Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New "Simulated Leather" Albums

A new flushmount album has become available and it's a really nice one!

These albums are less expensive than my standard leather albums and about $100 more than the bordered vinyl albums; but their simulated leather look (ok... it's vinyl too) is much nicer looking and feeling than the older vinyl albums.

These albums have padded and textured vinyl covers and have less of a "sheen" to them compared to the other vinyl albums. The corner edges are rounded too, just like the leather albums. And, because they are true flushmount albums, you can easily put panoramic page spreads on two pages as well! The photos go from page edge to page edge... no borders to mess with. Another nice feature is the gutter (the space between panoramic prints.) It's the smallest spaced gutter I've ever seen... even smaller than the leather albums!

Construction of the albums seem to be very high quality as well.

I think you will really like these albums. For 2008 weddings currently booked, the new 11x14 album has already outsold all other album sizes and types and I haven't even had a demo until now! These albums are available in 10x10, 12x12 and 11x14 sizes. Cost? Well, the large 11x14 album is about the same price of the 10x10 leather album! Keep in mind that a panorama print in an 11x14 album measures 22x14 in size! That's HUGE!

You may be wondering why someone would buy the leather 10x15 album since this album is so great. Well, the leather versions do have advantages. They are a little narrower and a little longer. There is a bunch of leather options (standard leather, glove leather, suede) and a bunch of color options. The vinyl only comes in black, slate or brown. Also the leather album has a front cover cameo option at no additional cost. That's not available on the new albums. And you can specify the gilding color (page edges) on the leather album but not on the new albums. You can also add additional pages to the leather albums if needed, whereas the vinyl albums are only available in 12, 16 and 20 page varieties. Lastly, the leather albums have spray coating protection on the pages. That's an option on the new albums.

So the choice is yours... leather or simulated leather (vinyl). Either way, I think you'll agree that both albums are top notch!

Tale of Two Guitars

On the left is my 2006 Taylor GS-MC (Mahogany Back and Sides / Cedar Top) and on the right is my 2006 R. Taylor Style 1 (East Indian Rosewood Back and Sides / Engelmann Spruce Top.) Although the body shapes are the same, there is a night and day difference in the tone of these two guitars.

It could be argued that the differences in the woods is what is causing a change in the sound, but it's more than just that. This is the third GS guitar I've owned and each one was different. But none of them compared to the richness of tone from the R. Taylor.

The GS-MC (now called the GS5 for 2007) is a warmer sounding guitar than my GS-MS (Maple / Sitka Spruce, currently known as a GS6) or GS8 (Rosewood / Sitka Spruce.) I think it's a great guitar for fingerstyle playing, but it holds its own when strummed as well. Like all GS guitars, the bass response is much better than on other Taylor guitars.

But the R. Taylor - Style 1 guitar is a totally different guitar! It may look similar outside, but it's made differently inside! The bracing is different, the wood quality is higher and from what I've been told by Taylor Guitars, the wood is thinner as well. This guitar projects a lot louder, the mid-frequencies are the best I've ever heard and it has incredible overtones, sustain and string separation! As for bass, well, there's no comparing the quality of the bass to a standard Taylor. The R. Taylor blows them all away! Deep, rich and powerful.

R. Taylor guitars are made by five of Taylor Guitar's top luthiers. Less than five hundred guitars are made each year from this group of artisans and each guitar is hand built. Although a lot of technologies are shared between the regular Taylor line and the new R. Taylors, the limited production R. Taylors get special treatment. The best woods are used on these guitars and hand construction techniques are used to make them as well. This all adds up to guitars that sound different from the main production guitars.

Both guitars have K&K Pure Western Mini pickups installed. The GS-MC has Gotoh 510 Delta 1:21 tuners retrofitted as well. These come standard on the R. Taylor guitars. Both guitars are keepers! At least for now...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tight Squeeze

Every week, I look for images and interesting stories to put up on my blog. This week, this image grabbed my attention.

At Saturday's wedding while heading down the elevator to get to our ride to the church, the bride, one of her attendants and I squeezed into the small elevator in the hotel. I immediately took a quick shot as the attendant was adjusting the bride's dress. Inside the cramped elevator were mirrors all around. I figured it might make an interesting shot because we'd be able to see the bride's face in the mirror. But not only do we see the bride, but you can clearly see me taking the photo! Not often do you see me in any photos... so to see me at work is something that's very rare.

On occasion, a guest will try to take my photo. It seems they like seeing me at work and try their best to photograph the photographer. When that happens, I usually turn quickly and take a shot of them, taking a shot of me. It's just a little retaliation on my part!

This shot is interesting though. I caught myself while working!

Two other things made this wedding stand out.

While heading to the church in the rented trolley car, a car tried to turn left in front of the trolley and almost hit us! At the last moment, the trolley driver swerved and we missed the car. I was ready to take photos of the impending accident, but never got the chance.

Also, while at the reception, one of the priests came up to me to tell me that he appreciated the fact that I was very unobtrusive at the wedding. "I hardly knew you were there and I appreciate you making the effort to not disturb the ceremony!" (It was a LONG Catholic ceremony!) How nice! I was really touched to hear that because many photographers have been blasted by the clergy lately for being such trouble at weddings! I thanked the priest and told him how much I appreciated his comment.

It was a fun time shooting on Saturday for a very nice couple. I'm lucky to have such wonderful clients!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Truth About Wedding Photography - Anyone Can Shoot It!

There. I said it.

It's TRUE! Anyone with a camera can shoot a wedding!

Let's say your friends just bought a new Nikon D80 camera. Better yet... let's say they spent the money and got themselves a new Nikon D200. And, they splurged and bought one of the fancy 17-55mm f2.8 DX lenses to go with it. And, to top it off, they got themselves a Nikon SB-800 flash with a nice diffuser too.

Wow! They must be really able to shoot your wedding right? After all, they have the same basic gear that many wedding photographers use. Same camera, same lens, same flash. Oh, and they bought plenty of Compact Flash cards too, so they can shoot 2000 or more images as well!

But to be safe, you went ahead and contacted a couple of professional photographers. Wow, that guy is going to charge you $2500 to shoot the wedding! And then, another guy had the nerve to say it would cost $5000 to shoot the wedding and to make an album! Are they crazy? The whole camera system doesn't even cost $5000!

So you decide that perhaps your friend with the new fancy camera can do just as good of a job. And you don't expect him to do this for free... so you offer to pay him $1000 for his time and effort. That's more than fair right? You had checked out Craigslist and found some "pro" photographers offering to shoot weddings for $500. So giving your friend $1000 is more than fair!

In this case, I would agree with you. Paying him $1000 is very fair! It's twice what some guys will do it for and they are in business to do this! Your friend is getting double and he's not really doing this professionally.

Ok. So your friend shoots the wedding, goes home and puts the images on Photoshop Elements and fixes some of the shots that did not come out too well and then prints up 4x6 images of all the photos and gives them to you. What? They don't look as good as you thought they would? Why is that? He's got the same camera, same lens, same flash, lots of Compact Flash cards to get lots of shots, but it still doesn't really look that good? Something's not right here. What is it?

Lack of experience! Lack of artistic vision! Lack of technical expertise!

Now you know why some of these wedding photographers are charging $2500 or $5000 or more for a wedding. What you are paying for is not the camera. You are paying for their ability to give you quality images and quality albums based on their professional abilities.

Anyone with a camera can shoot a wedding. But would you really want them to?


Every now and then my daughter and I find a "stuffed animal" at a store that grabs our interest. But on a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry, we didn't find a stuffed animal, but this guy caught our attention instead.

Anyone want to explain the Theory of Relativity?

Monday, September 17, 2007

"Before and After" - Lincolnshire Marriott



In the daylight, the fountain at the Lincolnshire Marriott looks pretty good. At night, it takes on a whole different look!

Time exposure shots are lots of fun to do, but requires either a tripod and a remote shutter release or something to lean against and a steady hand. For this shot, it was the latter.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Hey, Take Our Picture!"

While wandering around outside late at night trying to scout out some additional locations that I could photograph my bride and groom, I was approached by these two ladies who ask me to take their picture.

So I said, "Well, give me a good pose!"

This is what they came up with.

Sometimes you just get lucky! I find that without telling people how to pose, sometimes they surprise you and come up with some good ones on their own. Too often, photographers don't let their subjects try different poses on their own. I always try to let people pose themselves first. If they don't come up with something good, then I'll suggest something. But in this case, I just didn't need to do that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another New Blog Name

Once again, I've changed the name of my blog!

After reviewing the topics I discuss most, I found that it comes down to just a few things: Photography, Weddings and Guitars! So ok... perhaps there isn't a Lot More like the name implies, but that just leaves it open for me to be able to add more if I want! :)

Those three topics seem to be my favorite, so I figured I should name the blog after them!

My faithful visitors also seem to be from three catagories as well... current and potential wedding clients, photographers and musicians! Well, ok... a bunch of friends and relatives who don't fall into those three catagories visit often too.

Don't worry... things haven't changed concerning the blog... just the name.

Carry on!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Texas Guitar Show - St. Charles, IL

Today, I attended the "Texas Guitar Show" which was being held at the DuPage Expo Center in St. Charles, IL. It runs Sept 8 and 9.

My friends Jim and Alicia got there before me and had already purchased a "Lefty" Taylor DDSM (Doyle Dykes Signature Model) and a Fender acoustic guitar amp!

This is one of the nicest DDSM's I've ever seen! This guitar has got incredible Quilted Maple on it's back and sides!

Alicia met Doyle earlier this year at one of his Taylor workshops at Sam Ash Music in Lombard, IL (see my May 17, 2007 post about Doyle and Haley.) So now she owns one of his guitars!

Ironically, I had recently sold my DDSM and got an email message from Doyle yesterday about it! Don't worry, Doyle has forgiven me for that.... NOT! :)

The show was really interesting. I've never been to one of these kinds of shows. But from what Jim tells me, the show in Arlington, TX is much larger. Still, it was fun to go see all of these guitars in one huge room! I was surprised to see people buying guitars with CASH! Wow... that's a lot of $20 bills!

To see more photos from the show, click here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sometimes a Windy Day Isn't So Bad

While taking photos outside, we were hit with a sudden gust of wind.

Instead of just waiting until the wind died down, I decided to keep shooting. The movement of the dress and the bride's hair gave some "action" to what would typically be a static posed shot.

Sometimes having a little wind isn't such a bad thing...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Chu-Ske The Mouse Fighter

My nephew gave me the trading card on top because he knew I liked Bruce Lee.

The trading card is Chu-Ske, the Mouse Fighter. According to the card, Chu-Ske is "A fiery mouse, travelling the world to become the strongest fighter in the world of mice. Be careful not to touch him, or you will get burned."

This card is from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game by Konami. The kids like playing and trading with these cards. When I was younger, we had baseball cards. But I also had James Bond cards (still have some from the movie Thunderball) and Batman cards (my brother has these) and also Star Trek cards! We'd buy these card packs at the local store and trade them with our friends.

As we would go through our cards, we'd say things like, "Got 'em, got 'em, need 'em, got 'em..."

Anyone collecting baseball cards will always remember the lousy stick of gum that came with the cards. A couple of chews of the gum and that thing would turn rock hard and all the flavor would be gone. (Wasn't that good to begin with!) Yuck! Still, we bought the cards, chewed the gum and then stuck the cards in the spokes of our bicycles by holding them there with clothes pins attached to the front and rear forks of our bikes. That was how we got the cool "motorcycle" sounds when we rode our bikes.

Man, those were the days!