General discussion of the art of photography.

Dog, How’d You Get So Happy

Who’s The Happy Puppy Dog?

For the most part, dogs tend to have a happy look to them. This applies to the stuffed animal dog as well.

I wanted to challenge myself a bit to attempt to have an object “express” or convey an emotion. Typically you will here photographers talking about high or low key images to convey emotion/mood. Others will talk about adding a high or low perspective to convey the same. These techniques were used along with the human brain to interpret body language.

You don’t have to be an expert in canine behavior to assign a human mood or emotion to a dog. A simple head-tilt can communicate comic, inquisitive, or disease.

Due to poor technique and lack of oversight as I was shooting, the “sad” images will need to be shot again. The “happy” images are alright with a few exceptions. BUT that is not the point of the post.

Dog in a square frame
Dog in a square frame

I made use of two flashes for this image. A Nikon in a small softbox and a Minolta off in the distance to cut the shadow in the background and bring in some extra light to the overall scene.

Dog with a silly posture
Dog with a silly posture

In case you want to know, his name is Dog. He has been with us for about 8yrs. The lighting is the same as described above. I made use of some dogs upside down posture when fooling around or resting.

Portrait of Dog
Portrait of Dog

It will be curious to see if the same sense of emotion/mood can be conveyed by an image of, say a pencil or apple? As mentioned, lighting and camera angle will play a major part in the photographer’s “message”. Lets not forget about some of the more subtle cues and contributors such as background and props even graphic/text overlay.

Why Bother Taking Pictures If No One Will Look At Them

You Make A Picture and No One Bothers To Look At It


Some people will spend a lot of time to make an image. They feel great about. They are proud of what they accomplished. There is even a great story to go along with the image. If no one bothers to check it out, is it still worth making?

You need to first figure out why you are taking or making pictures in the first place. Personally, I like to hear it when someone makes a comments that they saw or liked one of my images. I think most of us do. But is that why I make them? If I’m honest with you, Yes, that is partially why I make them. Now, if I don’t put an effort into sharing those images, I’m not going to get the compliments or critiques that I am looking for.

This bring us to how we share or images and get feedback. I’ve found that is a personal strategy. If you are out to make a buck through your images, you will probably share your images through every social media account that you have. Some will take it further and start a website or blog, maybe even apply to a stock photo agency. Others will go the fine art path and may print their work to hang in galleries, cafés or restaurants.

To Share Or Not To Share


Now, checking your stats of “hits” or “views” or whatever other lingo there is now, do you continue to bother making more images if, say, no one has checked out your stuff? OF COURSE DAMN IT.

Consider first a self criticism. Are you making the efforts that you need to to show off your craft, art, images? Are your feeling shy to post to your social network? There is a choice to be made. Being a shy, introvert myself, this blog is an attempt to creep out of my shell. I share on Flickr and I’m happy with my 57 followers. I play around on Gurushots as well and I’m happy with my 33 followers. There was a time when I had other social media accounts and would share there. I since cancelled them since I got discouraged.

It Is Not Them That Count

Despite discouragement, I do still bother to make more images. Why, it’s fun and I try different things. Say this is a hobby for you, you want to explore an artistic side of yourself. Talk about it. desensitize people to your new venture. Sure, you may be producing crap images. Your audience will know that and will most likely encourage you. What it great about this tactic, is as you practice, even on them, you will get better and better. At that point, you will see that other will make a point to check out your work. If your lucky, they will bother you to take images of them.

But, is that the point? Do you make your images for them? Maybe you don’t really care. You have an interest in photography and it’s as simple as that. Why would you be reading this post then? To support me? Or you too wonder why your work is “not catching on.”

Finding Your Audience That Bother To Look

This is tough for some. There are networking methods that may work such as local or national photo clubs. Going to school for a photography course is also a good way to meet people and talk about your images while you hear from them as well. The extrovert people I think have it easy in a sense. They are comfortable to put themselves out there and make themselves known. Having a few hundred “friends” on social media also helps. I find, they tend to have all kinds of “ooooohs” and “aaahhhhs” over their images.

The quite people, the ones that may be socially awkward, with few friends is not getting the same attention. Compare their images though. There is a difference and the difference is what matters. This comes back to, why are you making images? Are they for yourself or others?

For Me or For Them

Decide who your images are for, then market them appropriately. Don’t expect anyone to come looking for your images if you don’t tell anyone you have them. Find your comfort zone, them break through the barrier to make yourself feel better. Enjoy your craft and don’t make it a reason to feel crappy about yourself.

Sports Photography Is Also A Sport

Is There Another Sport Like Sports Photography?

For the past few years I’ve taken advantage of my daughters soccer playing to see what sports photography was like and if I would enjoy it.

Through my readings of photography, every now and then there is a chapter or some verbiage on photographing sports. A few shots were spectacular and all about being at the right place at the right time. Others are nice shots.

Sports photography - soccer
Low angle, soccer foot play

For the past 2 years, I’ve been skipping the soccer practices for taking photos. I was making WAY TOO MANY images. I’m down to about 1,200 to whittle through and send to the parents.

I made a point this year to try to get ahead of the game and to catch at least one spectacular shot. When you are aware of the game you can, to an extent, predict there the action will take place. Myself, I found this difficult. Several times I was trying to be easy on the shutter release button, only to miss or lose out on some potential interesting images. After all, it’s not like I need to change out rolls of film or develop them afterwards.

Mid-season change in tactics

About midway through the season, I needed to change how I was taking my images. I was following the action sometimes too much and not seeing the candidness of the team on the bench or just messing around. (I’m not sharing those images as I do not have any releases to display other peoples children online.) Fortunately, I was able to catch a little mishap that did not result in any injuries.

Sports photography
Soccer blunder

My daughter was goal keeper so, of course, my camera was directed in her direction as the opposing team attempted a goal. They made a good try, Anik was successful in stopping the ball, but the orange team player she was not able to stop.

Know what your doing

As with the past seasons, I was using a Nikon D7000 with a 55-300mm Nikkor lens. I found shooting in Aperture Priority optimal on sunny days, usually using f/8 to f/11. On cloudy days I’d go to Manual and keep an eye on the meter.

Because of the experience on the sidelines, I’m not asked to move from the field and have been taking the Team photo. I’ve almost been hit by the ball a number of times. In such cases, as I watch the action approach, fast, I get the camera off my face and make a split decision if I need to keep shooting or not. So far this technique has worked.

Dabble in other sports photography

I’ve made a try at figure skating photos. Not evident at all. Some of the shots were nice and I would have benefited being rink-side with the pros. I faltered with my cheap slow lens. I didn’t want to push the ISO to HI-anything. Those arena are so dimly lit. Spot metering helped a bit but gave a feel to the images that I wasn’t looking for.

I’m up for anything. If it doesn’t break the camera, I could learned from the experience and keep going. If the camera does suffer a loss, well, at least I would have learned something and get a new camera out of it 🙂

What Does Your Photography Do For You?

Why do the photography that you do?

Photography may be her thing?
Photography may be her thing?

You’ll find all kinds of reasons that people will take part in photography. Some call it art, a hobby or a job. In the end, why do you take or make pictures?

A few recurring themes that come up are the romantic reasons. Such as; being born into the craft, taking pictures was a creative outlet for some life stress or they found inspiration from someone. There are also the more practical reasons. They picked up a camera a liked it. They found that they were good at it and enjoy it. Or, they’re good at it and need to make money.

All this still doesn’t provide much insight as to what your photography does for you. If you are having trouble with this question for whatever your reasons are, read about photography from professional photographers. Armature and hobbyist photographers are also a fantastic source, it’s a matter of finding them, hoping they have their own thoughts “out there” or you can talk to them. The books that I have found to be the most value are those of Joe McNally and David DuChemin.

What you will find in their style of writing is story telling and reflection. You get a sense of what they get out of photography. It could be the adventures that they take to get an image. The people they meet that make the photo matter or the satisfaction knowing their image(s) means/impacts themselves or someone else.

Take/Make images for yourself. Admire and study the images that move/inspire you. Feel proud of the images you are commissioned for, they are yours with your signature style. It is not always an easy road. Like anything, if you enjoy it, do it for yourself.

Future photographer honing her skills.
Future photographer honing her skills.

Family Portraits

Family Portraits Can Be and Stressful

I’ve had the pleasure to photography a great family, the Halle’s.

Family portrait
Family portrait

I received a link to Cole’s Classroom. The link was specifically to 5 Keys to Taking Better Family Photos.

The article focuses on Location, Light, Preparation, Lens Choice and Connection. I’ll summarize my experience while you can then check out the article for their insight.


The Halle’s asked that I do a family portrait at their home. Huge backyard with potential all over the place. We arrived by late afternoon and didn’t want the sun behind the group. Due to surrounding trees, too much dappled lighting would be distracting on a group this size. If we moved to the middle of the yard to have everyone in full sun, we would have lost all eyes. We choose a shady location that fit out needs.


Boy did I prepare. I read different articles and book excerpts on the topic of family portraits. Made sure that my wife, “Artistic Directory”/People person, was with me to help manage 26 people. And, I research different posing and styles. As this was a quick session, we kept it simple.

Len choice

Due to my limited choice of owned lenses, I stuck to my stock 18-105mm. At 43mm I could have use my 50mm instead. I’m satisfied with the results. Going with prime lens probably would have given me better contrast and sharpness. Work with what you have right.


My biggest challenge when photographing people. There have been rare moments when a sessions flowed well. Other times it felt like I just couldn’t get both my subject and myself comfortable. This comes down to confidence of my own photography and skills. With the Halle’s, I was happy to know the majority of the family. My wife was instrumental is getting all of their attention and focus. They say that a photography business is 80% people and 20% photographing.

Keeping these five points in mind will kick start you to challenging yourself for family and group photography. Most of all, as I’m sure you’ve heard before for photography or anything else in life, be yourself and have fun.

Nick Ut: Napalm Girl

Napalm Girl – A historic photo

Nick Ut's  Napalm Girl
Nick Ut’s “Napalm Girl” photo

I’ve seen this image before. I never knew the story behind it though. With a title like Napalm Girl how could you resist not knowing more?

I was finishing up Joe McNally’s book, The Moment It Clicks, in it, there was a story of Phan Thi Kim Phuc. Kim is the naked little girl. In the book, Joe talks of his current image of Kim, not of the image that made her famous. Curious, I did a little research.

NBC news did a nice story on Nick Ut, the photographer who took this image. It was interesting to hear that after he took this image, he took Kim to the hospital. I believe as a rule, photojournalists are not suppose to get “involved”. I’m glad for both Kim and Nick that he risked his job and got involved.

Napalm girl

I did not realize the impact that the image ended up having on the war in Vietnam. It just goes to show how powerful an image can be. And to think, this image was taken with your standard 35mm film camera. The ability for Nick to meter, focus and get this shot is amazing.