Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

f/5.6 at 1/320 sec ISO 100

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! The above shot has been my favorite so far of the holiday season, but I'm hoping to get some new tasty ones over the holidays ...and maybe I'll get some more photography related goodies from Santa (even though I haven't been that good this year). =)

The above shot was taken with three strobes. The key light is an SB-600 at 1/4 power with a green gel and a snoot to camera right. I only wanted the green light to appear on my face and not on the hat or the rest of me, but as luck would have it, I got a little spill of green on my hand, which I thought was a nice touch. For a fill light I used an SB-800 in a DIY beauty dish at 1/40 power on the camera axis above and almost pointing down at 45 deg angle. I wanted just enough light to accent the hat and fill in the dark spots on me. The reason I used the beauty dish was because the light was much more controlled and had a sharper fall off. If I had used an umbrella or bare strobe, I would have gotten light all over the place. The background was lit with an SB-600 and a blue (CTB) gel at 1/4 power. That strobe was directly behind me pointed at the background. If I had it to do over again, I would have slowed my shutter speed down another stop or two to make the blue area a little bigger. The chimney was from another shot I took some time ago and added in Photoshop. I used the burn tool to darken it up and to not draw attention to it.

That's it for me until have the holidays. Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shoot your honey! ...with High Speed Sync

Want to shoot a photo with flash in broad daylight and make it appear as if it were night time?

Well then, high speed sync is for you! High speed sync is when your shutter on your camera trips faster with flash than its native sync speed. All cameras have a "native" sync speed that it can trip at while using flash. Most cameras are anywhere between 1/200 of a second and 1/500 of a second. My Nikon D300's fastest native sync speed is 1/250 and my D70 is 1/500. I could go in to the technical reasons as to why this is, but I'll save that for those more experienced in this field (see links below).

To get your camera to shoot at faster than native sync speeds you have to do one of several things. The easiest way, and the way I utilized for these shots are to have a camera with a compatible flash that will allow high-speed flash syncing. My Nikon D300 will sync with my Nikon SB-800 and SB-600 at the camera's highest shutter speed which is 1/8000 of a second!!! I'm not too familiar with the Canon bodies and flashes but I suspect they have this option too.

On the D300, I go to the Custom Setting Menu e1 which is flash sync speed and I select 1/320 sec (Auto FP). In this setting, the camera will trigger the off camera flash (using CLS) at any shutter speed I choose. If I am shooting at 1/320 sec or lower, the camera will fire the shutter normally. ....normally? what's this you say?

When you are using high speed sync, the camera will send a signal to the flash via a light pulse from the pop-up flash that tells the off camera flash to fire in high speed sync mode. Then the flash will fire multiple pulses of light as opposed to one burst of light. The down side to this is that you lose a little more power than if you were shooting in non-high speed sync mode. Again there is a lot of technical info as to why this is, which you can read about in the links below. This post is more of a 'how-to'. And on the Nikon, that is all you have to do.

This is a really cool feature to play with and I am still experimenting with all of its practical uses.

The above photo was taken at f/3.8 at 1/8000 of a second at ISO 100. Its an ok photo, but the reason I like it is just the fact that I shot it at 1/8000 of a second, but the other benefit is that when you are trying to over power harsh daytime sunlight, most of the time (if you're not using high speed sync) you have to either stop your aperture down very low which gives you a large depth of field in your portrait. Sometimes this is ok and can look cool in the right situation, but generally most people prefer a portrait with a shallow depth of field. The other alternative is having big, huge expensive lights to overpower the sun. With high speed sync, you can get your shutter speed fast enough to nuke the ambient light and still have your aperture wider open to get that shallow depth of field.

Cool huh?

The photo below was taken at f/5.6 at 1/500 of a second at ISO 100. I'm still shooting in high speed sync to get my aperture at f/5.6 and I like this photo better because I brought in just enough ambient light to use the sunlight as a kicker light (or rim light) on the edge of Jenn's hair effectively creating a two light setup.

This photo is more aesthetically pleasing to me but again, if I wasn't using high speed sync, I would have had to stop my aperture down a few stops which would have resulted in a larger depth of field.

I hope this helps you to understand high speed sync a little better, but for further clarification and much better technical information check out the links below.

*Strobist explains it and shows you the results

*A very, very thorough explanation of the why's and how-to's by legendary wedding photographer David Ziser on Digital Pro Talk ....there's a video with this link too!

Try this for yourself and have fun with it!

NOTE: A very special thanks to my girlfriend, Jenn for posing for these photos and all of the other crazy photos I've made her pose for, so I can figure out nifty lighting tricks. Love you hon! =)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

HIlter's opinion of the new Nikon D3X

Well, it had to happen. Even Adolf Hitler is bitching about Nikon's new bitchin camera! =)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Douglas Sonders

One of my favorite photographers, Douglas Sonders, is the "guest blogger" today on Scott Kelby's blog, Photoshop Insider. Not only is he the guest blogger, but he goes into great detail about how he composes and processes some of his shots.

Click HERE to read the post! You'll be glad you did!

Monday, December 1, 2008

What I'm Thankful For

This was supposed to be my Thanksgiving Day post but I dropped the ball and was too caught up in all of the festivities. Anyways, the photo below represents just some of the things I am thankful for.

Click on the photo for a larger view...

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cool Photographers

In my quest for inspiration, I keep finding amazing photographers who's works inspire me to no end. You may be familiar with some of these, but maybe not.

Check out these jewels...

1. Jill Greenberg ...controversial yet wonderful!

2. Douglas Sonders ...very cool!

3. Joel Grimes ...I want a portfolio like this guy's someday.

4. Drew Gardner ...very interesting and creative compositions

...more to come!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


f/16 at 1/320 sec ISO 100

A few friends have really expressed interest in this shot so I thought I would do my best to explain how I took it.

First of all, I highly recommend getting the book "Light, Science and Magic". It is by far the single best resource I have come across on mastering lighting techniques, other than the Strobist blog. Its a valuable tool to have around.

With this shot, I wanted the glass and water singled out on a white background. Since the glass and the water are almost completely transparent, I realized that direct flash would not do the trick. Reflected light would be the best answer. I have to admit also, that I have been researching how to do this shot for some time, which is how I came up with my setup. So... that being said..

The glass was placed on a table with black formica underneath. Then I placed a piece of black cardboard with a sheet of 8.5" x 11" white, photo glossy paper in the center of the black cardboard, directly behind the glass. The white photo paper was my "reflector" of the light and the black cardboard is what gave the water and the glass the black outline.

Then I placed my Nikon SB-800 under the table, closer to the back side, and pointed the head towards the piece of white photo paper. This was my only light source used. By placing the flash underneath the table, I prevented light from spilling on to my glass and water, in other words, I gobo'd the flash.

Click on my "high tech" illustration for a bigger view. Da Vinci has nothing on me! =)

For the exposure, I set my Nikon D300 to its fastest native flash sync speed (I say native because you can actually trick the camera into using much faster sync speeds than the factory default) and set my aperture to f/11, my ISO to 100. The flash was on 1/16 power at this time. I took a test shot, and it was quite a bit too bright for my liking, so I stopped down my aperture to f/16 and decreased my flash power to 1/32 and took another test shot. I liked this result.

Originally I wasn't planning on pouring water into the glass. I just wanted a nice photo of the glass itself, but since my roommate was home, I decided to use his extra set of hands and conned him into helping me. He held the water in a small measuring cup directly over the glass and on my signal, began pouring the water. As luck would have it, I got it on the first take.

I hope this explains the technique I used, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave me a comment.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Stumbled across a few more cool links that I wanted to share...

If you are a fan of the Strobist blog, David Hobby has made a downloadable .pdf file available of his entire section on Lighting 101!!! You can get it here.

Two really great photographers I have stumbled across recently are Nicolas Guerin and Mark Seliger. Both of these guys are fantastic portrait photographers that really know how to use nuanced light.

If you're in to vintage photos than hop on over to Square America. They have a huge collection of vintage photos that have been gathered from everywhere! Its a really great collection.

No description on this one, you just have to check it out... Rabbit Hash Kentucky

If you live in the Louisville, Kentucky area then you should do yourself a favor and visit the Paul Paletti Gallery on Market Street. He has one of the most amazing collections of photography and I am flabbergasted every time I go there. Its also the only gallery in the area that is devoted to photography. Paul's a really nice guy too!

Ok, that's it ...for now. =)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Governor Palin!

Wednesday night (Oct. 29th) I had the privilege of getting to shoot a GOP rally in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The main speaker was Sarah Palin. Regardless of politics, I would have taken the opportunity if it was Obama, Biden, McCain or Palin but in this case it just happened to be her. However, she is terribly cute and I had a blast taking about 500 or so photos of her. Hank Williams Jr. was there too but I only took about 9-10 shots of him.

Anyways, this situation presented me with a new challenge. First of all, I knew I was going to need a BIG lens if I wanted to get any shots of her that were reasonably close as I knew this was going to be a really big event and I doubted that I would get that close. So, fortunately, a good friend of mine let me borrow his Nikon 80-400 VR f/4.5-5.6 lens! This thing is a beast and I had fun using it. Big lens for my camera, check.

Once I got there, I was pretty far back but a volunteer security person (Tom Stinnett of Tom Stinnett RV---thanks Tom!) let me slide into the VIP area so I could get some closer shots. The deal was, he let me get in close and I had to email him a few photos. Fair enough!

So now I was in there close, had my big lens and it was time to start shooting. I started off in Aperture Priority mode and f/5.6 and ISO 1600. This was giving me shutter speeds of a less than 1/200 sec, which was giving me some blown out highlights that I didn't like and a little too many blurry shots too often. So, I switched to Manual mode, set my aperture to f/5.6, ISO 1600 and shutter at 1/250 sec. I kept chimping my LCD to see how the shots were turning out and they were still a tad bit bright and some were still blurry. So, I set my shutter speed to 1/320 sec. Now, its getting better but still not where I want. I kicked up the shutter speed to 1/400 sec and was getting the clarity that I wanted, but now it was a little dark. So... I kicked up the ISO to 3200! Yep, that's right, 3200!!! My D300 excels at high ISO's and this was an occasion where it was going to pay off. My final exposure was f/5.6 at 1/400 sec. ISO 3200. I shot all the rest of my shots at this exposure and they all turned out great. I played with my White Balanace setting but discovered that my shots looked fine in Auto White Balance so that's where I left it.

I had a blast shooting these, and if Sarah had a southern draw, I might even be in love. =)

Monday, October 27, 2008


Chase Jarvis RAW: Ninjas

I have thought ninjas were cool since I was kid and I was thrilled to find this video of photographer Chase Jarvis doing a photo shoot with ...NINJAS! Its an awesome vid so check it out if you share the love.

You're My Boy Blue!

f/11 at 1/320 sec ISO 200

I've had this guitar for almost 20 years and it has always been my favorite. I've taken several photos of it over the years and this one is the latest.

I wanted the photo to be dark overall since the guitar is black itself (with white trim). But I needed some separation from the guitar and the background so it would stand out and not be a very, low key shot.

So, the first thing I did was to set my camera's shutter speed to its fastest flash sync speed, which is 1/320 sec. Then I set my Nikon SB-800 on a light stand camera left and pointing down at about a 45 degree angle. I used a white translucent shoot thru umbrella to diffuse the light and made sure to angle it, in respect to the guitar, in such a way as not to leave a huge specular reflection in the guitar. The flash was dialed in at 1/4 power. I started off at 1/8 power but that was too dark. I took a few shots, and then was able to determine my working aperture of f/11.

After I had my key light adjust the way I wanted and my aperture/shutter speed, I set to creating my separation light. I knew right off that I wanted that blue background, so I attached a CTB (color temperature blue) gel to my Nikon SB-600 and positioned it directly behind the guitar pointing at the black sheet background. I set the flash power to 1/4 and chimped the shot on my LCD to see if it was enough. Looked good to me so what you see above is the finished product. Both flashes were triggered using my Nikon D300's built in CLS system.

Hope you like it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Bride and Groom

f/13 at 1/250 sec ISO 400

This past weekend I had the good fortune of doing wedding portraits for a really nice couple. They were very friendly, photogenic and we were lucky enough to be able to shoot outside. The leaves were just starting to change and the temperature was perfect!

I really enjoy portraits that are done outside as the surroundings can really add to the overall feel of an image. The portrait above was no exception. I have the bride and groom standing in front of the church they were married in and you can just slightly make out the name of the church. Also, as luck would have it, there was one tree in the front that had just a slight splash of fall color. The front of the church was landscaped nicely too.

How to get this shot: I knew I wanted to show the front of the church in this portrait and I also knew that I wanted to capture some of the color the foliage outside was showing. So, in Manual mode, I set my camera to 1/250 sec. and the aperture to f/13 at ISO 400. This gave me an ambient only exposure that I liked however it left the bride and groom in complete shadow.... perfect!! My assistant (my girlfriend Jenn) was holding my Nikon SB-800 off to camera right and slightly higher than the bride and groom's heads. I dialed the flash down to 1/4 power and popped a test shot. This time, it was dead on. That's the great thing about LCD's!!! You don't need a light meter to get these kind of shots, simply "chimp" at the LCD and adjust exposure/flash settings until you got the shot you like. Also, by shooting like this, you will start to become very intuitive at what settings to use based on your available light. Could this have been done with on-camera flash? Sure it could! But, by using flash off camera, it gives you shadows that will create more of a three dimensional look. When using on camera flash, it generally will wash out your subject(s) and make them look flat and dull.

I really enjoyed creating this image and I hope you like it too!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Snoot It!

f/10 @ 1/250 sec ISO 200 flash at 1/8 power

Always experimenting with new techniques, I've become fond of using a Snoot for portraits. Using a snoot really restricts the beam of light from your flash and creates a dramatic mood in your shot. I discovered this technique by viewing photos from UK-based photographer Nick Turpin. He uses this technique for street portraits and excels at creating dramatic lighting, using only speedlights with snoots. Check out Nick's website to see what he has done with this technique.

The above photo was taken by getting a base ambient reading, then underexposing the shot by stopping down my aperture by about 2-3 stops. Then I placed my SB-800 on a stand, camera left and placed my homemade cardboard snoot on my flash. To make sure I had the flash aimed where I wanted it, I simply made sure that Jenn (my model) could see the fresnel lens on my flash through the snoot from where she was standing. Then I dialed in the flash to add as much light as I liked. Its a cool technique and easy to do. If you would prefer to have a "real" snoot as opposed to a DIY version, then check out Honl's lineup of light modifiers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I've been FRAMED!

Whew! It seems like ages since my last post and I will be making a better effort at updating more regularly. Off to the post...

A few friends have commented about how much they like some of my 'gallery series' prints I made in Photoshop so I thought I would try to explain briefly how I create these...

I use Adobe Photoshop CS2 currently and I'm sure this technique can be applied with all versions of PS from 7.0 and up.

1. The first thing you want to do is open the photo in PS that you want to frame and copy it to its own separate layer. First click the letter 'D' to set your foreground background colors to default (black & white). Then Press Control A to select the photo and Shift Control J to place your photo on its on separate layer.

2. Go to Image, Canvas Size, make sure the 'Relative' check box is checked, set the Canvas extension color (drop down menu at the bottom) to white and then enter 3 inches for both the width and height, click OK

3. Go to Image, Canvas Size (again), enter 1 in the Height and click the top center arrow of the Anchor grid, this will give you more space at the bottom than at the top for text to be added later, click OK

4. Hold the Control key down and click the 'New Layer' icon in the lower right of your layers palette. This will create a new layer between your photo and your background.

5. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool from the top left of your tool bar and draw a selection around your photo just slightly bigger than the photo and fill this section with white by pressing Alt-Backspace and then de-select by pressing Control D. Note: this will not work if you didn't press 'D' in the beginning to set your default background and foreground colors.

6. Click on the layer you just added the white to in the layers palette, right click and select Blending Options. Double click the Inner Glow option, change the Blend Mode dropdown to 'Normal', lower the opacity to around 40% then click on the color swatch and change the color to black. Click OK, this will give you a soft gray box around your photo which will give the appearance of an inner frame.

7. Click on the layer with the photo in the layers palette, right click and select Blending Options then select drop shadow. Lower the opacity to around 60%, turn off the 'Use Global Light' checkbox, increase the size to around 20 pixels and click OK. This adds a soft drop shadow to the photo inside the gray line you just created.

8. Go to the layers palette and click the "Create new layer" icon in the lower right hand corner. Then, select the Rectangular Marquee tool from the top left corner of the tool box and draw a selection only slightly inside the edge of the white selection of the photo, then right click and Select 'Inverse'. Then select the Paint Bucket Tool, set the foreground color to black, and click on the photo. This will add a black "frame" around the photo on its own layer.

9. Click on this layer in the layers palette, right click and select Blending Options then select Bevel and Emboss and Contour. I used the defaults for this and it will give the inside of the black frame a little shape.

10. Go to the layers palette and click the "Create new layer" icon in the lower right hand corner. This layer will be for any text you want to add below the photo. I always put each line of text on its own separate layer so that you can easily change and move it wherever on the photo you wish. Add whatever text you wish and if you want to add shadows or effects to that text, go to the layers palette and click on the text layer you created, right click and select Blending Options, then click the effects you want to use.

11. Go to the layers palette and click the "Create new layer" icon in the lower right hand corner and add your signature! Now if you will be making prints from this, just save it as a layered .psd file to maintain maximum resolution and also so you can make changes to it later if need be. If this will be for the web, then go to File "Save As" and rename the photo such as DSC0012_web. Go to 'Layer' at the top and click on 'Flatten Image' almost at the bottom.

12. Go to Image, Image Size and make the largest dimension in pixels (either the width or the height) 1024. Make sure the 'Constrain Proportions' box is checked. This will resize your photo for the web.

13. Click File, Save and move the Quality slider to about '10'. This will still have a fair amount of detail to it but not be too big to upload to the web.

14. Upload to the net somewhere and share with your friends!

You can play around with the numbers I used in this tutorial to personal tastes. These are just the settings I used on the photo above.

I wish I could say I came up with this myself but I didn't. This is a mix of several tutorials I learned from Scott Kelby's "The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers". If you are interested at all in using Photoshop then I highly suggest you pick up one of his books, he has books for every version of Photoshop and a whole lot of other things. They're easy to read and full of great info! You can also get a ton of great tips and info from Scott's blog, Photoshop Insider.

I hope this helps and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! I'd love to see some of your works that you have tried this application with so if you give it a whirl, post it to the web somewhere and send me a link!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chase Jarvis RAW: Kung Fu

Picked this up from the Strobist' blog, its plain AWESOME! Just watch it!

Friday, September 12, 2008


On a weekly basis, I tend to read at least a half dozen photography blogs and other photography related sites. So I thought I would post a few links to things that have interested me over the past few weeks. Enjoy!

Dustin Snipes Photography Blog

David Bergman - Sports Illustrated shooter and all around kick-butt photographer

Film Noir Portraiture by Jim Ferreira

"Killers Kill, Dead Men Die"
..a noir shoot for Vanity Fair by Annie Leibovitz (I think this is rather old, but a friend just recently turned me on to it)

Carlos Baez Photography
...if anyone knows who's covering the tune to Carlos's website, please send me the info! =)

Los Angeles wedding photographer Greg Bumatay

You Suck at Photoshop ...some hilarious Photoshop tutorials, be sure to check these out!

That should get you by for now, and as I stumble across more cool links, I'll be sure to post them.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photowalk Winner!

City Fountain

f/29 at 2/5 sec ISO 100

Scott Kelby picked his winner for his Worldwide Photowalk 2008 and its a pretty cool shot. You can check it out here ...wish I had taken it. The leaders of each city participating in the Walk had to pick a local winner, then it was Scott Kelby's job to pick a winner from that group ...he had to pick one from 237 entries, I sure don't envy that decision making process! To see the winning photos from each city, click on this link. It was a great time and I'm already looking forward to next year's. By then Lightroom 27.0 will be released from Adobe! ;)

The photo above was my favorite out of the shots I took. I was using a slow shutter to make the water appear soft when one of the other photographers took a stroll behind the fountain. That made this shot, and made it my favorite.

There was definitely a tripod involved in the taking of this shot ...and I didn't get arrested! =)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The new Nikon D90 shoots video!

Want to shoot video with your Nikon dSLR? Well now you can! Nikon has released a 12.3 megapixel digital SLR that will shoot video in what Nikon calls 24 frames per second, cinematic D-Movie mode. The body (only) will be selling for around $1000 and it boasts a self-cleaning sensor, improved ISO sensitivity, GPS geo-tagging and the HUGE 3" LCD. You can read about it on Nikon's site HERE. Also, hop over to David Hobby's blog, Strobist, to read his entry about it and to check out the cool video from Chase Jarvis.

If anybody wants to buy me one, just send me an email and I will forward you a shipping address. =)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


f/5.6 1/30 sec ISO 500

Jenn and I finally made it to the Kentucky State Fair on Friday night. I try to go every year just to take photos ...and to eat some completely unhealthy, yet tasty food. Every year I go, I tend to take the same shots so this time I tried to make a point to look for different things. The photo above was my favorite this year ...and a happy accident. I was actually shooting this scene much wider when I really noticed that the cool part was the silhouettes of people being back lit by the lights in the fountain. I didn't have my tripod with me (for fear of being arrested =) so I shot this hand held. It was my favorite from the day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shooting the Moon

I got my first really good moon shot the other night. I've tried a few times in the past but have never really been happy with the results. Initially, when I first tried to capture it, I thought a slow shutter would be in order. However, after trial and error, I realized that the moon is essentially one HUGE light source and you need to adjust your exposure accordingly. So I asked my good friend Christy if I could borrow her Nikon 80-400 VR lens, set my camera up on a tripod and set my shutter to release via the built-in timer (so as not to shake the camera) and popped a few shots. I did some minor curves and levels adjustments in Photoshop to bring out the details a little better. Hope you like it! =)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scott Kelby's World Wide Photowalk!

Update: As of today 8/13/08 the Louisville Kentucky Photo Walk is full, 50 members have signed up!

Coming soon to a city near you!

Scott Kelby today on his blog announced that there are a total of 236 cities around the world participating in his World Wide Photowalk on August 23rd!!! That's going to be one heck of a bunch of photographers scouring our cities for good shots!

For the latest update on Scott's site, click HERE and for anyone wanting to participate in the Louisville, Kentucky area Photowalk, as of writing this, there are only 3 spots left so sign up now! You can get to that by clicking HERE.

Also, for the Louisville area members, you can go ahead and request to join the Photowalk Flickr group for Louisville, by clicking HERE.

It seems like its going to be a lot of fun and I personally can't wait to see all of the shots that are taken, not just in my area, but around the world, AROUND THE WORLD!!! cool is that? =)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Monkeying Around

Sometimes, photographers forget why it is they do the job they do. Its easy to get bogged down with work, over-booked with clients and locked up in the digital darkroom for hours on end. However, one of my favorite photographers, Martin Prihoda, has shot a video reminding us (photographers) why it is we do what we do ...cause its fun! Or at least it should be. Check out this video he made of a recent shoot with some of his buddies just monkeying around. To read his post about the shoot, click HERE.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

The County Fair

f/22 at 5 seconds ISO 200

A few friends and I went to the Oldham County Fair over the weekend and had a great time! I don't think I've been to a county fair in more than 10 years. I didn't realize what a great place for photos a county fair could be! There was a demolition derby going on, beauty contests, live bands and a huge amount of interesting people to photograph. However, the one thing that really caught my eye were all the pretty lights! When we got there it was still daylight, but I knew once it got dark, those amusement rides would make for some serious eye candy! So we walked around, shot photos of people, shot a ton of the demolition derby (which was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be) and then after it got dark, I formulated my attack plan.

While it was daylight, I scoped out what I thought would be the most interesting rides (basically the ones with the most lights) and planned out from what angle I would be shooting from. I knew I wanted to take a long exposure of the rides, so I headed back to my car and got my tripod. Then I went back to the spot I had looked at earlier, mounted my D300 on my tripod and composed the shot.

A couple of things to add, that I think really make a difference in composing long exposures are: since I was using a tripod, I made sure to turn off the Vibration Reduction feature on my 18-200mm VR lens, I turned on NR - noise reduction in my camera and set the high ISO noise reduction to max, even though I was shooting at ISO 200. I don't know if that last setting really helps or not, but I liked how the shot turned out. =) So, I had my in camera settings the way I wanted, I set the Aperture to f/22 and the shutter speed to 5 seconds, then I banged away. The shot above was my favorite of the group.

An interesting note, it was funny how many people on the rides saw me, and were waving and smiling. Little did they know that there was no way that they would appear in any of the shots I took. =)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Farmer's Daughter

f/13 at 1/250s ISO 100

My friend Kim (and fellow photographer) got dressed up in her best country girl clothes and graciously posed for me and several other photographers at her party. We had a great time and I did an entire set of her using the cross lighting technique. This is really starting to become one of my favorite techniques for portraits and Kim really made a great model. To see the rest of the set, click HERE. To see some of Kim's own work, check out her photography website HERE.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Photographing on Video!

While doing Jessica's Sweet 16 shoot the other day, my good buddy Jason popped out with his video camera and filmed part of the shoot. It was really fun to go back and watch although I'm not that fond of seeing myself on the "other side" of the camera! =)

Check out the video though, its pretty entertaining and it gives you another glimpse into how beautiful Jess really is!

Thanks for the video Jason!

You can see the rest of Jess's Sweet 16 photo's on my Flickr Page.

Monday, July 7, 2008


f/11 at 1/250s ISO 200

Every once in a while as a photographer you get that one photo that makes you beam with delight once you see it on your monitor. That was the case with this shot. Its one of my favorite portraits that I've ever done and it turned out better than I hoped. Plus this model is becoming very dear to me so it was a lot of fun shooting her. This photo is part of a series I did for her for her upcoming Sweet 16 birthday party. There were quite a few other good ones but I really really liked this one.

We were shooting in the woods and I wanted to cross light her with flash and the sun but I wanted a wooded background so that knocked out using the sun behind her (which is what I usually do). So, I put my Nikon SB-600 on a lightstand in the woods behind her and camera left so that it would add a nice rim light around her. Then I waited for the sun to pop out and took the shot. The flash was dialed back to about 1/2 power and I triggered it with my D300's built in CLS system.

Hope you like the shot as much I do! =)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Featured Photographer!

I just wanted to take a quick minute to thank the guys over at the Louisville Photography Collective. They have me listed as the featured photographer this week, and with all of the incredible talent on that website, I am very flattered to have been nominated. Thanks guys for featuring me!

You can view my page on the site by clicking HERE.

If you haven't checked out the Louisville Photography Collective, please take the time to stop by. Its a website dedicated to photographers from the Louisville Kentucky area, and there is a lot of amazing work on there!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

THE NIKON D-700!!!

That's right, Nikon has done it again! Today they announced the release of a new dSLR, the D-700 and a new speedlight, the SB-900. Just when I thought I was getting up to par (by getting a D300) they go and release some other total coolness. Don't think I'll be getting a new camera body any time soon, but that new SB-900 speedlight looks mighty tasty!

To read Nikon's release on the D-700, click HERE.

To read Ken Rockwell's review of the D-700, click HERE.

To read Nikon's release on the SB-900, click HERE.

If anyone wants to buy me either of these, please email me for the shipping address! ;)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cross Lighting

f/16 at 1/250s ISO 100

Recently I did a few portraits of Jenn using the cross lighting technique. I really enjoy this technique as it lights your subject from both sides and all it requires is one off camera flash and available sunlight (techincally, a two light setup).

To get the shot above, I set my camera to manual, then I set my shutter speed to 1/250s because that is my fastest flash sync speed, I think (I might be able to speed it up with the D300, but haven't figured that one out just yet). Then I adjusted the aperture to get the background exposed how I wanted it. I actually used a smaller aperture than I needed to properly expose the background because I wanted it a little darker, for a dramatic look. The sun was behind Jenn and to the left so I placed my flash on a lightstand to the right and in a direct line with the sun. The flash was about 5 feet away from her and used bare at full power. There's no point in trying to diffuse the flash at this time of day because you won't get enough light on your subject due to the strength of the sun. Then I simply fired away. My flash was triggered by my D300 using Nikon's CLS mode.

For some really awe inspiring, cross lighting photography, check out the work of Brent Williamson. He is a New Zealand based photographer who has excelled at this method and has some terrific work. His blog is State of the Nation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Balancing Act

A lot of my friends have been asking questions about my lighting techniques for portraits. So I decided to post a shot and explain in detail how I took it.

A friend of mine asked me to do some portraits of her a few days ago and I was more than happy to oblige. One of my favorite things to shoot is landscapes so I really enjoy incorporating that into portraits when I can. I thought with the color of her hair and skin, she would really stand out against a nice sunset, and lo and behold we got one on the day I did her portraits.

So, for this shot the first thing I did, was figure out where I wanted to position her against the sunset. I positioned her in the general area of where I thought I wanted her then, looking through my viewfinder, I made a few more minor positions. Then, I set my camera to program mode "p" and took a meter reading of the sunset and snapped a shot. I really didn't like the first exposure of the sunset so I dialed the aperture and shutter in from that shot in manual mode, then dropped the shutter speed another stop or so, which gave me a little more contrast to the scene.

After getting my sunset exposed how I wanted it, I kept my camera in manual (because I didn't want my settings changing after I focused on her face) and then re-exposed my camera on her eyes, just to get the focus set correctly. Now, keep in mind, my sunset is looking great but my model is completely silhouetted in darkness. So, I had a friend holding my Nikon SB-600 Speedlight on a light stand with a shoot thru, white translucent umbrella. She was standing to my right and I had her hold the flash with the umbrella as close to the model as she could get without getting it in the frame. The flash itself was about one foot higher than the model's head. This creates a nice, soft wrapping light. Then I took a shot. The flash was just a little too bright, so I manually dialed it back to about 1/8 power and took the shot again. This seemed perfect, creating nice shadows on her but giving her just enough light to be exposed properly. My flash was fired wirelessly with Cactus Wireless Flash Triggers. You can get these from Gadget Infinity for about $35 bucks last time I looked.

Also, I had my white balance set to cloudy, which just gives the shot about a bit more contrast and warmer color. The final exposure was f/5.6 at 1/125s ISO 200. I took several shots of her that day, but this was my favorite. If anyone has any questions regarding how I shot this, then please leave me a comment and ask. I think I included all the important details, but I've done these shots so many times now that I may have forgotten something.

If you are interested at all in using flash with your photography, then I highly recommend reading David Hobby's website called Strobist. He and his website are the only reasons I use flash today and I have learned just about everything I know about flash from him. Also, if you would like a more in depth article about balancing flash with sunsets, read his article about it, its where I learned how to do it! You can get to that article by clicking HERE.

Hope everyone got something out of this, and if you do, leave me a comment!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Bride

f/6.3 at 1/60s ISO 200

I just recently did one of the biggest weddings I've done thus far and it was a blast! The bride and groom were very easy to work with and the bride was quite photogenic! Also, I learned one very important aspect to doing wedding photography, you have to be flexible!!!

I had quite a few planned images for the shoot and I got quite a few of them, but there were quite a few images I didn't get that I wanted to. Due to the lack of a wedding planner, this wedding was one of those shoot-from-the-hip style weddings. So, I pretty much had to get, what I could get, when I could get it. It didn't really bother me but I just found it funny that I had all these great shots in my head and couldn't get them executed quite like I wanted. So, I just went with the flow. I still got quite a few really nice shots, and a few unexpected ones that I was really pleased with. I took around 600 photos altogether which, in all honesty, seemed like a rather low amount for this event, but I was pleased with the shots I got, and hope the bride and groom will be too. I still have quite a bit of processing work left, but things are coming along nicely.

I had planned to use off camera flash for the bulk of the portraits, but due to the amount of people hanging around and the general party scene involved, I instead opted to use my Gary Fong Light Sphere Cloud diffuser with my Nikon SB-600 on camera. Surprisingly, most of the shots turned out to my liking, BONUS! That diffuser rules! If you don't have one, get one, I highly recommend it when you're stuck with using your flash on camera.

The shot above was taken with my D300 (in color) with my SB-600 flash on camera and diffused with my Light Sphere diffuser. The flash was manually dialed back to 1/16 power and I shot this one in Aperture Priority mode.

Then in Photoshop, I made an adjustment layer, opened the Channel Mixer to convert to black & white, then simply erased the adjustment on the eyes and only slightly erased it on the flowers for a softer look. This is one of my favorite shots of the day!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Digital Imaging and Print Making

David Ziser over at Digital Pro Talk posted this really cool article about Jonathon Penney. Penney is a Master Print Maker and can turn a so-so photograph into a complete work of art. Sometimes people forget about the power and effect of a good print but this guy has created an art out of it. Stop by his very interesting blog to see some of his work, and if anything, to be totally inspired! Click HERE to visit Penney's blog!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Light Sphere

This is the Gary Fong Lightshere Cloud (Universal) Diffuser. I've been looking for a good flash diffuser when I'm using my flash on camera, and this one has fit the bill! I've heard a lot of people say this diffuser is overrated and over-priced but I just recently purchased one to use at weddings and I loved the results!

I prefer off-camera flash, but sometimes you don't have an assistant, or the ability to carry around a light stand with a flash and an umbrella attached. I've been recently doing a few weddings and this guy comes in handy. After one wedding, it paid for itself and it creates the best soft, diffused light of any diffuser I've used so far. Also, this particular model (the Universal) will fit a variety of flashes so if you have several, there's no need to buy a diffuser to fit everyone, this one will most likely fit them all nicely. I'm not saying this is the best, its simply the best one I've tried so far for on camera flash and I highly recommend it! =)

If you're interested in reading more about it, you can do so by clicking HERE

Note: Gary Fong did not pay me to say this stuff, but I sure wish he did! =)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Strobist Lighting DVDs!

For everyone out there trying to learn how to use flash, David Hobby, the lighting guru who runs Strobist, has come up with a set of DVD tutorials on how to use lighting to better enhance your photos. If you're in to using flash, or just learning, then I'm sure these will be the DVDs for you!!! I'm planning on getting myself a set. But, if I had to guess, they will sell out FAST!! So jump over to the Strobist blog and place your order! You can check out the link HERE.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Photoshoot in Dubai!

Two of my favorite photographers and lighting gurus, Joe McNally and David Hobby (from the blog Strobist) were in Dubai doing seminars and were cool enough to video one of the shoots they did from the desert. Its always entertaining to watch either of these guys work, and they both come up with such creative lighting techniques. Be sure to check out the SB-800 "flash tree", too cool!

You can read about the trip from Joe's post HERE and David's post HERE.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ode to Ansel Adams

(just in case there was any doubt, the photo above is by Ansel Adams)

When someone says "great photographer" the first name to pop in my mind is, and always will be, Ansel Adams. He is one of my favorite photographers of all time and probably my favorite landscape photographer. His style is easily recognizable around the world and he is probably best known for his black & white images of the American West, particularly of Yosemite National Park.

Thomas Hawk of the blog Digital Connection posted a great article entitled "10 Interesting Things I Learned About Ansel Adams". Its a great article and if you're an Ansel Adams fan, you should hop over to his blog and check it out!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Digital Signatures

I found a great article on creating digital signatures for your photos! This link was posted by David Ziser over at his amazing blog, Digital Pro Talk. Basically, it allows you to create a digital signature from your own hand-written signature---pretty cool, huh? Its a fairly simple technique provided that you have Photoshop and David has been gracious enough to post a video on how to do it!!! You can watch the video by clicking HERE Just scroll down to you see the blog entry entitled "Easy John Henry - Photoshop Tutorial" and click play.

Thanks David for the cool tip!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Flickr Rules!

I heard some negative comments the other day about Flickr and I about flipped out of my chair! I absolutely love Flickr and can't imagine anyone who has any common sense and non-elite-ism not liking it! Why do I love Flickr? Oh let me count the ways:

1. The functionality rules! I've been putting photos into various galleries now for several years and I have found none that are as easy and fulfilling to use.

2. The Flickr community is fantastic! You have an international group of people of all skill-sets, mind-sets and abilities from across the globe! Top that! Anyone? I dare you.

3. I've made a lot of new friends on Flickr and enjoyed immensely the spectacular and some not-so spectacular works I've viewed. Talk about free inspiration; its all there!

4. You don't have to be a pro to share your works and there are people from all walks of life who might enjoy a photo that you thought was just so-so.

5. The learning experience! I have learned so much in my less-than-a-year membership on Flickr, from lighting techniques, post processing tips and tricks, compositional styles, composites, camera settings and more. Its a never ending cycle of free learning if you just take the time.

6. Recognition. Everyone likes to get comments about their work, even constructive criticism. I've had soooo many nice comments about my work that it makes all the effort I've gone to putting photos up there well worth the trouble. Also from time-to-time, I admit I have posted a photo that I didn't think was top-notch, and you know what? Someone gave me a nice comment about it! How about that? Also, I have never, ever received a rude or snide comment from anyone. Lord knows I probably deserved one or two.

7. Ease of use. Not just for uploading photos but simply for viewing. I love to share photos with my family and friends and I can't think of a better way. Since I shoot digital, and hundreds of pics a week, I couldn't possibly print them all, so Flickr has been the key for me.

8. It looks good and it works

9. The groups and forums rule! I've found so many interesting groups about particular types of photos. There are groups for every type of photography you can think of and forums to go with it.

10. Its not ran by elitist snobs. (At least I've never ran across one)

Ok, I don't mean to rant on my blog but I found it necessary to do so. No photos for this post but I'll get back on the band wagon with the next one.

Oh, and by the way, check out Flickr for yourself! Its the best photographic gallery on the net.

My page is HERE

Oh and by the way, I will be renewing my Flickr Pro account when it expires in August.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


You can never have too many models if you're a photographer, and that seems to be my shortfall (the lack of models). However, lately I've had the opportunity to do some portraits for my good friend Christy and my girlfriend, Jen. They are both extremely good models, though neither one of them thinks so, and I had a great time blowing a few hundred frames on the two of them! (isn't digital great?) Both of these shots were taken right at dusk, about 7:30 pm. Its spring here in Kentucky now so the sun is setting a little later each day. I used a Nikon SB-600 shot thru a white translucent umbrella for both photos at about 1/2 power, triggered using my Nikon D300's CLS system. For Jen, the flash was at camera right about 1 foot above her head and for Christy it was at camera left about the same height. I had the flash positioned as close to both of them as I could so I could get a nice, wrapping light.

If anyone is interested in having a portfolio done, or even a few head shots, I'd be glad to do a few for free. I love shooting people and it is slowly becoming my 2nd favorite type of photography (after landscapes of course) :) You can email me by going to my about page and viewing my complete profile. My email is listed there.

Hope you enjoy these shots as much as I enjoyed taking them. And a big thanks to Jen and Christy for being such patient and gracious models!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Photoshoot for Oliver's Billiards

Saturday I did a photoshoot for Oliver's Billiards, the best pool hall in Louisville Kentucky. I have played pool there so many times over the years that I couldn't possibly count them. The owner is one of the coolest guys I know and they have a great staff there, ready to bend over backwards for you to ensure that you have a great time. The facility itself is very nice and clean, and they have the best deals on pool in town. If you enjoy billiards, and live in the Louisville area, you should take the time to visit.

The shoot was a little harder than I expected. As you can guess, its rather dimly lit and has a mixture of incandescent, florescent and natural light (via the windows) so it was a White Balance setting nightmare! I finally came up with a setting based on the strongest source of light and just went with it. I shot most of them with off-camera flash trying to balance the ambient light with my strobe, using my SB-600 shot through a white, translucent umbrella on a stand. I also shot a few without flash, using my tripod and a very long shutter speed. I liked these rather well, but the client wanted very well lit photos to show all that Oliver's has to offer. They haven't posted any of the shots yet, but I will update the post when they have them on their site.

Below is my favorite photo of the day, along with a shot Jen took of me while doing the photo shoot. It was a fun time, and one heck of a learning experience!

f/22 4 secs ISO 200 @ 18mm

Thanks Jen for the photo!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Project 365!

As many of you may know, I have a Flickr account where I post the bulk of my photos on a day to day basis. I really enjoy the site and have made quite a few new friends, enjoyed viewing others' works and have learned a lot!!

At the beginning of the year, I decided to join a group called Project 365! The goal of this group is that you have to take/post one photo a day, every day for 365 days to the group!! This may sound easy, but I'm in 99 days now (tomorrow will be 100) and at times I felt like it has sucked the life right out of me. However, being forced to pick up the camera every single day for 365 days in a row has its advantages.

First of all, I've had to get a little creative on the shots I take. After looking back at shots I had taken previous to joining the group, I noticed that I have a tendency to take certain types of photos, even though I've always considered myself to be one of those "all-around" type photographers.

Secondly, I've become very familiar with my equipment. I bought a new camera about a month ago, and although I don't have every single feature down perfect, I have explored many of its options and tried to incorporate them into one or more photos I've posted to the group.

Thirdly (is this a word?) I think I have improved certain skills that I was lacking on before. Having to take a shot every day, will make you think a little more about what you're going to shoot. Even though some days, I have just snapped something to post to the group. I always didn't think of myself as a very good portrait photographer but at the beginning of the year, I set myself a goal (along with joining the group) that I would make myself learn how to shoot better portraits. I'm still not great at them, but I feel I have improved significantly.

Fourth, (I'm not going to say fourthly) I've gotten to see what other photographers face and what photographic decisions they make on what to post to their projects because I view their posts as much as I do my own, scratch that, I view them more than I do my own. Its kinda like getting a little peak in to other photographers' lives. Plus, again, its a great learning curve. You might see a photo similar to one that you have taken but with a different twist.

Fifthly (what the hell), I've become very inspired by the many great photographers in the project, posting on a daily basis. One thing you can never have enough of as an artist of any medium, is inspiration!!! Even simple photos that you see, which aren't technically magnificent, might have some significance to you on another level.

So, all in all, I have really enjoyed being part of this group but at the same time, the negative impact is, it takes a lot of time and commitment to be involved in a group like this. Also, I feel that sometimes I may have posted a photo that I wasn't exactly proud of or didn't seem very artistically creative. However, I'm not giving up and look forward to the challenge, and to what other members of the group and myself can come up with.

If you'd like to view my Project 365 album, you can do so by clicking HERE.

Just keep your nasty comments to yourself! :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Louisville Photography Collective

For people who enjoy Flickr, there is a new photography website for people from the Louisville, Kentucky area. It is very similar to Flickr in that you create a profile, join groups, post photos, and can comment on others as well. Plus its another great learning resource. Check it out!

The Louisville Photography Collective

My page on the Louisville Photography Collective

Thanks, and enjoy!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A photoshoot with Martin Prihoda

One of my favorite photographers has been gracious enough to share a behind-the-scenes look into a photo shoot he did for the band Delerium. Its really cool to watch him work, check it out...

Friday, April 4, 2008


This is my first post, just attempting to get a feel for blogger and the layout