Archive for February, 2010

Photographer: Nick Shere

Hey all, been busy here at LIDF lately, getting a special preset collection made to help XeLerate all digital Lightroom workflows. Well, I need a break from the technical of digital, film, scanning and Lightroom. So I am going to finally do something I have been meaning to for a while.

Today I want to introduce everyone to a photographer whose work has made a deep impact on me, and has been affecting my personal projects quite a bit of late. This is not a profile on the photographer, that may come later; for now this is simply a presentation of his work he has shared with the public.

Today I would like to ask you to take a few moments and reflect upon some of my favorite photos by Nick Shere (@kukkurovaca on Twitter). Nick is primarily a film photographer, as you can see from his body of work, but can also weild a DSLR with equal style.

Nick’s work of most interest to me is his unique urban landscapes and his street photography. Follow along with me as I take a look at a few of his photos from the past year that make a particular impact on me.

Nimitz Construction 

Koni-Omega Rapid // Koni-Omega Hexanon 60mm f/5.6

Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to EI 1600

THis image shows what Nick easily accomplishes that I often strive for. Extraordinary in the ordinary. This image is one that many would simply pass by, not giving the scene a second thought. Here Nick created an image that creates great tension through great utilization of unique textures along with a series of converging lines drawing your eye right to the center of the image. An otherwise mundane scene, that would have unlikely worked in color, is transformed into an image of interest through great composition and the choice of black and white film, which removes the distraction of color and forces you to only consider the composition and textures within. The Tri-X film provided smooth tones with good contrast, pushing the film provided the additional shutter speed to freeze the moment, while the Koni-Omega (being medium format) allows for the push while still retaining a reasonably fine grain.

Church (IR)

Nikkromat FT-2 // 2.8cm f/3.5 H

Efke IR820 Aura exposed at EI 3

When creating an image on infrared film, choice of subject is important. You want to get a good contrast in the image, while making sure that you have something in frame that makes the IR effect bloom. Nick’s composition here is simple and straight forward. The church rides on the left third, the tree on the right third. The road at the bottom rises at an angle, leading you eye right up the tree branch into the infrared glow. A simple image, but with simple comes elegance. The angle of light in the frame further enhances the image, creating brightness in the shadow area that is the church, which primarily serves as a good backdrop for the beauty of the tree interpreted on infrared film. The interplay of highlights and shadows contributes to the image as much as the composition itself. One could argue that the expose could be more dead on, but the exposure presented showcased the unique aspect of the film well, and when shooting IR you have to always keep in mind the essence of your medium and utilize it.

Flood Control Station, Sunset

Voigtlander Bessa R // Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/1.7

Kodak Portra 160NC Expired

Another one of those shots that is easy to pass by, however Nick saw it and conquered. The lighting of the day lend toward enhancing the water that rules the bottom two thirds of the frame. The reflection of the tree adds content to the otherwise spartan face of the water and the light provides a smooth gradient from bright white to deep blue. The structures across the top and right of the frame use their angular nature to move your eye to the primary subject of the image, the hose snaking through the water, with its diverging line causing your eyes to snake right along with it from the top to the bottom. An amazing image.

Rainy Morning Commute

Olympus XA

Portra 160NC

A unique take on street photography, from inside a vehicle to the outside, depicting the platform and rainy weather outside. The image conveys the feeling of dry warmth on the inside, while allowing the cold, wet environment of the outside seep through. The image captures the passengers going about their activities; drinking coffee, reading and apparently simply fidgeting. The rain streaked glass blurs away the people trying to stay dry outside… you can almost feel them shivering. The choice of film for this application helped to make a very natural feel, helping you to further immerse yourself in the scene.

Lightning

Koni-Omega Rapid

Kodak Portra 400VC

One look and ask yourself, would you have taken the shot considering the light? Nick did, and with great timing created a great image.At first you might think that the woman in the steps is the subject, but I would disagree. To me, the subject is the streak of light running across the frame. Most of the image is pure black, with less than a tenth of the image actually lit. A lit sign, person and some flare. That is the content of the light breaking the firmament of darkness. An unconventional image the impress thoroughly.

Welcome to Ferry Plaza

Nikkormat FT-2 // 50mm f/1.4 S

Kodak Portra 400VC

Street photography can be a technical skill, but to me it is more about conveying the feeling of a time and place, much like photojournalism. That is not to say that composition is not a prime component of street photography, it is simply more important to capture the moment. The mix of people and activity, the bridge spanning the top of the frame, all leads to a very interesting photo. What I believe makes this image special to me is the sign dominating the left of the frame, clearly announcing to the viewer exactly where they are and what they are viewing. Even have a photographer hiding behind the sign taking an image of her own at the same time. A simple moment captured, allowing the view to further extrapolate upon what is occurring at and beyond this single moment. Nick captured the essence of street photography here in my opinion.

Tourist Crossing

Bessa R // Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5

Kodak Portra 400VC

Another prime example of what I like in street photography. At first glance the image is mundane, but as you take in the atmosphere, notice the subtle complexity of composition, you can start to appreciate the moment frozen in time. Much like the previous picture, the image conveys feeling and location well. And the natural color palette of the Portra 400 VC lends the feeling of reality, allowing the view to be swept away into the scene. Simplicity sometimes can create excellence, and in my opinion that stands through here.

Long Halloween


 Voigtlander Bessa R // Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/1.7

Kodak Portra 160NC

Verging away from both street and landscape, this image is simply a still life. This is a prime example of choosing an interesting subject. The collapse jack o lantern and aged furniture create a homely feel, especially when framed against the rather modest home. The interplay of light and shadow add to the complexity and the reflections in the mirror even convey, slightly, the presence of the photographer. As you view Nick’s work you come to understand he really has an eye to make the ordinary something more. A large part of a photographers job is to choose interesting subjects and Nick is a master of finding interest in the mundane. 

Limits

Bessa R // Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5

Kodak Portra 160VC

Here Nick deftly combines both his natural feel for street photography with his take on urban landscapes and throws in a healthy does of “fine art” to boot. I could go on about how technically perfect the image is, the great choice of film for great colors, but that would be excessive. Quite simply this image is pure composition. It would work in any photographic medium; digital, film, color, black and white, 35mm, large format and even instant film. It is a composition of such complexity, with the added benefit of great timing that pulls a simple photo from the ranks of snapshot to a once in a lifetime image. The lines in the image are all straight, riging either the horizontal or vertical, with little diagonals present. The textures of the image come together to prove a sense of real depth. A splash of green upon rather earthy tones helps the image come to life. Col. Sanders is also dressed quite dapper for the photo. But the real subject here is the sculpture and the man seeming to walk into it, as if entering a portal. This image is magic and transcends technique and art… it simply is.

Hopefully you found my selections from Nick’s Flickr stream of interest. Don’t stop here, jump over to his Flickr stream and actually take a stroll through his body of work. There are other great nuggets to be found, especially some of his avian photography. I chose only his film shots here on purpose, both because Nick primarily shoots film and because I really wanted some of you to see what film can still accomplish. Hopefully seeing some of Nick’s work has given you a bit more appreciation for the capabilities of the film media.

For more from Nick Shere, take a look at some of his ongoings around the web:

On Twitter: @kukkurovaca - A great follow, especially if you are into scathing wit.

On Flickr: Kukkurovaca

On the Web at Large:

nickshere.com

I Can See it For You Wholesale 

1/125

Hope you all enjoyed the change of pace!

Michael

Review: TTG Pages

Months ago, I reviewed a fine piece of Web Gallery Engine for Lightroom from The Turning Gate, the one-man creation of Matthew Campagna. That piece of software, TTG Highslide Gallery Pro, made creation of high quality, attractive galleries simple. Plus, the added benefit that these beautiful galleries can be generated and uploaded directly from Lightroom.

TTG Pages is a complimentary product to TTG Highslide Gallery Pro. However instead of creating galleries, TTG Pages lets you create elegant websites, easily, right from Lightroom. Now understand, these are not Dreamweaver masterpieces; but solid, simple, elegant websites. TTG Pages is a great front end for the varying TTG Galleries. TTG Pages makes it easy to create specialty websites, such as weddings, online exhibitions and even your online portfolio. TTG Pages is the go to software for quick design, creation and deployment of small, custom sites directly from Lightroom.

Installation of TTG Pages is a simple affair, although if you are not familiar it can seem intimidating. Web engines are not a simple menu click affair like importing presets, you have to manually move the files directly into your Lightroom settings folder. Instructions for installing Web Engines can be found on The Turning Gate site. Along with the Web Engine, the TTG Pages download includes a number of preconfigured Web Templates, allowing a quick redesign of the elements that make the web page with a simple click. Installation instructions for the template again can be found at The Turning Gate.

Once the installation is complete, just fire up Lightroom. Select a few photos you want to use to decorate you webpage and click on the Web Module. From here, simply click on TTG Pages in the Web Engine palette on the right tool panel of the Web Module.

Give Lightroom some time now, as it is prepping your selected images and rendering a web page viewable in the preview panel. From here you can select from a selection of pre-made web templates for TTG Pages, or mosey on over to the right tool panel and start scrolling through your options.

TTG Pages provides a myriad of settings to help create the perfect website for your needs. Everything can be adjusted from the right tool panel, leaving you no HTML that you have to deal with. Not saying you can’t tweak the resulting web page, it is just that you don’t have to. It will be fully functional on export.

What is tricky is text. In most tools, not designed for Lightroom, you would simply type text onto the web preview. Formatting already would be applied. However, due to limitations of Lightroom’s design (I mean, Lightroom is not really a webpage editor) you cannot format paragraphs on you pages. However, Matthew found a nice way around that and has separate text boxes on the tool palette for up to five paragraphs on a page. Most times this will be all you would need.

TTG Pages automatically generates a number of pages automatically. The bare basics are a front page, an about page, a gallery page and a contact page. From here you can also add hotlinks for linking to other pages and TTG Pages even has an easy to use contact form for the contact page that can forward comments and questions directly to an e-mail account.

The gallery page automatically takes one of your selected images and creates a link to a gallery. TTG Pages does not create galleries; you would need to use another TTG gallery engine such as TTG Highslide Gallery Pro. However, TTG Pages is designed to automatically link to galleries you produce when you follow the simple instructions on the TTG pages site.

I am really just touching the tip of the iceberg here, TTG Pages is a powerful tool and used in conjunction with TTG Highslide Gallery Pro it was to be the quickest way to create stunning websites to show off your images. Once you finish you website you can either save it locally to fine tune and upload, or you can directly upload your new site directly from Lightroom.

This review is rather brief, as I do not want to go too in depth, as I am working on a complete tutorial walking you through the use of TTG Pages and TTG Highslide Gallery Pro, from start to finish, to make a “boutique” website, such as that for a wedding or portfolio. It is shaping up to be quite in-depth in both applications, but quite easy to follow. So if this does not generate interest in TTG Pages, I am sure the walkthrough will. In fact I am working on my own special project currently utilizing both of these tools.

Here is a sample site, created with TTG Pages. I did not fill out the page at all, used the standard design and did not upload galleries. Since there are no galleries in the gallery folder, there is no previews shown in the Gallery Index. This is just a sample to play around with, and is only temporary, as I will link my project I am working on here to show exactly what TTG Pages can do.

Overall, I found TTG Pages to be a well-rounded piece of software. It is fast, simple and create fine website. Using TTG Pages on its own has limited appeal, but in conjunction with another TTG product or two you have a complete design solution for quick and elegant websites. If you already have a TTG gallery product installed, TTG Pages is a must have. TTG Pages makes it easy to create an great frontend to present your galleries.

TTG Pages is available at The Turning Gate for $25 USD.

Later,

Michael

P.S.

US Legal BS: I was provided with a review copy of the software and received no other form of compensation for this review.