Monday, December 26, 2011

I was MIA, I know

Crows II by
Crows II, a photo by on Flickr.

I do realize how cliche it is to make a blog post about how sorrrrry you are to have let *all* of your adoring readers down with your lack of posts... but, it is a nice segue (if that's how you spell it) into me telling you what I've been doing lately.

So, sorry it's been so long since I've updated this.

I've been busy doing a few things, one of which is talking with a local nature society about selling my work in their nature center.

I also landed a new job managing a retail portrait studio.

On one hand, I'm embarrassed that I'm doing what I'm doing... it's like a chef who has devoted most of his time and efforts into becoming a great master, only to land a job at TGIFridays.

On the other hand, I am technically getting paid to do what I love doing. Sometimes it's mundane and almost painful, but most of the time it's fun and rewarding.

Years ago I had managed a similar type of studio. The camera was mounted on this immovable pole, and the most that you could do was zoom in.

The studios are now equiped with pretty decent dSLRs. The lighting is still broad and the backgrounds can be tacky, but it's leaps and bounds better than it used to be.

I also feel a little guilt over charging such low prices. When I hear someone gasp at a $100.00 price tag for a full session, I can't help but think of how shocked they'd be to have hired a "real" photographer.

I'm lucky to work with a few ladies who actually have quite the knack for photography... and it's cool to see them develop their talent.

So, the moral of the story is that I technically achieved what I sat out to do... but there's still a long road ahead.

In other news, the photo I've linked (Crows II) was featured for a week on Ron Howards youtube channel.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Old Bates Hotel"

Hotel Room by
Hotel Room, a photo by on Flickr.

There's this abandoned place on US12, not too far from my house. It's one of those places that I've always wanted to stop and photograph, but I worried someone might see me.

Last year I photographed the back of the hotel


but I never worked up enough nerve to go up front for pictures.

Yesterday I took a second to pick my fear apart. What was I afraid of?

Cops? Not really... there aren't many cops out there, so someone would have to CALL the cops, and by the time they got to the hotel, I'd probably be done. And even if I wasn't done, I'm *pretty* sure I'd just get off with a warning. Worst case senario is that I get arrested, I suppose. But... are they going to arrest some lady out taking pictures of the outside of a building?

Probably not.

Vagrants living inside? No. Too rural of an area, and the place is too dilapidated to provide good shelter.

Owner/Neighbor coming after me with a pitchfork? No.

People driving by on US12 and seeing me? Yes.

But that's a dumb thing to be afraid of.

So I finally went and took pictures!

When I first walked up to the building I could smell something. My first thought was, "dead body!". But I'm pretty sure it was just mint or something aromatic growing in the yard.

Yes, I realize that dead bodies probably don't smell minty.

If you know anything about this place, or even if you cant point me in the direction to learn on my own, let me know!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Do It

Look Up by
Look Up, a photo by on Flickr.

I have a hard time understanding how some people can't take good pictures. I mean, I know a lot of it is technical stuff: shutter speed, ISO, etc... but a lot of it is just a matter of looking for cool stuff.

Particularly with landscapes. You don't have to worry about shutter speed, because typically, nothing is moving. You don't have to worry about aperature, because DOF is irrelevant, ISO can be set at whatever you want.

The worst that could happen is that you get an image with noise (due to high ISO).

Any point and shoot camera will automatically adjust to the ideal settings, particularly if it has a "landscape" mode.

Yes, there are situations where adjusting settings will improve a photograph, but I believe that in most cases, it's pretty straightforward.

But people don't do that. Most people take pictures of their kids running around, their cats sticking their paw in the bath water, etc... yet when they see my landscapes, they appreciate them, and often say, "oh I wish I had a good camera like you".

(which is annoying, by the way)

So if it's not the camera, what is it?


Was it talent that made me notice this cloud sitting above the copse of trees?

No, I don't think it was.

It was just a matter of looking around with an open mind, and noticing things. I don't think that's a talent.

I will drive around for an hour, taking pictures of different things. I do it like it's my damn job. I have no idea what drives me. It's not money, since I'm making none. It's not that I want to be lavished with praise (although I don't mind).

I guess it's a matter of doing justice to the world by appreciating everything around us.

I wish more people did this. I feel sad when I think that most beauty goes unseen.

Even if every photograph you take is mediocre, the very process of being out and looking for interesting things will expand your mind. You will notice things you've taken for granted.

It adds value to every minute of the day.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Featured Photographer

I had the honor of being named the Featured Photographer for SE Michigan for the month of August.  Very thankful and honored, SEMIDP!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Woaaaaaah! by
Woaaaaaah!, a photo by on Flickr.

I saw a lot of people wandering around the fairgrounds with dSLRs.

I wonder what kinds of pictures other people take. They buy big fancy cameras, nice lenses, cool straps and facy cases. Do they know how to use them?

I always have people telling me that they wish they knew how to use all the settings on their cameras. They say they want me to teach them, but the time never comes. They are always too busy.

So do they really want to learn, or do they realize how silly it is to buy equipment that they aren't sure how to use?

A lot of websites make fun of people who buy cool cameras without knowing how to use them. "Every girl you went to highschool with that has a nice camera calls herself a photographer" type stuff.

It is true. Of course there are people who know how to use their stuff... I talk to a lot of them on flickr. But really, there is a disporportionate number of cameras floating around, set to "auto" at all times.

Not to mention the people who ask me what kind of camera I have. They see a cool picture, and out pops, "oh wow, this is such an awesome shot! you must have a nice camera!". I've also had quite a few people ask me to help them make a camera purchase.

They really seem to be under the impression that there is a direct correlation between money spent on equipment and awesomeness of pictures.

Mind you, you can be an awesome photographer and get some good images out of a point and shoot. I've got some pictures I took with my phone that I absolutly love.

There are two things about photography.

1). Technial Knowledge. You must know about shutter speed, ISO and aperature. You have to. You have to realize how these three things interact. You have to have some idea of how to process images (Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, etc).

2). Aestetic. You have to be able to see beauty before you can capture it. You have to have the perspective of an artist.

Anyway, back to the fair... I was wondering which of these people walking around with a dSLR around their necks were techincally good, which were aesticially good, which were both, and which were neither.

And what did they think of me? Were they looking at me the same way I was looking at them?

Either way, my kid had fun riding rides, and I had fun taking pictures. :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why I do This

Lightning on Orange by
Lightning on Orange, a photo by on Flickr.

When I was little... maybe 10 years old... I was riding down the road with my mom. It was early spring, and I was struck at how pretty the trees were, with their tiny little buds.

I mentioned it to my mom, and she said, "I hadn't even noticed that... you surprise me with all those little things you pay attention to".

Photography lets me capture those things, both the little hints of beauty and a sky full of wonder, and share them with other people.

The art of photography, for me, is in capturing what I'm seeing. By learning all of the functions of my camera, I can usually photograph things exactly how I want.

Some of the "rules" of photography ("rule of thirds", "leading lines" and a few other compositional techniques) also help.

Most people don't realize how our eyes actually work. You don't just see everything at once. You look at stuff. Your eyes travel over everything, until they find something to focus on. The compositional rules help a photographer understand how to capture these natural eye movements in a photograph.

When I look at things, I look as if I were the camera. That sounds so cheesy, I'm sorry.

Last night when the sky turned orange and yellow, I got worried. I got worried that I might miss this amazing moment, I rushed to the car (kid in tow) and headed out to a nearby field studded street.

Just looking around, it was almost too beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful. There were so many elements of beauty that I couldn't figure out what to capture.

The sky to the west was on fire, saturating everything with a warm golden hue. To the east, the sky was cool and blue. In between, the colors merging together was magical.

Photographic manipulation (photoshop, lightroom, etc...) makes it easy to make "decent" pictures look amazing. But it also makes it hard when you have amazing pictures.

It's hard because there are so many photographs that look amazing, mostly due to post processing, that a truly amazing shot doesn't really stand out.

That's what I was thinking when I was photographing the sky. "No one is going to believe that the sky was really this amazing...".

Oops, sorry, that was a bit of a tangent.

What I'm getting at is that you can know the rules and techniques, and you can get some great images. If you do it long enough, something in your brain will change, and you'll start seeing the world as if you were constantly photographing it.


I tend to live in the past. My memories of things always tend to be much more glorious than the event or experience really was.

I think a lot of us do that.

I first consciously realized this when I was in Egypt.

I was miserable. Hot and sweaty, stomach problems from the water, no alone time (due to cultural differences... Arabs are much more social than Americans in my experience), and bored.

Then I thought of how I'd remember my stay in Cairo. I knew my memories would be grand. I'd remember how amazing it was to see the pyramids while riding a horse through the desert. I'd miss the constant noise of the city streets. I'd romanticize the markets and parks.

But really, at the time, I wasn't enjoying much of it.

With photography, I become so focused on those awesome moments, and how they will look in the future, that I really do miss out on the drudgery.

It makes the present better.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Cloud Pillows by
Cloud Pillows, a photo by on Flickr.

I've always wanted to have a focus for my work... a style of my own. But, I've never been able to think of something I wanted to make a photo project of.

I had considered doing "barns" or "abandoned houses", but for one, everyone else does that. Two, there are only so many barns and old houses, so I'd have to travel to find things, eventually.

Little did I know, my "thing" was catching up with me. After my first few cool sky shots, I started going for more... and now I find that it's the thing I love to photograph the most.

I find that exposing for the sky, and leaving the foreground dark, works best. If you shoot RAW you can easily add a graduated filter to the dark foreground and PRESTO! Awesome pictures.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Long Exposures

Tecumseh Dam by

I've loved long exposure photography for a long time... but I've never been able to do it because I didn't have a remote shutter, and when you're doing long exposures without one, you get shake from just pushing the shutter button.  After work I stopped at the dam in Tecumseh to take a few pictures. 

The bugs were out in full force, as were the fishermen.  One guy (who is hidden by the tree in this shot) came over to talk to me while I was taking a picture.  He didn't realize I was in the middle of taking a picture (30 second exposure) and kept walking in front of my camera.  Then he asked, "what speed is this camera?".  I have no idea what that means.  I'm kinda thinking it meant that he doesn't know much about photography, and he thought that was a relevant question.  Or maybe he meant shutter speed.  Or ISO.

The two best things I've learned about photography this year are: 1.) Keep the ISO low.  I used to shoot at ISO 400 constantly.  It let me use faster shutter speeds in low light, so I liked it.  Not realizing how much it affected my images, I just left it there.  Now that I'm always almost at ISO 100, my shots are all much more sharp and noise free.  2.) Shoot RAW.  I always shot jpg because it allowed me to store many more images on my CF card, and I could use just about any software for editing.  RAW is so awesome, though.  Yes, it cuts down on my storage significantly, but it's worth it.  If my exposure isn't perfect, I have a lot of wiggle room when I'm post processing.  I can under expose a photograph by quite a bit, and fix it in Lightroom.

The two tend to go hand in hand.  I can lower my exposure when in lower light, which keeps my shutter speed faster while keeping ISO down.  Then I can process in Lightroom, pulling the exposure back up.  I know a lot of people say you get too much noise when you do this, but I think it's just fine.  I also tend to expose for the sky on landscape shots, and then in post processing I'll apply a graduated filter on the land, with a higher exposure.

Like this: 


In the unedited picture the sky looks pretty much the same, but the barn and land is really dark with almost no detail showing.
Tecumseh Dam, a photo by on Flickr.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Pink (film) by
Pink (film), a photo by on Flickr.
In the past, I'd just skip by anyones "film" album on Flickr.

I put film users in two catergories: 1. Old and resistant to change 2. hipsters who were trying to show off.

Now I went and did it.

Well, since I am now old (33) and have some hipster tendencies, I guess I was right all along.

Film really is fun.

For the most part, you do have to know what you're doing with a camera. The digitals with the zooms and auto focus are pretty easy to use.

If you "know" what you're doing, it's nice to be able to check the LCD and make sure you got the shot right. If you don't know what you're doing, it's easy to take 1.5 million pictures until you get it right.

The camera I used was my dads old Sears SLR. (similar to this camera). It has two fixed focus lenses (50mm and 125mm). Everything is manual, including focus.

Which means I had to actually MOVE MY BODY to frame stuff up right. No more aiming from afar and zooming in until I got what I wanted.

Obviously, if you're limited to 24 shots, you tend to be a bit more careful with what you capture. I'm usually pretty good about not taking a lot of "junk" shots (I hate getting home and having to sort through them), but film does take it to another level.

Not to mention, I had to google instructions for loading and unloading film... last time I had done it was 7 years ago, and my memory isn't that great.

Anyway, I had all the images put on a cd (5 bucks at CVS.) I am happy to say that only 2 of the 24 images were stupid (one was the wall, because I was messing with settings on the camera, and accidentally hit the shutter button, and the other is a swirl of blues and whites, so that could be just about anything).

I struggled for a few minutes when it came to post processing. I thought maybe I'd just leave them SOOC, but when I realized that a TINY contrast adjustment made a hell of a difference, I went with that.

You can see them on my flickr. Film.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

before and after

before and after by
before and after, a photo by on Flickr.

I've always liked seeing how photographers use their editing software. Sure, some pictures are great SOOC (straight out of the camera), but most need a little adjusting.

I've picked a few of my own images and put together a before & after display.

I'm doin' it

Negative Space by
Negative Space, a photo by on Flickr.

Hello, blog. Long time no see.

I've finally decided to go ahead and get going on the whole "being a photographer" thing.

Ever since I stopped working in a studio, I've struggled to keep the momentum going on my own.

But now it's starting to come together. I've made the client viewing experience easier by using . Their default price list seems pretty high, but they insist that it's set for "premium results" or something like that. The prices are adjustable, and I've found myself adjusting lower and lower and lower... which I know is a bad trend, but whatever.

I've set up my facebook: Corinne.Schwarz Photography. The only problem I have with this is the whole "self promotion" thing. I don't want to be one of those Amway type people who shove their business down your throat until you start to avoid them... but I do want people to "like" that page.

I recently photographed Heathers family. They were all beautiful and easy to photograph. That would be the first session I edited in a way that I liked, instead of worrying if they would like it. I mean, yeah, I wanted them to like the pictures... but second guessing myself and worrying about everything wasn't helping, so I quit doing that.

I just reminded myself that anyone who hires me hires me based on the images I've shown them. If they like what I like (which they must if they've hired me), then they will like what I come up with.

Here we go!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Smoky Mountains

We went down to Pigeon Forge, TN last week. We stayed in a cabin for a few days. My son had a ball with the bumper boats and other touristy things in town, and I enjoyed going through the National Forest.

Usually I can see something, know what I want to capture with my camera, and get it. It wasn't like that when I was in the mountains. It was so beautiful and the scale was so grand, that nothing I did could accurately capture the wonder of the nature that was before me.

The next valley was always more beautiful than the last, each mountain was so much more grand than the one before.

At one point I had pulled over on the side of the road to take a picture of a mountain. I thought, "It's going to be so easy to get a great shot, since it's so incredibly beautiful". But, like I mentioned earlier, it wasn't as easy as I expected.

The place where I stopped was at the foot of the mountain. Two huge peaks towered above me. I had to turn my head to the side to take it all in... such a huge expanse of beauty.

And the best picture I got didn't even do it half the justice it deserved.

Moar Mounts

I was excited to find a wonderful waterfall just off the road. I've always liked the water shots with long exposures, which make the water look soft. I've only done it a few times, and this waterfall was a great opportunity to give it another go.

I had to use my tripod, of course. I hate using my tripod, but that's neither here nor there. I used my wide angle lens, which i don't have an ND filter for, but since it was getting a little late in the day, and I was in the forest, I figured it was still 'do able'.

The shots are "alright". Maybe if I had taken them a year ago, I would have been super proud, but at this point, they were kinda... blah.

There's just too much going on, too many rocks and not enough fall. Yet another glorious example of nature that was impossible for me to catch with my camera. The falls were actually very spectacular. The gentle slope downward was amazing, and the green moss was beautiful. But I couldn't do it justice.


Well, time to plan another trip to the Smokies!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Pop Culture 2 by
Pop Culture 2, a photo by on Flickr.

I've been having a hard time taking pictures. It's the weather, I think. I've already taken 1.5 million pictures of snow, grey stuff, bare branches, blah blah blah... I am so tired of it.

And of course, my kid wont let me take pictures of him very often.

And I think we've exhausted all of the museums and other indoor venues.

As soon as spring gets here, I can take more of the cliche pink flowers, blue sky, soft tones pictures. People like them.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pay Me

Touch it by
Touch it, a photo by on Flickr.

I was offered a job writting a blog. That would be a cool job, if it paid more than $8 per 600 words. So, instead, I'll just continue to write my own blog for...


I'd like people to buy my pictures. Lots of them (maybe like... 10) are being used elsewhere on the web, mostly on blogs and things like that. Surprisingly, they aren't even on sites like!

Apparently, the only way to make money with photograhpy is to shoot portraits, but that is not as fun as shooting macros of cacti. So, unless I find a cactus with a fat pocketbook and a dire need for some portraits, I'm SOL.

I've learned about photography in a lot of ways... trial and error, books, online instruction, that one job, that other job, blah blah blah, but mostly through

You can go through pictures all day, seeing stuff from amazing photographers, and then if you click on a link, you can see the settings they used. A few times I've sent messages to other flickr members, asking random things, and they have, without exception, been happy to help.

Which is awesome.

My son is four, and when he looks at my pictures he says stuff like, "Which lens did you use for this?". That's maybe the coolest thing, ever. If only he would let me take more pictures of him... and pay me for them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Beautiful Emily by
Beautiful Emily, a photo by on Flickr.

I get so nervous when it comes to photographing people. Suddenly there's someone else involved in my art. There's someone with high hopes and expectations. I look through the lens and feel their nervousness and self consciousness.

I stress myself out by trying to hurry, so they don't have to sit and wait. The need to get the picture right the first time weighs on me. If I have to take a couple shots, I feel like they are annoyed.

Which is weird, since I used to take pictures of people 8+ hours a day.

Whenever someone asks me if they can hire me for something, I do everything in my power to find a way out of it. I've gotta stop doing that.

Monday, March 21, 2011


No Pencil Involved by
No Pencil Involved a photo by on Flickr.
One thing that has changed dramatically over the past year or so is my processing. I started with hardly any processing, at all, ever.

tiny toes

It's not that I didn't know how, I just didn't have the software to do it, and it never crossed my mind that I might want to get some. Occassionaly I'd crop in mspaint or something similar, but for the most part, what you saw was what you got.

Eventually I wanted to edit my pictures a little more than not at all, so I used Windows Photo Gallery, where cropping, color changes and contrast adjustment were available.

breathe it in

It took way too long for me to graduate into Photoshop. I had learned how to use it long ago, when I worked for a mean lady. It took me a few weeks, but I remembered some old techniques, and I was extremely happy.

Tusks in the Light

Even with Photoshop, I kept edits at a minimum. Levels and curves helped a lot. I generally adjusted those, maybe took out some junky stuff from the background, and hit save.

I had a brief stint with Adobe Lightroom, and I loved it.  After my free trial, I went back to using Photoshop for a few months, but the differences between the two software packages was major, so I caved and bought LR.  I use it for almost everything these days. Once in a great while I'll open Photoshop back up and make a few changes to an image, but LR is where it's at.

It's so easy to fix things. The "blacks" level is my favorite. I'm also enjoying the B&W conversion, because you can convert your image to black and white, and then play with the colors, and it's so awesome. It is so fun to make ordinary "grey" looking skys POP.

Desolate Landscape

I'm experimenting more with processing, stretching my wings, so to speak.  I like turning the clarity down and casting a soft glow on things. 
The weird thing is that I can't tell if the processing is good or not.  I mean, I like it, and "that's all that matters"... but of course I want everyone ON THE PLANET to like my stuff, and I don't know if I'm making it more or less likeable with the processing.

The other thing I've been doing is watching the light. Before, it was exicting to get cool pictures of a landscape, foggy day, trees, etc... now it's exciting to go out at sundown and find the perfect place to shoot.

Barn on a Hill


Just the other day I was in a photography forum, and the topic was "what would you like to learn?". One lady said, "I know pretty much everything, I'm great with my camera, so I'm good where I'm at".

Uh, what?

Yes, yes, she was good. She had nice soft pictures of her kids. They had a warm feel to them, and I enjoyed looking through her stuff.

But I can't comprehend how anyone could feel like they've reached the very pinacle of their body of knowledge. There is never a moment when I'm not learning about something new, trying new things, stumbling across new techniques, finding new settings... you get the point.

I look back at my stuff from 5 years ago and cringe. How did I not know what ISO was? Why was I using my on camera flash? Why didn't I fix the levels?

My stuff from 2 years ago is better, but not great. I remember thinking "wow, these are great shots!", and feeling pretty proud of myself. If I shot some of those same things now, they'd be totally different. Totally better.

I can only hope that this goes on forever. I hope shots that I do now are mediocre in comparison with the photographs of my future.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Air up There

The Air up There by
The Air up There a photo by on Flickr.

Some days I can never get a good shot. I either don't see anything really cool or inspiring, or I see it and I miss it.

Usually it's moving things, of course. "Oh look at that awesome bird!" and it flies away. Worse yet, I'll take a picture only to get home and find out that my focus was way off or something stupid.

Today I was at the airport. I noticed the moon was out, and I thought "it would be so cool to get a shot of a plane AND the moon!", but I dismissed the thought pretty quickly because... well... seriously... what are the chances?

Well hot shit, a plane flew right by the moon! I only had time for one shot, and a big part of me thought, "It's probably going to be really blurry and crazy since I'm using my long lens and didn't have time to make sure it was focusing right".

A few minutes later I was taking pictures of a fire hose thing, and I thought, "It'd be cool if a plane was in the background, thrown out of focus". And seriously, right then, a plane jetisoned into the perfect spot, and I got that shot, too.

Nearly every picture I took today made me happy... which isn't what usually happens when I'm around things that move fast and I'm using my long lens.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shooting RAW

Old Timey by
Old Timey a photo by on Flickr.

I read all about RAW in the past, about how great it is, how blah blah blah... So I shot in RAW for a few days, and, not knowing enough about the real, tangible differences between RAW and jpg, I gave up, and went back to jpg.

Then I looked at some comparison shots, and I can't deny the fact that the ability to fix exposure, alone, is worth the switch from jpg to RAW.

I also splurged on Adobe Lightroom. It is awesome, but it'll take me a minute to get used to it. I've been messing with CS4 for so long that it has re-wired my brain.

The RAW images I captured today were awesome. Not because I did anything super different than normal, but I felt like I had finally escaped from an iron lung. I mean, yeah, I could breathe in there, but it doesn't compare.

I also took the big step of watermarking my stuff. Wowza.

Productive day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Same Picture

Gone by
Gone a photo by on Flickr.

I was browsing around on flickr when I found an image almost identical to one I took two years later...

October 1860

I spent quite some time flipping back and forth, comparing composition and whatnot.

I was surprised to find the picture since this is a very small cemetery out along a back road. It's just odd that two different people would go there at two different times, and take the same shot.

I mean, I know a lot of people take the same shot of things like the Statue of Liberty... but the same picture of three random tombstones in a little rural cemetery?


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Photograph Used

Dam on Ice by
Dam on Ice a photo by on Flickr.

It's too early for me to have anything substantial to say, but I found someone else using a shot of mine.

Someone blogged it... I translated the thing to english, and as far as I can tell it's some depressed guy talking about dying or something. And stillborns.

Monday, March 7, 2011

30 day challenge

1:30:1 Day 3 by
1:30:1 Day 3 a photo by on Flickr.

Long ago and far away I heard about 365 projects. It sounded cool and I briefly considered doing it... but I hate restrictions and commitment in my dating life, and photography is no different.

My Flickr Group started a 30 day challenge, and I committed myself to it.

30 days, one object, one picture.

The first picture was annoying because I was just getting my feet wet and wasn't really "into" the marble. Then on the second day I forgot about it until I was ready for bed. My son was sleeping on the couch, so I was restricted to using my reading lamp for light.

Today I was doing dishes (believe it or not), and I thought the marble would look cool in bubbles. Then I saw my sons toy gun and thought the marble would look cool by the gun. Either way, I needed to take a marble picture.

I put the marble on the table and went to gather my props.

In the meantime, Bobcat hopped onto the table and sat, looking out the window.

So I took a picture.

Commitment might not be so bad.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Soren's Taking Pictures

Sight by
Sight a photo by on Flickr.
I just got a new phone, so I'm letting my 4 year old play with my old one. He was fairly amused with the different games and things... but then I showed him how to take pictures, and he loves it! So far he's taken pictures of the cat, my hands, the light, the t.v., army guys, police cars and the cat mess (which was caused by him looking at the phones screen while walking).

It's so super awesome to watch him walk around and try to find cool things to photograph.

Except he keeps trying to take pictures of me, and that sucks, since I'm still sitting around in my Radioshack uniform.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

X-Ray Smoke

X-Ray Smoke
Originally uploaded by
As usual, I got sucked into the depths of the internet last night. Instead of reading, cleaning or socializing, I sat home and played on the computer.

It all begins innocently enough. I wanted to find out how common live burrials used to be. Then I read something about vestal virgins being burried alive, so I had to look that up, then I had to check facebook, and then I googled "photography tips", and in between all of this, I kept getting up to take pictures.

I wanted to take a picture of the bubbles in my pop, but the bubbles kept disolving too fast, and I was trying to find a way to create more bubbles. The biggest part of this problem was that I didn't feel like actually getting up to get a spoon or something.

Sorens marbles were on the table, so I was going to drop one of those in the cup, but then I decided to just take pictures of the marbles, instead.

And the idiom about marbles in your head (which I couldn't specifically remember... how ironic) came into my mind, so I grabbed his new anatomy toy (which required getting up!).

Losing Your Marbles?

Then I processed those pictures while smoking a cigarette. That gave me the idea of "smoke pictures", so I got out the incence, turned off most of the lights and grabbed a flashlight.

The resulting images were cool... I was satisfied with the fact that I figuerd out how to do it... but they weren't AWESOME. So I kept messing with them in photoshop.

I eventually gave up.

Later, I found myself googling "layers", just because at one point in my life, I think I may have known how to use them, and I musta forgot.

That's when the big bang happened in my head, and I made a few mirrored smoke images.

However, I'm not the first to get this idea, and not nearly the best. But it's still cool.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Over Stimulated

Originally uploaded by
I was excited to take my son to the Hands on Museum in Ann Arbor, partly because I know he loves going there and has fun, but mostly because I thought it'd be a cool place to take pictures.

Boy, was I wrong. It sucked. Too much stuff was going on, too many people, bad light, etc... I only liked a few of the pictures I took. However, after we left the museum, we walked around downtown a bit, and I really love the shots I got.

I'm in love with the cupcakes we got at The Cupcake Station. Not only were they super delicious (like... unbelievably good), I thought they were the perfect subject matter for photographs.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Above and Center
Originally uploaded by
Lindsey got married on 2/25/11. I haven't been to a wedding in forever, so I was excited to take some pictures. I wasn't the photographer, so there were a few limitations as to what I could do. I wish I could have taken some posed shots at the alter, but I didn't want to impose, so I just stuck with candids.

When I worked for Prestige Portraits I learned how to set up proper lighting, but I never actually went out and purchaced my own lights, so I shot without flash.

For whatever reason, I always ignore the shutter speed functions. I adjust aperture, ISO and exposure, which lets shutter speed fall in line.

So I kept my aperture down as low as possible, usually around f5, underexposed by about -1/3ev, and kept ISO at 800. Of course I ended up with a bunch of noise in the shots, but it eliminated most of the movement, so... I was happy enough with the trade-off.

I wish I would have thought to dial ISO down durring still shots (like them standing at the alter and during the reception, which was very well lit. But I didn't. Oh well, lesson learned.

I did some research and set up an account at Pictage, so I could upload the images and make them available for people to buy.

It said something about uploading between 400-1000 images for best results. Holy cow, I only have about 100! Do people actually shoot 1000 pictures at ONE wedding!?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Photo was Used

CP cemetery
Originally uploaded by
Excite has an article (in Dutch) about some woman stealing from a cemetery. They used my photo and gave me credits in the article.

I was surprised that they didn't let me know they used it. I mean, I don't care, and I have my images in the Creative Commons, so they are allowed to use it, but it still would have been cool to be notified.

Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

Ice Storm

Reaching for Heaven
Originally uploaded by
Lenawee County, Michigan, was hit by a huge ice storm last week. It was a great opportunity to take cool pictures. It seems like every time I get the feeling that I've run out of things to photograph around here, something new comes up.

I have people giving me suggestions as to things to photograph, which is awesome. There are some churches, barns and houses that have been suggested. I was planning on taking a road trip today and exploring, but it snowed, which means I have to do stupid stuff like shovel, instead.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flowing Water

Flowing Water
Originally uploaded by
I had a picture ("flowing water") featured in a blog called Absolute Michigan. It's a blog that features a new picture of Michigan every day.

So, that was cool.

I enjoy photography. I like taking pictures because it's fun to explore new things, try new techniques and cultivate new ideas.

I love the fact that I can see a picture in my head, and in most cases, I can get an image on film (ahem, card) that is very close to what I had planned.

I love tweaking the photographs in Photoshop.

Uploading and sharing them is the icing on the cake.

Self doubt is a bitch, though.

A lot of the reason I enjoy photography is because I think I'm good at it. And I think I should be more involved in it. I want to make money off of it.

Not because I want to have actual money, but because it would be the ultimate validation of my skill (or lake thereof).

I've run across tons of people who call themselvse professional photographers... and I look at their photographs and wonder how they came to hold the belief that they have talent.

Mainly it's portraits that floor me. Unflattering poses and lighting, huge DOF, colors are dull, contrast is off... and people pay for this?

I get it... photography is an art form. It's all subjective. You can't judge.

But crap, taking snapshots of people using fully automatic mode on a fancy camera does not make you good. If you truly love photography, learn about it.

Try new things.

Or don't. Shoot, if you're getting paid, who cares...?


So, there I did it.  I came full circle.

Subject Ideas

Seems like almost every photographer takes pictures of the following on a regular basis: cemeteries, animals, kids, railroad tracks, flower macros, ferris wheels and barns.

Myself, included.

I'd like to focus on something new. Something awesome. Something no one else has thought of.

But I don't know what that might be.

Even though it's cliche and overdone, I really do like cemetery shots. There must be a reason that it appeals to me so much, but I'm not sure what that is.

I found a website called Find A Grave that lists pretty much every cemetery, and if you're lucky, it'll also will tell you how many people were buried there, along with their names and the dates of their lives.

The other day I was putzing around on back roads, and I came across a tiny cemetery in the middle of nowhere. After I got home I found the name of it (Aten), and the number of people interred (109). Then I spent the next FOREVER looking up burial practices from the 19th century.

This particular cemetery had been used for 100 years!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Originally uploaded by
The first lens I bought was a 75-300mm. I loved being able to zoom in and capture things without being obtrusive almost as much as I loved the detail of going in close on a shot.

Being obtrusive is a huge obstacle for photography. When most people see a camera, they change. They feel nervous, anxious and uptight... or sometimes they get overly extroverted and "show off".

But that's not what I want to capture. I want to capture what you look like, not how you want to look.

I don't mean that I don't want you to look good. I do. I want you to see the picture of yourself and think, "wow, I didn't know I looked like that!", with an element of pride and excitement. I just don't want your forced smile, hidden face, or awkward posture.

I've found that people relax when you've got a long lens. They most likely realize you have a camera, and they might get the feeling you're going to aim it at them... but they don't feel the same intimidation that a photographer right under their nose might give them.

Not to mention the beautiful DOF that a long lens provides. Backgrounds blur themselves into a smooth canvas, perfect for portraits.

Camera shake begins to be a problem when you have a long lens. The faster you can crank up she shutter, the better. Tripods are a big help as well.

My standard lens is a 55-80mm, which I tend to set my aperture around f5.6 or so, depending on the light. That lets me keep my DOF shallow, while being able to capture detail without flash lighting.

I've used both lenses for close to 5 years, without ever considering anything else.

Then I started noticing images like this:

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get that same look. It took me way too long to realize that it was the lens. I needed something wider.

I also wanted to shoot better marcro.

The Two Birds With One Stone lens was the Sigma 18-50.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This is where it begins

I've loved photography for years.  Since I was a kid, even.  My first adventures in photography involved taking stringing a blanket over the backs of chairs, and forcing my animals to "pose" for me.  I was 9 or 10 when I took this gem:

Either the viewfinder was severely misaligned, or I had no clue how to compose a picture.  This particular image was shot with a cheap point and shoot.

When I was 13 I started my first job.  I picked beans and sorted through rotten peaches all summer, and saved up for a new panoramic point and shoot.  I had great ideas for this camera, I was imagining romantic images of gently swaying cornfields and the like.  None of the pictures turned out as I had hoped, and I went back to shooting in the standard format.

Things were getting a little better over the years.  It's funny how things like MY OWN SHADOW seemed to go unnoticed when I was taking pictures.

When I was in my early 20s I took over my dads old SLR.  I had no idea how to use any setting except for "manual", but I felt cool using his camera!  Composition ramped up a little, and having a nice camera helped out quite a bit, too.

I took a trip to Egypt in 2001, and for the first time I took pictures that were actually kinda GOOD.

Not long after that I somehow landed myself a job as a studio manager for one of those little portrait studios inside of a Target.  There was minimal training involved, since it was pretty straightforward:  Sit the kid on the platform, give them a stuffed animal, and act goofy until they smiled, at which point you sqeezed the remote trigger, and yay!  Picture taken!

I was good at it, but I didn't like the actual "management" part, so I talked my way up the chain, and started working as a portrait photographer for the companies "real" photography studio.

But even that was pretty easy.  The cameras were all permanently attached to heavy tripods, the lights were already metered and the sets were already built.  The cameras were all set at f16 as a default, which meant it was nearly impossible to mess up.  I did learn standard lighting techniques and posing, but other than that, it was very cookie cutter.

I'd post some of those photographs, but I'm pretty sure that would violate some licensing laws.

Later I went to work for a woman who owned her own studio in a small town.  She hired me as a photography assistant, which I didn't realize meant that my job would consist of vacuuming, making coffee, and framing prints.  I also got to drive her son to school, pick him up, and accompany him to sporting events.  One of the worst parts of the whole ordeal was that she insisted on using a nickname for me, because she thought our names sounded too similar, and she was trying to avoid confusing clients.  Thus, I was called "Cori" for a year.

The owner kept promising to let me begin shooting sessions "soon". 

I couldn't wait to start photographing, because the owner had no formal portraiture training, and her lighting and posing was always just a hair off, and... well who doesn't love showing someone else up?  That day never came.  

One day I arrived at the studio and was greeted by the owner, who yelled something along the lines of, "get the f*ck out, I can't f*cking stand you!!!!!!!".  

So that was that.  I went home and filed for unemployment, which subsequently got denied because the owner had lied and said that I quit, via email.  She even made a fake email which she presented as evidence.  The believed her, and I got screwed. 

The Canon 10D was released, and I bought it.  I was going to get into the business on my own.  If that mean old lady could run her own studio, so could I. 

I shot a few weddings, did some senior portraits and a large family shoot, and then gave up.  I liked photographing people, but I hated dealing with the financial end of it.  Before every shoot I'd explain my fees, the client would agree to the fees, and we'd get started.

After spending hours editing, I would sit down with the client and present the proofs.  They always seemed happy with the final result.  I'd take their order home, and send it in for processing.

Most of the orders were so large that I felt guilty charging the regular rate (the rate they agreed to), and ended up cutting my prices in half.  I assumed the clients would be grateful.  They weren't.  They still seemed shocked when I gave them the final bill, and since I was young and non-confrontational, I typically ended up bringing home much less than I had originally had charged. 

One order sticks out in my mind.  I had my pricing set at $5 for a 5x7, $9 for an 8x10, and $20 for a 16x20.  They ordered 140 5x7s, 50 8x10s, and 4 16x20s.  Before I took his order home, I reminded him of the fees for the prints, because I knew it was going to add up quick. 

Session fee: $125
Print order: $1230
Total: $1355 

When I presented him with a total, he nodded and gave me 4 100 dollar bills.

So I quit the business.  It was too aggravating.

But I still take pictures.  And I'm gonna get back into the mix.

And you're gonna have front row seats.

Welcome to the begining.