Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Total Experience

So, this past Monday, August 21, 2017, there was a total solar eclipse across the United States. Like any good photographer, I saw it as an opportunity for photos.

Since Monday, I have seen a lot of amazing images of the eclipse. Sadly, mine really don't measure up fully. Living in the path of totality is great, but despite my initial aspirations of heading somewhere scenic for the event, all the hype surrounding it helped make the decision for me to stay home.

My family and I sat in the backyard and watched the whole thing. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the moon start to cover the sun, and then to experience the moment that it fully covered the sun. The drop in temperature and light levels as the sun was more and more covered were amazing to witness. My children even went in to get blankets as things started to cool off.

I started taking photos from the very beginning, and didn't stop until the sun was completely uncovered once more. I didn't have a set interval for the photos, and manually triggered the camera when I felt I should. I had decided that, as much as I would love to get some amazing photos, that I was going to concentrate more on just experiencing it, while getting some photos along the way.

My setup was fairly simple. I don't have equipment to auto track the movement of the sun, although that would have been helpful. I shot with my 70-200mm lens with a Tamron 2x teleconverter, and obviously used a tripod. I had purchased, from Amazon, a small sheet of solar film that I made into a filter for my lens. For triggering purposes, I use an app call DSLRDashboard on my phone. This allowed me to remotely trigger the camera, as well as access a live view image to assist in adjusting the camera as necessary. I used auto exposure bracketing, to help ensure that I would get a good exposure. By setting the 2 second self-timer on the camera, it automatically fired off all 3 exposures each time.

The above GIF is the result a quite a bit of work in Lightroom and Photoshop. Much of that work was manually aligning the images since I don't have a tracking device. It's not the spectacular images or videos that you've seen elsewhere, but it is something. The file size is larger than I had expected, so hopefully it loads well for you.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Facebook Ad Experience

On April 8th of this year, while wasting some time on Facebook, a notification popped up. Facebook was offering me a $30 coupon to "boost" my post of the photo seen here. Well, if they're going to let me do it for free, then I'll definitely take them up on it.

I set it up to last 7 days and use the full $30. If nothing else, it would give me a chance to see whether or not boosting a post was worth it, and it could provide some material for a blog post, this blog post.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Natural Light Photography, Good or Bad? | Part 1

The other day my wife and I were discussing, in a round about way, portrait photography. She mentioned a photographer that many people she knows have used to take portraits of their children and/or family. My wife pulled up this photographer's facebook page to show me some of the photos presented there. This particular photographer stated that they were a "natural light" photographer. It got me to thinking what this means, and whether or not that was a good thing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Experience With A Borrowed MeFOTO Tripod

Recently my wife and I made a trip to our nation's capital city, Washington, D.C. While my wife was going to take part in a conference, I was going to be a tourist and, hopefully, get some great photos along the way.

I knew that I wanted to take a tripod with me, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to take my trusty old (but big) Manfrotto. With that in mind, I asked my friend, and local photographer, +Marty Hegr, if I could borrow his MeFOTO tripod, which I had seen him using on a few photowalks that we had attended together.

Below are my thoughts:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Children's Portraits | Hannah and Preston

Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to make some outdoor portraits of these two young children. I thought I'd go ahead and share a few favorites, giving their mom a chance to see some before the final product is delivered.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Anatomy of a Portrait | Off Camera Manual Flash

One of my favorite techniques, now that I understand it and realize how easy it is, is off camera manual flash. My eyes were opened to this technique last September when I attended WPPI U in Portland.

This is something that I can use for a more formal portrait shoot, or I can use it for the casual playground portrait such as the one above. It's quite simple and something that I am happy to have in my arsenal.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Does the camera matter? | Even when it's a free one?

You've probably heard it countless times, the old saying that it's not the camera that matters, but rather the person behind it. The saying is only partly right.

Please read through and see how you can enter to win a camera.

Any camera needs a skilled user to produce beautiful images. I also do not believe that any camera is capable of producing great images in every situation.

This returns us to the reasons why it is important for people to hire a competent photographer, rather than to just use old "Uncle Joe". While it's true that "Uncle Joe" may have the same camera, a true photographer knows his equipment and how to use it, and it most cases didn't just pick it up at Wally World the week before.

Take me for example. I've been around photography for over 20 years now, using a variety of cameras and photo equipment. I know my camera pretty well, although I won't go so far as to say that I'm an absolute expert. Would you rather hire me to photograph your wedding or portraits, or would you trust your best friend who just decided that his iPhone wasn't good enough, and bought that mid level SLR? I'm hoping that the choice would be obvious.

I'm going to make a bold statement here. I believe that I am can make a better photograph than most average people, regardless of the camera. This isn't an arrogant statement, I know that I can make horrible photographs regardless of the camera too. It's just that when you compare my years of photography and photo industry experience with that of "Uncle Joe", there better be a clear winner. The same can be said of pretty much any professional photographer, unless of course your "Uncle Joe" happens to be a seasoned professional himself.

So, when does the camera matter? When it gives you the options, functions, and flexibility that you need from it. I enjoy the occasional long exposure waterfall photo. This type of image is pretty much impossible with most point and shoot cameras. There are so many difference in cameras these days that it is very possible for a different camera to make a difference.

What about my camera? It's not the newest camera on the market, or even the highest level at the time it was new. It's an upgrade over my previous model, and for my needs works quite well. Are there shortcomings? Certainly, as there would be with any other model. My job is to overcome those to make it work as I need it to. Rather than dwell on what I can't do, I'll dwell on what I can do with it.

Would I like to have a newer camera? You bet. Right now it's an expense that I can't justify though. I need to be able to pay for the newer camera, rather than hoping that a new camera will pay for itself. Yes, you can buy prints of my photos, you can hire me for weddings or portraits. All of those things will help me to afford the new stage of equipment, after I'm sure that my family's needs are taken care of.

So, in the mean time, I'll keep throwing my hat in the ring to try to win a new camera when I get the chance. Right now I'm entered in a giveaway from to win my choice of a Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III. Oh, I'll definitely choose Canon when I win, why ruin a good thing with a Nikon. You can enter and have a chance of winning as well, it's easy and free.

Big thanks to the SnapKnot wedding photography directory for offering this great camera giveaway!