Smithsonian Magazine Goes to the Museum of Math

Hot off the press, my portrait of Glen Whitney, the Director of the Museum of Mathematics, is in this month’s edition of Smithsonian Magazine. I went down to DC a while ago and saw Molly Roberts…the Photo Editor at Smithsonian…and she said it would be perfect for a new feature section they were starting that profiled “Big Ideas”.

You can check out the story HERE!

Song of the Day

SOPHIE BARKER
Say Goodbye


DOWNLOAD: Say Goodbye

Remember Zero 7…??? Of course you do…who didn’t have the album Simple Things on the top of their iTunes list when it came out?!! It practically defined the entire Chillout genre of music. As luck would have it, Sia got crazy famous because of ‘Destiny’, but for some reason the same didn’t happen to Sophie Barker who sang lead on ‘In The Waiting Line’. But Sophie’s had three solo albums of her own material, the latest…Seagull…was released in the UK late last year, and even though you can pick it up on iTunes, it hasn’t had any kind of publicity over here. However…since ‘Say Goodbye’ has been dropped on a bunch of music blogs recently…it showed up in my email box this morning…I’m thinkin’ it’s about to get a stateside release soon. You can follow Sophie on her website or over on facebook

There Is No Photoshop Easy Button…

Click on Any Image for Full-Size
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Over the past few weeks you didn’t have to look too far to find an online review claiming how spectacular the new Photoshop CS6 upgrade is and how it’s gonna make everything you photograph so much better…but all I could think was no matter how easy the software engineers at Adobe make image editing by adding fancy new filters, content-aware tools or sexed-up widgets, none of that amounts to beans if you don’t have the smarts to envision the final result in that pile of mush that occupies the space between your ears. And it reminded me how I recently had to put some of my Photoshop smarts to good use and ‘fix’ a less than ideal situation when I was shooting the Annual Report for Philadelphia-based Glenmede…using Photoshop CS3, no less…

I had gone down to Philly a few weeks before the shoot to scout the location…Lenfest Hall at The Curtis Institute of Music…and on the day of the scout it was bright and sunny and would give us the perfect light & airy backdrop for the Management Committee photograph…

Problem was, on the day of the shoot, those 30-foot high windows gave us a view of Philly at it’s darkest and rainiest…

That’s when it became pretty clear I had to figure a way to let Photoshop brighten things up and get me to where I needed to be.

Here is the unretouched original, straight out of the camera…

The first thing I did was slide a new floor under everyone that was shot separately using a 16-second exposure…

For the next step, I figured the hardest thing I would hafta do would be to blow out all the detail in the windows to give the impression of it being a sunny day…but then things even got more interesting…the layout changed! My client wanted to know if it would be possible to give them more space on both sides of the group. Now this wasn’t something I had planned for, but if James Cameron can make the Titanic come to life I guess there had to be a way to generate a whole mess of information that didn’t exist…right?!!

I had some empty frames I shot after everyone had gone that I could use to clone the wood trim under the windows, but the real test would be adding perspective-correct banks of windows on both sides of the frame…that had me working well after midnight. Then I had to fake the entire right side of the piano, remove the rolling wheels under the piano, erase the clock and lighting panels from the back wall, and then turn on the sunbeams, add a little overexposure flare and brighten up those windows…

For the final step, I adjusted the color balance, heightened the Curves and Levels, and amped up the contrast with a High Pass Filter layer…

To see a larger version of the animated GIF at the top of the post that shows all the steps, click HERE

American Photography 28

The Winner’s Gallery for American Photography 28 went live yesterday, and my portrait of Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren was among the images chosen. My shot can be seen HERE.