I’m Going to Adobe MAX!!!

Afflt_Max2014Bnr_300x250_r1It has been a busy summer for me with family and friends.  Most of it has been good, but anyone who knows me knows that there have been some sad and trying times as well.  In either case, I feel like I’ve been distracted and have been neglecting my photography.  I am so happy for fall and really hoping to get back at it.  Adding to that excitement now is a trip to California next month to do some sightseeing and attend Adobe MAX!  This was a very spur of the moment trip, but I’m grabbing an offer that was extended to me that I can’t pass up!   I look forward to meeting people in real life that I’ve known on-line, seeing parts of California I’ve never been to and getting inspired by the best of the best at Adobe MAX.

Life is short!  Grab every opportunity that comes your way!  As Robin Williams stressed in Dead Poet’s Society “Carpe Diem!” I’m sure I won’t regret seizing this one!

To learn more about Adobe MAX, click here.


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Food Friday – Cherries in a Blue Bowl

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Most fruit photographs exceptionally well.  The color and unique form of fresh produce is interesting and often luscious if nicely lit.  Cherries are particularly beautiful through the lens.  I’ve seen so many gorgeous photos of them, but had never photographed them myself, so I decided to change that this week.

I often get inspired to do a photo shoot after a trip to one of the local thrift stores.  Wednesday’s trip netted me the blue bowl in the above image; it just kept calling out to me!  : )  I love the rustic dark food images that are popular right now, so I set out to create some with my new blue bowl filled with some rich red glossy cherries.  I added an old hand carved clock that has been in my family for years in the background to give the image more warmth, depth and texture.

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You can see the antique clock in the setup shot below:

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I thought it might be interesting to document more of what I use to shoot a series of images, plus I have been asked to do presentations on both stock and food photography, so I need to start documenting setups and equipment for those.  The cherry images were all shot in my dining room since I wanted to use the dark blue wall in the background.  I chose my Nikkor 105 mm macro on my D800 for these. I love both the 60 mm and the 105 mm for food photography; there is nothing that frustrates me more than moving in for a close-up frame only to find I am too close to focus with a non-macro lens.

2014-06-19 12.49.08 web logo-2As you can see from the back of my camera, I shoot food in manual exposure and almost always on a tripod.  I use manual focus using live view and of course always shoot in RAW.   I like shooting this way with everything constant since I shoot alone without the benefit of an assistant or stylist.  It allows me to tweak the placement of each element without anything else changing.  Also, using a tripod allows me to shoot in low light at low ISO to get the maximum quality image.  To aid this further, I use an inexpensive wireless remote for my camera that I purchased on Amazon.  This allows me to hold a reflector or scrim in a different location while firing the shutter, avoiding necessitating more stands in my sometimes tight setup locations.  Oh how I love anything wireless!

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If you need photos of cherries for your blog or other publication, you can license these and more at iStockphoto.com by clicking on the images above.

Note: If you choose to purchase any of the gear  recommended here, using the links provided helps support this blog.  Thank you!

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A Week from Today…

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A week from today I will be in the audience watching this beautiful person graduate from high school. My daughter, Ellen, has grown into an independent young woman who is more than ready to take on the challenges of the world.  As a young teen she had her own ideas about fashion- never afraid to dress as she saw fit. That independent thinking has blossomed as a young adult. She has done many things that I would never do and have never encouraged her to do, thankfully most of them are good! She was a cast member in nearly every play of her high school theater program- I  dread the thoughts of  speaking to a large group and have NEVER been on stage. She decided to become a Mormon; I am not a religious person.  She is pursuing a career as an elementary school teacher in spite of her father’s constant urgings to study math, science or medicine.  She was the producer of her high school’s televised announcements, where I shy away from leadership roles.  And, she chose to wear jeans and pearls to school over sweatpants and messy updo’s.  She is definitely not afraid to choose what is right for her and I am thankful for that!

Ellen is a card carrying introvert but definitely not a loner and definitely not bashful or backward. She has lots of friends although usually one best one. She’s a loyal and generous friend and easily hurt when that loyalty is not returned.  If you are lucky enough to be Ellen’s friend, she’ll have you doing something fun in front of a camera… no sitting around just playing “Flappy Bird” with her! Despite often preferring the solitude of her bedroom and her laptop she has put herself out there as an actress, a leader, a creative and an entrepreneur.  She is a complex lady!

As for her entrepreneurship, she started her own YouTube Channel in elementary school right around the time she tired of singing along with Ariel (The Little Mermaid) on the computer.  From humble beginnings of a puppy dog slide show, she taught herself video editing, green screening, and the art of producing make-up tutorial videos.  She started her second YouTube channel MsEllenMelon in 2011 and currently has nearly 20,000 subscribers and well over 1 million views!  But, that wasn’t enough, oh no!  Now, Ellen is sharing my passion for photography and running her own portrait business: Miss Ellen Photography.  I hate to admit that although Ellen doesn’t geek out about the gear as much as I do, she is a much more talented and creative portrait photographer than I am.  Her recent prom images of Cheyenne and her boyfriend prove that!


Although I am sad to see Ellen grow up, I know she is more mature than many she will be walking across that graduation stage with and is SO ready to move on.  I will miss having my friend, best model and biggest supporter close by, but thanks to our mutual love of technology and travel, I’m confident that we will always be close. I don’t worry too much about my girl, I know she is strong and resourceful. I couldn’t be more proud and happy to be able to call Ellen my daughter!

Go get ’em honey!  And, you are EVERY BIT as cool as you are on-line!

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Support iStock Exclusive Artists Today!

If you are in the market for some stock photography anytime soon, today is a great day to download!  iStock.com will be paying 100% of the licensing fee of images downloaded today to the iStock Exclusive Contributors, of which I am one.  Take this opportunity to load up on images and help the people who make them!  Thanks!


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Annapolis Reflections in Black and White

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This morning when I woke, the sun was shining through the window (I like the blinds open so I know the moment I open my eyes.)  It was a beautiful spring morning!  I quickly decided not to waste my life in bed and hopped out to set out on a photo adventure with my new toy, a Fujifilm X-T1.  What better place to go on a beautiful Sunday morning, but Annapolis!  (The downtown parking is free until noon on Sundays – even better!)

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After a quick breakfast at Starbucks at the city dock, I started out by shooting reflections There was a sailboat show this weekend, so Ego Alley was packed with boats.  The bright sun and cloudless sky made the light dance off the water.  I processed the images as black and white in Lightroom to draw attention to the light and dark of the reflections.

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After my walk around city dock, I took a few shots of architectural details in town.  I realized I’ve taken quite a few images of doors in Annapolis… I think I might have a project starting here – Annapolis Doors!

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All images were shot with the Fujifilm X-T1. and the 55-200mm lens.

I hope you had an enjoyable Sunday as well!

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A Day at the Beach – Photo Beach Bash That Is…

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Last week I drove down to Rehoboth Beach for the second annual Photo Beach Bash.  I attended last year because I had heard that Rick Sammon would be speaking and I wanted to see another of the “rock stars” of the photography world.  Last year’s event was so enjoyable, I didn’t hesitate to register when I got the email about the event this year.

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The event was held at the Sands Hotel right on the beach in Rehoboth.  They have a decent size ballroom on the second floor and it was packed again this year.  The cost of the event was a mere $19 and was jam packed from 10AM until 9PM with interesting speakers. With just enough break time to grab lunch and dinner, there was barely time to view the photography on exhibit, stop at the B&H table or take advantage of the critiques offered.

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This year’s speakers, in order of appearance were:

I had heard both father and son Fleming speak before, so I was familiar with their work, but was unfamiliar with the other three.  Michele Celentano, a portrait photographer from Phoenix, is a Canon Explorer of Light and was sponsored by Canon like Rick Sammon the year before.  Ron Wyatt was a very entertaining speaker and has quite an impressive resume, having shot the Beijing Olympics and quite a few well know personalities.   I think I learned the most from Harold Ross, though.  He has a totally different approach to doing light painting from anything I’d seen before a la Dave Black style.  To create his very painterly works Harold combines many shots of individually lit elements in Photoshop to  create his final images.  It was interesting to see his process.

Kevin Fleming

Kevin Fleming

Jay Fleming

Jay Fleming


Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of Ron Wyatt…

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Harold Ross


Michele Celentano

Michele Celentano

Photo Beach Bash was put on by the Coastal Camera Club.  If you live anywhere within driving distance of Rehoboth Beach, I’d encourage you to watch their website for information about next year’s event.  It was easily the best value in photography education I’ve ever experienced.  And, it’s always fun to go to the beach, even in March!

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Philadelphia Flower Show Photos

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This Thursday I attended the Philadelphia Flower Show.  It is amazing to see the masses of flowers and plants of all varieties assembled in the indoor gardens created on the second floor of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.   I can’t imagine all the work involved to transform this immense space into a gardener’s play land.

20140306_0037 webI first went to the flower show about five years ago… it was something my mother always enjoyed doing and I wanted to see what it was like.  I also thought it would be a good place to take photos, but that part is a mixed bag.  The flowers are beautiful and make wonderful subjects, but the lighting is harsh in most spots and the crowds and other displays make the backgrounds busy.  So, as much as I encourage everyone who has any appreciation for plant life to go at least once, the serious photographers might be disappointed if making images is the primary goal.

20140306_0099 web Color Diptych webThere certainly is lots of color to enjoy!  And, there are many interesting ways the plants and flowers are displayed.  Orbs seemed very popular this year, the one below was one of the most interesting.

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Here’s another orb:

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This year they also had aerial performers:

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After your feet start to hurt, you can always sit in on a class.  I attended this one entitled Healthy Living with Plants, which focused on more natural things to use in our lives and homes.

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And, of course, there was plenty to satisfy that great American pastime, shopping.  I came home with some wonderful smelling natural soaps, but there was plenty more I would have gotten if I didn’t have to haul it home on a bus!

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If you are interested in going, the show is in full swing through the weekend.  Information can be found here: http://theflowershow.com/


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Throwback Thursday – Ellen Backlit

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I read one time that Ansel Adams had an exhibit of his work once where he didn’t sell anything; he later went back and reprocessed the images lighter and then they sold. If a great photographer like Ansel Adams reexamined and reprocessed his work, then I should too.  Especially this series of shots which are among my favorites of my daughter, Ellen.  I took these very early in my iStock career, not long after I got my first speed light. They were shot with a Nikon D90, the 18mm to 105mm kit lens and an SB900 for fill. I’ve always loved them because of the subject, setting and backlight but knew they had some problems.  Using the speed light as a fill (undiffussed) had caused a few issues, but mainly they were underexposed.  So yesterday, with five years more editing experience under my belt and a keener eye, I went back to rework this shoot.  Originally I only used two of the images in my stock portfolio, but yesterday’s efforts yielded four more images.

Reviewing our old images lets us appreciate how far we’ve come and with the benefit of modern digital photography, the power of Photoshop and newly acquired editing skills, reworking them can also salvage some gems.

Blond Teenage Girl Laughing Outdoors by Tall Grass

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One of My Favorite Places

White Orchid in the Nursery CenterOne of my favorite places is any one of our local garden centers. Nothing can cheer you on a gray winter day like walking through a greenhouse filled with colorful, vibrant, healthy plants. I usually come home with a few photos for my stock portfolio and at least one new clean air maker! This is one of the images from yesterday’s trip to Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville.

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New Series – Vintage Travel

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As a stock photographer, some days just a few simple things can start the creativity to flow and cause you to become immersed.  Those are the days you love, the days you can get lost in your craft.  The days when simple brings you happiness are the best!

A week ago last Saturday was one of those days for me.  I had purchased an old suitcase at a local antique store a few months ago to use as a photo prop, but hadn’t used it yet.  My original idea was to use it for a senior portrait of my daughter- the suitcase, going off to college concept.  But, the light was so soft coming in our windows this particular winter Saturday afternoon, that I hated to waste the great light and peaceful time alone at home.  I grabbed the suitcase and a few of our passports and went to work.  Turning the suitcase and the passports this way and that while my camera sat clicking away on its’ tripod entertained me for at least an hour!  It made me happy! I hope you like the results!

Old Fashioned Suitcase on a Bed with Passports

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