Portraits from Nikon D100 in 2002

Nikon D100, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/180 – 4 Alienbees B1600s

I have been looking through some older photos. I started pulling all our pictures of our daughter for a project we are working on.

Most photos have been on CDs and DVDs, and I am putting them onto a hard drive. I will be going through them, selecting our favorites, and then putting them into categories like Birthdays and Holidays.

For these photos, I found I also had a picture of the setup. Here is that photo to see how I set up the lights in our garage in my older house.

Here are a few different shots from that day back on October 31, 2002.

The Nikon D100 had a 6.1 Effective Megapixel CCD for 3,008 x 2,000-pixel images. The D100 had about 7.5 stops of dynamic range compared to today’s cameras of about 12 to 14 stops.

Just a comparison of the Nikon D100 and 13 years later, the D5

Nikon D100 Key SpecsNikon D5 Key Specs
Announcement Date: 2002-07-26
6MP – APS-C CCD Sensor
ISO 200 – 1600
Nikon F Mount
1.8″ Fixed Type Screen
Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder
Three fps continuous shooting
No Video Mode
780g. 144 x 116 x 81 mm
Announcement Date: 2016-01-05
21MP – Full-frame CMOS Sensor
No Anti-aliasing (AA) filter
ISO 100 – 3280000
Nikon F Mount
3.2″ Fixed Type Screen
Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder
14.0 fps continuous shooting
3840 x 2160 video resolution
1415g. 160 x 158.5 x 92 mm
Weather Sealed Body
Replaced Nikon D4s

How to handle client negotiations

The Slam Dunk

A Slam Dunk in business is when you exceed the client’s expectations. I have made a mistake many times throughout my career of not doing a great job of managing those expectations.

We have all had the client call and the bills stacking up, and due to our need to get the job, we rush to do whatever is necessary to get the job. This is like going to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will make unnecessary purchases.

Houston Astros Chick-fil-A night [NIKON D3, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 6400, 1/1000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 190)]

Know the client’s expectations

When you have a brand new client, managing expectations is so important. You need not just listen and hear what they are saying, but I often ask for examples of what they are used to working with or if they have not worked with a photographer, examples of what they would like that they have seen somewhere before.

This week I had two new clients I had never worked with before. In both cases, I asked if they could send me some examples of what they are looking for so that we are on the same page.

I had one client send me work that would take little effort to meet and exceed the quality of work they showed me. However, the other client was talking to me about a photojournalistic coverage of where I was shadowing someone. Still, the photos they sent me were well-crafted lifestyle photos that would be used in an effective advertising campaign.

The funny thing is that one client’s budget was more like a campaign budget, and the other was a beer budget.

In the case where the budget was cheap, the taste was luxury. This is where your attitude and negotiation skills help educate the client or price the job correctly to ensure you can deliver the product to meet those expectations.

Father Flor Maria Rigoni is a missionary with the San Carlos Scalabrini and works in the town of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico. [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 800, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 82)]

It is a conversation

Be careful not to jump to the very end of the process and write a contract that is a take it or leave it situation. Pace yourself.

I talked with my contact and let them know that the price range would be three to four times more than we had first discussed if the images they showed were precisely what they wanted. I also asked if they were offering a situation or more the quality they are looking for in the photo.

I don’t need to spend much time producing an estimate for an advertising shoot when they need a groundbreaking photo.

I always do my best to start with how I am able and more than willing to meet their expectations and can make it happen for them. I let them know my concern is always getting them the most for their budget.

Ryan Patrylo’s family [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/500, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 98)]

Don’t be shortsighted, Have Foresight

Your creativity should not be limited to your work with the camera. You need to make the entire experience for your client so unique that they love your work and tell others about you.

Your goal should be to surprise your client. One of the ways I started to shake my clients was to use an off-camera flash. Just like here with this family photo.

Mike Dodson [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/50, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 200)]

In this photo of the hunter, it was raining. My flash is covered in zip lock bags. Had I not used the moment, the skin color would not be as accurate, and the dynamic range would have made the photo look incredibly flat.

One way I continue to surprise my customers is a quick turnaround. I shot a client’s son’s wedding before the Bride and Groom left for the honeymoon the next day; they had all the photos in an online gallery. Compared to most wedding photographers who take a month or two to get those photos of the bride and groom, I had surprised them.

I have many clients constantly changing things at the last moment. My response is always that it is OK. I am here to make it happen for you—[Side Note: I do price to cover my need to be flexible]. My clients often make changes, and I will do my best to move things to work to get their projects done. However, if I cannot make it happen for me to be there, I line up a photographer/video person to give them the same quality as me or better.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/2000, ƒ/10, (35mm = 14)]

Take care of your photographer colleagues

This reminds me to be sure you are developing great friends in the industry. You want to give them work when you can, and they should do the same for you over time.

If a job is not suited well for you, take care of the client and find a photographer who will be a good fit. They often will come back to you for other assignments when you show them you are looking out for their best interests over just yourself.

On The Same Page

When you and the client are working from the same page of notes, your ability to meet and exceed their expectations is something you can manage. However, suppose at any point you make assumptions and don’t verify their expectations for a job. In that case, you can often find yourself reshooting for the same underestimated budget and therefore losing money or the customer overall.

Here is a little secret I discovered over time. When you ask these questions to the client to clarify the scope of a job, it makes you look more like an expert, and their trust increases in you.

Changing the background with a simple gel for portraits

1:3 lighting ratio – Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

When I teach lighting, I always teach the 1:3 lighting ratio. After I show how you set up the leading light and the fill, I show them some ways to change the background quickly using gels.

Now before I add the gel, I shoot this photo where the subject is on a white background. I will shoot with just the leading light and the fill light and then put both lights on with no background light so that the students can see individually what each morning is doing.

Main Light

Now I will turn the main light off and then turn on just the fill light.

Lighting Examples for teaching SOP1

Now for the main light it was measured for ƒ/5.6. I didn’t change the exposure on the camera I just shot the fill light at ƒ/4 to show it is darker than the main and where the direction of the light is coming and how it affects the model’s face.

Then I combine the two lights.

Lighting Examples for teaching SOP1

Then we talk about how she is in front of the white background, but it looks like a light gray.

Lighting Examples for teaching SOP1

I put two lights on the background and then measured the light so that it was about one stop brighter than the main light. So the background here is ƒ/8.

This is the histogram without the background light. On the furthest right on the histogram, you can see that the value is a good amount away from the far right.

This is the one where I have the background light set at 1-stop brighter than the fill. Notice that most of the histogram is the same, but the far right is on the far right. This shows how the white value is recorded. If you are not butting up on the right, there will be a bit of gray or often a tinge of blue when you print out the photo in the background.

Lighting Examples for teaching SOP1

Now when I add the gels like this red or the blue above, we take a light reading of the background. We want the value to be 2–stops darker than the leading light. So here, the background is measuring ƒ/2.8.

You will notice that you need to move the person away from the background when using white for a background.

Now I demonstrate this by using a black background to make the color look like this; you need to be sure the background is 2–stops brighter than the leading light. So if this red background were black with the gel on it, the reading would be then ƒ/11, which is 2–stops brighter than the ƒ/5.6 of the leading light.

Preserving Family History, One Memory at a Time

My sister is on the couch with my grandfather and grandmother during one of our many times of watching the slide show my grandfather had created from his recording of our family that year and often years in the past as well. Not sure if my dad or uncle took this photo.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a family historian is an authority on known or recorded family events. Most everyone on both sides of my family were recording our family history with photos and movies through the years.

April Saul won first place in the Feature Picture Story category at the 1992 Pictures of the Year competition for her portrayal of the American family. She believed that family struggles were an important topic of journalism. “I hope what it [winning] means is that the everyday struggles of an American family are as valid in their own way as the struggles going on in Azerbajian or Sarajevo — and that the private wars next door can be as compelling as the bloody, public ones thousands of miles away.”

Family photographs can be considered cultural artifacts because they document the events that shape families’ lives. Thus, the recording of family history becomes an important endeavor. In many cases, photographs are the only biographical material people leave behind after they die. But, the impact of family photo albums extends beyond merely recording history. Interpretation of family structures, relationships and self is possible through viewing family photographs.

Preserving Family History, One Memory at a Time

One of the biggest roles one can serve as a photographer is to help with the recording of their family history.

Now taking those pictures isn’t enough. You need to share them with the family. You can do this many different ways. A traditional print that you give people is still a great way for them to enjoy what you have captured. They can put it on the museum wall that most homes have, which is also referred to as the front of the refrigerator.

This is my sister and I with our grandparents being photographed by my dad or mom at our home across from the church at the orphanage in Kinston, NC.

At my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary we pulled these photos and had them in a slide show for those attending the event.

For our daugther’s last musical we bought a 1/2 page ad and used the photos I had made of her in high school plays.

For her yearbook we bought a 1/4 page ad and used photos from early to now that captured her personality.

We take pictures to celebrate our new babies and birthdays. Later at weddings we put together slide shows for rehearsal dinners and the receptions to show the young couple growing up.

We use photos at our anniversary parties to remember all we have celebrated as families through the years.

I had the privilege of recording a video of a cancer patient who was dying and wanted to capture in her own words thing she wanted to share with them before she passed on from this life to the next. We found photos to use as she talked about her children and grandchildren.

Tomorrow I am going to her funeral where for the first time the family will see the video. I believe it will help them celebrate their family member in a way that many never get to have at their funerals. The great thing is that all the friends that will show up that may have never met their family member will be introduced to her for the first time.

Knolan and Therese enjoy some father and daughter time together on January 30, 1985.

First of all taking the time to make these photos shows your love of your family. Taking the time to share it with them at poignant moments in your families celebrations is a way you serve as the family historian.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F3-InOdMP4]
This Subaru ad captures that special relationship between a father and daughter using images of the girl when she is young and now.

My daughter in front seat after attending pre-school

Here is one that a dad did over 14 years to show his little girl growing up in front of the camera with just


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH1x5aRtjSQ]
Here we did a book when our oldest graduated from high school and was going off to college.


Family milestones often cause us to find our photos and take the time to look at them and remember them.

As we grow older, some may start to suffer from memory loss. These photos will become what our memories used to do for us and help us know those around us and that they are our family.

Photographs can be an invaluable source of information when resolving personal problems. Photos are not subject to memory recollection, and a person’s portrayal of events can differ from what appears in the pictures. The information is intimate because family photographs are collected from the inside compared with journalistic institutions, which usually operate as outsiders. Photo albums and home movies provide the richest sources of memories about the family. They offer an intimate look at personal relationships. Psychologists recently have begun using this display of intimacy to help resolve family conflicts.

Just imagine a couple getting close to divorce that pulls out the photos and then starts to remember all the good times and takes the time to work things out because of the memories that helped to build those bridges necessary to save the marriage.

Photos are potent reminders of family ties.

My great grandmother holding my baby sister and me.
Photo taken by my grandfather a month or so before my sister married my brother-in-law.

A photo I took of my daughter testing a lighting setup for a musical. While I was taking it for another reason, I appreciated it because it was one of our father and daughter times together. It is a powerful memory for me.
One of my wife and I’s favorite photos of our daughter Chelle. She has her first Shirley Temple drink at the beach. Her expression of how much fun she was having and that we had this experience with her and the photo now helps us remember that moment like it just happened.

Nothing means as much to me as watching my family and capturing our times together. How do you value what your photos do for your immediate family as much as you do for how the rest of the world sees them?

Storytelling Photo vs Point Photo

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

“When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!” sings Curly in musical Oklahoma!

This photo above is the only time on the stage during the entire musical production at Roswell High School, where the surrey is on stage. This scene captures the show’s build-up to where we see what Curly was singing from the beginning of the show promising Laurey how he would treat her on a date.

Opening Night for Oklahoma! [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5000, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

This is Ado Annie Cames singing, but because I am isolating her alone, only the corn in the background helps to place this with musical Oklahoma!

This is what I call a point shot versus the top photo, which has much more information and is getting closer to helping to tell more of the story. It would help if you still had words with either photo to make its storytelling, but hopefully, you are seeing the difference between the scene establishing shot and the closeup.

Oklahoma Performance [X-E2, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/100, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 83)]

This photo of Curly and Laurey often works as well as the surrey’s shot because this particular pose is often used in posters to promote the show. Just Google “Oklahoma! Musical” and look at all the photos; you will see this style shot pop up.

Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/8000

Here is how I shot a promo shot versus the photo above. It is from the show. Now, while this doesn’t tell the story or have the surrey in the picture, Curly is gesturing about how the future he promises to Laurey is better than where she is now.

Opening Night for Oklahoma! [X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, Mode = Manual, ISO 6400, 1/180, ƒ/4, (35mm = 69)]

Google “Oklahoma Barn Scene” and see variations of other productions showing similar scenes. Again this is more of a point photo, but because I included more of the set, most theatre folks will know this is Musical Oklahoma!

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/200

People Need The Lord Photo

“I don’t need a lot of ‘People Need The Lord’ photos,” commented Jeff Raymond to a photographer shooting photos with him in the Dominican Republic. “What do you mean?” commented the photographer.

Jeff explained the photo style, like the Afghan girl on the front of National Geographic by Steve McCurry. This photo has had such an impact that many people think this is the “BEST” way to shoot.

Jeff coached the photographer to do in addition to a few portraits; please give me more context.

You see, the photo of the boy here could have been shot anywhere in the world.

This is a frame from a short movie clip. Notice how the kids in the foreground are close enough to give you a portrait, but including the background gives you more context. Here is the movie, and you can see what conditions I was shooting.

Please understand this blog post is not saying Storytelling Photo is better than a Point Photo. What I am saying is you need both.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2000

The problem I see with many new photographers is falling in love with the close-up shot at ƒ/1.4 and centered. Then they have only slight variations of this photo in their portfolio.

If you are going to be hired over and over, you must be the photographer who gives the client more than they expected. This is why learning how to use a variety of lenses, different apertures, and shutter speeds on an assignment will have clients raving about you.

Sure, you can do OK shooting the “People Need The Lord” photo, but you are a one-trick pony show.

What high school theatre can teach us about Volunteers

Roswell High School had their last show of musical Oklahoma! Yesterday. What a production it was for everyone involved.

Opening Night for Oklahoma! [X-E2, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, Mode = Manual, ISO 6400, 1/180, ƒ/4.8, (35mm = 300)]

Our daughter Chelle was in the musical as Aunt Eller, which is why my wife and I were involved as volunteers.

While there are many other ways I could talk about being a volunteer, I thought this was a great way to talk about the roles of the volunteer.

If your organization uses volunteers, you must define volunteers’ roles, so everyone knows what they are doing. Most organizations that regularly use volunteers usually have a volunteer coordinator.

Opening Night for Oklahoma!
[X-E2, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1250, 1/100, ƒ/5, (35mm = 202)]

In theater, the term role comes from an actor being given a part. No one had the entire play in the time of Shakespeare. They just had their interest. This is why, often, their role would set up the next actor.

Each person needed to know their part/role for the play to be successful.

Think of your organization like a musical to give you an idea of how important it is for each person to know their part and for someone to be responsible for coordinating, like the director of the show.

Oklahoma Performance [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 32000, 1/500, ƒ/5, (35mm = 250)]

Suppose you want to see the excitement on your volunteer’s faces like in the Oklahoma scene! Then it would help if you made everyone feel like they are part of the team.

Now everyone in this musical except for the two teachers was all volunteers. The student actors could have quit at any time.

By the way, very seldom does this not cross someone’s mind as a volunteer. The main reason for the thought of quitting is due to communication problems, which are often rooted in the poor understanding of volunteers.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

Opening Night for Oklahoma! [X-E2, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/140, ƒ/4.2, (35mm = 174)]

Here is a list of some suggestions for you:

  • Developing ways to recognize and reward volunteer efforts
  • Helping volunteers feel welcome and supported
  • Developing and managing policies, procedures, and standards for volunteers
  • Looking after the volunteer database and records
  • Planning and goal setting
  • Rostering and organizing volunteers
  • Delegating projects and tasks
  • Managing any associated budgets and expenditure
  • Communicating with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Resolving conflict or managing the grievance process.

Some No-Nos

  • Complaining about a volunteer work
  • Ask people to volunteer and then when they show up not use them
  • Make volunteers wait on you
  • Don’t thank your volunteers
Oklahoma Performance [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 18000, 1/500, ƒ/5, (35mm = 155)]


The one thing that is the most valuable given by any and every volunteer is their TIME. No matter the person, no one’s time is more valuable than any other person’s.

The only time we seem aware of how valuable our time appears to be is when our time is running out on this earth. Don’t be one who doesn’t think about how valuable your time and others are until your last days here. Each person’s hour they donate is the same value as another person.

Some who read this will disagree with me, but just like this play, if one person didn’t do their assigned part, it is noticed. An actor doesn’t appear on stage at the right moment, the other actors have to improv, and the plot can be affected by the storyline. 

Just think of the time you had a splinter and how annoying that is and affects the whole body. That is how big of a deal each person’s time is to the organization. The body will feel something so small.

Feelings Get Hurt

When people get upset working as volunteers, it can almost always be traced back to miscommunication. Often it is when the role wasn’t well defined or when volunteer shows up, and those coordinating their time drop the ball.

Opening Night for Oklahoma! [X-E2, XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2000, 1/100, ƒ/5, (35mm = 91)]

When you take the time to plan and organize your thoughts about using volunteers, you can get everyone in step together.

When a plan comes together

I can tell you healthy organizations are the ones that treat everyone’s time as precious as gold. When they do, the word gets out. People see what is going on and want to join. You see, way too many people are aware of volunteering and wasting their time or at least not being treated with the respect due when you are giving away your time.

When a theatre company consistently puts on great performances, it is due to someone coordinating all those volunteers and treating everyone’s time as precious.

When respecting people’s time, you will benefit from more friends and deeper friendships. You see, a good relationship is respecting one another’s time.

Which are you apart of? Group ƒ/64 or Group ƒ/1.4

L/R Laura Standard, Almond Standard, Pam Pullen (Almond’s daughter) & Christine Burton (Almond’s sister) & Kyle Standard (Nephew of Almond) & Rick Standard (Almond’s Son)
Almond Standard built his log cabin home himself. It is located in Signal, Georgia.
[Nikon D2X, Sigma 15-30mm, ISO 100, ƒ/13, 1/4]

Group ƒ/64

In 1930 Willard Van Dyke, Ansel Adams, and Edward Weston formed the Group ƒ/64.

Group f/64 was founded by seven 20th-century San Francisco photographers who shared a standard photographic style characterized by sharp-focused and carefully framed images seen from a mainly Western (U.S.) viewpoint. In part, they formed in opposition to the pictorialist photographic style that had dominated much of the early 20th century. Still, they wanted to promote a new modernist aesthetic based on precisely exposed images of natural forms and found objects.

The term f/64 refers to a small aperture setting on a large format camera, which secures excellent depth of field, rendering a photograph evenly sharp from foreground to background. Such a small aperture sometimes implies a long exposure and, therefore, a selection of relatively slow-moving or motionless subject matter, such as landscapes and still life. Still, in the typically bright California light, this is less a factor in the subject matter chosen than the sheer size and clumsiness of the cameras, compared to the smaller cameras [35mm] increasingly used in action and reportage photography in the 1930s.

One of the magazines I have done work for through the years is Country Magazine. They require to shoot at the highest depth-of-field for their photos. To do this on today’s DSLR cameras, you typically shoot at ƒ/22. This would be equivalent to the ƒ/64 on an 8′”x10″ that many in Group ƒ/64 used.

Stream near Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont in the Great Smoky National Park located in Townsend, Tennessee, on June 22, 2006. [Nikon D2X, Nikkor 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 100, ƒ/22, 1/1.5]

The strength of shooting with sharpness all through the photograph is it puts the audience into the scene. This is where you use composition and lighting to draw the audience into the picture.

While your eye may go first to where the photographer directs you using light values and composition, your vision will wander around the scene as if you were standing there yourself.

This style was in opposition to the pictorialist of the time.

Pictorialism is the name given to an international style and aesthetic movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. There is no standard definition of the term. Still, in general, it refers to a style in which the photographer has somehow manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph to ” create” an image rather than simply recording it. Typically, a pictorial photograph appears to lack a sharp focus (some more so than others), is printed in one or more colors other than black-and-white (ranging from warm brown to deep blue), and may have visible brush strokes or further manipulation of the surface. For the pictorialist, a photograph, like a painting, drawing, or engraving, was a way of projecting an emotional intent into the viewer’s realm of imagination.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 140, ƒ/1.4, 1/100

In photography, BOKEH is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye. In contrast, others produce unpleasant or distracting blurring—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs in parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions. [Wikipedia]

I would say that those who shoot primarily wide open aperture are more stylistically like the pictorialist of the last century and less like Group ƒ/64 which was about preserving everything in the scene.

Nikon D750, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 500, ƒ/1.8, 1/320

I love that my camera lets me shoot from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/57. The ƒ/57 is when I shoot with my Nikon 60mm Micro lens. Here is a shot I did that was widely published.

“ƒ/8 and be there,” Alfred Eisenstaedt responded to the question on how to be a successful photographer.

However, the earliest record of the quote “ƒ/8 and be there” is attributed to Weegee, a famous street photographer during the 1930s, ’40s, and beyond. It represents a philosophy to keep technical decisions simple and be where your vision takes you. The quote has been the mantra of photojournalists, travel photographers, and even nature photographers.

This says you need to anticipate and be technically ready to capture “the decisive moment.”

I say to be careful not to treat your interviews as having microphone and recorder levels set and just hit record, and I am done.

Don’t Make Your Camera a Box Camera

Kodak made a box camera where you pushed the button, and Kodak did the rest. You had no control over the Aperture, Shutter, or even ISO.

Once you subscribe to shooting all your photos like the Group ƒ/64 or those doing BOKEH photography, you have essentially taken that costly camera and turned it into a box camera.

Exercise for you to do

Take your camera and just one lens. Find a scene, and then shoot the stage at every aperture you can on your camera. Now, as you get to a wide open gap, you know that your depth-of-field becomes very shallow, so remember to change your focus so that the focal point is on something in the scene that creates interest. We call this selective technique focus.

Now spend time doing this for several different situations. It might be able to do it with scenic rather than people at first but then move on to people. What is fun to do is to shoot where there are many people. A good example would be in a coffee shop.

Your challenge is not to make one good photo in each situation but rather a great photo at each ƒ-stop.

When you master this technique, you discover you can say something different about each situation. This will be the difference between writing a concise sentence and creating a novel with just one frame.

Will you take up the challenge?

I believe the great photographers are the ones that know when to use what aperture to capture what they want to say about the subject.

How to Video Capture more than 29 minutes with a Nikon D5

Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Last night I photographed, and video captured the show Oklahoma! Just a last-minute push to encourage you, if you are in Roswell, GA, to come and see the play. Runs through the weekend. Go here to buy your tickets or at the door.

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

Why 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 a 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.
  • 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 a monitoring and recording solution in one compact battery-powered unit.

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

This setup worked great for last night’s opening night performance.

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 you want 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.

Opening Night for Oklahoma! [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5000, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

If you are not a video shooter and are more of a stills shooter, you need to use more hands-on techniques for capturing video.

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

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

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

The cool thing is you can now buy the Atomos Ninja Blade 5″ for $395 without a hard drive which gives you the 5″ monitor. I would recommend purchasing an 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 to capture the best quality possible from my setup. At the same time, each version 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 think of ways to use your DSLR to do more than take photos. I wanted to use the high-quality CMOS chip to get an excellent keepsake video of our daughter to cherish for the rest of her life.

How Clothes, Color of Outfits, Backgrounds & Lighting Impact the Portrait

When picking clothes for a photo shoot, I have a few tips. For these photos of recording artist Sydney Rhame, we had a few outfits. So here, I will show you how many variables can impact the final images.

Sydney Rhame


I recommend wearing solids over patterns. It keeps your eye going to the face rather than the outfit.

Sydney Rhame


If you have two or more people, you need to coordinate your outfits, but by yourself, you have much more latitude. You want to pick a color that works with your skin tone, hair color, and eye color.

Sydney Rhame


Be careful to coordinate your lipstick color with your outfits.


Backgrounds need to be simple and uncluttered. Backgrounds need to be complementary to the colors the model is wearing.

Sydney Rhame


Black and White are great neutral colors to use as well as Gray. I would avoid pure white because it is challenging to keep the detail in the white when you start going to different outputs like photo prints or a newspaper.

Black works well, and I like it when the fabric has some texture, as Sydney’s sweater does here.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, AC-9, AC-3, PocketWizard Mini TT1, TT5, Paul Buff Vagabond, Alienbees B1600, ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/640

Notice that you can keep the same background and change outfits, and the photo’s mood will change.

Also, keeping the same outfit but a different background changes the photo’s mood.

I have learned through the years that if you want the best photo, you need to bring a variety of outfits to a photo shoot and mix and match those outfits with different backgrounds and lighting schemes.

Sometimes in the case of a recording artist like Sydney, you need a different look depending on the music you are promoting.


While your clothes, the background, and lighting can significantly impact the photo, the one thing that makes the image is the model’s expression. Now coordinating all these into one moment is when you have that EUREKA MOMENT!

SWPJC 25 years

Left to Right: Jim Veneman, Bob Carey, Morris Abernathy, Louis Deluca, Ron London, & [Me] Stanley LearyI apologize for the rambling below. It is a stream of consciousness of some of what I experienced this past weekend at the conference.

Jim & Carol Veneman have facetime with their grandchildren.

Twenty-five years ago, we didn’t have the ability to FaceTime with each other. We also didn’t have the power back in 1992 to shoot photos and share them instantaneously with each other.

A CBU student with Garrett Hubbard reviewed her environmental portrait.

I want to talk here about my journey through the years. When we started the SWPJC, I had not come to terms with my Autism. In third grade, I was tested and fell on the spectrum, but they didn’t give me the label back then.

I would slowly understand through many different events that I fit the Aspergers Syndrome perspective on the Autism Spectrum. Through the years, I have been taking steps like speech therapy and studying social work, which has helped me significantly improve my deficiencies.

This past weekend when I was teaching, I was reminded of my Autism.

I asked everyone in the class I was leading to take a picture. When asked what they took a picture of, I had people talk about taking a picture of me with a scowl on my face. Then a couple of minutes later, someone talked again about my body language as being negative.

This is me with my dad and sister.

I could have just crawled up into a ball and just cried. I realized that while I had done much through the years to pay attention to others, I had not done much to work on my facial expressions.

Autism is a developmental disorder involving qualitative impairments in social interaction. One source of those impairments is difficulties creating facial expressions of emotion. Difficulties with facial expressions may arise from deficits in motivation to express positive feelings with others. The tests may also stem from physiological problems in physically creating expressions due to damage to areas of the brain that control the facial nerve (which produces those expressions).

I know my family has really given me a hard time through the years when they take photos of me. I just don’t look happy. I guess there are moments when a glimpse of my enthusiasm does come through, but I cannot consciously bring the emotions I feel to my face.

I can tell you that I am always thinking and observing others. I do not take lightly those around me. I am always trying to figure out how to be of service. Can I help them, or what problem might they need help with? I often try to connect people with a need with someone I know that could be the solution. So my facial expressions are, I guess, accurate. I think which can produce a scowl or tense brow.

I want to be Helpful and Not Hurtful …

So that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

– Hebrews 6:12

I can tell you that God isn’t finished with me yet. I have a lot of work to do with my facial expressions. The good news is I know what I need to work on going forward.

… LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.

– Psalm 4:6
Morris Abernathy, my good friend for more than 30 years

The Southwestern Photojournalism Conference started because Morris Abernathy called Jim Veneman and mentioned we had an opportunity to take over a photo workshop that Don Rutledge had held at the Seminary for years.

Morris’s vision was to expand the conference and make it an event where more people would feel welcomed. Morris has one of the biggest hearts for people that I know. He is also the one person who has had me doubled over in laughter where tears flow so many times. My wife and I think of the times we both have enjoyed his humor.

Morris has been a joy not just to me but to all who come into contact with him. We were blessed that he invested so much of his life into the conference.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

– Proverbs 27:17
Akili Ramsess with Jim Veneman

Morris is the person who was leading all the rest of us, including everyone. This photo of Jim Veneman putting his arm around Akili Ramsess just after meeting her is indicative of the conference’s purpose. We were about to welcome everyone to the table.

While this was the purpose of the original group, I can tell you that through the years, it hasn’t gone well every time. You see, I know from personal experience that there are many other people out there like me. Their facial expressions and body language doesn’t always match their hearts.

I believe those who started the conference want to return to our core values and put some changes that will make this conference more as Morris Abernathy had envisioned.

Brad Smith having a great time with Brien Aho during the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference
Twenty-five years ago, Ron London was the first speaker. He was our last speaker on Sunday and revisited his talking points from 1992.

An amateur (French amateur “lover of,” from Old French and ultimately from Latin amatorem nom. amator, “lover”) is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science in a non-professional or unpaid manner. Amateurs often have little or no formal training in their goals; many are autodidacts (self-taught).

Garrett Hubbard started the conference by asking us to examine our identity.

“The most powerful words ever said to you are your own,” said Garrett Hubbard. The self-talk we do can be the most damaging or uplifting. We are in charge of which that will be.

Garrett also talked about how we often limited our identity to our job title and encouraged us to see our whole selves.

Akili Ramsess reviews a students photos
Patrick Murphy-Racey wanted to help equip photographers with the gear they needed to support their work to connect more effectively with audiences. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/160]

While thinking and looking for ways to serve even more than I do now, Pat is buzzing by me like an Energizer Bunny in the commercial. He is beating his drum and pulling as many as possible behind him in his parade. Pat is the pied piper of photojournalism.

Before you know it, Pat has a group of students teaching them all about lighting.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  

– John 13:35

The cornerstone of the conference is Jesus Christ. The thing that we try to do yearly is very similar to what a mason calls the “Holding Bond” – maintaining a plumb-aligned bond or brick pattern. To do this, a mason creates the “Hanging the line” – attaching a mason’s line to the leads at opposite ends of a wall.

The committee that produces the conference each year is taking the time to meet soon to retool the forum. We will be “Hanging the Line” so that we can be “Holding Bond” so that when people look at our conference, they will see the love we have for one another.

Stay tuned through our website SWPJC.org.

Brad Smith and Brien Aho with the Chick-fil-A Cow.
Brad Smith shared his tips on how to make connections and show your portfolio. Besides having strong and unique images, Brad pointed out how important it is to be a likable person.
Nikon, Canon, and Sony were at the conference showing off their gear and letting students borrow cameras and lenses for the Student Workshop. This is Brien Aho, the Nikon representative working with a student on borrowing a camera. I consider Brien more than a camera rep. He is a friend and someone we all enjoy hanging around.

Brien Aho is helping one of the students with his Nikon 5300. The student asked me, but I knew Brien was more familiar with the camera as a Nikon representative. Whenever I turned around, I saw Brien helping people with cameras.
In his role as a Nikon representative, Brien was a Navy combat photographer, which you wouldn’t know right away. Once everyone realized his background, he quickly had people lining up to show him their portfolios and ask for his critique.
I thought I would end this with a sunrise photo of a student taking a shot at the Fort Worth Mounted Police horse stables.

We are planning on getting our committee together to make a planning retreat for the conference. We have not done this before and believe this is what is needed to go forward for the conference to be successful. Ron London reminded us at the meeting to never stop being an amateur photographer. He went on to explain what the word amateur came from and means. Akili Ramsess, NPPA executive director, spent her presentation and every other opportunity to talk about our success is all about relationships. She also helped us to see that what NPPA is trying to do for photographers is help them have connections throughout the industry. Patrick Murphy-Racey thinks more like me than most of any of my other friends when it comes to photography. The most significant difference between us is that Pat’s enthusiasm and excitement are written all over his face.

If there is one photographer I am incredibly jealous of, it would be Pat. I am jealous of how he exudes excitement to others.

We just wrapped up our 25th Anniversary for the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference, and this is the original crew. I am not sure how long we thought this would go on when we started this adventure, but we all feel like it was just yesterday. The student workshop we added many years ago has been an enormous success. One of the main reasons is the ability of the students to shoot and show the instructors their work immediately for some feedback and the ability to go and reshoot if necessary.

Making Photos POP!

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2500

Selective focus makes people pop out of photos, or the backgrounds recede in a blur. And you choose what pops, what blurs, and what fuzzes over.

Where do you want the viewer to focus their attention – the hedge in the foreground, the man in the middle, or the trees in the distant background? Many professional photographers use selective focus to control the viewer’s attention.

The apertures, called f-stops, are fractions. For example, the f-stop ƒ/4 is ¼ (one-fourth) what one-fourth of is a little beyond the scope of this article.  Let’s say that an f-stop is a fraction, ok? (ƒ/4 = 1/4th  f8 = 1/8th). Typically these numbers are on the lens, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, and so on.

Remember these are fractions: 1/2.8, 1/4, 1/5.6, 1/8, 1/11, 1/16, and 1/22. It compares how much light each number lets through the lens. Therefore 1/5.6 allows more light through the lens than 1/22.

Togo, West Africa [Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 180, ƒ/8, 1/100]

Here’s the creative part: the smaller the opening (f-stop) in the lens, the less light is allowed in. Therefore, a greater area is in focus from the foreground to the background. If you want to throw most of the background out of focus, use ƒ/5.6 rather than

Today’s digital cameras allow the photographer to vary the aperture, preview the results, and then decide its effectiveness.

Togo, West Africa [ Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/320]

If you want the subject to “pop,” use the larger lens openings, i.e., ƒ/4 or ƒ/5.6. Like a simple sentence, having one different subject is better.

A smaller aperture (ƒ/16 or ƒ/22) brings the foreground and background into sharper focus or a greater depth of field. It also allows for other compositional techniques to direct the viewer to the photo’s main subject.

Senior photos [Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/4000]

Setting your camera’s ISO, shutter speed, and aperture provides more than a properly exposed photograph. You can use these tools to compose and say what you want to say in your pictures.

Senior photos [Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/10, 1/320]

Experiment using different ƒ-stops. Try setting the camera to the aperture preferred setting. Explore the creative tools available on the camera. If the camera is always set on automatic, it becomes a costly box camera.

Simple Hotshoe Headshot Setup Using MagMod

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 50, ƒ/1.8, 1/200–Neewer TT850, Neewer Wireless 16 Channel Remote, MagMod Magsphere, MagMod Magbounce,

While I have shown you this type of photo many times this time I shot it with the cheapest system I could configure.

This is the setup. Now here is the list of items for you other than the camera:

Since the flashes can be powered way down I was able to shoot at ƒ/1.8.

The Magsphere spreads the light around the sides, catching on the Lasolite Triflector silver panels and lights under the chin and both cheeks. The flash is the leading light above the subject, creating that wonderful butterfly light. The top light was powered at 1/64th power, and the background was at 1/4 power.


The Magbounce is on the background light spreading the light evenly across the Westcott White Collapsible background.

The cool thing is the Neewer TT850 is rated to fire 600 times on full power with a full charge. I am nowhere near this power consumption, so I could do a lot of headshots before changing the battery.

Thanks for stopping by!