Memories Photo Book Project

I haven’t posted in several days because I’ve accepted a time-consuming project to deliver a photo book covering the last 2 soccer seasons for the parents of a 7-year-old girl on grandson Billy’s team. The project involves reviewing over 700 “camera raw” photos that I’ve captured over this time period.  From these photos I’ll select about 60 of the best shots featuring this particular player, editing each for correct white balance, color, contrast, and sharpness.  Each photo will then be saved as a jpeg file cropped to an appropriate image size for the photo book.  The final step will be to upload the photos to an online website, arrange the photos in the photo book, and add text where appropriate.  Hopefully, the end result will be a book that will preserve the memories of this special time in this little girl’s life that will be treasured for years, even generations, to come.  That’s what I love to do – capture the wonders found in travel and life!  Life’s memories should be treasured – please share this with your friends and family, and contact me when there are events in your life that are worthy of archiving as a lasting memory in a photo book or video DVD slideshow.

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Sea Turtle Photo Contest Entry

I just entered this photo in a contest featuring sea creatures.  The photo was captured in January 2008 with a Nikon D300 camera and Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens set at focal length 65 mm, aperture f/10, shutter speed 1/400 second, and ISO speed 800.  If you would like a print or canvas of this photo, please contact me.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                             Email: d300dave@gmail.com

Sea Turtle

Sea Turtle
Picture 1 of 1

 

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Art and Photography Meet

Art and photography often intersect.  I offer a case in point initiated by an artist friend named Carolyn Huff-Winters, whom Barbara and I have known since high school.  Carolyn posted this beautiful painting on her Facebook Page.

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I commented to Carolyn that her painting reminded me of one of my favorite captures – the Headwaters of the Rio Grande River, a photo that I took while vacationing in Colorado in August 2013.

Headquarters of the Rio Grande

I am excited that Carolyn likes my photo, and I’ve readily provided her with my permission to use it for a painting. I’m flattered by her request and shall look forward to her artistic rendering.

I encourage you to visit Carolyn’s artistry on her website.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life

David Hood                           Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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Depth of Field

In photography, the area within the depth of field (DOF) appears sharp, while the areas in front of and beyond the DOF appear blurry. In photos like landscapes, photographers try to have the entire DOF within the view of the photo as sharp as possible.  In photos such as portraits, many photographers prefer to keep the subject in sharp focus, but let the background go blurry so that the eye is drawn to the subject.

DOF is achieved by selecting the best combination of lens focal length, distance from the subject, and the lens aperture or f-stop.  Generally speaking, higher f-stop numbers result in greater depth of field (desirable for most landscapes) and lower f-stop number result in sharp subjects but blurry foregrounds and backgrounds (often desired for portraits).

Photography is all about light – and available light for the view or subject to be photographed – often dictates the available options available to the photographer for lens aperture.  Insufficient light often means that higher f stops (smaller aperture) can not be used because the picture will be too under exposed (read black).  Too much light (such as on a sandy beach at the ocean) often means that lower f stops (larger aperture) can not be used because the picture will be over exposed (read ‘white’ or ‘burned out’). Cameras with manual controls can offset aperture limitations caused by adverse lighting conditions by adjusting the shutter speed.  A slower shutter speed allows more light to enter the lens, while a faster shutter speed reduces the light coming through the lens. So the combination of aperture and shutter speed controls the light entering the lens.  Photos of fast-moving subjects (such as in sports) requires a fast shutter speed to ‘stop’ action and avoid the blurriness caused by a moving subject. Sometimes, however, some blur is desired – so a slow shutter speed is required.  For example, some photographers like to ‘smooth’ the effect of fast-moving water (like a waterfall) by using a slow shutter speed and compensating with a high f-stop.

Sometimes lack of sufficient available light can also be compensated for by using flash and/or by increasing the camera’s ISO (pronounced Ice Oh) setting, which deals with the camera’s sensitivity to light. These are subjects in their own right, and I won’t get into them in this post.

Once the photographer determines the desired combination of shutter speed and aperture for the focal length of the lens to be used, the next determination is where in the field of view to focus.  The rule of thumb is to focus on a point in the field of view at a distance about one-third of the way between the foreground and the background.  But like any rule of thumb, this sometimes does not provide the desired degree of sharpness.

Some photographers, particularly those that take landscape photos, determine the focus distance that will provide the sharpest DOF by calculating the hyperfocal distance.  The hyperfocal distance is defined as the focus distance which places the furthest edge of a depth of field at infinity. Focusing at the hyperfocal distance ensures maximum sharpness from half this distance all the way to infinity. However, knowing the hyperfocal distance for a given focal length and aperture can be tricky.  I’ve begun using a smart phone app such as HyperFocal Pro to calculate the ideal focus distance.  For example, I enter my camera make and model, lens focal length (say 28 mm), and aperture (say f 5.6) and the app tells me that I should focus at 10.5 feet, and that my DOF (where everything will be in focus) will be from 7 feet to 18 feet (approximate distance from the camera).  If I decide that the photo requires that everything be in focus to infinity, the app calculator tells me that I need to narrow my f-stop to f 16 and then everything between 4.7 feet and infinity will be in focus.  Obviously then, I will need to frame my view in such a way that it won’t matter that the first 4.7 feet are not in sharp focus.

I’ve found that the leap from the theory of hyperfocal distance to achieving the desired results takes lots of practice and experimentation. Sometimes I find myself with the wrong focal length lens for the situation, or in a location without sufficient room to place my camera the ideal distance from the subject.  Here are some examples of DOF practice shots together with camera settings.

Example 1

 

Spring Birthday Bouquet

Nikon D7100, Nikon 17.0-55.0 mm f/2.8 lens at 55 mm, 1/60 second, f 22, ISO 900, flash fill.  Here I tried to duplicate a typical portrait shot where the subject (especially the eyes) is sharp from front to back, but the background is blurry. If wanted the wall to be a little more blurry in this photo, opening the f-stop to f 18 or increasing the shutter speed to 1/100 would likely have accomplished this without significantly reducing the portion of the DOF containing the subject (flowers).

 Example 2

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Nikon D7100, Nikon 28.0-80.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 80 mm, 1/250 second, f 5.6, ISO 250, aperture priority, center weighted metering, flash fill.  This was another “typical portrait” setting resulting in a sharp subject and a blurry background.

Example 3

 

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Nikon D7100, Nikon 28.0-80.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 34 mm, 1/60 second, f 8, ISO 160, aperture priority, center weighted metering, flash fill.  Here’s an example of being limited by geography or space.  With a wall behind me I was a little closer to the foreground flowers than ideal.  The correct focus point distance from the front row of flowers was about 7.5 feet, and I couldn’t get the view I wanted any further away than about 6 feet.  As a result, the focus on the first row of flowers is a little soft.  Likewise, the DOF is only about 10.5 feet at these camera settings, so anything beyond 18 feet from the camera (the far wall for example) is also a little soft on the focus.  IF I could have backed away from the foreground about 4 more feet, and closed down the shutter to f 16, then I would have had a DOF of about 54 feet and everything would have been in sharp focus.  Photography is often about choices however.  Since the camera was not on a tripod, it would have been difficult to delay the shutter speed sufficiently to compensate for the reducing the aperture to f 18.  I would have had to bump up the ISO considerably – and that comes with the consequence of increased “noise” or grain in the photo.  My camera does a good job at a fairly high ISO, but I don’t often go there unless I must in order to get the shot.

Example 4

 

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Nikon D7100, Nikon 28.0-80.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 80 mm, 1/250 second, f 5.6, ISO 400, aperture priority, center weighted metering, flash fill.  Here I was experimenting (hand-held) with a very shallow DOF.  I was at maximum zoom on the lens and standing right over this tulip bud just far enough away to focus on the tip of the bulb (also near the bug). At the f  5.6 aperture (near max for this lens), the resulting photo is what I expected for these settings.  Acceptable sharpness at the point of focus, but increasing blurriness beyond.  The DOF expected for these camera settings  is about 1 foot IF the camera to focus point distance is 10.5 feet.  Since I was only about 2 feet from the focus point, the overall blurriness of the photo is not surprising.

Summary

Understanding the whys and hows of taking sharp, in-focus photographs is essential for successful photography.  But even with this understanding, a photographer must be familiar with the geography, spacing, working distances, and lighting of the area and surroundings to be photographed.  On site test shots should be made before the photo shoot for best results.  Only then can the photographer be prepared with the right equipment and techniques for a successful photo shoot and happy clients.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life

 

 

 

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How to Choose Your Family Photographer

I ran across this post by DrewB of Mom*tog that I thought was worthy of sharing.  Drew wrote a guest post for mpix (Mpix is a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging) that provides some great tips on choosing a family photographer.  I’ll briefly cover her 7 tips below, but I highly recommend that you read her post How to Choose Your Family Photographer in its entirety.

If you are seeking the perfect photographer match, here is a summary of her tips.  I hope after reading her tips that you will contact me to judge how I measure up to her tips and to your requirements.

1) The best place to start is with referrals from friends.

2) Not all photographers are created equal.  They typically have a unique style and one or two specialties. Look at their body of work and gauge whether or not their style matches what you are looking for.

3) Ask to see an entire gallery.

4) Cost.  Cost can be a big factor. Sometimes it can be the deciding factor. But, the most important thing to figure out is what is included in the cost of the session.

5) Be sure you understand all of the photographers policies before booking.

6) Get to know the photographer.

7) In the end your photographer should be someone you trust!

If you’ve read my Home page and my About My Photography Blog page, you know that I’m all about family.  My life’s experience has instilled in me the importance of capturing precious family memories for sharing among the present generation and generations to come.  This is my passion, and I would be privileged to become your family photographer.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life

David Hood           Email: d300dave@gmail.com

 

 

 

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Spring Birthday Bouquet

We’re celebrating my birthday one day early this evening as we gather the family for my favorite meal – steak, home fried potatoes, and salad.  Dessert will also combine my favorites since childhood (a long time ago) – chocolate mayonnaise cake with peanut butter frosting – yum!

My dear wife Barbara went out to our backyard garden and made this great looking center piece bouquet to brighten our table.  I couldn’t resist capturing the memory with a photograph.

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For my fellow photo geeks, this photo was captured with a tripod mounted Nikon D7100 camera, Nikon 17-55 2.8 G ED lens at 55mm, and camera fill flash.  Aperture priority was set to f22 and the camera selected exposure of 1/60 the second at ISO 900.  I had to close down the aperture and ramp up the ISO in order to get sufficient depth of field to keep the entire bouquet in focus.  Shot in camera raw and post processed using Photoshop CS6.

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WHY A SLIDESHOW VIDEO IS BEST FOR CREATING PHOTO MEMORIES AND HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR PHOTOS

BENEFITS OF A DVD VIDEO OVER A PHOTO ALBUM.  In my previous blog post, Let Me Archive Your Photo Memories to Slideshow DVD Video, I shared the virtues of creating a digital DVD Video memory.  Yes, there are other ways to create those memories including photo albums and photo books.  Albums and books look nice on your bookshelf or coffee table, and they can be shared by passing around among visiting friends and family, but in my opinion they lack some important benefits that a DVD video provides:

  • The picture files, together with the audio files if the video is set to music, are safely archived on the DVD disc for easy access via your computer or by a photo print store if prints of any of the photos are required at a future date. No worries about the files being lost or corrupted by a hard drive failure or other computer related problem!
  • Your memorial slideshow video can be shared by many at the same time by viewing on your TV via Blu Ray or standard DVD player, viewing on your smart phone or tablet (Android or Apple), viewing on your computer, or even remotely by an unlimited number of friends and family via the internet on a shared (and secure) video file site such as Vimeo or Dropbox.
  • We are in the digital age. Our children and grandchildren are much more likely to watch a captivating video than they are to pick up a photo album or photo book.

ORGANIZING YOUR PHOTOS IS AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP – NO MATTER WHICH MEDIUM YOU CHOOSE FOR CREATING YOUR MEMORY.   The story and message that you wish to convey in the memory that you envision, no matter which medium that you chose for creating that memory, simply cannot be produced without suitable photo content.  The ability to select the best photos to convey the intended message is essential to the creation of a meaningful memory.  In this post, I’d like to share my approach for organizing photos – hopefully this will work for you as well.

  • Sort through all those deteriorating photos sitting in boxes or albums in your closet or storage. Sort into three piles – must keep, probably should keep but can’t decide, and throw away.
  • The “must keep” photos should be scanned and saved to your computer and backed up to a CD. This will archive the photos before further deterioration sets in.  If you have a suitable printer/scanner, do-it-yourself scanning will save you money, but is very time consuming – consider contacting me for a quote before you decide whether to do it yourself.  If you scan your photos use the highest optical resolution that your scanner supports; 600 dpi is recommended but 300 dpi is adequate in most cases.  Save the scanned jpg image files to a “must keep” sub folder within the “pictures” folder of your computer; back them up to a disc clearly marked “must save” as well.  Do the same with the “can’t decide” group of photos and file them in a separate sub folder (and CD) aptly named.  Discard the “throw away” group of photos.  Retain the “must keep” and “can’t decide” photos in an acid free container designed for such purposes (readily available online) and hand them down to your children and grandchildren.
  • But we’re not done yet. How can we readily find all those scanned images of Grandpa, his siblings, children, and grandchildren?  The answer is relatively simple if you use a face recognition software program that will speed you through the sorting process and let you file the results in a separate folder for each person identified.  I like Googles’s Picasa3 for this process – here’s why and how:
    • It’s free! Download Picasa3 to your computer, tell it which folders you want it to scan for photos, and it will save your photos on its own server without changing the photos on your computer in any way.  Set it to scan once, or continuously scan so that Picasa stays up to date with the latest jpg files saved to your computer.  Be sure to apply the “don’t duplicate files” setting in order to simplify later sorting.
    • Once your photo files have been uploaded to the Picasa server, you’re ready to initiate the sorting and organizing. Near the top left side of the page, you’ll see an unnamed folder where all your uploaded files are initially located.  Thumbnail photos of each face found on a photo will be in the main body of the page.  Begin selecting photos and adding a person’s name to each.  You will add a new name for each photo of a person not previously identified.  Each new name is added as a sub folder to a main folder named “persons”. The more photos that you name and confirm, the better job the Picasa software does of correctly suggesting matches of unnamed photos to the appropriately named sub folder.  From time to time you’ll see a question mark next to a person’s sub folder.  For example, the sub folder named John Smith may show 300 images and a question mark.  Simply click on that folder, review the images to ensure that they are all John Smith, and then click on “confirm”.  If you see any suggested matches that are not correct, simply click on the “x” to remove that photo before selecting confirm.  When all photos have been named and confirmed, the unnamed folder will be empty and you will now have all photos organized by the person(s) named in the photo.
    • Now you can simply click on the individual thumbnail “headshots” contained in each person’s folder to help you decide which photos that you want to include in the memorial. You can also sort the photos in a folder based upon the date created, file size, etc.  On the right side of the page you will see the photo’s file name and where that file is located on your computer. Email or online sharing options available with Picasa for Web, Dropbox, Photobucket, Flickr or similar photo share sites will be helpful for collaborating with family and friends

BUT I’M NOT ORGANIZED YET – AND I NEED MY MEMORIAL PRODUCED VERY QUICKLY!  No worries, the above provides the best recipe for producing a meaningful memorial, but the real world sometimes provides obstacles.  I can help you gather your families’ photos (both hard copy and digital if digital photos are available) and work with you to sort photos, establish the storyline, and select the music genre that will best set the tone, mood, or emotion that you envision for your memorial production.  Contact me and let’s talk.  You’ll find that I’m a good listener and a problem solver. Now is the best time to organize your photos and start creating meaningful memories!

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Let Me Archive Your Photo Memories to Slideshow DVD Video

Most of us have boxes of old photos and slides stuck in boxes on a closet shelf or in storage.  There they deteriorate, take up space, and serve no purpose since they aren’t readily available for viewing or sharing with friends and family.  Unfortunately it’s usually the loss of a loved one that motivates us to drag out those old photos so that we can reminisce and share the memories of the dearly departed – for “memories are the most precious legacy we have after someone we love dies”  (From Elements of a Meaningful Funeral.)

Perhaps because my Dad was a photographer, and I’ve followed in his footsteps, it fell upon me to search out, organize, and produce these memories .  With the digital age came the opportunity to produce a professional looking memorial slideshow, usually set to the genre of music admired by the deceased. The production of a slideshow on a DVD provides a meaningful memorial to the life of the deceased and enables loved ones to remember the deceased through the years on occasions such as anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays.  Moreover, the DVD medium ensures that images (and perhaps music) are safely archived for years to come.  For additional details, see my page titled Slideshow Video Productions.

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Because of the appreciative comments that I’ve received from spouses and family members for the digitally recorded memories of their loved one, this service has become my passion and my niche in photography.  I’ve expanded this passion to the recording of all sorts of family memories – vacations, holidays, parties, anniversaries, reunions, school events, sports, and many others.  There are few photographers available with my dedication to listen to the client’s needs, offer suggestions and alternatives for meeting those needs, providing personal service, and delivering a quality product. Please share this news with friends and family and remember me when you’re considering a source for the photographing, scanning, editing and/or production  of past or future family memories.

 

 

 

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Sandia Peak Ski Area, 2/10/15

These are photos taken at Sandia Peak Ski Area on a beautiful day following a fresh fall of powdery snow.  My Grandson Jim’s middle school had teacher conferences scheduled so he had the day off from school.  It was a perfect day for taking Jim and two of his friends for a day of snow boarding!  The mountain road had been cleared of snow, the weather was mild, and it was a great day for outdoor fun and photography.

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