Happy New Year

Back in 2017, we attended a wedding for my cousin. They got us as we danced. I do not remember who took the picture or how I got this copy. Nonetheless it is quintessential. On many levels it reflects the profound good fortune and circumstances for us to have met so much later in life. Colleen was a good sport. She never once mentioned the fact that we were not married, yet. For sure there were hidden insecurities and a feeling of not being quite settled. As usual I was tone deaf. This all became apparent some time later. And, it has since been corrected.

It’s slightly overexposed. Flash will do that to you in a darkened contrasty situation.

Discovery

Voila! Hooked! Not in the fishing sense… ha ha. When I first dived, I about immediately fried a camera as water damaged a waterproof camera fatally. Yeah, neat trick. Diving in the Red Sea, first I had to learn the basics of scuba diving. After that I had a dinky waterproof housing for my Canon G12. I used the flash on the reef with a lion fish. Voila!!! Oh my! Color!! The richness of color of the fish and the coral was an instant narcotic. I was hooked! I got better and better. And then I left the Middle East and have not dived since. Oh well.

Flash! It is the key element to taking out the poor color underwater. Light drops off as you dive deeper. And red is gone very quickly. Flash. It is the only thing to save you. Batteries! You need a lot of power to sustain you. I shoot a lot. After all it is digital.

Quick

I need a shot to commemorate John’s birthday. Remembrance. A small token. He is not forgotten. I miss him. Time passes and the number of people who remember him diminishes. I will remember him always.

Christmas picture. 2003. Canon G3. The metadata is sure useful. A lot of time has passed. I wish it weren’t so.

It is easy to see that flash was used. Natural lighting would have had more yellow tint. Flash, you know it when you see it. Amateur. It’s a single flash built in on the point and shoot camera. But, it worked.

One shot

You think it’s easy? Does it look easy? Work? Does it make you shudder? Cooperation? Any??!!!

Even Colleen was reluctant… till I told her she could wear her favorite dress. Try to get a squirming cat to look at the camera. Flash helps – fast shutter speed. A pose? Just get the cats with their eyes open and looking forward. No cats were harmed in the making of this picture. We got it pretty much down to routine. I set up a tripod, so the perspective does not change. I load batteries in the flash. Each cat is wrangled into position on the table. The order is not important. They all fit side by side according to expression. Done.

Ha ha. Jen pointed out we got photobombed. Spice was in our picture over Colleen’s left shoulder. Yes, I do not have eyes in the back of my head. Hey, I got a shot! Let’s not get too picky.

Luck, persistence, and a lot of space on the memory card…

Groups

I must enjoy herding cats…. One of the treasured pictures that I see among Colleen’s and Jen’s family shots is the “group shot.” The “occasion shot” seems to occur whenever there is a family gathering. Actually, mostly not. No one really is paying attention and the photo is taken somehow. But in retrospect it is laden with fond memories documenting who was alive and well at the time. So, I do my best to record the groups as they gather for the annual family reunion at the beach. Different families drift in and out of the pictures. Folks are generally cheerful about it all.

The conundrum is to catch the group in one place and time for the moments it takes to record the photograph. It is usually a group too large to focus in the frame of the image. I chose a high point – the balcony above. That way tall or short the camera will see your face. Of course, you have to look at the camera. And then redundancy is a must. Someone always has their eyes closed. Ok, shoot redundantly or be prepared to Photoshop.

By now our guests are used to this preamble to dinner. They gather cheerfully. I shoot with a remote. We hope for the best. Ah! I do use flash for a number of reasons. Success! …umm Bruce? Bruce?!?! Where’s Bruce?

Transition

Little did I know in early 2003, that my conversion to digital commitment was about a year away. I used film and sprinkled in digital here and there. Generally, I used my film camera primarily punctuating my shots with a few digital images. Not bad though, the digital images were solid shots. It seems I was less hesitant to include the use of built-in flash in the Canon G3. Ok!

Lots of things were happening in our lives at the same time back then. Jules was headed to college. Dave was a high school senior. Life was about to change significantly for us all. Who could know the future (digital) was right around the corner?

I am not a fan of flash. It tends to be too contrasty. Too many shadows. Exposure is a challenge. Fill flash? not something I much cared for. I used bounce flash after taking lessons. But flash was not built in (for my film cameras) and built in flash on the G3 does not bounce. So…. I did find and was pleasantly surprised at the results of using built-in flash on my digital camera. I considered the flash to be “dinky” and yet it proved itself quite capable. Lesson learned.

One shot

Pick one. … to go with birthday wishes. Ummm, no card. Shhh… I forgot! Oh now! It will be a special day! We got all sorts of things planned. And to finish? Dinner in a favorite restaurant. I got it covered. A sentiment? Sure. I’m very lucky we met again. It was the third grade when we met. And then we parted for (decades) a very long time. Lucky. Sometimes life throws you rainbows. Happy birthday, my dearest.

Critique: Portrait. You want to try to be flattering. I used bounce flash. You get relative even lighting with less shadow. Composition: good. Smile: warm – like a hug. Background: it could be less cluttered. Focus: good. I could do better. This was a find after a quick perusal of the files in my catalog. Find one on the go!? Ha ha. It ain’t easy. Thankfully there were choices. Sorry, I didn’t get a card. I was remiss. We were never out where I was never alone to get one. But then a picture tells a thousand words. And there is little doubt I wish you the very best!

Reundancy

Just when you think everything is good, you have a catastrophic failure – of camera equipment. This shot was fine. Except for one other shot the rest were way over-exposed. I use flash. It ensures an even exposure and any movement by the crowd is lessened in the final shot. The flash or camera malfunctioned and the other shots got way over-exposed. I said that already?! This was completely unexpected since I have been shooting successfully for a long time. What went wrong? The obvious place to look – the flash. I checked the settings. I consulted the manual. The camera settings had not changed. Resetting the flash seemed to take care of the exposure problem. Next time I do a group I will check my exposure before letting the group disperse. I always shoot more than one shot of groups. Caution paid off this time. Pfewf!!

Groups

After a long hiatus – ha ha – about nine years or so, give or take, I have revived this blog, sort of. My humor has not diminished. In fact, it’s probably more cracked than ever. I do not intend to publish with much regularity. Much of what I talk about will be how I got the shot and how the reader might learn. Tips. It’s about tips to improve your own photography – which is already perfect in every way.

Groups. First you gotta have one. Then you gotta herd them into position. Herding cats. Mostly folks are fairly cooperative. Ya gotta get them to look at the camera. Right!

At the end of the day, be sure everyone gets a copy. It will ensure cooperation when the next gathering comes next year.

I use flash. The bright “pop” gets everyone to notice that the camera is taking their picture. Someone always has their eyes closed. So be it. I do multiple takes. I do not overthink. And I do not Photoshop the image. I pick out the important people – me and Colleen – and make sure they look good. After that I publish one or two copies.

In this image I used a higher vantage point – staircase. I used a wide angle lens. It’s a group shot and they spread out! Flash helps to get even lighting and minimize shadows. More than one shot ensures that fewer people are caught with their eyes closed on any given shot.

See! Easy!? Right!

To Flash… or Not To Flash

IMG_8385 copy … that is the critical question. Fleeting moments, it’s an instant call. You get one try… pick. It doesn’t come very often you get to shoot one with and one without flash. It’s a choice. Here David sat long enough for me to get two shots. The Canon G11 white balances automatically. Great! But it’s still ambient light you deal with. So it’s not quite right. The natural lighting gives less detail in the eyes and no gleam or catch light for the eye. Flash is a little too bright and a bit too artificial for my taste. I would pick the natural light. I’m not a fan of obsessive manipulation in Photoshop, so this is what it is.IMG_8384 copy