And the world fell silent

And the world fell silent The world fell silent on that Holy Saturday.  The Lord who lowered himself to become a mere mortal man, in death went even lower.  As he opened the gates of hell, we could not see his preaching and the legions coming to the sound of his voice and the promise of salvation.

This thought from todays Divine Office sermon in the daily Office of Readings made me think a lot differently today.  The rain here last night stopped baseball and sports in its tracks across northern metro Atlanta.  My day went from overfull to silent in outside activity.  We were able to do what my heart really no desires, focus on preparing for the big religious celebration tomorrow.

I spent time with my father collecting a few final supplies for the big Easter feast.  It was busy out in public, but the time we spent together reflectively.  The children were at home with my wife, mother and sister prepping the house and the easter cake (A two foot tall bunny cake).  When we arrived home we all decorated the eggs made with care in the morning by my mother, dad and I.  My wife was checking out the clothing for Easter Sunday, and making sure we had enough of the vitial things like dark socks cleaned and folded.  Then a final treat when my Dad took us all out for dinner...before we shuffled everyone off to bed.

Now the house is quieting down...only the two year old remains calling for anyone to get her out of the crib to play a few more hours (this kid does not sleep enough...GO GO GO).

I'm now reflecting on the incredible challenges we overcame, the love of friends helping us in deed and prayer through those challenges, and finally the growth my family went through spirituallyin the 40 days of Lent.

I am happy the world went silent today.  It gave me the time to now go to bed with a long list of thanksgiving prayers I need to say.

The first to the Lord for his suffering and final victory.  The rest to all those who followed his teachings to lift us up when we were down.


Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend

Lessons in Silence

Lessons in Silence One of the things about being the Dad with a camera in Little League is you have to learn to be an observer...and nothing more.

See if you capture the critical play and know the umpire got it'd better stay quiet.  It is the umpire's field, he called it the way he saw it, and he's the authority not you.  To kick, shout or throw a tantrum is to dishonor your team and status as a photographer.  It will also get you asked to leave and not come back!  Anyway the umpires called a good game, excellent strike zone and kept it all moving. Besides if you focus on your craft, you capture a moment and show how to be a good relaxed Dad.  

My son did well.  Pulled in a fly out in right, grounded into an infielders choice, and caught for an inning.  He got settled down and did well behind the plate.  He had a great play guarding the plate...but I will refer back to the lesson in silence and not tell you the call!  See whether he got credit for the out or not it did not matter for the purposes of me getting to stay on the field!  He hauled the ball in, got a tag on the runner, and improved during his second tour behind the plate this season.  I got to see all this without a fence in front of me, and with a 60-250mm (90-375mm with a 1.5 crop factor) telephoto lens!  HEHE!

So that takes me to today...first game I was able to shoot all season from start to finish.  I vowed today to make sure I did as little as I could in post production.  So I shot RAW + JPEG, set the camera to vibrant, worked the exposure settings between shots to get the best one, played with highlight and shadow controls in camera...and worked it as well as I could.  Big thing in post is cropping, and then some extra highlight controls (it was very bright!).  By working hard, and getting the JPEGs right I got the work done quickly today.  If something needed extra work it would only take a few seconds to switch to the RAW and try to recover a few more highlights of shadows to enhance the shot.  Today I did not have to do that at all.

So in a few minutes I'll share the photos with both teams (the other team's coach was my son's coach last fall)...and head off to bed...job all done!

Now all I need to to get paid for this sometime!


P.S. Mr Pentax K-5 with 60-250F4 all day long

Ground Ball!

Season Finale

A close game Today was the season closing game for Roswell Little League Fall Ball.  We had a nail biter of a game.  The Royals put on a furious rally in the bottom of the 5th, scoring five runs...but our very last available pitcher fought for the final three outs and got the save.  With the save came the division title for our Astros.  I think we ended up second in the league, but I'm not sure if that was part is official yet.

It was a great season, I can't say enough for the good coaches and families that made it so enjoyable for all the boys.

If you want to see a compilation of the year please feel free to click right here...

Roswell Astros 2013 11-12

It was a long this will be brief and I'll close out with just a few more images from today.

Just a reminder that if your in the Atlanta area and would like something like these products made up for your team please let me know.  I'd love to help you out!


PS  Two photos taken by My Pentax K-5 with the 60-250 and one from the Fujifilm X-E1.  Edited in Aperture using a Sarah France Holga Color preset.  I used the preset to make the photos across the video as consistent as possible even while taken across different days and with different cameras.  I think it worked for that purpose...let me know what you think.

Astros vs Royals

Season finale

Home Stretch

Home Stretch Last two games of the season coming up for the Roswell Astros (11-12 year olds).  During a season you can get a lot of good action shots, but a team portfolio is not complete without some ambiance shots.  During night games here I don't have the full frame and F2.8 lenses needed to capture quality action shots.  So instead I switched up my gear to use my FujiFilm X-E1 and my fastest prime 35mm F1.4.  Just walking around the dugout you can usually find some interesting if you open up your eyes and switch gears from action to environmental shooting.

This is my son' s hat, glove and batting glove.  It was his inning to sit the bench while the team was in the field.  So they were stacked up while he waited his turn to head back out.  While the available light may be awful for moving subjects, the same situation may be interesting and add nostalgia to an environmental photo.


Big kid baseball! (Finally)

Crazy Game! Just before the start of my son's game on Saturday I was talking to a parent, who was very happy with my work for the team.  I said thanks, but I really did not feel I've been at the top of my game so far this season.  I had a few keepers, but I knew I could do better...and with that resolve I set out for the field.  Armed with my K-5, 60-250, monopod, and knee pads I got myself to work.

I picked up the standard nice to have shots, but I was hungry for good shooting for the first time in a while.  My head was clear, my fingers dialed in and I was shooting the best I could in bright 2PM daylight.  Yep 2PM harsh shadow pain in the neck daylight.

Astros 2013

Since I was hungry I started looking for the good shoot I looked where I had not looked yet this season.  It is a fun season to watch.  My son is 10, but playing with kids over 12.  The difference in capabilities and skills these kids have is pretty fun to watch.  They are now picking up the fun parts of the game.  Distracting the pitcher while base running, getting base runners into pickles, and pitching hard right into the strike zone with some consistency.  It is even more fun when you have a good set of coaches like ours...they know the great range of the kids in capabilities.  They respect that each kid's dream is to play...and they make sure they all play and respect each other.  They do not give up on any of the kids.  I have not seen my son this happy playing ball in years, and that only made my desire to shoot well bigger than me.  I wanted something to give back to those helping my son enjoy the game of baseball.

Astros 2013

The final trick of the day was in post processing.  Harsh sunlight really makes for ugly photos.  However, my camera was consistently under exposing by over 2/3 a stop.  So I fixed the exposure (yes I shoot RAW just because of that) and then went for a retro film look.  I used the same preset for all the photos for consistency.  It really did the trick, and I think the photos came out pretty well.

It was also nice that while I was processing son and I had the National League Championship Series on in the background.  What a baseball filled day!


PS  I told you all my tricks I can share for right now!  I'm going into settings on the camera and will have them fixed up shortly.  I'm sure it is something that I did when fiddling with presets on camera a few weeks ago!

Set for Dinner

20131016-172328.jpg I was out on an overnight for work last night...and got the photo bug in my ear. The restaurant crew thought I was crazy, but I wanted to get the table setting. The light was just too interesting coming through the window and on to the table settings. Unfortunately I could not get the glass exactly where I wanted it in the light no matter which table I went to. So this became my next vision...a little contrast study between the light and the dark.

As with most of my travel photos I did the edits on my iPad using Snapseed and for the first time did one retouch with iPhoto for a secular highlight in the wrong spot.

-ehw X-E1 with the 35mm! Great glass when I have the time to use

Fall Ball

Almost game time Everyone needs practice...and I mean everyone!  The boys on the field and Daddy behind the lens.  I'd been working out Mr Fuji for a while...and I almost forgot where my buttons were on Mr Pentax!

Today I'd like to make a pitch to really get to know your gear.  I know I've said that many times before, but I really mean it!  I'm looking for ways to reduce post processing time, and the best way to do that is getting the shot right in camera.  And oh by the way these cameras have a ton of features we can maximize and use if we so dare!

So today I worked on using high dynamic range and I actually played with the color settings.  Yep I took it off Neutral and played with the Dynamic setting with some curves thrown in.  Well worked pretty well, except a few were too dark from over contrast.

So get out there and enjoy the fall light!  It in an of itself is a wonderful thing to enjoy and play with!


PS Both with Pentax K-5 using the 60-250

Playing Catch

Watching the world go by... On Main Street Roswell you can pickup a front row seat here to watch the world go by with a cup of joe...oh that is cappuccino in the fancy neck of the woods.  People sitting hear have however also been known to bring up some coffee and a Krispy Creme from down the street though!

Well Monday is here...and I rather be there instead of work.  Oh to earn a living!


This is another example of post processing done in Capture One.  I continue to find the tools are very sophisticated, and attack problems a bit differently than Adobe or Apple's solutions.  I'm liking them a lot!  Speed is also pretty darn good on my rapidly aging (in computer years) iMac.

Kevin at the Bat!

Kevin at the Bat! Kevin takes a practice swing as he steps up to the plate...looks bigger than six huh?  One of two photos I took at his last game of instructional T-Ball.  I'm glad I made them count, while I enjoyed the whole game without a large camera tied to me.  Sometimes it is very helpful to enjoy life through your own lenses.

I took this photo through the fence with my Fujifilm X20.  It is quite sharp, and provides a lot of dynamic range to pull out and play with.

I took some liberty with it in PerfectEffects, and I am pleased with the results.  I did vignette the photo as well to focus the eyes on the batter.


Friday Night Lights!

  Big Time Friday Night Little League Lights

Here is Friday Night Lights as I am living out right now....

My son was out in right field, and it was a long night of walks...17 of them in fact.  So the only action all night long were the throws between the pitcher and the catcher.

Making the best of it I got a high vantage point in the parking lot, went as high ISO as I dared on my Pentax K-5 and shot away.  I was at 1600 here and at F4.0 on my long telezoom.    Pretty much convinced me that one are two artsy type shots were all I'd get last night.  This would be the one reason I'd like a fancy full frame sensor...but I don't have the extra five thousand to get the body...not to mention more to get the right lenses.

When you got what you got, you just need to work that gear to the your technique and make art with the scene God gave you.

Amazing how everything in photography is a microcosm of life!


Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams at 45F! Went out to test a new camera tonight....a Fujifilm X20.  Out of the box, with no manual read yet...all I can say is that for a point and shoot I am amazed.  Almost able to do sports photography AT NIGHT!

I picked up this camera as a go everywhere camera.  I really enjoyed the X10, but this new camera has a viewfinder which actually works.  I can read focus point and other information inside the viewfinder.

There are a lot of other little improvements I still have to learn, but so far so great.

For this photo I shot it in color, and converted it to B&W in Perfect Suite's B&W.  I used a full dynamic range B&W conversion, and loved what I saw on the big screen in terms of available range and detail.

So far highly recommended....just too tired tonight to write or think any harder.



Game on!

T-Ball Season is on! T-Ball season is on!  I've been moving up the baseball chain with my older son, and now its time for my younger son to join in the games.

This is a typical early season sight...multiple players creating a scrum for the baseball...oh that's a rugby term?  Well it might as well be rugby for the first few weeks.

By the end they will start actually making a few plays..that is just the way it is.

So the challenge for the photographer is finding the scene which captures the love of this new game...with the innocence of youth springing forth in boundless energy.

In all, it is a wonderful journey to take frame by frame.

Because in a blink of an eye they will be....ready to fly away.

Ready to fly to the ball.


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!


Hardship and toil...they saw it too...

Through hardship and toil they persevered through faith in God's stewardship This weekend my church celebrated the Holy Family.  It is my wife's favorite mass of the year.   It is a very personal theme for us, and gives us as a role model family to look up to.

This statue sits outside our church, and on the cold rainy we saw today it reminded me of their challenging life together.

Here we have a man and woman, given the mission of raising Christ.  They are displaced from home during the pregnancy, chased into exile by a homicidal king killing every male child from Bethlehem, go into Egypt a country alien to them with nothing but their clothes and talents, and finally they lose their child in the temple together.  They fought hunger, exposure, heat and other men to survive.  Any way you chalk it up, this family faced hardship, toil and challenges matched by the most unfortunate in this world past and present.

Through all these challenges, and the madness of trying to keep their family alive, they still found time to listen for the direction God sends each of us for these adventures.  The most prolific messages came from angels, but I often wonder how many were just whispers in the wind of the desert or the guidance of old proverbs.

Our pastor today at mass reminded us, the last words we hear attributed directly to Mary are at the wedding in Cana.  There she instructs the servants to do whatever her son directs them to do.  This in a manner was the culmination of the Holy Family's stewardship of the Son of God.  The love of Joseph and Mary ensured the people of the world have the word of God no longer confined to angels and prophets.  We actually have it now available to us in the first person.  The words of Christ in the bible direct our hearts and actions on the way to communion with the Father because of their faith.  It is the Holy Family's eternal gift to our past, present and future.

So this year, I challenge myself and anyone else out there to 1) Read the words of Christ and 2) Meditate on those words.  Just then maybe out hearts will hear the whispers of wisdom directing you through life's challenges in the fashion Jesus directs.

Who knows...we just may find ourselves following the footsteps of the Holy Family!


P.S.  The inspiration to write this came from the image of the stature I saw at church, and the many friends and family of mine of know of in crisis.  Please pray for them and all those you know of in need as well.

What is your travel camera?

20121206-192225.jpgI am traveling right now with my Pentax kit and my Olympus P&S. After listening to all the camera podcasts during my drive I had to wonder what some of my friends were using when they travel. (St Mary's first church, one of the oldest in Georgia. Pentax K-5, Sigma 17-50 F2.8 EX OS) [polldaddy poll=6749711]


[slideshow] Dance poses a photographer great challenges, especially if shot during a performance.

You have to choose action, pose or some of both.  You have to search for the decisive moment, and catch it in rhythm.  You often have to watch out for rapidly changing lights and exposure.

I love the challenge.  I love the excitement of trying to get "the shot."  After a year off from the recital circuit because of the move down south, I can't wait to see my little lady back up there though my lens.

After watching her practice a few times in the last few months I've been amazed.  She improved her dedication to learning dance, and now observes things about her movements she did not in September.  She is ready to join the "big girls" in her mind, and that means growing up in body and mind.

It also poses a lesson for me to follow as a photographer and as a Dad.  I cannot reduce my attention to detail because I am comfortable with my skills and gear, but to increase attention to detail in all things.  I have to pay better attention to my children, to my wife and the environment we live in.  I also have to continue to mature and grow in faith to be the best role model I can.  I'll never be perfect, but if I put in the same type of discipline to my faith life I will be calmer and more effective for them in all things.

I cannot take for granted that I am seeing more details in the viewfinder than I did a few months ago myself.  I must focus harder, an conceive my photographic vision earlier.  I must remember the fundamentals faster, and recognize them as they appear in the scene before me.

A lifetime of learning lays before not just before my girl, but each of us as well.



Perfect Suite 7

The family did some yard work yesterday and the Little Red Wagon was calling me to make a portrait.  I liked the rich fall light, and it just suckered me in.

I am testing the Perfect Suite 7 for editing.  It is a very powerful set of utilities, in a convenient package for round tripping in and out of Lightroom and Aperture.  The "unique" thing about Perfect Suite is that it is layers for the rest of us.  Photoshop is extremely powerful, as it is pixel level editing.  The terminology of Photoshop is that of digits, and not necessarily traditional photography. Some of us out here in the real world have trouble with the multiple languages required to think Photoshop vs Photography.  Perfect Suite is a lot more photo centric, and for me personally easier to grasp. For others who are new to editing maybe it does not matter as much, but it does for me.

I used Suite 6, and I am finding a number of the new Suite 7 tools are easier to access and work with and visualize how they will make their effects.  Another thing those on a budget will appreciate is the loyalty program.  Perfect Suite updated everything at one time, and you just pay once for all the updated tools for the year.  I love Nik, but the incremental update policy means I am still spending more to updating the suite costs more than the initial purchase.

On average I can save a lot of time by using Perfect Suite when I need heavy editing.  I can do here in under two minutes what it would take ten or more in Aperture or Lightroom.  When editing my big assignments, this is a big deal.

It does have a 30 day free trial, so you can try it out for yourself.  Their information on the website explains everything in detail. Perfect Suite 7 Website



EXTRA EXTRA! As of today I am in business!  Everything is in with City Hall and approved.   I can now take orders and provide photography services to you!

It is an exciting day.  I have a long way to go before I can quit my day job, but now I can grow in new ways!

So if you are looking for someone with passion who wants to tell your story...I'm available and ready to serve you!


Sport Event Nightmare!

[slideshow]On Sunday I found myself blessed to watch my sister's college soccer team (she's an assistant coach) play soccer.  The weather was absolutely perfect up at Piedmont College in Northern Georgia. The ride was smooth and the family company wonderful.

The nightmare began when on this lovely, sunny fall day when I looked at the SHINNY WHITE UNIFORMS glowing in the 1PM sunlight.  I also forgot my mono pod.  So everything would be hand held 60-250 from the sideline stands.  When the ball started moving around I realized I had a lot to learn about the sport of soccer to identify the decisive moments.

I watched for a half, and then went to work.  To reduce the blown out highlight problem I activated the "highlight correction" feature.  I knew of it thanks to reading the manual.  Then I set my camera to shutter priority to keep the speed up enough to freeze action, and shot away.  I was happy when I came home to find most photos were exposed properly.  However having a ball in the photo or a good story was difficult to find.   The ball moved fast, and the geometry was sometimes difficult to predict to anticipate where to put my lens.  I also realized that this sport was a little harder to use my selective single frame shooting for.  Soccer, like football, demands a little machine gunning photos at a critical moment to get the elements you want in the frame.

In the future I'll bring a step stool so I can move around a fence line and hold the shutter release down a little longer. The other motto from the story will be read your manual.  In these fancy cameras you will find gems in the feature set which will allow you to capture the moment in some rather adverse conditions...if you know it exists!

I hope you enjoy the photos I selected!


Shadows make a shot

[slideshow] Skip's Summer School lesson #1001

Shadows make a photo.  Funny to think of...but after looking around for terrific light it is the shadow that makes or breaks you.  The shadow allows your mind to perceive depth in a photo.  With depth comes the desired three dimensions in a two dimensional frame.

In these photos I made a concerted effort to have a shadow under the nose, or in the fringes of the eye socket.  When I watched my son advance down the first baseline I watched through the telephoto and chose a few frames where I anticipated the shadow (I don't spray and pray..This was his second time around and I already knew where the shadows were working).  With my son I even practiced with him playing, and then posing for me trying to get the light right.  I tried about ten poses and techniques to finally get this one.

I know, not award winning, but even in short trips out with the kids if I practice selective photo taking I will produce a better image.  One that I may want to frame as more than a Kraniochrome.

Shadows make a photo...remember that and 9 times out of 10 our photos will improve!