Four First Place Awards!

 

 

We are excited to announce that four of our products received a first place award in their respective categories a the Professional Photographers of Mississippi and Alabma fall competition.  We are so appreciative of our wonderful clients who worked with us and allowed us to create these beautiful photographs.

Fall is Definitely Polarizer Time

One maple in my neighborhood has turned a brilliant red as you can see in the accompanying images.  If I needed a reminder that fall color is on the way, this was certainly a beautiful one.  And being a photographer,  I immediately began to think of the particular items I’ll want to have on my walks to properly appreciate autumn displays.

 

                After the camera and lens the next most important thing for capturing fall color has got to be a polarizing filter.  Like polarizing sunglasses, the polarizing filter on the camera lens takes out reflections.  We don’t notice the reflections from foliage much of the time, in part because our brain compensates for it.  But the reflection off the leaves will wash out camera images even on an overcast day, and a polarizing filter can take that away making the colors much more vibrant.  It is worth noting, too, that there is no digital software that can mimic this effect.  I think you can see what I mean by looking at the images with this article showing what happened when I added a polarizer.  You may notice that the sky also got bluer as the leaves became more vivid.  That is because moisture and dirt in the sky reflect sunlight just like the leaves, and the filter took out those reflections, too, resulting in a much deeper sky color.  In fact when using a polarizer for scenics with lots of sky, you may want to back off in the effect a little to keep the image from looking artificially overdone.

 

                Just a few points for those who may not be familiar with this type filter.  First, it rotates to bring in the polarization and you can literally dial in more or less as you twist the bezel ring while observing the effect through your viewfinder.  Second, the angle relative to the light striking the subject will determine the effectiveness of the filter.  About 90 degrees to the sun gives the strongest effect.  While you can get polarizers that drop into a filter holder that can then be rotated, most people use one that screws directly on to the front of the lens and has a bezel ring.  If you buy the screw on version be sure to get the correct size to fit your lens.  Finally, like all good optics, these filters are not cheap.  Expect to pay close to $100 or more depending on size for a decent quality filter from a reputable manufacturer like B&W or Tiffen.  

 

All that said, it’s my opinion that if you will only add one filter to your kit, the polarizer should be it.  In a future article I’ll discuss some of the other uses for this optic in addition to making fall foliage pop!

Where to Go?

I often get asked where to go to make interesting outdoor photographs.  The easy answer is almost anywhere depending on how you define interesting.  That is certainly true if you are willing to focus on smaller things such as individual flowers or abstract patterns created by leaf shadows.  But I know most people are really saying they want to get away from the more familiar and photograph something different.

I have three favorite getaways within reasonable range.  One is the Huntsville Botanical Gardens.  The gardens offer a wide variety of settings to choose from.  You can photograph fairly large, interesting landscapes like the rose garden or the water garden.  And you can shoot more intimate things like flower clusters and butterflies.  I have rarely spent an afternoon there that I didn’t come back with at least a couple of keepers.  The gardens offer good photo opportunities year round.

The second area I recommend requires about an hour and a half driving time.  That gets you up on the Cumberland Plateau around Monteagle, TN.  There you can find several good hiking trails complete with streams, waterfalls, and the occasional vista.  My personal favorite is the Fiery Gizzard Trail, though I really enjoy Falls Creek Falls State Park, too, with all its trails, streams, and waterfalls.  This area is most interesting in the spring time to capture wildflowers and anytime there has been a prolonged rainy period to put a lot of water in the streams and give volume to the waterfalls.

My final one is The Walls of Jericho just off Highway 79 near Hytop, AL, just short of the Tennessee state line about an hour from Huntsville.  I make this third because it is by far the most strenuous of the three locations.  The final leg of the hike coming back up to the trailhead and parking area on the ridge line is pretty steep rising about 1000 feet in that last mile.  Wind and leg strength will definitely be tested by this trail, but the whole hiking experience and the photo opportunities make it worthwhile for anybody in reasonable physical condition.  I really like this trail in the fall.  There are lots of maples and other colorful hardwoods.  Be sure you bring a polarizing filter to get the intense color from the leaves.

What are some of your favorite areas?  Share them by replying to this post.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Spring Sports Season is Here

I think we’re all glad to see the weather change for warmer!  For us it means time to photograph spring sports.  We will be photographing soccer teams for AYSO 1174, Locust Grove Baptist Church, and First Nazarene Church.  And we’ll be photographing baseball teams for the Miracle League.

We always enjoy seeing the kids and their parents as well as the coaches who give so freely of their time and energy to make it possible for the kids to play.  Be sure you take time to thank coaches, referees and umpires if you an opportunity.

We have openings to photograph other teams, too.  If you know someone involved in youth sports this spring, please tell them about us.

Floods are not much fun!

If you have never experienced a flood in your home or business, trust me, you haven’t missed anything worth having. 

Sometime during the night of January 31-February 1, the pressure reduction valve on the main water line coming into the studio failed causing a supply line under a bathroom sink to burst.  By the time we found it Friday morning, there was two plus inches of water in the whole back half of the suite.  I can’t say enough good things about Admiral Cleaning and Restoration.  They arrived within an hour and started pumping water and then set up fans and dehumidifiers.  Perhaps most important, they told us what we needed to get out of the building because of the expected buildup of humidity to be followed by total drying with high heat and extremely low humidity.  Every print in the house came out and went to my home for safekeeping—displays and orders.  Of course all the props, stands, and other stuff in the storage rooms and the camera room had to be moved out, too. The major loss was the laminate floor in the camera room.  There was no damage to any photography equipment, orders, or camera files.

Couple of lessons learned:  We had some backdrops with their bottom half on the floor.  Obviously they got wet.  Since this was clean water, they have dried with no discoloring.  Also, we had left a couple of power strips plugged in and on the floor.  That could have been a real disaster with will the standing water, but none of them was submerged.  Needless to say we won’t have those situations in the future.

You never know when something like this could happen so I recommend you take a hard look at your own home and office and ask, “Is anything laying on the floor that would be damaged if it got wet?”  If the answer is yes, you probably ought to move it.

We expect to be back in full operations Saturday, February 9th.  Sometime after that we’ll have to take Saturday and lay the laminate, but I still have to select it and get it ordered.

Hope you are enjoying the great weather we’re having just now, because we know it won’t last.  After all, it is February!

Giving Thanks Not Going Through the Motions

     Thanksgiving week will be filled with food, family, football, and shopping for many of us including me for three of the four.  (I don’t plan to do much shopping!)  But I also want to put in plenty of time for real thanksgiving.  I surely have much to be thankful for, and not only do I want to first and foremost thank God for His blessings over my life.  I want to thank people who have done so much to enrich my existence with their love, generosity, kindness, and encouragement.  If I start listing the things I am thankful for, it will fill up lots more space than any of you want to read so I’ll keep it short and just hit the highpoints.  Here goes:  God for His presence, family for their love and tolerance, friends for their encouragement and caring, church for its worship and teaching, the studio for the passion and joy it puts in my life and the great clients who have become good friends, and health.  I am particularly mindful of the latter this year given the miracle of the discovery of my AAA condition and the wonderful care of Dr. Wellborn and the staff of Huntsville Hospital. 

     Thank you for being my friend and sharing this wonderful journey with me.  I hope you will find time to give your thanks throughout this special season!

First Blog Post

Welcome to our blog!  We want to make it interesting and worth your while to visit with us from time to time, so we’ll try to keep the postings short and to the point.  We’ll use the blog as the first place to post upcoming specials, and we’ll share our activities and thoughts, too.  We hope you will do the same in response.  We really do want this to be a conversation—not a lecture.  Let us know what’s on your mind and what you’d like to hear more about.

Our ongoing special is for family portraits!  We are offering half off the session fee either in the studio or on location and 15% off any portrait 16x20 or larger.  The special ends November the 8th, the day before I go back for more surgery for the AAA condition.