Friday, December 31, 2010

To UV or not to UV.... That is the Question.

I received an e-mail asking me about UV filters on lenses.  The question was "Do I need a UV filter on the end of my lens to protect it?".  There are two schools of thought here and it really comes down to personal preference.

School of thought 1:  Put a UV filter on the end of all your lenses and leave them there.  This will protect your investment from being scratched.  -This is a great accessory selling technique for camera shops.

School of thought 2:  You paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars for top quality glass.  Why would you put a cheap $20.00 filter on the end.  It defeats the purpose of buying good glass. 

Personally I go with School of thought 2 and here is why:  I want the clearest glass I can get.  Oh, and due to the wonderful laws of diffraction most scratches cannot even be seen in the final photo.  To protect my lenses I do two things.  I am very careful with them and I always use a lens hood.

The world of professional photography is split about 50/50 on this issue.  This tells me that no matter what you decide to do you can get high quality images.  The choice is simply up to you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Favorites of 2010

 Enjoy!  I know I enjoyed taking every single one of these images.  Of course there are many more but all of these were featured on the blog at one time or another this year.  Which is your favorite?  Why?

Valentines’ Day

Valentines’ Day is close. In fact, it is only six weeks away! This is your chance to have a special portrait made with the one you love. It’s a great gift idea and the photos will last forever. Session fees starting at 75.00 for up to 2 hour of coverage. You can check out details and the complete price list HERE.

It is never too early to book your session.  Sign up now while there is still time!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

High Speed Sync

What in the world is Flash High Speed Sync?? Well, we first must answer; what is Flash Sync? Flash Sync has to do with your flash shutter synchronization speed. Typically, most cameras have a shutter max flash sync speed of 200th or 250th of a second. This is the shortest amount of time for the shutter to remain open and the image be affected by the flash. If you set your camera above that speed then the flash will catch the shutter partially or fully closed. This will cause part of the photo to be underexposed (not a good thing). There is a minor caveat to this but (isn’t there always) that will be another blog post.

The next question to answer is; why would you need a faster shutter speed than 250th of a second when you know the burst of light from the flash will likely freeze any movement from your portrait subject? If you guessed ambient light then you are correct. For portrait work you typically want a wide open aperture to ensure that you have separation from your subject and the back ground. That means you are letting in a great deal of light. On a bright sunny day with an aperture of f2.8 you might have a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second for proper exposure. If you want to use a flash to light your subject or fill in the shadows on the face then you will either have to stop down the aperture, which brings the background into focus (not desirable for some portraits) or use High Speed Sync.

High Speed Sync allows you to raise your shutter speed beyond the typical 250th of a second. It does this by emitting several pulses of light to ensure the sensor is fully exposed to the flash. Sounds great! So, why would you not always have your camera/flash set to High Speed Sync? In photography there is always a trade off… By emitting several pulses of light the power of the flash is reduced. This means that the flash it self will have to be much closer to the subject and will not be able to light as much of the area (which is great for outdoor portraits). Check with your camera manufacturer to see if yours supports this mode. I know for Nikon users it is called Auto FP. Thanks and check back with us soon!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas! 

May the Blessing of Christ be with you this season and for the year to come.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Painting with Light

The word photography means "Painting with Light".  Photography is not the technology that we use to photograph.  Photography is a form of art.  The camera, lenses, and lights that we use are tools like a brush is to a painter.  We must remember that each and every time we pick up the camera.  Sure, not every situation is an artistic one but if we think of every situation artistically our images will benefit greatly.  Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I truly hope it gets you to thinking.

Below is an example of what I mean.  This is a photo of my parents and their grandson (my boy).  If I had just taken a photo without considering the artistic side then I might have missed the vanishing lines of the background.  See how the bamboo fence trails from left to right.  As you look at either edge of the photograph your eyes are drawn from left to right or right to left because you want to see where the lines lead.  The grandmother and grandfather are in the left and right third of the photograph and the boy's head is in the top third.  This keeps your eyes moving around the main subjects. 

This is one of my favorite photographs and it is just a family "snap shot".  I didn't spend time posing them I just told them where to stand and the rest was done in camera.  Remember, art is everywhere.

Joyce, Zackeal, and George Eldridge (Grandma, Grandson, Grandpa)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Different Way of Thinking

This is a topic that I have discussed several times in past blogs.  I think the reason I talk about it so often is because I used to be one of those "photographic purists".  A Photographic Purist is an individual who believes that the image taken in camera should be unaltered.  Back in the film days this was easy to do simply because you sent your photos off to get processed and sent back.  What you got back you assumed was what the camera recorded.  I quickly learned that each type of film had their own level of color saturation.  Fuji Velvia for example had the most amazing greens.  Later I discovered that each lab had their own unique way of developing the negative or slide.  What about home darkrooms....  You developed the images while paying close attention contrast and exposure.  Ultimately it was your take on the image that was the final product.  In truth, "Photographic Purists" can't really exists.

In the digital age we have the ability to manipulate photographs down to the pixel.

After I download my photos to the computer I then enter the "editing" stage of my workflow.  The term edit indicates that something just isn't right and requires "fixing".  I have a new way of looking at this stage of workflow.  I now call it the "Finishing" stage.  The term finishing indicates that it is just a part of taking the photo.  This portion really is dependent on the photographer and his/her clients.  The type of "finishing" that I do works for some and for others it is just not their cup of tea.  There are several photographers some consider great that I just can't stand.  Why?  I feel they are over processed.  However, those particular photographers may feel just the opposite about mine.  They might say "man that guy could benefit from additional processing". 

So, the moral of the story....  No matter what type of "photo finishing" you do there will be someone out there that finds it interesting. 

Take a look at these two photos.  The first one is the photo after I did the final finishes.  The second is where I started.  You decide for yourself which is better.  Leave a comment and let me know where you stand on this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Just this past evening (12/13/2010) I had the opportunity to photograph Destiny Polles. I think she is 6 days old here. Over all I didn't get to take that many photographs because well Destiny runs the show. Everyone in the house is her time table and she was not overly happy about the photographer that had invaded her nap time. Honestly, with a subject like this taking a bad photo was much harder than taking a good one.

You can check out more photos from the session at

There are a few things to remember when photographing a newborn. 

  • You are on their time table and they control the shoot.  Period.
  • You must have patience and be ready for that fleeting expression.
  • This is a human being, albeit a small one, and as such should be treated with respect and understanding.  Their comfort and sense of security should remain vitally important to you as a photographer.  If that means coming back another day when they are more willing to accept your presence then fine.
  • Soft lighting is your friend.  Use umbrellas or softboxes to ensure even soft light.  If you want to go for an edgy look then you can remove the umbrella or softbox and shoot away.  However, that is not necessarily something you should do for every shot as it is not overly flattering.
  • Remain as calm and quiet as you can so as not to put the subject on edge.
  • Remember to have fun!  Your attitude can have a great effect on the parents and the baby.  The more relaxed all parties involved feel the better the shoot will be.
Thanks for reading!