Category: Photography

Flowers

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

 A panorama crop from a low angle at the top of a row of tulips.

Most of you who follow my work know that landscapes are definitely my go to type of shooting.  I really enjoy doing all types and trying new things, but landscapes are where I’m in my element.  

Every year, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm has a month long festival allowing the public into their tulip fields.  This year was my first time going and it was quite a bit of fun shooting all the beautiful flowers and trying some new things.  Naturally I took some more typical landscape looking shots, but I also tried to go out of my element and shoot some more close-up shots and different compositions than usual.

 A shot before sunrise looking down some rows of various colored tulips.

 A second shot before sunrise from a ground level perspective looking between two rows of tulips.  Some Light painting was used via a flashlight to help lightup the flowers.

The two above images were taken early in the morning about an hour or so before sunrise.  In order to have enough light on the flowers without blowing out the sky, I used a headlamp during the long exposure to provide some light on the flowers.  The beautiful colors in the sky were not the sun rising, they were in fact a great combination of sky, clouds and city lights.  Light painting is a lot of fun to play around with and a new technique I’ve been experimenting with more frequently.

The Hot Air Balloon launch was one of the main reasons we went up so early in the morning.  There were 4-5 balloons there and prepared to go, but only one was successful in launching. The second kept going up, then losing altitude and they said it was a result of to much wind and scrapped the remaining launches.

 The first and only Hot Air Balloon that successfully launched from the tulip farm.

 The second hot air balloon being inflated with a view of some tulips and a tractor.

 Look from down low between two rows of red/white tulips.

 A closer shot of a pink tulip missing a pedal allowing a great view into the middle of it.

 Closer shot of the top of pink tulips on a gray sky background and a shallow depth of field.

I love the simplicity of the one above. I found a great composition with a clean background that focuses on the texture and beautiful color tones.

Lastly, There was this one flower I found that stood out from the rest. Not because of it’s height or color, but because it was taking it’s own path as it grew and not the same path as everyone else.  After getting this one processed, I began thinking that it deserved a great quote to go along with it. Check out the picture then read the quote just below and see if you think it fits as well as I do.

 One tulip leaning sideways, then growing upwards standing out between two rows of only vertical flowers.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

— Dr. Seuss

The festival closes on May 5th, so if you live in the Oregon/Southern Washington area, it may be worth a visit to see some beautiful tulips.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the pictures and if you have been to a tulip or flower farm and what your experiences were, or stories about shooting new and different things from your usual subjects.

Guest Post

Procrastination & Blogging – Guest Post by Jaci

About a month ago I was asked to make a guest blog post. After agreeing (to something I can’t even do on my own blog consistently) I tried to come up with topics that I could cover without being redundant. I tossed around ideas on what to cover, some not so serious topics like: “how to apply makeup,” “what not to wear when shooting,” “how I fail at being a blogger,” “how to pick the wrong guys on dating websites,” etc.

So here I am, writing about how to procrastinate when a fellow photog friend wants you to be a guest blogger.

There are three main steps you must take in order to achieve this:

First, you must agree to something you really aren’t going to do (even if you believe you will… eventually), but you should act enthusiastic and willing to do what is requested of you.

Secondly, you will then put off and forget about said agreement. When asked if you’ve thought about a topic and when you’ll be posting you will brush it off and tell your photog friend that you’re still working on what to write about.

Lastly, you two will engage in an entertaining conversation pertaining to the agreement you had–after a month has already passed–and joke about silly topics, which lands you right where you are now- reading about procrastination and blogging.

There have been numerous times I’ve read photographers blogs and their recent post begins with “I’m so sorry it has been so long since the last time I’ve blogged!” Why apologize? I mean, let’s be serious, we just want to see your beautiful masterpieces, enough with the jibber jabber- get on with it!

We get it… you went out with this beautiful family who was absolutely amazing to work with and you can’t wait to get together again in the future! How many different ways must a photographer try and come up with what to say about every session when that is the jist of each session you’ll blog about? As a photographer your time with clients is always a blast (or rather, it should be), you’ve enjoyed yourself immensely (or at least we hope you did) and you’d also love for them to be returning clients in the future. What more is there to really say?

My tip to blogging is simple: let your images tell their story. Forget about posting a paragraph of nonsense and stressing over what you must come up with and if it will please your clients/readers. If your clients had a great time the images will be evidence to all of the good times had and memories you’ve helped them create to save for a lifetime.

Jaci is an educated on location, natural light photographer in the Metro Detroit area! Her style is a little bit different and much more personal than a retail portrait studio. You can follow her on Facebook: JW Photography or Flickr: oneflashatatime. 

Design

New Look, New Features!

Hey everyone! I’ve been busy making some changes to the website and adding some additional features. I hope you’ll find the new look as awesome as I do and enjoy the new features.

First off….. The New Look

 Screenshot of the new home page. Full screen images, quick access to gallery and thumbnail views and an information button to display information about the pictures.

As you can see, a lot has changed with the look and feel of the site from the last version.  This new style is really designed to showcase the photos more by filling the screen real estate available.  Combined with a thinner more streamlined navigation bar, the photos quickly become  the focal point of the site.

Wait, there’s yet another way to view the full images with additional information.

 Information Button on the bottom right to display full image with a description of the photo.

See the little “i” button on the bottom right? Click on it! Go Ahead, it’s safe I promise. This will open up another great view with more information about the photo. Where it was taken, maybe a story involved with it, you never know what tidbits of information you may find here.

 Information view displaying the full image with the information and description about the photo to the right.

Both the full bleed and information view can be navigated by using the arrow keys to move forward and backward between photos.

One more way to view images faster!

 Gallery grid view button on the top right of page.

On the top right of the page, you’ll see 4 small square icons forming a larger square.  This take you to a page to help teach geometry and basic math skills!

Yes, that was my attempt at humor 😉

What this button really does is displays the galleries in a grid layout filled with thumbnails of the images.  This is a much faster way to browse through to a specific photo or view some of the other galleries such as my Portrait/People gallery! Clicking on an image will bring that image to full screen or clicking the top right again, where an now appears will close the grid view.

 Screenshot of the Grid thumbnail layout for the galleries.

But wait! There’s more, you can now subscribe via RSS or mailing list.

Apart from the different look and feel, I have also added 2 great new features.  The first feature is an option to subscribe to mailing list!  This mailing list will *only* be used to send you an email when I post new content on the blog.  This way you don’t have to keep visiting the site (although I wouldn’t mind if you did) to check for new content.  I also added a link to subscribe via RSS for those who prefer a news reader approach.

To subscribe, simply visit the Subscribe page in the navigation bar at the top!

Second New Feature… Forums!!

This is more of an experiment and trial to get a great product and community going.  I have implemented some forums where you can post all sorts of stuff. Favorite places to shoot, gear, questions, off-topic stuff, you name it!  

 Screenshot of the forums hosted by the service www.moot.it

These forums are free and hosted by a service called Moot.It.  You’ll be creating an account with Moot.it which will allow you to comment and use other forums created with this service as well.  This is a new service, and it’s something I’m experimenting with to help create a better experience on my site. I have setup a few basic forums to get things started, and I can always add more if requested!  I am still learning more about Moot, but it is pretty solid so far and a great, free way for anyone to setup some forums on their own site.  Check them out!

But Wait… No, that is about it for now!

I’m excited about the changes and new features I’ve added. I would love to hear your thoughts on the new design and added features to the site both good and bad.  Comment below or shoot me an email.. I’m always looking to improve and make things better and more enjoyable for visitors.

Until next time, hope you enjoy the new stuff and subscribe to my mailing list for updates!

Photography

Enter to win a 20×30 Metal print of your…

Ever wanted to see what a metal print looks like on your wall?  Now’s your chance to win a huge 20″x30″ metal print of your choice!!

This give-a-way will be running from today, March 19th through the end of the month Sunday March 31st ending at midnight PST. The winner will be announced on April 1st. No, this is *not* a trick, this is a real free give-a-way for a beautiful metal print that will add a great decoration piece to any home.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below on this post with a link to where I can follow you on any social network! be sure to share a link to this give-a-way as well.  It’s that simple!  Be sure to include a name since I can’t award this prize to “anonymous”

You can find a share button at the bottom of this post or copy the link here
https://zblackwood.com/blog/2013/3/19/enter-to-win-a-20×30-metal-print-of-your-choice

If you are the winner, you can choose any one of my pictures that you’d like. To browse a good selection of my photographs, CLICK HERE.  The pictures are not limited to what’s on that page. If you find a photo of mine that is not on that page, let me know and we can use that one!

Even if you don’t win, you can visit my purchase page here if you find one you’d like to order.

You can follow me on most social networks, and who knows when I’ll be having another one of these!

Follow me with the links below!
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
App.net

I have been made aware of a couple issues when trying to comment from a mobile device.  At this time I am not sure what is causing it or if it’s something that can even be fixed on my end, but I am looking into it.  The problem seems to be on iOS devices when using the Safari Browser, and also on some Android devices when using the stock browser. It does work when using the Chrome mobile browser.  

When you attempt to make a comment and click the “Post Comment” button, a small window should appear asking you to enter your name, email and website (optional), or allow you to login with Facebook, Google etc….  The issue is when that window does not appear. Disabling popups doesn’t appear to make a difference as it’s not truly a new window.  If at all possible, try a different browser and see if it works, or of course using a laptop/desktop will work too.  If you are having the issue with non-stock browsers, let me know! The more information, the better.

The Fine Print

This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.  If you are announced as the winner, you will have 72 hours to make contact with me. I will do my due diligence in trying to contact the winner as well, but if we fail to do so a new winner will be chosen. 

Inspiration

The Importance of Exploring Close to Home

 Newport, OR public fishing pier with the famous Yaquina Bay Bridge.
Newport, OR public fishing pier with the famous Yaquina Bay Bridge.

I’ve been photographing for a couple years now, and since that time I have been looking at everything with a completely new set of eyes.  Naturally, people want to capture these grand, epic landscapes or portraits in exotic locations.  I am certainly one of those people as well.  It’s taken me quite some time now, but getting out and exploring closer to home is still just as interesting as exploring new places.  It all depends on your mental eyes approach to your surroundings.

All of the photo’s in this post are within a few minutes drive from my home.  The photo at the top includes a very iconic bridge in Newport, the Yaquina Bay Bridge.  Years ago there was talk and movements to building a new larger bridge to increase traffic flow.  It ultimately got turned down, and is now constantly under repair to maintain it’s historic stature.   There is no shortage of pictures containing this bridge in the world.  I’ve got quite a few myself where the bridge is the sole focus of the image.  Wanting to try something different, this sign for the public fishing pier is so obvious, that I never considered it.  While walking around one day, I decided “what the heck, lets try it”. 

Got my tripod low, composed the shot with the bridge in the background, and it has turned out to be my favorite shot containing this bridge, and it’s not the sole subject in the photo as so often seen, like the photo below.  Sure, the image may be beautiful to some, but what’s so interesting about it that you haven’t seen before? Nothing!

 Yaquina Bay Bridge as seen during the blue hour from the south jetty.
Yaquina Bay Bridge as seen during the blue hour from the south jetty.
 An old boat that's been sitting along side the highway for as long as I can remember. 
An old boat that’s been sitting along side the highway for as long as I can remember. 

This boat here has been along side the highway about 3 miles from home forever. I remember seeing it when I was a kid, and just simply thinking, “what an odd place to park a boat.”  To this day, I still don’t know why it’s there or who it belongs to.  I have driven by this boat thousands of times. Every time I drive into Newport and back home, I pass by it twice.  Took me quite some time to decide to stop and photograph this boat, even though it’s been there for such a long time.  Who knows when this boat may fall apart, be moved, or even vandalized completely changing what has long been an after thought for me.  Now, I have some great shots that if anything were to happen, I can always look back on.

 The very popular Ona Beach State Park, as seen during winter.
The very popular Ona Beach State Park, as seen during winter.

If you follow me on social media, you will have recently seen this picture I got (above).  This is at a popular state park, well known for it’s flat, boring ol’ beach.  There is no shortage of just sand, and it certainly makes for a great family outing.  However, that’s not very interesting to someone who lives just a few miles away.  We see that all day every day.  What’s interesting about this park is, that if you walk south instead of the usual north, you’ll run into this beautiful area.  An interesting tidbit, these rocks are usually covered by sand during the summer, and only exposed during the winter.  If we have had a stormy winter, there are even more rocks revealed.  Put these rocks in your scene with the vibrant colors, include the famous sunsets as just a part, and you’ve got a whole new look than what is usually found. 

Lastly, the photograph below is from another very popular spot, Seal Rock.  This tiny little town has some gorgeous rocky landscapes that provide for consistently great photographs.  I drive by this place twice a day for work, and shoot here a lot. It’s easy to capture a beautiful landscape, but it’s a little more difficult to capture something new in such a highly photographed area.  I went exploring and walking around in different areas that I don’t normally walk through trying to find a different vantage point.  That is when I found this small little overlook that provided a great view of the setting sun, the ocean below, a little bit of the famous Seal Rock itself, while providing some new elements that are much more prominent in the frame.

 A new vantage point for me to consider shooting out a few more times while still trying to find others.
A new vantage point for me to consider shooting out a few more times while still trying to find others.

This post isn’t to simply tell you about what I’ve found or show off my images.  The goal is to help inspire you get out and explore closer to home and see what new interesting places and things you find.  Whether you shoot landscapes, architecture or even people, I guarantee you’ll be able to find A LOT of new and inspiring subjects to shoot.

Check out some of your favorite places as a kid during different seasons, you may find a completely different scene different times of the year. I certainly found one I wasn’t aware of.  Go explore with different weather conditions. Everyone loves a beautiful sunset, but what’s so interesting when you see a million of those every day?  Go shoot the same place when it’s snowing, raining, cloudy, you never know what amazing stuff you will run across. When it comes to objects, capture them, before they are gone. You just don’t know how long things will be around, and that can include major structures like a bridge.

Who knows, maybe you’ll capture a historic moment that will live on well beyond your own years, all because you decided to take a closer look at exploring close to home.

 

Let me know your own thoughts on this subject.  Feel free to link to
your own photo’s and interesting things that you’ve found close to home
that you may not have noticed or appreciated before. What inspires you to go out and explore close to home?

Photography

Help Portrait Oregon 2012

Another year of Help Portrait!  What a great way to give back to the community and make a lot of people very happy.  We expanded to 3 locations this year instead of the previous 2. The cities we held events in were:

  • Newport
  • Waldport
  • Lincoln City

We were able to serve 370 people this year!!

At the first location I attended, we were able to serve a good number of families.  We had two photography stations and two print stations setup so things ran rather smoothly.  We were able to spend some quality time talking with these families and getting to hear their stories.  The majority of these families had never had a family portrait taken and they were so excited to have one taken.  There’s no way to describe the feeling that you get when you hand them their portrait and seeing the joy on their face.

 One of our stations at the smaller location this year. That's me taking the first initial shot where they hold up a card with their name and a number we provide to keep things organized on the computer.
One of our stations at the smaller location this year. That’s me taking the first initial shot where they hold up a card with their name and a number we provide to keep things organized on the computer.
 The parents wanted a shot of their two little boys and this is the one that they picked to take home with them!  They slowly started to tip over to camera right and we were able to capture these great expressions before having to intervene! Don't worry, no one took a tumble.
The parents wanted a shot of their two little boys and this is the one that they picked to take home with them!  They slowly started to tip over to camera right and we were able to capture these great expressions before having to intervene! Don’t worry, no one took a tumble.

Here’s a couple stories we were told when talking with a few of the families recorded by the volunteers at the event.

A mother and her kids came in a bit later on in the day. Sort of unlike the others, they have had some family portraits taken, but not by a professional, and years ago. In recent years, the father in the family would not allow them to have pictures taken. Since that time, he had left the family. The mother was just so happy and excited they were now able to go and get some awesome family photo’s. After seeing them printed, you could just see the joy in her eyes when looking at the pictures and her kids. A real family photo that they can keep forever!

 The story to the right goes along with these two great people!
The story to the right goes along with these two great people!

An older couple, together for a few years now, were so much fun. They kept making fun of eachother and how they looked in a very playful way. You could tell that they were in love and really adored eachother. I have a thing for old couples. No idea why, but it’s just plain awesome to see that so late in life. Neither of these two have had a picture taken together apart from their cell phones. We were able to provide them with a couple pictures that they were surprised how happy with them they were.

 Here's the boy on his 5th birthday holding his little sister!
Here’s the boy on his 5th birthday holding his little sister!

A younger mom and her kids came in and it happened to be her sons 5th birthday! They also have never had a family portrait done. The mother wanted a picture of them, and then one of just the two kids. After snagging a couple cute pictures of the kids, we asked the boy what this meant to him. He told us “this is special to have a picture with my sister”. How awesome is that?!

We provide some snacks and coloring books for the kids as well. We are considering expanding more options to keep people entertained while waiting such as a Photobooth or more organized games for the kids. Always looking to improve upon the experience for everyone involved.

 Our print station for one of the locations. We had two monitors setup for much easier viewing when the families come over to pick out their favorite pictures.
Our print station for one of the locations. We had two monitors setup for much easier viewing when the families come over to pick out their favorite pictures.

It was another fantastic year.  You walk away with such a great feeling that even the following Monday… yes Monday, there’s an extra spring in your step.  I strongly encourage everyone to find some way to give back and help those in need. Help-Portrait is a small way of doing so, providing a service many people have never been able to receive for any number of reasons.  Find a location near you, they occur year round all over the place. If there isn’t one near by, get one started and start looking for volunteers right now!  You don’t need to be a photographer to participate in these either.  Just need a good attitude and a desire to give back.  If you are into photography, a bit timid, or anything, this is a fantastic way to get some help from quality professionals in a controlled, relaxed and fun atmosphere.

If you want to see some more behind the scenes shots you can check out the gallery by clicking here. Help Portrait 2012.  If you want to visit the local Help Portrait page for this area you can visit  Help Portrait Oregon

Feel free to comment below or send me any questions you may have about our location, this event or anything at all.

Photography

One Light, Two Light with Joe McNally and Kelby…

               This may be a little long winded, but I think it’s worth a read and will hopefully portray how great this day was. Read on for my thoughts on this One Light, Two Light tour.

                Monday
August 27th I had the pleasure of attending a Kelby Training seminar featuring
Joe McNally! The title of the seminar was One Light, Two Light with the
emphasis on using one or two smaller speedlites to provide great lighting
without the need for big expensive studio strobes.  

                The
whole idea behind the seminar is what caught my attention in the first place. I
have been shooting more people recently and wanted to improve my lighting
knowledge and capabilities without buying an expensive studio setup.  This type of setup is also portable and could
be used out in the field without too much trouble as well. When I heard it was
Joe McNally running this thing, it was a no brainer to attend.  Kelby Training prices these at such a low
price, there’s not much of an excuse to not go if you’re considering. 

                Joe is
a fantastic teacher and easy to listen to. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and it
truly shows. Despite being able to rattle off technical details and talk about
in depth subjects relating to light and equipment; he’s able to explain and
describe exactly what he’s doing so even the most novice photographers can
understand.  One of the biggest things I
came to love and respect about Joe is his standpoint on mistakes.  Mistakes happen, no matter how prepared you
are. Whether it be an equipment malfunction or user error, these things
happen.  Understanding what went wrong
and why it went wrong is an important thing. Don’t freak out, stay calm, make a
joke about it, and use your knowledge to correct it for next time you pull the
trigger.  There’s nothing wrong with
firing a couple test shots either if you’re not 100% sure where to begin.  Being more of a landscape photographer, these
lighting aspects are not my strong suit. Making mistakes has been one thing I
freak out about ahead of time and hope it doesn’t happen on the job. After
listening to Joe talk about this, and even witnessing these things happening in
front of hundreds of people, I’ve got a much better grasp on how to handle a
situation like this.

                For a
good half of the day, he used one off camera flash.  He used a variety of different light
modifiers to achieve different light and effects he was after. Sometimes he
would block off parts of the light with gaffers tape or a flash bender, other
times he would double diffuse and add additional interruptions to the light
before it hits the subject.  Joe would
choose various people from the audience for his subjects and he would shoot
tethered so we would see the results straight from the camera instantly.  When things went wrong, he would explain what
happened and make the necessary changes. 
He always made it a point to ask their name, what they do, and shake
their hand. Little things like that add a lot to the experience.

                One big
surprise to me was that Joe uses TTL for all of his flash work and no radio
triggers involved. He shoots with Nikon so it’s the i-TTL stuff.  He had one flash on the camera that was
acting as the commander, not effecting the exposure of the image, and then it
would tell the off camera flash how to expose. He was able to easily manipulate
the flash using on camera settings without adjusting the shutter speed or
aperture most of the time. Using a white background, most of the pictures he
shot were black, and only lighting the subject as he wanted. A few times he
would maintain the white color depending on the look he was after. Between each
shot, he would review the camera settings and talk about the modifiers being
used and what they do to the light.  It’s
all simple and affordable stuff that even beginners could obtain easily.

                Couple
last thoughts on the day. Joe would take time to ask the audience if we had any
questions, and would take the time needed to make sure the answer was addressed
and understood. He and his assistants were available during the breaks for
questions as well.

                It was
just a fantastic day and a lot of fun. I learned a heck of a lot, and from one
of the world’s best! This ended up being exactly what I was hoping it would be
and touched on everything I was hoping for. I walked away with a far better
understanding of light, and what my current gear is capable of with just a few
tweaks here and there. If you haven’t attended any of the Kelby Training
seminars, I can absolutely recommend this one without hesitation. I will
certainly be looking out for others in my area.

                Thank
you Joe McNally and Kelby Training for the services and knowledge you provide
to us. I’d hug you both if it were possible!

If you would like to check out more about Joe McNally, visit his website at www.joemcnally.com
Also be sure to check out Kelby Training at www.kelbytraining.com One of the best resources on the internet for all things photography.