New Direction Bears Fruit

•February 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s been more than a little while since I last posted here. Much has happened… most of it good, the most salient of which, is the new direction that I find my creative gifting taking me.

Several years ago, I became very interested in the work of Fu-Tung Cheng, a San Francisco Bay Area architect & designer who wrote the book on concrete counter tops. Quite literally, I might add, as he has authored several noteworthy tomes on using concrete to enrich life. He, more than anyone, is responsible for the high-end uses we see concrete being put to today, in everything from businesses and residences to furniture. His work inspired me to start thinking along new lines.

As a result, I’ve just had my first project accepted on Kickstarter.com, a premier crowdfunding site. It is for a line of tables and desks that incorporate diamond-polished concrete tops with decorative/artistic inlay. The framework comprises exotic hardwoods, titanium and carbon-fiber, with each being lovingly hand-worked to create a piece whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

It will take several months of steady preparation, before the project is ready to go live on Kickstarter, as a video will need to be produced, along with ironing out the final design wrinkles for the tables and desks. Along the way, there will be both opportunity and need to document the journey. I hope you will come along for the ride.

Fu-Tung Cheng’s website: http://www.concreteexchange.com/

Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

•September 23, 2008 • 3 Comments

This is one of the first shoots that I did for Workbench magazine. It was on location at a tool museum in Lee’s Summit, MO. An unheated one in winter, if memory serves me well.

You’re looking at a pretty amazing assortment of plumb bobs. Most appear to have been designed in an era when craftsmanship was more highly valued than the fast dollar. A man took pride in the work of his hands and that philosophy served him well. But there again, that’s coming from someone with the same work ethic, as I’d rather do right by the subject matter, than take short cuts that compromise quality.

Can anyone guess as to the function of the plumb bob on the far right, with the spring gizmo attached?

This image also ran as a mini-feature in Photographer’s Market, a hardback book published yearly covering avenues of sales and revenue for commercial photographers.

(Note: I know this image appears skewed to the right, but that’s an optical illusion created by the arrangement of the plumb bobs. It is almost perfectly vertical. The effect was mitigated by the type placed to create the page.)

You can see a larger image here.

Image ©1986 Johnny W. Brewer

Another Note On Web Browsers

•September 22, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I shouldn’t be so shocked, but there it is. Camino, a Mac browser, just doesn’t want to play nice with this site. While it is now loading the header image as it should, it is refusing to show two of the post images on the main page. Weird.

So, if what you are seeing isn’t matching the text in a post, it might be your browser. Try another one to check it out.

Image Quality In Blogs And Websites

•September 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Being a commercial photographer carries with it a near obsessiveness regarding image quality. Or it should, if one wants to succeed in the business. It is therefore with some trepidation that photos are submitted to the general public for blog viewing, as they exit the control of the photographer. For this discussion, I’m speaking of the viewing conditions that bear on the viewer’s perception of quality.

When images are presented to clients for approval in the professional arena, they form almost the last link in a chain of controlled events and technologies that are in place to ensure their quality. In the digital age, that can be a long chain indeed, with literally several hundred factors being taken into account, tweaked and controlled before the client gets a peek. Now, most of those are behind the scenes and transparent to all but the man behind the curtain, but they are critical nonetheless. They all must be managed, if the train is to reach the station intact. In the public realm, rarely does it do so before jumping the rails. Lets look closer at what I mean.

Without going into technical jargon that would be meaningless to all but the initiated, just know that what Joe is seeing on his screen, in all likelihood, differs from what Mary is seeing on hers. And what looks good to Mary, may set Joe’s teeth on edge. That’s due to the many variables involved in presenting what’s seen and to the general public’s lack of knowledge concerning them. Such things as color calibration, environmental influence, monitor specifications, etc. all come into play when assessing image quality on a screen or for that matter, in print. An intentional chain of control must be implemented for each user, if they are to be brought into parity. Being that it costs money, time and effort to do so, Mary and Joe are likely to continue going their separate ways, if my business experience is any indicator. Hence, one source of trepidation with regard to what folks are seeing out in the wild west of the internet.

Another variable is the web browser. (Please see my post Browser Differences that discusses a particular situation.) It would seem that not all browsers are created equal. I’m speaking of the way they render images. Some are much more saturated and even have a higher contrast than others. You can test it yourself. Load up two of your favorite browsers side by side and see if you can notice a difference (please view the same page with each). Odds are, it’ll be readily apparent. And I’ll have to admit, this one has me scratching my head, as I don’t yet know of a way to independently calibrate a browser, as one can a screen. Anyone have any ideas?

(A heads up: I’ve noticed a distinct impact on image quality when sizing images for the blog here by means of the WordPress image editor. They get far more saturated when scaled down. If a larger image is desired for viewing, it’d be better to upload an additional larger one and create a link to it, rather than scaling it down for posting by means of the editor. I need to do that myself to a couple of images here on the blog.)

Now, why should any of this matter, you ask? Well, aside from the general need to look at pleasantly reproduced art, there is a specifically critical one. It is that of graphics professionals. Our reputations, i.e. ability to earn income, are directly tied to the quality of the work we produce.  And that quality is judged by perception, as much as it is quantitatively. It therefore follows, that we need to ensure as much as is possible, that what a client or a prospective client is seeing of our work, is the best we can show them.

Admittedly, in the professional arena, we tend to operate in closed systems when it comes to the production and delivery of images intended for reproduction. And within those systems, things are controlled to a gnat’s hair. Not so on the internet, and that’s the salient fact that we need to keep in mind when evaluating what we’re seeing. It could be that things are actually better than they appear. In today’s world, who couldn’t use some of that?

When Work Was Work

•September 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

After living with part of this image as the original header on this blog for a couple of days, I sensed the need to change it. I’m glad I did, as the waterfall works better. Additionally, it now allows me to share this with you without it feeling redundant.

As I’d mentioned in the Kicking It Off! blog post, this is one of a series that I was contracted to shoot for Workbench magazine. Click the above link to that post for a more in-depth description.

By itself, this image tends to have a wee bit of standing-on-your-head feel to it. When the type was placed, that went away and a beautiful page was born.

Once again, warming gels were used to create a golden warmth to the wood and brass. It’s a trick of the trade that too few shooters take the time to deal with. When done properly however, it elevates the shot into that intangible art realm, as opposed to a snapshot. Maybe someday, a calendar will be born of these images.

Image ©1987 Johnny W. Brewer

Not Your Daddy’s Stanley

•September 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

This is another image from the series that ran in Workbench magazine. In all, I think I shot some 39 different tools over the span of about two and a-half years. The Editor, Bob Hoffman, had contacts all over the country in the tool collectors realm. He would have the tools flown in for the shoots, sometimes accompanied by the owners. It was great fun for me, as I’m a tool junkie.  

This is probably one of the most, if not the most, expensive hand saws you’ve ever laid your eyes on. At the time of the shoot, it was valued in excess of $4,000.00 USD. No lie.

Only one of two known to exist at the time, it was hand made in the late 1700’s in the USA. It is a stair saw, used to cut the sides of the dado in a stair step. The waste would then be chiseled out. Note the adjustable blade for setting the dado depth, and the extraordinary detailing of the hand-grip.

As a reminder, the shots were designed with negative space for type to be placed into. They ran as full pages.

View larger image here.

Image ©1987 Johnny W. Brewer

Reedy River Falls

•September 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Falls Park on the Reedy River in downtown Greenville, SC is the centerpiece of the West End redevelopment that has been ongoing for some 10 years now. The effort has reenergized urban living and contributed significantly to Greenville’s pick as a destination for tourism.

This was shot in the autumn of 2007 on medium format Kodak print film, that was then scanned to disk. It was further processed in Photoshop to deal with an ugly overcast. Then a watercolor effect was executed.

I hope you enjoy it!

Image ©2007 Johnny W. Brewer