Travel

I took this picture yesterday and was just playing around.  Anybody who knows me knows that I usually have my cameras with me and I’m taking random shots of just about anything.  I may never use the image.  I may use it as a background.  I may use only part of the image.  Regardless of how I use it, it’s in the digital filing cabinet forever.  This image was never intended to be anything other than, well a test shot while I was just playing around with settings.  I started looking at it , though, and it just jumped out at me as some sort of car ad.  The big clear front windshield, the nice motion blur going down the road.  It’s a car ad, right?  At least that’s what it was screaming at me.  It’s funny how some final images started out as throw-aways.

It really demonstrates my “tip of the day” – DO NOT DELETE IMAGES IN CAMERA!  Stop fumbling around on vacation, or on the shoot, or at an event with the images you just shot trying to determine what’s good and what’s not.  There are really only two things I use my digital viewfinder for:  1) checking for correct exposure and 2) helping me compose a shot (my 60D with it’s articulating viewfinder helps tremendously with this one).  Well, make that three.  I also use it to access my camera’s menu system.

With memory cards as cheap as they are these days you’ll have plenty of room on the card.  Review your images when you get home.  While you’re at the event/game/party/wedding or whatever it is you’re shooting – Just shoot.

Sometimes a concept will just smack you right in the face.

Sometimes a concept will just smack you right in the face.

Light Session

Alright, gearing up for the senior portraits in the next year.  Took some test shots this afternoon and am pretty happy with them.  I certainly have some improving to do, but this was a good start – I really need a hair light to make this image really pop.  I got a new light diffuser kit just before Apple Blossom – I knew I’d be using it everywhere.  I’ve tried plenty of light diffusers in the past, but none have had very pleasing results.  I’ve made them work for me, but have always known I could do better.  Along comes Gary Fong.  Granted, he’s been around for a while, but I’m just now trying his stuff.  And I’m loving it.  It’s not just the products themselves, but the techniques that I’m learning along with them.  I’m kinda digging portraits and am looking forward to doing more.

Any takers…?

I'm learning so much about light and how to control every bit of it.  This was shot in the heat of the day at about 4 o'clock outside with an ugly-looking background.  You'd never guess from the final result.

I’m learning so much about light and how to control every bit of it. This was shot in the heat of the day at about 4 o’clock outside with an ugly-looking background. The cover photo is how bright it was outside. You’d never guess from the final result.

It’s A Small World

Just having some fun with my extreme wide-angle fisheye lens.  Actually a lot of my interior architecture images these days are shot with this lens.  The end results have some pretty severe angles of view, but I try to not create them with the extreme, stereotypical, fisheye bulge that most people associate with this type of lens.  The trick begins when shooting the images and making sure that the horizon looks real.  I’m always looking for scenes where there is a natural built-in curve to the image – the fisheye lens can then enhance the scene.  My favorite example is the image from the staircase in our local library – Handley Regional Library.

I usually try to avoid this look, but was just having fun here with this one.

I usually try to avoid this look, but was just having fun here with this one.

Happy Accidents

There’s a lot of value in the various “accidents” that are made while editing.  Whether it’s photos or videos, it happens all the time.  The trick to editing, after all, is the feel or the rhythm that you get into while it’s happening.  And as you’re in the zone, you can easily make creative choices on the fly that you didn’t really intend to pursue, but then you sit back and think “Wow, that could really work.”  This happened to me as I was editing today’s image so I figured I’d post both the intended version and the “Happy Accident.”  So play around with your edits and make all those mistakes.  Some of the best products happened from crazy, unintended creative choices.

The main sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church, Winchester.  Order a print of this image.

The main sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church, Winchester. Order a print of this image.

The "Happy Accident."  Order a print of this image.

The “Happy Accident.” Order a print of this image.

Postcard

The current Cape Henry Lighthouse from inside the stairwell of the original. | Order a print of this image.

The current Cape Henry Lighthouse from inside the stairwell of the original.
Order a print of this image.

I’ve had plenty of people tell me that my photos remind them of postcards.  To be honest (and absolutely no offense intended), that’s more of an insult than a compliment – and here’s why (at least from a photographer’s perspective).  One of the main goals of any professional photographer is to be different, to separate their work from all others.  A postcard is a tourist souvenir that simply showcases where you are.  You can share it with others or keep it for your scrapbook.  Point is, it’s usually a simple image of the surrounding area – nothing incredibly creative (keep in mind I’m strictly talking about the image postcards, not the creatively designed ones).  So even though I wouldn’t mind if my images landed on postcards some day, a significant part of me lashes out inside when I hear “your photo belongs on a postcard.”

Now here’s the disclaimer…

In my early days I actually used to go straight to the postcard racks to see if I could recreate the images I found there and I usually could.  Fast forward to today and you’ll still find me looking at the racks, but now I look to make sure I’m NOT shooting the same stuff.  Sure, everybody wants to take the pretty images of any locale.  So once you’re done shooting like everybody else, take the tourist hat off and BURN IT.  Then spend the next 15 minutes or day or weekend shooting unique images.

100 Things

I absolutely love this and just might work on my own list at some point (it’d probably contain almost all of these anyway).  (borrowed from http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/100-things-i-have-learned-about-photography-169386)

The evolution of a photographer.

The evolution of a photographer.

1. Just because someone has an expensive camera doesn’t mean that they’re a good photographer. 2. Always shoot in RAW. Always. 3. Prime lenses help you learn to be a better photographer. 4. Photo editing is an art in itself 5. The rule of thirds works 99% of the time. 6. Macro photography isn’t for everybody. 7. UV filters work just as well as lens caps. 8. Go outside & shoot photos rather than spending hours a day on photography forums. 9. Capture the beauty in the mundane and you have a winning photograph. 10. Film isn’t better than digital. 11. Digital isn’t better than film. 12. There is no “magic” camera or lens. 13. Better lenses don’t give you better photos. 14. Spend less time looking at other people’s work and more time shooting your own. 15. Don’t take your DSLR to parties. 16. Girls dig photographers. 17. Making your photos b/w doesn’t automatically make them “artsy” 18. People will always discredit your work if you tell them you “photoshop” your images. Rather, tell them that you process them in the “digital darkroom”. 19. You don’t need to take a photo of everything. 20. Have at least 2 backups of all your images. Like they say in war, two is one, one is none. 21. Ditch the neck strap and get a handstrap. 22. Get closer when taking your photos, they often turn out better. 23. Be a part of a scene while taking a photo; not a voyeur. 24. Taking a photo crouched often make your photos look more interesting. 25. Worry less about technical aspects and focus more on compositional aspects of photography. 26. Tape up any logos on your camera with black gaffers tape- it brings a lot less attention to you. 27. Always underexpose by 2/3rds of a stop when shooting in broad daylight. 28. The more photos you take, the better you get. 29. Don’t be afraid to take several photos of the same scene at different exposures, angles, or apertures. 30. Only show your best photos. 31. A point-and-shoot is still a camera. 32. Join an online photography forum. 33. Critique the works of others. 34. Think before you shoot. 35. A good photo shouldn’t require explanation (although background information often adds to an image). * 36. Alcohol and photography do not mix well. 37. Draw inspiration from other photographers but never worship them. 38. Grain is beautiful. 39. Ditch the photo backpack and get a messenger bag. It makes getting your lenses and camera a whole lot easier. 40. Simplicity is key. 41. The definition of photography is: “painting with light.” Use light in your favor. 42. Find your style of photography and stick with it. 43. Having a second monitor is the best thing ever for photo processing. 44. Silver EFEX pro is the best b/w converter. 45. Carry your camera with you everywhere. Everywhere. 46. Never let photography get in the way of enjoying life. 47. Don’t pamper your camera. Use and abuse it. 48. Take straight photos. 49. Shoot with confidence. 50. Photography and juxtaposition are best friends. 51. Print out your photos big. They will make you happy. 52. Give your photos to friends. 53. Give them to strangers. 54. Don’t forget to frame them. 55. Costco prints are cheap and look great. 56. Go out and take photos with (a) friend(s). 57. Join a photo club or start one for yourself. 58. Photos make great presents. 59. Taking photos of strangers is thrilling. 60. Candid>Posed. 61. Natural light is the best light. 62. 35mm (on full frame) is the best “walk-around” focal length. 63. Don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO when necessary. 64. You don’t need to always bring a tripod with you everywhere you go (hell, I don’t even own one). 65. It is always better to underexpose than overexpose. 66. Shooting photos of homeless people in an attempt to be “artsy” is exploitation. 67. You will find the best photo opportunities in the least likely situations. 68. Photos are always more interesting with the human element included. 69. You can’t “photoshop” bad images into good ones. 70. Nowadays everybody is a photographer. 71. You don’t need to fly to Paris to get good photos; the best photo opportunities are in your backyard. 72. People with DSLRS who shoot portraits with their grip pointed downwards look like morons. 73. Cameras as tools, not toys. 74. In terms of composition, photography and painting aren’t much different. 75. Photography isn’t a hobby- it’s a lifestyle. 76. Make photos, not excuses. 77. Be original in your photography. Don’t try to copy the style of others. 78. The best photographs tell stories that begs the viewer for more. 79. Any cameras but black ones draw too much attention. 80. The more gear you carry around with you the less you will enjoy photography. 81. Good self-portraits are harder to take than they seem. 82. Laughter always draws out peoples’ true character in a photograph. 83. Don’t look suspicious when taking photos- blend in with the environment. 84. Landscape photography can become dull after a while. 85. Have fun while taking photos. 86. Never delete any of your photos. 87. Be respectful when taking photos of people or places. 88. When taking candid photos of people in the street, it is easier to use a wide-angle than a telephoto lens. 89. Travel and photography are the perfect pair. 90. Learn how to read a histogram. 91. A noisy photo is better than a blurry one. 92. Don’t be afraid to take photos in the rain. 93. Learn how to enjoy the moment, rather than relentlessly trying to capture the perfect picture of it. 94. Never take photos on an empty stomach. 95. You will discover a lot about yourself through your photography. 96. Never hoard your photographic insight- share it with the world. 97. Never stop taking photos 98. Photography is more than simply taking photos, it is a philosophy of life 99. Capture the decisive moment 100. Write your own list.

Photograph

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

– Ansel Adams

A very bold sunset near Strasburg, VA.  Order a print of this image.

A very bold sunset near Strasburg, VA. Order a print of this image.