Some Moves Going On

Times They Are A Changin’

I decided a bit back that I needed a different home for my travel photograph, and IPBrian.com just wasn’t the place. I created BatteredLuggage.com for the singular purpose of me having a dedicated home for my travel work. My personal work will likely stay here, but to better segregate, promote and keep licensing straight, it just works better.

Get Up, Get On Up

A number of my creative commons licenses works that fall into the travel category have been moved for this site over to BatteredLuggage.com. If you happen to be missing something you were looking for, head over there and take a look.

Nequaquam Morte Moriemini

Nequaquam Morte Moriemini

Nequaquam Morte MorieminiNequaquam Morte Moriemini by W. Brian Duncan ©


Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

I recently discovered the artwork of Brooke Shaden. She is one of those artists that I hate to love…well…hate is WAY too strong. I actually love her work and think we would probably get along swimmingly (she seems awesome from her videos). What I believe is perhaps a more accurate descriptive may involve jealousy. Brooke is young, talented, intelligent and producing some absolutely stunning images that seem to flow effortlessly in some surreal and dream-like ether. The kind of thing I always think I should be capable of producing but never put in the effort or time.

There always seems to be a reason to distract me from the creative process. In the end I believe these to come from a place of fear…fear or failure, fear of discovering myself, fear of financial ruin, on and on. Regardless of the genesis, the culmination is a complete and utter paralysis to actually accomplish anything of merit.

Occasionally I get inspired to get myself down to my basement studio and take a few pictures. Some of Brooke’s work with apples actually inspired Nequaquam Morte Moriemini. After taking this series, I was struck by how much this image, in particular, made me think of The Fall of Man. I read through that section of the first book of the Old Testament and decided to work on a composite.

In the end I think I am actually somewhat pleased with the outcome. I have a long way to go in my personal work, but luckily I produce everything for myself. This allows me to be as creative, different, dark or inept as I find the desire. I hope you all enjoy this piece, and please take the time to take a look over Brooke’s work, it is quite beautiful.

What Would Jeremy Cowart Do?

What Would Jeremy Cowart Do?

I have to say I spend quite a bit of time these days consuming content on the interwebs. Between creativeLive Events, Revision3 and KelbyTV, I have my time so parceled up into small digestible web segments you would think I never have time for traditional media. Come to think of it, my DVR is pretty full.

One of the great things about new media, is it gives immensely talent people a great opportunity to share with others. Twitter is one of the most visible examples of this. We get to share in the day to day existence of people all over the world. Whether our Aunt Enda or Shaquille O’Neal, we in very small ways get to interact and be a part of these peoples lives.

Recently I came across Jeremy Cowart, a wonderful Nashville based photographer with quite a resume. Though I think he might downplay the celebrity of his photography, he has photographed some of the biggest names in the entertainment world. From Britney to Sting, Zachary Levi to Ron Artest, well, the images are quite frankly, stunning.

I started following Jeremy on Twitter and recently he released a personal project titled Eraser. It was a three hour project for him, a birthday present to himself, no Twitter, Facebook, email or the like, just time to create something.

Eraser got me to thinking about how I put things off. Things I want to do. Things for which I have a thousand excuses. Useless excuses.

How many years have I been going to work on improving my photography? How long have I put off traveling? Why am I so afraid to fail?

I sat on my couch and wondered to myself, as utterly ridiculous as it sounds…What Would Jeremy Cowart Do?

He would work to make something he could be proud of. He would already BE working.

Below is what came of all of this. I sat down and actually started working on a portrait of myself. I am not comparing my work with Eraser…I think that would be slightly foolish. It is, however an important step for me. Sure it’s over processed and in many ways that’s completely on purpose. The point was play…experimentation. I had fun making it and in many ways it expresses how I have been feeling lately.

If by chance Mr. Cowart should ever happen to read this, I would like to say…thank you for the example.

What Would Jeremy Cowart Do? (WWJCD?)End of a Beginning by W. Brian Duncan ©
Happy Veteran’s Day

Happy Veteran’s Day

On my way home from work every day, I drive by the Springfield National Cemetery. It’s a somber sort of place as one can imagine that is surrounded by a 4 foot high limestone and concrete wall, protecting the final resting place of our service men and women.

Happy Veteran's Dayimage by IPBrian ©

Recently, on the busiest of corners, as happens from time to time, someone ran into the wall knocking part of it down leaving a large fissure. I found what must have been I violent opening to have a sort of lyrical structure that made me think of the sacrifices of our service members and their families.

The photo was begging to be taken so I packed up my gear and headed across town.

Happy Veteran's Dayimage by IPBrian ©

I always find cemeteries to be an overly serene place and the National Cemetery is no different. Even with one of the busiest streets in Springfield running adjacent, it has a quite sense of peace. Perhaps the guardian wall does help provide some shelter from the outside.

Happy Veteran's Dayimage by IPBrian ©
Happy Veteran's Dayimage by IPBrian ©

I never like to actually stand on the graves of the deceased. For some reason I find it disrespectful; I always have.

After taking photos of the graves I made sure to brush off the headstones and clean up any debris around the site. It was the least I could do, but a humble gesture I of gratitude that I could offer.

On this Veteran’s Day I send out my thanks to all of our service men and women past and present. Thank you for your service to our country, and stay safe.

Kelby Training a Review

Almost two months ago I joined the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) and slightly afterward, I joined Kelby Training. I am going to post my thoughts on NAPP membership as well, but I wanted to start with my thoughts on Kelby Training.

The site was founded by Scott Kelby and designed to provide computer based training in a similar way to many other CBT based, but Kelby caters specifically to photographers. While the site does contain training in a variety of areas (like video or WordPress) each defiantly is constructed with photographers as the core audience.

During the last two months, I believe I sat through something like 36+ courses (twelve by Joe McNally alone) totally something like 55+ hours of training.

I went into this enterprise mostly looking to learn more about three main topics; Lightroom, Photoshop CS5 (specifically portrait retouching) and Photographic Lighting. These goals aside, I ended up watching courses on DSLR sensor cleaning, WordPress, Senior Portrait Props and a variety of other topics.

What is Good

The instructors are fantastic. There is a adage in the education world, those that can’t do…teach. This is defiantly not the case at Kelby Training. They are constantly commenting how their instructors are some of the best in the world and in many cases, this is certainly true. I got a true sense that many, if not all of the people leading the classes were working photographers and retouchers rather than professional teachers. This speaks volumes to the credibility of these individuals and the quality of instruction one finds at Kelby Training.

The video quality is pretty good. Videos are presented in Flash and are relatively good quality. As one would expect the newest videos seem to be higher resolution than older classes. I was blowing up everything via my Mac Mini on a 50″ big screen and while they did look like streaming video at this size, they were very watchable.

What is Less Than Good

The ability to watch on my iPhone or iPad might be a nice addition. I am often places that I could, while waiting hop on the site via iPhone and watch a single lesson, but alas, the videos are currently encoding in flash format…thus, no iPhone. Surely there is some way to take this training mobile. An app perhaps!

The Interface, well…the interface sucks. Navigation sometimes difficult with classes organized by topic and instructor, but in the first month getting to classes by instructor simply didn’t work. They seemed to have this fixed by month two, but the interface is clunky at best. My account kept timing out despite watching from the same device and telling the interface to “Remember Me”.

It was difficult to know where I had been and what I had watched, especially given the volume of classes I consumed in such a short time. Again this should be something the system remembers and populates throughout the site. The system in place falls short only giving the last few watched lessons in your account section. From session to session watched status seems to come and go. I found myself asking, did I already watch this?

There needs to be a total time on courses via instructor based search. Sometimes I only had an hour and I need a class that is an hour or less. Via topic total run time is available but via instructor search I have to add up all the segments in my head. I don’t like to do math in my head.

Variety of topics needs to be expanded in some area. Courses are geared towards photographers and this is one of the great strengths of Kelby Training. However, they are very short in the topic of videography, a topic many photographers are finding themselves smack-dab in the middle of with the advent of DSLR video. They have a smattering of classes on this topic, but not, sadly what I now need.

Summing Up

After two months I have canceled my subscription to Kelby Training. I have done this for several reasons:

  1. Time – I have other things that need to be done right now and I don’t have the time coming up that I did these last few months.
  2. Content – I have seen most of what I set out to see. There are a few other courses (Matt Kloskowski’s HDR class for instance) that I would like to take and may still find time to get them in before this month runs out.
  3. Specific Training Needs – I need some pretty specific software training going forward that Kelby doesn’t offer (namely After Effects and Premiere Pro, topics given their heavy Adobe CS focus they should add). For this I will try Lynda.com.

Will I revisit Kelby Training in a few months? Likely, however my experience with Lynda.com will further dictate future online training purchases.

I guess the best question is would I recommend this training to others…and actually I already have. Several people I know have asked about learning photography and though I think the best training is from actually doing, failing, analyzing your experience, then trying again, if you want some courses to put under your belt, Kelby Training is a great place to go. Hell, the Joe McNally lighting courses were worth the price of admission alone, which brings me to a personal note. Joe, if you are ever in Springfield, MO (or we happen to be at the same event) let me know because you sir, I owe a beer.

How to Photoshop Yourself Into a Vampire Video Tutorial

How to Photoshop Yourself Into a Vampire Video Tutorial

How to Photoshop Yourself Into a Vampire“Damnable Birth” by IPBrian ©

Halloween is almost upon us and Vampires are the monster de jour. Really…don’t believe me? Surely you have been into a Borders or Barnes and Noble lately. I realize it is a tad bit cheesy, but who am I to buck a trend.

In my first ever Photoshop video tutorial, I thought I would run through my workflow to make my new photo “Damnable Birth”.

The photo is a self-portrait taken in my small basement photography studio. I am using two Calumet 750R strobes, the first to my immediate left as the main light, and one opposite the main light giving a slight rim effect. Both lights are sporting Nova softboxes.

I did a bit of Lightroom and Photoshop work and while I am not a master with either of these programs, I hope I can help some people out there by sharing some of what I know.

I realized I forgot sharpening in the video tutorial. For the image in Photoshop I copied everything to a new layer (CTRL+ALT+Shift+E on PC or CMD+OPT+Shift+E on Mac), then coped this to a new layer (CTRL+J on PC or CMD+J on Mac). Go to Filter -> Sharpen -> Unsharp Mask. I used the following settings Amount 150, Radius 1.2 and Threshold 5 (these are my settings not a rule).

I then created an inverted Layer mask, by alt clicking the Add a New Layer Mask button. Then revealed the portions of the eyes, teeth, hair that I wanted to sharpen with a soft brush set to white. If this effect is too strong simply lower the opacity of the layer.

I also ended up doing a bit of dodge and burn contouring. This is accomplished in Photoshop I copied everything to a new layer (CTRL+ALT+Shift+E on PC or CMD+OPT+Shift+E on Mac), then coped this to a new layer (CTRL+J on PC or CMD+J on Mac). Use the dodge and burn brushes with a soft brush set to something like 5% opacity. Burn the shadows and dodge the highlights. Turning on and off this layer will help you to see the changes you are making. This should be slight. Lower the opacity if this effect to too strong.

In this video I am using Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Here is the comparison to the zeroed file and the final.

How to Photoshop Yourself Into a Vampireimage by IPBrian ©

If anyone has any specific questions, please leave a comment and I would be happy to answer what I can. And with that I give you the video!

B