Inspirational Quotes Photo Giveaway!

29 Jul
CONTEST

CONTEST

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’m an inspirational quotes junkie.  Or maybe just a quotes junkie.  I refer to notable quotes in real life situations.  I look to them when I’m having a down day.  I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to them.  No shoes and fashion board, but 104 quotes and pictures (so far) pinned to a board to remind me of the awesome things in life.

quotes

It may be silly, but those quotes connected with me. They picked me up on a down day, motivated me on days when I felt un-focused or unsure of my art and made me smile, reminding of the best parts of the life and people all around me.

What may be even sillier…besides the way the word “sillier” looks spelled out…is that I want to make one of those quotes/photo/pins so that my art can bring a smile to someone else’s face. :-)  This isn’t a new thing for me.  I’ve done other posts involving quotography (example here, or here)….  But this time, I’m asking for your help!

So, I’d like to use this photo and your quote suggestion.  You can just put your comment in the comment section, and at the end of this, whoever’s quote I choose will get a free 8×10 photo print (see the poster at the top of the post for your print options)

Grow Old With You

Grow Old With You

Quotes must be submitted by next Wednesday, August 6th.

This giveaway, unfortunately, is only open to US residents.

Furthermore, if we get enough shares and likes on this bad boy, I may be persuaded to send out a second print to one of you as a show of thanks for the support *hint hint*! :-)

Grow Old With You

23 Jul
Grow Old With You

Grow Old With You

I want to make you smile, whenever you’re sad. Carry you around when your arthritis is bad. All I wanna do, is grow old with you…

Yesterday I spent a little time cleaning up the to-do list.  I worked on some edits, set up some meetings, tended my social media gardens and FINALLY finished a new logo watermark.
Now I know, people tend to be pretty split on the watermark issue.  For a long time I never marked the images, mostly because I never got around to putting together a logo I liked.  Then I came up with this idea…probably about 2 or 3 months ago, thought it was super genius…and didn’t have time to follow up.  haha

New Logo!

New Logo!

So…what made me decide to finally mark the shots?  Well, two things.  First, I want there to be some way for people who are interested to be able to find me, as images often get separated from their captions…. And second, I wanted to make an attempt to at least show that this is a product of my heart and soul, in case push ever came to shove.  It’s easy to remove for someone determined to do so, but at least I can tell people I tried. ;-)

Now, what I didn’t want to do was make an obnoxious, obtrusive, glaringly obvious watermark that detracted from the images.  I wanted something that had a way to find me (website), a personal touch (that is, in fact, my handwriting at the top) and still looked polished.

Not too bad for someone who is awful at graphic design, eh?

Now, as for the shot itself…  3 exposure manual blend, luminosity masks mostly. The image was taken in Bolton, CT at one of my favorite parks for engagement shoots. These trees reminded me of a photo of my grandparents, grandma folded into grandpa’s arms, looking off into the distance together.  Sunsets like that just sing romance. <3

What’s Your Thing?

17 Jul

 

Moments of Light and Dark

Moments of Light and Dark

Finding your photographic style is a major part of developing yourself as an artist, developing your brand and defining your market.  It’s also something that many of us struggle with.  I know I certainly do.

Let’s start with a few examples, shall we?

For those of you who love HDR, I think it would be safe to say that Trey Ratcliff has built a solid HDR brand for himself.  When you see a Trey photo, you generally know it’s a Trey photo.  Bajillions (approximately, give or take) of photographers bracket…but not all HDR is created equal. Trey has an editing style unique to him.

The obvious B&W iconic photographer is Ansel Adams.  Strong landscape compositions and well defined tonal ranges, as well as his involvement in the National Parks systems made him a recognizable figure with a recognizable feel to his images.

When I think of light painting and luminosity masks I think of Ryan Dyar.  I know he didn’t invent the technique, but he ran with it and his images are evocative and emotional because of it.

I recently ran across an Instagram feed of two nomadic lady photographers who have style and branding down to an art.  (You can follow their adventures at www.ourwildabandon.com) Their images scream vintage and fill viewers with nostalgia.  The realities of road life may be difficult, but they market the hell out of the freedom of the open road and the joy of discovery.  They have even gone so far as to have distinctive poses for their images and a great witty yet friendly tone to their banter which makes them very likeable.  As with the others mentioned above, this may not be a unique style, but they wear it well. :-)

So…now that we’ve had a little breakdown of what style means in a real life setting… its time to ask yourself, “What’s my thing?”

Are you set on saving the whales?  Are you an artist determined to emote through surrealism? Do you love deep shadows and solid highlights?  A clean symmetrical tapestry?  Square canvases? Good will and human spirit stories?

(In answer to your unasked question, yes, I associate all of those categories with a particular artist!  Because you know…it’s what they do and they’re damn good at it.)

It seems to me that while flexibility and the ability to cross photo genres is important for sustainability over the short term, defining who you are as an artist is an important step in long term success in today’s highly over saturated photo market.  To stand out, you need to find your thing and shine at it.

Shine on, my friends. :-)

Ehhh…see what I did there?  Lighthouse photo?  Shine? Ehh?  Ehh?  The above photo was taken in New Haven.  Edited with luminosity masks, with some artistic license taken to remove some distracting items.  The antennae had to go, ya know??  Anyway…

Feel free to give us all a taste of your thing with a link to your portfolio in the comments and what your focus is!

The Forest of the Ancients

15 Jul
The Forest of the Ancients

The Forest of the Ancients

How big is a Redwood, exactly?  “Really stinkin’ big”, is the answer.  Even these guys, which definitely are not anywhere near the biggest ones we saw that day, were still huge.  And full of texture.  And light was just so beautiful…you other photographers know what I mean here.  I swear I must have stopped every 5 minutes and just stared, mouth open, taking it all in.

Nothing reminds you of how much you’re part of something larger than yourself and your day-to-day worries than standing among the giants.

If you’re the sort who loves to feel the calm that comes along with walking through a bright forest, I recommend finding a way to see the redwoods.  If you’re the sort who appreciates the power and beauty of Mama Earth, I recommend finding a way to see the redwoods.

If you’re the sort who hasn’t yet discovered the peace, the calm, the awe and the majesty of those things…I highly recommend you find a way to see the redwoods.  It is a unique and powerful experience.  The only thing I can equate it to is the way I feel looking at a truly dark sky, where you can really see how many stars look down on us at night.  We are tiny fish in a gigantic universe of a pond.  Not at all insignificant, just part of a much bigger picture than most people think about on a daily basis.

Oh…and lastly, if you’re the sort of person who likes to go places and take selfies….well…you should probably find yourself some redwoods. ;-)

Redwoods Papparazzi-Selfie courtesy of David Pasillas Photography

Redwoods Papparazzi-Selfie courtesy of David Pasillas Photography

For my FB friends…and those of you who are about to become my Facebook friends (eh? eh? Nudge nudge? Wink Wink?), here is a gift for you! :-)  I took this image with a FB banner in mind, thinking it would be cool to feature these giants as a header to my page.  I often shoot with purpose when I see a scene that intrigues me.  For a little more info about that, go here…it’s just another item on the mental checklist for those of you looking to make use of your images after they’re processed.

The Ancients Banner

The Ancients Banner

We Are One

10 Jul
We Are One

We Are One

I’ve always thought there was something intimate about the way the ocean caresses the shore.  There is an interconnectedness.  A reminder that what affects one affects us all.  We are one world, one international community, one people and it benefits us all to embrace the ideas of love, tolerance, understanding and respect. <3

This image was from the workshop I took with Toby Harriman, David Gaiz and Michael Shainblum.  Such a pleasure working with and chatting with those guys…and I got the added bonus of spending some time with my good friend David Pasillas, as well as making a few new photo-friends along the way.  Overall, it well worth the time and effort to fly to Cali! :-)

On the whole, this photo is a blend of HDR and luminosity masks, with some minor color and light tweaks here and there.

Happy Birthday to America!

7 Jul
'Merica

‘Merica

This weekend, I spent a lot of time away from my phone.

It was a nice feeling, to unplug a bit. As a photographer trying to grow her business, I spend more time than most people worrying about my edits, planning my blogs, working out marketing and social media strategies, networking, educating myself, etc. It’s a labor of love, and it doesn’t weigh on me…but every once in a while its nice to just enjoy the friends and family around me without worrying about the next whatever.

Fireworks Fun

Fireworks Fun

I did put a few photos on IG and FB to document the weekend, but haven’t done much catching up on you guys until this morning. (I hope y’all are enjoying the fireworks, the barbeques, the beaches and ‘Murica’s bday!)  The whole process made me think a little bit about the whole social media as a way of marketing thing, and the interesting cultural decisions to embrace one social media over another.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, G+…why are they leading the pack, ya know?  Why are Flickr and 500px such powerful photo sharing resources?  Why one and not another?

IG

IG

Most of those are rhetorical questions, but what I do want to know is which social medias do you use the most?  Which ones do you enjoy?  Get feedback and interaction on?  Which ones are a worthwhile investment in your time?

Also, obviously, if you want to follow me on any of your various social medias, I’d appreciate the support.  It helps spread the word about SSP, and as we all know, word of mouth is a powerful thing.  At one point, I think someone said something along the lines of…never toot your own horn, let other people do it for you.  I believe it was Abraham Lincoln.  On the internet.  Therefore, it must be true. haha

Gear Review :: Induro Adventure ABK Tripod

2 Jul

 

A Shore to Call Home

A Shore to Call Home

I’m of the opinion that with most things in life…relationships, work, etc…there is almost never a perfect situation.  You have to look at the all of the pluses and minuses, run a little cost benefit analysis and decide what compromises you can live with.  Gear is no different.

Now, just a few short weeks ago, I found myself traveling across the country to Cali for some photo exploration and education.  Last time I made that trip, I flew Southwest, where bags travel free and I put my very large, very solid Manfrotto in the luggage.  This time, I flew a different airline and tried like hell to avoid bringing anything more than a carry-on with me.  That meant I needed a much smaller tripod, as the average height of a carry-on bag is between 20-22 inches.

I found myself with a bit of a dilemma.  You see, to me, having a rock solid base is important.  Furthermore, I’m 5’ 10” with a bum knee, so crouching down is difficult over long periods of time.  Having a tall tripod is a major plus, in my book.  Also, I’m not a big fan of twist lock legs…just a preference, I guess.  I find it unnecessarily time consuming, and generally speaking, not as solid as tab locks.  At some point, every kind of twist lock I’ve used eventually slips because I didn’t tighten it enough.  No thanks.  I’d rather just flip a quick lever and set up is done.

My Manfrotto fills all of those requirements, and I love it.  I just don’t love it for traveling!

In the time I’ve had the Manfrotto, I have more than once wished it were a bit lighter.  It’s a beast to carry up a mountain.  Also, because it is a tall tripod (with center column extended, it can reach above my head) with only three leg sections, it is bulky.  When it hangs off of the back of my bag, I feel like I spend a lot of time apologizing for hitting it on people and things. Haha

So, the trip to California (and my upcoming hike in August for a Mt. Washington sunrise) were exactly the impetus I needed to do some tripod research and spend a few bucks. Now, price is a big factor for me.  My life goals involve spending most of my excess money making memories, not collecting things.  However my photography goals involve making the best quality images I can, to the best of my ability at any given point in my life.  This means I wanted to find a durable, lightweight, 4 section tripod that opened up to be tall enough for a giant like me, with enough weight to it that it wouldn’t fold in a breeze, but not as heavy as my current tripod.  Oh, and for a reasonable price.

I spent a bit of time on Google looking up the best tripods out there, specifically brands that wouldn’t require international shipping (because that costs extra, duh!), that fit the description I was looking for.  My search led me to Induro, where I read enough reviews about their adventure series (versus their more expensive carbon fiber options) to make anyone’s eyeballs cross.  For approximately $150, I felt that the ABK (sometimes labeled as ABK0, depending on the store) was worth taking a chance on.

Slacker Hill Sunset, Courtesy of David Pasillas Photography

Slacker Hill Sunset, Courtesy of David Pasillas Photography

So, the pro’s… this tripod is extremely light weight (I had more than one panic attack wondering if it had fallen off my bag), folds down to about 20 inches (fit in my carry-on), has lever lock legs, and provides a sturdy base for the camera.  Like most tripods, it becomes less sturdy with the center column extended, but I tend to use a shutter remote or a timer, so it helps combat some sources of potential vibrations down the tripod.

Now for the con’s…this tripod is not really tall enough for me.  Even adding several inches for the camera, with the center column fully extended, I still need to bend down a bit.  For situations where I want the sharpest image possible (and therefore didn’t extended the center column), I tended to set up the composition using live view which required less bending.  I tried using the center column hook to add some weight to the tripod in the wind, but if the center column was up, the weight of the bag below it slowly dragged it down.  I didn’t even bother using the bag hook feature a second time.  In high wind situations, I just put my hand on the top of the tripod, where the legs come together, and leaned some of my weight onto it.  That did the trick and was an easy compromise, given how much I enjoy this tripod’s other features.

Some of the reviews I read spoke harshly of the ball head that came with the tripod, but I had no problems with it.  (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, you don’t have to buy that separately…for $150 you get the whole kit! Plus a carry bag, which I didn’t use, because it has the name on the side and I don’t like to advertise how expensive my gear is to potential muggers. Haha)  The plate is smaller than I’m used to, but the plate lock is solid and keeps my camera safely attached, so as far as I’m concerned it does its job.  I used the ball head/plate combo with a Canon 7d and a variety of lens sizes…no slippage!

Overall, at this point, I would recommend this tripod.  It appears to be solidly built and any of the features that don’t quite meet my requirements are easy to work around.  And hey, for less than $200 you get a great piece of equipment with a strong company name on it. For me, it was a good investment.  I’m glad I took a chance on Induro. Read more about their products at http://www.indurogear.com

The photo at the top of the page is of a dark and cloudy sunrise on the shore line in Santa Cruz, California…and also the first series of shots taken with the new tripod. :-)

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