Looking for new things to photograph

Morning everyone.  My posts are a little scattered lately.  We have a lot going on here personally and it distracts away from my time on the computer, the blog, and sadly, the camera.  I picked up the camera last week for *gasp*, the first time in 2 weeks.  I had no interest in anything really.  Most of the time when I'm bored or need something to shoot I'll just bum around the house and find something like a macro shot, or just test settings on the camera to see what happens.

I couldn't even do that.  I tried to just keep my mind on other things.  Keep on working, playing some xbox, Destiny mainly.  (I'm Dragonfire7 if you need a buddy for raids).  Anyways, it was depressing.  I found out that I truly miss the passion of making images.  It's what puts my mind at ease, relaxes me, and keeps me sane.  Photography is not just one of those hobbies I pick up and can put down at will.  It's come to my attention that I must make images.  It's therapeutic.  

In the long run this should net out as ?  I spend all my money on gear, the gear lets me shoot, and I am happy.  No need for a shrink :).  

My therapy session last week was just around the corner.  We have a great little mini lake in the neighborhood and there's some wildlife all around.  The pond has a trail, it's full of reeds and plant life, a true ecosystem in it's own.   I shot manual during this session.  It sounds silly that I turned in all full auto Nikon gear only to shoot manual on my Sony a7rII but I love it.  The minolta Rokkor lenses are so much fun to shoot with.  Sony has a focus peaking feature which allows you to see an outline of subjects that are in focus through the viewfinder or the back display in live view.  I do have some auto glass that I use for paid gigs with fast moving targets, but for personal work it's fun to take out the manual lenses.  

Here are some shots that I got from that day.  The images are all shot as shallow as the lenses would allow.  the highest f stop I used was 2.8.  Depending on how far from the background your subject is, you can get some really cool bokeh.  

Hope you enjoy the gallery.  I posted a couple on Instagram as well so you may have seen 1 or 2.  Follow me there for updated work.  Take it easy, have a great weekend.  

Breaking up with Mylio

It's been a good ride but I fear that the Mylio train is dropping me off right here.  I haven't opened the app on any device, including my computer, in over 2 months.  There is nothing wrong with it technically, but functionally it overlaps with what Lightroom Mobile does for me.  

Let me talk about a few points that are driving me away from it.  


It's compatible with every device I own.  No problems there, but what gets me is when I put an image from Lightroom in there, or edit in Mylio and try and pull the metadata, it never works.  Refreshing the meta in LR does not bring in the data either.  This is not good for me in managing my catalog


It does a great job of backing up photos.  If I import a folder from LR or my computer it's instantly propagated to any of my devices for me to look at later.  But, I have something else that does that too, Flickr.  I can keep a terabyte on Flickr, and it lets me set a watch folder. 

Flickr pop up hub on my PC

Flickr pop up hub on my PC

The watched folder is basically any photos that I want in the  cloud and Flickr will look for new versions or remove photos that I have deleted.  I can have them in nested albums but what I found is that I just need to use this service as a backup for images.  I don't need to be super organized, as long as I can find an image in there for a shoot, then I'm good with it.  I keep the folders nested on my hard drives that I backup to.  


My images are with me everywhere when I have them with Mylio.  Well, the images that I work on in LR Mobile are there too.  From LR, I can send images to Instagram to post, and then replicate them to my other social media accounts with tags, all in one post.  With Mylio I have to download the image from the folder after it replicates, then go to the Instagram app and import.  It's a small niggle, but a time suck on my end.  

LR images are in collections, so when I import images, I work on the RAW images and make my selects on the PC, ipad, iphone, etc, and then move them to the collection and keep the RAW files in a separate folder.  Raw files are important to keep, and so on my PC when I import them, I always make a backup copy to a second HD just in case I lose my primary.

Mylio does this as well, but I don't edit in Mylio, so this is adding a second step to my workflow.  Not productive for me.  


I already pay $10 per month for LR and PS CC and I get the updates each time they patch the program.  This is a no-brainer payment plan so I always get updates to both applications.  I always have my photos that I want with me on my devices.  I can edit the raw photos on either device and they sync back in forth in real time.  (Edits from an i-device are jpegs as RAW files are not supported on apple devices...yet).  

What will I miss?

Folder Structure
I will miss a couple things.  The folder structure when looking through files on Mylio is great.  It's just like if you had it on the desktop.  You can nest folders and go through them without having to clutter the app with so many folders.  
The view and layout of the app is great.  It's got albums and folders, of which I never understood the difference so I only used albums.  I did enjoy using the app on devices, and that's a big plus.

Tagging people was one thing that I did often.  You can look them up by using the people tab in Mylio and this was great.  But...it had some hangups.  You could really only do this efficiently on the desktop.  Searching a name using the text box filtered results down, but did not allow selection with the keyboard.  What this meant was you left the keyboard when tagging to click on the name that was in the photo.  You could copy and paste names from a photo to another photo, or group of photos, but again, only on desktop.  Tags did not import into Lightroom either, so basically I was stuck using Mylio just to look at folders of a certain person if I needed to quickly reference someone.  I mitigate this by just making a collection folder in my Flickr watch folder and I can see all pictures of my kids, family, wife, etc.  

The end of an era

It's been a good run with Mylio.  At first when it came out, I didn't get it.  It was featured as saying that you could replicate all your photos to all your devices any time, any where.  I thought at first, well, so does iphoto/icloud, flickr, dropbox, basically any cloud sharing.  But where I found it was feature rich was the fact that once I put an image on any device, it moved it into my main catalog and replicated to all my devices in the same organized fashion.  So I bought in.  As time goes on, I found myself just not using it as much.  I go to my camera roll or Flickr to look at people or photos.  I import my images from LR Mobile to put on instagram, or I import images from my camera to LR mobile to do edits, or image selections when i'm on the go.  I think I have all my needs met at this time.  So i'll be putting $8/month back in the old wallet for something else. 

No hard feelings, it's not you, it's me.  :)

- Stay Focused -  

Focus stacking in Photoshop people!

small <rant>, was using Edge, the new browser in Win 10 and everytime I'd go to youtube to grab the link to insert here, it would blow away my post.  First time I thought it was a glitch, second time I was just dumb and did it again.  So now back on Chrome < \end rant>

So let's do this!  Focus stacking...what is it?  In a nutshell, which most things are, is this: Taking multiple images of a scene at different focus areas using manual focus and using Photoshop to blend them together to one final image.  How to do this?  Great question.

The setup is easy.  Put the camera on a tripod and focus on the closest item in the shot, your subject.  Then just adjust the focus a little farther out on each shot, turning the focus ring and taking shots until you get to the end of the focus limiter.  (infinity mark)

Can you take as many shots as you want?  Of course.  Can you use any f stop? sure, for this I used f/1.8.  Shutter speed and ISO are irrelevant but if you need a starting point I was at ISO 50 on the sony a7rii and 55 1.8 Zeiss lens using the Joby Gorilla Pod as my tripod.  It's great for getting those close to the ground shots.  The mode on my camera was aperture priority so shutter speed varied a little.  

I took 7 shots to compose this focus stack, and the tutorial is in the video below.  The final image is posted just below the video to see exactly how this turns out.  Also a gallery of the original images for reference is embedded as well.  

Final image - 7 image composite

Austin Dog Rescue

Hey everyone, hope you had an awesome weekend.  I started mine out by volunteering for my favorite dog rescue, Austin Dog Rescue.  It's a wonderful group of people helping out pups around central Texas.  It's not just "Austin" per se, as I see them moving around to Wimberley, Bastrop, Georgetown, and even Lakeway area.  It's a very tight group of people who help dogs get back to health, find owners, promote awareness, and other wonderful things too. 

I created a page to dedicate the photography that I do for this group.  I like to do the shots and edit them for the group to help promote the puppies on the site.  The first images they see are the ones that will spark interest in new owners and I'm excited to do this for the group.

The most recent photos I take will be on the page and you can hit the link here.

I hope you enjoy them.  I put them on social media as well so please follow me there if you like to see the latest.   Volunteer work



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 500px.com

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 500px.com

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 500px.com

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. 

Said goodbye to an old friend

The first camera you really sink your teeth into is the hardest to let go.  Some readers may know I've been testing the Sony E mount series for a few months now.  I immediately fell in love with the size and weight of the camera, yet keeping the 35mm sensor.  So I kept looking for those projects where I'd go "Oh, I need the Nikon for that job"...days went by.  Weeks, now months.

The lucky young man on craigslist who inquired about it over the weekend walked away with it and 2 of the best lenses I had. 

Nikon D610 full frame 35mm sensor with 24.3 megapixels

The two lenses were the 85mm 1.8D and the 50mm 1.4G.  I bought the 85 first and the first picture I put on facebook got so much attention.  I hadn't shot at wide apertures with any camera before.  The picture was very silly, my wife holding our hairless dog with a toy in his mouth.  But it was so sharp and the falloff and bokeh were amazing.  I hope this kid loves it like I did.  The 50mm was a solid contender as well.  Sitting 1/3 stop faster at 1.4, I felt it was not very sharp until around f2 or 2.2.  That being said, you lose a little when you have to stop down a lens to effectively make it sharp, losing the edge of buying a faster lens.  (faster i.e. lower f stop or more light hitting the sensor)

Now on to the exciting news, I'm getting a new camera!!  The a7r II is out and I've had it on order for a couple months anxiously awaiting the ship date.  I've been watching the shipments follow the sun and with great excitement the US finally has dates!  Like..yesterday.  So...I may get batch #2 or 3 from B&H but it's going to ship soon.  Some Best Buy stores have them already and are selling out quick.  I may end up going to get it so I can use for my beach trip next week.

Sony a7R ii

Brian Smith has been posting some great images and new features on his blog.  He's one of the best sources when it comes to all things Sony.  Brian Matiash has been testing it out as well as the new highly acclaimed Batis lenses. He took the 25/2 to Iceland recently. 

Below are the product highlights: (Courtesy of B&H Photo)

Product Highlights

  • 42 MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log2 Gamma
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • 399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
  • 0.5" 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF
  • 3.0" 1,228.8k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
  • ISO 102,400 and Silent Shutter Mode
  • Durable Reduced-Vibration Shutter Design
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC

The speed of the autofocus has been significantly increased.  5 axis stabilization in body means that you can use manual lenses or non optical stabilized ones and get up to 4.5 stops of shake correction.  That's incredible as I've used some old Minolta lenses down to 1/20 of a sec and not had shake. 

For landscape shooters like me, shooting bracketed is something we love to do and combine exposures to get the most out of the dynamic range of a scene.  The a7r II supports 9 brackets up to 1 stop in difference.  This will make for some amazing HDR. 

I've already come to realize that Wi-Fi is not a big feature to tout on a camera these days, but it's still standard as is NFC.  I like this because I can send an image to my phone for backup or to my ipad for larger viewing. 

Internal 4K recording is something I'm looking forward to.  I'm excited to work with video and without an external recorder, most cannot produce 4K to the card.  Sony has made this a feature in the new body so you can scale it directly to your SD card.  As monitors, content, and TV's all move to 4K, 8K, 16K and beyond, it's nice that Sony is keeping up and making a stills camera capable of shooting UHD formats. 

The sample images I've seen so far look amazing.  Very sharp, crisp, and detailed.  We are bordering on medium format in a compact package with a  35mm price tag.  With all the features and hype, the early release has indicated this camera will be one to beat this year. 

That's it for now.  Inspiration Tuesday resumes next week and then I'm off to vacation for a few days.  A little beach R&R.  And maybe an R ii :)

- Stay Focused -

Oklahoma: Where the sonic has no drive-in

Recently went on a business trip for 3 days to OKC.  It's about a 6 hour drive from Austin and passes thru a whole lot of nothin'.  I don't mind going into Oklahoma, despise everything about it, but I don't mind it.  Reminds me of why Texas is so awesome.  

The minute you cross the border you start seeing tornado shelter banners and billboards, not a place I want to be running to :).  However, the storm chaser in me wants to go visit and check out some of these cyclones and thunderstorms.  We had a spell of rain while I was there and the lightning over the plains can be pretty intense.  

This image was taken the first night after a storm. 

Enjoyed taking the Sony on this trip.  The a7 is such a light camera and when paired with the 35mm 2.8 Zeiss it's still under 650 grams.  I packed it around town for a few shots of the night life and some skyline.  Hand held it did pretty well on the streets when using low shutter speeds.  When I say low i'm talking 1/10 or 1/30.  Not ideal for shooting architecture.  Street shots were taken at around 1/125 or higher so they were very sharp.  

We stayed near the ballpark there and didn't get a chance to see a game but I snuck around the stadium and snapped a few pics.  It's in a region called "Bricktown", and it's easy to figure out why.  The whole area around here and the river walk has nothing but red brick buildings.  The ballpark is home of the OKC Dodgers, farm team to LA.  Seems when they are away then most people are as well.  Downtown was not very busy, even if it was a Tuesday - Thursday.  

The night scene was pretty slow.  Around the river walk area you can take a boat cruise and see the city.  Many passengers would enter and exit the yellow boats from the entrance to Mickey Mantle's steak house.  Above Mickey's is where I snagged the following shot.  

Oklahoma city at dusk - Devon Energy building

This was shot from the third story above Mickey's steakhouse.  There is a cigar bar and we took a night off to soak in a sunset and enjoy some of the finer things.  This is about as high as I could get so the perspective is still "up the nose" in terms of cityscapes, however, I loved that the American flag was flying proudly and the building lights had just turned on.  

Overall it's a sleepy city at night and we are glad to be back home.  I will say the craft beer scene is bustling with COOP and Black Mesa topping the list.  Not far behind were Roughtail and Prairie.  For a full list check this wiki page

The Tapwerks alehouse was by far the leader in craft beer.  Hundreds of beers, tavern decor and comfort, and an interesting duo of singer/songwriters in there Tuesday.  I leave you with this video i shot on my phone.  It's called "Hotel baby one more time"

- Stay Focused - 

Happy Saturday!  I'm here in Sugarland Tx shooting an event for the Texas state florists. It's a convention hat happens every year and I'm shooting the design show elements before they go on stage.  

its a pretty cool gig. The designers are from all over the world and you can see some amazing art pieces.  The images can vary in size and I had to build a set that would accommodate the designs. 



There's about 7 or 8 ft clearance here and I've used every inch so far. I may get to post some shots next week but I'll be on the road for my regular job.  

May not get to post again until next week.  

Have a great weekend and stay safe  


                            - Stay focused -

Inspiration Tuesday - Eyes

The eyes are the window to the soul they say.  Today's featured images indeed have such windows.  We'll look at how they add dimension and feeling to the images.  If the eyes are not sharp, your image may as well not be.  -someone famous i'm sure

Svetlana by Sean Archer on 500px.com

Sean is an amazing photographer based out of Russia and one of his latest images has stunning eyes indeed.  The color pop and highlight are amazing.  She has a very genuine and inviting look.  The styling is amazing and his photoshop work is classy.  The dodging and burning on the hair and face are impeccable.  Amazing image.

Hannah by Jay Kreens  on 500px.com

The next image from Jay Kreens has a screaming sharp eye clarity.  Her look is menacing, demeaning, almost like "what are you doing here man?".  I love the color and the and the tone of this image.  Some heavy photoshop on the face that is a little sharp, but doesn't distract from the image completely.  Noticeable high pass filter was used on the image to sharpen and accentuates every pixel on her face.  Great character.  

Romka1 by Alexander Sorokopud on 500px.com

I love this final image!  It's got so much brass and once again, the eyes tell the story here.  He's showing he's got some attitude here and this face means business.  Great post work too, and a nice shallow depth of field.  Overall, just a great image.  

- Stay Focused - 

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 drops...but...you 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 -

Meet Roger Dodger!

Shooting personal projects has a real impact on your future work with clients as well.  You have to be energized to shoot your next project or else you risk doing a less than amazing job for your client.

Personal projects can amp that enthusiasm for the craft and keep the creative juices flowing.  I have taken up shooting dog portraits for our local dog rescue Austin Dog Rescue.  If you have some time please check them out.  They are an amazing group of people that have a devout passion for saving the lives of pooches all around Austin.  

I was approached to do a shoot with them and I get to reveal that image some time this year but the net of that meeting was a great bunch of friends who we collaborate on projects together.  One friend has asked me to shoot some images of dogs she fosters and she just so happens to live a hop and a skip from me so it works out well.  

My latest project was with Roger Dodger.  He's a cute little cattle dog with light brown spots and blue/grey coloring up around the neck and back.  He immediately latched on to my heart strings and we hit it off.  He had a very playful attitude and he'd run around the yard and then pose before running away again.  Very well mannered for a 10 week old.  

The portrait shots were just so cute because his little ears would stand straight up.   I told the foster it reminded me of a hyena.  I am sure he will not last long on the adoption site.  I have almost convinced myself just to take him in but alas, i have 2 dogs already.  3 would be too many along with our 3 cats and 2 kids.

If you'd like to check him out he'll be on the ADR page soon and I can connect you with his foster.  Poor guy fell out of a truck and was picked up and brought to a vet to be checked out.  Soon after he was in our foster's good care and is perfectly healthy.  He managed to dodge some traffic so hence the name, "Roger Dodger" 


-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 kidding...how 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.