About wizwow

I am in love with light.

Also known as Don Giannatti, photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amherst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and ezine with a slightly different slant than most photography related blogs. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out www.project52.org. Thanks for visiting.

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Here are my most recent posts

Going Back in Time

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The great shooters of Project 52 Pros, 2014 just completed an assignment I would like to share.

The work was to be shot in a style or period and be as faithful as possible in presentation. The reason for the shoot was to introduce them to the special difficulties of finding props/locations that could be used for something of a previous era. We excluded any era forward from the 60′s/

I think they did brilliantly.

Big Ambitions? Where Do We Start?

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I want to ride a bike across the country. I want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
I want to photograph the heartland… from an old Indian motorcycle… with a view camera.
I want to do a photo story on Ecuador and Peru and the percussionists of South America.
I want to be able to do the ‘Quick Step’ on the dance floor.

Big ambitions. Especially the dancing… LOL.

Where do we start? What is the first step?

We can all have big dreams and big plans, but the hardest thing we have to do is to break it down into the smaller chunks and then granularize it even more to a set of actions.

Do this.
Then this.
Then this.

We don’t set off one morning heading for a donut and a cup of coffee and figure, oh what the hell, let’s go ahead and walk all the way to the other side of the continent. Right?

Right?

Lately I have been thinking it is similar to building a body of work in photography. I am thinking that there needs to be as much planning in our work image wise as would be in an epic shoot of drummers in Peru.

And that planning should have the same structure as the planning of riding a bike across country. Where, when, contingency plans for snow and rain… life.

We have all ridden bikes before. I do it a lot these days. Grab the bike, head out the gate and think… where am I gonna go today. And it is usually within the neighborhood. My bike is not a road bike, it is a beach cruiser so it only has one speed… whatever I pedal.

So distance is measured by how much of a workout I am going to commit to, and what my time frame is.

Short little jaunts in the immediate neighborhood. Safe. No need for planning at even the granular scale. Ride away, turn around, ride home.

Photographically I have been doing the same thing. Safe, comfortable… out and back again imagery that works nicely and I enjoy.

Time to get uncomfortable again. To ride farther than I normally do.

Planning a photographic body of work, what I want to accomplish this year in images is a rather new endeavor for me. I have always been led by my instincts, the clients I had, and the fun of making images that I like.

Nothing wrong with that until it becomes less comfortable and less fun. And one looks back on a year of images and realizes there was no direction, no cohesiveness… no ‘body of work’ that can be discerned overall.

Glimmers of a direction, and some fine shots… but a disappointing year of work for me leads me to be more deliberate this year.

Deliberate… not sloppy, or crude, or slap-dashed, or semi-planned, or sorta-in-a-way… DELIBERATE.

This has been top of mind for me for the past six or seven weeks. I want to create images that are both deliberate in construction and as a collection – cohesive and tight and planned for reasons that can be articulated… even if just for me.

Where do I start? What comes next?

Identifying the problem was easy, and a bit painful… now it is time to set forth on the corrective path and the myriad roadblocks that usually hide in the mist are making themselves highly visible.

Old habits… die hard.

New habits are even harder to create when we are not certain how to proceed to begin with.

I have been planning a lot of new teaching materials, and teaching plans for this year. And not all are revolving around the technical aspects of photography. I am planning for some philosophical and artistic discussions, perhaps a workshop or meeting of the minds as well. That planning goes well for me… it is in my DNA to plan that sort of thing.

Now I find myself having to plan out my work as well. And I am struggling against forty years of discipline in a craft in order to break away and do something different… something without a different set of disciplines. Or at least a new set of challenges.

It is possibly one of the more challenging things I have done in a long time… well, I haven’t completely done it yet… still in the opening throes of it.

I know when I must start… today. Every day is today.

Every day is the opportunity for something new… now to find the courage to grab on to a corner of that fleeting opportunity and take it for a spin.

Just around the neighborhood… I can always turn around and go home. It’s safe.

And one day… I may just decide to keep on going.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

“What is Wet?” – Project 52 Assignment

Some beautiful work from the Project 52 assignment on ‘wet’.

From the assignment:

WET…

Shiny, smooth, liquid… wet is – well, wet.

And we have to show “Wet” in a photograph. For a client who wants to keep things dry.

You can approach this one in three ways:

You can show something very, very wet. And make the photograph speak to the power of being wet, and how that may be a challenge down the road a bit.

You can show something very, very wet that is purely for the fun of being wet… as long as it shows the detail of the ‘wetness’.

You can show something repelling the wetness from it’s surface. Like a deck protectant, or a sealer for cloth.

The title of the shot would be “Wet” and obvious to anyone looking what that referred to.

How do we show “Wet” – in a photograph?

Wet things are shiny. Wet things have highlights and speculars that show them to be shiny. We will have to have some context around them – or within the subject itself – to make the call that it is indeed wet and not ‘just shiny’… and that means probably some added detail to the wet areas.

We want to see big, ‘liquid’ highlights on this shot – so softbox, scrim or overcast sky with lots of control. White cards are important, and your subject should be chosen with care. (Note… natural wet areas do not count… lakes, streams, rain etc… unless there is a reason or context present in the subject.

Get More Info on Project 52 Summer 2015 here.
Enrollment starts July 3, 2015

An Easy Set Up For Still Life: with Virginia Smith

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I needed a quick and easy set up for the small jobs I so here and there. Branding samples, food photography, accessories for the styling that I do on the side. I love window light, shadows and color so this is my easy set up for my style. The elements are:

* a diffused window (inexpensive white sheers from any big box store will do)
* an assortment of colored art papers available at any art supply store
* odd pieces of wood or a piece of paneling
* squares of vinyl flooring that looks like slate or stone, even wood
* wide painters tape

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All these elements are about 24×24 inches square. They are taped in place along with whatever props I may need in the background to set a mood (dresses, branches, fabric…). Sometimes I place my surface right against the background, sometimes I place my surface away from the background. I have latitude next to the window to use the light and shadows that fall as well as time of day. The shadows are stronger late in the day as in these test shots. I can use a reflector to soften the shadows but I tend to prefer them strong.

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If I find the backgrounds too smooth, I will add textures that I have created from old paintings, walls, rocks, dirt and whatever else looks interesting.

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Fast, easy and fits my Modern Vintage style.

The items needed for the setup.

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Virginia Smith (Modern Vintage Photography)

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