Mar 31, 2011

Flower Friday

The crocuses are popping up all over town! Or, is that croci?

Nikon D7000, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens with 1.4x tele-extender for effective length of 180mm, f/13, 1/40s, ISO 200.

Mar 29, 2011

J. and Little S.

This is a quick peek at a fun session we had the other day. S. is just ten days old here.

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 400.

The Hatch Academy (Performer Portraits)

This family works together to create performances featuring both Magic and Music of exceptional calibre. And I am lucky enough to have them as neighbors at the Mansion. Be sure to catch them on April 9th at the Mansion for their Matinee Enchante, a magical and musical performance for the family.

Mar 24, 2011

Flower Friday

Nikon D7000, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/18, 1/80s, ISO 400. This one is a lime tree

Life Goes On

M. and L. have been married a few years; they have a couple of darling little girls; they live a happy life. It reminds me of that Beatles song (this is where I'd normally include a link to the song, but the Beatles being what they are, those songs aren't available on the internet; you'll have to find "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" in your i-tunes and listen to the preview--but dont do it unless you're prepared to have it stuck in your head). 

And it's true, life does go on. See it from my perspective.

You start out--third grade maybe--tall kids in the back, short kids in the front, and you're finally glad that you're older than most of the kids in your class because you get to stand in the back and don't have to crowd in the front like Robbie; you get to do what ever you want in the picture because you are virtually you think. Then Mom gets the print which she sacrificed going out to dinner in order to buy, and there you are with your eyes crossed on the back row, and you will never hear the end of it: every time a camera is on the scene, she announces that everyone has to watch and make sure your eyes are straight. Like that would make the picture better, everyone looking at you.

So it begins: portrait making is to be endured, yearly if you're lucky, more often if you're not.

Pretty soon mom's not the only one picking on you for the way you look in pictures: Polly just found your picture in the yearbook and is pointing out to everyone how squinty your eyes are--it's not your fault the picture guy blackouts the cafeteria every time his flash fires; one has to protect one's vision, after all. Your middle and high school years are now ruined, however. And the school actually sanctions this practice!

This is why everyone has a camera smile and camera eyes, as well. The smile usually resembles something like a man with super sized jowls on a motorcycle doing 85, and the eyes are...well, "saucers for eyes" is an understatement. If the eyes were wrist watches, they wouldn't be an attractive little piece with jewels...they'd be those enormous Fossil appliances that require pulley systems to lift the watch into view. Or something.

Fortunately, by the time you get married you've come to terms with pictures. All the exciting looking wedding photos you see on blogs everywhere get you thinking that if the photographer can make you look half as good as Betty and Ralf did in their wedding pictures, then there may be hope for you. You start praying to the wedding gods to make you look good on your wedding day. Your Fairy Godmother casts a spell and your wishes come true, and you love your wedding pictures. A real Christmas miracle.

Unfortunately, you know that you only get one such intervention in your life time, and your pictures will never look good again. 

At least, that's what it seems like everyone thinks. The fact is, you do look good in pictures--even if your eyes are crossed (granted, if you're halfway through a blink, you still look pretty terrible, but otherwise...). The important thing is to not look at your picture and criticize the way you look. When I'm talking with you, I never think to myself, "Geez, I bet he has a double chin in pictures." Pictures are not reality. They are an interpretation of a split second in time hat doesn't even exist anymore. Don't sweat it.

And certainly don't put on your bright eyes and toothy grimace.

That was really my favorite thing about working with M. and L.'s little family (well, besides making pictures of good looking people): they never told little S. to smile, and they were relaxed. Well, they were willing to relax, at least. After I helped them relax and showed them some pretty good looking images on the back of the camera they fell right into the groove and showed some pretty confident looks to the lens.

In fact, the relaxation showed in their whole bodies. Eventually, even when they knew the camera was watching, they interacted genuinely.

So, they got wedding pictures a few years ago, and now we've just had another fun time making pictures. S. hasn't been scarred by Mom's shattered hopes for the class portrait, and at this rate that will never happen. Break the cycle! It's just a picture. Let life go on.

Let it go on, and look back at it frequently, and remember that the glass is half full. Be in lots of pictures so you can look back at when they were taken and think to yourself not, "My, I'm so fat-bald-dopey looking-fill in the blank," but rather think, "oh, that was right after I had my darling little Mike, " or oh, that was right after graduation when we were getting started together," or "That was that time I drove seventy over through a school zone." (do they let you keep mug shots? they should--it would prevent a lot of crime if people frequently saw how bad they look in those photos.) 

If you let it happen this way, then you'll score karma with your Photo Fairy and she will bless you with good looking pictures for the rest of your life...

Mar 21, 2011


C. is finishing up his stint at USU this semester. The history major is history. He's heading for some kind of history rich locale; Vermont? Who knows what adventures lie ahead. This image depicts C. with his past behind him, and an exciting (well lit) future ahead. The trepidation on his face finishes it off.

 Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/2.8, 1/400s, ISO 800.

Mar 19, 2011

It's Cold.

Ever been caught by a strangely cold spell? It's warm this week, and most of the snow is gone...but there is a chill wind out there right now that is just getting me down.

Makes me wanna get all bundled up--right up to my butterfly tatoo.

Nikon D90, 300mm f/4.0 lens, f/4.0, 1/800s, ISO 400.

Mar 17, 2011

Fibonacci Flower Friday

Last week I was wrapped up at the Home and Garden Show and completely spaced the Flower Friday Post. So, how about two this week?

I couldn't decide which crop I liked better; the off center one is positioned using the Fibonacci Spiral. I think. I'm trying to understand how to use that system in composition. Which do you prefer? Give it a chance, look at it a minute, set it as your desktop, try it on, and drop a comment for your fav.

Nikon D7000, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/4.8,  1/250s, ISO 200.

Mar 16, 2011

L. is Back!

L. came and modelled for us again this evening, and it was nice to have her back.

Mar 13, 2011

Cache Valley Portrait Project

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/250s, ISO 800.
This is an idea I've had simmering for a while, and it was about time I put it to work before it started burning. See, there are loads of incredible people in this Valley, and since I've only been here for three years I'm a little behind getting to know them. So, my plan is to photograph as many people here as possible. There are only about 100,000 people in Cache Valley, Utah, so it should take...oh...the rest of my life. Trouble is, people keep on getting born around here.

Anywho, the good folks at the Cache Valley Radio Home and Garden Show let me get working on them this last Friday and Saturday. I spent last week scrambling to get my booth together, printing portraits and wrapping them on canvas, figuring out a setup to show pictures live as I shot them, and discovering the best system to get the pictures to people. Still working on that one.

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/5.6, 1/60s, ISO 800.

Friday from 10:00 am to 8:00pm I stood and photographed everyone who came by. The show was in the field house at the USU campus, and I was the only one in the whole place with a canopy over my booth. But this was essential to taking control of the light and eliminating funny colors of light playing the immense room. I set up a soft box with constant florescent lights to light all my subjects (558 individuals, and two dogs). My shutter speeds changed largely as people stepped closer or farther from the lights, and with height, but otherwise I was pretty much working the same settings all day. Except when families came and I needed more depth, then I changed the aperture, too. So, the settings were actually all over the place...but the ISO was constant!

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/2.8, 1/320s, ISO 800. She was one of my favorites. Her little sister went first, and her mom kept telling her to smile. When I asked if I could make her picture she asked, "Do I have to smile?" in a completely conversational tone, not whining, just polite. I replied, "Absolutely not; I'd prefer if you didn't." This one is a favorite because we made it together, with mutual agreement on what was going to happen.

I wrangled everyone from octogenarians to newborns into my space to make an image. I told them it was free, and I'd email them the link to all the pictures I make; most people stopped, 87% said they'd break my camera, and about 40% ended up stepping inside. I made 2441 exposures over the two days, but many of those were doubles at the end of the day when my arms were getting tired to ensure I got the shot. I was hooting continuously with not more than five minutes free all day. It's amazing, really: people actually like being in pictures, even though they profess otherwise. And thus it should be! 

I've not yet photographed anyone who did not have some beautiful features, and I wish people would get over it. And while I'm harping on stuff, Ladies, get used to your wrinkles: you look beautiful in them, and you look fake when they are removed. And anyway, getting older sure beats the alternative.

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/250s, ISO 800.
These here are just a few of my favorites. There are many more terrific characters in this valley, and I will be positioning myself at other events to record all these folks, so keep an eye out for me in the future. Follow this link to see all the pictures. Sorry about the "proof" on the first few--I'm still getting used to my smugmug thingy. If you are looking for yourself, they in there chronologically, and Saturday morning starts on Page 66. Good luck. An email with the link will be coming as soon as I get all the emails compiled. Thanks again to everyone who has participated so far. I look forward to meeting even more of you!

Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/250s, ISO 800.
Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/250s, ISO 800.
Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/250s, ISO 800. Patch Peterson (if he told me his given name he'd have to shoot me, and he doesn't like messes) is a Cache Valley icon. I have had the honor of photographing him twice, now, and he is such a pleasure to work with. He always leave you with this benediction, "As Roy Rogers used to say, 'Happy trails to you, 'til we meet again.'"
Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/200s, ISO 800. L. is a young man I've known for several years, and it's a pleasure to see him developing so well. It's a real joy to see him and make his picture and know he's doing well.
Nikon D700, 85mm f/1.8 lens, f/3.5, 1/250s, ISO 800.

Mar 9, 2011

Night Class

Ya know, like Night Court.

So, for tonight's class, I took the crew out on the streets. It was rough--late night in this metropolis and you've got to watch yourself. That's why we only go out like this when there are ten of us together: it keeps  our gear safe. If it was me alone, I don't think I'd venture out. Just not worth the risk.

Anyway, we tried some stuff showing movement in two ways. First, we set our shutter speed pretty slow and followed along with cars to show the car relatively sharp, and the background zooming by.

Nikon D700, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 56mm, f/5.6, 1/8s, ISO 800.
After a few minutes of getting dirty looks we changed gears and held the camera super steady on tripods with an even longer exposure to let the cars streak by.

Nikon D700, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 78mm, f/22, 13.0s, ISO 200.
PRetty fun. Things are starting to warm up enough around here that you can do more than five minutes before your fingers freeze to the dials...

Mar 8, 2011

A Little Family Action

This little family was in the Studio a little while ago and I never got the chance to share these with you. The little guy is just a couple of months old, and barely holding his own melon up, but he sure was fun to have in the shop.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 70mm, f/5.6, 1/125s, ISO 400.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 190mm, f/4.0, 1/250s, ISO 400.

Mar 4, 2011

The Other Flower Friday

Nikon D7000, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/60s, ISO 400.
This one got vetoed as the initial Flower Friday. Certain critics said it's not enough of the flower to be the Flower Friday poster child. Well, I still snuck it in. It's one of my favorites, and it's my blog, and you're not the boss of me, that's why.

It's a Peace Lily; or at least a small part of one. I thought the graceful curve and veins of the flower are rather elegant looking. I chose to focus just on the very edge of the leaf, positioning it to the left to be interesting. The lines of the leaf draw the eye right up that way. Lavender seemed like an appropriate tint.

Mar 3, 2011

Flower Friday--Already?

Man, time flies! I only got one post up this week, and time is movin'. Sheesh, it's practically Spring. This one came from the greenhouse at USU while I was shooting there with the Cache Valley Photographers.

Nikon D7000, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/125s, ISO 200.

Mar 1, 2011

The Best Work

I simply love working with Musicians. These are people who love their work...and they may have paid more for their equipment than I have for mine, which is always a nice feeling.

This is Lacey, violinist for The Pretty Darns. These three girls are seriously talented, each of them writing songs and each of them singing while performing. I mean, I can't even walk and chew gum, or keep both eyes open when using my camera, and here they're creating art with their whole persons in front of large crowds. Pretty amazing.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8VR lens @ 200mm, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 400.
Next up is Liz on mandolin. Her fingers make that thing sing! There are, like, a thousand strings on it, and she strums and plucks and picks out the most enjoyable tunes. She can leave her instrument at home, anytime, though and keep the crowd enthralled with her voice alone. She's got one song, Lunacy, and I think it's just great. 

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 135mm, f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 400.
Finally, Annemarie on guitar. She's lead vocals on most songs, I guess (seems like they all carry each other as they work the tunes around, supporting one another), and half the fun with Annemarie is the great expressions she pulls while singing and playing. You can tell from this one that she's got some spunk hidden in there somewhere.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 150mm, f/2.8, 1/320s, ISO 400.