part they could use another 30 or more customers to feel confident about making it as a business. They asked for marketing suggestions and referrals. That is sticking your neck out. But it is honest truth. It a world where businesses and corporations, even people, typically pretend everything is perfect until they are in way over their head, I respect their request for help. I have a mutually beneficial idea, but it needs further consideration before presenting it.

In the mean time, I'm going to try to buy something from them at least once a week and ask that if you're ever in the Stonebridge neighbourhood to give them a try.

Feb 21, 2012

Pooding

Marla and Kim brought dessert. I wasn't happy with my photos of the home made caramels so I won't post any. Kim brought M&Ms and chocolate covered popcorn but I never got around to shooting them as it was getting late. They did top the chocolate pudding with some of the popcorn, though.

We called it "pooding" because as it was squeezed out of the bag into the glass it was a tightly curled spiral that held it's shape quite like... soft ice cream.


It was a good evening and I'm already thinking about the next event and getting the message out so people can plan well in advance. If you're interested if joining us for the next event drop me a line or comment. There is nothing to be intimidated about here. We're all learning, help is free and plentiful and stepping out of your comfort zone might be just the boost your skills need.

Feb 15, 2012

Sushi!

Monday evening a few photographers, also from Saskatoon, dropped over for a potluck food photo shoot. It was a lot of fun and whether a single good photo was made or not, it was the kind of social gathering of local photographers I crave. In fact, I'm thinking about trying to organize something monthly. Food, a photo walk, maybe portraits of ourselves or of a model (I know some guys that have working relationships with a few models), or anything else that comes to mind. On to the food.

We started and ended the evening with some sushi I bought at Charlie's Seafood Market here in Saskatoon.


The maki consisted of California rolls, curried chicken and a type (I'm unsure of the name) with roe.


Because of a different plating and setup we left the smoked salmon nigiri until the end.


I was in a low key, dramatic light, mood. It worked just fine with me, but the white, bright background and setting Kim used made for very inviting photos. Nice to see such diverse photos of the same subjects by different people with just slight changes to lighting or setting.

I did find myself experiencing a bit of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) during and after the shoot. My current lenses don't let me get as close as I need to to get the shot I want. I am hoping the macro lens in my future comes on sale again before flower season.

More of the treats we shot and ate to come.

Feb 1, 2012

Back In My Day...

It has been a while since I've written anything but for good reason. A small medical procedure with the hope of making the time between my search for a suitable washroom longer was performed on me over a week ago. The recovery took as long as I expected and I am at the point of learning whether the procedure had its full effect or not. At the very least I do not expect to be worse off than before the procedure was performed.  Initially, the pain and spasms were bad enough that I was concerned that I would be worse off than before it was performed. It may or may not have been a waste of my time but hopefully it will benefit me for at least six months. From what I am seeing I am not terribly optimistic that it was very effective.

If this is the case, and I am able to have this done once per year, hopefully being off medication for six months will make it more effective when I do resume taking it for the six months that the procedure's effects have weakened or worn off. Of course, everything relates to photography with me. In this case, if it is effective, I will feel more confident about accepting assignments and a photo shoots on location that will take time exceeding my typical window between searching for a rest stop.

On another topic, I have been thinking about my style of processing photos. There are a lot of different ways of "developing" digital photos out there and I know that I have my style. I know that my style has changed over time. I still like nice deep rich colors but I have learned to pull back and use a little bit of moderation so that not every photo is so bright that it is hard on the eyes. I still really like using metallic paper when the photo calls for a real pop of color but I am trying to not use a sledgehammer on a finishing nail.

There are a lot of people's photos out there that I really admire the final look they have achieved. Without question, they know how to expose the photo exactly how they want it but they excel at the post processing/development which is where I feel weaker. There are manual ways to achieve different looks and most of the time it is simply playing with the sliders inside your development program of choice. I have done that but yet to find those perfect combinations that please me. Enter automatic developing plug-ins. You choose the look that you like, click a button and let the program apply the effect.

This is where a lot of people get hung up. Some see it as cheating, others embrace it and say welcome to 2012. I have decided to give these plug-ins a try and see if I like them or not. I can hardly call myself a purist because I have only shot film once on a field trip in grade four. However, I do try to get everything done correctly in camera as opposed to fixing it in Photoshop. The more you have to manipulate an image after making it the more potential to introduce problems in the final product.

This view of it being "cheating" is not a new phenomenon. Whether it is my wife's grandfather who was still using decades old hearing aids and a first generation cordless phone, and who had never owned a microwave until he was a widower, to the photographer who has been shooting for 50 years and feels that any digital manipulation is cheating. Ansel Adams was doing things in the darkroom to manipulate his photos more skillfully than a lot of Photoshop users are able to do today. Was he cheating? No, he was skillfully using the technology available to him that the time. Could the same things that he was doing then be done now with greater speed and far less effort? With practice, yes.

How great do you feel the value of knowing how things used to be done is? Do you have great respect for people who used to have to steam frozen vegetables in a pot taking 12 to 15 minutes instead of 4 minutes in a microwave? Are we cheating now? No, we're saving time, energy and effort. The same could be said for learning handwriting for five years before learning to type, learning film processing instead of going straight to digital (like I did), learning extensive bookkeeping on paper before learning to do it with software, or any other study where excessive time is spent learning to do it the old way when there is little to no likelihood you will ever do it that way ever again. I'm not saying that the history is not important but that it can be appreciated without excessive time being spent teaching future writers, photographers or cooks the old ways, unless the old ways have advantages to the final product that new ways cannot provide. If you can live without those few advantages, move forward. I just do not think that any sentence that begins "Back in my day…" is going to boost your respect level by 50 points. Tell me what you are doing today, not just in your glory days.

What I am feeling as I age, and hopefully gain wisdom, is that I would like to do as much as I can with the time that I will be given. If technology will help me to get more done then I will embrace it. If it will help me to produce photos that are liked better then I will use it. I won't get into the discussion about and the consequences of thinking a person has to get so much more done at the cost of family and sanity. As long as I make sure not to be constrained by the technology and that every photo of gets the same three clicks on the same three settings or presets I think I will continue to grow as a photographer. My root vegetable medley will still be roasted in a pan with seasonings, not microwaved, despite the extra scrubbing afterwards. The flavour is worth it.

I suppose the last thing to consider is what a person does with all of this extra free time afforded us by technology. Do you read something, send an e-mail to a friend, spend it with family, create something or sit in front of the TV? I know I have a few video games I should cut back to a few hours a week.