Here’s a few snaps from the Chicago Auto Show this week. If you ever get the chance to go I’d highly recommend it!
Had a very enjoyable project photographing some of the best restaurants in town for the Food Fight Restaurant Group over the past year. It was an ambitious assignment documenting their 20 restaurants in Madison and surrounding communities. Here are a few of my favorite shots!
Last weekend I took a road trip to my friend Jimmy’s studio for a fashion & beauty photoshoot. Wabee Sabee Studio is in an old industrial building in the heart of Chicago and I wanted to use a variety of edgy locations and lighting styles in the warehouse. Model: Ashley Brehmer, Hair/makeup: Angelica Grace.
In case you missed their marking buzz, masterclass.com has recently offered an online enrichment class with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. I saw the course ads in my newsfeed on facebook and caved in after a few days of thinking about it.
The course offers 14 mini lessons with a 41 page .pdf workbook that accompanies the online pro-shot video content. Each lesson has a different topic and the video runtime is 2 hours, 54 minutes of Annie speaking about her work, talking shop, or having discussions with her real-life class at the San Francisco Art Institute.
I’ve been a fan of Annie’s photowork for many years and have seen the movie Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens a few times over the years. This one seems like a very natural progression from that documentary. I didn’t sign up for this class expecting to learn the advanced settings of PocketWizard MultiMAX’s or how to rig a C-Stand grip arm outdoors on a windy day. Instead, it was a leisurely journey listening to one professional artist’s concepts, vision, and hearing a little bit about some of her professional influences. I would have loved to have seen more of her studio/office, but that’s about the only thing that I felt was missing from the lessons-and that’s mostly just my curiosity.
There are some suggested assignments, but they weren’t really my thing. There is a web forum for class discussion, but as you can imagine it ends up mostly being linkfarm for photographers trying to get their work out there… and I can’t really blame them. There is also a Q&A scheduled with Annie in a week or so but I can’t think of anything worthy to ask her about her work.
Edited to add: they recently added another lesson to the course which brings the total to 15 videos. The newest addition is a behind the scenes look at a rather elaborate shoot she did with a large crew for Vogue. I think this new episode may be the strongest video in the series. You really get a sense of how her shoots flow and I’d just add that she is very assertive with instructions on the set.
A few weeks ago the amp blew in my six-year-old M-Audio AV40 powered speakers. More specifically, a single EEU-HD1V472 capacitor burst and had to be replaced because it made a very unpleasant nonstop audible hum. A quick google search revealed this was a known problem with the AV40 due to M-Audio using cheap electronics or a poor industrial design (or both). I found a DIY blog post on repairing the speakers by replacing the bad capacitor/s but my repair didn’t take. After five minutes I could hear the short circuit and smell melting circuits, so in the garbage they went.
So I started the search to replace the broken M-Audio speakers. I looked at JBL LSR308 (too big for my space) as well as JBL LSR305 speakers. I didn’t want to use two power outlets for the pair of speakers and the XLR or 1/4″ inputs weren’t really what I needed. I also didn’t like the fact the speakers don’t have grilles and were fully unprotected from the surroundings. I also took a close look at the JBL C2PS powered monitors. One reviewer noted that the speakers made a “pop” sound when they were turned on and I really didn’t like the sound of that after my experience with the AV40 amp.
After cruising amazon for a few days I found the Logitech Z623 had some pretty good specs and a lot of good reviews. I’ve been reading and watching youtube reviews on the Z623 2.1 speaker system and let me tell you, most people have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. It’s been a hilarious task reading the 10 million opinions which are truly all over the board. I got the speakers on Christmas eve. because I found them a the local box box store for a hundred bucks and I was dying to get my primary home speakers going again.
What they actually are is as follows. They are literally two 2.5″ 10W, magnetically-shielded, 8 ohm full-range drivers that have ABS plastic enclosures, one 7″ woofer in the ported sub box and an inexpensive, 3-channel class D power amp that powers the system. A proprietary [VGA-looking] cable goes from the sub box to the right satellite which is the control speaker, featuring the 1/8″ mini plug headphone jack, an 1/8″ mini plug aux input, a volume knob, a power switch and a bass levels knob. The system is THX certified which is a novelty for me, but I’ll just take it as they are laboratory-tested to some unknown specs to a standard which videogame hardware company Razer Inc. (the current owners of THX Ltd.) has set for multimedia speakers. Needless to say the certification costs a good amount of money since few speakers carry the THX mark.
Now how do they sound? Well, pretty damn good for my uses. I live in a small space and can’t turn them up because they neighbors would freak. Logitech obviously spent a good amount of resources designing a low-cost system to be very loud when turned up (albeit heavy on the bass) with pretty decent stereo separation and clarity. The amp doesn’t pop when I power them on (I leave mine on 24/7 regardless). There is no noise from the speakers when there is no signal going to the speakers even at full-volume. I’m currently listening to Even Deeper (Glitch remix by Telefon Tel Aviv) by Nine Inch Nails on the system and it sounds amazing. I’ve got the satellites placed 5′ apart and the subwoofer tucked nicely under my computer desk. I keep the bass level at about 11:00 position on the dial because the default setting of 12:00 seems bass-heavy to me. In my opinion the system is probably about equal to a decent car audio system sans the rear speakers.
As I mentioned, it’s simply two 2.5″s and a single 7″, nothing more, nothing less. I’ve had many audio systems (car and home) with far larger and more expensive speakers but I’m just not able to listen to music very loud in my apartment so this system is adequate for my needs. They did a nice job sourcing full-range speakers that can reproduce mid-range as well as treble and building an efficient sub box that drops the boom when needed. The eq adjustments I made are -3dB at 500hz, -2dB at 8k and -6dB at 16k to cut some of the excessive treble. The satellites are quite directional so placement of the speakers is very important. I’ve got them toed in a bit towards my position and at a height of about 30″ and I sit closely to them, probably between 3-15′ away most of the time. The speaker enclosure does angle them upwards towards your ears so I took that into consideration. You also have to be careful not to push the sub box too close to the back wall or it may damage the thick VGA-looking cord that goes to the right speaker. I also take care not to damage that same cord on the back of the right satellite.
I’m excited to have worked on the book Sewing Machine Magic with author Steffani Lincecum! This will be the third book I’ve shot over the years and this one looks fantastic. We photographed the illustrations over five days and the process was a lot of fun and hard work. Slated to be released on December 7 by Creative Publishing International, the book walks you through ten sewing projects. There are hundreds of lovely color photos if I may say so myself!