Press Release: TFC Glamour/Figure Course for 2009

The annual TFC Glamour/Figure course for 2009 is now starting to fill.

This popular course run by Chris Burfoot of TFC Courses for 2009 will be held on June 13/14th in deepest darkest Dorset at Studio Décor’s HQ near Beaminster.

As well as a fully equipped new studio the venue offers 60 acres of grounds! Sets will include (weather permitting) Meadow grass, woods, tree stumps with amazing views, an orchard, log cabin, a beach scene, old barn plus a brand new studio!

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Filming Sanctuary with the RED One

We recently published a post about the RED Digital Cinema Epic and Scarlet camera systems. Still fascinated by these fantastic looking cameras, we’ve been keeping an eye out for more information. Now, this is a bit of a departure from our normal photography discussion, but the good folks over at DVICE have put up a video of the RED One (movie camera system) being used to film Sci Fi’s hit show, Sanctuary.

You can take a look at it here.

I don’t know a lot about filming movies and tv, but this looks like it might be a bit special.

“Twizle” or “Twaddle”? Photo Manipulation Genius?! You Decide…

Twizle

I can’t make up my mind whether Twizle is genius or… well, I can’t even think what the alternative might be! They seem to have made a business out of applying some completely inappropriate Photoshop filters to any photo you supply them, and selling you back your newly “Twizled masterpiece” on canvas for a shameful high price.

It’s mental! I really can’t believe anyone (and I do mean anyone) would be gullible or stupid enough to use this service and pay this price. However, according to their website, “000’s of customers can’t be wrong!” (sic).

It’s so crap it is actually quite brilliant! My personal favourite has to be the “Very Viennese Swirl” Twizle:

Very Viennese Swirl Twizle Example

Or that might just possibly be equalled by having your wedding photos “improved” with the “The Incredible Twist(er!)” treatment:

The Incredible Twist(er!) Twizle Example

Pure class!

They are my new heroes, without a doubt. I’d love to meet their “thousands of customers” (notice they don’t say “thousands of satisfied customers”) as I have some valuable shares in a steam-powered space exploration project I would like to sell…

Go on, take a look at the Twizle website – it will make you smile, I guarantee it!

Are You a “Cheap Wedding Photographer”?

Are you a cheap wedding photographer?

Back to the subject of Wedding Photography, again (I suspect we’ll be covering this one a lot!).

I was talking to my friend Mark, who I have mentioned before is right now going through the transition from keen amateur to professional. Mark was telling me about the half a dozen or so weddings he has covered for free, or dirt cheap, in order to have the opportunity to get a few weddings under his belt and into his portfolio. Oh, and for the experience of course, which never comes cheap in this game!

The trouble is, he is now in danger of being labelled as a “cheap wedding photographer” for the foreseeable future. Although having covered friends’ and relatives’ weddings at a special rate has lead to a number of referrals, the referred clients have an expectation of an inexpensive photographer covering the event from dusk till dawn.

It strikes me that when trying to make the jump to pro status, the photographer needs to have a plan, almost a prepared statement to read to the lucky couple getting the special deal. My suggestion (much too late for Mark, obviously!) would be to quote friends and relatives the full price you intend to charge once you have made the jump. Then, give them a whopping discount, clearly showing that this is a one-off because you are my cousin/nephew/sister/best buddy or whatever. This way, the photographer has shown his normal price and the friend/relative can clearly see the saving they get from being in the right place in the gene pool at the right time.

Will it actually work? I don’t know. I need someone to try it out and let me know! Any takers?

Lastolite HiLite Bottletop Covers

One of the stands I purposefully made my way to at Focus on Imaging in Birmingham last week, was the Lastolite stand. I have several of their products and their original collapsible reflectors have to be one of the best accessories ever invented.

I was particularly interested to see the HiLite Background system, which bears a passing resemblance to a huge softbox, but used as a background (the clue is in the name) instead of as a primary light source. There were several reasons why I wanted to see it:

  • I’m in the market for a new background “system” and high-key is a real challenge for me as I only have two lights
  • My TDM buddy, Charlie, said I should take a look and he’s often been right about the kind of gear that works for me
  • I didn’t see how it could possibly be any good (sorry Lastolite – pre-judging like this is unfair) and this was my opportunity to check it out

Well, I liked what I saw. Clearly, it does work (although I have not yet got my hands on one to test it fully). However, one possible stumbling block preventing me from investing is that I don’t always want a white background; I regularly shoot low-key against a dark grey background.

Anyway, today I learned that Lastolite has brought out a set of new “Bottletop” covers to provide a little more versatility. These include black and grey versions (I’m assuming you switch the back light off, at least for the black version!) and Chromakey versions in both blue and green. Simply slip the elasticated bottletop cover over the HiLite background to produce an instant change of colour. They also come complete with a train (although I’m struggling to find out exactly how long the train actually is). Now I’m excited!

Lastolite HiLite Bottletop Covers

Here’s the new range:
HiLite Bottletop Cover with Train 5â?? x 7â??
Black â?? LAS 8702 SRP £54.99 Inc vat
Grey – LAS 8770 SRP £54.99 Inc vat
Chromakey Blue â?? LAS 8788 SRP £54.99 Inc vat
Chromakey Green â?? LAS 8781 SRP £54.99 Inc vat

HiLite Bottletop Cover with Train 6â?? x 7â??
Black â?? LAS 8802 SRP £64.99 Inc vat
Grey – LAS 8870 SRP £64.99 Inc vat
Chromakey Blue â?? LAS 8888 SRP £64.99 Inc vat
Chromakey Green â?? LAS 8881 SRP £64.99 Inc vat

You can find out more about Lastolite products by visiting www.lastolite.com or by phoning 01782 753304.

I need to get hold of one of these for a proper test – I’m not sure whether I will still need to get a third light to illuminate the HiLite, or whether using one of my lights for the HiLite and one for the primary light source would be enough. Still, I was anticipating an additional two lights for the background so this could still be a good solution.

Is It Wrong To “Airbrush” A Model?

Retouching the model with Photoshop

Last week I stumbled upon a website where photographer Vitaly Druchinin demonstrates his (considerable, in my opinion) talent for retouching and manipulating images of models. I was really impressed.

My initial reaction was that the resulting picture was a lie, in as much as it gave a false impression of… well, everything! Once I gave it a little more thought I realized that I was being rather naive (okay, stupid). Of course these pictures give a false impression – why would you want to see the reality anyway? These images are art, not documentary. They exist to create a fantasy. And as art they really work. Without the before and after images I would have been none the wiser and I think this is the key ingredient here; the “artist” has created something which you do not question when the finished image is all the information you have to go on.

However, a couple of days ago, many of the local bus stops were adorned with a poster advertising the opening of a new shop in the town centre. The poster shows the lovely Louise Redknapp in her Triumph underwear, looking fantastic. For a few seconds (I admit it would have been longer, but there was nobody waiting for the bus at this stop) I stared at the poster and admired the lighting, the set and, okay, Mrs Redknapp. Then it hit me! I know I’m looking at at a picture which has almost certainly been completely retouched. I don’t have the before and after pictures to compare, but that’s not clever lighting, it’s Photoshop. Is Mrs Redknapp really that shapely, or has she been digitally enhanced? I’m labouring the point – I know you get it.

What makes this advertising image different is that I’m expected to believe in it, although it’s still about fantasy to some extent, obviously. It’s not supposed to be art. The model is someone recognisible; someone I feel I know, in a way. This makes it feel dishonest.

Of course this has been going on for ever. Even the portraits from the old masters aren’t accurate. Famously, creating a painted portrait was more about showing the sitter in a flattering light than depicting an accurate portrayal. Isn’t this just the same thing but with modern technology?

Where do you draw the line? Is there really any difference between airbrushing away a single wrinkle and completely changing the lighting of a photograph? Is this just part of producing aesthetically great imagery or is it the corruption of something that should be more pure?