Aug 24, 2009


From a fun family photo shoot this evening... a grandfather and a grandson, both very photogenic. Actually the whole family is very photogenic, but these two pictures grabbed me in the quick run through in Lightroom when I got home.

For lighting information, go to That has been my biggest resource for learning to see and control light over the last two years. Some photographers get phenomenal shots with available light or using only reflectors and that is great too. Sometimes - especially in settings with kids or groups - finding and manipulating the available light is just mind numbing. For that, it is worth it to learn to use the flashes.

This one was shot indoors with a JTL 200ws monolight camera left and a Canon 580exII flash camera right, both shooting into 43" umbrellas.

And this one was outside, with the Canon 580exII in the umbrella to camera right just adding to the existing light.

don j.

Aug 22, 2009

Quick Pic - Touchdown...

Sometimes the idea is better than the result...

I set up at the goal line and waited for a touchdown, with the intent of showing the goal line marker in the shot. As if on cue, two plays later was the perfect opportunity. Of course, I found a way to focus on the goal marker instead of the player scoring.

Some post-processing fun in Adobe Lightroom makes it a little bit more interesting...

Happy Weekend Shooting, everybody...

don j

Aug 21, 2009

Quick Pics - Drag Racing

I am a big fan of Mark J Rebilas' race photography (and a gearhead at heart) so I have been eager to get out to the new Dallas Raceway in Crandall, TX to watch some racing and take some pictures.

The track website lists Prestage Photo as a sponsor, so I guess that must be these guys... I like the golf-cart/photo stand.
Drag Racing

Of course I was a bit jealous too, because without access like that, shooting from up close got a nice shot of the concrete wall...
Drag Racing

From the other side, a little panning with slower shutter speeds makes it more interesting, but still the wall is intrusive.
Drag Racing

Up higher in the stands gave a great view of another beautiful Texas sunset... here with a 14mm on the 5D for a super-wide view.
Drag Racing

And here with the 70-200 on the 40D for a tighter shot and more compressed background.
Drag Racing

I did not find a good spot for shooting the starting line... the wall and ugly backgrounds conspired against me... The racers were quite impressive nonetheless, pulling the front wheels off the ground and launching hard.
Drag Racing

One of the Moser Racing entries held his wheelie well down the track..
Drag Racing
...then came down hard with a shower of sparks from beneath the car. The car had drifted over the center line, which must have been a bit of a rush considering there is no directional control with the front wheels off the ground.
drag racing

When the racing had to be suspended for some track clean-up, it was time for a walk through the pits. It is nice to have access to walk around and talk to the racers, and to look at the cars.

Little Red Corvette..
Drag Racing

More slow-shutter panning as cars moved through the pits...
Drag Racing

There were lights coming from all over making interesting shadows and light patterns on the cars...
Drag Racing

Playing with the Canon 50mm lens and short depth-of-field is always fun...
Drag Racing
Drag Racing

And in the pits you can get some unique angles that you just don't get to see every day...
Drag Racing

With that, it was time to come home (gotta sleep sometime!). I would not spend $20 every weekend to shoot from the stands, but it is definitely worth the trip occasionally for the sights, sounds (bring your earplugs) and fun of fast cars and good folks.

Have a great weeked... and go make some pictures!

don j.

Quick Pic - Football Begins

Tonight kicked off (pun intended) the 2009 football season for me. While shooting a scrimmage is not as fun to as a game, it was good to get some practice. Yes, it takes practice!

Here is a quick pic to start the year off.. I could not ask for a more beautiful backdrop than this sunset. Now I wish I had worked it for more shots.
Are you Ready?-1

Happy Shooting,

don j.

Aug 18, 2009

Photo Fun on the Web

It is always interesting to me to find out what what other people see in one of my pictures, especially the artsy abstractish stuff... For this shot from downtown Dallas, a fellow flickr member thought it looked like the one bolt was holding down the city.
ReunionDemo August 11-108

My thought at the time was of adding the little bolt to the skyline of large buildings, so you really never know what will come through to another person's eyes.

Chris at ObviousInsight mentioned an upcoming National Geographic photography workshop in the Dallas area... I hope I can make it, but my lovely wife's birthday is on the 9th.

Chase Jarvis is a top-shelf photographer and has also made an art form of combining business with creative arts. If you haven't seen this already, take the time to get an interesting take on where media is headed, and for a good kick in the creative part of your brain.

Chase Jarvis Keynote Address hosted by Art Directors Club of Denver from R. J. Kern on Vimeo.

I am very excited about attending the Kelby Training Photoshop "Down and Dirty Tricks" training on Friday...

Football season starts this week for me... It will be great to shoot while there is still daylight.

Have a great rest of the week, and be sure to make some good pictures.

With slow shutter speeds, you can get some interesting effects quite by accident. In this case, the roof supports at the Reunion Arena demolition almost disappear, and it looks like the structure is floating..

ReunionDemo August 11-105

Happy Shooting everyone...

don j.

Aug 16, 2009

A note about White Balance

Every different light source emits a different "color" of light. Sunlight, Fluorescent, Sodium vapor, LED, shade, sunset.. each has its own color temperature. Our eyes are good at interpreting the light and deciding what things really look like, but cameras are not as adept.

If you have noticed that some of your photos have occasional color issues, this is probably your culprit. Your brain can still make sense of the picture, but it does not look like reality.

When you start looking at the difference side-by-side , it really starts to make sense. This is where people start saying "wow, your camera takes good pictures," and one of the things you can do to help your photos stand out.

Like everything else about making good pictures, it takes knowledge, preparation, and a bit of work make it happen.... but it is well worth the effort.

Two quick notes...
First, to do this in the camera (quicker than going through and doing it in the computer after the fact) you have to leave the "Auto" modes behind. Shooting in Program, Av, Tv, or Manual will give you access to your camera's different white balance presets.

Second, you have to think about this every time you change locations and lighting conditions.

To demonstrate...
white balance blog

This event was lit with standard stage lights. These (and standard house bulbs) are "Tungsten" lights, named for the metal that makes up the little glowing filament inside.

As you can see from the first picture, the camera got pretty close, but his shirt is not white. The second is changed to the "Tungsten" white balance. In the camera, this would be the proper setting for this scene. I think it looks much better.

The third is using Lightroom to set the white balance using his shirt as a white point. This would be a similar result to adjusting a .jpg photo after taking the picture in Auto mode.

And the last is what the result would be if I had mistakenly left the camera on "Daylight" mode.

Auto is fine if you want snapshots... of course, if you want to make your photos better, start thinking about the white balance of your scene and adjust accordingly.

Check out your manual for how to adjust to the white balance presets, and then go a little crazy and try some Custom white balances... I will get into that later as well.

One more thing.. Adjusting this photo after the fact was possible because I shot it in Raw format. In jpeg format, there is much less room for adjustment later, so it is even more crucial to get the white balance right in the camera.

Happy Shooting,

Don J.

Aug 10, 2009

Quick Pics - A Plethora of Pies

Yes, I would say we had a plethora of pies at the first ever FBC Kaufman pie auction to kick off our church's international mission emphasis.

I am consistently amazed by my fellow believers' generosity to local, national and international missions, aid and relief projects, and this was no exception. The total amount raised was in the $5000 range, averaging over $140 per pie. And worth every penny.

My sincere gratitude to W and A Roberts to gave us an excellent buttermilk pie after outbidding my wife... no diet this week!

Here are some of my favorite pics from the auction...

Apple Pie... I can almost smell it now!
FBCK PieAuction-111

A little pre-auction pie tasting made picking a pie even more difficult.
FBCK PieAuction-113

A lively auctioneer kept it interesting...
FBCK PieAuction-126

...and exciting.
FBCK PieAuction-127

Can you resist it?
FBCK PieAuction-125

CitizenBezner was proud of his wife's blueberry pie.
FBCK PieAuction-115

Out comes the wallet...
FBCK PieAuction-121

Happy Shooting

don j

Aug 5, 2009

New Toy Time... Gorillapod, Extension Tubes, Lensbaby

My wife kindly went to a camera store and bought me a lightweight knockoff of a Gorillapod, knowing that I would go pick out the one I really wanted. Very cool... today I made it over to Competitive Camera and walked out with a few new toys. Happy Birthday to me!

The real Gorillapod is very cool, and I think it will allow me to leave the "real" tripod at home on an international trip next month. I will review that later...

Gift #2 is a set of Kenko extension tubes... I enjoy Macro photography, but I do not do enough of it to justify a true macro lens. Extension tubes go between your lens and the camera body, allowing any lens to focus closer and become more macro-capable. You do lose some light, but not any sharpness as with a "close up" filter that screws on the front of the lens.

There are three extensions in the kit, 12mm, 20mm and 32mm... and you can use them in combination.

Quick test (full review after some use) says this is good!

There is very little downside to these. My quick test pics showed a great deal of potential, and this is very user-friendly.

For a quick comparison, here is an un-cropped shot with the Canon 5D, 24-70mm lens, set at 70mm.
Extension Tube Blog-102
Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f2.8, 1/60, iso 1000

(The lack of sharpness is because I was handholding these... yes, I could have used the Gorillapod!)

With all three extension tubes stacked on, (64mm of extension) I could barely fit the "F" into the frame.
Extension Tube Blog-101
Canon 5D, 24-70mm, extension tubes, f2.8, 1/5, iso 1600

Notice the exposure change... even bumping the iso up to 1600, the shutter still dropped to 1/5.

Also, the depth of field is very shallow at f2.8, but at least with this method, you can control the aperture and get some more depth if the light is available.

Present #3... Lensbaby Composer...
I have been wanting to try one of these for a while... a cheaper alternative to the tilt/shift lenses. It is difficult to explain the effect. Essentially, you get to pick a very specific point of focus in the frame, and everything else is wildly out of focus.

My quick take... it is painful for quick shooting. Manually changing aperture with the "aperture disks" and manual focus means you have to be very deliberate. It will take some time to really experiment and get the most out of this thing. If I keep it that long... tbd. I do want to try this at some football games, so who knows.

Here are some shots from Reunion to show the effect. All of these are shot on the 5D at f8.
ReunionLensbaby August 5-108

ReunionLensbaby August 5-107

I like the effect of making large things look like toys or a diorama...
ReunionLensbaby August 5-104

ReunionLensbaby August 5-102

More testing to come, but these are definitely fun gadgets, and very good for making you think creatively.

Happy Shooting,

don j.

Aug 2, 2009

Quick Pics - For the Birds


The wife and I had a nice evening walk around a nice duck pond in Mesquite, TX. As a birthday gift, she tolerated me stopping at random moments to grab shots of the ducks and geese as I saw fit, including getting down to eye-level with some baby ducks. Well worth it if you ask me..

Getting up close and personal with a blue-eyed goose of some variety..

I was surprised to see this Egret hanging around the pond, and he (she?) allowed me to get up close for some portraits...




For an idea of the size of this bird... its feet reach almost all the way across a concrete block made from a whole bag of concrete mix...

There were ugly ducks..

...and pretty ones.

Mohawk wearing ducks... (not the proper name, I think)

A dove, eyeing our ice-cream leftovers...

And ducks getting leftovers from picnics.

I really wanted some flying duck photos... and that is harder than it seems. Blog post on focusing on moving objects is definitely in the works..

And Finally...

More baby ducks, because you just can't have enough baby ducks..

happy shooting,

don j.