Jun 29, 2010

It is fireworks time again...

Seagoville Carnival-304

This weekend is sure to be a blast. ( groan, I know)

Here is a post from last year with fireworks photo tips... and of course, if you Google it, there are a lot of other informative articles out there.

The key for it all is to find something other than fireworks to include in your shots. Fireworks alone are pretty, but get repetitive quickly. People, especially expressions, reactions or any emotion can make it a great fireworks photo. Easier said than done, but that is my goal this year.

Terrell July 4-109

Everyone have fun, be careful, and remember what it is that we are celebrating...

and take lots of pictures, of course.

Don J.

Jun 13, 2010

Photos of Photos

Scanning old family photos is time consuming and a general pain. When you have large prints as your only source, it can get even more problematic..

One easy solution is to set up your camera as your scanner. A tripod, flat surface, piece of glass and some light will do the trick.
Easttexasphoto Blog

This particular tripod (Manfrotto 055xproB) makes it even easier because the column goes sideways so that you can work on the floor, but anything that will hold your camera steady can work.

Use your sharpest lens, and set a medium aperture (f8 is usually good) to get the most sharpness possible. With a tripod, shutter speed won't be a problem, so also use a good, low ISO.

Lighting, as always, is key. You have to make sure that the light is very even, and coming from the sides. In this case, I am using a large window and a white poster board. Any lights close to the angle of the camera will cause reflections and hot spots. You should be able to spot any light problems quickly.

Using a piece of glass (Clean, of course) will flatten out the prints to keep focus and shadow problems away. Just be sure to watch out for reflections.

If you look closely at this wonderful old picture of my mom as a youth, you can see the reflection of the ceiling and silhouette of the camera and tripod.
Easttexasphoto Blog

Black fabric can block reflected light.. in this case, the print was on thick flat cardboard, so I just shot it without the glass.
Easttexasphoto Blog

Another thing to watch for is bad white balance.

This is what the camera did on its own, set to Auto WB.
Easttexasphoto Blog

And this is corrected in LightRoom, the original is straight black and white, not that strange blue.

Either set the white balance for the light source you are using (Flourescent, daylight, tungsten, etc.), or use Raw and shoot a gray card and correct it in post.

Of course, photos aren't the only thing you will want... it is good to get a digital record of all kinds of art... in this case my beautiful grandmother.
Easttexasphoto Blog

It is a fun trip down memory lane to pull out the memories, and if you only have one print, it is good to get some back-up anyway....
What a great frog shirt!
Easttexasphoto Blog

I don't know the specific details about copyright issues that come with digitizing old prints. The original photographer is unknown, so I'm looking into what happens there.

Quick Recap..
Use a tripod
Fill the frame as much as possible
Use a remote release or the self-timer to avoid shake.
Light from the side, and eliminate anything reflecting (it may be you!)

Have a great weekend everyone,

Jun 12, 2010

Horses and Horsepower


My dad is a real cowboy, and he has a lot of stories from his days growing up on his dad's ranch in the panhandle of Texas. After seeing the buildup for the North Texas Antique Tractor and Engine Club's show in Terrell, I knew it would be a perfect father-and-son outing.

Of course there was also plenty to shoot for the Tribune as well...



Some of the fun was the graphic quality of these old machines. They really don't make them like they used to.


My inner country boy was entertained by the tractor pull competition. These machines are all over 50 years old and still pulling strong.

Most of the guys on the tractors were over 50 years old and pulling strong as well.

On the way home, we made a stop at the Double Nickel Horse Ranch to get some quick shots of a charity roping event for Terrell's Healing Hearts Ministries.

Like a lot of arenas, the Double Nickel has a roof and no sides. That is great for a breeze but it can be a struggle for a photographer.

The light is nice like a giant softbox...

But it can make for a crazy washed out photo when all of that light floods the lens while you try to get a decent exposure on the subjects.

About the only solution in this place was to move to a place to fill the frame with the subject to minimize the background. It helped some...

Of course, you it is harder to keep everything in the frame that way

Have a great weekend, everybody,

Don J.

Jun 7, 2010


Going into graduation day for Terrell High School I was a little bit worried about the location... Terrell's notoriously dim Memorial Stadium. At least it would not be fast action shooting, right? Sort of.

One great benefit did emerge though. The variety of shots available and access to get around for different vantage points was better than any indoor facility short of Cowboys Stadium. Oh, and there were fireworks! Prints are available (of course) over at www.doncjohnson.zenfolio.com.

Before the ceremony, seniors assembled in the National Guard armory building, which was hot and dim. No worries though, a giant open door provided a nice light from one side...

The principal once called this class "fun loving." That was easy to see on graduation day.

With a camera in almost every mobile electronic device, snapshots were happening all over the place.


A little bit of cloud cover made for nice light in spots outside...

And off they go. I almost always try some shutter tricks.. most did not work so well, but it is good to keep yourself entertained, right?

Lots of happy families..

For about the first 10 graduates, there was a nice backdrop of the end of sunset.. a little fill flash in front, and I was a happy camper...

I can only say thanks to modern technology for being able to shoo iso 1600 and have useful images. I really look forward to my next camera... the 40D is getting a bit aged.

Going in, I had intended to put the 14mm on the 5D and go in really close to the graduates for the cap-toss. I'm still pretty happy with the shot, but still.. woulda coulda shoulda...

And then, Fireworks. The graduates did not stick around long in the center of the field, so I was chasing them around a bit...


Congratulations Graduates... It was fun to be a part of your year.

Happy shooting everyone..
Don J.