Tag Archives: Los Angeles

5 Experiments to Overcome Photographer’s Block

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. We feel lethargic and uninspired. We feel the urge to blow a bunch of money on a new lens or a new camera, in hopes that it would somehow reinvigorate our passions. But what if we already have what we need to overcome photographer’s block? Here are 5 simple experiments to try to expand our photographic horizons.

5. Shoot with Your Least Used Lens

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Shot with a Holga 25mm Pinhole

We’ve all been there. A late night Craigslist session, an impulse BUY IT NOW! on eBay, or a well commissioned salesperson at a camera store. We all have lenses that we sparingly use.

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Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Mine used to be the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro. Fantastic lens. Brilliantly sharp. But I’m not gifted with the patience to shoot macrophotography and I also bought it as a portrait lens. I found it to be slightly too long, too slow to use in dim light without stabilization, and too inexpensive to part with. So I kept it. For years. In a closet.

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Right now, it’s my Holga 25mm Pinhole lens. Super fun lens. Incredibly inexpensive. However, a plastic meniscus lens at f/8 has limited usability at night or indoors. But rather than dwelling on limitations, a lens’ unique character could force you to think outside the box and be creative.

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Why Do We Still Shoot Black & White Portraits?

Why do we still shoot in black and white? Nobody really shoots film anymore. When do we decide to throw away beautiful skin tones, luscious blonde colors, and late afternoon sunlight? Why would we want to go grayscale?

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If you’ve been following my photography, you’ll notice that I rarely shoot black and white portraits, and this is on purpose. Not because I prefer one over the other aesthetically, but I personally feel shooting color is more difficult and challenging, and it is something I constantly strive to practice.

I’m ambivalent about b&w portraits and b&w photography in general. I’m very confident in b&w. Some of my best published works are monochrome. It is striking, it is clean, and it is minimalistic, all qualities in which I love. But a part of me also feels it’s cheating.  Continue reading Why Do We Still Shoot Black & White Portraits?

A Look Inside Paparazzi Photography

Paparazzi [noun] – a freelance photographer, especially one who takes candid pictures of celebrities for publication

We have all seen the cover of tabloid magazines plastered with famous celebrity faces on every newsstand.  Especially here in North America it is difficult to escape it when you are going about your daily chores waiting in line to check out at the local grocery store or drugstore.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that paparazzi photographers are the most hated among other photographers. On average, the paparazzi photogs that do this on a full-time basis make anywhere from $80,000 – $250,000. The really great stalkers, I mean veteran paparazzi photogs make on average $250,000 – $300,000 apparently. I guess the one’s that make the higher incomes can justify their behavior by the amount of money they receive in return for their actions.

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Kayne West & Kim Kardashian |

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5 Reasons You Should Try Digital Holga Portraits

Remember when life wasn’t so complicated, when there wasn’t a million things to remember, and when photography wasn’t a serious hobby but just . . . for fun? Holga remembers.

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A featherweight at 38g. A bargain at $15.

There is freedom in simplicity. You can pour over MTF graphs online and ridiculous DxO Mark scores, or you can do-it-yourself and experiment with something deliciously old school.

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’m in love with this $15-25 plastic Holga lens. We took it out to the LA Arts District, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica Pier for several model test shoots.

The Holga lens is available for a variety of focal lengths and mounts. We used a 25mm f/8 for our Sony A7, but other versions are available as follows:

5. The Lovely 35mm Film Look

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Peyton Lake rocking her AC DCs in the back of a 325i. Makeup by Jordan Takeda. Image processed with the Terry Style Clean preset for Adobe Lightroom.

Digital is clean, precise, and sterile. Film has a texture to it, or as Patrick Bateman might say, “the tasteful thickness of it.” But the problem with 35mm film is the time, expense, and effort of dealing with a physical media, not to mention, the way we consume photography has long changed from printed photo to digital websites.

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The Mighty Fifties – Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 vs Loxia 50mm f/2 vs Sigma 50mm f/1.4

The 50mm is not only nifty, it is mighty. It is a standard normal prime, meaning it gives a close approximation of our eyes’ field of view. This lens comparison will feature Disneyland, an $650,000 original Banksy piece, a beautiful model on a Malibu beach, a Shepard Fairey mural, and this peacock.

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“Yippee ki yay.” Shot by a Loxia 50mm f/2.

The 50 is also the favorite focal length of the legendary street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. As he explained it when asked why the 50mm lens was his favorite,

“I worked with a 90. It cuts much of the foreground if you take a landscape . . .The 35 is splendid when needed, but extremely difficult to use if you want precision in composition. . . [the 50] corresponds to a certain vision and at the same time has enough depth of focus . . . .”

This comparo will again be broken into 5 rounds:

  1. Build quality
  2. Sharpness
  3. Vignetting and Flare
  4. Bokeh and 3D Pop
  5. Real World Handling

The Contenders & Their Specs

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The Zeiss Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 (left); Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar (center); Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art with a Commlite autofocus EF to E adapter (right). Note: the Commlite adapter did not autofocus with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. Only aperture and exposure could be controlled.

On the left, weighing in at a welterweight 281g with a $998 price tag (grey market $740), is the standard setting Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8. In the middle, weighing in at 320g with a $949 price tag, is the brand new Zeiss Loxia T* 50mm f/2 Planar. On the right, weighing in at a morbidly obese 810g with a $949 price tag, is the highly acclaimed Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art DSLR lens,

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