A Pleasant Phone Call ( “drive-thru” order used to be an intimate act between me and the person taking the order.)

Model Cynthia Ann

Model Cynthia Ann

As the hands of time move on and never stop in our ever-changing universe we see change. Some changes are subtle and some are drastic, some simple and others complexed. Some changes are welcome and others we wish never happened. I remember someone telling me once that “you must utilize the changes in technology to keep from getting old.” I don’t know if this old sage was quoting someone or just speaking off the cuff. However at the time my friend made this statement was when the fax machine was in its heyday and everybody loved the convenience of using the fax as a way to make life just a little easier. Now I must stop and note that most younger readers may not understand what a fax is or was. But at the time it made life just a little easier in the business world. And then… there were the people who couldn’t or wouldn’t use a fax machine. Mostly because they were afraid of learning something new, that’s all. We still see it today with computers and other technology, some people refuse to learn how to use the technology and then they instantly put themselves at the mercy of other. I never wanted to be one of those people. I was always open to technology and what it has to offer. For those avoiding it they will claim they have no need for it and their life was doing just fine without it. In fact some will become quite angry at the mention of it. I know an older gentleman who gets very upset when someone mentions mobile phones. He lives in a modern house and drives a modern car ect… but thinks a cell phone is a waste of time and more so money.

Now with all that said; some things about technology drive me absolutely crazy and I think one of the biggest is the way people have lost touch with how to communicate in a proper way. I grew up in an era before mobile phones and the internet and the hardwired phone was our main implement of person to person conversation unless of course the two people were sitting in the same room. The hardwired phone conversation was quite unique compared to today’s mobile phone conversation. In a hardwired phone conversation it would be very improper to make lots of background noise and if you were in a noisy area say for example using a pay phone at the bar or a phone booth along a highway most likely the conversation was minimal. Today I find it increasingly common for people to be on the other end of the line and there is all kinds of extremely distracting noise in the background and when I question the noisy distraction they act as if I just killed their mother. And not just the background, for some it is the lousy ass Bluetooth device they are using that makes listening to them talk sound as if the gears of technology are grinding backwards instead of forward. Let’s see… we now have a device that lets us communicate from just about anywhere we want to anywhere we want, so let me buy a piece of crap Bluetooth garbage that will make it impossible for anybody to hear me. And when my friends complain I will just ignore them because I can hear them fine.

Seriously though it is like we are headed backwards, I have great hearing and I get people calling me and I just say “call me back when you have a better phone” and they get offended. What about “you” making me listen to “you” talk and I hear every other word… that’s not annoying or offensive? Myself I am not a big phone talker, in person I love to talk and carry on conversation, but the phone is for that “important and I need to reach out to you” kind of conversation. And most of all of lately the business calls have been horrible. If I have business to conduct over the phone and I’m using a mobile phone I will make sure I’m in a quiet area with a good signal and I am giving the person on the other end my full undivided attention. Now it is so common to get a business call and I have to hear the person giving their order at a drive-thru window. Not that it really matters, but when you think about it a “drive-thru” order used to be an intimate act between me and the person taking the order.

How about when you’re hanging out with a friend and they get a call and they stay on the phone forever. Now you’re not “hanging out” your just… well now you’re just “hanging” lol.

A Box of Prints To Hold (happy birthday Kendall)

 

Prints from Mpix.com

Prints from Mpix.com (photo curtousy of Kendall)

It is the power of the hard print that really gives me joy in photography. I have posted before about my personal feelings of holding one of my own hard prints and how much joy there is in seeing and holding something I have created. I have also posted about how much joy you can give to a friend when you hand them a hard print. It doesn’t have to be a fancy portrait, but it does help if the photo is composed correctly and has good exposure.

Today we are so used to seeing images on a monitor or a phone or tablet that we do often tend to forget that feeling of holding a print. Somehow that feeling (at least for me) does not compare to seeing a digital image in a screen. I once heard Scott Kelby comment on large prints and saying “even a bottle of ketchup will look interesting if you make it into a large print” and he is so right. Large equals more interesting, but somehow seeing an image on a large monitor doesn’t really equate to seeing a large print such as a 16 x 24 inch print, or bigger.

So today is Kendall’s birthday and I though what better gift than a box of hard prints from Mpix. Kendall and I have been creating images for almost a full year now and we started our very first shoot with some hard prints, so why not. And for added impact it was a surprise, I did not tell her they were on the way. I did email her mother to let her know the package was coming and to watch for it. FedEx did their part and the package arrived on time.

So today Kendall also got to feel that incredible feeling of seeing and feeling the fruits of our labor, by holding and looking at that thing that really completes a photography project… the hard print. Happy birthday Kendall.

Thanks so much for reading.

Demons 10 – Me 0 (A dirty fallen angel, yet power divine.)

Demons... dirty fallen angels.

Demons… dirty fallen angels.

Some days are diamonds, but today was coal.

Demons we all have them.

Demons they’re fighting for control.

Never ending and relentless it takes its toll.

I’m a mere mortal, a fragile heart, a human soul.

Demon is not of this world, he is everlasting.

A dirty fallen angel, yet power divine.

Today is yours, tomorrow is mine.

 

Many people struggle with life although they may never show it.

Sorry I didn’t have a more interesting post for today. Demons 10 – Richie 0

The Smallest Thing Can Mean The Most (you don’t fight with your friends, if you’re fighting with your friends… )

Greg & Scott Sampson

Greg & Scott Sampson

My most recent photo shoot with a motocross racer was a success. I was a little nervous going into this project for the simple fact that the racer had never really done a studio style shoot. And given the fact that I was not going to be just doing the standard portrait style of “say cheese and click we’re done.” While I was surely going to do those standard headshots as I always do, after all everybody can use a fresh headshot. This is also a way to break the ice and let the new model get a feel for the whole environment of the all the crazy flashing and softboxes ect. But soon I would move on to the creative lighting that I so crave and must create and get it done in a timely fashion. I don’t want to burn the model out, new or experienced it doesn’t matter; I want the person to go away feeling that working with me was a good experience and a fun time. This then lets me leave the shoot feeling very confident that if I need to reshoot or just work together again in the future that getting a “yes” will be almost a given.

So the little bit of nervousness that I was feeling was that I had high hopes this young man could take direction well. While most people can do what you ask of them, they do feel a little strange when I get into the creative mode and start asking them to do things that don’t really make sense at a standard photo shoot. Or at least it doesn’t really seem to match up with what they envisioned a shoot should be. Example; I ask the model to turn their back towards me and look over their shoulder. See, you must know that part of my creative technique is not really going into detail about what I’m doing. Not because it is a secret, but rather if I sit and try to explain what and why I’m doing something I am wasting both our time. They may not know an f/stop from a focus ring, so why bother. Most times they have seen my work and know it is not run of the mill and therefore I just say “it is creative so it may seem a little weird” and most times they’ll just roll with whatever I tell them to do.

But Greg was an ace, not only did he do as I asked, he pretty much nailed it. I only had to shoot each pose three clicks of the shutter. I always do three clicks because of eye blinks and the like. I got the feeling that he picked up on the vibe of what I was doing because the shoot flowed along rather well. I would shoot a few poses and we would review them together on my tablet and quickly move on to the next set of poses.

Now for the rest of the story… So this shoot was taking place in a garage bay next to the area where the motorcycles are worked on. When we started we were alone, but Scott who is Greg’s father soon arrived and wanted to see what we were doing. Now I have to tell you Scott has a look and presence that would make most nightclub bouncers cringe. He is an amazing guy I could tell, why just in the short time I was there I heard him speaking to other friends and family members and his words of wisdom were being felt and absorbed by everyone whether they knew it or not. I quote “you don’t fight with your friends, if you’re fighting with your friends… well then they are not your friends.” Hey the guy is dead on right as far as I’m concerned. Don’t let the ink fool you, I could damn well tell this man is a good leader, father and most likely that friend that would always be there for you. But with all that said, what are the chances of just getting him to step in front of the camera with his son? I want to do it and really I have to do it. Because I know truly how photography works. This photo is going to mean a lot to somebody. I know it, I feel it and… ah what the heck. So I say “hey Scott what da ya say… I want you to step in here and let me just get one shot with you and Greg and this awesome bike you built.” I had to ask twice and I could tell her really wanted to do it although he played it cool and seemed a little reluctant.

So like I said; the photo is going to mean a lot to somebody, but whom? Will mom like it? It is a nice father & son shot and the bike is a work of art as far as motocross bikes go. Or will it be a shot that will take on meaning as years go by and they look back at the “good ole days? Well the answer came a lot sooner than I had thought. I had sent Greg a few quick edits that were cropped for Instagram as he had requested. The photos made their rounds and then I see this on IG and I knew that this photo was really worth the world to somebody. It made me very happy to know that the photo touched them.

 

 

Sometimes the simplest photo means the world to someone.

Sometimes the simplest photo means the world to someone.

Work In Progress

Work In Progress

How Will You Pass on Your Digital Photos? (we don’t know all of what went on back then, but we do know they had awesome weddings.)

 

This is a topic that really is important to each and every person. Or at least anyone who has digital photos… and who doesn’t? Please take the time to watch this video and just think about it for a few minutes. There is no real “big” revelation of an answer. I came across this video some time back and could never find it again until I seen it in my news feed today.

I started with my first digital camera several years back (about 1999), a Hewlett-Packard 2 MP and I experienced problems just a year into my digital photography. At the time the small three and half-inch floppy disk was a standard means of storage. Well it was standard for me until I bought the next computer and it didn’t have a floppy drive, it only had CD drive. I remember a few computer geek friends of mine who got a good ole belly laugh and said “why in the world would you store anything on a floppy.” It sure made me feel like a dummy. But I also started to think “what if CDs go out of date?” And again I was laughed at. Then as time marched on we seen compact flash cards (my first digital camera had one), than SD, Micro SD, Thumb Drives and cut to present day and it is all about external hard drives and cloud storage. It all keeps changing and now people are laughing at those who still store on a CD. But meanwhile we still have the option to print and frame our photos… or hey, what about putting them in a photo album? At 50 years old I certainly remember how novel it was to visit a friend a see photo albums sitting under the coffee table in the family room and they were there for whoever wanted to see them. And if anybody dare laugh at printing photos today, well I ask you to talk to any wedding photographer and ask how important that bridal album is to the client? For a wedding photographer; aside from the agony of capturing the day’s events, there is most times the greater agony of that “album” to deal with.

Now because we have social media there is no need for an album under the coffee table… or is there? Photobooks I think would be a better option today than that old style album with the plastic sheets. But… photo-books can be costly. Again as you can see there really is no cut & dry answer to this topic. But personally I still lean towards prints. I can tell you that the DNG file, which is also called a “digital negative”, is a lossless format that was created by Adobe. The DNG is recommended by the Library of Congress as the standard means of archiving digital images. So therefore I think it is safe to say that computers & software will be able to always read DNG file format. But… hold on there a minute; did you even know what a DNG was before you just read about it here? Most in-depth photographers would know, but the average person might not know. Then ask yourself this question; If DNG is the so-called standard, why does my camera or better yet, all cameras not shoot a DNG file? And yes not all cameras shoot a DNG and that includes the cameras in most average mobile phones. Kind of confusing and again leading us back to the big question of; If we really… and I mean “really” love our photos and want to save them as our parents & grandparents did, we need to come up with a way to do this and not just talk about it.

Could there actually come a time when people of the future look back in time and see all those old paper photos that pre-date digital and have a big gaping shadow where the digital age started because there is no way to retrieve a vast amount of digital files? Where are digital files actually stored when we send them to the so-called “cloud?” Or let’s just get real crazy and ask; what if there is ever a weapon developed that can erase or destroy large amounts of digital files at one time? Sounds kind of outrageous and futuristic right? About as outrageous and futuristic as the nuclear bomb was just five years before it was built and used to destroy two cities, by virtually erasing them from the earth. I know that all seems a little farfetched in a conversation about photography, but let’s just really give thought as to how you want to pass your special moments of your life on to your next generation. It actually would be kind of funny if nobody did anything and there was a big gap in retrieving digital files in the future. They could all look back and think; “we don’t know all of what went on back then, but we do know they had awesome weddings.” Hahahhahaa.

As always, thank you for reading and have a great day.

Heading To Thailand for 28 days. (scenes from 2012 trip)

1/125 sec at f/5.6 ISO 100 200mm

1/125 sec at f/5.6 ISO 100 200mm

 

So what will I see on this trip to Thailand? I hope to see a lot of friends and family. But aside from that I hope to shoot some really nice HDR photography. I shot some HDR in 2012 and while it was very good and I was so pleased with my results, this year I have a much better camera body. The 6D will shoot at 50 ISO which is super clean. In addition to the camera I have learned even more about HDR and more about how to edit those nice images.

And I have other projects on my bucket list for this trek, one being some “long exposure” photography. I have a 10 stop Neutral Density filter that may come in real handy while I’m trekking around the islands. Oh yeah I’m getting excited just thinking about what I can do with that filter. I also have a Hoya 77mm R72 Infrared Filter that would be great to play with.

But there really is a goal to come back with some awesome images that will be specifically for use as backgrounds. These backgrounds will be used to create final images using the studio shots of models, Kendall Strampel & Cynthia Ann. Who knows I may not find anything worthy and have to look elsewhere?

Most of all I know I will capture images of interesting people and Thai culture. Village life is always fascinating, at least to me. Temples are fun for HDR too.

So I leave you with some images of my last trek to Thailand.

 

Are Real Photographers Still Needed? The guy driving his Porsche to work is a legend in his own mind, not a Formula One driver.

Seren at Graffiti Pier

Seren at Graffiti Pier

Part 1:

In our ever changing world of technology digital photography and social media has changed many things about when, where, why and how we take photos. Matter of fact I ask the question; are they really photographs? After all “photographs” were images that were on a special paper and we framed them for display or put them in photo albums for safe keeping and to go back and view from time to time. Today as a photographer I find myself calling them images rather than “photographs.”  So then I question; what does that make me? Am I an image maker and not a photographer anymore? It is really funny when you actually stop and think about it. Even with video now days, there is no video tape so most time I say “I captured video” rather than say “I recorded video.”

So with social media most times we view are photos or images on some sort of backlit device be it a phone, tablet or monitor. This makes me question; is there still a need for a hard copy print? I have blogged about this in the past and have stated that for me there is nothing better than opening that box when it arrives from my print source and holding the actual hard copy print in my hand. I will even view it in different light and hold it up to the wall to see how it will look. Then of course there is the framing and finding that special place to hang it. Then I can say the act of capturing the image is complete. I don’t know what it is, but opening that box when it arrives is like Christmas morning for me, the anticipation is actually a joyful feeling and not a nervous one.

But we still have this whole social media explosion going on and it is a big part of many people’s lives. There is viewing and sharing of images that goes on so much that we hardly remember a time when we didn’t do it. And if you are of the younger generation you can’t remember a time you didn’t post and share because you have done it your whole life. So why do we take photos? Why not, every phone has a camera in it and cameras in the phones are getting better every year. Where do we take photos? Everywhere, we take photos of our food, something people rarely ever did before the camera in the phone. And the “selfie,” you can’t go on social media and not find photos of people taking photos of themselves. So without a doubt it has all changed.

And now I ask you; who needs a photographer when everybody has a camera in their phone. Ok… so first I have to say “you know how irritated I get when people start comparing their iPhone to a DSLR. Yes the iPhone takes good photos but it is as far from a DSLR as a production Porsche road car is to a Porsche powered Formula One car. The guy driving his Porsche to work is a legend in his own mind, not a Formula One driver. Same goes for the iPhone and a DSLR, enough said.

The Photo Shoot: With all the changing in today’s photography, photographers still find a place where they can hold a firm stand and will most likely always be needed. Now I define a “photographer” as a person who actually has knowledge that goes past the entry level DSLR and editing using Photoshop Elements. I define the “photographer” as someone who knows, the camera settings like the back of his/her hand, lighting techniques, posing, editing skin tones, fixing problems such as the bug that landed on the nose during that special moment ect… Then there is printing… Wait… did I say printing? Sure, we can still print images; after all it is a little bit expensive to go around hanging large screen monitors to view our images. While a 16×20 inch photograph is a whole lot easier and cheaper to mount. And a “photographer” is going to have the proper lens for the type of shot being captured.

To be continued…