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I like slices of life.

January 23rd, 2011 by kdifate

I like slices of life. I like slivers of reality. I like little golden nuggets of information that lead down a rabbit hole, through a tunnel and open into sun-filled fields of greater understanding.

I like character profiles:

For me, the character, the story and the narrative overshadow low production quality. I love the unexpected twist from crazy old coot screaming on the corner to upstanding citizen out to protect distracted students. I like stories that unexpectedly make me chuckle.

I also like obsessive details:

Cappuccino, Intelligentsia from The D4D on Vimeo.

When I disregard the overused selective colorization nonsense, I love the idea of capturing the ritual of a perfect cappuccino. Coffee culture is dense with minute details and precision, and I absolutely fell for the details and framing in this piece by Intelligentsia. I love the subtle aesthetic of “moving pictures” or images that happen to move. I can never seem to execute them well enough myself.

Perhaps that should be my mission this semester.

Meet Mister Claus

December 10th, 2010 by kdifate

Penny de los Santos once told me to search for rare moments and intimacy. A wise Missourian photo editor later echoed the sentiment. While I spent most of the night reverting to my old, flash-tarded self, when I stepped back to look at my take, I saw a sea of moments and felt accomplished. Finally.

One of those rare, intimate moments was proud father and Missourian Director of Photography, Brian Kratzer, photographing his two girls on Santa’s lap. I couldn’t resist.

And finally, our team coverage:

Secret Santa from Kristen DiFate on Vimeo.

Drool-inducing multimedia to recharge your desire to improve.

November 18th, 2010 by kdifate

After meeting and speaking with Liz Baylen last week at CPOY, I started poking around the internet for the multimedia pieces she told me about. I love her ideas about interaction and her vision for the future. I also love that she’s constantly improving her craft and working with new technologies. More than anything, I love the simplicity of some of her pieces. Waiting for Death is, at this point, the only Soundslides pieces I’ve ever truly loved. It’s exactly what it should be, a simple combination of sound and images. There’s not much ambient noise aside from breathing and slight movement, but it works so perfectly with the piece.

His Body a Prison is also pretty spectacular. I’m not a huge fan of the title slides (if you know me well enough, you know I’m largely anti text), but this one has phenomenal ambient sound and the audio interviews are beautiful. Admittedly, I have a soft spot in my heart for stories like this.

Introducing Ratko, the floating head.

November 15th, 2010 by kdifate

Take note: When chromakey-ing (is that a verb?) someone who’s wearing black without the aid of a hair light, know that they will become a floating head. Not to worry, the black and white picture fixed that. Wait — no. It totally didn’t. None the less, the interviewing-green-screening experience was a trip, cameo appearance by Jarrad and all. Be sure to watch the entire video to witness all of our shenanigan’s. Thanks, Ratko, for being such a sport!

Ratko. from Kristen DiFate on Vimeo.

Flash photography from inside a giant softbox.

November 11th, 2010 by kdifate

If there were a time I felt the need to beg for mercy and ask for a second try, this would be it. Madeline and I tried, on three separate occasions, to complete this assignment, but struggled to bring it together. When we finally did, I positioned Madeline across the room and tried for some cross lighting. In retrospect, I’m not even sure what we were doing would have made any dramatic impact. Direction is a nebulous term when you’re inside a gigantic softbox and we were in a long white room, with mirrors.

Jeanne Quinn practices a jazz routine with Dance Arts of Columbia classmates Kendyl Boone and Tricia Hill while Sarah Kinney and Caitlin Price watch. “When dancing, you want to enjoy doing it, not having done it,” encouraged dance instructor Marie Robertson.

I <3 painting with light.

November 3rd, 2010 by kdifate

Ted Kaczynski also known as the UNA Bomber/University and Airline Bomber terrorised the country for nearly two decades. He sent mailbombs and angry letters to people from the airline industry and people working in the university world. From his little cabin in the woods in Montana, he killed three people and wounded 22.  In the end, his brother recognized one of his letters and turned him in to the authorities.

Fill and balance not very filled or balanced

October 27th, 2010 by kdifate

To begin this entry, know that the situations I put myself in—specifically the pumpkin patch—weren’t completely conducive to the assignment. Shame on me. I did, however, manage to get one or two decently balanced, almost interesting frames.

Take one: Essentially, I walked around Eckert’s Millstadt Farm facing the sun, looking for interesting compositions riddled with shadows screaming for fill flash illumination. I stumbled across a pile of pumpkins in a kid friendly zone huddled around a clearly anti-fun sign. So, I sat, composed my frame and waited.

Take two: Wandering around downtown Columbia, I encountered a mannequin, dressed in a grass skirt and Hawaiian flowers, exiled to an alleyway behind Maude Vintage clothing. No, there’s no sense of interaction, honest emotion or immediacy there, but there’s something humorous about how she stood guard. To boot, her body was cut in half by deep, dark shadows, which made her perfect for practicing fill.

The challenge here was filling the mannequin, but not blowing out the door. Tricky, tricky. A dozen or so frames later, I seem to have captured what I wanted.

And, no, the mannequin does not have a name.

Onward and upward.

October 21st, 2010 by kdifate

Red and Moe cook Seth Kulik carefully cuts vegetables destined to top the homemade pizzas served at Red and Moe. The “adult pizzas” come covered with sophisticated ingredients like pear, pumpkin, squash and greyer cheese. Red & Moe, located at 21 N. Ninth Street, is opened Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30–8:30.

New criteria for a good day in Photog Land: Defeating the urge to toss my flash in a lake. Mission (eventually) accomplished.

It turns out I screwed the pooch on the entire first half of the assignment. The gel was poorly selected, the flash poorly wielded, and my settings poorly calculated.  While shooting, I knew I was doing something wrong, but couldn’t figure out what. I knew that using my current settings, would, for the most part, overpower the existing light and therefore render “matching color” obsolete, defeating the purpose of the assignment.

In talking with Rita after Tuesday’s class, I realized everything I did wrong. During Clay’s lab tutorial, I intellectually understood what we needed to do — balance and supplement the existing light. That makes sense. However, I missed the part about metering for ambient light as if making a flash-less frame and reducing the shutter speed if need be in order to add the flash as supplemental light. That would be the key, would it not?

One more try:

Better luck next time, I hope. Onward and upward to fill and balance!

Overcoming flashtarded-ness

October 14th, 2010 by kdifate

Direct flash:

No, this is not a particularly “journalistic” image. While photographing one of my subjects at a restaurant, I ordered fruit. It looked beautiful. I wanted to take a picture. It reminded me of the martini photo Rita showed in class and I remembered the comment she made about using our studio work out in the field. So, I tried a little metal and glass.

There’s nothing particularly fancy here. I placed my flash behind the glass on TTL, started shooting and employed the same tactics we use in the studio. At first, I got a nice silhouette. Great, but where’s the fruit? I wanted it to glow, so I increased power to the flash. Light spilled out on one side, so I added a makeshift gobo (my weekly planner). It spilled out on the other, so I added another gobo (a notebook). Tweak. Shoot. Tweak. Shoot. I love the outcome. Sure, ideally I’d have a tiny bit more light in the front illuminating the fruit in the glass, but for a single, direct flash image in a low lit Denny’s in Warrenton, Mo., I think it looks pretty good.

Bounce flash: This came from take one, which was—to be kind—a terrible, terrible shoot. Here’s the image and lighting diagram. Let’s leave it at that and say it took this flashtard a while to get the hang of her equipment.

Alternate direct flash:

On the day of our lab, Clay suggested shooting close up and powering down the flash, so I did this with Angela, a terribly good sport. Holding the flash one-foot from her face meant an aperture of f95, 4 stops over the capabilities of my 7D. So I powered down to ¼ and fired away. I’d like to try this technique again under different circumstances, but I’ll need to find a victim willing to stand still and repeatedly get flashed in the face — a difficult task with strangers.

Alternate bounce flash:

I believe this to be a more successful frame than my selected bounce flash, but there’s no interaction here. Hence, alternate image.


October 6th, 2010 by kdifate

Cycle Chic is the place where biking meets beauty. It’s a movement dedicated to improving the aesthetics of the urban landscape through a focus on style over speed. The movement was born of a focus on the stylish women cycling the streets of Copenhagen.

The challenge: Meld objects, placement and light to visually represent the movement in a single frame.

Jonathan and I took two approaches with two different lighting setups, both seem to have worked fairly successfully. First, the tent, which pretty much worked, from the start, without hassle:

Second, bouncing two lights off a white background, which was more difficult. There was a considerable amount of light seeping into the scene from the background lights, so I used a human gobo (thank you, Jon!) to shield the subject:

Color me kinda happy with both frames. I think I probably could have pushed the idea more in the composition, but the lighting worked, so I’m stoked.