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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why I prefer JPG, but still shoot RAW

Lets face it- there are some valid arguments for shooting RAW. However, a most all of them are based on the premise that you will need to "save" your photo- to rescue it from some mistake you, the photographer, have made.
Most arguments are heavily weighted on the need to fix color range in the form of an improper white balance setting that JPG codes into your image, resultant contrast issues/black tone issues as you post-process your image, etc. Others are on the premise of fixing slightly blown out exposures, citing things out of your control, such as the model moved to close to the light source (except as the photographer you can control just have to be observant and correct the model's positioning; if she's struck the ideal pose, she can do it again once you've centered her properly once more).
As professionals (for those of us who are), we should know how to set our cameras correctly, and to do so with great frequency on the fly. IF you set your camera correctly for the given lighting, or if in a studio you properly control your lighting, you will never have to worry about not having the latitude of color values saved into your image. (Yes, I admit that RAW files do indeed have more data saved into them, including larger bit rates for color data).
Following this same thought, people who argue RAW over JPG may mention the Zone System. Fantastic. Yet the zone system was created decades before digital technology, so really it's an argument for JPG/in camera processing. IF you follow the zone system, you don't necessarily NEED the extra data/flexibility of a RAW file...a JPG will give you everything you need, will be done expertly, and at a mere fraction of the processing/review time. You can still tweak and edit JPGs. You just can't correct what should be fatal flaws in a photo. If you're a Pro, hopefully you're not often producing images with those fatal flaws, and the ones you do you simply throw away knowing you've noticed your error during the shoot, and recomposed your shot properly.
Likewise they may say: storage space is so cheap these days; cameras can process RAW so quickly that there is no noticeable difference in workflow; if the extra data is available to me, I might as well keep it. True...You might as well keep all your ripped, faded, outgrown, outdated clothing from childhood through adulthood, too. You could keep every cent you ever earn and never make a charitable donation. You could keep every camera body or lens you've ever purchased, even though you only use a small portion of them, and never intend to use the others ever again. You could do a lot of things...but why do you? If you don't need, it, why are you hoarding it? We hold onto effectively useless things when they have sentimental value to us (or in the case of money if we're selfish and greedy- I'm not here to have a discussion on accumulation of's none of my business what you chose to do with your money! -but it's an example of this we do, that we don't Need to do).
Moving on...Here's the meat of my argument For JPG:
A) Back around 2002-2005 (and earlier), JPG processing on-camera was still in its infancy. Magazine editors, fine art photographers, etc, wanted that RAW file because they were not happy with the JPG their camera put out, OR because as a photo editor if your boss (the Editor) got a bug up his a$$ about one minutia of the image, with a RAW the photo editor could go back and fix that problem easier than with a JPG. It comes down to fear of saving one's  a$$. Just like the photographer's fear of not setting up for the exact lighting, white balancing, etc.
B) Canon, Nikon, Sony (who makes Nikon sensors), etc, have been working on their sensors, processors, algorithms, etc for over 10 years. They've spent Billions of dollars on research, processing, and coding these color conversions/JPG profiles. There are committees, experts, and various professionals from the photography, graphics, and computer engineering worlds working on the optimal color conversions for their JPGs, and how to code the digital files so the conversion happens uniformly Every Time. If it was just a random group of computer coders hired to write code with no direction or quality oversight, then this argument would not hold water, but we all know that the actual computer engineers coding this data are a portion of the team. (If you were an executive chef, would you allow your line cook to conceptualize your menu??) The big "risk" comes in the form: did you set your camera up properly? By saying "I will only shoot RAW so I can control the color balancing, image tones, etc." as a photographer you are actually saying your experience of digital image manipulation (at maximum 13 years, but lets face it, probably more like 5 or 6 years, and even then your mastery of Photoshop and like software is in truth limited to that of full time graphic designers) is better than that of the developers of this technology, and the huge bags of money the major players have thrown at them to get it right!
I know some Photographers who are amazing at image manipulation. I'm exceedingly good at it, though I know many who far outpace me. Having said that, I also know many more Graphic Designers who are even better. Why are we, as photographers, all of a sudden claiming to know this better than the professionals specific to image manipulation? When you think about it, it is a little arrogant to say "I can process images better than the combined weight of Nikon, Canon, and Sony; better than any professional graphic designer." Note, a graphic designer will not have the same eye for composing a shot, the technical knowledge to capture that shot, to pose that model, etc. THAT is still the realm of the photographer, and we can wander over into graphics as digital manipulation is indeed our new darkroom, but we can't claim to be the masters of it.
So in conclusion why do I still shoot RAW despite my obvious favoritism towards JPGs? Editors/Photo Editors. Most out there, as a result of the infancy of the digital age, are still wary of JPGs. They'll argue with me on every point I made and agree 10,000% on all the "reasons" to shoot RAW that I've cited above, or those posed by anyone who disagrees with me may leave comments. As a result, it's often easier (and of better piece-of-mind) to shoot a RAW. Inevitably there will be a discussion/argument with an Editor or Photo Editor when they ask you to send the RAW file over, if you tell them you just have a High Res JPG. Completely irrelevant to whether you've set the photo up correctly. It's not that they want to make serious changes to your image or processing there of, they just want to be able to cover their own a$$'s if they get heat from their superiors.
One last argument I know people will press: losing data in a JPG compression compared to a complete RAW file...these days that's really not an issue, even when shooting studio work. There will be those who disagree with me and will try to throw tons of technical data at me to support their arguments. Some are valid. Most were more valid 5 years ago, and will become less and less valid with each new camera put on the market. They'll cite artifacting, etc. To that let me respond, you can still get artifacting even in RAW, and if you truly want the guarantee of none, switch back to medium or large format cameras. They'll cite preserving the original image and all its pixels (when editing a JPG you are changing its pixels...when editing RAW your edits are saved in the metadata, and only applied to your image file when you export it as a JPG or TIFF). To this argument, let me say: start using Lightroom or Aperture, as these programs do not edit any original image (JPG or RAW), but instead save your series of edit commands, saving those edits in their library files, only applying the edits to the exported final image, all the while preserving the original image, regardless of whether it's JPG or RAW.
Think about it and make up your own mind.
Ben Ginsberg/
Orange County, CA

Friday, March 2, 2012

It must have been exciting to live in the early days of aviation. Each fight a momentous undertaking, people even going to airports just to
It must have been exciting to live in the early days of aviation. Each fight a momentous undertaking, people even going to airports just to see a plane take off and land. Now I'm impatient and generally frustrated with TSA...
TSA doesn't know how to identify AA batteries I a camera bag...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Crazy, fiery crash at the Daytona500 !! @jpmontoya crashes into safety truck/sets track in fire! nascar

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Up with the sun
Up with the sun

Sunday, January 29, 2012

January in Orange County, CA

Red scooter, check. Full faced motorcycle helmet, check. Surfboard, check. Gotta love January in Orange County.
Red scooter, check. Full faced motorcycle helmet, check. Surfboard, check. Gotta love January in Orange County.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Temptations and Food Photography

It's really hard working with baker's and pastry chefs. That is, hard not to tear into and eat whatever delicious desert, breads, pastry, chocolates, etc they've set down to be photographed.
We're really not into the whole fake/inedible food-as-a-prop photography. We want it to be real.
For those who do enhance their foods for pictures, it doesn't have to be paint or noxious products. You can use all sorts of little gimmicks, glazes, colorings, gels, and nameless other Edible products to enhance a food to make it look more appealing. "Food Stylists" do this all the time. But still, put the two next to each other, and the real thing will be a bit of a let down. And that means you won't get to (read can't) eat it after the shoot!
Think about the latest fast-food commercial you saw. How great do their burgers look? Now think about the last time you ate was squished, wasn't it? The lettuce and tomatoes really didn't look that fresh, did it? Most all of it, the burger included, was hidden beneath the bun- it's not overflowing, filled with the freshest, grandest ingredients, is it? Lets face it. If they advertised what their food Really looked like, who would would impulsively say, "I've gotta go get one of those!"
April Sweets stopped by a new Pecan Coffee Cake to shoot the other day. Still piping hot and gooey from the oven. It was the end of a late day, a day we hadn't really eaten dinner. Can you say special torture?

As always thank you for reading and sharing! Please contact us for all your photography needs (714-699-4397). Driftwood Photography Studios is conveniently based out of Orange County, California.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

End Piracy, Not Liberty!

Don't let Congress sensor your internet! We're not Communist China here...this is the US! Please take a moment, read through the facts, and do what you think is Right!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Popcorn Fiasco

Popcorn is delicious. We make it here fairly often. I like it a lot, but oddly I rarely am the one to make it.  Come to think of it, I rarely ever made it. Growing up my sister usually did, then I'd just help myself. This led to some fights. It still earns hostile looks when the family gets together.
I made popcorn today. Giants are leading Green Bay, and will hopefully come out on top. Desperately craving a snack, but knowing there's a serious amount of leftover pork roast to tackle for dinner, popcorn seemed perfect.
How long do you put popcorn in the microwave for again?
I seem to remember 2 minutes/1o seconds, or maybe it was 2:30. We had a system growing up. A never-fail time that yielded the optimal kernels popped, no burning. I really think it was 2:10...
The house reeks. The dog is sneezing. I had to open the doors and get a cross-breeze moving through.
Yes, I burnt the shit out of the popcorn.
I've had this microwave since freshman year of college. Over nearly 12 years it's been to Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and California. It's gotten some serious use in that time. You'd think I'd have made enough bags of popcorn to do it right.
2:10 failed me! I've since looked, and the damn thing actually has a "popcorn" button. Can't say I ever remember using it, though. Not once. Maybe this time I should have.
To top it off, this was to be a ridiculously good bag of popcorn. For the holidays we got a bacon lovers gift pack. Not to be confused with the bacon of the month club (which we will gladly accept and eat from any loving fans/readers!), but in essence a package of everything bacon, but bacon itself. Five different flavors of bacon salt. Bacon croutons. Back popcorn. Bacon mayonnaise (don't know if I'll personally be using this one...). Bacon flavored sunflower seeds. A lot of bacon flavored products. Sadly, I destroyed that bacon popcorn. It smelled so good, too...before it burnt.

Driftwood Photography Studios is based out of Orange County, California.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

One year ends, another begins. Wishing all our fans many new journeys in 2012!

(Choose the Path Less Taken in 2012...)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Morning Commutes

Mornings can be rough. Who honestly likes getting up before the sun is up? Sure, sunrises are beautiful. But to have to get up every day before the sun just to punch some clock? Not inspiring.
Luckily our commute is often to the beach! When the destination includes soft sand and breaking waves, it's a good thing. Not an every day thing, but a frequent thing, because it's worth it.
Yes, more often than not the reality will be to get up and shoot an hour or so after sunrise (better light for freezing the motion of fast moving waves and surfers). But, if a bit of a road trip is in order, a fine-art shoot/low-light shoot, because the waves are epic, or because it's time to drive into the mountains for some snow, we gladly do it!

This week's Morning Commute down PCH, driving from Huntington Beach to Newport Beach, quick pit-stop, then on towards San Clemente and Trestles!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

Whatever you may celebrate this time of year, we at Driftwood Photography Studios want to wish all our friends and fans a very Happy Holiday!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where are My Fine Art Weekly Posts???

Good Question. Where indeed are the Fine Art Weekly posts...They've been unintentionally pushed aside while, for starters, we work some website updates. More accurately, as we reinvent the wheel and completely overhaul the Driftwood Photography Studios website.

For one we've got a new web address we're going to start pushing soon. Shorter, simpler, no dashes involved. Hey, what's your website? DriftwoodFoto with an F. That's easier than Dee Double-U Pee (yes, we wrote pee) dash studios, or Driftwood Photography Studios, or Driftwood Dash Photography, etc.

Moving along, for those of you who have visited our current website, blogs (blogger/wordpress), tumbler page, twitter, and facebook fan page, you'll have noticed a progression of logos over the years. And you may have noticed that our website has stayed static despite those new/revised logos. We started out with our namesake (literally). A piece of driftwood photographed on the beach in Barbados.

The story goes: after a winter living in Boston, fattening up a little too much riding the T or driving to work, drinking lots of beer (Harpoon is better than Sam Adams, but both breweries are worthwhile going to, especially Harpoon for their 100 Barrel Series), eating out, etc, a trip to Barbados was in order. This of course involved plenty of more beer drinking and food gorging, amongst other things. On our second or third day a little swell filled in. Paddling into the first couple sets was an awkward endeavor at best. Turns out a beer belly is not a stable paddling platform. After a bit of floundering around, the comment was made: "I felt like a piece of driftwood out there!" Lo and behold, later that day the fateful piece of driftwood which would become our first logo was discovered and photographed.

We loved that logo, but it made a bit of a awkward watermark. It was such a unique piece of wood. Clearly some sort of tree that had once toppled and found it's way into the ocean (yeah, duh we all know all wood was once part of a tree). This wasn't just a branch or small log, but clearly a part of the main tree truck, complete with remnants of branches. Washed up on the shores of Silver Sands Beach, it was partially submerged in the sand well below the high tide line. Various sea grasses had begun to grow on it, which at low tides (when exposed) hung down with gravity. Branches stuck out at odd, alien angles, trapping seaweed. The sun bleached the top. Pounding wave action smoothed and tempered the wood, that classic driftwood look and feel. Half the people out there recognized it for what it was, while unfortunately the other half had to ask, or just shrugged their shoulders. We were asked for a cleaner, simpler logo for collaborative projects, where all our logos would be watermarked onto the image. So, the designing and redesigning began.

Our latest rendition is the light blue on dark brown wave logo, which for those who will allow a little creative license doubles as a lowercase "d." We like it. Fun aside, it takes it's general shape from a Maori carved jade (green stone) necklace we brought back from New Zealand; not that we expect people to know that! One of our graphic designers (more specifically a graphic designer we consult with/review with, as we do all our own graphic design in-house), hates this logo. We're disappointed in her. Overall it's been widely well received! Of course now that we have a set logo and color scheme, our website is a bit out of date, both in color and logo.

Web design, for those of us who were not computer science majors or idiot savants of the digital age, is a daunting task. Especially when designing/coding a site from scratch. There are many, many templates out there, but when a layout idea takes root, sometimes compromising to a template just wont cut it. Though then you may be left with awkward, unintended spaces between graphics, images or text that can show in one browser, but in another might just be blank, or worse a little gray box with a question mark in it (signifying to everyone that there's been a fuck-up somewhere in the process). We're currently looking into various templates. Our current site looks nice and is functional (we created it in InDesign), but it lacks the bells and whistles.

On the surface, web templates seem like a good idea. There are so many out there now, and so customizable, it's hard to justify stumbling through the coding yourself if you're not a web developer. They're really not so simple though, are they... Most outstanding photography web templates utilize flash. They're clean, effective, and have a bit of pizzazz. But they're not compatible on the Mac mobile iOS -namely iPhone and iPad. That's a real pain in the ass, because so many people have an iPhone or iPad. [Despite using a MacBook Pro, we have a Samsung Galaxy tab. It's great. It has Flash. It doesn't sync up to our Mac. We can't directly transfer files (pictures, music, whatever). We might switch to the iPad]. Yes, there are certainly HTML templates out there geared for photography. Unfortunately more often than not they're significantly more expensive, and/or part of a coding package from a company that primarily offers flash sites, with lesser options in pure HTML.

What to do, what to do! We're currently experimenting with a few different templates, both Flash and HTML. There are many cheap, or even free flash templates, but the biggest problem with these is their file management. More accurately complete lack there of. Say you want to create 5 galleries with roughly 50 images in each. That's 250 images. Not too bad. But, these cheaper, though beautifully laid out, flash web templates/galleries more often than not have only one level of file management. Meaning all 250 images will be in the same upload folder, and unfortunately more often than not in random order, despite being sequentially named. Oh, and they're only viewable in the file manager as small thumbnails with incomplete names displayed. Good luck getting all 250 images into their respective galleries, let alone in the desired order!

As you can imagine, this has taken up a significant portion of our time. Not to mention we still have to be out there taking photos, processing/editing, delivering to clients, submitting editorials, hunting down new commercial contracts/ad placements, marketing, and so on.

The biggest thing is that while we often talk in the plural form, day-to-day we're really just me. I. Ben. I do this. There is an amazing team of people to draw on. Need some specific web coding, sure, our team has a guy for that. Need some business advice or strategies, take a meeting with one of two. Blogs getting stale, or not generating the hits expected? -we've got a girl on the team for that (an aspiring writer and college english professor, we can always rely on honest critiques and discussions of what we've put out there -what I've put out there- and advice/suggestions on how to improve it, or a myriad of authors and bloggers -not necessarily mutually exclusive sets- to investigate, read, and be inspired by), and a guy for the SEO side of things. Creative review on new work? A team of readily opinionated compatriots. A new project or trip, a whole crew willing to jump on board and act as assistants, guides, gofers, and traveling companions. So it's a team, but it's also an I. And as that I, there's a lot to do!

Photography is a creative endeavor. Posting a Fine Art Weekly image with an entertaining story every Monday just doesn't flow. What if we've gone out trekking and shot some amazing photos, posted Monday, but after reviewing more photos want to post again that following Tuesday? What if we're away on a shoot and don't come back until Wednesday? How about if we don't review/get images ready to post from that mid-week shoot/trip until Friday? Or, what if like a magpie we're distracted by something bright and shiny?

So, we're considering altering our weekly fine art series to just a photo series...not necessarily weekly, but as the muse inspires us. Or me, however you want to look at it. The idea is to throw some clever name on it that suffices for any and all photos we'd want to share. At any time. For example has (in addition to their surf-news postings) what they call F-Stop, where they show the best submitted images not used in their news stories. F-Stop is a photographic term, indicative of aperture controlling the depth of field, and therefore the potential artistic quality of an image (*after having first found that artistic scene or element in the first place). Surfer magazine calls their rendition Exposure. Sci-Fi writer/blogger John Scalzi entitles his "Whatever," in that it's whatever strikes his fancy: a picture of his cat, some political tirade or sage advice, thoughts on parenting, notes on a new book, a poem, new short story, character development; literally whatever. Video guys love to call their versions "off the cutting room floor," eluding to a time when you had to splice strips of negatives together from different reels, showing different angles, scenes, takes, etc to complete a whole movie. The resultant scraps, which could actually be gems in their own right but just didn't make the final theatrical cut, are what they'd then share, or make bonus scenes from. What to call ours? It'd be nice if it was photographic in origin, but doesn't necessarily have to be. Rest assured, there's a team working on it.

So, to all you pining away for our weekly fine art series -don't fret, they will resume! But they very well may be under a new, modified heading that allows us the flexibility to show images how/when we are creatively inspired on a non-linear path.
*bg/dwp-studios (driftwood photography studios, driftwoodfoto, etc, etc, etc!)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Glutinous - Fine Art Weekly Series

One of the best things about traveling and exploring is finding the unexpected treasures of an area. We were recently up in the Bay Area, first spending some time in San Francisco itself.

San Fran's a great city to be sure. A little dicey on the late night taxi's to odd corners of the city, if truth be told. But we'll chalk that experience up to a good story and part of the city's charm!

After a gluttonous meal of Dim Sum from Yank Sing (you must try their pork soup dumplings), we needed to walk off some newly added weight. Starting at the Ferry Building Market we slowly made our way along the Embarcado up to Pier 39. Truth be told, we didn't get too far at first!

Storefronts and vendors were just opening their doors and setting up their booths inside the Ferry Building. A woman was selling these fresh pastries from a little stand in between two storefronts... Even though we'd had near our weight in dim sum we just couldn't resist!

These images are now available as prints, canvas, and metals, as are all our Fine Art Weekly series! Please contact us to place an order, pricing inquiries, or for any other questions/comments you might have! Driftwood Photography Studios is based out of Orange County, CA.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Golden Gate Taxi - Fine Art Weekly Photography Series

If you're in San Francisco, and you're looking for an adventure, try taking a taxi from Japan Town in to Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge around 10:00 PM on a Sunday night.

But you've got to get to San Fran first...Last Friday we set off from Orange County up to San Francisco for a little exploration, adventure, good food, and friends. A quick night at a friend's in Santa Barbara (ended up a little too drunk), speeding ticket the next morning (oops), and roughly 450 miles later we roll into the city. Do the tourist thing (good to see, don't need to do it again), get some dim sum in China Town (yum!), post a dozen or so snapshots from our rapidly deteriorating camera phone (what the hell happened to that thing?), make some calls, check some maps, and game plan a shoot or two.

We're in San Francisco, so of course we've got to get a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. A night shot. Maybe sunrise... It's already 7:00 PM, so night first. Dinner before that. With dinner over it's time to hail a taxi and get our asses out to the Golden Gate.

First off, odds are the taxi driver wont know where you want to go. It's a big ass bridge painted bright can they miss it?? But even if they've been there before, lets face it, who asks a taxi to drive them from downtown to a Civil War era fort under the bridge at that time of night? So you head out, generally aiming for the bridge, but once the taxi gets off the last exit of Route 101 before crossing the bridge, they're not going to know where to go.

Here's how our little adventure went: our little group got in a taxi at the corner of Webster and Geary. The taxi driver must have been Israeli.  He certainly had the look and accent, but that could really be a few different middle eastern ethnicities. The clincher was his driving. If you don't know, as a whole Israeli's are bad drivers. Small, windy city roads, an insistent on being right or getting the best of everyone, and frequent terrorist scares makes for some overly erratic driving. Of course their taxi drivers are even worse. Slam on the gas. Stomp on the breaks. Every half block be prepared to either hit your face against the seat in front of you, or get slammed into the seat backs as if your in a NASA shuttle launch. Do your best to keep dinner down!

Up a hill. Down a hill. Swerve to avoid a pedestrian. Stomp on the breaks for a red light. Floor it at the next green. Open the window to get some fresh air in the car, try to convince all yours senses that you are moving, despite sitting stationary on a padded bench seat. Above all try not to look down too much while searching your phone's GPS for directions for the cabbie, because he doesn't really know where the hell you want to go at 10pm on a Sunday night.

Well, we didn't know where to go either! First trip to San Francisco and all... Turns out the park completely shuts down at night- there aren't even any street lights! What would we do without smart phones and GPS? Thankfully we found the right road and stopped along the waterfront without getting lost or vomiting.

Turns out park rangers block off the final stretch of road heading to Fort Point itself, but you can still get right to the water's edge. It's dark. There's nothing around. Nothing nearby. The only light is from the taxi's headlights and the distant Golden Gate Bridge. Our original plan was to hop on down in a taxi, spend in hour taking photos, then flag down or call another taxi and head back to the hotel. That now seemed a bad idea. No way we'd find a taxi, and who knows if we called one if they'd ever find us.

Our cabbie was willing to hang our for a short while. Meter running of course. That put a little pressure to get some quality photos, and quick. Headlights off, tripod set. What the hell is wrong. Twelve batteries later (yes twelve), we can finally take a shot. At this point it's better to not think about how high the meter has run.

Click. Click. Click. One more for good measure. Time to go. $45.00 plus tip later we got our shots, got back in the same cab who took us there, re-fought the urge to loose our dinners once more, and found our hotel.

Worth it? You be the judge!

This image is now available for sale as prints, canvas, and metal (as are all our weekly fine art series images!).  Please contact us for to place an order, pricing inquiries, or any other questions you may have! Driftwood Photography Studios is based in Orange County, CA

trouble posting fine art weekly...

For some reason last week's Fine Art Weekly article would not post here on blogger/blogspot...we reported the error code, but who knows what came of that!

If you missed it, please look for it HERE on or wordpress blog, or HERE on our tumbler page!

Thanks for your continued reading and support!
-The Driftwood Photography Studios Team

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fine Art Weekly - Upcoming!

We've had a slight lag in our Fine Art Weekly series, and for this we apologize, but hopefully all of our great readers have been keeping up with our fun little mobile uploads fromDriftwood Photography Studio's recent trip  from Orange County to Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Napa Valley! W'll have some new fine art weekly photographs to post shortly!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Now THIS is a spice market! napa oxbow

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Street fair and music in china town
Street fair and music in china town
Amazing architecture in San Fran!
Amazing architecture in San Fran!
Chinese tea house in San Francisco!
Chinese tea house in San Francisco!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Our Ass Kicked - Fine Art Weekly Photography Series

Clark Little is an amazing photographer. We can all agree on this, yes? Well let us tell you...he gets his ass kicked on a daily basis.

We at Driftwood Photography Studios love shooting surf photography. Whether it be insane surf action, travel, empty waves, or pounding shorebreak. But focus on shorebreak shots for a moment. In getting those shorebreak shots, you do indeed get your ass kicked. Just ask Mr. Little.

One of our favorite spots to get our asses kicked is at the Wedge in Newport Beach, California. Right at the entrance to the harbor, waves pass through the deep water and dump directly on the beach. On the right combination of swell direction and period, the waves rebound off the jetty, creating a double-up effect where 10-foot waves can suddenly become 15, 20, even 25-foot walls dumping in shallows only 5-feet deep. Like we said, it's an ass kicker!

Even on smaller swells playing in the shorebreak can yield hours of fun and amazing photos. Just be prepared to get dumped on the sand, dragged up the beach, and to leave with a few bumps and bruises. We're happy to take some punishment to get shots like this one!

This image is now available for sale as prints, canvas, and metal (as are all our weekly fine art series images!).  Please contact us for to place an order, pricing inquiries, or any other questions you may have! Driftwood Photography Studios is based in Orange County, CA

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Burnt through an entire memory card at this morning's surf photo session shooting the nb upper jetties! Stay tuned for photos!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Veins of Development - DWP-Studios Fine Art Weekly Photography

Water flows west from east Maui. Not all of it, mind you. But enough.

Over the past 120 years, under the names of various companies, surface water has been brought west from east Maui to feed what once was an ever expanding number of plantations. Mostly sugar, but pineapple to be sure, too.

For a volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific, central Maui is surprisingly dry. Ancient volcanoes to the northwest and southeast block the passage of rain heavy clouds, which deposit their lifeblood on the coastal faces of these great monoliths. Here we find lush, green, vibrant landscapes over incredibly rugged terrain, in sharp contrast to the drier central valley.

To the white settlers it was simple: cut ditches, channels, and tunnels into the volcanic rock; bridge ravines; bring that water around the peaks and into the central valley to irrigate their crops. While diverting natural waterways, decreasing the flow of amazing waterfalls, and undeniably altering the local and coastal ecosystems, it is nonetheless congruently an impressive feat of engineering, largely done 120 years with hand tools and manual labor.

These are the veins of development, carrying the lifeblood of clouds and mountain; clean, clear, fresh waters of the high peaks to the sugar and pineapple plantations.

These images are now available for sale as Fine Art Prints, Canvas, and Metals (as are all our Weekly Fine Art Series). Contact us for details, pricing, and to place an order! Driftwood Photography Studios is based in Orange County, CA.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Road to Peahi - Fine Art Weekly Photo

Peahi. Jaws. If you're a surfer you've already got a veritable ocean of images surging through your mind. Massive waves stacked as far as you can see. Jetskis. Helicopters. Tow-in surfers charging down choppy wave faces the size of six story buildings.

But how do you get there? Well, hop a flight to Maui for starters. An unassuming road off highway 36 in Paia, Maui's north shore, winds it's way through a local, rural neighborhood, soon becoming a bumpy, twisting, rolling dirt track leading through a mile and a half of sugar cane fields. Hope it hasn't just rained, and if it has that you have four wheel drive.

But winter or summer, it is a beautiful sight to see. The little unassuming bay, at the end of this little unassuming road, off the major state highway running along Maui's north coast, comes alive in winter. The solitary summer drive through green sugar cane fields can make you feel like one of a very select, special few on the entire island. Time it right, the verdant fields shine golden in the sun.

Summer or winter, Peahi is a special place in the world to be.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Eruption - Fine Art Weekly Photo

Shorebreaking waves are an amazing thing. Not the tiny little waves that lap onto shore. No, we're talking about large, heavy, dumping waves that crash directly on shore. The ones that fascinate people yet keep most of them out of the water. The ones that bodyboarders, bodysurfers, and skimboarders love. The ones that over the past few years standup surfers have been tackling as well.

There are many such waves around the world. One of the most famous is here in Orange County, CA. Yes, the Wedge in Newport Beach.

Heavy waves crash down their weight on land, not a reef or sandbar off shore. There's no fine, silky sand here. It's coarse. The ferocity of the waves have long since carried away any finer sands and deposited them just off shore on the sea bed. Here you'll typically find a steep sloping beach down to the water's edge. And sometimes here you'll find that steep sloping beach has been eroded by a series of massive waves into a vertical shelf of sand. But it wont stay that way.

As the tide rises, so will the waves. They'll no longer pound the shore below the wall of sand. The rising water level will bring the churning, bubbling, surging white water of these heavy shorebreaking waves up and over the precipice, erupting skywards as they do. Eventually all that will be left is the characteristically steep slope leading towards the ocean.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sept 11, 2001-2011

10 years ago today...I was late waking up for my first class of the day, sophomore year at UConn. I hurriedly took a shower, and was stopped by my RA walking back to my room with news I didn't, couldn't believe. "It's on TV- come look." That was precisely when the second plane hit the second tower. Needless to say I wasn't going to class. Watching the smoke rising, then the towers actually fall, and the frantic calls to check on family and friends living/working in NYC. Remember today. Remember the Victims, the Heros, the Families, and the Friends who were affected by this cowardly act of terrorism 10 years ago today.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Revelwood - Fine Art Weekly Series


The Banyan Tree is truly impressive. Is it one tree? Multiple trees growing in close proximity with intertwining canopies? They appear ever-stretching. Branches grow out at long lengths. They extend arial roots down into the soil, forming auxiliary trunks. Branches continue out into the seemingly ever-reaching  distance from these roots-which-appear-like-tree-trunks.

The tree's common name comes from the banya, Indian traders, who would conduct business under its sheltering expanse. First the Portuguese, then English explorers picked up on the tree and the banyas, returning home telling their tales. Eventually English writers began incorporating it into their stories, and the name Banyan became synonymous with the tree itself, despite the latin taxonomy Ficus benghalensis.

Whether from our own history or that of fanciful stories, the Banyan Tree has long been a source of wonderment, worship, commerce, and shelter. Countless stories tell of exotic trees that cover entire valleys, of entire cities within the confines of one enormous tree. And these fictitious stories are not far off.

Revelwood is one such tree city in one such piece of fiction. As a city that serves entirely as a school, here not only rooms, but entire homes are grown and shaped out of one enormously large Banyan tree... Our likeness stems from the Kipahulu Area of Maui's Haleakala National Park. While it's at not home here in Orange County, CA, we encourage you to go find it (it's right on a main trail) and setup a tripod with the early morning light!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

newport beach parking control double parked blocking the road. can I give them a ticket?
newport beach parking control double parked blocking the road. can I give them a ticket?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Greenstone Curl - Fine Art Weekly Series

Thought we forgot about it, didn't you!

New Zealand is well known for their native Greenstone. In case you don't know that or what it is, it's what they call the precious stone Jade. Kiwis are a unique bunch...the stone is green, so they call it greenstone. And they are well known for it.

OK, maybe not as well known for their sheep, or their glacial topped peaks and deep fjords, or beautiful bays and waves in the North Island, or even their unstoppable rugby team the All Blacks. But historically where other Polynesian tribes traditionally made their tools, weapons, and adornments out of stones, shell, or bone, the Maori people of New Zealand typically used the seemingly plentiful greenstone found on their islands. Today greenstone jewelry and pendants are an important part of the tourism industry.

In 2005 we found ourselves in the little west coast town of Hokitika, on New Zealand's South Island, where we learned about New Zealand Greenstone. It was here we found the most stunning greenstone sculpture piece. The endless colors of green, ranging from the deepest of deeps to vibrant emeralds and the milky blue-green of the glacial rivers. All blending and fading seamlessly in a beautiful curling piece.

This week's piece in our Fine Art Weekly Series is a brilliantly stunning barrel shot from Cylinders, in Newport Beach, CA we entitle "Greenstone Curl." Taken under dark skies in some of the clearest water we can remember in southern California, the turn of high tide provided some brilliant backwash to the heavy, barreling shore break wave. The resulting colors reminds us of the brilliant color strata found in that exquisite piece of greenstone carved in Hokitika.

This amazing image is now available for sale as our newest Fine Art piece on our superior Canvas Wraps, Metal Prints, and Mounted Prints. Please contact us for all inquiries and sales.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

End of the Path Less Taken - Fine Art Weekly Series

End of the Path Less Taken...

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

             -"The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost

We chose the path less taken. And it brought us to this breathtaking waterfall far fewer see.

It was steep and muddied. Single track and tucked high above a lesser waterfall. It climbed a cliff face in ankle deep mud. Passed through a tunnel of native vegetation. Crossed a 120 year old viaduct. It was steep, slippery, treacherous, even hard to follow, but oh was it worth it! 

Climbing in cheap sandals with our camera gear and tripod added a degree of difficulty to the trek, making the reward even sweeter.

If you find yourself on the east side of Maui, take the time and effort to find it. It will make all the difference.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Notes on Photographic Style, Goals, Technology, and Inspiration

I’ve thought a lot this past year about my photography. That which I do for/as Driftwood Photography Studios, and that I do for my own growth and enjoyment. I thought about my style. Refining it. Defining it. Followed by the inevitable redefining of it. Partly because I feel photography should be a constant evolution. Partly because I see what others are taking on the same days as me, and the resultant images that sell.

In regards to my photography, my biggest fear is to become stagnant in my stylistic progression. But despite technology, despite the need to constantly evolve, there are foundations that must be held onto (beyond good composition).

In a world of post processing and over compensating for what I can only assume is a perceived banality of reality many photographers must perceive in front of their lenses, and the teaming reality TV masses that thrive on whatever is loudest and shiniest (much akin to crows and magpies), I’m fighting to stay true to what my eye sees. The world is vibrant and stunning, but also shocking and unpredictable. So why as an industry are so many photographers changing their images so drastically on the computer?

Why in the digital age are so many photographers not content with the colors and lighting they see? -Or the scene and background for that matter?

I recently walked the expo floor at a photography conference. There were a dozen different software products being hawked. I stopped at a few booths and listened to the reps talk on various editing features, even let one give me a demonstration. I watched the rep take a nice portrait of a young couple at the end of a pier leaning against the white stucco wall of an outbuilding and change the colors, apparent light sources, texture of the wall behind them. I walked away thinking why not just setup a better shot, with better lighting, in a different location?

I got to thinking, what is the line between a photograph and photographic art? -Or graphic design? At what point does it become less about the scene in front of the photographer and their technical ability at capturing (and yes, altering) the light coming directly into their lens, to more about post-processing and their ability to manipulate software after the fact?

We can all lighten shadows, save minor blown out/clipped exposures, and enhance colors. We can make grayish, cold winter water of California look bright and vibrant in greens and blues. Very easily too with the latest editing software. Good editing, even extreme editing, can be incredibly impressive. But what happened to showing the world as it is?

Not every day, not every location, not every wave looks like Bali or Tahiti. And it’s not supposed to. But unless you have a 20-foot plus wave or Kelly Slater to work with, it seems to becoming the standard to try and make it look so. I’ve fallen into that trap myself without even realizing it until looking back at photos on a later date. So I’ve gone back to using filters, even staking them. I do my best to ensure I’m shooting with the optimal light. Waves and weather don’t always coincide, but there are always opportunities to setup a memorable shot. Whether it be here locally in Orange County, CA, back in the North East where I grew up, anywhere in between, or anywhere abroad/overseas.

I acknowledge that yes, the computer is the new darkroom. Some level of processing is usually required (slightly more so if you shoot RAW), just as various color and contrast filters, dodging and burning, etc. have traditionally been used to make prints from film. But there has to be a limit. There has to be or we’re all just graphic designers painting a picture with a mouse or track pad. I’ve taken graphic design courses, and I am a fairly good designer, but I am a photographer first and foremost.

In the beginning I strove to take pictures of what my eye sees. I still hold that to be the foundation of my photographic and personal style.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sandman - Weekly Fine Art Series

We're proud to re-initiate our Weekly Fine Art series! After some extensive travel, early mornings, precarious cliff edges, sharp coral, and heavy shorebreaks we here at Driftwood Photography Studios captured some exciting new images! Of course there are still a number from our current catalogue that many of you haven't seen yet, but we're so excited about these new shots we're jumping them up the list!

This week's post is entitled "Sandman." Taken in the crystal clear waters of Big Beach on the Island of Maui in 6-8 foot shorebreak.

Interested in a print of this or any of our Fine Art series? Commercial usage rights? Don't hesitate to contact us or call us at 714-699-4397!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New toy...Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens!!!
New toy...Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fine Art Weekly: The Storm at La Perouse Bay

It's been a few since we posted our fine art weekly column for you all, but we think it's been worth the wait! We've been in Hawaii getting all sorts of amazing shots from the land and water. Here's a stormy looking one from under La Perouse Bay, Maui. There was so much water moving around this reef...Not only as the waves crashed in and the water sucked back out, but it swirled around, trapped you inside the breakers, all after a twenty minute swim from the tiniest gravel beach surrounded by razor sharp lava and coral. Worth it? You bet!
The Storm at La Perouse Bay, Maui

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What else could we fit in here? 4 lenses+ teleconverter, 2 flashes, light meter, light sphere, and water housing with 2 lens ports...
What else could we fit in here? 4 lenses+ teleconverter, 2 flashes, light meter, light sphere, and water housing with 2 lens ports...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Deep in the Vermont farm county
Deep in the Vermont farm county
Brandon,  Vermont
Brandon, Vermont
On the road in Vermont!
On the road in Vermont!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vermont for a spell

Back home in Vermont for a spell. It's been raining so much the past month everything is super green! Here's a great, weathered old barn at the back of a field near home with a fancy new roof and satellite dish! Absolutely love the Green Mountain State. It's like no other!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fine Art Weekly: Summer Grass

Summer is drawing near! Though in southern California it might not be optimal summer weather just yet.

We're in the thick of June Gloom, mixing afternoons nearing 80 degrees with those topping out around 60. But the grasses outside our studio are feeling the effects of less (read little to no) rainfall. Where we're situated has a beautiful little patio space, but close by are some quite picturesque tall grasses.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

SolSpot Write-Up!

Killer write-up and photo gallery on! Follow the link to check it out!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fine Art Weekly: Morgan Wedge

We had to share some more shots from the Wedge for this installment of our Fine Art Weekly blog entry! This was an early morning shot at the Wedge in Newport Beach, CA from the recent swell.

The way the sun rises over the CDM cliffs can make for some incredible silhouettes...Even before we toned this image, the early morning sun exposure made it a near black-and white shot.

Digital is fun, but it's shots like this that make us long for the days of black and white film, dark rooms, endless hours developing film and prints...

We just love the way the lighting sheen's off the wave face to give the appearance of a dark copper or bronze. Not to mention the sheer ferocity of the wave as Morgan Craig charges down it's face!
*driftwood photography studios

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fine Art Weekly: Epic Wedge!

We've had a HUGE week of surf rolling through Orange County recently. Here's a shot from a recent session swimming with our camera at the Wedge in over 20 foot surf! (We think it's pretty epic!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fine Art Photography Water Shots

Fine Art Weekly: We spent some time in the water this past week, and wanted to bring you on of our favorite water shots.

We call this one "Rolling Bubble." If Monet had ever painted a barreling wave from underwater, it might have looked like this; colors reminiscent of his water lilies.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo to all our friends, fans, and followers!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vote Vote Vote!

Only a few days left in the orange surf shot cover contest! Everyone Please Vote!!! Show your support for Driftwood Photography Studios and Newport Beach's Bobby Okvist!

Contest ends Friday at 3pm pst. Please click all ten times, as often as you can! Thats right, you can vote 10 times in a row! And you can vote again every hour!

With everyones help, we can easily catch up and win! It only takes a moment, so please vote! And tell your friends too!

Thank you for your support! (Click HERE to link to the voting page!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

President Obama Announces Bin Laden Killed in Pakistan

Remember this Day. May 1, 2011: President Obama announces US Forces killed Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda, during a fire fight in his hideout in Pakistan. We hope the families of those lost in the 9-11 attacks, and of those brave American Soldiers who lost their lives in the war efforts since, as well as all our many Veterans, can find some measure of Peace.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fine Art Weekly Name This Photo Contest

It's tough picking which photo to post for our Fine Art Weekly column. Tougher than we though it'd be to do this weekly art component to our blogs. Not for lack of material. There are a lot of great photos to chose from, but why chose one photo verses another?

A lot of outside factors are often considered.

For example, the winter ski/snowboard season is winding down all over the country. Most places it's over, but there are still a few places open. It snowed in a number of mountain resort towns last week. The Wedge is firing here in Southern California signifying the start of the summer surf season. The Follow the Light surf photography grant submissions are coming due. The Nike Lowers Pro down at Trestles and we're busy lining up work. We've been watching our favorite photographer's new show on the Weather Channel.

Torn between surf and snow, water and land, broad landscapes and detailed elements, color and black and white...This week we give you an un-named photo. It's coastal, but not your standard ocean shot. Definitely a fan favorite.

We're going to do our first fan contest: Name this photo! Come up with the best name/caption to this photo; if we use it win a signed print on Driftwood Photography Studios! Leave your submissions as a comment on any of our blogs (bloggerwordpress,tumbler) or our facebook fan page! (Minimum 20).