Getting Paid to Create

Rightly so, the relationship between creatives and clients is on a knife’s edge when it comes to money. Clients always want the creation that matches their vision. What clients don’t always want is to have to hand over cash for that vision to be created.
I get it, I really do. I hate having to pay the auto mechanic to make my car run the way I want. That said, if I don’t pay the mechanic to fix the car I have two more options: research the problem so I can buy the tools and fix the car myself, or hope the car magically fixes itself. Clients of creatives, however, have convinced themselves that there’s a fourth option in the process of getting what they want – exposure credit.
Exposure credit is used as a loophole in which a client with actual sway can convince their creatives to labor like slaves for free on hours of detailed work; work which the creatives studied diligently to master; work which requires special tools to accomplish.
All of this the creative does for free. Why? Well somewhere along the line someone convinced that creative that they were making something out of nothing and that the “nothing” cost them nothing and was therefore valued monetarily at nothing. They were told that the best they could get was their name in the paper, a fleeting second of recognition, a pat on the back. Some creatives are self critical, self doubting, self loathing even. They really do need a pat on the back. That recognition does feel nice. So, the clients used this social need to obscure the truth that the creative was being manipulated. The pattern was set. The client now had an amazing creation and made bundles on the consumer’s monetary recognition, while the creative got a pat on the back and a request for more labor.
This is the pattern. This is what happens. This should not be the pattern. This should not be what happens.

I urge any creative out there to take an honest look at the value of their work to the consumer and have that financial discussion with any client that seeks to acquire a new creation.

That said, I do creative favors for respectful friends. Just know, friend, that I stack favors like the Godfather when the time comes.

Posted in Creativity | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Creating Backplates for Future Photo Composites

20160104-115856__Photographer_Jon_DeckerA couple of weeks ago Jean and I traveled to Ireland for our long-delayed (5 years) honeymoon. While there I wanted to grab as many photos of the deteriorated castle walls as I could in the hopes of using them for Composite backgrounds in the coming months.

Taking the photos was the easy part, though the rain and short day length felt otherwise. Now I have over a thousand images I think could be useable for my compositing. I’ve rolled through those images in Lightroom CC, collecting them by designated use. For example, all the background layer worthy images go in one collection while the photos that are great for their separated subject go in the Objects collection.

Screenshot 2016-01-30 12.31.59After using Topaz Remask in Photoshop CC to separate the objects, I can have a little fun layering together cool looking pieces until I have created a rough image sketch of what I’d like the Background Plate to look like.

Screenshot 2016-01-30 13.44.43I then go through the painstaking detailing process to make the image clips all look like they were actually part of that place for real. I use all the levels and colors tricks in each layer. I hand detail shadow adjustment where necessary as a separate top layer. I’m trying to make this look real. If it catches people’s eye because of illogical geometry, sometime that’s ok; but if catches people’s eye because the colorization doesn’t match, then I failed.

I will, with the Ireland images alone, have over a hundred of these Backplates completed within that Ireland castle ruin theme. Most, if not all of these, will never see the light of day unless I end up using them in future editorial photos. In the meantime, I just like having a stack of unreal locations to choose from for my personal projects – like friends’ cosplay, or steampunk shoots.

The sculpture in the header image is just a placeholder I used to try Nik filters on.

Posted in Art, Creativity, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Video! – Hotel Room Superhero: behind the scenes

This is the behind the scenes explanation of a photo that I took for Facebook. The photo was entertaining to make and to be questioned about. You can find it at

Posted in Photography | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

GPS Tagging in Lightroom

For a while now, I’ve avoid using GPS tagging with my DSLR because the 5D Mark II doesn’t support GPS natively and the GPX workflow is often wonky or requires yet another third-party application. I use Lightroom for cataloging and tagging and wanted a GPS logger that integrated with the mapping features in Lightroom well without weird interface issues. I ran across a simple app on the Google Play store (I’m pretty sure there’s not a Mac version) that fits the bill: Photo GPS Log for DSLR. The Photo GPS Log is overly simple and doesn’t even have an in-app how-to guide, but it does what it’s supposed to do.  Here is what the developer has to say about it:

…a simple utility I created for my wife to track the phone GPS and generate a .GPX file to link to Lightroom photos.If you don’t like it or doesn’t work for you, there’s no point sending me a complaint, because I’ll only change something if she asks me to.

The advantage from any other GPX logger? This utility uses the Google Play Services (Fused Location provider) to acquire your precise location fast and in a very battery efficient way and logs it to the internal memory.

For example most loggers keep your GPS running all the time, effectively draining any battery in a couple of hours. But with 5 min interval GPS tracking your GPS turns on and off every once in a while and you can easily get full day battery.

The developer opened the source code and put the project on GitHub so that anyone can fork off from it to create updates on their own. For my purposes the given app serves just fine. The video below is a walk-through on how to use any GPX log file in Lightroom to correspond your GPS tags to your files with pretty good accuracy.  The Photo GPS Log app is definitely not the only app of its kind out on the play stores, but it has been the only one to keep its bloat size down and consistently deliver the same user experience for the past year. Check it out if you get a chance. It’s free.

Posted in Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ConnetiCon Craziness and Camera Control

Jon Decker PhotographyOver the weekend I drove down to Connecticut with my friend, Matt, and crashed ConnetiCon. I ran around all day capturing images and working myself to dehydration. I just now got a chance to start perusing the images to make selects. I took over 2000 images in two days, but I rushed around too much and the light was poor. I’m freaking out now because the images are mostly soft. I need to do some tests, but I fear the focus selection points failed or something. I used three different lenses on the same body – manual focus, auto focus, IS, etc… still 1 out of 5 images is soft. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but I only shot 1 or two images of each cosplayer as I was running around. I’m going to have to write a note that explains the tech problem somehow. i like the posing and composition of the images, but the soft focus on the eyes leaves things looking less than lively, which I hate. I’ll do some camera body tests during the image processing tonight to make sure it was just haste and not real hardware failure.

Posted in Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cosplay: N7 Armor – Day #5

Ok, so not actually day #5 on this, but I’ve missed a couple of updates along the way. These are terrible pictures, by the way.  I took them with my phone because I was in a hurry. I’ll make cool high quality photos eventually.

July 09, 2014 at 0107AMJuly 08, 2014 at 1103PM

I’ve gotten a little way into this project and realize that I’m blundering around in the dark. It will come together eventually, but is a bit more complicated than I’d like it to be  This would be a lot easier if I wasn’t trying to approximate an already existing costume. I’ll be working on some other generic sci-fi pieces after this, but I’ve got to get this one done first.  Hopefully, I’ll have it buttoned up by next week. Lots of detailing yet to do.

Posted in Props and Costuming | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cosplay: N7 Armor – Day #4

IMG_20140620_140250The armor will not ready for PortCon this weekend and I had to take a break from it to finish some photo matting this week. I now have the shin guards assembled, though. This isn’t going quickly by any stretch of the imagination, but I will finish it. The process for each piece now requires custom fitting and bending to test for movement. The original design is from the Mass Effect 2 video game which, despite the cool look, does not take into account the joint movement of a real person. In the game the polygon mesh bends to accommodate the player movement, by the armor in real life couldn’t warp and bend like that. After all, this isn’t made of thin rubber, thankfully. The next step of the process after using the heat gun to seal the EVA foam cells and bending it to shape for cooling, is to glue the random detail pieces together and spray it with plastidip paint to smooth out some of the rougher seams. For some of the pieces I’ll be sanding down the seems and painting them with school glue to act as a crack filler before applying the plastidip coat. After the plastidip dries, I can start determining the painting and patterns I want to use. I’m making this set black and aging it to look battle worn. I’ll be doing the detailing in silver or blue to match the Nerf mode done earlier this year. If done right, I can shoot the photos lit like scenes from Aliens and accentuate some of the contrasts to make it look cyberpunk and gritty, as intended in the original concept phase. I’ll do some test shots after the breast plates are finished. I think I’m going to forgo any duplication of this armor design as its far too detailed for what I actually need. I’ll have more on how that affects future pieces later.

Posted in Props and Costuming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cosplay: N7 Armor – Day #3

I’ve taken a couple days off from the N7 project because my wife finally got a chance to stop by our house for a three day visit during her marketing tour up the east coast. That said, the EVA foam panels for the N7 Black armor are all cut and ready to be detailed. I’ve been poking around online to see how other people finished this build. I must say, this is a significantly more intense project than I originally thought it would be, but I’ll try and plow through. I may have to do some slight modifications to the original cuts to make it fit better and look less fake. I’ll start on the curvatures and the detailing tomorrow night. The project will really get rolling this weekend, though I will be attending some presentations of the Maine Startup Weekend conference too. 

Posted in Props and Costuming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cosplay: N7 Armor Project – Day #2

I finally got the pattern printed out and sized in a way that feels about right on paper. This is all a bit trial and error, but I think that this should work. I cut out all the patterns and traced them on the EVA squares. This process took a bit of time, something like 12 hours. It probably shouldn’t have taken that long, but I have a tendency to get distracted. Anyhow, the foam is now ready for cutting with a hot knife.


I’ll post an update on the project when the hot knife part is finished. I also picked up a gallon of school glue. I saw a guy online making prop guns out of EVA foam and he used school glue to fill in cracks and uneven parts. I fear I’ll have many uneven parts on this first set. I intend on creating three sets of armor and a couple extra chest plates. I’ll have a couple extra pauldrons and such so I can battle scar or theme paint certain pieces without having to rebuild the set. It’s a modular pattern, so I’m hoping this is possible.

Posted in Props and Costuming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Logo or Four

I had a quick project that a couple of friends of mine and I got started earlier this week. We’re still in the planning and prep phase, but it’s basically an alternate reality world building exercise for the fun of it. It’ll also be a fun platform to create art from. For starters, I churned out four representative faction logos and a temporary site banner based on the Machines vs. Magik backstory that we are building. It is designed to be a fun imagination exercise to further develop some of our mutual art ideas within the general steampunk genre. Northern Contingents_Machines_BW_smallIf you’d like to see the logos and keep up with our progress, the website is

Posted in Steampunk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment