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The Making of the Courtney Love Grunge Series

August 24th, 2013

The Making of the Courtney Love Grunge Series

I've attended hundreds of live shows throughout my life and on occasion I experience a moment where the performer pulls me into their world and it feels like we are the only two people on earth. I'm sure many of you have had that moment at least once. I really wanted to see if I could pull off that moment in my photography. My goal in this series is to show the performer in that one moment as I experienced it.

I went to see Courtney Love here in Los Angeles and I experienced so many of those moments at her show. Fortunately, the venue has a very lax camera policy and I was able to shoot the entire show with my nice Nikon. While I was editing the photos I thought she would be a great subject for my idea. I decided that in order to amplify the moment I needed to isolate Courtney and once I did that I was able to build the world around her as I saw it that night.

I used a few techniques to accomplish this and I've provided links to tutorials below.

First, I applied the grunge effect on her. This effect really pulls out all of the highlights of the subject and gives it almost a 3D dimension. Here is a link to a Grunge Effect tutorial by Manniphoto:

Second, I pulled Courtney out of the Canyon Club by extracting her from the photo. Whenever I am working on a composite photograph I use the quick mask masking technique because it's much cleaner than using the lasso tools. Here is a link to a Quick Mask Masking tutorial by Michael Herb:

Third, I used flowing light effects to create the world. It's a cool technique that can be used in so many ways in different projects. Here's an awesome tutorial by Andrei Oprinca:

I'd recommend subscribing to all three of the above Youtube Channels. Those guys are awesome!

Each photo took roughly 3 hours to create and the entire series took a month. I'd love to hear your thoughts and send me links if you guys are out there creating cool stuff. Would love to see your photos!

Here is a link to my 'Making Of' Youtube video:

Click 'For More Information" below to see the full photo series.

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Thanks for reading!

How to hike to the Hollywood Sign

August 24th, 2013

How to hike to the Hollywood Sign

I decided to do an entire photo series of the Hollywood Sign as seen from all over Los Angeles. The one shot I really wanted for the series was an HDR panorama of the back of the sign. I headed up the Hollyridge Trail with 15lbs of camera equipment on my back to get it. Along the way I took some video of the trail and sites. For information on how to hike to the Hollywood Sign click on the button "For More Information". It will take you to a Youtube video with full instruction.

My photo of the back of the hollywood sign, as picture above, will be featured in Stephen Merchant's upcoming HBO series "Hello Ladies". You can purchase the print on Fine Art American by following the below links.

Original Full Color:

How I shot the panorama of the Hollywood Sign

August 24th, 2013

How I shot the panorama of the Hollywood Sign

Welcome to Hollywood! What’s Your Dream?

Remember that famous line in Pretty Woman? Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? I say it every time I see the Hollywood Sign. Since I live in Los Angeles, I decided it was about time I got around to capturing the Sign in all of my favorite viewing locations. For a couple weeks now I've been doing some research on the history of the Hollywood sign, watching some old film noir movies, and plotting out a map of locations. I went around to all of the usual areas; Beachwood Canyon, Griffith Observatory, Paramount Studios, etc., and I came home with some great iconic Hollywood Sign shots. But what I really wanted was to capture the essence of that Pretty Woman quote. Everybody comes to Hollywood with a dream in their heart and the belief that someday they are going to run this town. That's the essence I wanted to capture. The dream, the history, the magic, and the hope that the Hollywood Sign inspires in every aspiring dreamer. I wanted to give those aspiring dreamers a chance to stand on top of the Hollywood Sign, look out over all of Los Angeles, and yell out “I'm going to run this town one day!”

In order to capture that shot, I knew I had to go directly to the source. The Hollywood Sign. I did my research and found the most photogenic way to get to the Hollywood Sign was to take the 1.5 mile uphill hike on the Hollyridge Trail. Nowadays the sign is under 24 hour surveillance and has a 6 foot fence protecting it from vandals and general hooligans. Because I'm a shorty, I knew I would probably need to bring a step ladder with me to get my shot. I gathered up my camera bag, a step ladder, my monopod, and some water and headed off on a very hot July morning. Needless to say, that hike nearly killed me. The hike itself is a moderate one. You need to be in decent shape to go hiking up that terrain in 90 degree weather. When you add about 15 pounds on your back, well, like I said it nearly killed me. On the way up I had to stop to take a few breaks but this gave me time to stop and take some interesting shots of the sign from fresh angles. It also gave me time to stop and talk to tourists on their way up. There were people from all over the world hiking up on that hot July morning to catch a glimpse of the Sign. It was like a United Nations march!

When I finally arrived near the top I was stopped by the LAPD! They kindly asked what the hell I was doing with a step ladder. The coppers were very nice once I told them that it was only for me to see over the fence and not to jump it. While I was up there two randoms decided it was a good idea to jump the fence (which comes with a fine and some jail time). The cops caught them and immediately sent them back down the hill. If you go, don't jump the fence!

After my brief run in with the curious LAPD officer, I rounded the bend and saw the H. It took my breath away. Just to be that close to this iconic symbol was awesome! I started wondering how many people were looking up at that sign, at that moment, and feeling that Hollywood magic come over them. From the top of the mountain you can see a 360 degree view of Los Angeles; from Burbank to downtown, to Hollywood, and out to the Pacific Ocean. The Hollywood Sign overlooks this entire city.

I placed my step ladder in several locations until I felt the perfect shot come into view. The Hollywood Sign is HUGE! 45 feet high and 350 feet long. Not even my 12mm lens could capture it all. It was time to take a very tricky panorama. Balancing myself on a very wobbly step stool, with no place to secure my monopod, I did my best to shoot a handheld panorama of the sign. Certainly not an easy shot to get! I believe I took around 100 shots. Once I got home, I took a nap. When I woke up, the next day, I began sifting through and stitching together my shots of the sign. I came up with 20 panoramas of the Sign and started narrowing them down. In the back of my mind I kept saying Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? Finally, I found my shot. I'm incredibly proud of this shot. In fact, I just ordered a metal print of it for my living room. This shot was a lot of work...but to me it captures the essence of why we're all in this town.

See you soon!