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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Biscayne Blvd

Working in Miami again. Where else but downtown Miami can you see a sight like this?

I've watched this place grow over the space of a few decades and unlike much development I've seen, this place gets better and better. I even like it in the middle of summer!

Bumped into Chris Opel, an American fashion shooter living in Switzerland and had an enjoyable evening with him in South Beach. He's here for a month, updating his book. Now, if that isn't an investment and commitment. He's completely changed the look and feel of his work and going for a very natural, unscripted look. This was interesting to me because I'm going the other way - don't care so much about the reality, it's my perception of it that counts. Made for an interesting evening's conversation. Good luck to you Chris.

Meanwhile my job went well and I picked up another one for the start of the New Year. Even with a shaky economy there's so much development activity here that I'm looking around the distressed properties and foreclosures with an eye to buying a "pied a terre", while the prices are so low. As Deepthroat said to Bob Woodward, "follow the money" and if the new hotel and art gallery openings are any indication, the money is in Miami.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Was it something I said?

Working with Vlada again and realized that I've never shot her fully dressed.Hmmm, wonder what that means? Anyway, not only is she my "go to" body model, the attached shot shows why I enjoy using her. Always easy to work with and a real pro.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Westjet into the sunset

Somewhere over Fargo, ND.

Heading west and it's going to be a long night. Infant in front is screaming. Kid next to me keeps bumping into me as he keeps falling asleep and then is abruptly woken up again by the baby.

Oh mama. Are we there yet?!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Look Ma, we're in Business Week!

This week's Lifestyle section has a travel piece by reporter, Venessa Wong, entitled "Beware: your hotel may not be a nice as you think.", for which yours truly was interviewed for and quoted in.

Overall, it's a resonably well balanced piece about retouching shots of hotels and resorts and the ethics therein. While I wasn't exactly profound, I don't think I sounded like a schlub either. It's funny to see an hour and a half interview reduced to a few sentances of quotes. While the context was a little off on a couple of them I'm reasonably satisfied enough to bask in my Warholian fifteen minutes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I think a lot of myself. How about you?

I recently had the unfortunate experience to watch Platon being interviewed by Charlie Rose. I like Charlie Rose, not so much Platon, whose work I find to be overbearing in it's pomposity. His self deprecating manner in the interview - "if I have any talent, and I'm not sure I do" - was just too much.

He's riding high at the moment, Portraits of Power was a huge success for him and he was being interviewed about his New Yorker essay about the remaining 1960's civil rights leaders. It changed his life, he claimed, and from now on he will devote himself to honorable undertakings. Jesus, what a bunch of claptrap.

The Emperor Platon has no clothes. I find his work to be predictable and banal and his technique of producing Gothic-like imagery is a cover for his lack of vision. Anybody who has achieved the status of being known by only one name has achieved some kind of status in their given world: think of Avedon and Penn, even think of Cher and Bowie, and now Mr. Platon has designated himself to join their ranks.

Sour grapes on my part? I think not because I'm really indifferent to how much success or money he has garnered - what do I care? On one hand I think good for him if he can pull the wool over people's eyes and get away with it. On the other hand, and this is the bit that galls me, how bloody stupid are the people who fall for it and fawn all over him? I can't decide if these Photo Editors and Art Buyers are like lemmings or sheep because there's a slight difference in these two analogies, and they both seem to fit.

Of course, the world has always been as such, hence the story of the Emperor who had no clothes, but I feel it is getting worse. Society produces larger than life people so we mortals have someone and something to aspire to, which is a positive thing after all. It's the self-proclaimed ones who get my goat though.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gear n' stuff

One of the most common questions from one photographer to another is, "what are you using?"

While there's lot of talk about creativity, gear lust is when the conversation becomes really animated. I'm not so much an equipment junkie as I am a gadget lover. Ever since I was a kid I have been a sucker for them. Show me a 7 in 1 screwdriver and turkey baster and I drool and want one. The dumber the gadget the more I like it.

It occured to me that those who read this blog - that's right, both of you - might be interested in my stuff. I've just finished reading about someone else's, so I thought I'd be a copycat.

Camera - I switched to the Sony a900 last year, with a couple of a700's for back-ups/spares. Love the 900 and the superb Zeiss glass that comes with it. Had to almost sell a kidney to buy those lenses, but they're worth it. I have to force myself to use a tripd, but when I do it's an Induro. Lights are Elinchrom fired by Pocket Wizards, as well there's a whole bunch of wireless Sony speedlights. For location scouting I use a little Canon G9, which apart from being cute is actually very good.

Computer - PC all the way. There's no way I'm paying those inflated Mac prices. The desktop is a 64 Bit Dell Quadcore i7 with 12 Gigs of RAM and a couple of 1TB Seagates. I have a nice 4 bay, eSATA box from Sans Digital housing four 2TB Seagates. My main laptop and also my office machine is an 64 bit, dualcore,18.5" Sony that's just a beaut. It came out a little over a year ago and was specifically aimed at photographers with a rich display that shows 98% of Adobe RGB (almost unheard of in a laptop), as well as many other photo friendly features not found in many desktops even. It cost a bundle and is no longer made. Was I the only one who bought one of these things? I thought they would take the world by storm. Ah well.For on the road I have a little 12" Sony running XP that I've had for years and still runs Lightroom and CS4 just fine. I have a whole bunch of little external drives for the laptops running from 250 gig to 500 gig - Seagate Free Agents - highly recommended. There so cheap now, I'm actually not even formatting them for re-use. I leave the RAW's from a job on the initial drive as one extra step of insurance and file them away after I have copied them to my desktop.

With the exception of the portable Free Agent drives, every drive is "Mirrored" in a RAID 1 configuration. That means for every drive there is another one coupled to it and they both read and write in unison. Should the primary drive fail, the ghost drive kicks in automatically for seamless operation. That's the first backup. The second, is a networked HP Media Server, running Windows Home Server with 8 TB of storage, and it backs up daily, keeping three months of backups all of the time.

Lightroom is the backbone of my business, not just for processing, but the asset managment tools make life so much easier. Don't know how I lived without it. For the heavy lifting, beyond Lightroom's capabilities, I use CS4 with a full suite of Nik plug-Ins and Noise Ninja for noise reduction. Initial processing is with DXo which I prefer for the Sony.

In addition, I have more software from more vendors than I can count and most of it is rarely used. Smart FTP,Skype and Dropbox are really my only regulars.

It's only when you make a list like this, and there's so much I've left off, that you realize how much you have invested and wasted. Quite sobering actually.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Miami Image

Miami Images - Images by Andrew Ptak

I spent last week working in Miami and took an extra day to spend an always educational day with Seth Resnick. Time with Seth is always well spent, but as an extra bonus, Eric Meola dropped in at lunch time. I've admired his work for 3o years, or more, and it was a real treat to meet him in the flesh.

This is a personal shot I took in South Beach one night. I should have a few in my Stock site in a week or so - just got to find the time to edit and process them.

Yes, South Beach was the usual zoo, with Superbowl coming up shortly, adding to the fun and games. Big sound stages and scaffolding for TV crews being built on the beach. Kind of glad I'm going to miss it though, it would be hell to try and work around that.

I met a street artist selling his (awful) paintings outside of Starbucks on Ocean Drive. I didn't buy one of his paintings, but I did buy him a coffee and we chatted for a few minutes. Turns out he's from Provincetown, Mass. and "winters in Miami Beach every year. Guess you don't have to have money to have a winter residence.

Anyhow, we're great lovers of Cape Cod - had a summer place in Hyannis for many years - and I know P'town very well. I asked this fellow about Dixie, a flamboyant Queen who runs the Post Office Cafe and whom we've known for years. He always embodied all of the fun and the intelligence that the place possesses. Bummer of bummers, turns out that Dixie died when he fell down the stairs and cracked his skull. What are the chances of being far from home and meeting someone on the street who is also far from home and finding out something like this? Provincetown will go on but one small and vital piece will be missing.

EDIT - I notice that this image flickers on screen. Damned if I know why, the lighter version of the flickering image is actually the exposure of the real file. Hmmm.