2.01.2012

A quick post. Staying flexible.

I was pretty flip (cynical, sarcastic, dismissive, etc)  about the effects I was getting with Snapseed when I last wrote about my adventures in post processing.  But today I had a mini-lecture from a great swim coach about the need for enhanced flexibility if we intend to keep swimming butterfly into our middle ages... (wry smiley face implied...).  Then I looked up at my analog bulletin board and saw the quote from creativity consultant, Ian Summers, which reads, "Grow or Die."  And I thought I should sober up and take a hint from the converging messages I'm getting from the universe.

When I was printing traditional black and white prints (in the darkroom) I had dozens of little tricks to make a print pop or sing or look sexy.  I had a Pictrol which is a little contraption you stick under the enlarging lens to soften the corners in an artistic way.  The blurred spilled light also enhanced the black tones around the edges.  Of course we would burn and dodge but we also stole a technique from 1940's Richard Avedon in which you place very thin tracing paper in contact with the print during printing.  You could also do it selectively.  Just in areas.  The parts that touched the paper were sharper than the parts that didn't.  Primitive darkroom "tilt-shift" technique?

We selected paper for effect.  And we did full contact, radical toning.  With selenium, sepia, gold and even coffee (which never worked as well).   And for a while we did lots of art on the print with transparent Mashall's oil paints.

So why the burr under my saddle about modern post processing?  Can't imagine it would be anything but jealousy in not having discovered it first, followed by curmudgeon tendencies.  So I'm coming clean.  I actually like playing around with this stuff and I've been re-working some recent images to re-interpret how I used to print.  After all, the Snapseed generation had to find their inspiration somewhere.  Right?

If you are bored with your photo work right now you might want to change processing.  The water's fine.  Jump on in.

edit/addition feb. 2:  An interesting article from www.luminous-landscape.com about the "RULES OF PHOTOGRAPHY."  http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/rules_of_the_game.shtml  A fun read, in light of our continuing discussions here.





Are you working too much? Are you going crazy? This is an oft requested post from about a year ago. I'm not saying you're "bad."

2.20.2011

Working 24/7 and slowly going insane? Join the club? No Thanks!


I was rather shocked when I listened to a person from a company that makes all kinds of electronic products the other day.  She made the pitch to me that her company helped stressed out, over-worked moms by making products (like phones and tablets) that would allow a frenetic mom to "disconnect from her office" and be able to "take her work along with her" so that she could be present for her children's activities.  From what I could understand this person believed in the 1990's mantra of "multi-tasking" which has been so thoroughly discredited by psychologists and process experts over the last decade.

The idea was that, between tweets, urgent e-mails, progress reports and modifications to mission critical spreadsheets, the newly unfettered mom would be able to look up from the screen and instantly enter into her child's world just at the moment when Sally hit the game winning home run or when Poindexter cinched the national Spelling Bee with the correct spelling of "Delusional". 

The more grievous idea I came away with is that now it's no longer good enough to give a company a stress and anxiety filled 50 or 60 hours of your week.  No.  The new norm is total ownership.  The excuse is that now so many people in finance, tech and commodities work in a world market and they must be accessible to their counterparts in Malaysia, must not miss the opening bell in Berlin or Kerplakistan, must be electronically present for those important clients in Kathmandu....

I have a sneaky feeling that chronic unemployment is not caused by a lack of jobs but that many jobs are being handled by one person.  The manically compulsive super workers are stealing more than their fair share of jobs.  And they are training their companies to expect "work till you drop" dedication that trades health, family life, hobbies, community involvement and the basic richness of existence for quarter by quarter profitability.  And here's the kicker:  Those super employees aren't being compensated for doing the work of three, they're giving their employers undeserved charity.  

In the self employed world we read books on negotiation.  We learn that you never give up something without getting something in return.  That's the foundation of good negotiation.  And as self employed people we never work for free (unless we are donating our time, services, goods to a needy and beneficial cause.)  But that's exactly what the super workers of today are doing.  They are giving it away for free.  And, of course, their companies are encouraging them.

It's time we took a good long look at the American work ethic and got rational.  The unions got it right back in the coal mine strikes and the meat packers collective bargaining days:  Forty hours a week is the most you can work in a reliable and sustainable way.  And by that I mean being able to preserve your personal dignity, your physical health and the health of your family and relationships.  

If you are routinely working 60 or 70 hours a week and you don't OWN the company you work for (and, in my mind, even if you do) you might consider that you are your own "scab" and you are in some ways responsible for the downward spiral of the American dream.  That spreadsheet WILL wait until monday.  Your real life can't always be on hold.  If it needs to be done over the weekend your company needs to hire a weekend shift.

So, this is a photo oriented blog, why the hell am I talking about workplace issues?  Because from time to time I write columns that talk about some of the outrageous schedules I work.  But the difference is that my projects stop and start and there's lots of in between time for rest and rejuvenation.  Joy and pleasure.  Family dinners together and weekends puttering around helping Ben with homework and Belinda with some gardening.  Couch time with a novel.   If a freelancer in a struggling industry can do this and keep his head above water then so can the valuable employees of all sorts of companies.

The electronics that we seem addicted to are also a secret weapon that helps bosses (and clients)  suck more and more from their people by blurring the lines between what is and what isn't work.  The cellphone is not referred to as "An Electronic Leash" without good reason.  

It's all about setting limits.  Isn't that what we tell our children? 

The shot above is of Belinda in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  The way I negotiated a series of projects in the Islands was to work for a week, for my usual rate, and then go back later with Belinda for a second week of vacation and downtime.  No phones, no internet, no emergencies in Patagonia.  The vacation opportunity defrayed the travel time and longer working days of the actual project.

Shot with a Rollei medium format camera on Tri-X film at a place called "The Pork Pit."  Really good pulled pork.  A quiet week by the sea.

Added half an hour later:  I read this on Kim Critchfield's FB page and loved it.  I sent a copy to Ben and to a friend who needed to read it.  I'll post this on my wall, just to the side of my computer.


One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between the two 'wolves' that live inside us all.
...
One is Unhappiness or Evil - It is anger, jealousy, fear, regret, greed, arrogance, sorrow, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, false pride, superiority, weakness and ego.

The other is Happiness or Good - It is joy, love, hope, serenity, benevolence, peace, empathy, kindness, generosity, truth, humility, faith, strength and compassion."

The grandson thought about it for a while and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed." - Cherokee Elder






Yesterday was about marketing. And fine tuning.


Untitled from Kirk Tuck & Will van Overbeek on Vimeo.

This is just a test of the Nikon V1 video at 720, 60fps. I looked at the top of my desk (as opposed to my "desktop") and figured it would make a cooperative subject.   I put together a DIY slider using a rail assembly from a company called, Igus.  There was a Manfrotto ballhead on top of the slider carriage. I lit the desktop, and the old Kodak camera, with two 1,000 LED panels.  I was looking for noise and artifacts.  The stuff looked pretty good in FCPX.

I keep getting more intrigued with video.  I had a sales meeting with a client yesterday and it's one of the few meetings I've done so far with the iPad2 as my presentation tool.  The ability to go from still portfolios to video with the touch of a finger was eye-opening for me.  With a print portfolio I was always careful not show to much.  Conventional wisdom said 20 to 40 nice prints.

I bought a program called Portfolio for iPad and arranged my work into six different categories.  Each category has its own icon and incorporates its own images.  Each category had anywhere from 25 to 40 images.  With the iPad in the client's hands he controls the pace of the show and the amount of images he wants to see.  It was fun to watch how addictive the screen is.  The client went through every image.  And all the videos (six).

I had also loaded a smaller portfolio, just for him, of images that I'd done various levels of post processing to.  I wanted to make sure he understood that we could overlay these effects to just about any image we create for him.  I labeled this gallery:  (His Name)'s Portfolio.   It took only minutes the night before to create the custom gallery of test images.  It would have required sending out for prints in my older style of showing.

His take away at the end:  "I have to be honest with you.  I much prefer seeing work on a screen than in a print book."

It was a successful marketing foray.  It got me back into his sphere of attention and hopefully, onto his "A" list of suppliers.  I left him with a copy of my new LED book as a leave behind.   I figure that, with over 300 of my photos in one place it's got to be a better leave behind piece than my competitors...

I will say this for progress: Carrying around an iPad beats the hell out of carrying around my 16x20 inch portfolio book (yes, I know, yours is 11x14 and it's just right and I should consider........).

Best of all, we used the calendar function on the iPad2 to book a lunch this Friday.  I still remember what a crusty, old marketing guy told me decades ago about a clients:  "Lunch em or lose em."


If anyone wants details on the "slider" let me know and I'll throw together a quick blog post.