Dec 24, 2009

Snow in Terrell

Christmas Eve snow in Texas... who would have thought?

Come over to the Tribune for a slideshow, or check out (and become a fan of) the Tribune's Facebook page...

Some snow ducks?

Slowish shutter make it look like a blizzard!

Y'all be careful out there...

don j.

Dec 23, 2009


Driving westward toward home in the evenings has given me a wonderful light show over the last couple of days. Today I finally stopped on the side of the road to take a snapshot. This is the Sigma 14mm on the 40D.


This lens has a tendency for lens flare, but I did not take the time to remove the little dot on this one.... it is just part of the deal I suppose.

In case I do not post between now and then, blessed, happy, safe and meaningful Christmas and holiday season to you.

happy shooting,

don j.

Dec 20, 2009

It is a season of lights... have fun with them!

Christmas lights can be a lot of fun as a photographer...

One of my favorite things to do is to make them fuzzy little highlights in the foreground or background of a photo. All of these photos involve Christmas lights hung on the side balconies of Terrell ISD's Performing Arts Center.

Opening up to maximum aperture (in this case, f2.8), will do the trick, especially if the lights are a good distance from the subject. Using longer telephotos make the background look closer, and the out-of-focus effect will be great, like this one from backstage, behind the elves. (just wish I could get some smiling parents in there too... could not find the angle.)
Canon 40D, 120mm at f2.8, 1/125, iso800

For a really cool effect, put the lights between yourself and your subject. Up on the balconies, you might think that the lights are in the way...
Canon 40D, 115mm at f2.8, 1/200, iso80

... But if you focus through the lights to your subject, the lights turn in to little dots of translucent light over your subject.
Canon 40D, 115mm at f2.8, 1/200, iso800

With some careful composition, you can find a point of interest and frame it with the lights. We cropped this one down a bit for the newspaper, but the group of musicians in the center becomes the focal point when the rest are obstructed by dots.
Canon 40D, 200mm at f2.8, 1/160, iso800

You can also use lights on a tree to frame one side of a photo with lights... this one with colorful lights was on the far edge of the stage.
Canon 40D, 200mm at f2.8, 1/125, iso800

To make it a really cool photo, you also have to catch a great moment, which didn't happen with the shots above.... my favorite shot from the TISD Christmas programs was during a choir concert... alas, no lights. Poor girl almost got slapped in the face.
Canon 5D, 200mm at f2.8, 1/200, iso 1000

Have fun playing with the lights....

don j.

Dec 17, 2009

Quick Pic - Santa

Elementary kids went to see Santa today, and I was very happy to see that this particular Santa was the real deal. The character lines on his face and wonderfully real white beard and hair.. it was all good.


don j.

Dec 13, 2009

Quick Pics - Snowball Fight

Kids don't get to play in the snow much around here, so even if the snow is some slimy fake stuff, the smiles, fun and energy that it brings is something to behold.

Photographically, I was pretty happy to get anything interesting. I was doing quick family head shots at the indoor portion of the event..
snowball blog-22 when it was time for the kids to go play in the "snow," I got to go play too.

Without seeing how the snow area was lit, I was tempted to take a flash, but decided to go with the 5D/50mm f1.4 combo. For shooting in the dark, the 5D not very good to focus with. Add to that the very narrow depth of field while shooting at f1.4-f2, and shooting at slow shutter speeds in the dark, you just have to have fun with it.

This was my favorite shot...
snowball blog-3

Lit reindeer statue = giant softbox
snowball blog-12

I did a lot of random shooting with the camera held down at kid height while looking out for flying snowballs (that stuff cannot be good for electronics).
snowball blog-11

Light was provided by a halogen work light set similar to this, and the various Christmas lights. Up close it was bright, hard light over slippery ground.
snowball blog-10

While close to the lights, shutter speed was high enough to catch flying snow.
snowball blog-9

A little further away, slower shutter made for dramatic action...
snowball blog-1

snowball blog-13

Post processing was fun too.. all done in Lightroom.

Happy December Everybody,

I am working on new blog concepts for 2010... we will see where that goes!

Happy Shooting,

Don J

Nov 27, 2009

SWCC Basketball

I was a little bit worried about the lighting situation at Southwest Christian College when I left with Cliff to go get a shot of the SWCC homecoming game vs. Mountain View College. I had only seen the gym from the outside, and it is a pretty old building.

The pleasant surprise was that there is a large row of windows along the top of each side, and it was a 2:30 p.m. tip-off. It was a beautiful mix of hard light from the windows and soft light in the shadow areas.

Even better was the game action. If you are within driving distance to Terrell and you want to see some great basketball from up close, these guys put on a show. You won't be disappointed, and the atmosphere is just the opposite of the over-commercialized college sports in the big schools.

I only took the 40D and a 14mm f2.8 and 50mm f1.4 lenses with me, knowing that no matter what the light would be like, I could sit under the basket and get a shot. I only had about 20 minutes to get it before going to another assignment.

This is a better shot of the atmosphere of the gym, with some adjustment of the drama in Lightroom..

Have a wonderful weekend,

Don J.

Nov 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Quick Links

Happy and meaningful Thanksgiving to all of you out in web-land..

If you are looking for some photos to make your day better, check out these at the big picture blog.

And for a reality check on what it takes to fight for freedom, these will do the trick. Do NOT click through to view #28 if you are anywhere close to mealtime.

It is gift giving season, so here is a good list of photo goodies to choose from.

I only have eyes for one Christmas present... all of you may contact my wife to donate to the cause in lieu of any other gifts and I will feel just as loved. Really.

Back to Thanksgiving and those who choose to fight for us... In Terrell we have lost two courageous young men in the last month fighting in Afghanistan. Cultures throughout history have celebrated and rallied around our warriors, and it makes me proud to see how our community turns out to honor them here. Here is a slideshow of images from today as Army Spc. Joseph "GI Joe" Lewis returned home. Please keep his family in your prayers and thoughts during this holiday season.

Don J.

Nov 15, 2009

Catching Up- Volleyball

Working at the Terrell Tribune has given me a whole new set of challenges and daily photo opportunities, but I was back in familiar territory to shoot the Tigers volleyball team when they played Forney for a playoff berth in the Kaufman gym.

Luckily, the "upper room" was open. This second floor window on the gym gives a great vantage point for unique shots...



In my two earlier volleyball outings this year, I did not come up with any shots that I really liked, but this game was different. Timing felt better, the competition was great, and it was good to see the Lady Tigers playing so well together. They really put a great effort and great teamwork on the floor.





To purchase prints... head over here.

Have a great week, and Happy Shooting!

don j.

Nov 2, 2009

One More...

Another shot from Saturday night... this one got comments on Facebook and flickr, so enjoy...


don j

Oct 31, 2009

Quick Pics - Costumes

My church hosts an annual "Fall Festival" event as a safe, indoor environment with lots of games, candy, food, games, candy, fun, and candy.

Did I mention the candy?

I volunteered to do a photo booth... surprise!

Since I don't get to try new lighting styles often enough, this was the perfect opportunity.

Karl came to assist, which was awesome, because we had a great turnout. With over 130 subjects (590 photos) in two hours, it was a workout.

The lighting idea was an edgy sort of look. The lighting was an Alien Bee B800 in a 48" Octabox above and directly in front of the subjects, and one AB 1600 on each side about 3' behind the subjects with their standard reflectors.

I used black foamcore as flags to keep the light off of the background.

The results... a lot of fun that worked for almost every costume. Not so great for group shots, but the big soft box was very forgiving in the front to make the shots workable, as with the Scooby Doo gang...

The results...

The Spiderman franchise seems to be doing well.. there were several varieties, but you can't go wrong with these sneakers...

Mario was there in search of his princess..

And there were lots of princesses to choose from... Pink hair takes the cake though.

Cute as a bug was never so true... bug babies were everywhere!


There was quite a large contingent of Jedi types... along with a few from the dark side. Inevitably, there was conflict.

Home-made Palace Guard outfit was cool... with the hat he was about 6' tall.

It was definitely a super-hero hot spot...

I'm thinking this wasn't a costume so much as just an excuse to get the skateboard out...

Cheerleading was popular..

Bewitching witches aplenty..

Animals from the wild...

and the not so wild.

Humor may change as we get older, but whoopie cushion humor is funny no matter your age...

Some parents got clever in the costume department.

And one was just fun to watch walk around...

I hope everyone had a fun and safe evening...

Happy shooting everyone.

Don J.

Oct 28, 2009

Marching Band...

I am a bit of a band geek myself (drummer if you must know) so photographing the band is a lot of fun when I'm at football games.

Last Friday found me in Kennedale, TX, and they have good lights in their stadium...

There was a great glow in the sky as the band filled the stands and started to prepare for the game...

While in the stands, I could use lower ISOs (800 and 1000) with IS lenses to get much better sharpness and color than when I shoot at 3200...


Then came UIL marching contest... in the rain.

Maybe I should review the Kata rain cover. It worked great but has a few quirks.

Warming up...

Drip, Drip, Drip

Such a dreary day... so I decided to have some fun in Lightroom. This is a slightly modified version of one of the "300 Look" presets from the Lightroom Killer Tips blog.

Shooting in the rain definitely gives you rare shots.. other than the folks who were making videos of the competition to sell, I did not see any cameras out there.

Don't be afraid of the rain, just be careful.

Happy Shooting,

Don J.