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Created: Friday, 17 January 2014

 

Pasadena City Hall at Night

 
I was editing this job this afternoon when I came across this image from summertime.   When I see this image it makes me so thankful that I am a wedding photographer.  I'm serious, there are times when I am editing a photo and I say to myself "geez, I need to get back to work" thinking that I'm goofing off, and then it occurs to me, goofing off is my job.  
 
 I noticed  one stock  went up about 2000 percent.   I've seen stocks increase in value 60% in a day, but 2000 percent?  Then it occured to me that I actually own this stock.  My friend told me about AP Pharma  and with the dividens from Intel I bought some shares of it.  So I was suddenly rich.   Well, not rich like I'm paying off my house and buying a Porsche but it would have started 2014 with a bang.  After a while I figured out that the stock hadn't changed in value,  but they were bringing it to the Nasdaq  and they changed the symbol and did a 20 to 1 reverse stock split.   This meant for every 20 share of the stock I owned I would get one share of the new company stock.   So, as it turned out, I wasn't any richer.
Pasadena City Hall at Night
Another benefit of being a wedding photographer is not having a boss to report to.  Because I could just see me in that twenty minute window saying to him or her "I'm going home and getting the party started early, and if you don't like it you can kiss my ass goodbye!"   And 20 minutes later walking back into his or her office with a very somber look on my face saying "You know, I've always respected you as a boss.  By-the-way, can I have my job back?"

Read more: Pasadena City Hall At Night

Created: Friday, 10 January 2014

 

 

The first M1 package has left the building!

 

Bridal couple gets album 15 days after wedding.  

 

 
The wedding industry has had a hard time understanding the Gen Y bride.   One of the sales coordinators who has 20+ years experience in the industry told me that every Saturday morning brides would find their way to her golf course and she'd have a full day of unplanned meetings.  "Now they do everything online."   People rarely show up without an appointment.   Gen Y brides are smart, saavy, and know what they want.   They are the product of an online, connected world where they do their research ahead of making appointments.
 
One of the things I've noticed was the change of how brides wanted to make a wedding album.  When I first started 17 years ago the bride would select all the images in her album.  There were usually around 300 images to select from and it wasn't that difficult to pick the best 70 and make an album.  Then we went toward digital cameras where we shot up to over 1500 images per wedding. Choices were more difficult and projects weren't getting completed.  We went to a 'Pre-Design' concept where we showed a bride a layout of her album with images we selected.  We gave her the opportunity to change images.  We found a few things.
 
#1.  Most images were swapped for other images taken just before or just after the image in the layout.  The net effect was often very small.  
 
#2.  Time waiting for a wedding albums can be measured in dog years.   One human year is equivalent to 7 dog years.  Thanks to the changes in technology with people super connected to each other most brides have chatted up their wedding on social media.  If you show them a wedding album from a wedding six months ago it's like showing them a wedding album from three and a half years ago.   Thus the big goal is to get the album closer to the wedding when everybody is most excited about seeing it. 
 
#3.  Gen Y Brides lives move faster- Since I keep touch with my brides I can tell you that brides do a lot more than get married over a course of a year. They  start or finish school, get new jobs, get promoted, move, buy a house, start a family and other wonderful things.   What I've noticed is that today brides are too busy to micromanage their own wedding photography.  
 
The net effect of having designed hundreds and hundreds of wedding albums is that I've learned what brides like and don't like in a wedding album.   Wedding albums need naration.   There is nothing that replaces the one-on-one interaction with family and close friends, talking about the images in an album.  So far social media hasn't even come close to this experience.  My brides have always loved telling their own story with wonderful images  (reminder, please check out our gallery).  My goal is to get this process started as close to the wedding day as possible.
 
Mary was our first M1 package. She actually signed up for it while we were still ironing out the concept.   Both her and her husband's kids are all adults, and Mary has been single since the early 90's.   She is certainly not a Gen Y bride, but she  is in the age range of a mother of a Gen Y bride.   Thus she was a great test of concept.
 
One of Mary's main concerns was that there may not be enough time in the package she picked.  She was worried that I wouldn't be able to photograph her dress hanging and her getting makeup on.  She was worried that she wouldn't get enough romantic images, or have enough time to get her family.  Another problem was that she didn't have a bridal party, so some of the usual suspects in the wedding album were missing.      I got all the shots she wanted getting ready, and found out her room was set up already, so I went upstairs and photographed that.   Then I went to the church and photographed the groom by himself and with the down time with family and friends.  Most photographers would stand around and wait, I used every moment to it's fullest.    We had more than enough wonderful romantics.  When the time was up it was just the perfect time to leave.  We left no missed opportunities behind.
 
Following up with Mary after the wedding she had the album in her hands when she was family and friends for the holidays.  She got married in November.   The album was a huge hit and she loved it so very much.  She is as protective of it as a new parent is of their baby.
 
The wedding was a wonderful time.  I especially liked working with Reverand Paul D. Uhlar (http://www.wedding-ceremonies-officiants.biz/)   once again.  He's like a fine wine, only gets better with age.   I really think he's one of the best reverends in the industry today.    The wedding was held at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Created: Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Black and white wedding photography

 

One of the most commonly asked questions is when to turn an image into black and white?   That's kinda a good question because these days there are tinted black and white imgaes such as Sepia and blue tinted images,  any color you can think of can be overlaid on top of a black and white image to give it that tone.  There are also cross processed images where the shadows are one color and the highlights are another color.   But for the moment I'm talking about pure black and white.  Even that's hard because back in the old days of black and white film there were colored filters we'd use to on the front of the lens to give the images a different effect.  Instead of having a nearly standard bland sky a red filter would give it a dark nearly black look.   All those filter we used to put in front of the camera are now yet another set of filters we can use in post processing in Photoshop.  We can use both these filters and overlay colors.  For something as basic as black and white the possibilities are endless.

swiss park wedding photographywww.lifetimeimages.com

Weddings tend to lend themselves well to black and white photography because black is often worn in the tuxedo and white (or something close to it) is often worn in the wedding dress.  Pictures from our grandparents weddings were in black and white, and black and white tends to be timeless.  The vintage filter craze of the past year seems to jumping the shark these days when  you see people posting pictures of their dogs using them on Facebook.  But B&W is like a pair of Levi's 501 jeans, it never goes out of fashion.

I learned photography back in high school using black and white film.  I'm not coming out and saying that this is the best way to learn photography, but it did wise me up very quickly.  You had less to work with so the images had to compelling.  Composition, contrast and exposure were fundamental.   There were no lovely colors to help a lack luster image look nice. 

Black and white in wedding photography is much like being at a rock concert when they dim down the lights and the guy stands on stage with an acoustic guitar and belts out a memorable tune.  Though you were expecting the full band to rock the tune, when stripped down to the core elements its a chance for the song to shine.  And that's exactly what black and white does.  It strips the image down to it's core elements, for it to sink or swim.   I find that it's most effective to use black and white sparingly because the less it's used the more impact it can have.

Read more: Classic Romance

Created: Monday, 23 September 2013

 

Nikon D400

Is the Nikon D400 ever going to be a reality?

There will be continuation postings on this question on future pages of this blog.

You can be best friends with a Nikon representative, he can be the best man in your wedding and the godparent of your children, and yet he will tell you with all sincerity that he has no clue about whether and when the D400 is coming to market. He and his fellow representatives will find out at the same time that you do. So, with this in mind, how can I even comment on such a thing?

The topic of the emergence of the D400 was a hot rumor on the internet in 2011 and 2012. In 2013 the rumors have died down a bit and there is confusion about whether Nikon planned to use the D7100 as the D300s replacement instead of the new D400. To date the D300S is still on the Nikon website and still being sold.

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The D100- D400 History



Nikon D100   6.1MP (6 February 21, 2002) $1999

Nikon D200 10.2MP   (2 November 2005)   $1699
Nikon D300 12.3MP  (August 23, 2007 $1800?

Nikon D300S 12.3MP (September 11, 2009 ) List price unknown

Nikon D400 24MP    ( January 2014?) $1800?

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I put up the history of the D100-300S models to illustrate some points. The D200 came out two and one-half years after the D100. The D300 arrived less than two years after the D200, and the D300S after another two years. We have just reached the fourth year of no updates on the D300S. It’s been more than six years since the D300 came out. In a perfect world the D400 would have been introduced in September of 2011. Currently we should be seeing the D400S arriving. How and why did this arrival not happen? Will the D400 ever be marketed, and when?

The best argument to make for Nikon’s not releasing the D400 is that Nikon has the D3200, D5200 and D7100 models on the market. These go from entry level consumer to advanced amateur cameras. Nikon is committed to the DX sensor format. Nikon also has the D600 as the $2000 step up to the FX full frame sensor format. The D400 would come in between the D7100 and the D600 in pricing. The Nikon D7100 is an ambitious DX camera, certainly not a standard prosumer digital camera. If Nikon never brought the D400 to market, most of us would find some other body to fit our needs. Nikon seems to have a large enough range of them.
In spite of this history, I believe that the D400 will become a reality otherwise Nikon would have discontinued the D300s by now. Why do they still sell it? Clearly there is still a market for it, since a well-made, durable DX sensor camera is still in demand. The D7100 is nice, but it’s smaller and lighter than a D400 would be. The D100-300 series was a bit more hefty and these cameras were known as workhorses. The corresponding camera to the D300S in the Canon line is the Canon EOS 7D. Canon is said to be waiting for Nikon to introduce the 7D Mark II. So, for the reasons given above I believe that Nikon will replace the D300S with the D400. But why all the delay?

The D100 was the first and last Nikon body in this series to be made in Japan. Since the D200 model the bodies have been made in Thailand. In October, 2011, Thailand experienced a massive flood whose effects lasted into 2012. As I noted earlier this was the ideal time to introduce the D400. Factories in Thailand such as hard drive manufacturers found themselves literally underwater. Nikon had to rely on its other suppliers’ factories to fill gaps in manufacturing schedule at that time. Though Nikon’s Thailand factories are now back to full operation, it has been rumored that the floods affected the plans for the D400, and since then the plans for the body have changed a few times.

What can be anticipated?

According to an article in the Daily Camera News May 30, 2013 the D400 will have a 24MPixel image sensor and will feature the new Expeed 4 Image Processor system. To me the new processor is the main story, but first I’ll finish discussing the other things that are rumored for the D400. It will have an ISO exposure speed range from 100-6400 and a 9100 pixel RGB sensorfrom the D800. It will have operating controls similar to the D800 and no Anti Aliasing filter, which filter would make it more like the D800E. It may have a 60 frame, 1080P video capability, and a professional magnesium alloy body. The larger buffer size, rumored to be larger than that of the D7100, is a welcome improvement. However, the D400's major selling point is a very speedy focusing system.

I think the removal of the Anti Alias filter is a given, the alloy body is a given, but the other points are up in the air. What we’re likely to see is the faster focusing system and better low light capacity. The number of megapixels in the D400 would be anyone’s guess. It wouldn’t surprise me if the number went over 30, but it could also be a tight 18.

The other side of the story is the Expeed 4 image processor.

It’s my running assumption that cameras were just about perfected in the 1990’s. In those days the new cameras featured precise electronic shutters and durable bodies that were built to last decades. For example, consider the Nikon F5. The F5 is simply a great film camera! Even the Nikon F3 from the 1980’s was a great camera. So when we talk about the electro-optical aspects of a camera, there usually isn’t much to talk about that’s new over time. Certainly we can get excited about alloy bodies and larger screens. We can also get excited about the look and feel of the camera body, but the selling point is the image processor.

There are some new developments that are changing the big picture in the area of image processors, and these developments are occurring within Nikon and in industries that have nothing to do with Nikon.

The ARM technology

The Expeed 3 (ARM microprocessor) became available in September of 2011 and that is a big deal. It was used on the Nikon Series 1. You may not be familiar with the ARM processors. They have been on the market for nearly two decades, but they became prominent when Steve Jobs used them in the first iPhone and the first iPad. Today they power 90% of all mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) in the industry.

ARM Holdings is a company based in Cambridge England, and it manufactures nothing. The company simply designs very small, inexpensive but energy efficient processors that are used in a large variety of devices such as smart phones, controllers for hard drives, and embedded processors in machinery. ARM sells licenses to use their designs and it collects royalties on each ARM processor sold.

In the photographic applications, the image processor is the brains behind the camera. Users interact with it on the menus and control dials. When you take a picture the image processor creates a digital file containing that image. Nearly everything people get excited about when they think of new camera bodies relates to the image processor.

Nikon uses a design similar but not identical to an ARM processor in most of their current camera bodies. It’s a variant of a RISC processor and is made by Fujitsu. Nikon put this older “65nm technology” (we’ll discuss the meaning of this specification later) into the D800 and D4. The same level of processor technology was current in Intel desktop computers about 8 years ago. If you believe that today’s cameras are cutting edge, just wait a few years for image processor technology to catch up . There is much room future improvement in image processors.

ARM processors are inexpensive, often costing less than $30 each in bulk. I believe it won’t be long before Nikon switches to ARM processors as their de facto image processor. The problem with the camera industry is that there isn’t much information about this topic floating around. So, I’m going to speculate a bit on this topic. When you look at the date range of digital cameras you’ll see them starting to be introduced in the early 2000’s. The first iPhone wasn’t released until June of 2007. Digital cameras have a circuit board that can be thought of in much the same way as a motherboard on a computer. Instead of an Intel or AMD processor it has the Nikon Expeed processor. But much like a computer it has a lot of connection ports and pins to hook up other electrical parts of the camera such as control dial sand focusing motors. When you switch from the Fujitsu to the newer ARM processors it will not quite be the same thing. The ARM processor also has memory, USB, sound video and wifi and bluetooth built on the same small board the processor comes on. It’s called “System on a Chip” or SoC for short. For a camera they may be a bit overkill but they are so inexpensive and readily available that it makes sense to switch. This of course means a new circuit board redesign and associated problems with the project. It also means potential problems with the menu program and accessory compatibility. So, it’s not as simple as buying these new SoC’s and sticking them into the body. But the results will be worth it because the ARM technology gets developed very quickly. It can lead to better images, faster focusing, and new camera compatibilities. Basically, all the things we get most excited about.

The Expeed processors up until now (with the exception of the Nikon 1) have been made by Fujitsu. In today’s world the Fujitsu 65nm RISC processors are a very old technology. Canon has made the leap over to ARM and Nikon needs to do the same. If Nikon is doing this now with the D400 it would explain a lot of the delay issues. But if Nikon throws in yet another Fujitsu image processor into a body made up of parts mainly from other camera bodies and make the D400 I’ll be let down. This is easy to do. There is a strong possibility that this could happen. Thus if the D400 is mainly a camera of leftovers, why the delay? It has to do with finances and and DSLR price erosion. We’ll explore this next time.

 

Created: Thursday, 20 June 2013

Romance

  

"Romance is the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction towards another person associated with love. In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one's strong romantic love, or one's deep and strong emotional desires to connect with another person intimately or romantically.   Historically, the term "romance" originates with the medieval ideal of chivalry as set out in its Romance literature."

 

"Love is this way: You're on one side of the edge of a canyon -- windy, deep, sunny, steep. Your lover's on the other. You wave to each other across the divide. You have a parachute. Your lover has a parachute. But the cords to open the parachutes are on the BACK not the front so only your lover can open your parachute for you, and you for your lover. You pause. Are you ready to jump? Will your lover jump too? If you and your lover jump simultaneously, grasp mid-air and yank each other's cords, you'll glide sweetly to your getaway island where a candlelight dinner awaits. If one thing goes wrong, a glitch in timing, a puff of wind, the slightest hesitation -- you'll be crushed on the rocks below.

—Anonymous"

 

(Both passages from Wikipedia)romantic wedding image www.lifetimeimages.com

 

I kinda get a kick out of talking to people who believe that the strong attraction that a couple has toward each other will translate into memorable images.  I've seen new photographers run with that theme when they are trying to promote the fact that their keen eye will capture the idealism of love.  So, with a somewhat jaded perspective I do offer the following. 

 

As the second passage alludes to there is nothing quite as remarkable as finding someone who makes your heart go pitter patter.   It's an amazing feeling when someone looks at you with awe and wonder and perhaps sees more value in you than you see in yourself.  If the feeling is mutual there is nothing better.  It's in these early stages that couples often unplug from the world and retreat into their own little reality.  It's a fun and exciting time of the relationship.  Sooner or later one of them throws out the "L" word.  If the couple is over age 18 perhaps they have heard it or even said the word "love" before.  But this time  it's different.   When the path leads to the marriage proposal it's on to uncharted territory.  It doesn't matter if one or both of them have been married before, each wedding is very different.

 

With all the pop songs written over the years about love, everything from getting lost in each others eyes to trying to put into words the feeling of a kiss it's surprising that nobody has taken on the concept of planning a wedding.  Her outspoken progressive aunt can't sit next to his cousin who is the president of his local Tea Party chapter.   Are kids invited?  "Do we really need a limo? "  And answers to questions like "We're paying them good money hon, why do we need to cut the cake?"  There will be a whole lot of people to meet, family, her friends, his friends, the parents friends, etc.  They have to make big impressions, be polite, try to keep their food down if they have a chance to eat, put nerves aside and look forward to dancing in front of everybody not only with the groom but mom and or dad.

 

By the time I get them outside the bride says  "You won't believe what your aunt just said to me, I'll tell you later" to the groom.  As we start the romantic photo session the bride's feet are killing her.  There is perspiration pouring down her back and her legs feel like they are in a sauna.   What the gal wants to do is go take a shower, get on a pair of shorts and t-shirt and sip smoothies by the pool.  But instead we're bringing them close to each other where she warns him not to mess up her makeup or hair.

Read more: Iconic Wedding Images