Friday, January 02, 2009

01/02/09: Editorial assignments

I'm always collecting pictures for editorial self-assignments. I have a list of editorial projects I'm working on with no particular time frame and I enjoy being able to shoot these assignment. Old Catholic churches are one of my favorite assignments -- especially churches in areas that may no longer be financially self-sufficient (that's a fancy way to say these churches are in blighted areas!). Some day these churches may close -- and former parishioners will enjoy being able to see the images of the churches before they closed.

I also like taking pictures of people talking on phones. Years ago we didn't carry our phones with us wherever we go -- now that most everyone carries a phone with them, we get to see animated discussions in public places. It always makes me chuckle to go to a place like a them park and see people talking on phones. And I won't hesitate to snap a picture of someone making an expression while talking on their phone. Sometimes it's hillarious!

Another favorite subject I've photographed for over 20 years -- building implosions! I've photographed about five or six over the last 20 years. It's just interesting to get to a blow-down site (that's what they sometimes call implosion sites!) and elbow yourself into position to capture the building coming down.

What kinds of editorial things to do you like to "self-assign?"


Thursday, January 01, 2009

01/01/09: We're back! :)

We're back!  I resolve to resume and continue blogging daily photo tips and general fun photo related items on a daily basis in 2009.  Bookmark me...check back often to keep me honest!

I hope Santa Claus was good to you during the holidays...I did not get the Canon EOS 5D Mark II that I wished for...but I'm not sure if it was because I was naughty (for abandoning my daily photo tips during 2008), or if it was just due to Santa's compressed budget this year.  :)

I did get a cool new gadget -- not directly photo related -- but I can always find a way that a new toy is photo related.  I got an Olympus digital voice recorder (model VN-4100PC).  I intend to use this cool little device to help me keep track of my constant thoughts about photography...and to help me journal some of my photo assignments.  Have you thought about how convenient this would be to help you with your shooting?  Think of the can record your thoughts while you are shooting...or...if you are like are driving past a cool location that you'd like to shoot later (with or without a model...but with the right light for sure!) and you can't exactly write down what you are thinking / seeing while driving.  A digital voice recorder would certainly help you make a note of what and where you saw what you saw!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

10/23/08: Win $10,000 or one of 200 memory cards from SanDisk!

Does your point & shoot camera record video?

Check out this contest from SanDisk!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

10/21/08: 5 reasons to try Adobe Lightroom (or 5 reasons to upgrade to version 2.0!)

Check out this article from Dave Johnson -- PC World Magazine's resident photography expert -- about Adobe Lightroom.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

10/01/08: Short but cool behind the scenes sports photo shoot video

Check out this short behind-the-scenes video of a sports photoshoot by St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer Chris Lee. Call me a photo nerd, but I love being a voyuer on stuff like this! ;)


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

09/23/08: Well, this is pretty cool...

Just click here.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

08/27/08: Who is Anton Corbijn?

Anton Corbijn is a famous photographer known mostly for his work with the rock band U2. His style is described as showing raw emotion. I was influenced many years ago to become a photographer when I first saw Corbijn's famous picture of Peter Rowan -- the boy on the cover of U2's album titled "Boy" (and also the younger brother of U2 frontman Bono's good friend "Guggi"). Rowan, coincidentally, is now a well-known Irish photographer.

Since his initial work as a still photographer, Corbijn has branched out into directing music videos and feature films. You can check out his official web-site by clicking here.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

08/19/08: Real photo, or fake?

Take the quiz...

See if you can determine which of the images are real and which ones are fake (computer generated). I got 9 out of 10...much to my own surprise...but then again, I faked my way thru school so I know what I excel at! :-)


Monday, June 30, 2008

06/30/08: Interview with Jay Maisel

This is an old piece but very relevant -- timeless you might say.

Read this interview with Jay Maisel from Photo Insider. Jay is an amazing photographer known for his mastery of light and gesture in his photographs. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak in St. Louis about 5 years ago -- probably one of the best photographer talks I ever attended.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

03/02/08: Samsung made this for photographers...

Samsung's new SyncMaster 2263X Dual Display monitor, I'm convinced, was built for photographers. The dual display couples a 22 inch primary monitor and a detacheable 7 inch companion monitor -- seems like the perfect setup to work in Adobe Photoshop to me! You have your image workspace on the main monitor and actions or other palettes on the 7 inch companion monitors. Samsung's new monitor earned a Popular Mechanic's "editor's choice" award in the April 2008 issue. The 7" companion or "sub-monitor" connects easily to an available USB port and can be used in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) modes. Estimated price is around $550.

Seems like a great little set-up especially if workspace is at a premium. Or, if you are like me -- you work dual screen using a laptop and a separate monitor. With the Samsung...I wonder if it would be possible to work with THREE monitors for one PC? I'm getting greedy... LOL


Saturday, March 01, 2008

03/01/08: "But what if I want all three girls in focus?"

A friend of mine sent me this interesting article. It's about a new company called Refocus Imaging -- and the ability to change the focal point in a digital imagine during post processing. Check out the article:

Looks pretty cool, eh?

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Friday, February 29, 2008

02/29/08: Quote of the day...

I know I've been off-line a apologies...I've got too many projects right now! But we're back again...and what better way to return to great quotes than one from the master -- Ansel Adams...

"There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."

-- Ansel Adams


Thursday, February 28, 2008

02/28/08: Dymo disc painter

I saw this nifty little disc painter from Dymo featured in the recent issue of Rangefinder magazine. Check it out...

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

02/27/08: Fascinating article...

Check out this article about photographer Paul Nicklen -- the "photographer of the north."


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

02/26/08: Small aperature can reveal dirty sensor!

EDIT: Thanks to Oleksandr for pointing out my error on this post. :) I love the photo community on the internet! :)

We went ice skating recently and the rink has a rule about taking cameras out on the ice. Naturally, this is a rule I completely disregard. :) With that rule in mind I did use my 4th string trusty 4 year old Canon EOS 10D. I love shooting slow shutter of action shots (especially sports and children...bonus when I can combine the two). In order to get the slow shutter I need, I have to stop the aperature way down.

A small aperature can reveal nasty dirt specks on a DSLR sensor at a low / slow shutter speed that a normal or fast shutter speed would not reveal. See below for examples...

sensor specks barely noticeable... (1/45 second, f22, ISO 100)

...dust specks even more noticeable! (1/20 sec, f32, ISO 100)

And here's a fast shutter speed -- same camera and lens. The image below was shot at 1/500 second, f5.6. The sensor was not cleaned for this shot...but you can not see the dust specs.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

02/25/08: CNN interview with Anne Geddes

Click here to watch a short video interview (about 6 minutes) with Anne Geddes. Anne tells us what inspires her to photograph the babies in the way she does and speaks about some of the challenges in photographing new babies.


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

12/13/07: Four Elements of a Great Photo

Supremely talented travel photographer (and Nikon shooter) Bob Krist states that there are four basic elements to a great photograph:

1. Good color
2. Good composition
3. Beautiful light
4. A sense of moment - a storytelling element

Keep these simple things in mind when shooting travel, nature...or really any kind of photograph. You'll see great improvement when you are consistently accomplishing all four elements in your images.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12/12/07: Are you shooting at the edges?

I watched the Tom Brokaw special "1968" on the History Channel tonight. Well...I watched as much of it as I could while trying to assert my role as "Mr. Mom" on evenings when my wife is at work. LOL

One of the people they interviewed was, of course, some kind of hippie radical expert or something...gee, I really wish I would have remembered his name! He talked about the hippie culture and the Haight-Ashbury element that would consistently "go to the edge." This concept really struck a chord with me -- at least as an visual artist. :)

Am I shooting at the edges? I I pushing my talents and abilities as a photographer further and further each time I pick up a camera? Am I doing the same when I sit down to work with the images in my favorite image editing program?

Are you shooting at the edges?


Monday, December 10, 2007

12/10/07: Peter Miller's favorite shots...

Maybe it's just a slow sports news day...but I LOVE it when Sports Illustrated does these features of their top photographers and their favorite shots. Check out uber-talented sports photographer Peter Miller's gallery of favorite shots...


12/09/07: Interview with Denis Reggie

Here is a Canon "Explorers of Light" interview with Denis Reggie -- check it out...

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Friday, December 07, 2007

12/07/07: Quote of the day...

Clay Blackmore...on posing group portraits...

"We do everything we can to make the women look as beautiful as possible...and then we stick the men in there."



Thursday, December 06, 2007

12/06/07: Check out these portfolios

I'm fascinated by photojournalism -- the style of pictures where an image can tell an entire story without words. I get a lot of inspiration from looking at the portfolios of working photojournalists.

Check out this web page of of the Wichita Eagle that features the portfolios of their top photographers.

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12/05/07: Question from the mailbag...

S.R. from St. Louis sent me this recent question -- he is an amateur film shooter considering a Canon DSLR purchase.

Question: "With the Rebel Xti, can I shoot a picture by composing/viewing the image using the LCD display, or do I always have to use the view finder to shoot and the LCD is only for review and to view the settings?"

The Rebel Xti does NOT have "live-view" (LCD screen shooting) -- you have to compose via the viewfinder. The 40D on the other hand DOES have live-view shooting capabilities.

The thing to realize about live-view is that you have to manually focus as the auto-focus doesn't work with Canon's live-view shooting mode. You can pre-focus using the shutter or back-button (the 40D has a focus button on the back of the camera…an improvement over previous Canon high-end consumer models that only allowed you to back-button focus via the * button and a custom pre-set -- the 40D designers went ahead and added this as a separate button) and THEN activate live-view.

While I love the new 40D, I personally am not super jazzed about live-view shooting -- about the only time I've used it is when I want to take someone's picture before they think I'm going to take it -- in other words…at family gatherings during dull moments. :)

Perhaps when I get more time to shoot nature / macro detail shots, I'll find more use for live-view shooting.


Monday, December 03, 2007

12/03/07: REALLY high end wedding!

Want to learn more about a wedding that cost $90 million? Check out:

for all the details on the June 2004 wedding of Vinisha Mittal to Amit Bahtia. The celebration lasted SIX days! (Most people are lucky to have a honeymoon last six days!)


Friday, November 30, 2007

11/30/07: Quote of the day...

This quote is rather controversial, in my opinion, as photo contest judges often have a much lower threshhold to define the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer.

"People who earn less than half of their income from photography are amateurs. This has nothing to do with the quality of their photography."
I've seen contests where the official rules state that an amateur is someone who earns less than 5% of their income from photography. To each their own (definition). :)


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

11/26/07: Hexadecimal color codes

If you need to find out the hexadecimal color code for a particular color in your digital imaging project(s), you need to visit :)

Bookmark this page:

You'll be surprised how much time you can kill on this site.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

11/25/07: Exploring Urban Ruins

I've done a little photographic exploration of urban ruins -- back in the day before children came along -- and I am still fascinated by the prospects of photographing anything that is old, abandoned and disused.

If you are also intrigued by derelict buildings and urban decay from a photographic perspective, check out this web-site dedicated to photographic exploration of urban ruins:
If you know of other web-sites dedicated to urban ruin photography (amusement parks, hotels, sports facilities, junk yards, whatever...) -- please share them by posting in the comments section! :)


Thursday, November 22, 2007

11/22/07: Be sure to over-do the main course!

Today being Thanksgiving or "turkey day" in the United States I wanted to take an opportunity to remind photographers to always over-do the main thing. If you are hired to photograph a wedding...don't forget to get LOTS of pictures of just the bride and groom alone. I've heard from people who've told me that their photographer didn't get enough (or, perish the thought, ANY!) formal pictures of the bride and groom alone. I realize that a lot of emphasis has been placed on purely photojournalistic photography at weddings these days...but that doesn't mean your clients want JUST candid pictures! In all likelihood there are going to be parents and grandparents who want, expect, and deserve good quality posed pictures -- at the very least, a wide assortment of candids that show them just the main subjects of the day!

So remember to "keep the main thing the main thing!" It's better to have too much than not enough when it comes to pictures of life events like weddings!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

11/20/07: Check out this amazing camera!

Check out the Red One (tm) video camera. It's a video camera that will shoot hi-res still images like no other video camera. I don't know much about it (and at nearly $17,500 for the body and between $4,950 and $8,500 per lens -- I better just get two of them...he-he-he...), but it looks revolutionary! The convergence of super high-quality still and motion picture capture devices is becoming reality.


11/19/07: Shooting for you? Or for a client?

It happens all too often -- I hear from people (not clients of mine) who tell me they didn't get the images they wanted or expected from their wedding photographer. Part of that has to do with wedding photography style changes (posed vs. photojournalistic) and the conversion to digital (where it used to be in the film days you'd get a set of less than 100 proof pictures total and with get a LOT more than that!).

I think a lot of photographers get caught up in shooting for themselves and not for their clients -- they concern themselves more with winning awards, gaining acceptance to associations, or showcasing images on web-sites or blogs. Don't forget -- your clients are footing the bill...your obligation is first and foremost to them. And remember, not all clients want the same take the time to find out what your clients like and want in their images, and work your style in to what they want.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

11/17/07: Are there flaws in your workflow?

This morning I realized I made a serious mistake in my workflow -- the processing, posting and archiving of images. In Adobe Bridge I use the * ratings to sort out keepers from non-keepers (a polite way of saying "the junk"). I typically shoot in RAW, make batch edits in Bridge and use the Image Processor to create the jpeg files (for final presentation / printing, etc.).

After posting the images I then go back and delete the non-keepers -- anything that doesn't have at least a rating of 1 star (one *). However, by saving the jpeg files in the same location as the RAW files, a JPG folder shows up in the same location. When I searched for "all unrated items" and deleted them (or, I should say "sent them to the recycle bin" to be more accurate) -- I inadvertently deleted the JPG folder. Normally I don't save the files in the same place -- I create a separate folder for the keepers -- but this morning I goofed and saved them with the originals. Fortunately I was able to restore the all-important keeper jpegs from the recylce bin -- but I learned that I could have made a really dumb mistake in haste.

What potential flaws do you have in your workflow that you might need to fix?

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

11/11/07: The "establishing scene" shot...

If you photograph in the documentary or photojournalistic style in any way, shape or form, you should be to include 'establishing scene' shots in your images of the event you are shooting. Establishing scene shots are self-explanatory -- think in terms of Seinfeld episodes where the outside shot of the corner diner is shown before they cut to scenes insdie the diner -- yet, all too often, photographers neglect to capture quick shots of the venue or location where an event is being held. These establishing scene shots help to define chapters of the album, slideshow or scrapbook you intend for displaying the images.

So take a few minutes to consider the "place" -- the scene setter images -- to help design the presentation of your documentary images.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

11/03/07: Try taking "Rain Man" images!

Did you see the movie "Rain Man" with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman? Did you watch the end credits where the images the "rain man" shot on the cross country drive were featured?

Sometimes I like shooting pictures in what I call the "rain man style" -- random shots taken while driving, often featuring motion blur and / or rather mundane things that compelled the character played by Dustin Hoffman to take photos of. Here are some examples I shot earlier this week in "rain main style"...

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Friday, November 02, 2007

11/02/07: How'd you do that?

How did I do this?

It's actually a very simple modification in Adobe Elements 6.

Go to:

Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Color Curves

Then select the "Solarize" style!

The above image was taken outside a fast-food restaurants (one of our favorites!) around dusk. Made for an interesting solarization project, eh?


11/01/07: Photographing kids...

Get down on their level!