My Latest Venue – Div I College Basketball

We hired Vera Jo Bustos, Director of Operations for the University of New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball Team, as grandson Billy’s personal basketball trainer. Vera was kind enough to secure a season press badge for me, and I was excited to use it for the first time on Wednesday evening to shoot a non-conference game with the Lamar Cardinals at UNM’s Dreamstyle Arena (aka “The Pit” due to its below street level location).  The Lobos (now 12-1 in non-conference play) won the game handily by a 90-58 score.

The Cardinals (5-5) lead the nation in steals and added 13 more in the Lobos match-up.  But UNM senior Tesha Buck (#2) hit 10 shots from down town and scored 40 points as the Lobos over powered the Cardinals.  Buck’s 10 3-pointers set a UNM single game record and a Mountain West Division record.  The National single game record is 12 3-pointers.

The UNM Lady Lobos next game is on December 28th at Air Force.

Photos of the game may be viewed by  clicking here.

I encourage parents of children with a love of the game of basketball to schedule a training session with Vera Jo.  You will quickly see significant improvement in your son or daughter’s ball handling skills, shot making, and confidence.  Check out VJ’s website for details, testimonials, and scheduling by clicking here.

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How to Shoot the Supermoon

The full supermoon won’t technically hit the US until Monday morning (12:45 a.m. PT, 3:45 a.m. ET), but most of the best moon photo ops happen around moon rise and moon set — that’ll be around 5 p.m. ET on Saturday and 7:50 a.m. ET on Sunday.

You will need a tripod, proper exposure settings (ISO, aperture, and shutter speed) and other techniques to capture a good photo. Moreover, a successful capture will require some planning as to location, shooting spot, time of day/night, and lens selection.  I’ve found that a smartphone app named PhotoPills (about $10) is a great help in planning your shot.  Click this link to a PhotoPills tutorial to help get you started.  Happy shooting!

If you live in the Albuquerque area and want to improve your photography, please consider hiring me as your one-on-one camera coach and post processing (Photoshop) tutor. Lessons are tailored to your goals, experience, and  the types of photography that most interest you.  There is no charge for an initial get acquainted consultation.

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How to Double Process A Single Camera Raw File in Photoshop

The students that I tutor know that I strongly encourage them to set their cameras to camera raw format. Why? Because when shooting in a format like JPEG, image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW, you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.

This post presents a way to correct one such “problem image” (1st photo) that I took facing the sun. My objective was to capture the starburst effect of the sun coming through the tree branches, so I knew that I needed a small aperture (f/22) and a low ISO (100) to avoid noise.  I used my camera meter to adjust the shutter speed (1/25th second) so the the brightest part of the sky just above the sun was underexposed by one stop.  I did this knowing that the shadow area camera left would have too much shadow, but I also knew that reducing shadows is less of a problem than reducing blown out highlights. I used a tripod to avoid the inevitable camera shake that occurs when hand holding a camera at stutter speeds less than 1/60th second (at least for me).

Here’s the approach I used to correct this problem image:

1) I opened the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR is included in the Adobe Photoshop CC Photography package). Then I held the shift key and clicked on Open Object button which opened the file as a Smart Object in Photoshop. Next I right clicked of the file and selected New  Smart Object as Copy, and then repeated this step.  This left me with 3 open layers: the bottom background layer, the middle Copy 1, and the top Copy 2. Then I right clicked on the middle layer and renamed it “highlights”, and right clicked on the top layer renaming it “shadows”.

2) Next I made both the top layer invisible by clicking on the eye icon just left of the layer.

3) Then I double clicked on the icon in the lower right corner of the open middle layer (named highlights). This re-opened the image in ACR. Next I reduced the exposure and highlights until the sky and sun didn’t look too bright, and then clicked on OK which re-opened that layer in Photoshop with the adjustments applied.

4) Next I made the top level (shadows) active and double clicked on its lower right image icon to open the shadows layer in ACR.  From here I increased the exposure slightly, reduced the shadows, and adjusted the white and black settings to taste. Then clicked on OK which re-opened that layer in Photoshop with the adjustments applied.

5) This next step describes how to apply a mask to the middle (highlights) and top (shadows) layers so that further adjustments may later be made in Photoshop to each of the 2 layers independently – for example, applying a cooling photo filter to just the highlights layer. I first clicked on the top layer (shadows) to select it, applied a mask, and then clicked Image (on the top row) and selected Apply Image.  This brought up a window which requires the following settings: Layer – Merged, Channel – RGB, Blending – Multiply, and Opacity – 100%. I then repeated this process on the highlights layer, except on this layer I also selected the box marked Invert Layer.

6) You now have a blended image from which you can proceed with your normal Photoshop work flow, such as adding additional adjustment layers for brightness and contrast.  Note however that if you wish to make an additional adjustment only to the brightness or shadows areas of the photo, you must “clip” the adjustment mask to that specifically targeted layer.  For example to add a warming filter to just the shadows layer, right click on that layer then select add clipping mask.  Then select the photo filter and whatever adjustment you add will only be applied to the layer selected.

This is my completed blended image:

If you live in the Albuquerque area and have an interest in improving your digital photography or Photoshop post processing skills, please contact me. I enjoy talking photography, so even if you don’t decide to hire me as your coach, maybe I’ll make a new friend! 🙂

Please feel free to comment and share.

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Photoshop Dodge and Burn Tool

In the days of black and white printing from a film negative in the darkroom, photographers would pass a small object to “dodge” or block the light passing through the negative from areas of the print paper that they wanted to make lighter – thus reducing the exposure.  Conversely, they would use their hand or a piece of cardboard with a hole in it to “burn” or focus the light only on to areas of the print that they wanted to darken – thus increasing the exposure. 

The Dodge/Burn tool on the left side of the Photoshop tool bar performs the same function in digital photography editing.  Note that the Burn Tool is pictured here; simply right-click on the tool to see/select the Dodge Tool.  Use the Dodge Tool to paint on areas of the photo that you want less exposed (lighter) such as shadow areas, and use the Burn Tool to paint on areas of the photo that you want more exposed (darker) such as highlights.   In the Options Bar at the top, choose a brush tip and the set brush options (0% hardness recommended).  In the options bar, select one of the following from the Range menu: 1) Midtones – Changes the middle range of grays; 2) Shadows – Changes the dark areas; 3) Highlights – Changes the light areas.  Next, in the Options Bar click the airbrush button  to use the brush as an airbrush.  Alternatively, select the Airbrush option in the Brush panel.  Finally, click on  the Protect Tones option to minimize clipping in the shadows and highlights. This option also tries to keep colors from shifting hue.

Note that applying the Dodge or Burn tool to the “background layer” (the layer seen to the right of the screen when you open a file in Photoshop) permanently alters the image information. To edit your images non-destructively, it’s always best to work on a duplicate layer.  Also note that there are other Photoshop techniques for changing the tonal qualities of a digital image.  Some of these will be the subject of future blog posts.

With a little practice using the Photoshop Dodge/Burn tool, can help you improve your photographs by reducing the harsh differences between highlights and shadows.                                                  

If you are new to digital photography or want to learn effective Photoshop editing techniques that will add a “wow” factor to your photographs, please consider teaming with me, Albuquerque’s Photography Tutor, as your personal photography coach.

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Bandelier Elementary School Bear-A-Thon Fundraiser

Our (grand) son Billy is a Bandelier “Bear” attending 5th grade at Bandelier Elementary School here in our Albuquerque neighborhood.  The Bear-A-Thon is​ ​is​ ​the​ ​PTA’s​ ​largest​ ​fundraiser​ ​of​ ​the​ ​year,​ ​which​ ​provides​ ​support​ ​for​ ​so​ ​many​ ​activities​ ​that​ ​help to​ ​make​ ​Bandelier​ ​a​ ​great​ ​school​ ​–​ ​field​ ​trip​ ​buses,​ ​curriculum​ ​support,​ ​Art​ ​in​ ​the​ ​School,​ ​and​ ​much, much​ ​more!​ ​The children seek pledges for the number of laps they run around the playground or lump sum donations.  Please donate whatever you can – in the current economy schools are strapped for funding.  Go to this website (control/click for link) and select Billy’s teacher’s class, Team Parker, and enter your tax deductible donation by the closing date, October 17th.  These are photos of the event conducted on October 6th.  Thanks for your support!

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Author Headshot

I was gratified to receive a note from Albuquerque author J. Allen Whitt thanking me for my “great work” in providing a head shot for a revised book cover for his award-winning novel Notes From the Other Side of the Mountain (available from

There are subtle but important differences between a portrait and a head shot. A good head shot should capture the personality of the client and provide the best possible professional (yet realistic) representation of the client.  A portrait, however,  sets a mood and suggests a story. Lighting, coloring, and expressive poses, and venue (studio vs. local) often effect the transformation between a head shot and a portrait.

I enjoy head shot photography because I’m a good listener and after 40+ years of experience in government and industry I have a unique capability to work with clients to best portray their personalities through a photograph. These same skills carry over to working with clients seeking a portrait that suggests a mood, circumstance, life event, or story.  If you live or work in the Albuquerque area and need a professional head shot or portrait photo, please contact me for a free, no obligation consultation.

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Book Cover With Head Shot on Back Cover

Completed Novel Cover

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Portrait of Author J. Allen Whitt


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Multiple Processing of One Raw File

I’m a strong advocate of shooting in Camera Raw because all of the light that enters the lens is captured in the file – not just the lights that the camera jpeg algorithm thinks is needed for the desired exposure.  This photo is an example of one where using that wider dynamic range of light can produce a better photograph when other alternatives such as bracketed shots and high dynamic range (HDR) processing are not available.  This was a single photo shot in camera raw.  I purposely under exposed the photo in order to avoid over exposing or “blowing out” the sun and the bright, early morning sky.  Of course, the result was that much of the sidewalk and flowers were in deep shadow lacking any significant detail.  The fix was straight forward: Process the same raw file twice – once for the highlights (sun and sky) and again for the shadows (sidewalk and flowers).  I opened up the file exposed for the highlights as a smart object in Photoshop, then opened the camera raw filter and increased the exposure to bring out the details in the shadows and flowers. I rather like the results of the blended effect – a wider dynamic range of light, while still realistic looking and not “over the top” as seen in some HDR processed photos.

If you live in the Albuquerque, NM area and would like to master your DSLR or quickly become proficient in Photoshop editing, please consider me as your personal tutor.  Photography is my passion, and I’d be privileged to assist you on your journey.

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Good Morning Salida!

I captured this photo looking East on the Arkansas River early in the morning on our first full day of vacation in Salida, Colorado. Nikon D500 fitted with Nikkor 18-300mm zoom lens at 122mm, ISO 100, aperture f/6.3, shutter speed 1/25th second (hand held resting on bridge railing). I lost my lens cap and hood in the process, but I think the photo was worth it.

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How to Shoot Fireworks

For DSLR Owners – A stable tripod is a must; and a small flashlight can be a great help if you need to change camera settings in the dark. Get to the venue early enough to stake out a good position and to set up your camera while there’s still enough light to manually focus. Put your camera on a tripod and turn off the vibration control or stabilization function on your lens. Using autofocus, focus on the point where the fireworks will be ignited. Then move your camera/lens settings to manual focus and fine tune the focus to maximum sharpness – use your digital zoom button and live view mode if you have those functions. Once properly focused, don’t change the focus unless you move to a different location – tape the focus ring to the lens if necessary. If you can’t see well enough to focus, set the focus to infinity. Set your camera to manual mode, then set the aperture to f/11, the ISO to 100 (not auto), and the shutter speed to 8 seconds. Do not use flash. Use a remote shutter release if you have one, or use the camera’s delay timer set to 2 seconds to fire the shutter.

For Point & Shoot or Smartphone Owners – Again, a tripod is a must. If your device has manual mode and manual focus capabilities, by all means use them. If not, use a scene mode set for fireworks, starry night, or the like – these will set the focus to infinity and will use shutter, aperture and ISO settings similar to the above. If you use manual focus, set it to infinity.  Autofocus should be avoided – at night it tends to “hunt” for a focus point and you’ll likely get a blurry picture. And again, disable the flash.

I’m available for one-on-one tutoring if you live in the Albuquerque area.  

Have a fun, safe and happy July 4th holiday!

I took this photo last year with my Nikon D7100 affixed with 18-300 mm zoom lens at 90mm. Aperture f/11, ISO 100, shutter speed 8 seconds. Your mileage may vary. 🙂


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