Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Hello, friends! Happy New Year!

A non-zero number of you have asked about my writing schedule for 2011. I think this was spurred by the fact that you (they) saw less of me over at UpTake and Beyond Megapixels in November and December. The special project I was working on at UpTake occupied my writing quota – if you follow me on Facebook you may have seen the “playlists” I was publishing for a while (like this one). Now that the project is wrapped up, I’ll be going back to my regular posting schedule of two vacation blog posts per week. As for Beyond Megapixels, I’ve decreased my writing quota over there a bit (7 per month at the moment, plus the contributions of a very excellent guest writer), but we’re hoping that will pick back up in the new year (oh, and I know I pimped it on Twitter and Facebook, but if you haven’t read my latest article, you should! I’m proud of it, and it’s been getting really positive feedback! Which was the point.). Finally, I’m still writing for Demand Studios, to the tune of about three or four articles a week.

It strikes me, as I peruse the job boards for more freelance work, that I’m much more optimistic about being able to one day support our family on my writing income. It also strikes me that, as much as I love photography, it is to my writing that I continue to turn to pursue my ambitions. I guess one’s first love is always one’s strongest love. Plus, of course, it’s easier to freelance in writing when one has a full-time job – I can write at night and on weekends and only have to contend with my own schedule. It’s harder to line up photography gigs around a full-time job.

Not that I plan on backing off on my photography goals. Quite the opposite is true – I am now a card carrying member of NAPP and I bought a subscription to Kelby Training just last week (both tax write-offs!). I’ve only watched a few training videos so far, but the very first one, a photo walk of New York City with Jay Maisel, was worth EVERY PENNY of that subscription. If you’re serious about learning photography, and you’re looking for a great alternative to formal education, consider signing up for Kelby Training! It’s a truly excellent resource. And I’m totally plugging them for free – I seriously doubt that anyone at Kelby Media Group even knows that I exist.

Bill continues to encourage me on the photography front – he got some overtime over the holidays and wants me to spend it on gear. That was a supremely generous gesture, wasn’t it? So I’m looking at a 580 EXII Speedlite. Further along on the gear-purchasing front, I still have plans to turn Amanda’s bedroom into a small studio eventually, and now that I have Kelby’s “10 Essential Studio Techniques Every Photographer Needs to Know” training under my belt, I know exactly what I need. A wide roll of white paper on a rod and stand to serve as a simple yet effective background, this Elinchrom strobe kit, this Elinchrom softbox, and this Westcott strip bank. For $1600 and an understanding of how lighting works, I can do professional work that rivals, well, the professionals! So, that’s my next big purchase to be worked for over the coming months.

Then I’m going to get this 70-300 telephoto (there’s a much more expensive L-series of the same focal range and speed, but I’m not convinced the extra GRAND is worth it, and reviewers agree with me). This macro lens and this wide angle lens will wrap up all the lens purchases I wish to make. I hold no expectation that I’ll be able to purchase all of these within the next year, or even within the next two years. A wish list is named thus for a reason.

When I worked with my friend Karen’s daughter and her friends back in October, I found that I really enjoyed the experience. I think my niche just might be that sort of assignment. I like going to client’s homes or working on location (as my work with Sandstone attests to). My friends have asked my why I don’t want to be a wedding photographer – to which I respond that I don’t want that kind responsibility. I don’t want the responsibility of capturing the details of the most important day of a person’s life. I work much better in a less formal atmosphere. Hence wanting to develop my own studio, and enjoying location work that doesn’t involve gowns and cake and nerves. I would much rather attend a wedding and gift the bride and groom with the shots that I took as a guest.

I also like shooting a variety of subjects – people, sure, but also products and architecture and landscapes and food and sports. I guess I liken it to being a General Practitioner, rather than specializing in a particular service. One of my goals for this year is to further formalize my portfolio, which demonstrates examples of all of these types of photography. I have a portfolio on my media site, but it needs to be updated and re-vamped. Plus, it provides access to ALL of my photos on Flickr, and, well, many of them are NOT portfolio-worthy.

Finally, there will be a total overhaul of Snerkology, its domain, and its off-shoots. Snerkology (including the original site), World Famous Nosh, Snerkology Media, and Photos by Tiffany will all finally be under one roof, and hosted on Dreamhost. I am very excited about this in particular, as the site redesign has been a long time coming. Details are just about finalized (yes, I’m hiring someone, and she comes highly recommended), so rest assured you guys will be receiving regular updates. For now, I’ve just finished my own page which helps to summarize my Internet domination. I think it needs a better picture on it still, but for now that one will do.

I think that’s quite enough ambition for one year, don’t you? AcronymCo continues to find me employable for some unfathomable reason, we have a trip to Maine and a trip to Indy planned this year, I have grand plans for debt payoff and eventual solvency (mostly), tax season is upon us so I have to get all of THAT crap together in the next few weeks, I have a workout schedule that I think finally jives with my level of ambition (snort) and my schedule… and I don’t understand what it is within myself that disallows even one SECOND of laziness.

I’ve been reading everyone else’s blogs on the subject of the coming year, so I know I’m not alone.

BRING IT, 2011!


You all know about how I write for Beyond Megapixels. Sometimes, rather than the usual tutorial or advice or product review, I encourage my readers to get thoughtful. Today, I asked them to consider, think, ponder, and navel-gaze about what their “best shot” (or shots) says about themselves.

Go ahead, go read it. I’ll hang out.

So, now I’m asking you guys. It doesn’t have to be about photography – it can be about any creative outlet that you currently enjoy. What does the result of your creativity say about the kind of person you are?

Food for thought on this happy Wednesday.

Bill’s headed up north today on a job, so I’m going to drive up after work and meet him in Flagstaff for an overnighter. Never for one second do I take for granted these lovely little getaways that we’re able to take so frequently. Despite how much we bitch and moan, we really do live a pretty marvelous life.

Tonight, we’re staying at the Hotel Monte Vista. There are numerous stories of the hotel being haunted, and I have to say that I would LOVE to experience some of the things that have been reported by the patrons. I even looked up articles on how to photograph ghosts, you know, just in case. I also found this little video all about the hauntings at Hotel Monte Vista:

So, pretty cool stuff! I’m running home at lunch to pack a bag and feed the animals. I’ve also got my music lined up for the two-and-a-half hour drive. Picture me, if you will, barreling up the mountain and singing Abba’s Greatest Hits at the top of my lungs. And also the soundtrack for Jersey Boys, John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits, Modest Mouse, Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits, and one other that I can’t think of right now (I have a six CD deck). I suspect it’s another “Greatest Hits” from someone or other.

Anyway, staying at the HMV puts us right downtown, within walking distance of a TON of bars, clubs, and restaurants. So, I anticipate drunken debauchery tonight as we wander along the sidewalks. Tomorrow morning we plan on visiting The Arboretum at Flagstaff and witnessing their Live Birds of Prey raptor free-flight program.

Lots of photography fodder is on deck for this weekend, and you can rest assured I will share with you to the point where you’ll be all, “What, AGAIN with this stuff?”

Happy Friday!

1iconphotoLast weekend, while despairing at the state of my back yard, I noticed that the rose bush was freaking out with all the blooms. There were (are!) entire bouquets of roses on this poor little neglected thing that we’ve never done anything for except stick it in the ground and kind of coax one of the drip heads over toward its general direction. Apparently our neglect just served to motivate this little rose bush to Show Us that it could thrive.

Feeling a little guilty (raised at Granny’s knee, I’m of the camp of allowing living outdoor things to remain, well, living outdoors), I snipped one of the stems from the bush and carried it into the house. I stuck it in a bud vase with some water, then cast around for a well-lit place to take pictures and mess around with macro shots. We keep our house pretty dark in order to keep it cool (at the sacrifice of natural lighting, alas), so the best option at the moment was the bathroom, with its northern- and western-facing block windows.

I set up the tripod and attached the camera – for the shots I wanted, it was necessary to set the tripod up at near its highest level, point the lens down at the flowers, and drag out the step-stool so I could look through the viewfinder. I stopped down the lens to its lowest f-stop, which for my camera/lens combination was 5.6 (my kingdom for a macro lens!). Then I zoomed as closely into the flower as I could, allowed the auto-focus to do its thing, and set the camera shutter release on the timer so I wouldn’t jar the camera by manually pressing the button and end up blurring the photo. Calvin darted in with the water bottle and sprayed the blooms – he’s good at added touches like that.

Exposure: 0.04 (1/25); Aperture: f5.6; Focal Length: 55mm; ISO: 200 – click on the photo for larger versions.

Exposure: 0.04 (1/25); Aperture: f5.6; Focal Length: 55mm; ISO: 100 – click on the photo for larger versions.

I love how only parts of the flowers are in focus. Basically, the rule is, the lower the f-stop, the more the focus is narrowed to what is directly in front of the lens, and the more “blurred” the background is. This style of shooting is great for portraits, too, when you want the focus of the photo to be directly on the subject, without all of the “noise” of the background.

Here’s a shot at f8, the next “stop” up, which shows a little bit more of the flower in focus. It may be easier to see what I mean if you look at the larger versions:

Exposure: 0.04 (1/25); Aperture: f8; Focal Length: 55mm; ISO: 200 – click on the photo for larger versions.

It’s an addictive photography technique. I find I want to take macro shots of everything, now. You might have to deal with my obsession in the near future. You love it, admit it.

Why didn’t anybody tell me how much better Firefox is than Internet Exploder? Oh, wait, you did. I downloaded it when I read on the WordPress Forums that many of the features of their new admin panel don’t work with IE, but do work with Firefox. Certain things still aren’t working for me, or working the way I like, but it’s better than it was. And can I just say? FUCK bureaucratic changes that don’t ask the users what THEY want… it just changed one day with no warning, which really cheesed me, and a lot of other people, off.

Anyway, Firefox. Of course, AcronymCo’s IT guys are going to have a fit when they realize that I downloaded a non-sanctioned program onto my laptop. What the heck, it’s a tradition by now. I already have LimeWire and Quicken and Photoshop and iTunes and all the programs for my Canon. What’s one more?

Speaking of unsanctioned programs, I’m pretty stoked. I have a seriously outdated version of Photoshop (5.5, to be precise). I love my camera, I love taking pictures, but I always felt like I could be doing more with the images to make them more interesting, more artistic, more in keeping with what I see in my mind. So I picked up a SERIOUSLY discounted version of Photoshop CS3 and will proceed to go nuts with it. If you’d like to know where and how, e-mail me.

Based on other bloggers’ recommendations and ravings, I also picked up copies of The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Phographers, and The Digital Photography Book Volume I, both by Scott Kelby.

I love having hobbies.