Friday, July 29, 2011

Chelsea Art Walk - Michael Mazzeo Gallery

[caption id="attachment_527" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="© Carlos Loret de Mola - Cold Shower, 2007 "][/caption]
The Chelsea Art Walk is a great way to see some amazing art. And possibly bump into old friends. Really!!!

Last night I walked into the Michael Mazzeo Gallery. Michael just happens to be the very first photographer I assisted for in New York City in 1993. Being brand new to the city I was going around knocking on doors looking for work, the old fashioned way. I remember meeting Mazzeo at his studio one day in his kick ass loft over on Lafayette. Michael was kind enough to take the time to meet with me. After a brief interview I went home. Upon entering my apartment the light was flashing on my answering machine, old school right. It was Mazzeo asking me if I was available to assist the next day!

Fast forward ohhhh 18 years later there I am standing in Michael's Gallery. He recognized me instantly, he lifted the hat off my head to make sure it was me. We had a good laugh.

The Michael Mazzeo Gallery specializes in contemporary photography, works on paper and related media.The gallery was founded by photographer and educator, Michael Mazzeo in October, 2005. It has since become one of the premier showcases of new and under-recognized talent in New York's Chelsea Gallery District, having awarded twelve artists their first solo exhibitions in New York City and including more than 100 others in group exhibitions. Mazzeo's artists and exhibitions have been featured in many prominent publications, such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Art In America, the Village Voice and numerous online venues.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Small Business Accounting - Quickbooks Tip

New York Commercial Photographer | Filmmaker | People | Interiors | Spencer Gordon
Accounting... :-p yuck! But it is something all small business owners have to deal with on some level.

I’m an avid user of Quickbooks. It really simplifies my photography business accounting tasks. You can even back up your books to MobileMe in one click. Which is a good idea to keep a back up record of your financials off site. Just in case a twister comes and takes your business to the land of OZ.

BTW there is an update for Quickbooks 2011 in preparation for Apple’s OS Lion.

For more info on small business accounting tips go to Chase Jarvis's Blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back Up Your Media - LaCie Drives

New York Commercial Photographer | Filmmaker | People | Interiors | Spencer Gordon | LaCie Drive

Backing up is the key to a secure media library. We cannot stress how important it is to your workflow, or daily life, to do a routine back up system. Whether you are a professional creating video and photo media, or a teenager just taking snaps with friends, if you don’t have back up of your media you will seriously be upset when your drive crashes. Ohhh, yes, at some point it will……

At Spencer Gordon Studios we buy two identical LaCie 1 TB drives. Why only 1 TB in size, because we don’t want to put a lot of our eggs into one basket. Keeping your drive size down obviously limits the amount of media that can potentially be lost or corrupted. Next we name our drives, for instance, in the photo above the two vertical drives on the right are named DuWop and DuWop Copy. The black LaCie drives on the left are named Digit and Digit Copy. We specifically name the drives that way for back up purposes. Giving them a name with “Copy” attached to it let’s us know that this is the mate of the working drive, by the way Digit Copy is going into retirement this week, we’ll explain that in a moment.

SilverKeeper is the LaCie back up program that is simple to use. After you create the “Back Up Sets” in the program and the scheduling of the sets, that's it, you're ready. We back up everyday in our studio, at 5pm our SilverKeeper program kicks in and starts to back up the days work from DuWop to DuWop Copy. Effective, mindless, and no extra work on your end.

As we mentioned before, Digit Copy is retiring this week. What that means is Digit and Digit Copy are nearly full. Digit Copy is being packed up all comfy and put into long term storage off site. Off site? Digit Copy is staying at my sister’s house if you must know. It is always best to store your long term back up away from the original. Fire, flood, wild party, you never know, just make sure the Copy drive is somewhere else safe.

TIP: Don’t fill a drive completely. Good rule of thumb is to leave 600mb – 1gb of free space on the drive. Why? Sometimes a drive can potentially lose / corrupt information if the drive is filled to the max.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lytro Camera - Focusing on NOT Focusing

New York Commercial Photographer | Filmmaker | People | Interiors | Spencer Gordon
Lytro is redefining the word Focus… the new 5 letter word.

Eliminating the 'element of focus' allows the user to focus on what is 'actually' in the picture frame. In the picture above imagine the shot taking place at night with the camera focused on the city. The shot is ruined because the nude model is out of focus. Take focusing out of the equation, the user is free to compose and capture the moment.

A big complaint, from users of point and shoot cameras, are missed shots while waiting for the camera to focus. Lytro’s camera has a no shutter lag time which means you don’t have to anticipate the shot. Lytro captures the moment when it happens, allowing the Lytro user to focus on the moment at hand.

Eric Cheng talks on Lytro's blog with Richard Koci Hernandez, a photographer who has actually used the Lytro camera. For those few that have had the chance to play with the prototype… lucky dogs!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kick Butt Color Correcting Lighting Tip

New York Commercial Photographer | Filmmaker | People | Interiors | Spencer Gordon
Here is a color correcting lighting tip for the photographers and filmmakers of today's generation. Have you ever heard of Kelvin? No not Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes... silly goose. Kelvin is a measurement of the color temperature of light. For instance daylight in the photography / film world is 5500k, which is considered neutral in color temperature. Tungsten lights on the other hand are 3200k, so if your camera is set for daylight your image will look quite warm in color. Now obviously you can just change the white balance setting on your camera to compensate. However what if you are combining natural light 5500k and tungsten 3200k? If you are anything like me and want to avoid as much post production as possible. I like to get the image as close as possible in camera.

Here's what you do.... you add a FULL CTB to your tungsten light. CTB.... what is this guy talking about? CTB stands for Color Temperature Blue, so if your light is orange / warm in color to get it back to neutral you need to add blue. This FULL CTB converts the tungsten light back to a daylight balanced light source. Note that the FULL CTB will block 1 stop worth of light, so adjust accordingly. To see a light and compensation conversion chart CLICK HERE.

If you want to go full out on how to correct for other non-tungsten lights you may want to buy a color meter. Depending on your level and how detailed you want to get with your light color temperature control. Beware color meters are pricey. Not to worry most lights these days have the color temperature rating assigned to that particular light. So it won't be to hard to figure out what you need to correct the light for your assignment.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spencer Gordon New Website Launch

Spencer Gordon recently launched an entirely new website / blog.
Go to

Please note that this blog will be discontinued. Please refer to the new site.

Bike By Me - The Super Hero of Custom Bikes

Bike By Me building bikes designed... well by you. Yep, that's right you pick the colors for the frame, chrome, seat, grips, rims, tires right down to the chain. Cool huh?

Bike By Me are the cape crusaders of colorful fun clean designed bikes. The superhero beacon in the Manhattan scene above is part of a concept shoot Spencer Gordon shot after Bike By Me's debut in the New Amsterdam Bike Show. The concept was to shoot the bikes in an iconic NY setting. Then the composite image would be used as an interactive piece. The viewer will mouse-over the photo stumbling upon a person holding a bike in the scene. By clicking upon a particular bike it will open that specific bike in Bike By Me's website. To view the completed version of the shot above click here. Mouse-over the city skyline to turn on the Bike by Me beacon.

The design of these bikes and the company's website has been notarized by various publications. The latest was from highlighting this concept photograph.

Fun fact about the final image. In post production over 840 spokes had to be recreated.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lytro Release Date

[caption id="attachment_356" align="aligncenter" width="590" caption="What is your wish?"][/caption]
The much anticipated release date for the Lytro camera is......drum roll please. Well first let me tell you what I discovered from a CNet Video interview with Ren Ng the founder of Lytro. Mr. Ng's interview was cryptic to say the least. However here are some of the key points Ren discussed.

The Lytro camera will be
- a mass consumer market camera much like a point and shoot
- selling for a few hundred dollars. Or "competitively priced" as Mr. Ng stated
- no shutter lag or having to focus
- yes you can do long exposures
- the "Living Image" file resolution will be the equivalent to that of a
Nikon or Canon consumer camera outputs.
So that will be anywhere between 10 - 20 mb's.
My Nikon P7000 puts out a 19mb file. That is more than enough.
- Lytro's image file will be it's own file format.
- the software technology will be able to be applied to video.
- currently the technology is retro capable... they had a 3 yr old Lytro image that they were able to apply the current software to in their testing.

The last thing that Ren stated in the interview is that the Lytro camera will be hologram capable and they are already developing that feature. Hologram!!! Cool.

So back to the release date, Ren stated that the Lytro camera will be available before the end of 2011

I predict that the camera will come out in October of 2011 just in time for the NY Photo Expo and of course the holiday season shoppers.

Earlier Lytro post.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011 4th of July Photo Contest Entries

2011 4th of July photo contest entries are starting to come in.... Here are a few examples.

From kids. Photo submitted by Erin Gahagan

To fireworks. Photo submitted by Graham Biddy

Enter your patriotic themed photo for a chance to win a NIkon Camera Bag Style 9793.

The most "Liked" photo WINS!

Deadline for entries is July 25th 2011 by 11:59pm. The winner will be announced August 1st 2011.

Please note that your photos fall under the terms and conditions of Facebook and I promise not use your photos for any other usage then the usage for this blog for Spencer Gordon. Let's just keep it simple, we can all play nicely in the sandbox together.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Go Pro Camera Pros and Cons

Go Pro Hero Helmet camera wow what fun! I just got the Hero Camera last week so over the weekend I put it to the test. I decided to teach Jeep, a French Bulldog, to swim and since the camera is water resistant to 180 feet this would be a perfect opportunity. No... we did not dive that deep with Jeep, come on he is only a beginner in the water. That's next week. Ha!

So far I've tried the camera on my bike helmet, underwater using the head strap and it is really fun. It takes a bit to get use to the menus. The thing is so small the LCD screen can only have so much info on it so most of the features are in 3 - 4 letters. Just think of it as your are covert operative and you have to break the code. The directions are easy to follow so not to worry.

Pros of the Hero:
- Small
- 1080 HD quality
- Durable: shockproof, rugged
- Water Resistant to 180 feet
- 5mp still images
- Other useful features, different resolution settings for video, time interval still photo, photo burst and a self timer
- Comes with a few mounting accessories
- SD card compatible *make sure you get a class 4 or higher card.

Cons of the Hero:
- Menu is cryptic
- No screen on the camera to replay
- SD card sold separately
- No safety leash in case the camera pops off it's mount. Hey ya never know....
- No markings on the mount for degrees of angle. Here is a post I found that will help with determining your appropriate angle. Click here.

I'm gonna have a lot of fun with this camera. So many ideas I want to try. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Beware of Mack Carthy - Scam - Con

[caption id="attachment_407" align="aligncenter" width="590" caption="Booger OFF"][/caption]
Emails from a Mack Carthy are a scam. This person is allegedly having a wedding in Denver, CO.

I got an email earlier this week asking if I would provide a quote to shoot a 100 person wedding in Denver. I could tell by the wording that the person was up to something. We have all seen enough of these spam, con, scam emails to spot a fake right away. I responded to the email asking "where did you find me?". They responded by saying they found me on Photoserve. If you want a wedding photographer you are most likely not going to be looking on a commercial photographer site like Photoserve.

After a quick search on the internet I found another photographer who blogged about the same person, Marco Garcia Photography. Marco thanks for your post. This is one way we can limit the scam artists and protect other trusting people who might fall for a scam. Yeah this guy will probably change his a.k.a but it is up to us to police the internet we just have to be persistent.

Scams - are a waste of our time!!! If I wasted your time with this post I apologize..... now back to our scheduled programming.

Small Business Start Up - Between the Chicks

[caption id="attachment_384" align="alignrcenter" width="590" caption="Tina Dress - The YES Dress - Between the Chicks"][/caption]
Are you a small business start up? I've noticed that in this economy with people getting laid off they have finally growing some cojones to create their dream company and follow their passion. This story emphasizes the importance of finding a business mentor that guides a new business entrepreneur through the company's creation.

In September of 2010 I was contacted by a small business start up called Between the Chicks. A start up fashion company, by 2 former Ford models from the 80's. Julie and Stephanie had an idea for a unique dress design that they were very excited about. Neither of the Chicks had started a company from the ground up before. This is where I come in..... I started my photography company back in 1995 and even though I'm not a fashion company the basic steps are similar to creating a new company.

To start they had to agree on a business name.... that was already settled. They were proud of the name and beaming with enthusiasm when I asked them.. "is the domain name available?". They're faces dropped as they ran to the computer to frantically search the internet, relieved that YES the name is available. Branding your company from the beginning is key.... there are companies out there with similar names and they just add something like nyc to their URL, not recommended. In this techno-forward world the power of SEO ( search engine optimization ) is king. Having a company name when entered into the browser's search box and your company is towards the top on the first page is definitely beneficial. However there is more to just a name.... SEO - I will touch on more later.

Over the next few months Between the Chicks were hard at work on their fashion line with fabric suppliers, pattern makers and manufacturers. In addition I was guiding them through the process of getting a business license, business bank account, working with graphic designers for business cards, company logo, budgeting and the immensely important e-commerce website to sell their garments.

They wanted to launch the company line in April of 2011, so the pressure was now on! In the early part of 2011 I began to create the e-commerce website. If you are planning to have an e-commerce site give yourself at least 4 - 6 weeks just for the approval process of the SSL Certificate and other bank requirements. As with most fashion companies there are many times delays with products being ready and our deadline was fast approaching. In March of 2011 we photographed almost the entire line. From the moment I got the website online I started working on the SEO.... remember this is going to be a very helpful tool with your company's presence online. Anytime a person sitting at their computer and are looking for "fun summer dress" ( as an example ) the goal is to have Between the Chicks at the top of the search. I spent many hours filling in meta descriptions and keywords for each image and each page of the website. You can even buy "search engine visibility packages" with your web host to help with SEO. If you have the money in your budget an experienced web person is key to have handle your SEO it can be quite mind boggling.

A week before the launch of the company we did the second shoot for the late arriving garments. Preparing the images and finishing their website just in time for the April 13th trunk show. With a fully functioning e-commerce site the convenience of accepting credit cards made the trunk show a great success. The "YES" Dress was now officially live to the world. The day after the trunk show I got a call from Julie she left me a voice mail, she started crying because she was so pleased with the site and the sales from the launch. I kept the message on my phone.

This October there will be an article about Julie and Stephanie the partners of Between the Chicks in Woman's Day Magazine. Even though the Chicks have a long way to go, they have conquered one of the hardest parts of a start up business just getting the darn thing off the ground.