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Month: October 2016

How To Tuesday #40 : Lightroom Video Tutorial "Two Exposure Photo Merge"

October 24, 2016

It’s often impossible to capture every detail we see with our eyes in one exposure in the camera. Lightroom’s “photo merge” and compositing is a game changer when you want that accurate exposure value representation.

We have all been there before: you find yourself in front of a beautiful blazing sunrise with a cool complimenting cloud cover. The middle and foreground swoop towards you in an underexposed but soft gradation of tones. You snap an exposure but you can’t get all the components of the picture in one exposure. You either blow out the highlights, or underexpose the shadows! What do you do?

 The foreground looks great...but the sun and clouds are overexposed!

The foreground looks great…but the sun and clouds are overexposed!

 The sun and clouds look great, but the foreground is underexposed!

The sun and clouds look great, but the foreground is underexposed!

Back in the old days of film you had to bring with you a few extra bags and hip pouches of polarizers, neutral density filters, graduated filters and more just to get the most out of a difficult landscape exposure. Have no fear, we now have Lightroom

Take a few minutes and watch me combine these two images shot at Crescent Park in New Orleans on my recent “Sunrise: Sunset Photography Workshop”

New E-commerce store photography for New Orleans Tourism site!

October 24, 2016

Did you know the City of New Orleans has merch? No, not merchandise like mardi gras beads, hurricane cups from Pat O’s or hangovers. The city’s creative side offers stuff like T-shirts, tricentennial pins, and tote bags and I was honored to photograph the collection for their new e-commerce site. In doing so, I was able to recruit some good friends and meet some new young models in shooting a few days of studio and location portrait photography. As usual, I rented studio space at my favorite place in town – NOLA Spaces on Toledano St.

Being able to work with friends in a low stress environment creating content for the City of New Orleans?? Pinch me I am still dreaming. This is a dream job for me, it really is. Actually the last 6 months have been so busy for my business and the same time fueling my creative site in the most balancing way. It’s hard to keep up this blog with current content with all the stuff going on. I will try my best to keep you in the loop..but for now – the City Of New Orleans online store is open – click on the photo below to come in!

Open Call! Jazz Fest Volunteer Photographers 2017!

October 13, 2016

Ever wanted to photograph Jazz Fest from the inside? This great experience is awaiting your submission!!! I highly recommend any photographer I have taught to get your portfolio together and submit now!

Jazz Fest Volunteer Photographer Program 2017

 

The Volunteer Photographer Program is a community outreach project of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Archive. The mission of the program is to provide documentation of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell for the Foundation Archive. This documentation goes beyond the stages and music to include the “internal culture” of Jazz Fest- the food, art, culture and people who attend the festival. These other aspects are crucial in making Jazz Fest an annual success. 

 

The program joins photographers, from a variety of backgrounds, with the Festival and Archive to provide the unique experience of photographing the world renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Volunteer Photographers must be at least 18 years of age.

 Dates: April 28-30 and May 4-7, 2017

Festival Location: Fair Grounds Race Course, 1751 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70119

 

Applicant categories:

  • Student
  • Amateur
  • Professional

Position Description & Requirements

Volunteer Photographers must be able to manage and edit hundreds or even thousands of digital images and understand that the work of photographing the Jazz Fest is physically demanding. Photographers often walk many miles a day around the Fair Grounds Race Course and are responsible for their own photography gear. There can often be a variety of weather conditions – rain (lots of mud) or shine (lots of dust) and in potentially *very* hot weather.

 Selected volunteer photographers are responsible for providing the Archive with the images taken at the festival. Without all submissions there will be an historical gap in the documentation of the 2017 festival. Any photographer who does not submit their images will not be in good standing with the Foundation. 

 Juried Process

A three-person jury of photographers will select photographers based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic Merit (75%)
  • Experience photographing live cultural events and/or professional reliability (25%)

 How to Apply
Set up a profile at http://www.callforentry.org The application can be found in the Call For Entry listings under “New Orleans Jazz Fest Volunteer Photographers” beginning Saturday October 15, 2016 and the deadline to apply is Sunday, November 27, 2016. Direct all questions to archive@jazzandheritage.org

No more than 150 applications can be accepted.

ALL Inquiries can be directed to:

Rachel E. Lyons, Archivist

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation
901 Toulouse St.
New Orleans LA 70112

504-558-6138

That time I got to photograph inside the hippest office in downtown New Orleans?

You know when you visit an office or a home a few times and you really really want to photograph inside it but all the photographing is usually done outside the house?

 Each set of portraits were done in locations around Peter Mayer

Each set of portraits were done in locations around Peter Mayer’s modern yet rustic office.

Well, I got to photograph inside the house. Well, the office that is. A few months back I had the pleasure of photographing staff portraits of the Peter Mayer ad and marketing firm in New Orleans, LA. They have just finished their new website and wanted new staff portraits to populate the new site. (check their new website HERE

The Peter Mayer agency has been at the industry forefront since 1967, right here in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Peter Mayer is one of those old school/new school types of agencies. They understand the history of the power of pen and image and understand the current trends enough to create lasting brands. We know this, well, because they have been on the industry forefront since 1967, operating right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Peter Mayer and his two sons, Josh and Mark for New Orleans Magazine back in 2007 (you can see that pic on their site here – PHOTO)

Over the last few years I have been lucky to work with them on a number of client jobs. Working with the teams from Peter Mayer is always a creative and collaborative experience for me as I learn so much every time I work with them. So, I was truly honored that they asked me to photograph their staff portraits – at their office! As I might have mentioned before, every time I walk into their office there is a different background that pops out waiting to be photographed. A dark corner, a silver-light lit atrium all begging for their closeup…Their office is rustic yet sleek, modern yet classic in style and vibe. It’s the ultimate studio. And it was mine for two days…

Each of these portraits you see here were taken in 4 different areas of their office. We used a similar, often exact, light setup as to try and maintain the feel of the shots as a whole even though we changed location. This was difficult to do at times, so we always had the camera tethering to Lightroom (click for past Blog on Tethering) and then to a 38″ monitor so we could see what we were getting. Being able to tether your workflow, including the preset Black and White filter, and project the finals while you are shooting proved very useful here!

I look forward to more photo shoots with Peter Mayer, and it has been a delight to see how many recognizable brands, images, and moments that were created right there in that office on Camp St. Happy to be in that #….

Zack

 

 

Understanding the characteristics of light is understanding photography - You must always be a Student of Light!

October 11, 2016

This weekend I was a Student of Light…

 This past weekend I was a student. A student of light and all those light hunters that came b4.

This past weekend I was a student. A student of light and all those light hunters that came b4.

Understanding the characteristics of light is to understand photography. If we are travelers, we can be in tune with our subject and surroundings anywhere we go but if we do not know the light we are lost. We must always be aware of the natural light and tune in to it’s tones, hues, and it’s warmth.

You must always be a student of the light. Always studying, listening, learning…

I love documenting place when I travel. Upon arriving to a new city I am always trying to tap into it’s quality of light at any given moment. That quality of light will lead me to the tones, angles, and colors that are best represented by that light. Sometimes I arrive at dawn and the low light greets the street like a warm whip, and I am quick to spy my shots. I know this light won’t last long…

Harsh Light, Sunset and Sunrise Warmth, City Shadows are all Attitudes of Light…

Harsh mid-day light is not ideal for portraits, but some trees, shrubbery, and flat roofed houses create a contrast not seen in the low sun hours of dawn and dusk. As I walk around I am noticing the characteristics of the light on different textures, patterns, and topography as it relates to the specific town or area I am in. Each area of the world has it’s own Light Attitude “the way light interacts with its’ environment, specific to place”…I am noticing shadows harsh and shadows soft. I am noticing the way the light makes me feel – I am studying the light as in each new place I am always a student.

Come be a student with me as we learn the Light Attitude of Crescent Park this weekend, October 15th at 6am and again at 6pm. Visit the link to learn more – 

https://www.zacksmith.com/sunrise-and-sunset-photo-walk-at-crescent-park/

For now, enjoy this light study I did over the weekend in Cayucos, CA. Such amazing Light Attitude! I saw such extreme variations and gradations in color and light while i was there…What a wonderful place! After talking with a local watercolor artist there, I was backed up by his comments that the latitude of light has such a high range! I knew it! Attitude AND Latitude! Go figure…

 

 

"Between the Shutterclick" Great Photography is Listening, Learning, and being Present.

October 3, 2016
 Most probably my first photographic portrait c.1983, Lafayette, LA

Most probably my first photographic portrait c.1983, Lafayette, LA

As I grow older in life I am blessed to have the hindsight to remember what was so important to me at different phases of my photographic career. I can clearly remember my Bright White Light phaseIn the fall of 1997 I realized that the camera could tell the stories I saw with my eyes better than the pen to page. For the next few years all I wanted to do was take pictures. I carried my Canon AE-1 around my shoulder everywhere I went and raised it to my eye in the most natural reaction to the moments in front of me.

The passion and the drive was there but the technical mastery was not. 

You must know the rules before you break them: Learning the technical side of Photography; Summer 2000.

For the first few years I was winging it, faking it to make it, but I wasn’t making the stride I felt I needed to be in total control. I worked my ass off for a year: 4am-12p graphics operator for a TV station, 3p-5p cross country coach at my old high school then 7-11p at Semolina’s. Yeah, I did that for a year while saving money for a summer course at Rocky Mountain School of Photography www.rmsp.com where I could block out the noise of life and immerse myself in nothing but the craft and mastery of my new muse. It had to be done.

The next six or so years I continued to follow the pull of live music in New Orleans, photographing the clubs every night. The Dragon’s Den, House Of Blues, Tipitina’s, DBA, The Shim Sham Club, The Matador, and the Dixie Brewery were a few of the clubs I’d frequent to witness the energy of music. I never left the house with out my Nikon n90s and the only 3 lenses I owned: 24mm f2.8, 50 f1.8, 85mm 1.8. They were with me at all times – laid out on the big monitor at Tipitina’s… lens caps and back caps strewn everywhere as I followed the music where it went.

The most important thing to me was to shoot as much as I could, make relationships with as many bands and musicians and promoters as I could. I brought my portfolios over to every club showing them what I could do. Did I care there was no money in doing what I was doing? Absolutely not – it was all for a higher power, a calling, a vision. I HAD to photograph, I HAD to not miss a single show, second line, or funeral. I went to them all….

As a young photographer in New Orleans, photography for me was answering a higher power, a calling, a vision. I HAD to photograph, I could NOT miss a show, a second line, or a funeral. The camera led me and I followed…

After years of photographing in New Orleans, I had attained so many of the things I had dreamed of. Bands were calling me to do their album covers, EPK’s, website content. Organizers and promoters were hiring me to shoot their events, and even The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and French Quarter Fest called to hire me on as staff photographer. 

At this time I was feeling the pull of portraiture and the stories of the eyes, the weight of the soul.

I could tell I was losing interest in being an “observer” and wanted to be a “director” because I started dreaming scenes in my head. Scenes that could only accomplished in very controlled, but creative, environments. I started putting up backdrops on street corners, bringing my lights to parties, gatherings, and festivals like Festival Acadiens, Voodoo Fest, Chaz Fest and more just to have the opportunity to work with different types people. For me then, it was all about finding people’s comfort zones, the best versions of themselves… from total strangers to great friends. The challenge for me was the mystery and the great reward as I was asked to be an “observer” AND a “director”.

For me now, being a good photographer has less to do with the camera than ever before.

In the last few months I have really relied on my abilities to listen, really listen, to my clients visual needs. I need to be present with my subject and learn as much as I can about them. I need to do my research online and my intuitive research as a listener. As a photographer and visual communicator I am asked more for my insight and input on how images should feel and represent my client and how they are integrated into their brand. I am thinking less and less about the buttons and apertures and more about what questions to ask my subject to get the best out of them, their best. I am reading books on philosophy and brand identity, I am learning how to find new ways of teaching and communicating photographic principles. It’s a new way for me, but change is how it’s always been. Change is hard at first but always brings forth new life. 

The most important thing for me is to be right sided in my own life, mind, and heart. Oh, and listen…always listen.

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