Expelled from Digital Photography School.

I’ve been on the Digital Photography School web forum for about two years. If you aren’t familiar with the “forum” concept, allow me to pull you from under your rock

The Digital Photography School forum is a web site for people to share photography adventures. They accept anyone with any level of experience. There are photo games and challenges, and even critique sections. Providing you don’t misbehave, you may learn a thing or two. I got expelled. I’m not sure why, but they banned me. The nice thing about the internet is (generally) it doesn’t require any ID, unless you are buying something, so getting back in was as simple as making a new email address, and starting over.

What I have learned that has helped me be a better photographer:

I am not a pro – I don’t even try to play one on TV. I mean, I would if they asked, on TV. Otherwise, no. I don’t want to be a pro. A professional anything means taking your hobby and transforming it into work, and who wants to hate their hobby?

First – some definitions;

Fauxtographer: someone who plays at being a pro, when in reality they kind of suck at being a pro (that would be me if I tried to do weddings, portraits, or pretty much anything involving dealing with people not related to me). They are often female between the ages of 17 and 23, who have owned a “pro camera” for at least a week. Easily found on Facebook as “Cutesy Name Here Photography”, or on Craigslist.

Momtographer: Any mom who buys a camera as soon as her offspring falls out of her, and instantly declares herself the next Annie Leibovitz of her children. Momtographers are often seen running to the front of every graduation, christening, school play, t-ball game, or other community event where her child is doing anything other than standing still picking their nose (and sometimes then, too). Usually carrying a camera that outweighs her spawn, they can also be found in the balcony of the theatre. She will be the one with the 300mm lens, using the flash bright enough to initiate nuclear fusion. She will often post 700 pictures of her kid laying on the floor, smiling, eating, etc. Momtographers have been known to produce some pretty good shots, if only due to the law of averages. Between “skill” and “luck” is a whole lot of “suck”.  Despite some self-proclaimed  “momtographer” classes and schools, the word is generally seen as an insult.

Back to what I learned. Beware, there’s a lot of talking out of both sides of the mouth on the forums.

How to use graduated density filters in Photoshop. Love it. Blown out sky while everything else looks great? Graduated Density filter. Darken that sucker.

Use a UV filter all the time. It protects your lens.

Never use a UV filter, it can make your images soft.

Use a polarizing filter for bluer, more striking skies and colors outdoors.

Using a polarizing filter can give you a dark spot in the corners of your picture, unless the sun is 90 degrees away from the front of the lens. Oops.

The camera doesn’t take the picture – the photographer does. This is why wedding photographers just show up with iPhones and snap pictures. Oh wait… that’s not right.

The photographer is only as good as his gear. No – wait, that’s not right either. There are some pretty bad photographers with really expensive stuff. Somewhere there is a happy medium, though no one seems to be able to explain it.

Post-Processing is your friend. Peter Lik doesn’t sell anything straight out of camera. It’s okay to color-correct, saturate, de-saturate, brighten, darken, dodge and burn.

Post processing is not your friend. That person’s eyes and teeth are NOT radioactive. They shouldn’t be that white.

HDR is cool, and is a nice way to make images interesting and surreal.

HDR is for SLR noobs who can’t take interesting pictures any other way.

Some stuff that doesn’t apply to me:

Never, ever, EVER give your clients digital images on a CD. Why would they come back to you for more $30 8×10 prints?

Give your clients digital copies. If you don’t, they’ll go elsewhere. After all, how much are you really going to make five years from now selling those wedding pictures of the Johnson family?

Never work for free. All it does is build a reputation that you’ll work for free.

Working for free is a good way to build portfolios, increase exposure, etc. etc.

Working for free takes money out of a pros pocket. Never take pictures for free, ESPECIALLY weddings. For that matter – hire someone to mow your lawn, paint your house, plunge your toilet, carry out your trash, and have the electrician over to change your light bulbs.

Be a copyright Nazi. If you see your client’s pictures on their facebook page, sue their pants off.

If your clients post their pictures on facebook, just ask for a photo credit.

What I can say I’ve really taken away from the site? Not much. Its such a pain to link pictures (you have to upload to another site then post a link, so you need two separate accounts to two pages) that I rarely do so. I think that’s what got me kicked off the first time. Lots of talking and little posting. It seems like a lot of posturing pros giving conflicting advice. Maybe its time for me to “drop out” of Digital Photo School and just enjoy taking pictures. I could be a dadtographer…


I see dead….photos?

Sometimes having a child can be a wonderful, magical experience. When they draw you a card for a birthday, or when you come home from work and they rush to give you a hug. Other times they can be downright creepy.

Like my daughter’s latest photographic experiment. Usually she will pull out the camera that “santa” got her for x-mass, and proceed to take 137 pictures of various objects in her room. Books, barbie dolls, stuffed animals, etc. Often with no thought to composition or technical detail (hhahaha).
So yesterday I got Angie a new camera, and Kaylee had to pull hers out again and play with the various settings. She found black and white and sepia, and proceeded to take several pictures. She took the following…


She immediately exclaimed, “That looks like a DEAD photo!” I asked her if she meant that the picture looked like it was taken of a dead person, and she said yes. Then she wanted each of us to pose like we were dead, and take “crime scene” photos.


She didn’t do so well, she looks happy, but a few others were a bit better. Still, very creepy.

Karma is a Bitch

I don’t have any pictures to offer up today, besides, pictures of this event would be disturbing to young viewers, and some old viewers too. And they would be plain out Gross.

You may recall we planted a garden, like we do every year, only this time someone was taking advantage of us. It was as if we were running the nature equivalent of a soup kitchen. Every morning more of our plants were nibbled to twigs.

At first I thought it was a few tomato horned worms, which will eat the heck out of stuff. I put Sevin dust on the plants to the extent they turned white. No dice, the next morning, more twigs.

Fearing it was a larger animal – rabbit, deer, etc. I sprayed the plants with a solution of permethrin, a chemical designed to kill ants and termites, but which also will kill a number of other species, including; all of them, I think.

I noticed the next day some plants had come under attack, so I purchased some “rid a critter” – a pepper spray for plants equivalent. After I put that on everything, nothing else got eaten. Some of the twig plants began recovering, and I replaced some others. Due to lack of dead insects, and no deer tracks, we assume it was most likely a rabbit stealing our plants.

So – I go out to the garden today, and look around. What do I find, but a rabbit in advanced stages of decomposition. He wasn’t there yesterday. Its almost as if he died, and some divine force caused a larger meat-eater to gnaw on it, and drag its corpse to my garden. I can only hope the little bastard was the one eating my plants, and that it died a long, slow, agonizing death.

In the words of my wife “Boo yow, that that!”… that’s karma for you.


But I do have to get the shovel. That thing is nasty.

I’m going to Disney World! Almost

Its that time of year again. The birds are chirping, the grass is green, but dying due to lack of water and proper care, the kids are getting paroled from school for the summer. Its time for summer vacations.

Why summer vacation? Why not spring vacation? Fall vacation? I guess it’s because the kids escape from school in the summer. Its hard to take them out of school in October. Then you have to forge that Doctor’s excuse…

But once again, I’m going to Disney World. Im not saying when, some of you people might be nefarious individuals and wish to come do harm against my property. I’ll just say this – it’s sometime between now, and September. You guess.

I love Disney World. I love the preparations. There’s the Hotel Selection, the dates, which parks to visit which days, what to take, what to leave behind, which restaurants to eat at, what to eat at which restaurants to eat at, the drive, how much cash to take, what are we going to do, what rides to ride, who do we want to see.

For over-planners and list makers like myself, its the equivalent of a bulimic visiting a buffet. There’s always going to be room for more. Once I pull out the driveway, it all flows easily. The work has been done.

I just joined the DISboards…. a forum for people into Disney World stuff. 7 posts and I’ve pissed someone off. I made the mistake of telling a lady who was looking for camera advice, to check out another photography forum. I upset some pro on there, who said “who are you to tell her to go elsewhere? you dont know us! A lot of us are pros and can give good advice” I hate pro photographers.  A snooty bunch if ever there was one. I even warned her, watch out on the other forum – they can be kind of snooty. I guess snootiness isn’t limited to one forum.

Any way -here are four of my own favorite pictures (not including

family of course) from my last trip. I’ll put them up here so I can share on the Disboards…

Save the Murlocs!…. shirt.

So, I have this shirt I bought from Hot Topic (yes, I went in there and I’m over 13. I’m sorry). Anyway, it was the only place to get this exclusive World of Warcraft shirt. It features the spoof for Save The Murlocs! (www.savethemurlocs.org), which every Warcraft player knows is a farce, because they kill you on site and are generally unpleasant. However, the shirt is funny. It features a stylized Merloc and the logo, seen below:


The only problem is, the damn shirt is too small. It started out the right size, if a little short. After washing it two or three times, it shrunk to the point I can’t wear it anymore. So, I decided to make a copy of it. I photographed the shirt, and plopped the picture into photoshop.


Thanks to the “Remove background” tool, it was short work to get rid of the black shirt, and print out the new merloc on a transfer. I wasn’t really happy with the colors, they were a lot more muted and earthy coming out of the printer onto the transfer. It will work for my upcoming trip, but I’ll probably only be able to wear and wash it a few times before it peels r bleeds, etc. I needed some more shirts for Disney World.


So, it works. Not the greatest, but it worked. Next time I guess I’ll stick to witty text or black and white pictures.


Lightning and Thunder and Rain, Oh My!

I was slightly disappointed in our thunderstorms on Friday. Sure, there was a lot of rain. I do mean a lot, like pair ’em up, Noah rain. And there was a little wind, although not so much it was raining sideways. Of course there was the requisite thunder and lightning, but all in all I was still upset.
As someone who likes to go outside and risk life and limb (okay maybe not limb, just life?) taking storm photos, this storm was about as photogenic as that fat guy they had to cut out of his house when he topped 850pounds. Imagine that guy in a speedo. That’s how unphotogenic this storm was. The sky was completely covered in a solid layer of uniform grayness, showing absolutely no storm structure at all. It was also full of mist, for it had been raining on and off all day.
Sure, there were a few impressive lightning strikes but nothing I could capture. They were coming from any direction, at spaced-out intervals not suitable to really be able to predict. During a good storm I can point the camera in one direction and generally be able to figure out, for example, the area I’m looking at might produce a strike every 20 seconds. Clouds almost seem to talk to each other sometimes. One cell will produce lightning, then a few seconds later the other will. Its very impressive when you can get out from under it and see what’s going on.
But, the storms Friday sucked for this. I wound up with a half dozen images showing semi-lit pines, but that was all.
At least we didn’t lose power.

Until 12:42 in the morning.

The storms came and went and came and went, and we were okay until then, Zap! No lights.
At 6:30 the next morning we were all up, and I fired up the generator. I love that thing. With no TV to speak of, because the cable was out, all we had was the fridge and the last vestiges of hot water in the tank. We went to Myrtle Beach for the day. That’s another story.

At least when we got home, it was determined that the power came back on around two hours after we left. The Cable is still out, and knowing the cable company is not nearly as efficient as the power people, I expect to have cable back sometime in the next two weeks, between 1 and 4 pm.

IPhone fun with infrared.


I finally got it working. I have been playing around with an iPhone app called dslr.bot. It’s purpose is to remote control my canon camera, but it needs an infrared source, like on the front of any modern remote. The above device consists of two IR emitters, faced back to back. Without going into too much electronics, the iPhone headphone jack cannot send out the IR signals with just one, each diode puts out half the signal. I screwed it up the first time, and finally got around to rebuilding it. So, now it works. This little thing goes in the camera bag, replacing a huge button thing with ten feet of wire attached. Since I have my iPhone at all times any way, why not. I’m thinking lightning photography too. I could sit in the relative safety of the car, and remote the camera. But then again, why go?
It is ugly… I need to try and make one more, and pot it inside something. A little chapstick cap full of epoxy might hold it all together. My eyes aren’t what they used to be. My nearsightedness used to be bad enough I could build tiny things. Any more I find myself trying to take off my glasses so I can see close, only to find they are already off.
If someone knows of a good tv remote app, it would be fun to be able to change the channel on TVs in restaurants. They always have sports of the news channels with stock crap at the bottom. Am I the only nerd that would rather see the history channel?