Feb 25, 2011

Flower Friday

Running a little late...trying to get some projects finished before my wife gets back in town. She's running the Ragnar Relay in Phoenix today and tomorrow--24 hours, and like 150 miles. Crazy.

Nikon D7000, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/22, 1/25s, ISO 200.

Feb 22, 2011


So, when I was in high school, I shot 400 ASA Tri-X, from Kodak. Standard stuff, pretty much every school in the world uses this stuff--bought it in hundred foot rolls, and spooled our own into reusable film canisters. Lots of fun.

then, in the darkroom, I printed on 800 speed paper, as I recall. Position the negative in the enlarger, turn on the light, adjust the height of the enlarger to make the picture bigger or smaller, focus, test the exposure, drop it in the chemicals and watch the magic happen. Even more fun.

Well, these numbers, 400 ASA, 800 ISO, refer to the reactivity of the film/paper to light. The film and paper had silver nitrate slathered on them in certain amounts--little pieces of silver that react to the light shined on them through the lens. Little grains. Or not so little. The faster the speed, the higher number, the larger the pieces of silver--the larger the grains. So, fast film is really grainy. 400 was your average go to for sunny days, and bright interiors. Get much faster--800, 1600, 3200--and the grains become really noticeable, and detail is lost from the pictures. In fact, grainy may describe something that is raw and real and unfinished and beautiful because of it. That term comes from film.

But, that the way it was when you needed to make pictures in the dark or with fast shutter speeds. You just used the high speed film and knew that it had certain caveats. It was part of the medium, and we liked it. So, harkening back to those days, I've created this image. M. is a regular around here, and is always a treat in front of the camera. Her eyes are always a focal point, and she emits moodiness in front of the lens. To accentuate the fell of the picture, to give it some real texture to accentuate the look in M's eyes, I added grain to this picture and made it noticeable. It's like, a lot more than Tri-X ever was; maybe more like 800 speed--maybe some Fuji Neopan Pro 1600. Yeah.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 200mm, f/3.5, 1/500s, ISO 640.

Feb 21, 2011

I Love My Job

Seriously, it's just great. I get to make portraits of great people all the time, and they always turn out very well. Granted, nobody could make a bad picture of most my clients, but sometimes the results surprise even me when they turn out the way I imagined. This is one such image, and only one of many from the shoot we did together.

Can I get up early and go to work, tomorrow? Pretty please?

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 125mm, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 800.

Curiouser and Curiouser

The Cache Valley Photographers headed to USU on Saturday and spent a couple of hours photographing flora in the greenhouse.It was very fun, and, yes, very warm. 
When I was in Hong Kong last Fall I met a guy in a greenhouse there who was making some really gorgeous abstract closeups of the flowers there. He had the most expensive Nikon camera, the best macro lenses Nikon makes, and about a jillion dollars worth of tripod--here's a link to the complete list of his gear.

Well, this time around I had comparable equipment. Or at least a comparable camera/lens setup. See, from my point of view, 99% of the quality of your pictures comes from your lens and your ability to use it. The cheapest DSLR's make the nicest pictures when handled properly. So, with my camera which cost less than one fifth of what the other guy's did, I made some pictures to rival his, I think. And for the whole hour I shot in the greenhouse in Hong Kong, that guy didn't move. Well, now I understand: with that lens arrangement you don't have to move far to find a completely different composition and world of wonder. Bugs pop out of nowhere, and you can't even see them with your naked eye. 

So, in two hours at USU I made pictures of only about six flowers. But in those few I found so many fun things! This view of a pink pentstemon intrigued me with the apparent depth visible here--made me look for a vial labeled "Drink Me" so I could explore the other side.

There'll be more to come, but at this time of year I have to ration for Fridays...

Nikon D7000, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro lens with 1.7x multiplier resulting in 180mm, f/13, 1/20s, ISO 200.

Feb 19, 2011

Moon Shadow, Moon Shadow

Ya know, that Cat Steven's song. Well, the Cache Valley Photographers mentioned that it would be fun to make some pictures under the full moon, and we decided that it's be even better to do it while snowshoeing. So, last night we headed up the pass to try our luck with a little lunacy. My results follow.

Feb 17, 2011

Flower Friday

Well, the 60 degrees was nice this week. I started imaging the beautiful flowers that I'll be working on soon...then it snowed. A lot. Twelve inches in three hours at my house. So much for the Ground Hog.

So, that brought me back to our trip to Panama last spring. It was hot. Really hot. Kinda sounds nice right now. But, I would start longing for the winter as soon as I stepped off the plane and was wet continuously. No, far better to just enjoy the flowers and say how nice it would be to be there--without going.

Nikon D90, 50mm f/1.4 lens, f/3.5, 1/500s, ISO 200.

My Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This...

Do you ever have days when nothing seems to come together? When things are not running smoothly? When you can't seem to get on top of things? When the internet fails, and it takes two days to make a single blog post?

When you can't even get a three year old to smile?

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 400.
Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/100s, ISO 400.
Fortunately, that last one didn't come to pass!

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/125s, ISO 400.

Feb 14, 2011

The Pretty Darns

These gals are an especially talented troupe of musicians. They play folk classics, and many of their own excellent compositions. They have a new album coming out next month, and this is one of the pictures we made recently to use on the album. Seriously, they are a pleasure to listen to; friend me on facebook and I'll let you know when they play nearby. Better yet, like them, too!

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 70mm, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 400.

Feb 10, 2011

Flower Friday

Nikon D90, 55mm f/3.5 micro, f/8, 1/125s, ISO 400. This lens is for sale, by the way.
Who's ready for Tulips? can it be Tulip Time, yet?

Eagle Saturday

Not today, of course. Saturday is Utah's Eagle Day. At Farmington Bay on the Great Salt Lake you can go and see lots of these magnificent birds face to face. I went Tuesday, froze my fingers off, and came home with this as one of my favorite images from the day.

Nikon D7000, 300mm f/4 lens, f/4, 1/6400s, ISO 400.

Feb 9, 2011


Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 116mm, f/2.8, 1/500s ISO 800.
Allow me to introduce Kris Krompel. He teaches guitar lessons at the Mansion a couple of days a week. He's a Master Musician, excelling at all styles of guitar playing. His students range from 9 years old to 70, male and female, Americans and expatriates; everybody comes to learn from this kind hearted master. It was incredible to hear him improvise a tune for us.

If you can believe it, some people are a little shy in front of a camera. Kris sat for us during a class last night, so he had 7 cameras clicking mindlessly away at him. So, to help him relax and look more naturally himself, we asked him to play us a tune. Immediately his face relaxed, and the trapped animal look left his eyes. The trouble was, all the shutters stopped clicking, too, as he mesmerized us with his music. I'd hate to see what would happen if he was a piper.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 125mm, f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO 800.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 190mm, f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO 800.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 102mm, f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO 800.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 150mm, f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO 800.

Feb 6, 2011

High Contrast

Contrast means comparing to emphasize a difference. We can show this in pictures, and examples are all over the place if you look. Hard and soft. Big and small. Light and dark. Young and old. Black and white pictures percolate things down to contrasts, removing the distractions, the mid tones, the colors. This little gal's turquoise shirt is super cute, and melds nicely with Dad's undershirt of the same color. However, in this image the colors were too complicated and distracting. I shot this in black white to show only the relationship between father and daughter--she just climbed up on the sill with dad's help, she's glad to be sitting by her pops, and his steady hand gives support, while his other hand is ready to catch her if she falls. Experienced and inexperienced, strong and vulnerable, knowing and innocent. What contrasts do you see around you? What do you see in relationships? Often with people, it's the differences that make the strongest bonds.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 70mm, f/2.8, 1/320s, ISO 800.
Making this sort of picture takes some thought. See, your camera sees two thirds of the frame as a bright white blob, and it thinks, "Gotta darken this waaaaaay down." But, if that happens you end up with black silhouettes in front of a dead lawn, and a field, and the back of the sandwich shop.... while the silhouettes might be interesting, the rest of the backdrop isn't so hot. I prefer the detail of the faces on the high key window. To get this you have to tell your camera to over expose compared to what the light meter is telling you. Crank it up, blow out the world outside, and enjoy the relationship of the subjects. Oh, and do it fast because these moments are fleeting.

Feb 4, 2011

Flower Friday

Nikon D700, 28-300mm lens @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/160s, ISO 1600.

Feb 1, 2011

An Evening Out

We had the pleasure of working with P and M during our photo class last Wednesday night, and it was fortunately warm enough to get a few pictures outside. This one is an idea brewing in my head, and i'm excited for warmer weather so I flesh it out. 

Today, with temperatures in the single digits and winds in the high double digits, is not the day to try this one again.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 125mm, f/3.5, 1/60s, ISO 1600.