Sunday, October 31, 2010

November Desktop Image

Mt. Timpanogos in Autumn and in Sunset Light

Yes, you have seen this image before and since it is one of my favorite photos of my favorite mountain, I thought I'd share it with you for the month of November.  (And I figure since it was taken at sunset, and I'm posting on Sunday, it'll do double duty for my 'Sunset Sunday' post.)  

For anyone new dropping by, I post an image every month for you to use as your desktop image.   
Just click  HERE
to download then right click to set as your desktop image.   It is sized to fit your monitor and should not be pixelated or blurry.  If you have problems, let me know and I'll help.  It is for your personal use.   Feel free to share with friends but please do not use it for profit. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Seems Appropriate for Halloween

Bonnie and Clyde Meet Their Maker

Last year Jeff and I stopped for the night at a hotel/casino on the border between California and Nevada.  They had Bonnie and Clyde's car on display.  It was difficult to photograph because we were in a dark casino and the car was behind glass.  I couldn't use a flash as it would have reflected off the glass, so I did the best I could by bumping up the ISO and then doing a lot of editing with some HDR to add depth because of all the similar shades of gray.  Also, the faded patterns in the lower part of the image are not on the car.  It is the carpet reflecting off the glass.

Even seeing this car behind glass was a gruesome sight.  I well remember going to the movie of Bonnie and Clyde when it was released in 1967.  This movie had a very unsettling influence on me.  I first thought it was because of all the violence and the idea that a nice woman would voluntarily choose this life.  But that was only part of it.  I soon realized this movie was unique from all the movies and TV shows I had seen thus far in my life.  You see, up until then, good guys wore white, bad guys wore black.  You rooted for the good guys and in the end good most always triumphed over evil, and even if it didn't, you always knew which side was supposed to win.  Then along came Bonnie and Clyde.  It is true they didn't win in the end, but throughout the whole movie I found myself hoping they would outwit and outrun the lawmen who were determined to stop them.  Hollywood made the bad guys appealing and the good guys less so.  Then a few years later came Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Now really, how could you not fall in love with the characters played by Paul Neuman and Robert Redford.  Who cared if they were train robbers, you still were rooting for them.  This was my realization that society is divided in their views of what is good versus what is evil, what is right versus what is wrong.  I just always assumed that bad was always wrong and good was always right.  Simplistic me!  Today not only do we condone antisocial and/or illegal activities, we often make cult heroes out of these people.  Remember the flight attendant who opted for an antisocial way of quitting his know, the one who supposedly had been drinking, yelled obscenities over the intercom and then deployed the air shoot?  About a week ago, the news said he has now acquired quite a number of admirers. Huh?

I don't know, life seemed so much better when I thought the good guys always wore white and the bad guys always wore black!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Phriday Phun - Halloween Phun

There Is No Title To Accurately Describe This Photo!!

Last year Jeff and I were visiting an old wild west ghost town, now a tourist trap.  Jeff stepped into this coffin, and I quickly whipped out the camera.   Because the original was really boring I decided to get carried away with HDR effects, (too much time on my hands that day), and ended up with this.  Seems appropriate for Halloween don't you think???

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Autumn in the House

Flowers On My Dining Room Table
After yesterday's post of what I see outside, I needed to show that inside I'm holding onto fall a little bit longer! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes!!!

I just had to add a P.S. to my HDR review (last post).  This shot was taken one day after the shots in the previous post.  I'll be wearing black today.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tech Talk Tuesday / HDR Review

 What is HDR???

A technique referred to as HDR, or High Dynamic Range is taking the photography community by storm.  There seems to be two opinions;  it's either the best thing since sliced bread, or, it's so cheating it can't even be called photography!

Briefly and simply defined, an HDR image is the final product of taking several different exposures of the same scene, then aligning and merging them into a single image.

What's the Purpose???  

Why would you do that when our goal should be to get the right exposure for every shot?  The truth is, unless you are photographing a scene with a very limited tonal range, (which would be boring anyway), it's very difficult to get the right exposure for all parts of a scene.    Have you ever taken a shot of a beautiful, colorful, landscape, with your camera exposing for the whole scene, but then are disappointed when you view it on your monitor or in print?   It often seems dull and flat and not nearly as vibrant and dramatic as what you actually saw.  So then you adjust your exposure so the land looks perfect, but then the sky is all washed out.  Next you expose for the sky and clouds, but then the land is too dark.  While your camera can record only a limited tonal range, your eyes can see a great tonal range from white, to grays, to black.  So you can see the deep blue sky, puffy white clouds, as well as a nicely exposed ground.   For years photographers have tried to correct this problem by screwing split level neutral density filters on their lens, with varying degrees of success.  Then in the dark room there was dodging and burning to further correct the problem.  Now we live in a world of sophisticated digital cameras, computers, and programs that give photographers amazing tools to help us more easily correct the limitations of our cameras and help us create beautiful photographs.

Side Note:

Time for a side note.  For all of you who just want to pull out the point and shoot and take a snap and be done with it, you've probably already figured out this post is not for you.   Because the bottom line is that with rare exceptions, most beautiful photography still takes knowledge, planning, and especially time.  Even the photographer who does no post editing, has probably spent many trips and many hours on location until finally he's there when the lighting, sky and foliage are just right for that perfect shot.  Again, beautiful photography takes time even with our modern tools and techniques.

Maybe It Is Better Than Sliced Bread!

Like it or not, HDR is here to stay.....and I like it!  In fact I love it!  Why wouldn't anyone like to create and look at beautiful, vibrant photos and have the tools to do so?  When one is able to see a large spectrum of subtle color changes, and a large spectrum of tonal shades, a flat image (photograph) takes on a 3D effect, looks more real, and well, just looks more like what the eyes would see naturally.  I consistently get far more compliments on my HDR photos on the blog, in print and on other websites than I do on anything else.

A Few Helpful Hints: 

First of all, HDR does not work with all types of images.  It is good with subjects that don't move, because remember, you have to take several identical shots at different exposures.  If your subject moves, or your camera moves, your shots will not line up and your final HDR image will be blurred or have ghosting artifacts.  The current versions of HDR programs help in a limited way to correct slight movement, but to get a really sharp image you need a tripod, (or a rock steady grip),  and a stationary subject.  Also, naturally, HDR works best with scenes where there is a wide tonal range, with light, medium and dark tones and colors.

Next, it's best to shoot in Aperture Priority mode so your perspective does not change during the different exposures.

Another important note is that you will rarely be able to produce a beautiful HDR photo just by using an HDR program by itself.  This is because while creating an HDR image will make most of your scene look beautiful, it will most likely make parts of the scene look terrible.  Don't ask me why because I don't know, but it just does.  The sky, usually around clouds, can be particularly troublesome, with strange artifacts, halos, ghosting, noise, etc.  So here is the most important trick for me to tell you, so pay attention!!!...  After you identify the part of your merged HDR image that looks weird, you need to find one of the original images you used for the merge, where that weird part looks the best, then add that image as a layer to your newly created HDR image.  Then you need to 'erase' the weird portion of your HDR image so that part of the original image shows through.  Then you need to experiment with different ways to blend the visible portion of the original with the HDR image so it looks natural.  I know I've probably lost some of you here, because obviously you need to be able to work in Photoshop and have a basic understanding of how to use 'layers' and 'layer masks' to do this.

One more thing to remember, is after you have created your HDR image, you will probably still need to do some basic tweaking with levels, exposure, color casts, in Photoshop, Lightroom or whatever photo editing program you normally use.

Which Program Should You Use:

With the basics out of the way, you now have to decide which program you will use to help create your masterpiece.  Luckily there are now programs out there to make it easy for us normal folks so you don't need to be a techno geek to create HDRs.  I'll talk about the four I think are worth considering (IMHO); however, I will not give you all the specs, but you can click on the program names below and that will take you to their websites so you can easily get all the info you need :

    This program is endorsed by many HDR pioneers, including Trey Ratcliff, who is arguably the guru of HDR Photography.  If you are interested in learning how he produces his beautiful photographs, he provides an HDR tutorial on his blog HERE.  This is where I started.  He also has a fairly new book out.  This is an excellent program with an excellent interface and many controls giving you seemingly endless tweaks and options for unique looks.   It's a matter of moving sliders and other controls until you achieve the look you are after.  This is the program I am currently using.

    Photoshop CS5 has a merge to HDR function.  At times I can produce decent images, but not consistently.  A real disadvantage is that the merge process is extremely slow.  I rarely use this function, but if nothing else works, I'll give it a try.

    HYDRA 2.2 - $79.95

    This is a new program and claims to have an excellent alignment and anti ghosting algorithm so you do not need a tripod.  It also advertises one can merge up to 10 exposures.  It is common to merge 3 to 5 exposures, and in my opinion, that is plenty to get a good tonal range.  This is a much more simple program with not nearly as many 'bells and whistles' as Photomatix or HDR Efex Pro.  For me, it produced a noticeably different look, and more of an artificial look than the other programs.

    HDR EFEX Pro  - $159.95

    This is also a new program and has everything the above programs have and more.  In other words it has all the bells and whistles to allow you to create endless looks for your images.  It has a very intuitive interface, and an impressive number of visual presets.  One unique feature is selective editing where the other programs are all global editing.

    My Comparisons

    As I worked with each of these programs I tried to create the most natural looking photos I could, working 99% in each particular program.   I didn't do any major altering, like bringing in a layer of one of the original photos, although I did do a small amount of exposure correction on some in Lightroom.  Needless to say, all the programs will create a variety of psychedelic, abstract, artificial looking images, but I suspect most of you are like me, and want your photos to look real.

    Medium Exposure of Originals

    Hydra 2.2

    Photoshop CS5

    Photomatix 4.0

    HDR EFlex Pro

    The first set of photos above are of an extremely wide range of tones and colors.  I stood out on my deck in the morning and shot toward the east with the sun just out of the frame.  (Did you know that sometimes you can shoot directly into the sun and end up with a very interesting HDR shot?)  Anyway, I wanted to see how these programs handled extreme light and extreme dark.  Notice the differences in how these programs handle the sky, the color variations and the lens flare.

    Medium Exposure of Originals

    Hydra 2.2

    Photoshop CS5

    Photomatix 4.0

    HDR EFex Pro

    Clouds and 'ghosting' are particularly troublesome.  In the above set of shots, the wind was blowing and the clouds were moving fast, so they were not in the same place in all the exposures.  Notice the ghosting on the left side of the cloud in the Hydra and Photoshop photos.  Using the function to help eliminate ghosting in the Photomatix photo helped, but as you can see, made that portion of the cloud faded and dull.  The HDR EFex Pro shot altered the ghosting in a different way, but still noticeable. 

     Medium Exposure of Originals

    Hydra 2.2

    Photoshop CS5

      Photomatix 4.0

    HDR EFex Pro

    In this final group, the original is good.  This was taken in my great room with a fisheye lens.  As you can see, the left wall is covered with windows letting in really bright light.  I wanted to see if these programs would pick up any of the details on the deck in the bright morning light.  Also notice the color variations.


    Well, first of all, since I love HDR, any program that helps you create a beautiful image is better than none!!!!  Second, since my experimenting with Hydra and HDR EFex Pro is very limited, my opinion may or may not hold much weight.  But, in my humble opinion, the HDR EFex Pro was the most versatile, easy to use, and fun program.  The interface is easy to use and allows unlimited ways to tweak your image, and it is just fun to see how all the presets change the look and feel of your shots.  Maybe you'll find a look that really works that you didn't know you could achieve.  I may consider purchasing this one.   PHOTOMATIX 4.0 is still an excellent program and produces amazing images.  It has a new interface with 4.0 that is more user friendly and also comes with some visual presets as well.  HYDRA 2.2 does a passable job but I had to do lots more tweaking to come close to what I wanted my images to look like.  The interface is extremely simple and simple to use with fewer controls and sliders.  PHOTOSHOP CS5 will also produce passable images, but again, I had to work a lot harder to produce what I was looking for, and another real downside for me was that it takes forever to render or merge your originals into the HDR image.


    Sorry, I can't make that decision for you!  A start is to study the above examples to see if the images processed from one program look better to your eye than the others.   But just looking at my few examples is not enough.  You should also look on the internet for other reviews of these programs.  And cost may be a factor.  But how easy each program is for you to use and how you like the results are the most important factors; and, the really good news is that you can download HYDRA 2.2, PHOTOMATIX 4.0, and HDR EFEX PRO for free and give them all a test run before you decide.



    Hopefully this review has piqued, (thanks Rick), your interest in HDR.  The bottom line is that it is no longer a complicated, technical process reserved for a few techno geeks.  Anyone can achieve beautiful images with one of these programs and a little knowledge and some time.   This review has been 'bare bones' and only a beginning, but I hope you've learned something about HDR. 

    It would make my day if some of you are willing to download a free trial version of one of the above programs, create your first HDR image, and email it to me.  If there are any brave souls out there, I'll publish your images on my blog and link back to your blog!  (Deadline is November 10.)

    I'd really like your feedback.... has this post been useful and would you like me to continue doing similar posts (it is time consuming), or would you like less words and just more of my images??

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Sunrise Sunday

    Several years ago we had the most wonderful vacation in Belize.  We stayed in a vintage beach house almost at water's edge.  This was taken early one morning about 20 feet from our bedroom window.  Other than a couple staying in the beach house next door, we had the entire magnificent beach to ourselves the whole week.  There was not anyone as far as we could see up or down the shore.  We packed a ton of memories into that week!

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Phriday Phun

    If You're Going to San Fransisco, Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair....

    This car, turned shrine, turned landmark, is about 20 steps from the colorful mailboxes I posted HERE on last Phriday Phun.   I bet it's been sitting in this spot since the 60's and I wonder how many parking tickets it got before it took root!   I've decided the residents of the apartments who own the mailboxes must be retired hippies who are still living the dream.  This was my era as well, but thankfully, I followed a different dream.  As for the photos, the subject matter just begged for some bright psychedelic colors.  Now for those of you who want to walk, I mean shuffle down memory lane (J/K), here are the rest of the lyrics to this song that helped draw so many young people to the bay area in that decade: 

    If you're going to San Francisco
    Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
    If you're going to San Francisco
    You're gonna meet some gentle people there

    For those who come to San Francisco
    Summertime will be a love-in there
    In the streets of San Francisco
    Gentle people with flowers in their hair

    All across the nation such a strange vibration
    People in motion
    There's a whole generation with a new explanation
    People in motion people in motion

    For those who come to San Francisco
    Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
    If you come to San Francisco
    Summertime will be a love-in there

    If you come to San Francisco
    Summertime will be a love-in there
                                         written by John Phillips of the Mamas & Papas

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Autumn in Utah's Rocky Mountains

    The Golden Light of Autumn
    Here is a peak at 'my neck of the woods'.  This was taken about 15-20 minutes away from my home on what we call the Alpine Loop, American Fork Canyon.  This picturesque loop starts close to where I live and winds up over the backside of Mt. Timpanogos, past streams, lakes and natural springs, and through pine forests and the most glorious aspen groves you've ever seen.  It then passes Robert Redford's Sundance ski resort and ends in Provo canyon near Bridal Veil falls, (another beautiful photo op).  I try to drive the loop every spring and fall.  I finally found an hour or two about a week or so ago.  It is always beautiful, but the brilliant reds of the oak and the brilliant yellows of the aspen leaves had already faded and I was disappointed.  No shots taken.  But coming home I noticed how lovely the light was streaming through the trees and I stopped alongside the road.  After a brief stroll, I found this scene.  Obviously, a few lovers from past generations had stopped here before me.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Tech Talk Tuesdays


    As I've said many times, I'm a 'fickle' photographer.  I love to photograph many different subjects (I get bored easily).  Shooting landscapes and still life and architecture all eliminate one challenge...these things rarely move!  They are stationary.  You set up your tripod and take all the time you need to compose your shot.  Even in most portrait photography, like engagement shoots, senior photos, executive shots, etc., your clients are anxious to cooperate in order to help the photographer get the shot.

    Family portraiture, however, is unique, because usually, the only one who wants to be there is mom!  Dad knows this is a family duty, so he's usually cooperative, but the kids are a whole different 'ballgame'.

    What seasoned family photographer has not been confronted with the sullen teenage boy in the family, spiked hair and a thousand pounds of chains pulling his pants down to his ankles, staring daggers at you.  (Hmm, might think about adding a can of pepper spray as part of your camera gear!) (J/K)  Then there's the teenage girl who rolls her eyes and flips her hair and shows her disapproval at every pose you put her in.  And what about the 7 year old boy who manages to have his eyes crossed and tongue sticking out in every single shot!

    Once in a while you can bribe teenagers with a couple of movie passes, or free car wash coupons, or a gift certificate, and if that doesn't work, maybe the threat of grounding might work coming from Dad.  The seven year old might respond to some immediate gratification, like candy or baseball cards.

    But this all pales in comparison to taking photos of toddlers.  They are a whole different story.  They can't be bribed and they have all the power.  They are in control and they know it.  All the adults at the photo shoot are using every possible trick they know to get them to stand still, look at the camera, smile, stop crying, stop rolling on the ground, stop screaming,  stop running away.  There is nothing that can bring a photographer to her knees, (literally, because that's where you should be when photographing toddlers), than trying to get the impossible:  an in focus shot of a smiling toddler!  In my opinion, photographers who make their living photographing children should be the highest paid in the industry!

    So now that I've attempted to be a bit humorous describing a family photo shoot, I have to say, that taking photos of families and especially children is most always fun and rewarding.  To see families interact with each other and to know I'm recording family memories makes me feel good inside.  And even though the above situations happen occasionally, most families and children are delightful and a joy to photograph.  And toddlers are the best.  They are so honest, they do the funniest things, and there is no need to guess about what they are thinking, or what they think of you, or what they want to be doing at any given minute.  As a photographer of toddlers, you have to be in the moment, flexible, intuitive, creative, quick, and know your equipment and how it will function without thinking about it.

    So here's what I've learned about photographing toddlers:

    • First, the prep work.  Make sure you schedule the shoot when mom says it's the toddlers best time of the day.  She/he should be rested, fed and in comfortable clothes.

    • Always take the formal shots first, if that is the main reason for the shoot.  Because initially, toddlers will be mildly amused at you and your camera, and mildly amused at your assistant who is getting their attention with some outlandish behavior.   It's downhill after that.  And your first thee shots will be the best!!!  At least that's been my experience.  I keep thinking 'the first three shots' rule is the exception, however, so every time I take family photos I persist in continuing until I've taken a hundred shots.  But almost always, the first few are the best.  So knowing this, the set up is critical.  First of all, you must work quickly because toddlers get bored, tired and hungry really fast.  Let someone take the toddler off to the side to play for a few minutes while you get everything set up.  Make sure your lighting/exposure and camera settings are perfect.  Then bring in the adults and other family members and pose them.  Take a shot to make sure you are all ready.  Next quickly have your assistant bring the toddler in and pose her where you've planned.  Then as the assistant blows a horn, makes funny faces and noises, and/or does cartwheels, start snapping away.

    If you get lucky they'll hold still long enough for a formal portrait
    • After your attempt at a formal portrait, if you still want to pretend you're in control, try some 'moving shots'.  Swinging, bouncing up on Dad's shoulders, lifting into the air.....motion can usually bring a smile, or at least a pause in the crying for a few minutes.  But remember, motion also brings blur.  So make sure you set a higher shutter speed and maybe bump up your ISO, then explain what controlled motion you want the parents to do, and be ready to snap away.

    Then comes the 'motion' shots
    • But in reality, the best shots you will get will be when you let the toddler be in control and you are there to record the adventure.  In other words, the candids.   Everyone begins to relax, and the photos are real and fun.  Sometimes we photographers get too hung up on wanting a perfect composition, a perfect background, etc., and we lose sight of the important part of family photography, and that is to capture family dynamics and personalities, and memories.

      And finally, you just let them do their own thing!

      Monday, October 18, 2010

      A Leap of Faith

      Sometimes we are stuck in a rut, unable to move forward.  We don't like the rut, in fact it is miserable, and yet oddly comfortable because we are familiar and safe in our very own rut.  We know there's a road ahead, and we need to get out of our rut and move forward....but......the problem is, we can't see the road ahead, and we don't know what danger might be above or below us.  We know we must take a chance if we want to change, but we can only see small glimpses of the happiness that might be waiting for us on the other side.  It's all so uncertain and scary,  yet we know we will not be alone.  Friends and family who've been down the road tell us it is worth the effort.   And Someone wanting to help us, has put railings on each side of the road to keep us from falling off, and a bright white line down the middle to lead the way.  Others have done all they can to encourage and support us, but we must have the courage and faith to take that first step.  

      (Golden Gate Bridge)   

      Sunday, October 17, 2010

      Friday, October 15, 2010

      Phriday Phun

      No Address Required
       Happy News Delivered Here
      Cure for a Grumpy Mail Carrier
      Regulation Mail Boxes Only
      Ocean Art
      Help me out here.  I need some inspiration for a Title!  These mailboxes were near the dock of a sleepy little bay community in Sausalito.  Very cute and cheerful, although I guess the owner of the crab box was not into painting!

      Wednesday, October 13, 2010

      A Bleeding Heart - Today We Remember

      A Life Too Short - Hearts That Ache
      She was a pixie who loved bugs
      Soon she became a beautiful young woman and an accomplished violinist
      She loved and was loved by a large circle of family and friends
      Then she found drugs
      Now she is gone!

      My sweet niece would have been 27 now, but today is the one year anniversary of her death.  Life is fragile and sometimes abruptly short.  Every day is a 24 hour gift.  Use each day you are given wisely and do not miss an opportunity to say, "You are wonderful", "I love you", or if necessary "I'm sorry, please forgive me".

      Tuesday, October 12, 2010

      Tech Talk Tuesday

      Fond Memories
      Family Heirloom

      Salt Lake Temple in Spring

      Mt. Timpanogos in Fall

      What do these photos have in common????  Keep reading........

      Last Tech Talk Tuesday I challenged you to get out of your comfort zone.  To repeat:  "So in summary, here's my challenge to you photographers who want to improve:  get out of your comfort zone and find ways that will force you to be more critical of your own work.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:  enter a local photo contest, photograph a subject that is totally foreign to you, set up a booth at your county fair and sell your pictures, ask a professional photographer in your area to critique your work, participate in some of the many 'challenges' floating around the photo blogger world, volunteer to take photos of your neighbor's newborn.   Make your own list, then choose the one that scares you the most!!!   I think your photography will improve!"  Today I'll mention another way to improve your photography and make memories at the same time.

      The top photo is a lovely china vase my mother called a 'jardiniere.'  My great great aunt painted this in 1906.  Both my mother and grandmother loved china and china painting, and I have inherited much of their fine china.  I have such fond memories of their homes graced with beautiful china, and of watching my mother collect and paint.  When I look at these lovely things, I remember her.

      So how will my children remember me???  (Hopefully with many fond memories of happy, family times and the knowledge that they are my greatest treasures and blessings, and being their mother was the best, most important, most rewarding 'job' I've ever had.)  But how will they remember who I was as a person-my interests, my talents, etc.  Since photography has been a big part of my life in later years, I want to give them a part of me to enjoy.  

      So here is my work in progress.  I am going to give each of my children two special photographs.  (This is in addition to the numerous family photos I take.)   One will be of the temple in which each of them was married, and the other will be one of my favorite landscapes to enjoy in their home.  This means I have to come up with 10 special images since I have 5 children.  

      I will have these photos enlarged to at least 20x24,  (sprayed and mounted so they won't be under glass), then nicely framed to match their decor.   It's one thing to print out 4x6 prints, but when you commit to a 20x24 print, you are saying, I've taken a photo good enough to warrant the cost of printing and framing, and it is also good enough that someone would actually want to display it!   The second and third photos above are my first two photos, that are now enlarged and framed but not given as of yet. 

      Now, get over being modest, or too critical of your work.  I know that your loved ones, be they children or dear friends or relatives, would be honored to have a work of art especially for them from you!  Even so, I bet you will think twice about the quality of your photography if you were going to blow it up and give it to someone dear to hang over their sofa!!! 

      So here's my challenge.   You, too, should have big beautiful prints of your work hanging over your sofa and fireplace and above you bed, so if you haven't already done so, choose one of your favorite photos to 'embiggen',  (thanks Scott), and frame, then hang it in your home for your family to enjoy.   Then, when you are brave enough, give a big and beautifully framed, priceless original work of art to someone you love!  And YES, it is priceless and beautiful, because you took the time to share yourself with someone special!!!   

      Sunday, October 10, 2010

      Phriday Phun

      One we had to say goodbye to for now and one we won't meet for a few months.  I am so blessed to be their grandmother.

      October 10, 2010

      This is my contribution to Dave's challenge to be posted today, which is 10-10-2010.  You can read about it HERE.
      For the past few weeks I've thought of various 'clever' ideas for this challenge but couldn't make up mind.  When it dawned on me that I have 10 grandchildren, (actually 9 soon to be ten), I knew what my post would be about.  I am the proud grandma of 10 amazing children, and I'm positive I'll have the best subject matter for this challenge!!!
      (P.S.  This ultrasound of Number 10 is the cutest I've ever seen.  Can you see his little hand waving at us?) 

      Tuesday, October 5, 2010

      Tech Talk Tuesday





      What do these three images have in common you ask????  

      I'll tell you in a minute, but first I want to talk about taking your photography to the next level.  Some years ago since people were already asking me to to wedding photography and family photography, I thought I'd try to make some money at it.  That was a very scary thing for me to do, putting myself out there as being good enough to be entrusted with capturing people's precious memories.  But I took a deep breath and pretended I knew what i was doing.  After awhile, however,  I realized that with the time I was spending on the business end, plus the excessive amount of time I was spending perfecting each and every photo I'd give to clients, I figure I was making about $5 an hour.   My fun hobby was not fun anymore.  It was work.  That was back then.  Now I shoot what and when I please, and the fun is back.  However, I've found that with no one looking at my photography with a fine tooth comb, and with no immediate incentive, I've become lazy and I'm not improving as much as I did then.

      Meanwhile, through several photo clubs and organizations I'm associated with, I've become acquainted with several photographers who make their livings shooting and selling micro stock.  I had no idea what that was either!  Micro stock photographs are images that anyone can buy over the internet.  If you were putting a newsletter together for your garden club and you wanted to advertise the upcoming sunflower festival, you could go to one of the micro stock websites and within seconds find hundreds, maybe thousands of images of sunflowers you could download and use for a minimal cost.  Otherwise you might have to spend time and money to hire a photographer to take pictures for you to include in your newsletter.  Many customers of micro stock are graphic designers who buy a basic image then change it or add to it to produce what their customer wants.

      Here are a very few things I've learned about being a micro stock photographer, at least with istockphoto:
      1.  Since you only earn a very small amount for each image that sells, the photographers who are really earning a good living at this have submitted thousands of photos.
      2.  You can't just submit any type of photo.  These companies usually are overloaded with photos of flowers, cats and dogs, sunsets - in other words common things that would be easy to find and photograph are usually not accepted.
      3.  For every recognizable person in your photos you must have a signed model release - no exceptions.
      4.  Before being accepted as a contributing photographer you have to take a test showing you understand what they are looking for in quality and content of photos, then you must submit 3 photos which must be accepted as meeting their standards.  All photos must be at high resolution and are rigorously inspected at 100% resolution for proper lighting, exposure, composition.  No grain, jaggies, fringing, no over processing and filter use in Photoshop, etc.
      5.  After you are accepted as a contributing photographer, each image you submit to be placed on the website for sale is inspected by the above standards and then is either accepted or rejected.

      So awhile back I got to wondering if my photography would be good enough to get accepted.  I've been following the work of several istockphoto photographers, and they are very talented.  I wondered how my photography would measure up.  I threw that thought out months ago but every so often it  returned.  As I said earlier, I feel like I needed a challenge to make me really look at my photography with a critical eye, or rather have an impartial someone else look at my stuff with a critical eye since one really never knows if family and friends are being honest.  On the other hand, did I really want to know the truth?  I could end up being depressed for months! (not really)

      Anyway, I bit the bullet, jumped through their hoops, and submitted my three photos.  Yikes, one was accepted..... which meant two were rejected!  Luckily they give you the reasons why the photos were rejected.  (I forgot to mention they have a system where if you are rejected you have to wait 3 days to submit different photos, then 7 days, then I think it is 2 weeks, then a month, and I think if you don't get accepted by then you have to wait a year.  My disclaimer here, is that I can't exactly remember how that progression goes so don't quote me on that.)

      So I took their advice to heart, looked more critically at my photographs, and tried to produce more technically correct images.  And guess what, second time around, all three were accepted!  And that's what the above three photographs have in common.  They were my three accepted photos.  

      So now I'll start uploading tons of photos and will soon be rolling in money!  Hummm, I don't think so.  I'll probably see if I can get a few more accepted for fun, but my intention was never to make money.  However, if micro stock photography has sparked a bit of curiosity for you,  HERE is the link to istockphoto, and HERE is a link to a great istockphoto photographer's blog, and click HERE for a link to another great istockphoto photographer's blog.

      So in summary, here's my challenge to you photographers who want to improve:  get out of your comfort zone and find ways that will force you to be more critical of your own work.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:  enter a local photo contest, photograph a subject that is totally foreign to you, set up a booth at your county fair and sell your pictures, ask a professional photographer in your area to critique your work, participate in some of the many 'challenges' floating around the photo blogger world, volunteer to take photos of your neighbor's newborn.   Make your own list, then choose the one that scares you the most!!!   I think your photography will improve!  

      Friday, October 1, 2010

      Phriday Phun


      Last Saturday was the annual GIANT PUMPKIN weigh-in at Thanksgiving Point.  I knew there would be some phun photo ops so I headed over there to kill an hour.  Two problems, harsh midday light as is usually the case for outdoor events, and so many people it was hard to get in a good shot.  Here the people were over watching the weigh-in of the BIG daddies, so I had to be satisfied with shooting the 'puny' ones.... only about 400 lbs. or so.  The record is over 1100 lbs. which is unbelievable.  It is amazing what these people do to raise these pumpkins and the tender, loving care they receive.  The rule is there can be no cracks or breaks on the outside.  Can you imagine what they must do to get them out of their garden, onto a vehicle and to their destination with no accidents!!!