Incredible Beauty.

The Marcin Wasilewski Trio

I’ve been a MONSTER Fan since the beginning. For my money, there’s nothing more sublime than Piano Trios when they lay right back and deliver. This is music to DREAM by.

It never gets old. There’s a new album out with these guys, called Spark Of Life. It can’t and doesn’t get prettier than this.

Here’s a review from ‘Roochak’ on Amazon. I completely concur.

Format: Audio CD

It’s taken a few days, but I’ve gone from hearing this music as all delicate washes of saxophone color over the piano trio’s pastel sketches — in other words, as perfect background music — to hearing it as something more challenging.

The tempos are mostly slow, the dynamics rarely rise above mezzo-forte, and pianist/leader Marcin Wasilewski’s dedication to beautiful, singing melodic lines is the raison d’etre of this music; but keep listening and you’ll hear his more aggressive, dissonant side in his solo on the uptempo “Message in a Bottle.” Joakim Milder’s tenor sax joins in on six tunes, including the longer (and perhaps less interesting) version of the title track; the second version, for trio, is a dialogue of bass and piano countermelodies, with a lattice of colors from the drum kit woven in.

The Wasilewski trio isn’t a piano-plus-rhythm showcase; it’s all about a free but melodic ensemble sound with which Milder fits right in. In this band, he’s a colorist and commentator whose finest moments are heard in the melancholy lyricism of “Sleep Safe and Warm” and “Do rycerzy, do szlachty, do mieszczan” (“For Knights, Nobles, Bourgeoisie” by the Polish rock group Hey), but I like his more caustic flights in “Sudovian Dance” and “Still” as well.

SPARK OF LIFE is a jazz album that doesn’t give up its secrets easily, but its subtle, quiet power won’t let you go once it’s hooked you. Marvelous music.

Now. I’m going to post a pair of links to some YouTube Videos. The first of which is ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (Ennio Morricone). It’s painfully, achingly beautiful in MY books:  

The second is off the new album, ‘Spark Of Life’. It’s entitled ‘Sleep Safe And Warm’.  

OK, so… here’s the BONUS.  They are on the ECM Label and that has always meant incredibly fine recording. Some of the best sound you’ll ever hear comes out of ECM. This is a perfect example.

I’m an Audiophile and have a beautiful sound system in my vehicle. This is for those cross country drives, even enjoyed a little more on a quiet drive after dark. I can’t express how many levels this works on for me.

This is as good as it gets when you’re in the right sort of mood. Honest. Try it, I think you just might feel the same way.

**It is available from AMAZON, HERE

Enjoy.

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots

 

If You’ve Got Photoshop…You’ve Got Panoramas!

Bumped into a great Tutorial this morning on shooting hand held Panoramas by John Warren.

Of course, I use my amazing Gitzo Traveller Tripod and a Nodal Ninja Panorama Head when I’m going full out but it’s entirely possible to shoot them hand held as well. You can see the results of that combination on a previous post of mine HERE.

I was heavily into shooting Panoramas for years. I still love it but it’s a bit more work with a Panorama head getting set up, changing over from your usual tripod head.  As well I have to remove the battery grip and mount the camera without it, the Pan head needs careful calibration and I did it minus the grip. So, clearly, being able to hand hold a camera and shoot it manually, minus all the extra gear, is a big plus.

Having said all that, here’s a LINK to that tutorial, it’s very well written and it’s also clear, concise and not at all too confusing. I find a lot of guys who write tutorials like these assume that because they know exactly what they’re trying to say it’ll be equally as clear to the reader as well. Not always the case….  Again, here’s the LINK to the tutorial.

Now. If you’ve been a regular visitor to this lovely wee blog you already know I generally post about once a day. The past two weeks I’ve been absolutely slammed with work shooting 8 days straight and BIG projects. Tonight will make it 9!

We’ll be heading out looking at a small rural railroad up in central Alberta later next week so I promise to bring something interesting back even if it’s just for you Railroad Fans!

Thanks and Enjoy!

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots

 

 

Reno Time!

It’s That Time Again.

Premium Renovations

Once a year here in Calgary the Home Builders and Renovators  have a bit of a bash. It’s called the SAM AWARDS. They submit their best construction jobs of the entire year in hopes of winning a SAM AWARD. Deadline this year is November the 7. I’m fortunate to have some great regulars and a new client who’ve been keeping me absolutely slammed for the last week. I shoot this and it has to be processed before the next morning. I can’t let it get ahead of me. It’s takes from 3-5 hours to do the post processing on these jobs.

This project I shot Friday night, a few evenings ago. I always start shooting a few minutes past sunset, it solves a LOT of problems, like blown out windows and colour contamination. Not BETTER, just my way of doing things.

Here’s a link to the album, posted on Facebook. You can click on the Thumbnails to open them up to a nice size.

 LINK

More to come. It’s been a nuts week!

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots

 

Hyperlapse Has An Almost Useless Secret Menu.

Hyperlapse’s Secret Menu

There is a hidden menu that is accessible in Hyperlapse, with loads of options…but I have a BITCH. A very justified BITCH.

Resolution can be changed to 1080p and frame rate can be bumped to 30fps. So far, so good, BUT… I mean, Damn. It’s not even mentioned in a Help Menu. Access is do-able but horribly dumb and clumsy.

What is Calibration Mode? Reset NUX Flag? Check Mark and Check Mark Rise? deleteHyperlapseEvap, deleteHyperlapseSELECT? editBucketIn? The list…PAINFULLY, goes on and on with ZERO explanation for any of these features. WHY? Very poorly executed in an app that’s screaming to be used. So, I went looking for any explanation of what any of these really do. Nothing past the first few settings. I guess we have to wait and see. You can’t even get an idea from the Hyperlapse site. So my question is….WTF?

LINK

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots

Canon G7x Or Sony RX100MkIII?

I found the New Canon G7x pretty tempting…

Most of that came from it’s fast apertures and very useful focal length. In that regard the Sony’s 24-70 max range comes up a little bit short in my books. I really like the ‘eye-dea’ of having a viewfinder. I do on my Fuji-XE2 and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to only using the LCD screens on the back of cameras, exclusively. I just don’t feel as connected to the photograph shooting that way. The Sony has a viewfinder, the Canon doesn’t. The Canon has a much more useful maximum end on it, the Sony’s is reasonable…but.

Now I’ve posted a number of Camera Store TV Video Reviews in the past and what I like most about Chris and Jordan is they literally pack them with useful information, don’t get smarmy like Digital Rev and try to make it a comedy show, nor to they yammer on endlessly without getting to the point. The Grid with Scot Kelby comes to mind.

BEST of all, these cats never get sentimental or review something better due to ‘brand loyalty’. They criticize where criticism is due. I’ve never found it heavy handed, snarky or unfair.

I’ve had a lot of traffic on this blog recently over the Canon G7x and here’s the latest iteration of what Chris and Jordan have to say. I was surprised, for example that the Sony Images seemed so noticeably sharper…

Enjoy. These guys are great to watch and always hit the nails squarely on the head.

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots

5 Apps That Will Change The Way You Think About Photos

Ok, I admit.

I buy almost no other apps than Photography Apps and I have an iPhone 4. Uggh. Yeah, yeah I’ll be picking up an iPhone 6, soon.

Here’s a post on 5 handy apps to have on your phone.

After reading it, I bought Autostitch and gave it a whirl. For $1.99 on the app store it’s terrific for having a little fun. I’ll ALSO admit it’s not PERFECT; I don’t think office towers warp as much as they do on the right hand side, and there’s also a bit of ghosting. *Likely from needing a steadier hand. Nevertheless it’s fun and painfully easy to do. I haven’t ponied up for any of the others yet but I’m a bit of an App Addict. It may happen soon.

Autostitch Panorama

 

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots

5 Things I Do That Will Take Your Portraits To The Next Level.

5 Things I Do That Will Take Your Portraits To The Next Level.

1.) I have NO idea where I picked this up. I think I simply figured it out from straight observation, however it goes like this. The way a person places their feet affects their headshot in ways you wouldn’t believe.

The very first thing I do is tell them to stand with their feet comfortably apart, like a golf stance. It completely dictates their body attitude and that, you’re not going to believe this — changes everything right up to the top of the head.

Bottom line is, if you want a nice relaxed photo it starts, feet first, and from the ground UP.

Ke-9259-Edit1040

Business Portrait

 

Kbefore-9259

2.) I was in a conference room in a local hotel and the ceilings were LOW. This is a 2 light Portrait shot with two 800/ws Alien Bees. One was on the background which as conveniently a white projector screen the other slightly to camera right and as fairly high. Of course the background was over exposed about 2 stops to keep it a clean medium-white tone. By placing the umbrella high enough you throw shadows under the chin. It’s good to keep it dark down there…personally, I have more chins than a Chinese Phone Book. I have their, now comfortably placed feet, facing the light and not the camera. Have the guys lower the forward should, the girls lower the rear shoulder…

3.)  Here’s another secret like the ‘feet secret’. I have them do ’The Turtle’. Push your forehead out and down. Yeah, I TELL them it’s called the ’Turtle”. It won’t always eliminate the extra chins but it will certainly help. On top of that, once they’ve pushed that forehead out and down I also get them to drop their chin as well, all the while watching their eyes.

 If someone fixes their gaze at the camera lens and drops their chin just a bit the eyes virtually double in size. The difference is quite amazing but remember, it’a always a balancing act. Drop the chin too far and back come the under the neck problems. A bit of this may make some feel a bit awkward but as you can see? It looks very natural.

4.) I used to watch VHS tapes done by the late, great Dean Collins. What Dean used to do was deliver machine gun paced banter to his subject with lots of encouragement but it was so damned FAST, it forced them to l-i-s-t-e-n and even better —  to concentrate. And guess what that accomplishes? It completely takes their mind off being stuck in front of a camera, they are just that busy ‘paying attention’. Keep the patter with ‘directions’ about feet and turtles going quite quickly.  It really makes that much of a difference.

5.) Lastly, the bane of many Pro Photographers… RETOUCHING. I never overdo this. In Photoshop, I always retouch on layers. I’ll do it all on layer after layer and then play with the opacity on each one. If you can clearly tell a Portrait has been retouched, in my books, it’s overdone. I use Imagenomic Portraiture which does most of the heavy lifting. Here’s a LINK to some tutorials. I like it a lot and have used it for ages. Many times I’ll also tweak it with OnOne’s Perfect Portrait. Always, again, these are done on separate layers and the opacity is generally dropped to around 50%. Now, you can always pick nits with retouching, I still have a few here… and you can spend many hours going straight to town doing hundreds of individual steps but with dozens of individual portraits and 30 or more options on each one, time is of the utmost importance. It’s just not that practical. My eyes start to glaze over after 2 or 3. Imagine 30 or so portraits at 30-45 minutes each! So Portrait Plugins, can make a tremendous amount of difference. I’ll run the Patch Tool for bags under they eyes and drop the opacity to 50-60%. You don’t want people to look like Joan Rivers in these… Spot Healing and Healing Brush tools will help kill the shine. Generally, it’s all about keeping it looking as natural as possible.

All in all that’s just a basic rundown of MY workflow. No two Photographers ever do it exactly the same way. I hope this sparked a few new ideas for you!

*Canon 5D MarkIII, Canon 70-200/2.8II  80sec/5.6 100 ISO

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots

 

10 Positive Habits That Could Change Your Life

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of a small shift in perspective. You might enjoy this as much as I did. Here’s your thought for the day, found on Time.com

  1. Trust karma.
    But when you do something good, be genuine and do it from your heart, not because you’re expecting something good to happen to you later.
  2. Volunteer.
    That one hour you spend talking to that pregnant teenage mother or that one hour bonding with that orphan might (just might) change the course of their lives more than you could ever imagine.
  3. Embrace your emotions (So long as you’re not hurting others).
    We’re meant to feel happiness, fear, sorrow, anger, disappointment, jealousy, passion, love… the full spectrum. I believe it’s what makes us more humble, human, more accepting and patient.
  4. Count your blessings… Every. Single. Day.
    Never take anything for granted. There’s always someone out there in circumstances far worse than yours. So stop pitying yourself, pick yourself up, and be the fighter you know you are.
  5. Cherish every moment with loved ones as if it was the last.
    I tell my parents and little brother that I love them as often as I can (we’ve all lived in separate continents for almost 10yrs now so it’s not easy). I’ve had too many friends who’ve lost loved ones without having the chance to hold them one last time or say “I love you” one last time; scars like these take a very long time to heal.
  6. Judge less, accept more.
    No one is perfect. Everyone has a story, a battle of some sort, that no one else knows about. Keeping this in mind has helped me tame my (previously unstable) temper!
  7. Meditate.
    I’ve never been more in tune with my own body and learned to take care of myself emotionally, mentally and physically until I learned to meditate properly.
  8. Lists and more lists!
    I know this sounds a bit ridiculous but this has changed my life in ways you cannot image. I’ve become so much more organized and focused. I forget less. And believe it or not, it’s helped me gain more confidence and get over breakups easier!
  9. Find an outlet to your emotions.
    Your body is nothing but a medium, a vessel; and it can only handle so much. Embracing your emotions is important but releasing those emotions is just as important (yes, even the good ones)! Find an outlet that helps you use your emotions constructively. Mine is writing in the diary I’ve kept since I was 11, listening to music, singing, dancing and sketching.
  10. Last but not least, follow your heart but take your head with you.
    Ask yourself twice if you really need that new pair of shoes you say you love when your shoe-rack is already crumbling under the weight of two dozen pairs. Ask yourself twice if you’re really dating him/her because you genuinely like them or because deep down you’re feeling lonely. Life is short. Don’t waste your time on mistakes that could’ve been easily prevented by thinking twice and having an honest conversation with yourself!

John Sharpe/ Sharpeshots