Monday, November 30, 2009

More iPhone photos

Again, all my iPhone shots are taken and processed on the phone, I haven't touched these with any computer post-processing stuff. Sadly, blackberry lacks the app system that has made the iPhone so famous, so whenever I have pictures from my blackberry, they require much photoshop.

Anyway, here are a few shots from the last week or so.

Apparently this week's theme is windows.

I'm starting to get a little burned out on photography. I haven't had any ideas for personal work in ages, which I attribute to the fact that my job is photography. Because I associate photography with work, I don't want to take pictures. I expect this to change over winter break, which is my much-needed recharge time. With any luck some time away from The Lumberjack and anything sports-related will allow me to see photography as fun and challenging again.
In the meantime, my iPhone lets me capture scenes that interest me without all the hullabaloo associated with breaking out out the big camera.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nerf Weaponry

I admit, I haven't been shooting much recently.
I don't mind, I've been busy thinking about thanksgiving, eating thanksgiving food, sleeping off my thanksgiving food, and eating some more.

This morning, I spent the obligatory 1.5 hours in the 20 degree pre-dawn hours waiting in line for the beginning of Black Friday shopping.

What did I buy, you ask?

I thought about the $60 500gb portable hard drive... but I'm hoping to get that for christmas.

No, I bought this:

The Nerf N-Strike Longshot CS-6

You're darn tootin'.

I've actually started a bit of a collection of plastic-dart-firing weaponry, though admittedly not all of it is made by Nerf. The competition has a double-barreled shotgun (which I turned into a sawed-off shotgun), and a few other super-nifty guns.

I thought about buying the fully-automatic VULCAN, which fires 25 rounds in a matter of seconds and runs off 6 D batteries... but I'd end up paying as much in batteries as I would for the gun. Perhaps another day.

Today's ridiculous purchase came about after watching THIS movie on youtube. Easily the most awesome day in the office ever! (Sidenote: since when have there been ads before popular videos on youtube?)

Anyway, I'm going to spend some time today putting this sniper-rifle-turned-toy through its paces. Supposedly it shoots with some accuracy to 35'.

Have a great Black Friday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

ISO 2000 portrait

I can honestly say I had never done a portrait at ISO 2000 before yesterday.

I may have to do a few more, because I really like how it turned out.

Very minimal post-production on this one. Just sharpening, contrast and custom monochrome (I brought the blues way down so his jersey would be darker).

I felt really awkward, standing less than 6 feet from this guy with my 80-200 pointed square at his face. We both knew I was taking his picture instead of focusing on the game like I was supposed to... and I wrestled with myself for 15 minutes before taking the picture. I finally made myself turn around, point the lens at him and fire. He looked at me (awkwardly) for the first couple frames, and then apparently lost interest in the goofy-lookin'-photographer and watched the game.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Update: my life

Well. I haven't been posting nearly as much quality material as I usually hope to, mainly because I haven't been shooting much of anything good.

I'm getting towards the end of a couple projects: The first is a photography and poetry book that is nearing the end of its first draft. I hope to have that out to editors I trust by the beginning of next week.
Second, I'm finishing up a roll of 3600 ISO 35mm film that has been in my camera for nearly 8 months. I'll get it developed sometime over the weekend.

I (of course) have many more projects that I haven't even started yet. Scanning in my 35mm film binders, for instance. I've got a bunch of 35mm negatives that I want to scan in at moderate resolutions (8-12mb/file) so I can actually use the photos and make prints from them in the future when I lack the chemicals necessary to do so. The scanners that the school has available to us can make 500mb files out of these slides without a problem... but I don't have the hard drive space or the processing power to deal with files like that.

In other news, the power was out on campus and in places around Flagstaff last night. We were in the middle of a men's basketball game when we lost power. It stayed out for about an hour (my guesstimate), which was long enough for the officials to call off the game 4 minutes into the second half; no winners and no losers. What I shot of the game I shot at 3200 ISO just to see what I could get. They look great! Then when the power went out I boosted it to my camera's max of 6400 and tried my hardest to get any kind of picture. I was making 5-8 second exposures handheld at 6400 ISO. predictably they look like crap.

lit by a bystander's flashlight

popup flash, 5 second exposure

 1/160 at ISO 6400
The top two photos are the marching band enjoying themselves, playing and literally singing Kumbaya in the dark. The third is of NAU TV Services' setup while they film the announcer and the head coach. Though the power was out in the building, the TV crew has a big truck that sits outside, so they fired it up and used it as a generator to power their lights and cameras.

That's all for now!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday linkage

Once again it's our favorite day of the week!
The Lumberjack is out again and I've got a couple photos in it.

Basketball x3

I guess that's it, though I won't know for sure until I get my hands on the print-version.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas Prints

For Christmas I usually give pictures as gifts. The hard part is trying to decide which pictures to give to which people.

In order to make this a little less difficult, I'm opening the decision process to you, the recipient!
Pick from any of the pictures I've ever taken and let me know in an email or a comment on this post. I'll take your choice into consideration :-)

I'll be picking the sizes of these prints, but if you would like to pick your print, you are welcome to do so.

Here are a few I've picked out to give to people already.

If you decide which picture you'd like, tell me the file-name and/or where you found it (facebook album, month on, etc). Again, I still have all the pictures I've ever taken, so anything is up for grabs. is probably a good resource.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Too long...

It's been way too long since I took a picture that wasn't sports related.
12 days, in fact.

So, yesterday I grabbed my camera, hopped in my car and headed out to do some photos that actually meant something to me. I came up with this pair of shots that I'm quite happy with.

These guys were a blast to be around, though I didn't quite agree with their music taste (country was blaring throughout the garage) I really enjoyed the atmosphere and watching them work. I think they enjoyed the attention.

I also filled out the necessary paperwork to do a ride-along with the Flagstaff PD. I'm thinking about doing a "Day in the life" series for the police and fire department in Flagstaff... something that would likely run in The Lumberjack.

The Boulder Help-Portrait group is coming along very well. As of yesterday we have a location in downtown Boulder, nearly a dozen photographers signed up, and the potential to take pictures of a few hundred people if we can get the word out. I'm psyched!

That's it for today!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Once again I've amassed enough photos (four) that don't suck that I feel showing the world is ok.

All were taken on my iPhone and processed only using the Best Camera app on the iPhone. They are shown below and order from (in my opinion) good to not-so-good.

Some photographers make fun of me to shooting with a wimpy 2mp iPhone when I could be hauling around my huge D300. I shrug it off because I always have my blackberry and iPhone with me, but carrying around my big camera body is a pain in the a$$ when I have other things to do and carry. A backpack is all well and good, but my camera doesn't fit inside it well unless it's made for holding cameras. If its made for holding cameras it (naturally) can't hold much else, like all the stuff I need for classes.

Besides, the limitations of the iPhone are what make using it so fun.

After my morning classes I'm going to shoot all afternoon (with my big camera). Two assignments for The Lumberjack and then a couple things for my Intermediate Photography class. By then I'll be having too much fun to stop, so hopefully I'll make a few personal photos too :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Linkage + new tattoo

Well, it's Thursday yet again, which means I probably got published in The Lumberjack.

Let's see....

Ahhh yes! Here are some links for you.

Soccer party: going to nationals!
Both Men's and Women's basketball teams lose in opening games
Photo of the Week!

I think that's all that I got published this week... though I'm never really sure until I pick up a hard copy of the newspaper, because our online and in-print content are not necessarily the same... by a long shot.

Also for your enjoyment, my new tattoo!

One of these days i'll get around to shooting some more personal projects... but I'm super busy with school these days, so it might be a while.

Enjoy your Thursday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you veterans!

A quick shout out to the veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Thank you, for doing your part to serve this country.

I support those who have served, or who are serving now in the name of Freedom and Equality

Support Our Troops (regardless of what you think about war or violence).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Making a Difference: Help Portrait

I am going to make a difference this holiday season. I know, that's a super-corny line, but that doesn't make it any less true.

I have decided to engage myself in the Help Portrait project as fully as I can.
As such, I have become the creator of the Boulder, CO Help Portrait group, and am currently in charge of setting things up, doing some very quick networking and finding a location and subjects to photograph.

For those of you who don't know what Help Portrait is, please take a look at this video. It explains things far better than I can.

In essence (for those of you without the patience for a short video), it is a way for photographers to give back to the community by providing professional quality portraits (and prints!) to people who would otherwise probably never get the opportunity. We will be providing these portraits completely free, donating our time and the prints.

December 12th is the day of shooting, which means I'm going to be cutting this CLOSE. My last day of finals in Flagstaff, AZ is December 11. I'm going to drive back that afternooon, arrive close to midnight, and likely be up around 6am in order to get things moving.
As such, I am going to need all the help I can get organizing subjects, a place to photograph, getting the word out, getting food, etc. If you or anyone you know can help me make this project a reality, let me know!

To help keep track of everything, I have created a Boulder, CO group on the official Help-Portrait web page:
If you would like to be kept up to date on things, please sign up for a (free) account here and join the Boulder group. Doing this makes things MUCH more simple for me! 

If you can get involved, please sign up as part of the group there, because that's where all my communications regarding this awesome project will go.

I put a post up on Craigslist and have already received email about people interested in joining the movement and making a difference.

What I am looking for:
  1. A location where we can set up a half a dozen photographers, backdrops, lighting setups, and move a few dozen people through
  2. Photographers with portrait experience
  3. Backdrops, lighting setups
  4. FOOD for the day for photographers and subjects
  5. Advertising... I want to get the word out to people about what we're doing! The more, the merrier!

If you'd like to make a difference this holiday season, please drop me an email (matt AT vaultphotos DOT com) and let me know how you can help!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Last week during the weekly Lumberjack staff photographer meeting, we invited one of the faculty members (and former LJ photogs) to show up and critique the issue and give us some pointers.
The message I came away with is "Everyone has seen the world from 5-foot-something for years. Never, ever take a picture from your normal standing height again."

I understand where he's coming from. Getting on the ground or getting up above the subject usually makes for a much more compelling photo, and all the lazy photographers in the world won't do it, so it sets your imagery apart from them.

Something it made me think about though, was not necessarily moving my point of view, but making a point to look in different directions. The main two being UP and DOWN.

The next time you're walking along, take a moment to notice the people around you. Many of them will be looking where they are walking, and just as many of them will be looking at the ground. Practically nobody looks UP until there's lightning or someone jumps off a building.

In that spirit, I made this image a few weeks ago, looking up and down at the same time!

Photography and pretty much all the creative outlets we have involve seeing the world around us in a different way. It's impossible for us to do that if we aren't looking, so today I challenge you to look where nobody else is looking and to be rewarded by seeing what nobody else sees.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My way, on the highway! + 7 photos in the LJ

I was sitting at my computer yesterday, listening to Zack Arias' Critique Episode #12, getting totally bogged down in his total lack of anything positive to say, when I happened to look out the window and see that the light was absolutely perfect for a photo that I've been wanting to do for a few days. I happily put Mr. Arias on Pause, grabbed two of my roommates who happened to be lounging about, and we went out to take some pictures.

The most recent photo I have of either of them was taken in December of 2008, nearly a year ago (and I blogged about it HERE).

For this shoot, Scott is driving my 2002 Jetta (it's a diesel) and Amanda is my subject.
Needless to say, I made the right model choice.

This shot was pretty much the goal, although I envisioned it in color. I've taken to watching a little more TV than is usual for me. I don't do it for the TV shows (which for the most part still absolutely suck), but while I'm watching TV, instead of mindlessly absorbing everything it throws at me, instead I'm reverse-engineering the lighting, or thinking how I'd get a still of that video scene. The above photo was inspired by a commercial of some kind, for some product I don't even remember.

Tech stuff:
We're blasting down the highway, doing about 65mph. Since the sun is behind my model, I needed to give her a little more light. I used the pop up flash on my D300 for the first time EVER as fill light, set to TTL -2 stops. I would have preferred a reflector, but didn't want to stick one out the window at that speed. Because of the flash, my shutter speed was limited to 1/250, so I backed it down to 1/160 and ramped up my aperture a little to f/7. amazingly enough, at 65mph and 1/160 second, I got quite a nice blur on the road/trees, along with a really nice lens flare. I'm using my 18-55mm kit lens that came with my D50 so many moons ago.

In total, I shot 122 frames. I made my selections very quickly and only edited one. It was simply the only good one. Photoshop includes getting rid of the reflection of me in her left (camera right) eye, replacing that eye, and toning down a bunch of the crappy reflections from the pop-up flash.

Usually I would cut this post off here... but today is Thursday! So here is your

Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra 
Domestic Violence Awareness 
Profile shot: Sarah Neatherton (soccer player
Men's Basketball (x3!)

I *think* those are all the photos of mine that made it online. There should be another photo (standalone) in sports of the swim and dive team... but I guess it didn't make it online yet. That's a personal best of SEVEN images published in one issue :-D

Also, props to Bryan Kinkade (the photo editor at The Lumberjack) for his Photo of the Week

Whew. Sorry for the long post! Hope you enjoyed it!
(still no spellchecker...)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Today I have nothing interesting to say to you, my faithul readers.

Instead, I redirect you to today's post on Scott Kelby's blog, and the pro-bono video that this post talks about.

(courtesy of

Projects like this are capable of drastically changing hundreds or thousands of lives. I urge YOU to think about what you can do to make a profound positive difference in the life of just one person. Do that, and even if Scott Kelby doesn't feature you as a guest blogger, you will know you have made the world that much better, for all of us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 updated!

Now that we're a few days out of October, I've had some time to look through my photos from last month and as such I have updated, which is the website where I have archived all my decent photos since the start of my photographic adventure through life. It's nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

I have a couple ideas for some photo shoots in the near future, I just need to find the time to do them. Apparently this is going to be a busy week for me.

I am also in the process of revising my portfolios and possibly making some tweaks to my business website. Once the portfolios are revisied and rejuvinated with new material, I'll stick them on the website for the world to see, critique, and enjoy.

Have a Terrific Tuesday!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Welcome to November!

Holy cow, October went by fast!

For your consideration: the November background that will be occupying my screen, with and without the Calendar.

Also, I will officially be taking November off from Facebook and Twitter. This blog is automatically posted to Facebook without my involvement, so those of you who get my posts there will be unaffected.

My goal with this month off from social media is to spend more time working on my photography. I think too often we as creatives waste time on unimportant activities (like facebook) that we could otherwise be using to work on our craft.
I'll probably also read a few books and spend a bit more time on my homework... as much as it pains me.

Enjoy your November, and the new background photo!