Monthly Archives: March 2012

Keeping a Shoot List.

There are different types of shoot lists to maintain and all of them have different functions when it comes to your work. Some are general wish lists of shoots that you would want to do in the future while others are a list of shots that your want to get during a particular photo shoot. And there is the list you update during each photo shoot.

The shoots that I would like to do, I call my “Shoot Wish List.” Essentially, I come up some ideas and over time flesh them out until they are ready to go. These lists are detailed in lighting diagrams, prop and wardrobe needs, and model details. I can even include my inspiration for the idea into this so that I can draw upon that later.

The day prior to a planned shoot, you should go over your shoot notes and print them out so you have them handy during the shoot. This is good way to make sure you get what you want out of the photo shoot and you don’t regret any missed photos. Try as you might, you will have a hard time recreating a photo shoot to get those missed shots.

Note: Wedding photographers will keep “Day of” shoot lists to ensure that they get every possible shot that the bride and groom are wanting. A missed opportunity here is forever lost. Good luck recreating this day!

The third type of list that is helpful to keep is the rolling shoot list.  This was more beneficial to me when I was shooting in film as I would number the rolls of film and take notes on each frame that was shot. Once the film was processed I could go back to my notes and see what was going on in terms of the model, exposure settings, etc. Unfortunately, the digital camera can not do it all (yet), so you may find it necessary to keep some notes. If you are working with multiple models in one day you will want to know some of those details.

  • The shoot wish list will help you flesh out your ideas, find locations and models.
  • Day of shoot list will help you capture the shots you want.
  • The rolling shoot list will assist in post production and help you remember some of the fine details of each shot taken.

There is another list that I keep that is a stock shooting list. Simply put, it is a short quick list of ideas that I keep for shooting stock photography; That is another article for another day. In any case, this is an important means to planning and working through your shoots and is a part of my work flow.

Blog photo provided by BigStock

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Photo Walks – Daily Shoot Ideas

Here are a couple more daily shoot Ideas for you.

  • Photo Walks
  • 100 Steps

There are a couple of ways to view a photo walk. You can go out on your own and walk around your local city, or where ever you happen to be at the time, and look for ideal scenes to shoot; Or you can go on a paid tour. There are a number of attractions and destinations around the world that offer guided tours for photographers and they will point out spots of interest to photograph. Either way, it is some good exercise and you will come home with great photos.

I will often go to one of my local parks and just walk around for hours looking for interesting shooting places. I will also walk through the city and shoot as much as possible as an opportunity to work on composition. While I have not been on a guided walk, I will likely do so at some point.

100 Steps is very much like the the photo walk except you are forcing your self to shoot on intervals. Start at point (A) and take photos. Find every shot you can possibly take and then take 100 steps in any direction and shoot some more. Wash, Rinse and Repeat. The 100 Steps idea is great for macro photography as you can spend an entire day shooting and come home with hundreds of photos.

One of the many benefits to these photo walks is that it trains you to look for the shots you want to take so that you are constantly looking. You will be developing your eye and building a good base for your portfolio.

Something that I would like to point out is that you can mix and match your daily shooting list depending on your available time to shoot, weather conditions or any other factors. The main idea to these daily shoot projects is take photos every day.

Blog photo provided by BigStock

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DROID-ography because I don’t use an Iphone.

Being a photographer means that you often have to field questions from your friends about cameras and photography; This happens to people who work in IT as well. The computer geeks in IT get, “hey, I am having x problem on my computer. What do you think it is.” Where as the photographer gets questions about what camera to purchase.

Recently, I had one such question.  A friend of mine had started sending me links to cameras he was thinking about purchasing; all of which were in the sub $300.00 range. Instead of sending him back any finding from, I had started asking him what he wanted the camera for.  He had indicated that he just wanted a good camera to take snap shots of his daughters and capture the moments.

That being said, I remembered that he had a Droid 4 and while it is not the perfect camera, it can work just as well as any sub $300.00 point and shoot. After all, that is exactly what the camera is on his cell phone! With decent lighting and a little know how, one can still take good photos with an Android phone.

When I am out and about, perhaps I forgot to grab my Canon G12, I will use my droid to capture images.  Chase Jarvis wrote a book called, The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You. This book, partially,  illustrates why I will use my droid while I am out. With Geo Tagging features, I can also use the Droid when I am scouting locations; This allows me to quickly recall where a location is and tie it in to a map via Google Maps.

I have been able to produce some nice work with my generation 1 Droid; This is partly due to my experience in photography. I do not use any special apps on my phone, nor do I do any post processing on these photos. As they say, all the work has been done in camera. Just as with any piece of equipment, you have to realize and understand it’s strengths and weaknesses. I tend to view the camera phone as the digital version of the Holga.

Recently, I upgraded my Droid to the Droid 4; Though I have not had time to go out and really get a feel for the new version with the 6 Mpx camera. Likely I will go out this weekend and play around with it a bit. So far, I have been impressed with the hardware and the OS on this new phone and I am looking forward to using it in the coming months.

Why don’t I use the Iphone? Honestly, I am just not that interested in the Iphone. It is not a Droid vs. Iphone, Mac vs. PC or even a Canon vs. Nikon thing; It is just a personal preference. At first, I was disappointed in the lack of professional tools that were available for the Droid, but the developers are catching up and understanding that not everyone has or wants Iphone. I will admit, I did give Apple’s little toy some consideration before sticking with the Android format.


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Promote Control – for Time Lapse, Stacked Focus and HDR

I recently got word from Promote Systems that they are sending me a Promote Control to play with for the next month. This is a fascinating little device for Canon and Nikon DSLRs. The supported camera list is as follows:

Nikon: D3, D3s, D3X, D2X, D2Xs, D2H, D2Hs, D200, D300, D300s, D700, D40, D40x, D50, D60, D70, D70s, D80, D90, D3100, D5000, D5100, D7000.

Canon: 1D Mark III, 1Ds Mark III, 1D Mark IV, 5D Mark II, 7D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 400D/XTi, 450D/XSi, 500D/T1i, 600D/T3i, 1000D/XS, 1100D/T3, 60D.

Product Description

Designed for serious amateurs and pros, Promote® Control is an advanced remote control for digital SLR cameras from Canon, Nikon and various other manufacturers. A brief feature list includes:

  • Automatic bracketing for up to 45 shots in a row
  • Up to 9.0EV steps between bracketed exposures
  • Automatic Bulb mode bracketing
  • Programmable Focus Stacking sequences (Canon only, requires a free firmware update)
  • Time-Lapse with optional exposure bracketing for HDR Time-Lapse
  • Pocket-sized alternative to laptop-based camera remote control solutions

Up to 45 images in automatic bracketing! Check out the Promote Control!

Once I receive the demo unit, I will post a review with lots of photos of resulting work. As of this moment, I do not have an ETA for the Promote Control but I am eager to get my hands on it. I would certainly love to know any feed back from my readers who have had an opportunity to use this.

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Recent Paintings

During the winter I spent some time working on some mixed media paintings. Above are the results.

The skull is by far my favorite of the three; This is a mixed, laser transfer and acrylic painting. The second one, which is a color burst, is acrylic. The last painting is a mixed laser transfer from one of my photographs with acrylic. All three paintings were done on MDF primed with latex house primer.

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5 Daily Shooting Ideas Involving People

PhotographerAs a photographer, professional or amateur, it is important to stay frosty and shoot constantly. This is the first  article in a series that will, hopefully, give you some ideas on daily shooting projects.  So, lets get started!

Daily Shoots:  5 Ideas involving people:

  1. Self Portraits
  2. Portraits of others
  3. 100 Strangers
  4. Facial Expresions
  5. Emotion

Self Portraits: This is, by far the easiest daily shoot project. Who are you? Can you capture who you are in a daily photo? You can be elaborate or as simple as you like. I had a friend who was into action figures, so he took a self portrait of himself in a bathtub filled with his action figures; This was a part of who he was and illustrated his nature and one of his interests in a single frame. Get creative and have fun with it.

Portraits of others: This can be as simple or complex as you want and you can get your friends, as well as your family, involved. Go out with your friends and family, set up your shots and shoot. Offer them prints of the work and have a good time.

100 Strangers: “People are strange, when your a stranger…” This is an opportunity to step out and talk to people you would not normally. Find people on the street and explain what your doing, then take their photo. You can even go editorial/ street photography and just go out and shoot people on the street. Essentially, capture people in their environment, walking to work, going shopping. The goal is to tell a story about the person you are photographing in a single frame.

Facial Expressions: Sounds easy, right? You would be surprised. Whether you you focus on one person or many people, try to capture a full range of facial expressions. You can even narrow it down to focusing on just the eyes or the mouth. Smiles, frowns, scowls, grimaces, laughs… find it or create and capture it!

Emotion: This is closely related to the facial expressions idea but you want to capture a person’s range of emotion. Try to, again, tell a story about the person; capture the environment and mood. If the person is stress or happy, what is making them happy and can you include a visual in the photograph that would illustrate the reason or cause?

The intent of these projects is to get out and shoot every day. While it is a lot of work, it builds a good habit and is meant to be fun. Get out there and Shoot! Oh, And have some fun while you’re at it.

Happy Shooting!!

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Some tips on working with models

Photo ShootThere are a thousand things that could be said in regards to working with models. I am sure that no matter how in depth I try to cover this topic, there are going to be things that I miss. Also, this is a subject that I will bring up from time to time as it is important to me and when one photographer treats a model poorly, it can alter the way all of us are seen in the eyes of that model.

  1. Always show your models respect.
  2. Make sure that all the details of the shoot are clear to the models prior to the actual shoot date. This will eliminate confusion later.
  3. Check the models references. Talk to the photographers that he/she has worked with.
  4. Always provide a separate changing area for the models. If you are on location, improvise the best you can.
  5. If you are shooting nudes, Keep a robe on hand for the models to wear while not shooting
  6. Do not enter a models personal space. If you must touch the model in order to manipulate an article of clothing, ask them first Feeling safe to a model can mean the difference in a good or bad shoot.
  7. Communication is golden. After you set the shoot, follow-up with them the day before the shoot and after the shoot. If for some reason the shoot is delayed or postponed let the model know as soon as you can.
  8. Do not bad mouth a model. If you had a bad experience with them, keep the explanation simple as there is no need to go overboard. Remember, your words can prevent a model  from obtaining work in the future.
  9. Always make sure that the model is exactly what you wanted for the specified shoot. Don’t wait for he/she to get there and then decide they weren’t.
  10. Professionalism at all times.
  11. If the model did a good job in your eyes, tell them. But don’t limit it to the model. If you have a crew that did well, tell them too.
  12. Never present yourself as something that you are not.
  13. Always have a model release on hand for the model to sign. She will also need to have valid ID with her.
  14. If you are shooting nudes, you will want to make sure to get copies of Photo ID’s prior to shooting.
  15. Communicate with the model what your intentions are for the resulting photographs.
  16. Make sure that the model has what they will need for the shoot, changes etc. If you have the right clothing etc. let them know ahead of time, and make sure that the sizes are appropriate for the model.
  17. Try to be as clear as possible on every aspect of the shoot as you can be.
  18. If the shoot is time for prints (TFP) be clear about this prior to the shoot while you’re in the planning phases with the model.
  19. A good photographer will be as professional as they can be. And this will come through to a model.
  20. If you have a home studio let the model know this. I think this is pretty straight forward as you should be when talking to your models.
  21. When working long shoot days, you will want to provide some light refreshments. During the planning process, find out what light snacks the model enjoys and also keep plenty of water on set.
  22. If you make a promise or set the expectation that you are going to do something, make sure to follow through. This includes setting dates that you will provide a model “prints” “slides”  for TFP shoots.
  23. Credibility is a valuable commodity, strive to achieve this, and maintain it.
  24. If a model leaves you a message regarding a business matter, do not keep them waiting on a response. If you do not have an immediate response, then let them know and get back to them as soon as possible.

I realize that there is a lot of communication points in this, but what else can be said? However, there are two main keys to working with models; Making them feel safe and relaxed as well as communicating with them at every opportunity.

Blog photo provided by BigStock

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TheOpen: Online Photo Competition

I recently entered some of my photographs into TheOpen Online Photo Competition and looking forward to seeing who the winners of this competition are going to be. Total prize bucket is $50,000.00.  I encourage you to sign in to the site with you Facebook account and vote for photos by clicking on the “Heart” icon on the upper left of the images.

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Acne Scar Treatments

What is the collagen-acne scars relationship? Let’s start by describing some of the acne forming process. Basically, as an acne cyst forms, the neck of the sebaceous gland opens up and gets filled with bacteria, cells and sebum that are unable to pass through to the skin’s surface. Eventually this cyst explodes, projecting the matter into the dermis and, because it is recognized as a “foreign matter”, it is attacked by white blood cells which fight off infection.

What most often follows is the loss of tissue as collagen is destroyed in the dermis. As these cells are eliminated, the cells above on the superficial level of the skin receive no support from below. And that is when that area of the skin collapses, resulting in a soft saucer-shaped depression (what many refer to as a pock mark) or jagged ice pick scar (which is deep and narrow). Unfortunately, this kind of scarring occurs often on the face and affects both men and women.

Another important fact to consider in the collagen-acne scars connection is that aging can affect your collagen levels and therefore, scar visibility. After you turn 40, 1% of your dermal collagen is lost annually. This extra loss of collagen together with reduced skin tone as you age can make scars become a lot more apparent.

So, those are some of the ways that collagen is related to acne and scarring. Collagen is also used in the treatment of acne scars. Acne scars are often the result of long-term infection and inflammation of the skin’s glands. This condition results in an uneven skin surface with peaks and valleys. There are various treatments for acne scars, and filler injections, such as collagen, could be the most sensible one for you. Fillers help to raise the valleys so that there is less of an indentation around the peaks. This leads to the appearance of a smoother skin surface.

Collagen fillers are just one type of fillers. Others include hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapetite, and polymethylmethacrylate beads. While collagen fillers usually last from 3 to 6 months, other types can last from 6 months and longer – with some even being permanent. Which type you can use depends on your skin and your scars. If you have just a few acne scars and they are relatively shallow, collagen might be a good fit. There’s a way to quickly evaluate if this is an option for you (although of course you will talk to a professional regarding treatment possibilities)–stretch the scarred area. If it flattens out when you stretch it, collagen is a worthwhile consideration. Many people prefer to go with the collagen choice because it is less expensive than other options.

However, if you have deep ice pick scars, you would probably want to go with another procedure like chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, punch grafting and others.

The above information about collagen-acne scars does not substitute medical advice given by a health professional.

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