Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scanner as camera


My son Wynn, Looking more like a creature from John Carpenter's, Sci-Fi/Horror classic, ,"The Thing," than his usual self.

I've always wanted to try and use my desktop scanner for more than just scanning prints, tear sheets and the occasional negative or slide, I wanted to scan 3D objects. I have seen some really nice still lifes created this way, bouquets of flowers, sections of fruit and such but I'm always more interested in images of people.

I began with a few self portraits. The results were not so flattering, my nose was bulbous and even larger than normal and it looked like my ears were on the back of my head! Thinking maybe I should try again but with better subject matter, I called Wynn into my office. I explained to him what I doing and asked him if I could scan his face. Being a typical twelve year old, he was quite eager to be scanner fodder, even after seeing what it had done to me.

The first few scans were kind of funny, Wynn had a nose like a pig, from pressing it to the glass but the "Eureka" moment came when Wynn turned his head during a scan. I liked the result. On the next scan I instructed Wynn to turn his head to one side and wait until the light reached his nose then slowly turn his face to the other side.

Scanned using an Epson 3200 which produced a 43.5 mb tiff file.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Scrooge and Ghost of Christmas Past



Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to
me.' asked Scrooge.

'I am.'

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if
instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.

'Who, and what are you.' Scrooge demanded.

'I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.'

'Long Past.' inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish stature.

'No. Your past.'

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend. He then made bold to inquire what business brought her there.

"Your welfare," said the Ghost.

Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately:

"Your reclamation, then. Take heed."

It put out its hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the arm.

"Rise. And walk with me."

It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap; and that he had a cold upon him at that time. The grasp, though gentle, was not to be resisted. He rose: but finding that the Spirit made towards the window, clasped his robe in supplication.

"I am mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, "and liable to fall."

"Bear but a touch of my hand there," said the Spirit, laying it upon her heart, "and you shall be upheld in more than this."

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen.

- A Christmas Carol, Stave 2: The First of the Three Spirits

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ebenezer Scrooge's Grave


"The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.

'No, Spirit. Oh no, no.'

The finger still was there.

'Spirit.' he cried, tight clutching at its robe,' hear me.
I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must
have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I
am past all hope.'

For the first time the hand appeared to shake.

'Good Spirit,' he pursued, as down upon the ground he
fell before it: 'Your nature intercedes for me, and pities
me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you
have shown me, by an altered life.'

The kind hand trembled.

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it
all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the
Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I
will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I
may sponge away the writing on this stone.'

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to
free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it.
The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.

Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate aye
reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress.
It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost."
- A Christmas Carol, Stave 4: The Last of the Spirits

Thanks to my neighbor, John, for once again appearing in one of my holiday photographs. He originally appeared as Scrooge in "Ignorance and Want" video that can be seen HERE. John was also Jacob Marley for THIS holiday card. Thanks to Wynn for being The Ghost of Christmas Future. Last year Wynn played the role of The Turkey Fetcher, Tony Hughes was the Poulterer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pop Art Portrait


In general my photography style is fairly straightforward. Find a subject, light it simply, follow a few basic rules of composition and shoot. Follow up with basic adjustments in Photoshop and the image either works or it doesn’t.

It’s good to shake things up once in awhile and that’s exactly why I’m taking a class in digital illustration. One of our assignments was to produce a pop-art portrait. Of course, Warhol was the king of pop-art but I drew my inspiration from Roy Lichtenstein. I preferred Lichtenstein’s single images, over Warhol’s repeating images.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Homage to Monet


My son Wynn, his friend Jack, and I participated in the National Wildlife Federations, Great American Campout, hosted by The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. The campout was promoted to get children and parents to turn off their computers, TVs, iPods, cell phones, Wiis, and other high tech devices and spend a night with Mother Nature.

After setting up our camp site, I grabbed my Canon G9 and Gitzo reporter, tripod and we hit the trails. First stop was Springhouse Pond. The reflections in the water reminded me of Claude Monet’s impressionistic paintings of water lilies. I made a series of photographs while Wynn and Jack tried catching frogs.

After processing the image normally, I decided I wanted to make them look even more like Monet’s by using the Match Color feature in Photoshop. I did a search for Monet on Google Images, and found one of his paintings with colors I thought would work well with my pond photos and then copied it to my desktop. I opened the jpeg and my pond photo in Photoshop. Making sure my photo was active, I went to Image> Adjustments > Match Color. In the Match Color menu I selected the Monet jpeg as the source. I played with the Luminance and Color intensity sliders and when I liked what I saw, I clicked OK.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

HDR Railroad Car


My family and I where in Scranton over the 4th of July weekend visiting my wife's parents. I decided to go down to "Steamtown National Historic Site" to take some photographs. When I told my wife where I was going she asked "How many photographs of trains do you need?" Her question was not without merit, I have photographed there many times, the decaying engines and rolling stock offer limitless photographic possibilities and are ideal subjects for trying out new equipment and techniques. This time I wanted to try the HDR (high density range)feature in Photoshop, and I knew the interior of a railroad car would be an excellent test subject as it would contain both murky shadows and bright highlights.

HDR merges multiple exposures of the same scene into one image with an expanded tonal range. Using my cameras auto exposure bracketing feature, I was able to make three exposures in rapid succession. The first exposure would be two stops underexposed, the second, properly exposed and the third, two stops overexposed. The idea being that when merged, the extra shadow detail from the overexposed frame and the added highlight detail from the underexposed frame combined with the normally exposed frame would yield an image with a tonal range that would not be possible in a single capture.

While it is possible to hand hold the camera and let Photoshop try to align the exposures it's better to use a tripod for HDR.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Looking for a Good Home



W.C.Fields once said, "Never work with children or animals." I wonder if he meant children and animals were difficult to direct, or that he was afraid he'd be upstaged? From my experience, I'd say it was a little bit of both.

While searching for images to show at last night's, ASMP Philly "Expose Yourself" social event, I decided to show images I had shot for The Mainline Animal Rescue. This was the perfect opportunity as I could combine two verticals into one horizontal image that would fit better into the presentation. I sized each at just under 400 pixels wide and pasted them into a new white background that was 8oo pixels wide.

The price of admission was six bucks, six images or a six pack of beer. Thanks to Blake Discher for that suggestion and thanks to Jim Graham of PowerPlant Studios, for hosting. The event was well attended with over thirty Philadelphia photographers showing their work.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Miquon School Graduation


After nine years, two in nursery, one in kindergarten then first through sixth grade, Wynn is now a graduate of The Miquon School. He and ten of his classmates received their long awaited, individualized, hand made diplomas, under a tent on the woodchip field.

The two-hour event included speeches by each graduate, parent speech by Kevin McDonnell, speech by board president Marcea Driscoll, reading and presentation of diplomas by 6th grade teacher, Erica Nelson and Principal Julia Finney, songs “Where You Lead, I Will Follow,” and “My Wish,” were preformed by the graduates, Tony Hughes preformed “The Celebration Anthem” both graduates and alumni performed “Fields of Childhood” everyone joined in on “Miquon in my Heart” and the ceremony concluded with “My Donkey Flies Sideways” performed on kazoo, by the fifth graders, as the graduates exited the tent.

My wife and I are proud of the young man Wynn has become, we’re grateful for the part Miquon has played in shaping his character. We’d like to thank the staff, the teachers and the other families for the wonderful journey. While we’ll miss Miquon, we know there will many opportunities to visit in the future. You never really leave Miquon. If we had it to do all over again, we’d make the same choice.

As a long time Miquon Parent, I have photographed many graduation ceremonies for the school, but this year would be different, our son would be one of the graduates. Everyone understood when I declined the invitation to photograph graduation this year, as I thought I’d just sit back and take it all in, but after a few days I realized, that more than any other graduation, I had to shoot this one. I'm glad I did, documenting the event allowed me to actively participated in Wynn's graduation.

Congratulations, to the Miquon class of 2009!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"I Stink at Negotiating" Blake Discher


Blake Discher stopped in Philadelphia to zap attendees with superhuman negotiating powers,"Hey, you missed me!"

Blake was on the road with two of his lectures from the ASMP Strictly Business 2 seminar, "I Stink at Negotiating" and " Is your Web Site Making You Money?"

Do you panic when you have to discuss money with a client? Do you talk too fast, ramble or sound indignant? Do you give in too fast to a lower price or broad licensing terms?

Seminar Topics:

o Learn how to prepare for a negotiation.
o Researching a client.
o Increasing your clout
o Listening skills
o When is it time to walk away?
o The Follow-up is critical.

Next Stops for "I Stink at Negotiating."

9/16/09 Cleveland, OH

9/24/09 Kansas City

11/13/09 Denver, Co

For more information or to register visit ASMP

View my past post about Blake at SB2

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chrysler Files for Bankruptcy

Why am I posting about Chrysler's financial woes on my photography blog when I don't shoot cars, or even live in Detroit? Bear with me. Sometimes when I’m at an event, usually a family function, someone will say “Ad, you should take a picture,” but there are times I just want to take life in without a lens between me and what’s going on around me. Sometimes I reply, “I just did, I took a mental picture, it will last longer.”

My first car was a Chrysler, a hand-me-down, 1968 Dodge Polara, given to me by my father. Although it handled like a rowboat, I loved it. It reminded me of "The Black Beauty," the car featured in the 60’s TV series “The Green Hornet,” adapted from the comic books of the same name. The Green Hornet’s sidekick, Kato, (Bruce Lee) was many Americans first exposure to The Martial Arts. The series had a short run, eclipsed by Batman and Robin.

The uncertain fate of Chrysler saddens me.  Not only is another American Icon falling with many peoples livelihoods are at risk, but also because at sixteen, my liberation came behind the wheel of a Chrysler. "Let's Roll Kato!"


I have no photos of my father with that car, I have no photos of me with that car but I do have “mental pictures.” While they may be a little worn around the edges and a little fuzzy, they are more secure than any jpeg stored on a hard drive.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, 2009

Yesterday, Sunday April 26th was the ninth annual, World Wide Pinhole Photography Day. WPPD is an international event created to promote and celebrate the art of pinhole photography.

Participants from around the world are asked to make pinhole images on this day and upload their favorite image to an online gallery. There is no fee, there are no judges and there are no prizes, only the satisfaction of participating and seeing your photograph in the gallery.

The image above was taken with a cylindrical, cardboard, ice cream container loaded with a sheet of 11x14 photo paper. It was actually too large for my flatbed scanner so I had to scan it twice and combine the images using the photomerge feature in Photoshop.

The car is a 1964 Volvo PV544 owned my neighbors John & Sandy. They are converting it into an “Art Car” by covering it in marbles!

This is the second year I have participated in WPPD. You can see my post from last year here.

To find out more about WPPD click here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Backyard Bird Photography

My office is a cozy 8ft. x 16ft. nook, between the kitchen and the deck. There is a large sliding glass door facing East, that provides me with natural light and a view into the backyard. Our lot is 1/4 acre, as is our neighbors on either side and there is a wooded easement at the back of the property. All this helps to create the illusion that I live in the country rather than on the outskirts of a major city.

Some of the wildlife I can observe through the sliding glass door includes squirrels, opossums, raccoons, groundhogs and a wide variety of birds. I hung a bird feeder on a pole and positioned it in the yard so that all I have to do is lean over in my chair, just a little bit, to see the feeder and any birds that might be feeding there. The feeder attracts mostly Sparrows, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Chickadees.

While I enjoyed watching the birds the idea of photographing them at the feeder seemed cliche. But what if I hung a backdrop behind the feeder and photographed them while they were still in the air, just before landing on the perch?

It was Good Friday, the weather was beautiful and I had no where I had to be. I filled the feeder and hung a hand painted canvas behind it, securing it to the pole with A clamps.

I mounted a Canon 580EX on a stand and placed it on the right side of the feeder. This flash was about 6 ft. from the feeder and about 1 ft. higher. I zoomed the head to the 85mm setting to narrow the beam and minimize the amount of light spilling onto the background. I was going to use the STE2 infrared transmitter to fire the strobe, as well as control the flash exposure, so all I needed to do was set it for ETTL, set it to slave mode and twist the head so it pointed toward the feeder while the front of the flash pointed toward camera position so the IR receiver on the front of the flash would see the light from the transmitter.

I attached a second Canon flash to a table top tripod and placed in on the ground on the opposite side of the feeder. The settings for this flash were the same as the first flash but the head was pointed up toward the feeder. I now had created a one high, one low, cross lighting for my feathered friends.

I mounted a 300mm lens on my 50D and slide the STE2 transmitter onto the hot shoe. I then mounted the camera onto a tripod. Even with a 300mm lens I still had to get close to the feeder to even hope to fill the frame with little birds. I set up the camera about twelve feet away from the feeder then focused on the perches. I panned the camera to the side so that the perches were not visible in the frame and so that I could capture the birds in flight, just before landing.

This turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined. Even though the birds would land on the support bar above the feeder or on a nearby sapling before going for the feeder, tripping the shutter before the bird landed on the perch took total concentration, split second timing, and just plain luck. For every frame that had a bird in it I had three frames of empty background. Because I didn't want the feeder in the shot I had to pick one side to focus on. Left or right, decreasing my chances by 50%. This was going to take longer than I thought.

The amount of activity at the feeder seemed to have diminished by the time I started shooting. I came to the realization that I was too visible and that I needed some camouflage. I thought about giving up until I could construct a bird blind out of PVC tubing and some kind of material but then I remembered watching our son Wynn make a tent out of deck chairs and a old blanket. A few minutes later I was crouching in my ersatz tent awaiting the next avian visitor.

The House Sparrow was captured at 1/250th at f6.3, ISO 100. The camera was set on manual. I chose a shutter/aperture combination that I thought would be a good balance between stop action and depth of field. I didn't mind if 1/250 allowed a little blur in the wings I knew the short duration of the flashes would make a sharp base exposure. I new there would be some cropping involved so I wanted to keep the ISO as low as possible.

I wanted to make the flash light dominant and have the background dark so I under exposed the ambient by 1,2/3 stops.I was pleasantly surprised with the consistency with which the flashes fired given that IR tends to be erratic out doors, in sunlight. There were just enough hazy clouds to keep the sun from overwhelming the sensors and both flashes were in front of and at 45 degrees from, the transmitter. I did move the transmitter off the camera, mounting it to another small tripod attached with an off camera shoe cord, after I extended the lens shade which blocked the transmitter! I left the flash ratios at 1:1 and let the birds proximity to each flash determine which light would be stronger.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

David Tejada & Company, in Philly


L to R: David Tejada, Erik Lawrence, yours truely and Ian Galbraith after finishing off Geno's cheesesteaks with wiz. Thanks to Amanda Stevenson-Lupke,(current ASMP Philly Pesident,) for the photo.

As Programs Chair on the Board of ASMP Philadelphia, one of my duties is to reach out to possible presenters for future programs.

I first heard of David Tejada over twenty years ago when I lived in Denver. I remembered seeing his images in The Colorado Creative Directory, then in 2006 while reading David Hobby’s blog "Strobist," I came across his work again. I followed the links to David’s "?"The F- Stops Here" Blog and his YouTube, on assignment Videos.

I knew David was traveling around the country conducting "Small Strobes, Big Results" Workshops but hadn’t been to Philadelphia yet. I emailed him offering logistical help for the workshop if he’d give a presentation to our members. David called me back and said he’d love to come to Philly and wanted to know what location I had in mind for the workshop. I suggested Eastern State Penitentiary. Built in the early18oo’s, one time home of Al Capone, now rusted bars and peeling paint, rumored to be haunted, turned into a tourist attraction, film location It’s “Terror Behind The Walls,”was just ranked the number one haunted house in America. And you thought all Philly had was an old cracked bell!

David and his assistants, Eric and Ian flew in the day before the Lecture and wanted to meet up for dinner. For a true Philadelphia experience I took them to Geno's Steaks in South Philly. Nothing but the best for our guests. I warned them not to make a scene by asking for Provolone cheese like John Kerry did, while campaigning in Philly in 2004. Some political analysts believe this faux pas played a major part in his losing the election.

With over ninety people in attendance, the ASMP lecture was a big hit. There was so much demand for the workshop that David added another day and still had to turn people away. I bet it wouldn't be to hard to get him to come back again.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

What's In A Name?

Leah & Addison Geary

I was named after my paternal grandfather, Addison Eicher Geary. I’m glad my parents took a pass on Eicher. The name Addison is from Olde English and means son of Adam. Sounds a little Narnian, dosen't it?

As a kid I wanted to fit in so I used my middle name, Allen. It didn't seem unusual for someone to refer to my Grandfather as Addison, the name just seem to fit him. It wasn’t until my first day at Art School did I dare to be Addison. That was my first name after, all and If you can’t have an unusual name in art school, where can you have an unusual name?

I read in Reader’s Digest that Addison was the 8th most popular name for newborn girls in 2008. I tried to register addison at Zenfolio.com only to find MY name had already been taken. I clicked on the site to find dozens of photos of a newborn baby girl.

Addison can also be a last name. The Addison’s were Alan Young’s neighbors in the 1960’s sitcom Mr. Ed. Bruce Willis played David Addison in Moonlighting, a sitcom from the 80’s, also starring Cybil Shepard. Almost everyone has heard of Addison-Wesley publishing. There’s even an Addison’s disease, which I know nothing about and I don’t care to know either.

There is an Addison street in Taylor, WV, Los Angeles, CA, Alameda, CA, Edgefield, SC, Washington, PA, Cook, IL, Oakland, MI, Miami, OH, Klamath, OR and even one right here in Philadelphia.

Okay,Enough about me, now let’s talk about you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Take a Snow Day!


The Winter storm that crippled much the Mid-West, moved into Philadelphia last night. It began as snow then changed to freezing rain by morning.

Compared to other parts of the country we're doing alright, we still have electricity and heat. We also had plenty of warning as the storm made it's way east. I didn't have an assignment today, my wife didn't have to go into the office and Wynn's school, Miquon was closed.

Despite the freezing rain, I took Wynn over to Gorgas Park where we met up with with his friends, Jack & Nick, to do some sledding. The sledding didn't last long as the sleet changed to rain, turning the snow to slush. The kids got soaked, but at least we got out of the house for a little while.

Jack and Nick came home with us to play computer games and eat bagel bite pizza, while their snowsuits dried by the wood stove.

For the image above, I set my camera to aperture priority automatic and set the 70-200 zoom to its smallest aperture of f/22. The small aperture allowed me to use a long shutter speed (1/30 of second in this case) to show motion as I panned along with the subject. I lowered the color temperature in Photoshop to turn the snow blue.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Manayunk Canal Time-Lapse





I volunteered to work on a video crew producing a piece about the Manayunk Canal. The video is being produced as part of an ongoing series sponsored by The Scribe Video Center. "Precious Places" is a three year program that has teamed 40 neighborhood groups with filmmakers and consultants to make oral history-based documentaries that explore the political and cultural history of public spaces in their neighborhoods.

The Canal was built in 1819 to transport raw materials and finished products to and from Manayunk's textile mills. It was in use until the 1930's when the mills moved out of the city. The purpose of the video is to raise awareness of the historic and recreational value of the canal, hopefully securing funding to continue it's restoration.


We had only one video camera so while I waited my turn, I shot production stills and time-lapse sequences. I had taken a workshop at Scribe on time-lapse photography with Richard Power Hoffman. I realized this was the perfect opportunity to practice time-lapse and have it included in the video.

An older post about Richards Time-Lapse Workshop can be found HERE.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

It has become an tradition in our family to spend New Years Eve with my wife's sister and husband in Upstate New York. We go to the city of Binghamton for their First Night celebration. First Night consists of live music, plays, puppet shows and other performances throughout the evening, ending with a bonfire and fireworks at midnight.

I had hoped to upload a bonfire image to the blog but the temperature was in the single digits and the wind chill made for a bone chilling evening. After catching a puppet show, a poetry slam and a Hip-Hop performance we decided to skip the bonfire and fireworks. We went back to the house and watched the ball drop at Times Square, on the TV.

I decided to upload a comic that I think pretty much sums up the last year for a lot of us. "What the Duck" is from the mind of AAron Johnson. You can click on the title to visit 'WTD' site and start the new year with a few good chuckles.

Used with permission.