Arise, Blog! April 28. 2011
My name is Michael Lawing. I've been with Pro Photo for nearly two years. Coming from a Film and Media Studies background at USC, I was super excited to join the team at Pro Photo. It wasn't what I expected, but has turned into so much more than I could have imagined. The company is really special, and I'm not just saying that because they cut my checks... What Pro Photo does is take stellar images during events that can't be replicated and saved memories that people will treasure forever. I get paid to make people smile - during the photoshoot and when they see the print.
It's a real joy to work at Ft. Jackson every week. That's where I got my sea legs on the entire process. Each member of the D.R.I.L. Team has to be confident and competent with sales, customer service, photography, and printing. Besides building a stronger team, this cross-training makes the whole process faster and of a higher quality for our customers. Our customers are great, too. Every week, I get to work with the men and women who keep us safe. The soldiers and their families are wonderful people and it's really a pleasure to get to deliver once-in-a-lifetime portraits to each of them.
My hope is that this blog will be entertaining and informative.
On-Stage with Santa November 10. 2009
Sprint and Cogent Battle for Bandwith? October 31. 2008
Sprint/Nextel has decided to sever its Internet connection with Cogent, another Internet service provider, according to last night's statement from Cogent.
As a result, it is no longer possible for many Sprint customers and Cogent customers to directly communicate across the Internet.
Some say it's a battle for bandwith, but others think it's much more...
Continue reading "Sprint and Cogent Battle for Bandwith?"
Jay Bird September 29. 2008
Jay Bird posing with a great impression of a "cheerleader."
Sorry Jason~ I just get the biggest laugh when I come across
this photo! This was just prior to a sporting event and I don't
even know who shot it. But if it's on the server, it's fair game.
Trez the "Truth"? September 29. 2008
I get a kick out of some of the images I find.
Now if Trez had crossed his eyes, would they also stick?
I'm just not feel'n it~
H2O September 22. 2008
I don't know that I believe in astrology as anything other than a form of entertainment, but my sign is Pisces and I really do love water. I grew up in the Midwest and didn't get to spend too much time near any great bodies of water, but whenever I'm near a lake or a river or even the rain, I feel right. I get relaxed and chill and my mood instantly improves. Partly, this is why I was going to attend school in Seattle.
I like to think that the best photos I've ever taken have all been done to illustrate things that I love. Taking pictures matters more to me when I'm taking pictures of something I want to share, something I want to remember, something I want to capture. For me, it's all about combining that jolt I get from photography with the energy I get from what matters to me. Pairs of combined loves. Photography & Music. Photography & Color. Photography & Nature. Photography & Water.
Anyway, enough rambling. Here are some of the photos I've taken of water that I like the best. (I thought this was a fitting entry for our hottest day of the summer thus far...102 degrees, blech)
Woman Lake, MN - film
Folly Beach, Charleston, SC - digital, selective coloring set to blue
Washington State shore - digital, shot underexposed and then corrected with levels
Woman Lake, MN - digital, shot on fluorescent
Woman Lake, MN - digital, shot on fluorescent
Folly Beach, Charleston, SC - digital
Greenwood Park, Des Moines, IA - film
Folly Beach, Charleston, SC - digital
Folly Beach, Charleston, SC - digital
Folly Beach, Charleston, SC - digital
Call Today to Schedule your Family Sitting~ September 22. 2008
Self-Portraits September 19. 2008
I know this looks like two blogs in one week from me, but don't worry - I'm not trying to overacheive, just catch up!
So I decided that for this entry, I'm going to write about self-portraiture. As you can tell from most of the photos I've posted here so far, I didn't exactly get my start in portrait photography. It's always felt more natural for me to photograph nature, animals, and still objects. People are harder to control. But when I decided I wanted to have photography as my career, I knew I needed to become more proficient in portraiture. When I first started out taking shots with models in them, I used my friends, my parents, people I knew. And that was ok, but still difficult. After a while, it came to me. I needed to know how to take pictures of people, right? So why didn't I put myself in the model's shoes for a while? I started experimenting with self-portraiture, but I didn't spend too much time on it. Eventually, through the photo-sharing website Flickr, I heard about the 365 project. The terms of this project are simple - take a picture a day for a whole year. Hence the '365.' Most of the people I saw working on a '365' were shooting all of their photos as self-portraits, and I decided to give it a try. What better way to gain experience than to make practicing a habit?
Anyway, I ended up stopping my '365' after Day 90 due to a few complications, but here are some of my favorite shots from those first 90 days.
^ Day One - A last minute, 11:45 PM shot...with, obviously, whatever I found laying around. No timer, just hand-held. ^
Day Ten - Taken at Musician's Supply while I was waiting for my boyfriend to get through with work. Loved the fog...this was two exposures, with and without me, put together in Photoshop. First shot was hand-held, second with a timer.
Day Twenty-Four - This one's a little scary. I call it "Bionic Tess," haha. The little silver ball is actually the top to a pepper grinder. This shot was taken on macro, hand-held.
Day Thirty-Nine - Another double exposure, this time both on a timer. They were both shot at the same angle and then one was flipped. I erased the half without me in each picture and then blended the layers together. It was shot on a fluorescent white balance, which gives it that blue look.
Day Forty-Four - A triple exposure. Same methods to put it together, but a different effect entirely. The sharp shades of blue are left there intentionally...I just like the way it looks.
Day Forty-Six - Another double exposure, this time done a little differently. I had a tripod to use with my self timer, so I was able to line my shots up a little better. I took the two images into Photoshop, combined them, set the top layer to multiply, and erased around my edges. Can you tell I went through a "blue phase?"
Day Fifty-Eight - I love this picture. Self-timer, some slight touch-ups in Photoshop. I was actually laying down on a black rug - simply had to use Levels to get this effect.
Day Seventy - A slight throwback to the "blue phase," this was taken in front of my bathroom window. I didn't use any lighting except what was already provided by nature, and I think that's what makes this photo so cool in my eyes. The cross-lighting is just perfect to illuminate my face. Love it.
^ Day Eighty-One - I guess I was hungry! Taken on self-timer...it took a few tries to get this one right. ^
Anyway, as I hope you can tell, I did learn a lot from my ninety days of self-portraiture, even if I got too busy to finish out the full 365. I feel more comfortable taking pictures with models now, and I tend to think a whole lot more 'out of the box' when posing people.
Jessica Lee shares fun Pro Photo Crew photos! September 17. 2008
|Hello there! I finally ran out of reasons to procrastinate... here is my first blog! So, lemme take a short moment to introduce myself. |
My name is Jessica Lee Dunning and I've been a Photographer for Pro Photo since May 2007. I just want to say that I LOO0O0OO0OVE my job! (And I'm not just saying that because I am getting paid to do this right now. haha) I'll just make this short and sweet (since this is my second time attempting to create a blog- last one got deleted somehow) and I'll get into how I got where I am some other time. Working for Pro Photo is a lot of fun! Everyday is different, there are new challenges and experiences everywhere my job takes me. From sitting glued to a computer in the backwoods of our Lexington office, to Fort Jackson or Fort Benning full of soldiers, weapons, and usually bad weather, to setting up and photographing vitamin bottles for hours and then days-ohmygosh that's tedious and boring, to cute little dancers in tutus and slippers at dance studios, or kids accidentally whacking you in the head with a baseball bat while posing their baseball picture for youth sports, to watching drunk older people dance at high school or family reunions... I've been everywhere and photographed everything! Yeah, we do work hard, but we have a lot of fun doing it. There are always a lot of laughs. For example, just this morning I laughed so hard my ears hurt. Yeah, I didn't know that you could laugh so hard your ears hurt either. I'll tell you the story, but it was kinda one of those "you had to be there" things. So, I was sitting at the laptop right in front of the window to the front porch of the office. Trevor walked out onto the porch and caught my eye for a brief second, just long enough to watch him step onto a pole, which rolled, and sent him backwards knocking four huge displays over and then he toppled off the porch along with the coat rack!!! He did like three summersaults on the grass before he finally came to a stop. I had to wait like four minutes for me to stop laughing before I went out there and asked him if he was ok. STATUS UPDATE: Trevor suffered minor cuts and bruises and is doing fine now. My ears don't hurt anymore, but just the thought of him flipping off the porch still makes me chuckle.
The first picture above was from my first day working for Pro Photo! Fort Jackson Family Day May 31, 2007.
Me and Thomas playing around with the weapons at Fort Jackson, August 2007.
Bjana, Trevor, me, & Jason playing around before we started "shooting" the soldiers, November 2007
Bjana and I lookin tough!! Ready for battle!! July 2007
|hahaha! Trying to pose for our Pro Photo Family Christmas Picture, December 2007. You would think Photographers would know how to pay attention, pose and smile, but I don't think we got one that we were all looking and smiling! That little bugger in the middle is Jackie the Pro Photo dog. She stays in the office with us. She is very friendly and greets everyone that comes to the office.|
|Doing "test shots" at an outside portrait event, February 2008.|
Me with Thomas as the Easter Bunny.... Dang Shannon, have enough equipment?.... Bjana & Tess shooting youth sports in the rain, March 2008
Me posing a group of dancers that performed at the Children's Home BBQ, May 2008. Dancers are one of my favorite things to photograph.
|All right, I guess I've shared enough photos for the day. What do yall think about my first posting? Boring? Entertaining? Worth the effort? Share your comments! Ok, I'm hungry, I'll catch yall next week...|
USMC Mud Run September 17. 2008
Every year in September, the Greater Columbia Marine Foundation hosts the largest Mud Run in the Southeast. The race attracts thousands of people from all over the Southeast and beyond. The Ultimate Challenge Mud Run is over 4.2 miles, and has 30 obstacles. These obstacles have to be crossed by each team and every single participant, and require team work and a lot of determination. The 4.2 mile course is an all-terrain race conducted on dirt roads, improved and unimproved trails through the training area. These trails include mud holes, walls, trenches and other obstacles that require swimming, crawling, climbing. and jumping. Some people come to compete, but many come just to complete!
This year's Mud Run will be held on September 20th. ProPhotoToGo is proud to sponsor this event, and we are honored to announce that we have been chosen as the Official Photographers of the USMC 15th Annual Ultimate Challenge Mud Run.
Derelict Beauty September 16. 2008
I left off at around middle school age, so that's where I'll pick it up.
Eighth grade, for me, was about the same as all the grades before it. It was the same school that I'd been in for the previous two years, and I already knew all the teachers from seeing them around. The subject matter we were learning was basically the same. The most boring thing of all, for me, was art class. The only art teacher at the middle school, Mr. Martin, was...awful. He was the most bland teacher I've ever had, even to this day. I think he was HIRED as the wrestling coach and then picked up the art classes so he'd have something else to do. Needless to say, he didn't do a whole lot of inspiring my creativity. That, I had to do on my own.
It was the summer after eighth grade that I began to truly become a photographer. I realized that high school was coming, and that meant I'd have a lot more freedom as well as a lot more specialised instruction. I'd seen the work my brother had done in high school art and I was anxious to start my own portfolio. I started a tradition with myself - around once a week, I took photo trips. They were nothing big - I couldn't drive yet, so I'd just walk to areas around my house. And it's not like I had some expensive camera, or anything - I still had that Nikon EM from my mother. But these photo trips got me going. I would shoot roll after roll of film and then spend all the money I had on getting them developed.
I remember one trip in particular really well. It was towards the start of my photo trips, but it was a successful one all the same. I started off early that morning, walking straight from my house with camera hanging from shoulder and film cannisters making my pockets bulge. When I took these trips, I never really had a destination. My goal was to find something new, not just shoot something I already knew about. This particular morning, I headed north. My parents' house was about three blocks from the town square, so it didn't take long for me to reach the park. I halfheartedly shot off a few frames but I couldn't seem to find anything inspiring. I sat down on a bench and started gazing around. Seventh Avenue, all the shops, the restaurants - it was nothing I hadn't seen before. None of it was anything I hadn't seen before. I'd lived there my entire life. But with time, everything changes into something new, and as I continued to swing my gaze around, I noticed the post office. Boring little brick building, the Marion Post Office. But as things do, this thing had changed. The town had built a new building at the edge of our growing town to better house the business, and the old one was sitting here in front of me, abandoned. I got up from my bench and started to walk towards it. This was it, I felt my fingertips start to tingle. After walking around the building once, peering through the windows, I found a way in. I had to crawl through a small window in the back, and drop to the floor. When I landed, I checked my camera...and started shooting. I found frame after frame of interesting subject matter. Only a post office...turned into something beautiful. I exhausted a few rolls of film and paused, only to hear my stomach grumbling. I decided I better solve that problem, and crawled back out the window to head towards home. I was dusting the dirt off my shorts when I looked up and saw something else beautiful. A block or two away, the town had bought all the properties to build a new city hall. Construction workers were in the process of tearing down all the old buildings to make way for the new one.
But there was one left standing. I started to walk towards it, feeling that tingle and forgetting my stomach. The block was enclosed in a chain link fence and there were construction workers milling about, so I didn't sneak inside - but I got one single gorgeous picture. This gigantic brick house, overgrown and abandoned, empty windows and derelict edges. Beautiful.
When I got this roll of film back from Hall's and saw this shot, I knew. Capturing the beauty, this was what I wanted to do, every day, my entire life. I was a photographer. And my career hadn't even begun.
Cold in the Summer September 11. 2008
Hello all! Since it’s the hottest month here in sunny South Carolina, I decided to cool it down a bit by sharing some “cold” feeling photographs.
This is an abandoned van I found behind an old packing plant on Walter Rawl Road in Lexington, SC. The company used the van to transport the workers to and from the fields to harvest crops.
(February 2008, Canon EOS 40D f/4.5 1/40 sec. ISO 640 53mm focal length)
When I lived in Maine, one of my favorite places to take pictures was in the abandoned Bangor Water works. It once supplied the city with drinking water and generated electricity with one of the most powerful pumps in New England. For many years the building remained off-limits and just stood on the west bank of the Penobscot decaying. In 2006, the building was reconstructed and turned into a 35-unit affordable housing complex.
(September 2003, Mamiya 645AFD Medium format Black & White film All available light)
At the time, in early February 2004, Leah was just a model for my college portfolio. Four years later, she is one of the best friends I have. In the early fall in 2003 I was shopping in Northampton, Massachusetts when I saw this beautiful Italian girl, that I knew I had to photograph. She introduced herself as Hannah, little did I know at the time I had stumbled upon a student photographer’s dream, SHE WAS A TWIN! I continued to photograph these gorgeous girls over the school year and we became really good friends. After I graduated college I decided to stay in the area and we became housemates!
(February 2004, Mamiya 645 AFD with Leaf digital back Studio lighting, some Photoshop effects)
At least I have a beautiful picture to go with the ugly bruise that STILL remains on my right shin as a result of taking this picture. I was photographing an event on the Charleston SC Airforce base at dusk when I saw this picture-perfect moment by our company van outside. When I was “skateboarding” the tripod on wheels back inside, it got caught on the carpet somehow and halted to a stop and slammed into my shin. Somehow, four months later, I still have a visible bruise but at least I have a nice 20x30 print to remind me of my favorite things about South Carolina hanging on my wall. …Bruises. No, really, Palm Trees. :0)
(April 2008, Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II f/4.5 1/8 sec. on a tripod ISO 640 38 mm focal length)
I firmly believe self portraits are vital to improving your photography skills. It puts you in the spotlight, where you always ask your clients/models to be. The best way to learn how to pose someone in a photo, is to do it yourself. It challenges your skills without having the pressure of other people there to distract you or contradict your abilities. Having to set up your tripod & camera, obtain correct exposure, lighting, & composition, AND pose YOURSELF with the right expression too, in time before the self-timer goes off, now that takes some skill! If you can successfully pull off a photo shoot of yourself, then your chances with photographing another individual are greater!
This picture was taken at the tree farm across the road from my parents’ old house in Kenduskeag, Maine. Here lies a dyeing bird in my hands. It was about 45 degrees outside and the bird was half frozen; so was I. The dress I am wearing is my mom’s wedding dress. Yes, I did ask her permission! I’ve used it for several other photo shoots over the years. Actually, I think this dress may appear in more photographs after my parent’s wedding 27 years ago!
(November 2003 Mamiya 645 AFD color slide film, Photoshop curves)
Inspired by Polaroid Transfers, I took this image of a sunset behind a telephone pole and used the smudge tool in Photoshop to create the effect. It was pretty cold on this evening, and when I look at this picture I remember thinking I had a long walk back to my car in the dark. My fingers were ice cold, but at least I had some great pictures!
(February 7, 2008 Canon EOS 40D f/11 1.3 sec. ISO 100 28 mm focal length)
This is another image from The Bangor Water Works. These girls are such troopers! I drug them throughout the building in like 40 degree weather wearing thin silk dresses. Luckily I was looking for desolate expressions because they sure were tortured by the cold. This image has won many photo contests that I have submitted it to. It also appears in a 2004 issue of Professional Photographer Magazine.
(November 2003 Mamiya 645 AFD B&W Medium Format film All available light)
I hope you enjoyed my pictures and they cooled your summer day off a bit!
Home Sweet Home - Levels and Saturation Tips and Tricks September 10. 2008
When I first moved to Columbia from Hawaii at age 3, we moved to the town of Irmo. I lived in Irmo until I was 8 and then moved to Lexington. I remember being very upset about moving. In Irmo, I lived in a huge neigborhood. Everyday all the kids would come jump on the trampoline and the ice cream truck would come by. All you had to was walk outside and there were people to hang out with. We moved to the deep country side of Lexington where there were no neigborhood kids to play with. Luckily I had one neigbor my age. But I remember hating that I moved to Lexington and hating living in SC period.
Now that I'm a little older, I love South Carolina. I realize all the great things that are available to the people of this state. Here in Columbia, I have beautiful rivers where everyone hangs out and has a good time. Of course there's Lake Murray where we can swim, boat, and ski. Only two hours from the beach and two hours from the mountains. This really is the life. (Now if I only had time to get out and enjoy it all!!)
Here's some pics I took at Saluda River and Lake Murray. I messed with the contrast on both of these and also the saturation on the river picture. This is how the originals looked.
In Photoshop, to mess with Saturation. Click on Layer/ New Adjustment Layer/ Hue and Saturation. Here you can mess with Hue, which will change the overall color of your picture. I typically do not use this feature. The lightness will change how light your picture is, but I typically do this with other controls. Saturation refers to the intensity of color. If you compare the two river pictures, the top one has way more color to it (maybe even a little too much!). In most cases, you want to add saturation to bring the colors out, but not TOO much that it looks unnatural. This is a handy trick to make almost any picture look a little better.
The other adjustment I make very often is with the Levels. Go to Layer/ New Adjustment Layer/ Levels. Underneath the histogram you have three sliders. From left to right, you can control black point, midtones, and white point. I moved the black point slider in to the right to exagerate my shadows and make the image darker. This also seems to give the image stronger colors and more punch in my opinion. I then moved the midtones slider to the left to lighten the image slightly. I made no Saturation adjustments to the lake image. The difference you see was made entirely by playing with the Levels. I change the Levels on tons of my images, because again its an easy two-second trick to make your images look a little stronger.
Hope this helps you make your pictures look a lil better!!
Motion Blur - Tips and Tricks September 2. 2008
Over the weekend I worked at a Soap Box Derby race. I admit that I wasn't too excited about waking up at 7am to go watch a bunch of wooden cars roll down a hill. But I'm glad that I did. I was taken completely by surprise with how exciting and serious of a sport this is. This was also the nicest group of people in the world! Everyone offered me food, drinks, and sun screen (is it that obvious I need sun screen?!?). Being that this is a serious sport, I wanted to get some serious shots. I wanted to emphasize the speed these cars were getting. What better way to do that than with a little motion blur?
Motion blur is a tricky thing to perfect. Of course you can try to add it in with Photoshop later down the road, but I prefer to do as much in-camera as possible. Plus even the experienced Photoshopper would have a hard time getting these results! These shots were not put through Photoshop at all. I didnt even mess with the levels or contrast. For all the photographers and hobbyists who want to learn motion blur - I'll try to explain the method I used.
The first thing I do is set my F-stop, shutter speed, and ISO to get a proper exposure just like always. Shutter speed is what controls movement and stop-action. So in order to show movement in a picture you want a shutter speed that is slower than your subject. I believe these shots were taken at about 1/50th of a second. For faster moving objects, I may have used a slightly faster shutter speed. So start dropping your shutter speed and remember how many steps it takes to get to 1/50th. Then RAISE your F-Stop that same ammount of steps. Your exposure should now look roughly the same as it did to begin with. If not, adjust your F-stop accordingly.
Here is the technique for firing the shot. I got nice and low on the ground for a good angle. The subjects were coming down the hill from my right to my left. This is the hard part... you want to pan with the subject while the shutter is open. Its important that you pan at the same speed and the same direction that the subject is passing you. This is very tricky and although you see 3 good images here, I took several pictures that did not come out. The more accurate your panning, the clearer the subject is. In the first two images, I was focusing on the car furthest from me. In the first image, its almost perfect. Even the small text on the car is in focus. The second image is not quite as accurate, but still very good. When you're panning its important that you move ONLY in the direction the subject is moving, or you end up with unwanted camera movement. Funny right? You ARE moving the camera, but you dont want to move it in the wrong direction. So remember, practice takes perfect. And luckily with the digital era, practice isnt very expensive! To see the rest of the images I took, go to
Chica Tikka May 28. 2008
My name is Tess Eva Anderson. I'm eighteen years old and I recently moved from my life-long home in Marion, Iowa, to live with my best friend in Columbia, South Carolina - a journey totaling one thousand and fourteen miles. That's real far.
I've been taking pictures my entire life. When I was a toddler, my dad would give me free rein over my mother's clunky Nikon EM 35mm camera. I didn't know what the hell I was doing but I did know that I loved playing with the camera. When my parents developed the film, they would find some pretty terrible pictures. But I was learning. My love for my mother's camera drove her to begin buying me cameras of my own. At first, she would conserve money and stress by only buying disposable cameras, but by the time I was old enough to wrap my hands around a more 'real' camera, I got something I could really work with. I went through a lot of cameras before third grade, and really have no memory of each individual one until then. In third grade, however, my mother, brother, and I prepared to go on a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was to be the first time I'd ever been out of the state to go anywhere other than Minnesota, and I got to have my first airplane ride. For this trip, I bought myself a shiny new Pentax. It was nothing more than a black, plastic-bodied point & shoot, but I loved it and babied it all the same. I used that camera for years, and in fact, I still have it. I also kept the photos I shot on the trip to Albuquerque, though none of them are really notable.
By the time I reached middle school, I was officially "into" photography. I made a small leap from $30 point & shoot cameras to SLRs. The first SLR I used seriously was also the first camera I'd ever used - that clunky Nikon EM that my mother had used through college. I adopted it and began to take it everywhere I went. I nicknamed her "Chica Tikka," or my third eye. I took pictures of eeeeverything. I think my entire conscious life has been documented, thanks to this habit of mine. In seventh grade, I went away to a week of summer camp and got to develop my own film for the first time. That really got me going. From then on, all I wanted was to take pictures.
I'm going to leave off this time by showing a few of the first pictures that I remember taking and instantly loving.
I had been shooting a series with the Buddha statue in the woods near my house when I found this TV. Perfect or perfect?
Photography - Art/Business May 27. 2008
Photography is an art. Whether you're taking beautiful scenic shots to be displayed on someone's wall or family portraits to be displayed in someone's wallet, its an art. Trying to make a living as an artist is a difficult task, as I've learned from both the photography and the music business. Most artists spend tons of time perfecting their art, their technique, and talent - and not enough time developing their business. I've been working in the photography industry for my whole life. From processing rolls of film as a child in my family's 1-Hour Photo Lab to taking portraits of soldiers graduating boot camp, I've always been involved with the business of photography. I've had access to the best photographic equipment my entire life, and never taken advantage of it. Until recently, all I could see with photography was dollars. A living. Now, however, I'm starting to see the art. Just taking a camera with me over the weekend and having fun.
The moral of the story is that - taking the best pictures on earth does no good if you can't market them. I'm a photographer by trade and for a living first, and as a hobby second. I am blessed to have been raised in this industry and have a solid foundation of business. But many aspiring professional photographers are photographers as a hobby first, and by trade second. Pretty pictures don't put food on the table. So make sure you spend as much time developing your business as you do developing your art.
That being said, these are some of the first "artistic" pictures I've ever taken. Being a professional photographer for over 4 years, that's kinda sad lol. But I figured I'd start off taking pictures of things I love. The first shot is a picture taken at the Columbia fair grounds while photographing a BBQ cookoff for a children's home charity. I just looked up and saw a beautiful scene and snapped a few shots. I've always loved industrial scenery. And then the beautiful sky just set it off! The second picture is a pic I took of my car behind the Pastime movie theater in Lexington. I did a whole photo shoot of my car that day, so more are to come. I just really liked the angle and colors. These were taken on a 1DS and a 40D. I took several different shots of each of those scenes and hope to make both into collages for big prints to hang on my walls at home.
So remember, photography (for profit) is a balance of art and business. Most photographers are unbalanced in that their business is underdeveloped. I have the opposite problem of not focusing enough on my art. Well hopefully that is changing, and I'll keep posting so you can watch as I grow! Stay tuned and hit me up with any questions or comments!
Fog in Tampa May 27. 2008
Rowing in the Fog May 27. 2008
Shannon & Dave May 27. 2008
Post it here and we'll be glad to answer any questions you may have!
For instance... Have you ever wondered how f/stops really work?
Well check out this article for a bit of "enlightenment"!
A Tedious Explanation of the f/stop
by: Matthew Cole
Photographers set their exposure using a combination of shutter speeds and f/stops to get the correct amount of light on the film (or sensor--this all works for digital too). The shutter speed regulates how long the film is exposed to light coming through the lens. The f/stop regulates how much light is allowed through the lens by varying the area of the hole the light comes through. For any given film speed and lighting combination there is one correct amount of light to properly expose the film. This amount of light can be achieved with many different combinations of f/stops and shutter speeds. This page goes over the f/stop and especially its initially-confusing numbering at some length.
The f/stop is a source of confusion and mystery to many photographers, even to some who use it all the time. I find it interesting that in one local local camera shop they have pictures under glass on the counter showing a scene using a range of focal lengths (for a good example of this, see my friend Dave Dahms' Lens Focal Length Chart), a bunch of photos showing the same scene printed at different sizes and a set of photos showing an action scene shot at different shutter speeds. All that is assumed to be of interest and comprehension to the customers. What they don't have is a set of photos showing depth of field, or a scene shot at a range of exposure combinations where the f/stop's effects are shown. Maybe it just takes too much explanation. Well, too much explanation is what this page is all about.
Fill That Bucket!
My favorite analogy for exposure is filling a bucket of water. A bucket is of fixed size and needs a certain amount of water to fill it, just like film, which is of a set film speed and needs a certain amount of light to capture an image. To fill your bucket, you can pour a small stream of water for a long time or a fast stream of water for a short time. Either way, you end up with the same amount of water. In photography, the size of the stream of the water is analogous to the f/stop, the length of time you pour is analogous to the shutter speed, and the size of the bucket is analogous to the film speed. Broadly speaking, from the bucket's point of view, it doesn't matter which combination of stream size and length of time you choose as long as the right amount of water ends up coming in. Film is the same; within limits, it is indifferent to the combination of time and amount of light as long as the right amount of light eventually arrives.
Shutter speeds are a bit easier to understand, so I'll start with those. Both exposure controls run through a sequence of settings which involve doubling and halving the amount of light reaching the film. Shutter speeds are measured in seconds and fractions of a second and so the doubling and halving is self-evident. One quarter second is half as long as one-half second but is twice as long as one-eighth. One second is twice as long as half a second and half as long as 2 seconds. It's pretty easy, and this works through the whole sequence of shutter speeds. On my Nikon FE, for instance, the shutter speed sequence is:
8 seconds 4 seconds 2 seconds 1 second 1/2 second 1/4 1/8 1/15 1/30 1/60 1/125 1/250 1/500 1/1000
Each of these settings is clearly half/double the length of time of its immediate neighbours (OK, I know, 1/15 isn't exactly half the time of 1/8th and 1/125th isn't half the time of 1/60th, but it's close). This doubling/halving is thus pretty simple to comprehend for this exposure setting.
f/stops are a bit more confusing because the numbers appear so arbitrary. This is the standard sequence of f/stops from f/1.4 to f/22. Although it doesn't seem intuitive at first, in this sequence the f/1.4 setting lets in the most light while the f/22 setting lets in the least. Also, each of these f/stops has precisely the same halving/doubling relationship as the shutter speed sequence.
1.4 2.0 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22
On the face of it, going from f/4 to f/5.6 doesn't sound like halving the amount of light. What's more, 5.6 is a larger number and sounds like it ought to be more light, not less. Neither does f/4 to f/2.8 sound like doubling the amount of light. In fact, each of the numbers in this sequence is a halving/doubling of the amount of light from its immediate neighbours, just like the shutter speed settings are. Not only that, but it makes sense, as I shall show below.
The reason that both the halving and doubling and the smaller numbers mean more light things make sense is that the f/stop is a ratio. The ratio is between the diameter of the aperture in the lens and the focal length of the lens. The focal length is generally measured in millimeters, so we'll stick with those as our unit of measure. On a 50mm lens, f/2 is saying that the diameter of the aperture is 25mm. The ratio is this 50/25 = 2. A good question might be, what is the area of that aperture? Well, the aperture is usually a set of five to fifteen blades which form a roughly circular hole, so we'll use the formula for the area of a circle, which as you all remember from fifth grade math is π * radius2. For π I'll use 3.14159265. On our 50mm lens, the aperture at f/2 has a diameter of 25mm which is a radius of 12.5mm. The area of the aperture is thus π X 12.52, or 3.14159265 X 156.25, or 490.9 square millimetres.
This fact by itself isn't all that useful. It is useful in relation to the adjacent f/stops. What is the area of the aperture at f/2.8? Well, because the f/stop is a ratio of the focal length to diameter, our 50mm lens at f/2.8 would have a diameter of 50/2.8 = 17.86mm. The area of the circle thus formed would be π X (17.86/2)2, or 250.5 square mm. That's about 250 sq. mm at f/2.8 and 500 at f/2, a double/half relationship. Aha! So that's it! The area of the hole doubles and halves, it's just represented by a ratio on the lens! No wonder it's so darn confusing.
Here's a table of the aperture areas for the common f/stops for a 50mm lens:
Aperture (sq. mm)
|(As shown on lens)||(50mm divided by f/stop)||(1/2 the diameter)||(pi X the radius squared)|
If you look down the column of figures on the right, you can see the (more or less) doubling/halving going on up and down the column. You can see also how the big numbers make for smaller areas since the f/stop number is being divided into the focal length, then halved, then squared, then multiplied by π. It's no wonder this seems obscure.
Why not just call for the aperture area directly? A couple of reasons. First of all, if you have a 50mm lens on and say "I shot this with my 50mm at 1/125th and an aperture area of 63 square millimeters" you will impart correct and exact information that precisely zero people will understand. It's way easier to say "I shot this at 1/125th at f/5.6". Also, 63 square millimeters is f/5.6 only with a 50mm lens. If your lens is a 35mm, or an 85, or a 300, the ratio is changed around and the exposure is different. In fact, that 63 sq. mm is about f/4 on the 35mm, f/9.5 on the 85mm and f/32 on the 300. Knowing only the area of the aperture requires also knowing the length of the lens also to be informative as to the amount of light coming through the lens. The f/stop figure incorporates both of these in one useful if initially confusing measure and the lens length is immaterial. It's shorthand, in effect. When you say f/8, you mean for this focal length (the f?), give me an aperture whose area is such that diameter of the resulting circle goes eight times into my focal length. Fortunately, the lens makers figure out all these things for us and just mark the f/stops on the lens for us. They're doing us a big favor.
Got it. What about other f/stop terms?
When people talk about an fast lens, what does that mean?
Lenses are referred to by their maximum aperture (that's the biggest hole, the smaller number). Thus, Nikon made (at least) three 28mm lenses at one point, a 28 f/2.0, a 28 f/2.8 and a 28 f/3.5. All three of these lenses had f/4, f/5.6, and so on up to f/16; they were distinguished by the maximum amount of light they could let in. The 28mm f/3.5, one of which I own, when set to its maximum aperture of f/3.5, lets in one third less light that the 28 f/2.8. The 28 f/2.8, in turn, at its maximum aperture, lets in only half the light of the 28 f/2.0 at it's maximum aperture. Lenses which have wide maximum apertures and let in lots of light are called fast lenses. Lenses which let in comparatively less light at their maximum apertures are called slow lenses. The 28 f/2.0 would be a fast lens; the 28 f/2.8 would be sort of regular, for which there isn't really a name; the 28 f/3.5 would be kind of slow.
Why wouldn't you always use a fast lens?
Weight and expense. To get those larger diameter apertures means you need larger pieces of glass mounted in correspondingly larger lens barrels. They're harder to manufacture, the lens barrel keeps getting heavier to hold all that heavy glass in alignment so it all gets weighty in a hurry, and they're more challenging optical designs. There have been very fast lenses made which have the reputation of being really nice wide open but kind of doggy performers stopped down. If you normally do not use the fast lens at its widest settings, if you are mostly at, say, f/8, then you are carrying around a heavy and expensive optic which may be underperforming its cheaper brethren stopped down.
The size penalty is really obvious in the long lenses. The weight balloons and the cost skyrockets. For instance, I used to own a Nikon 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF lens. The IF is internal focus, the ED had to do with the Extra-low Dispersion glass used. It was a sweet lens, 300mm in length, with silky smooth focusing and weighed in at 2 lbs. 2.9 oz. (989g). If I stepped up to the 300 f/2.8 lens the weight went to 5 lbs. 8 oz (2500g). Not fast enough? How about Nikon's 300 f/2? It weighed in at 15 lbs. 6.9 oz. (7000g). The 300 f/2 picks up 2 1/3 stops over the 300 f/4.5 I owned, but it takes an eminently hand-holdable telephoto that fits in the camera bag and makes it into an unwieldy unit needing a tripod, requiring its own suitcase and weighing seven times as much.
Even on shorter lenses the difference is noticeable; my brother-in-law's Nikon 55 f/1.2 is much heavier than my 50 f/1.8. His viewfinder sure is bright and that last stop can be handy sometimes, but the camera weighs a lot on the neckstrap and you start to question its value if you're shooting at f/11 anyway. If you do decide you want the fastest possible lenses, go buy yourself a Leica M6 or M7, for which you can buy a 50mm f/1.0 lens and a 75mm f/1.4. And before you think that it's modern technology that allows these wonders, recall that Canon made a 50mm f/0.95 for their rangefinder cameras back in the 1950s.
I hear stops referred to a lot. Are these always f/stops?
No. A source of confusion is that "stops", as in f/stops, has become something of a handy shorthand for other doubling/halving relationships when referring to exposure. Thus, when someone says they "stopped down", they probably did change the aperture from, say, f/8 to f/11. However, if someone says they wish they had a stop more light, they mean they wish they had twice as much. If they say they got some ASA 400 film which is two stops faster than their Sensia II, it means it is four times as sensitive and you can infer that the Sensia was ASA 100 (from 400, 200 would be one stop, one halving, and 100 would be the second stop, the second halving). Even experienced photographers get confused sometimes; I had one guy tell me he "pulled his film 6 stops, from ASA 100 to ASA 6". Well, that's not six stops, it's four. Here, count along: 100 to 50 is one, 50 to 25 is two, 25 to 12 is three, 12 to 6 is four.
Note that stops always refer to exposure things. You would not say a 100mm lens is a "stop longer" than a 50mm because it was twice as long! You would say it was twice as long, or just that it's a 100mm.
What is stopping down?
I've had a number of emails asking about this. When you stop down a lens, you are going to a larger number/smaller aperture and therefore less light. Going from f/8 to f/11 is stopping down. The opposite is opening up; going from f/11 to f/8 is moving towards the smaller number/larger aperture and therefore more light.
What About my weird f/stops?
The f/stop sequence I listed is the full stops. Most things in photography work in 1/3 and 1/2 stop increments, and you will find lenses with maximum apertures at other-than-full f/stops. In fact, among the lenses I own or have owned, there are maximum apertures are f/2, f/2.8 and f/4, all right on the full stops, and others in between at f/1.8, f/2.5, f/3.2, f/3.5, f/3.8 and f/4.5.
You Say Most things Double and Halve?
Yep. Shutter speeds do the 1/15 1/30 1/60 1/125 thing referred to earlier. The f/stops we have referred to extensively in their f/2.8 f/4 f/5.6 etc. sequence. Film speeds do the same thing. The doubling goes like this in the common range of film speeds:
25 50 100 200 400 800
Each step here is a doubling/halving of the film's sensitivity to light. Thus, an ASA 100 film requires twice as much light to be correctly exposed as an ASA 200 film but only half as much as an ASA 50 film. You would say it was a stop slower than the 200, a stop faster than the 50.
There are third-stop intervals in ASAs as well. Here are the third stop increments of ASA with the full-stops in bold.
25 32 40 50 64 80 100 125 160 200 250 320 400
There are still films made at some of the intermediate speeds, like Kodachrome 64 slide film, Plus-X Pan Professional black and white at ASA 125, and Fuji NPS and some Kodak Portra color negative film at ASA 160.
How do you refer to exposures between full f/stops?
Generally, I just say f/5.6 and a third, or halfway between f/5.6 and f/8, or something. I have a Sekonic light meter that reads full f/stops plus a fraction in between expressed in tenths. If I took a reading that said 1/125th of a second at f/5.6 plus four of these ten segments, I could go through the machinations to figure out exactly what f/stop that is (f/6.25) but that's not all that handy, to tell you the truth. No lenses are incremented in tenths of stops and tenth-stops are a needless amount of precision anyway given all the sources of slop in photography. Half and third stops are about as fine a distinction as matters. I have had a number of inquiries about what the intermediate stops are. I finally did a Printable Sheet of Third-Stop Increments which you can look at if you are deeply interested.
I took my lens apart. The aperture is nowhere near as big as the calculation shows. What's up?
You're right. I had an email from a guy who had taken apart a Rokkor 300mm f/4.5 (for other reasons, not to check my measurements) and he said the diameter of the f/stop blades was way smaller than the calculation would indicate. The calculations above would be accurate if the aperture blades were mounted right in front of the front element. In fact, they're buried in the lens somewhere and, on the Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 IF-ED I used to own, were actually located behind all the lens elements. They still have the same relationship but the manufacturer can make the aperture blades way smaller in the light path partway back. However, the relationship is the same between each of the adjacent stops.
Why are they called f/stops?
I have no idea. I've never read an authoritative description of where the name came from. I have a vague memory that the defunct magazine Modern Photography did an article about it in about 1974 but my vague memory also seems to recall that it might have been the April issue. I have received a number of emails over the years with helpful but conflicting opinions on this and one day I'll compile them into a separate page.
My lens or camera has Image Stabilization and it's worth 2 stops. What does that mean?
To be clear, it does not mean that more light comes through the lens. What Image Stabilization (IS) does is move something around (a lens element or sometimes the digital sensor) to compensate for the natural unsteadiness of your body. Remember when I said "stops" can refer to more than just f/stops? This is one of those cases. What this means is that the IS will allow you to hold the camera steady at a slower shutter speed without body-motion-induced blur. If you could hold your 200 at 1/250th before but started blurring at 1/125th, you can now go down 2 stops (from 1/250 to 1/125 to 1/60) and still have an image as sharp as at 1/250th. Note this only accounts for blur induced by you--if you're trying to stop action, the amount of blur from subject movement will still be the same. Note that sometimes on digital cameras the IS is really only jacking up the ISO a couple of stops with all the implications that has for noise. Optical Image Stabilization means there is actually something moving, not just a sensor ISO change.
Is the f/stop all I need to know about the light transmission through the lens?
Probably. It's good enough for virtually all amateurs and nearly all professionals. There is a concept called t/stop, for transmission stop, which is a measure of the actual light transmission of the lens rather than the simple ratio of the aperture to the focal length. The t/stop can vary from the f/stop because you have a lot of lens elements (big zoom lenses might have these) or you have one lens coated and another not coated. About the only people who need this level of precision are professional cinemaphotographers who use the t/stop to set exposure. Their lenses sometimes have both f/stop and t/stop scales marked. Even when they know the t/stops of the lens, the f/stops remain important because depth of field is driven by the f/stop regardless of the light-passing ability of the glass. I have never seen a still photography lens marked in t/stops, but the concept is out there so I thought I'd mention it.
The only time I have found the marked f/stop to be undependable was with a Vivitar 600mm f/8 Series One lens I had. This was a catadioptric (mirror) lens billed as a Solid Cat because rather than mirrors and airspace, it had mirrors with solid glass in between. This puppy weighed a lot! Anyway, the lens was f/8 but my own experience was that if you used a separate meter you'd better think about it as an f/8 and a half or f/11 lens.
So What's Important in all this?
You need to know the doubling/halving relationship and how it works with shutter speeds in exposure. This is key since the shutter speeds and f/stops you choose have implications in how your final photograph will look in ways other than purely the amount of light on the film. You need to know that as you stop down you get more depth of field. You do not need to go around calculating aperture areas for your lenses and f/stops. If you're like me, it's worth doing it once to see that it works, then forgetting about.
How a Range of Settings Gives the Same Amount of Light
Now, to bring this all together, we know that the shutter speeds and f/stops both double and halve. Thus, we know that we can open up an f/stop (letting in twice the light) and move the shutter speed one step faster (cutting the time in half) and have the same amount of light on the film. For instance, if we meter a scene and it tells us that 1/125th at f/8 is the correct exposure, any of the following combinations would work:
|Shutter Speed||1/4 second||1/8||1/15||1/30||1/60||1/125||1/250||1/500||1/1000||1/2000||1/4000|
Practically speaking, you aren't going to have one lens which takes you from f/1.4 to f/45 and your camera body may not have the higher shutter speeds. Also, if you are without a tripod, there are limits to how slow your shutter speed can be before your body movements blur the photo, so there are some constraints. But the point remains, all these combinations yield the same amount of light on the film and an identical picture in terms of brightness. What does vary is the ability of the camera to stop action and the depth of field, or how much is in focus in front of and behind the subject. This gives you some control over how your photographs will turn out. You should understand it and use it.
Barber's Portrait Studio May 14. 2008
The is one of the finest studio's I have every seen! Congrats to David &
Sally for a Job Well Done/Doing. Above is the group of Professionals who
attended the 13 May 2008 meeting. These images were taken on a 360
degree panoramic lens flattened. (Look to YourTown360 for the Virtual Tour)
David & Sally Barber, Warren Driggers, John Wrightenberry, Mickey Garrison, Pat & Linda DeMars,
JeeJee Cowherd, Mary Grant, Jesse & Dianne Hill, Matt Goslee, Cutter Christian, Gil White,
Brian & Kristin Cole, Tim Huebel, Nancy Pilot Renner, Bill Barley, Harold & Mary Jo Dodson,
Kim Truett, Laurie Barnhill, Clark Berry, Alicia Cleer, Larry Kemmerlin and Shannon Mercer.
Aiken Foxhounds 1st Season 2007 May 14. 2008
The Aiken Foxhounds 2007. The First Season.
This image was made from two layers.
The Background Layer was desaturated to
give an old school Traditional look...
Lexington Discount Tire, SC May 14. 2008
The Fella's at Lexington Discount Tire, Lexington, SC
They get your oil changed in a jiffy~!
Just think what they could do with some tires...
This image was taken from a flattened 360 degree lens...
Musicians Supply, Lexington, SC May 14. 2008
US Postal Service May 8. 2008
I was asked to shot a group shot of the South Carolina Postal Service.
I used a 35' Cherry Picker and managed to talk them into the outline of the state.
This is one of my fav's!!!