Thursday, August 30, 2012

What a Mess..

    Last week I was returning to my Hotel in Columbus OH and exiting the highway I was directed by a motor officer to make a turn. One that was in the opposite direction from the direction I desired. So I pulled into a gas station to get turned around before the traffic back-up grew too long. It was about ten minutes which was not bad at all. The amazing and mildly pathetic activity that occurred next is nothing but government waste.
    First off roughly ten motor officers shot through the intersection followed by three squad cars. Eventually two or three Suburbans cam on through followed by two white fifteen passengers utility vans. Finally another five or six motor officers. 
    There are a couple of items here. First to Paul's credit, he turned down service protection earlier in the year saying it was a form of welfare. Guess he has taken another look at that one. He also made the statement that it costs around fifty thousand dollars a day for candidate protection by the Secret Service. Some sources have the 2012 candidate protection will cost at least 113 million dollars. Somehow I doubt all this is being picked up by the individual campaigns.
I am sure a sufficient level of bodily protection can be maintained with one eighth the man power I witnessed last week. Certainly there can be some savings in this area. It will take every department of our government taking serious cuts to stop the bleeding of our treasury dollars.
Enough of my soap boxing.

Have a great weekend, and take care... Doug

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thank You Steve Jobs

This one is way cool but first a thank you to Steve Jobs for either thinking this one up (doubtful) or at least having the foresight to allow the creativity and vision within a corporation this call Apple.
This little App proved its worth of memory space on my iPad tonight. When I am out of town, I always call my wife at 11:00 at night be for we go to bed. Tonight though when I went for my phone, it was not to be found. Hmm... Yes! use the work Blackberry to call my phone and I will hear it in a pocket or on the floor somewhere. No sound anywhere, Nada!
This i the first time I have ever totally misplaced my phone. Prior to panic setting in, I remember the Find iPhone App on the iPad. I tapped the App and once I logged in to the Apple account a location of the hotel came up on the screen. Well that makes sense as it was locked into the iPad. I clicked on the Doug's iPhone and this is what came up.
For a nanosecond I was confused as I had not been any grassy or wooded area all day. But then I realized that the building and the ramp with aircraft was the NetJets ramp in Columbus, OH. The grassy area is where the new building is located. It was there that I spend the day in a cubical working on a project. I had left the phone on the desk for sure.
I grabbed my I.D., wallet, and keys and headed out the door in my work-out shorts and tee shirt. Sure enough it was sitting right there on the desk.
So once again, thank you Steve Jobs!

Cya... Doug

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Process Series - Vision

Vision - Compose - Capture - Process - Present

This is the second post but first subject in the Photography Process Series. A last week was the introduction to the series and I hope you will stick around with me. Anytime you would like to leave a comment just e-mail me at Here we go!

Vision - What is it, where does it come from, how do we influence it and finally what do we do with it. How about this for a definition.

Vision is the clear mental image of an undefined 

or previously unknown goal.

In the creatives eye it is a sculpture, painting, building, or to a photographer, a image. So why did I include building in that list? Creatives by nature imagine things and see things other people do not. To an architect, the vision is that finalized mental picture of a building

Where - Where does vision come from. Well if it is previously undefined, it must come from the mental inspiration we receive from viewing other created things or beings.

When we look at other creatives work, we often get inspiration. These inspiring thoughts and views help to prompt or awaken our own creative thinking. This is not just a different take on the same image or work, but a whole new idea that the viewing triggered in our own mind. That is vision. You could call it synergy of thought.

How - Here is an example. Writing takes imagination and creativity. If there is no goal set to what you wish to write, you are simply babbling. It might be nicer to call it brain dumping, rambling of ranting if you actually have a point but no course to follow. Kind of what I am doing right now in this paragraph.
Ok, that might be a little simple but hopefully you get the point. There are many ways to gain vision but one thing for sure is not to have your mind full of thoughts of other things in life. Bills, arguments (past and present), relational problems all need to be cleared from your mind if you expect to have any hope of being inspired to gain vision.

Step one - Clear you mind. Some people will meditate, others listen to calming music, unfortunately some turn to drugs. What I do is pray. Giving my thoughts and concerns to God allows my mind to open up to fresh new ideas. Are any of these 100% successful? No! Sometimes we just get into a creative funk. Thats when it is time to step back for a couple of days.

Step two - Observe things that can generate inspiration. A musician might listen to music of other artists of the same style. I occasionally do technical writing and I will read other tech manuals prior to starting a project to get into the mode of writing. Photographers have it easy. There are literally thousands of web sites to peruse to get inspiration for whatever type of photography you are shooting.
Take time to look beyond the facade of what you see. Look at the shadows, the lighting, the detail. What went into the image? If you spend the time you will get a glimpse of what the originator had envisioned. Did you see the gaff on the opening image? Scroll back and take another look if you missed it.

The catch lights are from different directions. A vision is also a malleable entity, never complete until the final touch. In the eyes gaff, when I noticed it (right after I flipped a single eye in Photoshop) it became part of the vision of this posting. Not knowing exactly where it would be used until right now, yet a piece of the visionary puzzle.

Do - Harnessing the creative vision that results in an image or object that others enjoy is a great incentive for the creative mind.

Clear your mind, expose your thoughts, start to imagine an idea and allow a creative exercise turn into a vision.

Next week we will dive into composition.

Take care all... Doug

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Crazy Days These Days Are

Hey all,
I was planning a nice consistent rebooting of the blog this month and I am getting shot down right now. Not the crash and burn type, but I am running in emergency mode with my time.

Time has been flying by while I have been dealing with a situation at our church. I've been out of the studio and office so little to nothing is getting done I am sorry to say.

I am anticipating getting up and running by the end of the month. Like I said, it looks like Tuesdays and Thursdays will work out best but again, we will have to see.

Broken, or flying, time just does not stop. TMS is a great help, oops, that is time management soft-ware. but it only works when you have enough hours in the day to fulfill what you haver loaded in TMS. Yes I know... I should not load it up so much. That's the story of my life. Plenty of things to do and never a dull moment.

Again, looking forward to blabbing on the blog again and I will be here very soon.

Cya... Doug

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It All About The Process (Introduction)

Call it Workflow, Process, Task Management or what have you... What ever you call working on a project, it still requires some planning which requires preparation and organization.

When we are talking about a photographic project, be it a simple portrait shoot or a full fledged video production, the following five steps are required.

Vision - Compose - Capture - Process - Present

Actually there are many more points to consider but if I got into all of them here this post would be way too long and I would not have any material for later posts. I will be expanding on these every other Thursday so there will be links to all the other posts on each posting so not to worry if you find this interesting. He we go!

What I am referring to in vision, it the point of seeing the end before the beginning. You may have no clue what so ever about how you are going to get there but you have a clear idea of what you what the end to be. That is a fairly concise vision.

We will get into just how the vision is brought to fruition in the composition of people, places and things.

This point in the process is the joint application of technical and artistic talents of the photographer.

This is not the process in the usage of the term to this point but rather the post processing of the images attained during the capturer stage.

No that the project is done, it is truly not complete until it is in condition to present it to the public. We will hit on this point as well.

So come on back over the next couple of weeks and we can get into it.

Take care all... Doug

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Almost here.

In just seven days you will see the restart of the blog here at peekfotoblog.

Come on back...

From Doug's iPhone

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm Still Around

FYI - News Flash - Breaking News

I'm still here. Took a rather long blogging hiatus this year and am feeling refreshed.

I'm going to go to a two day a week blogging schedule so I don't load myself up. Frankly I don't know how David Ziser does a blog every day. It is a big investment in time. Granted David has a much larger knowledge base that I do to share with people but we have decided on two days a week and we will see how it goes. Right now I'm looking at Tuesdays and Thursdays to start but that may end up getting modified as I go along.

I have a series coming up with is called "It's All About the Process" it goes into the vision, composure, capture, Post Process, and presentation processes. It is a start to finish as far as the creative process. They are mostly my thoughts and some folks might find it interesting.

I was listening to a Podcast and they're talking making a blog calendar. So I thought I'd sit down and put some thoughts down. Of course don't know when that will be put together but it should help me get that little more organized and more consistent in my blog.

Well this was a little update on where I have been and what my plans are for the future for the blog. I don't plan on giving it up. So I should be up in a couple weeks.

Cya Then,


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Big Fudd...

I have been a long time fan of the Fudrucker's hamburger chain. I have dined at the original Fuddruckers in San Antonio not to far from the airport. I was disappointed a number of years ago when the Fuddruckers in Grand Rapids closed (it we eventually replaced with a Carraba's with is another fav of mine) so when ever I am flying through the Detroit Airport, I try to stop by the Fuddruckers in Concourse C. The problem is that there is usually a line out into the concourse and I don't have enough time between flights. So the other day on my way to White Plains NY after getting off the airplane, I looked down the concourse and saw no line at Fud's, this was a good sign... So I thought. 

Walking into the eatery, I noticed there were no cashiers but three kiosks. Ok, at first I thought this looked efficient.

Now I have always liked the 1/3 pounder with the pumped melted cheese on it. This option was not available as there was not a cheese pump in sight. For 0.75 more I could get cheese on my hamburger. After a number of options on the Kiosk, I was finally able to get a drink for $2.75.
The kiosk accepted a credit card and if you wanted to pay cash, you had to pay the non-existent cashier. So I became the invisible man waiting at the cashier station. It was not until my burger was ready and the gal behind the counter was keeling out FIFTY... NUMBER FIFTY! After I got her attention that I was at the cash register holding up a ticket and cash and not the food delivery counter did she realize I wanted to pay cash. In all actuality, I probably could have just picked up the burger and she would not have been the wiser. At least that way I would have gotten my money's worth.
So she took my money and turned away. I had to get her attention again so she could give me a cup to with she grabbed a cup and sat it upside down onto of the kiosk. Am glad we have antibodies to fight off germs as I am sure that was not the most sterile of surfaces.
Obviously there were plenty of seats available so I found one in the corner to consume on of the biggest culinary disappointments in my life. 
I could go into great detail here describing the pathetic looking burger but suffice it to say, I will not be returning to this Fuddruckers EVER! If given the opportunity I may attempt a run at a regular retail store but never in a terminal.
Fuddruckers... You may only have one more opportunity to impress.

Take care all... Doug

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Expo - Saturday Summary

The morning started off at 7:30 with Rick Ferro. Rick is a renowned portrait photographer who has worked with the Miami Dalphins made the Walt Disney World people. Rick covered a range of topics including posing, lighting, and business practices.
After Rick spoke, David Ziser introduced one of the most prolific wedding photographers in the world today. Australian born and now living in Southern California Jerry Ghionis took the platform and spoke of relational photography. 
How we interact with our brides and what our mindset is makes all the difference in how we approach our profession. Seeing the person you are photographing through the eyes of a loved one changes how we see and photograph that person.
The afternoon was left to the trade show. There one aspect of the trade show that stuck out to me were the number of processing labs with booths.
Above is the ribbon cutting by David Ziser and his group. Below Sigma made its presents known with some really big Glass. I can't say much for Canon and Nikon which both had booths but really didn't bring anything to the game. No bodies, no lenses, nada!
FJ Westcott lighting brought to the show a really unique opportunity. Using their TD-6 content lights and some really really big softboxes, they set up four shooting stations with models and all. The did this at Photoshop World and brought it into town.
Above is a group of photographs that says it all... Shooting & Chimping! Below is one go the models that were being shot. I took these with my iPhone 4s.
Here is David Ziser who originally was not going to be speaking at the Expo found himself with a Lightroom 4 Beta demo.Being the organizer it is amazing he was abel to carve out the time to present anything. He told us that he was able to get Adobe to come is as a sponsor as long as he did the demo on LR4 Beta. 
The day finished up with another seminar on creativity presented by Joel Grimes. Joel is color blind in that he can not see greens and to be able to produce the beautiful images is not only a credit to him, but the human experience. Joel shared with the group his creative process, seeing the end before you start shooting.
Well, there is a quick update on Saturdays activities. I'll update again tomorrow night.

Take care... Doug

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Expo - Friday Summary

 Before I get going with todays summary of the PhotoPro Expo I wanted to put up an image I took last night before I went to bed. This was an iPhone 4s shot from my bedroom window. Post was done in an App called Perfectly Clear. The camera in that phone continues to amaze me.
Friday morning started off with Jason & Rebecca Weaver, their topic was about creating sticky customers. How and what we can do to create a relationship with our customers so the stay our customers. That seminar was held in the Marriott. Most all of the other seminars were held in the convection center. You can see what it looks like below.
Following was the marketing master planner Sarah Petty which presented her BUMP process. The session attendees learned about Branding, Understanding your numbers, Marketing, and Promotional process in managing and promoting your business.
After a break for lunch we were all wowed by the imagery of Vincent LaForet. An amazing and Pulitzer prize winning photographer we learned that the breakthrough video Reverie was his first shooting with a camera that took video. Here is the Canon link if you have not watched it.
I had not gotten very much sleep the night before and I knew if I did not want to fall asleep during one of the seminars I needed a nap. After about an hour of Vincent's look at this wonderful image I have created, I snuck back to my room and took a good nap. When I returned, he was still going at it. They were dazzling images and very inspiring but my sleep deprivation needed attention.
After Vincent LaForet was done, Lindsay Adler came on stage for her presentation.
Lindsay is a New York Fashion photographer and was presenting her work and motivating the attendees to consider a fashion flair in their portrait and wedding photography as an option to provide to their clients.
The day was really getting long and yo could see it in the crowd. The final speaker of the night was Kirk Vuclain. All I will say is the following image explains the rest of the evening,
Kirk was a hoot with plenty of takeaway information. Probably the most entertaining of the entire expo. His message was to make your studio the coolest one in town.

That is going to do it for tonight. Cya... Doug

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Expo - Thursday Summary

I found where the photo competition was being held in our hotel and I enter this dimly lit room. A number of people are sitting in the from of the room looking at an image somewhere has entered in the competition. The room is as quiet as a mortuary at a viewing. Suddenly one of the judges calls out a number there starts justifying why that chose that particular number. These end up ranking the image in the competition. They would spend ten minutes on one picture with the photographer describing the emotional connection (or not) they they were trying to express when the captured the photo. Enough for me, I was outta there. I was going back to the room and catch up on some stuff when I ran into the man himself, David Ziser. As he saw me come out of the competition room, I asked home where all he excitement was. David directed me to the second floor.
 This is where stuff was happening. This image was taken a little later as you can see Ziser across the image getting a shot of the group. So take a group of photographers in a hotel they do not have to drive away from, add some beer and wine with a scoring competition and what do you have. A secondary competition only for cash. People would pay $10 to get a dry-erase card to put their name on and when the image was brought up on screen (from the actual competition) people would write down the number they though the judges would score the image. After ten images the one who got the most correct guesses won half the pot. The other half went to the association. It kind of reminded me of the movie Rat Race when all the old gamblers were in the hotel suite betting on wich of the five or so hotel employees hanging from the curtain rods would last the longest. It was fun to watch.
Here is a zoomed shot of David Ziser on the other side of the room. These were taken with my iPhone 4s and run through an app called Perfectly Clear but are still a little noisy as the light was low in the room. 
Tomorrow we start out bright and early at 7:00 so it is off to bed.

Cya... Doug

Expo - Arrival

Today was real a day to get here and get settled. There is a seminar this evening but the real learning starts tomarrow.

I arrived in Cincinnati this morning to attend the PhotoPro Expo 2012. I am super excited as this is my first foray into photoaphic conventionering. I have been to a number of aviation conventions and there is always so much to see in such a compressed timeframe. 
Exiting the airplanes presented a striking image of the economy in this area as seen below.
 When the economy tanked, ComAir had been one of the largest regional airlines in the country meriting their own terminal in Cincinnati. The had been bought out by Delta Airlines while Delta was using CVG as an international hub. Post economic crash, the ComAir terminal was closed and was incorporated into the main terminal.
Enter the Northwest/Delta merger. There goes the international hub. Detroit was already serving that capacity. If the lack of people in the terminal at 10:30 on a Thursday morning does not make it clear, the image below brings even more clarity.
I was able to get a room at the Marriott which was the convention hotel and the one that was directly connected to the Greater Northern Kentucky Convention Center. This was the view I was given from my 12th floor room of the downtown Cincinnati waterfront. 

Once I get going with the various seminars it will be non-stop action here is the line-up for my next few days. 
   7:30-10:00 PM for Youth Sports with John Pittman and Jim Seers
   7:30-9:00     Client Relations with Rebecca and Jason Weaver
   9:30-12:30   Marketing withnSara Petty
   1:30-2:00     Lightroom 4 Preview with David Ziser
   2:00-5:00     Future of Photography with Vincent Laforet
   5:00-7:00     Fashion with Lindsay Adler
   8:30-11:00   Cool Studio with Kirk Voclaim
   7:30-9:00     Lighting with Rick Ferro
   9:30-12:30   Style with Jerry Ghionis
   12:30-4:00   Trade Show
   4:00-6:30     Artistic with Joel Grimes
   7:00-8:30      Speedlight with Syl Arena
   9:00-12:00    Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It with Scott Kelby
   12:00-4:00    Trade Show
   4:00-6:30      Surviving with Skip Cohen

I'll have more later... Doug

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Timely Christmas Gift

This all started this past Christmas. Admittedly I am a very hard person to get Christmas presents for. Generally if I have a need and the money is available I will purchase the item. So this past Christmas I was the only one in our family that got absolutely nothing and I was fine with that as I had so much fun seeing the joy on others faces as they opened their gifts.
So in early January, my dear wife suggested I go to this photography she in Cincinnati. This was a shock to me as I have never considered asking her if I can go to these events as I am already away from home so much. I must have been surprised as my reaction did not impress upon her how much I would enjoy this as she asked if I really liked it. The significance of this gift of time has sunk in even further as the Expo approaches.
The next few days I will have some posts regarding the Show and Expo.

Take care all... Doug

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ding Dong The Droid is Dead

I have been waiting at least four years for this time that day in October when I was able to get an iPhone. Surviving the Blackberry Pearl and then a first generation Android, I was finally rewarded with a smart phone that lacks the clunkiness of Microsoft... Err, well, it might just as well be. Google will eventually get it but the software exceeded the sorry Gen 1 of the Droid. The folks in Cupertino CA have something going when they can release a new product in an old form factor hand have it so sucessful. I am talking of the iPhone 4S. It is the same shape and feel as the iPhone 4 but all new insides.
This is not going to be a post on how much I like my iPhone 4S but rather a review of one of the iPhone Apps.
TrueHDR is an App that worked ok with the iPhone 4 but when Apple changed the sensor to handle light a little better in the 4S and added the fifth optic element something happened. In a good way. When you start the app you get to choose how you are going to control the app.
  • Auto Capture will take three exposures and work its magic. 
  • SemiAuto Capture waits for you to select to locations in the screen. One for highlights and one for shadows. The you press the shutter button and the app takes two exposures based on your selection and then works its magic.
  • Manual Capture is for the real control freak and really does little to enhance the usability of the app. You select a highlight area and click the shutter, then a shadow area and again you must click the shutter. Seams like a waste of time, but like I say, it can appease the control freak.
I like to use the SemiAuto Capture option and is what the following images are an example of. Excuse the fact that I am simply using my hotel room for the example but it serves the purpose for this post.
Here you can see the two locations in the image that I have selected to be used for the highlights and shadows of the HDR. When the camera shutter is pressed it will make two different exposures based on the selection I made.
Here it has taken both exposures and is waiting for the second one to display. When you press the Merge button, the app goes to work keeping you abreast of its progress with the following screen.
Once both images have been merged you are presented with four sliders to tweak the image. Here again there is not much to do here except for the previously mentioned control freak.
The sliders are self explanitory. At the bottom are some options which include some Fx presets. The presets available are Sepia, Retro, Retro-II, Mono, XPro RedShift, and Vingnette. You can select any of the presets and if yo decide you don't like any of the just click on the last selected and it goes back to the original merged file. Once a preset is selected you can also go back and make adjustments with the sliders by selecting the little slider icon at the bottom.
When you his the save button you really don't get to see the finished image but rather you have to exit the app and go to your camera roll to see the finished product. Here is a comparison between the iPhone 4S and the 4S camera after the TrueHDR processing.
I don't know about you, but I'm sold. If you want to enhance the already fantastic camera iPhone 4S, I can not more highly recommend TrueHDR for your iPhone Apps collection

That will do it for me today. Take care... Doug

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wedding Composite

Every composite image has at it's core a destination where the artist must in-vision the end in order to know how to navigate from the beginning. Sometimes though a composite may arise from the ashes so to speak. Todays post is about the latter and not the former.
In todays example I am using a bride who signed the second verse of a song to he imminent husband. Obviously this can not all be captured in one image so a composite image lends itself to this situation. Here are the steps I took.
First was an image that can be used as a background. Of course the elements obstructing the background must be cloned out in order to provide a clean slate for the subjects in the foreground. One point here is that you may want to wait until you have the subjects positioned in the foreground befor you completely clone out the background. This way you don't have to do as much cloning as the foreground images bloc much of what gets cloned anyway.
In the case above I chose to completely clone out the background subjects so I could use this image another time rather than just for this composited image. From one of the images with the bride and groom I extracted the groom for this image.
All images are on separate layers to allow a logical stacking of the subjects. Below I have the bride in the position she was standing in relation to the groom.
The bride had to be extracted in order to make the stacking of the brides work for the composite. Below is the next image (sign) of the bride.
There are a total of five images of the bride that needed to be extracted from other images. This was a simple but tedious process. Selecting the bride from each of the images and copying them into the composite image was the easy part. Each bride layer had to have a layer mask to isolate the bride from the selection of the original image. This was the tedious part but well worth it to make it half way believable.
These two layers were critical in aligning the brides for the composite. Below you can see how they gave me a reference to each head and shoulder of the bride.
Now comes the tricky part. While the brides are placed in a stack, the overlap of parts must be worked to again make it believable. This first image shows the stack uncorrected. You can see where the vail is blocking the dress and arm of the bride stacked behind.
Through a series of selections, opacity adjustments, the image became more believable. Below is the layer of parts that needed to be added to show some transparency in the vail. (It is shown on a black background so you can better see the example).
Part of the problem I had with the vail is being transparent, it brought over the background from the original image. Some cloning... Ok, a lot of cloning was employed to eradicate the remnant background. The image above is not all on the same layer as that would not have worked at all. Each part has its own layer because it required a different level of opacity to make it realistic.
So now with all the layers on to show the entire sequence we have an almost finished composited image.
This would be fine for a final image except for anyone who was at the wedding, There was a trellis made from branches that set the outdoor scene for the couple. In another image I had extracted the trellis which in and of itself was a monumental task but now I have one. So I dropped it in just in front of the background, did a little free transformation and viol รก, a composited image of a beautiful moment in a scenic outdoor wedding. 
Double click on the last image as it will actually get bigger than the other images in the post.

Enjoy... Doug