Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve- Through the Lens

As a photographer, my ultimate goal is to produce images that move people. It sounds like a simple enough goal, but even though I am competent enough with the technical aspects of photography I often feel as though the story I am trying to tell with the photographs falls short artistically. Of course, on the technical side of things there are some "rules of thumb" that I try to adhere to that are "supposed" to generate more appealing compositions, but here again a textbook composition far from guarantees that the resulting image will pull any emotion whatsoever from someone viewing the image. So, how do you make that jump...from snapshot, to technically correct, to something that is artistically deeper?

The congregation singing at Blackwater United Methodist Church on Christmas eve.

In my experience, finding "that image" within any particular scene first requires that I am looking for it. Yes, I know that sounds silly, but over the years I have trained myself easily enough to look for God in the simplest of things and so I simply apply that same technique to photography. That is, I look for a beautiful approach to the simplest of subjects. It isn't a foolproof method, as often I see things in the composition, and read things from the scene that other folks simply do not "get"(or maybe it's just me?)....but...that's okay. It's okay because now and then...often enough for me....folks DO.... "get it".

"The Trinity" at Christmas Eve Communion.

The Christmas Eve "Candle Light Service" has become something of a tradition for my family. It has always been a spiritually enlightening experience for me, and I have always relished in the beauty of it. This year, on Christmas eve, I was determined to at least try to preserve some of that mood in photographs. I have taken enough wedding photos to know that the lighting in churches is most definately not designed by photographers, and on this night I knew from past experience that even that lighting that is difficult under the best of circumstances would be dimmed....if not completely doused. But...that is exactly what I wanted to capture. Surprisingly, there was ample light from the candles to portray this story in photographs. I was even able to get quite a few shots of faces aglow with candlelight. Simply beautiful. However, I found in the midst of my shooting that there was another way entirely to capture the event. That is, looking at the service from views that most, if not all, of my fellow church goers never see this service from. From those angles and vantage points, I found entirely new layers of beauty through which to view the night through...and found that if I threw the focus of the lens on those the foreground...and let the scene beyond go soft, blurry, and impressionistic the scene changed dramatically. Add to that some slight tilting and short focal lengths in a journalistic style and evrything seemed to click. The scene that is even normally beautiful took on an entirely different and surreal quality. Looking at the photos myself, I must admit, that if I saw them in print without a caption I would most certainly not immediately guess that they were taken within the walls of my own sanctuary. Despite that, I am hugely satisfied with the resulting images from that evening. Everything I had hoped to convey in the images is present, and I will always cherish these photographs.
"Silent Night"- As sung on Christmas eve by candle light.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

...And So It.....Isn't?

This isn't the first time this particular set of photographs have graced the pages of my blog. These were captured on January 18, 2008, nearly a year ago, and a lifetime away it seems.

Last week I had what my doctor described as a simple surgery....and maybe it was. For me, other than having my wisdom teeth removed, this was my very first surgery. I guess I have been extremely lucky, as I really haven't gone out of my way to increase my chances of being a healthy person. Though I suppose there are a lot of good reasons that I chanced this particular malady, I am convinced that the primary reason is simply my age. Let's face it, it ain't exactly 1985 anymore is it?

...And so, things change, places change, we all change...which really brings me to my point.

I remember this old coupe parked just off a nearby highway in nearly every era of my life. I had seen it before, but became extremely aware of it as a teenager. Dreams of hotrodding the old thing ran like fire through my adolescent brain. Vroom-Vroom!!!

...and yet at some point and time it was also someone else's dream. I now imagine the person who bought it new. Scraping his money together, kicking the tires, maybe a test drive, and then the pride he wore as he drove it home from the dealer. Perhaps he loaded his family into it and drove around town to show it off to friends and family. I'm sure it made many a trip to the grocery, and to church where these people worshipped God, and where they prayed in earnest that their own needs be met, and for their own health. I imagine the kids, of this family, eagerly waiting their turn to come of age, and learn to drive in this coupe. Maybe a few first dates as well. What a life this car had!!! This good and faithful servant!!!

I was so excited when I captured these images. I was sure the old thing was looking at me as I studied it from this angle, and that, but it cannot do it anymore. Unfortunately, the property where it sat all those years went up for sale shortly after my "camera-in-hand" expedition. Undoubtedly, the new owners have no use for a sculpture such as this on the premises, and it has been moved. Long gone. No retakes!

Things change, places change, we all change...and isn't...anymore.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"And So It Is".....thoughts on 2008

2009 is nearly upon us, approaching at the speed of light. I am ready, eager to step forward even though much of 2008 will be carried with me. Sweet, and bittersweet memories etched upon my heart. I recieved all the sweetness that life has to offer a man this year, and experienced my share of sorrows as well.

I feel like my photography has grown in leaps this year. I've lost count of the epiphany moments where some technique or other has finally found its way to my own understanding of it. Creating, bending, and shaping light has become a pre-occupation whenever a camera is in my hand. To that end, I have reached my goals for this year by beginning to use flash off of the camera, and in purchasing a fast telephoto zoom. It's been a wonderful ride for me this year as far as photogrphy is concerned. If variety is the spice of life, I might be a cayenne pepper. I had the opportunity to photograph everything from infants to a 90 year old...a New Mexico desert to a Louisiana snow....a birthday party and a funeral...from wine rooms to sandy beaches....from high school seniors to weddings. You might say I have just about seen it all in 2008 through the lens.

On a personal side much has happened as well. Highs and lows. Happiness and sorrows. We watched Kristina graduate from high school, and then a few months later drove out of town, moved her into her first dorm, then drove away. It was a very quiet trip home. We had a major hurricane named Gustov that turned Baton Rouge upside down....then last week the worst snow I have ever seen here...ever! Breanna, our youngest, got her drivers license. That'll make you feel old. My saddest moment was with my grandmother. We listened to her call out for my long dead grandfather in agony. I watched an uncle drip water into her thirsty mouth with a straw. The following week, along with her other grandsons, I carried her to a place beneath an ancient magnolia tree in the National Cemetary in Baton Rouge to rest, peacefully with my grandfather. Losing someone whose mere presence on this earth brings comfort is a tough pill to swallow.

My happiest moment, though, found me as happy as I have ever been in life. So high that the weight of all the rest that is wrong in this world could never tether me to the ground. Joy, so pure, at the sight of my son walking out of the assembly center at Southeastern Louisiana University with that diploma in his hand. I have never been so proud of anything in all my life. Man that felt good!

My hopes are that 2009 will be every bit as meaningful to me as 2008. My prayers are that my friends and loved ones experience that same kind of sweetness in their lives. That regardless of the joys and sorrows that we experience, God has orchestrated our paths as part of His perfect plan. He has given us this miraculous gift of life and promises us infinite life beyond.

..and so it is!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Congratulations Garrett!!!

Last Saturday I had the good fortune to spend a few hours capturing images of Garrett for his senior portfolio. Aside from being an awesome young man, Garrett also serves as Drum Major for his high school's marching band, and plays saxaphone in the jazz band. Our afternoon took us to several locations in the downtown Baton Rouge area. We began on the State Capitol grounds, and finished up after dark under the contrasty lights of the Catfish Town area.

High School graduation is a special time, and is perhaps the first milestone in a young person's life. It is also a time when parents begin to contemplate the fact that our kids are growing up...even if we cannot comprehend the speed at which that has happened. There are some major decisions to be made... Which school to attend? Career paths? What should I major in?...a time of excitment as well as uncertainty.

Congratulations Garrett, and may God bless you and your family at this exciting time in your life!

Telephoto Maximus

I try to set up goals for myself and my photography each year. This years goal was to get the equipment needed to begin experimenting with off camera flash, and to aquire a 70-200mm large aperture zoom lens. I have been exploring off camera flash for quite some time now with excellent results, and a few weeks ago I finally purchased a 70-200mm zoom. I had a two-fold reasoning behind the purchase of such an expensive lens. First and foremost, it would enable me to get better images of my youngest daughter performing on the football field with her dance team. Secondly, the large aperture combined with the long focal length would allow me to take better looking portraits by throwing the background more out of focus...especially on full length type portraits. I have had a chance to use the new lens, a Canon 70-200mm F2.8 "L" IS, on several occasions and I have to say that it is an extraordinary piece of glass. The proof, though, is in the pudding and below I have shared a couple of the captures I have made on these preliminary outings.

Friday, October 10, 2008

These Are the Days...

Our local high school held it's annual homecoming dance a few weeks ago. Breanna, my youngest daughter, allowed me to capture in photographs the early evening part of her festivities. This is a fun time for me as a father and photographer. The kids always look their best, and it is a time when even the shyest of them will allow a photo or two.

I have now had plenty of experience with high school dances. We usually begin in our own backyard, capturing photos of our own kids and their dates. Then, usually, we meet a large group of kids and their parents for photographs at some other pre-determined location. Here the kids get together for large group shots with friends, and I usually come away also with some nice candid photos from these gatherings.

Afterwards, the kids all leave for a resturant, and then on they go to the dance. The waiting begins...and if you are a parent you know exactly what I mean!


"Overflowing was the theme for a recent Corner Challenge at The object was to portray overflowing in a photograph. My entry, "Suds" at left, held it's ground during the voting for a first place finish. This image represents one of only a handful of others where I have utilized multiple off-camera flash sources for light. Using the Canon STE2 transmitter to fire the flash units, I located One at camera right and one at camera left. This was a simple set up, with a 1:1 ratio on the lighting. I used a small aperture to hold as much of the texture in focus as possible. Both the bottle and the mug had spent some time in the freezer before hand to also add to that texture.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Heavy Metal

Hurricane Ike arrived this morning in Galveston. The effects here in town were limited to a bit of wind, rain, and a some limited power outages. I was in need of shooting an entry image for the Digital Sharp Shooters Challenge#8 that takes place every two weeks at . The challenge theme this go 'round is "Weathered or Polished". I had an idea about what I wanted to use as a subject when I first saw the theme. Anyone who knows me well will know that aside from people, my next favorite subject to photograph are well worn and discarded cars and trucks that are silently rusting away in their final resting places. A friend of mine is the proud owner of three late forties model Chevy trucks. One is nearly pristine, the other two are used for parts. I made a phone call to him about photographing them tommorrow, but quickly called him back when I realized that hurricane Ike had left us with some great overcast daylight.


I shot these photos at mid day. Usually, this would have been a time of harsh undesirable lighting. Today, however, I was treated to the giant softbox effect photographers love about overcast skies. This results in softer shadows, and nice even lighting. There were a few breaks in the cloud cover that I had to wait through. Luckily, though, the wind was still brisk enough to make those breaks short in duration.
"Diamond in the Rough"

I haven't decided for sure exactly which image I will use for the contest. Having such an affinity for these old relics as I have makes it tough for me to eliminate a choice. For now I have chosen the image below, "American Pie", though I am not sure that I will use that title. Trey, the owner of this truck, is lucky to have the chance to breath life back into at least one of the three that he owns. He has offered, and I have accepted, the opportunity to use them as I wish as backdrops for portraits. I can't wait, and hope that when that day comes the light will be as great as it was today.
"American Pie"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Up To the Minute...

For the last few weeks, I have been involved in several small photo competitions. The first is at . In this competition the theme was "silloutte". I entered a photo that I had captured at a recent wedding in Gulf Shores, Alabama. My efforts produced a first place win in my first competition on that website.
"The Honeymooners"

The second competition I was involved with is at . Here I had qualified for this quarterly challenge with a photograph taken several months ago. This quarterly "Mega" challenge was made up of photographers who placed in the top 5 in votes for the photographs they entered in the qualifying rounds. The theme here was "The Elements". I chose to enter an image that was built in several steps, a layered composite. It followed a very basic and literal interpretation of the theme. When the final scoring ended, it had done well with the judges, but not well enough to win. Maybe next time!

"Tungsten No.74"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Congratulations Claire and Danny!!!

On August 2nd, 2008 Claire and Danny were married in Gulf Shores, Alabama. With the wind in their hair and sand between their toes they said their "I Do's" as the gulls and waves sang in the background. It was an awesome weekend filled with go-carts, putt-putt golf, and a beautiful couple becoming one. Claire and Danny, I wish you all the best that life has to offer, and I was flattered to be your guest and photographer on your wedding day. May God bless you both!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Claire and Chris....

On July 19th Claire and Chris joined strings! The wedding was held at University United Methodist Church followed by a reception at the Multi-Cultural Worship Center near LSU campus. I had a blast capturing their wedding and preserving it for the future. Congratulations Claire and Chris!

Window Light

Last week I was asked to photograph an 8 month old! My usual approach to portraits is in outdoor on location type shoots. For infants, though, I make the exception and set up indoors. This little man's mother and I discussed the look we were going for in advance. She has two older children, and most of the photos hung on her walls are either in black and white or sepia tones. From the start we were not interested in color photos at all. This gave me a lot of freedom to ignore colors in the room and instead to concentrate on light and texture.

Most of the light here is natural light filtering through the windows. I did use a reflector for some of the photos, and also a flash unit on all of them to kick a little extra light into the shadows, but was able to control the artificial light well enough that it did not rob any of the ambience from the window light.

In the end though I can only take a tiny bit of credit for these images. Much of the success of an infant's photoshoot depends on the infant himself. Brooks behaved very well throughout the shoot and put on quite a show for us. His little face also has that classic shaping that lends itself very well to a classic style of photo processing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Heart to Heart...

Over the last ten or so years, I have participated with our Church's youth group. It is one of those things in my life that give me peace, joy, and hope. Each year we travel to some part of our country to serve others through mission work, and this summer is no different. Last week we made our annual mission trip. We teamed up this year with youth groups from Zachary and St. John's UMC. Our destination this year was New Mexico, and we spent a few days in Carlsbad followed by some time spent in Roswell. For fun, we visited the Carlsbad Caverns and the Alien Museum in Roswell. These trips are very special to me as they are full of fun, hard work, and also an opportunity for us each to stretch ourselves spiritually. It is a special gift when all three of those activities can be accomplished as one. This year we accomplished quite a bit of work; maybe even more than I have ever seen our group complete in one trip. We painted the exterior of a church in Carlsbad as well as repaired some windows and sheetrock. In Roswell, we painted the interior of a church, made some roof repairs, did some yard work, and uncovered a beautiful stained glass window. The Boys and Girls Club of Roswell hosted us in Roswell. There, we painted a room for teens (complete with a mural), helped with younger kids in arts and crafts, organized a weight room, served meals, and again did yard work. The yard work at the Boys and Girls Club included spreading a truck load of manure from the zoo! All of this, of course, is something to be proud of, but for me it is all worthless unless we have grown within our own spirituality and found deeper meanings in the experiences we have had. This year, I found all of the meaning I needed to find in an old stained glass window.

Removing plywood from a stained glass window.

On Wednesday, of our week in New Mexico, we began work at El Divino Pastor United Methodist Church. Located in Roswell, NM it is known by the locals as the Spanish Methodist Church. Sadly they have lost all but five members. In an effort to inspire growth, they invited us into their church to give it a facelift. The facilities at El Divino Pastor are not perfect, but are all intact. There is a mid-sized sanctuary, a large fellowship hall, several classrooms, and a small kitchen area. Nothing really is lacking as far as the buildings are concerned. Our work list here included patching some roof leaks, cleaning up the church grounds, and painting the interior of the church. I set out early that morning to show four teenaged girls how to spackle cracks and holes in drywall in preparation for painting the sanctuary(...and they did a great job!), but that was just my task. We were a group of nearly fifty, so if you can imagine a swarm of bees decending on this place and going to work at different jobs, then you will nearly have a picture of all of the activity of that morning. In the midst of all of this buzz I noticed on the back wall of the sanctuary near the peak of the ceiling a darkened stained glass window. I could barely make out a few details because of the darkness, but I was positive that it was of an intricate design...and quite old. I couldn't help but wonder why it had been covered, and then I saw the holes. The window had been broken.

An art project made with the plywood that was removed from the window.

After awhile, when I was sure that our sheetrock patchers could be left to their own devices I made a tour of the building to see what other work was being done. Eventually I found my way to the roof. There, I realized that the stained glass window had been covered over with a simple piece of plywood to keep the rain out. I thought that it would be pretty easy to remove the plywood and replace it with a thick sheet of plexiglass. Not neccesarily what the window really needed, and not on our worklist, but definately a way to allow light to pass once again through that stained glass. I suggested this "fix" to one of our other adults. He and I then convinced the other adults that we ought to at least give it a try. Everyone was onboard with the idea. A few phone calls later, I had located a local supplier of plexiglass who had enough of the stuff in stock to cover the window. All the supplier needed was the plywood covering to be used as a template to cut the right size and radius on the arch at the top. Three of us then went up to the roof to remove the plywood so that it could be taken to the glass shop. Removing it was simple work that required a screwdriver and a ladder. I remember picking up all the loose screws as well as a couple of small shards of the broken stained glass that were lying below the window on the roof and put them in my pocket to be thrown away later. I was later told that while I was away at the glass shop an adult woman who had come from Baton Rouge with us began crying at the sight of the window once it was uncovered. It was that beautiful.

Worship at El Divino Pastor with the window lit by the afternoon sun.

I would have liked to have been a part of repairing the window, but on Thursday I began work at the Boys and Girls Club of Roswell with part of our crew while the remainder went back to El Divino Pastor to complete the work we had started. I am told that the plexiglass installation went smoothly, yet I was unable to see the finished project until we held a worship service in their sanctuary on Friday evening, our last night in New Mexico. On that night it was lit very well by the setting sun, and later was a beakon to the surrounding neighborhood by light from within. Two of El Divino Pastor's members were present at that service, Carmen their lay pastor and her older sister-in-law. Carmen spoke to our group briefly through a shower of tears expressing her thanks, and telling the kids how much they have inspired her. She was without a doubt the most greatful person I have ever seen, and to show her gratitude she had us line up so that she could give us each a hug, a kiss, and a thank you. She wanted to be certain that she had not missed thanking us each and all personally. I had the feeling that the inspiration we had given her paled in comparison to what she had given us. Carmen had to leave for work before we were done with our worship time, but her sister-in-law owns a fireworks store, and we were to visit the store that evening and be treated to a box full of fireworks for our own enjoyment, so after the service, myself and another adult went to the fireworks store so she could show us the field that we could use to set off all the gizmos in the box. This is when I found out what the stained glass meant to at least one of the members of El Divino Pastor.

A Son who lives eternal.

On a gravel patch in the middle of a field on the outskirts of Roswell she leaned against the door of her car and said "thank you". " Thank you, thank you, thank you" over and over again as tears trailed from her wrinkled eyes. In her heavily accented and broken english she says to us " I have seen that window once before, but only once." "My son would have been fifty-two this year" she says "but he was killed young in a skydiving accident....but I remember that window". When he was seven, he was christened on Mother's Day. She had attended her own Catholic Church that day for the christening, and then gone on to her mother-in-laws church, and now her own church, El Divino Pastor for the Mother's Day service. She said that she never noticed the window until the service was over and it was time to leave and then "Oh, it was so beautiful, and the sun, and I could only stand there and stare, I could not speak". By my math that day was Mother's Day forty-five years ago. On this night the most beautiuful archetectual element of her sanctuary had been returned to her and it had ressurected long ago memories. Memories of her dead son's christening returned by gazing into a picture of a Son who lives eternal.

Later, while packing, I found the two shards of stained glass I had pocketed. I have always collected tidbits such as this to be tucked away into the box my Bible came in. It is full of cards and letters and other momentos from my experiences with our youth group. This may seem too sentimental for some of you, but the things in that box mean the world to me. On a whim, I offered one of the shards to Jill. She is the lady who travelled to New Mexico with us and cried at the sight of the uncovered stained glass. She didn't say, but I have a sneaky suspicion that her shard means perhaps as much to her as the rest of the window means to Carmen's sister-in-law.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Many times while out on a photoshoot, I like to take the opportunity to capture some details. Often, the detail shots are the ones that define the day, and often are favorites among the people involved in the shoot.

Aside from our faces, there are many things that say who we are. A parent or loved one can recognize us just as easily from our parts as from our whole. As much time as I spend trying to set up a location shoot so it will look "just so", these detail shots do not depend on anything to do with the location other than the lighting. Straying from what is typically defined as a portrait and focusing in on details often results in photos that are more abstract in nature, yet they still portray us as who we are.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Family Photos...

I have a bad habit of looking for portrait settings everywhere I go! This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Often, when approached by someone who wants to do an on location portrait session the very first thing they ask is..."where would be a good place". As long as I keep my bad habit up I guess I will never have to scratch my head to answer that question. There is a treasure trove of excellent locations in and around Baton Rouge, and I have made great use of many of them.

A week or so ago, I was approached by a friend about doing a set of family portraits for her family. Sure enough, the question of locations arose. Although I can supply recommendations of great locations, I usually make certain to point out that a location that actually means something to those involved would be best. On this recommendation, it was decided that we would do their photos out of town on a beautiful piece of property owned by her father. With his barn and the golden glow of the afternoon sun as a backdrop, we were able to capture some very good looking photographs that will become even more valuble to the family over time. So, when booking for your on location family portraits remember....location, location, location!!!


Last week, I found out that this photograph recieved enough votes to place as second runner up in a photo contest. I was thrilled with this news, but even more thrilled that I had envisioned this and been competent enough to capture it and see it through its post processing to realize that vision. Although many of the photos in the competition were of the type that could be repeatedly shot until it was right, my idea for an entry was based on a one-shot opportunity. I arrived at my daughter's high school graduation early enough to insure that I would have a seat in close proximity to where I would need to be for this shot. During the ceremony, I fiddled constantly with camera settings trading ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds around until I felt I had a wide enough aperture and fast enough shutter speed to accomplish my goal. I wanted a perfectly crisp image, but not necessarily one that did not have any motion blur. I used a hotshoe mounted flash bounced into the ceiling behind me for additional light. As the ceremony wound down I positioned myself for this shot and was able to squeeze off three shots that captured the hats in the air. This one was the first of the three frames, and held the most hats aloft. I knew instantly when I viewed it on the LCD that it was an excellent photojournalistic type photograph.


I awoke the morning following graduation and immediately went to work on the image. My first step after minor adjustments and converting from the RAW file was to convert the image to black and white. I chose to use a LAB Mode conversion method which is by far my favorite method of conversion when working with portraits. It seems to offer the very delicate, crisp, smooth tones that I like in a good black and white photograph. The only ill effects of this type of conversion is that mid-tones are usually somewhat lost in the conversion, and it will magnify noise in a high ISO photograph. Since I was going for that richly toned photojournalistic look, I would need to take special care that I retained as much mid-tone contrast as possible. I achieved this by doing curves adjustment layers and masks in Photoshop to squeeze every drop of contrast that I could get out of several key areas in the photo. I had one layer totally devoted to pulling a shadow out that had gone inky dark between the feet of the young man at front left. This part of the photo isn't visible in the version I have posted here, but you can at least appreciate the trouble I was going through to achieve my end-goal. Another layer was entirely devoted to adjusting for contrast in the faces of the kids. The hats in the air were also treated to their own layer to adjust their sharpness and contrast. Once I had the tones I was looking for, I moved over to noise control. The well exposed foreground had very little noise, but the dark curtains on the back wall were another story. My solution here was to do two noise correction layers, one for the foreground and one for that back wall, to allow me to minimize the ill effects of noise removal in the important areas of the photograph and keep my image crisp. I then added a warm tint to the photograph to keep it from having that greenish grey cast that is present in many black and white photos. The final step was to sharpen the image using the high-pass sharpening method. I have found that this is an excellent way to sharpen the details in an image while having 100% control over sharpening the noise in an image.

The version here is one that I plan to present to our school board. They have only been in existence for one year and this was their very first graduating class. I hope that they can see and appreciate the sheer joy on each of the faces within the frame. So many dreams and ambitions together with relief are evident in every corner of this photograph. I think it speaks well to what the goals of the school board should set for itself. Congratulations to the class of 2008!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Devine Intervention-Live

Our youth director at church is also a musician. Last Sunday night, his band "Devine Intervention" held a concert to raise funds for our summer mission trip. Of course Chris, our youth director, had a special interest in raising money for our kids, but the other guys were there purely out of kindness and generosity. Thanks guys!!!

The music was great. Very upbeat and modern. I know that Devine Intervention plays venues near and far at every opportunity. If they are in your area, I urge you to check them out. If anyone is interested in booking them for a concert let me know, and I can put you in touch.

Never having had the opportunity to photograph a concert I decided to give it a try last Sunday night. In addition to the existing light in the fellowship hall, I used a single speedlight that was fired wirelessly using the Canon STE2 transmitter. The speedlight was located on the other side and in front of the stage from me. It provided some additional light, but also threw many interesting shadows on the walls in some of the photos. For processing, I used some common Lightroom presets and then applied an assortment of textures in Photoshop to add an edgy grunge appearance.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Congratulations Courtney and Tommy!!!

Last Friday night, I was blessed with the opportunity to share in the festivities as Courtney and Tommy got hitched!!! The location was a rustic building just across the St. Helena Parish line and was the perfect spot for a cozy and romantic evening. The bride wore a beautiful candlelight gown. The Groom, and groomsmen, wore black tuxedos that were accessorized with camoflauge vests and ties. The music was good! The food was great! ...and a good time was had by all!!! Congratulations Courtney and Tommy!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Late Date...

Prom season is here!!! We had a busy weekend last weekend with my oldest daughter and her senior prom, and my youngest attending two different proms. I am pretty sure( I can't keep up!) that we still have one coming up next weekend. I will be glad when it is over. As a father, I can say with certainty that the best part of prom is when they whisper through my bedroom door, "I'm home".

I do like the idea of a prom for the photographic possibilities. A time when the girls have a chance to pretty-up and are actually willing to have their photos taken. Of course it just so happens that our climbing rose on the patio blooms every year for prom. That makes it even all the more better!!!

I know that many of my blog visits are by family and friends. Statistics, however, lead me to believe that most of my visitors are fellow photographers. Either way what we all have in common is that the majority of us are watching our children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews grow up. So for the sake of sentimentalism I have a story to share about a photograph I captured on last year's prom night, and a bit of advice.

The first photo in this post is a shot of my daughter Kristina in the mirror. It was taken this year as she was preparing for her senior prom. I have always made it a habit to grab a few of these type shots as the girls prepare for such events. I chose to give this particular photograph an aged look, and I am pleased with the results.

The last photograph in this post(below) is a similar type one that I captured last year as she was preparing for her junior prom. Looking at it you will notice several things. First and foremost the photo was captured with an exagerrated tilt. I shot the photo through a 50mm prime lens in a fairly tight area. The tilt was needed to keep the elements of the composition inside the frame. All of the elements in this composition are important to the story that this photograph tells. Secondly, this photo is finished with an aged look achieved by processing it as a duotone. This was an easy choice at the time since the color of her clothing and all of the items on the counter were a distraction to what was really going on in this image. Lastly is the story itself. The photograph depicts Kristina applying make-up while sitting on the vanity with her feet in the sink. This, of course, used to be a common occurance anytime she was doing her hair or make-up. In fact, while I did make sure that the photograph clearly depicted her sitting on the vanity, the specialness of her action did not really cross my mind. As I said, we saw her doing this every day.

Now the sad part...

The day that I captured that photograph was the last time that I can remember seeing her sit like that while dolling herself up. The end of an era in my home. That simple fact makes this photograph priceless to me. It is another example of how fast our kids grow up. Their habits that are cute and commonplace could be only a memory as soon as tommorrow. My advice to you is to be absolutely sure that you are capturing these memories of your little ones. Words cannot even begin to express how thankfull I am that I was there on that day to capture this image of her. There she is...through the lens...for all time.

Help!!!...I Can't Keep Up!!!.....

The saying "time marches on" is completely off the mark. "Time races on, nearly ahead of us, swallowing everything up in it's wake" would be a more accurate phrase. Maybe it is common among "over 40" adults and they just don't talk about it, but lately I cannot help but feel that time has slipped like sand through my very fingers. My son, the oldest of our three children is graduating from college in one month. If that isn't enough, my oldest daughter will graduate high school the same week. I feel as though I have lost something that is terribly important to my existence.

A week or so ago the Army Corps of Engineers opened the gates at the Bonnet Carre Spillway. This is a flood control gate that diverts water from the swollen Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain just north of New Orleans. The last time this protection system was used was in 1997, eleven years ago. It so happens that eleven years ago I drove the family to downtown Baton Rouge and we walked up on the levee to witness the historic high water level. I did not remember bringing a camera, but I did.

I was charged, last week, with putting together a slide show for our church to honor our high school seniors. We do this every year. Among the sports and senior portraits we include photos of the kids that were taken at various stages in life. So I found myself digging through boxes of old photos when the photo above presented itself. That is Kristina in the center(our high school senior) and Josh just to the left (our college senior). At the very left of the frame is Kim and Breanna. I didn't include the photo in the slideshow, but brought it to work to show the guys how high the water was in 1997. It so happens that I was also planning my 10 year service celebration at work this week. I am treating the guys to boiled shrimp and fried fish next week.

Joshua, Breanna, and Kristina last week

It dawned on me, when all these various events of the week lined up together that it really seems as if I started that job yesterday. The photo was taken only one year before. My kids are sooo tiny in that photo, and now they are all but grown. What is going on? I can't keep up!!!