May 30, 2010

In Memorium

Around here, we remember our veterans who have fought in wars protecting or, hopefully, securing liberty for others. Most of us have Grandparents, Uncles, or Parents who fit into this group, and we are grateful to them.

This image, however, is from Panama; from the American cemetery there. These are largely Americans who died building the canal. Malaria, yellow fever, and dynamite probably account for most of the deaths. These are just some of the tens of thousands who were killed creating the canal. As I think about it, my life would be extremely different without this canal. I imagine all the thousands of goods in my home that have traversed the canal, making them affordable for me to buy. The costs of going all the way around the southern continent would make many of these items unattainable for me, unimaginably altering my quality of life. I've worked as an engineer for a major manufacturer here in Logan, and now I have a completely different appreciation when we discuss how many units will fit in a shipping container. Each of the large containers costs as much as $75 to traverse the canal; as much as $500,000 per ship. I wonder what the total person cost per container has been over the years. Thank you for providing us all a comfortable life.

Nikon D90, 70-200mm VR lens with 1.7 tele extender @ 340mm, f/11, 1/40s, ISO 200

Rendezvous II

One more day of the Cache Valley Rendezvous! There's a good crowd this year, with some really interesting vendors, including a talented knapper (shown first), a piper, and bead traders. We visited last year, too, and it's always a nice time. You should swing by; someone may just invite you in for some supper.

Canon 5D, 35mm lens, f/2.8, ISO 200.

Scott Kelby proffered a challenge this weekend, and it was fun to try out. Check out a few more of these unedited, as well other participants' work from around the world, here.

May 28, 2010

Almost Saturday Flower Friday

A little something from my sister-in-law's yard last weekend. This sure is a fun, green time of year. I started doing Flower Fridays to get through the cold and sometimes-dreary winter...I wonder if I should do Winter Wednesdays...not for a few more weeks, though, at least. 

Nikon D90, 55mm micro lens, f/11, 1/125s, ISO 400.

May 25, 2010


I can admit it, so it's not a problem, right? It's definitely not a problem--it's constructive, actually. It makes me better, more productive, and brings more in than it costs. I may be addicted to gear, but it's not a problem. Really.

So, I was casually browsing, just checking to see if anything new had been posted in the Nikon categorie in the last two minutes, and low and behold, something had been, and it's something I know Gary has been shopping for for quite a while. A 300mm f/4 lens, found locally, no less. Quickly checked reviews and specs, compared prices on eBay, considered how many pints of plasma it would cost, and then got together with Gary to go check it out.

The fellow let us take it out shooting to try it out. We didn't fall in love, and Gary's eyes were opened to the constraints of a fixed focal length lens. This thing doesn't zoom; it's always zoomed in close. We realized some of the limits of this as we wielded it at the Skate Park. After knocking two or three guys in the head with it (it's quite long) and getting great pictures of their belt buckles, we retreated to the grassy knolls surrounding the park. From sixty yards it makes some pretty good full length pictures of these guys in action. Check out the creamy bokeh applied to the backgrounds by the wide aperture and long focal length. I think it has some real potential as a portrait lens, too.

We bought it. But we didn't have to. We don't need it.

We don't have a problem.

As you can see, we are perfectly under control...

Nikon D90, 300mm AF ED f/4 lens, f/4, ~1/2500s, ISO 200.

Mi Pueblito, Panama

It's a little mock up of several different types of villages one might find wandering around Panama two hundred years ago. Pretty interesting, and pretty diverse. These shots of the kitchen in one of the houses caught my eye. I think "Whirlpool" was stamped on the other side of that pestle...

Nikon D90, 50mm lens, f/2.2, 1/30 & 1/160s, ISO 400.

May 21, 2010

Panama City; 9:45 p.m.

I stayed out late, working my way along the Causeway, trying to get a good angle on the city, keeping my gear out of reach of raccoons, and wiping splashes of seawater of my lens (put there by these enormous fish rising and thrashing in the shallows--seriously! they were about 6 feet long!), and just generally feeling disappointed with my images from the evening. This was the final image I made that evening. I rather like it. This is the structure on a floating dock that large yachts use to load/off load goods and people. It was creaking and groaning as the gangplank moved across the deck with the rise and fall of the bay; it was consistent and loud as it moved up and down all evening. Anyway, the light on the far dock was shining in just the right spot, and the small aperture of my lens created the rays streaming out from it (each blade in the iris of the lens creates two of the rays; to some extent, more blades means a higher quality lens; five is standard for lenses that come with cameras, and seven is usually some pretty nice glass; I was pleased to see that this one has nine!). A little abstract, but kinda fun. Even with the sun down and the sea breeze, I was still dripping sweat...

Nikon D90, 70-200mm lens @ 102mm, f/22, 13.0s, ISO 200.

Panama City; 4:45 a.m.

I got up early to catch the sunrise. Ya know, that's the best time to make pictures, right? I, however, was mostly just hoping to beat the heat. It didn't work.

Nikon D90, 12-24mm lens @24mm, f/8.0, 20.0s, ISO 200.

May 20, 2010

Panama Flowers Friday

The trouble is, it's the rainy season. And it really rains. Like...a rain forest. So, the flowers are mostly on trees, and the ones growing on their own, are also growing on trees! Ever seen Medicine Man (Sean Connery with a pony tail)? Ya, those flowers are everywhere growing on top of trees, lodged between branches; it's pretty incredible. But it's also incredibly hard to climb high enough in the trees to make a pictures of them. So, here're some I could reach, even if I had to cross a few rivers and swamps to get to some of them. Enjoy.

May 19, 2010

Embera, Number 1

Just a quick one here. R. was our guide up river to his village where we had a blast swimming in a waterfall, and enjoying lunch and dancing with his family. More of these to come. 

Did I say I was "enjoying dancing"?

Old Panama

Panama City is the Capitol of Panama, and it is an interesting place. The city is near the Pacific side of the Canal (everything depends on the Canal, it seems), but there are all kinds of inconvenient hills and bays around the area, so the city is spread out and divided. Also, pirates sacked the city more than once and that lead to rash decisions on where to place the government buildings, I guess.

Anyway, the Presidents house is located on a beautiful point overlooking the ocean. It's in the old district, and it's about the only place tourists should consider getting out of their cars in the old district. There are literally about three blocks that are kept up and, most importantly, have police stationed on each corner. The rest is pretty run down and slummish. They are rebuilding many of the buildings that need some updating, and touristy places, but there's a long way to go. Still, it makes for interesting views--really raw stuff, ya know? And for me, it's really RAW, too (get it? 'cause that's, like, the file format my camera uses: RAW. Heh.). 

Here are some faces I met around town. You'll notice that everyone is sitting in the shade. It doesn't help. Click through to see a few more.

May 18, 2010

No time to Blog--Running from Dinosaurs...

Nikon D90, 55mm micro lens (manual), f/3.5, 1/50s, ISO 640.

May 16, 2010

An Old Favorite

Layovers can be miserable. A lot of time spent waiting for something that will probably be postponed again, anyway, and the worst thing is that you can't even go anywhere. Sure, you can walk around the airport, but you have to carry around your carry-ons (which are maximized since you didn't want to pay to check a bag), so it's really a lot easier to just stay near your gate waiting for one of the four people in line in front of you to move away from one of the two wall outlets so you can charge your laptop and maybe your phone (just don't stay too long or you'll be the recipient of crusty's from everyone behind you!).

However, long layovers in an area where you have a few friends may not be so bad. T. and J. picked us up in Atlanta yesterday morning and took us to some favorite spots. We saw the best view of Atlanta, enjoyed some shopping, viewed interesting neighborhoods, and, of course, ate at Souper Jenny's.Just can't get enough of that place.

Nikon D90, 50mm lens, f/2.8,1/20s, ISO 400.

May 14, 2010


Our trip to Panama is off to a rocky start. There were thunderstorms so terrible that they had to close the Dallas airport. We circle overhead for quite awhile waiting for it to pass, but finally had to land at the Austin Bergstrom airport to refuel. By this time, we were in serious danger of missing our flight to Atlanta to connect on to Panama.  As it turns out, we did miss it. It's pretty incredible to me that some people in the same job can do things when others just can't see a way. Stuart at Austin was incredibly helpful and got us to Atlanta about eight hours faster than the other two agents were going to be able to do. I'm sure glad that we met him. 

So, after Stuart arranged the flights for us, we had a few minutes to recharge batteries and stretch our legs. I captured the following images. I rather like this first one. I saw while I was headed to the restroom and had to turn around and get my camera. Then, I saw some stairs leading up to administrative offices with a landing overlooking this concourse. That was the spot for me. I'm finding that airports often have some really terrific architecture. Trouble is, most people aren't allowed to see it anymore. I can imagine myself going to an airport just to watch people and get creative; but I can't do it without a plane ticket. While I'm all for creativity, that would get mighty spendy after a little while.

Nikon D90, 50mm lens, f/3.5, 1/60s, ISO 200.

This image of the four man band was awesome, so I had to share it with you.

May 13, 2010

Barely Time for a Flower Friday

Nikon D90, 50mm lens, f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO200. Off to Panama! See you around here next week, hopefully.

May 12, 2010

Thank You

I've been blogging for over one year, and have more than 330 posts, and many hundreds of images hung up here. Thank you all for making it a very enjoyable year. I've appreciated your viewing, your comments, and, especially, your custom. 

I feel that I've come a long way this year, and have improved my photography skills leaps and bounds over what I was doing last May. I'm absolutely thrilled that so many of you have joined the Club. After one year (next week) we already have 130 photographers on board, and we have great meetups each month with new people every time. I'm totally honored to be part of their community.

Here's to another great year!

Nikon D90, 50mm lens, f/4.0, 1/15s, ISO 200. Window light, and a cutting board finish this one off.

One Just For Me

As long as you've got a bride all dressed up, and three assistants ready to work, you might as well make some images you'll like, right? I don't think that Mom will buy this one, but I sure enjoyed making it with them all, and everyone had a good time viewing it, too. Maybe because we all had to work together to make it happen.

It's dark outside, and raining. Fortunately, we had enough umbrellas to go around! This one has two lights, both outside the building (might have had three, but a friend was borrowing one of my speedlights!). First of all, we got the light on the background set up. J was holding my SB-800 zoomed to 105mm with a heavy red gel and a slight orange gel taped on the front. The wall is painted a deep red/maroon, so it usually ends up black in photos. This gelled light brightened the wall, and cast shadows from the muntins in the door across it, too. This is just what we were trying to do. 

The other light is an SB-600 with a diffusion dome shot through an umbrella into the door's sidelight so that it would interfere too much with the red light. The flash itself is not colored, but a Flash White Balance setting warmed up that light just the right amount. 

Three tricks to making this image. The lights outside the building had to be triggered by my pop-up flash! This meant aligning everyone so that the pop-up could be seen, the 'brollied light would hit the model, and the gelled light would enter the door just so to get the shadows cast. It was not simple, and it was not warm outside for my assistants. Next, I had to get focussed on an eye that Neither I nor the camera could see in the dark room. That 70-200mm f/2.8 lens gets heavy very quickly. Finally, the model had to not blink with three flashes pointed her way. It was a good bit of team work, and I'm pleased with the result.

I like the detail in the dress, the cookie shadow on the wall, and the single flower in the light; the shadow of the bricks is a little bonus that I didn't ever imagine. What do you think?

Bride To Be

S. has been a student of mine this entire semester at BATC. She started in my digital photography class, and is wrapping up my Photoshop Elements class right now. I've shot her youngest daughter and friend before and had a blast. So, when S. asked me to shoot bridals for her elder daughter, I was pretty excited about it. I knew it would be fun, and I knew that S. would like some fun and beautiful pictures.

Like many of my clients, K. didn't know what to do--didn't know how to stand or when to smile, etc. This is totally understandable, and I think it's a great portion of why people don't like to have their pictures taken. I know that I never have liked the way I looked in many pictures when I was younger. For my senior portrait, I just remember the photographer putting me in the most uncomfortable position he could think, taking three shots, and sending me on my way (he didn't even respond to my questions about photography as a career--no wonder it took me so long to get back on track!). I, however, do things differently: once I have them in the pose, I take lots of frames, from various angles and settings. This way, that uncomfortable pose is maximized!

Click through to view some more images from this shoot.

May 9, 2010

A New Photog

The following are some images made by a young friend of mine. This is his first foray with a camera, and he did a fine job--especially using a fully manual camera. Actually, this may be a contributing factor to why he did well; thinking about how to make an exposure look good, including manual focus, is key to making a good picture and sometimes all the auto settings rob you of the best pictures. Knowing how to do it manually is a boon I'm glad I learned on my cheap Ricoh with Tri-Max 400. If Mr. Barbera could see me now...

Nikon D90, 55mm micro lens, f/3.5-22, 1/80-1/200s, ISO 200.

Class of '10

L. is an artist, and an absolute dream to work with. Here's to wishing her well as she moves on to college, etc. Be sure to click through for some more images.

May 6, 2010

Flower Friday II...and III

These are a couple of works in progress. I thought you might like them--what with Mother's day coming up, and all. I have an idea for shooting these, and I work on them almost daily lately. These two are very close, and I'll be sure to alert you when I think I've nailed it.

Flower Friday

You know what they say, "April showers make wet flowers," or something.

Nikon D90, 55mm micro lens, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 400.