September 30, 2011

Roadtrip Part 11, and Playing with Presets…

I’ve been experimenting with Kellie Hatcher’s presets for the last week.  They’re a pretty dramatic departure from my usual editing style.  These presets remind me of pictures from my childhood – the film pictures mom and dad took and then stored the completed canisters of film in a drawer for a couple years til there was money to develop the pictures; the pictures that when finally developed were heavily toned and kinda earthy.  I thought it would be fun to try the presets on some of my Lake Powell pics (I labeled each picture with the preset used), especially since when we were out on the water and away from other boats & buildings, there’s nothing out there to tell us what modern decade we’re in – it might really be the 1970’s …

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70’s vibe, yes? 

Fun announcement:  I will be hosting a giveaway of Kellie’s color presets very soon …

ps. these edits were all using the soon-to-be-released JPG version of Kellie's presets

September 28, 2011

Neatness is NOT his middle name.

Walking into this room makes me uncomfortable. Squirmy. Claustrophobic. Feel the need to clean, clean-out, clean-out some more. But here's the thing ...

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He's so happy ... content ... busy in there. His imagination runs wild. He's in charge of whole universes.

And I know in 10 years, I'll look back on these images, and not be so frustrated with the mess, the unfolded laundry, the clutter. Instead, I'm pretty sure I'll see Little Dude's happiness and the worlds he created with army men, Lego guys, and stuffed animals. All while being surrounded by crooked, crowded, piled-high books.

September 25, 2011

I Answered You out of a Thundercloud …


Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song, strike the timbrel,
the sweet sounding lyre with the harp.
Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
He established it for a testimony in Joseph,
when he went throughout the land of Egypt.
I heard a language that I did not know:

“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.

Hear Me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
Let there be no strange god among you;
nor shall you worship any god other than Me.
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

“But my people did not listen to my voice;
And Israel did not obey me.
So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart,
to walk in their own devices.
“Oh that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
How quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the LORD would cringe before Him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Psalm 81

powell sunset rain

September 20, 2011

Roadtrip, Part 10, wherein we explore by boat...

So, we survived our “short cut,” and arrived at our glorious destination:  Lake Powell.  We rented a “power” boat (“power” written in quotes, because there was very little power in this particular powerboat.  My little dream of waterskiing on Lake Powell quickly became a pipedream for this particular trip; cue the sad violin, please).  IMG_4907orange county family lifestyle

Luckily the boat worked well enough for the Dudes to thoroughly enjoy themselves … and to become brave enough to perform multiple “tricks” [grin].

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Those gorgeous thunder clouds you see in the picture above were kind enough to hold back their deluge til we returned the boat and checked into our motel. And that little deluge made for a spectacular sunset scene. More Lake Powell to come. At the rate I'm posting these vacation pics, the boys will all have graduated by the time I finish. Note to self: take fewer pics next vacation.

Btw, for anyone interested: all the pictures in this post were edited in Lightroom using One Willow's newest presets. Specifically, I used Imagination, Harmony & Film Newspaper from The Beautiful Things Collection.

September 19, 2011

Why Camera Settings Don’t Tell the Whole Story.

Poor Amy & Angie. It was not even an hour after we’d met (in “real life”) and were discussing the next day’s Orange County Photography Workshop, that they told me one of the most asked-for workshop components was that we share our camera settings as we shot during the workshop. I replied something to the effect of: “Why? Camera setting information is worthless.” (“Tact” has never been my middle name). I’m thinking that at that moment, Amy & Angie were wondering if it was too late to find a different guest teacher!

Let me explain why I don’t often think camera settings are terribly helpful for the general public: there are just so. very. many. differing pieces of input that go into any given camera settings. What works on my camera may not work on yours. Is the photographer using a film camera, a dslr, a point & shoot? Is the camera full frame or cropped sensor? How near or far is the photographer from the subject? Is the light dim or bright? Shadow or full sun? Backlit, front-lit, side-lit, overhead-lit? Are all parts of the subject on the same focal plane or on different focal planes? How much distance is between the subject and the foreground and background? Can the camera handle high ISO or does the resulting “noise” get too bad? Is my subject moving or still? These are just a few of the parameters that come quickly to my mind that help me determine what settings I’ll use. And each of these determining factors are all hard to “see” when one is just looking at camera setting data.
Ok, that was a lot of words. Let me show you what I mean …

Both these next pictures have the exact same camera settings: 50mm, f/2.2, 1/500 sec, iso 400 … but on different cameras (Canon 5d, Canon Rebel). Of course, the images look entirely different, even though utilizing the exact same settings.

50mm 2.2 5d vs rebel

Same exact settings as above, I just moved a little close to the Legos:

50mm 2.2 rebel vs 5d close-up

I took all the above sets of photographs from the exact same place (neither closer nor further away). The cropped camera (in this case, the Rebel) is always going to seem much closer, more zoomed. And the bigger the zoom of the lens, the greater the difference between the two cameras, despite having the same settings. Observe in the following flower example …
50mm, f/4.5, 1/500 sec, iso 400

105mm 4.5 5d vs rebel

The second flower image almost appears as if photographed by a macro lens.
These next images of my dog are all taken on the same camera (5d) with the same lens with the same exact settings. The only thing that changed was my distance from Dog Dude. And that changed-distance between us radically impacts the resulting depth of focus in each of the images. Compare the quality of focus on the floor, Dog Dude, tennis ball, bone, chairs, & couch. Watch what falls out of focus, depending how close or far from Dog Dude I placed myself.

24mm, f/1.4, 1/100 sec, iso 200

24mm 1.4 comparison

I tried to get Dog Dude to look directly at me, so I could show a truly dramatic drop-off of focus, but he was decidedly uncooperative. So here’s a picture from last year that demonstrates what I’m talking about. Same camera, lens, & aperture:


This picture of Dog Dude’s nose also introduces another subtle factor that isn’t necessarily reflected by mere camera settings. Distance between photographer & subject can create distortion. Observe this next comparison. Same camera, same camera settings, different distances between me and my son: Canon 5d, 24mm, f/1.4, 1/640 sec, iso 400.

24mm 1.4 5d distance comparison

The first image is clearly, and unflatteringly, distorted. In addition, it bothers me that one eye is in focus and one is NOT. Moving back just 18″ produces a much different picture. My son is entirely in focus and just the background gets fuzzed out.
In this last comparison, the settings are exactly the same as above. Since my son is silhouetted to the camera, the focus on him is fine, but he remains unpleasantly distorted in the second image, where I was positioned 24″ closer to him.

24mm 1.4 5d dof comparison

I guess all I’m really trying to show here is that there’s more to the story than just the mere camera settings data. Just studying or copying someone’s settings might not create the image you desire, unless you’re also replicating the other existing factors (light, physical setting, distance, etc.).

September 15, 2011

Roadtrip, Part 9, wherein we take a "short-cut"...

The shortest distance between Bryce and Lake Powell is via an unpaved "service road". Big Dude said it was a sizeable "shortcut". I figured it would take us all day, or at least oodles longer than just driving the longer-distanced highway option ;-). What neither of us expected was that we would be driving smack dab through the middle of the Great Stairway-Escalante, which could have been a destination in and of itself!

"In the 1870s, geologist Clarence Dutton described the Grand Staircase as a 'huge stairway ascending out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon northward with the cliff edge of each layer forming giant steps.' The steps rise 5500' from the floor of the Grand Canyon to the edge of the jagged Paunsaugunt Plateau at Bryce Canyon. The distinct steps are the Vermilion Cliffs, the White Cliffs, the Gray Cliffs and the Pink Cliffs." (verbiage blatantly copied from this site)

The first clue that perhaps we’re off the beaten path?cottonwood road-1

Be sure and watch the varying colors of soil – the road changes hues several times.

cottonwood road-2cottonwood road-3cottonwood road-4cottonwood road-5cottonwood diptychcottonwood road-6cottonwood road-7The Frommer’s site reported a photographer (not me!) who complained bitterly about the unsightly, intrusive power lines paralleling this picturesque road.   For the record, I kinda like ‘em. Of course, the grand irony is that this road wouldn’t exist except for the power lines needing to be serviced.cottonwood road-8cottonwood road-9cottonwood road-10

And our end destination. Turns out our “shortcut” was neither shorter nor longer (time-wise) than taking the highway.   But it was definitely a road worth taking!

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A one-minute slideshow from throughout the 46-mile road ...

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September 14, 2011

Roadtrip, Part 8, Sunset at Inspiration Point

After a smoky dinner at the Lodge, we headed to Inspiration Point to watch the sunset.  The fire and smoke added much color and drama to an already gorgeous sunset.  In many of these pictures you can see the trail we hiked earlier in the day.  Our original plan was to hike another trail after dinner, but I’m pretty sure that at least two of us didn’t have the energy to take that task on [shamefully raising my hand].  So, sunset at the top it was [grin].

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inspiration point 3Next up, our “shortcut” drive from Bryce to Lake Powell … (some of which is pictured in the far distance of the images directly above).

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September 12, 2011

The Day Before :: Orange County Family Photographer

The day before the wedding, that is. On the spectacular Queen Mary. On a glorious, sunny, warm day. And Grandma (of the groom) had a brilliant idea: so long as everyone was in town, why not take family photos? And so we did. There were lots of people, lots of laughs, lots of love ... and just a tiny bit of time. We started pictures at 4:00pm. Cranked out 22 different group set-ups + candids. Finished at 4:53pm, a full 7 minutes before their rehearsal dinner began (whew!) - this has got to be some kind of record!! This family was awesome, efficient, and tons of fun!

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