My Five Favorite Fotogs of 2010

If you see me out I typically have a camera in my hands and if I don’t it’s not very far away.  I keep my Nikon D300 pretty close at all times, even at work since I never know when I might need to photograph some evidence or something like that.  Having a camera nearby usually elicits photography conversation and I usually ask the other photographer who they follow or which blogs they read.  The vast majority of the local photographers that I associate with don’t seem to read or follow anyone else’s stuff.  That’s kind of surprising to me actually.  Matt Baxter is the exception.  He and I follow the same people for the most part.

Over the last few years I have been religiously following a few different professional photographers.  I like these guys because not only are they amazing photographers but they also have the “heart of a teacher” (Dave Ramsey quote) and want to share what they have learned.  So here is my top five list in no particular order.

1. Joe McNally :

Joe has been shooting for well over 20 years and has been coined the Master of Flash.  Every image of his tells a story but to hear Joe actually tell the story makes it even better.  He is not shy in front of a video camera and he explains things very well.  I’ve been able to locate a fair amount of interviews on youtube but the best place to learn about Joe is on his blog at http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/.

2. Zack Arias :

Mr. Zack Arias.  How do I explain why I like him….  I think I like and follow Zack more because of his candid, un-politically correct attitude toward the craft of photography.  Don’t get me wrong, he is an amazing photographer, but his candidness is great too and lends itself well to the community.  I see Zack as being the type of guy that really has to work at being a creative.  Here’s just a little personal story I have about the Arias family.  Zack had a “Black Friday” special on his OneLite DVD back last month.  It was so good that I couldn’t pass it up and was one of the first ones to hit the purchase button.  When I got my DVD and tried to play it there was something messed up with the audio.  I contacted his wife Meghan and was rushed a new DVD with a nice little note inside.  Their customer service is wonderful and the DVD is awesome!  I recommend it.  You too can follow Zack on his blog at http://www.zarias.com/.

3. Chase Jarvis:

I found Chase back a couple of years ago by accident much like I found these other guys.  His images were different and very conceptual.  Chase shoots mainly commercial photography but posts a lot of his personal work too.  He does a lot of behind the scenes videos which adds to his teacher qualities that I like and admire.  Follow Chase at his website over at http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/.

4. Mike Colon:

Mike is an internationally known wedding photographer.  He is simply amazing.  There isn’t much else to say about him.  If you’re a wedding photographer or aspire to be then I highly encourage you to start reading his blog over at http://www.mikecolon.com/.

5. Scott Kelby:

Last but certainly not least is Scott Kelby.  Yes, that’s right, Mr. Photoshop made my top 5.  Scott is an amazing teacher and an amazing photographer.  He recently started shooting some NFL and college football games and is nice enough to share those with us.  While I am not a huge football fan, I do enjoy looking over the images and reading how he is able to get such crisp and clean pictures.  Follow Scott at http://www.scottkelby.com/.  I also recommend checking out his online training website where you can learn all about photoshope, wordpress, off camera flash, and a mixture of other photography related subjects from professional photographers such as Joe McNally, David Ziser, Jay Maisel, Jeremy Cowart and many others.

All of the above are also avid twitter users too.  You should be able to find their twitter handle on their blog page.  If you can’t then ask me and I’ll give it to you.

If you are a photograph then I recommend you find and follow a few photographers that shoot things that inspire you and encourage you to get off your butt and shoot more images.  The wheel doesn’t need to be re-invented.  Learn from each other.  That’s what makes this fun.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

Dixie Stampede

For 19 years my extended family has been coming to Dixie Stampede.  This weekend was our anual visit.  DS has been open in Pigeon Forge, TN for 23 years and I’ve been able to go to make it for the show almost every year.  There were a few years that I miss due to being out to sea.

Most years the show is the same.  The Master of Ceremony comes out on a horse and sings the same songs and says the same things.  The bulk of the show is made up of a contest between the North and the South seating areas in which cast members ride horses and compete against each other representing their perspective sides.

This year they added a lumber jack competition.  Two lumber jack teams competed in a relay style race.  They started out with a climbing race, followed by two men sawing a log and finally they chopped wood.  Then the two teams competed in a log roll competition.  This was the highlight of the show and was a much welcomed change and addition to our anual event.

Just when you think the show is going to be the exact same thing as it was last year they throw something new in there.  All in all I really enjoy our yearly vacation to the Smokies and I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful area.

As a side note, if you are in the military and want to visit the smokies then pull out that ID card and use it to get some amazing military discounts.  Most places will give anywhere from 25 to 50% off ticket prices.

Christmas Vacation

It’s that time of year again.  Christmas.  Every year in January my grandfather makes reservations for twenty or thirty people to go to Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge, TN.  And in the second or third week in December we all load up in the family truckster and head north for the weekend.  That, is where we are, right now and the stress of being in close quarters with family is in full swing.

As I type I am looking at my aunt, uncle, three cousins and a cousin-n-law.  We are talking randomly and we are all playing on our Macs.  Two Mac Book Pro’s and two Mac Books to be exact. lol

I’m rambling right now because I don’t have my moleskine with me to write in so I am putting it here.  Feel free to move alone to another blog..lol

 

Journaling

A couple of years ago I began keeping a short daily journal of things that I did at work. As a police officer, keeping notes and being about to look back into the past to remember things is very important. Often times I have to testify in a case that may have occurred a year or two ago. For most people this may be no big deal, but I have a hard time remembering what I ate for supper last night..lol

So a few months ago I saw these really cool looking journals at the local Barne’s and Noble book store while I was shopping and looking at some photography books and magazines. I ran across the Moleskine journals and thought they looked really neat. I wanted one. I wanted one really bad but I didn’t buy. They were expensive. At least they were for me, someone who doesn’t like to write (I much prefer typing). So after several weeks and months of wanting one I bought my first red Moleskine journal with lines in it.

I like to think I have a type “a” personality which means I’m not very creative. This is probably the reason my photography isn’t that great. Being fairly organized and the non-creative type “a” person, it took me a day or two to actually write in my new journal. I didn’t want to mess up a page or write something wrong. I actually thought about how the layout of the writing should look. Silly I know.

Finally, I put pen to paper and it was amazing. The paper of the moleskine soaked the ink up in a way I have never seen or felt. It was magical and much different than writing on copy paper or notebook paper.

I have tried to write every night but have missed a few days here and there. If something exciting happens I’ll write it down. My hopes are to leave something of myself behind when I am gone. I have plenty of photographs to leave behind but I want to leave more, so I try to write with that in mind and explain things a little more than I normally would.

The likes of WordPress, twitter and facebook will come and go, but pens and paper are here to stay. If you don’t journal, then I highly recommend it. Not only will you leave a legacy but it will also help you become a better writer.

I prefer the moleskine for now, but that may change with time. There are plenty of other types of journals out there. The point is, JUST WRITE! oh, and READ! lol

Veteran’s Day

I attended the Waterville Elementary School PTO meeting tonight.  After the official meeting was over the second graders sang a couple of songs as a tribute to Veteran’s Day.  I’ll admit, I got a little misty eyed during the singing of “God Bless the USA”.  Being a veteran myself and currently serving as a selective reservist in the US Navy, I immediately began thinking about how much I love this country and how proud I am of every single American who serves or has served in the military.

At present I have a few friends who are deployed overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait.

Chief Petty Officer Diana Fleshman

Ltjg Dave Martin

Petty Officer Bryan Wood

Petty Officer Dennie Martin

And numerous other fine sailors from NOSC Chattanooga.

Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you for all that you do!

Hooyah Navy!

Give!

This past Friday my family and I went to eat at a local pizza buffet.  There was a total of six of us.  My dad paid for my mom, my nephew and himself while I paid for Annie, my daughter and myself.  Dad paid first and he used a discount card which gave him a dollar off his purchase.  He handed me the card but I decided to use my military discount instead to see if I could get a better deal.  My total purchase ended up being a dollar “more” than my dad’s order.  lol  We both kind of scratched our heads and questioned what had just happened.  If anything, our bill should have been the same, but in reality, my bill should have been lower since my military discount was better than his $1 off.

As the cashier looked at our receipts he determined that he had accidentally charged me for an extra childs buffet and was more than willing to refund me the money.

Now, I’m not tooting my own horn or anything here, but I am telling this story so that maybe someone else will do the same thing in the near future.

Instead of taking the refund, I asked the manager, who was standing there, if they would just keep the money and donate the meal to the next child that came through the line.  He assured me that he would.

A few moments later a nice gentalman came up to me and shook my hand and told me thank you.   It made my night!

The next time you over pay a little more for something think about donating the overage to the next person.  Or better yet, the next time you go through the drive-thru window, pay for the car behind you.  Can you imagine how it would feel to pull up to the drive-thru and find out that the person ahead of you just bought your meal.  That some stranger took time out of their day to pass along some generosity to another stranger.

As we get closer to Christmas I ask that all of you think about paying thing forward.  Slow down and realize that there are people out there that could use a little helping hand.  Not only will it make them happy, but it does something good for your soul too.  God gave his son for our sins and that’s what He asks us to do for others.  So this season, give!

Camera Equipment and Tips

Friends often ask me what kind of camera I use.  Before I answer them I usually ask them why they want to know and 99% of the time, the reason is that they love my images and want to be able to make images like mine.  A lot of the times these same friends have a good, quality DSLR camera similar to the one I shoot with.

The reason for this post is this; the cameras that we have today are 100 times better than most of the film cameras people were using just 10 years ago.  The camera doesn’t make the image, the person behind the camera makes the image.

If you want to learn how to use your DSLR to it’s maximum let me give you a few tips.

1.  Read your manual.  Learn all you can about your camera.  Become one with it and it won’t lead you astray.

2.  Stop using the pre-programmed modes.  Use the “A”, “S”, or “M” modes.  These will give you greater control over how your image looks.

3.  Read and view professional photographer’s blogs such as Joe McNally, Scott Bourne and Chase Jarvis.

4.  Visit my buddy Stephen Zeller’s DSLR Workshop page and watch his tutorials.

5.  Get off your butt and shoot.  The more images you make, the more you will learn and the better you will become.

For those of you who are wondering.  I shoot with a Nikon D300.  I usually have either the kit (18-135mm) kit lens attached to it or my 50mm f/1.8.  You don’t need all that crazy expensive equipment to make beautiful images.