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Published February 20th, 2012

This is 500px. Do we really need watermarks on images, folks? Look at the quality of the work on here... do you think a watermark is going to do anything for you? Your name is associated with the image, and there are more than enough people on here that could remove the watermark in a heartbeat if they really wanted to.

In my own opinion, all they do it detract from the image. If you were putting them elsewhere (Facebook, maybe?) then I can see it. But to post images on an image site, aimed at professional image creators.... they never add to the impact of the image we're here to see.

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Such a long time

Published February 17th, 2012

It's seems like forever since I've blogged. And in the digital world, I suppose it has been. So what's new? Welll........

New studio lights. That's exciting. Went with Elinchrom. Looked at Alien Bees, but decided the better business choice was the Elinchrom system. The AB might be nice, but with limited mods, and only factory direct sales, it's kind of a dead end. There is no real growth potential there. They might do what they do well, but they don't go much further. So got those, now saving for a light meter.

Photoshop world DC is coming up. Wish I could go, but alas.... going to try very hard for Vegas again, though.

Also started doing some long-exposure shooting. Not winning any awards (or even getting anything good). Still learning techniques, getting composition down.

That's been a lot of what's happening. Keep looking at the pictures on here, and seeing that I'm not quite there yet. Shoot, learn, re-shoot, learn again. I'm getting better, but not in the running yet. One day. ...

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Published September 14th, 2011

Finally back from Photoshop World 2011. Life has started to settle back down. What a ride! The people I met, the things I did... yowza! And remember: What happens in Vegas can be Photoshopped out!

Haing with the Kelby Media gang is a blast. What a sincere, genuine group of people. Where else do the "celebrities" just wander by, see you sitting at a table, and stop to chat for an hour? Or come to the meet and greet parties?


Back to editing the shots.....

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What I learned yesterday

Published August 24th, 2011

Still so much about how to actually use a camera that I'm learning. Yesterday, for example.

Went to the local zoo, decided to catch the raptor show they do every coupe of hours. Yes, I know from previous experience that shooting raptors is a cast-iron bitch, but it had to be done.

So what technique worked? Well, surprisingly, I had an idea. Set the aperture where I wanted (fairly wide, to give me more freedom to miss having my focus spot-on), set the shutter speed where I wanted, then let the camera's auto-ISO function handle exposure. That was actually surprisingly effective.

Oh, and 1/500th of a second is NOT enough shutter speed to stop a diving falcon. I suggest 1/1000 at least. Maybe more.

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Head Shots

Published August 22nd, 2011

So what do you do when you find out you suddenly need a head shot, but of yourself? And no photographer in sight?

Why, you take it yourself, of course. Thank GOD for iPads and Eye-Fi wireless tethered shooting. Being able to take the camera, put it on a tripod, shoot direct to the iPad and see how the shots are coming out so I can adjust light and so on is actually pretty amazing. Only took about 45 shots to get one that was mostly right. Focus was the big issue, actually. Couldn't get Live View on my D7000 to find me, even with face recognition turned on.

So what do you do? Crank open the DoF, pre-focus with the might stand where I'm going to be, and fire away.

Worked not too bad. A little "Light It, Shoot It Retouch It" magic a la Scott Kelby, and the image is uploaded.

Thankfully, it only needed to be 140px each side.

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Back at 'er

Published August 18th, 2011

Ya, had a bit of a break. Fairly significant events around what used to be my house. Now I live somewhere else, she still lives in the same place. Moving on...

It's been a slow week for shooting. The light has been painfully brutal. Strong, harsh, directional very bright sunlight. How sucky is that? But somehow, I think I can manage. Just have to find subjects that will look good in that light, or figure out ways to control the light. Thought about some macro work, under a flannel bed sheet. There are lots of flower in the new place.

In fact... off to shoot.

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Don't start in the middle

Published August 10th, 2011


It's why we're all here, isn't it? But why do so many people seem to struggle with it. They treat it as though it's some magical, mystical alchemical-type science, which, really, it's not. I mean really, it's 3 things. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. That's it.

Case in point: out shooting yesterday. 2 people take exactly the same shot. Of of them gets it, the other one doesn't. Now to make it more interesting, the one who didn't get it is using a Nikon D5100. The person who got it (me) is using a Nikon D7000 (the model one up). They even have the exact same sensor. The successful shot was at 40mm, at f/4. Safely inside the range of Nikon's cheapest, most base model kit lens, the 18-55 f/3.5-5 VR. I was using a 24-85 f/2.8-4D.

So why did I get the shot, and she didn't?

By knowing how those 3 things work together.

I've suggested to her that she use the Auto mode for a bit, get the hang of shooting. She insists on AP or SP, without really know what either of them do, o ...

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Morning coffee

Published August 8th, 2011

This blogging thing is harder than it looks, actually. Not the writing part, that is fairly easy. The part about trying to come up with something new to write about.

I'm trying to make it a habit to blog as close to every day as I can, if for no other reason than the practice. I'm certainly not expecting anybody to read it. The blog thing, though, seems to be the way of the future. I wonder if that's because it adds a human element to the internet, an otherwise cold place, filled with trolls and flame wars? There's a topic!

I've had my morning coffee, though, and the sun is shining. The house is quiet. perhaps a better time to work on images.

I'll go do that.

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The gear geek in me

Published August 6th, 2011

I just keep thinking about lighting. I'm hoping to make it more clear in Vegas at Photoshop World, but I also know it's going to be hard to avoid the "sales pitch" and focus on what I need.

You see, I watched a Dave Black course over at Kelby Training, and absolutely LOVE the work and the shots. He's doing exactly what I would want to do myself. So now that I have many ideas how to do it, they all lead back to having lights. But which lights?

In the class, he uses 4 Nikon speedlights with radio triggers. That's about the same price as 1 Elinchrom Quarda RX with 2 A heads. So the question becomes: Will the Elinchrom produce as MUCH light as the 4 speedlights? And doing it with 4 speedlights means being able to split them and run 4 lights in a different scenario, so the speedlights give more flexibility in other situations. Maybe some more security, too. If you lose a light...well, you're only down 1 light, not the whole system.

I'm leaning in the direction of the Quadra, becasue I kn ...

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Days off

Published August 5th, 2011

They finally arrived. Today is actually one of my favorites; when my first day off is payday. Always good. Now if I could just spend some of it. But saving for the trip. Counting down the days, too. I'm pretty sure they're tired of hearing about it at work.

Things are starting to ramp up, though. Waiting for the PSW app to get pushed out, and tickets to arrive in the mail. Trying to decide what I need to pack. And trying to remember that I have another month of "a life" before it happens, so I really should talk to the kids at least once or twice about something other than MY vacation before I go away. Apparently there is school starting, or some other stuff... I don't know. Wasn't paying attention. Hey, did you know I'm going to Photoshop World in Vegas?

So there it is. Hanging out today, doing laundry, catching up on here.

Maybe I'll go put my batteries on the charger. I want them to be ready. It's only 30 days, 13 hours and 58 minutes away. Want to be prepared...

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Google+ Hangout

Published August 2nd, 2011

Hanging with the stars tonight. Google+ hangout with Brian Matiash, RC Concepcion, Nicole Young... very impressive.

Just sitting here having my mind blown.

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When all else fails....

Published July 30th, 2011

A sewing mannequin. Never thought I would find a use for one, but they are agreeably still and patient while you play with lights. Finally got around to putting up my LumiQuest LTP and playing with it, very interesting light.

Totally easy to control. Compared to my 43" shoot-thru, or the 60", it is SO much easier to control the light with a softbox. Half covering the umbrellas lets you feather nicely, up to a point, but the dropoff with the LTP is so much more drastic. I'd REALLY like to see this on a real person, see how harsh the shadows are. But as long as you keep it in close, it was doing some pretty cool stuff.

To a sewing mannequin. With no head.

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Published July 28th, 2011

Hard to put into words. Something I think all photographers must struggle with.

You see, emotion is the key to a successful image. Without emotional impact, it's just another pretty picture. To be successful, the shot needs to grab the viewer, shake them around a few times, and leave them hanging.

But here's the catch: It's not about the PHOTOGRAPHER'S emotions. I've taken more than my share of images that meant a lot to ME, but that others think sucked. So how do you pull it off? How do you get an image that other people feel a strong connection to, without your own connection getting in the way? How do you find an image that moves others, and not just moves you? Or DO you only worry about images that move you?

Seems to me, that last is an issue for the professional. You either need to know the market so well that you can market your particular emotional response (and the images you create with it) or you need to understand others to the point that you can see an image that will tr ...

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A new day

Published July 26th, 2011

So now what? Gonna have to find me something to shoot. Finally on days off, and I have all the stuff from LSR Live to go over. So I need portraits. I need pictures. I need backgrounds. I have to do all kinds of things that I have no experience with.

You see, I'd love to get into portrait work, but I'm finding it hard to get the practice. I have a light, and a couple umbrellas. Now I need to play with it to be able to at least be able to take a half-decent picture before I start looking at models. Right now, I'm not even ready to start print-for-time because I could spend hours shooting, and not get anything because I have NO idea what I'm doing.

So we'll see. Neighbors. Kids. Mannequin. Whatever it's gonna take. Of I can't get nice shots, I'll never convince the Finance Officer that I need to buy Elinchrom stuff.

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More gear shopping

Published July 23rd, 2011

The down side to elarning about more things... it always turns into a desire to OWN mroe things. After watching what Scott kelby was able to do yesterday with a couple of lights and some seamless, I'm thinking maybe it's time to start looking at getting that stuff started.

If nothing else, likely more of a business model than what I've done so far.

Leaning towards Elinchrom, now to research which ones.

Power rating (watt-seconds) is appearing to be a useless measure. Feature set, however, seems to make a difference.

I like the Elinchrom Quadra, but the D-Lite 4 is also nice. The Quadra's portability is very tempting, but it is also pricey. Still, nice to be able to take them anywhere and not need to find power.

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What a day

Published July 22nd, 2011

Not much to say about the day, except "WOW!"

Finally home, and need some sleep before I go back to work tomorrow, but after a day with Scott Kelby in the Light It Shoot It Retouch It Tour, if you DON'T learn something new in the class, you weren't paying attention.

Can't wait to try some of the stuff. He ROCKED it!

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Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it!

Published July 21st, 2011

In Vancouver tomorrow. Got my ticket. Going down VERY early to ensure parking, and do a little shooting with the light while I'm there, before the seminar starts.

I've been looking forward to this for a while now. First ever "live" Kelby event. We'll see how it goes. After a couple years of following his stuff, time to see what he can do unscripted. Little warm up for Photoshop World in Vegas this September...

I just hope my poor little brain can handle it.

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Published July 20th, 2011

How does one make a living in photography? An age-old question, I am sure.

First, what do you want to shoot? Well, i think anybody that has looked at my stuff knows i want to shoot animals.

So the question becomes now: "What kind of animals?" Zoos? Pets? Wildlife/conservation? And of these, which ones have a realistic income possibility?

Things i think about waiting for Lion to install.

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What IS stock, anyway

Published July 19th, 2011

There isn't really a clear answer I can find quickly. No matter where I went, everybody had a slightly different answer. I found anything from "second rate images that are still saleable" to "stock refers to a business model, as opposed to a particular style or type of image".

One thing appears to be certain.... the "stock market" is in flux. It is all over the place, and the only thing everyone agreed on is it's a new, maturing market. So how do you get into it? Do you want to get into it? Is it for you? Or for me, really, is what I'm curious about.

Let's be straight. I'm not a pro. I have a job elsewhere. I love photography, however, and once the run at the unionized healthcare position is over (aka early retirement) then I plan on augmenting my income with shooting. Gives me 15 years, so I have the time to do things right, make a few mistakes along the way, and be ready when the time comes.

So as I look more and more into it, what IS stock photography? Why would anyone want to do ...

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Thanks to 500px

Published July 18th, 2011

Most people have a list of places they want to shoot before they die. Thanks to 500px, I am now developing the exact opposite. I am starting a list of places I don't need to go, since according to what I see on here, they've been shot to death..

a) Moab, Utah

b) Arches National Park

c) The Wave

d) Antelope Canyon

e) Monument Valley

f) any beach on the planet done with a long exposure technique (especially if there are rocks in the frame, or a run-down dock, or a small rowboat)

g) Yosemite

h) The Golden gate Bridge

i) sand dunes of any kind

That's not to say the folks that have been there haven't taken brilliant images. Just that it would appear they've been shot, processed, HDR'd, ND'd, nighttimed, sundrised, sunsetted, and generally captured by everyone but me.

Saves me the trip. I guess it's Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan for me.

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Off to shoot again

Published July 17th, 2011

Off to try the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden, here in Vancouver. Sky is overcast, so should have some nice light. We'll see.

Even have a coupon for admission. Larry Becker would be proud.

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Linked out

Published July 16th, 2011

So after less than a week, an image form here has been right-clicked, re-posted on another site, and no credit given to me as the shooter. Ok, not too happy about it. Sent a little note to the hosting site to kinda go "Hey, that's not really cool". We'll see if I hear from them. But it's had 300,000+ views in a week. That's pretty awesome.

But the most impressive thing about it all? every time I've seen the shot re-linked, or re-posted, someone has recognized it, and suggested that the original photographer be credited. And they've posted links to my profile here to show that it's mine.

Maybe there's hope for humanity after all. Huge thanks and major props to those standing up for their fellows photographer (or even just a random guy for all I know).

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Blown Away

Published July 14th, 2011

Still trying to get over the response I've had to one shot. I never expected anything from it. Thought I'd post it on here, see if I could get some feedback. DAMN did I get feedback.

When I saw it rise a bit, that was pretty exciting. When it rose more, that was cool. But the response it's gotten has just been incredible. So far beyond anything I ever would have expected. So thank you to everyone.

Now to move on. Gotta take the next one. Making the front page of "Popular" is great. Now to get another one there.

And yet, I also still have to remember to shoot and develop my own vision. The bubble shot is cool. It tells a neat story (I can't believe I just used the word "neat" in public) but it doesn't wrap up everything about what I shoot. Even with the response it's gotten, I'm not totally happy with it. Rather than keep struggling with that one, though, I'm going to go out and shoot the next one.

Who knows?

ps. Scott, RC, Ken, Matt (and Nancy, the International Ambassadoress of Love ...

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