Monday, December 13, 2010

Boredom Can Save Images from Oblivion

It's 8 degrees Farenheit outdoors at my home in Illinois.  I'm off work because snow and ice have closed down the College where I work. 

It's really a perfect time to go through my archives of old photos that weren't good enough for me to take a second look at until I  got bored.  Sometimes, they're just not interesting in color, so I take the time to imagine them in black & white.  That's when I see the mistake I made in putting them aside in the first place.

Arch of Santa Catalina, Antigua, Guatemala

El Sitio, Antigua, Guatemala
Lily Pond, Antigua, Guatemala

The three images above sat on my hard drive for years before I took a serious look.  I'll be more careful before I put away images.

You can view my website at:

Some of my more recent images are on my National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) portfolio:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black & White WPGA Winners Announced

On Thanksgiving morning, I received an email with information on the winners of the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards  (WPGA) black & white competition.  I received an honorable mention for my Guatemala portfolio.

There were 780 participants from  42 countries who submitted 6,630 images.  Of those, only a handful made the final cut. If you love black & white photography, there are some spectacular images.

The images are at:

Congratulations to the winners and the honorable mentions!

You can view my website at:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Don't Forget Your Camera. You'll Be Sorry.

In my last blog entry, I mentioned a wonderful event to raise funds for the Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home in Guatemala City. The event was held yesterday at the Orlandini Vineyard in Southern Illinois, one of the many fine vineyards on the Southern Illinois Wine Trail (If you’re not from around here, you probably didn’t know we produce some very fine wines in Illinois). I would say well over one hundred people attended and the event was well received. I drank some delicious wine, but I also had the opportunity to take some photographs (Yes, they were still in focus, thank you!).

The day started with me picking my 14 year-old son up from camp, an hour away from Carbondale. For whatever reason (I’ll blame it on the wine, although that came hours later), I forgot my camera, a Nikon D-90. Alongside the road, I noticed white flowers, the perfect subject for nature photography. I had loaned my D-70 to my son to take photos in camp. As we drove back, I took the older D-70 in hand, parked by the roadside, and spent fifteen minutes head -deep in weeds, photographing these beautiful wildflowers.

Wildflower alongside the road, near Vienna, Illinois. 
 If you know what this flower is called, please send me an email.
Click phototo enlarge.

Another wildflower.  Also, please email me if you know what this is.
Click photo to enlarge.

Three hours later, when my son and I were on the way to the vineyard for the fundraiser, I had the D-90 with me. I had never thought to stop and shoot pics of the local vines, but they were a great subject for photography.

Gape vines at the Orlandini Vineyard.
Click photo to enlarge.

Today’s lesson, don’t forget your best camera, even if you aren’t thinking of taking photographs.  Also, check out the Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home. It will made you feel good to know you have helped someone in need.

You can view my website at:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Your Chance to Help Children -- Important Please Read

It is difficult not to take a good photograph when you are shooting children. Often they will ignore the camera and just be themselves. If not, they become the most cooperative posers on the planet. The subject for this particular entry, however, is not photography. Those of you who may occasion to read my blog know that the subject for most of my photography is Guatemala, and the photos are often of children.  Read below to learn how you can help children today.

A Guatemalan Child, fortunate not to be an orphan, Chichicastenango, Guatemala.

On Saturday, July 31, 2:00 – 5:00 PM, an event to help Guatemalan orphans will be held in my area (Southern Illinois). The Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home in Guatemala will hold a fundraiser at the Orlandini Vineyard (one mile south of Blue Sky Vineyard, off Rocky Comfort Road) near Carbondale. Driving directions and a map are on the vineyard’s website. If you’re already in the area, it will be worth the trip. If you live several hundred miles away, it would be a great excuse to visit Southern Illinois’ famous wine trail and beautiful vineyards. Don’t forget your camera gear. If you can come, I will see you there.

If, however, you’re not able to attend, please consider a tax deductable donation to this very worthy cause. Also, consider sponsoring a child. Check out the Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home website and you’ll understand the importance of the cause and also that this is a legitimate charity that will make a real difference in the lives of children. Information on helping can be found within the website.

You can view my website at:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A New Photo Exhibit

Creating a photo exhibition is as time consuming as anything you can do. Don’t plan on having a real life for a few months if you plan on doing it well.

For those of you in the Carbondale, Illinois area (or within driving distance), my exhibition Mayan Faces: Portraits from the Market opens this Friday, April 9, 7 - 9 PM at the Longbranch Coffeehouse, 100 East Jackson, Carbondale. I have more than forty prints, mostly from the past year. Also, there are a few photos and digital paintings from the past seven or eight years.

I hope you can attend. If not, take a look at my web site:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Photoshop World (PSW): Changes in Plan are a Lesson in Life

I have been looking forward to attending this week's 2010 Photoshop World conference in Orlando for months now. If you love photography and digital imaging, it's really about the best vacation you could have. I've told my friends that I won't be visiting the theme parks or the water worlds. Photoshop World really is that good.

Unfortunately, I won't be going.

My father-in-law had a stroke this weekend and is in intensive care. I was told this morning that he is in stable condition, and I pray that he will recover.

My wife, who would have been staying at home to take care of the children took off to be with her father. I will stay at home in Illinois with the children and take care of things on the homefront. That's the way things work. Sometimes plans have to change.

For all of you who can be at PSW, I wish you a great time. For those of you who can't make it for whatever reason, I hope that you, like me, will start looking forward to a future PSW that will meet and exceed all your expectations.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Guru Award Deadline is Here!

The deadline for entries to the Photoshop World Guru Awards is today, Friday, March 5, 2010. If you’ll be attending the conference at the end of the month, you should think about submitting at least one entry, and as many as three. My entries are already in. Yours should be, too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Looking at the Past

I did it again.

I went back through my archives and found value in photos that I never thought anyone would look at again.

Here's a good example.

It's a photograph that didn't work in color.  But a quick conversion to B&W, a little playing with the light, and a slight sepia tone made all the difference.

This is one of  my rules:  Don't throw away photos that you don't think you will ever use -- not even the one's that are out-of-focus or really bad.  You may indeed find they have value in the future.

Take a look at my website:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Getting the Shot with the Right Lens

Nikon’s AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED is about the only lens I use anymore. There’s a good reason. If I’m walking through the market in Chichicastenango or Almolonga with a standard zoom, maybe an 18-70mm, and I need to switch lenses for a super close-up, I’ve probably already missed the shot.

The photographs I shoot are fleeting. A versatile lens gives me the ability to instantly decide if I want a close-up portrait with a narrow depth of field, or a wide shot showing activities in the background. Within a second, I can adjust the focal length and be shooting. If I want various focal lengths of the same scene, it's done in a snap.

If I knew in advance that I was only looking to shoot portraits, then it’s fine to use a long, fast lens. However, I have to give up anything that I see that doesn’t fit the capability of the lens.

By the way, the VR (vibration reduction) really does make the versatility of the lens shine through. There are other similar lenses out there. If it fits your shooting style, it might be worth a look.

Take a look at my website:

Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by Nikon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Generosity of Photgraphers

The photographers I know are generous people. They have an appreciation for people and culture and things of beauty. It's part of what makes them photographers.

That's why it's time for photographers everywhere to show their generosity.

Ten dollars, fifty or one hundred dollars, whatever you can afford will make a real difference in the relief effort for Haiti. I've written my check. I'll be writing more in the upcoming months. I hope you will do the same. Please do it now instead of putting it off util later.

To make it easier, I've listed some of the relief agencies below:

The Red Cross.

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund

Here an article on Fox News about other places to send aid.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Photographs Are a Slice of Life

I shoot lots of photos. With each one, I try to tell a story.

The story is not always a long, detailed narrative. Usually, it’s a slice of life vignette. You see the photo, and in your mind you decide what it means. Mostly I shoot people portraits – the indigenous people of the Guatemalan highlands. Each photograph must convey a message. A caption under the photo may give you a broad understanding, but the frozen image must give you a deeper meaning. Hopefully, its made some sort of emotional impact.

Flower Woman in Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Tell a story with each photograph you shoot. Is it a slice of life? Does it make you want to know more? If so, you’re probably doing something right.

Woman in the Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Take a look at my website: