Suits and ties. I often photograph people who wear them for assignments. Sometimes it’s for corporate portraits and head shots of executives in the Bay Area. Other times it could be a sharp fellow like Andrew Spokes (above) for the cover of a NY investment magazine. Later this week I’ll be working on a lifestyle apparel shoot for a sock company. The day after that, a few more suits and ties. The day after that I’m skating.
Unfortunately my email was down for several days, and my web hosting company responded to the problem as if the world still travels by horse and buggy. Needless to say, my business will be going somewhere else much faster.
If you tried to reach me by email during the past few days, please resend. Thanks. -Jay
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This makes me smile. Nikon interviewed me and featured 12 of my photos for an article on surfing photography. You can see the entire interview here: Nikon Reflex Action: A Surf Photographer’s Top Tips. The Nikon editors choose lifestyle and action photos I’ve shot of various surfers and California spots. I was really excited about the opportunity, but not sure what tips I could provide. I don’t have any secrets so I kept general sports photography in mind, and a few things I’ve learned shooting surfing.
Surf Photography Tips (some not included in the Nikon post)
1) Study all the focus options and don’t skip the manual. The modern DSLR has infinite focusing options. It’s overwhelming enough to make a person not even try action photography, but practice is the key. Learn all of the focus features inside and out. Memorize them. Have them mastered so you can react quickly to the action without fumbling with your camera. I like to shoot with continuous focus (focus tracking) and make use of the focus lock buttons when needed. This minimizes the risk of loosing focus from body movement or if shooting from a moving boat.
2) You don’t have to shoot at world class breaks to get great photos. Don’t be afraid to make a road trip, but make the most of your local spots first. Surfing is primarily on the coasts and not accessible to everyone. However if you are landlocked practice shooting action sports in your area to prepare for a future surfing trip.
3) FPS (frames per second). Shoot with your camera’s highest frames per second. Nearly every modern DSLR shoots with enough speed to grab action shots in short bursts. You don’t necessarily need 11fps.
4) Lens choices. Put your money in the glass. Fast zooms and fast fixed lenses have faster focus and better optics. The 70-200 F2.8 is a sports standard, but you’ll need something longer for your distance shots. A good back up solution is a teleconverter. The Nikon TC-14E (1.4x) and TC-17E (1.7x) both work very well on the 70-200 F2.8 and the 3oomm F2.8.
5) Don’t drop your camera in the drink and be safe. A camera can be replaced but you can’t. People get swept up in rough business every year throughout the California coast. The stories are horrible. Take your photo blinders off and live to tell the story.
6) Pro level waterproof camera housing for a DSLR is +$$$$, but there are some inexpensive options. If you are already a surfer with an interest in photography, you can get wet, shoot photos, and spend less than $10 a day. See: GoPro camera rentals available at Borrowlenses. Staff photographer for Surfer Magazine Zac Noyle has been posting some great looking work on Instagram shot with the Watershot Inc iphone water housing. It doesn’t get much budget friendly than that. An entry level water housing for a DSLR isn’t much more expensive than your favorite prime lens on the used market. Check the base model by Liquid Eye.
7) Check out the not-so-cheesy surf mags. Follow photographer and editor of Carve Magazine Roger Sharp. Sharpy always shares great info on surfing photography along with his work. Here’s his in-depth buyer’s guide for water housing for cameras and surf photography.
8) The biggest and most important…don’t get in the way of other surfers.
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Full post here: http://www.nikonusa.com A Surf Photographer’s Tips
Featured surfers in the link: Carlos Burle, Kenny Collins, Greg Long, Peter Mel, and Zach Wormhoudt.
Thanks to Nikon, and to all the surfers for their support.
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Finished portrait. Made up of 35 individual captures. Portrait of Bay Area artist Kevin Kearney for an editorial magazine photo shoot.
This image is made up of 35 individual images stitched together. Yes 35! It is a panorama portrait of Bay Area artist Kevin Kearney photographed at his home in Sebastopol, CA. Kevin is writer, successful entrepreneur, painter, business executive, wine aficionado, and probably more. The assignment was an editorial feature for Maryland Institute College of Art. Once the 35 captures were assembled, the new high res master version of the scene was retouched, color adjusted, and perspective corrected in Photoshop (final image above).
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Proof image. Stitched panorama portrait of executive Kevin Kearney at his home in Sebastopol, CA.
Why 35 images?
There are technical and creative reasons for shooting a panorama portrait for this assignment. Shooting with a wide angle lens in this massive space would put too much of the scene in focus and draw attention away from the subject. Enter Ryan Brenizer. He developed a method of capturing multiple individual images with a long lens, and then stitching them together in Photoshop . The results are portraits with a shallower depth of field that could not be created otherwise. It’s genius! However instead of using the technique to create hyper bokeh, I use it to construct a wider angle of view for certain scenes. Wider scenes now have less perspective distortion, and extreme detail. Panning the den photo above, required (35) captures with a 70mm lens on a full frame sensor. That is a lot of pixels! (2-3 gigabytes before sizing it down).
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Full frame capture. Image 1 of 35 for panorama portrait of Bay Area executive Kevin Kearney at his home in Sebastopol, CA.
Kevin Kearney is a Renaissance man who knows how to live the good life. Conceptually his life is much bigger than one single image. The massive upstairs den filled with books, guns, swords, and artwork was the location winner. It’s a room where “the world’s most interesting man” would keep company, and that is the room I want to be in as well. A single image portrait in this space wouldn’t have carried the weight.
Tearsheet | Editorial portrait of hip hop artist A.B.S in XXL Magazine.
The hip hop music and entertainment magazine XXL Mag got in touch for a piece on Philly born rapper Chris “A.B.S.” Schaefer in San Francisco. He was the winner of a rap battle sponsored by Corona, so XXL assigned me to photograph A.B.S for a full page feature. Ahh….. the full page editorial portrait. This is the holy grail of editorial photography and a highly coveted space for any portrait photographer. God bless print.
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Portrait of A.B.S. | XXL Magazine. My version of the final image.
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A.B.S. on location in San Francisco, CA. Not knowing if the feature would be a single page or a double page spread, we shot the location options in both landscape and portrait formats.
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BTS. A behind the scenes shot of the location set up. Yeah we were working right next to a live train line, and we were trespassing. So what. It’s for hip hop.
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BTS. A behind the scenes shot of the “studio” set up.
There is no smoke and mirrors here. The photo editor asked for a location scene plus a studio shot. Taking the studio to the location was done for one reason only. It saved time. Some of the best things about this shoot included getting kicked off the train tracks by the transit police, and getting to meet Chris “A.B.S.” Schaefer. He’s solid. We share an East Coast connection, respect for old school rhymes, and love for Allen Iverson. Plus I dig his music.
Here is the Palatov D4 race car designed by Dennis Palatov being track tested at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Ca. One goal for this outing was to compare the results against a race simulator by Simraceway. These are some of the images which ran in the British car magazine EVO, and in Sympatico Autos (Canada). Above is Brian Makse, an auto racer and automotive journalist driving the Palatov D4. Makse lives a life of constant travel test driving new production models and exotics for various publications. Tough life huh? One of the highlights of this job was shooting on the track from the back of an open SUV while the Palatov zigzagged alongside. It was just an SUV, but the driver was a racing instructor who knows the course inside and out.
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Brian Makse with his GoPro helmet cam at Infineon Raceway. At one point there were more cameras mounted to the Palatov than tires.
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Auto racing expert and journalist Leo Parente was also called in to get behind the wheel of the Palatov. Leo provides great insight with is knowledge of racing. It was fun to watch him play back his video clips from the car mounted cameras. He was a kid in a candy store. Racing heads might appreciate the full report of the Palatov D4 on Leo Parenete’s YouTube channel. Some of my photo gear shows up in the background on a few clips.
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Behind the scenes of Brian Makse at the wheel and my Nikon DSLR with a wide angle lens double suction cup mounted to the Palatov. Image shot with my iPhone.
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Results from the DSLR suction cup mounted to the Palatov body. Shooting with in-camera blur (panning) is risky. It takes multiple attempts which is not always possible while on assignment. With too much blur the driver and car will blur into the background. Too little blur causes the car to look like it is parked which is the opposite goal of auto racing! This image was triggered with the in-camera intervalometer set to fire every 2 seconds. That gave me coverage of the entire course and allowed me to pick the best lighting/background combo later when behind the computer.
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Here’s Brian Makse heading out for a lap via my Nikon DSLR. This image was processed through both the Snapseed iPhone app and Photoshop. Just because and just to experiment.
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The Palatov D4 race car shot in the studio after it’s track session. Dennis Palatov is an amazing designer.
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Under the shell of the Palatov race car. Two D4 models were brought down from Seattle just for this special closed day at the track.
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Behind the scenes set up for the car studio shots. 8 lights and 2 power packs, 13-14 light stands. A new technique for shooting cars has involved walking around the set and hitting each wheel with a gridded strobe while the camera is on a tripod. The images are then combined in Photoshop. It saves time on the set and reduces the amount of equipment needed.
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Opening tearsheet spread in EVO Magazine, a British performance car publication.
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Center tearsheet spread in EVO Magazine.
You are invited to a California themed art show by Jay and Jamie Watson at the Gleeson Gallery in San Francisco. The show is a mash up of our favorite things about this place.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
4:00pm until 6:00pm
Saturday, November 17, 2012
12:00pm until 2:00pm
Gleeson Gallery – 148 Precita Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110 (between Folsom & Mission)
This is a unique gallery in a great neighborhood. Enjoy dinner or drinks afterward at one of these places nearby. http://goo.gl/maps/uy3i0
We look forward to seeing you!
More photos of the show can be seen at: www.pineappleluv.com – San Francisco art show
One of the best things about skateboarding is that it doesn’t discriminate against age. This was proven at the X Games this year in the Skateboard Big Air competition in Los Angeles. First place and second place winners on the mega ramp were separated by 20 years in age! That’s a decent chunk of time. Think how different the world was 20 years ago. Computers, cameras, sports – everything was different.
This isn’t an “old guys rule” or “look out for the groms” post. It’s just a high five to skaters Bob Burnquist (age 35) and Mitchie Brusco (age 15) for showing everyone that skills are more important than age when it comes to clearing a 70 foot gap and getting 45 feet of air off the ground. Or maybe it just doesn’t matter at that height when all you have are 4 wheels and a piece of wood under your feet? Check out ALL of the links below. What do you think?
Skater Mitchie Brusco, at age 15 won silver at the X Games Big Air contest on the mega ramp in LA. After I photographed Mitchie someone nudges me and says,”Hey that kid does 900s on mega ramps.” My reaction – “You’re kidding me. He’s not much bigger than his skateboard. How does he get the speed?”
Well he rips, and this is how: (video of Brusco 2012 x-games).
Bob Burnquist, a skateboarding veteran of big air still raises the bar at age 35. Naturally I was thrilled to finally meet him in person and he didn’t disappoint. Bob is wearing knee high rubber boots in this photo and the only skateboard with him this day was bolted to a surfboard. Here’s Bob in action with some backwards fakie business that won him first place in the big air comp (video Burnquist gold 2012 X Games).
Long live the Scorpion King!
Ammunition, a design group in SF, celebrated their 5 year anniversary with a very impressive private party at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. As with most event photography, it involved walking around with a camera and blending in with guests eating, drinking, in conversation, and enjoying themselves. We normally don’t look our best while eating and drinking, and it certainly made me worry as I tried to look invisible documenting Ammunition’s event. Above are 2 of my favorites from the night. An interesting part of the assignment was how the final photos were used. Ammunition posted the images on their Facebook page so people could comment and tag each other in the photos. Those folks sure like to party. Cheers to them for the gig, and to another 5 years in SF.
My wife Jamie and I have an art show together at The Little House Gallery, a Bay Area Community Center located in Menlo Park, CA. The work will be up through July 9th so please visit if you are in the area. We will not be having an opening reception since this is a community center, but I’d love to see your name in the guest book! You can view the work in person (art always looks better in person), play bingo in the auditorium, take a lesson on how to check your email, and have a cup of coffee with a plate of meatloaf. All of this is true.
Our work in the show is for sale. If you are interested in anything please send an email and I’ll let you know about prices. Jamie has (11) framed 11X14 original monotype prints. Each of my (13) photography prints are 16X24 C-prints, flush mounted on gator board, and protected with a transparent clear coat. We put a lot of love into all of it.
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Art Show Announcement:
The Little House Gallery in Menlo Park, CA is currently showing California themed work by the husband and wife team of lifestyle photographer Jay Watson and monotype print maker Jamie Watson. The show will be on display until July 9th.
Little House Community Center
800 Middle Ave
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Monday-Thursday: 8:00am – 9:00pm
Friday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Sat & Sun: closed