The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Orbs -- I see this effect every now and then. Sometimes the it is really interesting. I never took the time to learn how to do it.

After looking at some awesome orb photos on Flickr -- I decided I would take a stab at it. OK -- so I have a lot of books on Elements (my choice of photo-editing software). I am sure in the books are instructions on how to do the orbs. But, since I am sitting at the computer -- I Googled.

I did not look far or long and found a quickie way to do them:

Square photos work best -- so choose something and crop it to a square. Then Filter>Distort>Polar Coordinates>choose Polar to Rectangle, Image>Rotate>Flip Horizontal, Image>Rotate>Flip Vertical, Filters>Distort>Polar Coordinates>choose Rectangle to Polar -- and voila!

To give one a really interesting look -- then apply the Orton Effect. Way back in the blog I wrote about this -- you can search for the directions -- but hey -- I will put them here again.

Orton Effect:

Make a duplicate copy, make a second duplicate copy. One the second copy pull down the blending mode menu and choose 'screen.' Make a duplicate copy. Go to Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur and choose a level that blurs but still shows shapes in the photo. (this is a very subject choice) Now go to the blending mode menu for this layer and choose 'mulitply.' You can choose the level of this effect for this layer by using the opacity slider. You can always use the opacity slider to manage the level of an effect.

The photo on this post was created from a square photo of pines. The photo was manipulated to keep the sky blue and the trees were in black and white. I created the orb and then applied the Orton Effect.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time to Play

These few days while things are kind of quiet -- not a lot going on -- no phone calls, emails, etc. that demand attention. I have been spending a little time playing around with the plug ins that I bought from Nik -- the Color Efex has quite a collection of effects -- I still don't know all that is available.

I have been into the "popart" selection under the 'Detail Stylizer' filter.

Also -- I finally learned how to use my remote control for the camera. I have only had this handy little device for about 18 months! It is not hard to use -- and it took a few minutes to look up in my manual what I needed to do.

Yes -- I read the manual (occasionally). Always keep your manual handy and don't feel like you should just know something and not need to look it up.
The photos above show some I took over the past couple days and the manipulations of them. The close crop of the eyes came from the portrait that is a little off center. I like a horizontal portrait with the subject to one side.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Making an Image You are Happy With

The photo of the kids at Christmas got me thinking. I have read and heard from photographers that it is easier to have a mediocre image of a spectacular subject than it is to have a spectacular image of a mediocre subject.

Not that the kids or my photos are mediocre -- but it is not very spectacular.

How do you turn the usual into the unusual? That is a difficult task.

Think about those who shoot nature and landscapes. How many shots of a beach can you see, really? Or mountains? Or butterflies? What can really make something stand out -- have that extra that makes you stop and say -- Wow, look at this!

That is the task of most photographers -- not to settle for just doing what they have seen others do so much of -- but to go beyond it to have the unique take on something.

This time of year I usually start thinking of "New Year's Resolutions." Where can I improve? How can I do better? What can I do differently?

Besides the normal list of: #1 get more organized, #2 stay more organized, #3 clean up my desk -- I think I will add in #4, take unusual photos of the usual.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Photos

Every year I take a photo of the kids sitting in front of the Christmas tree. We usually do it on Christmas Eve. It is not a great photo -- it is really one of those meant to document the event. When I look back at them I can see how the kids have grown. Even at 21 and almost 17 they will humor me to sit there and have their photo made. Some years there is a dog in the photo. The cat never seems interested.

When you take photos of Christmas think about your perspective. If the kids are on the floor opening gifts -- get down on the floor with them to get some shots at their level. Watching them open gifts and capturing their face when they see what is inside is always a good photo.

If the pets are cooperative -- get them in the photos too. Our cat usually is not -- and there have been some times in the past week when my daughter put a bow on her head -- maybe that is why she avoids the presents? She may have developed a 'bow phobia?' She usually likes to lay under the tree when nothing else is there.

Besides the usual Christmas photos around the tree and unwrapping gifts -- think of other opportunities...

Christmas lights are a great subject to play around with. Don't use a flash -- this will be a very slow shutter photo -- so use a tripod. I like to zoom a lens during the photo to make a wild pattern with the light. Also -- instead of zooming the lens during the photo -- use a long exposure and move the camera around while the shutter is open. You can get some very interesting abstracts this way.

Baking Christmas cookies is also a very photographic event. All of the ingredients, colors of sugar, shiny pans, cookie cutters, etc. make nice holiday photos. Hmmmm, I might have just figured my Christmas card photo for next year!

If you are heading to someone else's house -- take along the tripod. Even if you just end up leaving it in the car; if you don't take it, you know you will wish you had. Charge your batteries, make sure you have a spare memory card, and take lots of photos.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nature, Undisturbed

A juried photography exhibition is born!

A couple months ago, I was approached by the Southern Conservation Trust asking if I would like to have a photo show to benefit the trust. Of course I would. Then I thought for a moment and asked what if we had a photo show involving the whole photo club? Then I thought another moment and asked -- what if we went bigger? I always think big.

My thoughts were of Slow Exposures in Pike Country -- the feeling and atmosphere of the show -- and the fact that it benefits the local historic society. We could do something like that in Fayette County to benefit the land trust. Many local photographers visit the Line Creek Nature Area for great photos all year round. Why not use our photography to raise awareness of the properties and help raise some funds as well?

There were a lot of questions to answer to get the ball rolling. First we needed a location and dates for the show. Abby Jordan, Executive Director with the trust, and I have been working hard to get the show going. One day I was in Dogwood Gallery, talking to Greg Blair about the show. I did not think that he would be interested -- since it was a benefit -- but he was! We had a place. And it is a very nice place to hang a show! Did I say I was thrilled to have the show at Dogwood? I am thrilled!

During the last couple months I have been networking with the photography community in the Atlanta area. I visited the director of the Slow Exposures show in Zebulon for advice. The ladies with Slow Exposures are so very nice. Chris was wonderful to sit with me for a while giving great advice. Andrea stopped by out of the blue and even offered to come help hang the show if we needed her. One of the Fayette Photo Club members knew someone with the Atlanta Photography Group. I talked with her and emailed her with information and questions. She was a great resource and she offered to forward the call for entries to many Atlanta area photo clubs. And she has -- thanks Virginia!

That is where we are right now -- getting the call for entries out there. Since this show will take place at the end of April -- time is short. Next time (2010) -- we will have a year to get the word out about the show. The deadline is to have your entry in the mail no later than January 31, 2009. The call for entries can be found on the trust website Check the upper left corner of the homepage. Click the link, read the fine print, and print the entry form.

The show is open to any photographer interested. There are two categories, the first -- Nature, Undisturbed -- is showcasing nature photography at any location. The other category is site-specific to photography at trust properties only. These properties are all in Fayette County, Georgia and are: Line Creek Nature Area, Flat Creek Nature Area (both in Peachtree City) and Sam's Lake Bird Sanctuary (in Fayette County, south of Fayetteville). Color, black & white, sepia, and manipulated images are all included in these two categories.

So get busy looking through your images and enter!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Christmas Card

I got the Christmas cards in the mail late yesterday. Usually I get them out early in December. The past few years I have been trying to use photos for the cards. This year I did not have much of an idea of what I wanted to use. I was planning on taking a photo of my Christmas tree after it was up and decorated -- but when I tried to get a photo of it -- the whole thing -- I did not like what I was getting.

Then I had an idea about using the Lensbaby for the photo. After a little playing around with the placement of an ornament and the lights. I had a photo I kind of liked. As with many of my black and white images, I took the photo in color but planned all along to use the black and white version. The card I have is a silver embossed frame that you slip the photo into. I wanted to put a black and white photo into the silver frame.

Over the weekend I printed the photos I needed for the cards. As soon as I had printed them all, I got a great idea of what would have made the photo even better (isn't that always the way it goes!). The creative aperture kit from Lensbaby has a star aperture disk (it also has a heart disk and blanks to make you own). Sunday I had to take some photos using that disk -- even though I would not use it for the card -- I wanted to see what it would do with all of the light from the tree. The photo on the blog is the one I wish I had used for the cards.

All of the stars you see in the photo were created by the aperture disk. The little 'band' of stars that crosses the photo and goes behind the ornament is the bead garland. The reflections from the beads show up as stars when I use that disk.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Southeastern Flower Show

A few weeks ago I sent in my entries for the photography exhibition at the Southeastern Flower Show. The show will be January 28 through February 1 at the Cobb Galleria Centre (I can never figure why someone decides to write center as centre -- ??? oh well). Here is the website for more info and directions

Three days ago I went to the mail box and found a big envelope addressed to me. I love getting mail so I got excited when I saw it -- then I recognized the writing -- it was mine! This was my self-addressed, stamped envelope to return my prints to me and the information of acceptance or decline. As soon as I figured out what it was -- I got nervous. I sent a few really good images in to the jury -- but you never know what a juror is looking for or will like. I had a favorite in the bunch and thought if any photo would make it into the show -- that one would. Well, it didn't. The one that did make it in was a good one, always a favorite of mine, and a friend recently said she liked it -- so I gave a print to her. She was really the one to urge me to send it in as a submission. So I did -- and now I am glad I listened to her!

The photo on the blog is the one that made it in. I took this photo with my old Fuji S7000 super zoom camera. That camera was always a good one -- and I haven't used it in a long time. It is defintely an oldie but goodie.

The Fuji S7000 was the camera that really started me on my way to taking photos for more than just fun. This camera was the first one I had with the "super macro mode." This mode allows the photographer to come as close to the subject as 1cm. The camera was announced July 2003. It is not small, not light, and not an SLR -- but it is really a great camera to have. It was the third digital camera I ever had. It also set the standard for my next camera. After using that super macro mode -- I knew the next camera I bought would have to have the same thing (and that little Canon S2 IS does).

By having the option to get so close, you can really create a unique photo. One thing to remember about coming in close is that you are blocking out most of the light and being that close there is no way a flash will do anything for a photo (if you have to use flash -- which I try to avoid if I can). One of my favorite things to do with the super macro mode cameras is to use the sun as a backlight. I have pushed the lens up into a flower with the bright sun hitting the backside of the flower. The hot sun (hot like is super bright -- not necessarily heat hot -- but you know it is hot both ways) really lights of the inside of the flower from the outside.

This white rose is no longer in my yard. The tree rose died but the gorgeous photo of the bloom lives on. I remember the day I took the photo -- it was very bright -- not a good day for much -- unless I was pushing the lens into things. I put the lens into the bloom and snapped away. The sunlight litting the back of the white bloom was plenty of light. The petals barely appear - as if they are afterthoughts. The filaments of the flower look like a collection of snakes wrapping around each other trying to get to the surface. The anthers almost look like little coffee beans floating around.

The original photo -- as will all of my black and white images -- was color. There was not a lot of color to it anyway. The very center of the bloom had a blush of gold to it and the anthers were more brown than black. This photo, to me, is much more dramatic in black and white.

I have always liked it -- I am glad to know a few jurors agree with me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

100th Post!

OK -- so after I post this morning I noticed that I was at #99. I have to post again to hit 100 -- plus there are a couple things I left out of the post.

First -- when I returned home from the cat show, I noticed how ordinary my cat seemed. But then I realized she has pretty blue eyes and a great little pink nose and I saw no other cat at the show like that.

Second -- this Monday at 5pm is the Chairity event at The Hollingsworth House in Fayetteville. There is a charge for admission and the chairs will be up for auction. This event benefits the Children's Village at Christian City. Remember that stool I posted a photo of a few weeks back? (see Sept. 30 post) This is the event.

The Cat Show

Last weekend the Cat Fanciers' Association was in Atlanta for a show. Lucky for me it was not too far of a drive and did not require me to get on any freeway. I have a phobia about driving on freeways -- and yes I drive across a few states occasionally to visit relatives, and I did drive on freeways in Los Angeles/Orange County on a regular basis -- but that does not mean I liked it. (well, the driving across states is not bad -- it is the city traffic that really freaks me out)

Anyway -- the cat show was in town. I have a cat -- and I was curious about seeing others up close and personal. The biggest selling point to get me to pay $7 admission was that cameras were welcome. YAY! The website for the show said you could photograph the cats as long as you asked permission first. OK -- so once I took a photo of a cat without asking -- well no one was around.

There was just about any color, size, hair-length, ear 'design', tail length, etc. that you could think of at the show. When I say ear 'design' I mean that there were cats with tall, big ears -- there were cats with regular ears -- and there were cats with ears folded back at the tips.

I did not want to use a flash because I did not want to startle any of the cats. Although I wonder if they would have been startled -- they seemed very used to all of the hustle and bustle of the show. I took just the 50mm 1.4 lens since it is so fast. I learned that the cats could be much faster.

Many of the cats, when not up for judging, were zippered into their carriers lounging about on hammocks and such. Occasionally I would find an owner prepping their cat or just holding one out. The best time, I found, to get decent photos of the cats was when the owner was on the way back to their space after judging. While walking around I would spot them and ask if I could take a photo. They always agreed and were happy to talk about their cats.

The photo on the blog was one of the better ones of the day. I was interested in seeing the Sphinx Cat in person. They are much cuter and have quite a personality that does not come across by looking at photos of them. Now I need to find a dog show! One thing I learned -- if I had taken a cat toy with me it probably would have helped with the photos. If I do find a dog show -- I will stick a squeeky in my pocket before I leave the house.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tips For Better Photography

While researching yet another accessory online I stumbled across this wonderful article by Guy Tal on the Outdoor Photographer website. If you like this article -- check out more at

Pro Tips For Better Photography

There are no commandments in photography, but these simple tips will make an immediate difference in your shots
By Guy Tal

Who among us isn’t hoping for a secret formula or a magic spell we can use to conjure up great images anywhere, anytime, at our beck and call? A switch we can flip to reveal unique compositions, beautiful light, rare moments and deep insight—a “silver bullet.” Obviously, there’s no such thing and, when you think about it, it’s good that there isn’t. If making powerful images was as easy as snapping our fingers, would we truly appreciate them? And yet, there are some easy answers. There are tips you can use today that won’t cost you a penny, but may make a significant difference in the quality of your work. They have for me.

Bullet One: Get Out More
Magic happens. Somewhere out there something wonderful is unfolding. This is as true for this very moment as it is for any other. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not there to see it; but rest assured there will be more perfect moments to be found than you can fit in a lifetime. The more time you spend outdoors, where your favorite subjects are, the more likely you are to be at the right place at the right time to experience and photograph them. Too many people are under the impression that a quick trip to a pretty place comes with a guarantee of superior images. Not so. As landscape photographers, we’re very much at the mercy of numerous random factors. Some phenomena can be predicted with some accuracy and some can’t. There’s always an element of luck in getting a special image, no matter how well planned. There’s no public schedule for serendipity, superb light doesn’t take reservations, and dramatic skies don’t appear on command. Your best chance of finding something unique is to give something unique a better chance of finding you.

Bullet Two: Be Serious
Take your subjects seriously, take your camera seriously and—more than anything—take yourself seriously. Believe that you can make great images, believe that whatever camera you’re holding right now is capable of capturing great images and believe that there are great images to be found wherever you are. A common mistake is to dismiss a special moment for lack of faith in your own abilities or the abilities of the camera you happen to have with you. When you come upon an interesting subject, take your time—study it and ask yourself: “What can I do with this?” and “Is this really the best possible composition?” These questions have nothing to do with whether you’re toting a hefty 8x10 view camera or a little point-and-shoot. They have nothing to do with whether you’ve hiked 20 miles to a remote wilderness or just stepped out in your flip-flops on a family vacation. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If the scene evokes emotion, if the light is good and if you compose it properly, you’ll have a great image. Anything short of that, and all you’ll end up with will be excuses. Put your best effort into it, and you just might turn what would otherwise be a missed opportunity into a masterpiece. Don’t let yourself off the hook, cut corners and underestimate your viewers. Photographs don’t play poker—they can’t hide a weak hand. To put it bluntly: Nobody cares why an image doesn’t work or why an image almost works.

Bullet Three: Do Your Research
As much as we’re dependent on any number of factors that are beyond our control, there still are a lot of things we can do to increase our chances of finding those special scenes in their prime. These can be as simple as timing our visits appropriately (right time of day, right season, etc.) or as involved as learning the natural history of the places we visit—geology, weather patterns, wildlife and plant life and their unique characteristics and behavior at given times in their natural cycles, the phase of the moon or the direction and timing of sunrise and sunset. Learn good outdoor skills. Just as important as knowing where to go and when is knowing how to work and move comfortably when you get there. Outdoor skills are invaluable in many ways and not just for those seeking images. The comfort, confidence and safety of knowing where you are, what to do, what to look out for, how to find your way, where to find water, how much food and clothing to carry all can work wonders toward improving your state of mind and allowing you to concentrate on more creative endeavors.

Bullet Four: Good Gear Takes You Only So Far
Your equipment plays a major role in photography. By having the right gear, you give yourself a natural advantage, but only up to a point. What’s important is to keep in mind the role gear plays in our craft and to consider its value in that limited context. Good gear will enable you to make technically good images. Gear won’t make your images more evocative. It won’t improve your composition. It won’t make the light better. It won’t make the subject any more interesting and, consequently, it won’t make your images more successful. The best kind of gear is the gear you don’t have to worry about—gear that lets you concentrate on making images rather than technical minutia. If you compare a fine image to a fine meal, remember that even the best and most expensive dinnerware won’t make your food taste any better. So buy the gear that can capture sufficient detail for the size prints you want to make (so you don’t have to worry about how to fix that later), can help you make good exposure decisions (so you don’t have to worry about how to fix that later), give you sufficient support and stability to make sharp images (who wants to worry about how to fix that later?), provides flexibility in framing your composition (so you don’t have to worry about how to fix that later), and is sufficiently light and comfortable to carry wherever you go. With all those worries out of the way, go about making images.

Bullet Five: Don’t Force It
If you’ve been to a beautiful place and didn’t capture great images, you’re still better off than if you hadn’t gone at all. If you let your lack of photographic success on a given trip make you bitter and frustrated, only then will you truly have wasted your time. Keep in mind the reason you wanted to photograph these places to begin with—you were likely inspired by their beauty, moved by their timeless majesty and touched by their raw spiritual powers. None of these should change just because on a given day conditions weren’t conducive to photography. Savor the experience for what it is. Otherwise, it can be a dangerous catch-22: The harder you try, the more likely you are to become frustrated and to miss the very things that inspired you to begin with. Let the place speak to you; let its beauty—both grand and subtle—touch your soul. Images will likely present themselves when you’re in the right state of mind, and even if they don’t, you’ll be doing a disservice to yourself and cheapen the very experience you set out to find by hanging your enjoyment on whether or not you manage to get a “keeper.” If you’re not enjoying yourself, your work will suffer as a result. While many aspects of good photography have to do with technical proficiency, those intangible little things that distinguish “good” from “great” are all about emotion. If you don’t feel it, you likely won’t be able to express it. Natural places can do wonders for your spirit—they can put your mind at ease, inspire inner peace, make you forget about the mundane drudgery that makes up so much of our lives and give you a chance to be transported into a simpler, more beautiful world where things just make sense. Make it your primary goal to immerse yourself in the experience. Don’t over-burden yourself with the thoughts that you must find something, anything, to photograph. Remember you’re there to make images of beautiful experiences. Make it a beautiful experience first, and you’ll have something to photograph.

Bullet Six: It Doesn’t End With The Click
You went to great expense to buy your gear, you spent your time traveling and finding the best light and composition, and you captured a timeless miracle of immense beauty—you put all this effort into building toward the moment of sharing something incredible with your viewers. Now what? It’s not over—not by a long shot. Much has been written (and will continue to be written, including by yours truly) about the importance of the photographer’s vision and creativity. What often surprises me, though, is that so many of us fail miserably when it comes to the ultimate test of the image: presenting it to our viewers. Some might even say this is the most important and critical point in the proverbial life-cycle of an image—its raison d’etre, its ultimate test, the point where all our efforts, our vision, our skill, our expensive gear and our desire to share something with the world culminate into one singular experience. Your work in the field is only the beginning. It’s where you gather the raw materials, the inspiration and the concept of your final image. All images require postprocessing to achieve their final look and to optimize them for a given presentation, whether in print, on the web, in a slideshow or in any other medium. Postprocessing techniques are just as important to the success of an image as composition, exposure and fieldwork. Take the time to master your tools, whether you prefer a wet darkroom or digital editing or both. If your postprocessing skills don’t measure up to your camera skills, your images always will be half done. Ask yourself honestly why you make images in the first place, and if anywhere in there is the desire to share something with others—be it beauty, ideas, inspiration or story—you owe it to your art to make sure it’s dressed up to the nines before you strut it in front of those you wish to impress. Don’t quit before the finish line.

To see Guy Tal’s photography, visit

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gifts for the Photographer

It is that time of year again. The time when you try to think of the best gift for certain people on your list. Some people can be very difficult to shop for -- so let's take care of the photographer right now.

Photographer's like magazines (at least I do). A subscription to a photo magazine is a good idea. Lenswork is my all time favorite magazine. This is a must for those who love black and white photography. Another good one that I recently rediscovered is Popular Photography. I remember at one time thinking this was one of those magazines filled with ads -- but not anymore. Outdoor Photographer is a magazine that I have been getting for a few years and always look forward to the new issue. One magazine I did subscribe to last year that I will not be renewing is American Photo. I can't quite describe it -- but I was very disappointed in this magazine. I added it to my subscription for Popular Photography -- they had a deal going to get both for a reduced price.

If the photographer on your list already has stacks of magazines -- how about a book? Annie Leibovitz has a new book coming out this week. It looks interesting. It is called -- Annie Leibovitz at Work. I have this on preorder from Barnes & Noble. Speaking of Barnes & Noble, they have boxed together Scott Kelby's digital photography books (volumes 1 & 2) for an easy gift. Many like Scott's "wit and humor" throughout the book -- but frankly I get very tired of it and, well, I have heard from people in my classes that they find it annoying as well. So heads up to Scott -- lose the wise guy chit chat and stick to the photography -- these books are so good -- it is worth wading through the smart remarks. A book that I bought this past year that really stands out is Digital Photo Art -- this is for those who are into photography and art projects.

If you are looking for something that is new and interesting -- think about the Unibind Photobook Creator, ( Instead of spending all that time uploading photo online to order a book -- you create your own -- hardcover -- at home. Another new and interesting idea is the Eye-Fi Home 2gb SD Memory Card. ( These are available at many locations, including Best Buy. This memory card will wirelessly transmit your photos from the card to your computer when you get home. (Do you ever feel that things are just getting a little too Jetson's sometimes?) Something interesting -- but not very new -- is the photo vest. I have a Safari Vest from Cabela's and love it. It is much easier to pack the pockets of the vest and head out on a trail than to haul my backpack all of the time.

If you aren't sure if your photographer has any of these things I mentioned or if they would really like it -- there is always the gift card. A gift card to Barnes & Noble means they can choose just the photo book they have been wanting. B & H Photo ( and Adorama Camera ( offer gift cards/certificates -- anyone interested in photography could always use one of these! If you have local camera shops -- I am sure they will have a gift certificate available.

And last but not least -- one of the must fun photo accessories I have purchased this year -- the cool fabric camera strap from Just go to ( and search "camera strap." You will find many to choose from.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sprewell Bluff State Park

Last Sunday the Fayette Photo Club met up with our favorite state park ranger -- Phil -- for another fun and informative hike in a beautiful Georgia State Park.

A little over an hour south we met in the large gravel parking area of Sprewell Bluff State Park. When we arrived the sun was not yet on the parking area. It was chilly and thank goodness I found a pair of gloves in my car. As I stepped out of the car I saw the rock in the middle of the river -- it was so pretty. As I held the camera to take my shot I was shivering so I had to really work on it to keep things still and steady.

The photo above is one of those first shots I took. This photo (and all of the others I took that day) have been processed in Nik Color Efex 3.0 to have the appearance of a photo taken with Fuji Velvia film. This film was known to really bring out the vibrancy of the colors. The colors I saw on Sunday asked for this treatment. Another thing I did to this photo was apply the glow filter to give that bit of morning, misty glow look. I like the finished photo.

Since I had never driven to Sprewell Bluff before, I left home very early. Thank goodness for the time change the previous evening. I had to get up early to get down there -- but at least it was with the break of gaining an hour. I arrived before anyone else. After a few minutes, Ranger Phil pulled into the parking lot. It was nice to see him. He had been our ranger guide for a photo club hike at Panola Mountain last May (see my blog entry of April 12 for info on Panola Mountain State Park).

Another member from photo club rode to the park with me -- so the three of us waited in the parking lot for more members to arrive. They came and we waited a little bit more to make sure that all who were coming had made it.

When we walked toward the trail we could see the red and yellow leaves backlit by the bright sun. The prettiest color seemed to be the black gum trees in a brilliant, bright red. Phil pointed out the trees with the color and told us the names of them. He also pointed out the grasses heavy with seed pods along the path. The sparkleberry trees were a beautiful burgundy red with dark purple berries all over them.

One of the best things about going on a hike with a ranger is that when they hear a bird or other sound from the forest -- they tell you what you are hearing. Phil pointed out to us the sounds of an Eastern Phoebe (and we saw a couple E. Phoebe nests) and a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. Once I heard a sound I was sure was a Cardinal -- so I asked Phil if that is what we were hearing -- he said no. We were actually hearing a chipmunk!

The large rock formations that we saw while on the hike were amazing. It was interesting to get the information from Phil on the geology of the region and to hear about the types of rock we were looking at.

This is a great time of year to get out to a park near (and maybe not so near you). Check out the Georgia State Park website ( to find out about scheduled events or just to check the leaf report -- this is a great website to keep handy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More Plug-ins

After finding out how wonderful a plug-in can be and how great the black and white conversion plug-in was -- I had to try the color...

Not long after I posted the last blog I downloaded the trial versions of Color Efex and Viveza from the Nik website. At first I thought I would only want one of them and the download was to try them both out to decide which one would be more beneficial. So guess what -- I found that I had to have them both!

Color Efex Pro 3.0 is a myriad of filters that you will love to have at your fingertips. Even thought I own a graduated neutral density filter -- I have already used the filter provided in this plug-in twice. If this list of filters seems overwhelming -- you have tabs to the left that separates the list into filters used for certain types of photography (portrait, landscape, etc.). The filters all come with sliders that appear on the right side of the screen to give you almost too many options to tweak the photo to get just the look you are after. Also found on the right side of the screen are some of the control points that make the Nik plug ins so cool. You get two control points -- one adds the effect to certain areas of a photo and the other point takes the effect away. I have been playing with black and white photos in Elements for a long time -- using layers and masking out to bring a little color pop into that black and white photo. This plug in allows me to convert the photo to black and white and then by strategically placing the control points to add color back and make sure it stays out of certain parts of my photo. It is easy and fast.

Just as the Silver Efex plug in had the list of popular black and white films to achieve the look of the film type with your digital image -- Color Efex has a list of well-know color films. For those of you lamenting the days of using Fuji Velvia to get the wonderful saturated colors that can make a landscape extra special -- you can get the look of Velvia with one click of a mouse! The film effects feature offers the look of over 30 film types.

OK -- so enough about Color Efex -- let's talk about Viveza. What is this and why would you want it? Viveza gives you the most precise control over light and color in your photo. The control points that are so wonderful in the other plug in products now give you major control over specific colors. The control point allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, red, green, blue, and warmth for the specific color you select by placing the point on the color. After downloading this product to compliment Color Efex -- well -- I like it. I have used Color Efex and then used Viveza on the same photo to tweak the brightness in very specific areas of the photo to get just the look I wanted.

So like I said with Silver Efex Pro -- go to the Nik Software website to view the lesson videos and download the 15-day trial of the plug in to give them a try. The photo with this blog was processed using both Color Efex and Viveza. I used film effects to give this photo the look of Velvia and then used Viveza to highlight even more the sunlight on the leaves in the upper right part of the photo.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nik Plug Ins

I have fallen victim to the world of plug ins. I always thought why would you need all those extras -- I mean really, the photo-editing program does plenty. And besides that -- who has the time or even wants to spend more time at the computer than you have to. Taking the photos is the fun part, right? Right? Well, maybe a plug in or two is not such a bad thing and it can be fun and perhaps help shave some minutes off of editing time.

A few weeks ago I was leafing through a magazine and noticed Nik Silver Efex Pro. OK -- I had to try it. I was kind of put out that their trial period was for only 15 days. I was expecting at least 30 days to try it. But no -- only half that. But even though I thought that was a little light for a trial period -- I was very intrigued and downloaded the trial anyway.

The weirdest thing was that I had to install it three times before it was showing up in the filter section of my Elements program. I don't know if it was me not knowing for sure what I was doing or what. I did the exact same thing all three times. I guess the third time is the charm for sure!

All I can say is if you like black and white -- you will love this plug in. It works with Photoshop, Elements, and Aperture. You get a variety of ways to view your photo while you work on it -- either side by side with the original or it uses a movable line that splits the photo to show before and after. You get views of many black and white styles like push processes, high contrast with a variety of color filters, etc. You have complete control over the brightness, contrast, and structure.

Nik has a feature called U Point -- a control point you place in the photo to give selective control over sections you choose. This feature is also found in other Nik plug ins -- Viveza and Color Efex Pro are on my list of things I have to have soon.

With Silver Efex Pro you can also get the look of 18 of the most popular black and white films. Remember when we used to use film??? And for each film type you can tweak the grain, color sensitivity, and tone curves.

A really cool part of this is that you get to select the look you want for your photo and then click "brush" at the bottom of the window to return to Photoshop or Elements. This will allow you to brush the black and white effect into the original images only where you want it. If you want the whole photo transformed to the black and white version -- you simply click "OK." If you change your mind and do not want the black and white effect -- click "cancel."

The Nik website has great tutorial videos to show you just what this nifty little add on can do for you. This link will get you to the overview of the product. To view the videos -- click on the 'lessons' tab. Here you will also find the link to download the 15-day trial.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Latest Issue of Moonshine

I just received an email to let me know that the latest issue of Moonshine, a magazine of the southern arts is available online (& free) in its entirety at

Thanks Robin -- it looks like a great issue! The following is from Robin's email:

These days and nights, the winds of culture, politics, and everything else seem to change at the drop of the hat. So what do artists do in such unpredictable times? Sometimes change can be an unforeseen catalyst, whipping up all sorts of artistic delights --- Writings, music, paintings, photography... perhaps, by the light of the moon. Take a moment to find some inspiration in the work of Southern writers & artists.

Jasmine Rizer's lively serial, "Keeping it in the Family" concludes; Part 1 is available at "Keeping it in the Family"; Karen Hennessee finds the maroon while Brenda Basham reflects on the Greatest Romantic Story ; Sandra Jones Cropsey answers, Who's there? , while McCabe Coolidge continues his series, Seven Questions with this question: How did your Robin die? Thoughtful poetry from Brenda L Basham (Images) , Russell Lee Hale I (a pair: I Know Not, The Mask; The Mask ), John S Moon (Lonely Soldier) , Sandy Vanderbleek (he) and a collection of Haikus by Gilbert Head.

Studio views features Sandra Babb's essay on Politely Painting the Preacher Lady; Despina Panagakos Yeargin thinks vibrant and funky painter, Jeffrey Callaham is in Love -- check out her interview and his work to see for yourself! Photographer Frank Hamrick reflects on the goodness of growing your food and finds inspiring subjects for photography, too. Hannah Leatherbury's audio interview (a podcast) with fiber sculpture artist Justine Dennis delves into this quirky artist's mind. Allen Bell and Hannah Leatherbury also encourage you to Steal this Idea! (courtesy of the Southern Arts Federation).

robin fay continues to explore Creativity (pt. 6 in a series, focusing on the role of artists in society) while Rachel Anders explores the art and music in her neighborhood in The Arts in Iredell County. Hannah Leatherbury shares colleague Allen Bell's interviews with participants in the Southern Circuit Tour, a tour of independent films, in Southern Circuit Tour, interview with filmmaker, Jed Riffe and Southern Circuit Tour interviews with filmmaker, Muhammad Naqvi ; both are podcasts with Muhammad Naqvi's article including a video clip of the trailer for his film Shame. Regular contributor Brenda Basham reflects on Psychological Ponderings: Quality Equality; while Dorothy Birch offers us some tips for Stoking Your Creative Fires This Fall. as well as some colorful seasonal photos.

Donna Rosser aka the Barefoot Photographer shares her Fall Photo Opportunities and enchanting photographs with us.

Book reviews for October are Enclosure by Andy Goldsworthy reviewed by Andrew Shupling, a book of work by ephemeral artist, Andy Goldsworthy, who works with items in nature, such as rocks, leaves, snow, and even the rain as it falls on the ground;

Three Shadows reviewed by Andrew Shupling, a graphic novel by Cyril Pedrosa (a former Disney illustrator) and Dali & I: The Surreal Story by Stan Lauryssens reviewed by Heather Kline, an interesting insight into both the contemporary art market and the creation of the DalĂ­ persona. Music matters features a review of Down the Road I'll Go, by Curt Bouterse, "fret-less oldtime music"; while Hannah Leatherbury talks with Reuben Hoch of the Chassidic Jazz Project, a group who fills voids in both the Jazz and World music genres. (courtesy of the Southern Arts Federation).

Check in with a Short Girl comix, book reviews, work from the Southerncreativity gallery (@ Flickr), art announcements & calls for entries.

If you would like to receive moonshine in its entirety via email, please drop us a line at Subject: Subscribe

Feedback? Comments? Want to contribute (or add art events)? Please drop us a line at

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Genealogy Fair & Pie Contest

The National Archives, Southeast Region is having a Fall Genealogy Fair and Pie Contest October 18 from 9 am to 4 pm. The facility is located at 5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, GA.

A few weeks ago I received an email from my friend at the National Archives asking me if I would come give a short presentation on restoring and preserving old family photos. Of course I would love to! So I am! I will be presenting from 2 to 3 pm. There are many very interesting presentations throughout the day.

In addition to my talk about preserving your old photos – Christine Wiseman from the Georgia Archives will tell you how to care for your family archives. Just what are family archives? Well, old family bibles, letters, deeds, certificates, etc. Just about anything paper you want to keep and preserve for future generations. Christine will discuss storage materials and techniques.

Kevin Kuharic from historic Oakland Cemetery will be on hand to discuss cemetery preservation. He will also talk about the damage (and repairs) from the tornado that went through Atlanta and Oakland last spring.

In addition to these interesting programs – you will learn all you need to know about searching for information at the archives and using many new online features. If you are thinking about getting started searching for your roots or have been doing it for a while, this is a great place to spend a Saturday to ask as many questions as you can think of and get some great tips.

Registration for this event is $20 and includes lunch provided by Honeybaked Ham! Oh and I forgot the best part – you can bring a pie (dig out a good old family recipe) to share and enter in the contest. At 3 pm ribbons and prizes will be awarded.

For more information and to get the registration form – click on this link

About year ago I wrote a blog about the National Archives and what an interesting place it is to visit. If you haven’t read it – here is a handy link to find it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sams Lake

A few days ago I visited the Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary. It is finally completed!

The land was donated to the Southern Conservation Land Trust by the Sams family. The City of Atlanta was involved in this project to mitigate construction of the new runway at Hartsfield Airport. It seems like a lot of money was spent and it took a long time. The project was started in 2004 but a series of tropical storms washed it out -- literally. I am glad the space is here and it is so close to me.

I do have to admit that I am a little disappointed. After visiting the wetlands center in Clayton County – I had hoped that this space would be similar to that. A looping pathway would have made all the difference. Five million dollars was spent to get a half-mile mulch path, a few bat houses, a couple observation decks, and a gravel parking lot. Most of the lay of the land was not changed (from what I can see) – perhaps the pond areas were sculpted a little and some large rocks were placed to create the low-level dams to create pool areas across the property. From what I understand there will be more trees planted later this year – willows.

But – hey – why should I complain? It is a nice spot to go take photos and it is so darn close to me it makes it very easy!

I have been there before – after the last attempt at “building” the wetlands. I have seen egrets and hawks. The place was fine before anyone did anything. I think the developers realized that and changed their plans to fall in line with what nature was doing on its own.

Last week I watched a blue heron fly by. The big activity seemed to be butterflies and some frogs. About this time last year, there were pink masses of blooming meadow beauty there. I don’t see them now. It may be a little bit early. There is some goldenrod around. I saw a notice that there was a bird watching activity there this morning. I do hope there are events there to draw people to find it.
The sanctuary is located on Old Senoia Road in Fayetteville, between Harp and Redwine. If you turn onto Old Senoia near the rec. department ball fields (on Redwine) you will drive to the three-way stop at Hawn Road and continue through it. On your left, just past a couple homes you see a gravel drive -- skip this one (the gate there is always locked) and take the second gravel entrance. You have found it! It is open from dawn to dusk daily and there is no fee. If you do go there – and like it a lot – you might consider making a donation to The Southern Conservation Land Trust.

Of course I took some photos. I have been playing around with a new bit of software – a blog on it will come soon. The photo on the blog was taken in color and then manipulated with the software to give it an aged appearance. This is one of the bat boxes at Sams Lake. The photo was taken with one of my ancient Nikon lenses using the converter ring to adapt the lens to my new Canon camera.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stool up for bid!

I was asked to create a chair for the upcoming Christian City "Chair-ity" event December 1 at the Hollingsworth House in Fayetteville. Proceeds from the auction of the chairs created by area artists will go to help the children who live at Christian City have a great Christmas.

Check out the website for the event

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall Spiders

It is fall and time to think about getting out and taking some great photos of spiders! Yep, spiders are easy to find and make great subjects this time of year.

When you are up and out early in the morning take a look at the webs on the power lines along the road. The sunlight hitting them full of dew make them sparkle and easy to see. Later in the day it is as if they disappear.

Look out in your own garden early in the morning, when the dew is still there, you will see what appears to be a little hammock cities of webs. I have a few of these on the bushes near the house and many of them stretched between the old stems in the yarrow patch.

Even stepping out of the door can be a haunted mansion experience. One night my son came home from work and said, “Be careful when you go outside in the morning, there is a huge spider web all across the garage door.” The next morning, by the time I went out, the spider was packing in the last bits of that web. It was the type of spider that puts up a new one each night and takes it all in when morning comes.

A spider that you see often this time of year is the Black and Yellow Argiope. The photo on the blog today is of one of these spiders. I took this photo September, 2007. The spiders you see in the web are the females. They are doing all the work – building webs, trapping food, etc. The males travel around from one female’s web to another. They seem to try to play beat the clock this time of year – they are in a race to get the egg sac in place before they die. The egg sac is bulb shaped and the color of a brown paper bag. I have found these sacs in the yard before hanging on the butterfly bushes. These spiders are so easily spotted because of their large web with a zig-zag pattern in the center – plus by now that spider is pretty large! These make good subjects since they are a good size, stay fairly still, and don’t run off when they see you coming.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nikon to Canon

I want to start out by saying thanks to Joe for the tip on this wonderful accessory!

My film camera is a Nikon. I almost say “was a” – but it is still around – still in the house – just not in use. The last time I took it out of the bag I noticed that the door on the back of the camera (remember where you would have to put film in?) would not stay closed. Some little spring or something – over time – must have broken.

So now what? I have this old, but great, camera that won’t function unless I get someone to fix it. And – even if I get someone to fix it – will I really ever use it? I doubt it.

So now what – again? I have some lenses that I really liked. The photos I got with them (and that camera) are wonderful. Since I am choosing to not repair the camera – what will I do with these lenses? At the time they were purchased, they were expensive – but now? Some would say – why didn’t you buy a digital Nikon instead of the Canon – then those lenses could have been used. Well, I didn’t – so that is why.

But guess what – I can use those Nikon lenses on my new digital Canon! A couple weeks ago I purchased an adapter ring on ebay that would fit to the Nikon lens and allow it to fit to the Canon body. The price was very low – under $20 for the product and shipping. This ring has no way to electronically have the camera and lens “talk.” This is as manual as using a Lensbaby. I have seen these adapter rings with electrodes fixed to them to perhaps allow the lens to be controlled by the camera settings. And, of course, these are pricier than the complete manual version.

I am completely satisfied with my manual version of the adapter ring. If you don’t trust ebay and usually stay away from there – Adorama has one for $50. The product at Adorama has an average 5-star rating. The website is

Now – you guys who switched from Canon to Nikon might be thinking – what about us? Well, from what I can tell in my quickie search this morning – I don’t think so. Going from Nikon to Canon is moving up in size – going from Canon to Nikon would be moving down and that is sometimes not as easy or practical to do.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Nifty Fifty

A few weeks ago a friend asked about a good low-light lens. My reply was the Canon 50mm 1.4. I knew she had a Canon camera like mine and I also knew how I loved using that lens in a low light situation. That was the lens I took to the aquarium with me and got excellent shots – even in the very dimly lit areas.

Since I recommended the lens to her – I was reminded how little I have used it lately. I have been busy with the Lensbaby and with my good all-round Tamron zoom. But that little 50mm had been neglected and left in the bag for a long time.

Purposely when I drove to Zebulon last week I put that lens on the camera and took with me no other. I loved the shots I got at that cemetery. As I was looking at the shots on the computer I thought, “Why don’t I use this lens more often?”

I think the reason why is that it is known as a ‘portrait lens.’ It is good to take great portrait shots – but it can take great shots of anything. Last night, at 7pm, I took Rosebud outside. She acted like she needed to go out – but all she did was sit in the grass, looking around the yard, enjoying the cool evening. As soon as I saw her sitting there, I ran in to get the camera – it still had the 50 on it from last week.

As I sat there in the grass with her – I was loving the shots I got. Rosebud is a reluctant subject. She will rarely, if ever, make eye contact with the lens. I have an old photo I took of her about 5 years ago that I love. I had not been able to get another I like as much as that one until last night.

Around 7pm – the light is going fast, especially on a cloudy day. The lens was great – no flash – no tripod needed. The depth of field for Rosebud’s portraits was great.

I plan to keep using this lens a lot in the coming weeks. If you have small kids or pets that are hard to catch and you need a fast lens for them or for mood shots in certain light – look at the 50mm 1.4. I know they came out with a 1.2 – but oh my gosh at the price on that one! I never used the 1.8 – so I don’t know the comparison with mine – but the price on the 1.8 is very tempting. A couple days ago when one of my regular photo magazines came in the mail, as I flipped through it I noticed a Sigma version of this lens available for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Last week I drove to Zebulon to drop off my photos for the Slow Exposures show. The show begins this Friday (September 19). I will be there in the afternoon on the 19th and 20th. The show is in Concord in the R.F. Strickland Building. This is a big show in a small town. I kind of like that.

Zebulon is a nice town. When I told my daughter I had been to Zebulon that day – she said that sounded like a different planet. Well, when you compare Zebulon with Atlanta; it is like a different planet. The little town is vibrant and has some interesting shops. The bookstore, A Novel Experience, was my destination for drop off of the photos. This bookstore is wonderful. It is large and full of many interesting things besides new and used books. I made a mental note that I do need to return to Zebulon with my camera and some time.

I did take my camera with me on the short trip to Zebulon. Not knowing exactly how long it would take for me to arrive, I did not stop on the way there. As I passed something of interest, I decided to stop on the way home – if I did not get lost on the way back!

Hollonville is another small town that I passed through on the way. Just south of this town I spotted an interesting old cemetery on the side of the road. There was a small place to pull off the road and that was it, nothing more. A peach orchard was just through some trees. On the way back to Fayette, I stopped here to take some photos.

In the cemetery, and the closest to the road, were false crypts. These are a coffin size and like structures that are built on the grave. The body is below ground – hence the name “false” crypt. These were very interesting and rather primitive looking. The slabs of stone were crudely cut and just laying on top. At the back of a couple of the false crypt were what appeared to be a tombstone built in to that side of the crypts. I have seen false crypts before – but none that looked like these. Of course I took photos. The lighting at the time was not what I wanted – and of course I want to go back.

There are many places like Zebulon and the cemetery on the side of the road – it just takes a little time to get out there and find them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Little Yellow Spider

Sometimes you aren’t interested in taking a photo at all. Some days you can’t find anything that is interesting. One day you stop to think and realize it has been days – maybe weeks since you took a photo of anything. Or maybe you have been taking photos but you don’t care for any of them.

This has been my problem lately. I have been what you call, uninspired.

There have been times I could not wait to get out the door with the camera and back to the computer to see the photos. I would stand in my yard with so many options I did not know which way to go first.

My dry spell, rut, photographer’s block was no fun and I think – I hope – thank goodness – it is over. Thanks to a little yellow crab spider I spent quite a bit of time taking photos last night. Monday evening – after dinner – it is get the trash to the street for the next day time at my house. As I moved one of the large garbage cans I spied this little brilliant yellow crab spider. I think it must have come from the Brown-Eyed Susan flowers near the area. The color of the spider seemed to match the petals of the flowers fairly closely.

As I watched it I thought I needed to go get the camera. So I did. I put on the 10x close up diopter for some “super” macro action. For the next 20 minutes I took photos and chased the spider around the top of the can. At one point it was hanging suspended by a web thread. I had the camera on continuous shooting to take a series of it as it twisted and turned. The shots are not completely sharp as expected since the spider was in constant motion. After a short while – it swung over to my tripod! Had it shot the web over to the tripod like Spiderman swinging from building to building? As it made its way onto my camera strap – I found a small stick to lift it back to the garbage can. I took a few more photos and then decided I had traumatized this spider enough. But you know – that little spider never seemed to be afraid of me or my camera – it was incredibly feisty!

I think I had been in a rut because I have such a desire to always look for those photos that are different. There are only so many “butterfly on the bush” photos you can take. The little yellow spider was fun, unexpected, and provided me with some really different abstract images.

With this latest inspiration – I plan to go on a spider hunt in the backyard soon. Because I am such a reluctant gardener – there are plenty weeds and great places for spiders to live. I am sure I have quite a few.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fall Photo Shows

On Friday I received notice in the mail that three of the four submissions I sent in for the Arts Clayton Annual Juried Photography Competition made it through the jury process. So now I have three more photos to have framed for a show! I have been in need of a lot of framing lately! It is not a problem – and if it was a problem – it is a good one.

This Saturday, September 6, there is a launch party for Arts & Expressions magazine at Dogwood Gallery in Tyrone. The magazine is in its 6th year and is coming out with a whole new look. It is very exciting. A couple of my photos are featured in the “Gifts by Hand” section of the magazine – so I will definitely be there and the photos featured in the magazine will be hanging for the party. If you are in the area, come to the party, it starts at 6:30.

Greg Blair at Dogwood has been taking care of all of my framing needs lately. He is great to deal with and I love that gallery! It is quite a jewel to have in Fayette County. Check out the website

The next event after the magazine launch party is Slow Exposures in Concord. I will be at the show September 19 & 20. Greg has just about completed the framing for this show for me. I have to take the framed pieces to Zebulon prior to September 13. I am very excited about Slow Exposures. Slow Exposures is open September 19-21 and 26-28.

And now, the new competition comes after Slow Exposures at the Arts Clayton Gallery in Jonesboro. This show will hang at the gallery for the month of October. The opening reception for this show is October 2. For more information on Arts Clayton and the show, you can visit their website at

This is the first year I submitted images for both Slow Exposures and Arts Clayton. I am pleased to have made it into both shows.

In November I will be participating in a joint show with a local potter. We have talked about a doing a show together for quite a while – and now it is going to happen. The dates for this show are November 16-18 and at will be at The Hollingsworth House in Fayetteville. When the details are worked out and the website for the show is up and running – I will provide more information here.

In addition to all of these shows, this week I begin the fall session of digital photography and photo editing classes at the Fayette Senior Services Center. These classes end the week before Thanksgiving.

It is going to be a busy fall!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Michael C. Carlos Museum

This past week I visited the Michael C. Carlos Museum on the Emory University campus in Atlanta. Not many people know of this museum. It has been around for quite a while. The collections at Emory date back to 1876. I am not sure when it became known by the current name. The building that houses the museum now was designed by Michael Graves. The photography policy here is no flash and none in the traveling exhibit. In the regular collection found on the first floor, I got some pretty good shots. The only lens I took with me was the Lensbaby. You can tell by looking at this photo the left side has that "Lensbaby slur." Next time I visit I think I will take my 50mm 1.4, it is good in low light and, well, no flash means low light. I did bump up my ISO to 800 since I was handholding and wanted to minimize handshake. The lighting is dim in the exhibit halls.

The Carlos has a spectacular collection of Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, African, Asian, and Ancient American art. The museum also hosts educational programs and traveling exhibits. One traveling exhibit that will get the Carlos some notice is the latest King Tut exhibition that will make its North American debut in Atlanta this November. The Tut exhibit will not be at the Carlos – the Carlos is too small to host such an event on property. The Carlos is the host museum – but the exhibit will be at the Atlanta Civic Center. At the Carlos you will find a photographic exhibition in connection with the Tut exhibit.

The website for the Carlos Museum is and the website for detailed information on the Tut exhibit is

If anyone reading is interested – tomorrow – August 24 – I will be at The Veranda Inn B&B in Senoia at 3pm for a program on preserving, duplicating, and restoring old photos.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Proper Camera Settings

When you are taking photos are you so concerned with the settings that you can sometimes miss the shot or lose the idea?


Some photographers are very technical – they have a need to know all the settings to use when and where and then on top of that – they want to know why!  What do I say to that?  I say why worry about the "proper settings" and spend a little time on a spectacular composition!


When someone asks me "What settings do I use for (fill in the blank)?"  Well – it is not such an easy answer.  First, and the toughest part, is that I have no idea what their vision of the photo is.  Their vision and idea that they wish to capture makes all the difference in how to approach settings for a certain shot.  Add to this that usually the person asking me that wants a certain fstop and shutter speed that should deliver to them the perfect photo for the place, time, and idea.


I can't tell you.  I can't even tell me – I take test shots to get a sense of what I have and where I am going with the photo at that moment. 


Outdoors – let's think – the lighting varies from hour to hour and day to day.  If you have a little cloud cover at noon on Wednesday your settings will be different than a cloudless sky on Friday.  In July, 4 p.m. is very different than 4 p.m. in November.  Indoors it is a little easier – but it depends heavily on the lighting you have.  If I have no clue of the lighting in a space – how can I give a ballpark?


Don't be afraid to take the time to test shoot a couple photos.  Look at the photo you get.  Do you want lighter?  Should it be darker?  Is your subject in focus the way you want it.  Now I know that little screen on the back of the camera can lie to you.  Mine has lied to me plenty of times.  I think I have something wonderful and then after I see it on the computer I realize that it is not so nice.  If it is just an issue of the exposure being off – that is an easy fix with software.  If my depth of field is not the best – then I just have to plan a reshoot.  It is funny that seems like a major inconvenience now.  But just think about when we all worked with film.  You would have to reshoot something – but you would not figure that out as quickly as you can now.  Now – if you have your computer handy – you can shoot something over right away.


OK – so what about the times you don't want to have to have a reshoot.  What about when you won't get that chance.  My suggestion is that if it is very important and you are very leery of you manual setting abilities – go for a more auto-type setting – like "portrait," "landscape," or whatever.  The whole camera is your tool – all of the settings – even those dreaded "autoish" ones.  People who look down their noses at someone who does not always shoot manual are – well – silly!   A good cheat for going manual when you are unsure is to first put the camera on auto -- even take a shot.  Notice the shutter speed and fstop the camera uses.  Then review the image on the screen.  If you want to do something different (and you probably will), use a more manual setting to tweak the auto a bit. 


Don't be afraid to experiment when you have the opportunity – that is learning.  If you have a time crunch or and once in a while shot – don't worry about going more auto.  Always review your EXIF data to see the settings for those photos you love.  Remember them, if for nothing other than a starting place, for when you are presented with a similar situation.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Slow Exposures

I made it in to the Slow Exposures photo exhibition! I am very excited. This was the first time I had submitted images to the jury for this show. The letter I received told of an overwhelming response to the call for entries. Photographers from across the nation submitted 601 images to the jury and 71 were chosen to hang in the show. Two of my eight entries will be hanging.

The show opens Friday, September 19 at noon. The opening reception is Saturday, September 20 at 1:30pm. The Slow Exposures Ball is Saturday, September 20 at 7:00pm. Tickets are $50 per person and available by calling 770-567-3600. In addition to the framed pieces priced to sell, this year the show is offering print sales. You can order the print and it will be shipped to you by the artist. Also available, for the second year, is a book of the photos in the show.

In addition to these events – there are many other happenings associated with Slow Exposures. For full details and the story behind the show you can check out their website

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Timing Can Be Everything

Like most everyone else I have been watching the Olympics this week. The opening ceremonies were amazing and a photographer’s dream. Can you imagine having that as subject matter?

Watching all of the other events – while watching the sport action – I am also noticing the camera gear in the background. At one event (gymnastics I think) there was such a sea of cameras – it seemed the scene went on and on for quite a bit of space. The photographers are packed in tightly together too! It makes me wonder how they can breathe being so close to each other. I guess the photographers are not claustrophobic. Or, if they are, they are dealing with it in order to get the one great shot.

How can one person come away with that one great shot when so many are going after the same thing at the same time? There are certain athletes that are big names and draws for the cameras. You know when they are in action they have so many lenses focused on them – and the continuous shooting modes – these guys must be burning through the memory cards!

When you are taking photos with a group, it can be difficult to get a photo of “your own.” I have listened to the podcast of Brooks Jensen tell about submissions they receive at Lenswork. He says with many of the portfolios received, he can tell whose workshop someone has been to. So how do you stand out, be unique, not look like everyone else?

Part of it is timing. There is always that one person at an event that snaps at just the right moment to capture the split second something happens. It could be a news event – like when Jack Ruby shot Oswald. I have heard interviews with a photographer who took the photo just after that famous photo was taken. He told of how his friend, colleague, competitor, had shot his photo just a split second before he did. Of course the photo timing and the angle made that one photo famous. Many of the photos that stand out in our minds seem to come from big news events. These images make the memories of the events for us.

For me – the images of the Olympics are pretty predicable. The gymnast in poses and on an apparatus, the cyclists on bikes, boxers, runners, etc; all of these people are doing what is expected. Last night I was watching the swimming. Of course I saw Michael Phelps win another race. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of Phelps swimming, warming up, stretching, etc. – doing what is usual and expected.

Today I saw a photo of Phelps that is very unexpected and I find it interesting. An AP photographer by the name of Itsuo Inouye captured the moment when Phelps finished the race. In this particular race, the 200 meter butterfly, he had experienced a problem with his goggles. They were filling with water and he was unable to see. The photo taken after the race tells the story of his feeling for those goggles! Timing on that photo was everything. The goggles are caught in flight. I first saw this photo on The Drudge Report this morning. I have searched to find the photographer to give proper credit.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sunflower Buds

Last spring I planted several large pots with sunflower seeds. I had a heck of a time getting the squirrels and chipmunks to leave the sprouting seeds alone. There are a few sunflowers getting close to blooming. There is one on the deck that is the largest and it is blooming now.

Last weekend I took quite a few photos of the bud as it was just opening. These are some of my favorite photos of the summer. One of the members of the photo club made a comment on Flickr that the photos showed movement. They do! When I look at them I see a crab's mouth parts moving as it gathers tiny bits of food.

The challenge with these photos and anything outside this time of year is the humidity. As soon as I stepped out onto the deck to take the photos – my camera fogged up. I used a microfiber cloth to clear the lens and snapped a couple as the lens was fogging over again. Those are kind of interesting.

The best thing to do – and I did this then and on another morning – is to set up the camera on the tripod or set it on a table and leave it for a few minutes. The other morning, I came back into the house to get a glass of water. After a little while, you return and the lens is clear. On a super humid day the cool camera lens will have the moisture in the air condense on it. Once the lens and camera comes to the same temperature as the outdoors, the condensation ends.

I am going to send one of the sunflower bud photos in to go with this blog. If you don't see a photo with the blog, check back later to look for it. I think flower buds make as good (sometime better) photos than the flowers!

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