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Life Before Photoshop: Microsoft

As I tell my online students with the PPSOP and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, there was actually a time when you had to create your pictures in the camera. During that period of time which goes back before most of the new age digital photographers were crawling around looking for our pacifier, Kodachrome was the film of choice. I shot Kodachrome 25, and when I needed high speed film I switched to Kodachrome 64. Not only was the word Adobe linked to a type of house in the Southwest, but you had to wait until your film came back from the lab before you could breath again.

What that did for photographers like myself was to make us rely solely on our own wits and knowledge of the camera. We had to know that 1/250th of a second at F/4 was the same exposure as 1/125th of a second at F/5.6, and 1/60th of a second at F/8. We also had to know that the depth of field would change according to the aperture.

Don’t get me wrong, I love CS5, and especially the content aware tool!!! Now, if I can’t move to the right or the left to remove a telephone pole growing out of someone’s head, I use that tool as part of my thought process; however I would rather embrace the challenge of creating my photographs in the camera. For me, the reward is knowing that I’m a good photographer that can solve problems and not a computer artist or digital technician that relies on a machine to fix something I could have taken care of at the point of conception…that is at the point that my camera and I created/made a picture together.


The three pictures above were a part of a campaign for Microsoft. The campaign was about being the best you can, and excelling in whatever endeavor you choose. The art director wanted something in the field of sports to make their point so I made a list I thought would make the best visuals. I had diving in the back of my mind and had already started to pre-visualize how the photos would look. The agency and client liked my idea so we started  scouting locations where there was an Olympic pool. The direction of the light was critical to my idea so after looking at several pools across the country, I decided on the pool in Pasadena, California; just down the street where the Rose Bowl is played.

Ok, I had the right pool, so now it was time to secure some divers. As usual, when I’m shooting sports of any kind I want the best people out there. The visual part of the sport is important, as in the form, so I want the people that can do just that. I had my producer talk to the swimming clubs and organizations to get a list of names. We were in luck!!! There were several young women that were trying out for the US Olympic team that lived in the area. I thought you couldn’t do better than that since their form would be perfect. We paid three young teenage girls to come dive for me at sunset. I used three because one would get too tired climbing up to the top platform. I had each one doing there best dive for me one right after the other for the few minutes of time I had to be in the best light.

The swan dive was the easiest since I shot her with just the available light against a blue sky. With the other two, I waited until the sun went down behind a large hill so all I had was the sky behind them. I lit these with a small softbox I had set up on the top platform next to me. I waited until the sky behind the girls read the same as the light from the electronic flash and used what was called a synch-delay so the flash would go off at the end of the exposure instead of the beginning. This created the slight movement.

I edited the selects down to these three and sent them to the art director to pick one for the ad. They wound up using the shot with the girl in a swan dive and as I said, there’s absolutely no post processing of any kind in either of these three photos.

How it was done.

Here’s a photo of how I created the swan dive.

Visit my website at; www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2012 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. By the way, I’m working on my 2013 schedule which will include a workshop/wine tasting in Napa Valley.

Be sure to send me a question and photo to: AskJoeB@gmail.com


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    { 8 comments… add one }
    • Toad Hollow Photography October 18, 2012, 1:29 pm

      I really spend a lot of time behind the shutter working on technical details, lighting and composition as you outlined here.  I don’t have all the equipment you do to do this sort of thing but the overall considerations result in much better end imagery, in my humble opinion.  Let the camera do the heavy lifting I always say!  Great article here, Joe, I really enjoyed it and have come away with some fresh ideas.

      • Joe October 18, 2012, 5:58 pm

        Thanks Scott for your reply, I appreciate it.

        Actually, I only had one small power pack, one small generator, and one very small softbox.


        • Joe October 22, 2012, 8:05 am

          Thanks for the comment!!!


    • Joe October 25, 2012, 8:16 am

      Thank you for the comment!!!


    • Joe October 25, 2012, 11:43 am

      Thanks for the comment.


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