Monday, December 15, 2008

Time Lapse in the Pines

Watch what happens to the late afternoon light in Flagstaff, AZ during this time lapse exposure. This was shot over approximately a 2-hour window. Shot with time lapse movie mode on a Nikon P5100 point and shoot. Flexi-tripod grip-mounted to car ski rack and images captured at 30-second intervals. Lots of fun!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Monument Valley Confidential

Images of John Wayne and a lone Navajo on a horse come to mind as we stood at John Ford's Point in Monument Valley last week. But Clark W. Griswald tumbling down the sand in 'Vacation' after launching the Family Truckster 50 yards through a road closed sign kept sneaking into my subconscious. I think it was right here that he and his son Rusty shared their first beer.

Aside from movie recollections, get yourself out to Monument Valley soon and see some breathtaking vistas. Take the 17 mile driving loop but be sure to get out of your car and off your 'foam rubber backsides', as Edward Abbey would say. Once away from your car you will start to hear true silence. Your ears will thank you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Been thinking tonight about the stock market meltdown and where we are at economically as a nation. Got me thinking about where we place our trust. Money seems to be at the root of a lot of insecurity these days. Then I took this out of my wallet and had to laugh. Looks like God has a special bit of encouragement for us all, and it is sitting right in each of our billfolds!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Good Light Anytime

Despite 300+ days of sunshine a year here in lovely Colorado, we still get a bunch of gray days. No worries! Sometimes these make for much more flattering portraits than on a harsh sunny day. And with the benefit of portable small flashes, you can get away with much more than you'd think. I like the way the white color scheme of clothing in this family portrait below works with the white tones in the sky. Makes for a richer portrait, in my opinion.

Off Camera LIghting in Iwo Jima?

So there's not exactly a patriotic Stars and Stripes being hoisted here, nor an island in the Pacific won after an heroic battle. But we have to settle for what's at hand--a putting green and one of those flags from the hole. But in the spirit of WWII, my groomsmen obliged me by striking a familiar pose.

Lighting-wise, we had a dramatic sky threatening to explode rain and electricity upon us. So working fairly quickly, I had my assistant throw on a couple of SB800 strobes on a monopod and light these guys from my side, all while darkening up the sky to show some of the rough weather coming on strong. Result gives the guys much more depth and a dramatic, 3-D appearance.

See just what these guys and the gals were up to here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hiking Breckenridge's Golden Tunnel

If you are reading this today, as of 10/10/08, you are probably too late to catch the really stunning aspen displays in the high country. We witnessed peak color last week in Summit County and as far west as Redstone and McClure Pass. Truly the most amazing display of aspens I have seen in a long time, if not ever. So if you missed out, sit down, grab some popcorn and watch these photographs.

And if you are wondering where the Golden Tunnel is, you're just going to have to click the link to see what this aspen forest was all about, because I absolutely refuse to disclose the Golden Tunnel's secret location along Boreas Pass Road outside of Breck. Oops!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This is a good example of composing a photograph to take advantage of contrast differences. As I set this up last night, I chose to place Chris and Kristine in front of the shadow side of the barn, while they were still catching direct sunlight on themselves. Had I placed them to their left 5 more feet, they would have been much harder to see in front of the sunny side of the barn. While this tip might seem obvious as you look at the finished result above, keep in mind that the human eye sees a far greater range of detail than the camera does. So the shady side of the barn doesn't look nearly as black when you are standing there in the scene. But remembering how it will look to the camera is critical here. You can then place subject so they are bright and background is dark, for a pleasing contrast.

I then framed the composition to be a panoramic, asking my subjects to remain very still. Ideally a tripod would be wise in order to end up with best result. But in the spirit of breaking the rules (and not having my tripod with me) I was able to hand hold the camera and got a successful result.

We found a perfect local gem at the train museum east of town. Kristine was a brave soul, climbing up a steep ladder in high heels to reach the top of locomotive engine 296. And when it comes to sunglasses, bring 'em along! Some shots are great as they look into the sun right before it sets. In real life people would not take their glasses off in order to 'follow the rules' of portraiture. So I have them put their sunglasses back on for a more natural look and feel. Great way to avoid squinting eyes, too.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Future of Corporate Headshots?

Just the other day at a photography marketing seminar I was told that corporate headshots are nothing more than a commodity, where the client will probably hire you based on the personal relationship you cultivate with them. That corporate headshots are cookie-cutter and boring. But at a different photography seminar this past weekend ("Small Strobes, Big Results", by Tejada Photography) in Denver, we delved deep into the realm of making dynamic imagery that defies safe and conservative 'rules' for corporate portraits. Everything was done with small strobes (Nikon SB 800s) and some fairly basic light modifiers, but with some clever setups. David Tejada is a great instructor with the heart of a teacher and a love of sharing what he has learned over the course of his 25 years in corporate photography.

Who says you have to do things the traditional way every time?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Found Objects Make Great Props...

Making use of props in a shoot can really personalize a photograph. At the last minute
we grabbed the football out of my car and also my bride's wicker picnic basket. These items can give your hands something to do during the shoot rather than fidget or be distracting.

Sometimes I find props for me to use behind the camera, items that help me stir up some creativity and keep me from photographically fidgeting. Props can also be techniques or concepts. Over the last few shoots I have attempted panoramics with results that have pleased me. Dale and Bridgit last night were great to have in front of the camera. They are naturally relaxed and able to be loose and comfortable being photographed. So adding a prop or two, as well as some fun lighting right at dusk, made for quite an enjoyable shoot.

See their engagement session shoot photographs here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pedicabs, Flatirons enroute to Going to the Chapel...

Yesterday was one heck of a wedding celebration. A rumble nearly broke out at Chautauqua Park in Boulder at the base of the Flatirons between my bride and another bride departing the scene, each posse of bridesmaids decked out in nearly identical yellow dresses. But with tensions simmering under the 90 degree heat of the first day of summer, a cool breeze mercifully settled things down and the day became a fun and thrilling ride from start to finish. Nearly 11 hours later, the longest day of the year according to the sun was actually one of the more enjoyable I've had in a while, and I was working the entire time!

We saw it all--my second photographer fell out of his pedicab while we were trying to photograph the bridal party at breakneck speed--no injuries, to people or equipment, thankfully! There were wardrobe malfunctions.

Reception tables challenged one another to death-defying stunts to one-up the other, from unique toasts to breaking into a conga line and more! There was no lack of energy! Katie and Rich and their guests made my job so much easier and more exciting with all the emotion and fun we had!

Oh, and I was kidding about the near-rumble with the other bride up at Chautauqua Park. But you never know what can happen when someone
yells 'Fight!' as 2 brides and her girls dressed to the nines pass each other!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Panoramic Memory

Ellen and Dennis got married at the Loveland Sculpture Gardens at the beautiful, white marble work of art by artist Madeline Wiener entitled "The Conversation". We recreated the private ceremony they shared and I then shot several frames of them in a panoramic composition. Coming from a landscape photography background, I had not tried this technique with people in the composition. But I am very pleased with the resulting image, a flowing memory that honors both the private moment they shared, as well as faithfully keeping intact a sense of the setting where they chose to get married in their favorite place in "Loveland"!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sharefest 2008

We had a great time yesterday as 30 local churches in the Boulder, Colorado area got together for the 5th annual Sharefest event. Approximately 3,000 volunteers fanned out to paint, landscape and perform maintenance on local schools, fire stations and other non-profit organizations. We photographed several of the venues, along with a handful of other shooters. Everyone came together this morning at Mackey Auditorium on the CU Boulder campus to worship our God who makes it all possible. Great music, praise and fellowship was had by all. Click here for some of the images of yesterday's fun!

Go here for Sharefest 2008 gallery

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Max Littmann: War Hero

Got to talking with some relatives this past weekend as we gathered to celebrate our great aunt's 90th birthday in St. Louis, MO. Someone brought up Max Littmann, my great-great-grandfather. Max came to the US in 1854 and served in the Army, including the Wagon Box Fight. We took a trip out to visit the battlefield outside of Buffalo, Wyoming a few years back to learn more about this war hero we heard about growing up. It turns out Max and the soldiers from Company C of the 27th United States Infantry who were sent out from a nearby fort to retrieve firewood came under attack by some 3,000 of Red Cloud's Sioux warriors. With little more than a series of military box cars protecting them from certain death, Max stepped out from the relative safety and provided rifle fire so that the rest of the 28 men could return to the their position and ultimately to safety as reinforcements were sent late in the day. If memory serves, one of the key reasons they were able to hold off a far larger foe for the entire day was the recent arrival of an all-new type of gun, the repeating rifle.

See battlefield photographs slideshow here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Engagement Session

Clients sometimes ask if they can skip doing the complimentary engagement session so they can save some money on their wedding photography bill. I always politely say no, for a couple of key reasons. I find this shoot to be immensely valuable in building trust between myself and my clients, allowing us to get to know each other much better ahead of wedding day. In addition to learning more about each other, what makes us all laugh, common interests, I get to offer a few tips on posing and my shooting style. They learn that I don't expect nor want them to look at the camera every time and say 'cheese!' They'll see I want them to just be themselves and to get comfortable being in front of the lens. Hopefully they grow to ignore my camera and just be themselves, so at the wedding there isn't a period of uncomfortability that creates tension. I want everyone to be relaxed and having fun.

Katie and Rich and I got to spend about 4 hours shooting this Saturday afternoon in the foothills above Boulder. We jumped off giant rocks and explored a cave. On top of the tall boulders I sarcastically asked Katie if she had a fear of heights, but I think her day job as a commercial airline pilot gave her an immunity to such worries. We then took off for the top of the mountain and a view of the Continental Divide, finishing up on Pearl Street Mall as evening came and a spring storm dumped 4 inches of snow on us. One guy came up to us and asked me for my business card, saying 'you must be pretty serious at what you do if you are out here in this weather shooting!'

My wife rarely asks me anymore why I am gone so long doing my engagement shoots--she knows I will just tell her that it is important to me to get to know my clients better and will make wedding day that much more valuable. Bottom line--I had a great time hanging out with Katie and Rich!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Baby Portrait Session

This session was a lot of fun--we took a moment to find the light that would best portray Siena, then ended up doing the whole shoot with strictly available light coming through the sliding glass doors off their kitchen. Shooting available light is a favorite of many photographers in the photojournalstic style, where they don't have to take out any lights to intrude upon the natural scene. But I once heard another photographer describe available light in the following way. When asked if he lit a scene with 'available' light, he explained that the two studio lights he used were truly 'available' light, as "No one else was using it, so it was available to me!"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fresh Eyes

Got to love the energy and eye contact the little ones bring during a photo session. Baby Beckett was no exception, willing to be photographed in various settings and clothes changes for the better part of the morning--he did great! Each shoot is different and lighting and background variations all make for unique opportunities. Claudia and Andrew were great, too, opening their beautiful home as the backdrop for Beckett's first professional photo shoot. Should have the shoot edited here in about a week!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Backroads America

It's Super Tuesday and I would love a few days back out on the road. Politics overload, so I'm clearing the mind with some photographs made from the road over the last couple of months. I am putting together a collection for a local commercial real estate firm showing off architectural details. Things off the beaten path, bright colors. Some of these might be in the final display. See you on the road...