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The Hybrid Artist

by Chris Meyer

Chris Meyer of Crish Design has been involved in both the music industry as a musician, sound designer, recording engineer, and designer of electronic instruments and recording devices; as well as the motion graphics industry where he and his wife Trish create animations for broadcast, film, special venues, trade shows, and web sites. However, before both, he had an interest in photography - an interest he continues to nurture today through the use of photographs as the starting point in mixed media art, often employing experimental printing te...

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The Object

One of most recent works was the cause of serious soul-searching over the nature of my art.

By Chris Meyer | October 05, 2011

Ever have one of those pieces that you put in a drawer for a couple of years, pulling it out periodically only to shove it back in because your head wasn't in the right space yet to deal with it? That's the underlying story behind this piece, The Object. In this case, it wasn't just the image I was having trouble with - it was also the text I decided to attach to the image to give it a story. But sometimes, you just have to challenge yourself. In this article, I want to share both the technical details of how this piece came together, as well as my internal conversation over the nature of abstract art and how it relates to photography.{C} Read More

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Seeking to Understand

My process for creating a mixed media piece about knowledge systems.

By Chris Meyer | August 21, 2011

It's been awhile since I walked through the creation of one of art pieces that started life as a photograph, so I thought I'd pick one of my favorites: Seeking to Understand. Although it was created a couple of years ago just after I moved to New Mexcio, the process is similar to that of many of my current works. Read More

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Review: Ilford Galerie Smooth Gloss and Pearl Papers

Impressive gamut; reasonable price; many strengths with few flaws.

By Chris Meyer | August 17, 2011

 

Although most of my print work is of the mixed-media variety plus the occasional gicl©e on fine art (and other more unusual) papers, sometimes I am called upon to print good ol' photographs. Therefore, I have a stock of photo papers as well, and care intensely about printing accuracy. Against that backdrop, respected photo and inkjet printer paper manufacturer Ilford recently sent me boxes of their Galerie Smooth Gloss and Pearl inkjet photo papers to test (as well as their more specialized Galerie Gold Fibre Silk, which will be the subject of a later review). After spending some time profiling them, staring at gamut graphs, and making a set of test prints, here are my results. Along the way, we'll discuss a few other papers, as well as issues related to a proper color-managed printing workflow. Read More

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Quick Review: Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber Q90 4-Section Tripod

Lighter; stronger; more expensive - is it worth the trade-off?

By Chris Meyer | August 07, 2011

As I mentioned several months ago, I've been a quest to find a lighter-weight but still high-quality monopod/tripod and head combination to help offset my penchant for bringing along ever-heavier lenses while hiking. One obvious line of enquiry would be a carbon-fiber monopod or tripod. Well, it so happens Manfrotto generously loaned me one of their 055CXPRO4 carbon fiber 4-section tripods to go along with the 327RC2 handle-grip ball head I reviewed earlier. I knew it would be lighter; what I didn't know is if it would be a stable as my normal aluminum sticks for studio work or heavier camera/lens combinations in the field. Assuming at least some of you might have the same questions in your mind as me, I wanted to share my results.

 

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Review: Manfrotto 327RC2 Handle-Grip Ball Head with Quick Release

Has Manfrotto built a better mousetrap?

By Chris Meyer | August 02, 2011

Although I do shoot some studio set-ups, the majority of my photography is a spontaneous reaction to the scenery around me, often while hiking. Therefore, when I'm using a tripod or monopod, I value a head that is both light and that can be adjusted quickly. By the same token, I'd like it to also be rock-solid for when I am taking longer exposure or extreme zoom shots. We've long owned a Manfrotto 3221WN tripod with 490RC4 ball head, which are great for studio set-ups, but too cumbersome for more spontaneous shooting outside the studio. Therefore, I've been on the lookout for a mobile alternative. To that end, Manfrotto kindly sent me some gear on extended loan to try out, including one of their light duty handle-grip ball heads. After living with this head for several months now, I wanted to share my impressions. Read More

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Approaches to Light Painting

I'd like to share some alternate techniques I've been playing around with.

By Chris Meyer | April 25, 2011

In simple terms, "light painting" involves taking long-exposure photos in nominally dark environments, where you artfully set up or move a light source to either reveal an otherwise-hidden object, or draw in space using pure photons. Assuming you yourself are either generating or reflecting relatively little light, and/or are moving during the exposure, you become invisible to the film or camera's sensor, leaving just the light behind. I recently went on a light painting shoot along with other members of the New Mexico Outdoor Photography Meetup group, dragging along a Canon 5D mkII, a Pixel RW-221 wireless remote control (so I could trigger the camera from larger distances, and without line-of-sight), and a Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 carbon fiber tripod (the lighter weight was appreciated while bumbling around in pitch dark in a open space full of prickly pear cactus). Although I started out with the requisite flashlight and blink toys as light sources, I quickly went off-script and started using an iPad as a light source, plus spent a bit of time in Photoshop and Camera Raw afterward. Here's what I tried, and what I learned. Read More

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Chromatic Aberration

Recognizing and fixing a problem you might not even know you had.

By Chris Meyer | April 21, 2011

 

 

Chromatic Aberration is the culprit behind colored fringing - often cyan or red, and vertical in direction - appearing on high-contrast edges. Technically, it results from the failure of a lens to converge all colors from the same source at the same destination point. It is most likely to occur with lower-quality lenses and shorter focal lengths. As I tend to use higher quality lenses and longer focal lengths, I bravely assumed I could pretty much ignore it. Until it slapped me in the face. Here's how to identify it, and correct it in Adobe Photoshop. {C} Read More

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Light Painting WiFi

Using extended shutter times to visualize the communications web around us.

By Chris Meyer | March 01, 2011

Some friends recently shared with me on Facebook a novel application of light painting: Creating a four meter tall bar that displays an 80 point bar graph of WiFi signal strength, and then walking through various urban settings to visualize the "strata" of communication signals. Read More

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Using Photoshop’s View > Proof Colors to Head Off Problems Before Printing

Tools can't help you if you don't use them...

By Chris Meyer | February 22, 2011

Literally the evening after I posted my Digital Printing 101 article, my sister came over to print out some mandala/spirograph-like iStock images to decorate her office with. I opened the images, loaded the correct printer/paper profile (HP Z3100 onto Breathing Color Vibrance Luster photo paper, with gloss enhancer enabled - helps prevent "bronzing" when there's a lot of black in the print), and printed, feeling quite full of myself. The first one came out great. However, the second one didn't match what we saw on screen. Obviously, I had a bit of egg on my face, after just proclaiming to the world I had the answer for reliable, correct digital printing. However, a bit of sleuthing revealed:  

It wasn't my fault - but... I could have fixed it before wasting paper and ink - and losing face.

{C} Read More

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Digital Printing 101

The basic steps to getting what you see on paper match what you saw on your screen.

By Chris Meyer | February 18, 2011

 

Q: Which one of these test swatches is correct? A: None of them. An example of life before we learned how to follow a color managed workflow while printing.

 

One old theory of knowledge was that we were born knowing everything (having gained that knowledge in a previous life), and it was just a matter of "remembering" that which was obvious once explained. Well, with all due respect to the ancient Greeks, color managed print workflow - the best way to ensure what you print is as close as possible to the original image - is not obvious, and being a relatively recent development in the world of photography, we don't have knowledge from a prior life to draw on. That said, neither is it unknowable - and you don't have to reinvent the wheel to learn it yourself. After watching fellow artists beat their heads against the wall or print endless tests hoping to land upon the magic combination that works for them (and having done that very thing myself several years ago), I thought it would be worth outlining the basic workflow to create repeatable, as-accurate-as-circumstances-will-allow printing. Yes, there will always be devilish details and inevitable exceptions, but this will give you a solid foundation to build on. Read More

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Snowblind

Taking advantage of Camera Raw to recover detail in a blown-out scene.

By Chris Meyer | February 14, 2011

 

Default JPEG image on the left; processed Camera Raw image on the right.

 

A few years ago, I made a decision: I was going to save every image I shot using the Camera Raw file format. This decision is as automatic as waking up for professional photographers, but may bring apprehension for many amateur and semi-pro shooters. Indeed, I dare say more are creating multi-image HDR files (thanks to the profusion of tools available today - even for cell phone cameras!) than using Camera Raw. Therefore, I'd like to walk through how Camera Raw saved what would have been an otherwise unusable shot in hopes that it helps convert a few more into taking advantage of this format.{C} Read More

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The Chapel: A Timelapse HDR Short Film

A lovely piece - with some interesting aesthetic decisions.

By Chris Meyer | February 04, 2011

More people are experimenting with combining timelapse photography and motion control to create wonderful "videos" using still image cameras. One particularly lovely one is The Chapel by Patryk Kizny of LookyCreative. In addition to some of the nicest motion control timelapse moves I've seen (way beyond your typical horizontal slider bar movement) and a stunning setting (an abandoned, derelict Protestant temple in Zeliszów, Poland built at the end of the 18th century), Patryk also employed HDR (High Dynamic Range) capture and processing to pull details out of the interior of a building illuminated only by windowlight.{C} Read More

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Two 80 Megapixel Cameras

Luminous Landscape puts the Leaf Aptus II-12 and Phase One IQ180 through their paces.

By Chris Meyer | February 03, 2011

 

I really appreciated the move up from our old 6 MP (megapixel) Canon 10D to a 21 MP Canon 5D mkII: Not only could I print larger images with respectable resolution, I could also pull finer detail out of an image, or zoom in on and crop down to a relatively small portion of the frame. But of course, this is tiddlywinks compared to really high-end digital camera backs, where 80 MP is defining the new high end. The well-respected Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape notes "if you step up from a 24MP or smaller DSLR you'll be stepping into the bizzaro universe, where resolving tiny flecks of mascara on a model's eyelashes from 20 feet away becomes commonplace, and being able to clearly see telephone wires at a distance of 2 miles always amazes." Read More

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Day for Night

Who needs the sun, when you can just keep the shutter open longer?

By Chris Meyer | February 01, 2011

photo by K.C. Alfred from Gizmodo's "Photos of Day Taken at Night"

 

As some of you no doubt know (but which I just discovered today), Gizmodo regularly has a set of shooting challenges. The most recently posted results concern shooting a night, but an exposure long enough that the result is bright enough to be mistaken at first glance as daylight. The result tends toward pastel colors and dreamy motion blur of objects like the sea and clouds. I've been having a lot of fun taking advantage of the Camera Raw dialog to tease more out of photos shot with my 5D (which seems to have a couple of stops of latitude - a lovely sensor resides inside that body), but this opens a whole new area to explore. Read More

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Fresh Snow on a Seedling

Couldn't resist running out and getting this shot.

By Chris Meyer | January 31, 2011

Here in the East Mountains of New Mexico, a pair of winter storms are rolling in. Fitful flurries were followed by miniature styrofoam pellets were followed by real snow, which is now accumulating on any horizontal perch in the perfect still. As dusk was falling, I noticed one of our new seedlings in the courtyard was accumulating snow on its thin branches, so I ran outside quickly with the 5D and snapped some pictures. This was the best (before I started getting too wet); I took several shots until I was happy with the framing of the foreground versus the background. When shooting in show, it's hard to find contrast; I kept moving around until I was happy with what the dark rock was doing as a backdrop, and made sure the aspen on the left and red rock on the right framed rather than distracted from the foreground.{C} Read More

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Avian Aspirations

A journey from a landscaping rock to an abstract collage.

By Chris Meyer | January 29, 2011

The primary reason I agreed to write this Hybrid Artist blog was to share information about using photographs as the basis for creating collages as well as other forms of abstracted art. In that vein, here is a quick blow-by-blow for the latest piece I finished: Avian Aspirations. Read More

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Trying to Lighten Up

Missteps and musings on the path to a lighter camera support.

By Chris Meyer | January 29, 2011

I take most of my photos while hiking. My most common subjects are either close-ups of rocks and plants, which requires razor-sharp focus, or long and wide shots of landscapes with a preference for a very deep focal plane. Both of these benefit from being as stable as possible while shooting - and unfortunately, I'm not a very good statue. Although virtually all of my lenses have image stabilization built in, I've been looking for a lightweight, highly functional monopod/tripod and head combination that's easier to take with me than our studio sticks (Manfrotto 3221WN tripod with 490RC4 ball head, weighing in at 8.5 pounds). This article is a loose wrap-up of my first halting steps in that direction, in hopes that my missteps may help you avoid similar pitfalls.

{C} Read More

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When in Rome, Don’t Do As The Romans Do

Don't forget to look down and around when photographing a famous site.

By Chris Meyer | January 11, 2011

We spent the holidays traveling around Arizona and New Mexico, fitting in a few hikes and sightseeing excursions as we went. One hike was Red Rock Crossing - Crescent Moon in Sedona, which ends in a view of the west face of Cathedral Rock. As Laurent Martr©s notes in his very useful Photographing the Southwest books, "this classic photograph has become just as clich© as, say, Delicate Arch". Adding to the feeling of "what can I do here that hasn't already been done?", trip timing required that we visit in the morning, rather than the preferred late afternoon. Read More

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Beauty in Decay

Artists make the most of a crumbling world.

By Chris Meyer | January 09, 2011

In a post-industrial world, scenes of urban and industrial decay is the new wabi sabi: "nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect" (Richard Powell). And perhaps nowhere in the US is decay more evident than areas of Detroit. As a result, Detroit has become a rich source of inspiration for photojournalists. Read More

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Timelapse Motion Control

Timelapse Motion Control

Combining dolly moves with timelapse photography to show off my favorite region of the country.

By Chris Meyer | November 21, 2009

Having made the move recently from California to New Mexico, loving to shoot both states (and points in between), and having recently bought a Canon 5D Mark II, I was happy to have recently encountered Timescapes.org, who is currently working on a film about the area - Southwest Light - which is being shot timelapse with DSLRs such as the 5D. What makes some of these scenes particularly interesting is the motion control dolly they are using: A stepper motor is incrementing the camera's position between shots along a slide rail, combining the sensation of panning (a "dolly shot") with timelapse - nice work. Read More

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