Los Angeles Meetup: Philly West, 11/17/07. November 21, 2007 3:33 AM   Subscribe

Photos of last weekend's Los Angeles meetup.

In attendance were: DaShiv, Derek, epimorph, holyrood, katillathehun, klangklangston, mandymanwasregistered, and Space Kitty.

Just a few photos that I've tossed together quickly -- sorry, but I've been too busy lately to process more. Thanks to everyone for a great time. And a happy Turducken Day to all my fellow Americans!
posted by DaShiv to MetaFilter Gatherings at 3:33 AM (21 comments total)

Sweet pictures! DaShiv has done it again. In an earlier thread you said that you have to do a lot of processing to get your results. Whenever you have time, could you briefly describe your processing workflow? (balancing, color correction, ??) Or perhaps post a few links to tutorials that explain some of those concepts/methods pertaining to the way you use them?
posted by chillmost at 4:59 AM on November 21, 2007

I forgot to say "please".

posted by chillmost at 5:08 AM on November 21, 2007

chillmost, Here's an older description. Not sure if it's the one still in use, but very helpful nonetheless.
posted by purephase at 5:11 AM on November 21, 2007

Okay, that's it. I don't wanna attend any meetup that DaShiv is not documenting. That talented so-and-so makes everybody look like a frikkin movie star!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:16 AM on November 21, 2007

So, wait. How could this happen? Does DaShiv have an apprentice?

Or a time delay switch thing. An apprentice would be more romantic.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:46 AM on November 21, 2007

It's actually a homunculus that he carries around in his camera bag and mounts to a tripod for self-portraits.
posted by Skorgu at 7:44 AM on November 21, 2007

I had a lot of fun, so thanks to mandyman for bustin' us to show up. I'm hopin' that there are more photos, and that DaShiv's just behind in his (real, paying) work, so he'll post the rest later.

My photos look like unmitigated ass, so I think I'll probably dick around with them for a little bit in photoshop, polish the turds as it were, and then knock 'em up onto flickr.
posted by klangklangston at 9:50 AM on November 21, 2007

wow, you can't even tell that the Philly West is a dank, dark hole. nice pics, DaShiv!
posted by holyrood at 9:53 AM on November 21, 2007

Ugly bastards. Terrible pictures.
Oh, all right, that won't fly. Sign me up for the chorus of wah! instead.
posted by Abiezer at 11:37 AM on November 21, 2007

Thanks for the pics, dashiv!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:05 PM on November 21, 2007

So, wait. How could this happen? Does DaShiv have an apprentice?

Ah, that's just more of DaShiv's magic. He has this extra robotic arm (kind of like Dr. Octopus) that he uses to move his flashes around and even take pictures, when women are involved.

Actually, I took that picture (hence the crappy framing of the shot). I wish I were his apprentice...
posted by epimorph at 2:16 PM on November 21, 2007

Awesome. Can't wait to join y'all for the next round. (You know, when I'm actually living there.)
posted by mykescipark at 3:30 PM on November 21, 2007

Bah :( I'll make the _next_ L.A. meetup, swear to god.
posted by blenderfish at 8:36 PM on November 21, 2007

Thanks, DaShiv!
posted by Space Kitty at 9:05 PM on November 21, 2007

Whoa, good job, DaShiv!
posted by katillathehun at 11:29 PM on November 21, 2007

Can't believe the meetup actually materialized. Damn, I missed it. I just figured you guys would never decide where to hold this shindig.
posted by HotPatatta at 11:44 PM on November 21, 2007

Okay, this is an ultimatum. DaShiv comes to Greece to photograph me before I get any older, or I kill this puppy.

The puppy is the runt of a litter from a Katrina rescue dog; he has eyes as big as saucers and a fluffy, fluffy coat with a rainbow aura. He was as tiny as a thimble, and a hairsbreadth from death, but then the Dalai Lama stayed up every night for three weeks in a row feeding him from an eyedropper to save his widdle life. Afterwards he was tragically separated from the DL by the California fires and wandered on his own, somehow ending up on a steam tramper headed for Greece. He nearly died from sea sickness, until a small orphan who had never known life on dry land stayed up for an entire month balancing the puppy in the air so that the motion of the ocean wouldn't cause him to die horribly of dehydration from constant puking. Once here, he was gently cared for by the monks of Mount Athos, who nursed him back to full health, until he finally grew as big as a teacup. When they started fighting about who's monkish cell little Theodoros (so they named, him: "Gift of God") would sleep in each night, they realized they would have to give him up. Much drama ensued, and, to make a long story shorter - well, I eventually saved him from the Russian Mafia, and little Theo is now sitting in my lap, as big as a Starbucks Travel Mug, and squeeking out "I ROVE ROU!!!" in his adorable little puppy voice.

And if DaShiv doesn't get here soon, I strangle the puppy. That's all.
posted by taz at 3:40 AM on November 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

"whose" monkish cell, goddammit. Now I'm really angry.

*glowers at cute puppy on lap; sees red haze*

posted by taz at 3:56 AM on November 22, 2007

DaShiv -- like that polite chillmost, I'm interested in what processing you do to make those pictures look so dang good. Would you mind putting a "before" up, as well? Those are awful lighting situations, but you make everyone look so glowy and fresh-faced.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:49 AM on November 22, 2007

Hi folks, thanks for the kind words. Of course I saw this set as "first photo drab background, second photo horribly blown flash, third photo bad hat shadow..." and so on, but I don't really have the time this time around to play with them much in Photoshop. So thanks for the encouragement.

As far as post-processing goes: first and foremost, get it right in-camera. I really can't overemphasize this. For instance, in a previous meetup thread I posted a straight-from-camera jpeg that was pretty close to the final result. You absolutely have to know your equipment. Again, the best post-processing tip I can offer is: avoid post-processing.

Since that comment, I finally got a computer upgrade and I've been working back in raw again. There are only two really important steps with raw conversion for me (three if you count cropping). The first is white balance: there's no such thing as a correct white balance in mixed lighting. In fact, those who calibrate white balance using gray cards can attest that mathematically "perfect" white balance isn't very flattering on skin tones. Most cameras will balace indoor incandescent somewhat-to-very warm on the K scale, so I always set white balance manually by eye, setting temperature somewhere between as-shot and strictly-neutral (ending up with slightly warm) and tint slightly away from magenta. I wish there were a way to automate this consistently, but despite all the other methods I've tried, my best, most pleasing results under mixed and inconsistent lighting still come from manually setting white balance by eye. Time-consuming pain in the ass.

The second factor is exposure and that's much more mechanical. I watch the white-balanced RGB values while I increase/decrease exposure until most skin tones on the face are about 180-200 R. Then I adjust the tone curve to avoid blowing too much highlights/shadows and dial down the harshness of the flash (if relevant), or to increase contract on a flat image, etc. This is pretty much just paint-by-numbers for me.

Once in Photoshop I mostly just throw a few curves at the image and then resize/sharpen/save. I prefer to do this in Photoshop so that I can tweak opacities and mask if necessary (different curves on different part of the image, somewhat akin to darkroom dodging/burning in the film days). In particular, I pay very close attention to facial contrast and always have a curve for it. Usually I do this by mousing over the face in the Curves dialog box to see what values the face already has (it should be in the second-highest quadrant if I set exposure correctly), either increasing/decreasing contrast in the tones there depending on the lighting (exaggeratedly so to help me visualize the effects), do some masking if that curve screws with the rest of the image too much, then lower the opacity at the end. Human beings are are damn good when it comes to visual cognition of faces and that's the one part of the photo that has to be done right. Everything else is gravy.

Right now I'm ass-deep in wedding photos, which always makes me wish I did what many other wedding and event photographers do: mount a flash or three on a big bracket, stop the lens down to f/5.6 or f/8 and set the shutter somewhere between 1/100s and the camera's sync speed, then blast everything with a predictable direct light (especially for white balance and exposure) that can just be batch-processed, if processed at all. Just fire the shutter and collect the check. However, this produces a very sterile "standard wedding/event look" that I don't like at all, so instead I shoot weddings (and meetups) using unpredictable available light and fickle bounce flash that result in days and days of post-processing for me. Maybe my workload is making me bitchy about my aesthetic choices right now, but let me just say again: avoid post-processing when possible. A photographic PSA.

If you really want, you can even play with a couple of my raw files. You can see what my shooting parameters were, and I'll give you the raw conversion settings I used in CS3 (may not work in other converters):

Pentax K10D. 4650K, -25 tint. 0 EC, tone curve: -10 -5 0 +5.
Canon 5D. 3050K, -17 tint. +0.75 EC, tone curve: 0 5 -5 0.

With a good curve or two you should be able to get results pretty close to mine, or probably even better. Have fun! Now I'm going back to work.
posted by DaShiv at 12:05 PM on November 22, 2007 [5 favorites]

Ooo... this is sounding like a PP challenge. This will be fun to see if I can tweak something from the raw to look a 1/10 as good as DaShiv's output.
posted by junesix at 12:16 AM on November 24, 2007

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