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.