…here to learn and share photography and all that encompasses this art.

Dwayne’s Thoughts

What’s Behind the Story

January 16, 2012


Story telling

From cover to cover, in this case, from edge to edge

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so they say.  Well, I have been told by my photography buddies that the images taken should tell a story.  Honestly, I don’t always try to tell a story, but then again, sometimes I do…well, I think I do.

Some images don’t always tell stories; it may just be a pretty shot, with color, patterns, shapes and so on.  Capturing the moment for keepsake purposes and memories is another example.

Creating a story for a single image is difficult for me.  I won’t lie; it takes me plenty of time to think of how I want to shoot it to tell that story.  Our assignment this week, which is due when this article is posted (dated above) is air or gas. What does that mean you ask?  Like any piece of art, it is up to ones interpretation as to the meaning and how that piece of art that will be created.

So what does that mean to me, and how will I compose my image for my assignment?  hmm.  The difficulty of creating a story is best handled when I am driving to and from work.  My 75 minute commute (one way) offers me an abundance of time to think of a game plan–what, where to shoot it and how to light it; not to mention, it makes the drive seem quick.  But use whatever method works for you.  It may come easier to some as they may be more “left brain” oriented.  I believe I am favoring my right side but I do also want to exercise the left.

I will share my image later in the post.  You are more than welcome to share your thoughts of the image.

So, telling a story should have some meaning or relevance to the subject…right?  It may even include emotions like laughter,  sadness or anger or something in between.  If you look at any of the Pulitzer prize photos, they will grab you and tug at your soul…someway and somehow.

Another recommended way to use photography to tell your story is with multiple images.  It can be a series of shots in sequence or a collage of photos.

The next time you go shoot, here is your assignment; pick a subject, find the subject and tell your story of your subject…and it doesn’t have to be in that order.  To make it even more challenging, do not include a title with your image.

Enjoy the adventure.  Shutters away…



Air or Gas…my interpretation

The effects of...

Signs, signs everywhere a sign…

May 14, 2011

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

Everywhere you go there are signs telling where you are, how to get there, and whether or not you are allowed there.

This holds true in photography as well.  I would agree to most rules when it deals with taking pictures on private property or if there will be harm done while in the process of capturing a shot, either property or people.

This is pretty much black and white as I see it.  If I ever choose to disregard a rule or a sign stating no photography allowed, it better have been worth it!!

Some examples that I have seen and are aware of are government agencies, malls, professional and amateur sporting events, and museums to name a few.

I bring up this topic due to an incident I witnessed at one of our local swim meets.  It is very important that all people attending these meets  understand and obey these rules.  I do not tolerate stupidity when it comes to the safety of children.  At all sanctioned Southern California Swimming meets,  flash photography is not allowed at the start of any race nor is any photography allowed behind the starting blocks at the start of a race.

This meet was no different than any other except for one stupid moron had to snap some shots behind the blocks at the start of a race.  And if you are wondering the reason for this rule, it is because these CHILDREN are in a starting position and being photographed from behind is:

  1. not flattering (if you catch my drift) and
  2. can get you arrested and toss in jail or
  3. you will have to deal with me and
  4. any or all combinations of the above

Needless to say, this clown was told!  He had the nerve to disobey and argue with the Officials on deck which led to a delay to the meet for approximately 5-10 minutes as they tried to get this guy to fess up what team he was with, so that they could inform the Team representative and take appropriate action(s).  I observed the the dispute from across the pool but had no idea as to the details.  He had eventually walked away.  When I went to speak with Officials between races, they had told me the story and I was ticked!!  My agenda at that point was to find this guy, find out who he is and what team he is associated with.  Fortunately for him but unfortunately for me, I was unable to locate him after walking the entire area multiple times.

Going back to the topic, please obey these rules.  To borrow a saying from a friend of mine, its not that I’m a saint nor are my headaches caused because my halo is to tight, but its an issue with courtesy, privacy and safety…in this case child safety.  There are plenty of subjects to shoot.  If there are any restrictions that you disagree with, ask someone why.  There is usually a good reason.

Enough said.  Thanks for allowing me to vent a bit.  I hope this post was informative, at minimum.


Go Wide or Go Home??

April 29, 2011

compose, focus then make the shot


This month I was able to take a trip out to a famous golf course in the Palm Springs area. No, I was not there for the Coachella Music Fest. I was there for yet another swim meet.

Anyway, I was fortunate to have borrowed my friends 11-16 f/2.8. He was gracious enough to let me borrow it for the weekend. My intentions were to get up at the crack of dawn and wander the course armed with my DSLR and this lens. Waking up at 0545 hrs, the sun was not yet visible. I decided to start my trek and scope out a scenic spot to start my shoot. When the sun broke, it seemed to be accelerated as I found myself shooting, then noticing the sun had risen quite a bit. I did manage to get some decent shots all with a wide angle.

So do I think you should go home if you do not have a wide angle lens? Not at all! There is definitely a niche for this type of lens; and landscape is definitely one of them. I had taken this to the meet as well seeing what creative shots could be done at poolside. Again, I was pleasantly surprised from the results of the shoot. Keep in mind that when trying to capture an individual swimmer with a wide angle, it is not wise unless you are in the water with them…which would disqualify them (not a good idea); not to mention that your camera is not waterproof…at least mine isn’t.

With this lens I noticed the focusing was not as critical as with my zoom. Meaning turning the focus ring to the left or right slightly would not disrupt the images focus. DoF was fairly broad even at 2.8. It seem to be difficult to mess up a shot. I was able to focus my attention more on composition and lighting. This was a fun excursion for me, and I will have to go back in the winter when I remembered the sunrise being even more beautiful.

This will be a lens that I will purchase sometime in the future, until then, I will either rent or borrow if the need arises as I have not been shooting a whole lot of landscapes.


Watermarks and Copyright

March 18, 2011

Penned and shot by me…


I thought  I would do some research on this matter as this has been brought up in quite a few articles; as well, my brother was asking what method I used to insert my domain name onto my photo.  Being that I am NOT a Judge, Lawyer, Attorney, or let alone doing business in the legal industry, I must say that the opinions shared within this post are strictly my opinions, derived from research from different websites.  Please seek proper legal counsel if accuracy is needed.

Let me first address my brother’s question as this may be a question asked by others.  The means of inserting a logo, domain name or an image (aka watermark) to identify this outwardly to be your creation is done through many post processing and stand alone watermark programs.  Using the post processing SW, there is usually an options tab which has a place to insert text and maybe a graphic.  This happens usually upon export and is by far the simplest means of inserting this “identifier”.

Once you have placed your watermark on your image, does this now make the image yours?  In actuality, the image was yours (ie copyrighted) the moment you clicked the shutter.  Whether you snap a photo, draw a picture or brush some color on canvas, these are instantly copyrighted.  Def. – Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.

Now, let’s take it one step further.  The real reason you want to watermark your image is to deter someone from taking that image and using it for personal gain…typically monetary gain…right?  As this is a deterrent, there seems to be one more step needed to enable you to take action and demand financial restitution for anyone taking and using your prized images you worked so hard to create.  The crucial step is to register the image with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Doing so will allow you to bring a lawsuit for infringement.  I have not yet needed or wanted to register any of my posted images, however I may be doing so in the future.

I hope this helps answer some rudimentary questions and intrigues you to learn more.  For more information on copyright, you may visit the U.S. Copyright Office website.



March 11, 2011

another menu option – setting of your choice

…The Sky’s the Limit


Consistency is one of the keys to successful photography.  Whether you shoot in Auto mode, full manual or somewhere in between, or whether you shoot for fun, for free or for money,  consistency will allow you to save time in post and allow your shots to be more uniform.

This post will be referring to the setting called white balance. In almost all digital cameras there is a setting called white balance.  This setting will allow you choose the desire color temperature depending on the environment.  You may have noticed that there are icons/symbols to represent the different temperatures; such as a florescent light, an  incandescent light bulb, a sun or cloud, and there also may also be others.  The one I want to key into is the AWB or Auto White Balance.  Here the camera will meter the scene and determine which color will be best suited for the particular shot.   Please read your manual to get a full understanding of the way white balance works with your camera.

When began shooting digital, I was shooting  in AWB as this was recommended to me.  Most of my images were fine but from time to time, I noticed the camera would choose another WB setting as it was detecting something different in the scene.  However, after shooting for some time, listening and reading what some of  the experts were recommending, and pondering the theory of how white balance works, there seemed to be flaws to this logic if you plan on having your shots come out with a consistent color temperature.  I know what you are thinking…what if you shoot RAW?…then you can change all the shots in post?  Yes, that is true; post processing will allow you to change the white balance if shot RAW.  However, there may be some folks that shoot JPEG and/or it would be another step in post that can be eliminated if adjusted correctly in camera.  Again, this is something that helped me and may not necessarily work for everyone.

There are a few ways to do do this; one way is to use one of the presets, for example, on a sunny day you may just set the WB to the “Sun” setting or on a cloudy day, use the “Cloud” setting…you get the point, yeah?  Once you are done with the shoot, hopefully the white balance is correct, images are all uniform and you are ecstatic with the results.  If not, you can do a batch edit to the images and change the white balance in post.

Another way is to use a color card either gray or white to meter the scene.  15% gray or a white card is recommended, and there are professional companies that sell these cards.  I have not used these cards as this would incur a cost that may or may not be worth it to someone on a limited budget…like me.  I have used a white object, like a white canopy and a white card.  I also use a preset white image that is in my camera.  These methods have done me well.

Again, there is no right or wrong, just personal preference.  Bottom line is that you should be happy with your images and how they came out.  If there is anything that can be attained from trying different techniques, it would be knowledge; knowledge of your camera, art and what the outcome is if you did_________(fill in the blank).

If you have a different method that works for you I would be interested in hearing about and possibly trying it.  Who knows, there may be a better way to fry an egg.

Thanks again for stopping by…


Going cheap…

March 03, 2011






you’ll figure it out soon enough


Let say you attend an event where there are other photographer, and these photographers have these high dollar camera’s with their magnesium bodied lenses.  You get home and that’s all you can think about…that really expensive lens.  Well, we all go through the same dilemma with lenses, accessories and even camera bodies.  It is nice to have the best, but the best may not necessarily give you the best image.

A good image comes from behind the camera.  I know this because I have seen some fantastic shots taken with a point and shoot, and I am sure there are many great images taken with even a smartphone.  If you think about it, there are many great photographers that have taken images which will be in our history books for years to come.  Those images were taken with a much less sophisticated camera.  The cameras that we shoot with today are many times better than any camera had 10-20 years ago, and the famous image takers of the past were able to produce monumental shots.

So practice with you have, and get use to the functions of your gear.  At the same time, study what it takes to create a good/great image.  Look at other images taken by other photographers.  It may inspire you to create a similar shot.   There may be time when what you have does not allow you to do the creative things that you require.  At that time, it may be a calling to upgrade.  Until then, do your best to compose your image, utilize the available lighting and dial in the settings to get a great image in camera.

As for accessories, I personally love to make things.  One, it save on the $$$$ and two, there is a sense of accomplishment.  One of my first DIY projects was a softbox for my Sunpak flash.  There were many websites that showed how to make these…from small ones, to large 4 x 4 boxes on a stand.  My box was a little guy that fit over the flash head.  It was constructed with some left over cardboard, lined with foil and taped together.  For the diffuser, I originally used a old, ratty t-shirt.  Then I went out and bought a piece of muslin that was whopping $1…or less (because I bought a couple yards of this stuff, about $5).  The next step is for me to purchase some plastic sheets like ABS and glue them, creating a much sturdier softbox.

Below is a shot I took of these opaque figurines.  I lit them with my diffused flash from behind, making them glow.  Colored gels would have been cool too, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any nor did I think about it…darn!

Not only am I cheap, but I am on a budget as I do have a family to feed.  So, when it came down to taking the flash off the camera, I went with the Cowboy Studios’ transmitter and receiver.  For the fraction of the cost of the high dollar TX/RX systems, this has worked great!  It allowed me to light my subjects in ways that I would not if the flash were stuck on the hot shoe (as with the figurines above).

I do watch the bottom line (or try to) as should any individual or business.  It is very easy to over extend especially when it comes to photography equipment.

Find out what you like to shoot and gear up for those types of shoots.  If you primarily shoot sports from the stands, then a macro/micro lens may not be necessary.  If there is a need for accessories to try, it may be best to rent online or from your local camera house.  And truly, it can also save from inventorying items that are used on rare occasions.



March 01, 2011


practice, practice, practice…then you can soar

I’ve been told by many of photographers to shoot and shoot often.  As the old saying goes, “Practice makes Perfect”.  Well, that is partially true.  If  you shot with the lens cap on all the time, then no matter how often you shoot, your images will always be underexposed…or should I say, un-exposed.

Instead, as was taught by our Sensei (teacher) it should be stated “Perfect Practice makes Perfect”.  Meaning, try to get it right in camera, which will decrease your time in post and increase your success rate of “keepers”.  In the beginning there will be many shots that you will not like; however, as time and practice ensues, you will have more and more shots in you keeper folder.

After your shoot, download them and review them.  If there is something that you find that isn’t correct, look online for alternative techniques to achieve the look you want.  With the World Wide Web, there is sooooo much information out there, from many different sources, that learning is endless.

Speaking of WWW, there are also many camera clubs and forums that can offer up suggestions.  Don’t take them as gospel, but only as suggestions.  What works for one person may not work for another.

Now take the techniques learned, and put them to practice.  Look at the difference after you’ve shot again, and see if there is more tweaking needed (in camera that is).  If you obtained the look that you envisioned, keep practicing it.  Some of your peers may or may not appreciate the look that you desired from the image…that’s okay.  We all see differently.  What really matters is that you enjoy the image as well as the process which led to the end result.

As mentioned earlier these are what works for me and if it works for you, that is awesome.  If not, there are many other photographer’s and shooting techniques/styles.



March 01, 2011


…or if you like this image, it’s salivation

Warm greetings,

I would like to welcome you to the first blog of this site.  In future posts, I will be sharing many things with you on this site which I find useful; some learned by trial and error, and some taught by other photographers like myself.  Stay tuned for some good stuff.

Please feel free to leave me a message with any suggestions or constructive criticism.  Photography, as with any trade or profession, the learning never stops.  Let us all learn together, and collectively we will grow in knowledge.