Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday link

Once again, our favorite day of the week here at the Vault Blog.

Today, only one image published that I know of, this time a Tattoo story I shot early last week. I'm fairly sure only one of the two images on the website made the paper, but if I'm wrong I'll update you (my loyal readers) when I get my hands on the actual print version.

This was the last glorious issue of The Lumberjack for this year, so from now on I'll have to figure out something else to do for Thursday blogging.... darn.

We're having our final party staff meeting this Sunday. Free food and a chance to lounge around and talk journalism-ish stuff. Should be fun :-)

Right now I'm in the middle of packing, cleaning, and studying for finals. This is my last week of actual classes, which is followed by three days of finals and I am outta Flag and back to Boulder.

Peace 'n' Love!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Hello world.

I got back Sunday evening from my adventures in the middle-of-nowhere from whence I last blogged (via cell phone).

I shot just over 300 frames while I was out and about, about 100 of which are decent. Here is the "cabin" we stayed at for the weekend.
It is not so much a cabin as a gorgeous mansion. 6 Bed, 3 bath. Absolutely amazing place.
I took the opportunity to work a little on my interior photography. This house was so spacious, it offered me the ability to do that even though my widest lens is only 18mm (which on DX is not very wide at all).

Here are a couple picks:

I am hoping to get some work this summer doing interior photography of remodeled homes. I may use that to justify the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 lens that I've wanted for oh-so long.
There's always one more lens, or one more hard drive, or one more monitor. I love new toys.

That's all for now!
To come: sunrise landscape/portrait shoot... probably Saturday at the earliest.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Relay for life

Hey all,

I'm away from my computer this weekend, so I figure it is a great opportunity to try blogger's feature that allows me to email in my blog entry! My fantastic phone does email quite well, but the internet is pretty horrible so accessing the regular site would be a huge pain.

I spent an hour today fiddling around in Bridge CS4. Specifically, I looked at the web galleries. I really like the look that they have, so I may end up replacing my current galleries on with new Bridge-produced ones.

My editor at The Lumberjack has asked all of us to shoot as if our goal is a photostory. The Relay For Life event was perfect for me to practice this style of shooting (as opposed to my usual model of "get 3 good shots).

Because we (the photo staff) are still working on convincing the production and web people to publish photo stories, I made a Bridge gallery of my best shots from the relay for life and published it at:

I was having trouble with the link earlier this morning, but my server tells me all is well as of now.

I would really like a way to show the captions in the gallery, but none of the templates I saw allowed that option without including ALL of my metadata as well.

That's it for now! Please leave a comment if you cannot view the linked gallery. (These comments are emailed to me, so I get them immediately after you send them)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday link

Only one story published in this week's issue of The Lumberjack.

Relay for Life held an event on campus last week. 7pm to 7am. I shot about 300 frames and submitted ten ish. Because only these two shots ran, I'll likely do a post later with all my good picks. It was a sweet event.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Birthday Shot

Today was my 19th birthday, and I had a pretty darn good day.
I made the decision the other night that I was going to carry around my D300 all day and take some photos. There was one shot in particular that I've been wanting to make, so that was my primary focus for the morning. I got it done right after my 8am photo class got out:
The model is a fellow photog in my class, who happens to live in my dorm.
I would have liked to have the source of light (a window in a door) a little further away, but I really like the shot as it came out.
The rest of the photos I took were pretty much crappy snapshots.
But, for your entertainment:
From left to right is Scott Davis (friend), Tom Muller (roommate) and Me.
Today the weather in Flagstaff was 72+ degrees and we decided it was an opportune time to get all of us in kilts. It was Scott and Tom's first time and I daresay they enjoyed it, even if they wouldn't admit to it. All three kilts belong to me, but I've gotten quite a few different sizes of kilts in the last few years, so we manged to make it work.

Here: a shameless plug for UTILIKILTS
I wear my kilts at least 85% of the time and I LOVE them.
They stand up to everything I can give them and then beg for more. The more awesome models have pockets enough to fit all the gear I need for a shoot, and they're super-stylish!
Pants, even the best cargo pants have nothing on these suckers :-)

Peace 'n' Love!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Message in a bottle...

Message: GROSS!

I discovered this gunk floating in my bottle of Arizona unnamed tea this evening. A quick Google search led me to this blog post, claiming that "what I had in my bottle was a non-pathogenic gelatinous mold" that, in theory, poses no threat to me... I'm not sure I believe that.

That's all for now!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday Newslinks

I totally spaced it yesterday, so if you're interested here are my two shots in this week's Lumberjack.

Profile on filmmakers

Downtown underage party scene

Neither of the shots that ran are the shots I would have picked... but it isn't my job to pick what runs.

Back at Digital

It seems I've been in a black and white sort of mood recently.
I did a shoot yesterday with the lovely model Sarah (as usual). I didn't break the rules this time though; I shot everything in color. Of course, going through the images I ended up making all the good ones black and white, and those are the ones I like best.

The shot below was the goal of the photoshoot. This was originally a part of a very dark series, so I knew pretty much how I wanted it to come out. I'm not sure if the series will ever actually get done, and I'm not sure how it's going to look if it does... but I suppose we'll find out eventually.
Rather than going to a studio and dumping buckets of water on her, I instead asked her to jump (fully clothed!) in the shower. We turned on the hot water, I set up a strobe (with a plastic bag as protection) and plopped myself down outside the shower. 45 minutes later (thanks to the miracle of unlimited hot water) we finished. Every time I switched lenses (which I did outside of the bathroom), I had to wait a minute or so before the fog cleared off the new lens. Here's what happened when I didn't wait.

I actually kind of like the steamy look, but it wasn't "the shot" that I had in mind, so I skipped trying to repeat it.

Overall, it was a fun shoot.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Darkroom fun

I posted in February that I totally botched developing a roll of film.
I figured I would let my faithful readers know that I have since successfully developed more than 5 rolls and made quite a few fantastic prints from them.

Yesterday I took the afternoon off and spent 4 hours in NAU's fantastic darkroom working on prints. I printed a few different shots but ended up focusing on only 2 of them. One (old) shot of tulips and a much newer landscape shot of a lone tree that I've wanted to photograph for a while but didn't get around to until Spring Break this year.

Making prints of the tulips was easy peasy. Test strip, 2 test prints, then just pushing paper through the chemicals. I made 4 good prints.

This image is available as a Very Limited Edition (1/4) hand-printed and signed 8x10 for $75 or as a Limited Edition (1/125) 8x10 for $25

The second print involved some very serious dodging, burning and variable contrast work. I made 5 prints of the same negative and they all look totally different.

Because I lack a scanner, here's a PhotoBooth shot showing the second image.

The light from my monitor makes it look blue on the bottom, but it isn't.
This image is available as a Super Limited Edition (1/2) hand-printed and signed 8x10 for $150

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Speaking of Twitter...

I found out the other day that it is possible to change/customize the background on one's own twitter page. Looking around I saw that many of them were LAME, so I built my own in Photoshop.
Just because I can.
I didn't quite know how big to make it, so I guessed big. It turns out you can't see the vast majority of the photos, so I'll probably end up changing/remaking it. Check it out [LINK]

Also, for those of you who don't know what Twitter is, check out a blog post by a bud my mine, Laura Chernikoff where she explains the role of Twitter and other micro-blogging services as she sees them. It's an interesting read. At first I was annoyed by Twitter and found absolutely no use for it, but upon using it I've realized that it actually does have its purposes. Mainly, as Laura points out in her post, the ability to connect with celebrities and see what they are up to. I am far less interested in people like Tom Cruise or Ashton Kutcher than I am in people like Chase Jarvis, David DuChemin, Scott Bourne (a new find via Twitter), and photographers in general.

That's all for now!

Monday, April 13, 2009


I just put this link up on Twitter, but I figured I'd put it here as well.

The war on photography is a funny hobby of mine. What makes people think they can demand your equipment, or that you delete your photos when you are shooting in a public space?
We allowed to take pictures, just like we are allowed to carry guns. The difference is: a camera never killed anyone.

Disposable Camera

F13. 1/100 sec. Black and White PC. ISO 200, 400, or 800. (depending on light)

I decided to challenge myself yesterday by turning my D300 into a disposable B&W camera.
After some quick Internet reading, I learned the basic stats on the average disposable. I popped a 50mm on the D300, set it to focus just before infinity, dialed in the appropriate aperture and shutter speed, and ran around shooting for an hour. Oh, and I also set the camera to "Monochromatic" PC and added a red filter to that effect. I know the rule is "shoot everything in color, covert to monochrome later" but I like breaking rules. :-)

I really enjoyed this self-assignment. It was a lot of fun not having to wait for the camera to focus, but just firing away at anything that struck my fancy. Of course, my focus was off in a couple shots and none of them are tack-sharp the way I usually like my photos... but that's the fun in experimenting.

Unfortunately, I did have to cheat on the Tabasco shot. At ISO 800 and F13 I was still way short on light. It ended up being 1/3 sec but that's the beauty of using a digital camera. I have the ability to cheat.

That's all for now!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Response: Business or Craft?

I read a post this morning while going through my daily blog list.
I found, on David Ziser's blog, a phrase that bothers me. What follows is not a critique of Mr. Ziser and I am not trying to bash him in any way. Rather, I am attempting to reflect on and respond to his post in a meaningful way.

Under the argument titled Soap Box Friday: Great Religious Digital Argument #1 - PC vs. MAC. Let The Wars Begin, is the phrase "I'm a business man first and a photographer second."

That bothers me.
While I understand how he, and many other photographers, could come to rationalize this, I also think that if one's craft comes second, it cannot possibly be the best it can be. Mr. Ziser is a phenomenal photographer, but I cannot help but wonder what his images would look like if he was focusing less on what his clients and more on expressing his vision.

If I have learned anything from David DuChemin and his blog PixelatedImage, I have learned that vision comes first. It seems reasonable, then, that if I focus on my business first and my photography second, like many of us do, I doom my photography and ultimately my career.
Sure, having a great logo or website or business card is great, but I am not going to hire a photographer because his or her website is fantastic.

I'm going to hire a photographer who makes unique, creative images.
I'm going to hire a photographer who can express what he or she sees in a meaningful way to ME.
Most of all, I'm going to hire a photographer who can make my image different from every other image he or she sells.

Here, I force myself into a critique of Mr. Ziser as an example. Looking through his blog, I notice that all of his images have a shared "look" or "style." We as photographers know this to be absolutely necessary. Our vision or voice as a photographer is what separates us from everyone else.
However, I also notice that Mr. Ziser seems to have a checklist, either mental or physical, of the images he takes when shooting with a client. That is to say, many of his images look remarkably similar to one another. One of the most repeated images I see from him is shot from below the client, wide angle, with off-camera flash, inside a visually stunning cathedral. Much like this or this or this

I can only assume he does this both because he likes the way the image looks and (more importantly) because his clients like these images. But is it what he wants to shoot? When he meets with a client, does he think "What can I do to seperate the pictures I am about to take, from the work I have given my other clients?" I don't know. He might. As a businessman be probably does, but what does the photographer in his head say? Does he experiment and take chances? Does he think "My client won't want this image, so I won't shoot it," or does he think "This might be fun, who cares if the client wants it?"
David Ziser is a world-renowned photographer. I am a huge fan of his work and I read his blog daily. The problem is: this "business first, craft second" mindset applies to gazillions of people in all kinds of different professions. Do we as professionals need a priority check? We didn't get into our fields because we love money. We do it (or we should be doing it) because we love our craft.

I am a photographer first, a student second, and a business man third. With any luck, I will be able to keep these priorities fairly similar throughout my life and my career. I guarantee the subjects of my studies will change, but if I can keep these three things in order I will continue to produce varying and expressive pictures while learning and (hopefully!) making some money.

Mmmmm... Softbox.
I shot this for The Lumberjack a couple days ago. The three gentlemen featured here are producers for an NAU TV production that premiers later this month. I was hesitant to do this sort of set-up shot, especially because my editor usually frowns upon such things, but I like the way it turned out.
There is a big (3-foot) softbox camera left providing pretty much all the light for this photo. I say 'pretty much' because the overhead fluorescents are on... but not really doing anything for the photo.
Looking at this after the fact, I realize that I should have crouched down a little bit to get rid of the ground, since you can't see the subjects' feet anyway... Oh well.
These three gentlemen were very cooperative in setting up everything to make the picture work, and the studio we shot in was amazing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Our favorite day of the week

In this week's issue of The Lumberjack:

Basketball profile (wrongly attributed to another photographer).

Luau (though it appears the story wasn't written).

Annette McGivney

Re: the attribution issue: The production department on the newspaper has been messing things up a fair bit recently. Not only to they botch cutlines and attributions, but they have been re-cropping pictures as they see fit, totally disregarding my editor's crops and changes.
AND, although a few images made the web, there are several full photostories on the server in the "web images" folder for this issue, that the web-people decided to ignore.
Shame on them.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monitor glory

I was bored this afternoon and decided to take some photos using only the light from my two monitors. ISO 400, 1/15 second or so. I boosted the contrast in Aperture and here's what I got.
I know this shot has been done a zillion times by a zillion different people, but I hadn't done it and it was fun to try.

As promised, I went into my action portfolio on the new and edited out a few of the weaker images. I have a couple critiques coming up from actual photographers, so I'm excited!

Zack Arias = awesome. He's a professional music photographer who has been using his blog to critique other photog's work. The stuff he has to say is very valuable and I've learned a lot just listening to him (not to mention some of his rants are hilarious).

Finally, I got my book from Blurb today. It is about what I expected. The most impressive part is the cover/jacket. The paper is fairly high quality, though the binding seems a little on the wimpy side. Eventually I'll publish a big book, with some big photos, and maybe even some words. For now, books like this will do the trick.

That's all for today! I'm busy for the rest of this week, so it may become Blog Lite around here.

Monday, April 6, 2009



I spent most of this weekend overhauling in an attempt to make it appear simpler, cleaner and more professional. I think I succeeded, take a look yourself and let me know what you think!
(Note that I am having connection issues, so it may take a while to load. The homepage usually loads in under 5 seconds)
My original intent was to create the site using software. Naturally my first attempt was using the mac-native program iWeb. It comes standard on any mac and does pretty much everything I was looking for. Sure, there were a few formatting issues I wasn't thrilled with, but the site looked pretty good. Turns out, the site only looked good in Safari and Internet Explorer. Firefox, for whatever reason, decided to totally reject the code for my portfolio slideshows.
I looked around for a fix for a few hours, found that it was essentially un-fixable (without purchasing the new iLife program set, now only $80). I don't have two nickels to rub together, let alone $80, so I hunkered down and re-wrote the entire site using HTML. The rewrite took me between 5 and 9 hours (I wasn't really keeping track) due to several catastrophic failures, but I am very happy with the way it turned out. I have total control over the entire site, which makes making changes super-easy.
I know most photographers today are using huge (and expensive) flash-based websites. Scott Kelby's new portfolio is case in point. I couldn't find a free flash template that made my portfolio look good, so I also wrote that code in HTML. On the up-side, my site can be viewed on an iPhone, unlike the flash-based sites.
For the record, I realize my action stuff is weak, so my newest project is to get some better stuff in there, and kick out all the crud.

Enjoy life and don't forget to backup your hard drive once in a while!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Here's a quicktime of 28 images of the ladies at our Luau dancing.
Fun stuff!

I'll post stills later.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sweet Speaker #2

I had a shoot yesterday evening covering the presentation of NAU Professor Annette McGivney's new book Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West.
My editor told me we were covering the event for "personal as well as news reasons." That said to me "this is going to be really boring, but we have to cover it because this professor used to be the faculty advisor for The Lumberjack."
Whatever. I signed up for and I am very glad I did.
It turns out super famous (and really cool) photographer James Kay did all the images in the book.
Mr. Kay has had his work published all over the place, including TIME, Outdoor Photographer, Sky, Ski, and National Geographic Adventure. He is also featured in the Nikon Legends collection.
He spoke for a while, showed a 30 min video that complimented the book very well. He also stuck around for the book signing after the presentation. I met him and asked if he would be willing to look through some of my photos. He said he'd love to and that I should bring it by the "party" this Saturday at Echo Canyon Art Gallery.
While I was there, I also ran into the director of the School of Communication, who also agreed to look through my work.
Overall, it was a very productive networking evening for me :-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another Thursday...

Today is, once again, Thursday.
I got a few shots published this week.

The LGBT protest story.

Story on Grant Imahara's speech.

Pillowfight Protest.

Threepenny Opera Preview

I'm also on track for publishing four or five images in next week's issue. Fun fun fun!


Something that I don't do very much, but would love to do more of, is photo stitching (or according to Photoshop CS4, Photomerging).
This technique is most often used for landscapes, but can be used for other things as well.
Because I lack a fisheye lens (or any lens wider than 18mm), I decided to use a stitch at Grant Imahara's speech earlier this week to show the size of the crowd. (click to enlarge)

The lens on my camera was my fixed 28mm. I was at ISO 2000 ish. This stitch includes three photos. Photoshop did all the hard work and I simply cropped the end result to fit my liking.

In this room, there were 850 seats. That is a fair amount of people, especially for an on-campus speaker (many of whom draw around 100 people). There were people standing the back and sitting in the isles, and 150 people were turned away at the door.
I knew this shot wouldn't run in the paper, but I also knew that I couldn't capture the sheer size of the crowd in any other way with the equipment that I had (or have). I figured it might run online, so I did it anyway. Whoever is in charge of The Lumberjack online rejected this photo, but luckily for me I don't need them to get my work out into the world.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Personal stuff!

Finally, some portraits I really like.
My usual model here at NAU is Sarah Dresser. She is up for pretty much anything, which is good because my ideas are often a little crazy.
My assignment for my BW photo class was to show Depth Of Field. Take the same picture twice, one w/ high DOF and one w/ low. This assignment is pretty much standard for any photo class.
I used my digital camera to get the ideas and exposures about where I wanted them, only switching to film when I knew pretty much what things were going to look like.
The images below are digital, as I haven't had time to develop the film yet.

Serious props to Sarah for braving the cold (25 degrees + wind) to make pictures with me. Pretty much every time after we shoot she has to wash whatever clothes she had on because she was splashing in puddles or laying in the dirt. Yet, she still shows up pretty much every time I ask!