Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Autumn Walk

I love water. I need to live close to it. The larger the body of water the better. The Susquehanna River is no slouch in full filling my needs here. Though it ain't the ocean!! But I can deal. Walking along a body of water is very therapeutic for me, I try to do it often. Though it does not happen as much as I would like in the coldest of the winter months.

Here are a few shots from one of my October jaunts along this water way. Vibrant colors, movement and tree species juxtapositions all make for very cool compositions.

When shooting color I like to stay away from ultra contrasty, saturated colors. If these appear naturally well then, no problem. But my passion has always been, and remains to be BxW. When it comes to BxW I like to mold and shape the tonality of the image. My goal being to create great tonal relationships. With color images I feel a responsibility to the integrity of the image, so colors matter. If they are unnatural than the scene as I saw it is not truthfully represented. Don't get me wrong, I do fine tune color images so that I get the very best colors and tonal quality from them. I just try to stay away from fantasy. My first photography instructor made an impact on me with the following statement: A photographers job is to show the world to their viewers in ways that they have never seen it before. I always took this to mean showing the viewer what they are missing all around them- to accentuate the ordinary or show them a place/person/event they have not seen with their eyes, not to create something new for them to see.

When it comes to BxW as long as the tonal relationships make sense I may shift them around more freely to make the image have more impact. Shades of gray instead of color reduce the world in the image to relationships of the elements with in the scene. This allows the viewer to more easily see what the photograph is trying to say. Since the colors are removed the viewer is placed in a position of voyeur instead of participator. After all we don't see in shades of gray. Where as with color images the viewer can feel the reality of the scene, these images are literal representations.

I Love to print BxW images. For the longest time after moving to digital I missed my darkroom. I sold it all in early 2003 when I bought my D30. But in the last few years I have come to appreciate my current tools. I print my BxW with an Epson 2200. This printer uses archival inks and has a great reputation. Although it is now about 3 (or is it 4) generations behind Epson's current printer in this model line, it still gets the job done. I like to print on Ilofrd papers they make some lovely surfaces that remind me of my days printing under the dim glow of a safe light and the smell of fixer hanging in the air.

To see more images from this collection please click HERE.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Wednesday, December 10th, witnessed the perfect conditions to produce delicate clouds that blanketed Harrisburg. Fog. I love fog. I love to walk through it, smell it, watch it and use it as a compositional element in photographs. A mist that undulates, hiding and revealing elements of a scene. Isolating beautiful forms from distracting backgrounds. And softening the color pallet just enough to produce romantic monochromatic color images or soft Black and Whites.

As I crossed the Susquehanna River, on the way to an appointment, I saw the fog consuming it. I nearly crashed as my jaw dropped upon observing the perfect scene that I was missing. I got to my appointment, ran my errands and made my way back home, which is 2 blocks from the river front. I changed into some boots, grabbed my G9 and was out the door. As I approached the river I could tell the scene had changed, it was no longer as mystical as it had been 2 hours earlier. But there was still fog, not all hope was lost.

So I started shooting. Nothing was happening. I wasn't seeing the image. I thought it was mostly due to the diminishing water vapor. So I started walking, my goal was to walk across the Harvey Taylor bridge and shoot over the islands in the middle of the river. This would help eliminate the distracting view of buildings on the West shore. But as I went along I decided to try going to the lower walk way that sits right next to the waters edge. I descended the steps from the lower sidewalk right up to the water. This provided the needed change in perspective I was looking for.

It got me closer to the fog and changed my vantage point just enough to allow the remaining fog to isolate the islands, and their barren trees, from the man made structures on the other side. Cool. Very Cool! I shot for about 1/2 an hour until I decided that I had really covered this location. That was all the time I could allow anyhow, I needed to get back to my office and work.

I like shooting this type of subject with my Canon G9. I can shoot with iso's from 80-400 and get a very nice film like grain. Really reminds me of my days shooting Tri-x. I am always astounded when I view the images later, this little camera's 12 megapixels and great lens really resolve fine detail! One of the keys to using this camera, I have found, is to shoot as if you were shooting chromes, expose for the high lites- and nail the exposure. There is just enough latitude in the shadows that I can pull out a bit more usable detail than one might think. I can make very fine looking 12x18" prints.

Please follow this LINK to view a couple of other images from that afternoon.

While there you will get a glimpse of the changes that are coming to my website. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Show me the Money!

So here we are. Living the dream. Riding the wave of capitalism. So it goes, we see up years and we see down years. The price we pay for the freedoms and opportunities we have. Smart spending and saving is the way to ride it out, at least the way I am going to ride it out.

Perhaps if we all think of our neighbors right now we will have a less stressful time as we wait for the next upturn. Well, that is what brings me to the topic of this new post: Talking about money. What my services cost, how I arrive at those prices, and what I will be phasing in for the short term to help my customers out.

I have decided to implement some creative incentives that will hopefully help your bottom line. Please watch this space for more info in the near future.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Site changes in store

It truly is never ending. Just when you think you have something under control -BAM- you realize that your master plan to rule the world flops because your (seemingly) simple web site does not like to render across all browsers!

So there I was, happy that I just needed to get a few more galleries posted to my site when a friend told me that things were not displaying properly in her browser, Safari. Than I look a bit closer and where one thing appears right in IE, it does not in Fire Fox. And vise-versa.

I had decided to stick with simple html (with a little bit of JAVA) I wanted the site to load as quickly as possible, to view well on all browsers, and be something simple enough that I (not being a web designer) could update and change easily. And to be able to do all this with out having to buy any software. Oddly enough, the problems that I have come across so far are not caused by JAVA, but rather by the html code.

I had plans to start learning and using css when this happened. In conjunction with these findings I also learned that using frames puts up a road block to web indexing services (those things that catalog the web and allow search engines to show my site in their lists of results). So here I am now, contemplating buying software. I can not afford to pay a web designer at the moment, add to that that I am a control freak, so I need a web authoring package.

I will be looking into several, but if anyone has any suggestions please pass them along. I am still going to put up 1 or 2 more galleries while I iron out this mess. But things will be changing, again, real soon.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Canon 40D LCD Screen

I have been working on creating a small review of this camera. Hopefully that will come in the next week or 2. But for now I just wanted to comment on one aspect of the camera: It's LCD Screen. People on the net have been complaining about the resolution of the screen, and how the preview jpg is worthless (because it is only about 2mp). The complaint is that you can't really judge sharpness on the lcd screen based on the (...tiny...)jpg preview.

When I first bought the camera I thought the same thing: " Man, even zooming in to 10x I can't tell what is in focus!!" I have since resolved this issue (well enough for my uses now right now, anyway). And I thought, for sure, that I would read about this idea some where else on the net. But so far I have yet to see any one else talk about it, and there are some very creative thinkers that post to the different photography forums.

Well, here it is: I always shoot raw, so any image parameters I set in camera don't affect my final image quality. So I experimented and used one of the user presets, in the picture styles menu, and set the sharpness all the way to 7. Although these settings have no effect on my raw file, they do effect the camera created jpg preview. Voila! The jpg preview is now clear enough to judge sharpness at a zoom level of about 5-7 (this is dependent on subject matter)

No more complaints from me about the LCD screen!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Time Keeps on tickin'

I have said it before, and will say it again: Time just seems to fly by! My goals where to blog once a week, and have my website fully functional by the end of February. Well, my site is coming along. I should be posting a few more galleries today. As for the blog, well, I have missed 2 weeks now.

The past few weeks have kept me busy busy busy!! When deadlines loom for clients the blog and website take a back seat. But this week should allow me some more time to work on them both. So please visit often this week to see new blog posts and additions to my site.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Toys!

I love gadgets and technology. I have also always loved art AND science. Photography was my destiny! Art, Science, and techy gadgets!! What could be better?

When digital photography became truly accessible to me (circa December 2002) I was ecstatic! Not only was I going to save some money on film and processing, but new avenues for creativity were openening up.

At that point I bought a used Canon D30 from my local shop, Fine Art Photo. At first I shot jpg files. After about 4 months of this I discovered the joys (and at the time headaches) of shooting RAW. I started using Phase One's Capture 1 for my Raw processing. That program instantly brought new life to my D30. I again found wondrous joys in photography!

During the last several years digital photography has seen a whirlwind of changes. For any body who has been paying attention, you will know that the rate of new slr cameras is about every 18 months, or so. I just could not imagine upgrading that often. I did however, upgrade to a used D60 in 2005. But did not feel that any of the new cameras that came out after that one were really worthy of my upgrading. So I used my D60 for better than 2 years.

Now, finally, a camera has been released that was worthy of my hard earned cash- the Canon 40d. In early 2008 I bought one, along with a Canon G9 (probably one of the nicest "Pocket" cameras currently available). All I can say is WOW! I am so excited to own both of these cameras! The G9 is a great little camera that I feel can take pro-grade images (in certain situations) when it is all I have on me. And the 40d is an Amazing upgrade from the older cameras that I had been using. In terms of speed of handling to ulimate image quality.

What is my definition of ultimate image quality:

1) Good resolution
2) Low signal to noise ratio
3) Great color
4) Great Dynamic range

The 40d has these in spades. In the coming weeks I plan on writing a small review of both cameras itemizing what I feel are their strengths and weekness' for the way I work.


Well there it is..... and has been for 5 years, lingering on the web in one form or another. I have had some sort of web presence since 2003. It has changed and adapted to meet my needs the whole time, but never has it been a great marketing tool. Why? Because every so often, when I have a slow period, I start to work on it again. Get so far, get busy again, and allow it to flounder in it's then current, unfinished state.

I plan to change that, more or less, in the coming weeks. I plan on having a fully functional website up and running by the end of February 2008. What does fully functional mean? Here is a short list:

1) Full portfolios of the range of work I do
2) A page for the sales of certain types of images
3) A complete contact/info section. (with any luck I will have a form to request qoutes, and book jobs etc...)

Well, that is about all I need the site to do. After it is up in that state I will work to diligently maintain it. The one thing that may still change on a regular basis is the basic site design. I plan on having it functional by the end of this month. But it may take a few more after that to really refine it's look. From it's global layout/design, to the way I present my portfolio.

I am ultimately after functional, easy to look at, easy to navigate, and FAST to load. Please feel free to comment here with your opinions about what works and what does not.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Inaugural Post

Welcome. Why is it always so hard to get started? Kind of like cleaning your room as a teenager...it took forever because you were overwhelmed & did not know where to begin! Well, apparently blogging and coding a web site from scratch are the same way. Starting is the hardest part.

So the hardest part is now over! Hopefully...

Any how, I endeavor to cover topics pertaining to, at least loosely anyway, photography. How I got to where I am, and my continued journey. I also plan on interjecting some of my thoughts on current events ( I will attempt to relate them some how to photography).

I also make no promises to write in a totally "Professional" tone. My goal is to have my personality shine through my grammatically incorrect writing. About that, I have always found the art of writing to be as romantically appealing as photography, and I would love to have the skill to personally marry the two together. Alas, I was lazy in some of my studies growing up. So my images speak my words, and now my pen- err my fingers- are reserved for changing camera settings. Oh well, taking the images to accompany other people's stories has given me the opportunity to meet some great writers. Many of which are now good friends.

I am hoping to have no less than one post a week, to start. I may do more than that. It all depends on what is happening in the world and how busy I am that week. But one a week, that is my goal. Over the coming weeks, as I settle into the sites design, there will be visual changes to the blog. Please feel free to comment on them.

Well, that wraps up post number ONE. Take care, and stay tuned for more.