Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It's true though practice does make perfect.  If you truly want to see an improvement in your photography you have to get out there and make images.  You can not just sit and read blogs and web posts all day.  Get out and do something with that camera and don't forget to remove the lens cap!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Selective colour in five steps

Gavin from Gavtrain brings us another great how to video and as I have done in the past I am sharing the entire clip with links back to his site.

Selective colour in five steps: "Selective colour is one of those little Photoshop tricks that’s well worth keeping up your sleeve. The effect is hardly new, cutting edge or revolutionary, but it can still make an eye catching image providing it’s used sparingly.

The basic idea is simple enough. First find a standard colour image that contains a bold area of a single colour. That done you’ll need to select the colour and turn everything else black and white. OK, that sounds easy enough doesn’t it, but how do you select just one colour from an image?

Take a look at the image opposite to get an idea of the direction I’m headed. So let’s begin.

Step One
First open your image, apply any processing you wish and if your image has multiple layers save a copy and then click Layer - Flatten Image to collapse all the layers down into a single background layer.

Step Two
Click Select - Color Range to open the color range selection tools. If you’ve never used this tool before don’t worry it’s all nice and straight forward. Moving your cursor over the image will turn it into a colour sampler tool. Click on the colour you’d like to select, in this case red lettering, and have a look at the result on the Color Range window. White shows the selected areas and black shows unselected areas of the image.

Step three
Either increase the fuzziness to enlarge the range of similar colours sampled or click on the Add to Sample eyedropper and click on more areas of similar colour. Continue until the area of colour you want to select has turned white in the preview window and the majority of the remaining image is black. Remember CTRL+Z will undo your last click… handy to know if you accidentally sample in the wrong spot.

Step Four
Now this is the bit that seems wrong, but trust me it’s important. Click Select - Inverse.
The chances are there will be areas selected that are the same colour as the thing you wanted to selected, but are not part of it. Remove these using any selection tool you like (free hand lasso is a good choice). Remember to hold Shift as you draw your selection.

Step five
Click Layer - New Adjustment layer - Black & White and the colour will disappear from the image except the area you selected. The back and white areas can be adjusted by moving the sliders on the Black & White adjustment layer to create a mono look that compliments the image.

So there you have it, selective colour in five easy steps.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Clay Enos doing Street Portraits

 "Clay Enos is a laid back photographer who among other projects is know for his portraits from the movie The Watchmen. In the video I first saw on fstoppers he is taking his portrait photography to the streets and doing something I find intimidating.  He's asking random people to pose in front of his white backdrop.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Big Goals Small Effort

Here's a life hack I learned from a fellow blogger -

1. Set a major goal
Easy enough to do.

2. Break down that goal into micro-tasks
Not to hard yet.

3. Set a schedule
Still simple.

4. Get ahead of schedule
Thats the hard part...knew it was here.

Ok...its sounds simple enough.  Set a goal, turn it into smaller goals and then go do the small goals.  It is normally along there that my plans fall apart because I forget to do an important task.  What is that important task..easy making sure I really want the major goal in the first place.

It's true the biggest reason people don't succeed is that they forget the goal they are after.  If you want to make it happen, then make it short and to the point.  You want to go on that trip to Paris, set the goals and do the steps.  It can and it will happen if you want it bad enough.

Using a Reflector to light your subject

Monday, June 20, 2011

West Virginia Day

Stained glass representation of the Great Seal of West Virginia on
display at the West Virginia Cultural Center on the state capitol complex in
Charleston, WV

During the Civil War, the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond chose to join the Confederate States of America, much to the chagrin of some of the leaders in the trans-Allegheny region of the state. These leaders gradually pushed for the creation of a new state. After two years of legal maneuvering, West Virginia was formally admitted to the United States of America on June 20, 1863.
June 20 had been informally celebrated across West Virginia over the next six decades until the West Virginia Legislature gave the holiday formal recognition in 1927. The day has traditionally been celebrated with festivities at the state capitol complex in Charleston and at other locations across the state.

WV state Capitol just before a storm.
The image to the left is of the West Virginia State Capitol and is one of the images I am featuring in a book I am currently working on.  If you have not had cause to visit my home state I would like to invite you to check it out.  We have some of the best hiking, fishing, camping and white water rafting on the east coast.  Not to mention the people are just down right friendly here.  If your a photographer I'd be more than happy to show you some of the local spots for photography or to give you a tour of the capitol grounds or many of our state parks.

Hope to see you soon!  BTW - as an employee of the state its a holiday for me, but if you read yesterdays post you already know I'm not home anyway!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day

The other day I read a post by photographer/author/presenter Rick Sammon in which he talked about what his father had taught him.  As many of my readers will know I attribute much of my skill behind the lens to my Dad.  Whne I was growing up in the 80's dad took an interest in photography.  he bought a 35mm camera and a lens from sears and started taking pictures.

He spent his days underground, professionally he was deep coal miner.  If you have seen the show on Spike Coal then you have an idea of what my Dad did everyday of his life.  I was fortunate enough to take a tour of the mine he was working in when I was in my 20's and it was an amazing operation.  I want to make something clear, I'm not a fan of the show on Spike but not for any of the reason that you might think.  It hold no interest for me, the entire backdrop of a coal mine hold no mystery to me as I grew up listening to my Dad, his brother and both of my grandfathers talking about the job.  Dad came home more than once beat up from slate falls and griping about equipment problems.  Underground there was nothing that he could not do.  In his later years he was a shuttle car operator, but over his career he ran miners, roof bolters, and did his fare share of work with explosives.  The only thing he didn't do was the electricians job but that was what Uncle Doug and Papa Ferrel did.  In all of their cases when they came home they spent time with their families and their hobbies.

Dad had many over the years, when I was real young it was cars and engines.  Him and Uncle Doug would rebuild them in our garage.  I remember him building a dune buggy from scratch when I was a kid.  It was along the lines of the one in this image I found online.  Ours was green with a silver metal flake int he paint.  I don't remember what happened to it. he probably traded it for something else.  HE also built custom vans.  The one I remember the most was a dark charcoal grey.  He put a bay window in behind the driver seat and place a captains chair there fro me to ride in. There was also a couch and table in the back, all of it custom built by him.

Somewhere he made a turn into photography and started making images.  He shot with that camera from sears for the longest time, until it literally fell apart on him.  He then upgraded to a Canon body and shot with that.  When it started to wear out he bought a Nikon body.  He was never happy with it and eventually he sent the Canon off for repairs and the Nikon fell to me.  It was with that Canon body I cut my teeth and later the Nikon pushed me to go digital.

When I started shooting Dad shared his advice to was simple advice and strait tot he point.  Here is what he told me:

  1. From every roll you will get 1 or 2 keepers.  The rest you look at and say nice but oh well.
  2. From every 10 rolls you will get one worth putting on the wall.
  3. Have fun!
Dad never graduated past the green rectangle, nor did I until I went digital but his advice with a few modifications have stuck with me all this time and I still use it.  Of course you have to substitute roll for card and the number of keepers has to go up because a card hold far more than a roll ever did but it still hold true. If you want to get good at it you have to shoot a lot and most importantly you have to have fun or it just becomes boring and a drudge.

These days Dad is retired and spends a good deal of his time on his current hobby, wood working.  He always was good at making things with his hands.  In my home I have a number of items he has created.  One of my favorites is a Bear bench that is currently sitting in out living room.  The kids room has a set of table and chairs he made that are quite beautiful and every time they are seen folks try to get him to make one for them. Until recently there was a rocking horse that he made as well, Lex had out grown it and it was given to another child to enjoy.  The table and chairs will likely follow the same path.  The kids beds and the shelves in their room was made by him as well.  Out back behind the house is a swing, currently pained bright red, that he made as well as a bench, and a pair of adirondack chairs.  As well as many other treasures.

Dad is a firm believer that folks who retire need to find new ways to direct their energies.  So he putters around with one project or another all the time.  I hope that when I reach his age I am as productive as he is.  Happy Fathers Day to all og the Fathers out there.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Everyday Photographer - Start

Gone Camping!

Hey folks it's summer time and for me that means camping.  As an Assistant Scout Master one of my responsibilities is to accompany our Troop on their outings and this week we have all gone to Scout Camp at Camp Chief Logan in West Virginia.

This of course means that all of the regularly scheduled program will go on as normal.  The only difference is that I will not be able to respond to posts or comments as quickly as I normally do.  I'll have images to share on my return...keep your shutters clickin'!  While I'm away I'll be teaching wilderness survival and orienteering.  Go figuer I'm not teaching photography!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chesapeake Elem Class of 2010-11

Hope you enjoy these five little videos, the music and its rights of course belongs to the groups. The images are of the fifth graders who moved on to middle school this year...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Path you Choose

Often time we walk past opportunity for change.  For what ever reason it is we just choose not to change.  I observe this almost daily in my walk to work.  Depending on the path I choose to get to my office I arrive at a spot where I must make some choices.  To the left is a diagram of the paths I find myself taking.  In the diagram I am traveling from the top or left paths to point A.  Most typically I approach on path D.  

The other day I stopped and looked at the choices and began to watch my fellow pedestrians and the choices that they made.  Many of them probably wondered why I was just standing there where the oval joins path D.  As I stood there I evaluated which way I was going to go and what the merits of the choices were.  Most of my fellow path D travelers choose to use the path in the second diagram, on the right.  They would obediently turn left and walk the path around toward C then B and arrive at A.  Looking at the paths of choice it make logical sense to move clockwise around the path as to go counter clockwise causes you to walk a bit further.  Seems simple enough.

However why then did to pedestrians not choose a strait line.  In other words why did they stay on the sidewalks.  Why not walk in a strait line across the oval.  It is open grass not mud, it is well cared for.  You might get a little grass clippings on your shoes but it would save you the slog around the walks.  Yet as I stood there and later as I watched from an office window people continued to walk around the side walk.  Why?

I thought on this for a few days and from time to time would walk over to the window and watch even visitors circle around the grass and walk into the buildings.  I don't have an answer other than social upbringings.  As you approach this are it is obvious that it is well cared for an manicured, perhaps at some level people do not want to mess up the nice lawns so they stay on the walk ways.  Perhaps they don't want to get their shoes dirty.  Who knows, they follow the walks, they stay in the lines and don't stray.

Seth Godin would say that the paths themselves, the side walks are broken.  Listen to this talk of his I found on TED.
Are the sidewalks broken... probably.  There is another spot on the ground where folks beat a path in the grass and the ground keeping staff responded by placing a flag stone walk there to keep it looking nice.  Should the oval path be changed, most likely. The reason for the oval path is that at one point this location held a fountain. You can see it in this image I made a few years ago.

I would argue that it is the people who are broken.  I would also argue that it is our society and school system that is responsible for this.  We taught them to follow the rules and we taught them to be a team player.  We did not teach them to be leaders, we taught them to be followers.  As a result they follow the path that is most commonly taken.  When faced with opportunities to make a change they do what they have always done.  They circle to the left or the right and hunker down on their beaten path, a path that at one time made a good deal of sense but now is justified by only marginal gains.

Is it right or is it wrong...only you can decided.  However don't base your decision solely on "Because we have always done it that way."  Instead make an informed decision about the choices you make.  I once heard a story that illustrative of this.

A mother and a daughter are preparing a pot roast for dinner an old family recipe is being used.  The Mother cuts the end off the roast and discards it, places the roast in the pot.  The daughter watching her and wanting to learn how to cook this dish asks why she had cut the end off the roast.  The mother replies because that is how my Mother showed me.  The daughter persists in knowing why so they ask the grandmother.  The Grandmother explains that she learned it from her mother.  Fortunately the Great-Grandmother is still living and they are able to ask her.  She smiles and thinks a bit then replies "I don't cut the end off of my pot roast.  I used to but that was when we had little money and only one big pot.  The roasts would never fit so I would cut the end off to make them fit."

Make informed choices...make choices that fit your needs and above all be true to yourself.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chris Jordan Films Birds Filled With Plastic

Chris Jordan is using his photography to make an impact in the world, what about you?  How is your photography being used?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Krishnamurti - Who are you or Who am I?

Who are you?  This is a question that has often bugged me, in fact if you go through the archives you will find a number of posts about it.  I therefore found it interseting when I ran accross this YouTube video of J. Krishnamurti answering that very questions.  For thoes of you who do not know Krishnamurti he lived from May 1895 – February 1986 and was a writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual issues including psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships, and bringing about positive social change. He maintained that society is ultimately the product of the interactions of individuals, and held that fundamental change in society can emerge only through freely undertaken radical change in the individual.

In this clip digs at the question of who you are or who I am.  He points out that most folks imitate others and that only those who are considered great are worth imitating.  Of course who is considered great is up to the individual to decided. Therefore who they imitate is up to them as well, he cautions that to imitate a person completely is silly but to imitate a portion of a person can help define you as your own person.  He further points out that school or the acquiring of knowledge at school is a form of imitation as is wearing fashionable clothing.

He never gives a strait answer to the question but he does ask another one?  Is it really important to know who I am?  If you are asking that question of yourself then I propose that you attempt to answer it with out using your name or your job description for your name is just what you are called and your job description is just what you do?  Do you want to be defined by those or something more?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Surviving the Market often I have read this lament...and not just in the photographic industry.  In almost every industry when the cost of entry lowers far enough to no longer be a sufficient barrier to entry more and more enthusiasts make the jump to the professional ranks.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

It can be a little of both, if you had been a successful widget maker and charged a fair fee for your widgets you will likely find yourself up against others and have to lower your costs or save cash in other areas in order to survive.  If you were over pricing then the glut of new widget makers will likely drive your prices down to the point that you will despair.  For the new widget makers they make a little extra cash and all is good to them.  So you see as Obi Wan Kenobi explained to Luke Skywalker it all depends on your point of view.

Me I've told you before I don't feed myself with my images.  I feed my heart with them for I love photography, I feed myself with my day job.  At some point I would like to do both with photography but as for now...well I remain a humble amateur or as I often say semi-professional.  This affords me the choice of jobs, allows me to control how much I spend on it and ultimately allows me to make images I care about.

So is all these new photographers bad for business for the old pros?  No not really, it will drive them to become more creative, more adaptive and ultimately better photographers.  Will some go out of business, yes. The ones who refuse to change...they will lose out to the ones who don't.  In the end it is about the images you make and if they make your client happy or not.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Liquify Basics: An FStoppers Post Production Tutorial by Sean Armenta

This video was originally created for F-stoppers, after watching it I decided to bring it over and share with all of you.  I really enjoyed watching him use the liquify tool, though I don;t have much success with it myself after his tutorial I found that I had reevaluated its use and have attempted to use it more. Below is the original post contnet from Sean Armenta:

Liquify Basics: An FStoppers Post Production Tutorial by Sean Armenta: "Hello Fstoppers! My name is Sean Armenta, and this is my little spot on Fstoppers called The Post Production Tutorial. If you enjoy these videos, feel free to subscribe to my new Fstoppers PPT Youtube Channel for the latest updates. I also do photography and retouching workshops over at Feel free to connect with me on the right side bar and I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have about retouching.

This time around I demonstrate how I use Photoshop's Liquify Filter. In putting this video together, I realized just how often I use liquify, whether it be to reshape clothing, hair, facial features, or even sometimes shadows. For now, we'll cover the basics to get you started and revisit this tool in a future episode.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is it live or is it animated?

The crew of F-stoppers found this gem and shared it.  I watched it and was amazed.  I was even more amazed when I got to the end and they showed how the video clip was produced.  As I watched the first part I assumed it was computer generated or that it was a series of combined shots.  When the end clip came up and I see the camera crew using a steady-cam and a motorized cart to produce it was stunned.  Just goes to show you that you don't need fancy things to create awesome images.