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  • Welcome to my blog!

    I know you're time is valuable so thanks for taking the time to visit. Here you'll find irregularly-timed irregular posts about what I've been up to or about topics that interest me or I think might interest others. Mostly the content will be about photography, cinematography and the such, but I'll also occasionally diverge into my personal life and share slices what I do in my spare time.

LA Auto Show Part 2

After stuffing myself on hors d”ouvres and chardonnay at the Porsche Cayman R launch party went back over to the main hall for more exhibits.
Stunningly beautiful Jaguar concept car
This thing looks FAST!
Scion had an impressive display as expected.

The Fisker Karma

Fisker had a very good spot just inside the main entry doors to the hall. There were so many people around the Karma, that I could barely get a shot off. That car is hot. They are using a new, proprietary paint job using glass flakes to make it shimmer more. Seems to have worked. The paint job is stunning!

The top of the roof on the Fisker Karma is all solar cells.

Next up was a trip over to Subaru where I caught the launch of the 4-door Impreza concept. I was not aware of the details until the launch, but apparently Subaru is doing quite well, even setting sales records despite the tough economic conditions currently present in the North American auto market. After the launch it was more free-flowing champagne and branded thumb drive giveaways. It doesn”t get much better than strolling the auto show with a glass of champagne. Life is good!

Subaru Impreza Concept Launch
Subaru Impreza Concept
Subaru Impreza Concept Launch
Subaru 2011 STI
A very sleek, sexy BMW 6-Series Coupe
Yes, that is a Fiat!

Showing the ultimate in fortitude Fiat re-enters the North American auto market with the Fiat 500. I didn”t spend much time at the Fiat exhibit. These cars do absolutely nothing for me. I did pick up a nice Fiat-branded espresso cup and thumb drive. Thanks Fiat!Stay tuned for part 3 in my LA Auto Show series.

LA Auto Show Part 1

Oh how I love the LA Auto Show! Its arrival, in a bright and shiny package, not only signals the beginning of the holiday season but it serves as a subtle reminder that we are all a year older. I go to the show for two reasons. The first is to oggle at all the cars and take pictures and the other is to network of course! If I”m lucky I get to see friends in the the biz from years past that for whatever reason our paths have not crossed until the show. It seems to be one of those days when people lower their protective fences a bit and have fun with their peers, cohorts and sometimes even competition. Some of us gorge ourselves on the food and free-flowing champagne many manufacturers offer the press. Other”s of us are on a mission to collect as many freebie, bags and schwag as we can carry. I particularly enjoy having fewer people around and being able to basically have the run of the place.There was plenty to oggle at this year, especially over at the Porsche exhibit. Their food was pretty darn good. People seemed to be less stingy with food and schwag this year. I think I picked up about 10 thumb drives branded with various manufacturers as giveaways, a few bags, an espresso cup from Fiat, and literature of course. Yes, you heard me, Fiat officially launched itself into the maelstrom known as the US auto market at the LA Auto Show. Whew! That there takes some fortitude and I commend them and wish them best of luck. I only posted some of the photos below. The whole gallery is on my Flickr page.
My press pass
South Hall Overview
I love this car!
I would love to photograph this car in the studio!
Cadillac Crossover Concept
Cool Rover Evoque Wireframe Art
SMART Electric Bicycle

2011 Cayman Launch Event
Hi-$$$ models surround the Cayman R
Quite The Show for the Paparazzi!
2011 Porsche Cayman R
This car was getting no attention.

Stay tuned for the second part of my 2010 LA Auto Show post.

We Are More Than Our Tools

(from Luke Copping’s Blog)

We Are More Than Our Tools

I have been part of a lot of conversations lately in which other parties have tried to equate photographic skill solely with the tools involved in creating images. These conversations have ranged from simply uninformed to downright accusatory, and the sources range in background from non-photographers to those working at a professional level within the industry. Snippets of anonymous conversations that I have been privy to include:

“I could be as good as you if I had access to fancy equipment.”
“Why should I pay you for retouching? They’re just headshots, and Photoshop is gonna do everything for you.”

“How many megapixels is your camera? We only hire photographers that use professional gear.”

“All you do is push a button.”

“The only reason he is so successful is because he had money to help get him started with buying equipment.”

“I love that picture. What lens did you use for it? At what F-stop?”

Statements like these make a few false assumptions in their logic — assumptions that sadly even some photographers seem to buy into.

1. That an image must be technically perfect to be successful, rather than entertaining or emotionally engaging.

Have you seen Dead Poets Society? There is a scene where Robin Williams demonstrates to his class that their textbook’s mathematical formula for determining whether a poem is successful or not is utter bloody nonsense. Creativity cannot be measured quantitatively. I have seen multitudes of images that, while they may not conform to the “rules” of photography, are insightful and heartbreakingly profound. Does their lack of technical “perfection” make them any less wonderful to look at?

2. That technical and equipment concerns define creativity rather than provide a means of control over creative output.

Being well-versed in the technical side of photography and knowing your tools at best means you have the abilities needed to more easily realize your creative vision and to make the informed decisions on how to more accurately make your end product match your initial creative concept. At worst, you will be able to make very well exposed, but very boring images. Creative options can be broadened by technical know-how and gear, but even the world’s most expensive and advanced camera can still take a shitty picture if the photographer behind it doesn’t have a creative bone in their body.

3. That the only way to succeed in photography is to have lots of fancy and expensive equipment; having better equipment makes you a better photographer.

We are not mere technicians. We are greater than the sum of our tool chests. By the logic of the above statement, are all past photographs inferior to current ones because the equipment used to make them was not as advanced? Upgrading your camera system may mean that your images can be reproduced larger, or that you may have a sharper lens, but it will not make you a better photographer. The only way to become a better photographer is to go out and practice, take a ton of pictures, take risks, push yourself, care, make mistakes, fail, get back up, keep trying, and keep learning.

4. That anyone could reproduce any image if they had identical equipment.

Here are some oils and brushes, go paint the Mona Lisa…. sounds ridiculous, right? We deal with capturing unique moments and sights. Even if someone were to set out and reproduce an image by another photographer, would every detail be the same? One might be able to replicate gear, copy lighting, and achieve a similar aesthetic, but would those all-important intangible elements be there? Would the subject be identical down to the pores, hairs, and micro-expressions? Would the feeling be the same? Could that photographer capture that exact moment again? No, of course not. But more importantly, why would they want to? Outside of an academic exercise or possible parody, one should be pushing to find their own creative voice, to find what works for them, not trying to exactly copy what worked for someone else.

Stop seeing yourself as an operator and start thinking like a creator.

The truth is; cameras, lenses, computers, graphic editing software, pens, paper, paints, brushes, microphones, audio recorders, and any other tool that you use in your creative life is just that, — a tool. And tools are only as good as the people using them. People are so quick to discount modern creatives, especially photographers and others who work with digital and mechanical mediums, as mere technicians whose sole job is the correct technical operation of a machine. The creative forces that go into making an image are so much more involved than just pushing a button. We as artists must begin to promote the idea that we are the ones that make creative images and that our tools are just a medium for recording our unique vision.

Sadly, this has become a commonly held perception that is devaluing the creative industry as a whole. With the number of talented amateurs and professionals growing, the value of being a technically proficient photographer is no longer seen as a differentiating element, but rather as a baseline, a bare minimum that is expected of us. Some photographers, usually those who are trapped in that self-sabotaging negative mindset I have written about so often, will see this as a threat, a dire warning that “The amateurs are coming to steal my jobs!! Oh noes!!!” Conversely, the smart and adaptable photographer will see this increased competition as an impetus to rise above the pack and stand out, rather than as a grim spectre signaling the end of their business. But how will these capable photographers who thrive on competition and self-evolution set themselves apart? The answer is so simple, yet seemingly so overlooked that it pains me to even have to say it.

Above all other factors, we can stand out by demonstrating to our clients every day and on every assignment the unique vision and creativity that we bring to photography. Show them that we have taken the passion and love for the medium that we felt the first time we picked up a camera and that we have cultivated and refined this energy into our own unique take on image making. We have to show our ability to take our technical knowledge, and tools and creative skills and create something more from them, something that is astonishing, even if it breaks the rules or we knowingly choose work outside the perceived norm of technical correctness. And finally, we have to show them that we can take this singular purity of vision and that we can apply it to sell their product or illustrate their concept or capture critical or mundane moments in amazing ways. It is so important to make them realize that the notion of photographers being nothing without their cameras is a misstatement. In truth, the cameras are nothing without the photographers.

Veteran’s Day Flag Ceremony

I had the privilege of joining a group of twenty mountain bikers today on a ride to The Luge flag pole to replace Old Glory. The Luge is a popular mountain biking in trail in the Santa Ana mountains of south Orange county. The flag is routinely replaced by volunteer mountain bikers, some of which are also veterans, every Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The flag needs frequent replacing due to strong winds at the flag’s location. Today was no exception as the winds were blowing around 15-25 mph. After the new flag was raised we all observed a moment of silence in honor of those that had made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. Then we turned our bikes downhill and enjoyed the downhill adrenaline rush known as The Luge.

The flagpole at The Luge in the Cleveland National Forest.
The old flag.
Taking down the old flag.
Attaching the new flag.

The new flag is flying.
Veteran’s group shot.

Beloved Is Finally Complete

I could spend months playing around and editing this film but I need to call it quits. What started as a camera test turned out to be a nice little film.

Beloved from John Early on Vimeo.

You can see the HD version on my Vimeo Channel, John Early Films.