Actors Gotta Act

I think the best tips I have for getting your headshot is to take some tips from singers.

  1. Yawn-sigh Technique. For this quick vocal exercise, simply yawn (take in air) with your mouth closed. …
  2. Humming warmupS. …
  3. Vocal Straw Exercise. …
  4. Lip buzz Vocal warmup. …
  5. Tongue trill exercise. …
  6. Jaw Loosening ExerciseS. …
  7. Two-octave pitch glide WarmUp. …
  8. Vocal Sirens Exercise.
  9. Vocal Slides Technique

You see singers are stretching their vocal cords. In a way they are actually calibrating their voices.

A few years ago I thought while photographing some actors, wouldn’t they love to just perform. That was when I was just trying to get them to enjoy themselves. I accidentally discovered that after they have been going through different type of characters the expressions that follow are more relaxed and engaging.

Have fun in your headshot session. Keep the lighting simple and spend all the time getting a variety of expressions.

Most of the time when we an actor comes to me for their headshot they are a little reluctant at first.

photo by Dorie Griggs

This past Saturday I setup a studio in the lobby at Riverside Theatre Complex – Columbus State University.

My daughter, Chelle Leary, is a student in the Theatre program at Columbus State University and was helping me. She would help coach some of the actors by asking them to imitate professors and students in the program. Ronald Walker was getting into the roles once he had some ideas to play with.

Ronald Walker

After playing with some characters I would just get a few natural moments and then move onto another character. I continued to shoot these so they can later use them for fun with Social Media.

I think the actors love seeing the results of the different characters they created.

photo by Dorie Griggs
Gabrielle Solomon

I like to think of taking these variety of expressions is a way of calibrating the face. You need to push or stretch beyond the best expression for any mood you are trying to achieve to make the one that is dialed back just a little look natural.

Here are some more tips for you in a downloadable PDF

Now fully vaccinated I am ready to take on clients once again. Call me and lets setup a portrait session for you.

Drone 360º Panoramic

The photo at the top is the same photo as you see here moving. You need to have special software installed on your website to make them come alive.

Put your mouse on the photo and pull up and down. Go side to side to see how you can control the experience. Pinch the screen and spread your 2 fingers on the screen to zoom in and out.

Shot with Drone – Chatham’s Greenway Neighborhood @ Bent Grass Drive & Putting Green Intersection

I have been shooting 360º panoramics for many years, but from the ground. I was excited to see I can do this with my drone.

You can see more examples of my Panoramic 360 on my main website. Go Here To See Them

I love being able to put the audience into the scene.

What is Cinematic?

Photo by Gibbs Frazeur

During the pandemic I have taken on learning about flying a drone and just this past week jumped into using a gimbal with a camera for the purposes of creating video.

I wanted to have a much smoother video than I was getting without a gimbal. Now with my Nikon Z6, which has image stabilization paired with my DJI Ronin SC I will end up with much more usable video.

Most of us are familiar with the learning curve. As we know it isn’t a straight path of continued success.


The really cool thing these days is anything you are interested in learning about, there is most likely someone who has created a YouTube for you to learn how as well. As I was learning how to fly my drone and how to use the Gimbal everyone kept on saying for a more “Cinematic Look”.

Frankly it was being tossed around so much in all the videos that I realized there were many people adding their own interpretation as to what this is all about.

Why The Old-School 4:3 Aspect Ratio Is Coming Back With A Vengeance Right  Now - Noam Kroll

For years, the classic 4:3 (or 1.33/1.37) aspect ratio was the standard TV format of the older tube based TVs. The wider formats (1.85 and 2.35) were seen as “movie formats” and 4:3 was seen as a “TV format”. In the early 2000s that 16:9 (1.78) televisions hit the market in masses, and changed the aspect ratio game forever. No longer was widescreen a format only for film, but now it was a television format too.

Most would say that the wider format of 16:9 is a cinematic format. However the 2:35 is the gold standard of the cinema. You may notice that a lot of movies were shot on a Panavision camera. Most production houses rent them because they are so expensive. They created anamorphic projection lenses during the widescreen boom in the 1950s.

I was finding in many of my YouTube tutorials putting an Anamorphic lens on your drone camera and then using software to stretch out the photo. The emphasis by all talking about this lens was it makes your video more “Cinematic”.

Before digital all the movies were shot on film and the cameras shot this at 24 frames per second or 24 fps. Since we had become accustomed to seeing this in the movies people associated the feel of 24 fps with cinema. While now we can shoot up to 240 fps with some camera gear, it has a different look than the 24 fps.

All this is to say there are some technical things you can do that sets up your end product to look more cinematic. Wide screen and 24 fps are the “old school” way of seeing things.

The other way that the term “Cinematic” is being used is really a lot more subjective. I found that most were using this to say to make your work look professional and good here are some tips.

Here are common things they say make your footage look amateurish:

  • Jerky motion
  • Crooked horizons
  • Exposure
  • Color Temperature
  • Too long of clips
  • Not enough variety of clips
  • No Storyline

One key I can say will determine your success in shooting cinematically, is your depth of knowledge of movies through the years. I found one thing throughout my journey in life up to now. Most all the great visual storytellers are students of the trade.

One great movie to give you a taste of what it takes to make movies and the history of it is a documentary “Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story”.

The best part of the movie to me was Harold was the guy creating the cinematic moments in movie history by pre-visualizing them by drawing storyboards that then people like Alfred Hitchcock would use.

So when you hear people talking about something being Cinematic, they could be referring to the technical, or they could be talking about the aesthetic. I can tell you if your look at their work and it is outstanding, then you know they really do know what it means to shoot cinematically. If you look at their work and it just isn’t captivating, they don’t know cinema like they say they do.

If you want to be a true cinematographer, then the key is to become a student of all the master cinematographers of the industry.

Just learning the terms in the industry will expose you to a palet of storytelling techniques.

Here are just some terms alone one would benefit from knowing what they mean.

• Aerial perspective
• Aerial shot
• American shot
• Angle of view
• Bird’s eye shot
• Bird’s-eye view
• Boom shot
• B-roll
• Camera angle
• Camera coverage
• Camera dolly
• Camera operator
• Camera tracking
• Close-up
• Crane shot
• Dolly zoom
• Dutch angle
• Establishing shot

• Film frame
• Filmmaking
• Follow shot
• Forced perspective
• Freeze-frame shot
• Full frame
• Full shot
• Hanging miniature
• Head shot
• High-angle shot
• Long shot
• Long take
• Low-angle shot
• Master shot
• Medium shot
• Money shot
• Multiple-camera setup
•One shot (music video)

• Over the shoulder shot
• Panning (camera)
• Point of view shot
• Rack focusing
• Reaction shot
• Shot (filmmaking)
• Shot reverse shot
• Single-camera setup
• Stalker vision
• Tilt (camera)
• Top-down perspective
• Tracking shot
• Trunk shot
• Two shot
• Video production
• Walk and talk
• Whip pan
• Worm’s-eye view

“Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him.”

That quote is from James Allen, who was a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement. His best known work, ‘As a Man Thinketh’, has been mass-produced since its publication in 1903.

The COVID-19 Pandemic is something that none of us had a way of preventing over a year ago. It happened so fast that by the time we reacted, many were already hospitalized and soon many would die.

My way to respond was to help out restaurants and businesses where I live in Roswell, Georgia. One year ago today I did this video to help Bob White and his family that own Slope’s BBQ communicate how they were responding to the pandemic and still going to stay open, but for takeout only.

Over those first few months I was showing what I could do to help businesses. I thought surely if I did a few of these someone would finally ask me to do one for their business.

I even went back to those restaurants to get video testimonials on how much those videos helped their businesses.

Nothing was really working to get work.

“A man has to learn that he cannot command things, but that he can command himself; that he cannot coerce the wills of others, but that he can mold and master his own will: and things serve him who serves Truth; people seek guidance of him who is master of himself.”

~ James Allen

This year has taken it’s toll on so many of my friends.

“I lost my studio. My savings are gone. I’ve filled in the gaps by selling gear. People I love have succumbed to this virus.”

~ Anonymous
The protesters are all laying down just like George Floyd did when he lost his life to a cop on his neck. Gwendolyn Dukes, Richard Bonito and their friends organized a peaceful protest on behalf of George Floyd at the corner or King Road and Hwy 92 in Roswell, Georgia on June 2, 2020. Dukes said, “Action speaks louder than words” as to why she and her friends wanted to get out and protest. She went on to say “We are not mad at the police, we are mad at the system.” They want to see changes for better policing, the larger racism in our society and are encouraging their friends to get out and vote. While Richard Bonito voted in the last presidential election most in the crowd are closer to Gwendolyn’s age and this will be their first election.

This has been a tough time when some of the suffering has been not by a virus, but by people killing other people.

The Colorado attack on Monday, March 22nd, is the 7th mass shooting in 7 days in the US.

“Our life is what our thoughts make it. A man will find that as he alters his thoughts toward things and other people, things and other people will alter towards him.”

~ James Allen

The Serenity Prayer is what I continue to find solace in through the years when circumstances beyond my control are wreaking havoc in my life. Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer originally asked for courage first, and specifically for changing things that must be changed, not things that simply can be changed.

“Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.”

~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Don’t be Depressed or Anxious

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu

My friend Judy Bowen is a missionary in Togo, West Africa. She draws a lot of her strength from seeing God work through nature.

What I have to offer today is this Bible Verse:

26 Look at the birds of the air, for they do not sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? 27 Who among you by taking thought can add a cubit[a] to his stature?

28 “Why take thought about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: They neither work, nor do they spin. 29 Yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. 30 Therefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is here and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore, take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 (For the Gentiles seek after all these things.) For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you. 34 Therefore, take no thought about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take thought about the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof.”

Matthew 6:26-34

Starting From Scratch To Build A Portfolio

Most clients are going to want to see some of your work before they hire you to shoot something.

What they are looking for is for work similar to what they are hiring you to shoot for them.

[DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

I am starting from scratch when it comes to offering Aerial Photography using my Drone.

Photo by Craig Carden

I have been doing aerial photography my entire career. I would hire a helicopter and have the doors taken off on the side I was shooting from. Here I am doing that on a photo shoot for a school.

Blessed Trinity High School [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 160, 1/100, ƒ/8, (35mm = 22)]

Now shooting from a Helicopter you must be +500 feet above the ground. With a Drone you are -400 feet above the ground.

So there are still times you may need a helicopter.

I can put a few of those helicopter shots in the website and explain that if we need to go higher than FAA rules for a drone I can offer that service as well.

What to include in your portfolio?

You really need to target a niche. I am going to try and pursue the commercial work and also have a few residential images on the website as well.

The commercial should pay a little better than residential.

[DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 270, 1/13, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

Now a couple of tips I have been picking up from other drone operators through their posts on the topic has been that what sells isn’t always what you see a lot on drone pilots pages.

One guy realized over time that businesses often will buy stock drone footage of things around their business. For example the Chamber of Commerce is more interested in shots that show off their town and not just pretty pictures of trees from the top.

From my research there are a few things I am working on to shoot to build the website.

  • Skyline of city
  • Attractions
  • Series of video clips that tell a short story of a place
    • Short video to show a small town highlights on why to live there
    • Short video to show a commercial property

Not So Easy

Flying a drone is making a photo shoot more complex than anything else I have done.

While this video looks OK, earlier that day I shot another Hyperlapse. Watch what happens with the building.

So the learning curve on knowing what you can do with the technology and the limits take time to learn.

There are two rules that you must abide by legally when flying a drone. You cannot fly over moving vehicles and over people. There are exceptions, but for the most part this impacts where you can fly.

So for this shot of the Chick-fil-A I am over a parking lot where there are no moving vehicles. Actually no vehicles.

Chick-fil-A Roswell Town Center at dusk. You can see the Buckhead Skyline as well at the Atlanta Skyline in the distance [DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 1390, 1/2, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

Here you can see the parking lot on the left of the frame where I was flying to get the photo 2 above. I am flying over another parking lot to get this photo.

[DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/725, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

Weather

Each one of these variables in the App UAV Forecast can ground you. While you will see many who fly regardless of the guidelines to be safe and not risk you or your clients reputation, you want to play by the rules.

  • 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise you cannot fly at night without a waiver. This rule is changing, but flying at night requires more knowledge of airspace at night. That training is not yet available, but will be this month.
  • My drone the DJI Mavic Air 2 is not recommended to work below 32º Fahrenheit. The cold temperature can make the battery fail, crashing your drone when it stops flying.
  • When I was in Civil Air Patrol I learned that we couldn’t fly above 20 mile per hour winds with the planes we were using. My drone is recommended to not fly above 20 mph winds. So if the app shows even gusts above 20 mph it will recommend not flying.
  • Drones are not designed to fly in rain, snow or sleet. The reason is the water can get into the motors or battery and cause a short. Again this will cause you to crash.
  • Cloud cover needs to be a minimum of 500 feet above you to fly. If the cloud cover is 600 feet then you can only fly up to 100 feet. You also have to be 2000 feet away from clouds horizontally around you.
  • You cannot fly a drone unless you have 3 miles of visibility.
  • There are many things that impact the satellites that your drone can see. While you can fly with no satellites the ability of the drone to hover by itself and to get home require good satellite coverage. Seems that the recommendation of 10 or more satellites give you the best flying condition.
  • The Kp index measures geomagnetic disruption caused by solar activity, on a scale from 0 (calm) to 9 (major storm). The higher the Kp index, the more likely you are to have problems. Kp’s of 1-4 are completely safe. Losing satellite can mean a fly away drone.

AirMap

Another App worthy of mentioning is AirMap. It has many more things it can do for you. Including

  • Request digital authorization for commercial operations in LAANC-enabled U.S. controlled airspaces
  • Can I fly here? Get real-time feedback of airspace rules and conditions pertaining to your flight specifications, with national rulesets for 20 countries, including Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Connect to any supported DJI drone to fly and toggle camera settings directly from the AirMap app
  • Plan a flight path to specific duration, altitude, and airspace requirements

When you plan your flight with the app you can then be connected to DroneInsurance.com to buy insurance. When starting out Instant aviation liability coverage is more affordable than an annual policy. You can also increase your liability from 1 million, 2 million, 5 million or higher.

Since drones crash when the electronics fail having your drone crash and do damage to property isn’t what your clients want. Most will require you show liability insurance to operate on their property.

There are many Apps out there and B4UFLY has a lot of positive reviews and has been updated recently.

Chick-fil-A Roswell Town Center is one of the newest in the chain, but also one of the oldest. in 2020 they went through a scrap and rebuild in less than 10 weeks. [DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/1000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

As you can see the time of day you make your drone shot dramatically affects the outcome. While some dawn and dusk shots are dramatic, many times the daytime shot is more appropriate for a business who wants their customers to recognize their property during their business hours.

As you can see, there is a learning curve that is affected by so many variables.

I am hoping that each day that I can fly for the next month I come away with one portfolio piece. To have enough variety is going to take some time.

One thing I didn’t even mention is time of year. While you can fly all through the year the vegetation looks so different during each season. Not many people are excited to get drone photos during the winter, except for those winter vacation spots.

If you know of great locations near me in Georgia to explore let me know.

FAA Part 107 Certified Drone Pilot

Today I got my Airman Certificate for the FAA Part 107 Certified Drone Pilot. I am now able to charge for my services. I cannot wait till springtime.

“Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.”

~ Lewis Grizzard
[DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/30, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

Why this is important for my clients?

“If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur!”

Realtors are being told, “The pilot would face a fine of $1,100 per violation…while the person [The Realtor] who causes the operation could be liable for a fine of $11,000…”

This is called Blue hour, especially the one in the evening, is probably the most popular time of day to take cityscape photography with dazzling city lights illuminated. This is shooting the Last 10 Minutes of Dusk or for Sunrise the First 10 minutes of Dawn. [DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/25, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

A $182,000 fine was issued to a drone pilot in Philadelphia in December 2020.

Roswell, Georgia City Hall [DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/500, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

Here are some guidelines for drones

  • In order to charge for drone aerial photograph, you MUST be a FAA Part 107 Certified Drone Pilot
  • Non-Certified Drone Pilots can and will be fined – $1,414 per violation
  • Do not fly higher than 400 feet
  • Try not to fly over any moving vehicles or people when possible
  • Keep your drone within eyesight at all times
  • Remain a safe distance away from others property and unprotected people
  • Notify any airports ahead of time if flying within 5 miles of an airport
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions or under the influence of substances
  • Don’t fly near any sensitive areas (power plants, water treatment plants, prisons, major highways, etc.)
  • Don’t invade other’s privacy with photos or videos

PetSuites Roswell, Georgia
[DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/320, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

The reason you hire a licensed drone pilot has as much to do with them flying by the rules of the Federal Aviation Administration, than just how good their photos and videos are for you.

Give me a call and let’s plan to make the most of this coming springtime.

Cultural Arts Center in Roswell, Georgia [DJI Mavic Air 2, Mode = Normal, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 24)]

Nikon 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 Transports the Audience

John Kevin Cash served the community as a firefighter for both the Roswell Fire Department and the McDonough Fire Department. [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/125, ƒ/8, (35mm = 14)]

Here is one of the best tips I can give you about your camera and lens choice. The relationship of the distance of the camera to the subject is how it feels to the audience.

My favorite lens to transport the audience to be right in the scene of the subject is the Nikon 14-24mm ƒ/2.8.

The Roswell Criterium [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1600, 1/2000, ƒ/13, (35mm = 14)]

I love getting down low and close to let the terrain pull you into the shot.

TCU 42 vs Ole Miss 3 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 14)]

I enjoy doing the “Hail Mary” shot from above to show someone in context like this group doing a selfie with the Chick-fil-A Cow.

Blessed Trinity High School Recruiting Photos [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1400, 1/100, ƒ/5, (35mm = 14)]

I do try and keep people a little more centered than with other lenses to keep their heads not looking a little weird.

Blessed Trinity High School Recruiting Photos [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 800, 1/100, ƒ/8, (35mm = 24)]

Great example of showing students learning up close with the teacher in the background.

Blessed Trinity High School Recruiting Photos [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 800, 1/800, ƒ/8, (35mm = 19)]

You learn quickly in aerial photography that you want to be closer to the earth to see the details than too high up. The 14-24mm really let me do this hear and show Kennesaw Mountain in the distance of Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, GA.

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Alabama vs West Virginia [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3600, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 14)]

Chick-fil-A was giving away free ice coffee during the Kickoff in the Fan Zone. See how you see the product but in context?

College Football Hall of Fame First 100 [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/80, ƒ/8, (35mm = 14)]

The “First Bite” shot at all Chick-fil-A Grand Openings. This is the College Football Hall Of Fame location.

College Football Hall of Fame First 100 [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 500, 1/250, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 18)]

Dan Cathy always plays his Trumpet at the Grand Openings he attends with Revellie.

College Football Hall of Fame VIP Night [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/100, ƒ/11, (35mm = 16)]

You are taken behind the counter of the fresh tray of sandwiches getting ready to be given away.

Cow Appreciation Week events in the Tampa, Florida Market [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/500, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 24)]

I love getting on children’s eye level and getting close.

Cow Appreciation Week events in the Tampa, Florida Market [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/10, ƒ/8, (35mm = 14)]

Without the super-wide angle of 14mm you couldn’t get this shot.

Cow Appreciation Week events in the Tampa, Florida Market [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 180, 1/100, ƒ/8, (35mm = 15)]
The Atlanta Science Festival [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/80, ƒ/8, (35mm = 14)]
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center Southwestern Photojournalism Seminar [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 900, 1/2000, ƒ/10, (35mm = 14)]
Manziel, Aggies Edge Duke 52-48 in Chick-fil-A Bowl [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 14)]
Seminar 2013 Allure of of The Seas Royal Caribbean [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/20, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 14)]
Clemson vs LSU Chick-fil-A Bowl 2012 [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/2000, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 14)]

Here is S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, doing the coin toss at the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2012.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 400, 1/5, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 23)]

Dan Cathy with my daughter and her friend shaking the sand filled eggs.

Chick-fil-A Kickoff 2012 Clemson vs Auburn [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Shutter Priority, ISO 8000, 1/2000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

This is about as close as you can get to a missed touch down pass.

Loyola Water Tower In-Line [NIKON D3, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/60, ƒ/5, (35mm = 14)]

Worm’s Eye View is just as interesting as a Bird’s Eye View.

Seminar 2011 San Antonio, Texas Built to Last: Lead At The Next Level [NIKON D3, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/200, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 21)]
Youth With A Mission [NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 200, 1/100, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 17)]
Balloon Ride in North Georgia [NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 400, 1/30, ƒ/8, (35mm = 24)]

The best intimate aerial photography is when you are close to the earth, like we are in this balloon shot.

Clayton State University Campus Scenics [NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2500, 1/50, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 14)]

Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8 ~ My Favorite Portrait Lens

[NIKON D4, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/60, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 85)]

When shooting headshots/portraits I have found that when I am using a zoom lens I tend to move back and forth too much, which can distort the person’s face.

A few years ago I ran a test with my lenses to see which lens I preferred and here is that test.

Grant Newsom [NIKON D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/200, ƒ/9, (35mm = 85)]

Now I don’t always shoot it wide open at ƒ/1.8. Often when I get close enough to fill the frame this is too shallow.

Rodney Bullard [NIKON D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 800, 1/60, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

If I back up and get a 3/4 photo of a person, then the ƒ/1.8 can work really well. You see the closer you get the shallower the depth-of-field. So, if you back up you increase that depth-of-field.

Kimberly Gleason & Will Thompson Wedding Wedding and Reception [NIKON D4, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2800, 1/100, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

It really does well to help isolate your subject, like this couple at their wedding, but I still get a sense of mood with the background out of focus.

Julia Oliveira [NIKON D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

Now I can tell you the best thing to come along for Nikon was when they started making full-framed mirrorless cameras. I love the combination of the Nikon ƒ/1.8 and the Nikon Z6.

Sarah Clements [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/160, ƒ/5, (35mm = 85)]

The Nikon Z6 has eye tracking and that really helps with getting your subjects eyes into focus.

Christi Lamb [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]
Jasmine Campbell [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

Hopefully you will run your own test. Shoot a portrait of a person like I did with my daughter and keep the head size the same throughout in the frame, then pick your favorite lens.

You must fail in order to succeed

[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4500, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 360)]

I wanted to open with the photo of a young baseball player at bat.

A batting average of 300 or higher is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last Major League Baseball (MLB) player to do so, with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox.

So in baseball you will strike out 7 out of 10 times at bat if you are really good. When you start out playing that number of times of failure is greater ~ you are learning.

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

In just about every business model you must make some cold calls to get business. What this means is you are going to pitch your product or skills to people who do not know you.

This classic study from Kenan-Flagler Business School finds that “cold calling has only a 2.5% success rate.” This 2.5% success rate basically means that an experienced sales guy can make one appointment or other valid follow-up per working day.

Now when you start out in business you start with your network of people who already know you. Cold calling is made with a referral, the rate jumps up to 40%.

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

~ Zig Ziglar

In a nutshell what I have learned through more than 20 years of running my own business is that too many quit just before their big break. If we know that in cold calling the percentage of success is around 2% and you have spent that last couple months contacting 98 different sources the numbers say that # 99 is most likely when the break happens.

Since I was in college I was always doing freelancing. Most of this was on the side until 2002 when I did this 100% of my income. Full-time freelancing.

2002 Slide Portfolio

Back in 2002 I was showing 35mm Slides and 6×7 Slides to get jobs.

1990 Slide Portfolio

Now when I lost my job due to layoffs in 1990 I was sending out slides as well to get jobs. I had around 200 identical sheets of 20 slides that I sent out all over the country with cover letters. Not one job came from all that work.

I decided to go back to school and work on my M.A. in Communications. I was able to find a few jobs working in portrait studio and then later to manager of a one-hour photo lab.

When I was finishing up my masters in 1993 I sent out another round of portfolios. This time I got my job at Georgia Tech.

I believe that from the time I lost my full-time job with The Commission Magazine in 1990 till 1993 I must have sent out [Cold Calling] on more than 500 jobs.

[NIKON D3, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Manual, ISO 500, 1/200, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 65)]

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six 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

Here is a great commencement speech made by Denzel Washington, which he said to “Fall Forward”

Today be like Thomas Edison and experiment. Try something and if it fails try something different.

Like Denzel pray daily for the strength to continue.

For any marketing campaign it can take three months to even begin seeing the results of those efforts. Until then, if anything, you may see a slight decrease as the changes take effect.

“If you don’t fail, you are not even trying.”

~ Denzel Washington

Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 Art ~ Maybe My Favorite Lens

[NIKON D750, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Manual, ISO 640, 1/30, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

Why would I like this lens so much? I believe it is mainly because I can do with it what I could never do with a smartphone camera–Shallow Depth-of-field.

Robin Rayne working with me during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2015 Houston vs FSU [NIKON D750, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 160, 1/100, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

It is a great way to isolate a subject.

Into The Woods Test Shots of my daughter Chelle in our backyard. [NIKON D4, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Manual, ISO 200, 1/640, ƒ/1.6, (35mm = 35)]

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

Nicaragua [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

Most of the time I want to add context of a person in their environment. That is where shooting with your lens closed down to ƒ/5.6 or greater really gives you context because more is in focus.

Wellness Center at Chick-fil-A Support Center [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 450, 1/100, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 35)]

However, often keeping something out of focus, but yet still discernible like this of a lady working out with her trainer the shallow depth-of-field allows for some context.

This is the Macchiato I was drinking in Kosovo. [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

One thing that affects your depth-of-field is how close you are to the subject. Getting really close will give you the shallowest depth-of-field. Sometimes if you get too close with some micro lenses your subject will appear out of focus because it is too shallow.

Dining Room at a Chick-fil-A of their fresh flowers on tables [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 400, 1/2000, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]
I really enjoy going to Hawaii each year and stopping by Ken’s House of Pancackes [NIKON Z 6, AF 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2000, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden [NIKON Z 6, AF 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 450, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

Here in this photo of the bud on the plant you can actually see the “Circle of Confusion”.

In optics, a circle of confusion is an optical spot caused by a cone of light rays from a lens not coming to a perfect focus when imaging a point source. It is also known as disk of confusion, circle of indistinctness, blur circle, or blur spot.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden [NIKON Z 6, AF 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 450, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

I just love my Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 and love it even more on the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. What a great combination.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Orchids [NIKON Z 6, AF 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 900, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]
Team member portrait in back of Chick-fil-A restaurant [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2200, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

When shooting in a restaurant kitchen you don’t want to always show the working kitchen, but I still wanted to feature the team members. Shooting at ƒ/1.4 and getting close to the model helped me achieve a feel of the kitchen and keeping details from being seen.

Team member portrait [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 720, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]
Labor Costs [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/2.5, (35mm = 35)]
Zahara Ahmed – Senior Photo [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/1250, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 35)]