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.