Sunday, January 30, 2011


Sunday evening I gathered my family up and we went to the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades.  This is a place I frequent often in the winter months (when I can anyway).  It is a great place to go because it is the dry season.  The dry season brings in all the birds and alligators like to warm up in the sun.  As a photographer I tend to take things slowly and will often sit down and wait for something cool to happen.  Most of the time I end up just sitting in the grass with nothing to show for my patience.  This becomes more difficult when I have my family with me because they tend to get bored...  Especially the 2 year old who just walks around and says "another bird....  funny looking"...

This day I did get lucky because I encountered something different.  The first photo is of an anhinga doing a dance.  It was strange, and to my sons credit, funny looking.  Still, it made for a different image. 
As I made my way around the trail my wife comes to me and points out some babies in a nest (it is always good to have a spotter).  The good news; It was feeding time! 
I have mentioned this in the past but it is important to return to the same place as often as possible because you just never know what you will find.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Basic Photo Editing with Lightroom 3

I decided for this post to make it another quick tutorial with Lightroom 3.  This one is actually quick and only about 5min long.  I hope you enjoy this and as time goes along I will get much more in depth with the program.  Let me know if you like the blog taking on a audio/video feel and thanks for reading, listening, and watching!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I am Back!!

I returned late last night from my Photographic Excursion and now that I am back I can tell you a little about the trip.  I didn't want to say anything before because...  well, I didn't need the extra attention before going.  The location?  Cuba.  Yes, it is still a closed country.  So, how did I get to go?  I was asked by my church (First Baptist of Homestead) to go and photographically record the work the church is doing there. 

Disclaimer:  For the safety of the missionaries there I will not show any photographs of them, their families, or the missions work on this blog or my main website.

While there I had more than a little bit of an opportunity to photograph the rural areas of Cuba and I visited Havana on my last day.  I am not known as a street photographer.  In fact, I had never done street photography until now.

I have so many mixed emotions about my trip.  What I can tell you is that the Cuban government is truly doing their people a disservice (understatement).  I can also tell you that the people I came in contact with were intelligent, kind, and loving people who cherish their families.

I expect to write a few posts about the trip sharing some of the photographs, talking about the situation when it was taken, and in some cases the technical side of the photograph.  For now, look below for a couple of examples of my trip.  I know, the panoramic of Havana is not technically street photography but....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Photographic Excursion

This coming week I will be out of town on a photographic excursion.  This means that there will likely not be any blog posts but it also means that there will be many upon my return.  Please stay tuned and see what images the future holds.  Thanks again for reading!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Beautiful Party

This past weekend I had the pleasure of photographing an 80th birthday party.  What an absolutely great group of people.  They were so warm and welcoming to my assistant ( and I.  These images here were among my favorite captured "moments" and I believe you can really tell the flavor of the party.  The black and white image here is not one that I would typically like because so much is out of focus.  However, here I believe it tells a story.  The party was all about Mrs. Martinez and she was the focus of everyone's attention.  Thanks to the Martinez family for giving me the pleasure of the photo shoot.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Blog Post 100!!!

Blog post 100 has finally arrived!!!  Last February when I decided to start this blog I had the ambition of writing a post per week.  I quickly passed that goal and now I have reached 100 posts prior to the blog's creation!!  I have really enjoyed posting weekly (sometimes daily) about photography.  With some luck you have enjoyed these posts as well.  This post is a bit different as I have created a Lightroom 3 introduction video.  If you watch the video leave me a comment and let me know what you thought.  This is my first video and I have plans for many more.  Thanks again for sticking with me through the 99 before.  Enjoy!

Abstract Revisited

Ever wanted to try something different?  I have days like that and today was one of them.  I had heard of this type of abstract photography before so I thought I would give it a try. 

Here is a list of the items I used to create these images:

1.  Camera (duh)
2.  Tripod
3.  Macro Lens (80mm-200mm f2.8)
4.  Pyrex Glass casserole pan
5.  1 1/2 inches of water
6.  Vegetable and olive cooking oil
7.  Desk lamp
8.  4 bottles of water
9.  Some CD cases and magazines.

How does all this work together?  Let me explain. 

1.  take the 4 bottles of water and space them out to fit on each corner of the glass pan. 

2.  Take the glass pan and set it carefully on the bottles of water.  This gives you about 6 inches of clearance from the floor.

3.  Poor 1 to 2 inches of water in the pan.

4.  Put about 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl it all around (keep the spoon handy)

5.  Place a colorful CD case or magazine under the glass pan

6.  Turn on the desk lamp and shine it on the CD or Magazine (make sure there is no glare coming from the case)

7.  Turn out all other ambient light

8.  Shoot away.  Don't forget to take the spoon and swirl it all around to see what types of effects you can come up with.  Experiment!!!

There are a few things to keep in mind.  You will need to be on manual focus to get any sharp images.  The camera just can't figure out what you are trying to do. 

Try to keep your shutter speed up to around 1/125 or better and try out some different f-stops for depth of field.  I did not go much past f6.3 because I only had a 40 watt bulb in the desk lamp.
So, what do you think?  If you need any additional help to set up feel free to contact me!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Product Review: Rouge Flashbenders

The first time that I saw this product I thought for sure that it was going to be gimmick. Then, several professional photographers began saying that it was one of the coolest things to come out for speedlights. Still, I just figured they were just being paid to endorse the product. The more I looked at it though the more I could see its application. Specifically, the ability to roll it up and put it on the end of the flash was of interest. This gives you the ability to focus the light and keep it from spilling everywhere. The fact that the panel is considerably larger than flash head would allow you to diffuse the light hitting the subject.

When Christmas rolled around I found one of these under my tree (size: Large). After just playing around with it a bit I must say I am impressed. This will stay in my photo bag for those times when an umbrella and stand are just not feasible or I need to “spotlight” something. All and all I find this to be a very cool new product and would certainly recommend it for your gear bag.  You can check out more product details here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Improving your Photographic Skills

How do you improve your photographic skills? There are websites, podcasts, books, courses, seminars, workshops, DVDs, and online videos designed specifically to help you take better photos. Certainly each of these has its place with regards to improving your craft but if you think academic learning will in itself make you a better photographer then you are simply wrong. You MUST practice. Absolutely take time and devote to the study of your craft but you have to get out there and put into practice what you have learned. There is an old proverb that says “The difference between a novice and a master is 10,000 hours”. This is as true in photography as any other craft.

Most importantly, make photographs don’t just take photographs. Be deliberate with your captures and brutal with your editing. Look for every way to grow in your craft but understand that it is putting into practice that which you have learned that truly helps you improve you skills.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Funny Stories

The other day I remembered a funny photography related story and I thought I would share it with you. 

Several years ago when I still lived in East Tennessee a friend and I were driving around the back roads looking for a good place to photograph the sunset.  After a while we found our location.  It was at the end of a drive way and we could see the house a little ways up the hill.  I pulled just off the road into the grass.  Opposite that was a field and another hill and this is where we were going to get our sunset photos.  We began to pull our equipment out (cameras, tripods etc.) and set up.  Within a few minutes someone from the house got in their car and decided to find out what we were doing.  The individual pulled up next to us and rolled down his passenger side window. 

"Hey, whatcha guys a shoot'in?" he asked.

"The sun behind that hill." was my quick response.

"Huh, what?" he asked with a very confused look on his face.

"Ya' know, the sun setting behind the hill and trees." I responded holding up my camera as I sat it on the tripod.

"What?  Oh, y'all are takin pictures" he said as it dawned on him we were not hunters but rather photographers.

Do you have any funny photography/artistic events you care to share?  Just remember, keep it clean!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The New Year has Arrived!

I am currently exporting my 2010 catalog and making backups to my backups.  2010 has rushed away like a mountain stream.  It is time to begin a 2011 catalog for the things to come.  I wanted to take a second and thank you all for making 2010 successful.  I have had more fun talking about and practicing photography this year than all the years past.  This blog is one of the largest contributors to that.  It keeps me thinking about new ways to enjoy photography and I hope it helps you as well.  This art that we call photography is unlimited in scope and it can be overwhelming at times.  Join me for 2011 as we try to make sense of it all together. 

Sometime this year I plan on producing some instructional videos that are just a few minutes long.  Already several ideas have presented themselves regarding Lightroom 3 tutorials.  What would you like to see from this blog in 2011.  Leave a comment, drop me an e-mail, or give me a call and I will see what I can do.  Thanks again and HAPPY NEW YEAR!