Shooting Wedding with Nikon Z6 – as a guest

Dorie & I enjoy dancing at the reception party for our niece at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2500, 1/20, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

I was asked by my niece the bride to take some behind the scene photos of the wedding. The venue had a package that included a photographer.

They wanted me to have fun as well. Dorie, my wife, officiated the service and Chelle, my daughter was the soloist at the wedding.

I am writing this blog for those who are interested in the newest mirrorless camera from Nikon the Z6 and how I set it up and used it for this wedding photo shoot.

Rehearsal for the wedding at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 140, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 105)]

I brought a really small kit.

  • Nikon Z6
  • FTZ converter
  • Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0 Art
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
  • Godox 860II Nikon
  • Magmod Maggrip w/ Magsphere
Wedding Day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

I really love the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art BOKEH when shot wide open. With the new firmware 2.0 on the Nikon Z6 the eye tracking focus really helps nail the eyes when focusing.

Wedding Day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/50, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 24)]

Now I was in the room with the Groom and all his 16 attendants. Did I say this is the largest bridal party I have seen? 30 total. They have a lot of friends and family is the best way to describe this conundrum.

The Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0 let me go from this wide group shot inside to much tighter shots of the Groom with individuals.

Wedding Day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/125, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 42)]

My Flash Settings on Nikon Z6

  • e1: Flash Sync Speed – 1/200s (Auto FP)
  • Auto ISO sensitivity control – Subject and Background

For the Godox flash I set the compensation to -1.

Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1250, 1/2000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

So during the wedding it was actually raining. Just a few drops, but this tells you the type of light we had. I decided to just fill in to give a little pop to the photos. So outside I was shooting at 1/2000 shutter speed with a flash.

Then I am inside shooting at ISO 10000 at shutter speed of 1/50.

Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/30, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

It worked just great on the dance floor. Here I shot at ISO 6400 with shutter speed of 1/30 to add a little action to the shots.

Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/30, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

I love shooting with the on camera strobe in a situation like this. I lets me be sure there is light on the people and then lets me record the background in natural lighting.

Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 105)]

Sometimes the light was great without a flash. Just turned it off when I didn’t need it and turned it on as needed. The settings on the camera stayed the same.

Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/100, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 105)]

I really love just taking photos as a guest and not the official photographer.

Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/125, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 24)]

The other thing is if you know the people in the bridal party you get different expressions than the official photographer can sometimes get.

Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/25, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 32)]
Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/125, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 28)]
Party at the end of the day at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1600, 1/1250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 82)]
Brunch Rehearsal [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 160, 1/320, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

I love the Nikon Z6 with the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 Art lens with the Godox V860IIN with the MagMod MagSphere for weddings. I think you can shoot 95% of the wedding with this setup. I think you just need a long lens like a 70-200mm for the ceremony.

Now the other thing that really makes this system work is the updated Adobe Lightroom. I love using three of the controls that if used properly can really help out some photos that in the past without these controls would have been so-so photos.

I love the Texture, Clarity and Dehaze sliders. I cannot recommend them enough.

For sharpening I hold the Option key on the Mac while sliding the Masking control.

I loved shooting the wedding with the Nikon Z6. I think a lot of wedding shooters will fall in love with the mirrorless Nikon Z6 as much as I have this year.

Interfaith Dialogue will enrich your own faith

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

President John F. Kennedy

The United States has been described as a “Melting Pot” and as a “Toss Salad.” I prefer the “Toss Salad” better. I think we live in a very diverse country and when you get to know your neighbor makes this such a wonderful place to live.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms hosts Ramadan dinner for Atlanta Muslim community at Atlanta City Hall [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 32)]

For many years now Dorie Griggs, my wife, and I have been involved in participating in the very diverse interfaith community of Atlanta. Dorie helped to produce an interfaith dialogue TV show and I have helped by helping create websites and photograph these different organizations through the years.

Rev. Notasha Reid Rice – Ebenezer Baptist Church [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

Last night Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms hosted a Ramadan dinner for Atlanta Muslim community at Atlanta City Hall. The attendees were from many of the diverse faiths of Atlanta.

Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal – President of Atlanta’s Rabbinical Association [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 380)]

The three Abrahamic faiths: 1) Muslim, 2) Judaism & Christianity all had speakers at the event and people from those communities of faith in attendance as well.

Imam Plemon El Amin – Imam Emeritus Atlanta Masjid of Al Islam and ISB Board of Directors [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 14400, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

What I have discovered from my time in dialogue with people of different faith is that when it comes to living in community we are more alike than different. All the faiths hold education as core to their values which means their interest in public education is high.

Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood and Noor Abbady in Atlanta City Hall. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 52)]

While everyone enjoyed seeing their friends from their faith community at the Iftar Dinner, they also were just as pleased to be in such a diverse community.

 Soumaya Khalifa Executive Director and Founder ISB Atlanta and Luisa Fernanda Cardona Deputy Director, Office of Immigrant Affairs –  Atlanta City Hall.
[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 62)]

What I love about the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta is that they are about education of the faiths and not about proselytizing. They realized when we learn about the different faiths that we start to see some of our common bonds.

They are also realizing that they needed to help create a safe space for dialogue, so that people could learn about their neighbors and not feel threatened by them.

 Dorie Griggs and Hiba Ghalib at Atlanta City Hall. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 42)]

“If you let it [United States] give in to us versus them, at some point, America won’t be America anymore.”

President Bill Clinton
Imam Plemon El Amin – Imam Emeritus Atlanta Masjid of Al Islam and ISB Board of Directors [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

 When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world.  Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace.  And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race — out of every race.

President George W. Bush

Interfaith dialogue is possible only when two convictions pre-exist in the participants:

  1. No participant is seeking to proselytize any other participant.
  2. The participants are persuaded of the inherent validity and integrity of all the faith groups involved in the dialogue and are persuaded that no group possesses total and absolute knowledge regarding the nature and works of God and human involvement with the Divine.
Mr. Hassan Faye – Youth Director, MAS Atlanta & his wife Khadija Abourawi [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 40000, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.

Hans Küng, Roman Catholic Theologian & Advocate for Interfaith Cooperation
Office of the Chief of Staff | Carmen Chubb for office of the mayor of the City of Atlanta Mayor was the keynote speaker. Keisha Lance Bottoms could not attend due to a fever and being advised by her doctor to rest. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

I recommend you hosting a group like the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta’s Interfaith Speakers Network. It is a collaboration between the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA) and the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB).  The ISN provides opportunities to hear and interact with a panel of local practicing representatives from six faith traditions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism Hinduism, and Sikhism. The panels are educational and facilitate dialogue and understanding between different religions. In addition to sharing information ISN panels showcase ways that different faith traditions can work together. 

ISN programs promote religious pluralism by both emphasizing our shared values and practices and modeling respectful civil discourse when discussing our differences.

Close the deal with “Call to Action” in Storytelling

Uber asks, “Know where you are going but need a ride?” Then they offer you options.

Every time you are talking to a client or a potential customer you need to know your intent and the obstacles that are in your way or their way.

Cowgirl Barrel Racing at the 27th Annual Pana’Ewa Stampede Rodeo in Hilo, Hawaii. [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

You need to have an objective in mind. Knowing where you want to go is the same as telling the Uber driver where your destination is to be for your trip.

In Barrel Racing the rider wants to complete the course in the least amount of time and the course is around three obstacles which are barrels laid out in a triangle shape on the course.

When I am teaching Storytelling we use the same parts of the story that were outlined by Aristotle in Poetics. He wrote this around 335 BC. It is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory. The subject wants something and there are obstacles to overcome to get it.

This is great for telling the core of any story, but the one thing that is missing that companies and organizations must have for their storytelling is a “Call to Action.” Now that you have heard this story we want you to do something.

Traditional Advertising Call to Action
  • No obligation: “TRY” is in all caps, the email offers a full refund.
  • Usability: Readers are directed to click “Subscribe Now.”
  • Immediacy: Copy includes the phrase “right away,” and the Call to Action button uses the word “Now.”

 The key for effective Call to Action is to provide people with compelling reasons to ACT NOW rather than defer that action.

Avoid using a passive voice. Use action verbs.

Get straight to the point and make it short and sweet. 

Here is a trick that will make all your Call to Actions successful. Start with the audience and the call to action. Then find the story that will best emotionally connect with them to achieve your “Call To Action.”

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

The title is quote from Helen Keller.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” 

Michael Jordan
[NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 110, ƒ/5.6, 1/100, 35mm Equivalent=300mm]

How does one learn? How do you grow? I believe the answers to these questions lies in our failures.

If you try and avoid all failure then you will be taking no risks. Without taking these risks you cannot learn.

When watching a PGA golf tournament you see the caddies and golfers referencing these notepads. They have the notes they have taken about the golf course. They are often called yardage books. Here is what they may look like.

PGA golfers cannot play it really safe and win a tournament. They take risks. To take those risks they assess the lie of the ball and pick the place they want to hit the ball. Those that win the tournaments take risks.

We often picture Tiger Woods hitting the green and sinking the put.

However we forget how often he misses.

Rodeo Hawaii High School State Finals The Big Island Bull-riding

The reason bull-riding is a popular sport isn’t because it is easy to do. It is popular because of how hard it is to stay on a bull for 8 seconds.

Rewards come after the risks have been taken.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t over sell your camera to me

Originally posted this on the Facebook Group “Nikon Z6 Z7 Mirrorless Cameras”. This is a repost of it.

I am a little tired of seeing posts that oversell a camera. It comes off as a used car salesman. I think we need to be transparent as possible on the merits of a camera.

There are people who are looking to buy a camera and often are disappointed because they listened to some posts over selling a camera.

Nikon Z6 with Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4

Nikon Z7/Z6 cameras are awesome. I own the Nikon Z6.

We need to go back just to the film cameras just before digital became big in 2002 to remember what I think we forgot.

We had a number of cameras back then.

  • Viewfinder
    • 8×10
    • 5×7
    • 4×5
  • Medium Format
    • 2-1/4″
    • 6×6
    • 645
    • 6×7
    • 6×9
  • 35mm

When digital came along we tried to buy one camera to do it all. The reason was simple those first digital cameras cost as much as $25,000 or more.

Today I think we have slowly returned to where we should be. There are many cameras like the film days that work great for certain types of photography, but there really isn’t one camera that does it all.

I do have to admit that the Nikon D850 comes pretty close to doing it all.

After the Digital revolution in photography we have the mirrorless revolution.

If you do this for a hobby you will most likely just buy a good digital camera that meets most all your needs.

If you are a pro or a amateur with the means to buy more than one camera you will buy at least a backup camera. Then you add those special cameras for the things that work best.

Many pros don’t buy every camera they will use. Many rent those high end medium format cameras for those jobs that need that resolution.

When it comes to Nikon Cameras for the advanced amateur or pro here is how I break down the Nikon Line.

Nikon D5 – The ideal camera for a photojournalist. They are asked to shoot just about everything. They need a great sports camera, good for portraits, low light shooting and also video. Buffer of 200 RAW images is awesome. Also XQD Card Slots for speed.

Nikon D850 – This is one of the best cameras for just about anything. I do believe the Nikon D5 is better for sports due to low-light and frame rate. The large resolution of this camera is a must for the landscape and commercial photographer who needs to make super large prints. Great for video

Nikon D750 – This is a great full-frame camera, but the buffer is small at 6.5 fps. It has a lot of the low light capabilities like the D850 just not the resolution. It is the entry level of the full-frame.

Nikon D500 – While this is a smaller DX format is is pretty much the Nikon D5 in a smaller DX format

Nikon Z7 – This is the mirrorless version of the D850. Due to the way the DSLR focuses it isn’t the same, but close. The fact it has more focus points in some ways it is better. Picking this camera over the D850 is for all the reasons mirrorless has advantages over DSLR.

Nikon Z6 – While very similar to the D750 the buffer is greater with the Z6. This just might be the best video camera as far as mirrorless on the market. It has a higher frame rate than the Z7 and higher ISO than the Z7. I bought it for those two reasons.

Why I like mirrorless
  • Seeing what you are getting
    • White Balance
    • Depth-of-field
    • Exposure
  • Quieter even with mechanical shutter
  • Less need to Fine Tune Auto Focus
  • Optional electronic shutter
  • Lighter
  • More focus points
  • Face and Eye recognition
  • No need for extra gear when doing video

It is great that you are getting sports images with your camera. It is great that you are able to make extremely large prints from you smaller sensor.

When you start to compare your camera by saying who said my ______ Camera can’t shoot __________ is the same as saying my Nikon ______ is as good as the Nikon __________.

That is what I have a problem with.

Show off your wonderful images. Talk about the love of your camera. Just don’t try and say your camera does everything that the entire Nikon line of cameras does, because it doesn’t.

The closest camera to doing that was the Nikon D850, but even it has some limits.

In my opinion there is not one camera that does it all.

Human BEing vs Human DOer

When I teach in college classrooms many students are there to check a box. They need this course to meet the requirements for their degree.

So many people are going through life checking boxes. This is the time of year where many have just checked another box. They graduated from high school or college and now will look for a job.

St. Pius X High School [NIKON D3, 85.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 560, ƒ/1.6, 1/100, Focal Length = 85]

I was raised in a different environment by my parents. My father had been checking boxes his life as well until one night in college he found himself on his knees praying to God and felt God was asking him to change direction.

You see the word vocation actually means a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. Calling is a synonym for the word.

In some of the classes I have taught in college I found students just trying to meet the minimums. I don’t mean minimum like passing, but rather what are the requirements for an “A” and then proceed to do just enough to get the “A”.

“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit. What gets us to do this, what get us to forward thrust more is to value the near win. How many times have we designated something a classic, a masterpiece even, while its creator considers it hopelessly unfinished, riddled with difficulties and flaws, in other words, a near win?”

Sarah Lewis

Whether your goal is to work for National Geographic as a photojournalist or to get to the finish line of a marathon, to write a book, to find a partner, to be a good parent or a good friend, the feeling of success and satisfaction can be found in the process, not the accomplishment.

[NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/125, Focal Length = 48]

This is key to being a successful storyteller to be focused on the process rather than the checkbox.

Wants to know the subjectWants to get the content
Arrives EarlyArrives on time
Leaves LateLeaves Early
Extremely CuriousIndifferent, Uninterested, Average

95% of people who go to Yellowstone National park use only 5% of the park. It has been reported that 90% of the visitors never leave the road and 95% never venture more than 100 feet off the pavement.

I consider those the box checkers. They have been to Yellowstone.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

Greg Anderson
Know Your “Why?”

Having a vocation or calling as some might say is being mission minded. You are pursuing something. I believe my calling is to get the know the people that God has put in my life. To develop relationships with these people and get to know them.

When I get to know someone I learn how I can serve them.

Chelle having fun at her high school graduation.

Too many people go to college to get a degree and not enough go to college to learn a subject. I want the engineer who understands physics that builds the bridge I will drive on. I don’t want the engineer who checked off they took the class.

When I was at Georgia Tech I was in a Civil Engineering class where the students were building a bridge out of balsa wood that the professor had given them. The bridge would be tested to see if it held up a certain amount of weight.

Little did they know but the professor gave them faulty plans on purpose. They were to check the design and build it. The lesson wasn’t the building of the design, but rather the ability to think and go back to the professor telling him that the design was flawed. This is a real world example.

Many of the students failed that assignment that day. They were box checkers. Those who really loved learning and were there for the process found the mistake and passed.

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

I really love covering events. Why? You have to constantly problem solve.

Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/200, Focal Length = 32]

The first problem was to be sure the faces in a group shot were visible. I used two Alienbees B1600 strobes powered by the Paul Buff Vagabond batteries. Now to fire them I was using the Pocketwizard Plus II Transceivers.

The problem to be solved was the group was under a large carport with the background sun lit trees.

Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/200, Focal Length = 42]

I took photos of the individual graduate with the founders of the school and the administrators. The diploma had to be in every photo and if I was not careful it would have been not legible. Solution, same setup as for the group photo. By using the two Alienbees B1600 lights at 45º angle to each other I was getting a good consistent light for each person.

Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/200, Focal Length = 38]

To make my post editing go quickly I also did a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc.

John White [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/125, Focal Length = 82]

By the way, while you are here can you make some headshots? Yes I can. Again the same setup, but I just moved closer to the trees and shot some headshots of the founders.

Trudy Cathy White [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/125, Focal Length = 105]

One part of the assignment was to get the first group shot to them before the 5 pm ending time of the event. So I had to carve out a few minutes to get them those group photos for posting on social media.

To get all these photos in a timely manner I chose to work with the Nikon Z6 and the Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 Art lens. While I shot the group photo at 32mm I had the ability to go wider. I loved shooting the headshots at 105mm.

Graduation [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1000, ƒ/1.4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

Grandparents, parents, siblings and friends came to celebrate the GAP Year program graduates in Pine Mountain, GA.

I was using the Bluetooth technology to help sync my camera with my phone using Snap Bridge. I was being sure the time was correct and setting the GPS Coordinates.

When I ingested the photos into PhotoMechanic it took those GPS Coordinates and then turned those into street address.

I just click on the world and then it will look for the GPS coordinates and as long as I have an internet connection it will search for the street address.

Now since I was shooting also with my Nikon D5 which doesn’t have the Bluetooth technology I just selected all the images and applied those GPS coordinates to those images as well.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1100, ƒ/1.4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

The students dressed up in all types of fashion statements. I love this guys tie.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1100, ƒ/1.4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

This family is from Ecuador. I love his Panama hat.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1250, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 42]

As soon as I took this photo they asked me in Spanish if they could get copies. Yes they can.

I provide the client an online gallery where they can download the images using a password that I provide.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

I was getting candid photos as well as occasionally finding families all together. I would take these as well. I just had to watch the light on the faces. Way too many of the guests were posing people with the windows behind them. I put the large glass windows to the side of them or to my back. Again it is about Lights, Camera and Action!

Trudy Cathy White [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 420]

The room was quite large and the best place to stand to get photos of the stage was in the back of the room. This way I wasn’t up front blocking the guests view.

I brought my Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 Sport lens as well as a 1.4X and 2X converters. I started with the 1.4X converter and this is the view it game me and made the lens a 420mm ƒ/4.

Trudy Cathy White [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 20000, ƒ/5.6, 1/200, Focal Length = 600]

I quickly changed the converter to the 2X which gave me this view with the now 600mm ƒ/5.6. Once again I am problem solving. This time it is the camera and lens combination allowing me to get photos that no cell phone will get.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/125, Focal Length = 600]

As you can see this is what the guest was getting with their phone.

Trudy Cathy White [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200, Focal Length = 600]

I moved around the room with the long lens and looked for different perspectives. I thought with some speakers the microphone was too much in front of their face from the back of the room.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/400, Focal Length = 600]

I didn’t feel the need to have to move to get different angle with every speaker.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 3600, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 200]

I was shooting with three cameras and various lenses. My wife also shot some photos with a camera.

  • 2 Nikon D5 cameras
  • Nikon Z6
  • Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 Art
  • Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 Art
  • Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8
  • Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | Sport
  • Fuji X-E3
  • Fuji 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-3.5
  • Fuji 10-24mm

The lenses I used for different reasons. First of all I am not shooting one specific style. I do not shoot all prime lenses wide open which many people do. I love the shallow depth-of-field shots.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1000, ƒ/1.4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

I also realize when shooting that large group shot I needed to be at a larger depth-of-field. This is why I shot those photos at ƒ/8. The front row and back row is all in focus.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 280, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 175]

I love to isolate moments using the shallow depth-of-field and also know that sometimes you need more.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 200]
Technical & Aesthetic

Just yesterday on a forum a photographer was asking if the new camera will make you a better photographer. This was the old argument that it isn’t the camera but the operator. However, I wasn’t going to take this click bait as it was setup.

“It will make you technically better–Aesthetically the same.”

Stanley Leary

These new cameras today let me make photos that just years ago were not possible without a flash.

So I pride myself on knowing my gear and how it can help me get photos I couldn’t do before. So, I try and keep my gear updated. I am also aware that you can have a technically perfect photo that just has no aesthetic qualities.

Social Work Training – Capturing Action!

It is all my training in reading body language and studying the masters in photojournalism that has helped me to concentrate my efforts to capture moments. I was trained in social work to read people. I was evaluated over and over on how well I was listening with my eyes and not just my ears.

Adequate photographers are more technicians. They get the photos in focus and well exposed.

Great photographers are doing more than being a technician. They are using the camera to capture moments that help tell a story.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 450, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 200]

I like moments like this one. The students are showing how much respect they have for this teacher of their’s from this year. No words are necessary to communicate their respect. You just need words to know why they are giving him this type of respect.

Do you want to learn how to cover meeting better? Do you need me to cover your event? Give me a call and let’s talk. I teach one-on-one sessions and also love to just use my gifts to help you capture those important moments in life that happen only once.

Bananas & Coffee

While doing a story on coffee growers in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico the farmers educated me on how they produce the Arabica Bean Coffee.

David Velázquez shows off his banana trees that are helping with the shade for the coffee plants. [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/2500, Focal Length = 24]

I learned that the arabica coffee does best with shade. The tree requires some but not too much direct sunlight; two hours a day seems ideal. The lacy leaves of the upper levels of the rain forest originally shaded the coffee tree.

Banana Tree [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/800, Focal Length = 55]

When they prune the banana trees you can see the trunks, which to me look liked corrugated cardboard. Those channels help the water get to the leaves and bananas.

Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico is in a rain forrest. Salvador Urbina has significant rainfall most months, with a short dry season. 

David Velázquez loves to talk about how Just Coffee and Frontera de Cristo helped him to return home after working on golf courses in Metro Atlanta for years. [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/1000, Focal Length = 62]

What can we learn from these coffee growers?

The production of coffee is a time and labor intensive process. From the moment of plantation of the first coffee seeds it can take three to four years before a newly planted coffee tree will began bearing fruits.

10 Steps from Seed to Cup
  • Planting
  • Harvesting the Cherries
  • Processing the Cherries
  • Drying the Beans
  • Milling the Beans
  • Exporting the Beans
  • Tasting the Coffee
  • Roasting the Coffee
  • Grinding the Coffee
  • Brewing the Coffee
Fair Trade

Fair trade was started in response to the dire struggles of Mexican coffee farmers following the collapse of world coffee prices in the late 1980s.

Fair Trade coffee is coffee that is certified as having been produced to fair tradestandards. Fair trade organizations create trading partnerships that are based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. … Fair trade practices prohibit child or forced labor.

Café Justo was the coffee cooperative I partnered with to help tell their story back in 2010. I had been producing videos just for a short time and this was a turning point for me. We focused on telling the story focusing on the crisis the farmers were suffering and the difference the cooperative made in their families and communities.

Listen to what I captured back in 2010:

Maybe you are like those coffee farmers who had to leave their farms to find work to feed their families. You see by just learning to come together and tell their story, the consumer didn’t pay more for coffee they changed where they bought their coffee. You can support these coffee growers by buying their coffee here at Just Coffee.

Just Coffee [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/2500, Focal Length = 120]

While forming a cooperative and selling directly to the customer helped the coffee growers to prosper, it wasn’t the cooperative, the roaster or their willingness to come together that made them successful.

It was when they told their stories that customers rallied behind them. People are waking up to the basic unfairness of world trade and demanding a better deal for the people who do our dirty work. Are you getting a bargain or exploiting people when you always shop for price alone.

Are you telling your story? Remember what made a difference in the Fair Trade movement was the telling of the stories of people being exploited.

Once you have your customers don’t stop telling stories. Now tell a different story. How about how bananas help produce great tasting arabica coffee?

Picking the “Right” story

We all know that if you want to get someone’s attention tell a story. We also know that not all stories are engaging.

Alaska Fisherman (photo by Don Rutledge)

I believe way too many companies are picking stories like people fish–toss a line in the water and see what bites.

Finding a good story in your organization is like looking for a great quote. That person’s story that you tell will be very useful because they’re story is succinct distillations of the larger pool of people that you serve.

A good story also affirms what we already know about ourselves. The story helps your to reaffirm your beliefs and helps to define the category of the brand you are.

Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 210]

This past weekend I was able to see my daughter’s Spring Dance Concert. I photographed the event for the school to use for their recruiting and promotion.

While editing the some 2,600 images I was reminded that distilling the event down to a few images was communicating what they hope to become and also what they were doing. They only have a dance minor at the time and are in the process of creating a dance major.

My daughter Chelle [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 14400, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 240]
Biggest Mistake

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when picking a story to tell is to pick one based on politics rather than the strength of the story.

I have been consulting for many years with organizations and over and over the people they want to feature is often someone who has been around a long time or is very popular.

Here are the key elements in a story that help you identify the best story for your organization to tell.

  • There is a before state and an after state that is radically different. This is before your organization made a difference in their life and after they encountered the organization.
  • This was a crisis of sorts. They had a real problem and the organization helped to solve it. The key here is when comparing their crisis to other possible people for your story that their crisis was the worst.
  • Their story represents your target audience’s crisis that you will problem solve as an organization.
Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 8000, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 210]
Too Close

One of the problems for most companies and organizations is they are just like the dancers–they are too close. They cannot see what they look like from the audience’s perspective.

Even the directors of broadway that go into the audience seats and give feedback to those on the stage, they lack the ability often to truly separate themselves from the production and see it with fresh eyes.

Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 7200, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 195]

When I started as a photographer I was given a story to execute. To get better my mentor Don Rutledge encouraged me to go and find stories and do them. I did this for many years and syndicated those stories through Black Star and Camera Press.

If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.

Jim Richardson

I learned very quickly the story you picked had more influence on the outcome than execution alone.

After shooting and writing a lot of poor choice stories through the years I slowly realized I was pitching more and more stories to editors. When I did those stories they got much better engagement than those I was given.

The better I got to know my clients and what they were doing to help their customers I was pitching no longer just interesting stories, but now strategic stories.

Another Mistake

Don’t pursue those stories that only entertain and do not move people to the “Call To Action” for your organization.

Be sure the stories you pick point to what you do best and how you can help the audience with similar problems.

If you are a profit oriented company you are solving problems for the audience. If you are a nonprofit you are asking the audience to join you in helping solve a problem. 


Picking the right story to tell is the key to your companies success. Once you have done this your next step will be to identify another story. Your success is directly related to communicating what you do to solve a problem for a person. Then you must consistently execute doing this for those who respond and ask you to fix their problem.

Tell people what you do through a story. Do what you tell people you do. Continue to improve in the execution of your service and repeat this process.

Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 8000, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 140]

Are you in alignment?

The purpose of doing an alignment for your car is to reduce tire wear, and to ensure that vehicle travel is straight and true (without “pulling” to one side). Alignment angles can also be altered beyond the maker’s specifications to obtain a specific handling characteristic. Motorsport and off-road applications may call for angles to be adjusted well beyond “normal”, for a variety of reasons.

Tire [X-E3, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/120, Focal Length = 27]

Being out of alignment with your car shows up as uneven tire wear.

Being out of alignment in your work causes your organization and you to not getting the best performance. Like tires that get worn unevenly you will become worn out prematurely.

When the tire isn’t aligned it actually creates resistance and that is what causes the uneven tire wear.

Pre-K class trip to Alpharetta Children’s Dentistry [NIKON D100, AF Zoom 24-70mm f/2.8D, ISO 800, ƒ/2.8, 1/80, Focal Length = 36]

People are nicer when you are in alignment at work. Like all the wheels on a car when they are all aligned to the vehicle it goes straight and true. The key is at work you should be aligned to the purpose of that organization. If you don’t like the organization’s purpose then find a different job.

When you’re in alignment, everything lines up for you. Everything seems effortless and easy because you’ve already done “the work” energetically. You feel like your team has your back because you’ve surrendered. You are not pushing your agenda. You are finding ways to serve the mission statement.

When you are in alignment you don’t have a strong sense of ‘need’ around what you want to manifest. You are open to your desire manifesting in different ways, and you are not attached to ‘how’ it has to happen.

For me my faith has helped a great deal. I really feel that God has got it under control. Now I have to remind myself of this every once in a while. When I do it really releases tension.

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

Psalms 25:4

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The LORD works out everything to its proper end — even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Proverbs 16:3-4

If you report to anyone then ask some questions which will help you align with the organization.

  • What does success look like a year from now for the organization?
  • What can I do to help this be achieved?
  • Is there anything I am doing that I need to stop doing?
  • Are there any books, workshops or seminars I need to improve that you suggest?
St. Martin’s Baseball Team [NIKON D4, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/640, Focal Length = 300]

In baseball the batter must respond to what is pitched to them. They do not control the pitch. They only control their response to that pitch.

The best hitters are those who keep their eye on the ball and have spent a lot of time in a batting cage working on their swing.

Island Breeze World Impact Tour [NIKON D3S, 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/500, Focal Length = 14]

Get in alignment to experience a life of less resistance. Learn to ‘Go With The Flow‘ – be relaxed and accept a situation, rather than trying to alter or control it.