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.