No Blog Week

This week is officially “No Blog Week”. I’m going to be super busy and I won’t have a chance to update the blog, so I’m just calling it now. I hope everyone has a great week and I’ll be back next week with some updates, images, and anything else fun that I come up with!

See you then!


Photoshop is a tool… Photography is an art.



After reading this great blog post by Jack Hollingsworth about how the art of photography is beginning to fall by the wayside to the technique of Photoshop, I was inspired to design a t-shirt. Thus, the images you see above.
Lets think about this for a minute. People rave over images that take lots of time to post process, but seem to neglect the simple, well-lit and well-composed portrait. Where have we gone wrong? When did Photoshop begin to define style? In my opinion, it doesn’t. Actions are great and there are lots of photographers that use the same ones. And guess what? Their work looks the same too.
This has been discussed at length already so I’m not going to go into a laborious rant about it here. Jack’s post got me to thinking and so I came up with the idea for the t-shirt. I shot the image of an old 35mm point and shoot camera that I have and added a little text and it was done. I created the prototype with my Canon inkjet printer and some t-shirt transfers. Not the highest quality, but it works for a prototype anyway.
It’s a small way to help spread the message that it’s not about Photoshop, it’s about photography. Anyone who’s got a few hours to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop can take a bad photo and make it look pretty darn good. But only a photographer can see an image in his or her head, create and/or control the light, compose the shot, and capture that incredible moment in time, forever. That’s why photography is an art.
Questions or comments are always welcome. Leave ’em in the comments section below and I hope you have a great week! The weekend’s almost here!

Aperture 3 – My Initial Thoughts

Many photographers are excited about Aperture 3 and all the new features. I am one of those people. I spent the weekend going through Apple’s new software wonder for photographers and I am quite impressed. Many of the new features help cut down the need to go to Photoshop for post production and the ability to import and edit video in the same application you edit photos is outstanding! But, there is a downside – Aperture 3 is EXTREMELY resource hungry.

As a Lightroom 2 and Lightroom 3 Beta user, it was really nice to see Aperture outfitted with some Brushes. You can do a lot of little retouching tasks right there and save yourself a trip to Photoshop. You can retouch skin, remove dust spots and blemishes, brighten eyes, dodge and burn, whiten teeth; basically all the same things you can do in Lightroom. It’s really great.

The import dialog is a little different than Lightroom, but all the same features are there. You can specify how and where images are imported, back them up to a second location, add metadata, and even add adjustment presets to images as you import them. That last feature alone can save you a TON of time in your workflow if you aren’t doing that already with Lightroom and have a common starting place for all of your photos.

One of my favorite new features is the Full Screen mode! WOW! Seeing your images fill your screen like that is just incredible! You can bring up the Heads Up Display (HUD) which allows you to make the adjustments you need and likens the Adjustment Panel in Lightroom. Imagine your whole screen being filled with your photo while you work your magic! The thought of it is pure excitement!

I haven’t yet taken the video processing and editing for a spin yet. I’ll have to get to that at a later time. From watching the videos on Apple’s website it looks to be pretty promising and you can export them to Final Cut Pro for serious video work.

There are some challenges considering my Lightroom workflow is so engrained in my brain, but overall I am incredibly happy and satisfied with Aperture 3. There is one little thing that perturbs me, and that’s the fact that Aperture 3 is very resource intensive and my MacBook Pro lags while making Brush adjustments with my image at 100 percent. That drives me nuts! My MBP has 4GB of RAM and 512MB of dedicated video memory (VRAM) so I shouldn’t have any problems, but Aperture 3 sure sucks up resources. Don’t get me wrong, Lightroom certainly isn’t “light” on resource consumption either but it’s not this bad.

If you have gotten to check out Aperture 3 (there is a 30-day Free Trial), feel free to drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you think. I don’t think the resource issue is going to go away anytime soon, but you just can’t beat working on your images while they fill your whole screen!

“Winter” Contest Kicks Off Today!

Today kicks of the “Winter” Photo Contest and I’m really excited to see some of the images that are submitted! Here’s the link to my original post with all the rules and specifics. The winner will receive a copy of BlinkBid, the estimating and invoicing software for creative professionals! Thanks again to BlinkBid for sponsoring the contest.

In other news, I spent some time over the weekend working in Aperture 3 and trying out a new beauty dish for speedlights. So far, I’m very impressed with Aperture 3 and I think that if I continue to like it as much as I do now, I may not upgrade to Lightroom 3. But only time will tell. As far as the beauty dish goes, I’ll have a full review up here later this week so be on the lookout for that!

And finally, I’m starting to work on some short video tutorials where I’ll talk about techniques, gear, and software. I may even make it into some sort of podcast, but I can assure you that it won’t be super high-tech, but rather more raw and real. Should be fun. Unfortunately, a little case of laryngitis has put a short delay on the videos. You guys would never come back if you heard what’s left of my voice right now. 🙂

That’s it for today, I hope you guys have a great week and for those of you that aren’t working today enjoy your day off!

The #1 Mistake New Photographers Make

People make mistakes. It’s how we learn and grow. It’s a part of our history and our future. Photographers make mistakes too. Even great shooters like Chase Jarvis and Joe McNally still make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them so that you try not to make the same mistakes again.

As a new photographer, you’re also going to make mistakes. But don’t worry, you’ll learn from each of them and you’ll be better for it. There is however, one common mistake among new photographers that seems to be repeated over and over again – buying too much gear.

I was talking to a photographer at last weekend’s workshop and she said this a lot, “Someone told me that I needed it.” With all the teasing and good-hearted harassment over those words I think we effectively made our point. I felt bad for her because she had been steered in the wrong direction on many occasions and definitely spent money that she didn’t need to. If memory serves me correctly a salesman at a local camera store managed to sell her a 5-in-1 reflector for $110.00, and that’s just wrong.

New photographers (and even some that aren’t so new) get wrapped around the axle over gear and somehow come up with the idea that they need a lot of it to make great pictures. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – gear doesn’t make pictures, photographers do.

So where exactly does all this bad information come from? It mainly comes from the internet. I can’t tell you how many threads I’ve read where someone was verbally scolding another for using a Sigma or Tamron lens to shoot a wedding that they were getting paid for. There’s something to be said about good glass, but c’mon now.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy gear that you need, but the point I’m trying to make here is that you should invest in yourself as a photographer. Instead of going out and buying that new 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II lens for $2,000.00, you could use a fraction of that money and go out and shoot for the next month! If you’re a people photog, hire some models and a make-up artist and go shoot. If you’re into landscapes, take a short drive to someplace interesting that you’ve never shot before. Just go out and shoot!

As a side note, if you happen to get some advice that you think is questionable or aren’t sure about the best thing you can do is ask another photographer that you can trust. Just because someone says that you need that new flash or new lens, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you do.

Photo News and Other Happenings

Thursday is here and the week is almost over. Rather than waste time, lets get right down to what’s going on around the industry:

  • Nikon has announced two brand new lenses, the 24mm f/1.4G and the 16-35mm f/4 VR. You can read all about ’em here, and I don’t know about you but I think that 16-35mm lens is gonna sell like crazy. It’s Nikon’s update to the much older 17-35mm lens and while this new version isn’t f/2.8, it’s got VR baby!
  • I listened to Gary Vaynerchuk’s audiobook called “Crush It” and if you are in business and haven’t read this book or downloaded the audiobook from iTunes then you’re missing out. I’ll have a review up here before too long.
  • Don’t forget that my ‘Winter’ themed photography contest kicks off right here on Monday! For more details be sure to check out my original post. Good luck and thanks to BlinkBid for sponsoring the contest!
  • I was the host photographer for Don Giannatti’s Lighting Essentials workshop last weekend, right here in good old San Diego. We had a great time, the attendees learned A LOT, and we made some great images. If you’re interested in learning how to light, I highly recommend his workshop! Here’s the link.
  • Last but not least, Apple released Aperture 3 and it really looks awesome! I haven’t had a chance to do much more than examine the interface, but so far I REALLY like what I see! More on that coming soon… after a solid test drive.

That’s it for today. I hope you guys have a great rest of the week and weekend too! Don’t forget to go backup your images and clean your cameras! Have a great day!

Inspiration and Passion

Inspiration and passion… two words that drive us to do what we love. We can be inspired by many things, yet passion is what makes us excited about that certain thing. This past weekend, I was the host photographer for a really great workshop, and I was inspired. Not only by the incredible information that was being disseminated, but also by the desire of others to learn more about a shared passion.

During most of the weekend, I spent my time helping attendees with understanding some of the concepts that were taught and discussed. Although it was always with me, I didn’t have my camera in my hands most of the time. Did I mind? Not at all. I was thrilled to see the spark in someone’s eye when a teaching point or concept made sense to them.

By chance, I ran into a dancer from the California Ballet Company, whom I’d worked with only a few weeks prior with Joe McNally. It’s an incredibly small world. And although our days were fairly long, I never got tired of sharing information with others or carrying around gear to help set up some of the shots. I am truly passionate about photography… I only wish I had realized it sooner.

When I was a kid, I remember taking pictures all the time. I remember buying lots of disposable Kodak cameras, putting Kodak Gold in a cheap little point and shoot 35mm camera that my parents bought for me, and even convincing my Dad to let me use his Minolta 35mm SLR a time or two. When I was 12, I took a trip to Huntington Beach, CA to see my Great Aunt and Uncle (who still live there today) to spend two weeks out of my Summer visiting them. I shot roll after roll of film. It just never seemed to get old and I couldn’t wait to see the prints after they came back from the lab.

When Kelie and I got married, her older sister let me use an a Nikon N60 SLR that she had turned in to Lost and Found where she worked, and got it back after 3 months where no one claimed it. I shot a lot with that camera too. In fact, I still have a picture of my wife on our wall in front of the USS Barry (DDG 52) in Norfolk, VA. I’ve even got some prints of sunsets, flowers, and other odds and ends that I shot with that camera.

My first digital camera was a point and shoot that my parents bought for us as an anniversary gift. We used it to take pictures of Benjamin, our oldest son. I shot like crazy with that camera too. I have all the photos saved to this day, since we got that camera. I still don’t really understand why it didn’t click in my head that photography was my passion.

The day it did finally come together for me, I was at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. I was out with a friend seeing the sights. I had a Nikon point and shoot with me and I was taking shot after shot, caring about nothing else but the picture. That’s what really mattered. D.C. has some incredible history and I wanted to have great photographs to remember it by. I took one particular shot of the memorial and looked at the image on the tiny little LCD and all of a sudden, the light came on. I had realized what I was truly passionate about. Shortly after, I won a Nikon D40 in a raffle and I haven’t looked back since.

Be passionate about what you enjoy. Love your family and go after whatever it is that ignites the fire deep inside of you. I had the pleasure of meeting some great people this weekend who helped fuel my passion. I hope you have the opportunity to do the same.