Burning Man

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I have just found this and it’s cool!

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Photoshop vs Out Of Cam

Hi Guys !

I have been thinking a lot about this trend that is to claim that if you are a good photog you just make the shot in the cam.

In my eyes, this way to think is just narrow-minded. This dictatorship all started when photojournalism took off. It was in this perspective understandable : if you crop or retouch, is your picture objective? But if you are not a journalist or a reporter ? Who cares really? No one. At the end of the day it’s just the picture that matters.

Why is good to try to make the shot in the camera?
Because you learn to pay attention, it saves you time. Is there something disturbing in the picture? Then make a step left and it’s gone. In Photoshop, you will need more time to save the shot. And let’s be honest : there is a great piece of satisfaction when you look at the picture and it’s perfect the way it is. But if it’s not, it does not matter.

Why it’s OK to process you pictures?
Because it’s also in this part of the process that your creativity and sensibility is stimulated. And every photogs retouch. I hear Joe McNally saying he makes the shot in the box. Might be. But he has assistants who retouch the pictures. I can imagine they don’t have much to retouch since Joe is a great photog and an old-school-photog: having learnt to shoot with rolls of kodaks, he knew he had to get the best shots in the cam in order to save a lot of time afterwards. So retouching is definitely OK. Photoshop is nothing less than a digital darkroom. Why is it best to work in a darkroom rather than with photoshop? I don’t know. I think it is not, it’s the same.

Developing films is now processing pixels. That’s it.

The camera gives you a picture which is the result of your ability to make a picture with the tool you used. At this point, we are not equal. Since we don’t have the same skills and the same eyes. The processing is the second step of making of the picture, this is how you bring it to the next level.

So guys, feel free to shoot how you want, give your best and, and this is the most important, have fun doing it !

Here an example, a before and an after :


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Now I already hear some of you saying it’s underexposed. No, it’s not. It was a moody low light. Because in real life, you don’t always have the perfect exposure. And this makes sometimes the beauty of the moment.

Have a nice light, more to come…

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Take a break ! And here are the 5 reasons why !

Well I could not sleep well last night and I could not find out the reason why.
Then, I started to think about the reason why I am not shooting so much those last weeks. Yes, I have a lot of business trips, yes I spend more time with my daughter. But, I know there is something deeper in this matter.

In the air. Again.

(Shot while boarding as I was on the way to Paris CDG. I love the uniforms they wear at Austrian Airline, I love red. It was shot with a cellphone, a samsung galaxy S4 and I used snapseed for the processing (color temperature) ).

To be honest, I feel I have learnt a lot those past years. Life has its ups and downs and this rule also applies for photography. In fact, I am bit lost.

Who am I as a photographer? Where do I really want to go? Why all this learning process in a hobby that is not the cheapest one?

I hold my Ipad and browsed my pictures, the pictures I have made those last 10 years. Clearly, the technical skills are better, there is no doubt about this. But I realized that the picture I love, are not necessarily the most complicated ones.

I like…

a) Pictures of people I know: friends, neighbors, colleagues…

Louise & Ulli

(Our dear friend Louise (left) who jumped into a plane from NYC to visit us and see our daughter Louise!)

b) I love to create a story, meaning by that the viewers want to know what is happening in the picture. It might be a look. It might be a setup, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that the viewer just stops and looks twice.

Oh my God!!!!

(This picture is shot with a cellphone, the same one I already mentioned above. Technically a poor shot. It’s basically a great picture of my nose. This pic is interesting for only 2 reasons : number 1- You don’t see pictures like this very often. Number 2 – You ask yourself what I am pretending to see.) I guess the fellows around me had to laugh at me as I had to practice my expression several times ! )

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(Scary! This shot is supposed to provoque a reaction. The story is that Evil may come from where you would never think! Btw, the knife was added in PS)

c) Shooting emotion when I shoot people. People are not so interesting but the emotions they carry are interesting. And now I understand why I think that most of the pictures – excellently shot – of babes with wonderful bodies and great light, etc… don’t really attract my attention. “Hum… Well, looks like a product picture.” This also explains why I don’t like models from the internet (well sometimes I do, but my ratio deception vs. good surprise confirms my statement). Here a good surprise :

Susane Arlt

(She was a great model and it was cool to work with her. We managed great shots! She is willing to be an actrice and I really do hope she makes it!)

d) movies and the place light plays in the classic movies with Humphrey Bogard, Alfred Hitchcock… And there is surprisingly a come back. Have you watched “Better Call Saul”? It ‘s a great show and scenes are lit as if they were for pictures. It’s a good story and a pleasure for the eye. I love this. And I love shooting stuff like this.


In the Morning

(2 different ways to get this feeling: above it was a studio shooting with a Make-Up-Artist and lights, and, and, and… ; The one below is my wife having breakfast and some sunbeams thru the curtain + Lightroom. As you see it doesn’t have to be complicated to have this movie touch.)

c) Drama. In faces, in landscape…

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(On a rainy day, shot from my car as I was arriving at my next meeting)

So. Where am I ? I know what I like, but what should be my path? Time is precious and we cannot walk two tracks at the same time. We need to make choices.

I need to show my work to someone who will be able to tell me : ” Boy, this is shit, this hum… but this is interesting, this is the way you should follow.”

Now I need to find this person.

At this point, I thought it would be a good piece of advice to share my experience of last night:

TAKE A BREAK to check:

a) What do want to learn ?
b) What do you want to shoot ?
c) What is that lets take the camera in your hand
d) What subjects are your favorites ?
e) What are the one you shoot best ?

More to come

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Don’t shoot concerts… at least like that ! :-)

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A video by Joe McNally !

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Moody Shot

Let’s face it, if one thing is really fascinating me it’s the human behavior. Where many friends of mine would comment a situation by a “oh Man, it’s so mean from him… !”, my first reaction is not to judge. My first reaction is to question. “Why did he act like that?” is the first thought crossing my mind. And then after comes the judgement.

In fact, very exciting are people with a tiny personal disorder, this very tiny border between normality and psychosis. And the fact that some of us combine the two of them. That’s typical for the guy you thought he was normal until that very day arrives and you discover he was a serial murder. But it doesn’t have to be murder or something dangerous, it’s interesting enough when it is about phobia. Or any other kind of problem.

So, how to combine pictures and such situations ?

Man with a knife in the kitchen

Scary creepy shot isn’t it ? Well, I met one day a man whose father told him as he was 11 years old he should not be left alone with such a knife in is hand… Well, this kid became an adult and has a very normal life today. But now, imagine what could have happened to this child… the fears… This shot is about this story. By the way, the father never did anything wrong and never beat his wife or children.

To create such drama, you need a story. Like the one above. The you need a setup. I have  noticed that the light is very important. And to create a tension, you need a contrasty picture. And use lights to create spots of light (knife, face, window). The main light is a gridded beauty Dish with a CTO gel. The background is lighted with a blue gelled strobe. The picture is underexposed in the sense that only the knife has the correct exposure. On purpose.

What is happening ? Is this man threatening someone on its knees? Or is he having suicide thoughts ? The window was important for me since it symbolizes the link between what’s happening inside and the world outside.

It was tricky to shoot and it would have been way easier to have a model since I had to shoot and shoot again so I could place myself and the knife a their right places. And the game of ratio between background and main light has been difficult to set. My main light was illuminating the background too much and the blue color was actually too bright.

Why me on the picture and not a model ? Well, I did not dare to ask my friends for a “crazy” shoot.  :-)

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The final result

Not my best shot, again, those selfportraitures are mainly a way to learn solving problems. It is all about the learning effects since I don’t consider my self as gifted model.

I encountered many difficulties such as :

1) Why does my remote not work?
2) What do you do when it does not work ?
3) How many second should be enough for the timer ?
4) How to make sure the sharpness
5) Ah… yes, don’t forget to set the AF on Manual
6) What light modifier ? I needed a focused light
7) Is that gel warm enough ?
8) Should I set the cam on cloudy or at K3200?
9) What clothes ?
10) Messy background ?
11) Ratio for blue strobe worked pretty well since the main light does not interfer
12) With or without diffusion panel ? (Without!)
13) Why did i forget to reload my Battery pack!!!!!

Click here to see it on a black screen since the with makes it look darker than it is actually.


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Fighting for right light

I am in the middle of a concept and things don’t roll the way I want… It’s incredibly hard to fix the ratios and the colors… Here a few attempts!

And at the end of the first session, the BW is my fav’ !

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Ok, let’s try again !

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My Last Pub At Paris Airport

This one was shot yesterday at CDG, Terminal 2D.
As every Friday closing a business trip in France, I use to have diner or at least to have a beer just to welcome the job done, the successes and sometimes the failures too.

This place is where I got to know Farhid, the legendary barkeeper of the scene. This place saw many different situations: fathers cutting the meat for their daughters, mothers breastfeeding their sons, couples arguing and other kissing. And also colleagues telling stories of what they did and think, explaining why their bosses don’t get them…

But also many lonely passengers just resting before taking off. Like me.

They’ll be closing for good next Sunday. Too bad.

more to come…

PubShot with a smartphone Samsung Galaxy S4, processed with Snapseed on the spot !

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