"For the artist communication with nature remains the most essential condition. The artist is human, himself nature, part of nature within natural space." Paul Klee

Friday, December 9, 2011

Foggy December Morning

It was quite foggy this morning, actually it was pretty darn foggy. But by the time I dropped my son off at school, grabbed the camera and monopod, a lot of the fog had dissipated.  But I marched on. I especially love shooting trees in the fog because the atmospheric perspective changes so rapidly through the branches...from the sharp and distinct shapes in the foreground to a wispy tissue colored softness in the background.
This was photographed at ISO 800, f6.3 at 160th of a second, camera is on a monopod for support.

Thanks for stopping by.
Stay warm.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Pre Raphaelites

I've always been fascinated by the art movement known as The PreRaphaelite Brotherhood. This was the first "avant-garde" movement that created quite a stir around the mid-19th century. The painters had great names like, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais.
I've been wanting to try my hand (eye) at capturing the mood of that particular style.
I had the location in mind I just needed a couple of willing subjects to pose for me. Lisa and her sister Ashley graciously gave their time and artistic input to my project. 
I am very pleased with the results but remember this had been percolating in my head for almost a year and I ardently studied the aforementioned artists to try and emulate their color scheme - the fluid and graceful posing came from Lisa and Ashley.
Tech notes: all were shot with the Nikon D80 with a Hoya polarizer. Camera set to VIVID and ISO 400. I used an off camera flash mounted on a C-stand set to about 1/2 power. I played with some color temperature changes in camera. In post I added a bit of softness and vignetting.
A heartfelt thanks to Lisa and Ashley for their enthusiastic participation and also a big thanks to the kind folks at Cedar Park Florist for donating the roses.
I hope you like the results and thanks for stopping by. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pet Rock

If I look back over my....(I'm going to say it)...body of work..(I do not like that phrase - sounds too final - like I've departed) -anyway as I was saying if I look back over my body of work and that includes hundreds of black and white negatives and color transparencies as far back as 30 years ago...a couple of themes emerge. I seem to have a lot of photographs of trees and rocks.
Now trees are a little easier to figure out...they have beautiful architecture...the way branches flay out and away from the main trunk, the way the branches seek out the light. (mmm?), the colors of their offspring the leaves and how they grow and change through the seasons.. I'm not too sure about the rocks. Can't figure out my fascination with rocks yet. Especially the big ones. I have run my hands over several of them and ponder the density of their atomic structure. Maybe because that's the "opposite" of the trees...dense, condensed, almost an inward pull toward an invisible center. I especially like the large boulders that seem to have fallen out of the sky and plop! landed where they landed and there they lie for a long time or at least until some upheaval occurs. So those are my thoughts this Monday morning. Perhaps too much caffeine.

Shot this boulder yesterday morning around nine am. I took about 80 pictures and this is frame #1.
ISO 200 with +3 exposure compensation, aperture priority at f14, camera chose 1/5th of a second, on a tripod with the self timer making the exposure. A Hoya polarizer to adjust the surface of the water and camera set to VIVID for color saturation.
Thanks for stopping by. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

San Gabriel River

OK, so what do I do when it rains in Central Texas...head on out on a picture/scavenger hunt. I found myself along the San Gabriel River in Georgetown. The colors were gorgeous. So many things to shoot so little time.
The only issues this morning were the banks of the river were slippery and I sloshed around a bit. And I had to constantly wipe raindrops of the lens and filters. Other than that, a fine time was had by me and my Nikon.
The top shot is actually a long abandoned baby blue pickup truck embedded in the side of the hill. mmmm...strange. I guess I had automotive forms on my mind. The next to the last shot looks like a "stoned" car. And then on the way home I passed by the bottom scene...a fine old Chevy and the American flag....
Thanks for stopping by - hope you enjoy the pix.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Rain

Whenever it rains, the first thing I think about is grabbing my camera and having a "look-see". I love the colors after a good rain. Today wasn't exactly a cloudburst but it was steady enough that everything received a pretty good soaking.
The colors appear vibrant, the lighting gives everything a super-natural look, and a polarizer on the lens plays with some interesting effects.
The large leaf was shot at ISO 400, f5.3, 1/60th - the yellow leaf frame ISO 400, f5, 1/200th - the abstract thicket ISO 800, f5, 1/30th, and finally "The Lost Tennis Court" was ISO 800, f3.8, 1/40th.
Thanks for stopping by.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Autumn Light Winter Light

Here are three pictures from today's out and about. They're really not about trees, leaves, or reeds. They're really about the light. The light today was glorious and has been for the past few days. Rich blue skies and a sun that has the touch of winter yellow. I didn't do much to these shots other than use a standard polarizer to achieve a little more richness in the colors. The camera was set to ISO 200, Program mode...I let the camera select everything else. Hopefully for the next few weeks the light were continue to be like this as the foliage loses it's chlorophyll and even more colors appear with rich and vibrant hues.
Hope you out there shooting.
Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Exploding Autumn Colors

Autumn colors are exploding all around. Well, at least in my neighborhood. I hope you're seeing the same thing. I am putting some final touches and logistics on my new classes. The first classes will be held in January 2012. I will post all the new info shortly. Thanks for everybody's interests.

This particular "exploding" photo was taken with ISO200 at f7.1, 1/100th of a second. There's a lot color out there - I hope you all get some great shots!!
Thanks for stopping by. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Afternoon PIctures

Driving home from Bastrop this afternoon, around 5pm, the afternoon sun was brilliant and bathing everything on my right in this glorious sunshine. I wanted to get home but had to stop and grab a couple of shots to capture this light.

Since the sun was very bright I used an ISO of 100. With the camera in program mode it chose f5.6 at 125th for the garage and f6.3 at 1/160th for the round "tondo".

Enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autumn's Jewels

Another photograph from this morning's walk by the lagoon. This one is the last shot before I went back to the car. Another small sign that autumn is here.
Thanks for stopping by.

The Stage is Set

This idyllic scene will be featured in one of my upcoming shoots. Details are too sketchy to
set down on paper. But something special will come of it. I'm sure. I hope. mmm?

I have a lot of images in my head that I would like to try and produce. This will be one of them. The important thing to remember for anyone trying to develop a photographic idea like this is the importance of planning. So far I have the location, the time (early morning with the sun coming thru the trees), the camera settings (both white balances of daylight and fluorescent),
and the choice of lens/focal lengths. With a little more planning and patience this should all come together in the next month or so. Yes, patience is one of the virtues one must practice for this kind of shooting.
The specs so far are as follows, Nikon D80 with lens set to 35mm (DX, making a normal setting), ISO 320, 1/80th of a second at f4.5. Color set to VIVID in camera.

So stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Digital Black and White

Well as you can see from these last two posts, I've been of a homebody of sorts lately. The last picture posted was one of Stefan watching tv and this one he's just doing his homework right after school. Earlier in the day I had been reading a blog where several photographers were going back and forth on shooting in black and white with a digital camera. You can take the shot in color and convert it in post or you can set your camera to shoot in black and white.
These two were taking the conversation to another level. I mean comparing black and white film to digital, etc etc etc... it went on for quite a bit taking side roads all over the place. Ho hum.

You know I just don't get that analytical about it. Nor do I worry that much about d-min or d-max. I just take d picture. If it looks good it's alright by me.

I do prefer setting the camera to b&w only because it forces me to think in black and white and I look specifically for those kinds of situations.

I think b&w looks a lot better if there's a healthy amount of white in the scene. Contrast!! Contrast!! In this situation the light coming thru the window was being filtered by a white sheer curtain, there's the white t-shirt and the white pages of the book.

I think it's a pretty decent looking b&w image. I added a glow to it in post to enhance the whites and that's about it. It actually looks pretty stunning when printed to a warm MOAB paper!

As always I have other shoots in the planning stages and some classes to boot. So stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Using Color Temperatures in Photography

While I was cleaning my camera after a rugged day of shooting in dusty fields, I noticed my son watching TV. What I noticed was the different color temperatures. This is something photographers should be more familiar with. It can add depth and interest to your photographs.
The blue light you see is the high color temperature emitted by a flat screen TV, probably

around 7000 Kelvin. Since the back of his hands are facing away from the screen - they are lit by the incandescent house light which is around 2600 Kelvin. You can see the distinct difference if you look at the left hand which has a circle of blue in the middle which is catching the higher temp.

If you're not familiar with color temperature, I suggest you google "kelvin scale" and "Lord Kelvin" the inventor of the system himself.

I added a velvety soft after brush to the image to reduce the harshness otherwise the colors are from the camera. Shot wide open (f1.4) for reduced depth of field, hand held at 1/5th of a second.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rain Lighting

Right after it rains there is this beautiful light that just spreads out all over. The heavy overcast clouds act like a huge soft box pouring soft scrumptious light everywhere. These were taking on the side of the house with just the available light. The other thing that happens is the rain water soaks into wood, trees, and the soil making these textures darker and creating excellent contrasting situations with surrounding objects.

The cactus was shot at ISO 800, f5.6, 1/60th of a second and the donkey ears at ISO 400, f.56, 1/80th of a second.
The cactus looks like it has paddles of light - the glow at the bottom is that wrappy/bouncy light you get with this kind of lighting...natural glows.

Watch for this light over the next couple of days as the rains continue. Even into the evening the light should be very interesting. Great light for portraits also! That soft light just wraps itself around your subject. Grab a loved one and try it.

At least you'll have a record of the first big rain after four months of 100 degree weather.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lakes, Lagoons, and Cienegas.

In the autumn, my favorites haunts are around lakes, lagoons, and cienegas. The waters feed the trees well and they proceed through a regular cycle of colors. This despite the drought we've been having here in Central Texas.

As you can see by the bottom shot, the trees are not quite there yet. But I'm planning on going back in about a month. I should see a full spectrum of autumn colors, especially the dogwoods.
Check your local area (google satellite views are good) and locate some reservoirs of water...some may be hidden.

The top picture was shot with ISO 200 at f5/ & 1/125th of a second. The bottom was f10 at 1/30th of a second. I used a Ray Singh Blue/Gold Polarizer on both.

Thanks for stopping in.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Expanding Your Ideas

Last week I posted some shots I had made of dried flowers arranging them more or less straight up as if they were in the ground or perhaps a vase. Bits and pieces of the flowers
would fall on my setup table and that got me thinking about using these parts to design an totally abstract composition. Now I don't know if I was entirely successful but it was a lot
of fun and maybe I can use this same method in the future on another project.

Sometimes you just gotta go for it, play around, and try a few new approaches. See what happens. Experiment. Results may vary. Hope you can do the same on your next project.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Playing with Colors

Looks like I'm on a flower kick this week. This morning I went for a walk with my camera for about an hour. All over the neighborhood looking for something to shoot. I did take some shots but nothing that sparked my creative interests.
So when I got home I grabbed some flowers from the kitchen and put them by a window, grabbed a couple more vases and played around with the colors, shapes, and color temperatures.
The shooting specs may be of interest. Shot with the Nikon D80 at ISO 400, f5.6 at 1/250th of a second, camera set to VIVID and white balance set to Fluorescent. Using daylight filtering through some curtains the Fluorescent setting added a mahogany like tint. Sometimes it's fun just playing around with the settings and see what comes out.
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Variations on a Theme

Here's a variation on the same shoot. Once I saw the results I tried some different
angles and positionings..
For tech specs see previous post.


Dried Roses

When it's too hot to shoot outside just find things to shoot inside where it's cool. These dried roses (probably from Mother's Day) were hung out to dry. Actually hanging upside down in the garage for several months. With the garage being about 140 degrees, it didn't take long for these to go crispy.
I laid them out on a Bretford Acculight Light table for backlighting and just used my pop up flash on my camera to fill in the front.
Shot with the D70 at ISO 400, 50mm nikkor lens set at f2.8, 200th of a second. The pop flash was set to it's lowest power of 1/16th
Using Alien Skin software set to Velvet/Glamour finished off the look. A postcard, maybe?
Thanks for dropping in.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An October Image

As fall approaches I looked back over some of my previous fall shots to see where I've been and perhaps come up with some new ideas, undiscovered venues, and special isolated spots to make some new fall images. This one is from October of 2010. Hopefully, we'll see some of these vistas and colors again. Sadly, a lot of the tree population has burned to the ground in the past few weeks as the result of hundreds of wildfires.
This pond is located in Cedar Park. Shot with my Nikon D80 at ISO 200, f8, 1/160th of a second. I know this didn't burned down but with the crazy heat we've had I'm anxious to go over there and see what it looks like this year hoping for the best.

OK, that's it for today - thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pasta Shoot

Last week I started a new blog dedicated to food and food photography. I like to take particular care when I am shooting food. I definately want it to look good. As you know or don't know, many food photographers and food stylists use all kinds of weird things in the place of food that are supposed to look "better" than the real thing. Examples: mashed potatoes for ice cream, motor oil for pancake syrup. (Yuck)

I will try my hardest to just shoot real food. In fact, I hope to be able to eat everything I shoot. In fact, this pasta dish I will have for lunch.

I prepped the shot the day before using a "stand-in" of dried pasta with cut outs for the tomatoes and olives. I adjusted my reflectors and dialed in my position in front of the window. This shot is completely natural light. Sun pouring in through the window and four strategically placed reflectors. (see photo)
When the real shoot happened this morning I prepped my food. Slicing a bunch of cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives...selecting the best ones in a "vegetable casting call". I then selected some choice leaves from my basil plant and then went to work creating the dish for the shoot. I did some selective strokes of olive oil using a paint brush.

You can see the result by visiting my food blog...just click on Andy's Food Photography on the right side of this page. Thanks for visiting today and I hope you're enjoying this fabulous cool weather!!

TECH SPECS; shot with a Nikon D70 with a Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens. Shot handheld in manual at ISO 200 with f2 at 1/2000th of a second.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Food Photography

Thanks to everybody visiting my blog. I appreciate you clicking this way. I will be starting a new blog specifically aimed at food photography. This shot will be one of the first included.

The site isn't quite ready yet but I will pass on the url shortly. I have always loved tabletop photograhy, working with a small set and controlled lighting (and I get to work indoors out of the heat!)...and raised by a Neapolitan mother I was imbued with a love of food. (especially Italian) So it seemed like a perfect fit. Not just Italian food but anything that taste yummy.

I will keep this site as my primary for people, architecture, and miscellaneous.

The shot of the lime drink was using strictly window light and some reflectors. ISO 200, f8, handheld at 1/100th of a second.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Portraits with Off Camera Flash

This summer has been hot with not a drop of rain. Pretty much a drought. It's been pretty much a drought photography wise, too. It's just been too darn hot. However, yesterday it did rain big time...photography wise. I had the privilege of a couple of hours with Devin. And was offered a great location to boot. Here are four pix from yesterday's shoot.

For my photo students, the top three are using an off camera flash. The bottom is just window light. The technical stuff is as follows, numbered from the top down.

1. Outside (early before it got too hot) ISO 200, one Alien Bee with a 10 degree grid for the back hairlight and a Lowell silver reflector for the front key light just bouncing back the sun - shot at f6.3, handheld 1/100th of a second.

2. Inside. ISO 200, same Alien Bee for key, same grid, f5.6 at 1/80th.

3. Inside hallway. ISO 640, the one Alien Bee key is about 11 feet away just spotting the face. The rest is window light. f5.6 at 160th.

4. Inside. Just light filtering in from a large window. Pushed the ISO to 800 for an f5 at 1/60th of a second.

Acknowledgements - a big thanks to Devin's mom, Helene for coordinating the shoot. And a great huge thanks to "Momma" Jo and David for letting me invade their house for a couple of hours and traipse cable and lighting equipment all over the place. Oh yeah - thanks for the yummy lunch!!

If you're interested in Off-Camera flash techniques you can order and download a pdf ebook

called "Making Light" from CraftandVision.com on this page. It's an excellent guide and very reasonable. I keep a copy on my desktop for reference.

Thanks for stopping by. Ciao for niao.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Layers of Color

August turned out to be busier than I expected. I didn't have time to shoot much and it's so darn

hot out there. I spent quite a bit of time replanting some things like my basil and mint. The plus 100 degree weather was not doing them any good...even with lots of water. I've pulled the mint inside and the basil replanted in a large pot so I can move it during the day. The donkey ears are loving it though...I've got 'em all over the place.

I have a couple of planned shoots coming up that I hope will be rewarding. Until then I'm just perusing some old files and cleaning and/or transfering shots to a stand alone hard drive. I came across this shot from last year when we did have rain. The bluebonnets were just about taking over. This shot with a polarizer was at ISO 100, f5.6, 1/13th of a second on a tripod.

If I come across anything else I'll post. Otherwise, until after my next shoots....Ciao!

September classes are now posted at: http://activenet.active.com/cityofcedarpark

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I know thousands of photographers have done this. Shots of smoke. I've never done it until today. It's over a hundred outside so I certainly didn't feel like going outside with my camera. So I decided I'd try my hand (eye) on some smoke shots. Inside.

It's actually very simple...all you need besides your camera is a black background (in this case of piece of duvytene), an off camera flash (in this case my SB600 on a stand to the right with a remote trigger), and a stick of incense. (at least the office smelled like jasmine for a while)

I dialed in 1/40th on the shutter speed (we're on a tripod) and f5.6, ISO 200 and viola! smoke shots.

Just blow a puff of air or wave your hand occasionally and the smoke does it's thing. OK, so that's done now maybe so more tabletop shots. If anything, it makes a nice graphic for a business card.

Thanks for stopping by and checking in out. Stay tuned and cool.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How ShaL-Low Can You Go?

This post is for some of my students who inquired about how shallow of a depth of field can one go?...or how shallow is shallow?
So...here is a photograph with a very shallow depth of field. How did I get this so shallow? First, I used my Nikkor 50mm lens which has a large aperture of f1.4. The small numbers, i.e. f1.2, f1.4, f2 represent a very large opening or aperture thus insuring a shallow depth of field.

In this case, I dialed in f1.4 on the lens. I was in the shady side of the house on a sunny day so I used the Daylight white balance. Since there was a lot of light I knew that the shutter speed was going to be high. I first tried 1/500th. A tad bit too dark. I then tried 1/400th and this gave me a nice healthy histogram leaning a bit to the right without hitting that right edge.

As you can see, the picture starts to come into focus about 1/2inch in front of the flowers, the front plane of the roses is in focus but we start to lose focus as we go back over the roses. The depth of field or in other words, the part that's in focus is about an inch deep.
Then in P/S, I drained some of the colors out and replaced them with something that made it look a bit vintage. Like those old Valentine cards you find at the flea market.

OK, that's it for today. Thanks for stopping by and checking it out.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Other Side of the Sunset

Last night as the sun was setting, I could see huge puffy white clouds lowering toward the horizon and I knew there was going to be a colorful sunset. After positioning myself down low I took several shots of the sunset. These were pretty good but nothing I haven't shot before. Checking my surroundings, I turned around and saw an even better sky. These two shots, the sun is setting behind me. The extreme difference in altitudes of the cloud formations produced some nice contrasts. The bottom shot, "The Cage" is intentional. I was interested in the two types of images, beautiful puffy clouds at sunset against cold black steel with straight unnatural lines. "There are no straight lines in nature." I think it was my high school art teacher that said that.

My Nikon D70 was set to ISO 400 with a Hoya polarizer, both shots handheld at 1/3oth of a second. The cage at f8 and the tree at f6.3. Because I was in Manual mode, I could use the built-in light meter to assist in determing the exposure setting.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.