Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Arboretum Photo Shoot

This past Sunday I got together with a friend and took some photos of her and her son.  We went down to the Dallas Arboretum both to do that and to see the Chihuly Blown Glass sculptures.  To say the least, I was blown away.  Some of the sculptures were as tall as 20 feet tall.  All of them were hand blown and very impressive.  Now on to the photography.

In these photos, you can see the excellent work that this artist does.  I had not read a lot about the exhibit before I went.  I was expecting some fairly large pieces, but nothing of this size and scale.

The day was bright and sunny.  There were a few clouds, but mostly a deep blue sky.  I put my polarizer filters on my lenses to make sure that I would be able to capture that blue sky and to also help reduce glare on the lens.  The results were great.  I shot in RAW and with the help of the filter, was able to capture vivid colors from the sky to the sculptures.

I've mentioned before that the Arboretum is very nice.  We shot for about an hour and a half and could have stayed out there longer.  However, it started getting warm, so we decided to call it a day.

That is it for now.  My new website is up and live.  You can check it out at

Until next time...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Next Stage

I just finished the launching of my website.  
You can visit it at

There are still a few tweaks that I need to add to it, such as adding music, but visually, it is ready to go.  I would appreciate any positive feedback you could provide.

The next step is to have a logo created.  I have a friend from high school who is going to help me take care of that.  I've seen her work and she's very good.  Unfortunately for her, she's going to have to work from my horrible drawings to turn it into something beautiful and powerful.

You can check her out here:

She's based out of New Braunfels, but this is the digital age and I am in Dallas, so she can still work with you.  Please help support a small business!

That's it for now.  I'll leave you with a couple of sports photos I took recently at a minor league baseball game.

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's Been Awhile

It's been a few weeks since my last post.  A lot has been happening in that time frame.  I shot my first wedding.  It was a great learning experience.  The pictures came out very well, but there is always something to learn and improve upon.

As you can see from this picture, there was a fun combination of shade and sun.  My trips to the zoo came in handy.

This past Tuesday, I met my friend at a nature preserve in Farmers Branch, TX and took some photos of her.  This was a funny day where the day was nice and sunny and by the time I met her after work, it was cloudy and started drizzling as we were leaving.  Even so, we were able to get an hour of shooting in.  I just shot tight with my 50mm lens and avoided including the sky.  I got a lot of nice shots.
I also got the full version of NIK Software's Silver Efex Pro 2, in addition to a number of other titles that they offer.  This is by far the most efficient way to convert photos to black and white.  One of the other programs that was included was Color Efex 4.0, which without having a lot of time to get into it, was great at softening and smoothing out skin.  Both programs are incredible easy to use.

This is where I will end for now.  I will get into these shoots, in addition to my sunrise shoots in future posts.  There was a lot of learning and a lot of technical aspects to share.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Laid over

Hello everyone. I'm currently sitting in the airport at Birmingham, AL, waiting for my flight. I got here around 11:30, to find out that the plane had a mechanical problem. I am heading to Baltimore for my cousin's wedding this weekend. I figured since I have some time, I would send a quick blog update on my IPad. The spacing and format will be a bit off, since the program is much different than what it looks liken my computer, but I think we can all live with that. Over the last week, I have been working with a program called Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2). It was touted as an amazing black and white conversion software. I downloaded the free trial and it is amazing. You open your picture in photoshop (in my case) and then access SEP2 from the filters tab. You are then given about 20 preset black and white options for hat photo. I would say that 5-6 of them are nailed with no work needed. However, manipulating your photos from there is very easy. I would rate this software a 5 out of 5 stars and I wil definitely be buying the full version. When I get back home next week, I will post some of the conversions using this software. I will also have some wedding photos coming soon as I work on them for my cousin. Until next time...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's been awhile

Time sure does fly when you have a lot on your plate.  This is a picture from this morning's sunrise photoshoot.  I went back out to Crowley Park in Richardson, TX and shot by the water of the pond.

It was nice that the moon was still out as the sun started to come up.  Pretty good color in sky, but not a lot of red until after I had packed up.

As I was finishing up, I decided to pull out two new pieces of gear and give them a test drive.  Those would be my Canon Speedlite 600 EX-RT flash and Gary Fong Cloud flash diffuser.  I bought both to use for my cousin's wedding but haven't really had a chance to try them out yet.  The flash in the reception hall will allow me to be able to use a fast shutter speed in the dim light.  The diffuser will help to soften that light so that it doesn't seem like a white blast on everyone I use it on.

Here are two pictures that I took of myself using my remote control.

On the left is the flash with no diffuser.  You can see that my skin is pretty blown out.  On the right is with the diffuser.  Skin tones come out a little more naturally when they aren't being blasted with light.

I plan to be able to get a little more practice using these two items before the wedding.  I'm actually reading the instruction manual, so I'll have the basics down.  I'll be able to use the rehearsal dinner to get some good real world practice with it.

Before I leave, I'll give you a tip.  When putting your camera bag down in the dark, be sure to not put it down on a fire ant mound.  I missed one by about 5 inches today.  That could have made for a bad morning.

Until next time...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Catching Up

It's been a little while since I've been able to post a blog.  I've been busy shooting and editing, but not blogging.  

Since my last time on here, I have been trying out some new software; ACDSee.  It's a photo editing software that attempts to compete with Photoshop.  It is a pretty user friendly piece of software that allows you to edit and customize pictures, batch process, etc.  So far, I like it.  There are things that it does better than Photoshop and vice versa.

Next, I went down to San Antonio to take some engagement pictures of a friend of mine and her fiance.  This was my second big shoot.  I was a little nervous at first, but not long into it, everything just seemed to fall into place.  I just finished processing them and narrowing down the 5star selections.  The CD is burning now and I should be able to get them in the mail Monday.  It was a lot of fun.

The next day, Sunday, I of course I had my sunrise photo shoot.  I wanted to do something iconic, so I went downtown to the Alamo and set up.  I haven't had a chance to work on those pictures, but I imagine they will turn out nicely.  I also learned that a quarter in a parking meter in San Antonio buys you an hour, whereas it only gets you 20 minutes in Dallas......  Not as much bang for your buck.  lol

Next, I had to break down and buy a new computer.  My laptop is almost 4 years old and just can't handle the demands of processing my pictures.  The RAM wasn't large enough to handle the speed needed for Photoshop and for some reason, the computer doesn't see the CD drive anymore.  I wasn't able to figure that one out.  In addition, I had filled up the hard drive.  It was time.

That's what's been going on in my life recently.  I'll get back on here soon with some more pictures.

Until next time...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mustang Morning

This Sunday's sunrise shoot (6/17/12) marked a milestone in my photo project.  Wednesday June 20 marks the Summer Solstice; the longest day of the year.  That means that I have reached the celestial halfway point of my summer sunrise photo project.  The sunrises will slowly come later and later in the morning.

So this morning, I wanted to head to downtown Dallas and shoot the sun reflecting off the buildings, but I wanted to take some friends with me.  Unfortunately, they couldn't go, so I will put it off a bit.  Therefore, I decided to head over to Las Colinas and see the mustangs.  The mustangs is the largest equestrian statue in the world; about a dozen mustang horses running through a business plaza.  It is an incredible statue.  What made it really cool is that they have spray where the horses' hooves strike the water which make them look like they're actually running.

What made this interesting is that the mustangs evidently sit on private property.  The security guard (who was nice and polite) let me know that commercial photography of the mustangs was by permit only.  When I explained to him about my photo project, he said that was ok and I finished up.  Note to self for the future, make sure I am not shooting on private property.  lol

On to the pictures!!

 As you all know, I love flowing water.  This is the view as you come up to the mustangs.  I did not read about who created the statues, but the designer of this plaza did a fantastic job!  This is a non HDR shot; high aperture, slow shutter speed to capture the flowing water.


These last four shots are all HDR.  above, you can see the mustangs running.  I think they look fantastic in black and white and as I mentioned earlier, the water spouts at the hooves of the horses makes them look like they're running.  I shot them with a longer shutter speed to emphasize the water.  

Behind the plaza is Lake Caroline.  It was very peaceful in the morning and I was able to take advantage of the great color in the sky.  Also, I've always liked the phrase, "Better lucky than good, some times".  If you look at the bottom right picture, you will see a crane flew across my shot as the three HDR pictures were being taken.  I couldn't have planned it better.  lol

That is it for this week.  I have had a great time shooting these sunrises and seeing parts of Dallas that I have never seen before.

Before I go, I wanted to say that I entered a picture that I took in St. Louis, in a photo contest.  The contest is sponsored by Pauline Frommer, a leading writer of travel guide books.  We used her London guidebook and can attest to how great they are.  The winner of the contest among other prizes will get their photo featured on a 2013 guidebook.  I am putting the link for my photo below.  Please take a second to go and vote for it.  You can vote as many times as you like.

As always, thank you for following my blog.

Until next time...