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23 July 2016 @ 08:22 pm
Tuesday, July 12, 2016 – Travel Day

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016 – Slounge Day At Aulani

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Thursday, July 14, 2016 – At Aulani

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Friday, July 15, 2016 – Dolphin Sail and Snorkeling

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Saturday, July 16, 2016 – Lunch At Assaggio’s With Stefani

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Sunday, July 17, 2016 – Morning Swim, Manoa Valley Rain Forest Hike

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Monday, July 18, 2016 – Diamond Head, and Dinner Out With Stefani

Hee hee, my original placeholder verbiage:

“Today, we hiked up a dead volcano’s crater edge. Later, we went to Outback Steakhouse, largely because my daughter said, ‘Steak!’ Yes, Dear.”

Let’s try that again, shall we?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016 – Around Aulani, And Photographic…Fail? Flail.

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Yeah, working on one of the sunset photographs, I kept getting the feeling that something was missing. Then I remembered what it was that felt like the missing part. Yep, I’m a geek…

DSC_4419A - Sunset That led to this… DSC_4419B - Sunset (TIE Fighters)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 – Polynesian Cultural Center

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Thursday, July 21, 2016 – Travel Day

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The photos that you see in this post should open in their own, new windows. The entire set of photos and videos can be found here.

I hope you enjoyed this.

If you are still reading this, thanks!
15 June 2016 @ 06:18 pm
[Edited to add pictures
-- Me.]

Thursday, June 9 – Travel Day (OAK to ATL)

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Friday, June 10 – Morning Walk, Infantry Museum, Silk Aerials, Meritage
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Saturday, June 11 - Farmers Market, Antiquing, Lighting Test, Epic
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Sunday, June 12 - Rafting, Zip-Line, Anatomy Photos, Dinner At Home
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Monday, June 13 – Quiet Day, Zumba and Silk Aerials #2, Dinner (Chinese)
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Tuesday, June 14 – Travel Day (SNAFU to FUBAR)

DSC_3175Comp - Lightning In Atlanta

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[EDIT: Pictures have now been uploaded. You can find the entire set here. Enjoy!]
20 August 2014 @ 09:17 pm
As I stated in PART 1 - ITALY, PART 2 - AUSTRIA & GERMANY, and PART 3 - SCOTLAND & WALES, it may be helpful if you follow along with the photographs. The link is here, and it should open in a new window. Enjoy!

Tue., July 22 – Wexford to Waterford
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Wed., July 23 – Waterford (Reginald’s Tower, Waterford Crystal, Medieval Museum)
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Thu., July 24 – Cashel (Rock Of Cashel, Grey Abbey)
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Fri., July 25 – Cahir Castle & Swiss Cottage
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Sat., July 26 – Travel Day To Birr
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Sun., July 27 – Birr Castle
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Mon., July 28 - Travel Day To Dublin
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Tues., July 29 – Dublin (Trinity College) and Stag & Hen Parties
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Wed., July 30 – Dublin (Guinness, Wedding Rehearsal, Rehearsal Dinner)
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Thur., July 31 – Game Day, I Mean Wedding Day
We started off with a quiet morning of breakfast and slounging in the room. Then it was time to go, go, go.

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Fri., August 1 – Dublin Castle
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Sat., Aug. 2 – Travel Day Home
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If you're still here and reading, thanks! I hope you all enjoyed that.
As I stated in PART 1 - ITALY, and PART 2 - AUSTRIA & GERMANY, it may be helpful if you follow along with the photographs. The link is here, and it should open in a new window. Enjoy!

Mon., July 14 – Travel Day Munich to Edinburgh
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Tues., July 15 – Edinburgh Castle
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Wed., July 16 – Travel Day to Inverness
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Thu., July 17 - Inverness
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Fri., July 18 – Travel Day To Stirling
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Sat., July 19 – Stirling Castle
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Sun., July 20 – Travel Day To Cardiff
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Mon., July 21 – Travel Day (Cardiff to Rosslare / Wexford)
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The Fourth and Final Part of this adventure can be found here, if you're interested in reading farther.
As I said in PART 1 - Italy, it may be helpful if you follow along with the photographs. The link is here, and it should open in a new window. Enjoy!

Mon., July 7 – Travel to Spittal, Austria
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Tues., July 8 – Spittal, Top of the Mountain, Long Walks
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Wed., July 9 – Travel Day To Salzburg
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Thur., July 10 – Salzburg (Festung/Fortress, Nonnenburg Abbey, Mazz-Café)
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Fri., July 11 – Salzburg to Munich
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Sat., July 12 - Munich
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Sun., July 13 - Munich
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PART 3 - Scotland and Wales can be found here, if you're interested in reading farther.
20 August 2014 @ 08:29 pm

It may be helpful if you follow along with the photographs. The link is here, and it should open in a new window. Enjoy!

Sun./Mon., June 29-30 – Travel Day SFO -> Pisa

Today was the outbound leg of the trip, and likely to be the longest by distance and time of the entire trip. We started out by getting a ride to BART and taking that all the way into SFO. The new-to-us extension was really nice, and dropped us right into the International Terminal. We’re told that there’s a People Mover train around the airport also, now.

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All in, if you take into account time zone changes to begin with, it took 24 hours of actually traveling to get here. We left the house at 1 PM (+9 would be 10 PM in Italy), and arrived into Pisa just after 10 PM the next day. Yeah, we went thud!

Tues., July 1 – Pisa, Italy

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Wed., July 2 – Vicenza

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Thur., July 3 – Padova (Padua) & Fireworks

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Fri., July 4 – Venezia (Venice) & Murano Glass

We took the train into Venice today with HuskerJAG and Lt.Colonel. They were looking to finish buying gifts for the bridal party. To do that, they were going to the island of Murano by water bus. Hey, we’d never been there, and it sounded like fun. Murano is apparently known for fine glass…everything.

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Sat., July 5 – Bolzano, S. Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

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Sun., July 6 – Top Of Vicenza, Marostica

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Part 2 - can be found here, if you're interested in reading farther.
This week's photo assignment at Project 52 came with a twist -- my group wasn't allowed to show our faces. Yep, a self-portrait without my face showing. Show the essence of me, as it were. I can think of a few ways to do that. This one seemed to work today. Somehow, I think several of you will agree. (*Grin*)


If you're interested, Project 52 is free, open to anybody, and you can start any time you want.

I hope you guys are having a good week.
30 March 2013 @ 10:35 am
This was a photographed for my Project 52 assignment of "Red Balloon." We had a great time pulling this one off. Now all I need is a Tesla coil...

DSC_2607A - Kidlet and Two Balloons
We were asked to describe out Best and Worst Experiences in Photography so far.

I have to say that my Worst Experience(s) are mostly related to the frustrations that came from not having the creativity or inspiration enough to complete some of the assignments this past year. If I were in business, that sort of thing would cost me my business, I would think.

Best experience: I had a friend ask me to do their holiday family photo with a twist. They wanted it to appear as if they were being photographed on a police lineup wall, complete with height chart. I managed to pull that one off really well.

What I did right: I pre-planned and gave it a trial run before they showed up. I made a note of where I had set the lights and how, so that things would be smoother the day they arrived. That day, while I was worried about things going right, I was at least focused on them, and what they wanted. It wasn’t about me; I was able to concentrate on giving them a good result and a good experience, having already run through it beforehand.

Other best experience(s) are the results of having a really strong concept in mind. Puzzling and working through the technical aspects became (almost) fun ways to bring the concept through. Examples include a silhouette self-portrait showing Power, or the selfie right before shaving off half of my beard last October. (Yes, there’s a story there for those who don’t know already.) I did two portrait sessions with people I knew that turned out very strongly in large part to having a strong idea of what I wanted walking in the door.
I did my shots for the recipe assignment this week. The first one I did, I had to re-learn not to shoot in a hurry. That is to say: Don't try to shoot in an hour and a half the items which will take that long just to prep, then get your lights out, setup, and calibrated before picking up the Kidlet from daycare and using said ingredients for dinner… It leads to composition errors which would be seen if you were taking your time! It's not a bad shot, really. The Catawampus Stir Fry looks good to me for each individual ingredient, but the arrangement of the bowls was too much for my Photoshop skills to fix, being a noticeable few degrees off square. Spinach, Bean Sprouts, Tomato, Celery, Carrots, Mushrooms, Ginger Root. Add meat of choice, and maybe some Sesame oil and stir cook until things are done.

DSC_2325A - 2013 P52 Week 3 Ingredients - STIR FRY

So, I did the right thing in my own mind, and re-shot it this morning to fix what I saw as a design flaw. The Chicken Soup Starter went much better in my humble opinion. This is how I started Chicken Soup today. I started by sautéing some onion and carrots. Then I added the celery, cilantro, mushrooms, garlic, and rice. Add chicken into the crock pot and let it cook until done. Yummy!
DSC_2329A - 2013 P52 Week 3 - Ingredients (Re-Shoot) - CHICKEN SOUP
23 December 2012 @ 09:15 pm
I'm told my photos should tell a story. Here's this story: Cooking my Christmas Lasagna is easy. Start with enough ground beef to hold up the stirring spoon (*Grin*), add some stuff, add some more stuff, add even more stuff to the stuff already there, and let it all simmer all day. Then add that to about 17 pounds of cheeses. It might be a good idea to separate the meat and cheese with layers of noodles.
DSC_1393A - Cooking The Lasagna Sauce

These are some of the special treats I had at this year's Winter Bash. I did some photo practice while waiting for the first guests to arrive.
DSC_1417A - Bottle of Glengoyne 21 Year Old Scotch DSC_1421A - Bottle of Glenlivet 21 Year Old Scotch
21 November 2012 @ 09:51 pm
From the Project 52 site:
"This is ... a set up casual shot meant to look more like a grab shot, more editorial, more 'snapshot' - ish. Not to say it won't be carefully styled, carefully lit and in the perfect position for your shot, but that it should look to the viewer as if it was shot at a party, dinner, restaurant ... you get the idea.

The tag line for this is "You Just Had To Be There..."

I sketched out a few ideas beforehand. The one that I've got the clearest mental image for is this one. I got the bottle inset shot done first. I'm trying to be able to do the overall shot by critique time. I got it submitted with an hour to go! (*Grin*)

DSC_1129A - Adult Beverage Sketch Idea

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So, I'm pushing what I can do. So far, so good I think.
08 November 2012 @ 11:04 pm
I'm still developing my skills through Project 52. Behind the cut are many pictures from the various projects across the past several months. Each picture will open in a separate window, if you're interested in looking at a larger version without losing your place.

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29 June 2012 @ 11:29 am
I was thinking out loud on a forum this morning. The original question is/was "How has your portfolio or shooting changed since starting Project 52?" As a spot check, I thought I would post my thoughts here as another step along the journey. There were a few people ahead of me in the thread. You'll see references to things they said, too.

Lily said:
"…I haven't thought much about shooting for a portfolio. I just don't consider myself good enough to have images worthy of one yet. Right now I feel like I'm just finding my "voice."

and Hiram said:
"…I am beginning to see that some of my work could be in an ad somewhere but generally unsatisfied. I feel my pics lack the extra snap that makes them memorable. I still have not figured out what I do best…"

These statements resonate the most with me at the moment. I will say that I actually have thought about shooting for a portfolio, but having looked at the best pictures I think I've done to this point, I'm still all over the place - no focus (pardon the pun). For last year's "Portfolio" assignment, I ended up with two books, people and non-people, and still didn't seem to have a clear "voice" through them.

I like working with people, but still find approaching strangers for these assignments scary. I'm thinking of the shoot I did with the firefighters near my house late last year. That went well, I thought. So did the shoot with the family in the park at sunset. The third time I did that for the magazine shoot assignment, although I thought I did a good job with it, my subject's daughter (also a photographer in her own right) took one look at it and exclaimed "Oh, he doesn't know where to put his lights at all!" (*Sigh*)

I still like event shooting. More to the point, I like the shots I've been getting at dances, weddings, Ren Faires more and more, especially when I can control the lighting even a little bit. I can see myself as, say, a wedding second shooter at this point. (Yes, I know full well that I can't use those in my book. It's not my gig.) I'm still learning that detail shots can tell the story, too. How to do them well, and preferably quickly in that situation, well that's why I'm practicing, practicing, practicing…

But in looking through my "Portfolio Fodder" from last December through now, there are only a few shots of people that don't include me ("Power" assignment) or my daughter ("Entrepreneur" with shears) that aren't taken at a Ren Faire I was working. Hard to call myself a people photographer that way.

My still life and product portfolio fodder, though, has come a long way quickly. There might be something to that, who knows? Am I up to a level I can show people? I don't know. (Trust me - that's a step up from "Hell, No.") When my concepts for certain assignments fall through because I can't find people to photograph, I find myself looking for a still life situation. That doesn't come easily to me yet. Perl_Monger said that he likes conceptual work. Things like the "Hot," or "Summer," or even "Your Town" open-ended assignments are still the toughest assignments for me to do.

I've learned a lot from doing these assignments, and Don's Creative Live workshops concentrate that knowledge, certainly. I've learned a lot from Project 52 over the past year and a half. There are a several of you whom I look up to and respect because you deliver top notch stuff week in and week out. I'm building a foundation.
Hair - Catching Up, Doing The Work

I didn’t do the Hair assignment in time for the deadline, but I did want to try out a lighting idea that I had read about from Don’s site a while back. I wanted to do the work, as it were. The idea was to shoot as if for a hair salon. Feature the hair, or the tools of the trade, in an upscale way. SilkFiddlerette came down recently to visit, and she kindly offered to let me try the lighting idea on her to see if I could make it work. It only half worked, but that’s alright. We had fun with it.

Looking at the first picture and having listened to the critique of the other pictures at the time, I know in my own mind I did the lighting of the hair correctly. I know that her looking off-camera, as opposed to directly into the camera, gives the viewer an easier ability to look at the hair itself. Girls Looking Off Camera At Stuff, as Don says. So there’s that at least.

Then we had more fun changing her hair around. Yeah, I couldn’t resist that Lord Of The Rings idea…

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Week 22 – Your Town

This was an editorial shoot, inviting people to see the better aspects of your town as a business and / or travel destination. It should be a mix of horizontal and vertical shots, as well as a mix of wide angle and in-close detail shots. I failed on that last part. Oops. I wasn’t about to shoot Wally World or a strip mall as my town’s best draw, so I went with things like us being on the edge of agriculture with a really good trail system in place.

I shot my cover shot at sunrise on Solstice Day, just as the sun crested the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Next I went to City Hall. It’s a pretty building. I later realized that I wanted another vertical shot, so I re-worked that photograph. From there, I headed out to the trail that leads up next to the river. I had thrown my bicycle into the back of the car for just this purpose. I should re-shoot the one with my bicycle in the frame so that it appears larger in the frame. Lastly, I came back to a park that has a set of water jets that kids can run through. I found what I hoped was an interesting angle and got that last shot.

Pictures Of My Town Are Behind Here.Collapse )

Don was teaching a workshop over this past weekend, so there was no critique on this assignment (yet…). Let’s see how I feel in the next couple of days for re-shooting and submitting. I know what I learned, anyway, and what I would do differently. I realized after I submitted that I should have gone to the local Farmer’s Market, or at least the fruit stand that GuildMistress frequents.

Week 23 – Summer

I got the idea for my summer shot on the day it was 100º F. GuildMistress had brought home a few lemons to do a lemon custard with. Before she juiced them, I asked if I could use them to try a still life shot with. I had the idea of ice cold lemonade, and re-creating the lemon graphic on the label of a well-known lemon concentrate in the process. Here’s what I came up with, along with the setup shot. The second idea is not commercial, but it was taken on the same hot day. It does communicate that, I think:

Summer Lemonade Behind Here.Collapse )

I hope you are all having a terrific week. I'll see you in the comments below.
I ended up skipping the Week 19 assignment. The idea was to create a concept photograph of “Hot.” As Don stated in the assignment, “Babes in bikinis and a struck match... meh. It's been done. Think farther out - think farther in.” For whatever reason, including the school year winding down and Valhalla weekend and a lack of inspiration (*Sigh*), I just didn’t get it done. I really should go back and do this shot this summer.

The Week 20 assignment was a product shot which includes eggs. There was a given layout, with the admonition to not change the layout, specifically not to move the given text location. Don said, “Specifics: A Product shot of a product that is used to cook, with eggs. Big spoon with eggs. Egg cooker with eggs. Spatula with eggs. Pan with eggs. Colorful bowl with eggs.” A few lines later he said, “Eggs. Eggs raw. Eggs cooked. Eggs mixed. Eggs in a bowl. Eggs with ham.”

Puns and Dr. Seuss references ensued. Words included, but were not limited to: Eggzactly, eggcentricity, eggciting, eggsposure, and someone who offered a nice eggsplanation of what they were doing.

My first attempt was a still life of ingredients for an omelet, but I had two problems with the shot. The first problem was that I had my layout composition configured wrongly. I say that, because I thought the layout I had for the ingredients would be both interesting and complimentary to the overall design. I was wrong. My second problem was that I missed the “Product Shot” aspect of the assignment when I was designing my layout. Oops.

The critique was along the lines of what I mentioned above. The black text got lost in the shadow side of the eggs, above the plate. The lighting is nice, but the diagonal design did not work with the layout as given, although it would be a nice shot on its’ own. Oh, yeah. That’s a really cute Voice Activated Light stand I’ve got there, too. (*Grin*)

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It turns out that Don loved this shot so much better, in that it laid out nicely, and my turning the title text to white was in-bounds because I didn’t move the text. He said that with this shot, it looks like I’m starting to get the idea of this kind of lighting, and am getting more consistent with it. Hunh. Here I thought I was struggling with it, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed it to be.

Since I’m writing this more than a week after, I can say that I did not do the Hair shot from Week 21. I have an idea to be able to do it, but did not get it done before the deadline for critique. I’ll do it, though. It’s the kind of shot which should be in my building portfolio.

I will need to concentrate on lighting the hair. I should have the subject looking off camera to greater focus attention on the hair. Hmmm – GLOCAS – “Girls Looking Off-Camera At Stuff.” I’ll try that, too. Ballet hands instead of flat hands if they’re on the head. I would not have known that one before the critique.

I'm still learning a lot. There's still time to jump in. I encourage anybody who wants the challenge of real-life assignments to join in any time. It's free, just show up.

Coming up: Week 22, Your Town. As Don says: "Show us your town. It is a cover shot opportunity as well as an editorial ‘story’. Tell us something in about where you live in a set of shots meant to attract visitors and business."

Week 23's assignment is "Why Summer Rocks." Basic idea: Do an ad shot featuring summer activities - swimming, picnics, barbecues, cold adult beverages, etc. Should be interesting!
05 June 2012 @ 05:36 pm
Yeah, I'm having fun watching the Transit of Venus today.

DSC_7890A - 2012 Transit of Venus
Week 17 – Compose A Bad Photograph
The challenge of this assignment was to compose a bad photograph. It had to be well-lit, technically correct. Technical glitches like being four stops over-exposed, or out of focus didn’t count. It’s harder than you might think. What could make a photograph “bad?”

Several good suggestions and ideas came out of this assignment. Ideas ranged from boring, cliché, forgettable subjects with no "gesture," to not being able to figure out the intention or story of the subject, to busy backgrounds that distract your (*Squirrel!!!*) attention.

I decided to try an idea where you couldn’t necessarily figure out what the subject was – cobwebs in the rosemary. It was side-lit by the sun (a good technique to bring out detail), but it was so busy with light and dark that even the teacher pulled up short and said,
“Wow, that’s terrible. That’s the kind of picture you might see in an art store, walk up to it, and say something to the effect of ‘Is that Art? Do I like it? Am I supposed to like it?’ Congratulations, you made a terrible one!”

WIN! We all had a good laugh over that one.

IMG_0923 - 2012 P52 Week 17 - Awful - Cobwebs In The Rosemary

Week 18 – Asset List
This is a tough one. Make a list of your assets. I know Don is asking about not just the tangible, as in "gear," but also the intangible, as in people who support you, special knowledge you might have, places your kids know well like ballet school, etc. Here goes nothin’.

Tangible – Equipment
• Although I’ve got a history growing up with different cameras, I’ve currently got only one DSLR camera and a [Piece of Sh... edit: “Not Very Good”] point-and-shoot. I really should get a second camera before calling myself a Pro. It has something to do about backups on top of backups. (*Grin*)

• I do have some good lenses for the type of shooting I do. I’ve got two kit lenses (one short and one long), which do a nice job. I don’t knock kit lenses. They still out-shoot my last camera. I splurged a little (OK, a lot) and bought the equivalent lenses in f/2.8 for when I need to see in the dark, and for really shallow depth of field shots. I like those sometimes, depending on what I’m shooting.

• I’ve got two small strobe flashes, which I have learned how to use across the past two years. I also bought three Einstein flashes late last year, and have been on the learning curve with them as well.

• I have a few stands to put the lights on, but I still need a couple of boom arms to keep the stands out of some of my shots… I’ve got a couple of umbrellas (could use one or two more), and I have a background stand that I bought from the same guy who sold me the Einsteins.

• I have a garage I can occasionally use for projects, when I’m not using the side of the van as a reflector, of course.

Intangibles – Things That Aren’t “Stuff”
This is where it gets tougher. How do I sell myself; what do I know I know?
• I have a wife who doesn’t like to be in front of the camera, but will occasionally help with fleshing out an idea, or even generating one when I can’t. She also rolls her eyes pretty well when she laughs at me.

• I have a passion for various things – people watching, music, dance, math, teaching. I’m a teacher. I have been for 22 years now. I’m used to taking tasks and breaking them down into workable chunks, but I’m not always certain how to apply that to my photography, and yet it applies to photography as well.

• I’m eclectic. It’s all important, and all inter-related.

• I have you guys in Project 52. I don’t discount that. You guys are an inspiration and a support.

• I have a developing eye in my photography towards simplifying subjects from busy backgrounds and distracting elements. I’m still learning that sometimes what is distracting to others isn’t distracting to me, though. The opposite is also sometimes true, in that what I find distracting, others might not even notice.

For this week’s photo, I’ve got a triptych that I made of the eclipse this past weekend. I had two weddings across the weekend, the second one incorporated the timing of the eclipse into their ceremony. One of the pair teaches science. Go figure. We were just that little bit too far south to be center to the shadow’s path. Ah, well. The weddings were lovely. I tried to make a point of staying out of the way of their photographers, but still get some good shots for friends. There were a lot of ballroom dancers in dark rooms – a good way to practice timing, certainly.

The second picture just amuses me greatly. That is all.
DSC_7582Triptych - Solar Eclipse DSC_7598A
My participation in my photo class called Project 52 has continued. Week 14 was an opportunity to do a lifestyle photo of a Picnic Lunch, a sandwich or similar lunch meal. Think ‘brown bag’ with a fancy bag. The more styled, the better. The ad is about Old Age. It should be about how a certain pharmaceutical product, or natural herb supplement, can help oldsters have fun again. “Let’s Do Lunch… the Way We Did Back Then…”

I ended up skipping that assignment, although I shouldn’t have. The pictures and ideas that everybody else did that week were amazing. You can see those in this article, here.

Week 15 involved a gardening shot. The idea was to do a ‘welcome to spring’ gardening shot. This was a sort of ‘free’ shoot. We could do what we wanted to, but the focus is on gardening. “If you are a portrait shooter, do a portrait. If you are loving still life, do one of those. The client is simply looking for something to use to catch the eye. They are a small hardware store and the image is for their ‘Get Ready for Spring’ store promotion.

I chose to do a concept shot. I was trying for a motivational feel of action about to happen. I put the focus purposely on the tool in her hand. Lighting is morning sunshine 90º to camera right.
DSC_7231A - 2012 P52 Week 15 Gardening (Alternate Crop).jpg

One guy laughingly said it looked like a horror movie poster. I agreed, really. I told him something to the effect of, "Yeah. GARDENING 2 - THE PLANTING. This time it's personal." It wasn’t well received in the weekly critique by the teacher, but that’s alright. Not everything I do is going to be wonderful. Yet. (*Grin*)

Week 16 was a magazine shot dealing with Sports. “This shot would run on the left side of a double page spread. So that makes it vertical. Just take all of what you have learned, your inherent talent for excellence, and make a killer shot of ‘sports’ within the genre you love. If you are a people shooter, do something with people. If you are lovin’ still life, there ya go.

I want to make sure that you all know you are to MAKE this shot. An athlete on the field at a game is NOT what this shot is about. Light it. Compose it. MAKE it your shot. If you use Natural light, make sure it is good natural light.

This is NOT a grab shot... this is a carefully crafted image to be used to SELL the reader on how cool, fun, exciting, intellectually stimulating or whatever you want to say, your sport is.

A couple of weeks back, school #2 did a Jump Rope event. I took my camera so that 1. I could practice shots like this, and 2. the principal could have some shots for their website. Lighting is natural hard side light, as appropriate to the subject. I used a circular polarizer to deepen the sky blues. The camera is on the ground aiming up. While not completely Straight Out Of The Camera, it's pretty close.
DSC_7125A DSC_7071A

I also did a shot that involved a One Hour Improvisation. I gave myself an hour, specific props, and the restriction of trying to do it with natural light and tried to see what I could come up with in that time frame. I don’t consider myself a still life shooter, but it’s coming along nicely, I think.

Lighting is Natural Light coming in through the garage door to camera left. White reflector boards were placed camera left (to block some light) and right (to bring out the highlights over the top of the fins). A black reflector board was placed below the camera to give the mask a flat black to reflect, rather than my gar..."studio," or me.
DSC_7357A - 2012 P52 Week 16 Aquatic Still Life from this DSC_7369A - Setup (Reflectors)
13 April 2012 @ 02:16 pm
This week's assignment over at Project 52 officially is "Let's Pour A Beer!" Unofficially, it can be any kind of drink. This is the second time I did one of these, the last time being this assignment last year when I photographed a bottle of hard cider.

This year, I had a different inspiration. Anybody who has met my wife would understand the humor in this shot for how she views her caffeinated, carbonated, caramel colored, malt flavored battery acid.

The Steps I Took To Get There...Collapse )

All of these steps led to this as a final shot.
DSC_6527CompA - P52 2012 Week 13 Pour Shot - Pepsi As My Wife Sees It
13 April 2012 @ 10:04 am
2012 Project 52 - Week 12
Last week's Project 52 Assignment was to create a one-light portrait of an artist against a simple background as if for an arts magazine. It wasn't supposed to be an "environmental" shot, for example creating a photo of a violinist in a concert hall, but rather against a simple, plain background like a wall or other similar backdrop. I remember first hearing and learning how to do this sort of thing in the Lighting 101 area of Strobist.blogspot.com.

I haven't had a lot of luck recently getting my friends to come sit with me, so I went to the Kidlet well one more time. We've got this chalkboard that she likes to draw on. She drew the heart, and remembered that she had the shirt that would work with it. I set up the light to one side and the vertical card to the other side to fill in the shadow side of her face. I put the backdrop a few feet behind her to allow it to be that little bit darker, and off we went.

DSC_6230A - The Artist (2012 P52 Week 12 One Light Portrait)

There's A Setup Shot Behind The Cut If You'd Like To See It.Collapse )

Lighting For Glasses, Lighting For A Passport
The other project I've been trying to practice with involving faces specifically involves trying to light faces with glasses. I've got this silly idea that I should be able to have some way to take my own passport photo well enough, even with the restrictions that come from the passport agency directly here and here.

Some of the restrictions include shooting to a square layout (2" by 2") and having ones head be a certain size within that space, which is not a problem. Be properly exposed and color adjusted. Yep. Don't cast shadows on the background or on the side of the face. OK, I can handle that, too.

The couple of restrictions that get me are "No glare on the glasses" and "Please remember that photos must not be digitally enhanced or altered to change your appearance in any way." I don't know if that means that I can't darken the glasses to my normal skin tone or not, since that really wouldn't be altering my appearance, just altering the file itself along the same lines as color correcting, cropping, and the like.

So, trying to get it right in camera as much as I possibly can, I've been practicing:
The Rest Of The Story Is Behind This Cut. Go On. Click It. You Know You Want To Kill A Minute And A Half Reading It. Right? (*Grin*)Collapse )

It's still a work in progress. But it's a lot closer than I used to be!
DSC_6444A - Back Lit Umbrella into Front V Cards

I will happily take thoughts, comments, and constructive criticism below.
13 April 2012 @ 08:38 am
This was an idea my wife had for a picture - three generations of hands in one photo, from above. She had seen one like it not that long ago that had five generations' worth of hands in it. I had it in my mind based on something I was learning about recently to try it by cross lighting directly from the sides of the hands, as opposed to lighting from the camera's point-of-view.

DSC_6417A - Generational Hands (Cross Lit)

This follow-up idea was mine. I kind of like it in black and white. My wife likes it in color. I think the cross-light does bring a certain evocative quality to it either way.
DSC_6430A - Generational Double Hands ==> DSC_6430BW - Generational Double Hands
I was playing with my macro bellows and an old Minolta lens to get these shots. The crops are pretty much what I saw in camera, which I thought was really dang cool.

Heh, when I first saw this come up on the screen, my mind ran straight to the docking bay on the Death Star in Star Wars. All it needs is for me to overlay the Millennium Falcon, right? (*Grin*)
DSC_6157A - USB End

(Yes, it's the end-on view of a USB cable)

Could this be the new beauty dish with barn door attachment points?
DSC_6208A - Battery Pole

What That Second Shot Actually Is, and How I Did It Is Behind The Cut.Collapse )

Coming up in the next couple of weeks:
Week 12 - A One-Light Portrait
Week 13 - Pour Shot (Oh, now doesn't that just bring back memories of last year...)
21 March 2012 @ 05:01 pm
The concept this week over at Project 52 was to convey Power through a photograph. There were no size or proportion restraints. BW, Color, Film, Digital, People, Landscape, Still Life... whatever. Show "Power."

I had two ideas in mind for this, but I only managed to get to one of them. My first idea was a sunset shot through the windmill farm between Rio Vista and Fairfield. That didn't happen. For my second shot...

Let's just say that I hate doing self-portraits. I'm just not that pretty. But, this is a concept shot. I don't have to be pretty, right? :P

The inspiration for this shot is Joe McNally's Naked Power, Amazing Grace series. I wanted to do it as more of a rim / back lit silhouette light situation, as you see here. I couldn't get someone to sit with me, so a selfie it is. Hey, rightkindofme, this is the shot I was talking about the other week.

DSC_6045BW - 2012 P52 Week 10 - Power

Hey, at least I know I can do this shot / lighting if I need to. (*Grin*)

Format is my camera's native, although I did crop a little closer in that same ratio because this is how I envisioned the shot in the first place.

The Setup Shot Is Behind The Cut, For Those Who Want To Know How I Did It.Collapse )

A question was asked of me about this shot: It looks really great and has beautiful lighting and mood. How did you focus at the right spot and put your arm and head at the right spot?

I was working at about f11 or so and my camera's max. sync speed to kill as much ambient as I could. That aperture will give me enough depth of field to cover what I need to at that distance (about 10', and about 80 mm on my lens, if I remember right.)

The answer to your question, though, is that I was working exactly parallel to the focus plane (perpendicular to the camera, pure profile, say it however you like). So my face and arm were all exactly the same distance from the camera. I set my camera to Auto Focus (a cheat, I admit) knowing it will focus on the closest thing to it. That's why I had the important parts all at the same distance from the camera. I triggered the camera itself with an infra-red remote. The camera focused, tripped the shutter, and the radio remote on top of the camera then triggered the flash at the right time.

The critique is tonight. We'll see what the teacher thinks of it.
[Edited To Add: The teacher liked it for being strong and effective. He also liked that I didn't lose the hair to the background, that there was detail all the way around the edge. Yay!]
20 March 2012 @ 09:59 pm
The assignment last week in Project 52 was to come up with cover art for a (faux) artist covering Joni Mitchell's "Amelia." Since it's CD cover art, the photos had to be square, and attempt to fit with the mood and/or imagery of a given set of lyrics on the main track of that CD.

The lyrics mention the desert, jets, contrails like guitar strings, Amelia (Earhart), journeys, love and mistakes made.

When I first read through the lyrics, my first thought went to Amelia Earhart and how she's missing, which led me to sketch ideas of trying to do something with jet contrails on a guitar (which somebody else did that week, to really good effect) to a six-person Missing Man formation. For whatever reason, that was the image that was strongest in my head, and the first I fully sketched out. I have always had a strong reaction to the Missing Man formation.

I tried it a couple of times, eventually coming up with this base image at the March Pryankster Group Rehearsal, which was located not far from the flight paths in and out of the Oakland airport. From there, it was a test of my compositing skills to get the image below.
DSC_5936A - Amelia (Missing Man Formation)

The second shot happened after school last Tuesday. I gave myself an hour to find a spot on a lonely two-lane road in the hills south of town. The problem, of course, is that there's traffic in the late afternoon hours in those hills south of town, as people have this strange notion that some of those roads are faster that the more common, larger roads. So, yeah. I tried in a couple of places, occasionally having to wait for traffic to go by and clear out of the shot, go into the lane, get the shot(s) before the next car comes by in either direction.

At the end of my hour, I had a couple of usable shots (I hoped), and came home. From there, post-processing gave me the darker skies to bring out the storm that was there already, the brighter, more contrasty road, and road repairs (!) because roads should not have all kinds of tar sealant to fill in the cracks, right? (*Grin*)
DSC_5969A - 2012 P52 CD Cover - Amelia