Tuesday, March 27, 2007


When you talk about a portrait you usually think of someone's face. But does the face alone really tell you about the person? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, it all depends on what you want to say. I strive to make my portraits a deeper, more telling story. To accomplish this I look for little details of their life -- gestures, special objects, close ups. If you photograph with an open mind and heart the images will come into you.

Yesterday was one such day. I had the pleasure and honor to photograph Sr. Clementine, a woman who has devoted most of her 86 years to Christ. I came away with many, many wonderful images but this detail is among my favorites. I'll post more portraits (including a nice series) after the client selects their favorites.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Time Capsule Parade

I love small town parades and festivals. Over the years I've photographed hundreds of them across the country with the intent of someday putting together a show or book. This weekend Connellsville, PA celebrated the burial of their time capsule. It was a typical small town affair with Boy Scouts, marching band, color guard, fire trucks and a few politicians giving speeches. As with most things in life, it's not what you see, but how you see it. Hopefully you will enjoy what I saw (and how I saw it).

-- The time capsule was given a ride along the route by a horse drawn wagon

-- The local VFW color guard led the marchers

-- Brightly colored umbrellas were the order of the day

-- Folks along the parade route

-- The Boy Scouts surrounding the stage reminded me of the Secret Service protecting the President, only a bit less intimidating...

...or not.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Executive Portraits

For the last few weeks I've been working on a series of portraits of executives. These are top officers in corporations around the Pittsburgh area who all have won awards of achievement (more on that in the coming weeks). Everyone has been incredibly corporative and excited about the pictures so the images have been a wonderful collaboration between artist and subject. I was going to hold off and splash these all at once but I was so jazzed about my Friday afternoon shoot I couldn't wait.

The hardest part of this shoot was getting there because the late winter snow storm really made driving a mess. What is normally a 30 minute drive took almost an hour. The ride home was no picnic either but I think the results were more than worth the effort. Besides, I have 4-wheel drive for just this reason!!

Technically the shot was pretty simple. A single Dynalite flash head with a 20 degree grid spot lit the subject at 62 watt seconds with a wink of fill provided by another Dynalite head at 62 watt seconds in an extra small Chimera softbox feathered off at an extreme angle. The back light was provided by a third Dynalite head and red gel powered up to 250 watt seconds. I captured the image with a Canon 5D and the 16-35mm lens at around f/8. Because of the fabric in the shirt a moiré pattern developed when shot at certain angles, light straight on. To counter the moiré, and to add drama, I angled the camera off axis. The whole shot took about 25 minutes including lighting set up.

I hope you like this shot as much as I do. When the project is complete I'll share the rest of the images.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Before and After

For me capture is only the beginning.

Back in the dark(room) ages I would literally spend hours crafting a print to perfection. That kind of attention to detail came thanks to an old boss who had worked as a printer for famed landscape photographer, Ansel Adams. I still remember my first day on the job when the boss handed me a medium format negative and showed me the darkroom door. He smiled and said when I could make a print Ansel would be proud of then I could print his negatives. I've always liked a challenge. Two weeks later I finally made a print he would accept and I was finally allowed out of the dark.

Fast forward to the digital age. The same is true today, it takes practice to develop your craft. The difference is only in our tools. Rather than lock ourselves away in a small dank room for hours at a time we now sit in front of an electronic screen for hours and hours tweaking images pixel by pixel. The difference? No chemicals, unless you count the way-too-strong Starbucks coffee I drink!

The example here is from a series of shots I made at a college dance class. The easy part was to capture the action at the proper moment. I love the line of the dancer's arm, her hair and the man's bulging muscles as he holds her through the move. Nice picture, but far from a work of art. The after shot was the result of pumping up the color, adding a slight diffusion layer and doing a lot of burning of the background. Some custom Photoshop actions were used but a lot of work on this image was done the old fashion way... by hand.

It's not what you photograph, but what you see in your minds eye that counts the most.

A New Day!

Blogging has been a lot of fun. You see, I like to write. I'm not especially good at it, at least not in a Proust sort of way. I usually write in a conversational manner, just like I talk. Maybe it comes from working alone too much and talking to myself, who knows, but for what ever reason it works for me. Now let me state for the record, I was NOT an english major so from time to time I may screw up my syntax or other things I should have learned in school had I been paying attention and not messing around with my camera. Sorry. Deal with it. If you can't, just look at the pictures, OK? Thanks.

So why the apology? Because for those who are English sensitive there is going to be a lot more to be sensitive about from now on! I've decided I like this blog thing so much I need to do more of it. But rather than just spew out a bunch of stuff happening every day (boring!) I'm going to try to make it useful. I've noticed there are a lot of photographers who check out my blog. Many are good friends, some new friends and some are friends I haven't yet met. It's all good. And since I really enjoy sharing what I've learned I might as well do it right here from time to time. Besides, I KNOW there are a lot of my brides who are really into photography so maybe some of the tips here and there can help make their photography experience more rewarding.

So stay tuned, the best is yet to come!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I'm so juiced! Brigette and Steve Palsa were one of my awesome couples last year, so when Pittsburgh Magazine selected them to be one of their featured weddings of the year I was totally thrilled. Not only did they get a two page spread, but a picture of the rings Steve designed was selected as the image to carry the contents page as well! Way to go Brigette and Steve!