"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

Monday, December 31, 2012

A Berry Berry Happy New Year

This afternoon a heavy fog rolled in so I sprinted off to my favorite bog for my last photographic foray of 2012. I got a little infatuated with the berries. There were black, red, and white berries in various stages of ripeness and decay. These were not the edible kind by the way. Maybe the deer
like them, dont' know. I had a blast playing with the bright little points of color and mixing them with the background muted colors of the woods.

There was an oriental feel to everything, perhaps it was the fog. It reminded me of Japanese or Chinese brush paintings with a foreground, middle ground, and background.

Double click image for larger and slideshow.

Thank you for visiting my blog this year - I hope you've enjoyed some of my images. And I hope
that next year is a splendid one for all. Happy New Year...best wishes to everyone.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Very Happy Holiday Season to All !

OK, I'm going to sign off for several days to enjoy the holidays with my family. I will be back to this blog sometime next week.

I leave you with an image of the fabulous Heritage Oak here in Cedar Park.

In the meantime, everybody -  have a wonderful holiday - eat lots of goodies - imbibe responsibly -

hug the ones you're with....many times over.....best wishes to all!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Getting Out of the House ( In, too)

Here are five images I made about two years ago all in the span of about an hour and a half. Many times I just toss the camera in the car and go for a drive. And then is just a question of looking...
finding scenes that grab my attention, colors, shapes, an odd thing here or there.
In my classes I have always said images aren't going to knock on your door, you gotta get out there and shuffle through the mess. Sometimes photography takes time and a little work.
That said, maybe you just want to take pix around the house...the family...the pets...absolutely nothing wrong with that. Christmas is just around the corner and whether you celebrate it or not there's bound to be loved ones shuffling around your house (New Years, too)...so keep that camera nearby. Get in close and capture what it means to be together.

Hope your holiday season is going well.
Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Business Portrait

Last night I was putting the finishing touches on this corporate type headshot. This is not quite the usual look that I see all the time. Most of the time there is this happy go lucky blue background, the sort of blue one finds in 1960s appliances. The other usual color is middle grey. I wanted a little classier warmer look without going outside the "business" style. I opted for what I call "parlor colors". I think it works well. The framing is such that you can easily crop for a number of applications.

The technical stuff is: Nikkor 50mm lens on DX sensor making this a 75mm look. Camera was in manual mode - handheld 1/90th @ f6.7 at ISO 400 with WB set to flash +3.

The lighting is from an AB800 with a 64" umbrella camera left with a 4x4 white bounce on the right. Plus two small ARRI peppers, one on the background, and one back right hair. The back light is scrimmed down 2 stops. Added some softening in post.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The holidays have got me. Just too busy getting ready for the seasonal maddenings. My camera has been at my side but alas nothing from the muse. So here's one from last year at this time, the 18th of November to be precise. Shot at the Brushy Creek Sport Park one wet foggy morning.

ISO 400 in manual mode, f5.6, 1/60th lens set to 24mm (DX), 36mm (FF).

Oh, muse where are thou?...probably on a warmer island.

Thanks for stopping by. Protect your sensitive plants.

Friday, December 7, 2012

New Web Site

This week I published a new website, andydebruyn.com. I wanted a website that would showcase some of my best work and also be easy to find. I perused my archives for several days making my selects and of course couldn't possibly use all of them. Tuesday, on this blog, I posted an image of Devin by window light. This is Monica. We worked together on this shoot for about an hour and half. Monica was astounding...she gave me so many different looks, tones, and feels. Amazing.
I wish I could post them all.  
This image was made with my favorite lens, the Nikkor 50mm F1.4. It's about 30 years old. Maybe more. It produces the sweetest bokeh. With the lens at the widest f1.4, the shutter speed was a hefty 1/2000th at ISO 800. At that ISO, the sensor just ingested the tone of her skin..just beautiful.
Hope you like it. And please give a gander to my other site. Just click the link on the right.Thanks.

Cheers and salutations.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wonderful Window Light

Going through some archived portraits I was really surprised at the number of images I made without the help of an electronic flash. This portrait of Devin is a fine example of just using what's there and leaving it alone. The only light here is a large window to camera left. Since I wanted detail from the right also I set the ISO to 800. In program mode the camera chose f5 at 1/60th of a second.  

It's important to note that this window is just pouring in skylight and no sun...you need to pick the side of the house that is facing away from direct sunlight - sometimes a pre-scout of the location can help.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Early this morning - 8:30 early - I took my annual hike down by the San Gabriel River just south of Georgetown. There are some great rocks that have just fallen from the sky (?) and plopped themselves on the river bed. One looks like a parked car. I call it "The Car".  There's really not a lot of water a couple of spots here and there only a few inches to maybe a foot or two deep. To get down to the river bed I had to negotiate a very steep embankment probably around 45 degrees - and it's nothing but a huge thicket of underbrush, uprooted trees, slippery rocks...recommended only if you have a good pair of hiking boots. Getting back up was another story - by the time I got back to the top I was sweatin' and it wasn't even 50 degrees outside!

Tech Info - Shot everything with a Nikon D80 using the 18-135mm lens. Since the sun hadn't come up over the embankment I was using ISO 400 and the camera set to f8 Aperture Priority. f8 seems to be the sweet spot for this particular lens. Even though I was getting shutter speeds between 300-400th I shot everything using a tripod (yeah, I was negotiating the embankment carrying a full blown tripod) and a circular polarizer. White balance was set to Auto.

Thanks for stopping by. Click image for slideshow.

All photographs copyright ©Andy deBruyn 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Colorful Event

This past weekend we went to the City Wide Garage Sale at the Parmer Event Center. Over 160 vendors selling everything and anything your little heart could desire. Besides the usual stuff you see at any garage sale there were tables piled high with scarves, napkins, tablecloths, sheets, quilts, and remnants of velvet curtains. I was intrigued with all that color all mushed together helter skelter. The bead collector's tables were also ornamentally enhanced with colors and textures.    

The light inside the center is pretty darn ugly - I didn't want to use a flash so I upped the ISO to 800 and using the Nikkor 35mm f2 managed to get a decent shutter speed of 45 with an f stop of 3.5.
I juiced the color a bit in P/S to match what I thought I was seeing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Shadows, Composition, and "Tilty"

My son and his fiancee were fostering a 6 week old kitten for the Austin Pets Alive (APA)program. Through APA you can temporarily adopt, feed and take care of an animal until it's stronger, a little older, and ready for adoption and a permanent home..at which time APA will post the availability.
Well, they went away for the weekend and "Tilty" stayed at our house from Friday night to Sunday evening . Right off the bat Tilty commanded the downstairs bathroom for the weekend. Sandbox, warm sox in a bedbox, bowls of vittles, the whole bit. Then I learned she had a propensity for sleeping on my shoulder whenever possible and finding great squares of warm sunlight.. She's a very sweet kitty so hopefully she'll go to a good home.
Here's a couple of pictures using only one light, afternoon sunlight pouring through the window. I would like to point out that even though these are "grab" shots whenever Tilty cooperated they still retain a sense of design. Especially the bottom wider shot which uses the strong shaft of sunlight,  heavy shadows supporting the frame, and the rule of thirds both horizontally and vertically. In my sketch you can see the design of the shot. Again, this was a grab shot while the cat was moving.  After many many years of paying attention to composition, balance, lights and darks, I managed to make an image that's nicely weighted all around. As I've often told my photo students, photography is like any other craft and requires practice...and more practice. Like a piano or guitar student who needs to learn their scales they also need to develop muscle memory, visual artists need to develop and hone their design muscle.
If you would like to foster (save!)  an animal check out: austinpetsalive.org.
Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Dad and My Son

My dad, who is 90 years old, (actually 90 years and 10 months!) has garnered hundreds of friends in his lifetime as he travelled the world while in  the U.S military.  Now he is contantly on the move visiting friends in Europe (mostly Italy) and many friends spread throughout the United States.

This weekend he stopped by after a stay in Dallas and before he heads to Washington state. I knew I wanted to photograph him with my son, Stefan, 12.

I didn't want the setup to be to very complicated and require a lot of direction. This setup is very simple.
Black backdrop, one soft-silver reflecting umbrella basically straight on overhead at a 45 degree angle, with the addition of 4x4 white foamcore on the right for fill and a 24"X36" white foam core bottom left pushing some light under my son's hat.
The lens was the nikkor 50 f1.8 (DX sensor which makes it effectively a 75mm, great for portraits). Strobe was a single AlienBee 800 set to 1/16th power!. ISO 200 - camera set manually  dialed into f6.7 at 1/180th of a second. The umbrella is about a foot away - remember, the closer the light source, the softer the light.

Enjoy the fall weather! Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I am not a draftsman. My drawing skills are sketchy at most, stick figures at least. When I need to plan out a video set, table top still life, and sometimes even landscapes I am about to photograph, I can do a pretty good job of subject placement, size relationships, etc...at least I get the idea.

I like to paint occassionally and when I do - they're abstracts...again lack of precise drawing skills. But I can then concentrate on colors, contrasts, volume, movement, tone, and the overall design.

So when I get the chance to combine all of that in my camera, I'm a happy camper. (with a camera).

This image is from this morning's nature walk. Beautiful day, blue sky, puffy white clouds, nice breeze for some leaf movement, couldn't resist.

Camera specs: ISO 100, 1/90th of a second @ f5, lens with a polarizer, camera supported on a monopod.

Hope you like it - click on image for bigger.

Thanks for stopping by.
Image ©2012 Andy deBruyn

Monday, October 29, 2012

Motivation - Natural Light

Here are two pictures from the weekend that were motivated strictly by my love of natural light. Altho' I love bringing out the umbrellas and softboxes to create light it's the natural light that's my teacher and muse.
The top picture of my son Stefan playing the bass was snagged in about 2 minutes. I was on the couch watching the Giant-Dallas game, my son was in the next room practicing when he came around the corner to show me a new riff he was working on. There was a bright shaft of sunlight streaming in from the second storey window producing a blinding rhomboid of light on the carpet. When Stefan stepped into it - it looked like a stage spotlight. I said, "stop - don't move". I grabbed the camera and took a few snaps. Now if I had taken this pic without the flash his face would have been totally in the dark but I knew I had to compensate for the bright back light.  With the game on the line there was no time to lose. I just toggled up the on-camera pop up flash, quickly dialed in 1/4 power (remember those pop up flashes are adjustable - full power would have been way too much as he was only about 5 feet away) and snapped about 4 shots. After he showed me the nifty riff I went back to the game...all in about two minutes.
The second pic was taken on Saturday. I was working for TSS photography...we shoot a lot of kids sports pictures. There were three photographers with asssistants. Each assistant preps the client and holds the reflector/shader if necessary. I noticed that Maria's reflector was catching some early morning sunlight and caressing her face. Maria was working with the photog next to me. So I grabbed about two shots and then went back to my clients.
Both of these shots were just from paying attention to the light - watch the light - when you see something special - grab your camera. It's the light the makes the picture!
A word about assistants - if you ever have the luxury of working with an assistant = there is NO
substitute for a good assistant. Not only do they keep your workflow smooth but the real good ones
know what you're looking for in shading - what to leave lit and what to cover. An appreciative tip of the chapeau to Maria, Amber, Taylor,  and all the great assistants everywhere.
Click image for bigger.

Keep watching for that special light - and thanks for stopping by.   

Friday, October 26, 2012

Revisiting Bokeh

In my photo classes I teach the optical effects of not only lens selection but also the different spatial effects that occur at certain f stops or apertures. "Bokeh" is a Japanese work meaning "soft brush stroke" or "softness" depending on which author you're reading.
You can see in this portrait the area in the background is completely out of focus producing a lovely bokeh effect almost like a soft backdrop in a studio. The trees in the background are about 20 feet away. Bokeh is produced by using the larger apertures on your lens. That's why photographers love lenses with f-stops of 1.4 or 1.2. Lenses with large f stops are great for available light work as well. These lenses produce extremely effective softness when used at the wide end. That said, your depth of field becomes very critical in that there's not much leeway in what's in focus or out of focus.
In this shot of Amber, my focus is centered right on the eyes - you can see the depth of field just by looking at the earring on her left, the back strand is already starting to go soft. Everything beyond that just goes "bokeh". This particular image was made with an old Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens - the aperture here is just that f.1.4. This lens works on any of my digital cameras only in manual mode so again focus is all up to me. This is my favorite portrait lens not only because of the way the glass reads but it works on any of my digital cameras. The DX sensors give me an effective lens of 75mm perfect for portrait work.
Depending on what lens you are using bokeh is possible to varying degrees. I have a Nikkor 18-135mm lens f3.5 - f5.6. I can achieve a fairly nice degree of softness when used at the longer length say 135mm with the f-stop of f5.6. I just need to step back about 12 feet in order to fully frame my subject and be aware of how far back the background is. So take out your lens set and start playing around with the big side of the apertures - anywhere from f1.2 to f5.6 depending on the focal length.
Thanks for stopping by.         

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Black and White is just cool!

I get excited everytime I revisit my old negatives. There's just something about black and white I find very appealing. Maybe it's the unreal/surreal nature of it - perhaps without the color I can concentrate more on the subject. It's just seems to be timeless. Shooting color with a digital camera and then desaturating in post is not the same thing.

One of these days I'm going to set my digital camera to black and white, tape over the LCD
in the back so I can't chimp, expose the way I used to...looking at the light and guess-timating ..which actually worked most of the time. ISO set to 400 to mimic Tri-X. Anywho, it'd be a fun experiment.

Both of these were shot in the '75-'76 time frame while I was attending photo school at the Art Insititute of Boston. The conversation in the street is downtown Boston probably around Summer and Washington streets. The Pilgrim House is in Maine, can't remember where exactly...maybe around Biddeford.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


This morning I had the old itchy shutter finger and put on some hiking boots and went traipsing thru the local lagoon which is conveniently situated about a mile from my house. You really don't have to go far to find nice photographic subjects if you just take the time and scout around a bit.
These are my four selects from the half hour shoot. The constants are: Nikon D80 camera with the 18-135mm lens, camera set to VIVID and manual control with f5.6 and 1/45th of a second set. Camera is on a Tiltall tripod for all shots plus I used a 5 second timer to trip the shutter so I wasn't even touching the camera when the shutter clicked. I was trying to get the steadiest shots I could. There was an ever so slight breeze.   I love the delicate little curls and swirls of the petals.
The only variables are the top two shots are at ISO 100 and the bottom two are ISO 200.
The stark yellow/white flower is just bringing the tripod down under the flower and letting the sky blow out in the background.

I hope you are enjoying your photographic journey...and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Few From Sunday

Yesterday (Sunday) I was working with Jon above shooting kids sports portraits. Jon had on this great straw hat and I had to grab a shot of him. It was a very sunny day, I had slathered on the sun screen and was sporting a baseball cap. Jon's hat was more interesting.
I shot the pix in color using the sun as a back light (you can see it shining thru the hat). In one hand I held the camera in the other a white reflector to bounce a little light back into his face.
The black and white conversion was simply done in the camera's menu with a little added sharpness in photoshop.
On the way home, the sun was going down and I was looking for some color mixes. Since the setting sun was providing the orange glow I was on the lookout for some complimentary colors. The Kolache stand on 620 looked good in the setting light especially with the umbrella tipped over adding a beautiful splotch of red. The yellow sign says, "Smile You're on Camera."..and there I am with
my camera...sort of a self portrait. (a tip of the hat to Harold Mante)
The fire hydrant was just over in the next yard and I loved the faded colors mixed with the warm glow in the background.
Both the color shots are straight from the camera which was set to VIVID, the only other thing
I did was change them to web size.

Thanks for stopping by....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tethered Boat

Another picture from my treasure trove of old negatives. Shot in Cape Porpoise, Maine in the mid 70's using my trusty Pentax Spotmatic with the 50mm lens on Kodak Tri-X film.
Back then all you had to do was select your f-stop and shutter speed and take the picture. Nowadays, whew!...with white balance, ISO changes, checking histograms, chimping the back of the camera, spinning dials..aaarrrgghh! ....it was oh so simple back then. I'm really thinking about buying a 35mm developing tank, some D-76 developer, some stop bath, and pulling out my OM-1.
Thanks for stopping by.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I recently had a discussion with a former photography student about composition. Because the class was basically an intro or primer to photography, I covered mostly the how and whys of camera operation. Due to time constraints my class discussion about composition was brief and cursory.

That said, I did tell the class that "if it takes you a while to practice the mechanics of the camera that's ok. Take your time. But in the meantime, if you start to compose your shots better - using basic design guidelines - paying attention to the placement of objects, the visual weight and arrangement of those objects -your pictures will improve 100 percent right there." I then went on to explain some of the basic design guideslines, rule of thirds, design stems, etc.
Back to the student -  the student requested some other sources of design information for further study, so these are three books that I recommended:

1. Composition - Arthur W. Dow - although written in 1899 it's a classic. Mr. Dow was
also a mentor to Georgia O'Keefe.
2. Pictorial Composition - Henry Rankin Poore
Both of these books are about 10 dollars each.
3. The Photographer's Eye - Michael Freeman - costs a little more but focuses on photography,
a favorite book on my shelf.  

So today I'm passing this along to anyone who's interested.

Hope your photography is keeping you busy and thanks for stopping by. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Strange Coincidence

Yesterday I was looking at old negatives again looking for something of interest when I came upon two rolls shot during a demonstration in Boston, probably September or October of '75.  I published the post, dtd October 4, 2012.
Later while I was perusing my regular sites I saw an article mentioning that Boston was re-visting the whole busing issue which has been in place for about 20 years. From what I've read they want to cut back. Today I found this article in the NYT:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/education/new-boston-busing-debate-4-decades-after-fervid-clashes.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

The article is dated 4 October 2012, a total coincidence. Not a big deal, but just for a moment I thought it was weird.

If you scrutinize the middle photo, you'll see Ted Kennedy,  Michael Dukasis, Mayor White, and other dignitaries all in a row.

Click image for bigger.

Thanks for stopping by.

The secret service/undercover guys and the Boston police were also in attendance.    If you note the angle of the photos is "looking down" that's because I'm perched on a fence - don't remember how I managed to perch on a fence and take pictures but the "agent" in the bottom pic is looking right at me wondering why I'm perching and pointing a Pentax at Joe P. Kennedy II seen almost in the middle extreme left. That's Ted Kennedy standing next to him back to camera.                        All photos ©2012 Andy deBruyn