Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Size DOES Matter

Have you ever been to a place that had a fun and interesting landmark and wanted to get a picture of yourself with it only to find that the object is so large it dwarfs you?  You are lost in its hugeness and the shot is fun but is kind of lacking from a "good" shot perspective?

Its all about proportionality.  As humans, we have a fairly well defined size range.  Its relatively easy to shoot people with people -- we're all similar in size, give or take.  But it can be challenging sometimes to shoot people in relation to something really big, like say the Eiffel Tower, or a jumbo jet.  Those objects are so big its easy to lose people in their presence.

Objects in Mirror may be Larger than they Appear

It turns out you can resize objects to be more in proportion to each other.  Its similar to the side view mirror effect where large vehicles can appear smaller than they actually are.  There's some visual trickery there that you can use to your advantage.

It's a common human experience that the further something is from you, the smaller it appears.  You usually have some control over how far things are from you -- you can stand as far as you like from the Eiffel Tower for example.  As well, you can control how far from you the person you're shooting is.  By controlling how far the tower and the person are from you, you can control their relative sizes.  The closer the object, the bigger they are.  Since the person is much smaller than the tower, to get them to be at least reasonably close in size to each other, the tower has to be much farther away than the person.

By bringing the person up ridiculously close and being very far away from the tower you can even make the tower seem insignificantly small by comparison.

Notice how the size of the relatively similar sized planes can be controlled in the above shots by where the person is standing relative to them.  In the left hand photo, the plane is very large because the person is right next to it -- most of it doesnt even fit in the shot.  In the right hand photo, the person is much closer to the camera than the plane.  The plane's size has been "resized" so as to be in proportion to the man.

To be sure, the shot on the left is certainly a professional, well shot image.  But the shot on the right gives a more complete shot of the plane.  The left side shot uses the plane as an impression, the shot on the right is more of a documentation.

SolArt Project 2012

So how then to address the solar eclipse that we will be shooting in May.  We are familiar with the moon as being a rather smallish object in the sky.  In actuality of course the moon is a massive object.  Shooting a person in relation to such an enormous object as the moon would ordinarily be nearly impossible -- you simply couldn't get far enough away from it to be able to comparably size it and a person together.  Instead, the moon has somewhat taken care of the problem for us by being so far away, appearing relatively small and almost manageable.

We end up having the opposite problem.  Its so far away, its a bit small and when shooting a person at normal distances, the moon shrinks to an insignificant size.

Since the majority of us are not able to get any closer to the moon than we are, we are left with positioning the person much further away making them much smaller and more similar in size to the moon.  It is at this great distance that a person can be seen to be near, or surrounded by, an enormous moon.

And since the moon and person are so far away at this point, you have to zoom in... a lot... to be able to get a decent shot of the pair.

Hence this rented behemoth.

If you haven't already, please check out our site for more information on this interesting and challenging project!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beautiful Failure

Odd juxtaposition of words, yes?

"Beautiful" and "failure" are not words that ordinarily associate with each other.

Failure is the frequent result of facing adversity and the unknown.  Failure can present some interesting opportunities -- as Thomas Edison had noted, it can teach you the ways to do something that don't work.  It can also provide a healthy sense of caution and help develop those skills necessary to adequately deal with adversity.

But if, at core, failure is when you don't get what you want, how can there be beautiful failure?  Is there beauty to be had in failure, aside from its hard lessons?  Read on to find out...

Pushing the Limits

All innovative, successful companies are driven by their leadership's passion for their work.  In order to grow, to stay competitive, to succeed in a wide market of competitors, they are driven to continually push the boundaries of their products and services.  This leads to the creation of internal "research & development" teams, those charged with the task of trying outlandish ideas with a high risk of failure, and potentially great rewards as well. To explore what is possible, with the intent of discovering the profitable.

You can't try out these ideas on clients.  They are paying for results!  Failure is most definitely not an option with a client.  Maintaining customer satisfaction rates requires the use of tried and true techniques that always produce great results.  But if that is all you ever do, the work becomes stagnant, stale, and uncompetitive.

We at INFINI Boudoir keep our edge not by experimenting with our clients, but using specialized models to try our newest visual experiments on.  When we succeed, it is nothing short of glorious, and we seek out ways to incorporate this new technique into our standard process.

When we fail... well... the result is usually what we call "beautiful failure".  Failure, because what we got did not meet the vision of what we were going for.  Beautiful, because the results are often a very beautiful image that without the context of a pre-conceived vision would be a delightful success.  Only in the shadow of what it was supposed to be is it a failure, albeit a pretty one.

SolArt Project 2012

This is one of our most ambitious and long term ideas... to capture the splendor of a horizon level solar eclipse in context to the female form.  Conceived some 4 years ago, we have decided to pursue this celestial opportunity, funded through a Kickstarter project.  For the first time, it invites our fans and friends to join us on this journey of discovery.  "Discovery" because shooting a model in front of an eclipse near the horizon has never been done before.  While we have some visual idea of what we're trying to achieve, exactly what it will look like is not at all clear.  The results could be spectacular... or they may be "beautiful failure".

When conducting photographic research and development, beautiful failure is an option.

Things to fear on this expedition:

  • Eye injuries due to eclipse watching
  • Rattlesnakes
  • Tarantulas
  • Scorpions
  • Gila monsters
  • Cooking the camera sensor
  • Rented mega-lens arriving or departing with inoperable damage
  • Inclement weather
  • Locals with an enhanced sense of territorial boundaries (stay off my land with that contraption!)
  • Unamused law enforcement (you got a permit for that thing boooooy?!)

Yes, a lot of things can go wrong on this shoot.  But a lot of things went wrong on this shoot too.  You dont know the shot I was trying to get.

Yet, we have beautiful... failure... to show for it.  So join us.  Contribute to our adventure, success or failure. You'll be part of it, and you'll get to join in our joys and passions.

INFINI Boudoir

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Purpose of Photoshop

is to compensate for what the camera does to photographs.  In MY world that is.  Photoshop is used for many purposes, and to varying skill levels.  It is a tremendously complex and versatile program that like most things can be used for good or evil, and anything in between.

Cameras on the other hand, while also a marvel of modern engineering, are designed essentially to do one thing -- record what's in front of them.  One of the most at-home assignments for a camera is in the Mars orbiter where it blithely records the various landscape features of the red planet in precise detail.  This is where the camera is at its most natural state -- recording what it sees pixel for pixel.  But as we will see, this is not necessarily what a boudoir photographer or his client wants.

Emotions Affect Perception

Have you ever noticed how you may see someone who is at first very attractive, but then when you get to know them, they become much less attractive?  Or someone you did not find all that appealing over time becomes more and more attractive as you got to know them better?


It turns out that our feelings about a person affect how we see them.  This is ultimately why the inner person is as, and perhaps more important, than the skin they are wrapped in.  And this is also why we like to shoot our clients long enough to extract that inner person, since that person's inner beauty, personality, and life will be captured in the images.

But back to the camera -- this visual recording device is in the end, only a machine.  It has no love or passion for what it shoots.  That lies in the hands, mind, and heart of the camera operator -- the photographer.  The camera is merely a crude tool to capture the photographer's passion and vision, like a rough chisel on a block of stone.

With judicious lighting, posing, collaboration from the client, strategic use of fabrics and props, one can yield a very beautiful photograph.  But when viewed closely, a woman's eyes might be drawn to self-perceived flaws and inadequacies, completely overlooking the fact that her lover does not see these personal flaws.  The photograph of course captures them, as the camera is simply a cold, hard machine.  It does not see through the rose colored glasses of passion and love.

Photoshop is the Bridge between Man and Machine

It is here where Photoshop fills the gap between what the camera records, and what a man sees with his emotion-influenced eyes.  In experienced hands, Photoshop is a tool that re-sculpts, re-maps, re-casts a crude pixel mapping of a woman's body, into the glorious work of art that men see.  When done well and to this purpose, Photoshop is essentially invisible.  You can't tell what's been done because it looks normal and beautiful.  And that's exactly how it should look, because that's exactly what men see.

Sadly, there are many examples of inexpert Photoshop work that push women into impossible and even unattractive ideals.  It takes an expert eye, a sense of what human anatomy looks like, and a level of common sense that says, does this look realistic?  Is this flattering?

Because a boudoir photographer is not out to make you something you're not.  That would be as nonsensical as putting your head on someone else's body.  No, our job is to make you look like you on your best day, the way the man who loves you sees you on your best day.  And that's what we at INFINI Boudoir do every day.

When you look at our gallery and think, wow, those women are beautiful, I could never look like that, its important to understand that those are real women who all have self-perceived flaws, which have been adjusted in Photoshop to show how your man sees you, or how you would like to see yourself.  In a sense, a shoot with INFINI Boudoir is the chance to see yourself through his eyes.  And that is a wonderful experience for anyone.