I met Twinka Thiebaud during the Photo Lucida show at the Portland Art Museum back in July and a few weeks later connected one-on-one over her table for tea. There was an instant ease and connection with Twinka as we shared aspirations and stories. I was tickled learning about her tribe of creatives that surround her now and the ones she's travelled with in the past, including her years with Henry Miller (you can find her book here), the many photographers and artists who have documented her over the years including Judy Dater (check out her infamous portrait of Imogen Cunningham and Twinka here), fellow Portlander Susan Seubert (with a current fine art portrait of Twinka), to name a few. I invited her to come into the studio and participate as a model in my most current work entitled 'DEEP in Between', which she'd seen at the Photo Lucida show. She was on board and we set a time to get together to play in the 'sandbox'. Thoughts about end of life, tranquility, energy, play and power were some of the themes we explored. I am always inspired and excited to collaborate with new people and the enigmatic Twinka was no exception.
On a recent trip to Texas I met Val Marler with the National Bobcat Rescue & Research at the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch. New experiences like climbing in a bobcat shelter are what really thrill me about traveling. While touring the property I was able to see racoons, skunks, foxes, bobcats, a porcupine, horses and more. If an animal needs some TLC Val is there to provide.
Interestingly, she's mapped out 8 distinct personalities for bobcats. If you scroll through the photos I think you'll see who is the 'playboy' bobcat. Really insightful stuff. If cats are your calling help support Val through her website as she continues to provide care and shelter to these majestic cats.
Gearing up for PDX Squared on May 17th I joined a group of photographers preparing for the event by trying out some new gear. I borrowed a LENSBABY Sweet 35 and Macro adaptors for my Canon 5D Mark III. Since the folks at LENSBABY really wanted to make sure we put these lens through their paces they conjured up a scavenger hunt and dangled a Lens Baby Composer Pro with Double Glass lens for the winner. I love free stuff as much as the next gal so I took on that challenge. Here are some of the shots I took this past week.
I posted my scavenger hunt pictures at the beginning of the gallery below. Just got notice today that I WON!!! Woot! Woot!
There was a lot of discussion around the studio about whether what LENSBABY lens do could be reproduced post production. Probably the soft focus and even the radial blur could be achieved but there is something special about the way the light is manipulated. I always prefer to compose in camera and it's interesting to shoot in away that forces me to be creative with my focus by finding that 'sweet spot' when I take the picture thinking about how the f-stop on this lens will effect the bent/blurred edges.
The wider the depth of field (f2.8) the smaller the sharp sweet spot will be in proportion to the overall image. I really tried to push it to shoot at f11 or f16 to see the most minimal amount of blur I could achieve too. This became difficult as the optics become darker and darker - through the viewfinder - as the f-stop became narrower so it becomes increasingly hard to focus. LENSBABY would probably argue you that's not the point of this lens and I would agree although I seem to prefer a wider plane of focus in my images for a lot of my work.
LENSBABY tips. Make sure the diopter (the little wheel next to your viewfinder) in your camera is focused to your eye. I'm a little nearsighted so this is essential to me - if you've been relying on auto focus lens you may never have noticed that you could make your viewfinder adapt to your eyesight. Because you are going to be focusing manually it's imperative you are able to visually see when things are really in focus. The second thing you need to practice is to identify where the sharp focus 'sweet spot' is. The easiest way to find it is to make sure your lens is pointing straight ahead and not pivoted on the ball/socket mechanism either to the left-right or top-bottom. Get it straight on. Focus manually then start moving the lens (without moving your camera) and you can see with your eyes where that 'sweet spot' is moving in the frame. You'll find the more photos you take you'll start feeling creative and want to move the 'sweet spot' out of the middle in the interest of your composition. If you lose the 'sweet spot' as I did over and over I'd simply physically reset the lens by getting it to point straight forward once again. The 'sweet spot' probably got pushed all the way out of the frame. Put it back to your eye and VOILA - ready to go again.
Overall, I was very pleased with the results of the LENSBABY Sweet 35. Now, I'm tickled to add one of these lens to my photo kit.
Literally fueled by a box of peppermint patties I got nine children through a topsy turvy few weeks of photo shoots. Some longer than others as I worked out the story I wanted to tell. This is what creativity looks like after about 15 minutes. I didn't mind living amongst this chaos until it was time to clean up the photo studio for actual clients.
This series is a culmination of a lot of head scratching, thinking, experimenting and playing. I wanted to address some socially relevant themes including children and danger, exploration of fantasy and the role of games (including video) in our children's upbringing and more. My resident technocrat Tamaio was a protagonist of imaginative proportions with truly fantastical attributes. The cast of characters who step into this weird and wonderful world made such a huge difference for telling this tale. Special thanks to Finn, Ellora, Wiley, Olivia, Lucca, Callum, Henry and Charlie. And a shout out to our studio kitty 'Hazel' for getting in the way just enough to worm her way into the finished series.
In honor of the meaningful and wonder-filled Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead. I've always been enchanted by the intricate sugar skull decorations and couldn't wait for an opportunity to present it self that required getting made up like one. This self portrait series is dedicated to my mother Nancy who I lost 15 years ago. She was a creative spirit with a zest for life.
I've encountered this lovely girl many times and have always been taken by her sweet and thoughtful nature, as well as her stunning ginger look. When I approached her about being a model for me she shyly agreed. With her long red hair and freckles she is a stunning little muse. Her willingness to collaborate and be creative is what makes these images so special. The one image she wanted to do more than any other was in her ballet togs laying on top of sheet music - her two passions linked together...divine.
So before my dear child cut his hair I convinced him to do one quick shoot for me. I'd been thinking of this image for a couple years now...a rusty bird cage with a person inside and the animal on the outside. I'd originally envisioned a bird on top but in a pinch a rat will do and might possibly look even more bizarre - a hallmark of my photos. Good thing we have a pair of rats on hand...the 2 year old white rat named Spirit really stepped up to her moment in the spotlight.
Wondering about his modeling fee? I had to clean out his rats cage after we were done. Though now that I'm about to post this on Facebook he said I'd need to clean out his cage for one more week. ;-) Deal!
Moustaches are all the rage in Portland and clearly they've trickled down to the younger set. When Harry and Fergus spied my pack of stick on moustaches they quickly each had a favorite to slap on.
This terrific twosome came with lots of fabulous props and costumery. Having scientists for parents meant there was plenty of cool bones, taxidermy and tools to choose from. Fergus and I crafted these curious epaulets with two crocodile heads.
This is the first set of brothers I've done in my El Corazón photography line and it was a TREAT. Curious about seeing more photos from their studio session visit my blog on campbellsalgado.com and catch a glimpse at the gorgeous plate of vanilla cupcakes with cherries on top that mom baked just for this photo shoot.