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Matinee: 'A Conversation with the Artist Michael Shainblum' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

22 August 2020

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 267th in our series of Saturday matinees today: A Conversation with the Artist Michael Shainblum.

This 15:16 episode of The Russell Brown Show features the immortal (so far) Russell Preston Brown framed in a flamboyant yellow border interviewing photographer Michael Shainblum.

Brown has done his homework and it was easy because he's been an admirer of Shainblum's work for years. The interview proceeds from one type of image to another, Brown asking incisive questions and Shainblum giving candid answers.

"Landscape photography, timelapse photography, aerial photography, he's got more toys than anybody on the planet," Brown introduces him.

Brown begins the discussion with a question about a Golden Gate bridge shoot from a small helicopter. "What's it like?" Brown wants to know. "Incredible," Shainblum admits.

'What's it like?' Brown wants to know. 'Incredible,' Shainblum admits.

So you're not going to get bogged down in discussions about camera settings or slider positions. "I don't want to ask technical questions," Brown admits during the interview.

Instead, they revel in the joy of photography.

Brown asks him about his atmospheric shots of the bridge surrounded in fog. "How do you know to go across the bridge to catch this shot?" he wants to know. And Shainblum tells him how rarely his effort is rewarded with an image. "It took me a lot of tries before I got this shot," he admits.

Brown says he thinks Shainblum is a magician, always in the right place at the right time. But Brown thinks better of that. "You are persistent and just go more than anyone else goes out to capture these shots."

That leads to a stacked photograph of the bridge with an electrical storm in the background taken over several hours. Shainblum is candid about how he assembles his images. Everything you see was there but perhaps not at the same time.

That gives you a sense of the kind of interview this is. Brown knows photography (and even gives a few iPhone tips) so the discussion rewards your attention.

They go on to discuss timelapse photography (some are surprisingly short), Lightroom edits of the Raw video and his sliding camera rig for three-axis motion.

Then Brown praises Shainblum's sunsets on the water. Persistence again comes to the rescue because these seascapes are rare. And multiple exposures that start "really underexposed" before exposing more and more to acquire more dynamic range to blend into one image using luminosity masking. Which Shainblum explains in detail on his Web site.

As they talk, the screen displays the images they are talking about. You could actually enjoy this video with no sound at all.

But then you'd miss Russell Brown asking if Shainblum would allow him to tag along one day with his mobile phone.

"Of course!" Shainblum says.


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