New Project: Dogs in their element

dog with head in tree

How can a dog resist checking out the mysteries of the forest? This fluffy fella (husky-mix) I got to meet on my last nature excursion was the friendliest, sniffiest and most happy-go-lucky dogs I’ve ever met! I chatted with his owners a bit, who told me they named him George (yes, much like the famous fictional monkey, Curious George) after knowing him for only a few hours. After witnessing his immediate curiosity of everything as a puppy, they just knew it was meant to be!

dog in forest and sun

This beautiful Rottweiler-mix stands a little taken aback in the early forest dawn. Don’t worry, that’s not a dead bird beside her! I believe she was chewing on this bush’s branches before I snapped the shot. I could tell Luna was a morning dog, much unlike her yawning owner I met with her morning coffee and sweats on.

sled dogs in the cold

On a trip last winter to Northern Canada, I was introduced to a small group of dog-sledders and their dogs. These huskies were a little hyped up at the time I shot this, some were sleeping but these 4 in the front were the center of attention. They were barking and howling at each other under the evening sky in the vast openness of the icy plains. It really couldn’t have been more surreal.

boxer dogs on the beach

Bowie and Boots are regulars here at this beach. Looking pretty serene out to the ocean and gloomy skies, I can only imagine where their minds are going (probably thinking out dashing out to the water any second).

dog rolling in grass

My goofy and hairy pal Gus in the backyard during mid-summer. What better way to itch and play at the same time than having a good old roll in the grass?! He’s the most obedient dog I’ve ever known (I promise I’m not biased!), he’s never run away even though we still haven’t put up a real fence! Good boy, Gus. Good boy.

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How to Take Good Party Photographs

The combination of alcohol, lots of people and poor lighting conditions is not the best backdrop for a good photo.

Unfortunately, these are the circumstances a photographer or any amateur snapper is confronted with when tasked with capturing the sights and memories at most social functions. And if you are not careful, you can end up with a stream of useless snaps which are no good for anyone.

But you don’t need the patience of a monk to come away with a couple of decent shots. Just follow these simple tips on how to take good party photos.

Make preparation

You should be at the party long before the guests arrive so you can set yourself up for the job you are going to be doing. But before you have even arrived, you should know what style of photographs you will be taking, and have your camera settings adjusted accordingly.

If you are going for candid photography, then a wide aperture setting on your lens is a great choice. However, you need to be prepared to take shots of people who come up to you asking for their photo to be taken, in which case the wide aperture brings a shallow depth of field, which wonít work so well.

If youíre taking more staged or group photos, then you should have a deeper depth of field, and to make up for the lack of light, youíll have to use your camera’s flash. Everyone knows that flash photography can look pretty terrible at the best of times, but if visibility is poor, you can’t avoid it.

Whatever the case, now is the time to test your settings with the lighting conditions. Take several test shots to see if everything is working out. If you are at a wedding reception, take some snaps inside the main hall area. If you are at a summer cookout, shoot around the cooking equipment from Charcoal Smokers – Smoky Goodness Barbecue.

Group shots

Now that your camera is set up its time to start shooting. If your party is an event, then there will be a core group of people that you should snap. If it is just a gathering, then try getting shots of the various groups that are there. You can also stay one step ahead by getting shots of people as they arrive.

The main subject

If the party is to honor a particular person, such as someone’s birthday, you should take a close-up picture of this honoree as well as a group picture of everyone attending the party surrounding this person.

Capture the surroundings

If your party is a BBQ, take some snaps of guests eating their SmokyGoodnessBBQ.com – Pulled Pork rolls around the table. If it’s a party at a bar or restaurant, take pictures of people drinking together or dining together happily.

Candid shots

Another good reason to have your camera out and ready before people arrive is so that they see it and relax knowing a camera is about. Now it will be easier for you to take shots when people are unaware. Don’t be afraid to zoom in either, you can get some really good facial expressions with a nice zoom.

How To Photograph Food

Want to hear a horror story about what some photographers do to food to make it look good? How about that rumour about food stylists brandishing a can of shoe polish and applying it liberally to raw chicken to make it look perfectly roasted – ever heard that one?

But don’t worry. There are more natural ways to accomplish great food photography without resorting to such measures. After a little practice, you really can make food look as good as it smells.

Setting

Stop thinking just about the food for a second and consider what setting around it would compliment the food visually. You should go for simple, plain backgrounds in most cases, and certainly something that enhances, but doesn’t distract, from your food. Think about a scenario where you wanted to take photos of the juiciest, smoked pieces of steak. Would you photo them on a dark brown table-cloth? Of course you wouldn’t. The color of the steaks would be lost within the background. Something that contrasts with the food color would be much better. In this instance, shooting them on the dark grill of my smoker that I bought after researching using the best†Barbecue Smoker Buying Guide not only gives me a good contrast between roasted brown and black, it also enhances the food’s appearance into something that whets the appetite.

Getting the contrast right is one thing but remember to not spoil it all with distracting clutter in the background. Like cutlery, or from personal experience: dirty tongs. †Also, if you are going to put equipment in your shot, make sure you have one of the best gas and propane smokers†and not an old rusted up model.

Lighting

Now you have the setting you need to think about lighting. Backlight is key to texture and making the food appear appetizing. This will also allow any steam to show up in the image as steam or smoke will show up prominently when lit from behind. Now, I’m not talking about actual smoke, such as the type when food is burning. I don’t think it would be the best idea to photo that. No, that lovely vapour that oozes out of the best hot dishes or foods.

Needless to say, fail to get the lighting right and your food photography can look flat and unappealing.

White balance

Ever notice that bad food photography tends to have a yellow or blue cast that makes the food look unappealing? That’s because the white balance is not correct. Use the white balance on your camera, or use Photoshop to correct it later on. Color balance is especially important if you are shooting in areas with low natural light and nailing it can make your pictures come alive.

Camera Angle

Varying your camera angle can help both with lighting and the picture’s white balance. From directly overhead, tilted, or shooting into the edge of the plate or table, try different angles when shooting your food items. Get creative and try to show it in a different way than most people would see it.

Don’t shoot

Some foods, no matter how hard you try, will just never look delicious. So learn what not to shoot. Meals that are all the same color and brown sauces are best left alone.

Use the right camera

You can probably get by with a point-and-click camera if you know how to use it well (read through the manual, master the macro settings and practice!) because you donít necessarily need a fancy camera to take amazing food photos. However, when you are ready to have full control over your focal length and exposure, save up for a digital SLR camera. They are worth every penny.

I personally use a Nikon D7000, and it has never let me down once. But remember, comparable models will produce photos of comparable quality, so do some research and choose the one you are most comfortable with.

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Photography: A Paddle Board Shoot

One of my favorite destinations to shoot is at the beach. Anytime I get a project from a client that will allow me to incorporate the sun, sand and surf into my pictures I take it.

There is something poetic about the way the surf breaks, while it’s passengers glide to the shore line. The strength and the grace of the ocean has always been something that has enticed me – and thousands of other photographers to capture it.

I’ve been known to take a few pictures of surfers, okay a lot of pictures. To this day it is still one of my favorite images to capture. So it shouldn’t surprise anybody that I spent the weekend at the beach chatting up strangers with paddle boards asking them if I could snap a few shots of them. Of course some laugh and politely decline (I suspect they’re worried they’re not going to look very groovy on their SUP). Others are happy to oblige, usually following with a “yeah but only if you send me some!”

It’s not everyday a photographer asks you if they can take your photo – who knows you may end up famous!

My first shoot drew inspiration from this shot from paddlepaddle.com. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to shoot when the sun was setting as it is in this photo.

sup-yoga1

How’re I did manage to capture some pretty terrific shots of some pretty girls doing yoga on their boards. So many thanks to those that let me shoot them! This one was probably my favorite shot, in part because this gal was beautiful in every sense of the way. I also like the pier pillars look in the background. The gal in the photo exudes strength and balance. Even if it were a video instead of a still shot, one gets the feeling that she wouldn’t waver what so ever.

SUP Yoga2

It’s pretty remarkable to see how versatile folks are on a paddle board are. One minute they’re doing yoga on their paddle board next the pier on calm waters. Minutes later they’re half way down the beach in the surf line waiting to catch a wave. I kid you not that subject in the first shoot was riding waves later on her board. Pretty slick stuff.

The beach really is one of my favorite places to shoot. Maybe it’s because it feels so care free and artistic. Everyone there is expressing themselves, relaxing or a bit of both. You also meet some really laid back folks who are happy to be the subject of your photographs which is pretty damn cool.

A Pen for the Piece

Quill InkAs an artist, the single most important tool is the one you use to create your piece. For a musician this could be a guitar or a piano while for a painter it could be the paint itself or the paint brush. For many artists, that tool is a pen, which is the instrument used for the creation of art.

Pens come in a variety of different forms. Long gone are the days of a quill and ink where you had to have your ink on your desk and dip it between every couple of words. Today, there is a pen in pretty much every room you walk in to. In fact many people will even carry a pen with them. Computers have of course reduced the quality of penmanship which once existed. Today, kids in school don’t even learn cursive and if they did, it is hardly a focus of the curriculum anymore. However, pens are still a part of everyday life and as mentioned above, are the most important tool available to many artists.

The quality of pens of course varies as well. In an office supply store, you can purchase a box of pens for under $5.00. Typically, these pens will be of poor quality however and will not last more than a couple of days or weeks of continued use. Another risk of buying cheap pens is if they break in your purse, jacket or shirt. Ink is nearly impossible to remove which means cheap pens have the potential to ruin clothing and accessories if not handled with care.

The quality of ink within cheaper pens is also very poor as well. In colder climates the ink won’t work properly and will flow very slowly from the tip making it nearly impossible to write. In warmer climates, the ink will become runny, smearing ink across the page unless extremely careful. Regardless it is important to invest in a good pen, especially if you are an artist.

Perhaps the most reliable pen you can buy is a tactical pen. Tactical pens are designed for professionals who require a writing utensil they can rely on. Made of anodized aluminum, tactical pens will never fracture or break except in the case of being exposed to extreme stressors. Furthermore, tactical pens are made to use refillable ink of the highest quality. This allows these specialized pens to work in the harshest of conditions including extreme heat and extreme cold.

As an artist, it is important to invest in the proper tools. A tactical pen you will have for years to come, lending it’s abilities to your art pieces perhaps even helping you to create your very own masterpiece.

 

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Beards: A Sneak Peak at a Project and Collaboration

Beards are amazing things. Last post I talked about some of my favorite pictures of bearded dudes, but this time I’ve got something special to share. See, this is your sneak peak at one of MY projects! And yes, I’m carrying on with the beard thing!

Profile Beard Shot.

We’ve all seen paintings and black and white photos of men and their beards. Generals, soldiers, philosophers, miners — name it, they’ve got it. It simply goes to show that for men, having a beard has been popular even before the camera was invented. Some grew them to look stronger, some to look older, while some simply didn’t bother shaving, and others still groom and style their beards with one of the top rated trimmers for beards more than a lady does to her hair.

There are exhibits and projects that have eyes as the subject, some like hands, while others take photographs of people’s faces. This project and collaboration showcases beards. Just like our eyes, our tongues, and our fingerprints, each beard is unique.

Beards vary in length. They say to marry men with long beards. Whoever has the patience to grow a long beard has the patience to put up with anyone. If that’s the case then Hans N. Langseth 1846 – 1927 has the longest patience of all, he’s beard measured 5.33 m (17 ft 6 in) and is so remarkable that in 1967 it was presented to the Smithsonian Institution.

Beards vary in color. From Professor Dumbledore’s white to The Undertaker’s black, to beards dyed with bright colors, the hues and colors of beards are limitless. As kids, and even sometimes as adults, seeing a long white beard makes us think of wizards and magic. Brown beards remind us, of course, of Brownbeard, mighty pirate of the seven seas. Just as ladies dye their crowns of glory, men dye their beards too.

Beards vary in thickness. In the army during the Second World War and the Gulf War, and maybe other times, having a beard is a statement saying that you have fought and lived. Even the straggliest looking beards were worn with pride. Some can grow a full beard and mustache while others can have just straggly pieces of hair on their chin but keep them anyway – especially with the latter, you must know how to groom your beard.

Brilliant Bushy Beard.

Beards vary in style. There are as many hairstyles for men and women alike as you can think. The same goes with beards. Some like their beards sharply cut, waxed and look solid. Others let it fly away while others even braid their beards. There are full beards, chinstraps, soul patches and a lot more, the possibilities are simply endless. It is easier now than ever for men to change their beard styles, and even get very intricate with a grooming routine by using high quality trimmers for nose and ear hair, too.

Each beard is unique. Every single movement of a person’s head, every word uttered every approving nod, every disappointed head shake, can and will change the way a beard looks at a precise moment. The light passing through beards is also changed in the same way. No two beards are the same, can never be the same because even a single beard constantly changes.

Join us as on a journey and see the world of beards through our eyes and lenses. You’ll be amazed at how unique, wonderful, and interesting each and every beard is. Whether you’re a man who proudly wears a beard, a youngster trying to grow one, a lady who likes beards in men, or whoever you are, you are welcome.

Beards are amazing things.

Knife collecting and Knife Photography tips

Collections are an important and integral example of productive hobbies. There are a lot of great and interesting things that one can collect and one great example of those things is the art of collecting Knives.

Yes, it might seem a little creepy and may even be a bit uninteresting for some people but it really is a sophisticated and fun task to start collecting knives. You can get a picture of your knife beside your best knife sharpener or you could just shoot it in a bird’s eye view with a white background.

Though most people tend to think of knives only as those things that you get to see in kitchens and the best and most interesting things that ever happen to them are is if they are featured in the home shopping network or if they are somehow involved in a murder case.

That being the case, it is so much more than that, and you can start your very own knife collection as soon as you want. You just have to keep in mind a few little tips that might come in handy.

  • Pick a type- This may seem ridiculous as sure there cannot be more than one type of knife right? Wrong. There are so many knives that you can choose to have in your collection. For instances, there are those that collect vintage knives that were used centuries ago. You can opt to go into collecting less difficult to find (and afford) knives like pocketknives, or daggers, or even kitchen knives.
  • Know your budget- In whatever you collect, it is always best to mind your budget and try to stay away from overspending on a single item or a number of items. Yes, the prices you paid for your collection makes its value higher but there are times when expenses become ridiculous. This is why you should really mind your budget and try to select only what you can afford.
  • Get to know as much as possible- The problem for some collectors is that sometimes they get duped into spending a lot of money for things that they could have gotten a lot less. To avoid this, you could read up on your items. Also, learning about what you are collecting brings more excitement to your hobby.
  • Search where you can- Valuable collectibles do not usually show up in malls but are found in different kinds of places. Do not underestimate the value of a nearby garage sale and any other bargains that may involve rare knives. There are also places where you can find knives that where you don’t need to buy them. As rare as it may seem, you can also find them in your backyard with a metal detector. Be creative, search everywhere.

All that said, there are those that are not really into collecting knives and are more of fans of photography. There are a lot of people out there who also make hobbies of knife photography. Here are a few little bits of information that may prove useful in such a hobby.

  • Explore light techniques- Knives are particularly difficult to take pictures of. This is mainly due to the reflective nature of the blade. This is exactly why you should try different kinds of lighting and even angles until you get the right picture worthy of taking a shot of.
  • Set camera and lenses- Just like in most cases of photography, setting your camera and lenses help in taking the right picture. Just don’t forget that knives are not like other models of photography and are usually in need of different kinds of camera settings and lens adjustment.
  • Construct a table top setup- The best way to take pictures of things as small as knives are making table top setups. These things are like stages for the little models. the possibilities are endless and you have total control over the pictures’ quality.

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Beards: A search tangent I found intriguing

So, you know I love pictures of people, doing things that people do, engaging in relationships as people do. There’s something so raw and emotional and powerful about the whole thing that I can’t help myself sometimes.

Yes, I take pictures of this all the time, but as you might know, photographers sometimes like to enjoy the work of other people when they get a second of down time!

I’ve been searching for pictures lately and came across beards as a subject.

I am a clean shaven person, but only because I have not been blessed with strong manly facial hair genes. It is sometimes a disappointment, especially with the beard craze sort of coming back over the last couple of years. I had a look through this site actually to find myself a good all in one hair removal product…bearded people, don’t yell at me!

Anyway, on to the main event…I really liked these pics, which I found on Flickr using a quick search!

Serious, face turned up slightly, healthy dose of grey, excellent mustache (reminds me a bit of the Mythbusters guy mustache, actually, but much better).

Really amazing shot here, super detailed, love the black and white in this instance. Scruffy, looks like he’s been sleeping all day, thinking about something troubling perhaps, hasn’t touched his trimmer in days now.

Potentially lots of pain here, an interesting shot with wet hair, face turned to the light, furrowed brow. He said this is right before he got his shaver out and hacked off the beard. Perhaps melancholic having to shave that one off!

OK so this is hardly the most high quality shot but dang what a hilariously awesome picture! Such a great beard and dressed up with the axe and everything. Freaking hilarious!

Why beards?

Honestly, no idea. I just was browsing photos to get inspiration, and then I saw a couple in a series with this guy with a beard and then went off on an internet search tangent, as will happen, and decided that beards were a really great thing to be looking at in terms of a theme. There are a ton of them, they define many men, and so many of them are different, unique. They are really a special expression of the person who wears them, and as a people person (at least in my photos), I love to get a glimpse of people when the beard is in full form.

If it helps me gain a better insight, I’m all for it, and I really dig this little side search I did.

I’ll definitely be back out on the streets and mountains soon to get more shots myself, so stay tuned!

Do you need a DSLR?

What is a DSLR?

DSLR cameraA Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera, or DSLR, is the direct upgrade from a point and shoot compact camera. Is its increased costs always worth it? In this day and age, with smartphone camera’s climbing in Mega Pixels, the increased functionality of a DSLR still sets it apart and keeps it as an impressive option.

To decide when or if you should buy one of these camera’s, you need to know the facts and features that set DSLR’s apart from your smartphone and average disposable camera.

Features

The name of the game is versatility. You’ll always have the right gear for the shot. A good DSLR with the right extensions can and will become your go to camera.

Bare Function

Out of the box, and into your hands – You have an increased range of options and controls when taking pictures with a DSLR. These cameras sport not just digital but physical components, such as an actual viewfinder. Also, you have full control of the exposure, making night shots and tricky lighting less of a problem and more a part of the fun.

In addition, the frames per second is usually somewhere around the 4FPS mark. This allows you to take your shot before you miss the perfect moment.

Accessories

dslr accessoriesA major plus when considering a DSLR is the number of accessories you can buy. From external flashes to extended battery packs, you can make the camera uniquely yours.

Many photographers purchase DSLRs for their ability to change lenses and filters. You have the option of telephoto (extra zoom), wide-angle (wider view), and fisheye (extra-wide distortion) lenses. This, on top of a number of different filters, allows you to take professional pictures of exceptional quality.

Price

When we get right down to it, the price is the biggest issue for these devices. A good quality DSLR will run you multiple hundreds of dollars, though there are one hundred-and-less cheaper alternatives. As with all major purchases, research of the market is indispensable to deciding which product is right for you.

It’s hard to legitimize an expensive camera, and you really need to gauge your own financial situation versus your passion for the art of photography. The decision depends on the weight of your wallet versus the weight of your desire.

Conclusion

A DSLR camera is the next step to becoming a professional photographer. If you want to take professional photos, instead of point-and-shoot pictures, this is the route you’re going to have to take. 

Do you need a DSLR? If you have the eye, the passion, and the desire to become a professional photographer then yes. You will need to save up for this next level camera to match your commitment to the craft.

Photography is art. That’s the bottom line. If you feel this way then you’ll find a way to get a DSLR – no matter the cost. Cost is relative, and it all comes down to an individual’s decision in their specific situation.