Give Thanks In everything give thanks...even the rough times in life teach you a thing or two.  Come to think about it, the rough times probably force you to learn more out of survival needs than anything else!

I've got a healthy family, roof over our heads and a good camera or to love that!

Anyone looking to hire a photographer this weekend here in the Atlanta area?  I can handle portraits, cars, events, and sports!  I would love to help you out!


Negative space in life and a portrait

Negative Space Adventure Here is my pretty china doll Julia Rose...

I think the world's technology if overloading us with stimuli.  Our brains are truly wired differently now because of it. Unfortunately this is robbing us of our ability to be introspective.  Introspective people often look into what appears to be nothingness, and find the rich textures and beauty God has hidden in there for their enjoyment and enlightenment that others ignore.  While making these portraits with my daughter I was able to slow down just enough to explore what I was doing...the why...the how...the wonder of the moment before me.  Writing this article, and thinking about what I wanted to do actually made me go back and re-edit my photograph to make it more attractive..actually to make the nothingness more attractive and complementary of the subject!  I had set the stage, but only by self examination was I truly able to explore it.

Here is the story of the shot:  When I shot this portrait I wanted to explore the concept of negative space a bit.  I just finished reading about in in Bryan Peterson's book so I thought it would be good to practice.  This is one of those times where you purposely let a big set of space be empty...but in this case I filled it up with a rich texture.  Before last month I would be scared to do something with the space, wondering if I was "allowed" to by the photogurus of the world.  Bob Coates helped me walk away from that supposed stigma last month at a class I took with him.  "If the masters of art did it, why can we learn from them?" he said...and then he encouraged us all to play a little but with the concept.  Only through play can you learn, experience and find the your style in the wonderful world of photo development we have at our fingertips today.  It is a great lesson we should all grasp on in so many ways (Bob Coates website  I used Julia's eyes and body curve to compliment the negative space...she is looking at the negative space as if something is there you cannot see!  By moving Julia in the lighting space I also purposely created shadows to give the subject a three dimensional depth to match the texture.  If I had more space in the old basement I'd pull her further from the backdrop..but I am out of that vital commodity in the basement right create more depth and contrast in the textures.  Next step is to do more with the lighting outside of post to make this easier.

So put down that smart phone, ipad or gameboy.  Look into the nothingness, and see what you've been missing.  Remove the man made stimuli, and look, listen and feel for the rich textures of life God prepared for us.  I think our lives will be much greater for it...I know this portrait of my daughter certainly was.


P.S.  The Fujifilm X-E1 F5, 1/110, ISO1600, at 234mm(35mm equivalent) tripod mounted!

A tale of two portraits

Julia Dance Portraits It is that time of year when I need to catch up on things before the crush of school year life hits us with the power of a thunder clap.

So before my lovely big daughter grows out of her 2013 dance costumes I just had to take advantage of it to take her portrait!  This time I think she enjoyed least for the first 90 minutes and four costume changes!  The last change is the one you see here.

I'll share some more over time, but this one has the emotion in the smile, the sweet innocence of a 12 year old, and the eye contact a daddy longs to get in the lens.  It was a wonderful time spent with my daughter.  This is an image I will not soon forget.

Now below you will see a photo of the little guy Kevin, he so wanted his photo taken with his dogs, the only dogs he'll ever get in my household.  I'm allergic to them, but he is not so far....and he reminds me of that every other day at least.  When these guys don't have breakfast with the two of us, one is smelling up my bed.  The miricle here is that he looked at the camera!  Grin is a little goofy, but everything at six is a little goofy for good reason!

Julia and Kevin!

So what do I take away from today?  Constant lights are perfect for kids indoors.  Set them and work them.  I just recommend you get as much power as you can.  I need more power from them to make the photos at a faster shutter speed, so I'll save up for a while and see what I can do.  I learned a lot, like I will not shoot portraits without my tripod.  Too much fun.  I also like how my mirrorless camera lets me back off the viewfinder and use the screen.  Much easier to keep eye contact with my subjects...and make them laugh!

Ironically the first two shots I am sharing are the only two I shot without my tripod!  The top is the Fujifilm X-E1 with 60mm Macro while I stood on a stool. The second it the Pentax K-5 shot head on a few feet back.  Both processed simply in Apple's Aperture using some Sara France Presets, and custom contrast curves.  I really concentrated while shooting to avoid eye reflections today in the glasses, and I think I did pretty well.  In both of these I actually thought through some classic posing rules as I worked the slightly more casual portraits.

I hope you enjoy them!  These are two of the five lights in my life!  Go capture some images of your blessings today!


Into the Woods

Into the Woods... Went for a walk in the historic district this morning in Roswell.  The summer light is harsh pretty early, but I got a few keepers using HDR techniques.

More of the fun downtown over the next few days!

Life Changing Day

My big girl turns 12! Life can change in a moment.  One of those moments is when you become a father. Twelve years ago I first laid my eyes on my lovely daughter Julia Rose, and my whole life changed.  The first night she was born, I told her everything she needed to know for all of her years as we walked the floor of the ward.  She put her little hand into my shirt collar and rubbed my neck gently. Four weeks later at her baptism I became overwhelmed at the feeling of responsibility as I professed before God and family that this child was in my care.

She has had me wrapped around her pinky since then, but never abused that privilege!  Last night she had a small party with family and three close friends.  It was wonderful to see them play in the yard, make up stories filled with honor, and then hear the cards written by her friends with words of fellowship based in Christ's example.

God blessed us then, and continues to bless us now.  But watching the candles burn I could not help but think back to that first hospital cuddle, the first night of walking her to sleep, the first smiles and connecting touch...what a memory..what a wonderful life...


PS Here is one of our first digital photos of my girl two weeks old!  Taken with an HP610..lit by Pentax glass!

Me and my girl!

Dance Art

Art Form Last photo from this year's dance recital...I think...

As the girls get older they tend to increase their synchronization greatly, and it makes capturing artistic moments like this a lot easier.  I also enjoy how good lighting by the stage crew can make this red/green one moment and red/white the next. So you might get a chance to have two or three versions of a frame provided for you mere seconds apart.  One will usually work better for your mission of making than another.

If you can shoot your photos at the rehearsal I highly encourage you take advantage of the opportunity.  It lets you just take in the moment as designed on the big night and does not bother other guests enjoying the show.


Emotion in the Motion

Motion! Emotion! Putting dance into a still photo almost sounds sinful.  Dance is the art of moving one's body, and that of others to create visually pleasing sights though motion.  So it definitely sounds nuts to capture the soul of dance in a single frame.

This capture is one of the better ones from the night.  Beautiful motion frozen with just a tinge of motion in the dresses, hands and feet.  Then I caught some excellent emotion in the dancers faces conveying joy in the act of dancing.  It was that emotion that really set this photo apart from a similar one take a few seconds later.

To achieve this I had to be careful with the shutter speed and experiment...the variable of course is also that the speed of dancer motion which of course varies greatly in any one routine.  Since this shoot occurred only with available light, and no flash, the experimentation was critical to know my gear's capability and the type of scene I could reasonably expect to capture with some quality.

So thoughtful and look for the emotion in the motion to sculpt a wonderful photo.



Dance It is that time of year to enjoy the wonders of dance in my house!

My daughter's dance company just put on their annual production, and it was quite nice.  Since our family moved last year before her recital in Virginia, its been two years since I was able to see her really perform.  One trick she learned this year from her teachers was to have confidence and smile while dancing.  It really made her start to glow up on stage, and display the fun she has performing.

I learned a lot this year while shooting dance.  After shooting several years at my daughter's old studio I discovered the different challenges that come from choreography styles.  In the old studio I could easily predict when a worthy frame was coming because I knew the style.  They also used a smaller stage, so formations were tighter.  Here the stage is larger, and the staff uses it.  So it looks just as nice, but as a photographer I needed more zoom than I had to get the proper elements for a good frame.  If you are going to shoot dance I will always recommend you attend a rehearsal or multiple shows before you have to get the captures you want to keep.  This way you can know your subject, lighting and the choreographers style before the big dance.  It just makes your subject and you look so much better in the end product.

That brings me to another point, lens choices for a concert or dance.  I recently sold my 50-135 f2.8 zoom.  On a crop it is a 75-203 zoom with a depth of field around 4-5.6.  For this show it would be perfect.    Since I had not replaced it yet, I was stuck with my excellent 60-250 F4, a 16-50 F2.8 and a set of primes.  The F4 would not give me enough light to capture at the proper speed to blend motion and frozen faces I like.  The 16-50 would not get me close enough this year.  Some of my best photos in previous years came from my 50-135 and my was not there and the other would not get me close enough this year because of my location choice.  So I shot with....a 100mm F2.8 macro!  Great lens, but I was really out of my mind shooting dance with it.

A few more lessons to post this week...


Easter Child in Motion

Easter in motion! Easter is not a static event.  One must cover the sport as well as you do the church events!

Tracking motion is hard.  I need more practice.  The basics are to set the shutter speed lower than freezing the major motion.  In this case I went down to 1/80 of a second.

You then have to track the subject, and capture the part you want to see in focus because it is moving inside that focus plane.

With the number of kids floating around here you'd think I'd be in better practice!



He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

  He is Risen!

After watching the altar stripped and made bare on Thursday, it was so refreshing to come back and see it set to celebrate his rising!

The contrast between Thursday's post and today's could not be greater.  As a photographer, much of my mind is constantly searching the world in front of me for a composition.  Something in the daily course of life that tells a story.

Friday while at Stations of the Cross, with the bare sanctuary I remembered the lessons of black and white photography.  In B&W you strip something normal from the picture, in this case color.  This absence of color subconsciously forces the viewer to look for patters, form, contrast changes and ask why something familiar looks different.  Good B&W artwork lets you appreciate the world in a way you never could before because of the forced re-examination of the "normal."

For three days I forced myself see the world differently and I heard it in my devotional.  I took home lessons I was not ready to receive at different points in my life...and have a new set of challenges I hear Christ calling me to rise myself up to.

I hope you have a good Easter celebration today, and accept whatever challenges God has set before you to come closer to him and his people.


Photo Class

Photo Class


Bel Air Glamor

Glamour Glow Special One of the effects of HDR photography is also to bring out textures and color in a very realistic way.

I took this photo and had some fun with it in HDR Efex Pro 2, then ran it through Color Efex 4.  Sharpened to taste and called it a day.

RC Conception pointed out to us on the second night that the purpose of HDR is to get a good product to finish in post processing.  He found many people shot, process and don't finish.

It would be like writing the first acts of a play, and then walking away from the final act.

I called this Bel Air Glamor because the Glamor Glow filter seems to be all the rage in many a circle today, and I wanted to try it out for myself.

If you want to see some really extraordinary HDR check out both RC Conception's website and Jim Begley's.  Both are true master artists with this technique.

Check them out at and



Buick at Peace

Buick spends its final days in peace... A lovely day to shoot in Northern Georgia..Day Two of His Light's Old Car City HDR Workshop.

Check out to see what it is all about...It is heaven sent for photos and the soul.

More class now!


Day One at Old Car City

Desoto puts a twinkle in my eye on Day one of Old Car City... Heading back into the evening class...put wanted to post something from this morning.  Six miles of trails and seventy years of cars to photograph!  I only covered two small yards so far, and they are full of fun shapes and images just crying to be photographed.  I am of course the only Pentax shooter here!  So my stuff does not get borrowed much for some reason.

Getting ready for critiques tonight and learning from what I've done and failed to do...

More tomorrow!


Old Car City

Old Car City Workshop ahead! I arrived and met the gang of His Light Photographers...

This weekend will primarily be an HDR photograph weekend.  That means multiple exposures with the same aperture which over and under expose the image.  This batch of photos becomes data for combination into a single image.  A program will merge the images, taking the best exposed parts of each exposure and make them one photo.

Why do this?  Well a camera, even the best camera built, still cannot see what your eye sees in one frame.  So to replicate what your eye sees you need merge a few frames and make and HDR to capture the dynamic range of light that is actually right in front of you...if you look hard enough.

If you want to know what is going on, and the program...I'll fill you in a bit over the next few days.  Until then check out  and see what it is all about.


White Out!

Introducing Green Ranger! What kid does not like Power Rangers?  Heck I like them when I was a kid listening to them in Japanese in an Army Post in Japan in 1982!

Well I needed to practice with my flash and lighting this weekend and I wanted to try blowing out a background with a color gel.  So I got a few willing volunteers to hop in and play Pink, Green and Blue Rangers.  This is one of the final shots.

Set up?  Standard camera with short zoom.  One constant florescent into and umbrella to the left of the picture in front of my son.  One medium strength flash fun on manual set behind my son on a flash stand with a green gel.  Remote trigger via a radio popper.

When it fires it gives me a pretty well blown out set of white double doors acting as a back drop.  I could improve on the glow a little by adjusting the distance of my son from the door to create more separation and using s diffuser of some sort.

As it was I am happy to get the subject in focus and depth of field set properly so he remains the focal point of the photo.

I am pleased to report all three customers were happy with their final portraits!


Christmas Bird

Christmas Bird...Tree! At the same concert I saw the string of lights...I saw a set of trees made from bird feathers!  The lights backlit the feathers and it really was cool.

I wish I could borrow one for a full day to experiment with. It would be a really good project to play with this type of soft, glowing light!

For this photo all I did was do a simple import preset in aperture, and custom built an S-Curve for some pop.  I wanted to give the photo depth, but still convey the fragile nature of the soft diffused light.