Monthly Archives: December 2010

Seeing Anywhere (w/iPhoneography)


I started this morning reading a quote from Ernst Hass,”The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to see “.

Later I was accompanying my wife and daughter to a clothing store. Not having much to look at myself, I started to see the palettes of color around me. Thinking of a new app, “Slow Shutter” (I had just loaded it on my iPhone), I decided to play with the colors around me and create color abstracts using iPhone pans and swipes.

This is what was there:


The opening blog image and those that follow are what I “saw”.





This next image was created from several black tops hanging on different color hangers. Again you can see what was there and then what I saw. Now you may say, how can one “see” those things? The answer is simply imagination, practice and experience. I  looked for pleasing color schemes, individual colors mixed with opposites, used oblique lines for more energy, etc.



Was all I saw abstract colors? No. Here are a couple more images from that store visit. One indoors and the other out waiting in the truck.



Blog images: As noted above the first images were all created using an iPhone with the “Slow Shutter” app. For the images here I varied the shutter speed from 1/4sec to 4sec. In some cases I just moved the camera up and down or along the dominant lines, in others, I would twist the camera while moving it forward or backward (with the  longer shutter speeds). I tried a variety of motions seeing what patterns I could create.

The last two images are straight shots using the standard iPhone camera app, the later being shot through a rain drenched window.

Posted in iPhoneography, Uncategorized

Power of the Oblique

Blue Moon at Night

While out shooting nighttime shots this past week I was reminded of the power of using oblique angles when composing an image. Look at the two blog images. The subject was interesting, but a straight up and down composition was less than exciting. Is this an original idea for a neon sign? No. But it definitely made this image have a lot more punch.


Blog Images: This was shot in downtown McMinnville Oregon while I was HDR Christmas window shopping. These are not HDR images – didn’t really need the wide luminance range. All adjustments were done in Lightroom 3.2. Both images were burned and dodged in basically the same way for comparison purposes.

Posted in Uncategorized

All About the Eyes


Just a quick blog entry with a couple of shooting tips for the holidays. As you gather with your families during this holiday season and maybe take some family pictures, remember the eyes. When people view an image they are immediately drawn to faces. And specifically the viewer will focus in on the eyes. So if you’re shooting with your DSLR and maybe a large aperture in a dimly lit room, remember that the eyes need to be in focus.

Personally I try to use flash as little as possible and take advantage of window light. Open the drapes and let whatever light is outdoors flow into the room. Catch people when then are facing a window. Get in there, get intimate shots. Have fun and don’t sweat it. Use a flash if you need it – sharp with flash is better than blurred without.

By all means put down the camera at some point and just be there – you know what I mean.

Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Unknown

 Blog_20050506_1 We just had a loss in our family – a 3rd grandchild that we will never know on this earth. While we didn’t get to  know this child, the loss is definitely felt. A place in our hearts that looked forward to meeting them, getting to know their unique personality will for now remain empty. It is not until one has experienced a miscarriage or closely know those that have that you can understand the loss. Not many people talk of this and you don’t know how many have experienced this loss until this happens. You then find there are many around you who have. Maybe we try not to make a big deal out of it –after all we really didn’t get to know them or raise them for any period of time. This is likely what most of us who have not personally experienced this think. While this never happened to my wife and I, we have known many who have – parents, friends, siblings and now our children. All I can say is that if this happens to someone close to you, be patient, kind and understanding. It will likely take time and grace to heal the pain and loss of one who will remain unknown.


Blog Images: I selected the first image for its sense of something missing, emptiness or loss. The second image is one of hope – it is entitled “Resurrection”.

Posted in Uncategorized

Just Say No


I am not sure what the person in this house was saying NO to, but part of being a good photographer is knowing when to say no. No to taking an image, no to processing an image, no to the subject matter and no to some sales venue. Why do I say this? Because we are finite. We don’t have infinite time and resources. And as one photographer I respect put it, you just can’t shoot everything.

What this is all about, is becoming a more mature and refined photographer. Hopefully over time, if we critically evaluate our work, we learn not only what makes for a good photograph, but what doesn’t. We pass on shots we might have once taken. Maybe we need to wait for better light, the subject just isn’t that strong, or there isn’t any way to create a strong composition from the elements. In reviewing our images, we learn which ones are worth saving/processing and the ones that should be deleted (so hard to do). Maybe a sales venue consumes a lot of time with little in the way of real sales (low return on time invested).

I suspect learning to say no is harder when you don’t make your living from your photography. Because if you do, you have to learn to make the best of your time. Learning the discipline of saying no might make or break you.

Now does saying no mean you don’t take risks, try new things or explore new opportunities? No, just the opposite. The time you saved should give you some of the time you need to explore new things.

Posted in Uncategorized

More Christmas Nostalgia

Trees For Sale

Last year I captured a similar image to the one above and decided later that the picture really needed to have a person in it (see the image below). I wasn’t bold enough last year to ask one of the workers to pose (that is different now). This year I went back and took someone along to pose. Fortunately the tree stand was in the same place and I caught it just before closing. I think it is a definite improvement. Maybe you have images like that. You might have to wait a while (like a whole year) to reshoot, but it can be worth it.

Trees for Sale

Note that my post processing of this years image is much more subdued and more natural. Which do you like better?

See my previous blog for the basic post processing steps used to create the images above.

Posted in Uncategorized

Yuletide Nostalgia


It is time to shoot another round of HDR Christmas images. I like looking for scenes or window displays that have a nostalgic feel to them. The HDR illustrative look really lends itself to this type of image.

Basic steps for this look:

  1. Shoot for HDR – likely a five stop range for these – three in some cases.
  2. Adjust the white balance in the HDR image set using your RAW processing software before you start the HDR processing. Lightroom or ACR for example .
  3. Process for a grunge look with something like Photomatix. I tend to keep the light smoothing set mid to max, max strength, max microcontrast and max luminosity. Set the color slider to your taste (you can correct it  in step 5 as well).
  4. Save the image after adjusting tone settings.
  5. Reopen the saved image in Photomatix and process it with the sliders set as they were for step 3. Fine tune the color. Save again.
  6. With your standard post processing tool (Elements, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.) correct the contrast (almost always required), add a vignette, burn/dodge, clean up the image if needed, etc.


I was fortunate to find these images in my town of Forest Grove. Check out antique shops in your area one night.

Posted in HDR Photography, Uncategorized

Train Car


I have shot images of this old train car a couple of years now. Different light, different times of year, different angles, from the inside out, from low angles, wide angle and telephoto. This is just one my latest captures from this past fall. The lighting was great and so was the color. In this image the train car is just one piece of a bigger picture.

Blog image: Post processed with Nik Soft Color Efx Pro and Viveza 2. Filters included  “Color Contrast Range” and “Darken/Lighten Center” from Color Efx Pro. Hue/Saturation adjustments were also made in Photoshop (toned down the reds).

Posted in Uncategorized

Snow and patterns


Well we had our first snow this past week. It didn’t amount to much so I decided to play with the patterns the snow created on our back patio. While I tried lots of variations, the lead blog image is my favorite. As luck would have it a few new leaves fell on the patio and I was able to find this nice triangular formation – No I didn’t place any of these leaves. Challenging yourself to find strong composition elements or patterns like this is part of training your eye to create pleasing compositions – ones that play off the fact that our brains like patterns.

Blog_20101124_1-2The second image shows a simpler less dynamic shot, but it too was created with composition elements in mind. While the leaf is centered, notice that the background consists of a three by three grid with only three full bricks shown. This was no accident  – the shot was carefully framed.

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