What’s your point?

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/13, 1/3

Thinking aloud is a normal and beneficial aspect of human cognitive function. It helps us remember things, work through complicated tasks, and boosts our self-esteem. However, in many situations, thinking out loud is inappropriate, especially when you are the one leading.

If you have a goal and objectives and someone asks questions you can easily handle this and even think aloud because you will be thinking on how to keep the question on topic and driving everyone to the goal.

However if you have no goal then everyone will get lost and not much is accomplished.

What do communications and education have in common? Well actually they have a lot in common.

Goals & Objectives

Both communications and education share that they have an audience and a message. They have also goals and objectives that they are trying to achieve.

Lately I continue to find myself in meetings and situations where people are leading a group and they haven’t a clue about what they are doing. How do I know this, because they are losing me in their train of thought.

In education you have an Objective – A statement of purpose for the whole lesson. It tells us what the students will be able to do by the end of the lesson.

In communications objectives include (1) creating awareness, (2) imparting knowledge, (3) projecting an image, (4) shaping attitudes, (5) stimulating a want or desire, and/or (6) effecting a sale.

Nikon D4, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000, 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 with 1.4 extender.

Now imagine playing a sport like rugby and having no goals. Which way will you run when you have the ball?


Nikon D3S, 14-24mm, ISO 11400, ƒ/8, 1/250

When you are teaching or being a communicator you are very much like the conductor of an orchestra. You are leading the group to a goal.

Engage First

Your first objective be it a teacher or communicator is to hook your audience. A story or question can be great ways to grab the audience’s attention.

Nikon D3S, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/7.1, 1/100

With photography we use a photo that grabs your attention. In teaching often questions are used to peak the audience’s attention, but your first job is to get their attention.

The best place to start with your attention grabbing moment is to think about your goal.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/8

Let’s say my goal is to sell light sticks. Well to get your attention I set up a situation where the power goes out in a house and you have to go down to the basement to check the circuit breakers. So to get your attention I show the product being used, but also create that tension of the mother holding the boys hand going down the stairs.


Now in lesson planning we write out a list of steps. In communications you do the same, but we talk about this as sequencing.

In education you may teach a person english by starting with just spelling. Here is the word and how it is spelled. Then you give spelling tests.

The next stage is then to use a word in a sentence. Maybe you have a word that has different spellings and you want to test for comprehension. You use the word there in one sentence and then their in another sentence. The students then put the correct spelled word in those sentences.

Then to take the lesson plan to the next stage you just put the word on the chalk board and ask them to write a sentence using the word.

As you can see you continue your lesson plan until you meet your goal for that lesson. Your goal maybe simple like on the level of knowledge or as complex as having a student function at the evaluation level of knowledge about a topic.

Think of your message like using a compass. As long as you know where true north is you can always get back on track to your destination.

The problem I am seeing with many who lead discussions is they don’t know where their true north is or how to get there.

A List isn’t a Plan

Too many people have written down a list of things to cover and think that is a lesson plan. That is just a list. If someone asks a question they get upset. They want to just go down their list and cover it completely.

They don’t have any objective other than covering their list.

Ask Yourself

Start with what difference was made in your life because of this topic. How did this change your life? This is a good place to start with what you are trying to get across.

Think like your audience

Just because the information you learned that changed your life is something you think others should benefit from it will not unless it is relevant to them.

If the way you came to understand the concept was through the use of a sports metaphor, don’t make the assumption this will work for others.

Learn what is relevant to them.

If you are trying to teach others how God is relevant to our lives and you grew up playing sports you may talk about God as being the coach or quarterback for an analogy.

However for the geek they may need a metaphor of thinking of God like ROM for their computer or if they are a musician as God as the director of the orchestra.

Keeping it Simple

– Know your Objective
– Remember you are not the audience
– Know your audience and what is relevant to them
– Remember to start with getting their attention
– Invite participation with the idea of engaging
– Communicate in stages/steps/sequence
– Know when to stop


Nikon D5 Setting with the Atomos Ninja Blade

Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants posted on this blog may be an affiliate link which means that I may receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.

For video capture I attached to my Nikon D5 using the HDMI output the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ HDMI On-Camera Monitor & Recorder.

Why did I do this is a great question. Most all DSLRs that record video have a 30 minute time limit. I understand this has to do with avoiding a double tax in some countries.

So how do you record a musical as I did that goes an hour and half for just the first Act? This is where the Atomos Ninja Blade comes to the rescue.

Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

Key Features
– 325DPI, 5″ IPS 1280 x 720 capacitive touchscreen monitor/recorder.
– Waveform RGB & luma parade, vectorscope with zoom, and test pattern generator.
– Adjustable gamma, contrast and brightness.
– HDMI input and output.
– Real-time monitoring, playback, playout to a PC or Mac with QuickTime, and edit logging.
– Focus peaking, 0-100% zebra, and two modes of false color monitoring.
– Records 10-bit, 4:2:2 in ProRes or DNxHD.
– S-Log / C-Log recording.
– Trigger REC/STOP from camera (Canon, Sony, ARRI, Panasonic, RED, JVC)
– Timecode from camera. [Nikon has no timecode]
– 2.5″ HDD/SSD media storage.

It records up to 1080 30p/60i resolution via HDMI to an available HDD or SSD using either Apple’s ProRes or Avid’s DNxHD codecs. Recording at 10-bit with 4:2:2 color sampling, this unit provides you a monitoring and recording solution in one compact battery powered unit.

Now I bought the ADATA Technology 256GB Ultimate SU800 SATA III 2.5″ Internal SSD card.

Here are the Settings for Nikon D5

Set your frame size and frame rate in the Movie Shooting Menu. Whatever you set here is what will come out of the HDMI connection. I use 1080p/24.

1080p/24. 1080p/24 is a resolution and framerate indicative of Hollywood movies on Blu-ray discs. 1080p is the resolution, implying a full HD resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. The “P” stands for “Progressive.” which means each frame has all the pixels listed.

Next go to the Pencil Menu/Custom Setting Menu and select the C Timers/AE Lock and toggle to right.

Pick the C4 Monitor off delay and then toggle right again.

Go to the bottom Live view and toggle right once again.

Set this to No Limit. Now you can just click menu button to get out of the menu.

Select video on the Live View and push the button. Now to record on the Atomos Ninja just tap the REC button.

When you do that there will be a red line around the screen and red light on the right side of the recorder. The only thing limiting your time is the size of your hard drive.

This setup worked great for a two and half hour performance of Oklahoma.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/4.7, 1/100

While the Nikon D5 will record 4K I don’t need this most of the time, so the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ was perfect.


If however you would like to record at 4K you can get the Atomos Shogun Flame 7″ 4K HDMI/12-SDI Recording Monitor. They make other higher end models as well.

If you are not a video shooter and are more of a stills shooter then for capturing video you need to be a little more hands on technically.

What I mean by this is that the exposure and sound vary through a production and you may need to adjust this as you are recording.

With the Nikon D5 attached to the Atomos Ninja Blade using the HDMI port just siphons this off before it hits the H.264 encoder and you are recording in ProRes format. This isn’t really recording in RAW video but more like a TIFF file than say a JPEG.

Now I cannot share the Oklahoma! video because of copyright. [I am recording it for the Shuler Awards in Georgia]

The cool thing is right now you can buy the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ for $395 without a hard drive which gives you the 5″ monitor. I would recommend buying a SSD hard drive of your choice in size.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

There are three more performances for me to tweak my exposure and sound on to capture the best quality possible out of my setup. At the same time each performance traditionally gets better each time.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5, 1/100

By the way Aunt Eller is my daughter Chelle. This is her senior year and last production. She also taught the choreography to the cast.

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

I hope these tips will help you thinking of ways to use your DSLR to do more than just take photos. I know I wanted to use the high quality CMOS chip to get a wonderful keepsake video of our daughter to cherish for the rest of her life.

Fake News & Product Endorsers

Fake News

Turn on the news or pick up a newspaper today and there most likely have been articles about how to spot “Fake News”. Sadly you must do a lot of research sometimes.

Some sites intentionally write false, humorous stories under the satire genre. A prime example is The Onion. Many people realize The Onion is a satirical publication. But if there’s any doubt, it’s pretty clear if you click on the site’s “About Us” tab.

One of the easiest ways to figure out if a news story is legitimate or not is to check it against the stories posted on other reputable sites.

If sites like The New York Times, CBS or CNN are running the same story, it’s likely true.

Here are some tips that many of these stories all say to look for:

1. Pay attention to the domain and URL
2. Read the “About Us” section
3. Look at the quotes in a story
4. Look at who said them
5. Check the comments
6. Reverse image search

Camera Gear for Football Games

Product Endorsers

First I have many friends who are affiliated with Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Fuji and Sony. Most of them do a great job of letting you know they are affiliated with these companies. I listen to them and take their advice many times. One of my favorites through the years is Bill Fortney. Formerly Bill was a Nikon Representative. Today he is retired but now a Fuji X-Photographer and does incredible work.

However nothing ticks me off more lately in the photography industry than those photographers who are not forth coming with their affiliations with manufactures. Actually the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t like it at all either and will come after you.

Here’s the golden rule behind all of the FTC’s guidelines: if money is changing hands, obvious disclosure must occur in-ad.

As a person reading blogs and articles you need to really be careful in this industry. As a whole I find many who are compensated in some way are not disclosing this to you as the reader.

Endorsers will seldom talk about other gear that may work as well or even better than what they are recommending. You just see their wonderful work and think if I buy that piece of gear I can shoot like them.

While I am first to say it is always the photographer and not the gear that is the main factor in getting a great photo, there are times where camera gear will let you make a photo otherwise not possible.

What I think is the bottom line is I want those photographers who are endorsing a product to be sure that the audience is aware that they have stepped into the Manufacturer’s Show Room when they are reading the comments.

Photographers who are being endorsed when they tweet they need to generally start the tweet with the words “Ad:”. This applies whether you’re using Sponsored Tweets, Promoted Posts, etc. or using paid evangelists or spokespeople who are promoting on your behalf.

This is a great post showing examples of how and not to Tweet. http://www.shiftcomm.com/blog/how-should-you-handle-the-new-ftc-social-media-regulations/

Corporate sponsors like Nikon, Canon, Sony, Sigma or any other business expect you to be their representative to the public. All of them have you signing some sort of an agreement for which you will be compensated in some way.

Sponsorships for photographers can be huge for no other reason than it shows a major manufacturer that is also endorsing you. This is great for marketing purposes.

At this moment I have and have never had a relationship for where I have been compensated for by a company other than recently when I signed up to be an Amazon Affiliate. However the only way I make money is if someone clicks on my link and buys something. While I may make a very small percentage of the sale the cost to the consumer is the same.

One of my favorite corporate sponsored photographers is Bill Fortney. He was always telling people he worked for Nikon and then gives you advice. Sometimes he would be really honest and even say while I work for Nikon I would buy this instead. Now if he did this too much I am sure Nikon would have fired him. Bill had actually found a way to be a transparent Nikon representative that made me listen more to him and take a lot of advice of his. I felt like he was really looking out for me.

How to know if someone is a Sponsor

1. Find their website and see if they are listed as

a. Nikon Ambassador
b. Canon Explorers of Light
c. Sony Artisan
d. Fuji X-Photographers
e. Sigma Pros

2. Do they post material without revealing their affiliation

a. Tweets
b. Facebook
c. Instagram

I don’t care how great a photographer’s work is, be careful in listening to any photographer who is being compensated for promoting any gear, software or product of any kind.

My advice to you is before you buy gear based on a pro’s recommendation know if they are endorsed and receive compensation of any sort from that manufacturer. If they are, then look for some users who are not endorsed and see what they are saying. Most of the online camera stores now have comments section that often is more revealing of gear than these spokespersons.

Want to get better – Get Critiqued!

Bill Bangham gives one-on-one reviews to the students in School of Photography at the University of Nations located in Kona, Hawaii. [Nikon Coolpix P7000]
How would you like for me to go over your work with you and give you some feedback?

Professional photographers seek out portfolio reviews to learn what they can do better and also to hopefully get work.

National Geographic Photographer Joanna Pinneo reviews a portfolio during the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference. [Nikon Coolpix P7000]
Getting your photos reviewed is probably one of the best ways to learn and grow.

Tiare Nuualiitia (foreground) and Maile Powell listen to some of Stanley’s instructions for lighting project for School of Photography 1 in Kona, Hawaii. Photo by Dennis Fahringer

Having your work reviewed can be a real nail biter for sure. While I was teaching in Kona, Hawaii Dennis Fahringer took this photo of the students listening to me.

Each one of the students would be talking to me later about how difficult the assignments were, but now on the other side of them are grateful for the assignment.

Stanley’s Tips for a Portfolio Review

Let your work speak for itself. Please don’t tell people all about the photos, if the photo doesn’t do a good job of that on it’s own then maybe it shouldn’t be in the portfolio. If the person looking at the photos wants to know more they will ask.

Listen for what is not said as much as what is said. Often when reviewing a new photographer’s work I am looking desperately for something good in the midst of snapshots. I want to encourage you, but I don’t want you to think everything is great either. If I don’t say anything about a photo, believe me it is because I am not impressed. If you ask me I might try to find something good to say, however, if you are fishing for compliments your work isn’t that good.

Portfolio review isn’t about praise of your work. If your work is the greatest of all time then maybe you will get a WOW and I wish I had your portfolio comment. You should be looking for pointers on what to do next time to make the photo better.

Millimeters are critical for great photos. One example of how a millimeter can make or break a photo is just the difference in the camera’s point of view and the subject’s eyes. Just tad bit high and you look down at the subject. Eye level with the subject is something quite different than just a little lower and looking up. As you get better this is what you are looking for the little things to improve your work.

There are stages of growth in photography. Early in your career you may need some really basic tips to help improve your photography. At this point someone talking to you about a millimeter of difference will not help you. You have a lot of work to do before they can talk to you about those differences.

Establish a relationship if possible. You need to pick people to review your work that you can go back to later and show them again. They will be able to then see your growth and frankly if you paid attention.

Ask always if you can follow up and how. Plan to go out and shoot as soon as you can after your review. Work on the tips they pointed out to you and then somehow get them to see your revisions in that portfolio. You might just need to show them one project you are working on and get their feedback.

You never arrive at the top. There is always room for growth. Always seek out feedback on your work for the rest of your career. If you are not growing then you are dying.

Anacleto Rapping (far left) and Joanna Pinneo (far right) review a student’s work at the workshop. [Nikon P7000]
If you want me to review your work we can do this a few ways. We can meet in person and I look over your work or we can do it by Skype or by phone. I just need you to share a link of photos with me if we are not in person.

Just contact me. Cost is $125 an hour. Maybe you want to get a friend to do it with you and split the cost. That is fine with me as well.

Feeling the burden to tell a story

Tim Hawkins – Comedian [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/9, 1/100]
Tim Hawkins often says in his comedy routines that there are only two things different between himself and the audience when it comes to comedy.

First he has the microphone and second talent. Of course he says this towards the end of his shows after you have been laughing so hard that you have been crying.

BAREBACK RIDING–The Cobb County Classic Rodeo @ Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 64000, ƒ/2.8, 1/1600]
Often at the root of a calling to do something is a passion for it. I think cowboys who get on bucking horses and bulls must have a real passion for the sport.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/500]
For many of my photojournalist friends we all have met people and felt like there story must be told. This burning within our hearts is when we realize that if we don’t tell the story no one will.

I am seeing now more than at any other time photojournalist after photojournalist who cannot find anyone who will support them to do a story that self funds the coverage of the story.

During the 1960s, Eugene Richards was a civil rights activist and VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteer. Richards’ published photographs are mostly intended as a means of raising social awareness, have been characterized as “highly personal” and are both exhibited and published in a series of books.

Just a couple years ago he was speaking about finding a story that had to be told. No one would underwrite the coverage. After he did it himself the photos were too disturbing for any publication to take it on.

He would then publish the work as a book with his son. This with other examples like his have always opened other doors later for more work, but the calling to do the work was personal.

Southwestern Photojournalism Conference planning meeting at Patrick Murphy-Racey’s home located in Knoxville, TN [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/7.1, 1/75]
This past weekend I was part of the planning meeting for the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference. Patrick Murphy-Racey asked us all to go around the room and tell of a heart and head moment that we could share from the conference that impacted our lives.

Pat shared how close he was to giving up and going into another industry when he came to conference where Eugene Richards spoke about his passion for subjects compelled him to do a story even if no one would pay him.

Bill Bangham, Eugene Richards and Stanley Leary at the SWPJC. [Nikon Coolpix P7000, ISO 1600, ƒ2.8, 1/60]
Pat felt like he had just been taken out to the shed for a good whipping. He realized that he couldn’t stop and would find a way to continue.

Today because of that reignited passion Pat is a Sony Artisan and his shooting and speaking schedule has him busy once again.

The Southwestern Photojournalism Conference is the conference for those who believe photojournalism to be a calling and the act of bearing witness to be important.

All those biblical stories of people hearing God calling them are calls that require them to take a “Leap of Faith”. That is an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved. You are moving into often unchartered waters.

This is so true for the photojournalist who feels called. You see if the story has been told then you are not needed. But to tell a story that hasn’t been told requires you to take many risks.

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
– 1 Timothy 6:12
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
– 1 Peter 2:21

Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8 is perfect for “Selective Focus”

[Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 5000, ƒ/1.8, 1/100]
I love isolating subjects in a room using selective focus. Selective focus is the use of limited depth of field to focus sharply on a specific object in a scene, while other parts are clearly out-of-focus.

[Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 2500, ƒ/1.8, 1/100]
The Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8 is a great lens to use in a social function like I was covering here. It really helps throw the background out of focus and keep your eyes focused on the subject that you have picked out of the room.

[Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 3600, ƒ/1.8, 1/100]
Now I love to have layering as in this photo. There is the lady in the foreground and the lady in the background that are out of focus while the subject is super sharp.

[Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 3200, ƒ/1.8, 1/100]
By shooting over a person’s shoulder I am giving some context as to who the subject is talking to or listening to in these photos. So while the aperture of ƒ/1.8 is using selective focus you can still add information that is secondary to the main subject.

Try and always have the eye closest to the camera in focus when using this technique. Many of today’s cameras have a focusing mode that locks in on eyes.

With the Nikon D5
Auto-area AF: The camera automatically detects the subject and selects the focus point; if a face is detected, the camera will give priority to the portrait subject. The active focus points are highlighted briefly after the camera focuses; in AF-C mode, the main focus point is displayed after the other focus points have turned off.

While this is a great way to shoot an event, please don’t only shoot this way for an event. Always use more than one aperture setting. Vary your depth-of-field so you have a variety of types of photos to give to your client.


Photo Tips: Covering a Meeting

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 51200, ƒ/13, 1/100]
Most meetings will have some similar elements. I am showing here some of what I call the photos I would call typical for the bullet list of shots to get.

The first one here is the keynote speaker showing there are people listening. Here I shot at a large depth-of-field to be sure you can see the crowd.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 4000, ƒ/13, 1/100]
Now I always back up in the corner of a room and try to capture the entire room. Most meeting planners like to have this for the following years for planning purposes. They can see the room layout and make plans for the following year’s meeting.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/100]
At many meetings there is an Expo. In these situations I have tight shots, medium shots and then this is what I look for as the one shot to show what happens. You have multiple conversations going on all through the room. I think this helps capture why someone would like to attend the meeting for all the networking opportunities.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/55]
Usually there are panels of speakers. The important thing is not just to show an element in a meeting, but rather to capture a moment. Here you have the speaker gesturing and passionate with the other panelist having some reaction. This is better than all the panelist just sitting there waiting to speak for example.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/50]
Look for audience participation. This comes in many forms. Show them listening and look for that body language that captures them in thought. It shows that the content of the meeting is engaging.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/80]
Shoot tight and medium shots to show the engagement.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/80]
Ah yes the questions. Here I not only show the person questioning, but those around him.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.7, 1/75]
Also isolate the questioner. I did include just a little of the room participants here.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/3.8, 1/100]
The powerpoint presentations can prove difficult due to the light value on the screen compared to the speaker. But I do try and compress this from shooting from the side for more pleasing interesting shot than straight on. However, with that said I actual still shoot straight on, but the key is the give the client variety.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]
Don’t just get a person behind the podium. Look for gestures and a face expression that captures their passion for the subject.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/55]
There are certain photos that communicate the conference leaders over the speakers. This is a good example of where one of the event planners stands up to give a few comments.

My tip for every photo you take of people is to capture the body language and face expressions that help to tell part of the story.

Besides looking for the aesthetics be sure to vary your aperture to include more and less in the situations. With today’s cameras and the high ISO’s they can capture you can treat a conference room like an outdoor scenic shot where everything is in focus or you may want to direct the eyes using selective focus.

Photographing The Citadel’s Rifle Legion Drill Team in a ballroom.

The Citadel’s Rifle Legion Drill Team performs for the Project GO meeting held at the Francis Marion Hotel in downtown Charleston, SC.
[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]

Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants posted on this blog may be an affiliate link which means that I may receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.

I am in Charleston, SC covering a meeting where The Citadel’s Rifle Legion Drill Team performed.

The Citadel Rifle Legion Drill Team is an all-class co-educational drill team at The Citadel. Members of the Legion are essentially volunteers from the corps of cadets who wish to not only further a proficiency in drill, but also to represent the Citadel and the state of South Carolina through a developed expertise which forms from being on the team. The team also strives to promote community service as much as possible and takes part in many parades, performances, and special details throughout South Carolina and the neighboring states.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
Now to capture the team inside in a large ballroom I had very little light. So I used my Nikon D5 with ISO 10000 to be able to capture them using available light. I shot at 1/250 shutter to somewhat freeze them, but did want a little movement with the rifles to show they were spinning them and throwing them to each other.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 5600, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
To get a good skin tone I used the ExpoDisc to get a custom white balance.



How to capture an Awards Show – Hint it doesn’t involve your phone

Ramone Nelson from Heritage High School won best actor for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at the Shuler Hensley Awards 2017 at the Cobb Energy Center on April 20, 2017. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/160]
Last night we were part of the “LIVE TV AUDIENCE” at the 2017 Shuler Hensley Awards Show which is for Georgia High School Musical Theatre.

We were blown away by the performance of Heritage High School’s Les Miserables.

Most of the other families were not getting these photos because their Smart Phones just do not get well exposed photos from far away. When they crop in the photos start to follow apart because the resolution of the photo is dropping. Next it is difficult for them to set the white balance and control the exposure. Now the very best they can do if they really know what they are doing is get good exposed photos. However they cannot see  or recognize their kid because the phone’s lens couldn’t reach them.

Heritage High School won the Overall Production Award for “Les Miserables” at the Shuler Hensley Awards. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.2, 1/400]
I use the Fuji X-E2 coupled with the Fuji 55-20mm. Here is the latest versions of that camera if you want to buy it.


I receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.

We started the evening with the Red Carpet where our daughter Chelle and her friend Camile came in together.

Shuler Hensley Awards [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250]
I was photographing this event like every other parent there with a camera.

Our daughter and Joe Pitts from her high school were chosen by the school to represent them in the ensemble which performed the opening number and the closing.

Joe Pitts from Roswell High School is on the far right with the puppet during the Shuler Hensley Awards. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/250]
I shot with my Fuji X-E2 because I wanted a quiet camera while in the audience. It did a great job.

My daughter far right with Shuler Hensley center during the opening ensemble number of the Shuler Hensley Awards. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/300]
I chose to shoot the performance on tungsten white balance setting. This way as the light color changed it would look like the audience saw it rather than the auto white balance trying to correct it.

Shuler Hensley Awards [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 4000 ƒ/4.8, 1/400]
Don’t rely on your phone to take the photos of everything you want to preserve for your family memories. Buy a camera that is designed for theater, sports or something else you need to capture.


Travel photography tips for your next vacation

Lisbon, Portugal [Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/9, 1.3 – On Tripod]
For me the second most fun thing to do other than traveling the world and meeting new people is having photos to share with others about my travels.

I hope you are making some vacation plans for your summer. Here are some tips for you to capture your vacation and keep them for the years to come to help you remember your travel and also to share with others.

Which Camera?

Here are three solutions I recommend: 1) The Point & Shoot; 2) The Mirrorless Camera; & 3) The DSLR

The Point & Shoot
Me shooting the Nikon P7000. It comes with a versatile 28-200mm lens ranges wide to capture landscapes, zooms in to get close to the action. ISO up to 6400 and 5-way VR Image Stabilization System.

This is the newest version the Nikon P7800. Click on image to buy. This link takes you to Amazon and I get percentage of sale. You pay the same price.


Now the advantage of a point and shoot is size.

The Mirrorless Camera
This is my mirrorless travel kit. Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses.

This is the newest version the Fuji X-E2s. Click on image to buy. This link takes you to Amazon and I get percentage of sale. You pay the same price.



Nikon D750

I recommend the Nikon D750 with the Nikon 28-300mm as a small kit that will let you capture just about anything. Also many prefer the Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/4 since it is a fixed aperture.

What to look for in all three cameras:

  1. High ISO of at least ISO 6400 or higher
  2. If only one lens then I recommend zoom that covers 28-200mm range.
  3. Buy extra batteries
  4. Buy multiple Memory Cards
Use two hands to stabilize the camera

Now the Fuji X-E2 and the Nikon D750 both had wifi that let me upload to my phone using their Apps and then to post immediately to my social media. Very cool!

Keep your camera steady

When taking photos the #1 problem is motion blur. Hold the camera still and SQUEEZE the shutter release. Don’t punch it.

Sometimes when I am really excited to be somewhere I will take my shutter speed and crank it up to be sure my photos are sharp and not blurry from camera motion. The rule is your shutter speed should be at least the the fraction of second of the lens’ focal length.

When I am excited I will use a faster shutter speed of 1/250 or 1/500 to avoid motion blur.

Talk to people

James Dockery is talking to lady on the streets in Portugal on our Storytellers Abroad Workshop

Don’t stand across the street with the longest lens you have and take pictures of people on the other side of the street. Do go up and introduce yourself. Tell them why you want to take their photo. I just love your outfit. I really like the things you are selling.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/800]
While taking portraits of people are great, be sure to back up as well and take over all shots to help capture the place you traveled so far to go and see.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/11, 1/500]
Notice my shutter speeds are a little higher than maybe necessary. I was just grabbing shots and didn’t want them to be unusable due to camera movement.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]
Also get super close. Take photos of the food you are eating and how it is served. There are traditions that are different from where you grew up.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/300]
Don’t forget to capture things like the jewelry that is sold in the market as well as a closeup.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/500]
Be careful when you get super close. Your Depth-of-field will shrink. So the part of the photo that is in focus from front to back will get so shallow at an aperture of ƒ/1.4 it can look out of focus. Here I shot the flower at ƒ/5.6. I could have easily shot at ƒ/11 and the background would have still been out of focus.

Carry extra batteries

Carry Extra memory cards

Carry them with you during the day

Every night be sure to recharge your camera batteries. Each morning be sure to remember to pack the extra batteries and memory cards in some small case you can put in a pocket or a backpack.

Carry Pocket Size Moleskin Notebook

Get a good notebook. Mine stands up really well to living in my pocket for a few weeks, no matter what I might be doing.

Carry a good pen

The pen must write with a very high level of reliability on the pocket notebooks that I use. “Dud” pens aren’t acceptable, nor are pens that sometimes choose to write only at a certain angle. These pens need to be faithful and reliable, always writing when I pull one out to jot down a note.

I write down things like the location where I have been during the day. If I talk to someone then I write their name down. Sometimes I get business cards and stick them in the notebook.

This is the screen shot of my software PhotoMechanic that I use to embed the text into each photo.

My workflow maybe quite different than yours, but I take time to be sure I put in the IPTC the location as well as some caption information so I can share this when I post a photo on social media and it also helps me remind me where I have been and seen.

Book Cover – Buy the book on Blurb.com

Shoot for a coffee table book

While you may not do one every time having something in mind will help you capture more variety.

Check out the link on the book above. You can see a preview of the book without purchasing online. Here is a blog post on producing a book I wrote earlier.

You can see how I combined some text with the photos to help me remember all we saw.

These are just some of the tips and while there are many other things to share about shooting, I hope this gets you started and excited about your travel plans this summer.