Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's New??

Well, wedding season is upon us and so things are gearing up for this year's photography.

Again, I'll be shooting with my awesome Nikon D3 along with two Fuji S5 Pro's backing it up. The D3 continues to amaze me with it's high quality resolving power. Couple the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens to it and it does just about anything you want! And for those "long shots" often needed at the ceremony, the 70-200mm f2.8 VR is always ready!

So where are all the wedding photos? Well, I made the decision a while ago to reserve my blog for things other than just weddings to keep the blog fresh and interesting. Sure, I'll post an occasional wedding photo on here, but this blog has gone WAY BEYOND just wedding clients today. Early on, most of my blog viewers were just brides and grooms. No longer. When I check my blog stats, I am getting people from all over the world checking in weekly. And, I get to see what interests them too, and most of it pertains to things like guitars, and photography in general. Lots of photographers check in here and for that, I'm glad.

While my clients still visit my blog, it doesn't seem to be the only thing that draws them to me. That's actually good. Some photographers rely solely on their blog to get them business. By showing only the best photos of the wedding day, they look like "rock stars." But I learned long ago that you need to see a full day's work to know what you are really getting in the end and that's why my clients usually make their decisions to hire me based on seeing my samples in my office as well as meeting with me, not just looking at the blog photos. Half the battle in getting good wedding photography is relating to your photographer and you can't get that from a blog post. Only in direct meetings with your photographer will you really know if you match together. Working with the photographer you like will be the thing that results in quality photographs of the wedding day. I can't emphasize that enough.

In the "slow season" (aka, non-wedding months), I've been filling my time by teaching. In the past, I usually stop teaching during the wedding months, but I don't think I'll be doing that this year. I'm going to continue teaching. While I can't always teach on a Saturday as we approach the summer months, I can still teach on Sundays and also during the weekdays. It seems my help is needed all the time from both new photographers as well as more seasoned photographers and so I've decided to keep going. It's just as exciting to me to teach as it is for my students to learn. So if you or some friends of yours needs some photography or Photoshop help, let me know!

So with all that's happening in the coming months, you'll most likely read and see things that interest me and hopefully will interest you as well during the summer. And as always, feel free to let me know what you'd like to see and read. I appreciate your feedback!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Window Cleaning


Can you do this?

While these guys were not particularly that high up when I took this photo, they were just moments before. My office building has 10 floors to it, so this has got to be relatively "easy" for them. (It would be totally "hard" for me!) But can you imagine having to do a huge high-rise building downtown? No way! I could never do this. Can you? No scaffolds for these guys... they just hang off the building with ropes! Be sure to click on each photo for a closer look. (Edit note: To see how tall this building actually is, see the photo from the June 4, 2009 post above.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Frog Test


My aunt sent this test to me recently... do not click on the picture above, Click Here instead after reading this entire post.

This is said to be a second grade computer test given in China. You are supposed to switch the frogs to the opposite side in 2 minutes or less. You can move frogs one at a time or jump over one frog at a time.

Can you do it? Give it a try and time yourself and then post your time in the comments section of this post. If you can't do it and need the solution, click on the comments section and you can read the solution I've posted there.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How Is The Economy Affecting Wedding Photography?

I get asked this question a lot lately.

Well, like any other business, the economy is definitely affecting the wedding industry and wedding photographers. While it may be true that people will still get married even in a lousy economy, it is also true that people are more careful in how they spend their money for their weddings. Budgets are tightening up!

It's not unusual to hear potential clients say, "I'll sacrifice unnecessary items for my wedding, but I still want the best photography I can get." That's most likely because they know that after everything is over and done with, the photos are one of the only things they will have to remember how their day went. Years from now, they can turn back to the photos to re-live the day.

Today, wedding couples are looking for a good photographer, but also they are looking for a good deal. I can't say that I blame them. Times are tight for everyone and you want the best you can get for your money.

There are two ways to save on your wedding photography. You can hire a less experienced wedding photographer who often will photograph weddings for less... or you can hire a seasoned professional wedding photographer and ask for a more modest package.

For my business, I'm finding that clients coming in today are asking for the more modest packages. While I do still get people coming in and booking higher priced packages, it is not as common as it was even just a year ago. This is how the economy is affecting my business. To make the same income this year, I have to photograph more weddings to make up for the loss of income due to smaller packages. That's ok. We all have to do what we have to do to make a living. I'm just glad people are still willing to hire experienced photographers and get smaller packages rather than going the route of hiring inexperienced photographers just to save a buck.

Still, there are those whom I have been in contact with who have told me that even my least expensive package is more than they are willing to spend and then they seek out the photographers in the lower price ranges. Their photography budgets? Under $500. That's really a shock. I always wonder if they have ever done a little math before asking if a professional photographer can help do their wedding for under $500. Even if the photographer were to photograph one wedding every weekend of the year, his annual income would only be $26,000 gross. That doesn't include taxes taken out or operating expenses. Think about that... can a pro do this full time if he only charges $500 per wedding?

My suggestion about how to be smart with your wedding budget is to cut back on items that may not be as necessary rather than sacrifice your wedding photography itself. Don't order the most expensive album or the largest album if your budget can't handle it. Hire the experienced photographer, but perhaps ask for less hours of coverage, or perhaps get a smaller album. And if the budget is really tight, just hold off on the album until next year. The key is to get the images taken correctly in the first place. Then after the wedding, you may find that you have some wedding gift money which could help pay for an album or a larger album. Book the right photographer first... don't skimp and hire the inexperienced photographer just to save a buck. Often, it's just not worth taking that chance.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nikon FE - Years of Wedding Use


This Nikon FE camera has worked a lot of weddings! It's my wife's camera really, but after getting married, I took it from her.

When I first started photographing weddings in 1990, this was the camera I used. It's a camera capable of shutter speed priority, but I usually used it on manual mode. Really, a Nikon FM would have probably been better for wedding use as the FM allows for Aperture Priority. But it really didn't matter. Manual shooting was the norm for me back then and using a Nikon FE along with my trusty Minolta light meter, I was fully capable of taking care of business.

Today, the Nikon FE doesn't see any action. I haven't shot a single frame of film in many years since going to digital. And, like my old Canon AE-1 Program, this camera weighs "nothing" compared to my current Nikon D3.

By the way, the Nikon FE still works perfectly!

While I used the Nikon FE for weddings, I used a Nikon FM2 for my work in law enforcement. I had a power-winder on my FM2 which also helped me in holding the camera as well. Today's cameras have "built-in" grips which make holding cameras a lot easier. But older cameras like the FE and FM2 do not have any grips and you can easily drop the camera if you are not careful.

I used this Nikon FE with a Stroboframe R7 flash bracket along with a Sunpak 622 flash. Together, it was a monster of a rig. While my current camera is pretty heavy, it is more compact than my older rig with that Stroboframe bracket. Today's photographers often go without a flash bracket, but for me, a bracket is nice to have to keep shadows behind the subject. It's a nicer look in my opinion.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Play It Again... The Fairlanes Reunion










The Fairlanes have been playing together since 1979. Over the years, there have been various band member changes... but on Saturday, May 9, 2009, several of the past members joined with current members to play at Bogies Ale House restaurant in Mount Prospect.

I had photographed The Fairlanes back in March (see my March 22, 2009 post) but always felt that I could have done better. The lighting was extremely dark at Gino's East that evening and I could not move around too easily there. So when I found out that The Fairlanes would be providing their own lighting for this reunion gig, I promised them and myself that I would photograph them again.

As before, the band did a wonderful job playing songs from the 50's to the 80's. But having some of their past bandmates join in really made it special.

Bogies restaurant is actually a converted barn. The silo is still next to the building too! The restaurant was formerly called The Loft, but in recent years, the restaurant went through some major renovations and the name was changed to Bogies. It's a nice venue.

To see more photos from the reunion gig, click here and to go the Events section. There is a slideshow function on the site which you can activate by clicking on "View Catagory Slideshow" located in the upper right side of the page.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My First "Good" Camera


In the early 1980's I bought a Canon AE-1 Program camera to take on a trip to Hawaii.

The AE-1 Program was one of the first cameras (if not the first) to offer a "program" mode. Essentially, the camera made the decision as to what the photo should look like. While this was an innovative feature, I found myself wanting more.

The AE-1 Program could also shoot in shutter speed priority mode. I get to choose the shutter speed and the camera would choose the aperture of the lens. This is great for sports shooting where you might want to decide how fast the shutter speed needs to be to stop the action. But trying to do anything where you determined the depth of field, you could not do it automatically. It lacked the aperture priority capabilities. So to shoot where I could determine the depth of field in a shot, I had to do it manually.

My AE-1 Program camera still works. It's a great 35mm film camera. But I don't shoot film today, so it just sits around looking pretty. By the way, this camera barely weighs anything. Comparing its heft to my Nikon D3, the D3 weighs like a heavy brick!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

(Images "borrowed" from the Internet)


(Images "borrowed" from the Internet)
Alright... I'm on a roll... so here's another restaurant for you!

The San Diego Chicken Pie Shop is another real treat. I recall going to this restaurant many times with my wife when we lived in San Diego! While there are other things to order at this restaurant, we always ordered the Pie Dinner.

This is nothing fancy. It's basically just a pot pie with gravy on it and you get mashed potatos, a roll with butter, mixed vegatables (peas, corn and carrots), coleslaw and a slice of pie or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. And all this is very reasonably priced as well. Some people can't stand this place. But for me, it's great. Basic food. It's almost like food you can get just out of your own freezer, microwave it and eat it. But the Chicken Pot Pies are freshly made and so much better than that.

There are mixed reviews on this one compared to The Green Fly (see below), but if you aren't a fussy eater and you want something that reminds you of the 50's... try this place in San Diego!

Ok... I'm done putting up San Diego restaurant reviews for the night! :)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Green Fly - Las Cuatro Milpas - San Diego

(All Images "borrowed" from the Internet)





(All images "borrowed" from the internet)

I just had to post this one and I can't wait until Thursday.

When I think of authentic Mexican food, the first place I think of is Las Cuatro Milpas in Barrio Logan in San Diego. This place is affectionately known to local law enforcement diners as "The Green Fly."

I was working at the San Diego Police Department back in the early 1990's and my supervisor, Gary Avery, took me to "The Green Fly" for lunch. With a name like "The Green Fly," you can't just let that go without asking, "Why do they call it The Green Fly?" Well, it's not really named that... it's a nickname that local law enforcement personnel call it. If I remember the story correctly, there used to be these huge green colored flies that hung around the restaurant and the nickname just stuck. It's not too appetizing of a nickname for a restaurant, don't you think?

Well, I have to tell you, this place is a definite "hole-in-the-wall" if I've ever seen one. Totally not what I would have thought to be a good restaurant. You can see in the photos I've "borrowed" from the web that the decoration there is non-existant. Not only that, you can see the kitchen when you are ordering your food because it's right out in the open! You have to wonder how this place can still be in business without being shut down for some kind of health code violation!

So having said all this, you would think this is probably the worst restaurant around right? WRONG! If you want totally authentic Mexican food at a ridiculously low price... this is the place to go! There is always a huge line of people waiting to get in. Why? Because the food is THAT GOOD and so is the price. I always thought that this is probably the safest place to have lunch because it seems every law enforcement agency is represented there for lunch! Police officiers, detectives, DA investigators, FBI, Sheriffs Deputies, CHP officers, you name it, they are there!

I had an email exchange with one of my friends from the San Diego Police Department this evening and this place just popped back in my mind. I could not remember the real name of this restaurant so I simply typed into Google a search for The Green Fly San Diego and the restaurant was found! Yes, even Google knows it's called The Green Fly! Do your own search for Las Cuatro Milpas San Diego and read all the wonderful reviews of this place. Very few people give it less than 4 or 5 stars out of 5 and that's so surprising considering the look of this place. But it's been around since the 1930's... so something has to be right about it!

If you are ever in San Diego go here for lunch. Get there early because you don't want to get stuck in the long line! Everything is good there, but I particularly like the buritos. Now I'm getting hungry!

I've Been Really Tied Up These Past Few Days

Sorry to everyone who checked my blog for a post this past Monday and found nothing.

I've been extremely tied up working on the details of something and unfortunately can't share that here just yet. But it's a good thing and once I get the approval to share it, I will. Suffice it to say, it's something I'm going to really enjoy (I love my job!) and it will take me back to a place I been longing to be at for a long time.

Check back on Thursday for the next blog post. I promise to have something to post that day!