Shades Of Sepia

Photographic art & community shared thru photography.

Picture Or Photograph? What’s The Difference?


I will answer this question in the context of street photography. It is interesting how many people don’t get street photography. But trust me, there is much beauty within street photography. We all know that photography is an art form; however, along with the art from, comes the philosophy of photographic art itself. The whole philosophical aspect of photographic art is not only huge, but it’s meaning is also personal and individual. I think one of the problem many people may possibly have with street photography, is that people align street photography on the same level as picture taking with our cellphones (socially); and I don’t necessarily consider these two things the same (now I could be wrong about that, but that’s what’s in my thoughts right know). I’m sure that if my readers were to ask 300 street photographers why they do what they do; you’d get 300 different answers, and possibly 100 additional in depth responses.

Although I enjoy MANY different kinds of photography, I think street photography is up there with my “most liked” list. It is not just taking random pictures of people, but capturing the true nature of people. In my own words, how I’d like to explain it is, there are two very distinct and measurable differences between a picture, and a photograph taken on the street. If I ask a man in a football uniform to stop what he’s doing to pose for me, I interpret that to be a picture. Why? He is temporarily altering his state of mind, while preparing himself to pose. However, if I take a picture of that same man while he is playing football in his uniform, I am now helping to tell his story, by capturing him doing what he loves; which is football. I now have the opportunity to capture part of his essence, at which point becomes a photograph. It’s about telling the story of culture and life through my lens.

Note: The only time I would accept a pose (and quite a few have for me), is if that person as a ham. There is a certain energy that a ham gives off; and if that’s the case, that person is naturally being who they are. I would then consider that a photograph, because they are not taking a moment to alter their state of being.

© 2014 /

About Saving Money On Photography?

Optical-EquipmentI think we know by now that whether you are a professional or just a hobbyist, photography can be very expensive for everyone (regardless of your level). Unlike shopping for a desktop computer, there are some technologies within photography that will always remain consistent. Which theoretically should make purchasing a camera a little easier (or at least help narrow down your choices (this is not always true, but it does help somewhat)). Because finances and tight budgets is a reality for most Americans today, it is even more crucial that you not only have a good understanding of basic camera technology, but your manufacture’s accessory lines and what the features are worth in the current market. Remember, the money you pay is for the featured technologies, not for the “longevity” of your unit. Especially when it comes to the lenses; lenses have mechanical moving parts, therefore will suffer wear and tear one day. Although you can have maintenance done to your equipment, that doesn’t guarantee said part can’t become unusable because of what you “paid” for it. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that your camera/lens can’t last for many years, so long as you take good care of them.

This article is really focused on the new hobbyist, but I guess some veterans can be helped by this too. I’d like to discuss how you can save money on camera bodies and lenses. I’ve worked in retail for many years and would like to share with you a few things that I feel can be beneficial to some. But as I do this, it is important that I go through a few retail vocabulary heard in most stores today. Businesses and manufacturers are required by law to label the state of the products they are selling. Here are four common labels.

OPEN BOX: An open box is simply an item returned by the customer. I know many consumers get squeamish about open boxes, but there really isn’t anything wrong with buying one. I’ve worked for several retail stores, and I can honestly say that the most common reason for someone returning an item is because either that customer realized they purchased way above their means, or the sales person oversold the customer; sometimes it was also because the product was too complicated for the purchaser to setup. If there is no damage to the product or manufacture malfunction, a restocking fee is often charged to the customer for the return. Restocking fees are usually charged at a percentage, additional charges can be tacked on if parts are missing from the return. This is because it is no longer manufacture “new” and the product must be now resold at a discounted price to the next customer. Defianz-one-year-warranty-badgeRestocking fees cover the financial loss retail business get when dealing with open box items. Be aware, manufacture warranties are sometimes different on open boxes. Many retailers are not aware of this. Make sure that the open box includes the warranty certificate. If the item does NOT have the warranty certificate, and it is a big ticket item, CONTACT THE MANUFACTURE DIRECTLY FIRST, AND FIND OUT WHAT THEIR WARRANTY POLICY IS ON OPEN BOXED ITEMS. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE STORE, UNLESS THEY ARE OFFERING THEIR STORE WARRANTY AT A GOOD PACKAGE DEAL. This is important, most sales people assume that the warranty is the same as new, but not always with some manufacturers. Also find out if the manufacturer will still honor the warranty if there are any pre-existing physical damage on the unit (very important)! Do not say I didn’t warn you! If you don’t believe, well quite frankly its your problem, and it will be. And don’t go back to the store 60 days later and say, it’s broken and I need it fixed without a warranty, cause you bought it from them..

REFURBISHED: Do not confuse refurbished products with open boxed items, because sometimes they can be both! Refurbished items are products that have been returned to the manufacture, then serviced, then returned back to the retail store. Sometimes the unit hasn’t been actually “serviced or repaired.” Sometimes the product was returned because it was missing an accessory, NOT because the product was ever damaged. Sometimes the product was refurbished because the casing was slightly damaged on shipping; so the manufacture replaces the body, however everything else is technically brand new. Sometimes depending on the manufacture, the retailer, and sometimes the current market, the refurbished product is sold at an insanely low price. Especially with camera lenses because lenses have a high turnaround rate; and most retailers don’t want to be stuck with older models, so to get rid of it fast, they will sell the items at a significant price reduction (which benefits both consumer and business. Refurbished products almost always come with original packaging, and warranty certificates. Manufacture honors their warranties in full on all refurbished products (this has been my experience on all major manufacturers).

USED: The term “used” is self explanatory. However, there is a difference between “retail used,” and someone selling on eBay used. It is extremely important that you carefully inspect every camera or lens you before you purchase from someone. Keep in mind that if you purchase from a camera store, you get at least a 30 day in-store warranty, and an option to purchase an extended store warranty for that “used” product.

DISPLAY PRODUCTS: Personally I would stay away from purchasing a camera display. Unless they are giving you a great deal, with warranty included.

Although I personally prefer my camera body brand new instead of “used” (just cause I don’t want wear and tear), however open boxed/used/refurbished products are a huge business in the photography world; and you should not be scared of them, so long as you are on your P’s and Q’s. Make sure that the store/person you’re buying it from has a good reputation. If you’re buying online such as amazon, make sure the vendor (not the product) you’re ordering from has a good rating. You want to make sure that the vendor sold refurbished before, and that consumers imagehad a good experience, and they are trustworthy. I find that you can get better deals on lenses (which is more important). I have purchased refurbished lenses for more than half off it’s market value (be it online or in a retail store). Personally, I would only purchase from a vendor and NOT an individual, because 99 percent of the time, if you want to return the item there is no hassle. Even if you purchased your refurbished item in a retail store, if you purchased their extended warranty, you are still getting it at a significant reduction in price. In terms of lenses, I think it’s worth getting the store warranty; simply because it is a mechanical unit with moving parts, and if you use it a lot, it may need maintenance every once in a while (which labor and parts costs). Understanding what lens you are buying, and it’s market value is key. A Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX Nikkor, is not that same as a Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR the big difference in price is because one has VR (Vibration Reduction) and the other doesn’t. So don’t go on a rant inside a store saying “that looks like it will work in my camera “how come I can’t have it for xxxx price?” Also, be forewarned, aperture, and the “from” and “to” zoom capacity of your lens makes a difference in price. Also keep in mind, the smaller the aperture number the greater the price, the greater the zoom capacity the greater the price; not to mention the physical weight of the lens will also increase. Do not equate the heavy weight with having a “sturdy quality,” it’s just that more glass is needed to get the type of lens you need. Period. Understand the differences between cropped and full framed lenses. Not all 3rd party lens work good with brand named cameras (plus the quality isn’t always equivalent either).

In the end, do your research because it will pay off big time. It is ultimately your decision, but there is no doubt that understanding photo technology will give you a huge edge when it comes to buying parts and accessories for your camera. Please do not depend solely on the sales person. Good luck!



About Our Cameras: What Are The Most Important Things Before You Shoot?

nikonThere are literally billions of web articles on tips on how to take the “perfect” photo; probably there exist an even larger amount on printed magazines by now. Each author’s article has their own spin on what is a “perfect” photo. In my opinion, I’m not sure if such a thing exists? I say this simply because like any other forms of art, the meaning of what is perceived to be a “perfect” photograph, is subject to one’s personal opinion. But at the same time, a truly artistic photograph’s purpose is not to tell the viewer “look how beautiful I look.” The purpose of photographic art is to make the viewer think about it’s story (although it can be both beautiful and tell a story). But what is the formula for this? This is one of those questions I’m not sure I would readily answer in a room full of paid photographers; many times these conversations can turn in to the equivalent of political discussions. Although, I think its still important to listen in to some of those discussions, because often times you’d hear valuable information. The important thing is to only add those things that resonate with you personally, before you add them to your existing pool of photographic knowledge; opposed to just taking that information and let it become a part of you. In other words, one single thing isn’t going to work for every situation. In my opinion, this is just as bad as someone who never gets off using his/her automatic settings; yet often that same person usually bombards you with millions of questions about “how did you do that.” Just for the record, personally I don’t mind when people ask questions; this is how we learn obviously. But, if you really don’t intend on opening your mind to experiencing new ways of doing things, how do you expect to really understand photography? Especially if you have a DSLR? Keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with staying on automatic if that’s what makes you feel most comfortable. However, any good photographer will tell you, your camera can’t calculate the best exposure all the time. Having said that, there comes a time when you will need to take control.

If you want to get off auto, there are 7 major parts of your camera you MUST understand and grasp. There is no way of getting around this, if you don’t want to take the time to understand these 7 principles, then it makes no sense talking to a photographer about creating the “perfect” shot:

  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Shutter
  • Focus Modes & Focus Points
  • White Balance
  • Flash
  • Natural Light

Anything beyond these 7 (that I can think of at the moment) are unimportant. When your camera is set to auto, 6 out of these 7 things are controlled by your camera. I’m just going to give you a quick run-down. Anything beyond what I’ve written you can use Google.

Aperture. This is what gives you your depth of field (or bokeh). What creates this? It is the hole that the shutter blades create inside your lens. The wider the blade, the smaller the F-stop. The greater the F-stop number, the smaller the shutter hole will be. Smaller number for greater depth of field, larger number for less depth. When using certain lens filters, be sure to read the documentation, because some of them actually take away a couple of stops, and you’ll have to compensate/take in to account.

ISO. Simply put, it’s your sensors sensitivity to light.

Shutter. This is what controls your exposure time. Contrary to beliefs, the shutter is not the granddaddy of all camera features. It is simply a function like any other camera function. There is no magic shutter number. The only number that’s important, is the number that is needed for that split second in time.

Focus Mode & Focus Points. I almost forgot about this. Not sure if it’s called something different on the Cannon. But the focus mode and focal points are extremely important, especially if you’re shooting sports. it can really help reduce blur as a result of continuous movements from your subject. Learning how to use this feature can also ensure that several subjects are all focused in one frame.

White Balance. Not enough photographer talk about white balance. White balance controls the “white” in the color your sensor sees, and keeps it balanced. I think the best way I can explain it Camera_tips_custom_white_balance_gearcraft.step2_is, your camera interprets light color by using the kelvin temperature scale system. Many different light sources emanate light at various temperatures. So for instance, if your indoors, the sun would be one light source, your light bulbs is another light source, florescent light bulbs is another source, candles is a light source, mirrors can also be a new light source (because it bounces light, the direction of where the light is bouncing from can change temperature too). Believe it or not, whether it’s Winter or Summer also effects temperature emanating from light sources. Your camera tries to calculate and balance the correct colors based on the readings of the various temperatures, but staying in automatic mode doesn’t always do a good job. If this happens, you manually use a “White Balance” card to tell your camera what temperature level to start from. Do not confuse this with using “flash color correcting gels.” The difference between the gels and white balance, is that gels cast a color hue over the entire frame; whereas the “White Balance” feature changes/shifts your camera’s internal color palate. Although you can change the White Balance using a good photo editing software, I think it’s worth doing it in your camera instead. There are a ton of videos on youtube about White Balance.

External/Internal Flash. I feel that flashes are under discussed in the photography community too. Guys, know that flash is not the enemy! Sometimes you need a little help from your flash, it’s not a bad thing. However, I should also add that if you want to make most of your flash, you should know how to operate both external and internal manually as well. Understanding when and when not to use a diffuser, and what kind of diffuser. There may also be times when you will need to use a flash off camera; and understanding how to control the power is important. Its all part of learning how to manipulate light in order to get the exposure you want. The flash is just another different kind of light.

Natural Light. The last one is not a camera feature, but it is the very essence of photo taking. We must learn how to see light. The direction of light, its shadows, contours it makes around the subject, and so forth. All of these things will help you figure out the best camera position, angles, and poses for your subject. Once you can see light, you can learn how to manipulate it to serve your purpose.

Side Effects. It’s equally important to note that all these five important features all control light in different ways. But they also all have side effects. An aperture hole too small will become too dark. An aperture hole too open with an high ISO would be staggeringly white in some circumstances. Even different white cards can give you different results, which is one of the reasons why some photographers are anal when it comes to certain products. Each lighting condition will give you different results. Not every bad exposure can be fixed in LightRoom or Paintshop, so it’s important for you to take the initiative and do the extra work required for a good shot. Understanding the above will help you get the photograph that YOU want, and gain better control of your camera. Although the type of lens and sensor you have does make a difference too; however, even if you don’t have the most expensive equipment, understanding all of the principles above will help create the best photograph using your available resources.

Alright, this article has gotten longer than I planned 🙂 The bottom line, practice, practice, and more practice. Inform yourself, inform yourself, and even more reading, as well as being in the midst of other photographers. Having read the above article, now do you see why it’s insane that any person would make the claim that digital photography is “so much easier” than film? I digress. I hope this article was of value to you. Thanks for visiting.



Every Photograph Is Important!

Bronx Walk: Morrisania & Claremont VillageSomething that came to mind whilst I was responding to a Facebook question involving photographs. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to encourage a new resolution in 2015 for photographers. I didn’t realize that a lot of photographers perform massive deletions of photographs they feel are “not up to par.” I encourage all photographers to NOT delete photographs unless you are absolutely sure that the photographs in question are not usable. I think file deletions are more common with photographers who do street photography mostly. I think that it is important for people to realize “street photography” is a world of difference from “studio photography.” It is important to note that in terms of working towards capturing a meaningful photograph whilst on the street (on foot) is a lot harder than most people are willing to give credit for (and that includes many “professional studio photographers”). The fact of the matter is, there are so many variables that can effect your exposure in a fraction of a second. Because of this, it is very important that the photographer is able to not only think fast, but master their camera so that they can make quick adjustments on the fly. Because street photography is about capturing life in the real world; the real world isn’t always perfect; and therefore sometimes even the best skilled photographers will occasionally get a percentage of images in their camera that will be imperfect.

The question I want people to think about is, “what is a bad photograph” exactly? Does a bad photograph mean that the photo is unusable? Or is it a bad photograph because for whatever reason you just don’t like it? Well, of course both of these can be true, but if the answer is that you just don’t like the photo; I don’t think it’s a good idea to just immediately delete them. If a photograph comes out a little blurry, turn it in to abstract art. If a photo is over exposed, maybe you can use that photo as a background. In other words what I’m trying to say is, part of having creativity is also being able to make use of anything and everything that you personally own, and that would include images. I also think that it’s important to save all images because we can make our own assessments as to what works for us and what doesn’t.


Floyd Bolin and Dottie Taylor: Photo Restoration

I have received permission from Kelly Mikton Bialk Bone, to post this historic photo on my blog. This was Floyd Bolin and Dottie Taylor of Newton Country Arkansas. Age of photo is estimated at around 1930’s. Kelly and I are in the same photo group on Facebook. She has given us permission to try and restore this wonderful photograph, and this is my end result. At first glance I thought it was easy; but once I started working on it, it required a lot more detail then I realize. In my opinion, images of this nature (and age) should always be restored as close to how it was originally taken as possible. Not only does it look better, it preserves the photo’s Nostalgia. Thanks Kelly for giving us the opportunity to restore this photo.






Warm Greetings


Here is a simple creative project that anyone can do. I used a large red cardboard (purchased from  a 99 cent store) as a background, and I purchased a xmas tree ball (which I also purchased from the 99 cent store. Geared up my flashes and tubes and fired it up. I think it came out a beautiful photograph, and yet I paid less than $3 dollars to achieve it. If you wanted to, you could even create something like this as a postcard and mail it to your family overseas. Staples always has printable postcards in stock; although I don’t remember how much they cost, I can’t imagine they would cost more than $10 depending on how many cards are in a box. Do you see why it helps to be creative? Instead of doing the same thing, day in and day out? I love being different, and I love being unique. All it takes is a little open mind, and the ideas will flow.


Working Around Software Limitations


Regardless of the forum I’m in, be it Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, or Lightroom; every once in a while someone will ask “does anybody know if one filter/action/script will work with another?” Many well meaning members would hastily say “yes they will work.” But the reality is, not all applications are equal (that includes Photoshop). If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life (whether it be my personal life, or professional) time and time again, is to NEVER assume anything. It is extremely important to do you’re research in anything you want to know, especially when it comes to computer technology; because software and hardware incompatibilities are almost the norm. In terms of photography, it’s not enough “to just learn Photoshop,” or “just how to use x third party application.” Personally, my belief is that it is more important to understand what you’re doing, than to learn what your doing. There are usually 3 main challenges when it comes to third party applications. The first is compatibility. Regardless of the version of Photoshop/Paintshop you have, older plugins may not work. Usually it’s because of optimizations that calls for the software to be restructured; and sometimes that restructuring doesn’t work with the way the plugins were originally designed to do. Second, sometimes for whatever reason, the programmer is no longer interested in supporting their work, and eventually winds up abandoning their software (both free or paid). This is also another reason why I don’t recommend newbies to go crazy and download thousands of plugins. It doesn’t make sense, it will take you longer to figure out which plugin that is appropriate for what your trying to do, than to just  process your photo. It is best to have a few main ones and that’s it (unless for those occasional one time use searches). Third are fonts, brushes, backgrounds, frames, and other elements. From my experience, these are often forgotten about by the programmer, or the programmer assumes you already have the elements they’ve used by default, causing errors during the process.

One way to get around these annoyances, is to consider using standalone applications. First off, right away I have to be upfront; the biggest downside of using standalone products is that you no longer can take advantage of marques/selection features. However, the flip side is, you don’t have to deal with incompatibilities because it’s standalone. The way you can use standalone applications to your best advantage, is to make about 4 copies of your original (including backup). I know many of my readers maybe saying “that’s too much;” however, you can never have too many backups when it comes to accidental mistakes including deletions). Take one photo and process them in your standalone application. Then import them back in to your main application using a layer. Now import your original under or over (depending on what you want to do, and modify your work that way. Yes I know it’s a lot more work, but then again, true art is never quick or easy. I think doing this is a great alternative, it will decrease the likelihood of you spending hours searching the internet for a similar plugin.



Photographers Squared: The Great American Shoot Out



Mindy Veissid & RA Friedman put together a very nice video conference (at B&H) about how they became photographers. Both are actually beautiful stories, and I recommend anyone who’s thinking about becoming a photographer to watch this video. They also talked about the current project they are involved in. Although this is somewhat a long video (slightly more than an hour) it’s worth watching. A lot of what they talked about I’ve mentioned in my blog. Well spoken video. I wish them luck on their project. Enjoy.

Are You A Limited Thinker?

Ernest Withers, civil rights photographer

Ernest Withers, civil rights photographer

In terms of photography, do you limit your creativity due to repetitiveness? Are you stuck in the same way of doing things over and over? This can be a good thing, and a bad thing as well. Sometimes it’s a good thing because often times there is just so much to know and learn when it comes to photography and graphic software, sometimes it may be best to just stick with a couple of basic tools and take it from there. On the other hand repetitiveness can turn in to habits, and habits often don’t inspire you to do things different in order to get those creative juices flowing. I was listening to a Youtuber not too long ago, and the person talked a little bit about studio photography. The veteran Youtuber confirmed what I’ve been thinking for a long time, and that is studio photography can be extremely confining. I agreed with his statement so much; and I dare to say that I think THAT’S when a photographer runs the risk of being repetitive, tedious and tunnel visioned. From my experience, I’ve talked to way too many photographers who became so closed minded as a result of years of doing the same thing day in and day out; their ways have become “the formula” that they feel every single photographer should do as well. As I’ve always said, it is common knowledge amongst photographers that photography is an artistic expression. There are parts of photography that have absolutely nothing to do with technique or the tools, but everything to do with emotion; and sometimes just being at the right place at the right time. Which makes the huge difference between studio and street photography. Studio photography is often predictable (males have set standard poses, women have another set standard poses, children, and couples); whereas you have to work a lot harder with street photography (you can’t always control the elements in your frame (including lighting)). If you’ve ever talk to any photographer from the old school, they’ll most likely tell you that a great photographer can take photos with a $10 dollar camera. In fact, you’d probably never convince some of those old school photographer to switch to all digital.

People who are just getting in to photography may not realize just how many types of photographic genres we have out here (professional photography is not limited to only weddings). Some of these genres include, but not limited to: sports, electronics, clothes, Ariel, marine, wild life, domestic animals, astrophotography, journalism, forensic, microscopic, industrial, landscape, architectural, fashion, children, event, real estate, concert, show room, cellular, satellite, blue prints, roller-coaster, scientific, food, inspector, vehicle, travel, nude, advertising, homes, stock, equine, agriculture, plant life, documentarian, action, fireworks, night clubs, and street photography. Within these genres we also have specific photographic techniques such as, b&W, pinhole, HDR, light painting, infrared, lomography, tone, glass, metal, wood (rare), and so much more (the list is just too great to write them all). Heaving read what I’ve just written, why would you confine yourself to only one way of doing things? Why would anyone insist that photography can only be done one way? And why would you limit others by trying to teach people your way is the only way? There is so much potential in photography, and all those things I’ve mentioned is what makes photography so fun! Especially street photography, because we never know what beautify we can find were we life. If you want to really become a photographer, it is very important to master your camera and editing tools; but it is even more important to have creativity (Photoshop can’t give you creativity).


Photographers Be Mindful Of Trademarks

10291081_10154710109520357_5115024295667995982_nThis is a beautiful photo taken by a talented photographer by the name of Erskine Isaac. I recommend that you check out his website, its called 1Vision Photo. Erskine’s lighting skills are incredible; as well as the ability to bring out the beauty in his subjects, regardless if male or female, young or old. Now, before I start I’d like to quickly make it clear that the purpose of this article is NOT to talk down, or nitpick a photographers work! I think it is quite evident that Erskine is talented, and needs no critiquing from me (or anyone else for that matter).

Long before I decided to make photography an official serious hobby; I spent many many years learning about the complications of copyright, trademarks, right of publicity, etc, etc. As a blogger, I knew that these things are very important because when creating my OWN content, as well as writing ABOUT other people’s content,  and use of copyrighted images and fair use; I needed to be on point. Now that I am a photographer, unbeknown to me all that research came in handy. Also, like a responsible blogger I try to be, I’d like to stick a disclaimer that I am not a lawyer; and everyone’s circumstances are different. I am only giving my opinion as to how I perceive the particular photos in this article. If you are seeking legal advice, there are plenty of websites you can google, or simply consult a copyright/trademark attorney.

Erskine’s first photograph got my attention almost immediately; however it wasn’t just the beauty of his photography but the USPS logo. I guess because of all the reading I did on copyrights, I sort of trained myself to always lookout for these kinds of things. Now, it wasn’t that I thought the USPS logo made the photo ugly or anything; I was really concerned about trademark infringement. Although copyright, trademark, and even patents can go hand and hand, they are very different depending on the medium and or how that “likeness” is used.

I will try to explain this as simple as I possibly can without writing a whole storybook. If I where to take a picture of the USPS logo alone (in a artistic way); or even Photoshop it and make it transformative; this would fall under our First Amendment rights as a photographic artist. HOWEVER, once you take a 10646980_10154706727865357_8581234414480831288_nphotograph of someone wearing that same trademarked logo, everything changes from art to representation or association. Now you may be walking on the edge of “commercial use.” Get it? I’m not necessarily saying that you can’t still create something artistic because someone is wearing a trademarked logo; but the photographer really needs to make sure that the photo is transformative (or at least bear minimum, make sure that the registered trademarked logo isn’t the primary focus in the photograph). Another huge factor is if the image is studio photography or street photography; we have a lot more leeway when it comes to street photography. I think we have two issues here, first off, most major business and corporations charge licensing fees to display all of their trademark images. A lot of these companies charge thousands of dollars to license their logos; there are also many companies who will not give you permission at all. Now, again, I don’t know what the situation is, he probably does have permission. On the other hand, the guy in the picture probably knows the photographer and asked him to take a picture of him and his girl (which I think is more than likely the case). The problem is USPS isn’t going to care about that, all they know is that their logo is being used by a photographer, that embedded his copyright on the same photo that has the USPS trademark. The second is the perception of representation and or association. What do I mean? Can the photo be interpreted being used in a dating promotion? Could the trademark holder possibly perceive the photo to mean that USPS also own a dating website? Can the photo be interpreted as endorsing another product? Or can the photo be interpreted as USPS condoning a particular behavior during work hours? Was the picture taken on USPS property? All of these perceived grounds can be enough for the trademark holder to seek action. I used the word perceived because in this case it doesn’t matter what the intend was, its what it looks like. In reality, the photo could have been just a every sweet innocent photo.

This would have been a different scenario IF the photo was sold to be used in an article talking about the subject’s life, getting married etc. Or maybe even an article on his “act of kindness” to others; in that instance the perception of the photo would change from representation/association of their trademark logo, to an article of the guy who just happens to work for USPS. Photographers need to beware of  situations like this, because if a photographer sells a picture like this the subject most likely will not have the authority to sign the model release; in fact you may need a model release and a property release. The last photograph is the best in terms of the logo being hidden. My opinion is that poses like these are a much better option for hiding prominent logos. You can’t tell at all that he is actually wearing a USPS uniform.

There is one last point (yet separate issue); when a photographer sells their images as stock photos, there is no way possible for that photographer to know what the buyer’s intent is (neither is it any of our business). In other words, the burden of proof (a model release) is on the buyer. However, I think a responsible and professional photographer should make note to the buyer whether a model or property release is available (with contact information of said model); this would immediately tell the buyer whether or not they can use your image for “commercial” use or not. A model’s contact information is important, because if a buyer likes THAT particular model(s) but would like to see different scenery or scenario, you can easily contact that model for another shoot. Most mega business, advertising agencies, etc, already know to ask for a model release. Ok, I’ve written enough. For more on this subject I suggest that you use Google, or converse with other photographers, or consult a copyright/trademark attorney.


Central Park | 72 Street NY | October 25, 2014

Hi guys! Today I went to Central Park with some friends and had a good time as usual. Haven’t gone out to take pictures in a while, felt good with my camera back in my hands, and positive company. It seemed as though every photographer was in Central park today; I guess they are trying to get as many shots  as they can before the winter season sets in. It was very cold this morning, but I was glad I didn’t wear extra clothing, ’cause it got really warm. We thought that the leaves would be more colorful, but unfortunately much of the area was still green. Hopefully we will see some more color next couple of weeks (hopefully it will not be cold then). Lots of people jogging and playing with their animals. I saw some really adorable dogs today. It appears that a lot of people either love to propose, or get their wedding photos done in Central Park too. Although the water was kind of dull and green, at the same time it was quite spectacular in some areas. I actually got some shots of people rowing their boats, it was cool to see up close. There is so much culture in NYC it’s ridiculous. We stopped by a street fair around 82 street, that appeared to have been put together by a local elementary school. Didn’t take any pictures of that though, I was pretty tired by that time unfortunately. Enjoy!


Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Central Park 72nd Street NY

Using Extension Tubes

DSC_0023_65mmMuch to my surprise, extension tubes work much better than I thought! Not saying I didn’t have to do any work to get the shot; but I discovered it’s much better using tubes then those macro filter close-up lenses. Let me start off by saying that there are many different ways and methods of micro photography. That I can think of their are four major methods of micro photography. The first is using a telephoto lens. Technically, it is my opinion that a telephoto lens isn’t really a micro lens, however sometimes depending on the lens, you can get really nice close-ups that would be considered micro photography. Telephoto lenses are usually used a long with a prime lens. It works by  increasing your existing zoom capacity. Some high end lenses have them built-in. Google to learn more about telephoto lenses. Second, is using a macro close-up lens, I’ve written an article here. In essence a macro close-up lens is a magnifying glass for your prime lens. The third is to use a professional micro lens; there are many different kinds of micro lenses, so I suggest that you maybe rent one so you know what’s best for you. The fourth and last one is extension tubes. Extension tubes are an alternative to buying an expensive professional micro lens. Extensions work by creating distance from your sensor and the back of your main lens. The above photo is a photo I took of my lotion bottle. I had very nice bokeh control; I find that although I got the same results whether using my prime or zoom lens, I found it easier and more flexible to use my zoom. Also, I don’t need to get up as close to the subject as with the macro close-ups. There was a little bit ghosting but that’s fine; it was more likely due to where I had my flash, and shutter speed. I think the sample is good enough to post. Although I save an incredible amount of money buying these tubes (was only a fraction of the cost of a real micro lens), Nikon’s micro lenses deliver a little more sharpness. But I haven’t practiced enough using the tubes, so I may change my tune in a couple of months. But like I said, my opinion is that you get maximum flexibility using tubes along with zoom lenses. Also, don’t believe the hype about the “auto focusing,” I still needed to go manual. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I suggest getting one without the auto focus capability, because you’ll be paying a little more, and you’ll still wind up using manual most of the time anyway.



The Missing Art Of Photography

Native American Arts CouncilI absolutely love technology and the things we are now able to accomplish by using it. However in terms of photography, although we can do incredible things we couldn’t do before, sometimes I think true art is fading away because of technology. It is almost as though there was a trade off or something. I have pondered this for several months now, and I think I have pinpointed the reasons why. I think the biggest reason of them all is the fact that, it cost an incredible amount of money to get a BFA. In today’s world, unless you got a family history of photographers, very few would take that risk and spend that kind of money (unless of course you also want to get into videography, video documentarian, and or other specialized areas other than photography). Even with full-frame technology, a lot of photographers have ditched their dark rooms for digital. In addition, technology has changed photography in such a huge way that, now all you have to do now-a-days is simply open up a book on photo editing and start reading. literally anybody can become a photographer, whether you are professional on or not is another matter. I believe this is the point where photographic art (or I should say the interpretation of art) started to die off (or got clouded) in my opinion. The reason why I feel this plays a huge factor is because, there are a lot of basic things that many photographers should know and understand but don’t. Some of those things are White Balance; what it is, and what you use to correct White Balance (be it in camera or not); understanding the capabilities of various lenses and when to use them; how to “see light,” is just a few things that are missed by not going to a formal school. However, at the same time you don’t necessarily need to go to college; there are lots of lower cost certificate courses one can take that would teach you these important basics. The way the economy has been (we are still not in good shape, despite “America overcoming the depression”) more and more people are learning by way of self teaching. I personally think that self-taught photographers are one of the best type of photographers, because you are forced to practice what you can’t learn in a traditional school. I have mostly self taught myself the same as many others have; I also think that this is one of the best ways to also help build your creativity in many ways. The problem is that people tend to take the easy way out, and learn only one thing and not the other. There are many things that go in to taking photographs, and if you only focus on one thing you miss a whole other world of knowledge and experience.

People who find it easier to focus on one area of photography have the tendency to think that photography is easy; or try to earnestly help others by critiquing someone else work, but they’re limited without an open mind, or awareness of other aspects of photography. I truly think this is one of the reasons many “photographers” have a problem seeing photography as an art form. Even after completing a basic certificate program, or a level I/level II course of ANY photography class/school, you’ll discover photography is an art form. Too many closed minded photographers try to make art technical; but art isn’t always technical, it’s about expression, expressing what your heart and imagination sees. Photographic art is also about allowing the subject tell it’s story through your photography. One of the important things that a real photographer must be able to do is to observe things. If you live in a city, take a walk for at least a half an hour and observe some buildings. Buildings are an art form; churches are an art form, houses are an art form, bridges are an art form, cars are an art form. Why are all these an art form? An architect had to design them and draw the blue prints! Yes? Makes sense? Even snow, upon close inspection has unique patterns. Get it? So yes, photography is an art form. With photography we create new art by capturing existing art. If you consider yourself a real photographer, you must broaden your mind and not be “tunneled visioned.”  Otherwise, you’ll wind up like so many who think that only learning Photoshop will make you a good photographer; or only having a “Canon” camera will make you good photographer; or purchase any expensive “good camera” and keep everything on automatic; or “all you need is HDR (or fake HDR) to make you a good photographer. Again, since photography began we’ve had phenomenal photographs from phenomenal photographers; and neither did Adobe, metering, flash umbrellas, or any other of today’s modern technologies that many photographer clutch to existed then. What does this tell you? It’s the photographer, not the equipment. Unfortunately, you can’t change what people perceive about your photos. Not everyone will even understand your photos, sh*t not everyone will grasp what you’re trying to accomplish; but what matters is how you perceive them. Getting different reactions from the public or a fellow photographers photos comes with the territory; but know that photographic art is not about whether or not you got too much, too little, or a “tad” -/+ exposure (or whatever); it’s about how that artist chooses to express their work. Whether the person perceiving your photos understands it or not, that’s their problem. Many of the suggestions I’ve heard are so insignificant it’s unbelievable.


A Good Example Of White Balance

Hi guys. All my fans know that I hate spending hours using photo editing applications (just for a few photographs). I often use at least 3 applications to create my desired result. If you’re just starting out in photography, don’t let that scare you. I just prefer more than one application, because some applications do certain things better than others; sometimes one application doesn’t have the feature I need, or the tool that I want to either correct, treat, or filter an image; or create that artistic look I desire. Having said this, to be honest, I was quite lazy with this particular photo. I had so many photos to sift through, I just didn’t want to do any major surgery on these photos. However, at the same time, I thought I would use this photo as a perfect opportunity to talk about “White Balance.” As I’ve mentioned before, my blog is NOT a technical blog, so if you want a more scientific explanation of white balance click here. In essence, the best and easiest way I know how to explain “White Balance,” or “Color Balance,”  is that your camera measures heat/temperature emanating from different light sources. The warmer the light source, the camera will interpret the light as anywhere from orange to deep bright red based on the Kelvin system. The cooler the light source the sensor will interpret the cool in various shades of blue. Sometimes other colors in between depending on what the readings are based on a scale. Keep in mind the type of light makes a huge difference, ie, candle, tungsten, florescent, reflected light, etc. Please visit the links I’ve provided if you want to know more in detail.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember the celebrity’s name right now, but I think its Susan Surandon. I should point out that their are many ways to correct White Balance. I never use any of the built in presets in my camera because they are never accurate for me (in extreme lighting conditions). White Balance is probably the only thing on my camera I set to auto; I prefer to correct my White Balance on the computer (its one less thing to worry about when shooting). The first photograph of Susan is a unique one; I say this because the lights were not really that warm. Actually, I think it was more of the bad choice in paint. It wasn’t until I really delved into photography that I realized how important paint is when it comes to photographs. Someone may think that a paint color looks awesome; but it doesn’t always compliment a subject when photographing; not only that, what ever light source can amplify the paint color, and sometimes even reflect it. The first Photo I’ve posted of Susan I’ve made no White Balance Correction. As you can see, the choice of paint made not only Susan too warm, but the entire environment. In the second photo I’ve corrected the White Balance by decreasing it down about 1,400-2,000K  from its original white balance measurement. As you can now see, the “White” in the color is more balanced, the environment blends, and Susan’s skin looks more natural, and her dress is practically untouched. I’ve also touched it up by using some softening techniques. Keep in mind, White Balance sometimes requires a bit of patience. Too much cool, your subject will look blue and sickly; too much warmth, and your subject will look like they have a skin disease; or the environment will look like it’s from the planet mars. White Balance is very delicate, and care must be considered. Sometimes after using other processes, you may find that it is necessary to adjust the White Balance again as a finishing. Hope this helps.


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