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Tristan Turns 9!

Seems surreal to me that my oldest son turns 9 tomorrow. When I think of it… I sorta wanna peak at my 401K and make sure I’m planning my retirement correctly 🙂 I know, I know, many of my friends have older kids, but this is me… and thinking he’s 9, just blows my mind. Ton of clichés run through my mind, “in the blink of an eye”, “time sure flies” and all that stuff, which happen to LL be true (hence they became clichés).

So to celebrate we had Tristan and about 30 of his friends and family head out to Atlantis, the aquarium in Riverhead, NY. Turned out to be a great party! Informational, and fun, and even got to bake in the sun while watching the sea lion show (it reaallly got hot out there!, but it was well worth it). I took a ton of snaps (as usual) and wanted to post a few that I liked. More to come I am sure. Been pushing myself to start exploring off-camera flash as well as outdoor hi-speed synch flash (shutter about 1/4000 of a second, bright sun, f2.8 or so… Joe McNally stuff!). So a few of these shots are exactly that, me playing around, and learning what works, and what doesn’t (sigh, always seems more of the latter than former!) so I can continue to build out my mental checklist of “how to make cool pictures…”


Meet Mason & Charlie (the flying dogs!)

Meet Mason and Charlie two dogs that literally defy gravity. Their stories are both heartbreaking, and heartwarming. Both were rescue dogs… Mason, a mixed breed, was “bait” for fighting dogs as a puppy (he still wears a scar on his forehead of those times) and Charlie, the aussie border collie lost his tail. Sarah, their owner rescued them and turned them into incredible leaping hounds who compete in frisbee fetching contests. To watch them soar, will take your breath away- these canines show determination, intelligence, and pure heart when the frisbee leaves Sarah’s hand. Very rarely am I blown away, but this impromptou display at a family party left me clapping, smiling, and teary-eyed at their incredible effort, and history… these two pups just stole my heart.


One quick thing I learned during this shoot… forget trying to track these guys- way to fast to keep a zoomed lens on them. Had to change from Dynamic 21 point to Dynamic 51 point with 3D tracking, that way the camera did the heavy lifting in terms of the autofocus- and believe me, it was working overtime!

Unleash da’ Hound…

So the latest addition to our family has indeed earned her nickname “Silly Lilly”…

She scoots, sprints, careens, crashes and simply runs through the house… leaving a wake of mischief behind her :).

Grabbed my camera to catch her antics for posterity. Enjoy!

The Tree Continued…

Not sure which composition I like better… yesterdays or todays. What I do know is I love this scene…

I like the wide view of the vines, slightly curved on this sweeping hill and the movement the clouds in the sky suggest is happening… I like the dark rich blue framed by the whote puffy clouds, and yet there is a hint of grey… coming rain maybe… I like how the sun was brighter on the right of the frame than the left.

Not sure which one you like better? The vertical or the landscape… I guess it comes down to personal taste.

Thinking about doing this shot on canvas for The Gallery. Think the texture would really enhance the finished product.


An instant favorite of mine…

Been a rough few days here in Santa Rosa. Constant rain, punctured by heavy downpours. NOT so good for a landscape photographer…

Luckily, we haven’t been hanging out in the local bar whining about the weather. We had an opportunity yesterday to visit a few classic and hot rod car locations which, believe it or not, was helped by the rain. Wet pavement creates reflections and mood… which we had plenty of.

We hit two locations Fred Stokes, and Vern Tardel’s locations. These two guys have devoted their lives to restoring classic and hot rod cars. Now I am the furthest thing from being a gearhead, my brother Jon got all the mechanical genes (thankfully I have him in the family!) but being around these awesome machines was simply amazing. Their color, their shape, their forms, made the lens beg for more.

At Vern’s place, he took this old car out in the drizzle, parked it in his vineyard and left it to us to shoot. Got low with a 14-24mm lens, and shot a 7 frame HDR image. Why HDR? Well, the sky was pretty blown out… grey, grey and more grey. I knew the HDR process would bring out the drama in the clouds and add another dimension to this photo.

After finishing it using Color Efex Pro 3’s filters (used a bunch) I just fell in love with the image. Has a World War II feel to it… as if a bunch of soldiers had left their vehicle to go look for bad guys… One of my favorite things about a great photograph is inventing a backstory to what’s been captured… I think emotionally, it connects us to a photo.

Can’t wait to print this one big. Has alot of character in it… which is why it became an instant favorite of mine…


Fun with Flash II

Saw a portrait awhile ago of a baseball player done by Dustin Snipes… Always liked his work..

So I set up 3 flashes and let Tristan don his Three Village Patriots uniform.  Asked him to pretend he was pitching and shot away.

1) First flash was snooted and aimed at his cap to highlight the Patriots icon

2) Second Flash behind him with a blue gel to light the white seamless a different “punchy” color

3) Third Flash was a Honl grid aimed directly at his eyes… wanted that swath of light to capture his eyes and really highlight them. There was a bit of spill here, if he and I had the patience I would reshoot and try to remove the highlight on his cheek, so the line from the hat would meet the mitt.

Pretty quick setup, which was good… Both kids patience ran out real quick as the Lego table called… 🙂


Fun with Flash…

Took alot of pictures the last few days- with Easter, and sports, and visiting family… the camera was clicking away.

Been thinking quite a bit after seeing Hobby and McNally on the Flash Bus Tour about taking my flash work to the next level and really starting to get serious about understand the language of light as it pertains to small and big strobes. I’ve dabbled and played, and the results have been ok to pretty good… but its time to bare down (as they say) and start understanding the details…

With that in mind, my poor, unfortunate boys begin easy targets. And since baseball season is in full swing, I figured some quick portraits against my white seamless would do. Couple things I’ve wanted to try.

1) Rim lighting the face and arms using two strobes off to the left and right behind the subject

2) Grid spot on their face to highlight this area, and give it a bit more punch

3) Adding a splash of color with another flash low to the ground pointing straight up at the seamless (zoomed out to 24mm to proved a wide swath of colored light)

Again, with that all in mind I asked Aidan to pose first. A shot a series of images using TTL (McNally-esque) and wasn’t real happy with the results. Had three separate groups set up – Group A were the rim lights, Group B was the gridded flash in front, and C was the flash in back. Honestly struggled a bit with the rims… didn’t seem to give me the definition I really wanted… I think Aidan was just moving around too much, so I stopped fiddling with em’, left em where they were, and just shot away.

Ended up with a few keepers, with just a few tweaks in post… Have some of Tristan for later this week!

P.S. Love the hat bending his right ear in this one

Grand Central Terminal Panorama

Seems like every time I catch up with my photog friend Ron Hiner I have to borrow his 24 PCE lens. This amazing lens allows you to tilt and shift the lens mechanism from the focal plane of the sensor. It’s most commonly used in architectural photography to “straighten” vertical lines (normal lens’ bow inwards do to the curvature of the lens). It also makes a great pano lens because you can set your tripod and then “shift” the lens on its vertical axis across a scene… viola’ instant panorama.

Stood at the end of Grand Central Terminal in the direct center of the main lobby… wanted to make sure the image would be centered nicely. Snapped three shots and stitched them in CS3. Used Silver Efex Pro to convert to black and white (why? GCT is a timeless space… felt the B&W would give it this quality) Pretty straight forward. Love the architecture of this magnificent place.

The Merced River in Winter

If it’s possible to offer a “tip-of-the-ole” hat to Ansel Adams… this is my attempt. No iconic El Capitan, or Half Dome shot. Just a quiet place along the Merced river where nature just goes about its business. The tree seemingly embedded in the river on the right of the frame is what originally caught my eye.

Yosemite is so full of color that it seems almost painful to convert images to black and white. But I have found that the absence of color changes the mood in the photographs from here. Maybe its the Adams influence on us, I’m not sure. For instance in this image the trees, the water, the rocks seem more important in black and white. The live in the frame, vs being lost in the greenery had the conversion not taken place. I love black and white images as they ask you the viewer to fill in the blanks, to use your mind’s eye and see into the image – soak in the textures, the shades of gray and draw your own conclusions on the reality of the place captured… lots to think about here…

Enjoy, and Happy Friday!


El Caps Profile

A quick snap of El Caps’ profile. Amazing color. And such a dominant “rock” in Yosemite Valley.

Finished this in Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS3 using NIK’s Filters (tonal contrast, darken lighten center and glamour glow). I really like how Glamour Glow softened the “hardness” of the rock… gave it a bit more pop (as photographers say!). Didn’t apply to the trees… wanted the environment surrounding El Capitan to remain sharp.