Thursday, July 22, 2010

The iPhone 4G Replaces my Travel Laptop

Last summer I went to Seattle and Canada for a vacation with my wife. In the interest of saving space, weight and money, I left the laptop behind... a first! Rarely do I travel without it because it is the hub of my digital life on the road. For me having a computer was almost a necessity... That is until I bought the latest iPhone.

My plan for this trip was to use the iphone as my gps, email reader and local travel guide. The camera and high-def video is good enough to replace the snapshot camera and video camera that I used to carry. They say the best camera is the one you have on you and it that seems to be true. I like the low-tech point and shoot ease and immediacy of the snapshot memories.

This phone's battery life lasts 7 hours longer than both my old iphone 3 and laptop. This means I listened to music, watched movies, played games and wrote emails the whole 5 hour flight to Seattle and still had jucie left over.

Unlike some people, I had a very easy time pre-ordering and picking up this phone... In and out in 30 minutes. I heard stories of 1000 people waiting in other stores and even arrests when fights broke out. Is a phone worth going to jail? The answer is a qualified "maybe"...

I am glad I bought this little gizmo. There is no turning back now... other phones are just boring. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Future of DSLR Video Could Get Exciting

Now that I have 2 cameras capable of producing HD quality video, I thought I'd venture to Showcase Photo and Video in Atlanta to take advantage of a video seminar that was being given there. The seminar was put on by Canon and I found it to be informative and full of useful information. It definitely gave me more to consider the next time I pick up my camera to make a video.

Other vendors were on hand as well selling their DSLR video wares such as RedRock Micro who makes fantastic but pricey rigs to hold your camera during video shooting. I was a little put off by the sales rep's attitude who said anything they offered under $1000 is just for amateurs. Phooey! That's a bad attitude and they should tap into the budding amateur and indy market more than they are. Make the rigs cheaper and sell more to the masses.

Carl Zeiss was also present, and they had beautiful cinematic style lenses specifically designed for DSLRs, and had the size and familiar functionality of top end movie lenses... They came in a wide range of focal lengths for directors to use. Expensive... yes, but a relative bargain compared to the lenses and camera systems previously used to make television shows and movies.

Visit to Vancouver Island

This week, my wife and I are going on an anniversary vacation to Seattle, Washington and Vancouver Island, Canada. We cannot wait to see all the great sites and just spend some time away from the rat race.

I went to Vancouver Island a few years ago to visit a good buddy and never got around to posting the photos. It's true that I've been busy, but this was just ridiculous. So, without further ado, here is my 2008 Canadian trip... I hope I can remember the details...

The trip started out early before sunrise in Atlanta, Georgia. I was halfway across the country when the sun came up in one of the most spectacular skies I have ever witnessed. The color is not enhanced and it reminds me of a 1960s abstract painting of just pure color.

We were flying way about the clouds and I wanted to fly through them... They looked so soft and bouncy.

I had breakfast at a layover in Denver... These bottles caught my eye because they were lit up like little jewels. I just realized that they were not full...

My layover airport's tram has a glass wall that allows you to watch the trains come right at you.

They also had an arcade, which reminded me of blowing stacks of quarters in the days before XBox and PlayStations. It was time to get going again... Next destination: Vancouver.

After landing in Vancouver, I took a bus to a seaport where a small seaplane was waiting to take me to Vancouver Island shown above. The birds seemed to all be on the same wavelength.

Below is a landing seaplane against a large cruise liner. The scale of the ship is hard to believe.

This trip took 2 cars, 2 trains, 1 bus, 2 jets, and 1 sea plane just to get to my friend's house.

When I landed in Naimo, I had some time to kill before my friend could pick me up. There was lots to see. The town is on a beautiful bay surrounded by mountains.

I talked to some of the local native artists who would sit outside carving sculptures for tourists.

I started walking and shooting whatever caught my eye.

I believe this was an old bank or courthouse.

The window below belongs to a church.

The homes were stacked on each other and had unique features.

The color of some of the trees was brilliant enough to light the inside of a parking deck with lime green light!

Even the ivey was colorful...

From the top of a hill, I could see the most of the city.

Naimo is a mixture of old and new. Some buildings are brand new and some have a bit more "character".

Speaking of characters, I ran into a few of them on the street. Could the man below be a modern day prophet? He has a halo above him...

This other fellow was walking his cat... something that I do not think works very well.

At least everyone I met was friendly. Even passing by, people would greet you.

There are plenty of high rise buildings in Naimo too.

 That means the window washer man should have year long business.

Finally  my buddy, Ken, picked me up and we went to his house in Duncan.

Duncan has totems lining the streets. Some of these were quite old.

I am a huge fan of Native America carvings. It was a real treat to see these master works.

I could not resist taking pictures of the neighbor's garden... especially the enormous sunflowers.

Ken gave me an fantastic tour of the local mountains, harbors and rain forests. I don't have photos of the rain forest because I was mountain biking down steep slopes and praying that I did not impale myself on the broken stumps pointing straight at me. I think a mountain goat would have been more at home there.

The climate was surprisingly mild for being that far north. Most of the structures have a beautiful patina.

Eventually I ended up back at Naimo waiting for the seaplane flight back to the mainland.

I spent my last hour on the island people watching... in this case people watching themselves.

I called "shotgun" on the plane ride back and was treated to an otherworldly skyscape. What planet was I on? It did not matter because soon, I was back in an American airport surrounded by obese, loud talking people eating junk food and watching football. Welcome home to the good 'ole USA!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Invitation for Angie & Eric's Wedding

I had taken the photos a few weeks earlier and now I had the opportunity to design the wedding invitation for Angie and Eric. I kept it simple to show off the photography.

The front cover is shown above and the inside spread below. I'll be shooting the wedding in September at the same location. It should be a lot of fun.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

128 Corporate Headshot Portraits

Finally, the shooting was over. It took 6 days to shoot 128 corporate portraits on location at a large Atlanta corporation. The actual photography could have been done faster, but it was best to offer time slots to accommodate the busy schedules of so many people.

I shot these with my camera tethered to my computer so the subjects could see their photos and help chose the best photo. If there was extra time between subjects, I would retouch photos on the spot. This made me popular with some of the people who had special retouching requests.

To celebrate the end of this large job, I made a simple time-lapse movie of deconstructing my portable portrait studio. This video also shows the last person being photographed too.

Portrait Session With Atlanta Photographer Megan Case

I met Megan many years ago in a photography class that we took together. We did not talk much beyond class discussions, but I did take notice of her work. She was pushing ahead and standing out in the crowd.

On the last day we exchanged contact information and usually those kinds of connections never go anywhere. Luckily, this one did and now many years later we are shooting together. For this one, I was her assistant on a portrait shoot of a local musician, Dwight Raby. We had a shot list formulated before he showed up which helped the session run smoothly.

The results were just what we wanted... a very shallow depth of field with the eyes in sharp focus with the nose forward blurred and the ears backward blurred.

I was also proclaimed "The Best Photo Assistant Ever"... I'll take it because I've been called worse. You see more of Megan's work at

Monday, July 12, 2010

Birds in Flight

At an airshow many years ago, I grabbed a quick photograph of a flock of birds. The Atlanta smog was making the planes that I had come to see hazy specks. These low flying creatures were a nice change. Though the airplanes were impressive, I have always been fascinated by the fact that birds accomplished flight millions of years before man.

We have all seen photos birds in flight, but I thought this one was interesting because you can see all the various stages of flight... from full wing extension to the wings pulled all the way into the body. A few feathers, bones and muscles = flight.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Consolidated B-24 Liberator Bomber at Sunset

I am in the process of sorting thousands of photos to update my photography portfolio, and I realized that some photos (for one reason or another) were never really attended to at the time I took them. Time is always in short supply and new projects mean that I have to constantly move onward.

Here is a perfect example. I took a photo of this little gem at the Fantasy of Flight aviation museum in Polk City, Florida. I was in town for the Sun & Fun Airshow and the warbird community was having a steak cook out in the hangar of the museum. The food was great, but the scenery was unmatchable... better than any restaurant I could imagine.

The airplane in the photo is a Consolidated B-24 Liberator Bomber which has to be one of the most ungainly but successful bomber designs of World War 2. It doesn't look like it should fly, but it did, and with devastaing effect. They made over 18,000 of them for the war.

Portrait with a 1000 Watt Smile

After a corporate headshot photo session, I was having fun with Tony, the subject seen here. If recall correctly, he did not love having his photo taken. 

For the "official" photo he was more reserved, but as soon as I told him the shoot was over, he gave me the million dollar smile. Luckily I had my finger on the shutter ready to capture it. Sometimes I know when somebody is holding a little extra charm in reserve and Tony had it just waiting for it to show. I retouched the photo to make it more like a magazine portrait instead of just a headshot to go into a catalog. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Engagement Photos for Angie & Eric

The Fourth for July started off for me with an engagement photo session for Angie and Eric. Angie is the little sister of my friend Josh and his wife Michelle.

They have made plans to get married in the Fall at Josh & Michelle's house so they wanted to have their engagement photos taken there too.

More specifically the main photo needed to happen around the the waterfall and fish pond in the front yard because the wedding ceremony will take place there in the near future.

Their yard was in bloom which is great considering that mine withered weeks ago. If somebody wanted a photoshoot to look like they were visiting a desert, my back yard would be the perfect place to do it. Considering the photos were shot in a small residential yard, I am pretty happy with the way they turned out.

We had a great time with a lot of good-natured joking and I could tell that these two really love each other which makes my job more enjoyable.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

2010 Sun 'N Fun Air Show and Fly-In

This year I was invited by one of my friends and oldest clients to fly down the the annual air show in Lakeland, Florida known as Sun 'N Fun. The weather was a mixed bag eventually ending in rain, but some of the time it was beautiful.

I work with Dan Ritter on the popular BugBand insect repellent products that can be found in many stores across the US and in select countries across the world. The stuff really works to protect you against mosquitoes and other pesky insects. Find out more at

Even though this is the 2nd largest air show in the US, the crowds have been noticeably dwindling from the first time I went 5 years ago. The amount of unique airplanes showing up has dropped too. The downturn in the economy has really made it hard for some people to make the trip.

There were lots of of things on the ground to photograph and many nice people all shared the same language... "airplane."

Imagine the damage the guns below could do...

If there's time to lean, then there's time to clean.

 This photo shows the scale of these amazing machines.

Because of this, they had the same air show program running many days in a row. I got fewer unique photos because I was shooting the same thing each day.

The Air Force Thunderbirds were quite good and the snuck up on me a few times almost making me jump during one of their low-altitude high-speed passes. Awesome!



Anyway, this was the first year I took my new Canon 5D Mark 2 with me and that was probably a mistake. While the 5D is a great camera for just about any other situation, I prefer my crop body camera such as the Canon 40D or the Canon 7D because they have higher frame per second rates, better focusing and a 1.6X zoom factor.

Without getting too technical, that makes my 400mm zoom lens act like a 640mm zoom. If I use a 2X multiplier, I can get even closer to the action. That would have been useful for the scene above.

I love the explosions they set off for the crowd!

The Russian Yaks above were out in force... The photos below shows what happens right on the edge of the sound barrier.

My thought was I could use  the Canon 5D's massive file size to grab the photo and them crop into the part of the photo that I wanted in the final crop. The crop below is about 1/4 of the full photo. Not great for enlargements.

The weather was getting downright gloomy by Saturday afternoon robbing me of valuable light for the photos.

The weather was getting downright gloomy by Saturday afternoon robbing me of valuable light for the photos.The weather was getting downright gloomy by Saturday afternoon robbing me of valuable light for the photos. To see the full 2010 Sun N Fun  photo gallery click here...

I have been going to this air show with the same people for many years and I value their friendship and camaraderie even more than the airplanes... and that is high praise.

This year I even treated myself to a biplane ride around the airport. It so much fun and I wanted to keep going... That's me hoping my glasses don't fly off in the wind stream...