Friday, November 18, 2011

Art Tour International magazine cover

From Portrait stuff

Anyone who has followed some of my more recent portrait works knows that I have collaborated with the fabulous Masae Satouchi on a number of shoots, whether she be the subject/model or working with me as a stylist.

One particular piece we did where she was the subject of a portrait done up with props and styling of her doing was this free bird haute couture portrait.

Well, working with Masae is always a ton of fun and so its a real treat for both of us to see the fruits of our creative labors grace the cover of a magazine.
Art Tour International magazine chose to use our portrait as well as give Masae and myself a full page article including some additional works of ours and some they selected as well of my dance and theater photography.

The magazine is in hard print form and distributed internationally and can also be had as a download in pdf format via subscription.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Janitors closet (abandoned asylum)

Sell Art Online
Abandoned asylum (building 138) Janitors closet

I recently had another opportunity to venture out to the asylum from which I have been putting together a series of works. A couple of good friends (and very good photographers) made the trip last week where we managed to roam the dark empty halls and rooms of building 138.

Its always exciting to discover these places and venture in, but from a photographers perspective i was a bit dissapointed with much of the photo ops, or lack of. Some spots are real gems while others don't seem to offer more than the peeling paint but I did come back pleasantly surprised by several images I took, especially after working on them later and realizing that I had something after all.

Here is one such surprise, the very small room called the janitors closet. As with most of my series from the asylum I shot this with a 17-40L 4.0 wide angle lens at approx 17mm. I try to line things up in such a way (camera height, angle/rotation)as to have minimal lens distortion. Later in post processing I will correct whatever distortion was there as best as possible. I do sometimes like the effect of the distortion so it really depends on the scene I'm shooting and what I feel I want from it then or later.

As with most all of the pieces in this set this was a 5 exposure HDR (high dynamic range)process. The window was exposed at 1/320 @f11 iso 200 while the room interior was taken at 1/6 @f11 and then three exposures in between.
The images were imported into Lightroom and converted to DNG files on import. The five images were then exported into Photomatix Pro and blended and tone mapped in such a way that brought out as much detail and smooth shadow/light transitions as possible. In this stage the image looks rather flat and boring. I think its not a good idea to try and get the image to look finsihed in Photomatix by tonemapping it into oblivion. I bring the hdr processed file into Photoshop where I bring out contrast and use dodge and burn techniques to bring back the mood and atmosphere of the scene. I will sometimes tweak the hues of various colors to obtain a sort of dreamy or cinimatic appearance. I'm not going for a documentary type realissm here but at the same time I do not want things looking unnatural or unrealistic. A good friend and fellow photographer George Argento described the finished processes as looking "hyper realisitc" as opposed to surrealistic and I felt that was a pretty cool way of seeing and describing it.

Cropping and lens correction adjustments are always the last thing I do, and I do them in Lightroom. Anyone familiar with Lightroom knows that adjustments you make there are only virtual adjustments and only applied to an exported image. the original is always left intact. This way, if I ever decide that I cropped to tight or needed to roate and tweak a bit more i still have the full image as it were in camera and will have the options to further tweak and/or open up the crop. The full image will always be there to work with.

There are a few more photos from this building that I'm pleased with and will post some up soon again.

If you read this far, thanks for your time :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Abandoned asylum adventures part 1

Art Prints
Abandoned psychiatric facility (first level of building 122)
deadly corridor

Photography Prints
Abandoned psychiatric facility (upper level room at rear of building 122)
lost souls
Photography Prints
Abandoned psychiatric facility (basement of building 122)
darkness revealed
Art Prints
Abandoned psychiatric facility (building 135)
resuscitator room
Photography Prints
Abandoned psychiatric facility
Stairs and Corridor
Sell Art Online
Abandoned psychiatric facility (building 136)
Sell Art Online
Abandoned psychiatric facility (building 136)
foreboding doorway
Photography Prints
Abandoned psychiatric facility (building 136)
Photography Prints
Building 136
Dark Empty Cabinets
Sell Art Online
Abandoned psychiatric facility (building 136)
Open Cabinet Doors
Sell Art Online
Abandoned psychiatric facility (building 136)
long narrow lavatory

These images are from three separate trips to an abandoned psychiatric facility in New York which resides on a huge acreage and consists of dozens of buildings. The facility opened in the mid 1800's and expanded rapidly from several patients to several thousand. Thorazine, shock therapy and frontal lobotomies were part of the treatments for many patients but on the bright side reduced the number of which needed to be kept in restraints and straight jackets over time. Treatments eventually became better, more effective and more humane.
During the later years, patients were transferred out to other facilities and officially closed down in 1996, although a couple of smaller buildings still are used as homes and treatment centers for a number of patients.

The first building I ventured into alone, building 122. This was part of a group consisting of a few buildings where patients were housed. This group of buildings were in terrible condition from roofs that had collapsed allowing extreme water dame to set in over the years. The other buildings had already imploded and this one I went in was ready to collapse at any time. The first shot in b&w is of the first level corridor with many rooms on each side. As you can see, the floors are caving and much of the ceiling as well exposing the upper level corridor. Foolishly, I had went in here alone and while trying to make my way down to search some of the rooms, the floor collapsed and I found myself halfway through to the basement. Fortunately, I did not fall all the way through and was able to pull myself up and get back to safer flooring. Many of the rooms were without floors due to collapse and large sections of the corridor floors were collapsed as well.

The next image of the window and faces on the wall was taken on the upper level of this building in a room at the very rear. Getting that shot was extremely nerve wracking because the entire floor in that room was swaying with my weight and many of the images did not come out quite well because the tripod would move due to the floor movement. Thankfully I came away with this image, and my life!

The next image is of a room in the basement. The entire basement was practically pitch black due to boarded up windows but this particular room had a window uncovered and a nice lighting shining through.

The next set of images are from building 135 which was used as a convalescence for special patients recovering from surgeries or illnesses. There were two floors and a basement but only the first floor had light from no boards on the upper half of the windows. I ventured into this building alone as well, but it was in much better shape than the other and aside from being a bit spooky I was comfortable in that it was fairly safe.

The next set are from building 136 which was the first stand alone medical and surgical building on the site, built sometime in the 1920's.

Fellow photographer James Oligney was interested in coming along for this venture and so we hooked up and headed out armed with dust masks, plenty of water and much of our camera gear including tripods. James is a cool dude and one heck of a fine photographer. He is specializing in portraiture and headshots and you should have a look at his site and blog. Great stuff from James.

On previous visits I had found an opening to a basement window and thought we could access it from there but turned out it was a sealed boiler room with no way into the rest of the structure. We roamed about the perimeter for a while when James calls out that he found an opening through a window that had been raised. Actually, took me a minute to realize he was calling for me because he was using a bird call and he sounded like the real thing!
This building was quite large compared to the previous ones I had hit. Three stories but covering a large footprint of about a half a block deep and side to side. It resembles two opposing L shapes joined in the center by the main rectangular structure, so inside it appears vast and a bit confusing. We made note of where we entered and kept track of how to get back to that room eventually.

All of my asylum images have been done with HDR (high dynamic range) processing typically utilizing about 5 exposures per image. This is done to try and balance the exposure from the bright window with that of the darkest areas in a room or corridor. Doing this allows for correct exposure of the entire scene without losing highlights due to blowout or detail in the shadow areas due to underexposure.

I'm using a program called Photomatix Pro to blend the exposures that i have captured in RAW format. I try to process them to have a more or less natural look about them and not look over cooked.
HDR can also be processed manually by layering several exposures in Photoshop and manually blending them together using layer masks. I actually do a combination of both in some images. Photographs where there are foliage outside a window can sometimes be difficult due to the wind blowing the foliage around in between takes. This can cause problems when trying to blend the exposures together with a program like Photomatix. Although most programs have settings that help align and reduce the "ghosting" effects of moving elements, they are not always very successful. I find I can take the exposure that was correct for the window area and manually blend it into the otherwise finished HDR image thus eliminating the ghosting due to movement. There are many ways of doing things and sometimes the best way is a combination of a few together.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Katya Von Calder

Katya Von Calder

Katya Von Calder

Katya Von Calder

Katya Von Calder

So here are a few images from a shoot a little while back with Katya Von Calder. Katya is a very interesting woman with great intellect, great sense of humor, quick wit and fascinating to talk to. She and I connected on Facebook as we were mutually interested in eachothers work. We both shared a mutual friend which turned out to be her best friend and my cousin. You know, for years we hear the expression that its a small world but I think that with the popularity of the various social networking sites as they are today, we have no idea just how closely tied together we all really are.

For the shoot we discussed doing some alternative fashion and latex looks and possibly squeezing in some burlesque/pinup type looks as well. Katya has an amazing wardrobe and brought along some incredibly interesting pieces. The black latex body suit with the outer corset was fantastic as it was but Katya designed and crafted the ruffled choker and wrist pieces which really brought this outfit up to another level of interesting.

The burlesque/pinup look shot on white included a beautiful retro green colored corset with stockings, garter and heels but in addition a fantastic feathered fan that Katya crafted herself. I believe she said it was made of Peacock feathers attached to wooden slats that she secured together at the base. Two fans that open up into a fantastic array of colors and texture.

I brought stylist Masae Satouchi in for this shoot. I sent Masae some images of Katya so she could have an idea of who she would be working with and she fell in love with her fiery red hair! "Wow, she is on fire, Gary!" Masae says to me.

Yes, Katya's hair is really that red and no enhancement was needed in post processing to get that color.

My lighting set up is basically the same as I described in my last post of my shoot with Marlo.

There is something I wanted to bring up for a while about shooting subjects, especially female models at full body and that is camera position. I see a lot of full body shots of models all over the web where the camera is at eye level with the model, just as if they were shooting a headshot or portrait. That camera position is fine when doing those headshots and portraits but when shooting full body its not, most times. Having the camera at eye level on a full body shot means your looking down at the subjects legs, which in turn makes them look shorter and less flattering. More so if your already shooting a short subject.

In these portraits of Katya here I was pretty much at about eye level. I sometimes may go lower to about chest level and there are times when I've shot portraits stading over the subject looking down which brings on a whole different feeling and presence.

The full body shots of Katya holding the feathers were shot from about waist high which looks pretty much straight on because its about an equal distance from her head to her feet. If I shot eye level, she would have appeared very short with short legs.

There are times when I will shoot even lower such as in the full body shot of Marlo in my last post. That was shot at about knee level which made her look very tall and with long legs. I know that for many of us who are not shooting in a fully dedicated studio with tall ceilings, this can be difficult. In that shot of Marlo the roll of paper was visible in the top of the frame but I knew it would be easy to remove it and replace with white later in post processing.

There can be times when shooting full body at a somewhat higher angle has its place. This image of model Yan was shot at approx eye level and I felt it gave the subject an endearing and innocent quality which I felt went with her look and pose/expression. Another factor in this example is Yan has a petite frame and wearing very high heels her legs still do not look short.
There are other times when shooting down on your subject at full body does work but its when its clearly deliberate and done from a very high angle creating a dramatic perspective, clearly intentional.

In the three quarter shot of Marlo I did shoot down at her for effect but it works there in that case. Had I included her entire body, it would not.

While I'm on the subject of photography tips and observations I would like to share with you a link to a photographer friend of mine whose work and knowledge I have come to admire and respect over the years. Steve Hlavac is a fashion and fine art photographer located in Central Florida. He and I know one another from our years of participation and service over at PhotographyReview where he moderates and gives great advice in the Studio and Lighting forum as well as writing articles for the site and I moderate the Photo Critique forum
(my screen name there is gahspidy)

Steve's work has graced the covers of and has been featured in numerous magazines over the years and he has always been very generous in sharing his knowlege and experience with others in the field.

A fine person and photographer with a great sense of humor (as long as your not the butt of his jokes) :)
I recommend you to drop by his blog, Running the Photo Asylum.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Retro Glamour/Pinup with Marlo Marquise

Marlo Marquise

Marlo Marquise

Marlo Marquise

These are from a set that came out of my last shoot with Marlo Marquis. Marlo is a burlesque performer and loves the retro classic styles of the 30's and 40's. She has that classic look to go with it and it suits her well.

My favorite of this set is the full body pose. Although it is a static pose, there is a feeling of fluidity and movement here. I just feel she knocked this pose outta the park and I'm pleased with my light and camera angle as well.

The lighting came out of a 24x30" Photoflex softbox powered with a White Lightning x1600 head at camera right and approximately 7 ft high. A 20320" box just below it (relevant only for the full body) to light the waist down. Powered by a Canon speedlite 580EX2. Another 24x24" box at about eye level on camer left to provide fill powered by another 580EX2.

A strip box powered by a White Lightning x800 head on camera left and behind and above subject angled slightly downward. This provides some hair light and some rim for the subjects right side (camera left).

The white paper background is lit by two Vivitar 285 flashes shooting into small lumiquest softboxes (6x9") attached to the lights. I like to illuminate the background to a lesser than white exposure to avoid blowouts from reflection and also for the reason that I like the bg's to be off-white as opposed to stark white.
The bg would be easy to make completely white later in processing if I ever felt it worked best for a particular image, and so my options are open.

I usually let the subject do their thing while shooting but I do actively give model direction. I think a photographer should be involved in the direction and should not hesitate to suggest variations of a pose or to look a certain way, etc. A good model/subject certainly makes things easy, but they cannot see what I am seeing through the lens and the slightest variations of body positioning and/or eye contact or looking away can make a difference. Marlo is really fantastic, with an incredibly fine sense of styling and and fantastic presence.

I have a shoot coming up in the very near future which involves Mona De Lux, some retro pinup/glamour, some latex wardrobe provided by Venus Prototype. stylist Masae Satouchi and....industrial plastic wrap....

Stay tuned. :)

Monday, June 13, 2011


Peeves....we all have em. Those little things that particularly annoy us more than others and get easily under our skin.
So it would be of no surprise to those who know me personally that a few of my peeves would involve driving, since driving is one of the few things that have ever come naturally to me.

I have been driving since I was about 13 years old. My parents would occasionally head off to the city by subway to take in a show and could easily be gone for about 5 hours. I knew where the car keys were kept and one day decided it would be good fun to take the old 1969 Dodge Coronet out for a spin. I'd take note of how it was parked in the back yard and make sure to keep it the same. I went and picked up a few of my friends and we would have a blast, and a few close calls where the police passed us and did a double take because I certainly looked my age then.

Since then I have driven most everything from motorcycles to 60ft long articulated buses. I was a bit of a speed demon when I was younger but like most of us we wise up and mellow out a bit with age and experience.
So, some of the things that really get under my skin are not the usual culprits that seem to piss most everyone else off such as riding up on the shoulder to cut in front of a line of traffic, getting cut off, driving slow in the left lane of a highway (that gets close though), wreckless speeding, etc.

The things that seem to bother me most are the actions of drivers that don't seem to have a clue that there are others on the road. While driving along on a city street, the car in front begins to slow for no apparent reason. Ok, so I can assume the driver is going to double park or something and so I lay back and wait for his move. He then proceeds a bit further and pulls nose first into a spot, then stops mid way with rear of car blocking the lane. Arrrg! Alright, I don't get bent outta shape like I might have when I was younger but it still has me cursing under my breath and rolling my eyes in disbelief.

Another situation I have seen too often is when a driver begins making a turn, then decides midway that they want to turn in the other direction. Then there is the driver that almost comes to a complete stop on the right lane of the highway to double check if the exit coming up is the one they need...

Its important that when you begin an action that you follow through to completion. If you decide the parking spot was not the one you wanted or you needed to turn left instead of right you really must follow through with what you started and then regain your bearings and make the neccessary corrections later. Much of driving involves anticipation for both getting around traffic and for defensive purposes, so when you as a driver do things that are unpredictable it causes a dangerous situation for you and others around you, no matter how slow or careful you may think you are. Its also not really a matter of a driver being stupid, as I have seen these things done many times over by Doctors (MD plates). It's either sheer arrogance , and/or just a lack of common road sense.

Ok, so just had to get that out there! Also haven't blogged in a while and wanted to keep things alive here :)

I do have some ambitious shoots and projects coming up in the near future and also want to get back to some of the barns and abandoned structures that I love venturing into.

Oh, driving at night with your bright lights on...arrrggg! :P

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A shoot with Marlo Marquise

Marlo Marquise

Marlo Marquise

I had the pleasure a little while back to shoot with burlesque performer/artist Marlo Marquise. Marlo is a charming woman and a pleasure to talk to. She is also an artist and exhibits her paintings in various galleries in New York.

I wanted to go through a couple of different burlesque/pinup looks and then cover one fetish/latex set as well, which we did.

Here are a couple with a fantastic outfit with bullet bra and gorgeous color. Marlo has a very fine sense of styling and did her own for this shoot.

One of the ideas I had wanted to execute in this session was to have Marlo posing with a full or 3/4 Stand up bass. I had contacted a few people about acquiring one for the shoot and found someone who had agreed on coming down and supplying a bass for the half hour os so that I'd need for her to pose with it. The very night before the shoot, the contact emails me with an absurd amount of money that he wants for the rental of the bass and so the deal was off and the shoot had to go on without it. I don't know if this guy just thought this was going to be some huge budget endeavor that he could ask for the sun and moon or if he were just trying to squeeze me knowing I might not find an alternative at such last minute, but that sort of shit really pisses me off. So, anyway, I'll be having Marlo back to finish some of the other ideas I wanted to pull off and I have a cool contact to supply the bass lined up.

I have finally set up a tether to my camera and computer and have it going through LightRoom 3.4 I set up all the metadata info and file name,sequence, etc and as i'm shooting the images are loading directly into my designated folder as well as being able to see the results immediately on the monitor. It really does make thing easier from many aspects.

These were adjusted and tweaked a bit in LightRoom and them a more extensive treatment applied in Photoshop.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

haute couture portraiture

Masae Satouchi

Masae Satouchi had asked if I would be interested in doing a set of work with her as she had picked up a very interesting "dress" with matching head piece. It is a dress/garment sculpted from wire and decorated with what appear to be amethyst gemstones.

This is a portrait from the set we did featuring the haute couture piece. Masae did her own styling and brought along some "friends" as accessories she wanted to work with.

I shot and processed this with a light and airy feel. Some others from the set are full body with Masae barefoot and posing in various graceful forms which she does well as she is an accomplished dancer.

Masae is great to work with, but also a blast to be around. She has a lot of stories and her English is still a bit rough so things sometimes get hung up and twisted a bit in translation.
She had told me of a film she had done in which she was an extra playing a prostitute standing along the street with others. The films producer discovered that Masae is a fantastic fire performer and had wanted to include a performance by her in the film. As they were discussing the details of her fire performance and arrangements, the terms of compensation came up and Masae said to me "Gary, I tell them that I will be their prostitute for free but have to charge my full rate for fire peformance. . ." Too funny

They hired her and I'm looking forward to seeing the film when its released.

Incidentally, soon after our shoot Masae left for a trip which included a stay in Japan to visit family. During her time there, the massive earthquake hit. Fortunately Masae and her family are ok and she is back here in the states doing various fundraising events to support the relief efforts needed to help the people of Japan get through this horrible time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Portraits of Henry William Oelkers

Henry William Oelkers
the man waiting

Henry William Oelkers

Henry William Oelkers
upper hillbilly

Henry William Oelkers
Henry William Oelkers

These are some images I have from a shoot a little while back with actor/model and all around gentleman, Henry William Oelkers.

Henry is capable of portraying a wide variety of characters. He brought along various costumes and achieved quite a few different looks in the few hours we worked together.

Henry is also somewhat of a celebrity in that he was the model that artist David Jon Kassan sketched live on his ipad which wound up going viral in a short time. It was actually through contact with David that I came to know Henry.

In these portraits, a medium softbox was used for main light, with a snooted strobe hitting the face from slightly above head level to bring an extra glow. Smaller box used for fill and another for rim and hair.

Most work done in Lightroom with some images being brought into Photoshop for a bit extra treatment.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Portrait of Woman

portrait of woman 1
portrait of woman 1

portrait of woman 2
portrait of woman 2

Portrait of woman is a bit of a series I have started on. I am focusing on subtle motion and body language to convey the character of the subject as well as a bit of a story that can take form in the imagination of the viewer. The identity of face is covered although we can see some hints of facial features. These along with the movements can allow us to think about the subject and character and perhaps come up with unique stories and interpretations.

This was achieved with the subject moving about in a slightly rehearsed method while the camera was set at a 1 sec exposure with a single strobe burst fired at a precise moment.

It is one of a few experimental series that I am looking into building on further, but I do like the start of this.

The lighting was a 22" beauty dish as key, a strip box for rim and a small softbox near camera and eye level providing very slight fill. I'm not all that crazy for the beauty dish although the results here were pretty descent.

These photographes were imported into LightRoom 3.3 and fully finished there. The process involved converting to b&w by simply eliminating all saturation, and then tweaking color temperature, tint, and various exposure controls such as fill, brightness, black, and clarity to achieve the tone and overall aesthetic I was interested in.

I'm looking forward to getting on with some more works in these latest endeavors. Stay tuned. . . :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Retro Lovely Magazine Vol. 4

Jade Vixen

Jade Vixen

Jade Vixen bubble gum pinup My pinup work with Jade Vixen will have a two page spread in Retro Lovely Magazine vol.4 due to be ready for shipping in Mid to late February 2011.

Retro Lovely is a high quality publication printed on heavy glossy pages with substantial content. Its more like a fine art book than a mag. A collectors magazine in the making.

The magazine has featured some of the best pinup models and photographers of our time and its quite an honor to have a spread in their next issue.

Learn more about Retro Lovely and order a copy while your there. Some past volumes are still available having gone into second printings but are running out fast.

Visit Jade Vixen and learn more about the model and what she was wearing for the shoot.

Wide Open 2 (juried exhibition)

Ree ja motion portraiture
Ree Ja motion 1

I'm pleased, and honored to learn that my photograph "Ree Ja motion 1" was selected from amongst 1600 submissions by noted juror Nathan Trotman of the Guggenheim Art Museum in N.Y.

Artists and photographers from around the country submitted a total of 1600 works of which 144 have been selected to exhibit in the show "Wide Open 2" being put together by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, or BWAC.

The exhibit will run from March 12 - 27, 2011, Weekends from 11-4PM
Opening reception is Saturday, March 12 from 1-6PM

I had been accepted into the show last year "Wide Open 1" and can tell you that the work on display is quite a treat to view and experience.

If your in New York and can come on down, its really a fantastic show and well worth while. Learn more about it by wvisiting the BWAC website.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Motion Portraiture

Ree ja motion portraiture
Ree Ja

This image was captured a while back during my session with Ree Ja. I have come to love this image and concept and am looking to continue on a series of portraits based on this idea of motion.

Back in June I had posted another from this motion set with Ree Ja. That image looks more like motion than this one but what I love about this is the sense of two portraits emerging from the soul of the subject at once. I feel a better sense of understanding of the subject by way of seeing mulitple sides, a sense of the subjects movement and two different poses and expressions/moods emerging. It obviously has a weird factor about it which I like very much. . .a pleasantly strange perspective.

The setting was a 1 second exposure with camera mounted on a tripod. Aperture was around 13 with an ISO setting of 125.

Ree Ja and I briefly rehearsed a flow of movement that she was to begin at the start of the exposure during which I manually fired off two strobe bursts to freeze those moments. Having experimented with various camera settings, I found these numbers to give me the effect and look I was after.
However, light positioning, distance of subject from background, etc all have an effect on the outcome and those variables I did not record so my next attempt at this will begin another series of preliminary experiments and testing.

This is certainly not a new concept by any means, but I really have not seen it used much in this way. I actually stumbled upon this idea as I was experimenting for artist David Kassan who had hired me to shoot his portrait for which he wanted to use to paint a self portrait. He wanted his motion captured and so in the process of working to achieve these effects I came to really like the look and sense of "implied motion" from the mulitple strobe bursts.

I have some more projects and subjects coming up in the near future and so I'm looking forward to continue to work on this and add to the series.

Best wishes for a healthy and prosperus New Year!