Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Documentary Photography

No, no no ... you should be looking at my documentary photography blog. I've moved everything over there.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Working Weekends

A model poses for a photographer at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Friday, August 12, 2011.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Above: Michael Tuba Heatherton as Uncle Sam.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Street Sight

Two people view photographs during the opening reception for the "Street Sight" exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Saturday, June 25, 2011.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Flower

I'm not really a flower guy. It's important to stretch, though, I think.

This image was made as a little flash-technique exercise. I shot at 1 p.m. under full daylight sun. The trick: I set my flash on HSS (High Speed Sync) and changed my exposure to ISO 100, f/4, 1/4000th of a second. Since the flash was connected via an off-camera cable, I was able to position and direct it where I liked -- letting me decrease the background exposure but still intensely light the flower.

Double Portrait

Today at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Also, there was this.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Downside of Street

A skateboarder falls during the "Wild in the Streets" event at Lafayette Park in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

And on my other blogs:

Wild in the Streets

First Day of Summer

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gelling Your Flash

Recently, I've had to use gels on my flash for both color correction and for effects.

It occurred to me that, if someone is interested in gelling their flash, they may easily be led astray by the "advice" they find on photo forums. You know, those same people who tell you to use the bottom of a 2-liter soda bottle instead of a Gary Fong diffuser. They're out there, in the forums, and telling everyone to ...

  • buy big sheets of color gel material and velcro fasteners
  • spend all day cutting the gel material into strips and carefully attaching the velcro
  • somehow label the gels so you'll be able to figure out which one is the full "Color Temperature Orange" and which one is the 1/2 "Color Temperature Orange" during the pressure of a shoot, in the dark.

Great. Because you need to spend hours doing that to save about $20. Nothing like work that equals about $5 an hour and looks kinda shoddy at the end of the day. Let me save you the time, but cost you about $50. First, know what you want to do. The idea is this:

The Problem:
 Your flash puts out light that is pretty close to the color temperature of 5500k. So if you go into an office and want to use it to augment light coming from overhead fluorescent panels (which are kinda green if you shoot them with Daylight white balance instead of Fluorescent white balance), you may find a mismatch that can create color casts somewhere in the image. Or, if you go into someone's living room and want to add to the light coming from their table lamp (possibly balanced for 3200k) you will have to choose to set your white balance to match your flash or to match the lamp -- which can mean either a blue or yellow cast in some areas of the image.

The Solution:
Put a gel on your flash to match it to the existing light in the space. Then, you can set your white balance to match. In other words, in an office you would make your flash a bit green to match the greenish light fluorescents put out, and set your white balance to Fluorescent. In a living room, you would gel your flash to make its light close to 3200k color temperature, so it matches the living room lamp, and then set your white balance to "Indoor" or "Tungsten."

So what you need is the right gel -- and you can get custom made ones for relatively cheap, and quickly attach them to your flash. (And then, if you want to explore the world of "painting with light" or other color trickery, you can get additional gels to work with.)

Here's what I recommend:

1. Get a Honl Speed Strap.
This is just a strip that wraps on the head of your flash -- it's basically one size fits all for any hotshoe flash -- and that gels can be Velcroed to.

2. Get a set of Honl Color Correction Gels.
These come with a two of each of the important gels for making your flash match the conditions you'll find in the world. They attach quickly and easily to the strap, and take up almost no space in your camera bag. Adding flash to an office shot? No problem. Adding flash to a living room shot? No problem. Purposefully warming up a shot? No problem.

3. Later, get a set of Honl Color Effects Gels.
Then, you can spend hours in the dark, playing with light.

As an example, the image on this page was made with a "Bright Red" gel and a "Just Blue" -- I set my camera on a tripod, darkened the room, set my aperture to f/11 and the shutter speed to 8 seconds. I held my flash in my hand and then manually fired it in varying positions -- set on low power -- a few times with each gel.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Turrell at Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh

Patrons examine the work of James Turrell during the show "Gestures: An Exhibition of Small Site-Specific Works" at The Mattress Factory Art Museum in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, April 19, 2011.

See also: Turrellean Blue.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Screening at OXY Freewaves on Friday

20,558 (Twenty Thousand Portraits) from Ted Fisher on Vimeo.

A long while back I made a project with Doug McCulloh where we photographed 20,558 Los Angeles residents. The images were shown in a variety of ways, and tomorrow one of the short films created from the photographs is screening at:

A night of global and local media works exploring space, in public space

Friday, April 15, 7 - 9 p.m. Occidental College Main Quad

As part of the 2011 Spring Arts Festival, the Occidental College Film & Media Studies Program invites students, alumni, and the Los Angeles community to participate in an evening of food, drink, conversation, and cutting-edge videos addressing contemporary questions around the cultural, ideological, environmental, and creative uses of space.

Artists and Videos:

Nancy Atakan: Thinking Garbage (2005, Istanbul, Turkey)

Natasha Dyu: On the Ground (2008, Mumbai, India)

Göran Boardy: Target Seeker (2006, Goteborg, Sweden)

Marco Montiel-Soto: La Sinfonia De La Calle/The Street Symphony (2007, Barcelona, Spain)

Tenzin Phuntsog:  om-ma-ni-pad-me-hum (2004, New York, United States)

Martha Gorzycki: Unfurling (2003, San Francisco/Los Angeles, United States)

Ted Fisher and Doug McCulloh: Video Billboard  (2001, Los Angeles, United States)

Bonita Makuch:  Strangers in Paradise  (2004, Los Angeles, United States)

This marks the second OXY FREEWAVES venture, an exhibition of experimental and documentary films, that places documentary works by Occidental students into conversation with works by international artists from Freewaves, an organization supporting innovative, relevant, independent new media from around the world.

Mentored by media artist and LA Freewaves founder Anne Bray, the students of Occidental's Film & Media Studies Program will transform the campus' main quad into a series of public screening venues, permitting visitors to move between eight different themed media programs.

Directions and parking information can be found on the campus map. The Oxy Quad is # 126 on the Map. This event is made possible by the Remsen Bird Fund and the Office of the President. Contact Prof. Broderick Fox with any questions. 6522 Hollywood Boulevard | Los Angeles, CA 90028 US

Above: the short film "20,558 (Twenty Thousand Portraits) which shows a bit about how the images were made.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Happy April Fools' Day from Los Angeles

In case you were wondering, I've vanished from San Francisco and I'm blogging at Los Angeles Portraits and also at Documentary Photography.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day from San Francisco


At Least It's Green

Into His Own Parade

Ornia Republ

Leaving One Hand Free for Beer
Above: Two men wave flags at the St. Patrick's Day parade in San Francisco on Saturday, March 12, 2011. This was the 160th presentation of the annual event.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

How to Calibrate the Sekonic L-308DC

Sekonic created a great new light meter. It basically updates the Sekonic L-308s with new features aimed at filmmakers using DSLR and hybrid cameras. Sekonic calls this DigiCine or Digital Cinema. In other words, they've added a cool new HD Cine Mode.


But the instruction manual ... is not so great. And it shipped with a typo, even.

So, here's how you calibrate the Sekonic DigiCineMate L-308DC (DigiCine) meter.

1. Turn the meter off.

2. Hold down the ISO button and the Power button (these are marked with red lines on the left side of the photo above).

3. Now the meter will start, and you'll see it say "CAL" and "0.0" in the display.

4. Adjust the amount you want to calibrate the meter using the buttons on the right side of the unit (these are marked with red lines on the right side of the photo above).

5. Now, turn the meter off by pressing the Power button.

6. Wait 6 seconds, just because. Now, when you turn the meter on again it will be calibrated as you've set it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I really don't know what to say about this ad I photographed at Macworld in San Francisco yesterday. I had no idea Bruce Weber was even shooting for Apple.

Friday, January 28, 2011

In Love and Wha?

On my other blog on documentary photography I've been focused on photojournalism as a subject. So, lately, all of my reading has consisted of books written by photojournalists. I guess, if you think about it, that's not a great idea.

I mean, take people who are good at making pictures and ... have them write. Hmm.

That said, books about photojournalism don't have to be entirely about, you know, taking pictures. Sure, some photojournalists really consider that the important part. But if you want to sell some books, you might want to, you know, include other details.

Like, the specifics of your sex life.

Now, not everyone will be happy about that. You might get a mixed review here or there.

For example, here is Janet Reitman's review of Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War, the latest book I've finished reading.

Bang-bang girl
Perhaps the first "cowgirl" memoir was Leslie Cockburn's "Looking for Trouble," a reflection of her highs (and occasional lows) over 25 years as a foreign correspondent and television producer. While filled with amusing insights, Cockburn's book, with chapter heads such as "Dinner With Drug Lords" and "Lunch With the Ayatollahs," rubbed many critics the wrong way. It suggested a blue-blood Yale graduate waltzing around war zones in designer bush-wear.

Now comes "Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War," Deborah Copaken Kogan's memoir about her life as a roving war photographer. It's an unfortunate title, but I was willing to give the book a shot given how rare young female war photographers are -- let alone those who write about the experience. Alas, "Shutterbabe" is not so much a cowgirl memoir as a "bang-bang" memoir: a self-aggrandizing story of the lusts and yearnings of a bored, post-feminist bad girl with a hankering to "see war."

Now that you know ... read it anyway.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Documentaries in the News, Real Cash Edition

You know what I need? Fifty ... Million ... Dollars.

The New York Times has a little article on how I can get that. I mean, they didn't name me specifically ... but I could really use the cash.

Ford Foundation to Put Up $50 Million for Documentaries

The Ford Foundation’s program, called JustFilms, will dole out money in three ways. The first involves partnerships with organizations like the Sundance Institute, whose Sundance Film Festival opens on Thursday in Park City, Utah. JustFilms will contribute $1 million a year over five years to support Sundance’s documentary film workshops, for instance.
Short of that, I need to set aside a little more time to get a couple of films finished and out the door.

Ah, send the money anyway.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


In case you haven't realized it, I'm in San Francisco, blogging at:

San Francisco Portraits & Documentary Photography

There will be more posts here once I sort out the role of each blog.