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Life Before Photoshop

Life Before Photoshop: Rubbermaid Outdoor Furniture

Look ma, no Photoshop

Look ma, no Photoshop

I often wonder what kind of photographer I would have turned out to be had there been Photoshop way back when. Way back when Adobe was a type of house in the Southwest part of the US. What would I have done differently? It’s always a topic talked about with my online students at the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

Remembering back when whatever you did in terms of creating a photo that the client would buy, had to be done in the camera because way back when there weren’t personal computers.

The big companies were just starting to use computers, and these giant behemoths I was occasionally sent to photograph took up an entire floor to generate the power that can now be found sitting on my desk in my iMac 27 with 32 GB of RAM, a 4.0 GHz processor, and a three terabyte Fusion hard drive…maybe? Close?

In my opinion, I wouldn’t be near the photographer had I had access to Lightroom, Photoshop, and all the plug-ins that one can find out in the geek-produced/induced digital market. I would have wound up with a sore butt from the hours that would have been needed sitting in front of a computer to achieve what I did in the camera.

In terms of my imagination, and my eye, and always thinking about “coloring outside the lines” these things would not have been any different. It’s using that imagination and my ‘eye’ instead of digital help that I’m talking about. Using the Elements of Visual Design and composition, and being a student of the Light is what made me whatever I am today, and not a computer.

I even know how to focus manually!!!!

:-)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a purist in any sense of the word. I love Photoshop, and I use it on every photo I take to some extent…why not!! I just personally like the challenge of getting it in the camera.

In the above photo, I was shooting for Rubbermaid outdoor furniture, and had two truck loads of their entire line that followed me down the California coast. We were in Big Sur at the Ventana Inn. Actually, we were on the roof of the Nepenthe restaurant and it was mid day.; not the ideal time to shoot as the light was hot and harsh.

I needed the light to be soft so it might replicate the period of time we were going for; it wasn’t going to happen without help.

If this would have been shoot in the digital age, creating that feeling in front of the computer would have been easy, but it wasn’t. Instead, to get that feeling I set up my 20X20 silk to diffuse the harsh light. coming from a sun that was directly above us. As you can see, this isn’t a small item, and it took an hour and a half just to set it up in the wind.

Think about a 20X20 piece of silk…that’s 400 square feet of sail, and if not tied down correctly on huge stands that were held down with sand bags, it would take my assistants over the ocean and deposit them in really cold water inhabited by things that can eat you…or maybe just play with you until you drown.

400 sq. ft. of sail.

400 sq. ft. of sail.

The good news is that it wouldn’t take me ( as I would be the only one left) near as long to break down what was left of the set.

:-(

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

BTW, happy birthday America…live long and prosper.

JoeB

Life Before Photoshop: Alpha Romeo Shoot

Look ma, no Photoshop.

Look ma, no Photoshop.

 

Every time I write one of these posts it takes me way, way back to the days when Adobe was the name of a style of house in the Southwest part of the US.

The good old days when you had to do everything in the camera, and as a result got the occasional ulcer for doing it. Yes, those do-da days where it took just one screw-up and you became persona non grata at not just the agency you were shooting for, but if that Art Director that picked you went to another agency, and they often did, your name went with them. That’s just the chance you took because the money was so good. In those days car shooters (the good ones) were getting $5000.00 per shot (plus all expenses) and up, and that day sometimes meant one shot at sunrise and one at sunset.

In my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, we work on incorporating the Elements of Visual Design into their photography. We also work on getting as much in the camera before the shutter is clicked so that my fellow photographers can become better photographers, not better computer artists.

That’s not to say that I don’t use Photoshop because I do with just about every photo; not to do anything except minor tweaking. For me, getting it in the camera is a great challenge, and as a result I fell good that I’m a good shooter that relies on my eye and imagination, not Histograms, blinking lights, and that insidious bane of existence that’s called…HDR!!!.

In the above photo, the Art director and I choose The Bonneville Salt Flats for the location because of the simplicity, the great light, and all that wonderful texture.

It may look like a simple set-up but I can tell you that it was anything but simple. The car company that brought the new-never been seen before Alpha Romeo got their huge van and trailer stuck and after hours of trying and a twenty foot hole, we were able to rent a back hoe to get the tractor out that got stuck trying to get the trailer out in the first place…what a mess!!! This took a day. Then, we had to fill in this giant crater so it looked like it never happened…another day of expenses.

Simple set-up????????

Simple set-up????????

The placement of the car was extremely important since as a prototype it came without a motor and had to be manually placed (by hands) to get the right angle of the light. When seconds counted, there wasn’t enough time to move it again (and keep those tire tracks out of the shot. To do this I used my Sunpath readings and my Morin 2000 hand bearing compass to get it at the exact angle to eliminate unwanted hotspots and glare, and the shadow that was important as well. I knew that the shot had to be taken right before the full sun was visible on the horizon. After that the car was subject to those elements that couldn’t be taken out since any thought of post-processing was years away.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime. I still have a few spots in my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Lisbon, Portugal next May 21st.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

Keep those photos and questions coming into: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a video critique.

JoeB

Life Before Photoshop: Hawaii

Look ma, no Photoshop  I teach a four week online class with the PPSOP, and I also  conduct my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops around the planet. What’s the single thread that connects all my fellow photographers to one another? It’s the fact that the vast majority began their love for this creative institution after the advent of the digital camera. Virtually every month , I  try to educate these students of mine that you don’t need Lightroom  or Photoshop to make good photos. I’m not saying there not great tools, just that you don’t need them to make a good photo.

I recently had a student ask me if I bracketed my photos and combined them in HDR to get the “correct exposure”. This is a clear sign that validates my thinking. First of all, she had been told that there was a correct exposure….What????? First of all there’s no such thing as a correct exposure. every picture I’ve ever taken had a different “correct exposure”. How can there be a universal correct exposure? Beat’s the hell out of me. I guess it’s just another one of those things that lie just above my pay grade.

My exposures are based on what I’m feeling at the point of creation. It has solely to do with the message I want to send to the viewer. Bright and sunny, or dark and dramatic…it just all depends…doesn’t it????

Second, I’ve been shooting for forty-four years and most of that was when you bracketed and choose the best exposure. There was no other way to do it; at least when I was shooting color. HDR was the initials of a girl I went out with!!!

Ok, read my lips…YOU DON’T NEED HDR TO CREATE A CORRECT EXPOSURE. IN FACT, YOU DON’T NEED HDR AT ALL!!!

In the above photo, I was shooting a project for United Airlines. One of the toughest assignments I’ve ever had. Five weeks in Hawaii shooting pretty much whatever I wanted..oh the horror!!!

We were invited to take some photos of a popular Luau at the hotel we were staying at. My assistant was standing right next to me giving me readings from my Minolta One-Degree spot meter. Yes, it actually reads just one degree of reflected light at a time. I want to know everything about the light and when it changes. It’s why I never use the meter in my Mark III after crossing over to the digital world. It’s just not as accurate as I want it.

A new reading every few seconds.

A new reading every few seconds.

I wanted to maintain the aperture, so my assistant kept yelling out the changes in shutter speeds., until it was too dark to show the fire-eater and the environment around him, and too slow to stop the action. I was able to achieve this on one piece of film, and one exposure.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2015 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I have two openings left in my next “springtime” workshop in Portugal.Next July 26th I’ll be back at the Maine Media Workshop for my 27th year. a fantastic place full of energy and lot of photographers on the campus to share your experience with. I always pick this same week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. A different set of photo opts: people watching and portraiture, color, light, and design.

I have one spot left for my “Autumn in Provence” workshop to be next October 21st. We’ll be shooting during the Fall foliage. In April of 2016, in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours, I’ll be leading a group to the coastal cities of North and Central Viet Nam. You’ll see and take pictures of subject matter you would only see in magazines like National Geographic.

Keep those photos and questions coming in to: AskJoeB@gmail.com

JoeB

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