Dec 27, 2011

Quick Pic - Smooched

J and Allison-0506

Dec 6, 2011

Quick pic - Baby Baby

I had a special request to shoot some photos of this beautiful newborn. Photogs who specialize in newborn photography, I salute you.

The only major request was to photograph the baby in/on a guitar case... I was pleasantly surprised by the parents' great green wall and wood floor to go along with it...

Big brother got to 'play along' as well... and see what I mean about that floor... good stuff!

Make it a great day (and make some photos!)

Don J.

Dec 4, 2011

Christmas song-of-the-day

This kid is growing up way too fast!

Here is a Christmas song... at this rate it maybe it should be song of the week instead of song of the day.

Have a great Monday.

Dec 1, 2011

December holiday song of the day....

First... a gift for you...
For you high school sports and band kids and parents, Web-sized digital images are currently free over on the print-ordering page, You still have to go through the order process, but it is $0.00.

A two-fer.
Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten and an unknown drummer...

Nov 30, 2011

Basketball in the hall

Sports portraits (or "sportraits" if you like the lingo) are always a chance to have some fun.

In this case, we were doing a shot of a basketball player at SWCC in Terrell who hails from Sudan via Egypt and Australia.

Time is generally short for these kinds of things, so the first thing to do is get there a little early and find a unique looking place to shoot. The facilities are pretty old at the school, so everything has an older feel, which is nice. Beside the gym was this nice baby-blue tiled hallway. Perfecto. The key is to use an interesting setting without letting the setting take away from the subject.
Basketball in the Hall-1489

My mobile lighting kit is straight out of the Strobist playbook.. two hotshoe flashes, stands, umbrellas, Lastolite EzyBox, reflector and some grids and snoots.

That test shot was the camera's metering at -2/3, which came up with 1/20 at f5.6, iso 200.

To underexpose the ambient further, and get my shutter up where I needed to be for a basketball player coming down the hall, I went to ISO 400 and set the shutter at 1/200.

I used a Canon 580exII in a shoot-through umbrella high and to the left of the camera, and a 430ex at the end of the hall for a test shot that looked like this..
Basketball in the hall test-1497

I raised the back flash to the height of the window and had Karor dribble down the hall toward me for shot #1, which I was OK with (processed in Lightroom). The guy is 6'7" so I was standing on a chair for this..
Basketball in the Hall-1500

The chair I was standing in was a retro arm chair thing, and quite short. I put him in the chair, which, with a 24mm, made him look huge for shot #2.
Basketball in the Hall-1506

Karor decided to play around a bit... always a good thing to show some personality.
Basketball in the Hall-1509

OK, that was a fun exercise. And that was less than 15 minutes to set up and test, then after Karor arrived, we shot for less than five minutes.

The first test shot shows 4:42 p.m., the last shot of Karor was at 4:55 p.m. (still haven't moved my cameras back an hour).

Here are a few more outtakes that I played with in Lightroom...

Light test revisited..
Basketball in the Hall-1497

Non-firing flash creates silhouette, and shows what light the back flash was providing to the scene...
Basketball in the Hall-1498

Wider-angle version of pointing shot..
Basketball in the Hall-1510

Have a great week...
Don J.

Nov 20, 2011

Finding a challenge

Sometimes shooting at an event can get a little boring. After a lot of high school football games, everything really starts looking the same.

To combat boredom, it is fun to make up little challenges for myself. In the case of the North Forney drill team, that meant trying to catch a face inside one of their hoops while they danced.

Most of the time, what you get is this...
NF vs Roosevelt-514

And then, with a little luck and timing, you can get this instead.
NF vs Roosevelt-535

Not perfect, but at least something a parent might buy and unique compared to most shots of the dancers that night. Out of about 35 total shots of this routine, three had faces in hoops.

Happy Thanksgiving week, folks.

A song of the day?
Well, here is a thankful song we played in church this morning...

Nov 3, 2011

Quick pic and song of the day

The last few days have been a blessing and a curse, dealing with the very unexpected death of my uncle. How could it be a blessing? It is only after hearing stories of his life from his closest friends that we are getting to know the great things he did in his life. He didn't talk about himself or his accomplishments.

He did a lot in life, but never wanted to be in the spotlight, or in pictures for that matter. He was always on the other side of the camera capturing images of everyone else.

Song of the day? Well... Everett's collection is about as varied as you can get. When Renee and I were just dating, he told me that all I needed to win her heart was to give her some Dean Martin music. Seemed to work just fine.

Oct 27, 2011

Seasonal levity

No, the pumpkin was not added in post.
Pumpkin Crop-5239

Here is some encouragement for World Series Game 7.

Oct 24, 2011

Quick pic and song of the day

Cross country is fun to shoot for a few minutes. The rest of the time you are walking across countryside and waiting for runners. And waiting. And waiting.
Unfortunately the course for this meet was not very scenic. So I played with some motion blurry stuff...

Round the corner-4827

Song of the day?
Well... I did not get enough sleep this weekend, so here is a lullaby. Albeit a little mixed up version of one.

Have a great week!

Oct 22, 2011

Tag, you're it

Guns and Hoses boxing tournament for 2011... a lot of good fights this year.


Oct 20, 2011

Fall festival on the way, and Song of the Day

My church does a pretty nifty 'Fall Festival' event every year on halloween, and I have been doing a photo booth there for the last couple of years.

It is a great time to try new lighting setups.. last year was playing with a nifty Profoto ring light. It does get a little bit crazy averaging more than one subject/group per minute for two hours.
2010FallFestival FBC Kaufman-3284

I haven't decided what the setup will be this year, but hopefully it will be good.

Song of the day you ask?
Sara Groves performs "Eyes on the Prize," an old spiritual that she recorded in support of International Justice Mission.

Don J.

Oct 19, 2011

Surprise! and Song of the Day

Seriously dad, do you have to bring the camera when I'm having a bath? Really?

Song of the day.. Braid Paisley's "You'll never leave Harlan alive." I like songs that tell stories.
Interesting to make a slideshow of photos from the Harlan area to put with the song... Guess there isn't a good song to do that for Dallas.

Oct 17, 2011

Lightning + Song of the day

A little thunderstorm rolled through Monday evening... nothing too wild in the Seagoville area. Also not much lightning on the back side of the storm. The front of the storm was quite active, but also too wet to get out and shoot in it, even on the front porch.

This was best of the bunch..
Lightning Oct 17-22

And I like it even more after playing around some in Lightroom..
Lightning Oct 17 Toned-22

Another Renee fave for the song of the day.. Kristin Andreassen's 'Crayola doesn't make a color for your eyes." Way too catchy.
Have a great Tuesday!

Photo prop of the day, and Song of the day

Best photo prop I have seen in a while? A giant gnarly tree at White Rock Lake Park off of Buckner Blvd. in Dallas. (this is plotted on a map in flickr)

And song of the day you ask? I was made aware of the band "Trampled by Turtles" over the weekend. The name alone warrants Song of the Day mention. Oh, and it is unique bluegrassy fun stuff, which I always like.

Happy Monday!
Don J.

Oct 13, 2011

Song of the day- Dave Weckl: The Chicken

Dave Weckl's version of the Jaco Pastorius' The Chicken. (that's for you Josh G.)
Jaco was an interesting character and amazing talent... with an interesting story.

Oct 12, 2011

Quick Pic - Sunset car

Saw a cool sunset happening under clouds on the way out of a volleyball game, but with no tripod, no view and no time, I just wanted a quick snap that was somewhat creative. Luckily there were cars coming by from time to time.


Song of the day- Lyle Lovett: Don't cry a tear

Lots of Lyle on my playlist. Renee picked "Ain't no more cane," for today's song, but I could not find a version that I liked on the web.

I heard this song first live and it was gripping. If you have an inclination to go see Lyle, Bass Hall in Ft. Worth is the place to do it.

Don J.

Oct 11, 2011

Song of the Day-Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

Sure Steve Martin is funny..

But I'm more impressed by his musical talents :) Not that this is his best, but it is fun.

Oct 10, 2011

Flag football

There was some flag football going on Friday night before the varsity team took the field.... lots of fun for these kiddos, and fun to shoot as well. I wonder how high school football would change if they played with flags (and not pads or helmets). Could be crazy.
Flag Football-9948

Song of the Day-Sara Groves: Setting up the pins

On top of my iTunes most played... good Monday morning song to get the week started..

Have a great Monday

Oct 7, 2011

Oct 6, 2011

Song of the day - Gungor: Beautiful Things

I was impressed by this band Saturday night. Actually it was only a small portion of a larger group, but I like the songwriting and musicality and... well... its all good.

FBCKaufman peeps... get that tune stuck in your head for Sunday.


Don J.

Oct 3, 2011


September has come and gone in a flash. Football season has a way of taking up a lot of time, and so far, I haven't had any football photos that I really liked. There is always this week.

I'm archiving last month's photos and decided that my favorites are from this impromptu session with J. Blundell's boys. There were some newsworthy things as well, but you'll have to look for those on the Tribune site :).



Have a great start to October!

Don J.

Sep 18, 2011

Lightning, again

Finally, we had some moisture falling from the sky... I know there are a lot of happy plants and ranchers out there....

Clouds starting building in the evening... a sign of things to come
Storm Clouds-200

We sat and watched a PBS mystery as the storm rolled through, but afterwards, the fireworks were too much to resist...

These are uncropped images to see what the camera takes in with the old 5D and a 14mm. That is a lot of sky. The lightning was occasionally going beyond my field of vision from one roof line to the horizon etc.
Storm Clouds-9991

If you look closely at the image, you can see dozens of red and blue pixels. Some of this is from a dirty sensor.. some may be just because the camera is aging rapidly. When the shutter is open for a long time, bad (hot) pixels really pop out.
Storm Clouds-0017

Even photos of lightning are made better by a foreground element... in this case, my second attempt at getting a car passing down the street in the shot. The first time, it was more than 30 seconds before any lightning flashed and the shot was toast. This one took 19 seconds.
Storm Clouds-0048

Be safe out there and have a great week,

Don J.

Sep 14, 2011

Fires at night

It is a little bit awkward to talk photography in a situation where something much larger, namely a house fire that destroys a family's home, is involved. Certainly nothing here is meant to lessen the impact or tragedy of what is going on in these pictures. Not far from where I was standing was a distraught mother who escaped with her children. One poor kid had run out without clothes. The debate on whether to take or show those pictures is for another time.

But as fire photography goes, night time fires provide the most drama and light character. It is a constantly changing situation because the fire itself is up and down, and the lights from the fire trucks and other emergency vehicles are literally moving all around with lots of red and blue in the mix.

This would be a good photo during the day, but at night, the contrast makes the fire pop.

You can shoot Aperture priority and just pay attention to + or - exposure compensation for how much bright light is in the scene.. Manual exposure is much the same, just watch the meter and know what the bright areas and dark areas are doing to your exposure. Are you exposing for detail in the fire itself or for detail in the darker areas?

Here -2/3 gave a useful mix and still left detail in the flame.

And here -2 gave an image that is pretty close to what it looked like in person.

After the major firefighting operations are over, the unique lighting situation is a very interesting shooting gallery for firefighter portraits. By this point at this fire all daylight was gone so I switched over to Manual and just worked with what the meter was telling me...
Lots of directional light from the trucks creates lighting you would have a hard time duplicating (or predicting).

Including the fire trucks in the photos means lots of light shining directly into the camera, but that isn't all bad either.. again, manual exposure is a must to keep any detail in faces as the constantly flashing lights will drive the camera meter to madness.

Sept13 Night Fire-432

Again... this is a situation where something terrible is happening in peoples' lives, so photography can seem trivial. But if you are going to do the job of photojournalism, you better do it as well as you can to justify being on the scene, and to honor the people risking their lives to put out the fire.

Don J.

Sep 10, 2011

Rodeo Terrell

I know it has been too long between blog posts when my computer drops the blog site from my "Top Sites" screen.

The first "Rodeo Terrell" event was fun.. and made me want to shoot more rodeo. There is plenty of 'expect the unexpected' even though a lot of shots turn out to look the same. Of course, it is dusty, dark and half of the time you wish you were on the opposite side of the arena.

Barrel racing is one event where you can get reliably decent shots at predetermined spots.. at the barrels.

For almost everything else, the peak action may take place anywhere. Not my favorite shot of the night, but seriously, these guys risk a lot for their sport...


Have a great rest o' your weekend, everyone. (and go get some nice pictures.. the weather is great!)

Don J.

Aug 16, 2011

How fast is a sunset?

Sunsets go fast. Just how fast? I was cruising home yesterday and saw this scene happening in front of me (driving west, obviously) so I quickly found a spot to park, jumped out of the car, put on the 70-200 and took some shots…

This was at 8:08.33.


Exactly one minute later, the sun is half obscured by the clouds…


Finally, by 8:10 the drama was gone. Obviously the clouds didn't help, but the effect is the same.. it is amazing how quickly the sun drops.


I didn't like any of my shots much… somehow left it on f2.8. Mostly I was trying to find a composition point to minimize the power lines.

So I played in Lightroom. Fun times.


Aug 12, 2011

Quick Pic - Volleyball outtake

We are working on our annual Fall Sports Preview edition over at the Tribune.
Special sections are fun for us at the paper, because we get to get a little more creative and have fun with staged photos, unusual graphics and unconventional design.

For me, it is a great time to play with lights on the clock.

Here is an "almost" picture from the shoot with some of our volleyball ladies. They were great sports. The final image? Well, you'll have to wait and see it in the paper!


Don J.

Aug 10, 2011

(Almost) Baked Rats

So it was a fiery day in the local news business... I will work backwards through the day..

As I got back into Seagoville, I saw serious looking smoke coming out of a neighborhood and went to see what was happening. A house had flames coming out of the back of the roof and it wasn't looking good.

When the firefighters got to work on it, a lady asked them to rescue her pet rats just inside the back door. The obliged and somehow the little fellows seemed like survivors... notice what is happening above the ceiling while the firefighters work inside.
Seago Fire Aug 10-2340

Judging by the melted siding on the outside of the wall, I'm not sure how they survived.
Seago Fire Aug 10-2347

Because the wind was blowing away the smoke, you could see inside the attic space...
Seago Fire Aug 10-2403

Props to the homeowner and a neighbor who were hitting that with a garden hose as SFD got their gear in place.
Seago Fire Aug 10-2271

At the beginning of the day, a fire in south Terrell did extensive damage to a home. TFD had the flames knocked down by the time I got there, but there were still some photos to be had...

Like a firefighter walking into a spot where the sun didn't wash out the smoke..
SS-Fire Aug 10-2027

and firefighters working inside to put out hot spots...
SS-Fire Aug 10-2101

Then there is this one. I thought it was just a firefighter working to punch a hole in a ceiling just inside the front door. As I played with it in Lightroom to see if there was any detail left in the shadows, I noticed his eyes looking right into the camera, sharp as can be in the circumstances... kind of eerie.
SS-Fire Aug 10-2002

OK, now everyone be very fire safe and stay cool.

DOn J.