Artisan of the Light

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New York From Above

New York Panoramic

On a recent trip to New York, I had the opportunity to take an aerial tour of the city and get up close to some of New York’s most beautiful pieces of architecture.

My first trip up in a helicopter, I was invigorated by the experience of the already loud cockpit which became deafening when the window was thrown open for the photographer.

C. Taylor Crothers was the aerial photographer I went up with. I got the chance to check out the shots he took when we landed and the man certainly knows what he’s doing behind the lens.

Here are a few of the shots I snagged during the flight.

Empire State BuildingNew York City

New York Panoramic

Empire State BuildingChrysler Building

I caught a ride with the crew at NY on Air, a very talented group of guys who are taking over the airspace in New York and capturing some of the most beautiful aerial photography and videography that the city has ever had. I highly recommend checking them out.

And if you have the same love for the NY skyline that I do, followthem on their instagram for a constant feed of stunning images.

New York Bridge

New York B&W Panoramic

I couldn’t resist a few black and white shots to show the timelessness of the city.

One World Trade Center

And an incredible view of One World Trade Center just as the sun finished setting.

Inspirations: Abelardo Morell

When I took off to the Getty Museum for a mini-getaway with a special someone, I was expecting a great picnic, a great view, and a good mix of photography and painting to peruse. In addition, I found Abelardo Morell’s exhibit and he immediately became one of my favorite explorers in the realm of photography.

I was wandering the photography wing and I stumbled upon The Universe Next Door, an exhibit dedicated to Morell’s work. I found out afterward that it was the last day of it’s display. I’m incredibly grateful that I got to see it while it was there.

Morell experiments in photography in ways that I’ve never seen someone test the medium before. He turns whole rooms into cameras, not just one room inside a studio, but hotel rooms that he travels to, painting scenes of the view from the hotel on its walls after transforming a whole suite into a camera obscure, as you can see here:

AbelardoMorell_CO_SanMarco

AbelardoMorell_CO_BrooklynBridgeAbelardoMorell_CO_GardenAbelardoMorell_CO_FlorenceAbelardoMorell_CO_ManhattanBridgeAbelardoMorell_CO_BostonAbelardoMorell_CO_Umbrian

Another brilliant technique that is unique to him is his texture overlaying in scenes. In today’s digital photography world of slapping two images together in photoshop with a blend mode thrown in, it’s hard to find a photographer who can duplicate the technique in a purely analog style.

Even those who can do it generally use the practice of double exposure. That is, taking one picture of the scene and another of some texture of leaves, the ground, a wall, etc. But not Morell. He invented a method employing a camera tent with a periscope viewfinder at the top.

He projects his scene onto the ground and thus creates a projection onto a texture. He then photographs the image that is projected onto the ground from inside the tent, all in one shot. Here are some images from his tent camera series:

AbelardoMorell_Tent_ColoradoRiver AbelardoMorell_Tent_Manhattan AbelardoMorell_Tent_TuffCanyon AbelardoMorell_Tent_GoldenGateAbelardoMorell_Tent_RioGrande

And there is so much more. He is the type of artist that anyone should be lucky enough to be exposed to and learn from, as he explores the world continually with new eyes, learning and playing with light, shapes and methods.

I try to choose those photographer I consider my influences or my favorites very carefully. I limit it to those individuals who inspire, open my eyes to new possibilities and who are or have shaped the direction and style of photography as a subject. In this Morell has succeeded and he will indeed always be a favorite and an inspiration.

You can see more of Abelardo Morell’s work at his website:

http://www.abelardomorell.net

And you can search for your own inspiration and find upcoming exhibits at the Getty:

https://www.getty.edu/museum/

Music Videos Round One: HALO CIRCUS

A BRIEF NOTE…

Hello! It’s been a bit since I’ve sent word of my goings-on. It would be an understatement to say I’ve been keeping busy. In addition to my regular role as a photographer, I’ve spent the last few months working heavily on film production, cinematography (including both DSLRs and Digital Cinema cameras) and directing.

This is the first of a few posts I’ll be sending about recent projects including photos, videos, news, etc. I’ll do my best to keep it interesting. Enjoy!


HALO CIRCUS DEBUTS “GONE” ON ROLLINGSTONES.COM

AllisonIraheta

As a follow up to my previous post about Allison Iraheta, the American Idol finalist turned band-leader, I’m happy to announce that the music video that I worked on for her band Halo Circus has recently been released.

I worked with friend and director Kevin Garrison to shoot the video for the band, which just debuted a few weeks ago on RollingStones.com in association with Yahoo! Music.


WHAT THE MUSICAL COMMUNITY IS SAYING:

“Best live band in the USA.”
John Taylor

“Allison and her band are incredible. Get rid of all the fakes.”
Run DMC

“This is a tune I would have on driving through Big Sur late at night
heading north. It sounds like trees, wind and sea.”
Steve Jones, The Sex Pistols

“A heartfelt cut brimming with emotional depth
that alludes to a band able to transfom pain into beauty.”
Adam Lambert.

You can read the article on the video’s release at the link above. The video has now hit the band’s youtube page as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOFJ1xoEVkI

Keep an eye out for Halo Circus, this is just the first step for them.  They’re talented, determined and already starting to make a lasting impression in the musical community.

- Alex

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MAGIC LANTERN

Magic Lantern Download

I just downloaded Magic Lantern for my 5D II. It’s the first time I’ve ever downloaded it and even though I’ve heard of plenty of pros who use it and swear by it, I’ve always been a bit skeptical and hesitant to do anything to my camera that I might regret. After broadcasting to the world that I’d started using it, I immediately had about 5 requests from fellow photographers asking me for reviews and whether I liked it, they had been thinking about getting it too, etc.

This blog post isn’t mainly focused on all of the technical benefits of ML (of which there are many), but more to address the question “Why on earth WOULDN’T you get it?”. And the only reason I’ve been given is an understandable but incorrect assumption that I also had before downloading it. Once that was cleared up, I was sold.

I was shooting in the caribbean recently with a friend and fellow photographer, Alex Scott. The night after our ship docked, he showed me a beautiful timelapse video of the ship’s journey from one island to another. After ogling the footage for the appropriate amount of time, we started talking about how he shot it. He told me that basically, he just set his camera and put it on a tripod before the ship set sail and came back when we’d docked.

Jaw drop.

I had the same camera that he did and there was no way I could’ve pulled that off. So the obvious question was how. Magic Lantern was his response.

“Ahhhh, a risk taker”, I thought. But when I started telling him that it would be great but I wasn’t sure about it and that I was used to canon’s system, he stopped me.

“It’s compatible”, he said.

“What do you mean?” I said.

And then he explained something to me that I hadn’t known, and that changed my mind about ML right away. When I went online back home to download it I found out some additional info, all of which you should know if you’re considering using it:

1. Magic Lantern is ADDITIONAL to Canon firmware
After downloading Magic Lantern, your camera continues to work and use your Canon software as usual. If you want to utilize ML, you simply hit your trash button and your ML screen pops up with completely separate options and menus.

2. You can customize which Magic Lantern features your camera uses
Once you’re in the ML menu, you can scroll through the various options and enable or disable them. This allows you to select only the options that you will be using in Magic Lantern, while the disabled features will not even able to effect your camera. (The ML features you DO have enabled will still only effect your camera when you choose them to, of course.)

3. Every setting, feature, button, etc. that Magic Lantern uses has a tutorial
While scrolling through your menus in ML, if you don’t understand what a certain feature does, you simply highlight it and click the info button and a brief description of that function pops up on your screen. Hit info when you’re done and you’re back to your menu.

4. Magic Lantern only works when you want it to
I haven’t fully tested this yet but as far as I can tell, when I turn my camera on ML has no effect on it. It’s only when I go into the ML menu and activate a preference or setting and then return to my Canon screen that ML will effect my photo/video/audio. And if I want to turn that feature off I can go back into ML, or I can just flick the camera off and then back on and I’ve got a clean slate.

Now as I said I’m not going to get into all of the technical features, and if you’ve contemplated downloading ML then I’m sure you already know plenty of them. But with all of the above info, what could possibly be the downside?

The only one that I know of is that Magic Lantern is not affiliated with Canon in any way and cannot guarantee their product on any Canon camera. It is not made using canon programing and they therefore can’t assure you that it won’t harm your camera. Sounds scary? I guess so, but when I look at how many pros use this firmware, how easy it is to install or delete and the almost nonexistent amount of problems I’ve heard people having while using it (none of which disabled their cameras, only forced them to restart or remove the firmware), I can’t justify being cautious in favor of expanding my options as a photographer.

Just in case you do have any other doubts or questions, the Magic Lantern website has an FAQ that will answer all of your questions about legality, warranties, functionality, etc. (Oh and they have a User Guide as well.)

As far as the features go? I’ve barely dipped my toes in the water and I’m in love with it already. As a warning, I have run into a couple of little feature changes that I thought were malfunctions, but all I had to do was look in the user manual and I found it was just a setting that I need to turn off/change in ML.

Here are directions to install Magic Lantern (from their website) if you’re interested:
Magic Lantern – Installation FAQ

As well as a youtube video created by a 3rd party but that I found helpful:
CreateFX – Magic Lantern Installation Video

And last but not least, the software itself:
Magic Lantern – Firmware Download

I’m looking forward to discovering all of the bells and whistles that Magic Lantern has to offer. Perhaps once I’ve taken it for a spin I’ll write up a more detailed post on it’s overall performance.

-Alex
alexlakephotography.com

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