Another Magazine Article!


Well, I completely lost track of the week and did not get the weekly podcast recorded in time for publication today.  So, while I could have gone with the alliterative “Forgetful Friday” blog title, I figured that would have been a little too on the nose.  So, instead, I’ll share the exciting news that the latest issue of PhotographyBB magazine has been published.  Dave Seeram, editor-in-chief, announced it a few days ago on the website, so do stop over and download the latest article now. Make sure you take a peek at the article Photography Food for Thought (pgs 19-22), it was the contribution of yours truly to this months issue!  Of course the rest of the magazine is a worthwhile read too.  I particularly enjoyed Dave’s article on Photoshop Retouching.  He’s got a unique balance of technical expertise and translating that skill to the written word. Thanks go out to Dave and the entire publishing crew over at PhotographyBB for another opportunity to share an article with a wider audience than is here at CB!

That’s it for this week.  Happy shooting, have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here Monday with the belated podcast!

Thursday Thoughts with… Chris Breedlove

The “Thursday Thoughts Series” returns this week with an inside look at the work of Chris Breedlove.  Chris was mentioned to me by Rob Jones over at Towner Jones Photography when he participated.  I got in touch with Chris and asked if he’d be interested in participating.  Happily, he agreed to jump in the foray here.  So, let’s give a big welcome to Chris Breedlove!

Q:  Everyone always wants to know some of the basics, so let’s get a few things out of the way at once here… how long have you been a photographer?

A:  In some degree I have always been a photographer – ever since I picked up my first Pentax 35 mm (film).  Although, I had some issues with understanding certain basics about the camera; but I always had it at my side.  When I went to college I took a course on developing film and b/w portraiture.  The professor I took was a good man, but could not relate to me very well on how to truly get the most out of the camera.  Nonetheless, I kept trying.  When I graduated college I was hired at that same University in their media relations department; it was then that I got my first digital SLR, a Canon 20D.  After I could see the image and really grasp the world of digital photography, then everything became more and more clear and exciting to me, especially, the world of off-camera flash.

Q:  Canon, Nikon, Sonly, Olympus, Pentax or some other brand?

A:  I started with a Canon 20D, but for the past 4 years I have been shooting with an amazing camera: a Nikon D200.  The D200 is out of date but this camera holds great significance to me; it is the first camera I bought with my own money.  I bought a D200 w/ vertical grip and a 70-200 f/2.8 lens.  Just recently, I have added to my arsenal a Nikon N80 film camera.  (My future camera purchases will be a Nikon D3 & Nikon F6).

Q:  Even though this is predominantly a blog about digital photography, I hit recently on what appears to be a resurgence of film.  Do you have any thoughts on film photography?  Have you ever shot with film?  If so, any particular types of film that you’ve enjoyed using?

A:  I truly love film, I always have.  But, due to not understanding film and how to shoot film in the beginning I allowed that valuable lesson to slip me by.    This is not the case anymore.  I am gradually making the mark back to film and I am absolutely ecstatic about what I am seeing.  (All the b/w images featured are examples of my wedding film work).  Film represents more than an image taken with a digital camera; it represents a true moment forever captured in time, un-manipulated, unrehearsed, captured art.

I shoot primarily Professional B/W film speeds; Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodak T-Max 3200, and a little Ilford Delta 3200 here and there.

Q:    Mac, PC, or Linux?

A:  Once you go MAC, you don’t go back.

Q:  Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry?

A:  This question can only be answered by expressing my much needed and much appreciated desires for French-Pressed Coffee and Rich Chocolate.  Mix them together, a whole new world emerges.

Q:  I guess that would mean chocolate, eh?  Moving into a little more granularity, photographers often enjoy hearing helpful and constructive critiques of their work, as we are aware of how much we can grow from it.  However, we’ve also all had the “nice shot” and “cool” comments when we’ve shared our work. What was the singular most useful critique or comment you’ve ever had on work you’ve shared publicly?

A:  The most useful comment I have ever received is: “less is more.”  How true is that; for us all.  Technology rapidly advances every day and more cameras are coming out with the best ISO ratings, sensors, frame rates, etc., but, just because you have the power to take a thousand images per event or live by the philosophy “shoot now, ask later,” does that necessarily mean you should?  Less is more has been dramatically helpful in my wedding work.  I will talk with a bride and when I relate that I shoot film and only a limited amount of portraits will be shot compared to a thousand files uploaded; they get ecstatic.  Sometimes, I feel that the wedding photography industry has a tendency to overload the brides and grooms of tomorrow with endless amounts of files and photos; the goal is to tell a story not a mini-series.

Another helpful critique that was told to me not to long ago is “slow-down.”  The wedding day is packed with lots happening and lots to be photographed, but when we as professionals run all over the place trying to capture that “perfect” moment; we lose the beauty of that moment.  A photographer should be on his/her toes but not at the expense of ruining those tender moments for those in attendance, more importantly the bride and groom.

Keep in mind: less is more & slow-down.

Q:  If someone was asking you for an honest critique of their work, what 3 factors would you look at most (excluding friendships or family relatives, we’re talking professional or fellow photographer-types here)?

A:  If someone was asking me for an honest critique I would look at these factors: emotion and perspective, these two work hand in hand.  Wedding Photography, or any photography for that matter, is not about fancy equipment or the latest photography gear; it’s about telling a story with the tools you have.  It’s about capturing emotion through unique perspectives. Anybody can capture a smile or a hug at any event, but what excites me about photographing a wedding is capturing those exceptional and special moments and more than that; revealing the love that the bride and groom (even the guests) have for one another.

Q:  Wow, that’s a great mentality to have for an approach to wedding photography and constructive critique perspectives.  So, you obviously enjoy capturing moments.  With software seeing the development it has in recent years though, you could almost create images without a camera.  If you had to choose between the gear or the software as the only way to create, which would it be and why?

A:  If I had to choose between the gear or the latest software; it would be the gear.  I am not a Photoshop gu-ru.  Photoshop is a tool, not the means to create.  Photography will always begin and end with the gear.  Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive gear (although we all wish we could afford and have the most expensive stuff) to tell a story.  It is how you use what you currently have in your hands to do the job.  Photography, in my opinion, should always be about telling a story; not creating one.  Graphic Design and Graphic Arts, is a different story.

Q:  If you had to pick three to six pictures out of your entire portfolio to represent your approach to photography, or your artistic vision, which ones would you pick (feel free to share images here)?

Q:  Any final thoughts you’d like to share about the state of photography or any catch phrases that you keep in mind when shooting?

A:  When I am photographing a wedding (or anything in general) I always remember it’s not about me; it is about capturing a moment forever embedded in time on a photograph.  That’s what photography is to me.

Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to participate in the Thursday Thoughts Series!  Your work is really impressive and a true pleasure to look at and enjoy.  For anyone interested in seeing more about Chris, stop over and enjoy his website, his blog, and feel free to share your thanks with him via email too.  In the meantime, thanks all for stopping in and continuing to read and support the CB blog and podcast series.  Happy shooting and we’ll see you back here tomorrow!

License Lockout

First off, a bit of quick news about the blog in general:  the layout has changed.  Can anyone tell the difference?  It’s a rather significant one, so hopefully it won’t go unnoticed! 🙂  Chime in and that’s your chance at winning the Think Tank Photo Streetwalker bag I reviewed a few weeks ago right here on the blog!

So, back on today’s post topic, as part of my maintenance routine that I recently posted, last evening I was doing some of my extended “IT” maintenance on my Windows computer.  As a part of that maintenance, I was trying to optimize my hard drive performance, and thus resorted to cleaning out temp files, cache files, history files, restore points, and other sundry stuff.  A defrag procedure on the hard drive, and I was back up to some pretty screaming speeds again.  Puffing out the chest at getting a 5 year old Dell running a 2.4 Ghz Celeron processor, Windows XP, and 2 GB of RAM to move that fast without over-clocking, I checked off on what I thought was a job well done.

Then I opened Photoshop:

CS3 Error

Uh oh – it seems I cleaned things out a little too much.  Well, since I have diligently kept all my media, documentation, license#’s and other information in multiple places, I was easily able to find the needed materials to re-install.  But, here’s the thing – that would require importing all my actions again, re-installing other elements like Noise Ninja, and then also go in and customize all the features I like (scrolling with my mouse to zoom in and out of the image, curves menu with more lines, etc.)  Who wants to do all that?  Well, not me!  So, off to Google I went.

That five minutes on Google doing some research saved me probably two hours of software maintenance time.  Adobe has a neat little utility that can be downloaded and run when things like this happen to restore your licensing info without having to go through the entire re-installation.  Not sure what it does or how it does it, but the utility is very handy, so I thought to share it with the reading audience today.  Here’s the download link, and supporting reading materials.

Licensing Service Update

The underlying point here though, is that even the extensive maintenance I itemized the other day does not cover everything.  Go into Photoshop, copy your preferences down via image pastes into a Word doc or other such format.  Make a copy of your plugins folder external to PS – the same goes for Actions, noise removal, automation tasks, brushes, etc., etc., etc.!  With as advanced and complex has an application like Photoshop has become – you can save a ton of time if you take some proactive measures.

What do you save from your Photoshop configuration settings?  Share your ideas in the comments!  As always, thanks for tuning in, keep on shooting, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow – Thursday Thoughts returns again with Chris Breedlove!