Monday, March 29, 2010

HDR Wedding Photography

High Dynamic Range photography (HDR) is all the rage nowadays.  So much so that I was reading a blog recently where a photographer was ranting about how sick he is of hearing about it all the time.

Typically, when a photographer wants to take an HDR image they will use a tripod to insure there is no movement whatsoever.  (I sometime hand the camera to one of my children and ask them to clean their room, which also guarantees no movement whatsoever.)  Then the photographer takes somewhere between 3 and 20 exposures of the scene, each one at a different setting so that he ends up with a series of pictures ranging from very dark to very light.

Next, he combines these images using special software (Photoshop has this built in but I think third-party software does a better job.  I use Photomatix Pro).  The software reads the images and attempts to create one image in which every area contains the correct exposure.  (This is my understanding, I didn't right the software).

Friday, March 26, 2010

Booray's Ugly Gels - The B.U.G. Gel Holder

If you are like me and you gel your flash a lot, then you probably get a little frustrated when trying to change gels.  I looked at several gel holders for my flash and the problem that I always ran into was that it took two hands to change a gel which left no hands to hold the camera.  So, I started making B.U.G.s.  Booray's Ugly Gels may not win any prizes for design but they do the job for me better than any other gel holder I have seen.

To see the effect that the B.U.G. has on images, just look at my website.  Almost everything on there was shot using a B.U.G.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Photographer caught stealing other's work

You may have noticed that whenever I post a picture on the internet it has a big "" stamped across the bottom.  You probably think that I do that for advertising purposes and you would be right but that's not the only reason I do it.

As this post will show, there are people out there who don't think twice about stealing your work and claiming it as their own.  Stamping my name on my pictures is just one small attempt to protect my work.  I'll admit though, I never thought that someone would do what this guy is accused of doing.  I always assumed that if someone stole a picture from me it would be for a website but I never thought that a photographer might steal someone's work and claim it as their own for the purpose of attracting clients.  It's one thing to use an image without paying for it but to use the image as a representation of your photography is just blatant fraud.

Let's say you have a website that is all about cars and you grab a great car image from another site to use.  I can maybe understand that some people think that everything on the web is "sharable."  They don't understand that you can't just grab any picture you see online and use it for your own purposes.  But, there is no way that a photographer can claim that they didn't realize that it was wrong to build a photography business web site and populate it with images that were taken by other people. 

As you will read in the thread I linked to above, the photography community dropped the hammer on this guy fast.  You will never see a group of photographers work together more readily than when they discover someone is ripping them off.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The sarcasm gene is alive and well in my offspring

Yesterday, Bobbi made chicken salad from a roast chicken that she bought at Publix.  Homemade chicken salad is one of the best "homemade" things in the world.  You can talk about your "apple pie" all day my friend but it doesn't compare to chicken salad.  Don't get me wrong, I'm an apple pie man through and through but I've had great apple pie in restaurants and out of the box.  Hell, even McDonalds had a killer pie until they ruined it by actually baking it .  However, I have never had a chicken salad that's as good as one made at home, from scratch.  Don't even get me started on the packaged Publix Deli Chicken Salad.  It has celery in it for God's sake. Celery?  What's wrong with you people?

For you youngsters in the audience, McDonalds Apple Pie used to be deep fried, just like the french fries.  They were crispy and hot and delicious and the day that McDonald's stop cooking their pies in a hot oil was a sad day for lovers of all things fried.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Choosing a print to enter in PPA competition

Next month is the 'Main Event" so to speak, for members of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA).  It's the annual print competition.

Each member can submit four images in two categories (8 total).  The categories are "Open Images" which is pretty much anything and "Electronic Images" which is for images that are judged for the photoshop skills involved.

The big question is how do you pick out four images to enter?  The entries can be pretty much anything you have shot.  How do you pick four? (or eight if entering both categories)

The other big question is whether to enter at all.  The problem I have with most print competitions is that there's usually an entry fee.  In this case it's $95.  5000 people paying $95 (more if you aren't a member) and no monetary or physical prize.  Nice gig they have going there.

So, the jury is still out on whether or not I will enter this year.  I do think that if I decide to enter, the picture with this post will be one of my four choices.  It was shot just last week at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg for a Bat Mitzvah Guest Book.  I think the composition is good, the exposure is right and the lighting is perfect. Keep in mind that her face is in shade because of the hat.  Her face is actually lit by a flash with a shoot-thru umbrella and a 1/4 CTO gel to camera left.

It may not be dynamic or exciting but I can't take my eyes off it.  That's enough for me. :)

See more of my Tampa and St. Petersburg Bat Mitzvah photography on my website.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tampa Wedding Photography at Sacred Heart Church

I just deleted a pretty long post I was writing about my wedding last weekend at Sacred Heart Church in Tampa.  I realized that I was trying to squeeze all my favorite pictures from the wedding into the post and it was just getting overloaded.  If you want to see all my favorites from the wedding you can always follow me on Facebook because I like to post a bunch of favorites there for my clients and friends to share. Or, jump to my website and see the entire wedding in the "online ordering" section

I think what I would rather do with my blog is to talk about a few select images and the techniques I used to shoot them.  I find it hard to write long, flowery posts about the images I shoot at a wedding because I always feel that the images do a better job of telling the story than my mediocre narrative.  So, to see the whole wedding, go to my website, click "online ordering" and look for Adam and Marisol in the "Weddings and Events" section.

This image was taken outside the church right before my couple bolted for the limousine.  I was working pretty fast so I didn't have time for a tripod and I had to shoot at 1/30 and iso 1600.  (This was shot at night, it wasn't knocked down in the camera.)  The backlight is a Canon 580EX with a radio trigger being held by my assistant who is crouched down as small as she can get!

I've got a lot of images to talk about from this wedding but I wanted to start with this one because it's unique.  You can't do it without a big cathedral!

See all my work at

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Booray's Better Pictures Class Starting Soon!

Designed for the Soccer Mom and Hobbyiest Dad!
Back by popular demand, it's time for a new series of classes for the beginning photographer!

There are 4 classes in all and they are designed for people who have nice DSLR's (Like the Canon Rebel series, for example).  So many people buy these cameras because they want to take better pictures but then find themselves overwhelmed by all the buttons, dials and technical wizardry.

I'll teach you how photography works so that you can understand any camera that you pick up.  You'll learn about composition and the elements that make a photograph truly good.  We'll also cover "tricks of the trade" that you can use to do things like freezing motion at sporting events or making the background all blurry when shooting portraits. 

I only take 6 students for the classes and I have sold out every time I do the series.  If you are interested, contact me right away to reserve your spot. 

You can sign up immediatly online right here.

Class is on Sundays at 1:00 and runs about 2 hours.  There are 4 classes in all and the dates are:
3/28, 4/11, 4/18, 4/25

CDS pictures on

My photographs of "Beauty and the Beast" taken at Carrollwood Day School are being featured on

Monday, March 15, 2010

Yea, but Zeppelin 4 rocked!

If you're one of those people who still claims that vinyl records sound better than digital, take a look at just how "smooth" a record groove is when photographed and magnified 1000 times...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

If you love me, you'll buy me this...

Working with what you have

One of the things that I've come to realize about my particular style of photography is that I tend to be more of an "improvisational" photographer than a "carefully planned" photographer.  Some photographers like to plan a shoot down to the letter in advance so that they know exactly what poses they will shoot and how they will set up their lighting.  They'll work out all the details ahead of time in the studio before setting out to do the shoot.

I tend to fly by the seat of my pants.

Monday, March 8, 2010

You don't have to be a size "2" to be sexy.

Glamour Magazine is getting some media attention this month because of a picture that they are running of a near-naked woman. The thing that is causing people to take notice isn't the fact that she's only wearing a thong, it's the fact that she's (gasp!) not perfect.

Newsweek pointed out that the model, 20-year-old Lizzi Miller has a body/mass index that is only two-tenths of a point above "normal."  That's right, she's huge (note sarcasm).

There's a great quote in the article from photographer Madame Athena Chang:

“I shoot nudes, and looking at a roll of film frame by frame, I can literally see the moment when a subject has forgotten about what she considers her problem areas. She’s stopped slouching, rounding her shoulders or even posing. To help her get to that point, I ask what she’s most proud of—her arms, legs, breasts, whatever—and I shoot it. Then we look at those shots together and, more often than not, when she sees them, she comes up with other things she likes."

This has been my experience as well when shooting a Slinky, Sexy, Session.  It typically goes something like this:  The model starts out with trepidation, unsure if she will be able to produce the "sexy" results that she's hoping for.  Bobbi and I will pose and shoot a few different setups, focusing on what the client likes about herself.  Then, I show one of the images to the client on my camera's display screen.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

1000 frames per second is cool, dude

This is an ad for Pedigree Dog Food that was shot at 1000 fps (frames per second).  It's really cool.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Taking photographs in bright sun with off-camera flash

Last week I shot an engagement session that started earlier in the day than I prefer.  Most photographers will try to shoot during the "golden hour" just before sunset because you generally get the best light then and maybe a great sunset to work with.  For this session, we started about three hours before sunset with no clouds in sight.  Fighting the sun can be a challenge sometimes but it also offers some great opportunites for unique shots.

I'm a wedding photographer in Tampa Bay, FL and these pictures were taken in Sawgrass Lake Park.

For this shot I used a 70-200mm zoom and a Canon 580EX on a tripod with a shoot-thru umbrella.  The first thing I did was set up the camera for the husband in the back.  Right away you have to figure that you'll be shooting at the highest flash sync-speed possible all day, which for the Canon is 250/th of a sec.  So, that's my starting point. Then I bring the exposure up until I am getting a decent exposure of the husband (in this case, f4).  Now, he's a little blown out, I know, but that's what I wanted.  I wanted the wife to be perfect and him to be a little sun-blasted.  Once I had the exposure dialed in for the husband I set my flash power to match.  On a bright day the flash will be at full power most of the time.  I fine tune the settings by moving the light closer or farther from the subject.  Notice that both husband and bride are being lit from the same side?  That's the benefit of off-camera flash.  It looks like they are both standing in the sun when in fact she is in shade and the flash is filling in for sunlight.

Monday, March 1, 2010

End of a (short-lived) era?

I got some bad news today.  Photocrati is shutting down their blog.

I've been writing for Photocrati for about a year now I guess and it's really been great.  I've made some friends and had some heated debates but mostly I've learned more about photography. 

What does this mean for me?  Well, it means that this blog will now get all my attention.  I typically have saved my longer posts for Photocrati but now I'll put then here.  Unfortunatly, I won't get the same size readership as I was getting there but that's okay.  It takes time.

I'll also be re-publishing some of my Photocrati posts here to save them for posterity.  :)

You can help.  If you read this blog, reccommend it to a friend who is interested in photography.  If there's something you want me to write about, send me an email and let me know.

Stay tuned!