General


Well folks there comes a time in every photographers life where he or she will need to get a photo taken. Naturally as photographers we don’t particularly relish this strange turn of events.

First off we usually don’t like to get our photos taken…that’s why we decided on a life behind the lens, if we did we would’ve become models instead.

Second, being photographers we are naturally very critical of photos especially photos of ourselves and that makes us a bad subject to photograph. It’s kind of like how doctors don’t always make the best patients.

What follows is a recount of the events of just one photographer’s journey to get his photo taken…me.

I found myself in the position of needing a new headshot/portrait for my website. It had been quite some time since the last one was taken and it definitely needed updating. But who would I trust with this monumental task?

For some time I’ve been mentoring various local photographers and I decided to call one of my talented proteges, Tatiana Flowers-Robinson.

Tatiana and I have been working together for many months now and I thought this would be the perfect challenge for her to undertake.

I recall she was very excited when I texted her about it, this seemed strange to me, perhaps she didn’t quite understand what she was getting herself into, being new to the photography game and all.

We decided that she would meet me at a local park…I recognized her immediately as she came up the walk

"Hi Tatiana"

“Hi Tatiana”

We exchanged pleasantries and set up the equipment. I told you photographer’s don’t make easy photo subjects. We’ll just say old habits are hard to break, so when Tatiana said “Let’s begin”, I immediately picked up my camera and started shooting her.

I started photographing

I started photographing

“What are you doing?!!” she exclaimed loudly. Naturally I was taken aback by her excited demeanor but not startled and remained focused and calm, as we photographers are trained to do.

Tatiana reminded me that this was my photo shoot not hers. Silly me…I had forgotten all about it. Perhaps it was wishful thinking, as I said before photographers don’t like to get their photos taken.

“Ok let’s get this over with” I said. And with that I again started taking photos…but this time of a different subject.

Scott taking selfies

Scott taking selfies

“Wait, wait, wait” Tatiana said emphatically. “Now what are you doing?” “Taking some selfies of course”, I replied. “You did say this was my photo shoot and selfies are all the rage with the kids these days”.

I could tell by the look of confusion on her face that I had lost her. After what seemed like an endless pause, her staring at me with her mouth wide open, she said “are you insane??” Now I may be paraphrasing a bit here but you get the general idea.

She continued to explain that she thought the whole reason she was here was that she was going to take my photo for me.

Her take the photo for me? I’ll admit the idea sounded just a little strange.

You shoot photos of me?

You shoot photos of me?

I thought about it for a minute. She did come all this way, and I trust in her skills. After all we had been working together for a while and she is shaping up to be a great photographer.

“Sure, why not?” I exclaimed, “that’s so crazy it might just work!” Tatiana had me try a few poses. You know the usual stuff…stand this way, look here, stop picking your nose. Finally she cried out “perfect…that’s a wrap!” The finished photo appears below.

I actually really liked it, can you imagine? I think she did a great job if I do say so myself…wonder where she learned how to shoot like that. What do you think?

"That's a wrap!"

“That’s a wrap!”

As you can see we did end up having a lot of fun with this shoot. It’s certainly a different perspective being in front of the lens for a change.

A very special thank you to Tatiana Flowers-Robinson for all the great shots and lending me her camera to use as a prop. Please do check out some of her photos on her website at tatianaflowers.wordpress.com you’ll be glad you did!

Tatiana taking my photo

Tatiana taking my photo

For those interested in the lighting setup, we used the lovely natural light of the setting sun supplemented with our typical location lighting of a speedlight mounted on a portable light-stand.

The speedlight was gelled with a 1/2 CTO filter to match the natural light but was bare with no modifiers except for the supplied diffuser cap.

If you’d like to hear more about this lighting setup please check some of our behind the scenes articles from our 2014 Calendar shoot earlier in the blog posts.

Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut and a traveling exhibit entitled “America: Coast to Coast”. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dengrovestudios

Today I thought we’d do a bit of a different type of blog post and discuss a very special tour of The Museum of Metropolitan Art in NYC that my wife and I had with a couple of friends recently. But just so we don’t totally break the mold maybe we’ll throw in a little photography talk as well.

Last month we had the distinct pleasure to join the “VIP Night Tour at The Museum of Metropolitan Art” put on by the great folks over at MuseumHack.

Museum Hack

Museum Hack

As stated on MuseumHack’s website they are a very unique company “We lead fun, high energy VIP museum adventures. You will be entertained… and learn a bit along the way. This is not your grandma’s museum tour.”

They’re definitely right! Not only were our 2 guides Ethan and Marie a blast to be around but super knowledgeable about all that “The Met”, as we New Yorkers tend to call it, has to offer.

MuseumHack bills themselves as “Museum tours for people who don’t like museums”. The excellent tour guides they employ are not actually art or art history experts, but theater experts. This where the “entertainment” part comes in. And while my wife and I are not exactly their target audience, both of us being artists and absolutely loving The Met to pieces, we definitely were thoroughly entertained throughout the whole experience.

Our guide Ethan from MuseumHack

Our guide Ethan from MuseumHack entertaining us

On your tour you’ll see not only the more famous highlights of The Met’s collection but some lesser known very cool pieces of art as well. Ever wanted to see one of the first smart phones in the world…only this one was created over 500 years ago!

The astrolabe is an ancient tool of Greek origin that is used to locate and predict the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars, which means you can use it to tell time, figure out what latitude you’re in, help you survey the land all around you, and even cast your horoscope so you can see how your future will turn out.

Although astrolabes were used extensively in the ancient world, they really came into their own during the Medieval era when the Islamic world picked them up and started adding all sorts of new features. Now they could help you find the time that the sun and certain fixed stars will rise so you know when to schedule morning prayer. By the time the astrolabe matured people found over 1,000 different uses for it.

With all the things it can do the astrolabe truly was the world’s first smart phone way before electricity.

An astrolabe the world's first smart phone

An astrolabe the world’s first smart phone

This is just one of the many cool objects in The Met’s 2 million piece permanent collection. Naturally you won’t see all of them on the tour, in fact you’ll barely scratch the surface but the few that you do see will be accompanied by some amazing stories and a whole heap of enthusiasm.

Those of you who are not necessarily art lovers out there, might be thinking “Scott are you serious? How could ancient art possibly be cool? What do you mean there will be amazing stories, it’s not like there’s gonna be a scandalous story associated with a painting?”

Ah now that’s where you’re wrong! Just look at these examples:

Want to protect your kids at night in a super powerful forcefield surrounding their bed? You can with a 4000 year old magic wand.

4000 year old magic wand

4000 year old magic wand

Do cute lovable mascots put a great big smile on your face? Learn all about “William” a ceramic blue hippo from Ancient Egypt and unofficial mascot of The Met. Why was he found with 3 of his legs broken? You’ll just have to take the tour to find out.

Our guide Marie tells us about William The Met's unofficial mascot

Our guide Marie tells us about William The Met’s unofficial mascot

I did promise you scandal, didn’t I…you don’t have to look much further than Edouard Manet, a pivotal painter in the transition from Realism to Impressionism whose nudes not only caused controversy by flouting the conventions of the time period but also whose son might have actually been his brother. How’s that for scandal?

Some tour participants hearing the sordid details of the life and times of Edouard Manet

Some tour participants hearing the sordid details of the life and times of Edouard Manet

Now I don’t want to give away the whole tour experience as it is something you definitely should experience for yourself, but here are just a few more highlights of antiquities you might see along the way:

Greek StatueIvory Instrument
SphynxReligious Painting

I also promised you some photography chat as well. So just how do we take great photos like these in the middle of a fine art museum that doesn’t allow flash? Simple…first have your friend walk by and distract the guard. Maybe have him or her try to touch one of the paintings..that really pisses them off. Next take your flash photo and run like hell!

Ok, ok just kidding, DON’T EVER DO THAT!!! Not only will you most likely get thrown out or arrested you will probably be destroying art work worth thousands or even millions of dollars. So how can we get great photos in a low light setting such as the museum?

Faithful readers of our blog are probably thinking, hmm seems like a topic we might have covered before, and you’d be right! Taking photos in a museum is no different than taking them in any other low-light situation that we’ve encountered, except that these subjects will most likely remain perfectly still so you have an easier time getting the shot.

Let’s review some techniques that we have at our disposal.

First we can raise our ISO. Increasing our ISO will make the sensors on our digital cameras more sensitive to light, thereby allowing us to take a better photo in a low-light situation. Just remember not to raise it too high or you’ll get a lot of digital noise or grain in your photo.

We can also try using a slower shutter speed. This will allow the shutter on our camera to stay open longer and therefore take in more light. However, the slower our shutter the more susceptible our image is to motion blur since we will have to hold the camera steady longer.

If you do use a slower shutter speed then it’s best to try and find a steady surface to rest the camera on, or try to steady yourself against a wall or other stationary object for support, this will help eliminate motion blur. Just make sure you’re not resting on another piece of artwork! That falls into the category of…DON’T EVER DO THAT!!!

For more tips and techniques while shooting in low-light situations feel free to check out some of our earlier blog posts on the subject.

And don’t forget one of the most important rules when taking photos at the museum…make sure to get some people in your photos as well! People really help to add visual interest to a photo. You can photograph them observing the art, or even their reactions to viewing an unusual piece for the first time.

Here are some photos of the participants in our tour. That’s my wife with the pink hair…yeah she’s a bit of a badass.

Ethan our guide teaching about the artwork

Ethan our guide teaching about the artwork

Tour participants learning about the artwork

Tour participants learning about the artwork

Tour participants react to hearing a story about the artwork

Tour participants react to hearing a story about the artwork

I want to thank the folks over at MuseumHack for a lovely evening filled with fun, scandal, and some art. MuseumHack offers both daytime and evening “Hack the Met” tours and have recently started offering “Hack the Museum of Natural History” tours as well! Check out their website when you get a chance. I highly recommend giving one of their tours a try.

Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut and a traveling exhibit entitled “America: Coast to Coast”. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dengrovestudios

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As some of you may already know our solo photo exhibit America: Coast to Coast concluded it’s most recent showing just a few weeks ago. Thank you to all who were able to come out and see it, and a special thank you to those who bought some photo pieces from the exhibit. I hope you enjoy them for years to come.

Putting together one of these exhibits is no small task and I thought all of you might enjoy seeing just what goes into getting it off the ground. There is a lot that happens between deciding “hey let’s put on an exhibit” to actually opening the doors. Today we peel back the curtain on the entire process.

America: Coast to Coast actually had it’s first showing at the Kanner-Kurzon museum at Temple Beth-El in New Rochelle, NY back in 2011. As the exhibit was drawing to a close I sent out a prospectus to multiple galleries and exhibit spaces in the are to see where it would go next.

Click here to see the original America: Coast to Coast Exhibit Prospectus.

America: Coast to Coast Exhibit Prospectus

America: Coast to Coast Exhibit Prospectus

One of the exhibit spaces interested in showing America: Coast to Coast was the Rye Free Reading Room in Rye, NY. However, their waiting list for exhibits was currently 2 years long. I put my name on the list and summarily forgot about it, thinking that I’d never hear back from them.

America: Coast to Coast went on to display in a few other spaces towards the end of 2011, and then it was placed into storage.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2013 and all of a sudden I get an email from The Rye Free Reading Room letting me know that my name finally came up on the list and would I still be interested in exhibiting.

To say this was a surprise would be an understatement. After 2 years I had totally forgotten I even had my name on their list. Not to mention America: Coast to Coast had seen better days. It had not been touched or looked at since going into storage 2 years earlier.

I made the decision that I would go ahead with the exhibit and prepared for the daunting task ahead. After reviewing the printed photos from the last showing of America:Coast to Coast it became clear that the exhibit would need some updating and refreshing. Not only had I taken many new landscape photos over the past 2 years, but some of the original pieces had also become damaged in storage as well.

I met with Maria Lagonia, the Managing Librarian. Details were worked out, decisions were made, and contracts were signed. America: Coast to Coast would run for a 1 month period during the month of May. Ultimately the dates were extended to run through the end of June with 2 wine and cheese receptions.

The first thing I do when planning an exhibit is obtain a measured floor plan of the space. I feed all that information into a 3-D rendering program on the computer to make a finished 3-D replica of the space. This way I can figure out how many photos can fit in the space, what sizes they should be and also how the finished exhibit will look even before a single photo is hung.

3-D rendering of the exhibit space

3-D rendering of the exhibit space

Of course some things inevitably change between the planning stage and actual hanging of the exhibit, but for the most part the 3D rendering is a pretty accurate representation of what the finished exhibit will look like.

Next comes the selection process. Pouring over years worth of photos to chose just the right ones to hang in the exhibit. Of course cost is a huge factor that guides these decisions as well. Large mounted photos are not cheap to produce, so there is always a balance that must be struck between paying for new pieces to be printed for the exhibit and re-using existing ones to save on costs.

For those that are wondering, all costs for the entire exhibit, including printing of the pieces, hanging, and the receptions is fully funded by Dengrove Studios. The exhibit spaces usually only provide a physical space to hang your work upon. However, they do usually help with promotion and press for the exhibit to drive traffic.

After evaluating the space and costs it was decided that this showing of America: Coast to Coast would have a total of 23 pieces and contain 50% new photos that had never before been exhibited.

The next few weeks are spent adding finishing touches to photos getting them ready to print, putting together a brochure for the exhibit detailing information about the photos and planning food and beverage for the receptions.

Before you know it installation day arrives! Now the fun begins…not only do you get to finally have access to the space and see how great your photos look in it, but you also get to see just how accurate your measurements were. Hopefully, all the pre-planning was not in vain and when you get on-site it is easy to measure out where the photos go and get them hung.

One thing to consider is that each space has different requirements with regards to the walls. Some allow to actually nail or screw directly into the wall, others require that you must use an alternative method and not dent or damage the walls in any way. In the case of the Rye Free Reading Room they have a unique gallery hanging system that allows you to hang the photos off of suspended hooks without creating any holes in the wall.

Here are my wife and I hanging the exhibit

Hanging the Exhibit

Hanging the Exhibit

Hanging the Exhibit

Hanging the Exhibit

 

Speaking of photos…just where do they come from?
Well America: Coast to Coast is a celebration of all kinds of landscapes across the United States, so guess where I had to go? All across the United States! Each photo actually has an interesting story behind it.
Take this one for example of The Grand Canyon, we call it “Mind the Gap”
"Mind the Gap"

“Mind the Gap”

This photo was actually taken during a trip to Las Vegas. I decided to go for a day tour of the Grand Canyon. There were 15 of us that day on our little tour bus, strangers at the start of the trip, but good friends by the end. While I was busy shooting photos of the scenery like “Mind the Gap” to later appear in the exhibit, luckily other members of the tour were taking their own photos of us and were kind enough to share them with me.
Creating "Mind the Gap"

Creating “Mind the Gap” (Photo credit Fraser Allison)

It’s amazing how much of the background story is lost about the creation of a particular landscape photo. When you see this “behind the scenes shot” it really adds a whole new dimension. Now you can clearly see why we call it “Mind the Gap” just look how close to the edge we are!
And notice there is no safety rail or harness. A few more steps backwards and it would be the last steps we ever take for it’s a sheer 1 mile drop to the bottom of the canyon.
Keen observers may notice something else that you might not consider if you’ve never actually visited The Grand Canyon before. Although this particular part of the canyon is in Arizona, you might be surprised to see us wearing winter hats, gloves and coats! That’s because it was only 40 degrees at the top of the canyon in March when we visited.
Crazy right! There was actually snow! Fraser who took the photo above had actually never seen snow before as he lives in Australia. He learned a very valuable lesson that day…snow is not just white and fluffy it’s also very very cold, always wear your gloves.
As you can see there are a lot of moving parts that go into creating a photo exhibit. It is a lot of hard work but in the end when people come to view your art the hard work fades away and it is totally worth it!
Here is the exhibit brochure showing all the final details of the exhibit. Thanks again to all who came out to show their support.
Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut and a traveling exhibit entitled “America: Coast to Coast”. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dengrovestudios

Fireworks over Cinderella Castle

Wishing everybody a very Happy Independence Day. Have fun, eat lots of BBQ, don’t blow any fingers off, and take lots of Fireworks photos! For tips and techniques check out some of our past blogs on taking better Fireworks photos. Photographing Fireworks

In this article I thought we’d cover something a little different than usual. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that on January 9th, 2012, Kodak, the icon of cameras and photography for over 120 years, has filed for bankruptcy.

It’s hard to imagine a future without Kodak. Just think of all the future generations that will never get to capture a “Kodak moment”.

When asked, most people would say that this came as no surprise as Kodak was primarily a film company, and of course film is not as popular as it used to be. Perhaps you’ve heard of this new fangled thing replacing film called the digital camera….eh, it’ll never work!

Very few people know that’s exactly what Kodak said in 1975, and it’s actually one of the primary factors that led to their downfall 35 years later.

Did you know that Kodak actually was the first to invent the digital camera, way back in 1975?

Now I know what you’re thinking…”Scott you must’ve lost your mind, I had a digital camera in the late 90’s but it was an Olympus, or Sony, I don’t even remember a Kodak digital camera available for purchase”.

You are absolutely correct, in the late 90’s when a lot of camera companies started releasing their first compact digital cameras for consumers Kodak was nowhere to be found.

Nonetheless, they actually did invent the first digital camera in 1975, only the executives at Kodak never saw the potential in it. So they really did nothing with the technology until about 2001 when they released their first compact digital camera for consumers, the Kodak EasyShare.

You see 1975 was a very different landscape when it comes to technology than it is today. There were no cell phones, 10% of all households in the US didn’t even own a regular land-line phone (stephen blumberg). Computers came in the form of mainframes, and nobody had one in their house. Even the way we watched television was different.

Most tv’s in 1975 were still black and white and a small little set cost on average $100 (“Television history- the first 75 years”). By small little set, I mean only 12″, now that’s small. With those prices nobody had one in every room like we do today.

So you can easily imagine what happened when Steve Sasson, an engineer who worked for Kodak showed off a new piece of technology he created in the Kodak labs in a demonstration to Kodak executives called “Film-Less Photography” in 1975.

First a little background on the device. Steve Sasson and his team had actually invented the first digital camera. Of course it can only be called that loosely by today’s standards. As with any prototype it was a far cry from what the digital camera would one day become.

It did use a CCD imager as tons of modern digital cameras still do today, but that’s about where the similarities end.

It took 16 Ni-Cad batteries to run the device, which was made up of parts from other Super 8 movie cameras in Kodak’s line and about half a dozen custom circuit boards. The device recorded it’s images to a digital tape recorder which was attached to the side of the device. It took 23 seconds to record one image on a standard cassette (Sasson).

Kodak’s film-less camera (Image Courtesy of Kodak)

So now that Kodak was able to capture a digital image, how were they going to “play it back” and show people? Another device was built that would take the recorded image from the standard cassette and interpolate it for viewing on a standard tv. Of course, the playback device itself was almost the size of a tv.

Kodak Playback Device for Film-Less Camera (Image Courtesy of Kodak)

Now that they had their prototypes, everything was set for Steve Sasson and his team to demonstrate these amazing new inventions to the internal audiences at Kodak. They invited countless Kodak employees to see the demonstration of “Film-Less Photography”.

I should remind everyone at this point that although Kodak  did make and sell amazing cameras, they were primarily known as a film company, holding approx 90% of the market-share of film sales.

So when you invite the executives of a film company, to see a demonstration called “Film-Less Photography” you’re not exactly setting yourself up for success right out of the starting gate. Sure everyone thought it was “cool” when Steve took some photos of people in the audience and displayed them on a tv screen, but then came the hard questions…

Why would anyone want to take a picture and show it on their tv? How are people going to store these images? And the most important question of all, the one that probably caused Kodak executives to loose all interest in this prototype and shelve it for years to come, when would these new products actually have any consumer potential?

When the answer “approximately 15-20 years” came back from Steve and his team, Kodak executives saw no use in a product that couldn’t be fully realized until 20 years in the future. In addition, rather than view this a potential “future” of photography they only saw it as a competitor to their film business.

So many times in life, we look back and say “if only we knew”, but never was this more poignant than when you hear the story of Steve Sasson and his team and the colossal mistake made by Kodak executives that faithful day back in 1975.

Now am I implying that this one event, almost 35 years ago, was the cause of Kodak’s downfall and filing for bankruptcy? Of course not, but anyone can see clear as day how this certainly did have a major impact on Kodak’s future. Further, one can’t help but image where Kodak might be today had they actually taken advantage of their 20 year head start on digital camera technology.

 

stephen blumberg, Julian luke. “Wireless-Only and Wireless-Mostly Households: A growing challenge for telephone surveys.”www.shadac.org. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics, n.d. Web. 21 Mar 2012. <http://www.shadac.org/files/WorkshopSess1-1_Blumberg.pdf>.

“TV Set Prices.” Television history- the first 75 years. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar 2012. <http://www.tvhistory.tv/tv-prices.htm>.

Sasson, Steve. “We Had No Idea.” Plugged In. N.p., 16 O. Web. 21 Mar 2012. <http://pluggedin.kodak.com/pluggedin/post/?id=687843>.

Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 2 exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut and a traveling exhibit entitled “America: Coast to Coast”. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios