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Over the course of the year I have had a lot of fun with the folks from the Modesto View. I’ve shot the first three covers this year. Each one has been tremendously fun and full of great problem solving opportunities.

The first cover was to bring in predictions of the New Year. I was able to craft a fortune teller in her parlor. I really wanted to create a glow coming off the crystal ball, but the fact of the matter is, I didn’t use a crystal ball. It was cut and pasted in. So my solution was a white tupperware bowl, upside down, with an SB800 inside.

I got the effect I wanted and with a few more Photoshop treatments I was able to finish up the image as I previsualized it.

Hair and make-up were provided by my niece, Sarah Capdevielle, who was also the model.

Next we move on to February with Valentines day taking center stage.

I really was inspired by Norman Rockwell and his Saturday Evening Post covers. He was a big influence in my early years when I was seriously considering becoming a commercial artist. His style of having a picture tell a story in a very folksy and simple manner are what draw me to his work. In researching his photographer (His work was done from photographs he would stage and capture), I found that Clemens Kalischer was also a survivor of the Holocoust. Amazingly he lives in New York and still has a studio.

My vision was a couple. The man was proud of himself for pouring it on for Valentines day. “If a little bit is good, then a lot must be better”.  She, on the other hand, was overwhelmed.

Again in Photoshop I worked to achieve the look and feel of a Rockwell illustration. I’ve been very flattered when people look at this cover and say “This looks like something Norman Rockwell would do”.

Mission accomplished

The next cover was the March cover. The hero of the shot is the Modesto Arch in celebration of it’s hundredth birthday.

I was faced with two “opportunities”. The first one was that I wanted to give the Modesto downtown area a Gotham feel, gray and muted, to provide a background for the Arch to “pop” from. After scouting, I realized I had to shoot the Arch at around 6:00 P.M. to get longer shadows that would help in my final processing. I also wanted to shoot at a higher elevation. All the research I had done on the Arch photographs had shown they were all shot from the ground which gave a handful of vantage points which had all been done before. I wanted a fresh vantage point. This involved enlisting the help of the Modesto Fire Dept.. They dispatched a ladder truck and elevated me over the Greyhound bus terminal. Although it doesn’t look that high, there was a constant stream of buses making their way into the terminal underneath my perch on the extended ladder.

The other problem I had to solve was the fact that at 6:00 P.M. that intersection is extremely busy with commuters coming back into town from Hwy 99. That’s another reason why I chose this time of day, because I could use a longer exposure time allowing the cars to “Blur” themselves into non existence. There was little left to do to remove the traces of traffic that were left. My only snag in the plan was with the extension of the ladder. Any small move from wind, or the Fireman behind me, would make it sway. I had enough frames that this proved to be a minor problem. The sky was clear so the additional clouds added to the sky were courtesy of a vineyard in Delano.

The second part of the shot required assembling people on a parking garages top level so I could replicate the angle from my vantage point on the ladder. In order to have enough light for the crowd I established the sun would be in position at 4:00 P.M.. So the crowd was assembled and with the help of an assistant, Eric Muetterties from Studio 52 in Dublin, we made a go of it.

The final was composited in Photoshop and sent off to press. In the final image we reverted back to the original sky which was plain blue to help give a little better launching pad for the logo.

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