Sunday, January 31, 2010

One More for the Series

I was supposed to go down to Galveston today and shoot some portraits, but with the cold and cloudy weekend here, we decided to postpone the shoot. So, instead I shot some flowers for my macro series. If you'd like to see more of this type of work, I'll be part of an exhibit at The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake running February 11 - April 7. I'll have seven similar images as the one shown above. All have a very characteristic extremely shallow depth of field, a series I've been working on for about a year now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pelican Profile

Brown pelican, Pier 19 in Galveston. Nikon D200, 70-200 VR lens at 160mm, 1/640 sec at f/8 ... another 1-layer shot, just some tweaks in Camera Raw and some mild sharpening in Photoshop.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kelsi #1

Last Monday, Larry Patrick, Doug Haass and I got together and shot Kelsi - third baseman for the Friendswood High School softball team. Both Doug and Larry have posted photos from later in the shoot when we were trying some edge lighting. Here are links to Larry's and Doug's photos. The photo above was taken earlier in the day with more traditional lighting -- Larry's Elinchrome Quadra providing light from off-camera left. Nikon D200 at 70mm, 1/320 sec at f/9, ISO 200. Textures and edges added in Photoshop. What really puzzled me about this shot was that there is no vignette even though it was shot at 1/320 of a sec and the maximum sync speed of the D200 is 1/250 of a sec. I'm not sure how my shutter drifted up that high, but even without the texture it is a clean exposure top to bottom -- kind of a mystery, but I'm not complaining.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I was going through my Dickens on the Strand images a few days ago and came across this picture. These two guys had a good time posing for us. This photo was taken with two softboxes off to either side. Nikon D200, 1/250 sec at f/13, -0.7 EV, both flashes firing at about 1/8 power ... really working to overpower the sun here. When you start doing a lot of off-camera flash work, you start to see how it mirrors HDR. You look at the sky in the top center of this photo and you see how rich and underexposed it is, but there is enough fill light in the foreground to create fibrant subjects. Very little Photoshop work here, just a few tweaks in Camera Raw. There is a total of one layer in Photoshop ... I think probably only one of a handful of images I've created in the last six years that I can say that about.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Going back a few months, this is another photo of Kelly Crabb from our photo shoot in Galveston in October. I've struggled with this shot for a while, ended up doing quite a bit of Photoshop work -- textures and effects applied selectively. When I look at it now, a few weeks after the last work I did, I seem to get a disconnect between her and the background, like she should be warmed up a little to match. Anyway, I'd love to hear what you think -- whether it all works or not. Sometimes you get lost amongst the trees and get a little detached from the big picture -- no pun intended.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pier 19 Tenant

Here's another shot from my Saturday afternoon at Pier 19. I was so busy shooting up-close pelicans from ground level I almost missed this shot. Not sure how long he was like this, but he didn't stay long. I didn't even bother to think about changing camera settings after I read the sign and saw what was in front of me. I just framed and started shooting. Had to do some tweaking in camera raw to get the exposure back in range. When things like this present themselves, they're hard to pass up documenting. Anyway, it made me laugh. And then I realized probably the reason he didn't stay long was because I bet that metal edge wasn't the most comfortable perch. Nikon D200, 1/2000 sec at f/3.5, 78mm, +0.3 EV.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wide Open

Over the Christmas holidays, I was supposed to do a couple of people shoots, but between scheduling and the weather two out of three had to be postponed. So after New Years, when the weather cleared, I decided to go to one of my favorite birding spots. It's been about six months since I've shot any worthwhile bird photos. White pelicans are migrating through the area, and the landscape at this location near 20th Street and Harborside in Galveston has dramatically changed. A restaurant, abandoned since Hurricane Ike, has been torn down. But there are still a couple of seafood shops, lots of shrimp boats, and three deep sea fishing boats in the area. So, last Saturday armed with only my 70-200 I decided to revisit this location. It's truly amazing what kind of access you can get to nature at times. When fisherman are gutting and cleaning fish, pelicans pay no mind to a photographer sitting on a curb snapping photos. I sat down on the pier to take the photo above, and the pelican barely moved. In fact, my first shots were out of focus and I couldn't figure out why until I realized I was closer than the minimum focusing distance of the lens. I actually had to move back a few inches to achieve focus. How many times does that happen? I'm also getting a little more comfortable shooting wide open ... going ahead and shooting at f/2.8 just to take out any distracting items in the background and taking care to really place your focus points on critical areas. Nikon D200, 200mm, 1/3200 sec at f/2.8; no cropping, just a little vibrance and white balance adjustment in Camera Raw, and sharpening added in Photoshop.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Just What I Need

"That's just what you need -- another camera bag." Those were the words I heard from my wife last week after I heard that I'd won a photo contest, and the prize was a new camera bag. The winning image is pictured above. I submitted it to OnOne Software's December Photo Contest on selective focus. OnOne makes some great software that I use a lot -- PhotoTools, PhotoFrame, and Genuine Fractals. So when I heard about the contest, I entered a couple of images. The prize was a backpack camera bag made by a new company called Gura Gear. Right now, they make only one bag called the Kiboko. Here's the link to their web site and the bag. And here's the link to the OnOne blog. Ironically, the company is located in Houston so I received the backpack in a day or two after the contest ended. So far, I'm impressed by the size and attention to detail. Seems like a nice bag. It's designed for the wildlife photograher, so it will hold large lenses with camera bodies attached. I'll post a full review after I've used it a few times. As a side note, this image was taken last spring for the Bay Area Photo Club's assignment of self portrait. As I remember, it didn't score very well. Just goes to show you how subjective photography is. Evidently it struck a chord with the judge of the photo contest because there were over 230 entries. It's an honor to win the contest, and I'm sure I'll be putting the backpack to good use.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Alyssa #3

Here's another photo from the shoot with Alyssa. It was taken in the alley behind the old antique car museum like the first one I posted. Even with the very shallow depth of field here, I struggled with a couple of distracting elements in the background. I ended up doing a pretty significant amount of restructuring. I also added a subtle texture and edge. Nikon D200, 85mm, 1/640 sec at f/2.0, off camera flash to camera left high speed sync'd.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Plans for 2010

Over the holiday last week, Larry Patrick and I took a trip down to Galveston. We were going to do some street photography. We ended up not taking too many photos; mostly scouted some locations for future portraits and talking about what we planned to shoot during 2010. One of my projects has always been to shoot a series of images of fire escapes. As we walked down one of the more colorful alleys down there, I took three or four photos of the one above. Postprocessing included a healthy dose of Topaz Adjust to bring out the texture and details. So, what's in store for 2010 for me -- more alleys, some edgier portraits, maybe some night photography with shallow depth of field, and a full-blown web site. Stay tuned.