Finally achieved my 10 000th regular credit sale at Istock!

Took me a few years, but I finally achieved the gold canister. I guess I’m doing fine… many people are reporting dropping sales, but mine are relatively stable – and hopefully will start growing again soon. Anyhow, huge thanks to all of you who support and use my work, and to all of my fellow photogs, ADs, my teachers (and students) at Marsan College of photography, everyone who posed and acted for me for one or many shoots, sometimes in the strangest conditions, and to the wonderful people at Istock and Getty Images whom I’ve met all over the world these past few years and who have taught me so much. I feel very lucky to be able to do this line of work which I love, so thanks also to Benoît without whom I would certainly not be where I am today. And here’s to many more years of making better and better photographs (and videos – watch out for this new 2015 line of production!).

Here’s one of the stock images that pushed me over that milestone today. It was shot at the City Beautiful 4 event last year in Orlando, organized by the wonderful Evelyn Peyton, and features the most amazing 6 year old girl I’ve ever worked with. Great talent and a lovely personality. Winning combo!

A reminder of where you can buy / download / license my photographs:

Getty Images

Istock

Again thank you all for your continued support. Let’s celebrate!

 

Featured Stock Photograph – Woman places white scarf on her shoulders

Woman places white scarf on her shoulders
Woman places white scarf on her shoulders

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Glamorous Woman done as a Fifties Actress Stock Photo Gallery

This photograph is part of one of my most expensive shoots yet, on location, with a make-up artist and paid model… and that shoot is also one of my biggest flops so far sales-wise, despite having some stunning shots coming out of it – some that I even feature in my portfolio. It was originated in June 2009 for one of my classes where I chose to do a shoot based on a film noir heroine in the 50s. Perhaps too narrow for commercial purposes. I submitted this one because of it’s natural look  and because of that quiet look of confidence she shows. It all conveys an intriguing sense of something going on… perhaps she’s about to go on stage for an encore… The huge red curtains in the background seem indicative of that. 

Royalty Free License available at Istockphoto.com

Browse through this model’s stock photo gallery at my photoshelter archive web site.

Featured Stock Photograph – Misty trees

Misty trees
Misty trees

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Maisonneuve Park in the Fog Stock Photo Gallery

This morning, driving down to the college with my portfolio under arm, hoping to get good reviews. Yves Thomas did a great job on the prints, they even called me to verify that the solid dark brown page was not an error… which is impressive customer service (a relief after my unfortunate dealings with Bell) so there I am with a million things going through my head when I notice the beautiful fog in the park I was driving by.  What to do, what to do?

Well I turned back, drove back home, got my camera and had time for a few shots at the Maisonneuve Park before the fog dissipated.  The sights blew me away. I rarely see this much fog on my island. So I did a small series, shot it in HDR to see what would happen, and then drove to the college.

Back home at the end of the day, and sitting down at Photoshop, it became clear that HDR didn’t work well with such a gray subject with a compact centered histogram. So I dumped that idea and started working out way to pump up some color and contrast while keeping the foggy feeling intact. The recipe I conjured was this one:

1)make a curve layer, set it to overlay, and mask out the sky.

2) make another curve layer, set it to Multiply, bring the opacity down to about 35% and mask out the ground at about 70% and the horizon line and middle fog at 100%

3) make a black an white layer, drop the red and yellow bars to about -30. this should darken the ground to almost black. Set the layer to soft light blending mode. Drop the opacity to about 75%. Mask out the darker trees and part of the ground to create a slight vignette effect.

4) add a little vibrance

5) create a composite image and apply an Unsharp Mask (amount around 20%, Radius around 65%, no threshold), drop the opacity to your taste.

This served most images to give them a lovely edge and pull them out of the murky gray washed out look they had initially. I will send a few out to my usual agencies although I’m skeptical at their chances, since they seem to fall between favored esthetics color and exposure wise. They are otherwise very clean technically but at 100%, the trees’ bark can be misconstrued as artifacts. So we’ll see. If they don’t make it, I’ll open a flicker page and make the series available there. They might not be stock, but they are very nice decorative shots.

Royalty Free License available at Istockphoto.com

Browse through all stock photos related to childhood in this gallery at Istockphoto.

Featured Photo – Bound and happy

Bound and happy Jellybean 2 page spread
Bound and happy Jellybean 2 page spread

Today’s shot (apologies for skipping yesterday as I lost the whole day trying to do an HDR panorama, but Photoshop would just not cooperate… very frustrating) is again an order from my school, this time we were to do a 2 page spread mock advertisement for a certain brand of Jelly beans. I collaborated with Ina Lopez and two models for this one. The concept was simple enough, to bring jelly beans as part of a sexy,  cute bedroom game between two consenting people. These candies’ flavors being so intense, we wanted the game to be intense visually, thus the light bondage set-up.

The shoot went well despite some difficulties on the set: the space being ultra limited (I literally could not move the tripod once it was set), there were little options for lighting. Since the bedspread, walls and tank top were all close to white, I chose to bounce a flash equipped with a silver umbrella off an opposite wall to make the whole room into a giant soft box. This made a soft light which would counteract nicely the violent element in the scene and, we hoped, would help people understand that these two are having fun.

Model direction was key to the later, and much time was spent on exact positioning and expressions. Both models were cooperative and we got each shot within 20 minutes. Due to the space restraints, we were unable to shoot both models at once and had to resort to compositing the image, which worked in our favor time wise as well.

Post production was an involved process as I spent close to 4 hours on the shot. Compositing was fairly easy, but creating an interesting light and localized contrast out of a very soft washed-out shot was more of a challenge. The female model also had very pale translucent skin and her whole body was airbrushed and colorized to even her skin out. Make-up was retouched, although lightly, and colors and saturation were dealth with locally as well.

Featured Stock Photograph – Rawhide dog bone isolated on white

Rawhide Dog Bone isolated on white
Rawhide Dog Bone isolated on white

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Ah! the joys of isolation. As you know, isolated objects (or people) on white background is a tremendously popular category of stock photography. It usually involves either:

a) shooting on a white background with two equal lights at 45 degrees on each side wearing large umbrellas and the subject well in front of them so that it does not catch any spilled light. Practical for people shoot, less for small objects such as the one above.

b) boring minutes in photoshop correcting shadows and hot spots  isolating the subject using a copy of the blue channel where you burn shadows and dodge highlight until you have a perfect silhouette to select. You then tweak the selection (invert, contract yb a couple of pixels, minuscule feathering if needed) and copy subject on its own layer.

c) if you couldn’t find a white/contrasty  background then you pick up your pen tool and spend even longer contouring each and every curve of your subject. This is worth practicing as it makes really the cleanest selections. It’s a long learning curve (hahah) though and your subject better be in focus.

d) you spend some $$$ and get a light table and a tent for your smallish objects.

or E) as I’ve learned in school this week and used on the above Photo of the Day, you place two tables of the same height about two feet apart, place a clean piece of glass between the tables horizontally, your softbox at an angle (towards the floor, about 20 degrees) right behind at about half its height, a couple of cardboard reflectors in a v shape on each side of your object and you position your camera to avoid seeing a reflection below the softbox line, and another flash under the glass. And voilà! Instant, perfect isolation on white with no shadows. If you get some light spills, just hold a gobo (another piece of cardboard) against the softbox just above your subject and photoshop it out afterward. Quite a revelation, wouldn’t you say!

Have a great week-end everyone. I’m shooting a mock ad for jelly beans this afternoon. Should be a blast!!

Royalty Free License available at Istockphoto.com

Featured Stock Photograph – Untouched Santa Maria Beach in Cuba

Untouched white sand beach near Santa Maria, Cuba
Untouched white sand beach near Santa Maria, Cuba

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What a great day I’ve had today. This morning at college, we had an amazing class, full of tips to combine HDR with panoramic shots to do great architecture photographs, even small interactive movies to visit houses and other places. Very useful, although fabricating the gear to get the axis right seems difficult. We’ll see thursday, when I get to practice all these wonderful concepts.  Then this afternoon, we got introduced to Final Cut Express and cutting a short promotional video (yup, I have to make a 15 seconds promo in the next 2 weeks) and I had an absolute blast editing footage i had shot quickly yesterday with my 5d. Don’t ask me why, but I had NEVER tried to shoot video before with my camera. Results are incredible. Resolution is awesome and the use of all my lenses, to obtain interesting depth of field etc. is really fantastic. It opens the doors of imagination. I was bitten. Guess I’ll start shooting video as well for stock.

Today’s photo is all about timing. You have to be a few months ahead so that photos are used in print at the right time. This was shot last January, and I’ve submitted quite a few of that Cuban trip back then, but sales have overall been tepid during winter and almost non-existent during the summer. Sales picked up a couple of weeks ago and so I decided to go back and find more shots to submit now.

Royalty Free License available at Istockphoto.com

Featured Photograph – Self portrait as Vermeer’s The Lacemaker

Le photographe d'après Vermeer
Le photographe d'après Vermeer

(original post 10/07/09) Today’s shot is my second attempt at reproducing a classical painting while actualizing the content (the first one is in this post). My contemporary portrait teacher, if you remember, had asked me to shoot a new one, finding little to improve in the first photo. I thought I should go into something softer and a simpler image to contrast with the Rembrandt, and so I looked up the Vermeers and chose La Dentelière (please note that the reproduction I based myself on is darker than the one linked above).

Le photographe première version
Le photographe première version

Although it looks deceptively simple, it took me three times longer to shoot than the complicated Bethsabee set-up and I had to change a few things. Mr. Vermeer certainly took some liberties (to great effect) in regards to the tables’ angles and perspective, and the model’s posture and proportions.  So I chose to place the front table more to the left and adopt a pose more adapted to my rigid upper body (the model, if that really was her pose, must have had an insanely supple neck, major back problems and the narrowest pair of shoulders in all of Netherlands).  And then it was back and forth, shooting and looking at the shot, comparing it to the reproduction, then trying to get it better and to place the light just right on my face (oh and get that soft, self-conscious expression just right). The final image achieved the lighting effect to my liking and, although not completely a copy, recalls the painting quite nicely. I am lit by a large single rectangular softbox to my left and a silver reflector at about 2 feet to my right. ISO 100, 40mm, f/11/160 sec.

10/08/09 — Well, I woke up, looked at the photo produced on the 6th (above in the indent) and decided I could do better. As it often happens on conceptual pieces, and why I always like to do my work ahead of deadlines, I decided to reshoot.  I thought 1) I could get a better positioning, 2) I could get better props and 3) I could do a better job at post. Good thing I had left the set-up as is in my home studio, so I could just go back to it tonight. I did get Benoît to assist me though, so things got faster the second time around. One observation: modelling is a TOUGH job. Although I seem pretty relaxed in the shot, this was extremely uncomfortable – I felt contorted. I had to cheat the fact that the table on which the camera is set is much deeper than the lace table in the original Vermeer painting. So I wasn’t sitting… I was doing a squat for 20 minutes. Ouch. I still did not get it right (I don’t think it’s possible — as I’ve stated above) and had to reposition my head (a little rotation in Free Transform) and change its perspective as well as modify my shoulders in post production using the liquify tool . I also decided to change the colors of the tablecloth at the foreground to emulate the painting. I did so by creating a purple layer (blend mode: hue) and a yellow layer (blend mode: color) and then put complete black masks on both and painted the color back in with a white brush set to about 60%. I then desaturated the wall by about 50% and cloned out sensor spots, an electric outlet, the visible brands and the wooden floor border.  I made the final print on Epson Velvelt art paper. ISO 100, 40mm, f/11/160 sec.