A Life Lesson – Why Pictures Are Important

How I Remember Grandma

Pictures Become Important Long Before You Can No Longer Take Them

The past few months have been emotionally trying for my family, and myself. After a rapid downward spiral, my grandmother passed away December 8. When I was notified she was to be evaluated for hospice care, I knew immediately I had to make the drive to Los Angeles to see her, and say goodbye.

My father asked me to compile all the pictures I could dig up of her. After three days of scouring through my library of images, I was surprised how few pictures I had of her. There were plenty of pictures where she was in the background, but very few where she was the primary subject. I sent my dad a total of eleven images, ones I felt were suitable for use in a collage. When I told my dad that was all I could find, he said that he had trouble locating pictures as well, thinking he took a lot more.

I felt sickened by this experience, wishing that I was more conscientious during our family gatherings, wish I paid more attention to more than just my kids, wish I had more precious images of my grandma.

I did make the trip to Los Angeles, and was able to see her a couple of times. The only words I could muster up were, “I love you grandma.” Words I can’t ever remember saying to her, words I desperately needed to say.

Below is the last picture I took of my grandma as she is holding my then newborn son. I had no idea how important this single image would become to me, personally. Life lessons are usually loaded with pain, this one is no different. I hope by sharing the bitterness of this experience, I can spare you the frustration and disappointment I felt while frantically searching for ‘pictures of grandma’.

How I Remember Grandma

How I Remember Grandma

One final thought, you can never take too many pictures of those you love, but it is all too easy to take too few.

Related Images:

For The Love of Abandoned Photography

Floor Lamp

I knew I was going to be hook on Abandoned Photography with the first click of the shudder. Of course spending over a week with great friends scouring the countryside looking for places to shoot helps. I have to thank my friend Abby for being such an awesome host (and muse). She exposed me, no, threw me into the world of abandoned photography, adding yet another level of passion to the craft of making images. Over a year later, I am still processing images from that whirlwind of a trip, and loving every minute of it.

There is nothing like exploring an unknown (to yourself) location and photographing various states of disrepair and decay. There is a morbid kind of beauty in the peeled paint, rooms with graffiti and broken furniture, and if you’re lucky, the occasional deceased large rodent or two.

Here is the latest image from that trip to roll of the assembly line.

Floor Lamp

Floor Lamp

What type of photography gets you all fired up and inspired? Sound off and comment. I’d be interested to find out.

Related Images:

Keep Taking Pictures When There’s Nothing To Shoot.

Daisy - HDR

No Sunrise

No Sunrise – No Problem

Not Quite What You Expected

Have you ever gotten to a location, only to find it isn’t the grand spectacle you were expecting? You’ve planned to photograph a sunrise weeks in advance, got up extra early the day of the shoot, driven for hours to get to your location only to find the sky is covered with a heavy blanket of clouds.  It can be a downer if you let it, and you may fall into a mind trap thinking, “Well, there’s nothing to shoot now.”

I say hogwash! A situation very similar to the one described above happened to me just a couple weeks ago. What did I do about it? I changed my mind set, and surveyed the landscape. Off to one side of the park were some park benches overlooking the haze covered neighborhoods below. They looked kind of boring to me. Driving up the hill, I noticed a patch of daisies off to the side, even in the pre-dawn light, the yellow popped with vibrancy. I took a closer look, found a spot to set up my tripod and got to work framing and composing several shots. I also took a few shots of the monument I was visiting to add a bit of variety.

There is always something to shoot, you just have to look harder to find it. It may not be what you expected to photograph, but then again, with a flexible creative mind you can find a solution that may be better than your initial subject.

 

Tips To Overcome On Location Stumbling Blocks

Here are a few tips that can help you break through stumbling blocks, and unleash your creative mind.

  • Look for finer details. Instead of grand vistas, break the scene up into smaller and smaller elements until something interesting reveals itself to you.
  • Get close to a subject like flowers, plants, a park bench and make it stand out within the broader scene.
  • Try something new that you haven’t done before, or brush up on an old and rusty technique.
  • Look for different angles. Get down on your belly, ir if you can, get as high as you can (stand on a bench or climb a tree) and shoot down.
Veteran's Memorial

Veteran’s Memorial

Daisy - HDR

Daisy – HDR

 

 

Final Thoughts

When planning on your next photo adventure keep in mind things may not be how you envisioned it. If all else fails, return to the location several times to get the image you want. Another benefit to multiple visits is familiarity.

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The Joy of Solitary Pursuits

Pulled Into The Sea

 

To me, photography is what I like to call a solo activity. This is especially true when I’m out exploring the little corner of the world I happen to be in. The rest of the world kind of fades away, so that all that exists is myself and my gear. This is one of the greatest joys I get from making images. Its a zone where I can escape and relax.

It doesn’t stop the moment I trigger the shutter button either. When I load up and process my images, I can easily bounce right back into that zone again. The danger though, is I can easily get lost there too…it’s like receding waves pulling me into the sea.

Pulled Into The Sea

Pulled Into The Sea

Related Images:

Making The Most Of Photographic Mistakes and Mishaps

Heaven Strike

Have you ever taken a picture, or a whole series of pictures only to find out the white balance was set to a weird custom setting you set the last time you used your camera? Even worse, there was no memory card in the camera, and you’ve been shooting in ‘demo’ mode all day? Well, I’ve never done the latter, but I witnessed someone else fall pray to this anger inducing mistake.

Like everyone else, I’ve had days where nothing seemed to go right, even after careful planning,  packing my gear, and making sure my batteries were fully charged the night before. On that day, I was running a bit late and was a bit frazzled from the moment I got out of bed. I grabbed my camera bag, and tossed it into the trunk, and sped on down the road to shoot a wedding. About 30 minutes into my drive, I had this sudden ache in my gut. I knew I had forgotten something important, but could not put a finger on it. I pulled over onto the shoulder, and thought for a minute as the freeway traffic whizzed by. I stormed out of the car, opened the trunk and did a full equipment check, memory cards, batteries, spare batteries, cameras, all my lenses were accounted for.

Then it hit me, a full on cussing fit, complete with arms flailing in the air, and kicking the dirt on the side of the road…MY CAMERA STRAPS WERE STILL AT THE HOUSE!!! I couldn’t just go back to get them because back tracking would leave no room for heavy traffic. Then again, I couldn’t just shoot without them, that would to clumsy to effectively cover the shots. After taking a deep breathe, I reviewed my other options. My shooting partner saved the day, I called him, catching him before he was about to leave his home, and I was able to borrow a couple of straps from him. To avoid ever forgetting my camera straps, I have one stashed away in the trunk of my car, and I put on my dual strap before I even pick up my gear bag.

Not all mistakes are bad though. I actually believe if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not taking chances. After all, when a baby takes his first steps, he will fall, and fall a lot, accumulating a slew of bumps and bruises before learning how to walk, and eventually run. The same can be said of photography, each mistake that is made is a chance to learn, and fine tune your craft. Deconstructing what went wrong can yield a gold mine of knowledge.

Then there are those mistakes that are welcomed. You know it when you say to yourself, “Oops, I didn’t mean to do that.” Then you take a second glance and the result is so good you’re surprised. The trick is being able to duplicate it, or at least be able to reverse engineer it later. I call these happy mistakes, and I’m not too proud to flaunt ‘em. That being said, below is one of those happy mistakes, created one night while playing out in the middle of nowhere.

Heaven Strike

Heaven Strike

When Inspiration Strikes Don’t Pass It Up

wpid-MG_0020.jpg
Bath Time

Bath Time

Inspired By Natural Light

The other day while giving our son a bath, I was struck by the natural light flooding in from the kitchen window. Specifically, how the light rimmed around his tiny toes. It was a moment where the sudden urge to photograph the event was too overpowering to resist. So I hastily grabbed my camera, rushed back to the sink, and pondered for a second…

Thinking About Composition

There he was spread eagle, splashing, naked, and giggling while mommy continued soaping him up. My mind raced ahead fourteen years, I could really embarrass him, just a quick flash of these images for a future girlfriend to see, and…like you’ve never had the very same thought; or had your parents do the same to you. Instead I decided to concentrate on what prompted me to shoot in the first place, the light, and his foot. After firing off several warm up shots from different angles, heights, and so on, I hunkered down to get the shot I was after. After a little touch up in Lightroom and there you have it.
It is often said that you should shoot what you love, what better place to practice, experiment, and play with your camera than at home?

One Final Thought

There have been times when I’ll feel that familiar itch to grab and shoot and I’d blow it off. Later I’d often tell myself I made the wrong choice, I should have taken the time to use my camera, even if it’s only the camera in my phone. Seeing a photo unfold before my eyes is a magical feeling, and when I actually use a camera to capture it, the magical feeling transforms into one of satisfaction.
What do you think? How often do you pass up a photo op, and did you feel regret afterwards? Feel free tothe share your own experience and comment.
 

Related Images:

Kaleb Is The Newest Member To Our Family

Snug As A Bug

Born October 8, 2012 at 10:20am, and weighing in at six pounds three ounces, Kaleb Keoni is already giving us a run for our money, luckily, he’s not camera shy. As I took the first shots of him, his frail voice echoed throughout the operating room, tears welled up in my eyes as I tried to focus. Kaleb is lucky to have five sisters, Khrystina, Karina, Kilyne, Kaetlyne, and Kayleigh, who all adore him to bits. Being the only boy is sure to bring new and exciting challenges raising him. Thankfully, all of his sisters are sure to steer him straight, teaching him the do’s and dont’s when it comes to things like treating girls right.

These are the first few images of him, and you could bet there will be a lot more. The added bonus is I can really sink my teeth into newborn and baby photography, and I’ll be able to expand my vision as his story unfolds through the lens.

Loudest Guy In the Operation Room

Loudest Guy In the Operation Room

Checking Vitals

Checking Vitals

Kaleb Meets Mommy

Kaleb Meets Mommy

Quiet Time

Quiet Time

Snug As A Bug

Snug As A Bug

 

Light Painting – Igniting The Imagination of Young Minds

Kilyne's Tribute
Kaetlyne Traced

Kaetlyne Traced

While planning to visit my grandparents in Landers, California with my girlfriend Kim, and her two wonderful daughters Kilyne, and Kaetlyne, I was trying to figure out a way to fire up their imagination, and make the trip not too boring for them. Then that little light in my head came on, and dang near burst due to my sudden excitement.

While on the road, and still at least an hour away from Yucca Valley where we planned to stay for the night, I mentioned my plan to do some light painting to the ‘heathens’ as Kim would say. Not quite grasping the concept, or the technical mumbo jumbo to make it happened, Kim showed them a few pictures of what I was talking about. They responded with a tentative, but curious “Okay.”

Once we were all fed, and rested, we headed out to Landers to find a patch of desert and solitude so we could play around, and exercise that creative muscle encased in our skulls. My original plan was to drive out to Giant Rock Airport, but after seeing a few too many  washed out dirt roads, I settled on a road near the Integratron. It was secluded enough, and late enough for us not to be disturbed.

I set the camera on a tripod, ran a couple test exposures, using the full moon as a back light, and did a quick demonstration to show what could be done with a little time and imagination with a flashlight. Seeing the results of the demo on the back of the camera was all it took to peak their curiosity. The next hour or so was spent creating a few dozen images, marveling at the results, and making a few tweaks here and there.

I like to think we all had a good time, and hope that maybe we can explore different paths of creativity from time to time in the future.

Heart

Kaetlyne’s Heart

Desert Abstracts

Desert Abstracts

Kilyne's Tribute

Ode to Kaleb

 

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