I'm back!

Well, after a week in Israel and two missed blog postings, I'm back.  I'd say I missed you all, but I didn't really.  I love traveling and this was quite the traveling experience.  I went for my sister's wedding, but one of the benefits of a destination wedding is the ability to take photos... lots and lots of photos.  I took about four 16GB memory cards and I almost filled three of them with hundreds, if not thousands of photos.  I've been back for almost a week and since then I've culled them down to about 600 keepers.  I feel like some of those are really great and some will only be great to my family, but I had a great time and really loved bonding with my camera.  It was an amazing place and over the next week or so, I'll be sharing tons of the photos from my trip.  In the meantime, I thought I'd share one to wet your appetite.  Let me set the stage for you. I was in Tel Aviv for the second half of my trip and I decided, without any knowledge of where I was going, to try and get up for sunrise and head over to the Mediterranean to take some photos.  So I set my alarm and got directions for how to go down to the water.  It was about a 20 minute walk and it went off without a hitch.  However once I got there, I realized that there wasn't anything but empty beach around.  I could see the old city far beyond and the sky scrapers of the new city as I looked in the opposite direction, but where I was, there wasn't a lot.  It just goes to show you that when you're in a new place, it really benefits you to do a little research before heading off to take photos. After walking for a little bit and thinking that my morning was hopeless, I happened upon this old pier.  I was stoked and I knew with a long exposure, this had the potential of being a really cool shot.  There was a fisherman on the pier getting ready to fish for breakfast, but after I asked he graciously said he was happy to share the space with me.  The most interesting part of the experience wasn't getting to the sea, it was coming back.  I quickly realized that I had no idea where I had walked to or how to get back to my hotel.  The good news is everybody in Tel Aviv that I ran into was really nice and I felt very safe.  People were more than happy to try and point me in the right direction.  Having my camera with me actually saved me as I couldn't remember the address to my hotel.  The good news was I had taken a photo of the chocolate shop a few blocks down from where I was staying and that photo was still on my camera.  So, not speaking the language wasn't a problem... I could just point to the photo on the back of the camera and folks knew exactly where I was trying to go.  The fact that everybody I asked gave me DIFFERENT directions is besides the point... they meant well.  So that 20 minute walk I took to get me down to the water was over an hour and a half walk to get back!

Here's the photo I came home with:

This photo was taken right at sunrise.  It was a 30 second exposure which is why the water looks so silky and creamy.  Using a long exposure does the exact opposite of what using a fast shutter speed would do.  A fast shutter speed freezes all the action... that would mean the water and waves would freeze right where they were.  The long exposure blurs the area of the image with movement, so although the pier is really sharp (because it wasn't moving), the surrounding water that was flowing in and out is creamy smooth.

This is one photo with lots more to come.  Stay tuned.  I promise there will be at least one that you like and if not I'll give you your money back.


Drobo Update

So, good news... After almost of month of waiting, My Drobo 5D has finally shown up. Just to remind you how we got to here, last month I submitted my website for a contest where the prize was a Drobo... and I won!  So I had a few weeks to get excited and to prepare for the new arrival in our family and Thursday it came.  I thought I would let you know how the process of setting it up went, because to be honest, so far it's a totally awesome product. 

Now let me start by saying that the Drobo 5D isn't for everyone.  It retails for $699 and that's before you buy the drives to go inside of it.  But for those in the market for an expandable, safe storage system for their files, photos, etc., this sucker can't be beat.  It's so sweet and it has little lights on the front.  Who doesn't like a new gadget with lights!?

The Drobo 5D isn't just super functional, but check out all these lights on the front.  That's the sign of a sweet product! ;-)

The Drobo 5D isn't just super functional, but check out all these lights on the front.  That's the sign of a sweet product! ;-)

So what is it? 

According to the website, the Drobo 5D is basically a fancy storage system "that's built on award-winning BeyondRAID technology with single or dual-drive redundancy, Drobo 5D protects your data without any user interaction, even in the event of multiple drive failures. Drives can be added or hot-swapped on-the-fly for storage expansion with zero downtime. If you’re running low on space, the lights on the front tell you what to do. Just add a drive in an empty bay or remove a smaller drive and replace it with a larger one."

So you can have all your information backed up once or even TWICE with the Drobo 5D

So you can have all your information backed up once or even TWICE with the Drobo 5D


So what does all of that mean? Well, basically it's a small box that holds multiple hard drives in it. These drives can be whatever capacity you want, or can afford.  I chose five, 1TB drives to put in mine, but you can use any size up to 4TB (so if you had five, 4TB drives, you'd have a storage capacity of 20TB!) and you don't have to fill all the drives to start out.  You can start with two and upgrade as you need them.  So the box pools together the storage of these drives, so instead of having five, separate, single terabyte drives, the Drobo pools the storage together, so I have basically 5TB of space available.  The redundancy feature means that it's basically backing up your information in the same place as your storing it on your drives.  However, if a drive fails, the Drobo moves the information to the other drives, allowing you to swap out the failed drive and replace it with a new one.  No fuss and you're up and running again in minutes and haven't lost any of your data.

Here is an image from my Drobo dashboard.  It tells me the health and capacity of my drives and I have control over the whole unit from this screen.

Let's talk about how my install went.  First I got home and opened the box and took out the Drobo.  This was literally the hardest part of the whole process as the Drobo comes beautifully packaged in a box that's just big enough to fit the unit.  So slipping it out was honestly the hardest thing I did all night... and it wasn't that hard. :-)   Once it was out, I first had to decide if I wanted to hook the unit up to my computer with the USB 3 or the Thunderbolt cable.  I opted for the Thunderbolt connection as I wanted the fastest possible option.  So with everything out of the box, I proceeded to add each of the five drives.  They slip right in and lock into place.  Then I put the MSATA, 120GB, solid state drive in the accelerator port which is on the bottom of the unit. This optional drive allows for frequently accessed data to be stored on the faster, solid state drive rather than the more traditional SATA drives mentioned above. Again, you don't have to put a SSD in this port, but if your looking for the best performance, you won't want to ignore this option.  Once they were all in, I plugged in the Thunderbolt cable and the power cable and turned on the unit.  While it was booting up, I downloaded the dashboard software for the 5D from the Drobo website.   Okay, now we're cooking with gas!  It's all going great and totally simple.  Once it was all going, I used the dashboard software to name and format the Drobo and drives (which is literally two clicks of the mouse) and then it was ready for use. First thing I did was move all my photos to the unit, as that's what I'm going to use it for.  Photos, photos and more photos!  Now this process was really simple too, but because I archive my photos with Lightroom, I had to move the photos from WITHIN Lightroom!  This is REALLY important.  If you just move the photos without "telling" Lightroom you're moving them, it won't be able to "find" your photos and you'll have problems.  Easily fixable, but you'll have problems.  So let me be really clear because this will help you avoid major headaches later.  If you're going to move your files, you can't just take your photo folder and move them over to a new drive.  Lightroom won't know you did this and won't be able to find the files.  You'll find little question marks on top of all your images signifying that Lightroom doesn't know where they are.  You'll have to then manually relink all of them.  Instead, just move your photo folder to the new drive from within Lightroom.  Then Lightroom will know where you moved the folder to and all will be right with the world.

So here's my settings window for Backblaze.  As you can see it was easy as checking both the boxes for my hard drive and the Drobo and it was good to go!

So here's my settings window for Backblaze.  As you can see it was easy as checking both the boxes for my hard drive and the Drobo and it was good to go!

So the photos moved over and I was ready to go.  It all worked great and my photos were all safe.  As a reminder, I have all my photos on the Drobo with redundant backup, so that's one safety measure.  I have the additional hard drive with all my photos on it hidden away, in case something happens to the computer, and then if you remember, I use Backblaze, for online backup to the cloud, just as an extra safety measure.  So what about using Backblaze with the Drobo?  Well, that was easy too! Once the Drobo was all set up, I went to my Backblaze preferences and checked the box next to my hard drive AND the Drobo which meant I wanted both my hard drive and my Drobo backed up to the cloud.  It immediately started moving files over and within 30 minutes all of my computer's hard drive and all of the photos on the Drobo were backed up to the cloud.  It was much faster than the initial backup to Backblaze since the files where already backed up... they were just moved from one drive to another.  Now I'm ready for anything...  I think.

So if you're in the market for a safe, expandable storage system, I can totally recommend the Drobo 5D.  Again, it's not for everybody, but for those who have a need, it's a fantastic device and sure to exceed your expectations.  I know it did mine.

And don't forget it has all those cool lights!!!


Never work with children or animals.

So when I write entries for this blog, I try to think of things that might be of interest to my dozens and dozens of... okay, maybe a dozen (hi mom!)  readers and things that I think helped me when I was starting out learning about photography.  Let's be honest, there are so many things to learn it can be a little overwhelming. I still remember picking up my cousins DSLR for the first time--this was weeks before I would get my camera--and taking a shot.  The picture turned out black... just black.  All... black.  So I've learned a lot and I promise, if this all seems a little overwhelming, that it will all start to click real soon.  But other than the technical aspects of photography, there are things you can do right away to help you take better photos.  So I was thinking about what most of us are taking pictures of these days.  If my Facebook feed is any indication, we're all taking just a few pictures of our kids.  I'm just as guilty as most.  There are a few that are worse than me, but they know who they are and there's not point in my singling them out here.  However, if you email me, I'll be happy to spill the beans (Her name might rhyme with Lennifer and Mennifer, but that's all you'll get from me).  So let's talk about how to take better pics of our kids.

Now in fairness, I could have even gotten down lower to her level, but it was important me for to keep the sink visible, as I thought that was an important aspect of this photo.

Now in fairness, I could have even gotten down lower to her level, but it was important me for to keep the sink visible, as I thought that was an important aspect of this photo.

There are a few thins that you can do to improve your kid photography that you'll see on almost any list. “Get on their level” and “Get Closer”, are the two that come to mind right away and they are both great ways to improve your kid shots. Now, just to make sure there's no confusion, we're talking about human "kids" not goat "kids".  However, if you are taking photos of goat kids and by that I mean people that are half human kid half goat, these principals still apply.

The top tip on any list you find is often going to be “Get on their level”. There is a reason that it should be as it is great advice and will make a big difference immediately. If you get down on the same level as a kid to take their photo, you give them power by allowing them to look into the camera straight on. Kneel down so that you become the same height as the child. Chat with your subject and engage them before just going right into taking their photograph. When the time is right, lift your camera and poof, snap the photos.  Try to wait until they're looking at the camera unless that's not the look you're going for.

Photography is a visual language and the angle with which you shoot the photograph is an important part of the story you are telling. Photography is a common language that even kids can understand and when you make the effort to physically go down to their level you allow them to be important and, well, the SUBJECT!

Kids are short and you may have to get on your knees to get their eye level, but now, go further. Come on, you can do it, lie down. You may be amazed at what the world looks like from the ground.  Babies and real little kids don't always cooperate, but if you get down with them, they may even enjoy it more and you can end up with some great  faces. 

If you have a fast 50mm lens, it's great to use it when taking photos of your kids. If they are busy, you will need to use a faster shutter speed to freeze the motion. Using a fast 50mm lens means you will be able to open up the aperture to allow you to use that faster shutter speed indoors and avoid triggering your flash. 

Almost as often, when searching for ways to improve your photos of children, you will be told to “Get closer.” Children’s faces are so cute and soft (does that sound creepy?) that it is great advice for you to fill the frame with them. Isolate the tiniest details by photographing in close on things like baby lashes, toddler lips going in for a kiss or the drips of an ice cream on their messy, smushy faces.

Okay, that's it for today.  Go take some pictures and put them on Facebook.  I'll be watching... even you Lennifer.

A Steady Camera = Sharp Shot

So, I'm just about to head out to a class I'm taking on studio portrait lighting.  What better way to spend the day when my girls are out of town?  Turn on sports, invite the guys over, hire some professional dancers and get some fireworks?  Nope... I'm taking a photography class. Wait until you hear what my plans are for tomorrow morning.  I'll give you a hint... it involves getting up at sunrise and a lighthouse, but that's all I'm saying for now.

I  wanted to dedicate this post on taking sharp photos.  It's really important when you're taking photos, if you want them to look good, to keep them sharp!  When shooting at shutter speeds that are lower than the focal length of the lens you're using, you have to keep the camera as steady as possible to avoid camera shake.  So, what does that mean.  We'll if you're shooting with a 200mm lens, it means shooting at a 1/200sec or faster, or if using a 50mm lens, it means shooting at 1/50sec or faster.  So if you're using at 85mm lens and shooting at 1/20sec, you run the risk of camera shake. If you're wondering what camera shake is, it's simply movement of the camera and lens that's captured when the shutter is released and a photo is taken.  The resulting photos look blurred even when the subject is focused and you haven't been drinking!   For the record, if you have been drinking, all your photos will probably appear blurry... this is not from camera shake.  This is from eyeball shake and a lack of focusing ability and it will go away within a few hours.

Many lenses have a feature known as image stabilization (IS) or vibration reduction (VR). This is a mechanism inside the lends that counters movement, allowing the you to shoot at shutter speeds lower than normal.  So, if you're shooting with a 50mm lens, to be safe you might be able to shoot with a shutter speed as slow as 1/30sec.  This feature is pretty amazing.  If your lens has it, you'll notice when you're looking through the viewfinder that you're image will stop shaking right before your eyes, once the feature if activated.  The thing you have to remember about image stabilization is that even though it will help you to shoot at shutter speeds slower than normal, you still have to keep the camera as steady as possible.  This lens feature can be very effective, but it can't perform miracles. 

The best way to shoot at slower shutter speeds is to use some form of support.  This can be a tripod, but it doesn't have to be.  You can use rest your camera on a car window if you're inside a car, a rock if you're outside, or even a half eaten, beached, whale carcass if one should happen to wash up on shore while you're shooting on the beach.   Using a support will illuminate camera shake and will allow you to take pictures will as long of a shutter speed as you need.

The Happiest Place on Earth... For a Photo

I really wanted to get a blog post in yesterday, but we went out on the boat again and it was a really long day, so instead my Saturday update has become a Sunday update.  Maybe I'll start referring to them as weekend updates, since that allows me a little more freedom... and laziness.  Now before you ask, yes, I went wake boarding again (thanks for asking) and yes, I got up... TWICE.  I'm almost ready to call myself a wake boarder, but not quite yet.  

Anyway, as you may recall, last week we made the spontaneous decision to go to Disneyland.  We talked about it on a Tuesday and by Friday we were on the road to the happiest place on earth.  I didn't win the Super Bowl or anything... we just went.  It was tons of fun and I got some great pictures, so I thought I'd focus this post on things that I did/learned to make the best possible vacation pics.  Vacations are tons of fun and one of the best parts is going back to look at and share your photos after the fact.  We've started making photo books of our last few which is a great way to keep your photos from sitting on your hard drive and never looking at them again.  In fact creating a photo book for others who may have gone on vacation with you makes a great gift and is sure to make you look like a rock star.  I've found anytime you can be made to look like a rock star it's a good thing, unless you're actually a rock star... then you're probably used to it.

So first off there's the equipment.  You can feel free to take your DSLR and all your lens, flashes, etc. but you'll have to carry it all around with you and while there are many vacations that you'll want to do that, this was one that I didn't.  Also, something I always consider is how much time my camera equipment will spend in the hotel room by itself.  Not because I'm afraid it will feel lonely (which I am), but because there's always the risk of somebody entering the room and walking off with all your stuff.  So, the kind of vacation that I like to bring all my equipment is the kind where it can spend most of the time with me.  In this case, it seemed to make the most sense to bring my Panasonic micro four thirds camera.  There were a lot of times I wished I had my Canon DSLR, but overall I was happy with my choice. Walking around the parks was made a lot easier with this smaller camera around my neck.

Okay, on to the photos! 


Tip #1 - Keep your eyes open for the right location.


In the case of the following photo, we had finally just bought my daughter the cotton candy she had been waiting for all afternoon.  So, I knew I was going to try and get a few pictures of this momentous occasion. You are outside almost the whole day when you're at Disneyland, so you're often in harsh, bright sun.  Don't let this ruin your photos with strong shadows across your subject's face.  In this case we walked about 30 feet away from the benches next to the cotton candy to a bench that was in some nice shade.  This photo would have looked a lot different in the harsh afternoon light.


The day wasn't going to be complete until we got some Cotton Candy.  One of them really enjoyed it... can you guess which one?

Tip #2 - Include environmental elements into your shots


I've got a surprise for you that nobody wants to tell you... All your family photos look the same!  Okay, not all of them, but I'm trying to make a point.  When you just take pictures of people and don't include interesting aspects of the environment in your shots, they all start to look the same, especially to others, and after ten years, you won't be able to tell the difference between your pictures taken at Niagara Falls from the pictures taken in Barstow.  Of course I'm kidding... nobody goes to Barstow, but you get the idea.  Try and include cool parts of your surroundings to give your photos more meaning.  I could have gotten in closer on the photo below, but I think the part that makes it interesting and the thing that my daughter is going to remember in ten years, is the tea cups and how much she absolutely loved them (and I absolutely hated them. I'm still dizzy from those damn cups).


Try to include environmental elements into your shot so you remember where they were taken.

Tip #3 - Be aware of your surroundings


Don't just take a photo, make a photo.  Sometimes moving somebody a few steps, taking something out of the shot, or even just waiting a few seconds can make a big difference in the quality of your shot.  While at Disneyland we went to a character breakfast, which meant I knew I was going to take a photo of my daughter with all the characters that came to visit.  The first one one to come by was Minnie Mouse and as you can see from the photo below, I got a great pic of my daughter, Minnie... and the shoulder and head of the women sitting behind us.  She will forever have a spot in our memories of this vacation.  So in looking through the viewfinder, I knew I had more of this lady in my shot than I wanted.  I immediately started thinking about how I could minimize this lovely shoulder for the next shot.  Along came Daisy Duck.  I had my daughter move just a few steps over which almost completely blocked the nice ladies' ugly shoulder. Just a few steps made a big difference. You can see almost everything else is exactly the same.


Hey lady... who are you and why are you in my shot!

Now it's just my two girls!

Tip #4 - Don't forget to include yourself 


This is an easy one.  When you're on vacation and responsible for taking the photos, it's easy to forget to include yourself in some of the shots.  Get in there!  You were there too!  Set up your camera so all somebody has to do is push the shutter, ask nicely and voila, you were on vacation! 

Hey, that's me!

Tip #5 - Keep your camera with you as much as possible


You never know when you're going to want to capture a moment of your vacation, so try and keep your camera with you as much as possible.  After going back to the hotel, we found ourself at the hotel pool... with a waterslide!   At first, there was no way my kid was getting on that sucker.  I tried and tried, but she wasn't even considering it... then I saw her on the edge of the pool... considering it.  I quickly snapped a photo and soon enough she was sliding down that sucker more times than I could count.  Another great moment that I was able to capture and one that I'm sure will make it in the photo book.  These kind of shots are often missed, cause the camera is left in the room because "there won't be anything for me to take a photo of."  There are almost always photos to be made! 


I'm gonna do it... I'm not going to do it... I'm gonna do it... I'm not going to do it... I'm gonna do it!

Tip #6 - Don't just take shots of people


There will be a lot of things you'll want to remember about your vacation.  Mostly it will be the people you spent it with, but especially if you're planning on making an album or a photo book, try to take shots of buildings, signs, trees, etc. that will remind you of your trip.  The pic below is of a sign of a restaurant  where we had lunch one day.  I tried to make an interesting shot of this sign, because mixed in with the shots of my family, shots like this will really round out our book and will be a great reminder of other things we did on this trip.

For the record, this is a vacation shot and it's not of a person!

Tip #7 - HAVE FUN!


When it's all said and done, vacation is about relaxing, having a good time and spending quality time together.  Try not to make every shot the perfect masterpiece.  Some will be great and some will suck big time.  That's okay.  Have fun doing it and try to capture some of that fun.  The picture below is one of my favorites from the trip.  This was taken right before they went off and joined some hardcore Disneyland gang.  They were being silly and I love that I was able to capture it.  So, if you see a gang of girls, who like pink, wear mouse ears, eat cotton candy and look really, really tough.  Run, run away.  You don't want to mess with them... you can imagine how scary they are from looking at this pic.  Oooh, scary. :-)

If there was a gang for people who love pink, cotton candy and screamin' like little girls on the Tower of Terror... these two would definitely be joining.

Still Not Sold on Lightroom? Watch This!

So, if I'm done this properly, you'll be reading this blog post (if you're one of the few people who read these posts, not including my wife and my dad) while I'm at Disneyland. I mean, actually at Disneyland. I'm probably waiting in line for Space Mountain right now. Funnel cake in one hand, giant turkey leg in the other hand, with a bunch of sweaty tourists standing both in front of me and behind me... and yes, they're standing too close!!! Anyway, I imagine we're having a great time and taking lots of pictures. I'll be sure to post some of the good ones as soon as I return.

In the meantime, I wanted to revisit one of my favorite subjects... Adobe Lightroom. I've dedicated previous posts to this subject and I've professed my love to Lightroom to whoever will listen... on Facebook, on Twitter... in line at Disneyland. However, as hard as I try, there are still people who either don't think they need it or think it's too hard to use. So I found a great video that will help with the second issue. In this tutorial, take a look at how a photo can be saved using some of the recovery tools in Adobe Lightroom.  In this real world workflow this guy Gerard shows many techniques to organize and improve photos.  Watch as he compares multiple images using a Survey View.  He also selectively improves the image using new tools in Lightroom 5 to make spot adjustments within his image.This video helps illustrate just how easy it really is to use. For those of you who don't think you need it--well, I can't help you anymore. I've told you that you do need it... everyone needs it. It will make any camera's pictures look better... It will make your iPhone pictures look better! Anyway, here's the video. Take a look and see what a difference it can make and just how easy it is to use. In fact, if you want, send me a picture (, any picture at all and I'll retouch it for you and you can see what a difference it makes. Preferably the picture will be of Heidi Klum, but any picture will do. Send me a photo you think is overexposed, blown out, covered in shadows, too blue, too yellow... whatever. Send it to me and let me fix it for you. If you like the pic buy me a cup of coffee. If you don't like it I'll buy you 10 cups of coffee! 

Controlling Shadows in a Portrait

Being able to control your shadows when taking a portrait is both easy and important as long as you have the right equipment and knowledge. This video really helps illustrate the technique of being able to use your off-camera flash to both soften the shadows and make them more manageable. If you're using an on-camera flash, you won't have as much flexibility, but the principle remains the same and you can use this technique when using the sun as your key light too! Unless your subject is just really, really, really ugly... I'm talking shaved dog butt walking backward kinda ugly (I don't even know what that means!), than you probably don't want their face covered in darkness, but that's your call.

I'm on a boat!

So before I begin this blog entry, I have to admit that this is my second time writing it.  I just accidentally deleted my original post.  The problem is the first one was good, really good and now it's gone.  So just know while you're reading it that this isn't nearly as good as the first blog entry I wrote.  That one was going to get me a pulitzer and now it's gone.  Sad for me.

Anyway, last weekend my family and I did one of our favorite summer activities.  We spent the day on the Sacramento Delta with our friends on their ski boat.  For those of you unfamiliar, the Delta is THE place around here for boating, fishing and most importantly, wake boarding.  Now you have to know the back story here.  In the spirit of full discloser, this was our fourth time out in their boat and my third time attempting to wake board.  The previous times I failed to get up, but this time was different.  I owned it.  I got up and it was fantastic... spectacular even.  I was amazing and there was no way I was going to stop... until I fell, then I knew it was time stop.   My body is still sore, but it hurt oh so good. :-)


So, lucky for you, this is a photography blog and not a wake boarding blog, so this means it's time to talk about the pics I took.  Now if you'd like me to continue talking about the fact that I was spectacular on the wake board, email me... I'll talk about it all day, but now let's focus on the photos. 

I don't usually bring my camera when I go out on the boat, but on this day I decided it was time.  I left my Canon 5D at home, however and once again left the house with my Lumix micro four thirds camera.  As far as lenses go, I brought both a 12-50mm telephoto and a 24mm prime lens.  Now that's what I brought, but I only ended up using the 24mm prime.  There's a really good reason for this.  Well, there's a reason... I don't know if it's really good.   The reason is when it was time for me to use the telephoto, I realized that my camera bag was under about 200 other bags and a cooler full of beer. That bag stayed where it was and I just used the prime lens.  It was actually a fun exercise, to spend the day with my only zooming capabilities being my feet.  When I needed a different shot, I had to move... changing the focal length wasn't an option.  There were times, especially when I was shooting people wake boarding, that I really wanted the telephoto, but I made do and got some great pics.

Here's my daughter getting ready to head out on the boat. Good thing she hasn't figured out how to "work" the camera yet. Clearly she is really uncomfortable in front of my lens.

Here's my daughter getting ready to head out on the boat. Good thing she hasn't figured out how to "work" the camera yet. Clearly she is really uncomfortable in front of my lens.

I would have loved to have a telephoto for this photo, but using the prime lens ended up working great and I love this shot.

I would have loved to have a telephoto for this photo, but using the prime lens ended up working great and I love this shot.

There are many challenges when you're out spending the day out on the water, in a small boat that you're not in control of, when it comes to taking pictures.  My biggest issue was the light.  When you wanted the sun in front of you, it was usually behind and when you wanted it behind, there it was in front.  Never mind the fact that most of the day the sun was right above us, so it made for shots with a lot of contrast and shadows were really difficult to work with.  Often people had dark faces with the sun directly behind them, or overexposed faces and dark bodies.  It seemed like the sun was never where I wanted it to be.  So, there is a way to fix it.  Take all of those pictures that aren't working out for you, put them in a folder on your desktop and DELETE!  Of course you could spend time fixing them in Lightroom or Photoshop, but who wants to spend the time fixing "okay" photos, when hopefully you still got a bunch of great photos that you enjoy much more spending time on.  The key is to take lots of photos.  That will drastically improve your odds of getting good pics.  Don't take 10 photos and hope you have 10 good ones.  Take 20, 30, or 50... Your odds of having some in there that you really like will drastically increase.  The other way to increase your odds of getting good pics is to wait until the sun is being a little more cooperative.  If you wait a few minutes, the boat is bound to be in a different location.  If the shot doesn't need to be taken right away, wait a bit for your location to change or the sun to go down a little.  Sometimes not taking a photo is the best way to get better photos

I really wanted a good shot of the harbor, but the light wasn't cooperating, so I waited and took this shot on our way back, when the sun was going down.  Great golden light and no harsh shadows. I think it was definitely worth the wait.

I really wanted a good shot of the harbor, but the light wasn't cooperating, so I waited and took this shot on our way back, when the sun was going down.  Great golden light and no harsh shadows. I think it was definitely worth the wait.

When your out taking pictures on a day like this, don't forget to document the trip and try not to only focus on taking the perfect shot, with the perfect light and amazing composition.  Take some of those pictures, of course, but also try and take photos that tell the story of your trip. When you go back and look at your photos later, you'll be glad that you captured some of the funny, fun and spontaneous moments. Those are the ones you'll really cherish.

When I look back at photos from this day, this one will aways make me smile.  My wife needed a bit of privacy to take care of some "business," but all I remember is all of us lowering her into water because of her bad knee.

When I look back at photos from this day, this one will aways make me smile.  My wife needed a bit of privacy to take care of some "business," but all I remember is all of us lowering her into water because of her bad knee.

After the ballgame

So, as I mentioned last week, Sunday I spent the afternoon at the Giants game.  It was a great day.  The Giants lost, which sucked major balls, but the day was still a lot of fun.  The weather was perfect, I got to eat hot dogs and drink beer, got to hang with the family, got to eat hot dogs and I even got to eat hot dogs (if you can't tell... I don't eat a lot of hot dogs).  There something about being at the ballpark that makes both dogs and beer taste better than anywhere else.  I mean, if you had a hot dog and a cold beer in the shoe department at Macy's, it wouldn't taste nearly as good... I don't think, but I'm willing to try it.

Anyway, it was a great day.  However, we're here to talk about photography.  I did take a camera with me. Not my DSLR, but I took my Lumix, micro four thirds camera.  It's a fun camera that easy to carry around because of its size, and takes great pictures.  I only have one lens for it, a 12-50mm, but that suits most of my needs when I'm shooting with that camera.  If I really had a need for more range, I'd be taking my DSLR (or I'd buy a new lens for the Lumix).  Most of your pictures at a day game will be taken in full sun.  Of course, it's really easy to get out of the sun and head inside, or under an overhang, if you want out of the high contrasty light of full sun.  I didn't plan anything, just took my camera with me, looking for some candids of my kid or some interesting street photography.  I've always wanted to get a good photo of the guy who plays the sax outside of the stadium, thinking it would make for a great black and white photo, but he wasn't around on Sunday.  I did like some of the photos I took.  A few of my favorites can be found below.  One of my favorite things to do is just walk around the park taking interesting shots of the stadium (and eat hot dogs... did I mention that?) 


Don't just stand in front of your subject and take the expected shot.  Move around and look for something interesting.  This shot was taken while standing above my subject and I think it's pretty cool.

Don't just stand in front of your subject and take the expected shot.  Move around and look for something interesting.  This shot was taken while standing above my subject and I think it's pretty cool.

I just loved how the light was shining through the train window.

I just loved how the light was shining through the train window.

There are all sorts of interesting shots to be found at the ballpark.  Walk around and see what you can find. Or don't... this shot was taken right from my seat!

There are all sorts of interesting shots to be found at the ballpark.  Walk around and see what you can find. Or don't... this shot was taken right from my seat!