Backing Up

September 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Backing up your images.

Have you ever lost images on a computer or smartphone? I have on both. A hard drive failed on a computer, and I did not heed the warnings when I updated the iOS on my iPhone. For the most part, I had most of my images on CDs for my computer and posted images on Instagram or my blog with my iPhone.

After my hard drive failure, I subscribed to Carbonite. I lost the hard drive 6 years ago, and since then I have backed up over 90 gigs in files, most of which are images. Having the peace of mind knowing my files are safe is priceless.

Today, I opened up my Carbonite app and was surprised to see a new feature. The app allows me to access my images from my backup, and I was perfectly content with that. Carbonite has now allowed me to backup my images on my iPhone.

20120902-120041.jpgI know what you are saying, “Apple has the Cloud built into iOS.” and I’ve tried it. I was not too impressed because I usually did not keep my images on my phone very long to appreciate it. When Carbonite backed up my images, the app was my “cloud” access.

Time will tell if this new feature will improve my experience, and I will let you know what I find.

What Camera

March 24th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


20120324-193504.jpgWhat camera was used to take these images of the jewelry?

One images was captured by a Canon 30D, and the other was with an iPhone 3GS.

I’m A Photographer

March 23rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

In My Photographic Opinion

Have you ever been asked, “Are you an amateur or pro photographer?”

I have often thought about this question. It is almost as popular as the camera question: “What camera do you use?” Most of the time it does not concern me, but there are those occasions when it rubs me the wrong way.

Labels have always been a part of human history. It is a way of identifying and being identified. Not all labels bad, but sometimes they can create negative emotions or divisions in people.

The labels in question are used to describe photographers, and they have often been used to divide them. An insecure photographer will often use it to create classes and leverage themselves over other photographers, especially in the realm of opinion. This was clearly a trend during the 19th and 20th centuries. But, as we have entered the 21st century, we have seen an explosion in education and collaboration amongst photographers, and an ever decreasing line between pro and non-pros.

When I am asked whether I am a pro or amateur, I simply say that I am a photographer. I say it unapologetically and boldly. I have also used this label on others when they try to explain themselves. Just say, “I’m a photographer.”

I am not trying to criticize, but simply express my opinion on the matter. I was asked once if I was a pro, and I simply answered, “Yes”. But, they questioned my answer by asking if I got paid. I said, “No”.

I thought about it for a moment and told them that it was like asking whether I was a prostitute or a lover. Both do the same thing, but one gets paid to do it. They laughed and saw my point. I do not think professional photographers are prostitutes, but it was the closest analogy I had to prove my point.

What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear them. Remember, do not be afraid to call yourself a photographer.

Gray Cards

March 5th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

20120303-235205.jpgGray cards are an important tool in a photographers arsenal. They serve two purposes:

1. Exposure
2. White Balance

Ansel Adams helped develop the Zone System that consists of 10 stops of light from black to white. (You can google the Zone System for more information) Zone 5 is considered middle gray or 18% gray. Since cameras (as of yet) can only capture half the zones in an image, the photographer has to choose which zones that would give the best exposure.

Cameras and Light Meters (reflective) are programmed to meter a scene at 18% Gray, but not every scene or object has a gray to meter. The camera or light meter will try to give an approximate reading, but it can often be incorrect. The best choice in this scenario is to spot meter a gray card that is reflecting the light back at the camera or light meter.

20120304-001414.jpgHow do you use it? Let us use the image above as an example. I set a bowl against a dark background and had it sit under a 100 watt shop light using my iPhone camera. As you can see, my iPhone auto exposed the scene and blew out the bowl since the scene was mostly dark. The meters will lighten a dark scene and darken a light scene.

20120304-002221.jpgStart by placing the card in front of your subject. The light reflecting off the card will give a true reading of middle gray, and the photographer can choose the exposure needed.

20120304-002824.jpgI selected the X on the card, with my iPhone, because the focus requires contrasting elements to lock on to, and it was also one of the lightest parts of the card. A slr camera and light meter is different. The spot meter is aimed at the gray for a reading, and the photographer can focus on the X or remove the card and focus on the object.

20120304-003727.jpgRemove the card, and start taking pictures. You may need to adjust the card for better readings, but for the most part, your exposure should be correct.

As for the white balance, the gray card has also changed the color temperature to make the colors true. Tungsten, fluorescent, LED, sun, moon, and other types of light have their own color temperatures that can change the look of an image. White balance is different with each camera, so refer to your owners manual for more information.

Give the gray card a try, and you will be amazed at the differences that are made to you’re images.

Shadows And Light

March 3rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

20120303-105724.jpgShadows are a blessing and a curse in photography. A good photographer will use them to their advantage.

Camera – iPhone 3GS
Capture App – Native Camera

Why You Need A Battery Grip

February 13th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

20120213-144106.jpgHave you ever been out photographing and ran out of battery power? I have. Luckily I don’t have clients depending on me to get the images, but it is an inconvenience especially if you traveled to get them.

One of the first things I did was buy a backup battery for good measure, but that is no guarantee either. My next purchase was a battery grip, and I found a couple bonus features that came with it.

20120213-145513.jpgThe first thing I observed was the portrait shutter button. This took some getting use to, but it was not a game changer. The kit also came with a remote and AA holder which I found very nice. This is not a Canon kit but an aftermarket kit. Not all kits come with a remote or a battery holder.

The remote is great for self-portraits or remote triggering for long exposures when you want to eliminate camera shake. The camera has a timer that can allow you to do the same thing, but it usually takes 10-15 seconds. All of these are great options, but they do not compare to the AA battery tray.

20120213-151419.jpgThe battery tray holds 6 AA Batteries and fits in the same slot of the camera batteries. This is huge. Remember when I mentioned a scenario where both camera batteries can go dead? Well, with the battery tray you can continue shooting with AA Batteries.

20120213-152142.jpgI would use this option as a last resort, but it is an option I would not have if I did not have a battery grip. AA Batteries can get expensive if you use them all the time. The initial cost for rechargeable is greater than disposable batteries, but in the long run they last longer and trash less.

So, keep these options in mind when you look for a battery grip. Remember, the difference between getting the shot or not can be six AA Batteries.

The Photographers Best Friend

January 26th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

‘The Photographers Best Friend’ is a bold statement to make, but you may find some truth to it when this post is complete.


What am I talking about? The gray card. In 1999, I took a photography class in college. It was an introductory to photography course that took us into the darkroom where we used film and developed out images. Besides the film and camera, we were required to purchase a set of gray cards, and believe me, they were not cheap.

There were two 8×10 and one 4×5 cards in the set, but over the years I have lost both 8×10 cards. The camera I used in the class was the AE-1 Program camera, and it had a decent light meter built into the camera. In order to get the correct exposure reading, you needed to fill the frame with the gray card, but today’s cameras have the spot metering option which I use primarily.

Lets look at a couple reasons of why you need a gray card. First, our cameras are programmed to meter a scene at 18% or middle gray, but not every scene is balanced enough, between the highlights and the shadows, to capture the correct exposure. Second, each and every scene has a light source that gives off a different color balance that can effect the lighting of the image.

The gray card is rated at 18% or middle gray, and our cameras have a reflective metering system. So, with the correct metering, we can establish the correct exposure for or subject or scene.

Here is how you use the gray card:


Place the card in front of your subject or scene so the light reflects back towards your camera. Do you notice how the camera exposes the background and blows out the cards?


Select the area of the gray card until the correct exposure is obtained. As you can see, the background darkens and the cards have been exposed correctly.

Let me give you an example using a model car on my couch.


As we saw with the first image, the background has blown out the subject because it is dark, but as you will see below, we can correct the exposure with the gray card.


The background has darkened, and it will not distract you from the subject. After you have locked down the correct exposure, you can capture a series of images without having to meter with a gray card every time, but if you make any adjustments, it would be smart to re-meter the scene.



Here is a last thought on this subject. Without the gray card, you can select an area the would be considered 18% gray, and you would be able to capture a great image. I will select the pavement when I’m shooting cars or the grass for landscapes. Depending on the conditions I will usually need to make corrections in post.

Try this out for yourself, and you will be amazed on how your images will improve.

Tired Eyes

December 31st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink


I captured this image of my daughter when she was close to going to bed. She was sitting on my wife’s lap, and she was not real excited about daddy taking pictures of her. But, I was really happy with the results.

After I downloaded the image onto my iPhone, I imported it into Snapseed and applied the Grunge effect. My intent is to upload the image to Instagram, but I did not want black borders. Squaready is an app that allows you to choose a background, so I chose white.

I highly recommend Snapseed, Squaready, and especially Instagram. You can find me on Instagram by typing my name, or you can follow me at

Night Flash

October 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

We went camping this weekend on our friends property, and we had a blast. The evening started with everyone showing up, setting up, and eating dinner.

I was asked to bring my camera, and this gave me a good opportunity to play with my flash. My camera (canon 30d) is terrible in low light conditions, but it is otherwise a great camera. I brought two cheap flash units, two tripods, and a radio trigger. I ended up using only one flash, but they had a slave mode in case I used both.

Another thing I tried was makeshift defusers. The flash units are adjustable by moving them back and forth, so I took some bubble wrap and taped them to the units.


This is an image of my wife and son sitting in front of the fire. The flash unit is on a tripod about 20-25 feet to the left. I think it turned out alright, and I definitely need more practice.


One day I want to use another flash unit. But, in the mean time. One will do.

FRONTview IPhone App

September 21st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I have decided to start reviewing a few of the apps that are on or have been on my iPhone. The first in this series is FRONTview.

FRONTview is a great tool for correcting keystoning in a photo. Keystoning occurs when a tall object is photographed from below or from the left or right sides. This is typical of architectural images.

Large format view-cameras were used to correct keystoning by shifting and tilting the view elements, or the photographer had to elevate himself high enough to prevent it. Now we can do it digitally.

Below is an image I will use demonstrate how to correct keystoning. As you can see, the left side of the building is elevated higher and lower than the right.


Open the application. There are two option for selecting an image. You can select an image that was previously created or capture one on demand. I will usually use one that I had already taken.


The image will appear in the app after you have selected it. Four corners of an editing field will be used to select your altered image. The key is to find straight lines in the image. I used the windows, roofline, and sidewalk as a guide.


Finally is the Aspect Ratio. As you attempt to cancel out the keystone effect, the image will either be stretched, compressed, or both.

Adjust the image, so that it closely resembles reality. Save the image and edit it for a final product.


This concludes the tutorial. Download the app and play with it. The next app I will review will be ProHDR.