Articles by: Peter Poulides

Preview of Really at Undermain Theatre

We were approached by Undermain Theatre about their new play, Really by Jackie Sibblies Drury. It uses photography as a main theme and they thought we might want to let our clients know about the play. So I went to the preview performance on April 14.

Photography does play a prominent role, in fact, it felt as if it were the fourth character in the play. The three actors are excellent and the story of their relationships is unveiled in a series of emotional interactions and moments. The handling of a camera, fidgeting with lights and talking about photography are woven throughout the drama, sometimes as just busy work, other times as punctuation to the dialog.

I think the play should be seen by anyone who has adopted photography as part of their lives. There is almost no technical dialog about the photographic process here. What the author has done is far more difficult and challenging. She has used photography as a way to explore the very nature of reality and truth. I left the theater in a bit of a fog, in a good way. As a photographer, I’m increasingly aware of my  lifelong attempts to freeze moments and control reality as well as the constant judgment of whether I am good enough. Those thoughts and emotions also apply to relationships. I think Really has done an intriguing job of weaving those two tendencies together.

How to shoot the full moon

There is a full moon tonight and I encourage you to go out and shoot at sunset and beyond. It’s going to be a beautiful, rain free evening! At full moon the moonrise and sunset happen together so you’ll get the huge glowing orb of the moon just above the horizon while the foreground will still be lit by the dusk of the fading sun.

Use a tripod and a remote release if you have one. If you don’t have a remote, use the self timer to help the camera settle down before the exposure. Experiment with different White Balance settings on your cameras. If you’re shooting raw you can play with white balance later in software. On some cameras there will be a dedicated WB button. On many Nikons you get to the WB setting by pressing the “i” button twice on the back. That gets you into the “Info” display which lets you set a lot of the most important functions on your camera without having to dive into the menus, where you could be lost for hours. On many Canons the equivalent button is “Q” which stands for “Quickset”.

Look on the left side of your lens. Most of you will have a button that either says VR (Vibration Reduction on Nikon) or IS (Image Stabilization on Canon). Turn that to the OFF position when you’re on a tripod. It sounds weird, but leaving it on will actually cause your images to be blurred. The VR/IS system is trying to neutralize vibration in the camera and when it’s on a tripod and nice and stable, the vibration of the shutter itself will “wake up” the VR/IS system and cause image blur. **Remember to turn it back ON when you’re through shooting tonight.

For exposure mode, if you’re still new to DSLR cameras I would try the P or Program mode. It will work well when the moon is low on the horizon and there is still color in the sky. Don’t use the full Auto mode or the flash will keep popping up. When the moon gets a little higher and the foreground is darker then the auto modes won’t work very well any more. The metering system will be confused by all of the dark sky and you’ll get a blank white circle for the moon with no features. If you’re a little more advanced then try the M (Manual) exposure mode, adjusting aperture and shutter speed until the metering marker is in the middle. Try a shot, then adjust to get the look you want. This would be a good time to play with Spot Metering as well. Put the metering spot right on the moon and use that exposure.

Here’s a good discussion on the topic from one of my favorite photo websites: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/forums/thread24905.htm

Have fun. If you get something good we’d love to see it.

Here is a nice shot from Michelle Thoma who tried this out during another full moon.

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Ciao from Italia!

Our Natural Light Portrait teacher, Patrizia Montanari, has been spending her summer in her home country of Italy. She sent us this note along with some of the photos she’s taken:

Dear Peter,

It’s been two months since I left Texas to visit Italy after four years of absence. It has been amazing and I found myself rediscovering this colorful and folkloristic country with new eyes. My journey so far has been interesting, challenging (as I am traveling with two small children), emotional and regenerating. I have a love-hate relationship with my home land, I appreciate the way it is and the way it will never be. Mostly I enjoy all it is giving me, the smell, the taste, the history, the family and the multitude of dialects, I am absorbing it all, and save it for my return to Texas.

As you know, before my departure I spoiled my self with a new camera, a Fujifilm X100T, which it has been my best friend since I landed in Milan. It’s a fantastic tool, it’s with me all the time and the quality of the images is sublime and never disappoints me.

I have been traveling all over Italy quite a lot and got so much inspiration from places and people. I have been taking trips to the Alps, the Riviera Ligure, the hills of Tuscany, the country side of Umbria and the gorgeous Island of Sicily. I have been bouncing from loving to photograph landscape to finding gorgeous light to photograph people. Location scouting requires no effort here and most of the time I am actually crying for a model.

I am grateful for the art of photography and what I am doing to preserve these memories, I am also grateful for hashtags, #lamiaitaly will always remind me of this wonderful trip.

I hope you are loving your Texas summer,
A presto, ciao
Patrizia

You can following Patrizia’s adventure on Instagram by following @patriziamontanari.

 

Patrizia Montanari, new teacher at DCP

Dallas Center for Photography, Patrizia Montanari

The big news for DCP is that Patrizia Montanari will be teaching our very popular Natural Light Portraits workshop starting in May. We first met Patrizia two years ago when she came in for a few one-on-one tutoring sessions with Peter to work on Lightroom and workflow issues. Originally born in Italy, Patrizia left at 24 and since then has lived in a variety of places including NYC, Amsterdam, Florence, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. She has called McKinney her home for the past three years and has started a blog called [On The Square] where she combines her passion for photography with her love for Historic Downtown McKinney.

A few months ago Money Magazine named McKinney, Texas as the number one best place to live in America. Patrizia and her husband were interviewed for the article:

The historic downtown houses a mix of art galleries, boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants, as well as basics like a butcher, shoe repair, and farm-supplies stores. Mark Strange says that living downtown was a no-brainer for him, his wife, Patrizia Montanari, and their two young children. “It’s a mix of European, East Coast, and West Coast here,” adds Montanari, 36, a photographer. “You get culture and more country charm for less money than what you’d find in Dallas.”

We recently put Patrizia on the spot and asked her a few questions about her work and life.

Q: What is your favorite part about photography?
A: To be able to preserve memories and in some way stop time. Life is just too fast and it’s not always so simple to slow down and enjoy moments. The art of photography allows us to save memories, and to look back at the past and see things from different perspectives, I love that.

Q: What makes McKinney such an interesting subject for you?
A: McKinney screams Texas to me. It is a city with the feeling of a small town and it has a wonderful Historic Neighborhood. Finding inspiration in McKinney was effortless. I can see beauty even in the oldest and most forgotten building and I meet fascinating people every day.

Through my photography and my blog I am able to share their stories and it just makes me feel complete. I love to talk about anything interesting that I discover about the Historic Downtown and its amazing community and I love to showcase local businesses, artists or just cool people. I’ve created a McKinney greeting card collection that sells in selected retailers in the McKinney Downtown Square, and I also have an incredible amount of followers on my blog called “On The Square” Blog.

Q: How does your background in art influence your photography?
A: I consider myself an artist and a story teller and photography is one of my favorite mediums. My love for painting and drawing at one point of my life developed into photography. It’s an immediate and convenient way to communicate what I would have in the past with my paintings and drawings.

I really love to photograph people – they are my favorite subject. I am passionate about body details and I love to sketch those details, stare at them, and talk about them too. I look at people’s eyes and hands. I remember those details sometimes more than I remember what people say (it’s quite easy to get distracted since English is not my first language). When I paint or draw everything else switches off – it’s just me, my subject and my canvas. When I photograph, I feel the same. Nothing else exists and I am completely into the subject.

Q: What is your goal in photography?
A: My goal is to always improve myself as a photographer. I love to photograph people. I especially love to see their reactions when they are admiring a photo of themselves. They are exposed to a different perspective and they can see beauty in the photo.

Meeting with Peter at DCP a few months ago made me realize how connected my art is to my photography so I worked on merging these two passions and I now offer a unique product to my clients. I host monthly events in collaboration with Pavitra Organic Day Spa in Downtown McKinney called Pampering & Portraits. We promote them as relaxing and glamorous sessions born from the idea of combining a wellness experience with the art of photography, all in a unique, creative and sophisticated session for women of all ages. The portrait package includes a photography session with the option of commissioning a portrait painting.

Q: Why did you leave Italy?
A: Italy is a beautiful country. The history and the art are just amazing and the food is probably what I miss the most. But it wasn’t enough anymore, I needed to discover and travel and the United States gave me great opportunity to express myself and value myself more. Now my home is where my family is and my husband and children are here in McKinney. This is where my children will probably grow up and where we are going to create new memories.

Find out more about Patrizia’s work at www.patriziamontanari.com
The full article in Money Magazine

Review of the documentary “War Photographer”

(Note from Jillian: I am pretty sure we created DCP Movie Nights specifically to show War Photographer. Peter has been talking about this movie since the idea developed and we cannot wait to show this documentary about James Nachtwey.)

Without good photojournalists we would have few honest images of what goes on in the world. Think about that. These photographers are the ones who willingly go into zones of war, famine and human suffering. They bear witness and send back images so the rest of us, from a safe distance, can ask questions and come to conclusions of our own. Many of them die for their efforts. What Nachtwey brings to this tradition is compassion. His images, while often hard to look at, are about the humanity of his subjects.

I saw this movie for the first time five years ago in my living room. I remember sitting on my couch and not moving for an hour and a half. I had known James Nachtwey’s work for years. His were the images that often stopped me in my tracks and demanded more time, more involvement from me as the viewer. To watch him at work was a revelation. The director of the film attached two small cameras to Nachtwey’s own Canon camera, one pointed over his lens toward the action, the other pointed back at the photographer. It’s an immersive and dramatic technique that takes you into the field to directly experience this amazing photographer at work. As one reviewer said, “This is as close to being inside a photojournalist’s mind as it gets”.

Besides the exquisite visual elements of his photographs, this film is about Nachtwey’s struggle with the job itself. Mr. Nachtwey says of his own work “Every minute I was there, I wanted to flee. I did not want to see this. Would I cut and run, or would I deal with the responsibility of being there with a camera.” Fortunately for all of us, he stays and takes pictures.

To purchase a ticket visit Movie Night at DCP.

Boy in Frame

“Boy in Frame” from the documentary War Photographer.

 

Moldy Cameras

(This is an update and repost of an earlier article)

I have a collection of toy and cheap cameras that I started about 30 years ago. My rule for the first couple of years was that I wouldn’t spend more than a dollar. Sometimes I would find 5 or 6 at a thrift store. Then my family started looking for them. I still get a bag of garage sale cameras every Christmas from my brother.  I now have probably 500-600 cameras stashed in cardboard boxes on some industrial shelves at the studio.

For a while there has been a tiny leak in one of the concrete studio walls and I was dutifully collecting the water in a bucket. When I went to the studio yesterday during a downpour I discovered water dripping from a new place, right under the shelf that holds my collection. Turns out a trickle of water had been going into one of the boxes for the last few months. Unwrapping the cameras was gross and sad. I had to throw away about a half dozen, including a nice small wooden view camera that had fallen apart. The biggest shock was this Argus C3, which was in its original box. The box was a black, sodden, smelly mess. I’m guessing that the combination of water, darkness and the leather case made a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.

(Update)
When this originally happened, I set up a softbox and took some forensic photos as a document of this beautiful catastrophe. Those documentary images of moldy evidence have turned into some of my favorite photos. This is a lesson I’ve learned repeatedly, that I’m often really not qualified to judge or edit my photos at the time I take them. Time has a way of revealing the depth and meaning of a photo.

Does anyone still use a 56K modem? Adobe thinks so.

Plano Camera Club Print Competition

Occasionally I get asked to judge photo contests for one of the camera clubs in the area. This time it’s for the Plano Camera Club and the category is “open”, meaning any subject matter can be submitted. This is also a print competition so instead of judging images on a screen I get to handle actual photograph, which is always fun. It’s really interesting to look at the range of photos made by beginners through “master” level photographers. The photo is from the studio where I had the prints laid out for review.

Judging-Plano-Camera-Club-Dallas-Center-for-Photography

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

I just got back from a week in Oregon and had a chance to download just a few of the photos so far.  This is a quick B&W conversion from Multnomah Falls, on the scenic highway that runs through the Columbia River Valley just outside of Portland.  The processing is a little heavy across the top but I think this will turn into a real keeper with a little more (or less!) work. Shot with a 16-35mm lens, D600, f11, 1 second, 3 stop (very wet:) neutral density filter.

Peter-Poulides-Dallas-Center-for-Photography-Oregon-Falls

Search Everything, an amazing Windows utility

I use Windows. There, I said it. I’ve built my own machines for years and currently manage six Windows 7 systems at work and home. So I’m always interested in utilities that make work easier and faster. One the very best I’ve found is Search Everything. It is free, fast, uses very few resources and will find a file on your computer in a fraction of a second. I use it several times a day and it’s much more efficient than the built in Windows search. In fact, I think Microsoft should build this in to their OS from now on.

It is malware-free and doesn’t bother you with popups. It doesn’t cost anything but donations are encouraged (by the author and by me!). Download from Voidtools here.

Search-Everything-Dallas-Center-for-Photography