Thursday, March 29, 2007

Where's George?

Years ago, I received a dollar bill which had been stamped with a “Where’s George” mark on it. I logged into and entered the serial number of the bill and found that the bill had traveled across the country!

Recently, I received another bill and decided to enter it in as well. This bill hasn’t gone very far according to the site. But it’s always possible that it has exchanged hands many times but nobody bothered to enter it into the system.

I can’t give you the full serial number or the series number of this bill because if you logged in and tried to track my bill, it would throw off the log. But keep an eye out for your own bills that might be marked like this. Then log in and track your bill!

By the way, I only photographed half of the dollar bill. Don’t want to be blamed for counterfeiting! To do that, I’d have to photograph the bill in its entirety and at the same size. Did you know that you can photograph currency as long as it is above or below a certain percentage of the original size without being considered a counterfeiter? Regardless, I didn’t want to do that…

Batman - The 1966 Movie

Back in 1966, the original "Batman" movie hit the theaters.

Many of my friends told me that they were NOT going to go see the movie. Why? They didn't want to be known as kids who liked something as childish as BATMAN! Well guess what? When my brother and I went to the theater to go see the movie, guess who we saw at the movie theater too? Yes... there they were... the kids who said they wouldn't be going to the movie!

Adam West and Burt Ward were the first Batman and Robin. The TV series had a lot of great villans including the ones shown above: The Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman and The Joker. So when the movie came out and all of these villains were in the movie at the same time, it just HAD to be great!

I have seen the Batman movie many times on TV over the years. And of course when it was available on DVD, I just had to get it! Besides, I bought it for only $5.99, so how could I go wrong?

If you've never seen this Batman movie, I'd highly recommend it. It's so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh at it. The later versions of Batman are more close to how Batman is portrayed in the comic books. But this version of Batman is the one I like the most because that's what I grew up with.

Go buy it, rent it or borrow it!
Note: Images shown here are promotional images from the movie - BATMAN: THE MOVIE © 1966 Greenlawn Productions Inc. and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Bruce Lee

Recognize this guy?

I was a huge Bruce Lee fan in the 60's and 70's (still am.) I recall when "The Green Hornet" came out on TV, I was totally mezmorized whenever Bruce Lee was on the screen. He played Kato on the show and he had an amazing fighting style that I had never seen before on TV. Too bad the series didn't last long...

Then, back in the mid-70's, I was introduced to Tae Kwon Do by a high school friend named Pete. Pete was really into Tae Kwon Do and a few months after he started taking lessons, I signed up at a local Tae Kwon Do school and took lessons too. During our lunch hour at school, Pete and I would sneak into the gym's wrestling area to practice. He attended a different Martial Arts school than I did, but that was ok because that gave us different things to share with each other. Later, other Martial Arts students joined us and we'd all sneak into the gym to practice. Luckily, the high school never found out because I'm sure they would have stopped us. Liability, you know...

I recall when the movie, "Enter The Dragon" came out, I went to see it on opening day with my dad and brother. We were among the first to see the movie and we even got movie posters because of that. After our first screening of the movie, I went to see the movie again with Pete, my brother and another friend named Steve. This was Steve's first time seeing a Bruce Lee movie but the rest of us had seen other Bruce Lee movies before and we were all huge fans. So before the movie started, Pete said to Steve, "Hey... do you want to stay and watch the movie twice through?" Steve just looked at him like he was crazy.

Well, after the movie finished, Pete turned to Steve and asked, "Hey, do you want to stay and watch the movie again?" To our surprise, Steve said, "Sure!" Apparently, he became a Bruce Lee fan too!

I've seen "Enter The Dragon" many times over the years. It's still my favorite movie. I've seen it so much that I think I can recite most of the lines in the movie!

I have an uncle on my mother's side who actually trained with Bruce Lee back in Hong Kong. Back then, Bruce was learning Wing Chun Gung Fu from Sifu Yip Man. My uncle remembers working out with Bruce and I thought it was really cool that I knew someone who actually practiced with him. By the way, KUNG FU is really pronouced "Gung Fu" in Chinese. I think the name got "westernized" and turned into Kung Fu... Also, Sifu means "teacher" in Chinese.

I'm still into Martial Arts. I think it's a great form of exercise and it has a practical application as well for self defense.

I think I'll go watch "Enter The Dragon" now... Let's see... how many times does that make it??
Edit Note: Oh... had to mention... there was an episode of "Batman" on TV in which The Green Hornet and Kato appeared on the show. In one scene, Batman was fighting the Green Hornet (ok... perhaps evenly matched) and Robin was fighting Kato. NO WAY was Robin a match for Kato!!! But of course, since it was Batman's show, they made it look like Robin and Kato were evenly matched. I don't think ANYBODY could have believed that Robin was an even match against Kato! I'm still steamed over that to this day! LOL

Monday, March 26, 2007

White Balancing with the Expodisc

The Expodisc is a device that can be used to correct white balance for digital photography. When placed over the front of your camera lens, it allows you to create a "custom white balance" for your camera so that any image created on your camera in the same lighting condition set with the Expodisc will be perfectly white balanced.

Essentially, the Expodisc sets a reference for the camera as to what pure white light should be, based on the light that is traveling into the lens. This reference then is the new standard white as far as the camera is concerned. So as long as you take any photograph in the same lighting conditions, the light will be perfectly balanced. But the moment you move to another lighting condition, you need to re-balance your camera for the new light.

A very similar result can come from using three white coffee filters held in front of the lens to set the custom white balance in your DSLR camera (Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera.) The white coffee filters are not calibrated like the white surface of the Expodisc, but it's very close.

The Expodisc's front surface (seen on the left photo) also has a prism-like glass which spreads the light out evenly across the entire front surface of the disc. This helps get a good reading when taking a white balance reading while doing a custom white balance with your camera. You can't do that with the three white coffee filter trick.

This is just another way to correct the colors in digital photography. It takes some effort to get good photos, but it's worth it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another New Blog Name!

Ok, I'll admit I have one of the strangest Photography Blogs for a photographer.

I cover not only wedding photography, but also forensic science, music and other things that interest me.

Many other photographers check out my blog and I'm always asked, "What Does THAT Have To Do With Photography?" So I figured, that would be a good name for my blog!

Personally, I like blogs that have some variety to them. I think if all I ever did was post images of recent weddings I photographed, it would only interest new brides. I want more than just brides visiting my site. Besides, I have more interests than just wedding photography.

If you are a client or a potential client of mine, you'll get to know me better if you check out my blog. You'll find I enjoy other things besides photography although that is the topic most discussed on this blog.

Keep checking my blog weekly. I update it usually on Mondays and Thursdays, but when something interesting comes up, I'll do updates on other days as well.

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Photography Lesson: White Balancing Ambient Light Photos

Unbalanced Lighting Vs. Balanced Lighting

Have you ever taken a photo with a digital camera without a flash and found the color of the image to be way off?

Sometimes the light creates a color cast that is too orange or perhaps too green or too blue. This is because the color temperature of each light source is different.

If you take a photo without a flash and your main lights in the room are from standard incandescent light bulbs, the photo could look all orange. If you adjust for the incandenscent lights and outside sun light comes in from a window, that light can look blue. And, if you take a photo where there are flourescent light fixtures, those photos may look green.

So how to you adjust for this?

One of the easiest way is to color correct your images in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. By using a simple gray card or white card, you can adjust the color balance so that the images will look correct.

The two photos above show the use of a device called the WhiBal. With this gray/white/black card, you can quickly color-correct any image using Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. A simple click on the card and the image will be color corrected. And, you can apply this corrected information to any other image shot under the same lighting condtions within that room.

What you do is take one shot with the WhilBal held out in front of you. By referencing all images taken with the same lighting conditions in the same room, you can make all images match the same reference standard.

There are other ways to color balance an image, but this is one of the fastest ways to do it. The WhiBal card shown above is one of their older models. Current WhiBal cards use a single card rather than three. But the concept of how to correct the color-shift is the same.

Is it worth the effort to do this? I think it is.

Monday, March 19, 2007

OK... Does he look like Homer Simpson?

For years, my family and I have been watching the NBC Show Crossing Jordan.

All these years, I have said that Miguel Ferrar looks exactly like Homer Simpson from the cartoon series The Simpsons. Ferrar plays Chief Medical Examiner, Garret Macy on the show.

Am I wrong? Check out a photo of him on

Miguel Ferrar is the son of actor Jose Ferrar and singer Rosemary Clooney.

Come on... check it out and then post a comment on my blog to let me know if I'm crazy or if I'm right. I don't think it takes much to agree with me here. He looks like Homer Simpson!! LOL

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Zoom Effects

Michael Burks at Buddy Guy's Legends

You can tell I had a great time last Saturday taking photos of Michael Burks and his band. Why else would I post so many pictures of it here? LOL

This "Zoom" technique is quite simple. Take a long exposure shot at your zoom's longest focal length and then as you click the shutter, turn the zoom on your Zoom Lens towards your widest focal length and voila! Instant "cool" picture!

Try it yourself! Be sure to click on the image to get a closer look.

The Importance of Blogging

Recently, I received an email from my aunt who told me that she keeps up on what's happening in my life by reading my blog. Well, that's really cool!

I try to keep my blog interesting by posting about things like photography techniques, past forensic cases and other things that I think my audience would be interested in reading. But sometimes I do go a little deeper and give some insights on how I think. Kind of like this post! :)

Some photographers simply keep their blogs professional and only post about recent weddings or photo assignments they have done. That's ok. But I think a blog should be a little more than that. If a blog's audience is only intended for potential clients and clients, then perhaps that is the right thing to do. But for me, I have people from all over the world checking this out every week. Obviously, these people will never be my clients... they live too far away! But with my StatCounter, I can tell where people are in the world, how often they come to visit and how long they stay on-line. And with this information, I know that many people around the world come here often!

So, to keep it interesting to them, I post a little of everything... professional interests, personal interests, and the obscure as well.

If you read my blog often, I'm glad you are here. And for the new people who check my blog out, please bookmark it and come back again. I enjoy keeping up my blog and it does take a little effort to try to keep it fresh, especially during the "off season" when weddings aren't happening during the winter months. So for those of you who have stayed with me for so long, I give you my thanks!

Monday, March 12, 2007

One More Time...

I thought I'd post another image from this past Saturday's event at Buddy Guy's Legends.

This image was taken from the side of the stage and shows Michael Burk's band. I thought this was an interesting image as it shows the audience as well as the band. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. Again, this image was taken on the Fuji S5 Pro camera and shot in RAW format.


Opening Act - L.V. Banks & His Swinging Blues Band

L.V. Banks & His Swinging Blues Band performed at Buddy Guy's Legends just before Michael Burks last Saturday. Another excellent performer!

This image was shot in JPG rather than RAW on the Fuji S5 Pro. This was taken with a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens set at f 3.2. Shutter speed on the camera was 1/30 second and the ISO was 3200.
The Fuji S5 pro seems to do just as well in JPG as in RAW. Be sure to click on the image to get a closer look.

Michael Burks at Buddy Guy's Legends - Images taken at ISO 3200!

Saturday night, my good friends Jim and Alicia invited me to go with them to see their friend, Alligator Records' recording artist, Michael Burks perform at Buddy Guy's Legends club. I jumped at the chance to go since I had not seen Jim and Alicia since last June's guitar get-together (see the June 2006 archives on my blog) and also I figured it would give me a chance to try out my new Fuji S5 pro camera in an ambient light situation.
I set the Fuji in manual and shutter priority modes and set my shutter to 1/30 sec. with an aperture of f 2.8 on my Nikon 70-200mm f 2.8 VR lens. The camera was set at ISO 3200... the highest ISO setting available for high sensitivity shooting on the Fuji S5. Dynamic Range on the camera was set at 400%. Neat Image noise reduction was applied to the first image in the photos above but not to the other two.
Wow! I'm impressed. Although ISO 3200 gave some noise, it's a lot lower than I thought it would be. The full-resolution files look great! These images on the blog of course have been downsized for web viewing, but if you click on each image, you'll see that the images hold up quite well.
As for Saturday's performance by Michael Burks, well all I can say is that he has a new fan in me! Wow! He was absolutely incredible! His band is ultra tight and the sound was fantastic! I'm impressed with the versatility of this performer. As I was not familiar with him until Saturday, I did not know what to expect. But Michael's performances of his own material was riveting and when he broke into covers of songs like Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" and a medley of Carlos Santana tunes which included "Oye Coma Va" and "Black Magic Woman," I was blown away. Inventive and fast is all I can say... this guy can play the guitar and sing!
Alligator Record's president was on hand that evening and since Jim and Alicia knows Michael and the band, we were given VIP seating in the area reserved for the performers. It was cool to hang out with the band and not have to stand to watch. The place was packed and that's how it should be for this performer. But even with VIP seating, I was all over the place taking shots... just like I do for a wedding!
If you ever get a chance to see Michael Burks perform, do it. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Thanks to Jim and Alicia for another great evening!
To see more images, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Flying Off Into The Sunset

Image Courtesy of Gina Formella

While vacationing in Florida, Gina Formella, one of my brides from 2005 photographed this incredible image of a flock of birds flying off into the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Gina is an avid photographer and besides having been one of my clients from the 2005 wedding season, she has also taken one of my photography workshops as well. You can read the testimonial that she wrote for me on my website at regarding her wedding and also her experience of taking one of my workshops.

After her wedding, Gina kept in contact with me and we have exchanged numerous emails about photography. I’m always happy to be contacted by my clients both present and past and it is especially fun when they share a love of photography as well.

Gina has learned well and is applying the things she’s learned in her photography. It’s such a joy to see your students do well and I’m very proud of her. Looking at this photo, you can see how good she is getting at her craft!

Gina used a Nikon D70s camera which set the shutter speed at 1/500 sec to stop the action and a Tamron 17-50mm f 2.8 lens set at 48mm with an aperture of f11. The smaller aperture gives a good depth of field and sharpness. The combination of a fast shutter speed and smaller aperture was enough to keep the sun from being too bright and helped create a nice orange glow. Be sure to click on the image to get a closer look at the birds.

Go Gina!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Fuji S5 Pro Camera has arrived

The Fujifilm S5 Pro 12.3 MP digital camera has finally arrived! I was among the first in the USA to receive this camera and it's great!

The camera is built on the Nikon D200 body with the firmware and image sensor from Fuji. Fuji is well known for its excellent image sensor's ability for great colors, high sensitivity and wide dynamic range. What this means is that the camera will be able to work in very low light and very bright light. This is critical for wedding photography work since photos are taken often in dark churches without flash and in bright sunlight. Not many cameras have this ability with low digital noise. But the new S5 does. And because the body is actually a Nikon body, all of my great Nikon lenses can be used on this Fuji camera.

Last year, I shot weddings with both the Fuji S3 Pro camera and two Nikon D200 cameras. What happened to the S4? Rumor has it that Fuji skipped the designation of the F4 camera because the Japanese word for FOUR sounds like the word for "death" and that's something they did not want to have associated with their cameras!

Well this new Fuji S5 is identical to the Nikon D200 in virtually all aspects of operation since it's really the identical body. Fuji buys the body from Nikon. But the image sensor is where it's all at. The camera has already shown that it can handle just about any situation I can give it. The noise levels from the camera at ISO 1600 is probably as low as what I can notice on ISO 400 on a D200. And, this camera can even go to ISO 3200! Although noiser than ISO 1600, it's still very acceptable if I'm required to use it.

I'm impressed with this camera. Even shot in JPG rather than RAW (formats of digital capture) the images are near perfect! This means my post production time to manipulate an image after photographing it will be reduced. I have found that the colors are almost spot on and need very little or no corrections right out of the camera. Exposure seems perfect too because the meter is very accurate.

This is going to be a fun year for weddings!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My First Crime Scene

It's been a while since the last "Forensics" post, so I thought I'd tell you all about the first crime scene I ever went out on.

I was working at the San Diego Police Department's Crime Lab and we got assigned to check out the scene of a recent rape in the Pacific Beach area. There had been a string of these rapes occuring and this was the latest victim.

I went out with one of our Sex Crimes detectives and one of the Evidence Technicians from our field services unit. I wasn't sure what to expect since I was so "green" at all of this. But I do know I was very excited to go out on my first crime scene.

Well, the victim was still there when we arrived. That was something I was a little surprised about. I knew I was not allowed to say anything to her as it was the job of the detective to do so. She was sitting in her living room with one of the female officers called to the scene.

While the detective was interviewing her, I worked with the evidence technician collecting evidence from the crime scene. We collected bedsheets and other objects from her room and also dusted the window area (the point of entry) and other items for fingerprints.

As we were working, one of the local TV news crews pulled up and started taping. As this was my first crime scene, I made sure to turn on my videotape recorder when I got home to record whatever broadcast about the incident I could find. It was interesting to see myself walking around the crime scene on TV.

Since I was only interning at the time, I still had classes to take at school when I wasn't working at the police department. I was one of only two students lucky enough to land an internship with the San Diego Police Department. We were both recommended for the jobs by the head of our school's Administration of Justice department. The other intern was assigned to the latent print unit. But I was lucky and got assigned to the evidence technician's unit. Because of that, I got to go on all the call outs while the other student was delegated to stay at the lab comparing fingerprints. Yeah, I had a much "cooler" job! At least in my opinion.

Any way, the next day, a bunch of my classmates came up to me to tell me they had seen me on TV. Everyone got a big kick out of it because it was so interesting to see one of us on TV. Well, after many crime scenes over the course of the year, I could be seen walking around crime scenes on TV or hanging around discussing strategy with the detectives. Yeah, I was the "celebrity" of our school... at least for our Adminstration of Justice department.

I still have a tape of the broadcasts of various crime scenes I worked. I made sure I turned on the VCR whenever I was out or I had my wife do it so I could watch the broadcast later. It's been a while since I've seen that tape, so perhaps I'll pull it out soon to watch it and get a good laugh. It is kind of funny to see me walking around these crime scenes.

As for the series of rapes in Pacific Beach, we eventually caught the guy. He had a habit of watching the women he intended to rape and then waiting for the cover of the night before breaking into their homes to rape them. In this particular case, the victim left her window open because it was a hot night. That's how he got in.

Lesson learned? NEVER leave your window open at night... especially if you live on the first floor of a building.

About a year and a half later, I graduated at the top of my class with Associates Degrees in both Evidence Technology and in Pre-Law / Court Management and worked for the Chula Vista Police Department and then subsequently was hired by the San Diego District Attorney's Office. (My Bachelor's degree is in Electronics Engineering... totally unrelated to crime scene work, but helpful in my job cleaning up audio evidence for court. More on that for another post...)

The interesting part was that the detective I had worked with on this particular case eventually retired from SDPD and was hired by the DA's office and he became one of our DA Investigators. It seems that many of the detectives became DA investigators after leaving the police department. So we got to work many more cases together at the DA's office. But I'll never forget my first case with him! Nobody ever forgets their first case.

Is It Film Or Is It Digital?

This is a page from one of my sample albums. Was this shot on film?

Actually, these are individual images that were shot digitally and then combined into "fake" filmstrips. Just goes to show you that not everything you see is what you think it is! Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

This is just a different way to show the wedding processional.

To see more cool album images, you'll have to check out my actual sample albums... make an appointment with me today to discuss your wedding!