Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Smoke


I have been looking at some blogs (Digital Photography School) for a while thinking that it would be fun to try taking a picture of smoke. Here is my first attempt. It was a challenge to get the focus to be sharp and I am not sure that I got it. The setup was actually done with a black background, a 580EX II and a couple pieces of paper that served as barn doors.

I am struggling to get out and take some pictures so this is what I decided to do tonight. I tried something new and I think that it turned out ok.

Sunrise



Saturday, December 27, 2008

4 Generations



I had a unique opportunity this weekend to photograph 4 generations of my family. It was great to get together with everyone.

While on a family trip I was trying to capture some candid shots. I thought the backlighting was a nice effect for this picture.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008



This picture was taken at this years Veteran's parade. I took this one about 2 hours before the parade.

I like this shot because the flags are sequential and create a line leading the eye to the mountain. There was some Photoshop involved and some light color correction.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lessons Learned (maybe)

I wanted to list some lessons that I have learned through recent shoots. I hope that I remember them next time I shoot but that is not always a guarantee.

  1. Always shoot in RAW. There are a couple times that I can think of where I would not shoot in the RAW format but for a client I think that it will always be RAW. Some people call it the safety net for photographers. I will tell you that it saved some good shots for me this last session. Here is an example... It is not perfect but much improved over the original.
  2. Always be contentious of the lighting. If it is a bright day try to take pictures in the shade with a building reflecting light. These are two pictures that were taken within a hour but in two very different situations.


Those are just a couple places that I will be trying to improve in the future.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Engagement Session

I finally have a working computer again. It is amazing how long it takes to get everything loaded back onto a machine.



Here is a picture collage and I hope to have a slideshow up soon

Saturday, November 29, 2008

HP, What do I say

After a day of getting some things set up on the new laptop I decided to check my email. Found out the g key was broken. How I didn't find that before I don't know. I sent that one back in and now I am waiting for my second replacement from HP. Maybe I will get that one Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It has arrived

I received the new laptop yesterday and am in the process of getting everything backed up and moved and then installing the new programs. It drives me crazy how much crud they put onto a new machine. It is refurbished but they gave me a two year warranty on the machine so I don't care if it is a refurb. I hope that this week I will be back to normal editing pictures and moving along.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Marketing Meeting

Last night I attended a 1 day marketing course that was jammed into 3 hours. It was presented by Rick Avalos. He is a photographer located in Pueblo. He has 13 ideas for selling photography. His logic is that as photographers we enjoy taking pictures so why not make some money. We always want to upgrade to the next camera, lens, software, meal etc...

There was so much crammed into the seminar that there is no way I could implement all of the strategies right now. A couple things that I did learn.
  • Control is very important. Weither it is scheduling, sales, taking pictures control will give you the upper hand.
  • Sales are made through rapport. It is very important to establish that rapport while the consultation session is taking place and during the shooting sessions. That will help you when it comes to the sales.
  • Get your work out into the community through displays in malls, workout places, hospitals etc... Everywhere has walls that need to be decorated.
There are a lot of great ideas out there. It think that maybe I am afraid that I might get started and get too busy or that I will take some bad pictures that the client does not like. I may start getting out there more and more but there is some ground work that I need to do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

HP Update

After sending in the computer twice and numerous conversations with people in India, Canada, and Colorado, here is what is happening.

HP has realized that they are not going to fix the laptop so the offered to send me a new laptop. They also have laptops they buy back from overstocked stores that they mark as refurbished. I am not sure if that is true but they offered me a year warranty with anything that I choose.

I bought a 3 year extended warranty that Staples will refund because they have not done any service on the laptop. That was the easiest part of the conversation and only took two hours.

HP says that I will be getting a new laptop that is equal or greater than the one that I have now. I should have that computer in less than a week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My First Engagement Session

AE Engagement-1-4

Here is a quick picture from my first engagement session this last weekend. I have a couple more that I will load as the week continues. If the laptop starts working again.

HP (oh joy)

I will be getting my computer back today for the second time. I have been without it since mid October. I asked what was wrong with the computer and HP informed me they updated the BIOS. This is yet again something that I could have done at home! I have been without the laptop for a month so they could reinstall the operating system and update the BIOS. We will see what tonight holds.

I shot my first engagement session this weekend and I thought it was a blast. It helped that I am very comfortable with the couple and they are intoxicating to be around. If I get a working computer I will post some pictures.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Status Update

I will not have a computer for at least the next week so editing photos will not be a possibility. I arranged to have the laptop picked up Tuesday and it will be Friday before they have the box to me. The first time I sent in the laptop through Staples it was Sunday and I had the laptop back Friday. It is just getting longer and longer.

I purchased some remote triggers today and they should be here in a couple weeks so I can get used to using those. I am excited because hopefully I will get better at lighting.

Lastly, someone who is close to me just purchased an HP computer. I am sure that it will be fine. When they purchased their computer the sales person told them a horror story about Toshiba. Moral of the story is that everyone makes lemons. Be careful out there.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

HP Laptop Update

Last Thursday (10/30/08) I received my laptop back from HP and they had reconfigured the hard drive. That it even though I told them about the errors I was receiving, DVD's not burning, and the external monitor loosing connection. When I got the laptop back I immediately looked at the diagnostic area and noticed that there were already 20 errors. This was their "fresh' install Keep in mind I had installed no new software at this point nor any new files, just started it up. This week I proceeded to setup all my files and reinstall the programs that I use.

Last night I was watching a movie and browsing the web and the output to the monitor stopped again. A 10 month old laptop should be able to play a movie and look at the net. I contacted HP about it and they want me to ship the laptop to them again! I asked why the problem was not fixed in the first place and their reply... "I assure the problem will be fixed this time."

After a long conversation with the customer service person (in India) I am sending the laptop in again. I proceeded to work on the laptop screen that evening and within an hour the machine shut off. Every time I would try to turn it back on it would buzz for a second and shut off again. I had to reset the BIOS to get the dang thing to come back on. I think it is overheating even though I am using HP's docking station.

To add insult to injury I asked the gentlemen if that series of laptop had overheating problems because I had seen reference to that on the internet. He replied..."all machines are tested and case reports reviewed before they are sent to manufacturing." Great that is real helpful.

Sorry about the rant but I will never buy an HP again. Between this piece and the one that I had to deal with at work, HP is not worth my time. I had a Toshiba for 4 years and never had any problems and would love to have it over my piece of crap now. I am going to hound them until they replace this piece and make sure that Staples will continue to cover that machine with the 3 year extended warranty.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Speedlite and off camera flash

I had a good friend over the other night and we played around with some speedlites. Our biggest issue that night was ignorance. We had little idea how to work the flashes, their range, or how the communication system works. Here is a little background and what I have learned.

Equipment used:
Canon Xti
Canon 430 EX
Canon 580 EX II

We used the 580EX II mounted on the camera and the 430 EX as a satellite or slave flash. A couple beers, a cigar and a camera, not a great combination to learn but it was sure fun.

Some lessons we thought we leaned:
  • The master flash needs to be pointed at the front of the slave.
  • The signal will not cross a street no mater how many times you try.
  • Dramatic lighting is very cool.
  • Batteries go fast so have backups.
With the Canon system their manual says the flash can preform the following functions and in the following way:

Note: These apply specifically to the 580EX II
  • The slave flashes should be placed within 10 meters of the master when indoors and 15 meters when outdoors. The slave should also be within 40ยบ of either side of the master flash.
  • The slave flash will also function under the E-TTL
  • Up to 3 slave flashes can be used.
The biggest drawback of the 580EX II that I have read and experienced is the lack of a master/slave switch. To access the master/slave setting a menu must be accessed. It has been the reason that many wedding photographers have returned the flash. Right now there is no way to change from master to slave quickly.

There are other ways to fire speedlites off camera besides the flash's native system. This is an advantage because other flash/strobe units may be used. Typically the off brands are cheaper. Strobist has done many posts about using off camera flashes. Here is an article that is very useful for selecting a connection to the flash. The information here is my rendition of what I have read from many places. Pocket Wizards are very popular but also very expensive. Cactus triggers are not as reliable as PW's but they are more affordable. Those two options I will discuss in further detail.

Pocket Wizards work by using a radio signal to connect to the other PW's. They also have a great advantage because their range is 1600'. If you are just doing studion work that may not be a big seller but on a construction site it would be priceless. Each trigger can send or recieve a signal by flipping a switch. Rough cost is $360.00

Catus triggers works using a radio signal as well but there have been problems in the past with their relyability. The effective area is 10m which is considerably less than the PW. Rough cost for 1 receiver and trigger... $30.00 The range is much less and so is the cost.

Either of the above mentioned methods will have a trigger that slides into the hot shoe in the top of the camera and a receiver that plugs into the flash. The receiver will need to be connected with a PC cord or some other way.

If you are looking to experiment with off camera flash Storbist recommends going to Midwast Photo Exchange. They kits available for purchase as well.

A couple of links that I consulted
Digital Photogrphy School Forms
Strobist
Pocket Wizard
Gadget Infinity

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Desktop Layout

I received my laptoop back from HP and it still has the same problems as before. All they did was re image the hard drive. Not only did they fail to fix the problems but they erased all of my settings.

Moving past that...


I have included a picture of how I set up the new monitor with the existing laptop and docking station. The 24" monitor is not calibrated so what I post here should represent a standard print color of sRGB.

The new desk setup is very nice because I can use both monitors if I am editing or just one if I am working on the blog or the internet. It is amazing the difference the screen can make in detail of pictures and the work flow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Speedlite



The 580EX II is great. I still have so much to learn but I am excited to give it a try. A buddy and I tried our hand at using two flashes as master and slave and light painting in a dark park. It was a blast. The results were not spectacular but it was fun to try and see what happened. We now know more about the flashes, camera and flash setup and slaving flashes. These are a couple of the pictures we took.

The jungle gym pictures were taken by setting the camera shutter speed to 20-30 seconds in the dark are and using the flash to illuminate small areas of the picture. In the future we will try some flash lights and other setups.

We also tried some dramatic lighting with our faces. The coolest thing with the cigar picture could be that it was taken in a garage with lights. It was pure luck that we were able to overwhelm the natural light because we were just messing around but the effect is quite cool.

The pictures posted are a conversion from RAW to JPEG and I am amazed to see some of the differences just in the decisions that the camera or another program makes automatically. The last picture in the series has the face blown out whereas the RAW file has lots of detail in the face. Yet another reason for shooting RAW.

There are a couple more pictures from that night on my flickr site.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lots more to learn

This past weekend was very busy. My wife is sick with mono, my parents had a basement flood with sewage, a hot water heater break and a computer crash, I went to Manitou Springs to watch the coffin races with my wife and her sister and we went to a concert Saturday night. Last but not least I took in my laptop to have a couple things done. It was starting slow, not running video correctly and would only burn DVD's 1/3 of the time.

I don't usually purchase the extended warranties for anything but for some reason I did on this laptop and it is a good thing. I was told by the woman when I brought it in that she has seen many of the same laptop come back through her store. Good thing I have three years to work out all the bugs.

Now the exciting things. I have a big boy flash coming in the mail today. I am shooting about 200 kids in a Christmas setting in November and I want to be ready. I will have some time to learn how the light and new flash is going to work before I have to get it right. Canon is offering $50 off the 580EX II right now as well.

I have also purchased a color calibrator for my monitors. Yep both monitors. I recently purchased a 24" Dell UltraSharp monitor to use for photo editing. It will be very nice to use once I get the laptop back from HP.

I will post a couple pictures of the new setup when I get home.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lesson 1 - All 7-Points


The first lesson took me about 45 minutes to complete. I learned that I need to calibrate my new monitor because my pictures color looks nothing like the one in the book, this book is going to be very useful, I need practice at Photoshop, and so much more.

As I stated in an earlier post these pictures are following a lesson plan. I did not take them or come up with the editing technique. I am amazed to see the difference that a couple changes can make to a photo.

Making the Perfect Photo

In an effort to broaden my Phoroshop skills I am following a book by Scott Kelby. It is called the 7-Point System. I am following the lesions so I will be recreating the same pictures that he did. This will help me to learn more about why Photoshop Professionals make the choices they do. I will also be learning the ins and outs of CS3. It is outdated already with CS4 but I am not upgrading because I don’t even know how to use CS3 yet. Stay tuned for the before and afters.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eleven Mile Panorama





Eleven Mile


A friend took the picture. I just added a little green to the grass and minor sharpening.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What do you see?

Stay with me here I am going to try explaining something. It may not be elegant or concise but I don't know if it is either of those things in my head either.

In an earlier post I mentioned an Ansel Adams quote. "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept." It makes sense when you think about it but I still was not understanding the deeper meaning.

While driving to a photography meeting I heard a song that seemed to be telling me something. Do you ever have those moments when things click and you know you will loose if you don't write it down? I had one of those moments and it happened in horrible traffic when I was already late for a meeting. I did manage to remember what I was thinking though.

How can you photograph what you can't see?

I know, duh right? Well it was a powerful moment for me. Something clicked inside. It reminded me of the saying "You can't give what you don't have". If I can't see God's wonder and beauty in everything how can I take a beautiful picture? Yes everyone gets lucky sometimes but there is also the notion of The theory of talent. Pre-visualization is important in taking pictures. You have to see the beauty before you can capture it.

So now the big question. How do you see life's beauty? Can you see life's beauty if you can't see beauty in yourself? Can you see happiness if you are not a happy person? Do you have the ability to pre-visualize if stress, anger, and the hardships of life are constantly engulfing your mind?

I think that before beauty can be created/recognized (picture of beauty) a person must deal with their own demons. Those demons could manifest themselves in a number of ways. The love of money, alcohol, procrastination, whining, lack of responsibility, and so on. Everyone has their own obstacles to conquer. I know I have mine.

I think that someone can overcome their monsters in the closet on their own but true happiness can only be found in true and full surrender to the Lord. Check out this
Lifehouse video. It puts into actions what beauty there is in the world and some of the temptations that hold back.

I work with a woman who claims to be the happiest person she knows. She just might be one of the happiest people that I know. For a quick read that is full of meat and potatoes check out Woven Journey By: Tammy Bailey. (If I can find the publisher's page I will post that as well.

That was a long post...sorry. Let me know what you think about finding beauty.

How can you photograph/experience/love/give what you can't see/have/possess?

The Question Behind the Question!

I read QBQ about a year ago. It is a great book and can be picked up from the website or a local bookstore. There is also a video with Dave Ramsey and John Miller that explains more about the book.

The book is all about personal responsibility. Imagine what would happen if everyone understood this principle. I am still working on it as well.

If you watch the video let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Can you see any Photoshop

Las Vegas or Bust

Until this year I had not been on a"real" vacation in a while. Now I have 2 under my belt and I am tired of the car. This past weekend 2 of our friends, my wife and I went on a road trip to Vegas. 3 day weekend and 24 hours driving. We spent an evening and one full day in town. Here is a link to the other pictures that we took while we were there. I took my camera as well as my wife's point and shoot. We only used the point and shoot because we wanted to walk around and not worry about loosing the big camera. Because the P&S has a small digital sensor some of the pictures are very grainy. Sorry but it was more fun without the big one around my neck this time.

I was surprised how much trash there is all over the streets, how bad it smelled, it was almost impossible to find quiet, and everyone is selling something. We did have a good time going to clubs, walking the strip, seeing the Belagio fountain show, and hanging out with good friends.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Myth of Talent

The Radiant Vista is a website that I have just recently come across. They have good information about photo critiques, photoshop, articles, etc... I came across an article called The Myth of Talent. When I was reading it I could not help but think about my own struggles with photography. The article suggests that talent is a great gift but there are so many people who do nothing to develop that talent. Someone who desires greatness can achieve it with hard work and dedication. It is an interesting atricle. I espacially enjoyed his experence upon returning from a six month nature photography trip around the western US.

The Photoshop Effect

Youtube Video

This video is taken from diet.com and shows what Photoshop can do. What do you think? Do women or people in general realy understand that almost nothing they see in magazines is original work?

My Biggest Struggle

According to Ansel Adams "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept". I agree. If there is nothing in the image that captures your eye or your heart then why take the picture. Well I wish that was my problem. Right now I feel like I can't get a sharp image of anything. When I look at my pictures from farther away they look good but when I zoom in they get grainy fast. The panorama below is a good example.

Once thing that I am trying now is manual focus. I have never trusted myself enough to get that right but the camera is making too many decisions for me right now. We will see how it goes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another Macro Try


This is yet one more try at macro.

My Apartments View


I thought that I would add one more panorama. I took about six pictures from behind where we live and stitched them together.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

San Francisco

I was inspired by a presentation by George Lepp. He has some amazing panoramas. These were 4 pictures that I took while walking up to the Coit Tower in San Francisco. I stitched them together using CS3. I am trying to find a better way to display the picture but this will work for now.
Here is a link to some pictures that my wife and I took on our trip to California.

California Pictures

Friday, August 22, 2008

Web Galleries

I am in the process of creating a gallery to show a some pictures that my wife and I took while in California. I am hoping to have it done this weekend.

To create this gallery I will follow Randi's post on her blog. She is an aspiring photographer I met through the Colorado Springs Photography Meetup. I am impressed to see how far her work has come and the quality of her blog.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

2 Years Together


These are a couple picture I put together of my wife and I on our 2 year anniversary. This is a modification to a technique that I learned from a CS3 book.

More CS3

One more photo that I am messing with in Photoshop. Right now I am following the instructions but I am hoping to make some modifications and changes as I learn more and more.

Regret



A few months ago I was taking pictures with a couple friends and took this picture. I put it in CS3 and came up with this. I learned this technique from The Adobe Photoshop CS3 for digital photographers. More examples to come.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Baby Redwood


This picture was taken in San Mateo Memorial Park

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Life is slowing down?

I have been extremely busy the last couple weeks so I apologize for not updating the blog. My father-in-law retired. Not only did he retire they had about 25 family members in town. Work is also very busy right now. I am hoping to get more and more updates as I find more time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

California Vacation

Here are the first couple of pictures from California. There will be more to come.

My wife and I spent a day in San Mateo County's Memorial Park. The park has huge redwood trees, trails and a river. The largest tree in that area is 13' in diameter. This picture was taken while walking next to the river in the shade. It was about the hottest part of the day but the shade provided some nice light for the picture. I was amazed how clear and calm the water was.


The second picture was taken at the Santa Cruz Warf. We were looking for somewhere to eat and this scene was on our way. It was a great opportunity to experiment with depth of field. I set the aperture as open as I could and set the shutter speed accordingly. If I would have been closer I could have put more attention on the first bird but I didn't want to scare them away.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Slacker

So here is the deal. I have been swamped at work and getting ready for our CA trip. I will try to get some pictures up if not tonight while we are on the trip. They are coming I just have not found the time to sit in one place for five minutes yet.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Camping

We are going camping this weekend so look for lots of new pictures of mountain ranges, waterfalls, flowers, and abandon mines.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stormy Road

Eastern Colorado

One Shot


While at a job site I got out of the truck to take a picture of an informational sign. When I turned around I saw this picture and I just took one picture because we didn't have long there. I think it looks good.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Photoshop CS3


This is an example of the difference Photoshop can make in a picture.

Cathedral Park


This is a popular place on Gold Camp Road. Cathedral Park can be seen as one drives into a valley about 20 minutes outside of Cripple Creek.

Stage Road


This weekend my wife and I hopped in the car and started to drive. We ended up on an old dirt road that was used for moving Gold in the early 1940's I think. We took lots of pictures and even stopped in some one way areas to take pictures. Here is one that I took. Some sharpening was done. This is also the picture that I am going to enter into a local macro contest.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Father's Day

My niece loved it when her aunt showed up as a princess to her party! It was fun to see her face a capture the moment.

Wedding


A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of shooting with Jason Mann and his wife Chris. It was an experience and I learned so much. I still need better lenses because the focus is soft and detail is lost and I need a speedlite for my camera. All in time I guess. I will keep working on the pictures I am taking and maybe I will get lucky.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Barbara Ellis Studio of Dance





I was luck enough to photograph a dance recital last night. Here are a couple of the images. I ended taking about 1300 and I think that I will be saving about half so that is a good ratio. The lighting was poor so the ISO was boosted all the way and the focus was slow but I think that I did ok. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kids at a Portrait Session


Another opportunity that I had this weekend was to shoot some children. Well not "shoot" them but take their pictures. This is one of my favorites.

I did learn that any session should be run as if you are charging money for it because it will go smoother and to give yourself enough time so you are not rushed.

Here I would have liked to have the Canon 24-70mm L or a prime lens around 85mm.

I am processing the wedding pictures and writing about my experience soon so keep checking back for those pictures.

Soccer!






Here are the first of the picture from this weekend that I made it through. I am noticing the limitations of my all around lens now. It has very soft focus at 300mm. It is a 10x zoom lens so that is expected. I guess if I am going to be shooting sports all the time I will have to invest in a 70-200 IS L series lens by Canon but those are about $1500.