Thursday, August 31, 2006


Hopefully I haven't "grossed out" anyone by posting this image.

I saw this little guy in the corner of our downstairs bathroom near the floor and thought it might be interesting to shoot a macro shot of him. He was just hanging upside down minding his own business and so I crept up on him with my Nikon D200 and Nikon 60mm f 2.8 micro lens and took my shot (Nikon calls macro lenses, "micro lenses.") This image was taken just a few minutes before posting it here, but I moved up the clock on the blog an hour so I can count this as my "Thursday Posting." :)

To light the shot, I used a Nikon SB-800 flash modified with a Gary Fong Lightsphere Cloud diffuser tethered by a remote cord. I placed the flash on the floor with the TTL sensor aimed at the spider and pointed the flash head up to the ceiling.

The camera was set at ISO 100 with the aperture at f 5.6 and the shutter speed chosen by the camera at 1/60 second. I was less than 8 inches from him.

This spider's size is about 1/4 inch, so what you are seeing is a really large close-up of him. Be sure to click on the image to get an ultra close-up view! Even very small spiders like this one can look really scary when a macro shot is taken of them.

No, I didn't "squish" him after the shot. He's still hanging there...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Data Storage

Image "borrowed" from Western Digital

Well, I've finally hit the point where I need at least One Terabyte of hard drive space!

Yesterday, I went to my local Best Buy and purchased a 500 GB external hard drive. I was amazed that I was able to get this for only $199. Prices seem to be dropping all the time on hard drives!

Together with my other external hard drives and my internal drive, I now have about One Terabyte of storage space! Prior to this purchase, I had been storing a lot of my files on DVD-R discs. With the low prices on hard drives now, I can just keep everything on a drive and just use the DVD-R discs for backup. So I spent yesterday consolidating the files on my other external drives and moved all the photo images to the new drive. You know what? That 500 GB drive is now filled to 92 percent already! But I freed up the space on the other two external drives because of doing this.

I remember when buying a computer with a 20 mb hard drive was considered huge! And at that time, getting a machine with 64kb of RAM was pretty good too. 80286 machines were all the rage back then and owning an IBM XT computer was the high-end of computers! Times have changed...

Today with the large files generated by digital cameras, not to mention the quantity of images I take on a given Saturday, I can easily fill up a hard drive in no time. I need lots of storage space for my work. But at least this is much easier than storing film negatives! What a pain that used to be!

Most likely in the next few months, I'll be in the market for another 500 GB hard drive. But by that time, I'll bet it will either be cheaper or I'll be able to get more space for the same price. What a deal!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Is This True?

"A good photographer can make a great image with a basic camera, but a great camera can't make a great image in the hands of a poor photographer."

Is this a true statement? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

I'm of the opinion that while a good photographer can perhaps get a great image with a basic camera, having a pro camera with him/her makes it a lot easier! And, a poor photographer can get lucky sometimes and having that great camera with him/her would make that process a lot easier too!

So, what I'm saying is... why not have the great camera with you if you have a choice?

If you gave me a basic camera and said, "Go shoot this wedding with this basic camera," I could probably do it. And, most likely, I'd come back with some very good images too. But think about how many more I could give you if I had that great camera with me! Consider also that I might miss some shots because the camera was too slow. Or that my composition may be off because the lens on the basic camera was too short and I couldn't get close enough.

Now, if you handed that great camera to the poor photographer and said, "Go shoot this wedding with this camera," I think he/she would most likely bring back some mediocre shots and perhaps a couple of great shots mixed in as well. It's possible to get lucky sometimes. Of course, you could also say, "The poor photographer has no business shooting a wedding!" Now that statement is one I'd agree with! lol

A great image is more than just good exposures... there's composition, timing (getting the shot at the right moment), proper focus, proper use of depth of field, shot selection (knowing what to shoot,) and more. It takes a lot to get a great shot. Using a great camera helps get the shot faster and easier, but it doesn't think for you.

So while it's true that perhaps a great photographer can possibly make a great image with a basic camera, it doesn't hurt to make life easier by using a great camera as well.

And keep that poor photographer away from shooting a wedding!

That's my two cents on the matter.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Taylor 614ce

This is the guitar I like to play most when I'm at home relaxing.

The Taylor 614ce "Russ Lowe" model is a 2005 acoustic-electric guitar in the Grand Auditorium cutaway body style with Taylor's exclusive Expression System pickup for amplification. Like other 600 series Taylor guitars, this model has a Sitka Spruce solid top with solid back and sides of Big Leaf Maple. The woods have been bookmatched to highlight the natural flame of the maple. Strings are Elixir NanoWeb Lights.

This guitar has been "modified" as follows:

1. Pickguard Removed
2. Fossilized Walrus Ivory Saddle installed
3. Brass Bridge Pins Installed
4. Ebonoid / Gold Taylor Tuners Installed
5. Custom Truss Rod Cover Installed

The action of the guitar has been optimized for best sound & action.

Taylor makes a great guitar. The sound is bright and airy... just the way I like it. Since this is one of the new "re-voiced" Taylors, the bass response is deeper than some of the older 614ce models. It's a nice balance now for a maple / spruce guitar.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

More Video

I'm currently Photoshopping this wedding and came across this shot and thought it might be nice for the blog. This videographer and I were circling the bride and groom as we were getting our shots. Since his camcorder is on a tripod with a dolly, he's able to get some really smooth video.

It's nice to work with professional people. We can both get our shots and not get in each other's way.

Fun times!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Video At Weddings

This is one of my favorite shots to do whenever there is a professional videographer shooting the wedding. I have a similar image on my main website as well.

Just having the image of the bride and groom in the LCD screen tells the whole story of what's happening. If the shot had just been of the video camera itself, it doesn't say much other than, "Here's a picture of a video camcorder."

This says a lot more. This image was created at last Saturday's wedding.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Getting In The Mood

The Moods invited Saturday's Groom & Groomsmen as well as the Bride and Bridesmaids to sing a song with them. This just proved one thing... there's a showman in everyone! Geneva's Herrington Inn was rockin'!

The guys and gals did a great job and they were really getting into it. No stage fright here! The guys were even getting into the groove with their dance steps. Chitown takes on Motown!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Moods

The Moods

This a one HOT Vocal Group!

I just got back from a wedding and The Moods performed during the reception. These guys are terrific! Backed by just a keyboard player and a bassist along with drum tracks, The Moods really demonstrated what showmanship is all about! Their sound was clean, clear and tight! I was amazed at what just a keyboard and bass could do to back four great singers! I became an instant fan after hearing these guys.

Playing everything from R&B, old Motown tunes, disco and top 40 hits from the 70's, The Moods had great harmony and dance moves! I think everyone at the reception was impressed by their performance! I have not seen such enthusiasm from reception guests in quite a while. They even had the groom & groomsmen and then later the bride and bridesmaids join them on the stage to sing and dance along with them!

I had a chance to hang out with the band during dinner and found out that they have been together for a very long time. Perhaps that is why their vocal harmonies are so perfect. And the keyboardist and bassist are top notch musicians too. Talk about a groove... these guys are simply tight!

If you are looking for a hot band to play at your wedding, I would highly recommend The Moods. Check out their website for more details on them! They get my highest recommendations.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Nikon 105mm f 2.0 DC

Image "borrowed" from

Lenses define image quality.

This Nikon lens is the 105mm f 2.0 DC lens which is often said to be one of the finest portrait lenses in the world. It has a "defocusing" control which allows the user to determine what areas of the image will be "out of focus." For portraits, keeping the subject in focus and throwing the other non-essential background or foreground out of focus really makes the subject "pop" in the image.

Sure, a lens like this is not cheap. But to offer my clients the best images possible, it's worth every penny.

Here is an example of an image with low depth of field. It was taken with a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens. If both persons in the image were in focus, the emphasis of the man in the front would not be as strong. Having the man in the background out of focus pushes the interest to the man in the front.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Here's a traditional "formal" pose. You may recognize this couple on my main website... they are the couple on the ladder and sitting on the grass. Those images were shot last year during their engagement session with me.

Well, they just got married about 3 weeks ago and this is one of their formal poses. I really like this couple because not only do they look good in photos and take direction well, but they are really nice people too!

Formals are traditional, but necessary in my opinion. These are the shots you will most likely want enlarged and placed in a nice frame and put on your desk. Your family is going to want these as well.

Most of the day, I shoot photojournalistically. But I'm always up for a nice formal shot too!

Monday, August 14, 2006

How Do You Do That?

What do you think of this image?

This was taken at last Saturday's wedding. The image was created "in-camera" rather than in Photoshop. Well, Photoshop did help in giving some contrast and also providing the vignetting on the edges of the frame, but the circular light effects were done in the camera.

How was it done? You tell me!

Nice Comments from my Clients!

I have the most amazing clients!

I usually call my brides on the Sunday before their wedding just to go over all the details of their wedding day with them again. Things change over time and it's a good idea to make sure we are all on the same page before showing up to the wedding.

Well, next Saturday's bride told me that she really appreciated reading my blog and that she felt good knowing that I had a genuine interest in the what I do. Well how nice! I hear this all the time from my clients. Others have said that the one thing that they didn't have to worry about on their wedding day was the photography.

Perhaps just knowing that I take my work seriously and that the years of experience behind me helps ease their worries. But it's always nice to consistently hear this comment from my brides!

Thanks to everyone for making my job so much fun!


A Taste Of Honey

Here's a simple image that looks cool... a small honey jar! This was a little gift from my bride & groom from this Saturday's wedding to all their guests.

After shooting hundreds of photos of the reception, I was thinking, "What else have I not photographed?" And there sat this little jar of honey on one of the tables that the guests were sitting at. "Hmmm... I wonder what I can do to make this thing look cool?"

So I went over to the sweet table (which was HUGE, by the way) and saw this nice lighted plant display with this great looking incandescent light glowing from underneath. I placed the small jar next to it and took my shot.

As I was finishing up, the bride came over to me to ask me to take some photos of her and her friends but I'm sure she must have thought I was a little weird looking hunched over this little jar with my camera pressed to my face. Just wait until she gets this photo in her hands... then she'll know why I did that!


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wedding Photographers gather at Gino's East Pizza in Rolling Meadows, IL

What a fun evening! Over 20 wedding photographers from across the US and Canada gathered together to have dinner at Gino's East Pizza in Rolling Meadows. We all shared stories about our wedding experiences and spent the evening just having a good time.

This image was taken of some of the attendees without flash with the Fuji F10 point & shoot digital camera.

Thanks to all who attended! For those who could not make it, perhaps next time!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Nikon D80

Nikon D80
Image "borrowed" from

Well, I was right. Nikon will be dropping the D70s and replacing it with this new camera!

The D80 is a new 10.2 Megapixel DSLR camera most likely designed to compete against the new Sony Alpha A100 camera. The estimated street price of this camera according to the website is $999.95 for the body only or $1299.95 with a 18mm-135mm DX lens. Not too bad!

It's getting interesting lately how manufacturers are trying to "one-up" the next guy. Consumers are going to really be the ones who win in the end. It's hard to remember but just a couple of years ago, we were all still shooting with film. Today, digital rules and it seems almost everyone has some kind of digital camera whether it's a stand-alone model or one built into a cellular phone.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Basic Photography / Wedding Photography Seminars

One of my former brides is really into photography. We have been emailing back and forth for a while now and I've been giving her some hints on equipment choices as well as basic photography ideas.

Well, just today, it dawned on me that I know other people who have also been interested in getting into photography as well. Some are interested in wedding photography and others are just interested in photography in general.

So I thought it might be nice to offer a couple of inexpensive seminars on the following topics:

1. Basic Equipment Choices with Digital SLR cameras
2. Basic Photography Concepts
3. Basic Wedding Photography

If you have an interest in any or all of these topics, send me an email message to let me know of your interest. I can be reached at If there are enough people interested, I may just offer one or more of these seminars. The cost? Still to be determined. But it won't be expensive. I like to teach and this is just more for fun than anything else.

Where? Still to be determined. Perhaps we can use the conference room at the Starbucks in Schaumburg. We'll see... It's got to be somewhere inexpensive so I can keep the cost of "tuition" down.

Let me know soon if you are interested!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Welcome To Chicago - DWF

This Sunday, a BUNCH of wedding photographer friends from across the country are getting together to have dinner at one of our local Chicago pizza places.

Every quarter, our local Chicago wedding photographers group gets together to discuss weddings, photography and other fun topics. But this coming week, many of our friends from the rest of the US and Canada are headed into town for a week-long seminar.

So, we are combining our normal quarterly gathering with our friends from the rest of the US and Canada and having one huge dinner event! This is going to be awesome!

As usual, I'm coordinating this, but I had help from others as to suggestions on where we will go this time.

Thanks to all! See you on Sunday!!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Chicago Skyline

Nothing beats the Chicago Skyline!

I shot this image yesterday during an engagement session with one of my clients. They have a bunch more images besides this, but this one really shows off the skyline.

Where was it taken from? Well, to find out, you'll have to book an engagement session with me or read some of my past posts to get a hint!


Thursday, August 03, 2006

My Own Retaliation Shot

This is the shot I took of Anita right after she shot me for shooting her at work (see yesterday's post.)

After she spun around and took my photo, I fired off another shot of her.

This "back and forth shooting" could have gone on forever, but we had work to do.

It's fun to shoot a wedding where virtually everyone knows who I am and I know everyone by name too.

We also took a family group photo where I placed my camera on a tripod and put on the timer mode. I ran over to the group in time so that I was able to be in the photo as well. Can you locate me below? Asian families can get rather large, don't you think?

For the technical-minded reader, this photo was taken with a single Nikon SB-800 flash modified by a Demb Flash Diffuser Pro set at the "full power" angle. Not bad, huh? I keep losing count, but there are over 70 people in this image.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Congratulations to Gary Fong & Melissa Carl

Just yesterday, legendary wedding photographer Gary Fong and his "girlfriend" Melissa Carl became engaged in Maui, Hawaii. Congratulations!

This was long overdue in my opinion as Gary had been head over heels in love with Melissa for quite a while now. Melissa is also a talented wedding photographer based in Ohio.

The couple met at one of Gary's wedding photography seminars and spent over a year just talking on the phone as friends. Eventually, they started dating and the rest is history.

You may recall that I attended one of Gary's seminars earlier this year, but I've known Gary for a couple of years. We had been emailing each other for a while discussing photography things and also discussing his new light modifier invention, the Lightsphere. You can see a photo of me using it in my avitar in my profile description.

Anyway, Gary is very well known in the industry and has helped numerous wedding photographers with their business model and also their lighting needs by using the Lightsphere. Gary gained a huge following of photographers because of his incredible ability to photograph weddings and create fantastic wedding albums. He's now a multi-millionaire from working as a wedding photographer and from his real estate investments.

Today, Gary travels the world, invents things for photographers to use and enjoys the benefits of being a landlord! He owns multiple properties that he rents out.

Melissa is a talented wedding photographer as well. After meeting Gary, she's accompanied him through many of his adventures. Although based in Ohio, I don't think she's been there that often in the past year. She and Gary stay mostly in Kelowna, Canada or in Seattle, Washington when they are not traveling the world.

Gary was the one who turned me onto the Fuji S3 Pro camera that I have. In fact, he was the one who sold it to me from his own personal camera collection. He's an endorser of Fuji products and rightly so. Their camera's digital image sensor is recognized to be one of the best.

Best Wishes go out to Gary & Melissa as they are now officially engaged.

Wonder who's going to shoot THIS wedding?! Talk about the pressure of doing a good job!! My guess is that it will be at least one of these guys: Denis Reggie, Mike Colon, Joe Bussink or Becker. Each of these photographers are wedding photography legends in their own right and all are friends with the happy couple. We will see if I'm right...

Edit Note: 8/08/06 Gary has announced that Denis Reggie is going to be his bestman, so that takes him out of the running for being the wedding photographer. Denis is known as the "father of wedding photojournalism" and has shot weddings like JFK Jr's. So now we'll have to wait and see if any of the other people I mentioned will end up shooting this wedding!

Double Duty

Image courtesy of Anita

Two Saturday's ago, I helped photograph my nephew's wedding. Like all family events, EVERYONE gets involved. I'm sure you know how it is if you have ever had to plan a wedding before. Literally, it was a multi-day event. People were running all over the place!

Now this is not the first family wedding we have had to deal with. We've done them before. But this was the first time that we had two family members photographing the wedding (my sister-in-law was the "official" wedding photographer at this one and I supplimented her shots with mine.) Several years ago when my niece got married, her uncle from her mom's side photographed the wedding alongside me. I also photographed two of my sister-in-law's weddings in the past, but I did those by myself.

But this was the first time I was asked to give the opening prayer before the reception as well as photograph the wedding. My nephew asked me to do this just moments before it happened.

So that's why you see me still holding my camera and dressed as a "photo ninja" and giving the opening prayer! I thought it was rather funny, so I decided to share this photo with all of you. It was photographed by my sister-in-law, Anita.

The wedding turned out fine and like many Asian weddings, we had a huge banquet afterwards. Fourteen entries were served. Talk about a LOT of food! I think this was one of the rare instances where I didn't have to worry about photographing everything that happened at the wedding since I could count on Anita taking care of many of the shots. Because of this, I got to endulge in all the food while she had to get up and do the table shots and toasts, etc. Man... that felt good.

Image courtesy of Anita

Here is an image of me that Anita shot in retaliation of me photographing her at work.

Everyone knows I can't resist photographing other photographers. Well, with her Nikon camera, Anita was able to fire back quickly to get me. That doesn't happen often at most of my weddings. Typically, guests who try to do this are using "point & shoot" digital cameras and they just can't shoot fast enough to get me before I'm already gone. Not this time... Dueling Cameras!