Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This blog will be slowing down

I've decided it's rather pointless to keep the blog going, since most of my contacts see me through the web site or Facebook.

If you want to see what the news is with me, go to my Facebook page and feel free to become my friend!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Interview with model Shae Ryan

I have a new Featured Model Interview up with Shae Ryan, a beautiful 19 year old from Brisbane, Australia.  She'll be representing Australia in December in the Miss Teen World Supermodel Pageant.  Check out her interview at

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quality and Perception

I was shooting portraits a few weeks ago at a park and had my big white 70-200 f/2.8 IS. We walked up on a wedding party that was shooting photos and their photog's gear didn't equal mine. I kind of giggled in a schoolyard singsong way "my lens is better than hiiis lens" to the client--just being silly. The client's face lit up. I saw members of the wedding party looking at me shooting pics of 2 kids with the big bazooka and they just kept staring.

When you get into terms like "quality" in an artistic business such as this, much of it comes from the perception of the client. If my client's perception of me was heightened in that moment, that's great. It increases confidence in how the final pics will turn out. 

When you actually shoot for money, lenses and cameras should be the cost of doing business. It's part of the perception of you as a professional. If you've got a silver Rebel with the kit lens, you're not seen that way.  I've seen photographers from huge studios taking photos with cameras and lenses that I would simply dismiss.  It's pretty obvious to me that the studios were keeping the costs down because they employed so many photographers and probably had huge investments in the QUANTITY of gear they had to buy, so the QUALITY suffered.  The sticking point there is that these outfits already had the contracts, so they weren't really out to impress anyone with their photos.  They were just trying to provide adequate quality (which, after seeing the photos, I personally question).

If you pick up your date in a beat up '77 Chevy Van with doors rusting off, you will be able to take her to dinner and a movie just as well as picking her up in a limo. It's not really about what's possible, or "good enough". It's about perception and what will lead to continued success.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cleaning the Office

Who would've thought cleaning the office would take MORE than 3 days?  I've spent 34 hours on it so far--no joke!  I tore everything out, threw a bunch out, moved things I don't use often to the garage (2 bookshelves filled with books, binders, papers, and such).

It's amazing what accumulates.

I did manage to establish a new domain name,  It's a parallel site to, but just sounds better.  I'll be making the title change in my business in the next few months, so I wanted to get that nailed down first.

I've got some really fun photo shoots coming up soon, and I'm really looking forward to them.  I also bought a new ringflash, which I can't wait to try out on a willing subject (my wife hates all flash, so the huge ringflash was evil incarnate to her).

I'm offering up prayers to the husband off Ann Anzalone, who's husband was hospitalized with some serious issues last weekend.  I wish both of them the best.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Busy Week

Wow!  I've had two senior sessions this week and a magazine shoot this coming Sunday.  I also completed a new painting, but don't have photos yet.   The election happened, so it's change we'll get, although the stock market seems to be doing the same thing--someone give Wall Street a nudge.

I'm really hoping that some leaves hang around so I can get outdoor shots for the next couple of senior portrait clients.  If you want to book a session with leaves, you'd better hurry up!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Two New Paintings

I managed to finish two of the paintings I've been working on.  These were very refreshing for me.  It felt like I was getting back into the "Classic Todd" when I was doing these two.  

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recent Political Rallies

Just a couple of shots of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.  I've shot 2 Sarah Palin rallies now and 1 Barack Obama.  I'd like to get more Barack, especially closer.  When I was there, they wouldn't let the local guys into the buffer, so I had to shoot from the risers.

Friday, October 3, 2008

New Featured Model Interview

I have a new Featured Model Interview posted on my web site at  It's Megan Colley from Philadelphia, PA.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Whi Bal Awol?

I tried to order a Whi Bal card from their site last night and the checkout cart crashed.  I sent them an email letting them know what happened.  It's now been about 14 hours since the email and I haven't gotten an acknowledgment that I'd even sent an email.

In today's internet-driven world, when a customer tries to order, then contacting you via a second manner (most would've just given up), it pays to try to help the customer give you their money.  14 hours with no "hey, got your email, sorry, we'll look into it", is just too long--unless their power is out for days and days like ours was a few weeks ago.

I'll have to check and see if they are having a hurricane make landfall where they are...

In the meantime, customer service is critical in today's crowded market.  I ordered my card through B&H.

Update:  It's now been 6 days and Whi Bal has not replied to my email.  My Whi Bal card from B&H arrived today.  I don't think I'll order the larger card now, unless this thing is amazing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Greed isn't only on Wall Street

I've heard a lot of people talking about corporate greed, bankers' greed, and such concerning this whole banking problem we're facing currently.

The root of the problem IS NOT with the bankers, it's with the people who couldn't afford things going to a bank to get a loan or a credit card to get money for something them.  These people got their homes they couldn't afford, so now we have bankruptcies.  These people couldn't afford the cars they bought, so they're being repossessed.  These people couldn't afford the big screen t.v.s, and all the other things they bought, not worrying about when or how they would pay them back.

It's OUR greed that caused this, but we're blaming the bankers who ALLOWED us to have  what WE WANTED.

I saw a photo in today's paper of a person outside some government agency with a sign that said "greed kills".  I suggest that this person should've been sitting outside of BEST BUY instead.

Folks, don't throw the blame at the big corporations, government, or Wall Street.  It may truly lie at your own door step.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We've already created The Matrix

I was watching my daughter sit on the couch flipping channels, complaining about how stupid things on TV were, but seemingly unable to get up and walk away.  Television is a Matrix for us.  A place where our body rests in a safe, comfortable area and our minds wander off in far away places.  We don't interact with anyone, we learn little (depends on what you watch), and our muscles are trained to sit.

Video games are similar, but at least they are not completely passive.  At least we make choices and are engaged in some mental exercise.  

Friday, September 26, 2008

One bite at a time

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

When I get down on myself, it's almost always because I feel like I should be able to do everything--all the time.  I look back on the day and see what I've done, and get crazy because there are 30 other things that I wanted to get done as well, but couldn't fit.

I have been getting better about this.  I've rearranged my "to-do" list and now structure it like this.

Morning:  Pick 2 things which are vital and for "Immediate Action" and get them done before 11 a.m.  Sometimes these take more time, sometimes less, but this is the primary goal and if these things get done, I try not to get stressed about the other stuff.

I divided the other tasks into 4 categories:  Photography, Painting, Home, and Business.  I then try to make sure that I spend an hour or so on each category, then move on to the next, so that each day I'm able to touch on at least some of the things from each category that need to be done before the kids get home and things become more chaotic and unplannable.  (is that a new word?) 

It's tough when things take a long time and I have to decide whether to ignore the other categories or not, but I try not to.  I also try to limit things like checking email and the internet, leaving my home studio (because things always take 3 times longer once you step out the door than you think they will).  

One thing that I say to my students is that "Continual Improvement Equals Success".  In my situation, I suppose this is should be "Continual Forward Progress Equals Success".

Baby steps.  

Friday, September 19, 2008

So Sorry for Time Warner Customers

I am one of those customers, but I'm not feeling sorry for myself.  I only get my cable through Time Warner Cable.  Many people also get their telephone and internet through TWC.  Five days after our recent windstorm, the cable is still out.  I heard someone last night saying that TWC was warning that it could be a month before they totally restore service.  Bad?

What if your business uses Time Warner Roadrunner Business Class for its internet?  After several days without power, they're then stuck with weeks of no internet?  How is that good business?

I'm so happy that I lucked out and stuck with DSL, which even worked when the power was out (modem powered by battery backup).

I lucked out.  I continue to hear the arrogant advertising of Time Warner making fun of slowpoke dsl and the "phone company" on radio ads and the stations we can grab off the air with rabbit ears.  I wonder how grating these ads will be to people who are losing money every day because they have no access to the internet.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Power outage, Hurricane Ike in Ohio

Wow, what an interesting week!

Sunday afternoon, we were in Gabriel Brothers when the power went out.  We went outside and the wind was crazy.  It was sunny outside, but the wind was such that it felt like you could just lay down on it, sort of rest diagonally in the air.  The big metal tube "return your carts here" corrals were blowing over and we knew it was time to get home.  Traffic lights were out, but fortunately we live only about a mile from the mall area.  

We got home and the power was on, but it had gone out, so we shut down and unplugged the computers in time for the power to go out again.  We went outside and everything was crazy.  It was beginning to cloud up, but the wind just didn't stop and it never did rain more than just a misting.  Our shingles were beginning to flip up, so I tried placing some 8' 2x4's on the roof to save the shingles, but then they started flying off the roof, so it was time to ditch that idea and just let the shingles go.  

My son and I decided to have a bit of fun, so we got our skateboards and a few big pieces of cardboard, held the cardboard like a sail, and went whizzing down the road on Ike Power!  It was fun.  

After that got a bit old, and it was clear that this was a major event, I went and got a camera and began documenting the storm.  I also grabbed my wife's camera and took some video.   We lost lots of shingles and part of our privacy fence, but others lost more, so I grabbed my gear and went out touring our neighborhood shooting pics of trees down all over the place.  No fun. I haven't been able to look at the pics/video yet, but I'll post them as I get them processed. 

It all started around 3:00 and the winds died down to "normal" around 6:00.  They say that 180,000 people lost power in the Dayton DP&L area.  Down in Cincinnati, 680,000 out of a total service area of 800,000 homes and businesses were without power.  Cars driving through on the interstates were stranded because the gas stations didn't have electricity to pump gas.  People were told to conserve water because the electricity to pump water to the towers was out.  Schools were closed, businesses were closed, everything stopped, and we all cleaned up.

We went for days without power and a day or two without phone service.  Many cell phone towers had been damaged, so some providers didn't function.  The food in the fridge and the freezer was spoiled and had to be thrown out.  

We just got our power back last night at 6:15.  We were so happy!   

A few thoughts for next time:

Radio:  The only radio I found that worked on batteries was my daughter's boom box, which took C batteries.  I had exactly 8 C batteries, so we had to conserve radio play so that the batteries didn't run out.  Many of our friends had no radio or no batteries for their radio.  Schools have varying degrees of logic concerning these things, so it's important to know if the kids need to go to school.  The school I teach at was closed Monday, had school (normal time, no delay--even though most districts were closed) on Tuesday, but was then closed on Wednesday.  

Phone: Time Warner Cable went out and is still out.  Those people who use the digital phone service and RoadRunner have no home phone or internet.  Also, many of our friends only have cordless phones, which didn't work.  We had two corded phones which plug directly into the wall jack, which gave us phone access other than our cell phones, some of which which ran out of power.  

Digital Photographer: I was able to take pictures, but my laptop is way too old, so I was pretty much stopped in my tracks as far as downloading or processing images.  I couldn't get to my web site or email.  In the future, I think I'm going to make sure that I have a current laptop with all my primary software loaded and backup batteries, both for travel purposes and for emergencies like this.

Traffic Lights:  Do we need them?  I really think that I spent less time at traffic lights when they were totally dark and everyone treated the light like they were 4 way stops.  It eliminated all the waiting for people who weren't there.  I'd like to see statistics to see if there were more wrecks with the traffic lights working or with them not working.  I bet they were about the same, or possibly less with the traffic lights NOT working.  People had to be more careful, and didn't assume the other guy was stopped.

Oil Lamps:  Fantastic!  We have two oil lamps which became invaluable.  Candles would light up a tiny area and were much more dangerous.  I highly encourage everyone to get oil lamps and extra lamp oil.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Working and Weekends

I do three things to generate income.  I teach Art 3 days a week.  I paint and sell those rather Impressionistic paintings through galleries on on my web site.  I also am a photographer, shooting seniors, families, and maternity for private clients as well as photojournalism and event photography for corporate clients and media outlets, and I also sell my images as stock photos.

I'm writing this because, as I left school Wednesday, one of my co-workers said "enjoy your four day weekend."  I stopped and said "It's not really a weekend, I'll be working the next four days, just not at school."  He said, "but you won't be here, and if you're not here, then it's the weekend."

People have no idea how much time and effort go into creative enterprises.  It really bothers me that people see the production and sale of creative work as "play time" and not "real work".  It's odd.  I suppose it's mostly because they haven't ever tried running their own business, dealing with the work itself, clients, customer fulfillment,  suppliers, invoices, etc.  I'm sure my co-worker thinks I'm just sitting around relaxing.  

Then again, I suppose there are factory workers who feel he just talks to kids all day and gets paid for it.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rumors burning time

I've been watching the new release announcements of the big camera manufacturers with interest.  Canon put out a teaser which is thought to be about a 5D Mk II coming soon, but no details.  It just occurred to me that I've checked in at DPR probably 5-10 times per day in the last week or so, wanting to know "what will the big announcement be?". I'm just wasting my time, because reading these posts about "it'll be this", "no it won't", "it'll have a yoga function", "no, it'll be pilates, you moron", "oh, come on, if it doesn't have a mixed-martial arts button it won't be a pro camera". 

Gibberish. I guess we'll all find out soon. I'm going to try to limit my time spent on rumors.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Google Chrome Is Cool, but not perfect (yet)

I downloaded Google Chrome and I really like it. I like the way it's simple and clean. I like the way photos look on it.

I use so many Google apps at this point that I decided to give Chrome a try. I had been using Firefox and I didn't like how Firefox dealt with some web sites.

I love how big the pages are.

I did get a weird error on Blogger, saying that my cookies and javascript were disabled on my browser (which they weren't), but after I hit cancel on all the warnings, it turned out that I had signed in and everything was fine.

Things aren't perfect, but I'm excited. I think this is going to be good!


9/8 I'm still using Chrome and I still like it, although it does have problems with Java sites. The sites I upload my photos to for printing won't work with Chrome, so I revert to IE or FF.

9/9 I noticed that my computer has that chug-chug-chug sound going on when I'm using Chrome, like when it's downloading something. The light is on showing the processor working. When I close Chrome, the chug-chug stops. I opened Task Manager and nothing strange showed up. I don't know what's going on.

9/11:  I was in the middle of sending emails with attachments using Gmail and got a message "you have been signed out of this account", thus losing the email and the ability to save as draft.

9/12:  I like how the fields to be typed in are outlined in yellow.  I found that very cool when using an online keywording application. 

9/13:  I'm still getting Gmail signing itself out of the account and closing unpredictably.

9/14:  In Facebook, you can hit "next" to go through people's photos, but eventually it will refuse to continue and hangs up.

I judged the Miamisburg Art Guild Exhibition

It was my honor to judge the 2008 Miamisburg Art Guild Juried Exhibition. I was really impressed with the wide variety of works that were entered in the show and the quality of those works. It was a lot of fun judging and the folks at the M.A.G. were very gracious and helpful.

In the photo you'll see Steve Wohler and I with Steve's painting "Smalltown Stovebolt" which won Best of Show.

New Oil Paintings

These paintings took me f o r e v e r to finish! They're pretty thick as a result! I got started on them a few months ago, and I just couldn't decide how to finish the flowers, but it finally just "came to me" and I think they worked out well. They're both 22 x 28". Titles are "Tulips and Pond" and "Tulips and Orchard"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dayton Ohio Event Photography

I put up a new page focusing on my event photography yesterday. I've been shooting events for various newspapers and magazines for the past several years and thought it was time to put examples of this side of my business on the web site. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

Are there any photos you really like?

Are there any photos you don't like?

Thanks for your input.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

School is in session!

Whoo Hoo!

I'm sure everyone is excited! The kids get to quit complaining about how bored they are, how they hate doing chores, and how there's nothing to do. The parents now don't have to worry so much about what the kids are going to be occupied with during that 8 hour block of time from bus trip to bus trip. And, those of us who are teachers get to remember how tiring it is at the end of the school day after baking with 25 kids in an 85 degree classroom all day, trying to stay sharp, guide minds, and avoid disasters! It's all worth it when we get those smiles, high-fives, and hugs from the little ones.

I've been having a great time lately. I've been very fortunate to be doing several photo sessions a week and feel very blessed by the support of these clients. I also finished up a pair of paintings recently, but haven't gotten them photographed yet. I hope to do that this weekend.

I hope everyone has a good school year!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New photo pricing policy

Hi folks,

Since many of you are either shopping for photos, or have had yours done recently in the past year or two, I'm very interested in getting your feedback on my new pricing policy. I was recently contacted by a mother of triplets who wanted to have senior photos done but didn't want to pay for three separate sessions (I can empathize), and I also had a few clients who were interested in seeing more than just the 10 or 24 proofs that I had been offering. With this in mind, I changed the Extended Session to the following:

* Session Fee: $400 ($300 if you opt for the MR/15 Discount)
* No charge for multiple subjects.
* Up to 3 hours of shooting time
* 10 Proofs (my favorites) fully retouched after the shoot and
delivered as 4 x 6" printed proofs, web sized on a CD for MySpace,
Facebook, etc. These are provided as samples of the retouching
services I provide.
* A folder of Unedited Proofs (watermarked: not for public display)
provided on the CD from which you may choose. These can easily
number over 100 images from a 3 hour session.
* Prints may be ordered from either group of Proofs.
* Any Unedited Proof will be fully retouched upon my receiving a
print order for that image.
* If you opt for the MR/15 Discount, you will receive 15% off the
normal print prices.

The Regular Session is essentially the same, the difference being only a shorter one hour session at $200 ($100 with MR/15 Discount) and obviously fewer images in the Unedited Proofs folder to choose from.

Let me know what you think!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cool Shadow Dancing

MB Hopkins, artist with the Dayton Daily News, sent me this link and I think it's really cool. Check it out:

Agh!! My town is dying fast!!!!

Oh No!!! has announced that my town, Dayton, Ohio, is among the leaders in the march to the dust bowl!! Down the tubes! Kaput! Ugh! Ack! Eek! Boy, I'm scared now!

They say "Where's it worst? Ohio, according to our analysis, which racked up four of the 10 cities on our list: Youngstown, Canton, Dayton and Cleveland. The runner-up is Michigan, with two cities--Detroit and Flint--making the ranking." The story is available at

You know what's interesting? Our real standard of living here is really good. The whole "housing boom" of the early 2000s never happened here. You can get a 3000 square foot house in a great neighborhood with awesome schools located conveniently within 5 miles of a major shopping area, lots of good restaurants, services, parks, highways, etc. for a little over $200,000, not the $700K it might cost on the coasts. Wages are a little less here, but things are cheaper. We've got great parks like John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge 20 minutes away. We've got the Dayton Dragons and Downtown 15 minutes away. I can get to either Columbus or Cincinnati in an hour's drive. There's an outlet center 30 minutes away.

You know what the worst thing about living here is? Listening to all the whining and complaining in the media convincing us how horrible everything is! Seriously, things aren't so bad. Sure, the GM plant in Kettering (home of Rob Dyrdek, a friend of my family since the days we called him "Little Rob") is going to close, but THEY MAKE SUV'S THERE. Shock! Come on GM! Re-tool the plant for an affordable, fuel efficient car and you'll be able to keep it open! GM is so stupid. They just keep making their trucks, SUVs, Hummers and such bigger and bigger and now they're shocked when the demand is dropping off because of fuel prices. Um, what? Something's wrong with making huge vehicles that barely fit in parking spaces and get and EPA estimated 12 mpg city (Cadillac Escalade)??? My huge van (I can fit a 4x8 sheet of plywood in it and close the rear gate with no problem) gets 20 mpg city. I think GM should've seen this coming. People on Wall Street have been talking about the possiblility of $100 oil for a loooong time. Now that it's a fact, there's no reason to be shocked.

Hey, rant over. I'll sum up by just saying Dayton is a nice place, with lots of great people and neighborhoods which you can afford to live well in. Don't believe the hype.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dare Greatly

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whos face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." --Theodore Roosevelt

In other words, dream big and try hard!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prosperous Artists Highlighted Me

Prosperous Artists, a podcast dealing with creativity and the business side of being an artist, highlighted me in their podcast #107 as this weeks pick for "who's creative". These guys do a great job and I encourage everyone interested in the business of art to check out their podcast. I get it through iTunes, but you can also listen on their web site.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trashing the Dress (and marriage?)

When we got married, my wife wore her mother's wedding dress. It's a traditional white dress, which was altered for my wife and has now been worn twice in 50 years. It's possible that my daughter might wear the same dress, although it would need more alteration, since my daughter is already taller than my wife. The dress has been in a garment bag hanging in a spare room for 18 years now since its last use. It's a sentimental reminder of our wedding day.

I commented on a set of "trash the dress" photos posted on a web site the other day. I said that it bothered me and it seemed like they were being disrespectful of their own wedding. It seemed like the new brides didn't care.

Those who responded assured me that these sessions allow the brides to express themselves and they young women were just being playful.

What, as a person who rolls in mud?

One person said "I don't get what a wedding dress has to do with marriage. "

A wedding is a ritual. It is symbolic in every step, from setting, to clothing, to procession, to vows, etc. It affirms our place together as partners and affirms our place within the long line of those in our families who've gone before us. The wedding dress is a symbol to be honored, like a military uniform, a flag, a Bible, a Koran, etc. It's special. It should be.

The photographer stated that the brides "preferred these shots far more than the bridal portraits we did with them prior to their weddings". Well, which photograph will hang on their walls, the formal portrait, the candid at the reception, or the one where they've got mud and slime all over their dress and they're sitting in a creek bed?

I wouldn't tell someone not to do a "trash the dress" session, it's their choice. I'd even be excited to do a session with a new bride where they wore the dress in unexpected situations that brought a sense of humor to the shots. I don't think I'd want to shoot a session that seems to discount the momentous occasion that had just happened in the life of this new bride.

iTunes 7.7 "recently added" gone

I've been turning into a podcast junkie the past few months. I used to be glued to NPR, but I've found that downloading podcasts has let me get that information buzz that I need (knowledge is good!) about things I'm really interested in. Targeted learning rather than general learning.

Anyway, I downloaded the newest iTunes last night and went to use it. Guess what? Podcasts don't show up in the Recently Added section. I used to go to Recently Added and just play the 5 or 6 new podcasts that came in each day while I was keywording or processing photos. This morning, I had to go into Podcasts and search for new selections--a pain!

ITunes, please give us back recently added podcasts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thoughts for a new model

I just thought I'd jot down a bit of advice for anyone who might be interested in becoming a model. You can see a more organized group of thoughts on my web site

Tattoos: I'd recommend limiting them. Tattoos on a model can be distracting if they don't fit with the mood of the photography. They could removed in Photoshop, but that's an extra step and sometimes a real pain. It's something to consider if you want to go forward with becoming a model.

Gauges, facial piercings, and the like: With these, you're limiting yourself to the edgy, "outsider" look. You're making it hard on yourself to get work. BTW, I'm not talking about a single tiny nose piercing or earrings. As a model, you're trying to create yourself as an icon of perfection, so anything that people will stare at instead of your wonderful face when you're on a promotional modeling gig, is a potential problem. Remember, as a model, you are representing the company who hired you. You are their face to the world. Will that face be a beautiful one that makes people melt or a beautiful one that makes people wonder why she has all that stuff stuck in her face, how much did it hurt, does it itch, what about cold weather, etc.?

Photographers: You might get lots of people on modeling sites that want to work with you. Be picky. I've seen lots of gals work with and post images from photographers who, first of all, aren't very good, and secondly, seem to be focused on getting the model undressed. Judge them on what they show, and remember that people will be judging you on your photos also. Only show work on your sites that show you at your best. Also, unless you're going to be moving to Miami or LA, the swimsuit, lingerie, and nude work isn't very important. I doubt any company is going to come to Dayton, Ohio to shoot a swimsuit campaign.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Photoshop shortcut tips

This is a crazy video I found by Deke Mclelland. You'll have to forgive his musical talent, but he packs a lot of info into a 5 minute video. I'm planning to watch this a few times a week until this stuff starts sinking in!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Niagara Falls, New York

The first day of our trip was spent driving from our palatial estate in lovely Beavercreek, Ohio, near Dayton, to Niagara Falls. It was a rather uneventful drive, aside from the glaring $4.05+ gas prices that loomed at every gas station. It wouldn't be a cheap trip, but for four people, it would be cheaper than flying. We did notice a fleet of about two dozen corvettes at a gas station. It turns out that they were the Capital City Corvette Club from Columbus, Ohio out for a trip to Niagara Falls. They stayed in the Crowne Plaza just like us, so it was very scenic walking through the parking lot.

We didn't waste any time after stowing our gear, and proceeded to drive down to the Falls. We should've walked since it wasn't that far and we had to pay $10 for parking!--but, hey, we didn't know. We made straight for the Maid of the Mist and my crew donned their official Maid of the Mist blue parkas.

They which were a little like wearing a brightly colored translucent garbage bag, which blew in the wind like a sail.

I had fortunately brought my own heavier parka, which didn't blow around and didn't interfere when I took photos.

The trip commences and we get our first glimpse of the American Falls.

Lovely, with a permanent rainbow.
As we approached the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the water got choppier, and the spray was like walking through a car wash.

The photo opportunities were limited at this point, as everything became a sheet of white.

The Maid of the Mist was definitely the highlight of our stop in Niagara.

Getting food was a challenge. They seemed to have a moritorium on restaurants, as we didn't find one, despite driving for about 30 minutes up and down the main highway. We finally found a Denny's where they were definitely aware of the food shortage for dumb tourists like us. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't remember omelettes costing $11.00 in Ohio. We stayed across the street from the casino, and, although we had no interest in participating in that sort of fun, we were kept up much of the night by drunks stumbling and laughing up and down the hallways. The next morning we were very eager to get back on the road.
PHOTO TIPS: Use a wide angle lens. Bring your own heavier parka as the blue ones will be a nuisance. Bring a soft cotton towel to continually dry off your lens and camera--my towel was really wet at the end of the voyage. Wrap your camera: I use small white garbage bags and gaffer tape to make a rain covering. Poke the lens through the bottom of the bag and tape the bag to the lens hood. The open end just falls over the back of the camera, leaving an opening for hands and the eyepiece. Since this was fresh water, I didn't have to be overly paranoid. If it was salt water, I would've wrapped up everything except the eyepiece. Salt water kills cameras.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston

I recently returned from a trip to the East Coast. We went to Niagara Falls, Boston, Salem, Marblehead, Mystic, Philadelphia, and Hershey. I'll be posting some of the shots taken on this trip in the near future.

I'll begin with one of our favorite destinations: The Boston Brewing Company, home of Samuel Adams. Contact info: The Samuel Adams Brewery 30 Germania Street Boston (Jamaica Plain neighborhood), MA 02130 For hours, directions, special events and closings, please call (617) 368-5080

We were going on a Saturday morning, so we knew we should go early. We arrived for the first tour of the day at 10:00. The first half of the tour consisted of being shown the large tanks in which they brew some of their fine beer.

It was very informative, and I found myself zoning out a bit when they started getting into the "to kreusen or not to kreusen" discussion, but then came the "sniff and taste" portion where our brave guide passed around the barley and hops for us to smell and taste. Here you see my wife tempting Michael with some barley goodness. Unfortunately for Michael, he tried some and it didn't agree with him :(

But, all was fine and happy as our cheery and knowledgeable guide answered all of our questions, then took us out to the outdoor tasting area.

Once outside, we were instructed on the proper steps for tasting and evaluating beer. The first step is to hold up your glass and look how the light passes through the beer, looking for discoloration or foreign matter. Next, cup your hand over the top and smell the beer. Lastly, taste the beer, holding it in your mouth for a moment and letting it roll around and then swallowing it.

We happened to be seated at a table across from four fine young folks who were just as eager as Janice and I were to put our tasting skills to the test. We started with a pitcher of Boston Lager. A great way to start!

We honed our craft and finished this pitcher off.

We were then informed that we would be sampling two newly developed beers that will be taste-tested by lots of folks and whichever one comes out as the winner in the trials will actually be put into production. The really cool thing was that we were the first group to undertake this all important mission of evaluating these brews.

First came the Blackberry Stout. It was full-bodied, with an aroma and taste of sweet blackberrys and a fine finish. Yummy!

Here you see our friends, Mary Angela, Ryan O'Connell, A.J. Rios, and Eric Hall enjoying the Blackberry Stout.

Janice had fun telling our daughter to watch out for boys like Ryan when she got to college. He was always ready with the pitcher to make sure the glasses were kept full. Janice said he reminded her of me when I was that age!

Our third pitcher of beer was Coffee Stout. It was definitely an eclectic beer. It started off tasting like cold coffee, then after you swallowed it, it tasted like stout. Weird. It was no one's favorite. We tried to convince our hosts that we needed to taste another pitcher of Blackberry Stout to make our decision, but to no avail.

We were then given ballots and we all voted for the Blackberry goodness.

The good folks at Sam Adams then gave us each a nice tasting glass with the Samuel Adams logo on it and we set off to the gift shop. This was a very fine way to start the day! UPDATE: My dad is a draftsman who's worked designing tanks for lots of different applications over the years. I got this note tonight: When I saw the pics, I knew the building and the tanks. I drew most of the tanks. I did a full workup of the floor plan to figure out where to place the tanks to best utilize the floor plan. Glad you liked it.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fewer Keywords Better than More?

A short ramble about stock photography. I've been wondering if a few very pertinent keywords are better for rankings and CTR. I used to go through all the possible aspects of the photos, including emotional permutations and such. Now I'm thinking the mass of keywords was a counter-productive waste of time.

Perhaps it's better to be very literal.


Be Opportunistic

I was given an assignment from Cross Currents magazine to shoot photos of Mary Piper, who's an administrator at Radio Maria, a missionary radio station. We had hours to get everything done, so there was no time to do on location shots at the station, so I went over to Mary's house to see what I could get.

My first shot was just a typical head and shoulders shot, just in case we need it, taken out by her front door, which had a bit of stained glass, so it fit with the theme.

It was a nice shot, but didn't tell much of a story and she was a bit stiff (who wouldn't be?).

Enter my assistant: Andrew! He comes out of the house, and instead of shooing him away, I encourage him to jump into the picture.

Already, it's a nicer, warmer photo. It's still not telling a story yet. Mary typically hauls boxes of stuff back and forth to the station in her van. So, we gathered up some props and headed to the van. I took the rear seat out to give us more room and jumped into the middle area with my 17-40.

Andrew was still with us, so I asked him to jump into the seat next to me, while Mary was at the rear like she was loading gear into the van. I gave Mary some instructions, but gave more instructions to Andrew: "stick your tongue out, put your thumbs in your ears, make silly faces".

It worked out really well. I got just the shot I needed and I think everyone had fun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Party Dress

What a happy shot! It just makes me smile.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pic of the Day

I've been working on Jessica's photo shoot more. Here's another one of my favorites from her session.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

It was my pleasure Saturday morning to shoot photos of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur celebrating their jubilees. These women have been living a life dedicated to service, one was celebrating her 75th year as a nun! How cool! They were an inspiration to me and I really enjoyed spending the morning with them. The photos will run in an upcoming issue of Cross Currents magazine.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Everyone's a Producer

"When the tools of production are available to all, everyone becomes a producer." --Chris Anderson in "The Long Tail".

Beautiful young woman from last week

Jessica came over last week and we had a great time shooting. It was great working with her. Here are a few pics from her session. I'll post more soon.
Leave your comments and let me know which one you like the best!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flower photos from the yard today

I managed to get out for a little while this morning with my camera and caught a bit of the early summer magic. I'm going to start an area on my site to buy photos from my oeuvre (when's the last time I used that word!?). Here are a few to start with.

Leave a comment and let me know which one you like the best!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Staying busy

Ah, the relaxing days of summer...yeah, right. It seems like this is the time to do all the things we've been putting off all fall, winter, and spring. We'll see if it all gets done. In the last few weeks, I've taken a class at Wright State, worked a weekend at the St. Helen Festival, painted the living room and put up crown moulding. That was an interesting experience. I had to make a wooden prop to hold the moulding at the appropriate angle while cutting it with the mitre saw (no mamby-pamby compound mitre saw for me!). We're currently are working on painting and putting up the crown moulding in our bedroom. We also had the water heater blow the thermostat and one of the heating coils yesterday, meaning a whopping plumber bill.

Ah, but I've also been doing photo shoots and working on paintings! The paintings aren't ready to show, but I can upload one of the shots of three sisters that came over for photos.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Family Violence Prevention Center Auction

I'll be donating a framed print of this photograph of a newborn holding her father's finger to the Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County's silent auction at their fundraising dinner. It will be held on Friday, June 13 at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. For more information about supporting this worthy cause or attending the fundraiser, call 937-376-8526.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mustache Party!

We recently had a mustache party! What fun! I'd bought a bunch of mustaches on eBay (Hong Kong specials!) and we had everyone wear one (until they fell off). I made sure to grab some pics while they lasted.

Suburbia can be a lonely place

My wife and I were sitting on our front porch last night having a little bit of ice cream and just enjoying the late afternoon sun dancing among the trees and flowers. I made a comment about how there were two of our neighbors that I'm not sure I've ever seen, even though we've lived a few hundred feet from for the past three years. I often wonder about all the people who I know must live in the houses near me, but I just never see outside.

This morning, I was checking email and such with my coffee when I heard what I thought was a child crying out in front. I thought it was weird, since school is still in session. I waited a few minutes, but the crying persisted, so I got up, coffee in hand, and walked outside. The crying persisted, wailing in a strange way. Not like an injured child sort of way, more like a cry that just doesn't want to stop. I couldn't see exactly where this person was, so I walked down the driveway past the trees that were blocking my view.

There, in the middle of the street, sitting on her bottom with her legs straight out in front of her, was an asian woman, perhaps 40 years old, just bawling. She continued to cry as I walked towards her with a slight smile on my face. As I got closer, she quit crying and stood up. I asked "are you hurt?" at which she lunged her face at me and screamed, sort of an angry bark, and walked past me down the street. I stood there in the middle of the street, watching her walk down the middle of the street and I looked around to see if any of my neighbors were poking their heads out to see what was going on. Nope. No one noticed.

The woman walked down past my house and again sat down again in the middle of the street. I decided that she had made it clear that she didn't want my help, so I went inside to grab a phone and get the number for the police, in case there was something seriously wrong that they might be able to help with. I walked out to see if she was still there, but she was gone, so I didn't call.

I don't know who this woman was. I don't know what was wrong. I don't know why she was crying, or why she screamed at me when I was offering help. All I know is that this woman must've felt very alone. Suburbia can be a lonely place.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Embrace the Chaos

I believe that there's a fine line between stress and excitement. That fine line is our attitude. Life can be chaotic, with an amazing assortment of hurdles, some small, some big, thrown at us daily. We must build our internal energy up so that we are able to face these challenges with a smile. Define your purpose. Live for the mission. Focus. I use the analogy that the challenges we face are like a huge wave which threaten to drown us if we simply continue dog paddling in place. We must grab the surfboard of faith, confidence, determination, and joy and ride that wave. We can't tell exactly how far we'll ride, or where we'll be when the ride is over. All we can do is enjoy the rush as it happens.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Mission

I've been tossing this around for a long time and I think I finally found a concise way of expressing what I hold dear about my path.

The Mission

  • To appreciate beauty
  • To create images which express beauty
  • To help others to appreciate beauty

I am a servant of Beauty, Peace, and Love.

My goals are achieved when my heart is warmed with the beauty of a landscape, a flower, or a smile; when I express beauty through the creation of paintings and photographs; and by helping others through teaching and sharing my work. When I create, I have fulfilled a primary reason for my existence. When others are generous enough to offer payment for my creations, this is a blessing which allows me to continue on my creative path. I am humbled by their support.

New paintings underway

I'm just posting to say I'm currently working on four new paintings. Two are landscapes with tulips in the foreground (22 x 28") and two are smaller works (16 x 20") which are details of flowers, one of tulips, the others of daffodils. This will be the first time that I've done close up paintings of flowers. I'm hopeful that they will be well received.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


This weekend, I thought of some of my childhood memories and one got my pen moving. It was about the hill at the end of Muskopf Road in Fairfield (named after my great-grandfather's farmhouse at the end of the road). While a youth, I spent many hours wandering up and down and all over the hill and the small forest which was on it and around it. I think it was these walks which laid the foundation for my fascination with landscape which found itself expressed through my paintings. I thought I'd post the piece here. The format is loosely based on George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I'm From".

I'm from the twinkling blue sky
peaking through green leaves
I'm from the damp, rich musk of the
forest floor after a rain
with the mud sucking at my boots
with a loud "glug" and "smack"
I'm from the sound of birds singing and squirrels
crashing like elephants through dry leaves
I'm from the steep hill, the fallen log
covered with moss over a cool stream
I'm from the sense of panic knowing
I'm in trouble again, not home in time
Late for dinner, not back before dark,
muddy again
I'm from the sad realization of more lawnmowers
fences, driveways, and dogs barking
Of knowing that my vast wilderness
became a tiny hill between neighborhoods

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Garden Safari

When I began taking photos which would stand alone as creative works themselves, not merely as records of events or other artwork, I found myself drawn to the tiny world of close-up and macro photography. My techniques changed as my equipment changed, from my Nikon 800, to the Nikon 5700, to the Canon dslrs, but the intent was always the same. To paraphrase Georgia O'Keeffe, "when you pick up a flower and really look at it, it becomes your world." I like that idea, that when you stare at something, it fills your vision and your consciousness in a very strange way. I can't really say that I don't see what's to the left or right, but I certainly don't notice. This "filling the world" with flowers and the busy insects that visit them is like taking a safari to a new and wonderful land, where the only passport we need is to step out our front doors.

I'm going to be putting up a new web page soon called "Garden Safari" on my web site at On it, I'll be posting my newest close up and macro shots as I progress through the summer. For now, I'll post some older shots and talk about how they were created. You can see more of my older close-up photos at

Bee on Grape Hyacinth. Shot with a 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens with a 500D closeup lens on it. The 500D is a great addition to the gear bag, since it will turn a long lens into a close focusing lens in seconds.

I used the same configuration to shoot this carpenter bee in flight.

A green bottle fly on stonecrop with the 70-200 and 500D.

This hoverfly was shot using a Nikon 5700 with the TC attached and a Canon 500D closeup lens in front of it (with lots of step-up rings).

One thing you might notice is that the smaller sensor on the 5700 often gave a wider DOF to the image.

The wolf spider was shot with the 5700, TC, 500D set up.

I'll take time to discuss more techniques if anyone is interested. Please feel free to leave comments. I'll answer them as soon as I can.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thinking about Learning

I put up the previous post to give a bit of background for this one. Fisher and Frey talk about learning as a transition from Teachers doing all the work to the eventual Student doing all the work. They argue that the hierarchy moves from Focus Lessons to Guided Instruction to Collaborative Learning and finally to Independent Learning where students have received modeled, guided, and collaborative learning experiences related to concepts needed to complete independent tasks. Independent tasks extend beyond practice to application and extension of new knowledge.

Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, puts forth the argument that personal development moves from a state of Dependence to a state of Independence and finally to a state of Interdependence. Covey is stating that people who are secure in themselves can synergistically blend their talents and ideas with those of others to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

I think it's interesting to wonder which is the most important, collaboration or independence. "Both" would be the easy answer. I think the real answer is something like this:

1. Focus Lessons: We need someone to get us started.

2. Guided Instruction: We need help getting started.

3. Collaboration: We need to work together to create something new and wonderful.

4. Independence: We are ready to independently experiment and hone our craft


5. Collaboration: When we hit a roadblock as an independent learner, we must share our ideas with others in order that this blending creates something new which overcomes the barrier.


6. Independence: We set out on our new path (until the next roadblock, then we go to collaboration again).

Thinking about my own learning in the past few years, most of it has been either collaborative or independent, and rarely has it been exclusively either one. In fact, I'd say that the times when I was most independent were probably the times when I repeated myself the most, thus creating my own roadblock. The times when I was most collaborative, I think I lost a bit of the self worth and pride that comes from independent achievement.

Both are necessary. Neither is superior.

Art Education: A look at learning

I recently took a course on improvement achievement and we discussed the types of lessons put forward by Fisher and Frey, how the hierarchy of lessons goes from teacher focused to independent learner focused. I'm going to post the short paper I wrote regarding that here and will discuss learning as an artist in a subsequent post.

Improving Student Achievement in the Art Classroom

M. Todd Muskopf
May 3, 2008

Improving Student Achievement in the Art Classroom

This paper will discuss classroom procedures and concepts, which will allow teachers to inspire students to become eager participants in their own learning about Art. I will lay out some general guidelines, based on the work of Fisher and Frey and apply them to an example lesson. In this lesson, my 8th grade students create life-size mixed-media sculptures made from plaster casts taken from their bodies and added with various other media to depict a student-chosen subject. In this one lesson, we actually go through the first three phases of teaching, Focus Lessons, Guided Instruction, and Collaborative Learning. The last phase, Independent Learning, is encouraged in my classes, but by definition is worked on during after-school sessions or at home.

Task 1: Inspire (Focus)

Morale is the spirit by which Huns submit their services to the tribe. It is not uncontrolled celebration and romping around the campfire (Roberts, 1987, p. 36)

In Theory: When beginning a lesson, it is vital to build interest and enthusiasm for the lesson to make sure the students are paying attention. This could result from a description of what they are going to do, showing them an example of what has been done before, and challenge them to exceed what has gone before. Establish the purpose and context of the task in the art historical and the cultural contexts. Discuss the media to be used and the methods for using it, and how this project is unique to their grade level and that it is their privilege to be given this task. Explain the benefits and difficulties of the activity. Keep challenging them and building excitement. Go through a sample project out loud, modeling the step-by-step thought process of how one past student’s project was begun and brought to fruition. Encourage metacognitive awareness, teaching the students to think through their problems by examining the core issues. Above all, keep challenging the students and building their excitement.

In Practice: I begin this lesson with a warning that I only trust the 8th graders to do this project because it is costly and is potentially dangerous if done incorrectly (not really dangerous, but I play that up to get them excited). I describe the representative sculptures from the Greeks through the Renaissance and into the modern sculptures of George Segal, showing them photos to set an art historical context.

I then show the students a short section of a video on making plaster gauze masks demonstrating the technique. When the video is done, I then continue the lecture reiterating the proper technique and actually begin wrapping my left hand with plaster while I’m speaking. This models the appropriate behavior while at the same time piquing their interest. I begin describing how the plaster portions are mounted on cardboard and paper mache and can be combined with real clothing or items. I describe the sculptures of swimmers and soccer players and superheroes that have been made in the past. I break them into pairs or trios to work together, and that for each of them to obtain the plaster casts of themselves for their project, they will be dependent on the labor of their colleagues to actually do the wrapping. I challenge them that they must be incredibly disciplined and make every minute count, because they will have roughly 25 minutes to come in, apply the release agent, and complete wrapping the body part, since it then takes about 10 minutes to dry and 10 minutes to clean up. They are encouraged to voluntarily stay after school on Mondays and Tuesdays for my “open studio” sessions in order to do larger and more complex sculptures than could be completed in our normal class (one 45 minute class period meeting once a week). By the time my talk is over, I have finished the plaster cast of my hand and take it off and show it to them as the period ends. Their homework is to design what they will create and bring their drawing to class with them next week. We begin with the end in mind.

Task 2: Getting Started (Guided Instruction)

Chieftains must inspect their Huns frequently in order to see that what is accomplished meets with what is expected (Roberts, 1987, p. 63)

In Theory: With guided instruction, it is important to see small groups of students working together with a common purpose. These groups can be changed from project to project to effectively forestall conflicts or jealousies among students. The teacher is an active participant in the activity, and there is continual dialogue between the teacher and groups of students as ideas and techniques are defined and learned. The teacher uses open-ended questioning to facilitate student identification of core problems and help the groups to work together in solving them.

In Practice: Students are broken into groups of two or three. One student will be the model to be wrapped and the others will do the wrapping. I will go from group to group, demonstrating proper techniques, asking questions to help the students problem-solve, being a timekeeper, and, above all, being a cheerleader. This is a complex, challenging project and the student’s self-motivation is critical to the project’s success.

Task 3: Synergy (Collaborative Thinking)

Leaders must encourage creativity, freedom of action and innovation among their subordinates, so long as these efforts are consistent with the goals of the tribe or nation. (Roberts, 1987, p. 62)

In Theory: Collaborative thinking occurs when the teacher has effectively removed himself from an active role and the student groups take charge of their own learning. The stage has been set, the action is in motion, and the teacher is now in the role of a consultant, observer, timekeeper, and, of course, cheerleader. The hard work of learning and problem solving at this point is done by the students with minimal teacher input. The students are working together in a synergistic manner, each contributing to the success of their partners as well as their own success.

There are times when neither the teacher nor the student knows for sure what’s going to happen. In the beginning, there’s a safe environment that enables people to be really open and to learn and to listen to each other’s ideas. Then comes brainstorming, where the spirit of evaluation is subordinated to the spirit of creativity, imagining, and intellectual networking. Then an absolutely unusual phenomenon begins to take place. The entire class is transformed with the excitement of a new thrust, a new idea, a new direction that’s hard to define, yet it’s almost palpable to the people involved. (Covey, 2004, p. 265)

In Practice: When the groups are experienced enough that they need little guidance, I step back and let them work things out for themselves. My job at that time is to maintain the materials, make sure the proper schedule is followed, etc. Questions from the students are fewer and it generally comes down to letting them bring their dreams into reality.

Task 4: Independent Learning

Wise chieftains grant both authority and responsibility to those they have delegated assignments. (Roberts, 1987, p. 74)

In Theory: Students who have been taught the procedures for doing tasks need to complete these independently. Independence fosters experimentation and allows for personal bias to direct learning. The teacher is available to conference concerning the independent work as well as evaluate it when applicable.

In Practice: My students are assigned a few drawing assignments per quarter which are to be done out of class. The students are given a topic, but the topic is very broad, so as to foster variation and independent thought. They are given a rubric which specifies that they will be graded on showing details (depict representational subject matter effectively), shading (the gradual shift from light to dark to show 3-dimensional form), composition (effectively arranging the items in the picture), creativity, and effort. The students are also encouraged to do and turn in unassigned drawings which will be discussed and will count as extra credit. Furthermore, I stay after school on Mondays and Tuesdays and students are free to stay and work independent projects.

Studying Fisher and Frey’s concept of teacher responsibility and student responsibility shifting has been of benefit to me to identify and clarify some of the things that I’ve already been doing in the classroom. In lower grades (K-2), my classes tend to focus on Focused Lesson and Guided Instruction, in middle grades (3-6), I tend to use Focused Lesson, Guided Instruction and Collaborative Learning, and in the upper grades (7-8), I use all four types of Focused Lesson, Guided instruction, Collaborative Learning, and Independent Learning. I hope in the future to apply more of the Collaborative and Independent models with younger students in the future.


Covey, S. (2004) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Free Press, (Original work published 1989.

Fisher, D. and Frey, N. (2008) Better Learning Through Structured Teaching, A Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility. ASCD,

Fisher, D. (2006) Creating Literacy-Rich Schools for Adolescents, Available Online at

Roberts, W. (1987) Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, Warner Books.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Photographing Artwork

I often see people looking for tips for shooting photos of artwork. Here are a few ideas.

Have the painting placed vertically on a wall (not leaning against something or inclined on an easel). Check it with a bubble level. I've painted the wall I shoot against a dark matte color so it doesn't reflect into the lens.

Make sure camera is placed on a sturdy tripod and use a shoe-mounted bubble level to make sure the camera is also level.

My favorite lens for shooting artwork is my 85mm f/1.8. It's very sharp and doesn't distort the edges of the work. I shoot at f/8, ISO 100.

Use hot lights at 45 degree angles to the artwork. You can see if you are getting specular highlights off the artwork. Flag off light if necessary. Make sure the light covers the artwork evenly.

Use a cable release and mirror lock-up to minimize camera shake.

Use a gray card and something to use as a white and black point to the side of the artwork to make sure your exposure is correct. Shoot RAW and adjust color and exposure in post-processing.

Adjust shutter speed for available light.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Products

Today I posted two new offerings for my portrait clients, acrylic statuettes and buttons. I'm thinking these will be picked up mostly for the family and children sessions, but who knows? Perhaps couples will dig these as well. The couple of clients I've shown them to so far have both ordered, so I have high hopes for them.