Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just make it simple...

Stacey and I got to shoot together again this weekend.

For me, photography pulls something out of me that often gets surpressed in the clutter of my life. From the first time I saw a photographic image slowly emerge in a bath of developer in the faint glow of a darkroom safelight, I was hooked. It was such an adrenalin rush to anticipate the result; a validation (or repudiation) of my skill with a camera and as a technician in the dark. More often than not, the results were awful - the exposure was off, the lighting sucked, the composition included a light post growing out of my subjects head, the image was out of focus. Basically, the image bore no resemblance to what I had in mind when I clicked the camera's shutter. The time between capture and finished print was days or even weeks so it was hard to remember what my f-stop or shutter speed was or even the time of day the picture was taken. Leap forward 30 years and it's a brave new world. With digital cameras you get instant gratification (or disappointment), virtually unlimited chances, auto focus, ISO options, white balance options, exposure sophistication, flash synch at unbelievable shutter speeds, and if you STILL screw up, the opportunity to "fix it in post", which basically means letting a $600 software package make you look like a hero rather than a goat. It aint fair. As Joe McNally (30 year National Geo shooter) often says, "Do you know how HARD this shit used to be???" But I digress.

Yes photography is easier to learn, and that's a good thing. But "easy" and "good" don't always equate. Even with all of the modern tools, photography forces me to really think, to "see" light, to try to tell a story. I've often told Stacey, the more you learn about photography, the lower your percentage of good shots. It's not that your pics aren't getting better, it's that your definition of "good" keeps changing.

So we took a couple of Stacey's very patient and photogenic friends up on a roof of an apartment building in D.C. along with about 50 pounds of gear....cameras, lenses, light stands, speedlights, soft boxes, clothing, hats, create a few images as the sun set. Simple? Not by a long shot. But I'm just as hooked on the process as I was 30 years ago.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Surfing USA

Getting up on a surfboard the first time can be tricky, especially when you have the paparazzi following your every move. Even so, Kevin, Chris, and Stacey did an awesome job riding the great Kahuna. Well, OK, maybe the waves weren't as big as the great Kahuna. They were closer to the ripples made when you throw a rock in the water. Nevertheless, spectacular spills and thrills were captured, including the classic "Endless Summer" sunset picture, while we visited Venice Beach a couple weeks ago.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Organ Hummers

So after a couple glasses of wine with our sister and brother-in-law, Katie and Joe Organ, we decided upon the title of this blog entry. The hummingbirds hanging out in front of their beautiful Mendon, NY home were too pretty to resist. So I set up a tripod and waited until the sun went down so I could use a couple flashes to freeze their wings, which beat at 50 - 80 times per second. Click on the pics to see larger versions.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

One light in the garden

Nothing better than having family with us over a holiday weekend so we were pretty psyched when Stacey, Juan, and Chris surprised us with a visit from D.C. over the fourth. Stace and I have learned that dragging our cameras and lighting gear out for long periods of time is greatly frowned upon when "family" time is so rare, but we did get to sneak in a few pictures. We were up at 6:30am on Saturday to take some yoga pics (did I mention that Stacey is also a popular yoga teacher in D.C.?). Simple setup; just a softbox to the left of the camera and natural daylight. The other pics used a technique I've been anxious to try; one speedlight mounted high on a lightstand aimed at the windows/glass door on the back of the house. The light is outside, about 20 feet away in the garden behind our house. It strikes the window grilles and indoor plant, creating interesting shadow patterns on Stacey and the wall behind her. The intensity of the shadows is adjusted by changing the camera shutter speed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Squirrels, kids, and brides

Number one rule in photography is to "have your camera with you". When the bag weighs over 10 pounds, that's easier said than done. I had to run and get it to catch the squirrel eating bird seed that had dropped near a sprinkler. Same with the baby playing on the beach and our friend's granddaughter playing in magnificent window light. But it was definitely with me when our close friends', Colleen and Rick, daughter got married in Vermont a couple weeks ago. Cristin and Keith made a beautiful couple in a spectacular location.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Day at Duke Gardens

Claire has a friend visiting from Massachusetts and we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in the Sarah P Duke gardens on the campus of Duke University in Durham. The water-lilies and pond life offered some great opportunities for pictures.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Sabrina and Rick are recently engaged co-workers who joined me for a photo shoot yesterday. Not only are they both good looking and very photogenic, but were incredibly patient while we spent three hours setting up and shooting the "breakdown" story. Rick's beater F150 served as the perfect prop while lovely Sabrina grows increasingly impatient with his inability to fix the problem. This was a great opportunity to try multiple strobe units to light our subjects as the light slowly fades to darkness. For those with an interest, the setups are shown at the end of this post. Click on the pictures for larger versions.

What a beautiful day. Sure glad I have a handyman around!

What a bummer. I hope this won't take long.

I'm thirsty. Can we PLEASE get going?

He sure is cute when he fixes things.

Maybe I can help!

What if you turned this little thingy back here.

Will this take much longer?

I'm SOOO bored!

My whole night is ruined.

Forget it. I'm out of here!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Signs of Spring

Our backyard has been filled with songbirds lately, all busy preparing their spring nests. With my camera on a tripod close to the feeder and a radio control, I have been having fun capturing some of their activity.