I have been looking through some older photos. I started pulling all of our photos of our daughter for a project we are working on.
Most of the photos have been on CDs and DVDs and I am putting them onto a hard drive. I will be going through them and selecting our favorites and then putting them into categories like Birthdays and Holidays.
For these photos I found I also had a picture of the setup. Here is that photo for you to see how I setup the lights in our garage in my older house.
Here are a few of the different shots from that day back in October 31, 2002.
What I think is great about these photos is they were shot on my first digital DSLR camera. It was the Nikon D100.
The Nikon D100 had a 6.1 Effective Megapixel CCD for 3,008 x 2,000-pixel images. The D100 had about 7.5 stops of dynamic range as compared to today’s cameras of about 12 to 14 stops.
Just a comparison of Nikon D100 and 13 years later the D5
Nikon D100 Key Specs
Nikon D5 Key Specs
Announcement Date: 2002-07-26
6MP – APS-C CCD Sensor
ISO 200 – 1600
Nikon F Mount
1.8″ Fixed Type Screen
Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder
3 fps continuous shooting
No Video Mode
780g. 144 x 116 x 81 mm
Announcement Date: 2016-01-05
21MP – Full frame CMOS Sensor
No Anti-aliasing (AA) filter
ISO 100 – 3280000
Nikon F Mount
3.2″ Fixed Type Screen
Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder
14.0 fps continuous shooting
3840 x 2160 video resolution
1415g. 160 x 158.5 x 92 mm
Weather Sealed Body
Replaced Nikon D4s
A Slam Dunk in business is when you exceed the expectations of the client. I have made the mistake many times throughout my career of not doing a great job of managing those expectations.
We have all had the client call and also had the bills stacking up and due to our need of getting the job we rush to do whatever is necessary to just get the job. This is like going to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will make unnecessary purchases.
Know the client’s expectations
When you have a brand new client managing expectations is so important. You need to not just listen and hear what they are saying, but I often ask for examples of what they are used to working with or if they have not worked with a photographer examples of what they would like that they have seen some where before.
Just this week I had two new clients, which I have never done work with before. In both cases I asked if they could send me some examples of what they are looking for so that we are on the same page.
I had one client send me work that would take little effort on my part to meet and exceed the quality of work they showed to me. However, the other client was talking to me about a photojournalistic coverage of where I was just shadowing someone, but then the photos they sent to me were well crafted lifestyle photos that would be used in a major advertising campaign.
The funny thing is that one client’s budget was more like champaign budget the and other was a beer budget.
In the case where the budget was cheap the taste was luxury for sure. This is where your attitude and negotiation skills come in to help educate the client or at least price the job properly so as to be sure you can deliver the product to meet those expectations.
It is a conversation
Be careful to not jump to the very end of the process and write a contract that is a take it or leave it situation. Pace yourself.
I talked with my contact and let them know that the price range would be three to four times more than we had first been discussing if the images they showed was exactly what they were wanting. I also asked if they were showing a situation or more the quality that they are looking for in the photo.
Basically I don’t need to spend a lot of time producing an estimate for a advertising shoot when they really just need a ground breaking photo.
I always do my best to start with how I am able and more than willing to meet their expectations and can make it happen for them. I let them know my concern is to always get them the most for their budget.
Don’t be shortsighted, Have Foresight
Your creativity should not be limited to your work with the camera. You need to make the entire experience for your client so special that they love your work and tell others about you.
Your goal should be to surprise your client. One of the ways I started to surprise my clients was to use off camera flash. Just like here with this family photo.
In this photo of the hunter it was raining. My flash is covered in zip lock bags. Had I not used the flash the skin color would not be as accurate and the dynamic range would have made the photo look extremely flat.
One way I continue to surprise my customers is quick turn around. I shot a client’s son’s wedding where before the Bride and Groom had left for the honeymoon the next day they had all the photos in an online gallery. As compared to most wedding photographers who take a month or two to get those photos to the bride and groom I had surprised them.
I have a good number of clients that are always changing things at the last moment. My response is always that is OK. I am here to make it happen for you. [Side Note: I do price to cover my need to be flexible]. Many times my clients make changes and I will do my best to move things to still work to get their project done. However, if I cannot make it happen for me to be there I line up a photographer/video person to give them the same quality as me or better.
Take care of your photographer colleagues
This just reminds me to be sure you are developing great friends in the industry. You want to give them work when you can and they should be doing the same for you over time.
If a job is not suited well for you take care of the client and find them the photographer who will be a good fit for the job. They often will come back to you for other jobs when you show to them you are looking out for their best interests over just yourself.
On The Same Page
When you and the client are working from the same page of notes, your ability to meet and exceed their expectations is something you can manage. However, if at any point you make assumptions and don’t verify what their expectations are for a job you can often find yourself reshooting for the same underestimated budget and therefore losing money or just lose the customer over all.
Here is a little secret I discovered over time. When you ask these questions to the client to clarify the scope of a job it makes you look more like an expert and their trust goes up in you.
In 1930 Willard Van Dyke as well as Ansel Adams & Edward Weston formed the Group ƒ/64.
Group f/64 was a group founded by seven 20th-century San Francisco photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharp-focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western (U.S.) viewpoint. In part, they formed in opposition to the pictorialist photographic style that had dominated much of the early 20th century, but moreover they wanted to promote a new modernist aesthetic that was based on precisely exposed images of natural forms and found objects.
The term f/64 refers to a small aperture setting on a large format camera, which secures great depth of field, rendering a photograph evenly sharp from foreground to background. Such a small aperture sometimes implies a long exposure and therefore a selection of relatively slow moving or motionless subject matter, such as landscapes and still life, but in the typically bright California light this is less a factor in the subject matter chosen than the sheer size and clumsiness of the cameras, compared to the smaller cameras [35mm] increasingly used in action and reportage photography in the 1930s.
One of the magazines I have done work for through the years is Country Magazine. There requirements are to shoot at the highest depth-of-field for their photos. To do this on today’s DSLR cameras you are typically shooting at ƒ/22. This would be equivalent to the ƒ/64 on a 8′”x10″ that many in Group ƒ/64 used.
The strength of shooting with sharpness all through the photograph is it puts the audience into the scene. This is where you are using composition and lighting to draw the audience into the photograph.
While your eye may go first to where the photographer directs you using light values and composition your eye will wonder afterwards around the scene just as if you were standing there yourself.
This style was in opposition to the pictorialist of the time.
Pictorialism is the name given to an international style and aesthetic movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries. There is no standard definition of the term, but in general it refers to a style in which the photographer has somehow manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph as a means of “creating” an image rather than simply recording it. Typically, a pictorial photograph appears to lack a sharp focus (some more so than others), is printed in one or more colors other than black-and-white (ranging from warm brown to deep blue) and may have visible brush strokes or other manipulation of the surface. For the pictorialist, a photograph, like a painting, drawing or engraving, was a way of projecting an emotional intent into the viewer’s realm of imagination.
Group ƒ/1.4 you may not have heard of, but I bet you have heard of BOKEH Photography.
In photography, BOKEH is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.
I would say that those who shoot primarily wide open aperture are more stylistically like the pictorialist of the last century and less like Group ƒ/64 which was about preserving everything in the scene.
I love that my camera lets me shoot from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/57. The ƒ/57 is when I shoot with my Nikon 60mm Micro lens. Here is a shot I did that was widely published.
“ƒ/8 and be there,” was Alfred Eisenstaedt’s response to the question on how to be a successful photographer.
However the earliest record of the quote “ƒ/8 and be there” is attributed to Weegee who was a famous street photographer during the 1930’s, 40’s and beyond. It represents a philosophy to keep technical decisions simple and be where your vision takes you. The quote has been the mantra of photojournalists, travel photographers and even nature photographers.
This says you just need to anticipate and be technically ready to capture “the decisive moment.”
I say to be careful not to treat your interviews as just got microphone and recorder levels set and just hit record and I am done.
Don’t Make Your Camera a Box Camera
Kodak made a box camera where you pushed the button and Kodak did the rest. You had no control over the Aperture, Shutter or even ISO.
Once you subscribe to shooting all your photos like the Group ƒ/64 or those doing BOKEH photography you have in essence taken that very expensive camera and turned it into a box camera.
Exercise for you to do
Take your camera and just one lens. Find a scene and then shoot the scene at every aperture you can on your camera. Now as you get to a wide open aperture you know that your depth-of-field becomes very shallow, so remember to change your focus so that the focal point is on something in the scene that creates interest. We call this technique selective focus.
Now just spend time doing this for several different situations. It might be able to do it with scenics rather than people at first, but then move on to people. What is really fun to do is to shoot where there are many people. A good example would be in a coffee shop.
Your challenge is not to make one good photo in each situation, but rather a great photo at each ƒ-stop.
When you master this technique you will discover you will be able to say something totally different about each situation. This will be the difference of you writing a very short sentence to creating a novel with just one frame.
Will you take up the challenge?
I believe the great photographers are the ones that know when to use what aperture to capture what they want to say about the subject.
Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/250
Ernest Hemingway used this long quotation from Ephesians in his book The Sun Also Rises:
“What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.”
Hemingway thought the characters in The Sun Also Rises may have been “battered” but were not lost.
Do you feel “Battered”?
For many reasons you too may feel frustrated and even depressed with your plot in life.
Are you suffering from any of these:
Loss of a client
Not sure what potential clients want or need
Camera gear is old and not financially able to upgrade
Feeling betrayed by another photographer
Loosing clients to younger photographers
Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/500
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:33
First I cannot tell you to read something or take something and it will all be better. What I can say from my life experiences is that it can really suck all you are dealing with. One of the best things when one is feeling this way is just to have someone there with you. Having someone who just listens and doesn’t give advice but is willing to be with you during this time.
This is a Bible verse that reminds me that I am not alone:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
– Psalm 23:4
You may feel like Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem. You are going there to pay your taxes and you arrive and you have no where to stay. It is the end of the year and you also have a child on the way.
I doubt they were all excited about this trip with all they were dealing with in life.
Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/500
Carry one another’s burdens
Galatians 6:2 – Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings.
Now if you are able I highly recommend helping others when you are down. If you are not able then this is a clear sign you need to see a doctor.
It will help you to get your attention off of your own problems. Sometimes we get in such a hole that we can’t see anything else, or find the way out. Helping others works to break this cycle, and opens our vision. It gives perspective, shows that your problems are not insurmountable.
When I started giving to others of my time and talents was when things finally turned around for me. Now let me tell you just because you start helping someone doesn’t mean there is instant gratification for the work you are doing.
Like the mule here helping carry the farmer’s burden you too will feel the weight of the work you will do. Helping others will once again reveal your true self worth. It will show you that you do have value and that you can make a difference.
While you are helping with other people’s burdens, which sometimes are wounds you are going to help heal yourself.
You will find that you aren’t the only one with problems. We know this intellectually, but seeing it first hand is healing. Sometimes we feel like we have been singled out for pain. We are not that special. It comes to all. Receive healing as you work to heal others. Do something; get out.
Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/100
My faith has a lot to do with who I am. I am often asked what it means to be a “Christian Photographer?”
There is an assumption that my faith impacts my work in a way that makes me different than those who are not Christian.
I really wish those of the Christian faith that are photographers were in some way able to outshine all others because our faith in God has illuminated us in some special way that our work just stands out from others, but that is not the case.
Martin Luther was one of the most influential priests in the Christian faith. He is one of the main architects of the great reformation. When asked about being a “Christian tradesman,” he responded so well with
“The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”
The more I think about Martin Luther’s words it has shaped my thinking of what it means to be a “Christian Photographer.”
The Proof is in the Pudding
The biggest thing that faith can do for someone is to give them the compass to use when making decisions. You could still make the right decisions in life without a compass, but it will not be as intentional and consistent as someone who has a compass.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalms 119:105
I think the advantage of people of faith verses those without a belief in God is our ability to hold a compass [scripture] in our hands and to meet in a house of worship regularly that helps to shape our moral compass in life.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/100
When I see people today taking “selfies” with their friends and sharing them this is how I see people of faith with their God. They are having a relationship with God and often are sharing through their social media their best friend who helps to guide them through this life.
How Studying Scripture Helps
Now one of the best things that scripture does for us is gives us so many examples of characters just like us that also dealt with difficult situations in life. People of faith will not only read these stories but gather in classes and study these stories. They learn to look at a situation and break it down.
Studying scripture is a skill that will help you study your business and learn how to dissect the decisions that you will need to make and also predict outcomes based on moral laws.
“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
― Augustine of Hippo
“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.”
I do know that my faith should not just be evident in my photos, but in all areas of my life. How I treat my fellow man. As a follower of Jesus I seek to emulate his example and learn to serve others.
As a person of faith and a follower of Jesus I believe my purpose is to live a life that God touches people through me. My goal is to get out of the way of God doing that through me.
I believe that faith in God is what helps to shape us into better people. I believe that I would be very self centered if it were not for my faith.
Time for Halloween is just days away. This can be a fun time for photographers to document their kids through the years and get some fun photos.
Coolpix P7000, ISO 1061, ƒ/2.8, 1/280
Take the time and photograph your family getting ready for Halloween. Here I am with my daughter and her friend a few houses down from us as we take time to carve our pumpkins.
Coolpix P7000, ISO 1600, ƒ/3.2, 1/230
A couple of years I set up a background in our garage and took photos of the kids as they came by and then posted a gallery for them to get their photos. Many parents loved having nice photos of their kids.
Coolpix P7000, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/640
The reason I setup in the garage rather than our house is the parents could see their kids throughout the whole process and I got more photos. Had I requested people to come into our house I am not sure that would have gone as well.
This is a super simple setup. Two strobes pointed onto the white background. They are one stop brighter than the two lights that are on the subject.
This is when you don’t know what everyone will wear and works reasonably well.
Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/80–Off camera fill-flash using the Nikon SB-900. The Flash is on the Pocketwizard TT5 and being triggered by the Mini TT1 on the Camera with the AC3 to control the output of the flash.
My daughter has a very creative imagination. One year she wanted to dress up as a princess of the enchanted forest. We went out in our backyard and I captured her where she loved to play, but now in her Halloween princess outfit.
This same year I took photos in my home studio that I setup in our basement.
Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/16, 1/200
Some of the photos we like best through the years of our kids are from Halloween. They had so much fun dressing up and having fun with their friends.
Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/1600
Since my daughter’s birthday is just a couple days after Halloween she has had many Halloween themed birthday parties. Here she is with her friends going putt-putt before going out for trick or treat later that evening.
Halloween Photography Tips
Take photos of your family getting ready for Halloween. Carving pumpkins or shopping for pumpkins on a farm
Setup a small studio or space to make Halloween photos. You may want to even create a small set.
Photograph your kid in a natural setting that compliments their theme for their costume
Nikon D3, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.5, 1/100
The Citadel Ring Day Weekend
This weekend is the time the seniors at The Citadel get their rings. Most cadets go through the ring with their parent and date. Here my wife is going through the ring with my step-son and his date.
Nikon D3s, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/80
I can tell you that you are better off shooting without your on the camera flash. You are just too far away for it to really make a difference. You need a camera with and ISO of 6400 or higher to really get a good sharp photo.
You may want a lens that covers 50mm to 200mm if you stand down on the floor.
Take test shots at different White Balance settings.
Set ISO up high like ISO 6400 or higher. I shot the second photo at ISO 12800
Keep shutter speed up pretty high as well, so shoot wide open with your aperture
Make test shots and take a look
Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.5, 1/125–Two off camera flashes on either side of the camera.
Take photos other than going through the ring. Here I photographed them in the Quad of the Barracks.
Nikon D3S, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80
Good news is the afternoon before walking through the ring the seniors get their rings. Great time to practice in the same room they photos will be that night. Here my son helps with name pronunciation.
Nikon D3S, Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8 DG EX APO IF HSM, ISO 3200, ƒ/2.8, 1/80
Here is he is getting the ring. Good news is when they are standing in the ring and walking down the carpet there are more lights on them.
You will shoot a lot of these photos of your cadet holding the ring close to the camera. Be sure your aperture is pretty high. Here it is ƒ/8. This helps keep their ring and faces in focus.
Nikon D3, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.3, 1/60–Two off camera flashes on either side of the camera.
If you son/daughter isn’t a senior this is a great time to practice a year or two earlier so that when your time comes you are seasoned. If you get great photos then you can share them with the other families.
We are grateful to have all these photos to remember our son’s journey through The Citadel.
The quote “ƒ/8 and be there” is attributed to Weegee who was a famous street photographer during the 1930’s, 40’s and beyond. It represents a philosophy to keep technical decisions simple and be where your vision takes you. The quote has been the mantra of photojournalists, travel photographers and even nature photographers.
This says you just need to anticipate and be technically ready to capture “the decisive moment.”
Be careful not to treat your interviews as just got microphone and recorder levels set and just hit record and I am done.
In interviewing you are not just listening and capturing what you hear with the microphone and recorder. You must listen and see if what you are hearing could be said more effectively.
Nikon D3s, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 2000, ƒ/10, 1/250
You need to be actively listening. This is after they talk you summarize their thoughts and ask if you are tracking with them. If they agree and your summary is shorter and getting to the points very effectively then ask them if they mind saying this so you can capture it.
Your goal is to shorten their comments down so that the audience will not doze off. They will stay engaged because the subject is now more engaging because you helped them to tell their story more effectively.
Very seldom will you ever capture someone that all you need to do is rearrange their sound bites into a story. You must also help them say what they are trying to communicate better.
If you do not do this during the interview your editing in your software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X will not make the content better. Get the content edited without the technology by just helping someone tell their story and then use the technology to deliver the message to the audience by putting the icing on the cake.
Bottom line your editing is done as much in the actual interview by you and the subject as later with the software.
In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also, yin-yang or yin yang) describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, and male and female) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality of yin and yang.
Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang shows a balance between two opposites with a little bit in each.
Here are some Yin-Yang dualities in photography that I deal with constantly and this list isn’t comprehensive by any means.
Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 500, ƒ/2.8, 1/20, Nikon SB-900 off camera triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 on the flash
Shutter-Speed/Aperture–You cannot change one without the other being affected. This was more true in the days of film when you were stuck with one ISO until you changed the film.
ISO/Noise–As you change your ISO you are affecting the image quality. Today’s cameras high ISO capabilities are making this less noticeable, but it still exists.
Flash/Authentic Moments–When I shoot with a flash I announce myself and it is much more difficult to blend into a room.
Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200
Mixed Lighting–Situations where you have say window light and fluorescent lights in a room competing as the subject moves closer or further from the window the constant fighting of color temperature is ongoing.
Gear/Photographer–This is the biggest issue I have on a daily basis when it comes to the Yin-Yang. There is an ongoing struggle between the science and philosophy of the image. It is like a struggle between science/technology and the liberal arts where you need both to make the very best images.
What I love the most about photography and yet continues to frustrate me just as well is I have rarely looked at my work and felt like the images I made couldn’t be improved upon.
Great photos I believe are the results of years of understanding and knowledge of the gear to make it perform at the peak of it’s capabilities along with years of understanding of the subject. You are able to anticipate and execute an incredible image because you are then fully ready for the “moment.”
Sooner or later I have had gear fail me because I pushed it beyond it’s capabilities. Photographers complain and the manufacturers listen and create newer gear that exceeds the previous gears abilities.
I have to admit while photography can frustrate me it pales to the learning curve of mankind and my ability to anticipate what people will do.
While I know today’s cameras will do even more than their predecessors I don’t think we ever fully maximized all that the simple box camera will do.
Nikon Coolpix P7000, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/1100
Two topics that will result in better images
I think we need to first spend more time getting to know our subject of the images. We need to become experts on our subjects so we truly can start to capture moments that help people connect through our images to those subjects in ways they did not see before.
Second we need to constantly be learning all that our camera gear will do and what we can do to capture those “moments” with our subjects that help clear up the image so that the “moment” really “clicks” with the audience.
Nikon D2X, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 1/200
There are many ways to approach team photos for posters. For Georgia Tech’s football team the theme for the 2006 year is “Take Your Best Shot.” We made the photos at a boxing gym. What really made the photo was the players getting into the concept.
I have always thought people look their best with pleasant expressions or smiles in portraits. However, getting male athletes to smile has proven difficult in the past years. They all want to look tough and having an attitude like we see on MTV.
We embraced their attitude and what they want to portray about themselves in this photo. I think it works because it is a peak into their dreams.
Nikon D2X, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 100, ƒ/14, 1/8
Women athletes smile much more than their male counterparts. They enjoy being the princess or queen for the day. Here they are on top of Atlanta with the Skyline behind them. It is like the last photo of the Disney movies where the Prince and Princess ride off into their kingdom. Their kingdom is Atlanta in this photo.