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Life Before Photoshop

Life Before Photoshop: Toyota Trucks

Look ma, no Photoshop

Look ma, no Photoshop

I would say that the hardest assignments to shoot before the days of any form of post processing were car shoots. The cars had to look perfect or your automotive career was over. Your name would spread faster than a California fire during the Santa Ana winds.

Besides the projects I shot for most of the Fortune 500 companies, I shot a great deal of car photography; which included billboards, advertising campaigns, and full line brochures. These were incredibly lucrative with six-figure budgets, but one screw-up and you were done…making them fairly stressful.

I loved shooting cars and thinking back I really don’t remember feeling pressure to come back with “the goods”. I always felt confident that given enough pre-production time I could always make the agency and the client happy.

The trick was always knowing where the light was going to be anytime from the moment the sun came up to the last warm rays before sunset; I used a program called Sunpath and a hand bearing compass. Least I not forget the biggest part of a successful shoot, it was also incredibly important to surround yourself with a really professional crew; each one doing what they did best and then having a good producer to make it all work together.

Truth be told, I was in a very small group that paid attention to where the sun was going to be, and an even smaller group that positioned the car in such a way as to create what was called “liquid light”, the nice soft light that ran from the car lights to the taillights. It had to be smooth, soft light that highlighted the side of the car…it had to look that way before you clicked the shutter. No small feat!

AS I tell my online students with the BPSOP, and the ones that take my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, Light is everything and the only time it isn’t is when you’re street shooting and looking for that moment in time; capturing a person’s gesture or body language that will usually reveal something about that person’s soul.

In the above photo taken for Toyota Trucks, I was to find a nursery where we could create a story based on all the different ways to use the  trucks. After having a location scout armed with the Sunpath readings and the compass find me several that would work, the Art Director and I checked out all the ones that received the early morning light I was looking for.

The location we settled on was perfect as it would back light all the flowers we put by the truck all the plants, dirt and fertilizer we put around and in the back of the trucks making them glow. I’m always telling my students and fellow photographers to try to back light anything that’s translucent; it’s my favorite way to light.

I had the car prep company put the trucks in such a way as to get the early morning light running down the side; it’s called the “Law of the Light”, and I’m always conscious of it.

When we were finished and I was satisfied as far as the way it was going to look, we waited until the sun came up. Just when I could see the full sun above the horizon and the light began to stream through my composition, I added one last touch…I had them turn on the sprinklers so they would be lit from behind creating a nice misty effect.

Everything you see here was created before the shutter was pressed and absolutely no help from Adobe; which at that time was a type of house in the SW part of the US.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.

Send me a photo and question to AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.


Life Before Photoshop: Shell Rotella Oil Calendar

Look ma, no Photoshop!

Look ma, no Photoshop!

I miss the good old days when you had to actually think before you pressed the shutter; you had just one click to do it right.

By today’s standards, it was very difficult to do it all in the camera, but since we didn’t know any better it seem the natural thing to do; it was the only thing to do!

I often think back to some of my photos and think what they would have looked like if Lightroom was around and Adobe was not just a type of house in New Mexico. Maybe I would have been dangerous, but i like the way it turned out.

Having said all this, I certainly don’t sit around every day pining for days gone by. I like to rely on Photoshop when something I want to do can’t be done at that moment…the decisive moment when I press down on the shutter and record what is.

What I don’t do and what I tell my online students with the BPSOP and my fellow photographers that sign up for my “Stretching your Frame of Mind” not to do is tell yourself that you’ll just fix it later. Instead of moving to the right to create a better balance between the negative and positive space, or to get that telephone out of someone’s head, or to fix the ridiculously overexposed  subject the meter told you was just fine by bracketing, people will sit in front of the computer and deal with it then.

I was shooting a calendar for Shell Oil, and every year owners drive their huge eighteen-wheelers to a designated city in hopes to be featured on one of the month’s pages.

In the past they simply rented a huge warehouse that had a large overhead doors at each end, put up white seamless paper and each rig drove through, stopped, had it’s picture taken and drove out; I wasn’t interested in doing that.

I presented an idea to the art director. The idea was to take portraits of all the owners and try to make it work with a particular month. I sent my producer ahead of time to find me interesting locations I might use as a backdrop. We arrived in Nashville a couple of days early to look at the locations and decide on the twelve trucks we wanted to use. I walked among a hundred rigs looking to pick out the ones that were simply the coolest!

Since I love purple and Manny and his son (who was spending the summer driving around with dad) were great guys I picked their rig to be on the July’s page. We found this great location and went for the 4th of July theme.

What you see was taken on one 35mm Kodachrome transparency, and just one click of the camera.

Visit my workshop at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2016 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

Don’t forget to send me photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.


Life Before Photoshop: Pacific Bell

Look ma, no Photoshop.

Look ma, no Photoshop.

I shot corporate and advertising photography spanning a forty year career, and most of those years (the dark ages) were spend without the help of Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, and the plethora of plug-ins one can find shopping on the internet; if ones needs help that much.

In fact, Adobe was a type of house in the Southwest part of the US. Thinking back, I can also remember when there weren’t even computers, and as they came into being companies were quick to include photography of their new (freezing) computer room to go out to stockholders in the form of annual reports; to assure them that they were on the leading edge of technology. It’s amazing to think that my maxed out iMac27Retina is probably as powerful than the entire room full of giant machines.

Most of my fellow photographers that take my online classes with the BPSOP, and take my “Stretching Your frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet became photographers during the digital age and have no idea that you can actually “make” good photos before clicking the shutter.

A million years ago, right after the dinosaurs disappeared,  I was shooting an advertising campaign for Pacific Bell, the California based telephone company. I was sent to three locations: Nameless, Tennessee, Remote, Oregon, and Home, Pennsylvania. Three very small but real places spread across the US. With me, I had a phone booth a wall phone and a phone that was mounted on a stand and placed where people could drive up to it.

Before I left my studio, I had a sign made up to look like it was a sign you would see on a road stating the miles left to a particular town or city; in this case Home, PA. I had an idea in mind so in case I found the right location, I would have the prop I needed.

Using my Sunpath coordinates I found just the road I wanted where the sun would set just to one side and down the road apiece!!

We set up the sign and with a portable generator, lit it up.

I remember it missing something and was going to put the rent car driving away from the phone, but at that moment an Amish man drove by and saved the day. As Eddie Adams once said, “When you get lucky, be ready”.

I know that in today’s world, the phone and sign would have been shot in a studio, and the back end of the Amish buggy would have been bought from some stock agency and added after the fact.

I consider myself very lucky that I started out in the film days when you were able to use your head and imagination to solve problems… in the camera where it was fun instead of in front of a computer.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me some time.

Keep sending in those photos and questions to: AskjoeB@gmail.com, and i’ll create a video critique for you.


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