Friday, December 10, 2010


Most of the time when you are taking pictures of moving objects your goal is to freeze the action to make a crisp sharp picture. Although, sometimes when you freeze a subject that we are used to seeing move it makes the picture have an odd feeling.  If you take a picture of a child on a carousel and freeze them when the horse gets to its highest point, then it looks like they were just sitting there when it was still.  Here is a tip to give the picture some movement and life.  Slow your shutter speed down, and pan with the movement.

For this to work, you have to focus on your subject and move with them at the same speed while the shutter is open.  Say your subject is moving from left to right.  Press your shutter button down half way to focus and start panning to the right with your subject.  Now press your shutter button down to take the picture while still following your subject.  You will not be able to see them through the view finder while the shutter is open so that's why it is important to start panning with them before you take the picture to get your speed right.  Another helpful tip is to keep panning with your subject after the shutter closes.  It's like a follow through when swinging a golf club or baseball bat.  You want to pan before, during, and after the exposure just like you want to swing through the ball.

Once you get this technique down you can apply it to all sorts of picture opportunities.  One last thing to keep in mind when doing this is framing your subject so that they have somewhere to go in the picture.  Again, if the subject is moving from left to right, frame them to the left side of the picture so there is more space on the right side.  This will help the effect by showing they are moving to the right side of the picture.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The E-Boys and Girl- Columbia, SC Children Photography

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about these guys and had some pictures from a shoot I did a couple of years ago.  Well they have grown and added a little sister to the mix.  It's always fun taking pictures of an energetic family like Elliotts.  They are a great family and I am honored for the opportunity to help them catch great memories.  Here are a few of the shots:

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's the Holiday Season

Well it's Christmas time again.  It's starting to get cold and people everywhere are excited for what this holiday season may bring them.  I have now been married for a year and a half and this is my second Christmas that I will celebrate with my wife at our house.  We have started a few traditions such as going to pick out our tree and swapping ornaments every year.  These are a few pictures of the Christmas tree hunt and our decorations. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

DIY: Framed White Board

This post really doesn't have too much to do with photography other then I took some pictures of a project I  did for Suzanne.  She wanted a dry erase board in our office so we could write things down that we needed to get done for the week.  I thought it was a great idea as I tend to forget a few things. Okay, everything.

I went to target and they had a few sizes and different kinds of dry erase boards to choose from.  However, they all looked like they belonged in a toy doll house.  I really didn't want to hang a crummy looking dry erase board in our office.  So, I cruised over to the home decorations department where I found some frames.  I decided that putting a frame around the dry erase board would make it look much nicer.  And it did!  Here is how I did it!

First you have to buy the materials:
8.5 in x 11 in Dry Erase Board
8 in x 10 in Picture Frame

Then you will need a few tools you probably have laying around the house:
Flat Head Screwdriver
A Box Cutter (not pictured)
Tin Snips or an "Open It!" or some heavy Scissors

Now you are ready to start working.  First you have to remove the plastic frame from the dry erase board.  To do this, use the screwdriver to pry loose the corner of the frame.  Do this on the back side of the board so you don't scratch the writing surface. 

Next you need to take the frame apart.  Take the back cover off of the frame and set it aside.  You will need it later.

Now take everything out of the frame, even the glass.  Be careful as the edges of the glass are sharp.  Hold on to the cardboard as you may need it later to fill in behind the dry erase board.

After taking the frame apart measure the back opening.  Since this frame is an 8x10 the opening was slightly larger.  The width of the dry erase board was correct, luckily, but I had to cut the bottom in order for it to fit.  As pictured below I used the ruler to measure the 10 inches and made a line, on the back side, to follow for the cut.  Use the tin snips to make the cut.  

Then fit the dry erase board into the frame facing out.   Next you need to fill in the gap behind the board.  To do this use the cardboard you took out of the frame, though it may not be thick enough.  I used the cardboard that the dry erase board was originally attached to.  It was too thick, so I had to flatten it out a little on the kitchen counter.  Then put the back of the frame on and you are finished! 

Here is the final product!  Now we have a nice looking dry erase board to hang in the office.  And since it is in a frame it already has mounting hardware on the back!  All you need now is a nail to hang it on.  Try it out for yourself if you need to make lists to stay on track like me.  Its a very simple project. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pushing White's Balance

As everyone that has been reading the blog probably knows, I love taking pictures that include the sky.  Especially if I can incorporate the sky into a picture where  it's not the main subject.  Plus, the bluer, the better!  My favorite times to get pictures of the sky are late afternoon when its blue and preferably with some white puffy clouds.  But this is easy.  I just go outside with my circular polarizer and turn it until the sky is nice and blue. 

This technique does make great pictures but there is an even better time to make the sky even bluer, right after the sun has completely gone down.  You are also going to have street lights and store signs on to make the picture even more interesting.  There is a time known as twilight, that happens right as the sun sets and this is when the sky will light up with different colors and you get great soft and warm lighting for landscape pictures.  This is the best time to take a landscape picture that involves other lights, because you can get the sun light to match the output of the electric lights.  However I'm talking about the few precious minutes after that.  Where the sun is completely gone and the sky looks almost black.  There is still some great blue sky in there, you just have to know how to capture it. 

Here are a couple of examples of different white balance settings to change how the camera exposes the scene.  In the first picture I used a Kelvin setting of 10000.  This made the picture very warm and yellow.

This second picture was taken literally seconds after the first with a Kelvin setting of 2500.  It renders the picture extremely cool and blue.  

Both the first and second shots were taken at the extremes of the Kelvin scale just to show that you can set your white balance to change what the camera sees.  Remember, the camera is an instrument of creation similar to a paint brush or pile of clay.   However most people use them as copy machines to take mediocre snapshots of things they see.  They leave their camera in auto and just accept whatever it gives them.  Digital pictures are free take a million!  Push buttons and change settings to make your camera push its limits.  By just changing the white balance you can dramatically affect the outcome of a picture, as seen above. 

This third picture is what we are looking for.  Its set a Kelvin temperature in between the first two closer to the cooler side in order to keep the sky and water a deep blue.  Its somewhere in the neighborhood of 3030.  The sun is completely set and gone but the sky is still nice a blue.  By setting the cooler white balance the camera exaggerates the sky and water making them even more vivid.

This is another example of auto white balance versus a manual white balance.  The first picture is set to auto white balance.  Now its not a terrible picture but it could be better.  It just doesn't grab your attention.  If it doesn't grab yours its not going to grab anyone else's and they will skip right past it.  

Here all I did was change to a custom Kelvin white balance.  I took this picture at 3330.  Even at night the sky is still blue, we just have to tell the camera to pick it up.  Here we have a great blue sky with a complementary yellow street lamp.  To me this picture is much more interesting and makes me want to look at it.  The first picture is just dull and boring.  The second one is vivid and has life. 

Here are a few more examples of capturing the blue sky right after sunset.  Again, the camera is an instrument of expression.  Use it to show feeling and tell a story.  Don't just accept the manufacturers settings of what they think will look best for all pictures.  This is almost never right.  When lighting changes the camera needs to change.  Next time you are out shooting try changing your white balance to see the difference for yourself.  


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my followers and friends!  I am very blessed to have so many great people in my life.  I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  Today is a short post as I just want to share some of my awesome family with you because I am very thankful for them!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All things old

I love old buildings.  I like taking pictures of them because they are full of color.  They tell stories and allow your imagination to run wild with what might have been made or done inside them.  They are great subjects because they offer different textures from peeling paint to rust to broken windows.  Most of these are ordinary shots, but again, that's the great thing about photography... you can take pictures that are interesting to you! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little N- Greenwood, SC Children Photography

This past weekend my wife and I traveled to Greenwood to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with my family.  It was a fun and relaxing time with enough food to feed an army.  Of course I brought my camera, and on Sunday afternoon I took a few shots of the newest addition to our family, my cousin, little N. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

And the Winner is...


Thank You!

I just want to say thank you to everyone who participated in the free photo shoot contest.  We have had a great response to the blog and to the free photo shoot promotion.  A great deal of that response is due to some very special people and friends who I am deeply grateful for.  Many of you told others and shared the link on your blogs and facebook pages without me ever asking you too.  I am extremely grateful for your willingness and kindness to share my blog with your friends and family.  I am truly blessed and honored to have such great people in my life.  Thank you again.  It really does mean a lot to me!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tomorrow at Noon

Hey everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend and are looking forward to the big announcement tomorrow.  The winner will be announced at Noon so check back then!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Blast from the Past- E Boys, Columbia, SC Children Photography

*** Don't forget today is the LAST day to sign up to win the FREE 2 hour Photo Shoot***
****See post from Tuesday for more details and to enter giveaway****

Todays Blast from the Past was an awesome shoot I did a couple of years ago and now these boys are proud brothers to a beautiful baby sister.  I'm excited to do a photo session of the whole family in a couple of weeks!  I hope everyone has a great weekend!  Monday will be the next post and I will announce the winner!