I Love Skype!

September 16, 2008

What rock have I been living under?  Of course I had heard of Skype, but I thought it was just for people too cheap to use their day time cell phone minutes.  I just found out yesterday that you can quickly, easily and most of all freely set up an account and video conference any time with whomever you want.

When Will got home from school today Meridith couldn’t wait to show him this cool new thing.  I got a call at the office and we chatted for a bit before he went to bed. With yet another late night at the office, it’s cool to be able to check in with the peeps back home every once in while.  Since we are mac people, our newer computers have the cameras built in, I’m sure PCs have that too right??

Here’s a screen shot I took while chatting with Will and listening to Grace scream.  It’s a pretty good picture to be live video over the web.  This image filled the entire screen, or it can be in a small box if you want.

kids will be kids.  I guess it’s fun to watch yourself make faces in the little screen at the bottom.

So check out Skype.com and start connecting with people accross town, country or the world!

Flashes of Hope

September 12, 2008

I recently had the opportunity to begin working with non-profit organization called Flashes of Hope.  It is an organization dedicated to creating uplifting portraits of children who are fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses. (that’s straight from their web site)

It was a good experience.  I arrived at 8:00 and began setting up equipment to transform a hospital conference room into a mini studio.  Kim and Nancy were there representing the Flashes of Hope organization and with their help I photographed 13 kids and a few parents who were willing to be in front of the camera.

The best part for me was seeing that even though these kids have life threatening illnesses, they are not beaten down by it.  Most adults I know would be bummed and have their bottom lip out in all the photos, but these kids had an energy and a spark, even though they were all at the hospital for treatment that day.

This cause is one that I am closer to than I thought I’d be.  Meridith’s brother who is in his early twenties got the news this past March that he had a brain tumor and it was cancer.  He’s doing fine now after two surgeries and radiation.  He and I had the same hair style for a while, but lucky for him, his hair will grow back, me, not so much.

I just got the call last week from my aunt that my cousin has breast cancer, she is twenty three and in a fighting mood.  This year she will lose her hair, both breasts, and a lot of the momentum she had going with the plans of her life.  I do hope though, that just like these kids I photographed, she does not lose the spark of energy that makes life great.

Flashes of hope is a great cause and I’m happy to be a part of it.  Each family receives a cool 8×10 folio with ten or more black & white photos from their session.  It was cool to find out that the print lab that Meridith and I use also handles all of the printing and donates the prints for free for Flashes of Hope families.

Back to School

September 9, 2008

We’ve actually been back to school for a while now.  Yesterday was the 4th week of an 8 week workshop that I am teaching for the commercial photography students at RCC in Asheboro.  Yesterday we visited the studio where I used to work many moons ago.

It’s called Kreber and is located in High Point.  It’s a wonderland of photographic possibilities and with over six acres of studio under one roof, it’s one of the largest commercial photography facilities in the world.  How’s that for cool?

When I say that this studio is in High Point most people immediately think of furniture.  It was once true that most studios in that town were heavily into furniture photography, it’s not really the case any more.  You will see more retailers like Sears, GAP, Office Max and Macy’s.  Also, a lot of the catalogs you get in your mailbox are photographed in High Point now.

I’m sure you’re mom told you this, but it really is true that there is not much at all that you will see in television or advertising that is real.  They have an entire section of the prop room devoted to fake food.  from these eggs sunny side up, to hams, lobsters, pies, and even fake ice cubes and ice cream.  Yummy!

This is just one shelf, but over the years they have collected so much stuff.  Most of this “food” is never really seen up close, but instead incorporated into a scene to add realism.

Daniel tries a plastic cheeseburger deluxe, and he’s going for the turkey next!

It took about three and a half hours to give the full tour of the studio, but I think the students were most impressed with the prop room.  It’s two levels and has more square footage that most 2 story houses.  It’s also stocked with more stuff than you could imagine.

Unfortunately, even though all of the food was fake, this fish was real and was kinda freaky in person.

Good times were had by all.

This section of the studio is appropriately named Wall Street.  Wall Street houses several thousand different walls and windows in every conceivable style of architecture from the log cabin on the right to the more contemporary on the left.  So when they are building a set, they will come here, get the walls, doors and windows they need, clamp them all together, paint, prop and begin photography.

This is one set that was made for a home improvement store’s advertising.  The last time I was here, this set was being built and there was grass and flowers and bushes all around on the floor.  With the right lighting you cannot tell that the images were shot indoors.  The advantages of having this built indoors is that you have complete control.  No weather delays, no clouds, no moving sun, no bugs!  We took the opportunity for a group photo.

This is just one room that houses several thousand pieces of wall art from paintings to prints, from super traditional to contemporary and everything in between.  In the world of commercial and advertising photography so much time and effort is put into making things look real, natural, effortless, while at the same time having the product look perfect in every way.

Kreber not only has a huge studio, but also full ad design, pre-press and commercial printing capabilities.  This is not an ad for them by the way, I just think it’s cool.

at top speed this press can crank out 15,000 full color glossy sheets per hour.

In all, I kinda wished I had taken more photos, but since I was the one giving the tour, I spent most of the time talking.