2017 has a lot of memories for me. Fortunately my profession lets me document these moments in pictures.
This year we started with a household of four and now we end the year with just two. Our youngest started at Columbus State University in Theater and our middle son moved into a house with a few of his friends.
We had a lot of fun with Chelle’s theater performances and graduation this year.
I enjoyed another year spending a week in Kona, Hawaii teaching in the YWAM School of Photography.
This coming year I have been asked to teach by Mark Johnson in the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia. I have taught in the past as an adjunct at other colleges and am looking forward to the new opportunities with UGA.
Here is a gallery of the Pictures of the Year for 2017.
I am looking forward to 2018 and will start the year with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Christmas Family Photo [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/200 – (2) Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]
This is a family photo we did this year of our family with my wife’s family. One of our son’s couldn’t be there and had to work with a new job.
To get this final photo required me to be behind the camera saying “Do you want a treat?” to get the three dogs in the middle to look at the camera.
So this is actually the photo I took with me behind the camera.
Here are the steps to then add me into the photo with dogs looking the best.
Open photo with me in photo shop. Open the second photo in photo shop with dogs looking best. Select all and copy the photo of dogs best.
Go to the photo with me in it and paste the other photo on top of it.
You will now have two layers. the top will be the one with dogs looking best and I am not in the photo. See the copy of PhotoShop screen grab.
Now we need to create a mask. Down below the layers click on the mask.
It will now look like what I have screen grabbed here for you. Be sure the brackets are around the mask (white box) and that it is the top photo, which is the one without me. We are going to use the eraser and now erase the empty chair and reveal me.
You just need to brush me in. See the photo of the tools here. Pick the eraser. It has box around it.
Next be sure the foreground color is black and on top. This will let you erase me.
Now if you make a mistake you can then click so that the white is on top and use the same brush and brush back the photo on top.
As you brush you can see in the mask that what you brush over becomes black.
Now when we I finished and showed the photo they wanted the small dog on the far left to look at the camera as well. So I looked for a photo of the small dog looking great.
So I found this photo and then using the same technique brushed in the dog.
Here the tips you need to follow to make this work.
First put the camera on a sturdy tripod. You want to lock down the composition so that nothing changes.
Second do not change the zoom if you are using one.
Third if you are in the photo use the timer or use a remote to fire the camera. I had left my remote so I set the camera timer to 10 seconds.
Fourth, be sure you have good lighting on everyone. For this photo I used two Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere. Here is what the setup looked like:
We are celebrating Christmas in Sparta, New Jersey this year. This is my wife’s hometown.
She hasn’t been home to celebrate at Christmas since 1985. During our time together we have spent many of the years with my family in North Carolina.
Joey is my brother-in-law and while eating dinner he realized my families traditions might be different and he asked me what we did for family traditions at Christmas.
What I am really excited about is that our family is willing to do something different in order to be with part of our family we haven’t had as much time with this year.
Just seeing the decorations around the house reminds me that these are new traditions for us to be exposed.
Dorie and I went to see earlier this year The Man Who Invented Christmas. The movie is the journey that led to Charles Dickens’ creation of “A Christmas Carol,” a timeless tale that would redefine the holiday.
While you may have some really cool traditions for your family at Christmas ask others what their traditions are and why they do them. Maybe this year you too will learn to redefine the holiday for your family.
Maybe the process will bring you closer to Christ whom this holiday is all about.
Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
One of the biggest things to ever hit photography was the move to digital.
No matter how experienced you were in photography if you were a film shooter and you went to digital you went through the digital learning curve.
In the 1980s I went through learning about computers. I remember learning Quicken to track my checkbook and credit cards. I used a dialup modem to connect to the internet and go to the NPPA forums where similar to the message board here was my first time connecting to photographers around the world.
Early 1990s I experienced the learning curve for scanning film and learning PhotoShop. I kept waiting for the digital camera to surpass the film so I could jump to digital capture.
In 2002 I bought my first digital Nikon D100 camera. Just one year earlier a similar 6 megapixel camera cost $25,000 and then I was able to buy the Nikon D100 for $1,999.
All my colleagues and newbies to photography were all part of the digital learning curve.
I remember being told to shoot Adobe RGB yet when I took the pictures to the local pro lab they came out all screwed up. This is when I started to learn about color space and realized the printers could read sRGB at the time and not Adobe RGB.
This is when photography workshops exploded. We all needed help to learn PhotoShop and then later Lightroom.
Other advances were also happening. Most in the industry with film were using the hot shoe Vivitar 283 which was an automatic flash where you dialed the output by picking yellow or red and if you bought the adapter you could control it by power.
Nikon introduced a pretty complex TTL hot shoe system that changed lighting. Again we needed workshops to learn to use them.
The web evolved from forums to delivering videos. Now you can Google almost anything on YouTube and find a video showing you how to do just about anything, including everything around photography.
This meant workshops started dropping off in attendance.
Camera stores started building online stores and that changed the industry as well.
We no longer have the entire industry on the same learning curve at the same time as we did with the change from film to digital capture.
Now we are back to where we were just before the digital revolution hit. We are talking about the subject.
Workshops now are coming full circle. We are now talking about how to make a living in this industry again that is concentrating on how to capture subjects and tell stories.
We are also talking about the business side as well. Great customer service and how to protect yourself when working with clients.
Who do we seek out now to listen to? I find now I am having a harder time to find those who are “trending”. There are just so many mediums in specialties that you may not even know about some incredible photographers because we no longer have just a few publications as in the past.
This is what we are looking for is those people producing great images and want to learn from them.
What I think we want more than anything now going forward is a way to find great work being produced all over the world.
The problem is that most pros are scared to promote other work in fear of losing work. Therefore how do you find great work? I think whoever creates the new place to point us to great work that is what will be the next big thing in photography.
Do you have an “image library” for your organization? What is an “image library”? It is a pool of pictures that you commission that will be used in many different ways for mainly internal and external communications. Sometimes, but rarely are they used for advertising.
Today many of those with “image libraries” are hosting these online through intranet or Internet for different departments and even the organization’s agencies to use.
In the past mostly non-profits and educational institutions commissioned this work due to budget constraints, but now with the need to feed social media with ongoing content this is becoming popular for corporations.
When I shoot for an “Image Library” production the coverage is quite broad. Often looking for diversity and showing some of the operations that goes on daily. We tend to have alerted departments we are coming at a particular time and then we capture their people working. We may move them around and even have them change outfits sometimes, like asking to put on a lab coat.
You can give access based on passwords or by email/password that gives you protection for your images.
Strong visuals can connect with an audience faster, and with more emotion, than words alone. Storytelling remains at the heart of good communication. The power of images in modern communication is irrefutable.
The approaches for doing an “Image Library” production vary widely. You can do high production shoots back to back where lighting and styling gives you high quality images. This is tends to be where the photographer is creating images rather than capturing them.
You can go to the other extreme where the photographer uses little or no lighting and captures mainly what already exists situations. You are paying for the years of experience of the photographer to capture images within a situation.
Sometimes there is a mixture of high production and existing light depending on the needs of your organization.
Doing bi-annual or annual “Image Library” shoots gives your communications team images to help with the messaging you need to be doing to engage your audience.
Just two days ago the local televisions stations were predicting 1″ to 2″ of snow possible in metro Atlanta. As you see in the first photo we had the fire department monitoring arcing of a transformer since the snow had weighted down the branches of a pine tree into it.
This morning I woke up to 6″ on our back porch with the snow still falling.
We enjoyed looking out our back windows to see the snow. Staying warm and seeing the snow is a great way to appreciate the beauty of the snow.
Here I was able to capture our Christmas tree all decorated with the snow falling outside the window.
When the snow first started to fall I went out to get some photos figuring that we were getting that 1″ they had predicted.
I was using my Godox V860IIN with the Godox X1NT to trigger the flash off camera. On the flash I was using the MagMod MagSphere to modify the light. This let me get a great color temperature on the leaves and flowers as I got in close.
I found it cool to find still evidence of Fall with the snow. We are still a few weeks from Winter.
We are staying warm this Saturday morning and watching the snow still fall.
This morning I had to clear the snow off the top of the bird feeder. The snow had weighted down the top making our squirrel proof bird feeder now bird proof as well.
This morning the snow has whited out our backyard.
I had a lot of fun this weekend shooting some soccer shots. This is one of my favorite images from the day.
I am laying on the ground shooting with my Nikon 14-24mm lens at 14mm. The guy landed on me once and it might have been with this photo. As Robert Capa said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” I was trying to get super close to create more impact with the photos.
The first photos I took was this typical team photo. I picked a location where I had the sun directly behind them and then used two Godox V860IIN and triggered them with the Godox X1NT.
This kept them from squinting.
Then I moved the players around for different pose.
Then I just got lower to make them look more like heros.
Then I tried another pose.
When you are shooting for the art director they need choices.
I also shot some verticals as well as some action during scrimmage.
So everything I shot I tried to get both verticals and horizontal shots for options.
The problem with actual action shots during a game is the light isn’t quite as nice as when you set something up to get that “poster” shot.
While I could have shot the photos with the two strobes on TTL I chose to use manual so I would get a very consistent output. When you just move to low angle with more sky the camera meter will want to change the flash output and the camera exposure. I wanted to control it so it was consistent.
I recommend not always shooting with TTL for your flash. It will get you in the ballpark really quick, but the consistency of flash as things move isn’t as good as shooting in manual mode instead.