2 Weddings in 2 States in 2 Months

WP summer 1 collage

WP summer 2 collage

WOW!  Summer is over and it’s time to catch up on many things, including my blog posts!  I had the wonderful opportunity to be the wedding photographer at my first 2 weddings.  The first took place at the LDS (Latter-Day Saint) Los Angeles, California Temple.  My hubby was my second shooter, using the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS to catch people from a distance.  The bride and groom were stunning against the dark green doors of the temple.

The second wedding took place at the LDS Manti, Utah Temple.  It was a windy, cloudy day but fortunately the rain held off until we were on our way to the reception in another town!  The other photographer at the event was fantastic (Curtis J. Morley Photography) and between the 2 of us, we were able to capture some great moments at the temple and reception!

 What is the difference between doing portrait photography and weddings?  Why are there so many articles, forums and discussions that recommend AGAINST shooting a wedding unless you are a pro?  In the age of digital photography, you have INSTANT feedback about your work.  I cannot imagine shooting a wedding in the age of film, not knowing for sure if you have succeeded in capturing some unforgettable moments or – NOT!  Surely, weddings captured in film are (or, were) not for the faint-hearted.  I think EVERY photographer should shoot a wedding!  HOWEVER, here are areas where you HAVE TO BE proficient before you attempt your first wedding, as you will be doing ALL of these:

Portrait photography – get used to shooting on manual, and always, ALWAYS shoot in RAW.  period.  You must understand ALL the basics; aperture, ISO, shutter speed, depth of field, focus points, and may want to expand your understanding to back button focus if it applies to your camera body.

Landscape & Architectural photography – practice taking photos of churches or other buildings, inside and out, with all kinds of light including noon day sun, on cloudy days, and even a few rainy days.

Macro – have a lens or set up that works for macro photos, as you will want to capture details of the event…the lace on the dress, the wedding rings, the flowers, the wedding cake, etc.

LENSES…I would highly recommend renting, borrowing or purchasing the following for wedding day.  I shoot with Canon, so you may have to adapt this for Nikon:

24-70mm f/2.8 L  You need this range for group and family photos!  If you shoot ONLY with primes, just be sure to have this range covered…

50 mm f/1.4 L   You will need a good, fast portrait lens, and the 50 is hard to beat.

70-200mm f/2.8 L IS  With the monster weight of this lens, IS is a helpful tool.  This is great for low light, across the room when you can’t get any closer and need the shot…

I would also recommend purchasing and practicing with a speedlight/flash and studying bounce flash techniques indoors so that you don’t have ugly shadows to clean up in post production processing!

Does this mean that I now want to be a wedding photographer full time?  I learned a great deal from shooting both of these weddings, and I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.  However, my goal is STILL to be one of the top contributing photographers for Shutterstock.  Having a child with disabilities, I value the flexibility of choosing my own schedule and work, based on his needs, therapies and medical appointments.

I encourage you to give wedding photography a try.  It is stressful, exhausting and demanding.  And it’s one of the most rewarding things you will ever do!

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CARPE DIEM – seize the day!

My Dad and I have a favorite saying…it is simply Carpe Diem!  This is the Latin form of “seize the day”!  I love this simple saying.  Instead of think about the day, or fear the day, or get through the day, it’s SEIZE the day!  It implies action.  It is active, not passive.  It implies control.  What exactly can we control?  The events of some days seem very much out of our control.  But I do believe we can control our attitude toward events and people.

I believe that all good gifts and talents come from a loving God, and that when you share your talents with others, you often help them as well as yourself.  In photography, I love the concept of “paying it forward” and that photography can be a gift to others.  In the last year, I have adopted the City of Germantown.  I have done numerous photos for Parks and Recreation, including the Bobby Lanier Farm Park and the Special Recreation programs, all free of charge.  This year, I was asked to do the PROM photos for the special recreation department.  They provide an outstanding evening for individuals with mental, physical, emotional and other challenges.  Their decorations were beautiful, they provided food and drinks, music and entertainment for about 130 people in the Germantown area, all without cost to participants!!!  The participants really dress up for this event.  It’s a dressy, formal evening of fun.

PROM

I had a great time, and I know they did, too!  Have I ever photographed a formal event before?  no.  130 formal photos in a short time? no.  But I believed in myself, my equipment, and decided to seize the day.  I learn something new every time I get my camera out.  So, here’s to taking charge, paying it forward, and deciding to seize the day!  Try it!  You just might surprise yourself!

Memphis in May – bring your allergy medicine!

pollenMemphis, Tennessee… known for drawing in big crowds in the month of May for music and food.  Sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River, the downtown area is home to old and new. The Orpheum theater, and new high rise buildings.  It’s a city of contrasts.  It’s a city of churches of all kinds, for all kinds of people.  People here are not ashamed of their faith.  You can hear “God Bless You” and “Have a Blessed Day” from the cashier at the grocery store.  Spring is mild and warm, with everything from azaleas and dogwoods to wisteria in bloom.  Spring also brings allergies!  To demonstrate how MUCH pollen is around, I wrote the word POLLEN on my outdoor table!  Here’s another shot of my handprint (in the pollen) on the BBQ:

pollen 3They say there are more musicians (retired, working, consulting) in the city of Memphis than you could officially count, and there’s always live music of some sort available in or around the city.  Check out the schedule for “Memphis in May” from May 3 to 5 to see the kind of music that Memphis attracts!

I guess it goes without saying that the BBQ is abundant, relatively inexpensive, and competitive here.  One of my favorites is the Commissary.  Looks like a shack but the food is amazing and affordable!  Check out some of our beautiful churches while you are in the area, too:

1302Somerville-7

Bring your family, bring your BBQ, bring your CAMERA, bring your faith, bring your sense of adventure.  Spring is stunning in Memphis.  and hey!  Don’t forget to bring your allergy medication!

until next week,

Photography + Keywording + Graphic Artist = Stock Photography

Hi there!

I thought I would take a couple of minutes to talk about Stock Photography and why I love it!  When you sit at your computer and read the latest news on yahoo or other online sites, there’s almost always a photo for the article you are reading.  If the story is about debt, maybe the photo is a stack of dollar bills, or a stack of papers that look like overdue bills.  Chances are very good that you are looking at a stock photo, chosen from millions of photos available online through different agencies.  Every agency has different requirements for contributors, but in general, the photo has to be technically correct (proper lighting, “copy space” for copy to be added if needed, in focus, correct white balance, no harsh shadows, etc) and it needs to be able to sell an idea, a product or a service.  (Or it could be an abstract background)

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:

1304BlogThis is a close up (macro) shot of some brightly colored leaves that I took in the fall.  Although someone might want this as fine art to place above their orange sofa, it really doesn’t sell an idea, a service or a product….Also, since it’s not in focus 100%, it probably wouldn’t be desirable as a stock photo.

Here’s another one:

1304Blog-2This is a photo of my little guy playing with water in the pool.  It was taken at a very fast shutter speed, to freeze the movement of the water.  I believe that patterns like this are what he sees when he splashes and plays!  The water is beautiful, but it also feels “alive” in this photo…

I submitted this photo to one of my stock agencies, and it was rejected. You become very good at accepting rejection when you first start submitting for different agencies!  I think the process keeps you humble!

Here are a couple others, that are currently for sale at http://www.shutterstock.com/g/wallybird

1304Blog-4 1304Blog-3My friends weren’t crazy about the first one.  It’s a self portrait (selfie) taken right after a big ice storm here in Memphis.  There was a thick layer of ice on everything, including my car.  I set up my tripod and camera and took some shots looking through the glass.  Although it may appear as though the photo is out of focus, it is, in reality, in perfect focus through the thick ice.  Keywording is everything in stock.  It’s how your potential customer finds you.  This photo reminded me of people with alzheimer’s and dementia.  It’s as though they are there, but there is a thickness or fog around them that you have to get through!  The title is “Hope through the Winter”.  It’s selling very well!  Other keywords for that image would be depression, health, mental, medication, therapy, therapist, etc.

The last one is a close up of hens at our local community garden and farm park.  It’s in focus, no harsh shadows, there’s copy space, and backyard suburban farming is making a comeback!  I noticed a chicken coop for sale in my catalog for Williams Sonoma!!!  If you need more information about how to get started in stock, look into some of these:

shutterstock, bigstock, fotolia, dreamstime, and istock

Even if you decide it’s not for you, there are some wonderful tutorials on these different sites (for photographers) that will help you improve your work!  My favorite right now is shutterstock.  They market to many different countries, so even if something isn’t big in the USA right now, you have a global community of buyers that have a chance of finding you through your keywords!

That’s it for now.  Enjoy your week!

 

 

exploring something new…HDR for beginners!

hi friends!

I thought I would talk about something completely different this week!  This week, I took my first steps into the world of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos.  Let me show you the end result and then talk about how I got there:

1303NatureThis was taken at the Lichterman Nature Center here in Memphis.  It was a rainy day, and I used my most “waterproof” lens, the Canon 70-200mm  f/2.8 L  IS, and a tripod.  Let me tell ya, if you want breathtaking landscape photos, with or without HDR, you have to invest in a tripod!  And if you’re going to shoot in the rain, invest in a very inexpensive plastic “rain sleeve” which keeps your equipment protected!

Anyway, back to our story.  To use HDR software, you really need to take 3 photos of the same, exact thing at different exposures.  You want one that is underexposed (too dark, not enough light) like this one:

1303Nature-2one that is overexposed (too much light) like this one:

1303Nature-4and one that is properly exposed, like this one:  (not too much light, or too little)

1303Nature-3Now, that last one isn’t too bad!  But I’ve lost some details in the shadows, and some details in the very light areas!

Let’s compare the first and the last one once again:

1303Nature

1303Nature-3Now, I have to say right now, that usually  you DON’T want any fast moving objects in your HDR photo!  This means that typically animals and people are not going to give you very good results.  I was taking a big chance on the geese in the picture.  They seemed to be moving VERY slowly, if at all!  Now, look for the AEB setting on your DSLR.  AEB stands for Automatic Exposure Bracketing.  You want to set that to take your 3 shots about 2 stops apart.  Don’t worry if I just lost you…I’ll give you some online references in a second.  Now, set your camera drive from taking a single shot to taking “continuous” shots.  When you click the shutter button, your camera will now take 3 photos very rapidly, with those 3 exposures.  (underexposed, exposed, overexposed)

I purchased the “essentials” package for HDR from http://www.hdrsoft.com which has some additional examples for you to look at.  The “essentials” package was $39 and you download your 3 photos (underexposed, exposed, overexposed) into the software, and it merges or combines the 3 to pick up the details in the shadows, and the details in the light areas!  I was completely amazed at how the final image appeared!  It was almost like taking a step into 3 dimensional  photography!

Okay, I know I lost some of you that are new to DSLRs, but here are a couple of my favorite websites if you need help understanding your camera settings, or with “photography speak” in general:

http://www.freephotocourse.com    (look at February 2013 contributor gallery for wallybird photography’s featured photo!!!)

http://www.digital-photography-school.com

Have a wonderful week!

….he fills my days with endless wonder…

hey friends!

Recently I attended the movie “Les Miserables” with some friends, and was reminded of the spectacular music and lyrics that brought Hugo’s work to life.  The lyrics include “he filled my days with endless wonder” and I cannot help but feel that way about my son, my youngest of 4 children.  Now, when I say that he fills my day with wonder, many of you will think of the meaning of the word “wonder” as awe, majesty, surprise, serendipity.   The kind of “wonder” that you feel when you see a beautiful sunset, the vast expanse of the ocean, or the majesty of God’s creations here on Earth.  Certainly, my son does often help me to feel this kind of “wonder”.  And, certainly, he is full of surprises.  The diagnosis of down’s syndrome was not really a surprise, but the diagnosis of autism along with that, at about age 3, was.  And, the third diagnosis of Crohn’s disease at age 7 was more than surprising.  It threw me completely into a tailspin, a mommy “meltdown” of sorts.  Certainly, any one of the 3 diagnoses would put most mortals into a shivering, quaking, fearful, depressed mess of humanity.  However, I am not a mere mortal.  I have my roots in divinity.  My father is a great genealogist.  Some of our family lines go back to women of distinction.  Among them, Joan of Arc, and Mary (Queen of Scots).  Surprised?  don’t be!  If you do YOUR genealogy and get it back that far, you will probably find you have royal roots too!  Does that make a difference in how you see yourself?  Does it give you hope to make it through your challenges?  I think it must.  I think I also tend to treat other people like they have divine roots and royal heritage as well.  Well, back to the idea of “wonder”…In addition to the awe kind of “wonder”, I find myself wondering about some other things.  I wonder if he’ll ever be completely potty trained.  (he’s 12…should I give up?)  I wonder if we can stay on top of all the outside appointments with specialists and therapists.  I wonder if he’ll live with us forever.  I wonder if I’ll ever have an empty nest…??

When we moved to the mid-south, I wanted to work part time, but my experience is in the Airline Industry.  Anyone that has ever worked in the airline industry will tell you that getting the schedule you want is all about seniority.  The people working day shift with weekends off often are the most senior employees.  I dreaded the thought of more shift work, working weekends and holidays, and after 14 years in the airline industry, starting over once again.  That is when I decided to turn to Photography!

I needed something where I could control my schedule around doctor appointments and Gavin’s health.  Something I could do with small blocks of time.  Something creative and rewarding.  Thus, wallybird photography was created in 2012.  My first year in operation was very busy.  I applied for a federal trademark through the Patent and Trademark Office.  (USPTO) So, wallybird photography is a federally protected, registered trademark.  I studied almost everything I could get my hands on about photography and took classes online on how to improve my technique and how to process and edit in Adobe Lightroom.  I became a contributing photographer to shutterstock and some other online stock agencies.  I’ve met some of my goals, and have new ones for 2013!  I’ve run in to some wonderful, free, internet sites that will help you take your photography to the next level.  Check out http://digital-photography-school.com/  and find answers to everything from aperture to white balance.  Even advanced photographers can find something there of interest!

Here are some photos of our little guy, and here’s to another week of “wonder”!!!

1303Spring Boy

despite what the groundhog saw…

hey friends.

If I’m not mistaken, that expert on forecasting, the groundhog, predicted an early spring this year.  I know most of my friends in Minnesota and upstate New York are wondering about this prediction, with even more new snow added to their accumulation!

We’ve lived in many states, and experienced Spring in many places.  Here in the (mid)South, spring starts early with daffodils in February and progresses through almost every color of the rainbow by June.  Our winters are fairly moderate, with an occasional ice storm or some snowfall, usually melted within 48 hours.  Here’s what our winter looked like:Image

As much as I enjoy the moderate winter, it isn’t the celebration I experienced in Minnesota.  After a long, hard, winter, I took great joy at EVERY perennial that reappeared in my yard!  I marveled that anything could survive outside in such harsh conditions.  I thanked God for every plant that showed the tenacity to come back after sub-zero wind chills and layers of snow and ice.  It gave me hope that I, too, could survive my experience here, as a seasoned, “perennial” parent.  Maybe God celebrates my growth and resiliency as much as I was celebrating these little blossoms!  The thought put a smile on my face.  Although Spring is not as much of a celebration here in TN,  it still fills me with wonder.  The other day I was driving and rounded the corner to see an old barn, sitting on a hill, with a vibrant green field below it and dark, threatening skies above it.  The contrast between old and new, darkened skies and bright clouds was amazing:Image

Hoping you find wonder in Spring, wherever you may be this year!