Friday, December 31, 2010

The death of Kodachrome

It's now official, Kodachrome succumbed to progress yesterday, December 30, 2010, as the last rolls of the most famous film ever produced were processed in Parsons, Kansas and the machines silenced forever. For 75 years Kodak produced Kodachrome. But progress marched forward and with the digital revolution the need for film diminished. Kodachrome, alas, was destined for it's great demise.

Snapshots to magazine spreads to advertising assignments all were glorified with Kodachromes bright, vivid colors. It was a different kind of film in that the color dyes were added after the film was processed, which gave it a unique palette. Reds were accentuated, blues popped and greens exploded. As Paul Simon sang, it made all the world a sunny day.

Kodachrome was not for the faint of heart or the sloppy technician. There was no margin of error. Your exposure had to be 100% on the mark or the slide was too dark and muddy or blown out too bright. But when it was right there was nothing like it.

One of my first national award winning images was shot on Kodachrome 25 of a skydiving exhibition. The jumper wore all blue against a deep blue sky. His parachute was also blue with one panel of red. That scene was MADE for Kodachrome. Printed on another long since gone material, Cibachrome, the image was so color intensive it almost hurt the eyes! The PPofA judges scored the print a 98 out of 100, talking two points away for the edge treatment of the print. This was back when it was customary to tape the edge of your print using black tape. My tape was deemed to perfectly straight, even though I used a straight edge as a guide. Still, not bad for a 18 year old kid.

I have that slide to this day, and to this day the colors are as vivid as the moment it was exposed. That was another quality of Kodachrome, it's nearly archival. Images from the very beginning, 75 years ago, are as bright and rich as they were the day they were exposed. Try to say that about digital images in 75 years, if you can even figure out how to access them seven and a half decades from now. Or even 10 or twenty years down the road.

But progress marches on and with each step we take, we lose some in the process. RIP old friend, you will be missed by many.

Happy New Year!!

As we draw 2010 to a close it's time to look back, reflect and thank everyone who has allowed me into their lives this year. It's been a pleasure and an honor to meet you and record one of the most special and important days of your lives.

As you may have noticed, this blog has been pretty quiet lately. It was a busy December. Very busy December. Thanks for my incredible album company we were able to design, print and deliver books right up to the week before Christmas. Our last delivery day felt like I was working at a deli counter as people came in and went out one after the next. It was a very good, warm feeling.

There are some big changes and new challenges on the horizon in 2011. Looking ahead I see a world of opportunities blossoming. Things are taking shape in many directions and I'm thrilled. It's going to be an amazing year.

May the new year bring to you all the joy, happiness, love and prosperity you desire.

See you next year!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Leica Fotografie International | Terry Clark Photography

This morning I was pleased to discover Leica Camera has published two of my images in the gallery section of their website. These are images they have judged to be among the best of the all images submitted from across the globe.

This image is one of the two. The subject is my good friend Harold Betters, legendary jazz trombonist from Connellsville, PA. We were doing some test shots in my daylight studio. The photo was made using a Leica MP camera, Summilux 50mm f/1.4 lens and Tri-X film.

To see the other image follow this link to the Leica website.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving... now go wild!

It's Thanksgiving week. Today is my last day in the office till Saturday. I'm going to do something totally different, totally wild. This week I'm pulling a few odd pieces of gear out of the cabinet and going wild. I'm shooting film. Yeah, I know, I've been doing that here and there with my Leica M cameras. But this is different. It's going to be an old SLR system (for those who wonder that means Single Lens Reflex). No auto focus. Gotta have an eye ball in there, and fingers to turn the focus ring. No motor drive. Gotta have a thumb to advance the film and cock the shutter. No zoom either. Just a simple body with a few simple lenses. Three. Just three lenses -- 25, 50 and 135. Oh there are a few more, but that's enough. More than enough.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone and remember to give thanks for what you have, who you have with you and what the future may hold. It's a beautiful life. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Light Up Night Pittsburgh

Friday was Pittsburgh's 50th annual Light Up Night celebration so at the last minute we decided to travel in to join the fun.

After moving across a sea of bodies crushed in the bottle neck of Market Square, we moved to a more tranquil position next to the Fred Rogers statue for the annual Light Up Night fireworks display. It had been many years since I photographed fireworks on Light Up Night so I was quite surprised when I realized they moved the firing position! No wonder it was so sparse where we were! I'm sure it happened ages ago, but like I said, it had been ages since I did this event.

None the less, the shot worked and we were no longer getting stepped on by scores of people. All in all a fun and successful night. There is no place on earth like Pittsburgh when they turn on the lights!

Tech notes:

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Nikon 12-24 mm f/4 (16 mm used)
Exposure: 0.4 second @ f/4.5
ISO: 200
Tripod: none

As we were getting ready to go I decided I was going to shoot with just one Leica MP and a couple of lenses (35 Summicron & 50 Summilux). My film choice would be Fuji 800 Pro. Well, that didn't quite work out very well as fireworks approached. I knew we were going to be too close to get in the city and fireworks. Luckily, Toni brought her digital camera and, in her usual gracious manner, allowed me to use it.

Because I had assumed the crowds would be massive (they were) I decided not to lug around a tripod. Unfortunately that meant I didn't have solid three legged support from my camera. This is where you need to improvise, adapt and overcome the situation at hand. To do so, I simply used the railing around where we were shooting to brace the camera. I knew using this method I could shoot as low as 1/4 second with a reasonable expectation of getting a sharp image.

To reduce noise in the image I selected a low ISO (200). A faster ISO would allow me to hand hold the camera easier, but the price of a faster shutter speed would also have been shorter tracks from the fireworks. From past experience I knew I wanted as long of a trail as possible in my situation. Next time a tripod will go in my car regardless!

Setting the appropriate f stop for correct exposure on the buildings and it was all just a matter of timing the release to the bursts of fireworks. In such an uncontrolled environment you shoot a lot and hope you get one frame you like.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Private Commission Portrait | Center Area High School| High School Portrait

Saturday I had the pleasure of photographing Miss M in a private commission session.

Every year I do a select number of private commission portraits for high school age people wanting something unique and artistic. I don't like to call it a "senior portrait" or "high school picture" just a "private commission portrait session." To me there is a difference. It's not volume work. Everything is customized to the individual client. As I tell everyone, "you won't be hugging any trees or sitting on big numbers." The work is done on location or in my second floor urban grunge daylight studio. Occasionally we'll shoot against a seamless, depending on what we collaborate to create. Collaboration is of utmost importance. I like people with ideas and passion. It's so much more fun and rewarding to create images of excited, creative people.

Because my work is so customized to the individual client I rarely book multiple shoots in a day. I want to work in the best light. Usually that occurs once a day so booking more than one session on location is to possibly compromise the quality of my images. I won't compromise my work, period, so a generous amount is mandatory.

The portrait shown here was made near the end of the day. The sun was low in the sky. A California Sunbounce reflector kicked in just enough light to add dimension and provide a clean catch-light in her eyes. I like her expression - soft, yet confident, someone ready to take on the world. In post I used custom mix in Nik Silver Effect Pro to create the overall tone and tonality. Nik software is simply the finest black and white conversion program out there today. I'm a huge black and white fan, and I still shoot film at times for "the look" but Nik nails it so well I hardly ever "need" my film bodies anymore.

Camera: Nikon D700

Friday, November 12, 2010

November, already? Wow.

You'd think, judging from this blog, I've taken an extended leave of absence. Not hardly. October was a total whir wind. It blew by so quickly I barely had time to enjoy the (albeit limited) color of fall. Weddings, commercial assignments and private commission work kept me shooting almost every day. When I wasn't behind the camera I was in front of the computer trying to knock out the work to my clients. It was exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time.

I love being busy. Always have. Some photographers are like thoroughbred race horses. They like staying in the barn till the big race. Me, I've always likened myself to the plow horse. Put me in the field every day and just stand back and let me work. I'll get er done. Such was October. Plowed many a field both here and on the far side of the state.

Unfortunately (for the blog) much of my work is of a commercial nature. Art directors and commercial clients sometimes don't like pictures posted before their projects are released to the public. They're funny that way. They like to keep things under wraps till they're finished. Also, because so much of my work is project specific it sometimes loses meaning out of context. So a picture that might look mundane or routine as a stand alone may be exactly what the client needs to communicate their message. The total (package) is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Such is life. Still, a cool picture is in most cases still a cool picture.

Luckily there were a lot of weddings, too. Unfortunately there were a lot of weddings, too! Those took some time last month to not only shoot, but to process. Most are out now so the results will soon be on the blog. Backwards for sure, but I felt I needed to get the pictures to the couples first since I was running so far behind. Only seemed fair.

So here are a couple of images I did while I was "away." Hope you enjoy this tiny peak. Much more to come. Thanks.

A college up north

A college out east

A school right here

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An open letter to my colleagues - i.e. newbie and part time photographers

This year I've heard from many established photographers about the increasing number of rules imposed by on them by various churches and places of worship when trying to photograph weddings. I too have had to sign more photographer agreements this year than anytime in the past. What's it all mean? It means this "profession" is being infested by a bunch of stink bugs - photographers who may talk professional, but act like boorish amateurs. People who jumped into the field with little or no training and even less experience of working along side an established professional. It also means that common sense is not very common.

Instant career, just add digital. Across the country legions of soccer moms, unemployed folks and people who 'just love taking pictures' are buying the latest Canon or Nikon DSLR and instantly proclaiming themselves "professional photographers" because their pictures are "real good." They know this because so many of their friends and relatives have told them so. Or they took a (single) photography course in high school, college, the community college and receive a positive grade (and excellent feedback from a teacher) therefore they know what they're doing.

Book knowledge does not equal practical experience. Gone it seems are the days of the apprenticeship in photography. I was lucky. When I knew this was what I wanted to do for my life, at 15 years old, I found a photographer who would take me under his wing and allow me to learn. I didn't ask for money, I was seeking something way more valuable than a paycheck, I was seeking knowledge and experience. I know today is different than yesterday, people today have bills to pay and must eat. I guess that means "back then" we didn't have bills, everyone just traded rocks, and we all foraged for our dinner. Come on! What is the #1 difference between now and then? Attitude. I lived at home, did just enough other things to get gas money and ate as cheaply as humanly possible to exist. I came to my work every day with two important items - an open mind and a closed mouth. I saw, I learned and I didn't expound my opinion.

So what's any of this mean to the church rules? Just this, without proper mentoring, practical experience, common sense (which is anything but common) and a humble attitude people are going to do very stupid things. I make it a point to talk to the officiant, often times at the rehearsal, always in the morning of the wedding. I usually ask what the most egregious thing he's ever seen a photographer do at a wedding. When I first started I was usually shocked, now I'm just angry at the insensitivity, unprofessionalism and arrogance some people with cameras possess. These are the Poser Professionals. They talk the talk but don't have a clue how to walk the walk. Or worse, don't care to learn.

So, in an attempt to impart just a sliver of knowledge, although I know you cannot teach common sense, I've developed my own set of rules for photographer conduct. It's not complete, but it will at least get you through a wedding without causing any additional damage to the profession.

So here goes, in no particular order of importance:

1). Dress so you don't embarrass the couple who hired you. I'm not suggesting a suit, but please, cut off shorts with ragged edges, t-shirts (plain, pocket or graphic), sandals and jeans of any kind (yeah, even designer) is NOT appropriate dress to photograph a wedding.

2). It's not NASCAR, turn off the 8 frame per second motor drive during the service. The only time I might shoot a burst is during the first kiss if something unusual happens, otherwise, single frame, please.

3). During the service if you need to move to the other side, go all the way around from the back of the church, don't take a short cut by crossing in front of the alter.

4). If you think you need a higher angle, go to the choir loft or lift the camera over your head, do NOT stand on the pews. Come on, a little common sense here - one, you could fall; two, you could knock the pews over (yeah, they're not always bolted down); three, it's just inappropriate!!!

5). If you think you need a lower angle, set the camera on the floor, don't lay down in the middle of the aisle. Come on! It's a digital camera. Shoot a few frames and chimp to see if you framed the shot correctly. If not, shoot a few more frames after making corrections. Laying down on the floor of the church, in the middle of the aisle is, again, inappropriate.

6). When the officiant says "Let us pray" that does not mean it's time for a six-frame-machine-gun-like burst from you, or even a single click. Respect the reverence of the moment and keep your camera at bay. Regardless of your personal faith, it would hurt you to say a little prayer for your couple either.

7). In case you didn't know, the alter is a Sacred place, don't climb up there for a different angle or to shoot over the shoulder of the officiant. Respect. Common sense. And yes, time and time again this is one of the most egregious actions officiants recount.

8). When you are told you have 30 minutes for pictures, check your watch and wrap it up in no more than 30 minutes. The reason most churches have a time limit is because there's another event happening right away, either another wedding or a worship service. Be respectful of what is coming next and the people who must prep the church.

9). Remember you are working FOR your couple and their family, not for yourself. The wants and needs of the customer comes first, what you want comes second. The service is important to your couple and their family, respect their faith and respect the Church. You may not be back their again, but they will. And you never know, if you act with respect you just might get invited back, too.

These opinions are based on my personal beliefs, common sense and several decades of experience. If you are newer to this profession I hope you will consider them as your actions have consequences greater than yourself.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kudos | Pittsburgh Wedding Photography

It's so gratifying and humbling when someone publicly acknowledges our work. This afternoon I received the testimonial below from a recent bride. Her comments are published on our Pictage site.

Thank you Laura, it was a pleasure and an honor to photograph your day. Can't wait to show you the album I designed! See you soon!!

"Terry was absolutely FUN to have photograph our wedding! He didn't feel instrusive at all, it felt like he was actually just part of the crowd, which was great and didn't make us feel awkward. His ideas for poses and what to shoot will always be one of my most favorite moments of the wedding. Terry's also an insanely nice man, very considerate to what we wanted. I highly, HIGHLY recommend Terry for anyone who wants beautiful pictures! "

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kristen and Ed's engagement session | Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer

After watching thick clouds all day, it was incredible that everything broke just at the right moment to provide us with a glorious sunset Friday evening for Kristen and Ed's engagement session. With their wedding just two weeks away we were really pushing to get this done. But everything worked, we all had fun and the pictures were wonderful thanks to Kristen and Ed and a little help from the sun. See you guys in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Hayloft | Seven Springs Wedding Photography | Gretchen and Kevin Wedding

Saturday, the 4th of September, I had the pleasure of helping out my good buddy Ed Macko on Gretchen and Kevin's awesome wedding at The Hayloft near Seven Springs. I very much enjoy the opportunity to second shoot, especially with Ed, because I can let loose and find those special, interesting off moments.

The wedding itself was amazing. Gretchen and Kevin are both in the restaurant business in New York City so they have an uncanny sense of style and attention to detail. Oh, and the food was out of this world, too! Thanks Ed for allowing me to come along and thank you to Gretchen and Kevin for a most memorable day!

A moment before the guys took the long walk up the aisle.

Seeing Gretchen as she approached Kevin almost went down

A very emotional groom

Both bride and groom were dancers so the first dane was amazing!

The party never stopped

A grand fireworks display rivaling anything Pittsburgh has ever done capped the nights festivities.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Neo-Victorian Steam Punk Wedding | Latrobe Wedding Photography | Laura & Mike's Wedding

On August 14th I had the pleasure of photographing the most unique wedding I've ever experienced -- Laura and Mike's Neo-Victorian Steampunk themed wedding. This is what happens when two self-professed geeks marry.

It was a great wedding and reception at the uber cool DiSalvo's Station in downtown Latrobe, PA. Located UNDER the railroad tracks you could hear the trains roll above all night long. It was absolutely perfect!

So what is Steam Punk? As I was told, think Jules Verne, or better still, the movie The Wild, Wild West. Gears, clocks, wheels and of course, Victorian dress (bowlers for the men. And facial hair.). Naturally the full explanation is more involved, but you get the idea.

Laura and Mike, thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your day. I hope you enjoy this sneak peak, there are a lot more to come!

Hand made jewelry for Laura

Ahhh, sibling love

Laura and Mike's dads dressed for the occasion, complete with bushy mustaches!

A piece of steam punk art

Grandmother was dressed for the day

complete with vintage pocket watch

The seating assignments were train tickets

Tears came from both bride and groom

What an awesome cake! And the custom gear stand was way cool!!

A conductor took care of the kiss requests by punching the seating ticket

A stroll down the tracks

Father - daughter dance

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Omni William Penn | St. Louise de Marillac | Julie and Justin's Wedding

What a awesome wedding yesterday with Julie and Justin! St. Louise deMarillac is one of the most beautiful modern Catholic Churches I've ever worked in. After the service we made a few quick photos on Mt. Washington then off to Omni William Penn for the reception in the Grand Ballroom. Wow, this was a party! The dance floor was full all night thanks to DJ Doug Ries. Julie and Justin, thank you again and I look forward to seeing you after your honeymoon!

Two very proud dads

Final words of advice before walking down the aisle

Panoramic view of the ceremony

A quiet moment before the reception begins

First dance

Maid of honor speech was a little tearful at times

Holding in the emotion

The "dance off" got the party rolling

The guys working on their moves

Julie and the girls countered with their own

No Western PA reception would be complete without at least one Polka. This couple zoomed around the room like pros!

Great catch of the bouquet!