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March 6, 2011

Occasionally I like to add a texture layer to my pictures.  It’s pretty easy to do, you just have to create or find a texture to use.  If you search Flickr for “free texture” you’ll find thousands.  Or you can take pictures yourself and create your own (which I do).

Here’s an example of how I do it.


Above is the image as shot.

This is the image after I crop and clone out rocks and junk that bug me


This is the texture picture I used ~ I opened it up and then dragged it onto the the beach image.

I then set the texture layer to “multiply”

This is how it looked.  I decided it was too dark so I added a curve adjustment layer and pulled
it up in the middle to lighten the whole picture.  I also added a gradient map adjustment layer
at 27% opacity to desaturate it a bit.

And this is my final product.

It’s been a while…

November 9, 2010

Hello world 🙂

Trying to get back into the swing of things.

My photography seems to have ebbs and flows, and I’m just coming out of an ebb.  Things not quite flowing yet, but at least I feel like picking up the camera again.

We took the kids down to the beach, to ride bikes and run around.  Anne saw the mud and went straight for it.

Someone commented on Flickr, something about loving what I do.  And it made me think about it a bit.  I really don’t feel like I do anything.  My kid, dressed in what she wanted to wear, ran out into a giant mudflat near sunset.  And I brought my camera.  I didn’t pose her, didn’t dress her, didn’t give any direction (except I asked her to chase the birds, which she refused to do).

I happen to own a very good camera (I do think it matters) and some very good lenses (which also matters) and I have cute kids (if I do say so myself).  I know how to use my camera and how to compose a shot.   But really, there’s not a lot of thought or planning that goes into it on my end.  I think my kids deserve the credit for the pictures I take.

Sure, some days I have an idea in mind and I work to “create” something.  But 95% of the time, I’m just a quiet observer.  I don’t know if I should call it luck, or what, but most days I feel very blessed.

I also don’t mind a little mud in the car 🙂

Shameless promotion :)

July 9, 2010

This is from the newest issue of Nikon World ~ I love the picture they chose.

…new action set…

May 19, 2010

Cindy and I have released the “Fabulous” collection.  Most of the credit goes to Cindy, as I’ve been super flaky about it (and now sick).

They can be found on our action site!

Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens, aperture: f/2.2 shutter speed: 1/800, ISO: 200

This was processed with the “elusive” action.

…may flowers…

May 5, 2010

Hi everyone!

Sorry for my long absence, just busy with the rest of my life 🙂

I’m putting together ideas for a workshop of some sort ~ I’ll announce anything I come up with on here.

I took a few pictures the other day of some flowers I had in my house (after Anne’s party ~ she had a sort of garden theme) and thought I should mention that they are the perfect subject on which to practice shooting wide open.  Do you want just a petal in focus, or just the edge of a petal?  The whole flower but not the stem?  What if it’s a bouquet ~ what should you focus on?

They are also good for lighting practice ~ most are beautiful with back lighting, and almost all are gorgeous with straight on light.  I took all of these pictures in the late afternoon, in by bathroom.  The frosted window and white walls create a perfect environment for picture taking.

So go buy some flowers (what a great excuse!) and get to work.

Me, teaching you

April 2, 2010

The idea of doing some sort of workshop or something has been kicking around inside my head for a while.  I enjoy teaching I think, much more than I enjoy doing sessions/weddings.

So, if you think that would be a good idea ~ what is it that you would want to learn from me?  What is it that you think I can teach you?  Would it be photography oriented?  Photoshop oriented?  Half and half?  Would you be interested in Cindy and I doing something together?  What would you want to walk away with?

I struggle with the idea of taking advantage of people (selling actions is even a huge issue with me and something I have a hard time with).  I wouldn’t want anyone to leave feeling like it was a waste of their time and/or money.

So tell me what you think.

(I’m considering doing a test session, free of charge ~ getting a group of people together who want to help me craft what to teach.  Would that interest you?)

Wide Open Spaces

March 31, 2010

I get asked how to shoot “wide open” a lot, meaning setting the aperture to it’s very lowest setting (which means it’s as open as it can possibly be).  So here are some thoughts on that.

First of all, when I shoot wide open with my Nikon lenses, they tend to be very soft if I’m in bright light.  What I mean by that is the part that supposed to be in focus looks a bit fuzzy.  Here’s an example:

If you look at her you can see she looks a bit hazy.  Here’s a closer look:

You can see that there’s a purple/blue fringe around her and it’s not very sharp.  This is something to watch out for when you’re shooting in bright light.  To avoid it they say to be at least two stops above the widest setting (for some reason I tend to favor f/2.2).  Supposedly nice Zeiss lenses don’t do this but then they’re only manual focus on a Nikon.

If you shoot on anything less than the widest setting the bits of light in the background (I’m avoiding the word “bokeh”) don’t appear to be circles ~ they are octagons or hexagons, or some other shape depending on the lens and how many blades it has.  If you look at the picture below, shot at f/2.2, you can see how the light spots in the back have a shape:

If you shoot wide open, no shape:

It’s something I notice when looking at pictures but I’m not sure the average person does.

So, how to get things in focus.  That’s the tricky bit.

I am not a technical person, so if it’s going to bother you that I’m going to murder the physics of photography, misuse the jargon, and get things “wrong”, then stop reading now 🙂

When you shoot wide open, your focal plane is very small.  Basically that means that the bit that’s going to be in focus is very small.  So being able to control what’s in focus becomes very important.

1) Realize that if you’re too close to the subject you’ll get the eyes in focus, but the nose will be blurry:

Or the nose in focus and the eyes blurry:

You need to move back a bit so that they’ll both be in focus:

99% of the time you want all of the face to be in focus (I would think :)).

The other thing to consider, if you want to be super close, is stopping down the aperture a bit (make it smaller).  Like I said above, I’m a huge fan of f/2.2.  The closer you are to your subject, the smaller the focal plane, so the less that will be in focus and the more that will be blurry in the background.

2) and I don’t have any examples to post of this, but make sure that you are keeping the front of the lens directly parallel to the subject.  In the pictures above I’m sitting directly in front of Anne and I have the camera even with her face.  If she looks up at me, I get higher than her and make sure that I have the camera angled so that it’s dead even with her face (but more often I tell her to put her chin down, so that we aren’t moving all around).  When I’m shooting a portrait I generally make sure that I’m at the same level of the person’s face (lots of bending down if it’s a child) and I’m generally saying “Look at me! Look right here (and I tap the top of the lens)”.

3) Seems obvious, but focus on the eyes if you’re shooting a portrait.  It’s what people look at and it’s what needs to be in focus.

And, finally, take a lot of pictures.  Move in, move out, look at your viewing screen, get a feel for where you need to be.  My 50mm lens is my go to lens, so I know what’s going to happen when I use it.  Pick a lens you like and just use it every day for a month.  Take a ton of pictures in different light, with different apertures, in different places ~ start getting a sense that you know what’s going to happen.  After a while you should have very few surprises.