First Wedding – “An Experience”

It’s been a couple of weeks since I shot my first wedding.  I’ve had quiet a few days to sit back and reflect on the whole experience and I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot.  I won’t lie or make lite of it at all because it was tough.  Knowing that your boss is a customer and that he or she is expecting near perfection in the finished product is a tall order to fill and in the end the only person you have to blame if the results are less than that is yourself.  The fact that my “employeer” was my best friend made the whole thing even more stressful too.  In the end I have to say that I am fairly pleased with the results and I hope the newly-wed couple is also.

I can honestly say that I learned a lot from this but the main thing was that no amount of reading or research can ever truly and fully prepare someone to shoot a wedding alone.  Action is the only thing that can truly teach you.  Experience is the key and you can’t gain that by sitting behind a computer and reading about someone else’s experience.  Sure you can gain a lot of insite, but it’s just not the same.

What are some things that I would do different you might ask?  For starters I think I would certainly communicate with the bride/groom more.  I would find out exactly what look they are looking for even if that look is whatever artistic flair I wan’t to add myself.  Secondly I would scout the area a little better the night before while at the rehearsal dinner.  Thirdly, I would set up a small station where I could take group or family photographs of the attendees as they arrived (if there was time).

One key thing that helped me was that I knew the bride and groom fairly well.  I’ve known the groom for many years and consider him one of my dearest friends.  So knowing his demeanor and attitude sure helped things out and made for a few good laughs during the wedding and reception.  I mean, how many photographers have the garter flipped directly in their direction?  LOL  Classic!

So in the words of Zack Arias, “GOYA” and shoot!  For there is no better way to learn the craft of photography and there is certainly no better way to develop your artistic side then by shooting, except for maybe looking at great photographs.

I will post pictures of the wedding as soon as the couple has their official copy of the images.

more later…



My best friend Pete got married this past weekend and he honored me by asking me to be his wedding photographer.  I knew that I would need a good fast lens for those long shots during the ceremony.  My current 18-135mm kit lens just wouldn’t have done the trick.  So after hearing about on Scott Bourne’s PhotoFocus podcast I visited their website and was amazed.  Their selection of photographic gear is very nice.  You can rent lenses, bodies, memory cards and even some lighting stuff and the best thing is that their rates are great.

Since I shoot with a Nikon D300 I selected the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR.  After tax, tag and title (LOL) I only paid $125 for a one week rental.  That is much cheaper than buying that same lens.

If you are drooling over a certain lens and just can’t justify paying $2000 for it or if you need a special lens for a one-time event then I highly recommend heading over to and giving them a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Habitat for Humanity

Last weekend my Navy Reserve unit teamed up with the Cleveland, TN chapter of Habitat for Humanity and assisted in the building of a house.  Here are some of the photographs I made while we were there.


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Memorial Day

In 1998 I joined the U.S. Navy and took the job as a Submarine Sonar Technician.  My first submarine was the USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) Gold.  An SSBN type of submarine has two crews, a Blue and a Gold, and each crew has the boat for approximately 100 days or so.  I was assigned to the Gold crew.

The Sonar Chief on the Blue crew was Chief John Bishop.  Now the reason I am talking about Chief Bishop in this Memorial Day post is because Chief Bishop lost his father on a submarine that never returned home.  On June 5th, 1968 the USS Scorpion was declared lost at sea.  It was later determined that she sank on May 22nd of the same year.  All 99 members of her crew were lost.  Chief John Bishop’s father was among the crew that was lost.  Chief Walter Bishop was not just any crew member though.  He was the Chief of the Boat or as we call them, COB.  The COB is the senior enlisted person on the boat and answers directly to the Commanding Officer and is basically a liaison between the enlisted community and the Commanding Officer.

When Chief John Bishop was selected the be advanced to the rank of Chief Petty Officer a ceremony was held for the “pinning”.  The pinning is when a newly selected Chief gets his/her anchors pinned on.  At the pinning ceremony John’s wife Darlene took his shiny set of dolphins (submarine warfare pin) off his chest and replaced them with an older, more tarnished set of dolphins.  This is significant because as it turns out, this older set of dolphins actually had once belonged to John’s dad, Chief Walter Bishop.

On or about May 19th, 1968 Scorpion and her crew pulled in to Spain and three crew members disembarked the boat and flew back to the US.  One of those crew members had recently qualified in submarines and the COB had given him his set of dolphins as is sometimes customary, kind of like passing the torch.

When I first heard this story I was amazed at how those dolphins found their way back to the son of the man who once wore them.  From thousands of miles, hundreds of feet below the surface and after nearly forty years, those dolphins returned home and were once again being worn by a Chief Bishop.

As we celebrate this Memorial Day this year.  I would ask that you pick one family to think about each year who has been affected by the loss of a soldier or sailor.  By doing this it will give this holiday much more meaning.

To the crew of the USS Scorpion I say rest in peace men.  Fair winds and fowling seas.

Happy Memorial Day!

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Photo Workshop

Last Sunday I attended a studio lighting workshop hosted by Photonooga in Chattanooga,TN.  The instructor was Rocke of  This was my first workshop and was definitely the first time doing any type of work with models.  I learned a lot but still have much to learn.  Here are a few images I made.


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The MCPON visits Cleveland, TN

As many of you may know I am a Reservist in the U.S. Navy. That means I am basically in the Navy on a part-time basis and “play” Navy on one weekend a month and then two weeks at some point during the year. A couple of weeks ago while at “drill” we were notified that the annual Armed Forces Day Parade would be held in downtown Chattanooga, TN on May 7th, 2010 and that the Grand Marshall would be the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West.

The MCPON is the most senior enlisted person in the Navy and is a liaison for the enlisted community to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). The MCPON is also called upon to testify in front of Congress on various issues involving the enlisted naval community.

MCPON West is a previous Quartermaster (QM) in the submarine community and his accomplishments are too many to list here. For more detailed information on him you can visit either his Facebook page or his official Navy page.

Now back to the point…

During that drill weekend several of us were asked if we would like to march in the parade since the Navy needed to make a good showing for the MCPON. Reluctantly I volunteered. So on May 7th about 20 reservist met at the drill center. I’ll fast forward a bit and take you to the point where we are marching down the street and start to pass the reviewing stand where MCPON West is watching us. As we pass by he breaks his salute and starts clapping loudly, at which point cold chills went down my spine and I was instantly filled with more Navy pride than I can ever remember.

After the parade a few buddies and I walked back over towards the viewing stand and eventually got to shake the MCPON’s hand and get a picture with him. That moment was awesome. Here I was shaking hands with the senior enlisted person in the Navy and he just happens to be wearing the same submarine warfare pin that I was wearing. Like two brothers separated by three pay-grades and a lot of years.

That moment was trumped only to the event that happened the next day. I was invited to attend a submarine veteran’s meeting at my local Golden Coral and the guest speaker was MCPON West. I arrived early and sat down with his photographer, MC1 Jennifer Villalovos. We made small talk and all the while the MCPON was sitting right next to me.

Without a doubt, this past weekend was the highlight of my military career.

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Chattanooga TN

Chattanooga TN
Originally uploaded by rustyb78

A few weeks ago I found myself in downtown Chattanooga, TN. Here is my favorite shot from that visit.

I shot it with a Nikon D300 and edited it with Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta 2.

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The other side of the tracks

Last week I was romping about up in the north end of my home town while doing some work for my dad.  I took my Nikon D300 with me as usual in hopes of finding some old barn or something interesting to take a photograph of  I normally have my camera with me at all times.  It may not be in my hands, but it’s usually close by.

I was driving through the little town of Charleston, TN when I crossed the railroad track and noticed that there were a couple of local Norfolk Southern engines sitting on the tracks.  Here are some of the iPhone pictures I took.

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AirCurve Acoustic Amplifier for iPhone

Good morning!

A few months ago while browsing in the electronics section at my local Walmart I saw this cool little iPhone dock.  I know what you’re saying, everybody and their brother has came out with an iPhone dock.  But this one is completely different. 

This little $20 piece of plastic has no electronics yet it claims to boost the audio of your iPhone do to a wave-guide design.  As your phone sits in the cradle of this dock the speaker of the phone is in direct contact with the start of the wave-guide and as sound comes from the iPhone speaker it is pumped through this little tunnel.  The sound quality is very nice and the clear plastic design is very pleasing to the eye.

This dock is made by Griffin Technology and is actually called the AirCurve Acoustic Amplifier.

Note:  It will accept a sync cable so you can charge or sync your iPhone while it is securely sitting in the AirCurve. 

Head on over to and take a look.  I highly recommend it.

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I was taking my daughter to a birthday party a few years ago when I was still stationed in Charleston, SC.  On a whim, I stopped by the Navy Exchange and purchased a Sony Cybershot digital camera.  I have a hard time remembering some things but I remember this event pretty clearly.  The first digital photos I took were at that party which was at the bowling alley on base.  Little did I know that the purchase of that camera would spark an interest that would be almost as strong as my love of amateur radio.

Soon after I bought my camera, Emilie went on a school field trip to the Aquarium in downtown Charleston.  While I was there I took a picture of the Cooper River Bridge.  It connects Charleston to Mt. Pleasant.  The picture wasn’t very good by today’s standards though, but I still love it.

I started reading photography tutorials that I would print from the internet and read them while I was at work in my down time.  I started learning about shutter speeds and F-stops and white balance and all the other technical things that are involved in photography.  I’m still reading too.

My photographic style has become that of capturing human expression.  I love capturing those moments in life that people don’t expect.  Taking the picture of the little boy in the crowd who is yawning or doing something he shouldn’t be doing is much more appealing to me than posing a bunch of people and taking portrait style pictures.

About a year ago I came across this guy named Joe McNally while surfing the internet.  Joe is a famous photog who is a master of lighting and off camera flash.  While watching a video of him giving a talk about his first published book “The Moment It Clicks” Joe is telling of a time when he was on assignment with one of the major magazines to take pictures of the Pope.  He is so far away from the Pope that there is noway to get a good photo and while Joe is getting frustrated with his dilemma there is a one armed man behind him taking pictures with a small camera with a fixed lens.  Joe goes on to say that the most important piece of gear in your camera bag is your attitude.

More to come…

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