100 Strangers 6 of 100 The Mighty Beard

ISO 100, 50mm, f3.5, 1/500 

In case you haven’t been able to tell based on my last few uploads, I took a number of Stranger Portraits at some political demonstrations this past week.

I followed this particular march to the State Capitol and I ran ahead to the plaza in front to be able to catch them as they came up the stairs. As the crowd funneled in I came across this guy. I was struck by his impeccable grooming (I mean, look at how tidy this guy’s hair is) and, of course, his mighty beard. I’ve been wanting to photograph someone with an impressive beard. In fact I’ve photographed a number of beards, but none of them really seemed to do it for me. Until this guy.

I approached him and introduced myself and held out my hand. He shook it and told me his name, but I don’t remember it. Generally I always carry a backpack that contains a notepad and pen, but on this occasion I didn’t have it on me. This is probably the first time in a year or longer that I didn’t have it on me. It won’t happen again.

I explained the Stranger Project and he happily agreed to be photographed. After I took a couple of shots I spoke with him a bit about why he was demonstrating. I’m hesitant to get into it because of the political nature and my reticence to touch upon it here in this forum. Lets just say that he is a firm believer in his cause. I asked him if he was from Utah and he answered that he was from California. I wanted to ask him what brought him here, but he indicated that he needed to get back to his friends.

Before he left I showed him one of the pics on the back of the camera and his response was, “Wow.”

Technical stuff: ISO 100, 50mm, f3.5, 1/500 second.

I seriously thought about editing the reflections out of his glasses; I’m clearly visible taking the photo, but decided against it because the view in the reflection is interesting; the view of the city in the valley below, the other people coming up the stairs, the crowd behind me. I think it really adds to the atmosphere of the photo itself.

Best Way To Save Photos For Facebook

What’s the best way to save photos for Facebook? For years I’ve always simply uploaded JPG images. I would do my edits in Photoshop, resize to 2048 on the long side, flatten the image, convert to sRGB, do any sharpening if needed and then save as JPG making sure to embed the color profile. It works OK, but the images really take a beating after Facebook gets done doing whatever they do with them.

After doing a little bit of reading around and experimenting I’ve found out the best method for preparing photos for Facebook. Presuming of course that you’re uploading them using the High Quality option.

Here’s what I do using Photoshop: First, after you’ve finished all of your post production edits, flatten the file; Layer > Flatten Image. Next, convert it to the correct profile for the web. In this case sRGB IEC61966-2.1; Edit > Convert to Profile. In the Advanced box that pops up, in the Destination area select RGB and in the drop-down make sure to select sRGB IEC61966-2.1. In the Conversion Options I’ve selected Relative Colormetric and left everything else as is. Then click OK. Once you’ve done this you won’t have to make the changes next time. You’ll just click Convert to Profile and then click OK.

Now do any sharpening you want to do if you do any at all. Once you’ve done that then click on File > Export > Export As. If needed change the Format to PNG under File Settings. Make sure that Transparency is checked. Change the width to 2048 and let height do whatever it’s going to do.

NOTE: I’m talking about images that are landscape oriented. I believe that for portrait oriented images you should set the width for 960.

Now, and I think this is important, in the Resample drop-down change it to Preserve Details. Leave Canvass Size alone. If you have copyright and contact info embedded in your metadata, go ahead and select that option. In Convert Color Space make sure that sRGB is selected. For Embed Color Profile, I always check that. Technically, newer browsers are going to treat any image that doesn’t contain an embedded color profile as sRGB IEC61966-2.1. That’s what they’re supposed to do. But I know that some browsers have had a problem with doing this. It’s generally not a huge deal unless the person viewing your image is doing so on a wide gamut monitor. Even then it may be unlikely that they will have a problem and someone using a wide gamut monitor is pretty likely to have taken measures to deal with browser weirdness. Either way, why not just check it and not worry about it.

Now just click Export All and save it to where ever you want to save it. That’s it. You’re done.

I know that some of you use different editing software than Photoshop, or perhaps you simply use Lightroom only. I’m not sure how you would replicate the above with anything else other than Photoshop so you may need to look into that.

Files treated like this will be noticeably better on Facebook than going the JPG route. For me, it’s the best way to save photos for Facebook.

The Hat

The Hat, or rather, this hat isn’t really a hat. It’s a prop. A prop to be used in various photos.

Last summer my wife and I were perusing the Central California coast taking in some sun, surf and the occasional winery for some tasting. We stopped at a gas n go in Cambria and I cam across this hat among all the other stuff you find in such places. We both looked at the hat and simultaneously expressed how we absolutely needed to buy it. Not to actually wear, mind you. But as a photo prop. So I coughed up the $10.99 for the hat and away we went. As you can see, The Hat is truly awesome in the kitschy way that is unique to road side gas n go’s throughout various slices of Americana.

ISO 100, 50mm, f9.0, 1/200

The photo above was done using a Yongnuo YN560-III Speedlite with an ExpoImaging Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grid camera right. Yeah, yeah it’s a hat; The Hat, but I really dig this hat. I like the photo too. The Rogue Grid is one of those modifiers that aren’t really very versatile, but it’s way cool when you want that look; that hard light, heavy contrast look.

Anyway, after we bought The Hat we continued south with the hopes of finding some seaside location in which to shoot some pics with our newly acquired prop. We finally found a place just north of Cayucos. It required a short hike through a grassy area down to a small rocky beach. I took one of the Yongnuos and a stand with me. The mid-day, bright harsh sun–which a lot of photographers hate–was perfect for what I had in mind. Trust me, don’t be afraid of harsh mid-day sun.

As it turned out I couldn’t use my stand because of how windy it was, plus our location had some serious surf rolling in. So I had my son hold the light. I also used a 3 stop ND filter. Even then I still closed down the lens to f10 in order to push the background down to what I was wanting to do. My wife, being the trouper she is held on to The Hat and stood in the water and dealt with the stiff wind. Did I mention that the wind was pretty cold?

Yeah, there’s that.

We fired off a bunch of different shots; enough to where I had to let the little Yongnuo cool down for a bit. At first I was trying to get some full body shots, but the bare speedlight just wasn’t the right tool for that job, so I opted to get in close and use the light to fill in the shadows under the hat yet still retain the heavily contrasty hard light.

This is my favorite shot of the bunch:

ISO 100, 50mm, f10, 1/200

This shot is almost exactly what I was trying for.

Of course I also took some shots without the hat during the same session. With this one I took some post processing funkiness liberties:

ISO 100, 50mm, f10, 1/200

I was trying to catch a shot with some flying birds in the background and had my son running around with the light while I was positioning myself. If I remember correctly my wife wasn’t really in take a photo mode. She was just hanging out. The lighting is definitely wacky, but I like it OK. More importantly, I got my flying birds.

We’ve since employed The Hat in other shoots. This shot is in Idaho at a place called Crystal Mountain just outside of McCall. It’s much along the lines of the seaside hat pic above. This, too, was using the little speedlight camera right, but through a shoot through umbrella:


ISO 100, 50mm, f2.5, 1/200

This one was shot with the D750 and I used a 3 stop ND filter so that I could open up to f2.5 for background separation. I particularly like this shot.

After this pic we headed down the mountain and ended up on the Salmon River. This one I did not use the ND filter. The canyon was socked in with smoke cutting a lot of the sun out. I did use the speedlight, though. Again it was shot through a white umbrella:

ISO 100, 50mm, f4.0, 1/200

I think that The Hat works great here with the rustic nature of the surroundings.

This last pic is another hard light pic, shooting into a sunset. You guessed it, I used the speedlight again, but this time it was bare thus the hard light and contrasts:

ISO 100, 50mm, f3.2, 1/100

I really like this shot. A lot of people wouldn’t, but I do this for myself. It looks like a country singer’s album. I will say that in hindsight I think that using a shoot through umbrella would have been better.

Side note, this pic was taken near the Snake River and it was a muggy buggy bastard. Mosquitos were so thick that I thought we would be carried away by the hungry little monsters. Trying to catch a shot between swatting them was a challenge.

Anyway, from the Central California coast to the Idaho wilderness to my basement studio, The Hat served me well last summer. This upcoming summer we have some more road trips on the docket and I have big plans for The Hat.

100 Strangers 5 of 100 Ambyr

100 Strangers 5 of 100 is Ambyr. She’s an avid pro Second Amendment advocate. She was with an organization that was counter protesting the anti-gun marches.

ISO 200, 50mm, f3.5, 1/250

I spotted her while she was busily organizing people for their march; talking with other organizers, overseeing the distribution of signs and shirts, and going over maps of the intended route which would lead to the State Capitol where both sides of the issue would gather.

I was a bit hesitant to approach her because she looked so busy. I could hardly imagine getting her to stand still for even a moment, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. With my card in hand I walked up to her and handed it to her and simply asked is I could take her photo and explained why. She smiled and said, “Sure, but it’s gotta be quick.”

The environment was completely chaotic and a little crazy with hundreds of people milling about. My choices for a background were pretty limited so I asked her to stand in front of a large truck that the organization she represented owned. Definitely not the best, but I think it was probably the best that the situation offered.

I took a few pics and asked her just a few questions; name etc.

After just a few moments I could see her eyes shifting around; she really wanted to get back to work, but she didn’t want to be rude. That was my impression. I thanked her with a handshake and she smiled and went back to work.

Technical stuff: ISO 200, 50mm, f3.5, 1/250 shutter speed, Nikon D750.

Like I said, for me, this was a really difficult situation and it really exemplified just why the 100 Strangers is such a good exercise for photographers. Though I’m mostly happy with how this turned out I definitely regretted not having my 85mm lens. I needed to get in close because of all that was going on and there is some perspective distortion. Another thing that I would like to mention is that it’s pretty obvious that Ambyr has experience in front of a camera. I would be willing to be good money on that. She absolutely knew how to engage the lens and she fell right in when I gave her some subtle direction; breath out of your mouth, please. Can you move your shoulder this way? Awesome. Now, can you push your face towards me just a bit? Bam. What normally would have taken several moments to explain she just jumped on and did it exactly how I needed it. Yeah, she has definitely done some modeling.

100 Strangers 4 of 100 Linda

100 Strangers 4 of 100 is Linda. She’s an avid anti Second Amendment, anti gun rights advocate.

I could tell that in her mind she was treading into the belly of the beast and was a bit nervous, thus perhaps a bit overly defensive. After all, she had taken it upon herself to walk among a couple of thousand pro-gun activists with her sign declaring that NRA members are “murderers.” Hundreds of the pro-gun activists were openly carrying firearms.

The event was taking place at the State Capitol; a counter protest to the anti-gun protests taking place on the other side of the building.

After a while it appeared as though Linda realized that the belly of the beast was not so beastly after all. Many of the pro-gunners walked up to her and engaged in civil conversations.

I interrupted one of the conversations to ask her if I could take her pic. She looked a bit surprised, but I quickly explained the 100 Strangers concept and she happily agreed.

After I took this shot she went back to engaging with a particular man carrying an AR-15 over his shoulder. I listened in:

Linda: “We need to outlaw those kinds of guns to save lives. You don’t need it.”

Man: “So no one should own one of these”?

Linda: “Just government. To save lives.”

Man: “Do you know who the biggest mass murderer in history using firearms is?”

Linda: “No, but I’m sure you’re going to bring up some obscure serial killer or something from a hundred years ago. But humor me, who?”

Man: “Government.”

Linda was taken aback by the statement and had no retort.

She looked around, “Is there a water fountain around here? I’m thirsty” The man pulled out a bottle of water from his backpack and offered it to her, but Linda said she doesn’t drink water from plastic bottles.

Linda, I really appreciate you letting me take your photo as you engaged those with whom you disagree. You are an amazing person.

Technical stuff: As you can imagine this was a pretty chaotic environment and nearly impossible to find a background that didn’t contain people. Luckily, Linda was standing close to a wall and I used that to my advantage. Because I used my 50mm I needed to back up a ways to avoid perspective distortion. So I took the photos from 8 feet or so away and cropped in. Since it was overcast, the lighting conditions were nearly perfect.

ISO 100, 50mm, 1/400 second. Nikon D750

Technical asides: As you can imagine this was a pretty chaotic environment and nearly impossible to find a background that didn’t contain people. Luckily, Linda was standing close to a wall and I used that to my advantage. Because I used my 50mm I needed to back up a ways to avoid perspective distortion. So I took the photos from 8 feet or so away and cropped in. Since it was overcast, the lighting conditions were nearly perfect.