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The Journey Thru a Photographic Life

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5/5 Posts and Sites You Should Read for 4/29/11

Here are the photography blog posts and sites that I found this week that I think you as a photographer should read. Not all of them are always related to photography, but they are worth looking at and will probably make you think.

POSTS

STACY PEARSALL on Scott Kelby.com – This is one of the most compelling reads I have come across in a long time.

Glamour Posing – An interesting read about posing glamour shots.

How to Steal Like an Artist – A very good read about original thinking. And it’s entertaining.

7 Tips for Helping Women Love having their Photo Taken by You – Some good ideas about putting women at ease as you take their pictures.

Is Your Brain Sleeping While You are Awake? – A scary post at Nat Geo about the consequences of lack of sleep.

SITES

photoSIG - A good site to have your images reviewed and critiqued.

Photo Rumors – The name says it all.

Resize It – A cool website that allows you to resize your images.

Scott Kelby – Come on! It’s Scott Kelby, the master of all things Photoshop and Lightroom. ‘Nuf said.

Photography Corner – A good resource of photo blogs and websites.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 10:46 am.

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Romeo and Juliet – A Lesson in Lighting

Last night I got the opportunity to shoot our school’s dress rehearsal of the production of Romeo and Juliet. I have shot our theater before, but this time I wanted to add to the experience for the kids. Usually, I just shoot from the theater seats as the play progresses. This time, during the intermission, I took individual shots of each of the cast and crew in a portrait setting, but this meant that I would have to learn lighting portraits.

Because I knew that I would want to be able to get better at off camera lighting in different situations, I recently purchased a 20×20 inch soft box that works with my SB900 and two light stands. It isn’t the biggest soft box, but it works for most of what I want to do. I got the soft box and light stands off eBay for a really good price and will be adding one more soft box to my collection. The total for both soft boxes and two light stands will still be uner $100. So far, they are working great for me.

I set the soft box which had the SB900 attached to camera left and the SB600 with a Hanson Fong Skin Glow light modifier attached camera right. I controlled the flashes using the pop-up flash on the D300 as a commander unit and each flash was set for manual. Both flashes were at 1/8 power and the camera was at 1/60 of a second at f8.

I was constantly amazed by the results that I saw on the back of the camera and the results were confirmed when I got home  and looked at the images in Lightroom.

The whole experience was a confirmation of what I had been working on and practicing with myself as a model at home. Up to this point, I was outside my comfort zone and by forcing myself to use the equipment, I think I am feeling more and more comfortable behind the camera in different situations.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 1:53 pm.

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Rusty Perez at the Irvine Spectrum

Rusty Perez performing at the Irvine Spectrum

Rusty Perez

A couple of days ago, I had the privilege of shooting one of my alumni from my coaching days at Bolsa Grande. Rusty Perez was one of the first swimmers I ever coached. Recently, I found out that he needed a ride to a performance at the Irvine Spectrum, so I offered my services and, of course, took my camera. First, Rusty can perform; he plays the guitar, harmonica, and the cajón. One of the things he does is loop his music so that he can play a short guitar riff and then build on that. When he is done, it sounds like an entire group playing together. Seriously, an amazing sound and talent.

Second, I have come a long way from the first time I shot him performing. You can see the first shots that I took here. My favorite shot is above where my SB900 is lighting up his near side and the spot lights are rim lighting him.

I started the shoot by using only available light and came up with this image. I like the way he is rim lit from behind.

Rusty Perez performing at the Irvine Spectrum shot with no flash and back lit by the spotlights.

Rusty Back Lit by Just the Spotlights

 

Then I was able to place my SB900 on a table off to the side of Rusty (camera left) to act as a main light and use the stage lights as accents on the other side. I got this image which shows his face, but is back lit by the spotlight.

Rusty Perez Performing at the Irvine Spectrum lit with an SB900 and the spotlights.

Rusty Lit by a Single SB900 and the Spotlights

 

Finally, I put my SB600 on the light stand to his left (camera right) and lit both sides of him to get this image. It looks like his face is lit by the spot light in the background and it is, but the SB600 fills in a lot of the shadows that were there before the flash was used.

Rusty Perez performing at the Irvine Spectrum lit by a SB900 and an SB600.

Rusty Lit by a SB900 and an SB600.

 

You can see the lighting set-up here. The SB900 is on the table to the left. It is behind the sign, but lights up the sign from underneath. The SB600 is near the top of the stage lights on the right, but just out of frame. You can see the flash on the tops of the stage lights.

The Lighting Set-up

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 2:25 pm.

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Critique Can Hurt and Help – Final Thoughts

Grass growing in a rock crevise in Fossil Falls

Do you like the grass in these rocks?

If you have been following me, you know that I got a very negative comment on one of my posts. You can read my responses here and here. The comment made me think about critique and it’s impact on the person being critiqued.

I think being a photographer is more than just taking pretty pictures. I think that we have a responsibility to help others with what they are doing and helping them look their best. It isn’t about being “better” than someone or making yourself seem more knowledgeable than another person. It is about becoming better by making others around you better.

Chris Becker does this better than anyone I know. His [b]school is all about helping others. He has set up the [b]school as a very friendly forum in which he helps photographers solve problems and in a manner that others can also help. He offers a “Study Hall” most every Thursday at 4pm Pacific time in which he has guests or talks about subjects that are important to photographers. He can be critical, but never in a way that makes you feel like you have been attacked or that it is something personal. Becker almost never talks about himself, but about what others are doing.

Scott Bourne is another person who I admire for the way they deal with critique. I have seen him in person critiquing images a couple of times and he is very positive in the way he gives his opinion. He points out the parts of the photo that impress him and then identifies the one thing that could be improved the most and suggests a way to improve it. and he almost always ended the critique with the statement similar to “Overall, I really like the picture.” or “Other than that, I think it’s a great image.”

Those are the two secrets about giving good, helpful critique. One, don’t make it personal or about you. If you are critiquing someone’s image, talk about the image not the person or what you have done. Two, when you are critiquing an image, be positive before you suggest ways to improve the image. And when you do make a suggestion about how to improve the image, also offer a solution about how to execute the improvement or suggestion.

Giving critique well is something that you should work on. By being able to critique a photo well, you can enhance your place in the photographic community as someone who is honest and helpful.

Lastly, remember that you opinion of the image is not shared by everyone. That is one of the things that makes photography and all art so unique. What is attractive to you is ugly to others and the other way around. Just because you don’t like some aspect of the image, doesn’t mean that others won’t find that particular feature a key part of the image. Lens flare would be a great example. Some people don’t like lens flare in any image. Others find lens flare adds to the feeling of “being there”. Neither is wrong.

The bottom line is that critique is necessary for an artist to improve, but the person giving the critique has to offer the critique in a way that does not attack the artist and also offers solutions to the problems with the image.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 9:00 am.

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Photo of the Week – Fields of Gold

A high desert field of wildflowers.

Fields of Gold

This week’s photo of the week was taken just north of the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve this field of wildflowers caught my attention. I walked around until I found the right composition and then waited until the clouds moved and covered the field in a nice, softbox shadow.

The picture was taken with a Nikon D300 and Nikkor 18-70 f3.5-4.5 lens. The exposure was for 1/160 of a second at f16 and an ISO of 400.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 9:18 am.

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5/5 Posts and Sites You Should Read for 4/23/11

Here are the photography blog posts and sites that I found this week that I think you as a photographer should read. Not all of them are always related to photography, but they are worth looking at and will probably make you think.

POSTS

OnOne Layers for Lightroom – A new plug-in that adds the versatility of layers to Adobe’s Lightroom.

25 Great Spots to Photograph – From Life magazine. Great images.

Why You Should Strive To Be Unrecognizable In Five Years – A very interesting read about how to change for the better.

AF Settings + Practice = Sharp – How to get good focus from Moose Peterson

Choose Your Risk – Another good post about finding a way to change your life for the betters

 

SITES

Infrared on Photo Tidbits – Everything you wanted to know about IR and more.

50 Incredible Photography Tips – This may be the best photo site I have found. Examples, how-to, idea, inspiration.

Ken Rockwell – One of the first sites I ever visited about photography. He has an opinion and is willing to share it.

Digital Camera Resource – Need a review for a camera? It’s here.

PDN Pulse – Photo District News is one of the most accepted news source for photography.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 10:52 am.

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Textures at the Kern National Wildlife Refuge

A close up of reeds at the Kern National Wildlife Refuge

Reeds at Kern National Wildlife Refuge

The Kern National Wildlife Refuge is known for the variety of birds that use it as a stopping point on their migration routes. Most photographers would be focused on capturing images of those birds and they would come away with many good images, but when you’re shooting be sure to see all of the possible images in the area.

I saw this reeds growing out of the water and liked the repeating pattern and the texture that they presented. Using a focal length of 60mm so that the frame was filled with the reeds, I moved until I found the composition and pattern I found pleasing and took the shot.

Looking for textures is one of the methods I use when I get in a photographic funk. Finding and shooting repeating patterns makes you look at your environment in a new way and opens up the possible photographs available while you’re shooting.

The image was taken with a Nikon D70 and a Nikkor 18-70 f3.4-4.5 lens. The exposure was for 1/60 of a second at f4.5 and an ISO of 200.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 12:59 pm.

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Critique Can Hurt and Help – Pt. 2

Wow..if these are the good photos, I’d hate to see the bad ones. I’ve read some of your blog from time to time and it seems that you talk a good game but cannot produce a decent photograph. Just because you have some fairly decent equipment (not the best) for the amateur, you still have to know how to use it.
In this blog entry you state about your lens only being sharp only on certain conditions..DUH!!
same thing with the importance in lighting..DUH!!
The 2 photos of Julia above only prove my case. the left one would make a decent 8X10 at best, if you would have moved the leaves out of her head for better framing.
The photo on the right has too many things bad with it to list. But I will say it is a good shot of the railing..very sharp and clear, while Julia’s face looks out of focus. That photo should be your next topic of cropping and composition…what is all that crap on the right side of the photo.
You’re like the old saying…those who can DO, those who can’t TEACH.
Stick to teaching

I got this comment on a post recently and wrote about it and how it affected me. I think there is another, more important lesson to be learned from “Jordan” and that is that criticism is an important part of the growing process as a photographer, but I think there is a proper way to do it.

I like criticism. I have offered my portfolio many times to several people whose opinion I consider valuable and listened to what they had to say. Honestly, it wasn’t always easy. I don’t think it is easy for anyone who is passionate about what they do to listen to criticism. We have our heart and soul vested in our work and we think it is good or we would not have put it out to be reviewed.

A negative comment is like someone saying “your work sucks and therefore you suck too”, but not if the comment is well phrased. “Jordan” was mean and spiteful. He made it personal and that is why it hurt.

A positive criticism would be something phrased like “I like the lighting, but I don’t think you need all of the material on the right side of the picture. Maybe a different crop would help it.”or “I like the pose, but I think you need to work on your focus. It seems that her face was not as sharp as it could be. You might want to check to see where the focus point is located when you take the shot or work on your technique.”

Those comments point out the positive and also explains the negative and offers a way to fix it. That is what criticism should do. It should let you know what you have done right and discuss areas that need improvement and offer a way to work on those areas. When you have been critiqued like that you usually feel like you have been energized

When you get constructive criticism, you should be willing to listen and learn from it. The person is trying to be helpful and offer advice, based on their experience, about how to improve your photography. If you ignore them or tell yourself that they are wrong because they told you that they found something they didn’t like in your image you are doing yourself and them a disservice. You are wasting their time and you are fooling yourself.

Hopefully the person giving the critique is being honest. Listen to them. They are probably not the only person who that particular thought about your image. If the purpose of you seeking critique is to improve, you need to be willing to be honest about your work also. They are seeing the image without the passion and emotional attachment that you have about the effort went into it.

They are telling you about the finished product. They don’t know the effort that it took to capture the moment. They don’t have the memories that are attached to the image. They are telling you about what they see and how it makes them feel.

And that is what photography is about.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 12:01 pm.

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Photo of the Week – Chains That Bind

Chain that anchor the breakwater in Crescent City

Chains That Bind

After the Japan earthquake, the resulting tsunami hit the  northern California town of Crescent City pretty hard. I was a bit surprised by this because I thought their breakwater was fairly substantial. Made of 20 ton Dolos, the breakwater is a large wave absorbing structure.

These chains and cables hold each Dolos in place along the breakwater. I liked the contrast between the rusty chain and the grey shackles. I think it shows the strength needed to fight back the sea without showing the whole breakwater.

The image was taken with a Nikon D70 and a Nikkor 18-70 f3.4-4.5 lens. The exposure was 1/250 of a second at f4.5 and an ISO of 200.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 1:45 pm.

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5/5 Posts and Sites You Should Read for 4/15/11

Here are the photography blog posts and sites that I found this week that I think you as a photographer should read. Not all of them are always related to photography, but they are worth looking at and will probably make you think.

POSTS

Don’t be a Troll – An article that relates to a comment I got recently. You can see my post here.

A Trip Around the World in Six Minutes – A YouTube time-lapse video showing Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, St. Petersbourg, Shanghai, Tokyo, New york and London. Very well done.

SF to Paris in Two Minutes – Another time-lapse on YouTube of  the view from an airline window as to passes over the pole. It includes the northern lights.

What Film Have Been Shot in Your Neighborhood – A Google Map of LOTS of film locations.

10 Postures That Will Boost Your Performance – I’m not sure I agree, but it’s an interesting post.

SITES

Ron Galbraith – Great insight into the photography world.

The Ultimate Exposure Computer – A great way to determine correct exposure with out a light meter.

Philip Bloom – If you are using a DSLR as a video camera, you should look here.

Bob Atkins – Lots of information on photography and Canon gear.

Digital Photo Magazine – I think the title says it all.

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Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 10:15 am.

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