Blog - Unitas Photography


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Excerpts from my newsletter are posted here. Clicking on the "Read More" link will take you to my blog site.

  • 2018-08-10T02:10:49.346-04:00

    5 qualities images need for online shopping
    As online shopping grows, competition for new business gets harder. Customer loyalty is a thing of the past. People will shop for value and convenience above all else. Part of that convenience is good photography.

    One of the problems with online retail is the loss of tactile interaction with the products you're looking to purchase. There is no picking up, weighing, testing and trying on a product to get a sense of quality, of fit or just to get that emotional feedback.

    Online shoppers have to rely on the images retailers supply on their web sites to help them make their buying decisions. Frustratingly, many of these images fail to provide the needed information so customers can make an informed buying decision. The results is a loss of revenue to the seller, and what's worse is the seller may not even realize their images may be a major reason for the loss.
    Sean Barger, CEO of Equilibrium, says there’s been a number of studies showing that people are more likely to buy a product if they can see the details—the front, the back and close-ups—especially for items that are detail-oriented, such a jewelry and electronics.practicalecommerce.com
    Here are the top five most requested elements of product photography many online shoppers look for.
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  • 2017-12-22T20:21:01.122-05:00

    DIY Softbox Storage Hanger
    If you own a softbox, or two, you understand how bulky and unwieldy they can be. Imagine owning several in different sizes. Storage becomes an issue. One solution is to break them down and store them flat, but that becomes a pain after the first few times struggling to put one of these things together. It is more convenient to just grab one "off the shelf" and go to work.

    Allocating shelf space seems like such a waste of valuable storage space. In my case I have two square softboxes, three striplights and soon two more rectangular ones. That's a lot of real estate. Time to come up with a storage solution that doesn't require floor space or shelf space.

    The solution I came up with is a compromise of an idea I originally had of hanging them from the ceiling on pulleys so they would be out of the way until needed. I still like that idea, but for now I will be suspending them from a wire rack shelf system in my studio. Here is what the system looks like.


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  • 2017-10-28T18:40:36.458-04:00

    Large DIY Diffusion Scrim
    One of the most commonly used tools in my photographic arsenal is the all purpose diffusion screen. I use it to soften light, create gradients and light fields or as a background. One of my current favorites is a metal framed 4' x 4' foot scrim with thick white artificial silk made by Matthews. I didn't think I would use it so much, being so large, but having borrowed it from a friend I really came to love it. The downside for me is the price. At just over $100 I couldn't really justify the cost, considering I want at least two of them. Time for a DIY alternative.
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  • 2017-12-24T14:40:07.904-05:00

    The perfect product listing
    I'm not old, but I am older. My generation did not grow up with internet and social media and ecommerce. I still prefer being able to see and handle and try on the product I am looking to purchase, but it's getting harder each year to do so. Brick and mortar stores do not carry the kind of variety an ecommerce store is capable of. They are also carrying fewer of the more obscure items than they used to simply because it is becoming too expensive to devote shelf space to an item that doesn't move fast enough. Who can blame them.

    It's frustrating to someone like me who looks for the convenience of on demand shopping, and the tactile feedback, of actual live shopping. To add to the frustration, many of the online stores have dropped the ball and are working with outdated selling models. Let me explain.
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  • 2017-10-02T14:57:16.082-04:00

    Long standing frustration - woodlands
    My first camera I ever owned was a Pentax K-1000. One of the best no nonsense film cameras ever produced that didn't kill your budget. I was a teenager then so money was tight. My favorite film to run through that camera was Kodak Tri-X black and white film that I developed myself in the bathroom sink. There was a great sense of accomplishment when that developed roll of film came off the spool to reveal all my hard won exposures. Then the long awaited anticipation as the film was sent out for printing.

    That camera traveled with me on may hikes through the woods. A run off stream from the local reservoir ran along the property line of our back yard, providing a few miles of woodlands, a stream bed and plenty of solitude. It was my zen place. The world around me disappeared when I went into those woods.

    It was always my goal, back in those early film days, to try to capture the magic I felt amidst the dappled light of the leaves and the slick wet stones of the stream. A goal that always seemed out of reach.
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  • 2017-09-22T18:31:37.747-04:00

    Great American Jeep Rally 2017
    This past weekend marked the 15th annual, and my third year photographing, the Great American Jeep Rally (GAJR) in Ellington, CT. This fundraising event draws hundreds of Jeep enthusiasts from as far as New Jersey as well as vendors and spectators. This year is also the first year this event has been extended to two days, a testament to this event's popularity.

    I became involved with the GAJR through my association with ECOJOCS, a local jeep club I am a member of. Our club supports the fundraising endeavors by providing volunteers to work the event. Three years ago it started out as providing help with the event's parking and our involvement has expanded to designing and installing an obstacle course, providing spotters on the rock pile and assisting with setup and breakdown of the event. Many our members have gone beyond the call of duty in helping this event be the success it is.
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  • 2017-09-14T18:01:22.061-04:00

    DIY Tilt Shift dSLR camera conversion
    It is not often that people get to really see my DIY tilt/shift camera configuration, but when they do it is usually followed by a variety of questions followed by a glazed look of intimidation. After all, it's not your typical camera setup. Here is a quick rundown of my DIY conversion.

    Inspiration

    I originally saw this configuration being used by the amazing Alex Koloskov in several of his product photography videos. I was immediately intrigued and amazed at its capabilities. While it seemed like a lot of trouble and expense for a tilt shift lens, specially since there are dSLR TS lenses available, I knew, from experience, this setup had a far superior advantage over the standard TS lenses.

    The other plus side was that I could still use it as a large format film camera should I choose to.

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  • 2017-12-24T15:15:22.807-05:00

    Artist interview - Miss Julian Grey
    Selection from "Looking Glass"Over the past several decades photography has undergone a massive transformation. Where once it took a certain level of skill and discipline, today's digital camera revolution has created an ubiquitous social tool where skill has been stripped away to allow the contrived vitriol of the masses, clamoring for attention, to create a deep cesspool of visual noise. Harsh, but that is the reality of today.

    To rise above this heap of useless imagery, a photographer looking to present themselves as worthy of attention needs to really swim against the current with more guts and gusto than ever before. Miss Julian Grey is such a photographer.

    I became aware of Miss Julian, a transgendered, biologically male person who refers to herself as she, through the photography on the net forum a little less than a year ago. I was instantly mesmerized and awed by the images she was posting in the forum. They had a raw quality, at first reminiscent of Robert Mapplethorpe, but with a wholly unique look that has truly become her signature. Her subject... herself.

    Selection from "X"These are by no means the typical self deprecating, duck lipped selfies littering the social media landscape. Not by a long shot. They are a blend of artistic nudes and character explorations with all the subtleties of an experienced portrait photographer. What really caught me was the courage to expose herself (literally and figuratively) to the camera, baring body and soul for all to judge and reflect upon. They are intriguing, emotional, suggestive and, at times, brutally honest that it is hard to believe these are all done by herself. As a photographer it is difficult to pull such a range of emotion from a subject. It is more impressive to realize she pulled this off from the lens end of the camera. An impressive feat in itself.

    I would like to urge you, dear reader, to pause at this moment and take a look through Miss Julian's online portfolio. Her site, xgender.net, contains several galleries divided into themes as her style evolved. It is worth a look.

    Since becoming more serious in my photographic path a decade ago I have been searching for some topic strong enough to capture my interest enough to create a long term project. I am still searching. That is why when I see the seeming ease Miss Julian show both as photographer and subject I am more than a little jealous. I long for an impassioned challenge. One that would make the viewer feel something. Maybe it'll come, maybe not. In the meantime I will continue my search and hope that some of Miss Julian's passion and courage will inspire me. I hope that by sharing this her work will inspire you as well.
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  • 2017-07-21T12:55:44.548-04:00

    The Decisive Moment - a brief discussion
    Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, 1932
    “Making a photograph means recognising, all at once and in a fraction of a second, an event and the exact organisation of the visually perceived forms that express and signify that event. It means aligning the head, the eye and the heart along the same line of sight. It’s a way of living.”

    Henri Cartier-Bresson
    Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) is credited for the expression, the decisive moment. The image at right, Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, has become one of the most iconic of his images to represent that expression because it succinctly captures, in a single frame, the whole of his teachings. While there have been many discussions both casual and scholarly, like the image at right, his teachings has been oversimplified and distilled down to a short definition that, to me, has lost a lot of its original meaning or, as in some cases, completely missing the mark.

    Rather than getting into a lengthy dissertation on what Bresson considered the decisive moment is I thought I would just share some of my ideas about how I interpret it to be. My take is based on my own interpretation of how Henri Cartier-Bresson explains it, which in the context of his book is very little, and in how he used certain techniques to visually represent the decisive moment visually.

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  • 2017-06-10T20:52:17.888-04:00

    Prop collecting is a sickness
    It doesn't matter if you are a portrait photographer, a still life photographer or a commercial product photographer, props are an essential part of your world. For the most part props are purchased on an "as needed" basis. Other times it's when opportunity presents itself.

    I have come to a point in my career that I subconsciously keep an eye out for items that may be useful as a prop. The funny thing is I never know when or where I'll find them, or what, for that matter.

    Recently I was at the supermarket and I happened to walk past a shelf loaded up with those classic mass produced Coca-Cola glasses. As they were on sale and I could always use glasses like these I decided to pick up a set of four... and here is where the sickness starts.
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