Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bokeh Tuesday

High res image can be downloaded from my Flickr page here -- for your texturing and toning pleasure.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Different Dickens #3

When we were at Dickens on the Strand a few weeks ago, Larry Patrick and I were taking a break and took this woman's photo sitting nearby. It was right about the time we were talking about how you can isolate a subject from a background, especially shooting shallow depth of field with natural light in a nice open shadowed area. Now, I don't think either of us really thought too much about this photo; we didn't even try to get her email address. We just took a few photos each at f/2.8 and waved to her as she left. It wasn't until we both got home that we realized what a nice background we really had. We both remarked about it a few days later. Photo above processed only in Adobe Camera Raw; 150mm 1/320 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Renaissance Festival 5

From the Texas Renaissance Festival a couple of weekends ago -- this was one of my favorite costumes of the day. It was Barbarian weekend when we were there, so I'm not sure if this was unique to that weekend, or he wore it for the entire festival. The level of detail is pretty impressive -- all the way down to the shark's teeth on the shoulder pads. Doug and I took this photo in front of a pavillion, so the background wasn't ideal. Ended up dropping out the background and adding my own, adding lots of texture with Topaz Adjust and some toning to even things up. Lit directly above with an SB900 shot through a Photoflex EZbox. As I look at it now, the hands and ball aren't in focus. Wish I would have dropped the focus point there instead of the face, but when you're shooting on the run like you do at festivals, those things tend to happen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Different Dickens #2

Dickens on the Strand 2010, The Mad Hatter from Airship Isabella.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Different Dickens #1

I've been going to Dickens on the Strand almost every year for about the past 20 years. And for the last three years I've been taking impromptu portraits, much like we do at the Texas Renaissance Festival. Larry Patrick told me before we went this year he wanted to do something different. Enter Airship Isabella and the steampunk crew that were at this year's festival. Hard to describe these folks ... alternative, futuristic ... definitely colorful. We seemed to be drawn to them. Maybe it was their colorful outfits, maybe it was their interesting accessories, or maybe it was because their corner of Dickens on the Strand was in such nice light the entire day. Above is Amarante Leroux, who worked in the Airship Isabella booth on Saturday. Larry posted a photo of her today on his blog (link). Interesting how we both came away with such different shots, yet there is something in common -- natural light and more of a candid pose. Looking back at all my shots from the day, I seemed intent on turning my camera 45 degrees for some really unusual angles. A different Dickens for sure. Nikon D200, 140mm, f/3.5, 1/320 sec, +.7 EV; texture and edge added in Photoshop.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Big Splash

The last few times I've been down to Galveston to photograph pelicans I've noticed this behavior -- the pelican will sit in the water and pound his or her wings into the water creating this huge commotion. Water flying, wings beating. They'll do this for 5 or 10 minutes and then go fly up on a concrete piling and spend the next hour flapping their wings and preening ... the life of a pelican. 200mm, 1/50 sec at f/8, sun setting behind the pelican to create the warm tones.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Renaissance Festival 4

Katia, dancer, Gypsy Dance Theater. Texas Renaissance Festival, Nov. 20, 2010.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gull in Flight

Here's a gull in flight from earlier in the day on Saturday. I normally don't photograph gulls, but this one was coming in at such a great angle, I couldn't resist. Sometimes you wonder what goes on in the camera when you're taking these types of photos. Like why is this frame in focus and the one after it not quite as sharp? And does a busy background confuse the focusing mechanism in camera even though you have closest subject selected? I guess it's part of the challenge of photographing birds in flight, but it can be frustrating. 200mm, 1/1000 sec at f/5.6.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We Have Lift Off

I was down in Galveston on Saturday working on some focusing settings on the 70-200 lens. Ended up staying later than I anticipated and when the light go so low that there was no possible way to get a sharp shot, the mind wanders in different directions. For a while now I've been trying to capture unique views of the chaos that occurs when a brown pelican takes off from the water. Not sure whether or not this is a success, but it will go in the files. Wish I had a little more sharpness in the face and body. Setting sun off camera left created the highlight at the water level and the feet. 200mm, 1/30 sec at f/4.5, panning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Renaissance Festival 3

Sitar player. Texas Renaissance Festival, Nov. 20, 2010.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Renaissance Festival 2

This is Vendella. It's the second year in a row that Doug and I have met her and photographed her. If I remember correctly, she was dressed in a Santa suit last year. This year she was in a food booth, and instead of shooting her against the back of the booth, I changed my position slightly and shot across the fairway to the other side of booths. Since it was early in the day, I caught some nice bokeh in the background since the crowds were thin and the light was low. So ... crazy colorful background, peacock feather hat, and full shade under the food booth ... and that's shooting portraits at Ren Fest. You meet someone, engage them, try to figure out some sort of interesting background, pose them, and light them ... in 5 minutes or less. It's a chaotic day of photography for sure. You hit some home runs and you make some total messes, but after 6 hours of it, you can't help but walk out of there a better photographer.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Renaissance Festival 1

Tsura, violinist, Gypsy Dance Theater. Texas Renaissance Festival, Nov. 20, 2010.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Renaissance Festival

That time of year again -- the annual photo club field trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival. If ever there is a time to kick up your heels, push your creative boundaries, try something new, and live on the egde of sharpness and exposure, this is it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November Lights

In 2009 I followed the work of Dustin Diaz on flicker (link). He did some fantastic night portraits on the streets of San Francisco, and I've been wanting to do something similar ever since. At our photo shoot with Lauren and Sarah on Sunday, we gave it a try. No, it's not San Francisco, but it's the best Galveston could offer. Above is Sarah battling the cold and rain, looking like she owns this shot. What a trooper, and what a striking image I think we created. Nikon D200, 85mm, f/1.4, 1/40 sec on a tripod, ISO 640. Light provided by Larry Patrick with an SB900 shot through a Lastolite EZYbox at 1/64 power high camera left. Two raw files processed into Photoshop (one for Sarah, the other for the background), the background was run through Neat Image to knock down the noise (oh, how I long for better ISO performance) and in a weird accident I did a hue saturation adjustment and tinted it slightly blue. I dunno, it was weird and I don't know why I did it, but I kinda liked it for the background so I went with it. It reminds me a little of the Saturday Night Live stills they show coming in and out of commercial breaks. Warmed Sarah's skin tones a bit, cropped wide cinema-like and here it is ... my homage to Dustin Diaz.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Weird how things happen somtimes, like in this photo of Lauren taken Sunday in a Galveston alley. I don't exactly remember how we decided to shoot in this little niche. But what struck me about this as I began working on it in postproduction is how nicely the tones work in this image -- browns of the sweater and stone; and the reds of the door, the rust along the right side, and Lauren's lips. Was it an accident that we picked this spot to shoot before the rain came? Was it some subconscious act? Or was it that maybe after three years of shooting portraits, something finally clicks and you do by instinct what you never would have done before? Hard to know, maybe a little bit of all of these things. But in these days of doubt and pessimism, it makes you think. Maybe there is some guiding force out there.
Now if that guiding force can put a large shipment of D7000s at B&H in the next week or two, I'll be a true believer.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Something Different

This photo was taken last Saturday on my shoot with my second cousin Alyssa and her boyfriend Andrew. This image of Andrew was the last frame of the session. I've been known to postprocess images pretty heavily into certain styles and looks, but honestly if you saw this image straight out of camera, it's not too different than what you see here. I was pushing fairly hard to get some different looks -- shooting backlit, pushing the flash pretty heavily to overcome that backlighting, not worrying too much about flare and exposure. It's fun to try a different style. Some frames looked terrible, others predictable, and others (like this) made me do a double take. These kinds of images don't often come up on the back of my camera. In postprocessing I did add a texture overlay for the scratches and texture you see near the edges. 1/320 sec, f/4.5, full power flash from SB900 in a Lastolite EZYbox softbox from camera right.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kim in the Field of Flags

Last Saturday I had a photo shoot over at Walter Hall Park in League City. Afterwards, my wife Kim and I went over to a section of the park where they had rows and rows of flags planted in the ground. It was a fundraiser in support of an anti-drunk driving campaign. So, as the sun was setting behind me, I took a few photos of Kim. The light in her sunglasses isn't my flash, it's the sun in the opposite sky. 85mm, f/1.4, 1/5000 sec, available light.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Feeding Egret

Here's another photo from my Armand Bayou outing a few weeks ago. I showed this one at the Bay Area Photo Club this week. I was concerned the background was too busy, even at f/4 the reeds along the shoreline were pretty prominent. Wish I could have blurred them even more in camera. Tried some Photoshop techniques to do just that, but none looked very believable. The image ended up doing pretty well in our club's judging, so I guess the impact and the moment outweighed the busy background. 1/750 sec at f/4, 400mm.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I've been back to one of my favorite places to photograph birds recently -- Armand Bayou. They've rebuilt some of the boardwalks out onto the bayou. I was shooting egrets and herons when a few terns came through diving and feeding. I pulled the camera off the tripod and tried to get a few shots. This was the only one in focus. Not sure what variety of tern this is. If you know, please comment. The black spot on the eye throws me trying to ID this bird, not sure if it's a common or foster's tern or if the black spot is just part of molting. 400mm, 1/320 sec at f/4, handheld.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Onward and Upward #1

Next series of photos will be from a group I took on the Strand in Galveston. I was down there one day, and the most amazing set of clouds were in the sky. As I walked around I took a series of architectural photos emphasizing the sky. Postprocessing involved a little Topaz Adjust to bring up the contrast -- which in this case worked well on both the architecture and the clouds.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Still experimenting with textures. This photo is from a session we did with Chelsea back in August in high key ... lots of layers, blending modes, masks and some new techniques for removing the texture from areas of skin. As I work through these textured images I find that's one of the hardest things -- retaining the tone and tint that the texture layer imparts while removing the unwanted structure.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pixel Bending

I recently upgraded to Photoshop CS5, and as part of the upgrade Adobe has some interesting add-ons available on their web site. The effect above is part of the Pixel Bender plug-in that you can download here (but it only works with CS5). Pretty interesting effects, kind of reminds me of the Fractalius plug-in that I sometimes use. The Pixel Bender plug-in doesn't have the cleanest user interface. You can tell this technology is in its infancy with Adobe. You'll probably see more of it in future versions of Photoshop. Until then, it's fun to play with. I like what it did to the stones in the wall and the gargoyle here. The image above is several years old -- HDR of the Bishop's Palace in Galveston. I masked the pixel bending off of the sky --- that looked just too weird ... even for me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chelsea in High Key

Sometimes you throw a lot at an image -- lots of layers, textures, and Photoshop plug-ins. I know. I've done it. Maybe you're trying to make something out of nothing, which is most likely the case. It can be frustrating. Other times you just let an image live the way it is supposed to look -- like this photo of Chelsea taken Sunday afternoon. I've photographed Chelsea twice now, and I've been lucky enough to get to know her a little. In every portrait I think the photographer should try to capture their subject's spirit. And I think this one does -- smiling, easy going, care free, young and beautiful.
Larry, Doug, and I tried to capture that yesterday, and I think we were successful. We threw up lots of light stands and worked with lots of gear, but when you strip all that away ... all the floundering around with equipment and all the technical issues and missteps ... and you come out with something you feel embodies the subject, well I think that's a success. I'll probably crop this image a little at the bottom ... some day. But for now it will live on my hard drive the way it is. Because when I think of Chelsea, this is how I picture her.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Photo Club Portraits #3

Another photo from the Bay Area Photo Club portrait field trip in late July. This image is of Kristin. I brought the peacock feather with me to use as a prop, and since she was one of the first subjects I shot, I thought I'd try it. In postprocessing, I added the vintage overlay and toned the image slightly -- thought it helped the overall feel of the photo. Nikon D200, 80mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, light from the Elinchrom Quadra high right.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Photo Club Portraits #2

Another photo from the Bay Area Photo Club field trip a few weeks ago, this one of Danielle by herself. The door in the background was bright red, and I had mixed thoughts about that. Ended up settling on a black and white just to even things out and take that strong color out of the background. The door handle is also an issue -- thought about cropping it, but it just looked odd to have half a handle in the background. A lot of other layers mixed in here in addition to the Silver Efex black and white -- some Lucis and my latest discovery -- Flypaper Textures fly edges package. Like I need more textures.
Nikon D200, 62mm, 1/200 sec at f/7.1. Flash from the Elinchrom Quadra from high camera right.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Photo Club Portraits #1

Two weeks ago the Bay Area Photo Club held a portrait shoot. We had several groups of models and several shooting stations with various lighting setups. We rotated the models into different locations, and I was stationed on the front steps of an old railroad warehouse in Galveston. This is Danielle and Eric -- recent high school graduates and both heading to college in the fall. The original image was shot with an Elinchrom Quadra and softbox coming from camera left. But even with that great light, I felt compelled to enhance this a bit. Since I've been using Topaz Adjust I've all but left Lucis Art on the shelf, but I find myself coming back to my old Lucis friend these days. It has a different punch than Topaz. Hard to describe. So I ran Lucis and masked it off their faces and all visible skin. Then went to town with some textures and edges. Originally I had the textures headed in the warm direction (right), but decided to try a cool version (left) and ended up liking it better. Let me know what you think...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Untouched by Photoshop #3

Great egret captured near shrimp boats in Galveston. The more I shoot birds the more likely I find myself shooting shallower depth of fields. I guess I feel a little more confident in my focusing or maybe since I shoot birds less often than I did a few years ago I tend to take more chances -- panning, shooting at f/2.8, etc. This one is straight out of camera, just a little white balance tweak in Adobe Camera Raw. Nikon D200, 200mm, 1/2500 sec at f/2.8, +1.7 EV.