One of my daughter’s good friends from church youth choir Sarah Clements asked me to help her with some headshots. She is a soprano majoring in voice.
She is in her junior year of college getting closer to graduation. She is thinking of now having to promote herself for jobs. Headshots are needed since casting often involves getting someone to look the part.
We took a lot of photos together. I enjoyed using my new Nikon Z6 camera paired with the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G lens. The quality is incredible with this combination.
This is a close up of the photo above. The detail is beyond remarkable to me.
I always want to get the best possible photos during a photo shoot.
I started with almost 300 images that after editing for slightly missing the focus due to such a shallow depth-of-field and also occasional blinks I was able to give her over 200+ images.
What I love about photographing artists is they understand nuance. As a professional musician Sarah has to know more than the mechanics of music theory. She knows the difference of being slightly out of tune and in tune. The difference of each note blending properly in a choral group.
Together we can work on tweaking face expressions and lighting to get that just perfect combination that captures the person’s personality in the best possible light.
I am really loving the finished images I am getting with the Nikon Z6.
By the way today everyone needs a headshot. Do you have one?
While in college majoring in social work I discovered the power of photography. Specifically, I discovered that photojournalism did the best job I could find in educating people about the world around them.
Before graduating with my degree in social work I had to do an internship in the field. I found an internship working at the mental health center in Kinston, NC.
When counseling a person, I would “peel the onion” as we would say to move from the symptoms to the cause for a problem in a person’s life. Most of the time when someone was suffering it takes them longer to see the root cause of their problem.
While I was in college I was also taking photos for the school newspaper. I saw quickly how a photograph helped “peel the onion” for a community. Mirroring is a therapeutic technique where you repeat back to a client, usually in your own words but sometimes word for word, the idea that has just been expressed. It can literally be as simple as: Client: “I felt hurt and confused.”
I discovered that a photograph was even more powerful than the mirroring technique.
I just finished grading the students in Introduction to Photojournalism Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
More than half of the two classes I taught had never owned a camera other than the one on their phone. I was teaching them the mechanics of photography and also how to tell stories as a photojournalist.
What I discovered is the one skill that they needed more than how to use their camera was how to “peel the onion” of the subject.
The photojournalists that consistently tell powerful stories are the ones who spend more time getting to know their subjects.
I would love to help you if you don’t know how to “peel the onion” of a story. In January I am going to Lima, Peru with a few other instructors who have the same calling to help 10 workshop participants to become storytellers using their cameras.
Each person will work with a person to tell their story. While working on the story they will have one-on-one time with the instructors to coach them each day through the process. By the end of a week they will show to the community a short 3 to 5-minute video that has the subject telling their own story.
I will do this again in March in Trinidad and then this coming summer we will bring the team together again and go to Bucharest, Romania. Maybe you want to join us.
Go here to sign up for our trip. You can also contact me for one-on-one classes or we can put together a workshop for your organization.
Today our country buried former President George H. W. Bush. In attendance were all the current living former presidents including Jimmy Carter.
I had an appointment with President Jimmy Carter today. Dorie, my wife, had signed us up to be at the Conversations at The Carter Center: Humanizing Religion and Human Rights where President Jimmy Carter was host and on the panel.
If you want to watch the presentation here is that video link.
It was quite refreshing to hear from the three Abrahamic Faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as to how the individual faiths address Human Rights.
For those reading this for photography comments on the Nikon Z6 I want to talk about two things I tested the camera on. First I tried to shoot on Silent Mode, which is electronic shutter, but got banding.
I also shot just a couple shots at pretty high ISOs.
This photo is shot at ISO 32000 and cropped a bit as well. I was really impressed with the high ISO with the new Nikon Z6.
While I enjoyed testing the camera, I really kept pinching myself. I have had many opportunities through the years to be in the presence of President Jimmy Carter. No matter which president in history it would still be rare for most of us to have so many opportunities unless you are friend/family or work for their administration to have this type of opportunity.
Atlanta is blessed to have The Carter Center in our backyard. We plan to go back to Plains, GA to hear President Jimmy Carter teach Sunday School once again.
I admire all he has done with The Carter Center. I also enjoy his Sunday School class.
The second assignment was shooting the SEC Fanzone event at the Championship game between Alabama and Georgia.
I was enjoying using all my Nikon F-mount lenses and seeing what you will get before you press the shutter. I enjoyed the incredible sharpness due to no more anti-aliasing over the sensor.
I shot a little over a thousand images at the Fanfest with the Nikon Z6. I got a lot of great shots and was please with the performance of the camera.
I had to use on camera flash to get this photo of Hines Ward with a young fan. The photo of Ward behind them was super bright jumbotron and the only way to get them from not being silhouetted was with a flash. The Godox V860iiN worked just great with the camera.
After all day shooting I charged up my batteries for the camera and me. By the way I used three batteries all day shooting with the Nikon Z6.
Then Sunday I shot another 1000+ images at a church covering all type of settings. Once again the Nikon Z6 performed flawlessly.
The camera without putting it into silent mode was already quiet as compared to my Nikon D5 which I was also shooting.
I think the files look much better than my other Nikon D5 files. I think the new CMOS sensor with the combination of the new Expeed 6 processor is giving much sharper images out of the camera.
In those tricky lighting situations with mixed lighting it is so cool to see what you will get before you click the shutter.
I think the Z6 performed really well and compared very similarly to the Nikon D750 that I used to own. I do think the Nikon D5 is the camera for sports and out performs the Nikon Z6 in responsiveness. Well it ought to be better at a ticket price of $6,500.
The best part of the Nikon Z6 for me is to have all the things I love about mirrorless, but now able to use all my Nikon glass.
The order of worship in churches is based on the only full worship service we have recorded in scripture which is Isaiah 6:1-8.
When we start the service the first thing that happens is acknowledging we have come into the presence of God. This is similar to how you start a story and introduce characters.
When we meet God in this moment it will cause us to be reminded of our sin, which is also similar to a story needing crisis/tension. This is where in worship we acknowledge there is nothing we can do and only God’s grace is able to save us. But first we must confess.
This dialogue continues between man and God in worship where after we confess and God has forgiven us, then God is asking who will go. This is like in the storyline where the mentor is outlining to the main character what they need to do to overcome their crisis.
Often this is where the homily/sermon is given that gives us more insights on how to live our lives. This is the direction given to all main subjects in a story that then they go and then live out those instructions.
Here is the scripture that both Christians and Jews use to create their order of worship.
REVELATION– verse 1: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
ADORATION– verse 3: “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'”
CONFESSION– verse 5: “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.'”
EXPIATION– verse 6-7: “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.'”
PROCLAMATION– verse 8a: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'”
DEDICATION– verse 8b: “Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'”
SUPPLICATION– verse 11: “Then I said, ‘How long, O Lord?'”
COMMISSION– verse 9: “And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people…'”
If you look at this order and then compare it to the Narrative Storyline you will see they have a lot in common.
PLOT – a series of incidents that are related to one another, what happens in a story, includes 5 stages (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution)
EXPOSITION – usually in the beginning of a story, where the characters, setting, and conflict (problem) are introduced
RISING ACTION – the part of the story where the conflict(s) develop, in which the suspense and interest builds
CLIMAX – the turning point or most exciting moment of a story, in which the main character comes face to face with the main conflict and a change happens
FALLING ACTION – all the loose ends of the plot are tied up, the conflict and climax are taken care of in this part of the story, and the suspense is eased
RESOLUTION – where the story comes to a reasonable ending and the outcome is resolved
Here is how I see these lining up
All the stories in scripture have flawed characters who either turn to God for help and are obedient to those directions or they refuse to be obedient. Now many of those stories involve a series of times where well intentioned characters continue to come back to God and ask for forgiveness for not being obedient.
I believe the reason this format is used in worship is that it forces us to process our faith in story form. It continues to remind us that like all characters in a story that we live in crisis that we cannot solve on our own. We need help. In the stories of Hollywood you need THE FORCE in the Star Wars movies to take on your enemies. You go to someone like Yoda to be trained.
In the Disney stories like Cinderella she needed a Fairy God Mother to help her.
We are moved by stories because we can relate. While the problems are different, they are problems that the main character, like us, cannot solve alone.
The other cool thing about worship services as it relates to storytelling is that it has a soundtrack. The music in worship services helps to set the tone for stories to be told and as we resonate with those stories we are reminded of the story we are living.
Thanksgiving is a time for many people to stuff ourselves with food.
I am reminded of the many meals I have shared with people around the world.
Our family traditionally cooks a turkey.
We get together around food a lot through our lives.
My family loves to get together for food.
I am reminded today also how some people around the world cook their food and how little they have to eat.
I stopped with David and Tammy Woods where we bought some goat and lamb to eat while I was covering them in Burkina Faso in West Africa.
After making me some coffee the boy cooked some eggs for me as well to eat.
For the past few years I have enjoyed traveling with Jeff Raymond, Pat Davison and James Dockery where we have tasted the food in many different countries together.
I don’t always remember what the food was called, but I did enjoy it.
One thing Dorie, my wife, and I love to eat is Shrimp and Grits. We have had many varieties in Charleston, SC.
In Lisbon, Portugal we waited a couple hours to eat at this restaurant where they serve the meat on a hot stone that you then cook your meat.
I wish you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving! Wishing you the gift of faith and the blessing of hope this thanksgiving day! We gather on this day to be thankful for what we have, for the family we love, the friends we cherish, and for the blessings that will come. Happy Thanksgiving!
For these photos of the Umbrella Cockatoo I didn’t travel to Indonesia where they originated. I walked down the street to my neighbors house.
Peggy Hewitt, my neighbor, has 14 exotic birds she has rescued and is trying to find bird lovers to buy them from her.
Someone wanting to adopt a parrot needs to know they live a very long time as far as pets. The umbrella cockatoo is a long-term commitment for an owner — this species can live up to 70 years with proper care and attention.
Often photographers think that they must go somewhere exotic to find the exotic.
Well my mentor Don Rutledge always said that the best stories are often in your backyard, or in my case next door.
I have lived at my house for the past nine years and this is the very first time I have been to Peggy’s house and seen her birds.
When we first moved to our home my daughter, Chelle, talked to her and got to see all of her birds.
When teaching photography one-on-one to a student at my house I was trying to come up with some things we could photograph around the neighborhood. We ran into her and asked when we were out photographing the fall colors.
I think the one thing that keeps most photographers from ever getting better is the fear of talking to people.
It is much easier to walk outside and look for nature shots than it is to walk next door and say hello to your neighbor.
While nature photos can be stunning, I don’t think any of my photos from my yard were as exciting to look at until I talked to my neighbor. By taking the time to get to know my neighbor I discovered something much more exotic that I would expect to find when I travel the world, but it was just next door.
Have you met your neighbors and found out what their hobbies are or what they do for work? Maybe your best pictures have been in your neighborhood all this time and you were too scared to talk to people to find out.
We have been fighting the wrong fight for copyright registration. That is my opinion.
For most of my career we have told everyone that when you click your shutter you own your copyright. If you are on the payroll of a company they own that photo unless there is some written agreement giving you the copyright.
We know that is where the work-for-hire agreement came from when dealing with usage rights and copyright.
While the ownership of the copyright hasn’t been up for debate other than the who owns it based on who is paying for the creation the issue has been about the courts.
I was informed that you needed to register your copyright with copyright office to be able to collect legal fees. Those are all the fees that you can be awarded if you win a case. The judge reviews all the legal fees and does a separate ruling on how much the other side must pay for you taking this to court.
I learned early on that the going rate for copyright infringement cases was about $100,000 and took at least a year or more in the courts.
For the past 30 years ASMP and NPPA that I am a member, have spent lots of money lobbying congress to protect that process of registration.
I believe there is a better solution today. Do away with copyright registration. Get congress to change the law that if you can show copyright infringement then you can collect legal fees.
As far as the proving your images are yours there is Blockchain technology already on the market.
The idea of a blockchain — protecting data through a large network of computers — and applies the concept to managing photo rights. It is an “encrypted digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers.” Photographers can add new images as well as archive images to the system. Because of the blockchain structure, the data is stored on a large network of computers that helps create a public ledger, adds a layer of protection, and prevents data loss.
There are centralized and decentralized solutions right now available for Blockchain.
The point I make is that the current registration of your images with copyright office is out of date. With blockchain these servers can also police the web and find anyone using your images without rights.
Because Blockchain works so well with the digital photograph it will let you sell and track any usage of your images and keeps them from being used illegally since it codes images and makes them no longer easily copied and shared.
Blockchain can help us not just prove we shot an image it serves as an agency and collector.
We need to change the copyright laws and not continue to use a system that is outdated and not serving the artist community well at all.
I have talked about shooting enough photos of a subject to allow our imagination and creativity kick-in. Now that we are all doing just that (making plenty of pictures every time we approach a subject) we can see for ourselves how even just a millimeter’s change in angle can make the difference between a good and a great photograph. Or, for that matter, it doesn’t take much to make the difference between a good shot and a crummy one.
If we print all the digital images from a shoot as large thumbnails we’ll have a several pages of images we can study side-by-side. This should give us some insight about our work that looking at our photos one at a time will never give us.
Editing software, such as PhotoShop, gives us the opportunity to rate photos from zero to five stars. Here are some guides to use as we look to see if we have any FIVE STAR photos in that shoot.
Exposure. Not just the technically correct one, but the proper exposure for the effect we wish to convey. We can under expose a little to emphasize graphics or over exposed (this is done a lot in fashion photography to diminish skin tones or to emphasize eyes and lips).
Focus. I love selective focus where the depth of field is very shallow. This lets me direct the viewer’s attention to where I want it to go. It makes the subject pop out. We see this used in fashion and sports photography a lot. Just the opposite (a deep depth of field) may be just what is needed in landscape photos and certainly it is necessity in macro photography.
Anytime we can make someone feel as if they can see into our photography we have truly accomplished something. After all, it is only a two dimensional object.
Composition. Medical students are told, “First, do no harm.” Photographers should take the same advice and leave out all unnecessary elements. All composition is the selection of what should be in and what should be out of the frame when we release the shutter. Speaking of framing… to add depth to a picture frame it as you take it. Shoot under the branch of a tree or through a door or window. A frame is only one of many visual elements that can draw a viewer into our photo. Elements like leading lines will give it a three-dimensional feel.
Anytime we can make someone feel as if they can see into our photography we have truly accomplished something. After all, it is only a two dimensional object.
See how the feet are cut off.
Just barely moving the camera we can include the feet and anchor the photo.
Lighting. Light can draw one into the photo, too. Light is probably, next to expression and body language, the most dramatic, mood-setting tool we have as photographers. The color temperature can be powerful. The warm late evening light, the cool early morning colors or the green cast of florescent office light each carries a mood of its own.
Expression. Realtors like to say what matters is location, location, location. Portrait photographers KNOW that the composition may be beautiful, the lighting creative, the clothing and background perfect, but if the EXPRESSION isn’t what it needs to be…. No sale! Is a smile what is needed? (By the way, NEVER tell ANYONE to smile.) Most adults can’t turn it on an off and kids will come up with some rather unusual expression, but generally NOT a real smile. If, as a photographer we need the to smile – naturally – then it is up to us to elicit one from them. We owe them that. After all, we ARE the photographers. Usually pictures of people should show their faces. Sounds obvious, but if our subjects are watching something happening, say a ball game or a birthday party, we must be sure we are not so distracted by the event that we forget what is important… our main subject, the faces of our subjects.
Body Language. We can photograph someone several feet away (and not even show their face) and still communicate a great deal about them if we watch their body language. Watch their arms. It’s amazing what we say just by the position of our arms. Do our subject’s arms communicate what we want? Are they open or closed? Is the person in our photo leaning forward or backward? Does their position engage or pull back? Do they appear to be sensitive or cold? Are they reaching out to another or pushing them away?
The Eyes. An eye doctor may tell us that the eyes really don’t change. Perhaps that is true in a technical sense. Be that as it may, watch the eyes. They tell it all! However it happens the eyes are the essence of a portrait.
The Head. A millimeter’s turn of the head, a slight tilt is all it takes to make the difference between a zero and a five star photography.
This is in no way a comprehensive list, it is only a sampling of many things we need consider when “grading” our photos.
By moving the camera merely a millimeter you can include their feet rather than chopping them off, leave out or include another person and change the mood.
Just a millimeter or so can keep the tree from growing out of your spouse’s head. Moving an inch to the left may let the camera see a person’s face a little better or distinguish the main subject from their surroundings.
When we shoot enough photos we get to see the difference just a millimeter’s change can make. It is then we will begin to see the why one photo is bad and another is good.
In the Olympics it can be the difference in millimeters that determines who wins and looses a race. In photography it can be what determines the great photo from the others.