2019 Pictures of the Year

These are some of the photos from this past year. I put them in for me to remind myself of some of the highlights.

If you want to see them bigger go here.

Here is one video I want to share as well I did when I went to Togo, West Africa to help raise funds for this 35 year old hospital in need of upgrades.

Nikon Z6 @ Insane High ISO

Top Photo Camera Settings: [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 122)]

I could not believe how dark the venue was at Lips Atlanta, but the Nikon Z6 took on the challenge and didn’t disappoint.

“Lips has been serving up drag from coast to coast for almost 25 years. Lips is Atlanta’s on true LaCage dining experience. Enjoy Vegas style drag shows nightly on the Lips stage. Lips is the best place to celebrate anything and everything! Atlanta’s #1 drag shows and home to the first lady of Atlanta – Mr. Charlie Brown!” [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 45600, 1/200, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 28)]

We were celebrating Dorie Griggs, my wife, and daughter Chelle birthdays. 60 and 21 are milestones that deserve going big.

[NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

Even the stage wasn’t super bright. I was shooting at ISO 20000 to get good results.

[NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/80, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 55)]

I am not expecting ISO 51200 to look like ISO 100, but to just be able to take photos in that low of light without a flash is incredible.

Years ago with film shooting ISO above ISO 800 was only possible with black and white. Shooting color you had to just light venues.

This camera is just incredible in so many ways. This just shows you the high ISO capability.

The three birthday girls, Chelle, Dorie and Kate. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/200, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 28)]
[NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 16000, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 160)]

Covering the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl from a Brand Perspective

Top Photo: Justin Jefferson #2 of the LSU Tigers makes a catch against Justin Broiles #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the first half at the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Atlanta. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 32000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 250)]

When I am hired to shoot a game for a company like Chick-fil-A I have to look for ways to show the brand.

LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) pulls in a pass before scoring as Oklahoma defensive back Woodi Washington (5) closes in in the first half of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between LSU and Oklahoma, Saturday, December 28, 2019, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 240)]

This photo here works just great. You can see the branding on the patch of the Oklahoma player.

LSU’s Joe Burrow (9), The Heisman Trophy winner, gets under center from the three-yard line and bullied his way into the end zone. It’s his eighth touchdown of the day, and his first rushing touchdown. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/4000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 195)]

While this touchdown is a great photo as well, it is less useful by itself since you cannot see the brand anywhere in the photo. The place it does appear is in the caption when the photo is published in news outlets.

K’Lavon Chaisson #18 of the LSU Tigers is given the Most Outstanding Player award by Dan Cathy after beating Oklahoma Sooners in the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Atlanta. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 9000, 1/4000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 240)]

It also helps when the CEO Dan Cathy is in the photo.

Bruce Deel gives the invocation at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019. As the founder and CEO of City of Refuge, Bruce Deel is bold, relentless and unyielding in the fight against poverty and the consequences it has in Atlanta, GA. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/2000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 105)]

The other thing you are doing is some photos of key people participating for the brand. Capturing the invocation is important to the client.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019 [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 560, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 32)]

You are also taking photos of the company leaders at the event as well as coving the game itself.

The Sooner Schooner takes the field during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019. It is an official mascot of the sports teams of the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Pulled by two white ponies named Boomer and Sooner, it is a scaled-down replica of the Studebaker Conestoga wagon used by settlers of the Oklahoma Territory around the time of the Land Run of 1889 and is considered the first mobile home. [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/4000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]

When an icon intersects with your client’s brand you know they will use it. In combination with other photos it shows that their brand is associated with cultural icons.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019 [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/4000, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 92)]

What is the point of this post? It isn’t just about shooting for a brand, it is more basic than that. Know your client and their audience.

Know your client and their audience.

Test Shots with Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL

Photo above: Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia
[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 58)]

Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL list price $699

Sale Price $479

I have shot with this flash in Hawaii, because they have a couple at the school I teach at each year.

I put this photo up on the blog in February using it here.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/100, Focal Length = 24]

When the sale price popped up around Thanksgiving I started to think should I do it and buy them. I finally bought two and now will be slowly selling my older lights, which work just fine, for these in the near future.

Setup for the first photo
Krog Street Tunnel with Chelle Leary [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 75)]

I took my daughter to the Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta. The Krog Street Tunnel is a tunnel in Atlanta known for its street art. The tunnel links the Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, and Inman Park neighborhoods. It is very popular among cyclists, and is used as part of the BeltLine, for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross Hulsey Yard.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2000, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

I shot all these on TTL and controlled the two lights using the Godox X1 that I already owned before buying the lights.

I just put one of the lights on A Channel and the other on B Channel and powered them at 0, -1 and low as -3.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 32000, 1/320, ƒ/4, (35mm = 48)]

Now depending on the ISO I set the camera the scene would look a great deal different.

Krog Street Tunnel Chelle Leary [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 48)]
Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

The lower the ISO the more the flashes became the dominate light. The reason is I didn’t want to hand hold the flash a long time and then you would see ghosting in the subject if she moved.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 105)]

By basically changing the ISO I could decide how the blending of natural light with the strobes was working. I find trying to keep just a small amount of flash on the model’s face gives the best color and dynamic range in the skin tones.

Krog Street Tunnel Chelle Leary [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/320, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

I also took my daughter out in the sunlight and did more photos. Here the daylight is at more of her back, she would have been silhouetted without the flash. Notice the flash sync went up to 1/320. You can do high speed sync with these flashes.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 58)]

While I shot with my Nikon Z6 to get all these photos, these flashes will work with Fuji, Nikon, Canon and Sony. Just need to buy the correct transmitter for your camera brand. The strobes will work with all of them.

I bought the Flashpoint brand. However, you can find the same flash in other brand names like Godox, Neewer, Cheetah, MoLight and others. It’s a good idea to go with dealers a little more local to you just in case of problems. If you have a problem with the Flashpoint Adorama has good reputation of taking care of you to get it repaired.

2019 the year I moved to SSD from HDD

Many years ago I change out my Macbook Pro Hard Drive with Solid State Drive. WOW!!! That was a huge difference in my time on the computer.

The difference between hard drives and solid state drives is in the technology used to store and retrieve data. HDDs are cheaper and you can get more storage space. SSDs, however, are faster, lighter, more durable, and use less energy.

When I changed my computer over to SSD the start up time and performance of time the computer took to complete a task was super fast as compared to the standard HDD.

External Hard Drives

Since I was just storing and not needing performance when it came to photos I just continued to use HDDs for my external hard drives.

Back in June I wrote this blogpost Camera Insurance? I wasn’t Covered!!!

I told how, “While in Trinidad teaching in the Storytellers Abroad workshop I got up from my chair and my foot caught the power cord which was plugged into HyperDrive – USB Type-C Hub which also my 4TB Western Digital Hard drive was also plugged into. The hard drive went crashing to the floor.”

This is when I switched to SSD external hard drives.

My first external SSD was the Samsung 500GB SSD. You see the main reason the traditional 4TB HDD failed was the moving parts. When the hard drive crashed to the floor the platters got scratched. Had I been using the SSD that wouldn’t have happened. There are no moving parts.

I also am making backups more frequently than I did before. I lost a lot of images because I hadn’t been backing up those drives as often as I should have been doing.

I have bought many more SSD drives like this SanDisk 1TB. While these are about 3 to 4 times more expensive than the HDD drives for the same amount of space, I feel more secure that the chance of failure is greatly diminished.

I still recommend backing up your hard drives. The SSD can fail just like the memory cards we use to capture the images in our cameras.

When writing this post their are sales going on that place these hard drive prices:

  • 500 GB $80
  • 1 TB $150
  • 2 TB $300

While the larger drives cost more, they maybe a better investment. There are many who believe it is better to have smaller drives than lose a lot if one were to go bad.

Whatever theory you are using for drives now is probably good to do with SSD.

I hope this tip not only helps you but keeps your images around for a long time.

Setting & Meeting Deadlines is Critical to Success

One of the best things you can hear in a testimonial from a client is, “Thank you for the quick turnaround.”

You see in business when you miss a deadline it often has a financial impact.

You won’t instantly find success in the world of business by just setting arbitrary deadlines for all of your projects. Your deadlines need to set you up for success—they must be strategic.

Being strategic running your own business means that your deadlines are important to help you achieve goals.

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Giving Tuesday is December 3, 2019!

For example if you were producing a video to ask donors to give and you missed having it used on Giving Tuesday. $511M was raised on the day of giving. This is a 28% increase from 2018.

Missing that deadline means you missed an opportunity to have a good reason to reach out to your audience with an ask.

Always Quick Turnaround

It doesn’t take long for one to create a great deal of content that needs to be edited. As long as you have projects that need to be edited and delivered to a client you have MAJOR RESTRICTIONS on your time.

You cannot just respond to that phone call that someone is asking you to leave tomorrow for a major project that may require you to fly around the world and work for a month.

Setting realistic deadlines doesn’t always mean you are rushing the process. The largest time killer is not starting and not how long it takes to do a project.

Starting my career at a newspaper drilled into me the importance of a deadline. We have all been watching TV when they break into your normal program and give us a “Breaking News” story.

In AMBER ALERTS they know every minute is precious. Based on the history of child abductions the longer it takes to get the news out can be the difference of life and death.

Because the news organizations know these breaking news events can happen they have a plan to execute in those situations. The way to improve the quality is to increase the time. That is done through early planning.

Lightroom, PhotoShop & Adobe Premiere Skills

You take classes and practice working on images. You get better and better in not just being able to improve the product, but also improve your time doing those skills.

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

Benjamin Franklin

The largest problem most people face in business is time management. Keep a sharp eye on any timelines.

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Mind the gap” ( listen (help·info)) is an audible or visual warning phrase issued to rail passengers to take caution while crossing the horizontal, and in some cases vertical, spatial gap between the train door and the station platform.

The largest issue in meeting deadlines is the gap in your timeline of you working on the project.

Don’t Be This Photographer

Know the industry standard for turnaround times

How long should it take to get wedding photos back from photographer?Average wait time for wedding photos. Typically it can average anywhere between 2-6 weeks. Of course photographers will try and get your photos to you as soon as possible, many will send some sneak peak photos of a selection that have been edited for you to view.

Don’t Be Average

  • Take classes in your profession to help most of all improve your quality from Good to Great.
  • Maybe use something like Loupedeck+ Photo & Video Editing Console lets you edit effectively using its intuitive buttons, dials, and sliders. 
  • Do personal projects – if you are only working on clients work you cannot experiment and try to techniques and ways to improve your time and quality.
  • When you take on a project carve out the time to finish the project in a timely basis. Mind the Gap!

Hope these tips and reminders will help you see that getting images to your client in a timely matter helps them make more money if this is for corporate work and for things like weddings, well the link to the video tells you that story.

Hard Drive Failure & How I Fixed It

The power went out the other day at our house for a few hours. When I went to check on my backup computer that I have running with multiple external hard drives plugged into it, I had to restart to get the hard drives to mount.

However, one drive wouldn’t mount. I ran on my Mac Disk Utility.

When I googled the line “File system check exit code is 8” I got a few hits.

Click on it and it will take you to an article which pretty much described my problem.

It is very effective for recovering lost data from corrupted drives that have the file system check exit code 8 error.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

The software M3 Data Recovery was able to see my files on the external hard drive that wouldn’t mount. I could select all the folders and transfer them to a new hard drive. Just a few corrupt files didn’t transfer and some of the folder names were corrupted.

The good news is for $69.95 I was able to recover pretty much 99% of the files from the nonworking hard drive. I hope you never need to do this, but if you do in the future maybe you can just search my blog for this article in the future.

Making of Fundraising Video for Nonprofit

Surgeons doing a bone graft of lower part of leg for a little boy to hopefully help him keep his leg at the Hôpital Baptiste Biblique located in Tsiko, Togo, West Africa. [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/100, ƒ/9, (35mm = 82)]

Many believe that in terms of likes, shares, downloads and donations, video consistently outperforms all other forms of digital communication. Every campaign should include a series of inspirational fundraising videos with a simple call-to-action.

I think the strength of video is that it lets you control the narrative by pacing and the delivery of a message.

Here some statistics I came across that are worth mentioning here for you.

Important Video Stats Nonprofits Need To Know

According to Into Focus: Benchmarks for Nonprofit Video and a Guide for Creators, a report by See3, YouTube and communications strategy consultancy Edelman:

  • 80% of respondents said video is important to their nonprofits.
  • 91% believe video will become more important in the next three years.
  • 92% value the investment they made in video.
This is the crew for the video I was working on this week. — with Hannah Sammy Strayer and Liz Ortiz at Hopital Baptiste Biblique.

Liz Ortiz served for the past year as a media missionary for ABWE. She just returned at Thanksgiving to the US. Hannah Strayer has been in Togo for a few months and is a full-time media missionary for ABWE.

Together we produced this video for ABWE to help raise funds to make improvements in the Hospital that hasn’t had any major improvements since it was created 35-years-ago.

Here are some tips for telling a nonprofit story to raise funds.

  1. Use storytelling to engage the audience
    1. Start with the problem. What will not happen if the donors don’t give?
    2. Make the problem worse. Be careful to not skim over the problem. If this hospital didn’t expand more than 50% of those coming each day would continue to be turned away and not helped.
  2. Speak To Donors and show them how your organization makes a difference. In our video we let you hear how the hospital was evangelizing and planting churches.
  3. Show The Good You Are Doing with inspiring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with program recipients. Besides having a good interview, capture b-roll that shows what they are talking about and put this over their interview.
  4. Be Passionate and show donors how they can help contribute. We showed specific needs of Autoclave, X-Ray, Outdated nursery and nurses station were things we showed. Listen to how the doctor talks about those needs.
  5. Ask the viewers to contribute and tell them how.
  6. Caption your videos. Did you know that 85% of videos on Facebook are watched with no sound? It’s true. If you don’t caption your videos, you’ll lose impact with your video because some people won’t bother to watch with the sound on.
Marketing of Video

The best videos cannot do their job without promoting them.

Know your audience. Target your story for a direct and specific purpose—if you don’t know who you’re talking to, the right people won’t be listening. We identified the audience before we started. Then we tailored all the content to that audience.

Use social media: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

Contact people and ask them to have a watch party. For our video this can be churches and small groups. Every missionary on the field has friends and family that could have a small dinner party and then show the video around a TV.

When you have a group together ask everyone to pull out their phones and go to the video link and then ask them to share with all their friends and family. You might want to even help them by giving some examples of text to promote the video.

Other ways that people can help with the call to action is to even use the video on their birthday and try and raise funds from their friends by asking people to donate. Many people will give to a cause just because they are asking.

Know when to call in the professionals. It’s ok to use a smart phone to shoot video to share on social media, in email, and on your blog. Video doesn’t have to be polished to be effective. However, there are times when a professionally done video is best – like on your home page or at a fundraising event. Find someone who is experienced in creating the kind of video you need so the results are what you want. Call me!