Jain Nuns, the Second Documentary

My friend, Babu Banthia, asked if I would like to interview Jain nuns again on video. The short preview video I posted on YouTube received the most number of comments and views of the dozen or so videos I have edited and posted. I told him I’d like to have another go at an interview since that first video was made under constrained circumstances. I had locked my gear in the car and shot with a handheld camcorder, the subjects outdoors in the shade against the wall of the house. Not the best images but the content was excellent. One of the nuns, Samani Charitra, was especially good at communicating information about Jain practice, and she was one of the two nuns who came to my studio today for what I hope is a better video. I took a few still pictures but because of he subjects posing was limited.


Apple Service Rocks and I Have a New Website

A modern-day photographer depends on his camera and his computer to reproduce what’s in his head. Having used Macs since 1985, I naturally used an operating system I found imminently easy to use and gorgeous to look at. If I can’t come up with a pretty picture, at least my computer looks great.

Having a great computer system I’ve not had to require much from Apple’s fabled customer service until today. Actually the saga started around this time last night. I wanted to add to my online portfolio and opened iWeb, Apple’s entry-level web design program for non-geeks like me. It kept crashing.

I spent three hours last night trying to figure out what the trouble was. The problem eluded me and I went to bed feeling weird and uneasy, like I lost a screw somewhere in my head or my body lost a part I just didn’t know which. Before going to bed this morning I set up an appointment with a “genius” at my Apple Store, fortuitously just a couple of miles from my house. Brandon found me in the crowd and took me to the Genius Bar. He tried to help me for over half an hour and finally told me a page in the website was corrupted. I could delete it and save the rest. It had taken me six hours or more to create that website and I thought it was the best I’d ever done. I’d learned to keep things simple, have a personal touch somewhere, and keep the focus on pictures.

Back home, I couldn’t delete the page. I started working on it at noon, took a break for lunch and had at it again. Finally I sought out Apple’s Support Page and found a link for a phone consultation. I got to talk to someone at Apple in one minute. That is what I call phenomenal service.

For the next two hours, I worked with Patrick who then called in an iWeb expert. Like someone bargaining with Death I kept lowering the ante. I had told them I wanted to salvage the website. I liked it and I didn’t know if I could do it again. When it got to be five in the afternoon, I realized I’d spent the day trying to save a website that had taken me six hours to build. I said I needed to save just one page. Charles couldn’t even save that for me but I hanged up ¬†feeling good about the whole thing. The day was stressful but it validated my partiality for Apple.

Back on my own, I tinkered some more with iWeb and somehow managed to drag the one page I wanted to a new site. It’s the second page so I worked on creating the home page. I think I like this new one I designed in just a few minutes. (I needed to stop to get in an evening hike before it got too dark.)

So here’s the deal. Apple service totally rocks! The three Apple “geniuses” didn’t save my website but I learned lots about troubleshooting a Mac. I think I know more about troubleshooting a Mac than most non-Apple-genius but there’s always more to learn. I hated losing that website, the first one I’d designed since I deactivated duendearts.com early this year.

But here’s the thing. I think I’ll make a better website than the one I spent 24 hours (yes, I continued working on the problem while I slept fitfully last night) trying to save. The biggest lesson: I stress out over something when the alternative proves better than what I hated losing!

One reads about Apple customer service being #1 at various polls

Handheld camera with 50 mg lens makes surprisingly good images!

I was worried about shooting these two models with Brian. Somehow with the Canon 7D, using zoom lenses with stabilization control I end up with blurry images. Moreover my photo shoots the whole of this year were all done in the studio where I controlled the lights. In fact I have been shooting with more variety of lighting sets-ups since adding Alien Bees to my arsenal of lights.

Brian asked the models to contact Peak Performance on the city’s northeast corner, theorizing that since the gym was a standalone gym, not a national chain affiliate, they would be more likely to consent to use shooting on their premises. It worked and I went along for the ride.

The first half hour of shoot I turned out blurred, unusable images. I finally put on my F1.8 50 mm prime lens and decided to shoot manual. It worked! The colors were surprising. They were not as rich as what I get with either daylight-range strobes or Tungsten but seemed more alive! I am hooked!

I am really grateful to Brian for forcing me into this situation. Watching Jazmine Star’s five-day workshop shooting a wedding on location with minimal use of any artificial light wa invaluable! This was a major step forward for me.

Exploring Black and White Conversions

Converting a color image to black and white offers many more possibilities than I thought possible. Shades and tints can vary and Photoshop offers several ways of achieving effects, including what commonly is called “high contrast” processing that is so popular nowadays ¬†especially among young people conditioned by images in magazines for young fashionistas, both male and female. Here’s an example: