Technical: Nikon D90, 1/200 sec, f16, focal length 82

Susan was concerned about the background here as it pertains to distracting from the subjects. You really don’t have a choice. So the image is what it is. But if you are thinking about this as you shoot, you might wait another second for the kids to move to the left a bit more. And, no fill flash. You’re too far away. Zoom in more. It will take out the background. Or crop to a panoramic and eliminate the top and bottom distractions. A smaller f stop … f4 or so would decrease the depth of field and make the background an unfocused pattern. There are lots of tricks you can try. But keep in mind that you’re there to see the game and enjoy. Lisa always said that my kids would not recognize me without a camera to my eye. Come to think of it, you said it too.

Lastly, but most important, enjoy yourself. You are not shooting for Sports Illustrated. So have a good time and fire away and make mistakes. My comments are to help. But don’t get too cerebral and not have fun yourself.


I am continually amazed by technology and its uses. A number of years ago a young woman won the NYC marathon. She literally came out of nowhere to win. She was aided by the NYC subway which transported her for part of her journey. The race organizers were so disorganized as to not notice that she was not on the entire race course.

Since then other runners have complained that their running time is miscalculated by the long wait to reach the start line. So now everyone receives a sensor. This automatically times your start and finish to officially be more accurate. You can’t take a bus, cab, or train. They measure the split times too. So why not photograph as you go. It’s a great way to make money for the event. It’s not perfect but it is a whole lot better than any one being there to photograph on the race course. It’s a long race and you simply can’t run up on the Westside Highway to start taking photos. Swim, bike and run, there were cameras set up to catch the participants along the route. That’s David. He trained for months and did pretty well in his first ever event. He never competed in high school or college in any organized team/individual event so far as I know. Now he and his sister have been competitors in NYC organized events. Congratulations Dave!

Stanford Hike

Technical: Panasonic DMC ZS7, 1/400 sec, f4.5, focal length 4.1

My first reaction is, ‘What a great photo!’ It is a graphic silhouette with the trees and people. The sky and grass give you a color reference. The sloping hill leads the eye toward the people. The graphics and colors blend to make this a powerful image. I stand by my first impression. ‘Wow.’ And keep in mind that image was not done with a super duper DSLR camera. It’s the photographer who must visualize the image that is translated by the image sensor.


Technical: iPhone

Race day. My daughter finished her first half marathon. She had a great time. That is to say – enjoyable as well as competitive. With her phone she tracked her time, listened to tunes, and took this picture at the finish with her close friend. I would have had to use three different devices to do the same. Reluctantly I am becoming a fan of iPhone. She even put the frame around the image in her phone.

Climbing: Abi, Matilda, Jeffrey

Technical: Nikon D90, 1/200 sec, f9, focal length 18

What fun! Susan got the grand kids running and climbing. This is fun and full of action. It’s well exposed and well composed. One could say that they wish the kids were faced toward the camera. But just like cropping, sometimes what can’t be seen is left to the viewer’s imagination. I could imagine that these kids have smiles from ear to ear. That’s Susan’s story and I agree!



Technical: Nikon D200, 1/160 sec, f6.3 , ISO 100, focal length  80mm

The Christmas tree is the focal point that offsets the crowd. The sun playing off the foreground and tree also counterbalance. The tall buildings and the streets full of brightly costumed Santas give some measure to the size of the crowd. It is then not so important to see any individual.



Technical: Nikon D90, 1/50 sec, ISO 200, f3.5, focal length 18mm, flash

This is well exposed with the fill flash compensating for the bright background on the porch. The composition is tight. Portraits where the subjects are close to one another are more appealing than if the children were widely spaced. The 18mm focal length gives some distortion with the objects closer (face then torso then feet) becoming progressively smaller. In tight quarters in a room, one may have to accept some distortion. But you should at least be thinking about it. In full face shots, if you move in close, the nose will be unnaturally large compared to the rest of the face. That sort of over the top distortion is used to make the viewer uncomfortable and would be good in the remake of a monster movie or for Halloween.

In my demented mind, I received this email from Susan this morning. (11/16/11) That would be three days before I scheduled this post to publish. How did she know how to read my mind. Then, I remembered that she and my wife are dear friends. And if my wife can read my mind, then ….

You have been sent 1 picture.    “Your comments on your Blog made lots of sense.  Thanks!  I really like this photo but wish that I could have lit little Matilda’s face better.  I did use flash and the roof window light helped to cast a more natural light than is usually seen inside.  Did not crop legs ’cause it’s part of the ‘story’.”  Susan
I replied to Susan:
The point of criticism is constructive. Your pictures are really good. It’s just that as you try to improve, there are things to keep in mind. So if there’s a little voice that says, change this or move that way, you will have a better picture. Your pictures are generally so good as too make me proud that my small suggestions had such a nice outcome in your work. Above all, I’m very happy that you keep trying to refine your skill. And, I am honored that you consider me a source of information (the point of this blog).
      Oh, and the picture. If we could remember everything, it might be different. But, kids are in their own world and we are just there to watch. You kept within the parameters of what they allowed. Posing is nice but it is manipulative and may ruin a precious moment. The faces looking in different directions is a photojournalist style as opposed to formal portrait. Some people prefer one style over another. It’s about choice. And the legs, of course, and the slight wide angle distortion is perfectly acceptable. But if you are aware of it, maybe you want or don’t want it. Again, it’s a choice.

Family Lunch

Technical: Kodak Easy Share, 1/320 sec, f3.4, ISO 80, focal length 5.2mm, pattern meter.

This is a family shot taken by my cousin Alice. Actually this was shot in the parking lot of a grocery store. Talk about a family outing…. Image 0049 is a typical shot of people acting naturally and genuinely smiling in an unguarded moment. It’s actually a happy moment that carried into the next frame 0050. Continue reading