Tuesday, July 27, 2010


There's lots more involved in being a cameraman than most people realize. Just loading up a bunch of cameras, lenses and accessories then going out trying to capture the Photo of the Century is only a fraction of the job.

Shooting, as we call it, that's the fun part. Getting your photos recognized, that's work. But, your pictures won't get noticed if you do what I used to do when I had a film camera. I'd get them developed and fill up empty shoeboxes with them. See, I was recycling way before it became fashionable.

Every now and then, a photo would strike my fancy and get stuck in a frame or mailed off to someone. A collection of OK shots might have even got put in albums, something that might be worth passing on to the family, but the majority of my film shots are still in shoeboxes, somewhere, weighing the shelves down. The negatives may or may not be with them. But, what the heck, none of the photos were taken professionally.

Nowadays, I know better. Every shot has to be taken professionally. There's no more snapshooting.  Every click of the shutter is preceded by deliberate calculations. Lighting conditions, compostion, exposure, point of view, simplicity, focus, making the subject look its best; that's my sole purpose. And I love it. Taking the picture isn't work for me. It's a challenge but, it's also a pleasure. I love it.

The work part of the job comes when the camera is downloaded. Instead of dropping off the film at a drug store or kiosk somewhere to get processed, it's me and the computer going round and round. And there are many more hours spent in front of a monitor than there were behind the camera. But, the finished product doesn't get stuffed in a shoebox to be dragged out whenever there's a family get together. The original files are stored on DVDs, external hard drives and other places much safer than a shoebox in a closet.

Tiny, web-versions are sent to online publications, entered in contests or emailed to friends. The creme of the crop, they get special treatment. Printed, framed and hung out to dry, they go on exhibit. They get to hang out at places I'm not even comfortable hanging out at and when arrangements are being made the folks email me and call me an artist!

When I go to hang my pictures I try my best to look presentable. Showered, dressed up in slacks and a shirt with sleeves and even put on real shoes, instead of my flip-flops. Then as soon as the photos are hung and we leave the air-conditioned building I tell Doc (Designated Driver), "Lets get outa here and go someplace comfortable, quick"! Its all part of being a cameraman. And I love it.

Put painful photos in the past, BetterPhoto.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010



The throne of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Shuri Castle located in the hills above Naha was the center of the kingdom’s trade, culture and politics and in fact, Naha is still the capitol city of Okinawa, today.

Best guesses estimate the castle was originally built during the 12th or 13th Century and records indicate that it was burned-down and reconstructed several times over the years.

In 1945 during the battle of Okinawa, the castle was destroyed. Construction and restoration began in the early 1990’s and today it is the most visited tourist attraction on the island.

For more information on Shuri-jo (Castle) and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the island of Okinawa, Japan click on the title to this post.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ten Tips for Buying a Camera Tripod

One of the most important investments you can make in buying accessories for a camera is a good, sturdy tripod.

Here are the top ten things you’ll want to know before investing in one:

1. Cost: Everyone wants to get the best deal they can but, a cheap tripod will not enhance your photography. The little $10.00 aluminum ones are good for nothing, unless you plan on taking all your photos while it’s set up on your coffee table. For a point and shoot camera you may get by spending under $50.00. If you have a DSLR, plan on spending at least $100.00. There’s always the used option for saving as long as you know what to look for.

2. Folded height: For travel, you want to know how small you can make your assistant. Will it fit in a suitcase, backpack or a carrying case that you can wear comfortably on your shoulder? Make sure it’s not so large that you can’t carry it on a plane.

3. See how much it weighs; you’ll more than likely be wearing it a lot in your travels. The best tripods made are wooden but, they are extremely heavy. Aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber have made modern tripods much lighter. Just make sure whichever you buy, it is sturdy.

4. Maximum Height: This is as important as minimum height. With your camera mounted on it, make sure you can elevate the tripod to eye level. If not, you’ll be doing a lot of bending over.

5. Maximum Weight: This is the maximum weight the tripod was designed to support. If you have 10 lbs of camera and lenses to mount on a tripod designed for a maximum weight of 8 lbs, it will bend or break. At a minimum, it will be moving while you’re trying to shoot.

6. Quick Release: This is a feature that allows you to keep part of the hardware screwed to the bottom of the camera and easily press a lever to install or remove it from the tripod. It’s a good idea to buy extra quick release shoes to mount on all your cameras, if you have more than one.

7. Ball Head: Some tripods come with this feature built-in, others you have to invest in buying them separately. The ball head allows you to Pan the camera (Follow a moving subject) smoothly without creating more noise in your photos from camera shake.

8. Center Post: The pole that can be raised or lowered on the tripod. It should be reversible so you can get lower to the ground for flower and macro shots. When it’s upright, look for a hole or hardware to attach weight to at the base of the center pole. Sometimes, when it’s windy, even the weight of a camera bag will help steady a tripod from swaying in the breeze.

9. Look at the tripod’s feet to see how much room you need to set it up and check for rubber boots to prevent scratching floors or sliding on smooth surfaces. Some tripods have retractable metal spikes for steadying the camera when you’re on ice, soil or uneven terrain.

10. See how the leg sections and center pole are locked into position. There are knobs to turn, hand cranks or clamps you squeeze to raise or lower your tripod and secure it in position. Make sure you check them all out and find which style works best for you and your camera.

What will a sturdy tripod do for you?

If you’ve learned the basics of exposure, composition and focus, you will see a dramatic improvement in the quality of your photography. Use your camera timer after you’ve composed or a cable release to prevent shutter shake and the noise reduction in your photography will have your friends thinking you’ve been using a film camera.

If you enjoyed this post SHARE it with your friends Tweet/Stumble/Facebook&Whatever and scream at me in the Comments, maybe I'll try a few more posts that don't make people fall off their barstools laughing.


Friday, July 2, 2010


Growing old and getting soft, I don't know. Well, OK, the old part is a given but, getting soft-could that really be happening-to me?

It all started about a year ago. This gal named Marla asked me to shoot a picture of a girl sitting under a tree to go with some prose she had published.

Not sure exactly what prose was and too lazy to look it up in a dictionary, I figured it's something like poetry and really none of my business. I'd just grab my camera and start lookin' for a gal and a tree on the beach somewhere, shoot the damn thing, send it in to be published and be done with it; poems, poetry and prose are just not in my bag of tricks. Other people read that kinda crap, not me.

Well, after a couple of weeks running around, looking for the right lighting conditions, trees on beaches and trying to get a girl to sit under a tree to match the sketch Marla sent me and after awhile feeling the pressure of my first real deadline for a magazine, I finally gotterdun and sent the picture on its way. Never bothered to read the prose alongside the sketch because honestly, I'm just not into that sort of thing. Poetry, prose, whatever you want to call it; that's girly stuff.

Along came April 2009 and I got an email saying my photo was published in Apogee Photo Magazine under the title Sit and Talk with a Tree .

For the first time, I sat down and read the prose. It was alright, made ya think about life. Poetry being what it is, I had my fill and figured I wouldn't go outa my way lookin' for any more. There's probably enough poetry-minded folks reading the stuff, they don't need me in their crowd.

The year 2010 rolls around and I'm happy just stumbling and bumbling along with my cameras and my dogs. Life is good, even with no poetry, I'm happy.
Then, along came StumbleUpon and I started meeting all kindsa Stumblers.

Someone sent me a share one day and I liked the picture, took a look and whacked it with my ThumbsUp gadget and moved on. I look at lots of photos and pictures, every day, it's my job.

Every few days I'd get a share to look at this gal's pictures. One day, I decided to read the caption. It was a poem. You know, that girly stuff. Well, maybe I needed a break. Grabbed an iced coffee, lean back and read the thing. What the heck.

WOW! It was powerful. So,I took the time to comment, linked the site to my Google Blog and now I read this gal, Neva's poetry every day.

Tell me even though I'm getting old, I'm not going soft. Tell me it's witchcraft at work. Tell me anything you want. Go have a look for yourself and tell me my PICK OF THE WEEK I Will Leave You Alone doesn't just knock yer socks off.