Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Life is Good (or the tale of Steve and Stacy)

Last year I needed to put together artwork for an ad that was being ran by Antonio Villárd Premium Electronic Cigars (a company that I am part owner of) that was going to run in a seasonal travel magazine. When I started thinking about what to create for imagery I thought that I would go with the theme of a man smoking a cigar and a woman sitting with him, and the only way that she was still sitting next to him was that he was enjoying an electronic cigar instead of a tobacco cigar which she hates. I also wanted to show the scene indoors where electronic cigars are most beneficial to both the user and those around him.

So the idea I came up with was a theme of Life is Good featuring a couple, Steve and Stacy. Steve likes cigars (they're cool), Stacy doesn't (they smell like dirty socks); but they both are happy with the electronic cigar because Steve can enjoy his cigar and Stacy doesn't have to smell it. (If you want to know more about electronic cigars go to www.antoniovillard.com).

The problem I had was that I was on a tight schedule and trying to find just the right models and location plus do the shooting would take up a lot of time. So I looked thru a stock photo site (I use Bigstock) to see if I could find a picture (or pictures) that I could use and then tweak them on the back end to get what I wanted. I found two images that I thought I could use to get what I wanted (see below). It knew it would take some work in Photoshop, but I also knew it would ultimately be easier in the end.
Steve (with friend)

So what I wanted to do was combine the the guy on the right in the one image with the girl in the other and in the end make it look like they were together having a grand time.  Below you can see the progression that I took to get the image that I wanted.

In the end I was able to get the image I wanted ( although my wife tells me that Stacy looks a little more pissed than sultry but oh well) and the final ad turned out well and only took me about 4 hours to create.
There are many keys to making an image like this work out but I think the biggest things are: 1) Make sure that the lighting on both subjects match 2) Make sure the brightness and contrast levels match on both subjects 3) Make sure there are no hard lines where you cut out the subjects and lastly 4) That all transitions look realistic.

So that's it, hope you found this post both entertaining and useful and as always I would love to hear your thoughts, tips or if you just want to shower me with praise then that's OK too!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tribute to a Mentor

So, next month my daughter Hayley will leave the 8th grade and make her way to high school. It is times like this that naturally lead us to reflect on the years that have passed and the people who have influenced our lives and the lives of our families. One such person who has influenced Hayley's life in a very positive way is her middle school band instructor Mr. Switzer. Hayley joined her middle school band in 6th grade and Mr. Switzer instantly made her feel at home. Hayley has since made band a major part of her life and she looks to continue with it in high school.

So one of the cool things that Mr. Switzer has had the kids do each year is they have gotten to go to Disneyland and perform in the park as part of the Disney Performing Arts Program. This is really a great time for the kids as they get to go on a fun trip as well as perform in one of the coolest places in the world (as far as the kids...and my wife... are concerned anyway).

So with Hayley's middle school band tenure coming to an end I thought it would be good to show our appreciation to Mr. Switzer for all of the effort and hard work that he has put into the band program. While on this last trip to Disneyland I took a ton of pictures and I thought it would be cool to put some images together for him as a remembrance of the trip. 

The one thing that has always impressed me is that Mr. Switzer always treats his middle school band like it is the London Philharmonic. The kids always have to dress professionally, and he is always the picture of professionalism. It was because of this that I thought a portrait of him as an intense (even bad ass) and focused leader would be appropriate. Of course any portrait of him would include the kids that he teaches as they are very much an imprint of him.

What I came up with you can see here.

Switzer - By Andy Knapik

What I ended up creating was not just images from this last trip (although all of these images were taken on this year's Disneyland trip), but a portrait of a man who was very influential in the lives of these kids. We presented this to him this morning and as you can see he was pleased with his gift.

Hayley and Mr. Switzer

Too often we don't recognize those who make a difference in our lives or even more importantly, the lives of our children. So, thank you Mr. Switzer for all of your hard work and dedication, it is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday

So according to Canon on Twitter today is #ThrowbackThursday and they posted this great pic of all of the old Canon Cameras in this tweet.

They were missing one however, my favorite and the one that made me love holding a camera and taking pictures which was the T90.
My Canon T90
Of course this made me think back to when I first learned photography which was while I was in college. My roommate at the time was a photographer and I had pretty much zero experience in photography. Hearing him talk about taking pictures (it didn't hurt that at the time he was taking a lot of pictures of girls)made me think that I might really enjoy that so he lent me his old Pentax K1000 to try out. So I tried it out and really enjoyed looking through the lens and seeing the world in a different way.

But then, he let me hold his T90 that he just bought and I fell in love. It fit so nicely in my hand, and it sounded awesome, like a robot machine gun. That's when I fell in love with taking pictures. So with my next student loan check I bought a used T90 (which was still real expensive), switched my major to photography and the rest is history but that T90 was my workhorse for more than 15 years until I switched to digital and it finally died. But as you can see, I still have it as a reminder of my early days of photography and of all of the great times that it has captured.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Paying Respects to Salvador Dalí...and the Sapphire Martini

Salvador Dali - Photographer Unknown
So one of my favorite artists is Salvador Dalí. Dalí was a rather famous Surrealist artist who was totally cool and crazy and whose art was every bit as cool and crazy. Why I love Dalí's work so much is that it really makes you think. First off it makes you think what was this guy smoking second it makes you think was this guy indeed a genius? But seriously, his work invokes some very interesting imagery that makes you stop and investigate what his vision really is.

So anyway, probably his most well known, and certainly one of my favorite pieces of his is called The Persistence of Memory. You know the one, it has melting clocks, and a monster-ish half of a guys face in the dirt (which he used to represent himself in many of his paintings) which also has a clock melting on it.
The Persistence of Memory - Salvador Dali

So I have loved this work for a long time and one night while drinking a very lovely Bombay Sapphire Gin martini I got the inspiration to do my own piece in honor of The Persistence of Memory and I wanted to call mine The Persistence of Martini.

Well, it's taken me a while, but it is finally done and I am sharing here. This piece took me quite a while because I kept going back to try and get the composition right as well as make the content applicable not only to the martini theme I was creating but also to Dalí's original work. So here you go, I hope you enjoy it, and if you don't right away go toss down a few stiff martini's and that will help. Oh, and for more information on Salvador Dali, you can visit www.salvadordali.com.

The Persistence of Martini - Andy Knapik

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I'm back

So I know that the rule of thumb when you have a blog is to post regularly, but what I have to realize is that once every year and a half does not qualify as regularly. So I am re-committing myself to my blog because, well frankly, I have things to say and I know that you all have been waiting to hear me say them. Well, maybe not, but hey, you could humor me right?

Anyway, lately I have been reverting back to my good ol' days of photography with an exploration of black and white. I used to shoot primarily in black and white because I loved the simplicity of the tones and the richness of a higher contrast (referred to as chiaroscuro). This image is of my daughter during a recent concert and I love how the metals in brass and the blacks in thier clothes contrast so well. 

So, until next time which I promise will be sooner than a year and a half from now.