Friday, September 2, 2016

Back to Time Lapse?

Live Composite on the Olympus OMD E-M1, 7-14mm f/2.8 set at 9mm and f/4, ISO 200, compositing time ~40 minutes.

I've been on a crazy time lapse kick this past week, and it feels good to rush into a process that ultimately forces you to slow the hell down. The photographer's equivalent of meditation.

Business is still kind of slow, but might be picking back up finally. Would be interesting to discover a new market trend wherein all the work inevitably gets mashed into the last 3 or 4 months of the year (such as what happened last year, however weird a rush that was). Meanwhile, with Summer scorchers taming down a bit, it's nice to have the latitude in personal time to just run out and screw around with photography techniques new and old alike. Time lapse stands out as the hallmark experiment of the last week for its part.

Capturing sunset from Terrapin Beach Park.
Rob and I have made it something of a habit to chase sunset scenes (since mornings are still horribly inaccessible to us based on our normal 9-to-5 work lives). We've bounced from Terrapin Beach Park on the east end of the Bay Bridge to a multitude of parking garages in Baltimore City chasing the light. Never with any genuinely preconceived image or goal in mind, literally just picking a vantage that seems cool, setting up and running a sequence (or five). Done some storm chasing, too, and I'm squarely in the camp these days that the best time to be taking photos is when the weather absolutely sucks. Frankly, anything is more interesting (to me) than a clear blue sky. At least cloudy days lend themselves well to black and white shooting. Blue skies are just... generic garbage.

Since my incessant bitching began, oh, 4 years ago, in regards to the loathsome post-process of photography I'd mentally locked myself into, I feel the new methodologies I've employed with the flexibility (and frankly the power) of mobile phone editing paradigms and the multitude of mobile-only sharing networks have really released a pressure valve I'd kept clamped down for far too long. The sense of liberation comes from the freedom of not giving a shit how an image looks on any device other than my cell phone screen, especially if the manner in which that image is shared is nearly exclusive to other cell phone screens. It completely breaks my pixel-peeping impulses, and while it took some time to train away from some haughty sort of "brand control" when it comes to image quality, I'm discovering there is far more appreciation all around for the willingness to embrace scattershot sharing and high turnaround (all things I really should know already considering those were value propositions that got my business off the ground to begin with).

I bring that up because it also applies to recent time lapse adventures. The OMD E-M1 produces a good enough 720p, 30FPS movie right out of the camera with all the specifically tuned JPG image processing settings applied beforehand. And it's great, gets rid of the post-process middle man, looks clean (if you shoot smart and front load your efforts), and the output files are perfect for web upload. That said, I have been trying to stab at these recent time lapses with LRTimelapse, which I stand by among many others as being the best time lapse rendering software out there, bar none. But holy crap, it requires the sort of time investment one can only reserve for an extraordinarily boring Saturday when all your friends are out of town and the skies are so oppressively clear and blue you hiss like a melting vampire for entertaining the very thought of stepping outside. It presents great possibility, but is such a bear to use and a time sink like none other. Perhaps when my next depressive spell takes hold it will seem like a good use of my time, but damnit, right now, while my mood is manageably good, I just want to be out shooting.

Live Composite on the Olympus OMD E-M1, 7-14mm f/2.8 set at 9mm and f/4, ISO 200, compositing time ~50 minutes.

That does bring up a tangential thought, oddly. And I'm surprised I haven't mentioned it on this blog before, but I'm sure I tried to write something on the matter at some point, found myself frustrated with the insurmountable difficulties of translating a train-of-thought coherently into metered keyboard strokes, and chucked the post into the abyss of Blogger's trashcan (although, really, it's a Google company now, so I'm sure there's a pile of failed writings stacked pretty high somewhere on some Silicon Valley database, indexed under "WTF?").

I have a gallery show coming up. My first gallery show, actually, in that it is MY gallery show. I've shared walls with other artists and photographers before in themed galleries, but never had a showing of work dedicated to me and me alone.

I owe Rob for planting the seed in Ryan's head. Ryan is the owner and artistic director of Stillpointe Theatre in Baltimore, and Rob has been shooting their shows over the past year with great success. A side project of Ryan's, when the show season comes to a close or there's a long break in between productions, is hosting artists in galleries at the theatre space. He's already run a few such galleries, and Rob thought of name dropping me. Sure enough Ryan embraced the idea, with alarmingly little forethought (I'm honestly not entirely sure he's all that familiar with my work). And thus the rush to print began.

As someone who doesn't really buy art (I am doggedly Libertarian in my approach to the art process), I never understand the justification for what I always took to be high prices for gallery wall art. Keep in mind, in my business I sell a service, not images as product. I haven't the first clue how to valuate the abstract of time investment into creation, so I did a lot of research on the subject. Even with that knowledge, it still struck me as insane, so I ignored it and went straight into the print making. Then it all suddenly started making an extreme sort of sense when hours and days poured into curation, selection of print media, mounting options, sample products for test, panic attacks, lost sleep, inability to function at work and taking sick days on account of genuine psycho-billy freakouts, all finally culminating in a 4-digit expense for the final order, anxiety over shipping damages that may or may not happen, whether a product would get forgotten or lost in the midst of such a big order, checking each piece for quality... I'm 3 weeks into the process since hard starting it (once the shock of "Oh crap, I have a gallery show coming up" kicked in), and I'm STILL working out organization, pricing details, marketing of the show, making proof-of-sale cards for each print, calculating realistic discounts for series... and it's probably still not going to be over even once opening night hits. Something will change, something unexpected will be in effect, and it won't end until the show ends.

So, from the perspective of a person who never understood the actual cost and time investment of putting on a gallery, please let me apologize to all artists for never getting it until now. Even from the standpoint of this very minor gallery of mine in a theatre in Baltimore, THIS SHIT IS HARD.

That said... September 9th, 2016, starting at 7:00PM at Stillpointe Theatre's space at 1825 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD, I'll be on display in my inaugural "Place and Time" gallery, showcasing a multitude of pieces covering a variety of subjects photographed (for pleasure, not work) in the last year. Stillpointe will be offering food and drink (booze!), and all pieces will be up for sale, including series at a deep discount when purchased together. Everything is mounted and ready to hang on the wall, no frames needed. Some pieces (my industrial abandoned building stuff) is printed on sheets of aluminum for something REALLY unique. Furthermore, the gallery will be open for 4 weeks, so if the opening night isn't doable but you really want to come, there's plenty of leeway in the schedule. So please, swing by, I'll be around to chat and tell stories and teach and learn and generally try not to be brutally awkward as I inevitably seem to be in large social situations with strangers as of late.

And if you're genuinely interested, I recommend following the Facebook event page with an RSVP. I'll have my marketing hat on and intend to run some fresh ads and sample collages of coming gallery pieces over the next week. Hopefully all this time investment pays off in the end, but worst case scenario I will at least have lots of new stuff to hang on the walls at home!