Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!  Hope you all have a safe and joyous Holiday Season!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December's Flash Class


Totally forgot to work on an image from the last Flash class in early December!  Better late than never, I suppose.  Here's an image of our model Jessica with a red gel for the backdrop.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flash Class

 
Another Flash Photography class was held last night at Balanced Exposure.

This is one of the images from the class.  I lit this photo with only one light to the right of the model and this is the result.  Adding a reflector to the other side is an option to brighten up the darker side, but this image was done simply to see what a single light source would do.  A medium sized softbox was used to soften the studio light.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Online Coupon Deals

I guess Groupon was right.

As the first Groupon deal comes to a close on December 6 (that's when the first six months coupon runs out), I'm seeing a marked increase in people enrolling in a Photo 101 class.  Even so, I can't help but notice how many people still have not signed up for class!  Groupon mentioned that I should see a lot of people sign up for classes right in the beginning, then a lull will happen in the middle months and just before the end of the coupon's time, a bunch of activity will happen again.

Still, I have to wonder how many people will simply let their coupon expire and never take the class.  That's too bad because I really want everyone who has purchased a coupon to come in and take the class!

While the weekend classes are all filling up to the max, the weekday evening classes are still relatively sparse with students.  Plenty of space for people to take the class!  They just need to come in during the weekday evenings!

The Photography Boot Camp deal that ran on Amazonlocal.com also has a lot of people who have not yet redeemed their coupons.  They have until sometime in March 2012 to take a class, so perhaps these student are doing a similar thing and just waiting for the expiration date.

According to both companies, a certain number of people will never redeem their coupons.  I won't divulge their statistics, but it's a lot of people.  I just have to wonder why someone would spend money and not use their coupons?  I know I wouldn't want to do that!

Still, I'm grateful to those who have come to class and have told me that they have benefited from taking the class.  A decent number of my students have also signed up for post production classes from Balanced Exposure.  I'm so happy that these students have decided to further their photography education beyond just the first class.  Many more have also told me that they plan to take my DSLR ADVANCED class in 2012 too so that they can learn about the other features of their camera!  That's a nice gauge for me to see if I'm doing a good job teaching.  If someone is already telling me they are planning to come back, I must be doing something right!

Besides taking the class themselves, I've had a number of students recommend the class to their friends and relatives.  These people simply buy the deal directly through Balanced Exposure.  This has helped a lot to keep me in business!  Thank you all for these referrals!

I shared this information with Groupon and Amazonlocal and they have told me that I'm doing a lot better in getting return business than some of their other advertisers.  Many times, people use their coupons and never go back again.  But in the case of Balanced Exposure, the return rate is well above the average for coupon company deals.

Because of this, Balanced Exposure will continue to work with companies like Groupon, Amazonlocal and LivingSocial to offer deals to photographers looking to learn about their cameras.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support of Balanced Exposure!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

New Classes for 2012

While I'm off of teaching this week until Saturday, I'm still working!

My goal is to get all of my accounting together in preparation for the end of the year and not do a last minute rush to get everything to the accountant.  In the past several years, I've been pretty good at this. So far, I'm on track to get this finished by today.

I'm also answering phone calls from students trying to schedule their classes.  This happens daily anyway.  Other calls involve signing students up for taking a class if they did not go through an online coupon company to buy their class.

I've also been dealing with planning for the 2012 classes.  The "Photography 101" class is going to be "more compact" in 2012 (and will be called "Photo Essentials" going forward) and will move to a 4 hour training session instead of 6 hours.  This will move the class to a slightly faster pace in order to keep the information the same.  I feel it will actually make the class more interesting... and it will keep the students on their toes.  Several students have said that this is a good idea as well.

The Photography "Boot Camp" class will remain the same at 3 hours.  The main difference between the two classes will be that the "Photo Essentials" class will also discuss composition and other topics that are not specifically just about how to use the mechanics of the camera.  Boot Camp will concentrate solely on the camera's operations.

I am also adding a class called "DSLR Advanced."  This new class is for those who have already taken "Photography 101," "Boot Camp" or the "Photo Essentials" class.  It will be the continuation of those classes.  We'll cover many more of the advanced features you will find inside the "menus" of the camera itself.  There are a lot of features inside your camera's menu and it was impossible to even discuss them in the first class and still get through the main focus of the Photo 101 and Boot Camp classes.  With DSLR Advanced, we'll be able to do this now.  It will be a 3 hour class.

However, DSLR Advanced will only be offered to those who have true DSLR cameras.  Those who own "hybrid" advanced Point and Shoot cameras will not be able to attend this class as it will be specific to the DSLR.

Can you get the new DSLR Advanced Class through Groupon, LivingSocial or Amazonlocal?  No... but it will be available directly through Balanced Exposure at a substantial discount for students who have already gone through one of the first classes.  Keep an eye out for a special email announcement in January for this class.  You'll have an opportunity to get tthe discount if you respond to the promo offered via email.

Also in 2012, Balanced Exposure will drop Point and Shoot photography classes.  With so many more DSLR students coming onboard in 2012, and also to service existing students, I decided Balanced Exposure will need to concentrate solely on DSLR cameras going forward.

Hybrid / Advanced Point and Shoot cameras will be allowed into the Photo Essential and Boot Camp camera classes, but they must be truly capable of functioning like a DSLR.  This means cameras that can fully be controlled manually and also can be shot in both Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority Modes.

The calendar for 2012 is currently up on the website, but may be tweaked a little as classes are added throughout the year.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Photoshop CS5 Magic



Here is a little Photoshop magic...

I took the original photo of our model Jessica (top photo) and replaced the top of her hair with the hair from the other shot of her where I had used hair lighting instead.  (See the two images from the 10-28-11 post on Professional Models.)  I re-sized that second photo so that her head size was exactly the same, then repositioned the hair to fit on top of her first photo.  Blending things together, you can't tell that the bottom image is a composite of two images.  So now the image of her shows the image with "new" hair lighting on it.

To see a "flip" comparison, click on any of the images above and then "flip" between the two images in the resulting screen.  You'll immediately see what was done with the hair this way.

I often do a similar thing to people's eyes in group photos.  For instance, when I take a group photo, I usually shoot several of the same shot, just in case someone's eyes are closed.  I just take the "open" eyes from one of the other images and place it on the closed eye image.  Blend it together just right and you end up with a perfect image with everyone's eyes open!

Want to learn how to do things like this?  Come take a Photoshop CS5 class at Balanced Exposure!  Want to learn how to take great flash studio photos?  Come take a Flash class too!   :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Professional Models



Here are two photos from last night's Flash Photography class.  This is Jessica who is a model for Balanced Exposure.  You'll find her working hard modeling for some of the classes offered at the studio.

As a professional model, Jessica knows how to pose and helps our students out by posing naturally without having to be told to do it.  Still, she'll take direction from students too if they want her to pose a certain way or to help find the perfect shot.

The top image was taken without hair lighting and the bottom image with hair lighting.  Also a blue gel back light was added as well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Doyle Dykes at Skokie Theatre - Oct 14, 2011





Better late than never!

As always, I went to see Doyle Dykes perform last Friday at the Skokie Theatre.  While it is always good to see Doyle, I was a little sad not to see his daughter Haley with him.  In all the years I've been going to see Doyle perform, this is the first time that Haley wasn't there.  She stayed home with her husband Jake.

I originally had sent a message to Haley saying that I might not be able to go to this concert, but Haley told me I wasn't allowed to miss any Doyle concert within 300 miles of Chicago.  So, rearranging my schedule, I went with my friend Jerry as always.

Seeing that Haley wasn't going to be there, Jerry decided we should help Doyle at the merchandise table so that Doyle could take more time signing autographs.  Our friends Steve King, Johnnie Putman (both from WGN radio) and Pastor Steve Lyons (Moody Publishers) all pitched in as well that evening.  Steve and Johnnie had chauffeur duties and Pastor Steve brought more of Doyle's book, "The Lights of Marfa" for us to sell.

It was fun selling the CD's, DVD's and book.  All we were able to do was take cash or check that evening and we didn't have any change!  Luckily, people helped out giving us change along the way and everyone was able to buy what they wanted without a problem.  Afterward, Doyle told us he actually had change for us, but we had already started selling and he was stuck on stage setting up.  No matter... it all turned out ok.

Doyle played well and introduced some new arrangements I've never heard him play before.  Among the songs was an incredible Beatles Medley played on his custom R. Taylor 12-string guitar.  It was amazing!  Steve King told Doyle afterwards that he just has to put this on one of his upcoming albums.  I agree.  It was really great and sounded so full on the 12-string.

Doyle also spent time playing a Fender Telecaster.  The amps he used for the show were borrowed from his friends at The Guitar Works in Evanston, IL.

Overall, the sold-out Skokie Theatre audience was treated to great music that evening.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vindicated!

I'm back to 5 stars out of 5 stars!  The single negative review has gone to the "filtered" area of the "not to be named" review site!

This reviewer only had one review to his name and so it should have gone to the filtered area like all the others, but it remained on the main viewing area for many weeks.  But checking in today, I found it had finally been moved to the filtered area like all the other good reviews I had been given that had only a single review from the reviewers.  It sure took a lot longer for this to happen though...

Edit Note:  As of 11/08/11, the "bad review" has come back out of the filtered area!  The reviewer still has only one review to his name, so really, it should have stayed "filtered" like all the other good reviews that have been banished there.  This time, I have figured out how to place a comment in the review, so I did that to set the record straight.

The "not-to-be-named review site" actually called me several weeks ago to ask if I wanted to advertise on their site.  I told them "NO WAY!"  I wonder if this is why we now see the bad review resurfacing?  Makes you wonder, doesn't it....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And yet another review goes filtered...

I don't want to beat a dead horse... but yet another one of my good reviews has gone to the "filtered"area of the "not to be named" review site.

So now... I have 3 reviews left that can be easily seen... 2 good, 1 bad and 10 good reviews filtered in the "hidden" area.

Is it me, or is this review site totally off base here?

I'm now waiting for all of my good reviews to go to filtered... just so that the one bad review stays.  At that point, I guess I can say I'd be batting 1000 for bad reviews.  Wouldn't that be interesting?

Doesn't seem right, does it?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Sometimes You Just Can't Win

Another one of my "good" reviews just got "filtered" again.  It's now 9 reviews on that "not to be named" review site that has been filtered.  While the company claims to filter reviews that are questionable, each one of these "good" reviews were removed even though they all came from students who liked my classes... not from me.

It just doesn't seem right that a person with one review to his name can have his negative review remain while another person who might have four reviews to her name gets hers filtered.  Is a negative review to be trusted more than someone who gives a good review?  I checked the other reviews from these people who have given me a good review.  A couple of theirs are "negative" towards the the other businesses.  I wonder, did they filter these negative reviews on the other businesses?  Or is the filtered review only for the ones they wrote that are positive?

It's frustrating to see that of the 13 total reviews I've had on this site, only 3 good reviews are seen and 1 bad is seen.  9 other good reviews are hidden.

Just doesn't seem right to me...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Can't Satisfy Everyone

Over the past few months of teaching, I've learned a lot about working with people.  The number one thing is, "You can't satisfy everyone."

After a great teaching session with lots of people participating and coming up to tell me how much they enjoyed the lesson, I usually go home pretty happy.  I'd tell my wife what a great group of people I had taught that day and figured that most of them went home pretty satisfied as well.

Apparently not everyone feels the same way though.  On a couple of occasions, I've had people comment on an online review site indicating they didn't like the class.  That's to be expected I suppose as you can't please everyone.  Usually it is done by people who might have a little more photography experience than the rest of the class and expect that I'll be teaching to their level... but the class they signed up for is a beginning intro to photography class and I have to teach to the vast majority of the students there.  While they have a right to say what they please, the hard thing to accept though is when things are taken out of context and written on a public forum which influences others to either sign up for classes or not without the ability to rebut the comments so that those reading will have the full story.

For instance, one student wrote how I took so much time to get started and spent a half hour showing a diagram of my office space.  While it is true that I often take time to get started and that I do show a diagram of the 14th floor space on the overhead projector (I do it at every class really), it's done so that those who come in late can have the opportunity to not miss the most important beginning instructions that will be needed to understand the class for the entire six hours.  And, the diagram of the office is shown so that people can find the washrooms on the office floor in relation to the office space I have rented.  I do mention how in a short time, I was able to go from a small space to the largest on the floor with thanks to those who purchased my online class deals, but I guess I won't be doing that any more as it could be misconstrued.  The motivation here is a bit different reason than what is insinuated on in the online review, don't you think?

As for the comment on showing a Groupon deal during class... that's true.  But it was done because we were discussing the Groupon deals that everyone had purchased and others mentioned the deal going on and so we checked it so others in class knew what was being talked about.  That happened before the class began.  Again, taken out of context.

Another comment said that I spent time trying to sell my used equipment.  Actually, I don't have any used equipment to sell.  And yet another comment said I was pushing a friend's filters.  Well, actually, I was showing a recommended flash diffuser by Gary Fong called the Puffer which is commercially available and works well for those with pop-up flashes.  Is Gary Fong my friend?  Well he knows me and I know him, we are both Asian, but that's about the extent of it.  We are both former wedding photographers.  He lives in Canada, and I'm here in the US.  Am I helping him sell his product?  I suppose you could say that since I'm telling people that there are some products that could help their photography.  It all depends on how you look at things.  Do I benefit from his sales... no, not at all.  Does he need my help?  No... he makes hundreds of thousands of dollars worldwide on his sales already.  I don't think the few items that might be sold because I recommended them will make a dent in his overall marketing of his products.

Another comment said I was trying to figure out what to say.  Absolutely.  I have 6 hours to teach and so I reference my outline constantly to make sure everyone gets every bit of information I want covered in that 6 hours.  Struggling to figure out what to say?  I don't think so.  Making sure people get their money's worth?  Absolutely.

The whole point here is, "You can't satisfy everyone."  And, you can't believe everything that you read on a public review site either.  Where you try to do your best with the best of intentions, there's always someone who thinks you aren't doing enough or not doing it right.  Public forums like online review sites are ok, but they don't give the merchant the ability to tell his side of the story.  It's very one-sided.  So when someone writes a negative review like this, it's just hurtful.  Whereas a reviewer might justify his reasons for writing a negative review as "trying to help others," I can't help but think it is most likely being written to try to ruin someone else's business.  That's not helpful... that's just being vindictive.

I remember the person who wrote that review.  He left the class early.  Right after he left, several people in the class said, "Good Riddance!  He was disruptive anyway!"   That says a lot, don't you think?

While I might not be able to comment on the review site to set the record straight, I suppose I have my blog to use to do a rebuttal....   :)

10/05/11 Edit Note: One of the other students who was in the same class that the reviewer was in came back this week to take the Workflow Seminar.  She mentioned that she hoped that the rude disruptive person who had been sitting next to her was not going to be in the class.  Sure enough, she was in the very class he had been in.  I mentioned to her about the bad review and she could not believe it.  Basically backing up everything that I wrote here on this blog post, she said his review was definitely WRONG and inaccurate.  It's nice to know that it's not just me thinking his review was incorrect.  She backed me up and said I'm right in this account... not the reviewer.  Thank you!  :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Russians Listen To My Music

I have several songs that I recorded over the years uploaded to a separate website for people to listen to.  Check them out on the far right side of this blog to find a link.

Interestingly, after checking my site statistics, I find that most of the people checking out the songs I recorded are all from Russia!  The one song that they seem to check out most is called "I Could Fall In Love With You" which is a song originally done by Selena.  I recorded a cover of it as a guitar instrumental and apparently the people in Russia have found it and listen to it quite a bit now.

Perhaps there's another song with a similar name that is now popular in Russia and so when they do a Google search for the song, they end up at my site instead.  Who knows.  But it's rather interesting that people so far away are listening to my recording when the people closer here in the United States are not.

Check it out for yourself and see if you like it... www.russlowe.com/music

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Salmon Are Not Native To The Great Lakes



A common thing I get from people who find out that I like to fish for Salmon out of Lake Michigan is, "I didn't know Salmon was in Lake Michigan!"

Well, it isn't.  It is stocked into Lake Michigan.  The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stocks them in and we rip them right out!  :)

Our fishing license allows us to fish for the year and we also pay a "Salmon Stamp" fee as well which helps to fund the Salmon stocking program.  From what I'm told, areas like Kenosha, Wisconsin and Racine, Wisconsin stock more Salmon than Waukegan, IL.  For years I've been saying, "Next year, I'm going to get myself a Wisconsin license and go up there to fish!"  But each year, something comes up and I just have not had the opportunity of time to do it!

This year, all of the new students coming in to take photography lessons have kept me from doing it.  No real regrets as I really enjoy teaching.  But there are days I long to get out there to do a little fishing but just can't find the time to do it!

I have yet to catch a Salmon from the piers.  No problem doing it from a boat though.  Still, I like getting out there and enjoy seeing the sunrise and sunset from the water... even if I don't catch anything.  Maybe next year....

(image borrowed from the internet)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11

My flag is flying today.

How about yours?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9-11-01 - We Will Never Forget

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

Everyone was affected by this terrible event.  I recall specifically where I was and how I learned about the attacks.  To this day, it brings a tear to my eye when I think about it.  We will never forget....

God bless those who serve our country in the pursuit of freedom.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Stereotypes....

I got this from my niece's Facebook link.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Lake Geneva - HDR

Here are some HDR images taken with 5 handheld exposures each.  Images were shot on 9-04-11 with a Nikon D3 and Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens.  Be sure to click on each image for a closer look.





Thursday, September 01, 2011

Update on the Knee Brace

Well, I wore the knee brace for about 3 days and stopped wearing it.  I had developed an allergic reaction to the straps!

I'm not sure what the straps are made of, but it looks like some kind of neoprene material around the outer edges of the strap padding.  That's the areas that my skin was reacting to.  So, off came the brace and electrical stuff!

I waited all this time and just started to wear the brace again today after being shipped a Lycra "sleeve" which could be worn under the brace to shield my skin from the straps.  Hopefully this will help.  And, I don't need to wear the electrical components during the day either now.  I was sent a "Night Wrap" which allows the electrodes to be attached to and then I can wear that while I sleep.  While it might be a hassle wearing this on my leg all night long, at least I won't need to mess with the electrical device during the day.

I'll report back once I've had a chance to wear this new configuration for a while.  Right now, my knee actually feels just fine.  But several weeks ago, it was another story... totally in pain then with every step.  Today, you wouldn't know I had a knee problem.  I don't attribute that to the brace or anything though.  I think it just naturally got  better.  Time will tell if the brace and electrical stimulus will really do the job.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My New Knee Brace - Bionicare Knee System






After a long wait, I am now wearing my new Bionicare knee brace.

This brace is supposed to help me delay a total knee replacement for a couple of years.  But it's not really the brace that is to do this... it is the electrical stimulus device that is supposed to do it.  This device gives electrical impulses through two electrodes that is worn under the brace.  Up to 12 volts of DC current is run through wires attached to the electrodes.  Given enough "wear time" it is touted to help make knees with osteoarthritis cope with pain much better.  We will see....

The brace is very expensive (approximately $2200), and there's an added cost of replacing the electrodes every 7-10 days.  I think it would have been more upfront of the company selling the device to disclose the fact that there would be an added expense of buying new electrodes so often.  While the initial cost of the brace is hard enough to deal with, adding in about $100 every month isn't something I was prepared to do.  Of course now that I have it on, what choice do I have?  I need to keep this brace on for at least 8 hours per day and rack up about 1750 total hours of wear-time with the electrodes.  After that, I should be able to eliminate the use of the electrodes and electrical stimulus system which is the heart of this device.

If this brace does what it claims... delay a total knee replacement surgery for up to 3 to 4 years, then the cost would be worth it.  My commitment to teaching at Balanced Exposure takes priority at this point, so I have to delay any surgery.  Perhaps in a few years, I can take some time off and get the knee replacement surgery for my left knee.  Of course, my right knee is just slightly better, but it's got issues as well.  Who knows when that knee will also develop enough problems to have to do all this again!

See the comments section for updates on how I'm doing with this brace system.

(Image borrowed from the Bionicare website.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Photoshop CS5 Preferred by Most Students!



Huh!  Who'd have "thunk" it?  :)

I had thought that many of my students would prefer to learn to use Photoshop Elements 9 over Photoshop CS5 simply because of the cost difference between the two products.  But after several sessions at my Workflow Seminar, I'm finding many students telling me that they prefer to get the more expensive Photoshop version to learn!

There is one way to get Photoshop CS5 at a discount directly from Adobe.  It's called a student discount.  If you are a college student currently enrolled at a college, you can qualify.  Just buy the product directly from Adobe.com and supply them with a scanned copy of your student ID or other proof of your enrollment and Adobe will call the school to verify it.  Once done, you'll get Photoshop CS5 at a substantial discount.  How much?  Well, CS5 costs roughly $650 normally.  Get the student discount and your price drops to $199!  In fact if you do it by August 14, 2011, you can get another $20 off!  It's probably a "back to school" special...

To help with your software education, I'm also offering a discount for your training.  Contact Balanced Exposure for more details!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Finally Got Out To Fish - Lucky Dog Charters











With so many things going on this year, I worried that I might not get in any fishing this year!  But this past Sunday, some friends from church along with my nephew and his best friend gathered together on          Lucky Dog Charters out of Waukegan Harbor to spend 6 hours out on Lake Michigan.

The day started out with thunder and lightning and so we wondered if the afternoon trip from 1:30 PM to 7:30 PM would be rained out.  But a call to Captain Jim Kaske of the Lucky Dog was all it took to confirm we were headed out.  The captain was right... it turned out to be a great afternoon... not too hot, slightly overcast day (until later when the sun started to come out.)

We were after steelhead salmon and to find them required us to hunt for colder waters.  We went out perhaps 7 or 8 miles into the lake and started catching fish in pairs.  Almost immediately after setting the lines, my nephew caught the first fish.  A second one followed shortly after.  Whenever the bite stopped, our captain started looking for colder waters.  Everytime he found a patch of cold water, we'd get a fish or two!

In all, we caught 15 fish... mostly steelhead in the 7 or 8 lb range.  But we also had a couple in the 10 lb range as well.  For me, I caught the smallest of the group at only 2 lbs, but made up for it by catching two large 7 or 8 lb King Salmon as well.  The last fish of the day was a lake trout.

Our group photo shows only 13 fish, but we caught two more after the photo was taken.  A small Fuji F10 point and shoot camera was used to take these images.

Kudos to our captain from Lucky Dog Charters for working so hard to find us fish.  I'd definitely recommend him to anyone looking to do some charter fishing out of Waukegan Harbor!

Be sure to click on each photo for a closer look.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Still Going Strong!

I've been teaching a lot of classes lately, but still having fun doing it!

The classes have definitely been keeping me from updating my blog however.  In the past, I'd update at least twice per week.  But now I'm finding it hard even to keep up with all the emails and phone calls that it makes it really hard to even take the time to post a simple blog entry.

I appreciate everyone checking in on the blog though.  While I may not be posting as much, according to my blog statistics, my readers are still hanging in there with me.  Nice to know I have dedicated readers!

Hang in there!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Workflow Seminar!


A new 2-hour seminar is being offered by Balanced Exposure.

The new Workflow Seminar allows students to watch while I work on their images in various post production software like Adobe Photoshop CS5, Photoshop Elements 9, Adobe Lightroom and Portrait Professional.

By taking the seminar, you can see exactly how an image is manipulated for color and exposure balance, the removal of facial imperfection on portraits, and removing other non-desired things in a photo.  Then, after you've attended the seminar, you'll have a better idea of what each of the various software packages actually can do so that you can make the right choice as to which post production class is best for your own photography.

The cost is $95 for the two hour group seminar.  But if you have purchased a online coupon deal from Balanced Exposure, you can take this seminar for only $35!  And, if you purchased this seminar on the same day of your Photography 101 class and if you sign up for one of the advanced post production classes after attending this seminar, you'll get all $35 back to use as part of the cost of your post production class!  Can't beat that!  Add in the 35% discount you are going to get by taking a post production class from Balanced Exposure if you take one of these classes with 3 months of your online coupon class attendance, it just adds up to an even better deal for having purchased one of our online offers!

To sign up for this seminar, contact Balanced Exposure by email or phone.  studio@balancedexposure.com  or 847-840-4082.  We'll accept a personal check or you can pay via PayPal.  A PayPal Invoice will be sent to your email address and you can use your credit card to pay for this... even if you don't have a regular PayPal account.  All you need is an email address.

(Image borrowed from the internet)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Photos Of The New Classroom / Studio





 
I've been rather busy lately, but wanted to put some photos of the classroom / studio up for everyone to see.  Be sure to click on each image for a closer look!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

New Facebook Page For Balanced Exposure


I created a new Facebook page for Balanced Exposure and need your help!

Twenty-Five fans are needed to "like" the page before it can get a username.  Please visit the Balanced Exposure Facebook page by clicking here.  Then click on the "like" button to add yourself to the page's fans.  In exchange, you'll get updates on Facebook about Balanced Exposure as it happens.

Our most recent accomplishment was to sell 689 Groupons last week.  That's a lot of new students!  Many have asked if we have additional training classes available once their Photography 101 class is done and the answer is YES!  Besides advanced group classes, individual help is also available.

To me, the most logical next step in advancing an interest in photography is post production work via Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements.  Adobe Lightroom is also a very powerful tool... one I use more often than even Photoshop!

Another announcement is that Balanced Exposure is moving into the largest space on the 14th floor of Zurich Tower's Tower Two.  We have secured a space that's a little over twice the size of the old studio space.  In here, we'll hold classes that can hold as many as 24 students as well as the studio itself.  This new addition should be sufficient to handle all the new students gained by the Groupon deal.

Don't worry if you missed out on the last Groupon offering.  We have more online deals coming up with Groupon!  It's in the works!  In the meantime, become a fan of our page on Facebook.

Be sure to click on the floor plan above for a closer look.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Screaming Photography Training Deal


Well, the day has finally come.  My photography training deal for Balanced Exposure is now being offered online!

For only $50, you can get two 3-hour training classes in Photography 101.  That's an 80% discount off my normal price of $250 for both classes.

Click here to see the Groupon deal that's running from June 2 through June 4.  Spread the word in case you know anyone interested in taking a photography class!

Monday, May 23, 2011

CCUC North - All Church Retreat


This past weekend, members of the Chinese Christian Union Church - North from Highland Park, IL attended an All Church Retreat in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  The event's code name was "Extreme Makeover - God Edition."

I believe we had about 270 people signed up, although I don't think all 270 are depicted in the photo above.  I know I'm not in the photo!  :)

To take this photo, I had to stand on a tall 8 ft ladder and shoot down at the people.  If you are on the same plane as the subjects in a huge group shot like this, it is usually hard to see everyone in the photo.  So getting up higher is necessary.

The image required the grass area to be "cloned" in Photoshop as there were just too many dandelions and other weeds in the image.  Plus, a huge wooden swing in the background made the image look unbalanced.  So Photoshop's "Content Aware Fill" helped to remove that.

I had hoped for a shaded area to take the photo, but with so many people in the shot, there just wasn't a good place to do it and still have a decent looking background.  So out onto the grass we went.  We were really thankful that the weather cooperated as we had a great sunny morning for the photo.

Be sure to click on the image to take a closer look.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Haven't Gone Fishing At All This Year!


I have not had the chance to go fishing at all this year!  The photo above is one I posted in 2010.

Last year, I had hopes of doing a lot more fishing in 2011, but with the new teaching studio open, time is limited.  In addition, our weather has just not been cooperative either.

I keep reading the various reports on fishing forums and it seems few people have been lucky catching fish this year.  Reports from other sources show that fishing is just plain down this year because of the weather.  Eventually, I get out there, but it seems it will have to be in the early morning hours of the weekdays.  I'm actually ok with that as I enjoy watching the sunrise over the water.  But I've never had any luck out on Lake Michigan on shore.  All of the fish I've caught have been out on a boat in Lake Michigan.

Of the various species to catch, I enjoy catching salmon the most.  Big fish like you see above is what I like catching.  I also like catching pike out of the Des Plaines River, but nowhere is it as much fun as catching a salmon!  Even if I don't catch anything, I still like getting out there and trying.  It's very peaceful out on the water.

My desire for getting a Wisconsin license this years is over too.  Again, lack of time is the issue.  From what others have told me, the chances of catching a salmon in Wisconsin is far better than in Illinois.  They stock a lot more fish up there.  But I'll have to make do with what might be available from Illinois.  Time... I need more of it!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Lights of Marfa - Doyle Dykes - New Book Is Now Available!


I just received my copy of guitarist Doyle Dykes' new book entitled, "The Lights of Marfa."

I pre-ordered it on Amazon.com and was amazed it came in already!  The book was released just yesterday (April 1, 2011) and here it is April 2 and it's in my hands.

I can't wait to read it!  Doyle and I have been friends for many years now and I've had the privilege to get to know his entire family when he hired me to photograph his daughter Holli's wedding.  In the years to follow, we've only grown closer and when I heard he had written a book, I knew I would be one of the first to pre-order it on Amazon.com.

Our mutual friend Pastor Steve Lyon from Moody Publishers asked him to write a book which took Doyle by surprise.  When he first told me about it, I immediately thought, "What a great idea" but apparently, that's not what Doyle thought.  It took him by surprise, like many other things have in his life.  But looking back, these things were obviously in God's plan for him.

The 'real' Lights of Marfa is just as mysterious and unexplainable.  This is why Doyle chose this title for his book.  Life's adventures are sometimes hard to figure out and explain.  But Doyle is such a good storyteller that I already know before reading this book that this is going to be one interesting book to read.

If you are a guitar player like me, it's an obvious book to buy and read.  But for those wanting a spiritual uplift, I'm sure you will find that here in the book as well.  Doyle is the real deal as many have pointed out already on the book's first few pages.  The likes of Phil Keaggy, Tommy Emmanuel, Pastor Rick Warren, Roy Clark, Eric Johnson, Mason Williams, Steve King & Johnnie Putman from WGN Radio and many others have said the same thing.

Go out now and get a copy of the book.  It promises to be an inspirational read!

Oh, one more thing, the book comes with a free DVD.  In it, you'll see and hear Doyle talk about the book and also get a bunch of great videos of him playing a number of songs too!  For guitar players, the DVD has a lot of closeups of Doyle playing, so maybe you'll pick up some playing tips too by watching!  Just one more thing to make this book a great buy!



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A New Home Page Photo for Balanced Exposure



I think this one looks a little better than the old home page photo.  It also shows the wood floor that's now been added.  Be sure to click on the image for a closer look.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Studio Updates

The studio is coming along just fine.  I've been devoting most of my time on it and neglecting everything else... like this blog!

A new website has been implemented... so please visit www.balancedexposure.com.  One of the main reasons for the new site is because the old one was really geared as a photographer's website and it did not allow for more information to be put in easily.  Plus it was a flash site which made it invisible to people who use an Apple iPad.  The new site is an HTML site, so everyone can view it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Wait Is Over - Studio Announcement








Well, the wait is over.  For those who have been wondering what I've been doing for the past several weeks and not blogging about things, it's because I've been busy setting up a new teaching studio facility!

Visit www.balancedexposure.com to see more about the studio and pricing.  You can also download our rental brochure there too.  See you all soon!  Be sure to click on each photo for a closer look.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I've Been Tied Up Lately...

Sorry for the lack of blog posts... I've been super busy the past couple of weeks.

I'll have a major announcement soon.  Most likely will not not have any blog posts for at least another week.

Thanks

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Band Of Brothers



After watching the HBO mini-series "The Pacific" on DVD, I decided to watch "Band Of Brothers" too as it is really the movie sibling of The Pacific.  Band of Brothers was first aired in 2001 whereas The Pacific was in 2010.  So I actually saw these two mini-series in reversed order.

While both mini-series were excellent, Band of Brothers seems to be slightly less edgy.  By this I mean that it had less confrontation of the men against their own men due to the stress of the war.  The men in The Pacific seemed to have more personal issues with the other men in their units than in Band of Brothers.  Perhaps that's why they named it Band of Brothers!

Both movies had their share of gore, but I think in the nine years of time, the film makers have gotten better at it and applied that to The Pacific.

I must admit that after viewing these two mini-series, I really feel an even greater sense of gratitude for all that the men who fought in WWII had to go through.  Every one of them are true heroes.  The next time you run into one of our service men currently serving or who had served our country in the past, be sure you thank them for all that they do or did for our country.  For me, I always offer them a discount on my photography services.  I always have and always will.  It's a small gesture, but it is something I believe they deserve.

I encourage you to watch these two mini-series on DVD.  Go to your local library and borrow the DVD set or purchase them if you'd like to own it.

The images above were borrowed from the internet.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jennifer Hudson



Have you seen Jennifer Hudson lately?  I borrowed these images from the internet that show "before and after" shots of her.  She looks terrific!

I watched the Oprah Show today and was amazed at how much Jennifer Hudson had lost in weight!  She's gone from a size 16 to a size 6 and has lost 80 lbs.  That's impressive!

I've always liked her.  She's a Chicago hometown girl and everyone here is so proud of her.  A lot has changed in her life in the past several years... winning an Oscar, a Grammy, losing her mom, brother and nephew, having a baby and now losing all this weight.  She keeps going through the good and the bad and has a great outlook on life.  She says that when she does something, she just asks herself if her mom would approve.  I think that's great.  Good for her!

I wish her the best in life.  She's an amazing person and a terrific talent.

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Pacific - HBO Mini-Series




I just finished watching the HBO mini-series, "The Pacific" on DVD.  This 10 part series features the lives of various real-life World War II heroes like John Basilone who was one of the most decorated Marines in history.

This series really opens your eyes to all the things our veterans had to go through for us while serving during WWII.  This movie is GRAPHIC.  I kept thinking to myself, "Wow... this would never have been shown on TV back in the 1960's with all the blood and gore!"  Back then shows like McHale's Navy and Combat! were all the rage.  I know because I used to watch them both.  I told my wife many times in the past that of all the war movies or series out there, I prefer to watch WWII movies.  I'm not sure why, but perhaps it is because it is the one war that I feel the entire country really stood behind.  Patriotism was very high back then and everybody did their part in the war effort.  That appeals to me.

Ever since "Saving Private Ryan" starring Tom Hanks (who also happens to co-produce this movie along with Steven Spielberg), seeing a war movie without some of the gore doesn't appeal much to me anymore.  I think having seen this new style of shooting (handheld cameras moving along with the men as they charge up the beach) and seeing the gore that so obviously had to have happened in real life, I can't go back to see war movies without it.  That may sound a bit morbid, but I think I prefer to see it more real.  Remember too that I come from a homicide background having worked for three law enforcement agencies in the past, so seeing it on the screen is actually less graphic compared to seeing it up close for real.

I'd recommend anyone interested in seeing what WWII was all about in the Pacific to view this series.  It makes you really appreciate the things our fighting men did for us to remain free in this country.  Recently, I lost an uncle and I attended his funeral just last week.  I did not realize he served in WWII as he never spoke about it.  It was told to us during the eulogy at his funeral.  In addition, members of the armed forces presented the draped US flag over his casket, to the family.  It was quite moving to see this ceremony.  That night is when my wife and I started to watch this DVD series.  To me, it was very fitting.

If you get a chance to rent or buy this DVD series, I would highly recommend you do so.   But be aware that there are scenes that are quite graphic.

The photos above were borrowed from the internet.