Monday, July 14, 2014

Creating Dramatic Images with Small Flash

I always enjoy my nearly yearly pilgrimage to the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  During the year, I am the expert and preach and cajole my students.  At Santa Fe, I find out how much more I have to come before I’m a good photographer.  The instruction and instructors I’d compare to any fine graduate school.  The food is gourmet, so there’s that to look forward to.  It all ends up to a lot of learning, a TON of hard work, and a few very good images to share with you all.

My week in July of 2014 I worked with flash and Canon expert Syl Arena, who is originally from Phoenix and is a fellow University of Arizona graduate.  He still worked me hard!  And that’s what I want.  I don’t want to do a retreat like this to be told everything I’m doing is perfect. 

I took oh probably 400+ photos.  I posted 41.  That’s about right.  Some were experiments; others were mistakes. 

Katrina at Eaves Ranch
This was a course on crafting dramatic light with small flash.  I used the Canon 600EXRT, which is radio controlled.  That means I can fire the flash without any cords.  I used a variety of flash modifiers.  One of the real benefits of the course was to try new things and really get to know the equipment I have.  I also used my Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 24-105mm lens. 

We went to a variety of locations around Santa Fe and used local models. 
Freddy at Eaves Ranch

Here’s the shoot from Eaves Ranch, featuring Katrina and Freddy. 

Jio, who is studying at the University of New Mexico, is at the old abandoned power plant near Albuquerque, about 50 miles away from Santa Fe.
Jio at the Albuquerque Power Plant

Isaac is British.  He’s also an athlete, as you might gather.  The photo here has a back story.  He just was not giving me much personality so I started to scream at him.  He screamed back and you should have heard the echoes in the power plant!  Anyway, this is one of my favorite photos.
Isaac at the Power Plant

Whitney at Los Luceros
Then off we went to Los Luceros Hacienda, which dates back to the late 1700s.  I did interior shots with Whitney and outside near the river with Juan Carlos.
Juan Carlos at Los Luceros
Finally, we trekked about twenty miles outside of Santa Fe to the huge (dusty and dirty) Hansen Lumber Yard.  Julia was my model. 

Julia at Hansen Lumber Yard

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr or by clicking the Zenfolio slideshow below!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Butterfly Wonderland

Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale was a delightful 4th of July treat.  And, it was a “target rich” environment for photography.

It’s located on the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Community, where to Native Americans, the butterfly is a symbol of change, joy, and color – a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. 

I photographed in natural shaded light with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 100mm macro lens.  Hand held, as tripods would be hard to use unless you had the place to yourself. 

A few tips:  First off, they keep the butterfly habitat very very humid.  Walking into the area with a camera, you notice the lens and view finder fog up immediately.  Give it about five minutes, then clean with a micro fiber cloth.  Secondly, FOCUS!  Focus is a challenge using a macro lens.  Some of the butterflies do not just sit there.  You may have a moving target.  I tried hard to focus directly on the eyes of the insects. 

By the way, they also have a small aquarium in the facility.  Beware though, because it is hard to focus and shoot in low light.

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr or by clicking the Zenfolio slideshow below!

Friday, June 27, 2014

San Diego and the West Coast School

San Diego at Night from Seaport Village
I spent a glorious week in June 2014 with the West Coast School of Professional Photography on the campus of the University of San Diego.  The West Coast School is affiliated with the Professional Photographers of California


I worked with instructor/photographer and pretty darn good quad-copter pilot Eddie Tapp.  I want to be Eddie when I grow up.  Go ahead and click his link and look at his work.  Eddie’s assignment for me during the week was to concentrate on my backgrounds.  So I shot a few goofy pictures of palm trees sticking out of models heads, haha.  It actually helped me. 

We worked with a great group of volunteers that quickly made me, an outsider from Arizona, feel very welcome.  Lorenzo, Art, Adale, and everybody with the school made me feel a part of their group. 
The Amazing Clare posing as Betty Grable

The models were terrific and very easy to work with.  Clare was a natural model, 16 and going to be a high school junior, which is hard to believe because she acted like a professional and was a very nice young lady.  I had a running chat with her during the shoot about life and college.  I guess I must have used my teacher voice, ha!  She didn’t need much direction, but one I did ask her to pose was what I called a “Betty Grable” which is what I call a pinup pose made famous in World War II.  She said, “who’s that?”  Yup, she is 16.  Anyway, I showed her… then she did this ===à  NOT BAD!!!
Zoe Marie

After the school ended on Friday, Marni came out and we spent the next few days as photographing tourists.  We hit Seaport Village, SeaWorld, Old Town, and Little Italy before returning to Phoenix. 
Sea Lions in the harbor

As typical desert rats, any chance on the water is welcome and the sea lions didn’t mind.

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

Dolphins and friends at Sea World

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Making Photo Movies

I had some free time the last few days so I decided to turn some of my photo collections into movies.  Clients, heck EVERYBODY, love these photo movies.  I’ve done them before using a few different kinds of software and services. 

I am a complete Mac-a-holic, so of course I had to try iMovie.  iMovie is cheap.  The newer version doesn’t seem quite as intuitive as earlier versions, however.  And after doing a few, they all seem to look the same.  Still, I was fond of the output.  You can do basic linear editing, add a music track, and include narration. 

Pummelvision was a way of creating very fast-paced short photo videos in a snap.  Sadly, they are no longer around.  I was smart enough to save one video I did with them and upload to You Tube.

A quick check of the web will show many other so called “Animoto Killers.”  One that I'm going to play with is ProShow Web.  I see it can directly take photos off of Flickr, Zenfolio, Instagram, Dropbox, and Facebook, etc…  What's the catch?  The free version limits you to 15 photos and produces a low resolution video.  There are a lot of style choices here.  But if you want to include more photos and high resolution, you have to pay.  UPDATE:  Since I published this blog, the folks from who make ProShow upgraded me to a "premium" account so I could make a longer movie.  Without any instruction, I was able to pull in photos from an album I had on Flickr, made a few adjustments including syncing the music to the photos, and out popped a photo video.  It was pretty fast.  

Animoto is another service that many photographers love.  Hey, it’s quick, that’s for sure.  But if you want ANY additional services, like royalty free music and more style options, you will pay and it isn’t cheap.  This version produces videos that are 360p, which is not high definition!  I use the educational version of this online program, which is free.  So for free, I won’t complain.  I just want more options!

Here are three Animoto videos I recently produced.  The key benefit?  SPEED.  I did these videos in about ten minutes, from exporting photo from Lightroom to Animoto.

I created my latest photo video with a program called FotoMagico.  After watching a video tutorial, I was set to work on my first video.  It seems a bit more powerful than iMovie.  I like having an output that shows high definition photos.  With Animoto, for instance, you will pay for high definition output.  There are a ton of royalty-free and FREE musical beds for your video.  And, as a former radio broadcaster, I like narrating my videos too.  A feature FotoMagico has is the ability to narrate while your slide show is rolling.  If you make a mistake, stop, and delete that narration track and start over again.  You can also stack photos in interesting ways.  Go to their website and see some other examples. 

More of my photo videos are at

Next up for me is my first photo book with Blurb.  Some nice features include being able to get an ISBN number and sell on Amazon!  Also, you can work directly through Lightroom to Blurb or use their software.  Their software is a bit more powerful, so I’m going to use that. 

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New MacPhun Intensify Released!

BEFORE Intensify Pro 1.02
May 20, 2014 - The new MacPhun Intensify release 1.02 is out and it adds additional RAW file support for more cameras, more fully integrates features from Apple’s latest Macintosh OS (Mavericks), introduces the Macphun Print Lab (powered by MILK Books) and adds the ability to export
AFTER Intensify Pro 1.02
images to SmugMug, increasing the software’s sharing capabilities.

You can run the regular and “pro” versions as a standalone. With the pro version, you can edit from within Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Aperture, or my favorite, Lightroom.
BEFORE Intensify Pro 1.02
I've used Intensify Pro before and here are a few before and after examples, done from within Lightroom. What I do is right click on the photo I want to edit in Intensify Pro from Lightroom's film strip, then EDIT IN, INTENSIFY PRO. Then, Pro will open and I'm ready to try any of the presets or use some of the custom controls.
AFTER Intensify Pro 1.02

For these before and after shots, I used Intensify Pro from within Photoshop Creative Cloud.  You can see the difference.

Some of the key new features, according to the MacPhun people, include:

BEFORE Intensify Pro 1.02
Macphun Print Lab - Intensify photos can now with a few clicks be turned into personalized products like postcards and notecards, delivered direct. Affordable, high quality gallery frames and canvas prints can also be ordered, perfect for gifts to friends and family. The Macphun Print Lab is powered by MILK Books.

Integration with SmugMug - SmugMug is one of the world's leading photography communities with millions of users worldwide. Images can be exported directly from Intensify to SmugMug portfolios for viewing, sharing and printing.
AFTER Intensify Pro 1.02

RAW Updates - Intensify now supports RAW formats from all the most popular cameras. The native RAW processor supports 16-bit images and opens files faster than in any other app.

Mavericks Support - Intensify is now taking advantage of all the powerful features of Apple's latest OS, Mavericks. Support for the new Notifications feature will enable more timely communications with customers about updates, new features, free presets and more.
BEFORE Intensify Pro 1.02

And, additional shortcuts to the user interface provide quick access to the most important tools and features.
AFTER Intensify Pro 1.02

Until My Next Adventure,

See You On Down The Road!

My discount code for you is JGPatterson: