Week 8

Love

“Strengthening”

ISO 6400 | 33mm | f2.8 | Flash fired, compulsory flash mode | Aperture Priority | White Balance: Flash

ISO 6400 | 33mm | f2.8 | Flash fired, compulsory flash mode | Aperture Priority | White Balance: Flash

Look at her. You can’t stop, can you? Ok, now stop. Stop it! She is mine.

The woman pictured is the love of my life, Rebecca. Coming up in June, we will have been married for 8 years and will have known each other for 9.5 years. Just as with any relationship, the beginning was marked with much intrigue. We were kidless for a few years, simply enjoying one another’s company. This was by design. We saw so many people that, after their kids left the house, they didn’t know how to relate to each other. This could obviously still happen, even to us, but our thinking was that we should get to know each other more deeply in the first years, before introducing the stress (and blessing) of children.

Rebecca went with me this past weekend down to the Gulf Coast, about 3 hours from our house. I was hired as the photographer for a Mardi Gras ball in Biloxi. It was put on by the oldest men’s group of its kind. They celebrated their 90th year this year.

As I mentioned before, as my wife and I dated, our love and appreciation for each other strengthened. And I do believe it must be both love and appreciation. Without love, you will not sacrifice for one another. Without appreciation, you will not respect each other and truly long to get to know them more as a person.

You would think, as the years have gone by, that our love and appreciation would wane, not strengthen. Even in my logical mind, I would think this would happen. Not so. I have been blessed to be married to a woman of whom I continue to love. This woman intrigues me with her devotion and dedication to our family and me.

We enjoyed the weekend away. It was a short little getaway, but a very nice reminder.

Due to a very busy week, this post is about a week late. Really, it is only about 2 days past the deadline, but I wanted to put it up anyway. Please be sure to check out the other guys’ photos. Their information is below. Take a look at their blogs, leave some comments and appreciate it for the great art that it is.

All of the participants in this challenge are as follows: [in no particular order]

Until next time…

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Week 7: The Setup

photo 1 (9)

photo 2 (9)

photo 3 (9)

I wanted to show some of the setup from the Week 7 shoot for “water.” I’m always seeing the other guys using simple things around the house for their shoots, especially Pete. I’m new to studio-type photography, so I’m always fascinated by this. I keep trying new items around the house to see what results they yield.

Here are some photos of the setup. My 70-200mm lens was on the tripod. I cannot find my tripod ring for this lens, so it was really too heavy for my tripod. It would not stay were I put it, but it was my best chance to get that kind of zoom. I used the floor as the base, a cutting board as the background and a flashlight offset to the left. That was the only light in the room. As most of the guys have commented, I like how the light shone on the actual water and ice, but the shadow could have been controlled a little better. Maybe something for next time.

Until next time…

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Week 7

Water

“Morphing”

2014.02.25 SOOC and Family Edit 9

ISO 100 | 185mm | f/32 | 12.0 sec | Canon EOS 5D Mark II

This post was supposed to be up by this past Sunday, but I am a couple of days behind. I’m glad I found time to make it happen tonight though. I have had a lot going on recently, on top of not feeling well the past couple of days.

Be sure to go to the bottom of this post and check out the rest of the guys’ photos. They are excellent, as usual, and you’ll really be missing out if you don’t give them a look.

This ice cube is morphing. Morphing into a different state of matter. It is changing its actual molecular make-up, in order to navigate. It wants to seek out a different place. If it had never melted into the liquid form of water, it would have never seen that other part of the tile floor. It might not have ever experienced a different view of its life.

It made me think about us. Well, I thought of myself, in particular. Do I morph to navigate through life? Obviously I cannot actually change my state of matter, but do I symbolically change in order to navigate through this life? Do I stay rigid, in my current state, or do I make the necessary changes to my persona and outlook. Do I adapt in order to not only survive, but thrive?

I like to think that I do, but I’m sure there is more that I could be doing. Do you morph in order to navigate your life? If not, it might be a good idea. What are some things you can do to morph?

All of the participants in this challenge are as follows: [in no particular order]

Until next time…

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Falling Behind

I have fallen behind with my SOOC 52 Week Challenge already. I suppose it was bound to happen with other blog writings, work and extra work on our house that my wife and I are building.

I worked this whole past weekend outside, cleaning up the construction site, picking up good wood scraps that would otherwise be thrown away and even raking pine straw to be used soon in our new flower beds.

All of this was while some of the trees started dropping pollen, of which I am very allergic. I struggled through it for a couple of days, but ended up having to take a sick day off of work yesterday, due to my feeling so bad. I just didn’t have the strength or time this past week to get my “Water” photo taken and posted. I plan on trying to double up this week so that I can get caught up.

Thanks for your patience and I hope that you continue to read along.

Until next time…

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Week 6: Honorable Mentions

Earlier in the week, I posted my interpretation of the “green” theme. This lichen-inspired photo had some nice, warm tones from the golden sun setting in the background.

I wanted to put up a couple of the others I took. These were close in the running as my favorite, but they just didn’t quite make the cut.

I think I like the perspective of the overhead one. Also, it gives such nice background texture to the photo. I think the grayish colors in the background pair nicely with the light, mint green of the lichen. The last photo was of a different kind of lichen or moss. I like the brighter green tones it has, and it has always been one of my favorite shades of green. The background of this last image is a regular cornucopia of colors. The rainbow of colors really invites your eyes to explore the background.

Let me know your thoughts on these images. Do you think I chose correctly, with the one I picked as my main image? Or do you think one of these honorable mentions should have taken its place?

Until next time…

2014.02.15 Green SOOC Edit 6

2014.02.15 Green SOOC Edit 2

All of the participants in this challenge are as follows: [in no particular order]

Be sure to take a look at their images as well. They have some really stunning shots!

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Week 6

Green

“The Reaching

2014.02.15 Green SOOC Edit 7

Last week, our challenge was “night sky.” This week, our challenge set us on green. Not just that it made us ready to go and take a photo, but the actual theme was green. Do you see what I did with the bold letters in the title of this piece? If you’re good at the jumble, it won’t be difficult to decipher. Some of the other photos have been fantastic, as usual. You’ll have to check out the other guys’ work linked at the bottom of this post.

This has been a busy week, and an even busier weekend for me. I’ve not had a chance to get out and take a photograph, which seems to be the norm recently. I saw this stick today and the light green moss upon it and really wanted to capture the strange beauty of it.

Lichens, not unlike this one here, reach for the sunlight. It is their whole existence. It is all they know to do. At times in the winter, I feel the same. I feel like the sun is all I crave. We don’t get the harshest winters by far. We don’t have snow every day, but we do have long, dreary weeks. We will go week at a time without seeing the sun, and when it does come back out, I realize just how much I’ve missed it. Just like this little piece of moss, I realize that I too want to reach for the sun. I want it to warm my bones and kiss my face with light.

I’m looking forward to spring now. Today was a beautiful day in the 60’s and gave me a glimpse of what is right around the corner.

What is your favorite season? (does anyone answer “winter” to do that?)

All of the participants are as follows: [in no particular order]

Until next time…

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Week 5

The Night Sky

“The Sentinel”

2014.02.08 Night Sky Edit 6

Last week, shooting ceramic/porcelain has me shooting inside the kitchen. This week, we were taken outside by our SOOC Challenge. Well, most of us were. Some of the other guys have done some great interpretations of the “night sky” theme. I gotta give it to some of them, they live in very cold areas and they still went outside and braved the cold. Look for their blog information linked at the bottom of this post, navigate to their blogs, view their images and comment. They would love to hear from you, and I’m sure you would love to see their photos.

The Sentinel stands over our property, watching with old eyes. Not old in the sense that he cannot see well, but old in the sense of wisdom. You see, he has lived a few years. A few decades, perhaps. He knows his surroundings. We are building a house right smack in the middle of his usual shade zone. For years, he has seen nothing but an empty field and a few sparse trees where our house is now being built.

When I saw him, towering over the project, I could help but think that he was watching out for us. He was keeping a wary eye on everything going on, and ensuring the safety of the property.

It was very cold the night I went to take this photos. Not cold like Chris experiences up in Minnesota, but very cold for Mississippi. It was breezy, with a wind chill of about 21 degrees. I went out to our house site, because even though it is in the city, the back of the property is quite dark. It is hidden from lights, which is part of why we like the place.

I was going to try to do a cool, spiral star trail shot, as I’ve never done one before. However, it has rained a ton here in the last few days, so I was not able to get out in the dirt yard and setup the tripod without just sinking to my knees. So, I put on my 70-200mm telephoto lens, setup the tripod under the edge of the back porch and shot out into the dark, night sky.

The results were mixed, as I was trying some long exposures, and didn’t know which settings to use. This sentinel shot was an idea I had after seeing how neat the trees looked that night, leaving the shutter open for about 5 minutes. I wanted to include a part of the roofline that the Sentinel is “watching over.” The straight vertical board that you see is some makeshift scaffolding that is on the side of the house right now. Both of those things lend well to this concept.

I will have to keep working this spring on some star trail shots. I ended up being so cold after being out there for a couple of hours, that I just had to quit. I might have kept trying otherwise.

All of the participants are as follows: [in no particular order]

Until next time…

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Week 4

Ceramic/Porcelain

“The Combination”

2014.01.29 SOOC 52 Edit 3

This week’s 52 Week SOOC Challenge has the theme of “ceramic/porcelain.” Since I’m posting kind of late in the week, some of the other guys already have their images up. As usual, please go check out their blogs and give them some comments. They have some really amazing photos. [Look for information about their blogs at the bottom of this post.]

I am somewhat of a purist. With food…with traditions…with so many things, I just don’t like combining different things together. Many times, I don’t want any flavor or anything in my coffee but a bit of sugar. I just want it black. Some tradition I started years ago, most notably around Christmastime, I don’t want to add new twists or nuances to. I don’t like different foods on my plate to touch. It very well might be a problem, but it is just how I am.

I have departed from this thought in recent years though. We keep to some very traditional things around our house, and our coffee brewing is one of those. For years, we used a drip coffee maker and it was just ok. One year, I asked for a French press for Christmas, and got it! I have always loved how coffee tastes when made in that thing, but we used to only pull it out for special occasions. About two years ago, we started using it full-time. We boil some water in a tea kettle, pour it over the coffee grounds, press them up and down in the water a few times and serve. It is truly a delicious way to brew coffee.

You get so much of the rich taste from the coffee when it is brewed this way. You can even see the natural oils on top of your cup sometimes, just after pouring. Also, since the water is never in plastic, it never has that funny taste that plastic is prone to bestow upon things. The French press that we have is glass, so no need to worry about such things. That is a big deal to me. I have what some might call a schooz (prominent nose) and let me reassure you, it is not merely for looks. This thing works. I am very particular about smells and tastes. I am not one of these that will eat something if it is just a little bit off. It is a good thing that I am open to trying new things, however picky I may be.

We both have iPads. It didn’t really start out that way, but we enjoy doing many things with those tablets. Please don’t get off on a rant in your mind about this, because we were able to pick up the one my wife has at a great price, so we didn’t hesitate a couple of years ago. At first, the adoption of them is slow and difficult. I don’t mean that it takes that long to learn how to use one of these devices, but rather it takes a long time to really think of doing things digitally, after having done them manually for so long. You still have that tendency to reach for paper or an actual book. However, after owning them for a few years, we have started using them for things we never thought we would.

We have started using them as digital recipe books. Not for every recipe, mind you, but I have been noticing more and more that an iPad will be at the ready during dinner preparation. I will come home from work to a scene of Rebecca in the kitchen, 2 burners cooking, consulting the iPad on the side. It is kind of neat. It makes me smile. I am not one of these that thinks everything needs to be digital, like water faucets and toasters. However, it is neat to use technology where it can truly help us achieve a more efficient life.

There are a few things I have found I do like to combine. I like to combine traditional, soft building elements with harsh, metal elements. I like to see lots of woodwork alongside some industrial items. As I described it to my wife, I like some things to be around that “appear as if they belong on a submarine.” For instance, we are looking to have white cabinetry in our house that’s being built. We want to have some granite countertops, and even considered some wood flooring. However, we want our lighting elements to be kind of rough metal. We also want our stools for the island bar to be metal, giving the appearance they are old, or they very well could be old. We don’t mind either way.

The cup I like to sip coffee from if I have time is this small one pictured. It is a throw back to the Brits and a time forgotten. This particular one is ceramic. It is a type of pottery, in fact. It is our casual dinner wear. For those of you reading this that are not in the US and not in the South, this might be foreign to you. It is very common right now to have ceramic pottery for your “everyday dishes.” There are some very creative artists out there, making homes lively, one stonewear piece at a time. Speaking of British, this cup is a very old, British brand, Denby. Their history of quality pottery is actually quite fascinating. Take a look at the video they have about their product. You won’t regret it.

My wife, Rebecca, used to work at a bridal registry store when she was in college. She loved it. She loves all of the fancy bits. She loves all of the history. She really researched some of the brands of casual wear before deciding on Denby. Then, she started buying some pieces. This stuff is not cheap, mind you, but she was in love with it. She bought and she bought, until she had a 12-piece set of the stuff! And all of that was before she was even thinking about getting married. Talking about a lady that knew what she wanted! I have to admit, I was not crazy about the design of the stuff when we got married, but it has grown on me. Plus, I really like the history of the company. It has lasted through our 7.5 years of marriage, and I hope it lasts another 20 years. This pottery is kind of a highlight of our marriage, that I cherish. It holds a lot of significance.

Yes, I am aware that this kitchen is butt ugly. We don’t like it either. Everything in it is just junk. You have to work with what you have though. I originally wanted to show some steam coming out of the hot coffee, but was not able to, due to lack of contrast in the background. The oven in the background is white, hiding any steam that might be coming off of the cup. It was hot, trust me, but you just cannot see it. Oh well, I will try again another time.

This shoot was kind of a lesson for me. It screamed, “Don’t forget to try new things alongside your old traditions!” I am constantly telling myself that old traditions can be amended to accompany new things. That doesn’t mean that the tradition is abolished. Maybe it is just how the old tradition gets better?

What are some traditions that you are reticent to change? Do you like combining things?

All of the participants are as follows: [in no particular order]

Until next time…

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Week 3: Honorable Mentions

I wanted to post some of the details of how I captured Week 3’s “Lighting” photo. Also, I wanted to show some of my honorable mentions, that didn’t make the cut.

I had a lot of ideas about how to showcase “lighting.” As you will see, I just kept trying and kept trying. For some reason, I just never really loved the photo, so I just kept trying different things.

First, I tried to capture the filament of a light bulb, but none of the bulbs I had were conducive to such a shot. The ones I have are too opaque to even see the filament, so that was frustrating. I also tried this on one of those twisty, fluorescent light bulbs, but it really didn’t come out right either.

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 1

ISO 320 | f2.8 | 1/8 | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 35mm | Canon 5D Mark II

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 2

ISO 160 | f2.8 | 1/2 | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 16mm | Canon 5D Mark II

Then, I went outside in the cold to try out a long exposure with the car turn signal. I really wanted that star burst look, which I achieved, but nothing about the photo just stunned me, so I ended up not using it. I did manage to capture an airplane taking off in the background. That’s what that diagonal streak you see over my car is.

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 3

ISO 160 | f2.8 | 10.4 seconds | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 16mm | Canon 5D Mark II

Next up, I tried something similar to the previous one, but zoomed in on just the turn signal. Again, nothing stunning.

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 5

ISO 160 | f22 | 32 seconds | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 35mm | Canon 5D Mark II

I moved back inside after that, trying something by candle light. I thought, if captured properly, it would give a nice, soft glow. I tried some different ones of a candle we have, but that thing is just ugly, no way around it. Then, I tried using a little storage bin that we have, casting the candle light upon it gently. It came out ok, but again, nothing that just knocked my socks off.

Finally, I grabbed my daughter’s little stuffed animal and headed to our bedroom. I would bound and determined, after trying and failing earlier with extended exposures, to put up a successful extended exposure shot. I was using a handheld flashlight as a spotlight. It is an LED light, so it gives off a cool, blueish hue. I wanted that, so that it would give the appearance of an ocean. I held it up and off to the left of the camera (for the final two shots), pointing down on the subject. As you can see from some of the shots, too much of the background was showing, I had the Nemo back against the pillows at first, thinking this would look good, but I really didn’t like how the pillows and wall looked in the background. At that time, I had the flashlight sitting atop our chest of drawers at camera right. That’s when I moved it up to the foot of the bed (close to where I was shooting).

Here is the progression, with the final shot at the bottom:

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 9

ISO 160 | f22 | 0.8 seconds | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 35mm | Canon 5D Mark II

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 7

ISO 160 | f22 | 3.2 seconds | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 35mm | Canon 5D Mark II

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 6

ISO 160 | f22 | 3.2 seconds | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 35mm | Canon 5D Mark II

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 8

ISO 160 | f22 | 8 seconds | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 35mm | Canon 5D Mark II

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 11

ISO 400 | f22 | 6.2 seconds | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 35mm | Canon 5D Mark II

2014.01.25 SOOC52 Edit 10

ISO 400 | f22 | 6.2 seconds | Manual Exposure | Flash: did not fire | Focal length: 35mm | Canon 5D Mark II

Until next time…

 

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Ultimate Customer Service

Social Print Studio

@socialps on Twitter

In the last few years, I’ve really seen a few companies step up their customer service efforts. They don’t just help you buy the product that they are selling, but they actually show you that they enjoy talking to you.

The most recent example I have of this is Social Print Studio (@socialps on Twitter). I’ve used this company to order some photos and greeting cards from my Instagram photos. Their products are impeccable, but their customer service is even more so.

Just today, I got one of their emails. I subscribed to their list, as I do many other marketing lists, partly to see how they market. Being in marketing myself, I like to see other methods used. I can pick up tips that I see that are good, and disregard the ones I see that are bad.

Social Print Studio does a good job updating their customers about new products. It is not so often that they are inundating their audience with mundane updates. In fact, the frequency is just about right. I don’t get tired of hearing from them. At the bottom of their emails, they always put something in there about writing back to them and saying hi, even if you don’t really “need” anything.

I did just that. I wrote to them and told them hi, just like they asked. I also told them how their emails felt more like catching up with a friend than a marketing email, which is amazing. Their response:

Hey Bruce,
Dawww thank you so much for the note! We’re like that friend that you don’t see all the time, but when you do you end up drinking beer and playing Mariokart with until 5 am. Our love will never die! Thank you so much for all the love and support, we literally couldn’t do this without amazing friends like you all over the world. Please let me know if there is ever anything we can do for you.
<3
Jenny + the SPS Team
Kudos to them for getting this right. They have taken Customer Service to a whole different level. Other companies, look to them. You could learn a thing or two.
Until next time…
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