Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31st, 2009

This last shot for 2009 combines a couple techniques . . . the standard Close-Up shot for the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired lamp shade, and the Bokeh technique of the blurred background, which comes courtesy of some white Christmas lights on a piano set aways back from the lamp.

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime shooting at a 60th of a second with an f-stop of f/1.8 and an ISO of 400.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 30th, 2009

Artist's tools have always fascinated me . . . I use lenses and a camera body to capture a scene while they use a variety of brushes to create their own vision of a scene - or even something unimaginable until they put it down on canvas. I love to talk with artists, watch them work . . . see their own improvisational skills at work. I try very hard to keep that spirit alive in my own work as a photographer . . .

This was captured with the Nikon 50mm prime at 1/6000th of a second at f/1.8. My ISO is down at 100. The reason for the high shutter speed was this mug full of brushes was sitting in a window with direct access to the afternoon sunlight . . . it was streaming in the window giving me wonderful natural lighting to work with.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 29th, 2009

I love that, even in the often monochromatic wonderland that is winter, there is still some color to be found. Someone once told me what these things are, but I can't remember the proper name. Somehow, they hold their color through the cold winter days. The green you see blurred behind it is a row of evergreen trees that surround Heater's Pond in Ogdensburg, NJ.

This was shot with the 70-200mm Prime wide open at f2.8. Shutter speed was a 60th of a second and my ISO was way up to 800.

Monday, December 28, 2009

December 28th, 2009

Here's the neat thing about photographing ice formations . . . no two will ever be the same - Ever! Add to that shooting during what is known as the 'blue hour' - the time after or just before sunset when the sky is a rich, deep blue, casting that color over everything in sight - and you have one heck of a nice image.

Captured with the Nikon 70-200mm VR shooting at f2.8 with a shutter speed of 200th of a second. ISO is down to 100.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December 27th, 2009

Sunsets are always great subjects for me . . . I love shooting them. They are one of the most peaceful subjects to shoot. Inevitably, I end up shooting most sunsets on full manual mode as the lighting conditions trick the camera into an exposure that gives you muddy color. I find a nice fast shutter speed give nice, rich color each and every time, but in auto or Aperture mode, the camera will try and find a happy medium for your shadows and highlight. Take control and you get a better shot.

Captured at f2.8 - I focused on the tree branches, rather than the sun and clouds behind them. My shutter speed was set to 1/8000th of a second, ensuring that I would completely silhouette everything but the colorful backdrop. ISO is down to 100.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26th, 2009

Here's hoping everyone had a fun and save Christmas . . . I sure did. One of the most special gifts I received this year was something my wife made and I just had to share it. So I unwrap this gift and sitting in the box is a hand painted board book. My wife is a master scrapbooker and with some help from Peyton, threw together this wonderful collection of thoughts, quotes music lyrics and imagery . . . on each facing page was a small envelope that held gift cards. The final envelope being a gift card to Lowes that will allow me to finish construction on my home studio. It was - IS - one of the most thoughtful and moving gifts I've ever received . . . . To say I am a lucky man is an massive understatement.

This was captured with the Nikon 50mm prime at a 50th of a second with an f-stop of f/1.8. ISO is at 100.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24th, 2009

The technique seen here is something we all do, whether we mean to or not . . . this shot is totally out of focus - but it's creatively out of focus. The term for this sort of in-camera effect is called Bokeh - The term comes from the Japanese word boke (暈け or ボケ), which means "blur" or "haze", or boke-aji (ボケ味), the "blur quality". You can see it in a lot of my images when I've used a wide open aperture to blur the background of my image, while keeping the subject sharp. In this case, I've chosen to blur the entire scene - my blue Holiday lights on the front porch.

This was captured with the camera set to full manual mode. Shooting at a 30th of a second on a tripod. My aperture is set to f/1.8 and my ISO is down to 100. You simply turn off auto-focus and spin the dial to suit. It's a popular effect this time of year with all the bright, twinkling lights all around.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 23rd, 2009

Back in full Konxari ( mode . . . shooting 13 new images for an expansion set. This is an idea I had for a specific card, but I don't think it's literal enough. It's a very haunting shot, but doesn't convey exactly what I want it to. So I decided to make it my Image of the Day. This is a shower door with a bunch of soap on it, fogged glass and my wife's hand print on the nearly opaque surface . . . I just love the texture and color in this shot.

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime wide open at f1.8 with a shutter speed of 125th of a second. I bumped my ISO all the way up to 800 and used a very cool custom white balance to give the image a blueish hue.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22nd, 2009

Heading out to do my traditional last minute Holiday shopping . . . wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't stand in some insanely long line for some shiny bauble. So here's a quick shot I took with my camera phone last night . . . . Chase Jarvis, a photographer I very much admire, wrote a book called The Best Camera is the One You Have With You . . . holding to my much tauted "It's not the camera, it's the photographer" philosophy . . . I'll be showing that off much more when I hit the year mark on this blog. The follow up blog will be a "Camera Phone Image of the Day!"

This was captured with the new Droid Eris smart phone. Processed using Adobe's Photoshop Ap. I boosted the saturation and darkened the shadows a touch.

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21st, 2009

This is a fun technique to try with your DSLR and your zoom lens . . . you select a subject, focus in on them . . . use a slower shutter speed and start close in. Begin zooming out then depress your shutter speed continuing to zoom out . . . this is easily achieved using Photoshop, but a whole lot of fun if you can do it in-camera . . . great for sports shots, moving cars . . . anything you want to add a little movement to.

Captured with the Nikon 70-200mm VR at a 20th of a second at f/2.8 with an ISO of 100.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20th, 2009

Looks like it's going to be a White Christmas . . . and I am already tired of it, though I shouldn't be, really. Winter creates all sort of great vistas to shoot . . . This morning while plowing, I saw blue jays . . . wood peckers and the brightest Cardinal I've ever seen . . . sadly, when I finished plowing, they all seemed to vanish! So, imagine if you will, a bright red Cardinal perched upon these branches . . . . =]

Captured with the Nikon 70-200mm VR at f-2.8. Shooting at 800th of a second with an ISO of 100.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19th, 2009

If ever there was a car made for a photographer, it's my Subaru Baja. I've hung out the back end to shoot while a friend drove it down the road at 60mph . . . I've stood on the roof to get that perfect shot from on high. It's gotten me places no 'SUV' could . . . and just last night, the mileage ticked over to 100,000. It's survived being rear-ended by a truck with a plow on it . . . nearly being bisected by a renegade log that rolled off a trailer and, of course, every New Jersey driver on the road . . . =]

This was captured with my Nikon p6000 point and shoot set on full manual mode. The shutter speed was 1/2 a second with an f-stop of 5.6. ISO is down to 100. I set the self-timer on the camera, placed the camera on the steering column to compensate for the long shutter speed and simply triggered the shutter.

Friday, December 18, 2009

December 18th, 2009

Wow . . . the closer it gets to Christmas, the busier I find myself becoming . . . and the more convenient I am finding subjects to shoot! This ornament dates way back in my wife's family. She's not even sure where it came from . . . thought it a jolly subject to shoot!

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime at f/1.8 with a shutter speed of 60th of a second. ISO is up to 400 on this one.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17th, 2009

Anytime a bunch of flowers make it into my house, I have to shoot them . . . and the bouquet that came yesterday, courtesy of our friend Jane, had some Calla Lily in them. The Calla Lily is a marvelous subject to photograph - so don't be surprised to see this one again as the leaves open and it becomes even more photogenic!

This was captured with the Nikon 50mm prime at a 60th of a second at f/1.8 with an ISO of 100. I used natural lighting coming in from a dining room window to light the scene. As I do most of my shooting on Aperture Priority mode, the camera kept giving me a very hot image, meaning it was blowing out my highlights . . . switching to Manual mode and dialing in the correct shutter speed gave me the control I need to capture a nice image.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16th, 2009

Late entry for today's image of the day - there's a good excuse, but nothing I can divulge right away! Stay Tuned on that front . . . as far as today's image – got one word for you – MEOW!!!

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime at f/1.8 with a shutter speed of 40th of a second. ISO is down to 100.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15th, 2009

"A true friend is someone who thinks that you're a good egg, even though they know you are slightly cracked" - Bernard Meltzer

A colleague of mine recently had great success with a photo of an egg. It was simply a perfect capture - broken open with yoke and shell expertly exposed on a reflective surface. I wanted to try a similar shot, but with the shell intact . . . lit with two flashes and standing on end. How do you get an egg to stand on end? Go ahead, try it . . . it's an old bar bet. Email me and I'll tell you how to do it . . . :-)

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime at 60th of a second at f/4. Lit with two Nikon Speedlight controlled by the SU800 commander. ISO is down to 100.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14th, 2009

I am totally buzzing with the Christmas spirit now . . . and I know why. It's my little 5 year old . . . she's very excited by Christmas and it's not just about getting new toys. This year, we packed up a bunch of her old toys or toys and clothes she doesn't play with or wear any more. We're teaching her about giving to the less fortunate and she really seems to be getting it. I think I nailed it home when I told her that in a small way, she gets to play Santa to some kids who aren't as fortunate as she is! Very proud Papa!

This is our Holiday wreath hanging on the front door. . . Captured with the Nikon 50mm at a 90th of a second at f/5 with an ISO of 500.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13th, 2009

Meet McGee . . . he's a new member of the family and the start of a Christmas tradition that has turned out to be a very fun holiday activity. McGee is part of a book called Elf on a Shelf. It's a wonderful book that comes with an toy elf that you place around the house each and every night leading up to Christmas Day. The elf, named by the book's new owner, reports back to Santa nightly and winds up in a different place in the house by morning. To our five year old, this is simply Christmas Magic at work . . . and it's just wonderful to see as both a parent and a grown-up.

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime at a 40th of a second at f/1.8. My ISO was up to 400 for this shot as I used natural lighting. The big light orbs you see behind McGee are the lights from the Christmas tree. Shooting with a wide aperture gives you a nice, soft background for your subject to stand apart from.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 12th, 2009

I was lucky to have a friend who needed a portrait session. It went so well that I knew I had my Image of the Day for today. Portraits have always been one of my weaker spots. I get so wrapped up in the techno babble - lights, aperture, shutter speed - all that stuff - that I usually ending up with very stiff, unusable portraits. Not so last night . . . I think, because I was so familiar with the subject, a family friend who is a whole lot of fun - not to mention beautiful - I just had a blast and we simply did a great photo shoot. Were there some technical difficulties, yes - of course. But I just didn't let them bog me down - had a blast!

This was shot with the Nikon 70-200mm VR with Claudia, my muse in this case, sandwiched between to Nikon Speedlights and one TD-5 Spiderlite. My shutter speed was 60th of a second, f-stop at f2.8 and my ISO is down to 100.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11th, 2009

Getting myself back into a Konxari frame of mind. The New Year will see an expansion pack of new Konxari Cards ( and while this image is just a warm up, I plan on making these new cards even creepier than the last ones!! This image was processed using Adobe Lightroom . . . the technique I use to create images like this is to pull the slides way out of whack, then retreat to a usable image. In other words, there really is no technique. It helps to know what each slider will do and how it will effect your image.

Captured with the Sigma 10-20mm lens at an 80th of a second at f/4. ISO is set to 100.

For more information on Konxari Cards, head on over to to get a peek at the 88 images The IRM Foundation commissioned me for.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10th, 2009

Making the mundane interesting . . . that's how I try to roll. Having some breakfast this morning when I just glanced down at my fork and spoon and though - hmmm, interesting. In my head, anyway . . .

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime wide open at f/1.8 at a 40th of a second. Most folks will tell you to shoot at a speed no less than the mm of the lens, but rules are meant to be broken . . . especially if you're going for artsy, I like I always am. ISO is up to 400 on this shot.

8 Month anniversary to follow shortly . . . servers are down.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9th, 2009

So today is the first official 'snow day' of the year . . . got a call at 5am telling us that Kindergarten would be closed. What's that mean for Photo-a-Day with a 5 year old running around? That I'd better snap something quick and have Peyton be my assistant - so I present to you, one of my favorite holiday ornaments . . . Homer kissing Marge under the mistletoe.

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime at a 30th of a second at f/1.8. Peyton held the SB900 over my shoulder as I shot. ISO is up at 400.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8th, 2009

Some days, it's easier for me to turn on my creativity . . . and some days, like today, I can't seem to find it . . . then I see my lamp from across the room and figure why the heck not . . . it's a neat image and a metaphor for how I am feeling this morning . . . get it? Turning on my creativity? Sometimes I crack myself up!

Captured with the Sigma 70-300 macro at a 250th of a second at f/5.6 with the Nikon SB900 lighting the scene. ISO is up to 400 for this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7th, 2009

Busy holiday weekend . . . setting up the tree . . . the outdoor lights. All worth while once everything is up! Now I know why people drink eggnog in abundance when doing this stuff! But when all is said and done, photo opportunities abound!!

This was captured with the Nikon 50mm prime shot wide open at f/1.8 at a 60th of a second with the Nikon SB900 flash firing from below. I used the SU800 commander on-camera to trigger the Speedlight remotely. ISO is down to 100.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6th, 2009

So my local camera club is hosting a local competition on the Color Blue. All entries must have a subject with the predominant color blue in them. Anytime I enter a competition, I want to put something in that likely hasn't been shot or seen before. I think this image qualifies. It's something I've always wanted to try . . . and the competition gave me the perfect excuse to give it a shot!

Captured with the Nikon 50mm shooting on full manual mode. My shutter speed was 250th of a second - the highest sync speed to captured a flash photograph. My f-stop was f/5.0 to make sure the front and back of the glass - and everything in between was in focus. I fired off two flashes - one lighting the background - the other lighting the glass from the side - with the Nikon SU800. I had my beautiful assistant - my wife - pour some mouthwash from a measuring cup into the glass and just fired away. Repeated the set-up three times to give me some different selections and - as is always the case with me - my very first shot is the one I choose! ISO is set to 100.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 5th, 2009

Whew . . .rough day today . . . spent all morning at a portrait workshop that was fantastic . . . it started snowing during the class - nothing crazy. Then I had to pick up the family and take them shopping, which is when the heavy stuff started coming down . . . Got home safe and sound, and - as I hadn't thrown up an image of the day just yet, wanted to capture an image that conveyed how crazy it was driving home . . .

Captured with the Nikon 50mm Prime at f/1.8 shooting at a 60th of a second with the flash going off . . . love the explosions of light against the snow flakes . . .reminding me of headlights on the drive home!

Friday, December 4, 2009

December 4th, 2009

Taking the day off for my birthday . . . but didn't want to leave a blank spot in the blog, so today is Snapshot Friday! Here's Peyton just prior to her debut holiday concert. This was last night and was the perfect kick off for my birthday celebration!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3rd, 2009

Quick one for today . . . any time a I get my wife a rose, she slips one and tosses it into this old chamber pot. After years and years, the ones at the bottom are nothing but dust, but it's a great idea and - I think - worthy of an image of the day!

Captured with the 50mm prime shot wide open at f/2.8 at a 40th of a second with an ISO of 100.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2nd, 2009

I am an unapologetic gear head . . . I love gadgets. Perhaps its from watching too much James Bond when I was a kid (yeah, right - like I still don't watch them!). Anyway, being a photographer and a gear head pretty much goes hand in hand. there's always something new out there to make you a better photographer - ok, not really - nothing can make you a better photographer, but yourself! BUT - there are certainly some great gadgets out there that are fun to play around with . . . and one of those things that shouldn't be taken for granted in our lenses! This is my workhorse lens - the Nikon 70-200mm VR 2.8. This is what I shot all the wolf pics with. It's an amazing lens for getting close up to the action - yet makes for a very intimate portrait lens. A very versatile piece of gear. I thought shooting it would be a lot of fun - and boy, was it . . . I experimented with gels over the flashes . . . different lighting positions . . . just a whole lot of fun! I've now got this image as my desktop wall paper!

Shot with the Sigma 70-300 at a 60th of a second at f/4. I used the SU800 Commander to control both the SB800 & SB900 flashes. ISO is down to 100.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1st, 2009

Ah, it's that time of year again . . . digging out the Holiday ornaments. We've started early this year, as I'll be hosting this year's Sparta Camera Club Holiday party. It's going to be a great time with fun and food - and even a print exchange! So I thought what better way to kick off December than with an image that conveys the holiday season!

Captured with the Nikon 50mm prime shot wide open at f/1.8. Shutter speed was half a second, thus a tripod was needed to get the shot. ISO is down to 100.