Monthly Archives: October 2009

Call For Submissions – Portfolio Review

Someone once asked, on a photography forum, how to get out of a rut when you’re shooting the same stuff all the time. There were a lot of responses, but the one I really liked came from Aaron Leitz, who said, “Get another photographer to open a big can of Whoop-Ass on your portfolio.”

Aaron, that is right on.

It’s easy to get your ego stroked. Your friends will always tell you that you’re the most awesomest photographer ever. That’s their job. What’s harder is getting really honest, even brutal feedback from someone who has no relationship with you. Who doesn’t care if your feelings get hurt. Who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

I get a lot of requests for portfolio reviews, and it’s difficult at best to accommodate them. A good portfolio ass-kicking takes a fair amount of effort/time on the part of the reviewer, and so I usually end up punting on those emails. Or I skim quickly through the person’s website and get back to them eventually with something fairly useless, like “Nice images!” or “Fix your verts!”

But, I do actually spend a lot of time cruising through photographers’ websites, and I really enjoy talking about photos, so….I’m going to steal a page from Zack Arias and give the online video portfolio review thing a try. As far as I can tell, no one is doing this for Interiors/Architectural photography, and certainly not for Real Estate photography as a sub-genre. read more after the jump

Trouble-Shooting Pocket Wizards

I’m posting this today because I recently had trouble with my Pocket Wizards (Plus II’s) and despite my best Google-efforts, nothing I found was helpful for this particular problem. Indeed, nowhere on the internet, that I could find, had anyone even described the symptoms I had.

The problem was that one of my units suddenly (as in, mid-shoot) stopped working, and the red lights, which normally blink, were solid red. No blinking. Turned the unit(s) off, then on again. Swapped in fresh batts. Messed around with cables. No dice. Solid red lights.

I was able to finish my shoot by throwing a flash on the camera, and using it to trigger all my remote lights optically. But it took a call to Mac Group to figure out what was wrong: the cable was worn out and had shorted, somewhere inside the insulation. This is the standard cable that comes with the units, the Mini-to-PC cord that connects the PW to the flash. the fix is in….after the jump

iPhone Photo of the Day

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Scott Hargis Photo
www.scotthargisphoto.com

The Gear Bag Video Tour

NOTE: This is a really old post! If you’re looking for information on what equipment I use, check out the much more up-to-date video, here:

New Equipment Video

And now, back to the original post, from 2009:

First, has anyone noticed the new, wider, format of this blog? I figured out how to do that all by myself! The reason I wanted a wider column was that I’m planning to include much more video going forward, and this will allow you to view it without using a magnifying glass. Of course, you could also just click the “Full Screen” button at the bottom of the video window.

There’ll be a sequel to my “Correcting Verticals” video coming out pretty soon, and I have a couple of other video projects in the works, which will be WAY cool if they work, so stay tuned. And the list of “regular” blog topics keeps growing, so don’t worry, this won’t become YouTube anytime soon.

Today’s topic, though, is yet another in my “Frequently Asked Questions” series. “What kind of camera do you shoot with?”, “What lens do you use?” “What kind of umbrella should I buy?”, etc. etc. etc. I get emails like these almost every day, and while I try to answer them as quick as I can, here’s a pro-active response: I’m going to pull every piece of equipment out of the camera bags and show it to you.

It’s about 11 minutes long, so get a beer, sit back and enjoy. This was shot in the kitchen of a house I was about to shoot, because I had my personal videographer with me and the stager’s crew wasn’t ready for us yet. Not shown is all the crap I use on more involved shoots; that’ll have to be another video.

And why the hell do I keep smacking my gear around?!

iPhone Photo of the Day

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Scott Hargis Photo
www.scotthargisphoto.com

iPhone Photo of the Day

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Scott Hargis Photo
www.scotthargisphoto.com

iPhone Photo of the Day

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Scott Hargis Photo
www.scotthargisphoto.com

Time Travel

We don’t often get re-do’s in life. But last week, I showed up for a real estate shoot in Oakland and found myself standing in the past.

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This image became my very first postcard.

Above is one of the very first interiors images I ever made. When I was trying to break into Interiors photography, I did about five free shoots for real estate agents, trying to build a portfolio. One of those five has now cycled back onto the market, and I found myself about to re-shoot the subject of my very first piece of print marketing material!

No pressure there.

The place has been remodeled a bit, and the staging is different, of course, but it’s fundamentally the same house. I remembered the dining room and kitchen clearly, and did my best to re-create the angles I shot originally. I’m pretty confident about my ability to turn out a good RE photo these days, but I have to admit feeling a little pressure to out-perform my first effort. I hadn’t looked at those early pictures for years, and of course at the time I believed they were the pinnacle of Interiors photography, so in my mind I had a high bar to beat.

How’d I do? Take a look below, cast your own judgement! “Early Hargis” on top, “Contemporary Hargis” on the bottom (in case you can’t figure it out).

see the before-and-afters: click here

Let’s Get This Straight

****UPDATED****

I’ve recorded an updated version of this video. Read the new post HERE. The video below is still relevant if you’re relying on the Photoshop transform tools to correct lens distortion, but the new video addresses the transform tools now available in Lightroom 3.x, and the concurrent versions of Adobe Camera RAW, allowing us to perform corrections on RAW images.

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It’s usually the very first bit of feedback you get when you’re starting out in Interiors photography: get your verts straight! I heard it first from Mark Costantini, grizzled veteran PJ at the San Francisco Chronicle, when I was a stringer shooting hotels for the Travel section. Mark would review the 100 or so images I had uploaded for an assignment, pick out 2 or 3 to run, and admonish me on nearly every aspect of the shoot, starting with the verticals.

I’ve had the opportunity to coach more than a few shooters through the early stages of their interiors work, and correcting the verticals is always one of the first items to come up. I’ve seen a few tutorials on the web about this, but here’s my version, along with a little intro. I uploaded the video nice and big, so (after my face is safely off the screen) click the “full screen” button in the bottom left if you want to see what’s happening a little better.

Got your own technique? Share it in the comments!

iPhone Photo of the Day

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Scott Hargis Photo
www.scotthargisphoto.com

iPhone Photo of the Day

photo1

Scott Hargis Photo
www.scotthargisphoto.com

iPhone Photo of the Day

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Scott Hargis Photo
www.scotthargisphoto.com

Artist’s Reception, Saturday, October 2nd

That’s tomorrow night at 7:00pmĀ  — if you’re in the Bay Area and can show up at Cafe 504, I’ll be there with some cheap wine, finger food, and the most amazing Ginger/Molasses/Beer loaf known to mankind.

Oh, and there’s some photography on display, or something.