Behind the Scenes

Here are some great images taken by my friend Gene Glasunow at one of my shoots for HTC.  The shoot was for the new Re camera and was to take place at a rented mansion on Clyde Hill in Bellevue.  It turned out fairly well despite the fact that the house and pool were rather run down and we had no electricity for the first half of the day due to a torrential rain storm the night before.

And here are some of the final images and screen shots from the HTC website…

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Finding My Muse at Pike Place Market

Being a creative can be difficult at times, an it’s been a rough few months.   Not with commercial assignments, you’re told what is needed and it’s your job to make it happen.  I’m talking about exploring the creative side of your craft.  The things you do for yourself.  You and you alone.  Sometimes, life gets in the way and blocks the path to creativity… if you let it.  Unfortunately, of late, I’ve let it.  I’ve gone out and just not seen anything.  And the more I go out, the more discouraged I get.  “What’s wrong with me?” I ask myself.  Is my muse gone forever?  Have I lost the love and passion for my craft.  The more I allowed myself these thoughts, the deeper I find myslef inthe abyss of creative darkness.  I’d go days, even a week, without picking up my camera for fun.

I’ve talked to quite a few of my photog friends.  Each and every one of them has been through the same thing.  I think all creatives go through periods where they can’t find their mojo.  Even the greats, like Sonny Rollins or Peter Gabriel, have taken extended leave from their craft sometime in their career.

This week, I decided I would not let it get the best of me.  I had to go out and I had to shoot simply for the love of shooting… of finding the moments, light and gesture.  Whether or not I got any images I liked was besides the point.  I was out there, camera in hand, waiting for my muse… trying to get my mojo back (whatever that means).  So I did.  I went to Pike Place Market thinking, “ugh… again?”.  But I knew there would be crowds of people.  I walked around for 3 hours and felt like I was not seeing anything.  I snapped anyway.   I had a coffee, absorbed the environment, and kept walking.  When I got back to my car, I felt like I hadn’t gotten a thing.  It was days before I even took the images off my card.  The only reason I did was because I wanted to use the shoot as a workflow example in my Lightroom class at Bellevue College last night.   I prefaced it to the class by saying it was not a great shoot, but as I got more and more into the workflow, the images started to come alive and my students were making positive comments.  It felt good.

Are these great shots.  Not really.  But, they represent, to me, a renewed commitment to finding my muse.  The bottom line is that I’ll never find it if my camera sits in the closet or, as it has been for the past few weeks, on the table by my door taunting me each time I pass.  We are all going to have times where we just aren’t feeling creative.  Those are the times where you really have to force yourself to be vulnerable and keep on trying.  While not my best work, it was work done and a step in the right direction.  I’ll be getting out there again and again and keep on opening my eyes and my soul to the possibilities before me.  Only then, will I find my muse, my friend.

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Santa Fe Model Shoot

An excellent day here in Santa Fe as I got to shoot three different models over the course of a few hours.  My favorite lighting was a three light setup with two lights lighting up the white backdrop and a 75″ Octa Bank providing the most beautiful soft light imaginable.  Here are a few of my favorites from today’s shoots.

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Kasha-Kauwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Just sixty minutes from Santa Fe are the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks. I got in the car and made sure I was at the entrance to the park at 7am when they were supposed to open. Well, things happen a bit slower here in the Southwest. The park rangers moseyed on in at about 7:10 and then discovered that neither had the keys to the gate. A few minutes later, ranger number three arrived with the keys and I was permitted to enter. With a tripod in one hand, a water bottle in the other and my D800 slung cross-body and hanging against my back, I began my hike on the Slot Canyon Trail. Alone, I sometimes had to squeeze through rather tight spaces as I worked my way to the fairly steep climb to the top. Along the way, I snapped a few shots (below) and began my ascent. Those of you who know me know that I am a rather avid cyclist. As I climbed the rocky trail in the 8am desert heat, already 75 degrees, I realized that I was soaking wet and breathing heavier than I would expect. It wasn’t until later that I found out that Santa Fe sits at 7000 feet above sea level. Okay, I was a bit redeemed. Anyway, here are a few shots from today.

Color Version of the Same Image as the black and white below.

Color Version of the Same Image as the black and white below.

Black and White Treatment of Slot Canyon

Black and White Treatment of Slot Canyon

Slot Canyon

BlackRapid Steps Out with The Shot

I’ve been using the BlackRapid sling straps for years.  Connecting to the bottom of the camera, the BlackRapid sling straps take all the weight of the camera off your neck by resting on your shoulder with a large, ergonomic pad and going cross-body to hang at the opposite side at your waist.  With it’s patented slider system, the camera glides up the strap as you lift it to your eye gunslinger style.   However, sometimes, it is a bit too much strap for my purposes.  Enter The Shot….

The Shot is BlackRapids first foray into a non-sling type strap.  They introduced The Shot a few months ago, but it was only available in a very bright orange color that screamed out “Hey, I’ve got a camera!”.   I loved the functionality of this strap, but wasn’t too keen on the color.  BlackRapid has now released the black version and I’m hooked.

The Shot is a shorter 35″ strap with a comfortable non-slip rubber pad.  I find this to be the perfect length, as I can throw the strap over my shoulder so that my camera rests comfortable behind the crook of my arm.  With the same hardware as all the traditional BackRapid straps, my camera is easily accessible and slides up the strap to my eye.  There is much more room in my camera bag because this strap is much more compact than other sling straps.  What I like most about The Shot is the ability to grab my camera and go.  I can grab it from the table or the seat of my car and slide it on my shoulder in one quick movement.  The black Shot is nicely made with the rubber pad molded onto the strap itself providing a nice pattern without being obvious.

The camera still hangs upside down as it is attached to the tripod mount like other BlackRapid straps which keeps the strap out of the way when looking through the viewfinder.  The main thing I don’t like about traditional straps is that they are always getting in the way of the viewfinder, especially when shooting vertically.  Yes, there is the attachment on the bottom which can be a bit uncomfortable when shooting with a vertical grip, but you quickly get used to it.  The only drawback, like any BlackRapid strap, is attaching the strap to your camera if you use a L-bracket.  That is easily remedied by using the fabulous Acratech Quick Release Clamp.  The clamp has a tight quick release lever that attaches to your bracket and provides a solid ring to hook on your BlackRapid stap.  Because of the bottom attachment, you do have to be careful when putting your camera down so that it is stable and doesn’t rest on the sensitive top of the camera.

The Shot is a great addition to my camera bag and, while there are times when I want the all-day comfort of the traditional cross-body sling straps, I love the grab-and-go of The Shot and it rarely leaves my camera.

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What Happens to Lightroom if I Cancel My Cloud Subscription?

Adobe has announced that with Lightroom 5.5, the latest update, if you cancel your Cloud subscription, you will not lose all the work you’ve done previously.  The only parts of Lightroom 5.5 that will be disabled are the Map Module and the Develop Module.  You’ll still be able to organize, keyword, print and make slideshows with your existing catalog.  You will still have access to the quick develop functions as well.  This should put to rest some of the fears surrounding signing up to the Creative Cloud.

Don’t forget, Adobe has made their Photographer’s Bundle pricing permanent (for now), so you can get both Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop for only $9.95 a month.  I think this is a sweet deal!

Shooting in Shutter Priority

Everyone you talk to says you should almost always shoot in aperture priority and, honestly, I’ve done the so for years. But recently, I’ve had a bit of a change of heart in this matter.

Yes, by shooting in aperture priority you control the artistic look of the shot, but you may not always find that your images are sharp. For the past month or so, I tried a bit of an experiment (for me, anyways). I’ve been shooting my street photography almost exclusively in shutter priority. My starting point is 1/125. Why, you ask? Here’s my reason… sharp images in any light. People are always moving, so I know, if I shoot at 1/125, the image will be sharp. If I find a shot where I must have shallow depth of field, I’ll lower the shutter speed to open up the aperture. If I need a higher DOF, then I’ll simply increase the ISO to get the aperture to close up a stop or two. I’ve found that I’m getting more sharp images and can just as easily adjust the DOF on the fly.

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Puget Sound Honor Flight

I have the great honor of photographing this weekend’s Puget Sound Honor Flight.  We are heading to D.C. in the morning with 31 World War II veterans so they can see the war memorials for the first time!  We hit the WWII memorial first thing in the morning.  We began the journey at SEATAC where I took portraits and, along with some fellow photogs, followed the group to the gate as we were escorted by full dress, honor guard.  When we arrived at BFW, two fire trucks created an arc of water over the plane as a welcome.  The veterans were met with a flag waving crowd and cheers from the entire airport.  It was all very moving and we haven’t even gotten to the memorials yet.

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Greetings to the Veterans