Adventures in our own backyard – It’s been a busy season. A very wet winter meant the summer monsoons fell on an already saturated earth. I’m certainly grateful all this water spared from the massive fires blazing all over the west, but it also brought additional repairs and chores to get ready for the next winter, and left little time for anything else. Not one to be outdone by a little water—and enjoying her role of teasing and taunting until she gets my attention a little too much—Dani pushed for us to go out and shoot around town whenever we had a free hour. The abundance of water this year gifted Prescott with full lakes, green mountains, and flowing creeks. It’s the first time we really explored what this area has to offer; six years we’ve lived here but we always seem to be chasing the horizon. Lesson learned: there’s opportunity to explore just about anywhere, if you only look for it…… The End of Summer
Challenging our limits together – Her Perspective: She doesn’t fit into societal standards. She’s been trapped inside a box where I hid her away from the world. She struggles against the restraints of respectability I bound her with to make myself fit in. She fights to feel the restraints of her desire: the cold weight of chains and the soft bite of leather. I’m done hiding; this is who I am. His Perspective: I love black-and-white photography, but often lack confidence in my own results. In today’s filter-crazed world they rarely fair well unless they’re truly exquisite. It’s challenging: you have to learn an entirely different way to see color, exposure, and contrast. Some colors go dark or light no matter how bright they seem, and you’re at the mercy of how light and shadow choose to intermingle with the surfaces they touch. We drove through the night to one of my favorite locations—secluded away from the crowded cities and popular tourist spots—and spent the morning pushing each other’s limits. No goals…except to help each move past our hesitations, learn to improvise, and explore where our creativity might take us.… Comfort Zones
The ever-changing list of my go-to gear – Most of the work I do is performed out of my (hand crafted) creative studio, behind the wheel of a heavily modified Land Rover, or through the viewfinder of a Canon. Many of the tools I use are custom fabricated by yours truly, sometimes because what I need doesn’t exist, or more often because I simply enjoy building things with my own hands. I originally posted this on the about-me page at The Layne Studio after being asked “What __________ do you use?” once too often, but since the studio involves more than just me now it’s time this list moved to the blog proper. This post is just an overview, I might write up an in-depth with the how’s and why’s of each category if anyone would find it helpful. Read along for the details or just click here to skip down to the bullet list of links so your inner-consumer can run wild and free. Camera Gear The Big Guns: I shoot with a variety of Canon gear, but my go-to and favorite is the 80D. It’s durable, light weight, and inexpensive enough to take risks when getting the shot. I use three main lenses: a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art (my personal favorite) for most portraits and some travel/vehicle/landscape work, a Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 macro-capable travel zoom, and a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 wide angle for grabbing wide vistas or interior shots. The Canon 10-22mm wide is due to be replaced…likely with Sigma’s superior constant-aperture variant. Yes, I’m a Sigma fanboy…because, science. Rolling Light: I’m also very fond of Canon’s S line of cameras: they’re small enough to go unnoticed, reasonably sturdy, and produce RAW files that come surprisingly close to the quality of a DSLR. My old S95 sits in the studio for quick snapshots, and I usually have an S100 handy (there’s a reason the long-retired S100 still costs ~$200 used). When I don’t have a “real” camera, the HTC One M9 is always with me, which creates passable RAW files. Computing Gear Hardware: In the studio my workstation is a personally built Intel-powered, liquid cooled, quad-core PC tower. It’s currently clocked at a conservative 4.4GHz, drives multiple color-calibrated monitors (lead photo), and houses a RAID array large enough to eliminate the need for a separate file server. Communication and general office needs are handled by Google for Work, with weekly on-site and monthly off-site backups of all data. In the field I use a custom modified ASUS X202E with enough… Tools of the Trade
We got a little carried away – When I took these I thought they would just be rubbish test shots—all of them were taken with a brand new and uncalibrated Canon 80D and Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art, and focus was all over the place. At the time I didn’t much care: this was supposed to be a quick afternoon outing to check out a spot I found on Google Earth, and see if it might be good for a sunset shoot later this summer. It’s a good reminder to always review photos on the big screen before deleting anything. I guess it was a good spot, as those few test snaps quickly turned into a few hundred exposures. No planning, no hair, no makeup—just goofing around with a few different poses, getting way too cold, and finding our way home through the dark over unknown roads.… Just a Scouting Trip
Don't let "what if?" be the excuse – Explore for a moment the what if’s?—not the hesitation born of fear, but anticipation of the limitless opportunity blazing a new path might bring. What if we broke with tradition and walked, leaving the paralyzing stress of clinging to what was behind? What if we embraced change, and used the contrast of decay to spotlight all the beauty that surrounds us? What if we dared bolder and lived deliberately? What if we shout FUCK IT!, cast off those chains of hypocrisy we’ve worn in the name of being a “reputable cog” in their machine, let go of the worry that our passions might be revealed, and chase after what they tell us can’t—or shouldn’t—be done? Creative is what I do, after all. That talent is useless if I never use it, if I leave what I’m passionate about on a dusty shelf, or if I forever lock away what I create. I refuse to let what if be an excuse, and so… New on Chazz Layne Daughtcom Raw: Experiments in Light and Passion Often, there’s so much more to an experience than can be summed up in a single photo on Iggy, but not quite enough to fill an article. Sometimes the subject matter just isn’t relevant to any of the magazines for which I write…or appropriate for a work-safe portfolio. These experiments of passion—when they generate share-worthy results—now have a home here: Raw. (Warning: always tasteful, often NSFW) Work: Published and Other Most of the larger projects I’m involved in eventually make it to The Layne Studio’s portfolio. Magazine articles, campaigns in progress, and other smaller projects have gone more or less unshared…until now. Merch: Stuff & Things I like to tinker—creating art, furniture, and other things I want to see made. Some of it goes to clients or is sold in partner shops, other items are more personal and now live here. Free shipping to the USA on most merch, and yeah, I will consider custom requests. My dead camera is getting replaced this week in preparation for a busy summer. Follow along via @chazzlayne on Iggy (daily), or weekly(ish)less frequently on YouTube and Facebook. Give a shout if I’ll be in your neck of the woods, I’m always down for an impromptu meetup; and please keep the comments coming, my creative lives off of your feedback. Cheers!… Yeah, I Said Fuck
Wow, it’s hard to believe this shoot was six months ago. This was really where the recent changes in my photographic style began. We’d casually fooled around less-than-clothed with the camera before, but this time Dani wanted to put in real effort and see where this kind of shooting might lead us. After picking and scouting a location that afternoon, we raced the setting sun through the abandoned desert facility to capture this set. It was my first time shooting the person as the main subject. It was her first time playing model. She was nervous. I was nervous. We both set that aside, knowing the minimal risks—snapping a few photos you aren’t required to share—would be well worth the potential rewards…… One
Thinking Inside the Box – Fixed borders. Arbitrary margins. Simplistic math and no limits—if it can be imagined, it can be done. Such is the nature of paper. Control is back in the hands of the designer: I pick the paper size, I pick the ink, I pick the printer. No worrying about thousands of varying screen sizes, bad gamma on Macs, or the horrible cold of a consumer’s cheap monitor. I forgot how much fun design for print could be, it’s a refreshing and much needed change of pace. Drop on by Adventurist Life for all the details, and of course, to pre-order a subscription. The IndieGoGo campaign starts soon (don’t worry, we’ll have add-on rewards for existing subscribers too).… Print
The Adventure Begins – After months of behind the scenes planning and designing, the Adventurist Life concept is finally ready for prime time. Head on over to the Kickstarter Campaign for an inside look and join us for the next adventure! We need your help getting the word out to adventurists far and wide: every like, follow, and share is one more person we can reach to help make this dream a reality. Instagram Facebook and of course, Kickstarter Thanks for joining us, we look forward to seeing you…out there!… Adventurist Life
A New Direction – It’s been an interesting few years, to say the least. I’ve watched as the dividing lines between my work in design, photography, and travel/gear blurred into obscurity. Oh, Enfluence still continues to draw in clients of it’s own, but the vast majority of new business has come either from personal introductions or articles I’ve published. The situation was forced to light late last year, when a prospect I was courting spent more time flipping through my articles on Expedition Portal than my design portfolio. Ultimately, it was the hands-on involvement in the industry demonstrated by those articles that qualified me over the competition and landed the project. And so, it’s time to put all of my creative offerings under one roof: I’m proud to introduce the new Layne Pro »… Layne Pro
9 common mistakes, and how to avoid them – Are you an aspiring photographer dreaming of getting your imagery published, or an author suddenly tasked with shooting your own photos? From a guy who gets stuck fixing all your photos, here’s a list of the most common—and easily avoidable—photographic mistakes made by both novice and experienced author-photographers alike. We’ve all done some (ok all) of these at one time or another, often without even realizing it. Watch for these mistakes every time you shoot and the quality of your photos will improve dramatically. Dust, Dirt, and Stains on Product No one wants to buy a muddy tent, a hair-covered jacket, or dust-covered kitchenware. Contrary to how easy a good photo editor makes it look, sweeping up your dirty floor while keeping the scene realistic takes an incredible amount of time, concentration, and skill—it’s far easier to simply wipe it down before shooting. It’s a dusty planet, so get in the habit of checking before each press of the shutter. A mini-broom, soft cloth or feather duster works well for dust; a damp rag or small mop comes in handy for difficult spots. In a pinch, I’ve even used my Rocket. Exception: deliberate filth to show how dirty something is, such as a blown shock leaking oil or a mud-covered trailer in a “torture-test” article. Inappropriate Scenes or Backgrounds I was working on a camp oven review when, about five shots in, it dawned on me there was a fuzzy-but-unmistakable roll of toilet paper in the background (the perfect garnish for medium-rare filet mignon and garlic mashed potatoes). Likewise, if your subject is a camp chair review, your chairs should be in an environment that at least somewhat resembles a camp, not your downtown apartment balcony. You can’t rely on a shallow depth-of-field here either, make sure anything that detracts from the subject is completely out of the frame. Keeping the scene realistic and true-to-purpose helps legitimize a product review. Would you trust the “stability rating” of a camp chair when all of the photos show it placed on a solid, flat balcony? A note on pets: we love animals, but it is best practice to keep the dogs and cats (and other pets) out of the background unless they are relevant to the story. Even then, do so sparingly—Fido should not be the subject of every single photo from your trek across South America. Inappropriate or Incomplete Props True story: during a table review for a certain… Photographic Faux-pas