Inspiration Tuesday - Beaches

This weekend I'm heading to the coast for some R&R and I thought I'd curate 3 great images to get me in the mood for shooting.  I'll be shooting some family lifestyle pics as well as landscapes.  I'm excited to get out of town for a couple days and away from the grind.  Here are this weeks images, enjoy!

Legzira Arches by Tony Yong on

This first image just popped off the page.  Great shot at sunset with the low sun making distinct reds and oranges pop out of the rocks.  It's got a gritty texture to the foreground while keeping a softness to the sky and waves. 

O by Cristian Todea on

This second image is a fantastic portrait.  I love once again the setting at sundown with all the oranges and yellows backlighting her hair.  She has a great top with the pendant glowing and sharp.  Her look is demure and mysterious.  I enjoy the sun flare in this image.  I've been known to incorporate that effect as well and find that it doesn't take away from the image. 

re....magic by Marco Petracci on

The final image is a stunning surfing silhouette.  I'm a sucker for these shots.  I love the bright burning sun behind and the crisp detail on the waves and the surfer.  The photographer caught this at the peak of the action.  We are left wondering "did he fall?", "did he ride this one out?".  Very engaging shot. 

Inspiration Tuesday - Faces

I want to dive into portraits today.  Portraits offer a connection that's easy to make, but hard to create.  I'll explain.  It's easy to make a portrait, but it's hard to create one that has depth, emotion, and a connection.  It needs to tell a story, or it will get labeled as a snapshot very quickly.  With that, let's dive in.  

Our first portrait I discovered yesterday while browsing and I was blown away.  I love the styling of her clothes and hair and her look is very piercing.  She gets me talking about the image.  It was shot with equipment anyone can get, no fancy lighting or techniques, just shallow depth of field and an outdoor cloudy sunset/sunrise.  I like the cool tones in the image counterbalanced by the warmth of her clothes and skin tone.  Her face tells the whole story, she's trying to figure me out, or scoff me as I walk by.  

The second image today comes from Lisa Holloway.  She's an incredible photographer and retoucher.  Her images are very consistent in theme, color, and emotion.  She uses her kids (10 I think) as models for the most part.  This image is a striking portrait of her daughter with a sparkler on the 4th.  Here in the U.S. we like to celebrate independence by lighting things on fire. :) The look on her face is mischievous to me.  Another take I get is solace, or solitude. She's got a lone sparkler and she'll do what she wants with it.  It's a great composition either way, dark, intimate, relevant to the theme of 4th of July.  Great work. 

This final image is from a newly discovered artist to me.  She has a huge following on Instagram and it's easy to see why.  Great portrait/lifestyle artist and this image right here is simply stunning.  The deep glare from the model is intriguing while the styling of the hood and hair are amazing.  I love the colors of the background here blending into the hood as the backlit sun radiates her hair with a kiss of light.  The model has a doll face already but is complimented by the hood shaping her face and adding a red tinge to the cheeks.  This natural light shot has all the right elements: lighting, mood, emotion, and theme.  Amazing job.  

- Stay Focused - 

Inspiration Tuesday - Orbs

Today we dive into images that revolve around orbs, spheres, circular objects, and so on.  The theme shows up in everyday life so much, it's hard to avoid.  Earth is a sphere, rings are circular, ends meet, connections happen.  Karma, the great circle, what comes around goes around, it's all circular.  It's all important.  

The first image here alone was amazing to begin with.  Great sunset, foreground, yet...the orb that was added is such a game changer.  The perspective is now centered on this object, and the reflection or transmission of the image into the sphere was heavily edited, while the remaining scene only slightly.  This brings the viewer straight to the orb.  Very cool concept often done with water drops and flowers as well.  

This image is a long exposure done with 2 different colors.  It's such a beautiful job of keeping the light swinging around in a circle while managing the purple object in the same exposure.  The second orb may have been on a second exposure and combined in post, but if so, you cannot tell at all.  The clouds have a nice dreamy feel to them while the light trails are crisp.  Fantastic image

The final image is so simple, yet interesting.  Why is there a color missing right in front of my viewpoint?  Some pencils are not perfectly lined up in the circle, but we get the idea.  I would have love to seen the pencils arrayed in a color wheel pattern, but I think that is what everyone would expect.  The photographer here chose instead to break some "rules" by arranging them in a scattered fashion with no order.  Depth of field enhances this image by keeping our focus on the pencil tips.  

That's it for this weeks late edition.  Hope you enjoy these images.  As always comments are welcome and visit the photographers work on 500px by clicking the links in the images.

- Stay Focused - 

Inspriation Tuesday - Lines

Hey folks I hope the week is going well so far.  This week we once again have 3 amazing photos from 3 amazing artists.  We are going to focus on lines this week.  I thought if I could bring some synchronous images to the blog I could meld the post together more fluidly.  


Our first image just has me reeling like an MC Escher sketch.  The stairs themselves are an artform and tne neon green is such a wild paint color here.  There is great contrast on the dark stairs and rails along with the lights and green walls.  Lines seem to intersect and go askew all at once.  A dizzying array of color splash and linear amazement.  Well done here.  

The second image is quite interesting.  Shot at an off angle to begin with, it breaks all the traditional rules altogether, but also blends a unique harmony between the long exposure or blur in the sky with the sharpness of the edifice.  The teal and grey tones mix well and create a symbiotic palette across the image while the blurred effect give this image a motion effect as if the building were a rocket blasting off.  Very cool image.  

Our final image has so many fantastic lines!  We have a curved nautilus structure with a bevy of lines merging into the center.  It's even offset by the shadow on the ground casting some more contrasty lines.  Getting under the bench provides a unique view on an otherwise ordinary bench.  Great job by the artist here to think about what makes this shot interesting and to showcase that here.  

That is it for this week.  Hope you enjoyed today's themed session - LINES.  It was fun to curate these photos and we'll look for a new topic next week when Inspriation Tuesday returns. 

- Stay Focused - 

Inspiration Tuesday

Hi folks, here again to run down my top 3 images from 500px and shed some light on what makes them so good.  Without further ado, here we go!

What a stunning image to start out with.  The artist points out that he used a Lee Big Stopper, a 10 stop neutral density filter that allows you to shoot at the same aperture, but for a much longer shutter speed due to the darkening of the frame.  Most cameras are set to 1/3 stops each time you click the dial up or down.  So, adding 30 clicks of shutter speed to this image allows for the 60 second exposure, without blowing out the frame.  With a 10 stop filter on, you must pre-focus the camera manually, then put in the filter, then shoot the image.   

He mentions a color cast here.  Most dark filters introduce a color cast like a blue, or purple.  It's easily fixed in post, but he actually left it in the edit.  I think the tone and colors are just right and really make the image.  Warming it up to correct the cast would have left this image unbalanced.  Great work.

Silence caught my eye by how eerie it is.  It's got great warm tones and at first I thought it was a polished floor reflecting the walls and ceiling, but it's actually water.  There appears to be one flower in the water, no puddle, no ripples.  Just a very peaceful image.  

Leading lines make this a strong composition along with the overall zen feeling of the image.  This one really tells me a story without a narrative to accompany.  

3 words for our last image...Depth..of...Field.  Love this!  She is stoic, beautiful, and very intimate in this shot.  The aperture was set at 1.4 so you see nothing but the face in focus.  Even the hair just inches away is falling out of focus.  The Sigma 50mm 1.4 ART lens is supposed to be amazing and in this portrait it shows off big time.

The composition is great, she is in the upper third of the frame and facing the window light.  No strobes used here, nor any needed.  Simple, elegant, beautiful. 

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

- Stay Focused - 

Inspiration Tuesday

Good afternoon!  It's Inspiration Tuesday and it's fourth edition this week.  I'm glad we have made it 4 weeks and we continue to find amazing work to post and hopefully it inspires you to get out there and shoot!  If you want to visit more work from the artists click on the links below the image.  It should take you directly there to 500px.

The first image we have comes from Peter Stewart.  We have leading lines here that guide us up thru the sky which immediately draws the eye to the center.  The buildings cascade down in shadow as you spiral out from center and that is a perfect use of vignette whether it was done in camera, in post, or just happened naturally.  The more important parts are in light, and the rest falls off in shadow.  The buildings themselves are not interesting, however, the 4 L shapes we see really make it interesting. 

Our next image from Alcol75 is a gorgeous landscape over the countryside.  we see a magnificent sunset camera right with some haze drifting thru the mountains.  The butte in the background is blue in tint as the sky falls off from warm to cool.  Great contrast here as we go from a golden light foreground, to dramatic falloff in the middle ground, and then a mix of warm and cool in the background.  

The final image this week is from Juliana Nan.  If you want to see amazing water drop macro, just go peep her profile.  She is the queen.  Almost every single picture is the same concept, but it's done so well.  This is something that photographers struggle with, narrowing down a discipline.  Now, you don't have to narrow it down so much that it's Photography->Nature->Macro->water should be able to narrow it down to at least macro if you want to move to a specialist role.  

What works so well in this image is the color palette and the use of the soft texture of the petals surrounding the sharpness of the water droplet.  As always, she includes the reflection of the subject in the water which separates these images from just capturing a drop on a flower to creating a piece of art.  I am not sure if she has a special distilled water she uses to drop on the subjects, but it is certainly not as easy as setting up a tripod, putting the macro on f 1.4, dropping some water, and shooting.  These drops are carefully places or photoshopped in later as a separate layer to create the clean, distinct look you see here.  Simply stunning work.  

- Stay Focused -

Inspiration Tuesday

Back again this week with another 3 amazing shots from my favorite curation spot, 500px

This week we have 3 stunning photographs yet again, so let's dive in.

Our first entry is from Roland Shainidze.  We have a breathtaking vertical landscape of Toronto's city hall.  Looking at the clouds it was shot on a tripod using long exposure to get the whispy texture.  Although this is a black and white conversion, we see some excellent mid-tones in this image.  The leading lines of the windows draw us straight up while the rills of the column on the left are ominous and looming.  Very well done.  You can see more of Rolands work by clicking on the link here.

Our second image comes from Kaylee Greer.  She's a dog photographer...not cool is that?  She was a guest blogger on Scott Kelby's blog recently and you can read about her work here.  

Dog photography is a sport.  You need special skills beyond the camera and Kaylee has this for sure.  Her lighting is on spot (get it?), her posing is incredible, and she employees water in her photography like no one I've seen.  On top of this, it's very apparent the love she has for her subjects and the rapport she builds with them.  I'd say wrangling kids and dogs are the hardest subjects I have photographed.  Dogs respond to toys and treats very well, but they get hyper very quick, so employing these tricks and treats tactfully is very difficult.  

Ok, enough gush, she's amazing.  What drew this shot to my eye was the use of flash on top of the setting sun to backlight the pooch.  It's her latest edition to 500px and a good one.  I'm unsure what the dog is looking at but it's a stoic pose, regal, admirable.  I love this image, very happy to host it on the blog.  

s soon as I saw this image, I just thought of Jurassic World coming up.  I laughed so hard as I hit the homepage of wedding images.  I shoot weddings from time to time and it's hard to get something that is interesting at times when it comes to group shots.  If the bride and groom are into fun shots, you can play and get something like this.  

This shot is awesome for a few reasons.  The first is the foresight of the photographer to imagine this first, then plan and shoot it.  This was not a gag reel image.  The people rehearsed this a few times I bet and the photographer did a great job with the toning and post processing.  It looks like a some haze or fog was added for atmosphere here and the overall tone was shaped into a brown/sepia tone.

The use of perspective was brilliant here.  The outside folks are looking back at a 45 degree toward where the T-rex is.   Bride and groom are front and center and I love how the groom is outrunning the bride.  She has those shoes, the dress, the bouquet, and she's gonna save it all.  The groom is like "I'm outta here!"  

Great job on this, this would be the front page of my wedding album.  

-Stay focused-

Inspriration Tues....Wednesday :)

Looong Holiday and some frightening events delayed the blog this week.  My apologies to anyone new and looking into this series.  I'll add an extra pic this week just for you!!

I live in Austin, TX and we had some torrential rain, lightning, and tornadoes as major storm cells collapsed over central Texas.  The storms have moved on but our little family was frightened for our lives briefly as the weather teams on tv said "If you live in this area, take your precautions for tornadoes now!"

We survived, the aftermath is lots of water, little destruction, and some cleanup downtown.  All in all, 11 people died and we pray for their families to get thru this with strength.  News stories can be found by #atxfloods on Twitter.  

This week I'd like to start with an image of Bryce Canyon.  This is a gorgeous and monumental park in Utah and the photographer captured an amazing snow dappled scene.  The key to this shot is the rich colors in the canyon coupled with the contrast of snowy scene.  Great depth and toning here and the image is sharp through about 2/3 of the way back and falls off into a nice soft misty cloud deep in the background. You can see more of their work at this link

Our next shot is a portrait and it really drew me in.  First off, shot at 2.8, it has a wonderful falloff.  We go immediately to her face as all good portraits do.  Her eyes should be sharp and they are razor in this image.  The colors of her hair and dress really pop in this image.  The photographer used a gradient blur in post to really accentuate the fall off from in focus to out of focus which actually works well here.  You can tell because even though it was shot at 2.8, the arms and dress are still on the same focal plane as the shoulder and head, only a few inches closer than her nose, but they are completely out of focus.  This kind of blur you would see at around 1.4 perhaps, but not at 2.8.  This takes nothing away from the image, it's a work of art.  See more of Ginger's work here 

Our 3rd image comes from Matthew Harris and it's from the editors choice page on 500px.  I chose this image because it's moody and dark.  Most food shots are very high key and shot at low depth of field.  This image has little depth of field but contains a lot of contrast and the spices are particularly sharp.  I love the color palette and toning used here.  The photographer aligned the spices almost in a color wheel pattern but threw us off with the third spice from left to right. The red pepper flakes make up a scattered array of ambiance and the spices bring in the order to the shot.  Having the whole peppers in the background makes for a complete picture.  

As promised, I said I would curate a 4th image here.  This final image is a black and white and it's gorgeous.  I love black and white when it's done right.  You must have a good contrast in the scene already before you just convert to black and white.  If you have too many bright colors you'll have lots of grey tones and it washes it out.  This image does not disappoint.  Simple subject yet powerful.  Shot with the legendary Zeiss 1.8 ZA lens on the Sony a7, this image has an earthy, raw feel, while being soft as it fades into the bokeh glory.  Using available light and shooting at f2 are the strong points here.  The photographer got the foreground and teapot sharp while letting the rest of the scene wander.  Lastly, it leaves you with some wonder about it.  Is someone settling in for breakfast?  Are two people sitting down to have a nice conversation soon?  Did someone get up from this table in a rush due to some news they received?  We'll never know, but we are excited now.    

Stay focused.  

Inspiration Tuesday: new series on the blog

I'm excited to bring in some images directly linked to and reveal a little about each one.  In this series I'd like to show what is great about the images and hopefully just inspire a little bit about a topic or genre that may be interested in.  

This is good for me to to dissect the images, how they were shot, what works, what doesn't perhaps.  It's not a direct portfolio review.  

Let me know in the comments if you enjoy and if we have enough images, too few, etc.  

Without further ado...

The image above is by Maxim Guselnikov who has some excellent portrait work.  The image is subtle with great depth of feild and toning.  I'm not thinking it was shot with a a speedlight, it looks like a vignette was added to darken the corners and keep the subject well exposed while creating drama on the image.  EXIF data shows this was shot at 1.4 with the Sigma 35mm ART lens.  I've heard such wonderful things and clearly this one stands out.  At that depth of field he separated the background wonderfully and stood far enough from the subject to avoid losing depth of field on the subjects face.  

Her look is so simple, but curious.  She has great hair and makeup, and the photoshop dodging/burning plus retouching is just amazing.

Our next image comes from Ivan Gevaerd.  It's a very simple image of an eye but has such a soft and beautiful quality to it.  Once again we see depth of field as a major player to the success of this image.  The color tone and palette is very pleasing and the soft blur and grain you can see just melt this into such a dreamy image.  The sharpness of the eyelashes brings you in as the focal point here and it's possible there was some skin softening done but if so it's not a distraction at all.  

The final image here is from Artur Stanisz.  The image is an iceberg floating along a stream and the dynamics between the landscape and the iceberg are phenomenal.  This is a great use of toning in Lightroom and Photoshop to ensure the distinction is made between the warm tones of the sky and the cool tones of the iceberg.

The photographer made an excellent composition highlighting the foreground elements, the subject in the middle ground, and the sky and mountains in the background.  Shot using the legendary 14-24 Nikon 2.8 lens and the Nikon D810, this 6 second exposure really pulls you into the scene and you image yourself there watching this iceberg float along.

Well done to all the authors of these images this week.  I'll post some more next week on Inspiration Tuesday!  Please share this post with anyone who enjoys photography.  

Stay focused