June 6th Photo Shoot, “Don’t Shoot!”

I’m a bit of a photo bug and I’ve also directed quite a few professional photo shoots in my design career, so I can’t help thinking about what it would be like to be a combat photographer. Imagine being given this assignment: “Hey bud, wanna stroll along with the guys going to Omaha beach and snap a few pics for posterity’s sake? Americans would love it, whadya say?” Ok, maybe the D-Day assignment wasn’t given exactly that way, but even so, after clearing the lump in my throat, I would probably ask if I could just hang around the ship and get some shots of the guys coming and going. Not Frank Capa. He was not only up for the assignment, he requested going with the first wave to hit the beach. I can hear the other GIs joking, “hey Frank, don’t ya know that camera shoots film not bullets.” He knew! He took 106 photos but due to a lab snafu only 11 survived; the only photographic record we have of that treacherous assault. Amazing! 10 of the 11 appeared in Life magazine. This ethereal shot has always been one of my favorites.

D-Day landing shot by Frank Capa

What’s the Color of Your Photo Search?

Royalty free, stock photos have become a staple these days due to the huge proliferation of suppliers and relatively low cost. Searching the huge databases has never been easier or more effective. Almost all stock sites offer search engines with advanced filtering capabilities that can get you to the photos or art you are looking for.

A Search is a Search is a Search, unless…

Specific subject searches are by far the easiest and often nothing else will suffice. If you need a picture of an eagle or a cell phone (or whatever) thats what you search for and you are presented with clear choices. No sweat! But what if your content is conceptual in nature and not centered around a definable visual subject. Using conceptual search terms are often productive. Terms like “hot”, “focused”, “professional”, or “skilled” for example. Or, when illustrating those concepts, you may throw in a little more metaphorical free association to widen the search: “hot” = fire or coals; “focused” = lens or optical instruments; “professional” = confident expression or executive; “skilled” = hand crafted or artisan; and so forth.

Why Not Try a Color

Conceptual search terms can work just fine, but if you’re still coming up short try a color.

 : Blue butterfly on white background : blue diamond : comfortable blue sea, sky and white cloud : A bunch of blue party balloons over white background : A blue ribbon is a symbol for success and first prize. Stock Photo : Businesswoman holding a blue umbrella. Vector : Beautiful fireworks on the black sky background : Funny 3D blue Robot on white background : water splash isolated on white background

All photos were obtained from 123rf.com

Granted this doesn’t always apply, but if the gist of your content is conceptual ask yourself if it can be associated with a color. Or, if you are looking for a creative theme as a jumping off point, color could be the search you need to jar your brain. There are three ways I can think of to do this right off the top of my head. You may think of more:

1) Filter by color – If you already have a current selection of images before you, but you want to narrow it down, most stock site search engines allow you to filter your current search by a color and thus narrow your subjects for additional thematic impact, or simply to match a graphic color theme.

2) Simply use a color in your search term – Couple a color with another concept term or use the color term by itself. If you’re writing about the next “hot” trend in some field, search not only by “hot” and “fire” but also try “red” or “orange” or “blue”. What other associations can you make? Will “chartreuse” give you an image that illustrates being outlandish, eccentric, loud, or unique? Sometimes the results can be totally unrelated but sometimes they can surprise you and send you in a new direction you hadn’t thought of.

3) Let color suggest a content theme in advance – In other words, do your photo search before any writing and use a particular color term to present you with theme ideas. The series of photos above show the variety that can come from one simple color search “blue”. I expected to find the blue sky and the water splash but the rest were surprises. What sort of conceptual theme can be incorporated into your writing around the idea of a butterfly or balloons or a blue ribbon. Interesting … see? Now you’re brainstorming and thinking conceptually. Your content will be more interesting and “colorful” as a result.

Finding stock photos or art to illustrate a concept or a theme can be a blast, so be colorful and have fun with it.

How to Photograph Your Paintings

How to Photograph Your Paintings

via Muddy Colors Blog and Don dos Santos

I found this blog post at Muddy Colors very helpful and thorough. If you illustrate or paint professionally and need good quality captures without a lot of continuing costs the information and techniques here are golden.

Read More

Headed South

I saw the last hummingbird at our feeders this past weekend and none since. That jives with the migration information I found online. By all accounts they head south mid to late Sept. I’m not really into bird photography per se but I had fun trying to capture a few in flight and will no doubt try to get a few shots again next year. The photography is interesting, if for no other reason, than to be able to see some detail in these speedy, elusive little creatures.

Apparently they gather primarily in Louisiana and Texas before crossing the gulf to winter in Mexico. They fly low according to various sightings. Some have been seen skimming just above the water and even using high waves as wind breaks. Fascinating!



Pic of the Day: Comet Hyakutake

Digging around in some of my old film shots I ran across this photo of Comet Hyakutake I took in 1996. It was a rare try at an astronomical image (something I want to do more of) and mediocre at best, but since I had never tried scanning the film negative of this shot, this became a technical exercise more than anything. My shot pales in comparison to the many beautiful images of Hyakutake taken by seasoned astrophotographers, but still it was a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime viewing event and I had a blast taking the shot. One hour photo prints being what they are (or aren’t), I wanted to see what I could do with this old negative on my present day Canon 8400f flatbed in 35mm film scanning mode. I was pleased to see the improvement I was able to make over the print. In Photoshop I ran a noise reduction filter, added a curves layer to fine tune the contrast and a hue/saturation layer to darken certain colors and reduce some of the atmospheric haze bringing out the tail a bit more. The 30 sec. exposure (using Fujicolor 1600 film) as you can see is a bit long and the stars are just beginning to elongate due to earth’s rotation, but all in all not a bad attempt and a fun memory.


Comet Hyakutake

Pic of the Day: Living History

History, particularly reenactors, is one of my favorite photo subjects. I was playing around with some black and white renditions of this image and was satisfied with the way this one came out. Most of the editing work was done in Lightroom. The buttonhole design on the uniform jacket made for a nice graphic element. Though it doesn’t look like it this guy was actually giving a lecture on 18th century militia tactics but this sort of unique contemplative pose stood out to me in the pics I had of him.


Revolutionary Soldier
Reenactor at Cowpens National Battlefield, SC