Focus - Fort Worth Photography: Blog en-us (C) Focus - Fort Worth Photography [email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:42:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:42:00 GMT Focus - Fort Worth Photography: Blog 90 120 Restaurant Focus Last week I got to do something really different. It was so different that it dragged me out of my blog-writing slumber. Yep, it's been a year since I wrote anything on here. You thought you were done with me. Not so fast.

Now, if you follow along on my Facebook page you might have seen that I got a job to photograph some restaurants at the airport that were constructed by Trinity TransCon. Well, that finally got on the schedule for this past Friday. One condition though, was that we needed to photograph the spaces after they closed. That meant a very late night at the airport. We finally got the restaurant I was really looking forward to shooting - The Salt Lick. It's a cool-looking bar-b-que place with a big open fire pit in the cooking area. This was going to be fun. That is until we got there and found the doors locked and no way to turn on the fire or any lights (no lights!). Wow, so, my job just became photographing the place with none of it's built-in lighting (at night, remember).

So, let me tell you how I created this image. (You will see the original image lower on the page.)

Airport, Contruction, DFW, "DFW Airport", "Fort Worth", Restaurant, "Salt Lick", "Terminal A", "The Salt Lick", "Trinity TransCon"

Fortunately, I had just bought a video training series from an amazing architectural photographer in California named Mike Kelley. He has a technique for creating very distinctive images using some pretty simple equipment and some useful tricks in Photoshop. The main idea centers around selectively painting areas of the scene with light from a handheld flash. All of those individual photos get combined into one finished image by overlaying the lit areas. The technique is something that gives you full control over lighting every part of your space without needing tons of lighting. All it takes is a way to remotely trigger your camera and something to fire your flash remotely. (A great tool for remotely triggering your camera from your tablet or phone is called CamRanger. I actually use this cool thing and a free app on my tablet. I use PocketWizard Flexx TTs to fire my flashes. I have tried the cheap flash triggers and been really disappointed. PocketWizards just work every time.) OK, enough of the commercial, let's look at where I started. Below is the base image I started with (and what the space actually looked like). Amazing, isn't it?


Airport, Contruction, DFW, "DFW Airport", "Fort Worth", Restaurant, "Salt Lick", "Terminal A", "The Salt Lick", "Trinity TransCon"


I first started by lighting the wood ceiling in multiple places like this.

"Light painting", "The Salt Lick", DFW, "DFW Airport"


After I felt like I had covered all of that area, I worked on lighting the sign.

"Light painting", "The Salt Lick", DFW, "DFW Airport"


I knew that I need to get some light on the stainless hood too.

"Light painting", "The Salt Lick", DFW, "DFW Airport"


I also knew I needed some more light on the wood and stone in the front.

"Light painting", "The Salt Lick", DFW, "DFW Airport"


Finally, here is a quick animation showing how I stacked it all together (along with the rest of the editing) - 13 photos total.


So, there you have it. That was my first attempt at light painting. I was happy to have a solution for the situation I ended up in. Now, I am not going to say I did the best possible job at it, but I am very pleased with the result. I have a ton to learn in using this method, but I definitely plan using it more in the future.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Airport Contruction DFW DFW Airport Fort Worth Restaurant Salt Lick Terminal A The Salt Lick Trinity TransCon Tue, 07 Oct 2014 00:04:31 GMT
Interior Design Focus This week I got to do a photo shoot at the home of a Fort Worth interior designer. She and her business partner where there with me during the shoot to provide some guidance as to what they wanted to capture. In this case they were promoting their Christmas decoration services, so the home was all made up for Christmas (way early, but they need to be earlier to advertise). This was a great opportunity for me to learn to see a room as a designer does. I figure if I can produce an image that a designer is happy with then it should be good enough for anyone else. I mean really, who else looks at a picture of a room and thinks "That chair is too far to the left."? I tend to only see the room that way when it is too late (after the photo shoot is done). So this shoot allowed me to just slow down and focus on setting up in one spot and working until that view looks right. Now, I really mean getting it to look right. There are things that look right in the room in person but look really odd through the camera. On another home shoot I have moved a row of chairs that were even spaced when standing behind them but looked way off from an angle. Those are the things it takes to create a well-constructed and staged image.


A lot of the images I got from this shoot were just close-ups of some of the decorations, and they just let me get those however I wanted. But there were 2 main views of the dining room that took a lot of work to stage well. I learned somethings from having a designer evaluating my images on the spot (hooked up to my tablet for immediate viewing). I also got to put some things into practice that I have read about or been studying. It was nice to take a test shot and realize that an area needed more light and be able to do it. Hey, maybe I am getting the hang of this (with still a long way to go).


So, I wanted to put together this post to show you some of the places where I got to do just that.


View number one was the main view they wanted. This angle let them see the dining room setting, the decorations on the service table and the decorations on the mantel reflected in the mirror. I am going to start off by showing you my first test shot. You can see that the fireplace is much darker than the rest of the image. It's not the main focus but it should be bright enough to be more evident.

Christmas, "Christmas decorating", "Christmas decorations", Design, "Fort Worth interior design", Holiday, "Holiday decorating", "Holiday decorations", "Home interior", "Interior design", "Interior designer", "SAJ Designs"

In this shot you can see that there is much more light in the background. This is better, but the final image still needed a lot of work.

Christmas, "Christmas decorating", "Christmas decorations", Design, "Fort Worth interior design", Holiday, "Holiday decorating", "Holiday decorations", "Home interior", "Interior design", "Interior designer", "SAJ Designs"

This is the final shot. I backed up to get more of the tree on the right and more of the light fixture. I also lowered the camera to get more of the table. We moved the chair that was between the dining table and the service table. We also moved the chair in the living room to allow the fire to be seen. We also moved the candle and replaced it with the flower arrangement. Finally, we took a framed picture off the wall on the right hand side because you could only see half of the picture in the reflection which made it look like the picture disappeared into the Christmas tree. Overall, I think the final version is a much stronger image.

Christmas, "Christmas decorating", "Christmas decorations", Design, "Fort Worth interior design", Holiday, "Holiday decorating", "Holiday decorations", "Home interior", "Interior design", "Interior designer", "SAJ Designs"


The second view was from the opposite side of the dining room. The challenge was to not let the lights look "blown out" (so bright that there is no detail). Fortunately they were on dimmers, so we turned them down really low. That was great for the lights themselves, but it caused the details at the back of the room to be too dark.

Christmas, "Christmas decorating", "Christmas decorations", Design, "Fort Worth interior design", Holiday, "Holiday decorating", "Holiday decorations", "Home interior", "Interior design", "Interior designer", "SAJ Designs" I added some flash using an shoot-through umbrella to get some light on the chairs, the serving table, under the dining table, and on the place settings and flowers. The difference is subtle, but it is enough to lighten up those dark areas without looking unnatural.

Dining room table with Christmas decorations


This was a portrait orientation of the same view. The problem I had was that the bottom of the chairs and under the table were not getting enough light. So, I shot one of umbrella flashes under the table to remove those areas that are too dark and draw unwanted attention. The test shot is on the left, and the shot with the fill-in flash is on the right.

Dining room table with Christmas decorations[email protected] Dining room table with Christmas decorations

This next view was another case where the background area needed a bit of work to keep it from being a distraction. I tried the light 3 different ways: hall light on (left), hall light off (center), and low level of flash (right). I used the third one so that the the background was not too bright so that it washed out the flowers and not too dark so that it was a big dark blob.

Dining room table with Christmas decorations Dining room table with Christmas decorations Dining room table with Christmas decorations[email protected]

And finally (thanks for sticking around), this is my last example. I liked this view of the place setting with the Christmas tree in the background. I shot this one a little differently than the others. I focused on the Foreground and really blurred out the background. I liked how it looked, but I felt like the place setting and the flowers were too dark since they were the focus. Again, on the left you can see my test shot. On the right you can see the difference in bringing in some extra light from above to highlight the plates and napkin, the flowers and add some sparkle to the crystal. Again, subtle, but I think it was worth it.

Dining room table with Christmas decorations Dining room table with Christmas decorations

There you have it. So far, this has been my biggest learning experience in a home shoot.


Here are more of the shots if you are interested.


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[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Christmas Christmas decorating Christmas decorations Design Fort Worth interior design Holiday Holiday decorating Holiday decorations Home interior Interior design Interior designer SAJ Designs Sun, 27 Oct 2013 20:21:01 GMT
Product Focus This week I did some product photography for the first time. Conclusion: it's not very easy. There, you're done reading.

For those of you still here, I'll tell you a bit about it. I had a family get in touch with me about photographing some handmade jewelry that is done by one of their daughters. She makes small horse sculptures out of wax and then has those cast in sterling silver for necklace charms. She started this jewelry business a few years ago and wanted to make some changes to the current photos they had and work on a new branding for the products. We decided to start with doing one piece to use in a magazine ad and then come back later and shoot all of the other pieces for the website/Facebook. We talked about two main ideas for doing the charms. One would be the horse "floating" on a solid background with no other props. The other was to stage the shot with the charm and some other items that come with the product (nice wooden box, leather strap, etc.).


This was the first option I shot. I used a piece of monofilament thread to suspend the charm to make it stand up on its own. I knew that using such a thin, almost-transparent string like this would be easy to remove in Photoshop to give it that floating appearance. For the lighting I knew that I needed to light it evenly from both sides to minimize shadows but not so bright as to lose the detail in the metal. My favorite part of the effect I got was actually an accident. I had set a white, shiny binder behind the setup to block some backlighting from a window. I had a third flash on my camera and pointed it at the binder. It reflected into the glass and gave a nice highlight behind and below the horse. In case you are interested you can see my really professional setup for this shot. I am fairly pleased with the result.

Handmade sterling silver horse charm



So, this is the shot they chose. It's pretty consistent with the style they currently have, and I think it shows off the piece well. They were looking for something that was not cluttered but still showed more of what you get with the piece. The card in the back comes with the charm. Each horse she makes is based on a real horse, so the pieces are named after the horse. This one is Lucy. She is a favorite. To light this one, I used an umbrella off to the left of the image to light it all evenly. I also used a flash above the scene with a homemade snoot to focus the light. I pointed that slightly in front of the horse to light it well and get rid of the hard shadow of the horse on the box. It also makes that area of the image brighter than the left side to keep the focus on the horse. Again, check out my super-fancy lighting arrangement.

Horse charm and wooden box



So, that's my first product shoot. It was challenging, but fun. It's a good exercise in making light work the way I need it to. I am looking forward to shooting the rest of their pieces. I'll let you know when that happens.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Charm Handmade jewelry Horse charm Silver pendant Sophie's Horses Handmade Sterling silver necklace charm Thu, 19 Sep 2013 19:19:45 GMT
Focus on the Sky Yesterday, I got to do something pretty fun. My step-father's nephew recently bought a flight school. We were able to get an opportunity for my son (age 12) to do what is called a discovery flight. It's basically a scaled-down version of a flight lesson to see if a person would be interested in continuing with a pilot's license. My only condition for allowing my son to do this was that I got to ride in the back and take pictures. So, yesterday was that day. We had also arranged for my wife to get a flight since it was her birthday. It didn't end up being a lesson like it was supposed to be, but she still had fun flying around downtown Fort Worth (and I rode in the backseat of that flight). Then after those 2 flights I got to go up in a Cirrus Turbo (which is a really cool aircraft). This plane belongs to the owner of the flight school, and he wanted to take us up in it just for fun. And I got to go on that one. Crazy. I'm not really sure why I get to do such cool stuff, but it sure is a privilege. I spent about 2 hours in the air this day. I got to take 2 trips around downtown Fort Worth and got them to fly around the 7th Street bridge construction that I have been following (and participating in documenting). I don't have much to say about the whole thing except it was really fun and felt more like my birthday than my wife's.

The coolest part was when we landed. The owner told me that he was going to pick up a new plane for them to use in the flight school. He asked if it would be possible for us to do some plane to plane photography of the new aircraft. He wants to take his Cessna up with the windows off and get some shots of his new plane with something like downtown Fort Worth or Cowboy stadium (AT&T stadium?) in the background. How cool would that be? I really hope that works out, and you can be sure you will read about it here when it happens.


So, here are my favorites.

Aerial, Aerial Photography, Architecture, Bass Tower, City, Convention Center, Downtown, Downtown Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Omni, Omni Hotel, Skyline, Skyscraper, T&P StationDSC_6371

This was my overall favorite.

Aerial, Aerial Photography, Architecture, Bass Tower, City, Convention Center, Downtown, Downtown Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Omni, Omni Hotel, Skyline, Skyscraper, T&P StationDSC_6374

I had to get a shot of my office building.

Aerial, Aerial Photography, Architecture, City, Downtown, Downtown Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Frost Bank, Skyline, Skyscraper, Summit BuildingsDSC_6376

I liked having the wing in this shot. I feel like it gives some context to the scene.

Aerial, Aerial Photography, Architecture, Bass Tower, City, Convention Center, Downtown, Downtown Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Omni, Omni Hotel, Skyline, Skyscraper, T&P StationDSC_6382

This was the propeller from the Cirrus Turbo. I took this one between my 2nd and 3rd flights.

Cirrus, Cirrus Turbo, Prop, PropellerDSC_6391

I just liked the view of the instrument panel and the control tower.

Aircraft interior, Cirrus, Cirrus Turbo, Cockpit, Instrument panelDSC_6396

Here is my new favorite bridge in Fort Worth.

7th Street Bridge, Aerial, Aerial Photography, Architecture, Cash America, Cash America Building, City, Downtown, Downtown Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Pier One, Pier One Building, Seventh Street Bridge, Skyline, SkyscraperDSC_6407

The day was really hazy, but I still liked this shot of downtown.Aerial photography, Cirrus, Cirrus TurboDSC_6416



This was such a cool day. Aerial photography was much more difficult than I expected. Sometimes it was difficult to even frame the shot with all of the turbulence. I would love to go up and shoot again, and I am looking forward to possibly shooting the plane-to-plane shots. Fun stuff.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) 7th Street Bridge Aerial Aerial Photography Architecture Bass Tower Cash America Cash America Building Cirrus Cirrus Turbo City Convention Center Downtown Downtown Fort Worth Fort Worth Omni Omni Hotel Pier One Pier One Building Seventh Street Bridge Skyline Skyscraper T&P Station Wed, 28 Aug 2013 20:04:35 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: What I've Learned Photo challenge - done. We have reached the end of our themes. We have now done 23 topics. Most of these took only one week, but some stretched to 2 or more. In total we have spent almost 7 months on this project. I have to say that I think that's pretty intense. I have done two other projects before and each of them only lasted a month. So this project was much longer and more intense at times. The other 2 projects were done just to push myself. I took a picture each day for a theme and posted it. I didn't really get feedback other than people saying they liked an image. There was no criticism of the images. There is nothing wrong with that, but it didn't push me in the same way as this one did. For this past 7 months I have submitted my work to another photographer every week or two. That is pressure - especially since he has so much more experience than me. It has also been great to see the different way we approach the same idea.


So, what am I writing about this week? Well, we decided that on this last week we would also write down what we have learned or how we have benefited from this project. That's easy...I have been pushed. As I have spent this last year breaking into my pursuit of photography I have had a huge amount of support. Many people have told me they like my photography. I have sold a lot of artwork. I have even been hired to photograph 3 beautiful homes. But, I never had anyone tell me what was wrong with my images. Mind you, I'm not looking for people to point out everything I do wrong in my photography (the list is long), but getting constructive criticism was new to me.


Here is the best way I can think to put it: I have had a photography sensei. He is an intense photographer and has high a very high standard. He has not been negative about my work but has always had input into how to make the lighting better or the composition stronger or where my focus should have been (or even that I should just delete a shot). So, he has pushed me. And that has been really good. I think I have improved dramatically over the last 7 months.


Thinking about what to write reminded me of a story I heard recently. I don't remember the details exactly, but I will convey the intent still. The story was of a young piano player. He played a performance at a grand venue. When he finished, the audience erupted in a standing ovation. The man left the stage as expected. The man in charge of the theater came back to tell him he should go back out for an encore because the people loved him. He looked out from the curtain and saw one man still sitting. He said he would not go out for an encore because of that man. The theater owner told him that was foolish to not go out because of only one person, since all the other people were amazed. The piano player said, "That man is my instructor. If he is not standing, then I have not done well enough."


Well that leads me to the only image I am going to put on this page. We had a theme about 2 months ago to reshoot something we had already done in the past. I went back and reshot the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. When I showed this photo, he said "I've got nothing." That was my moment of have the instructor applaud my performance. I nailed it in his eyes. That was a big deal.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The ModernDSC_3256


The last thing I will say about this challenge was how I feel about it now versus how I felt in the beginning. When he suggested this idea I thought "There is no way I can show my work to you each week. I'm no good." Well, I think I have a long way to go, but now I would consider myself a peer.


So, we are done with our photo challenge. We are planning on taking the rest of the summer off and then come up with some new idea. I am still going to keep writing even though we are finished with this challenge. I don't know what it will be or how often, but I do enjoy this part of it.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates. Also, go Like me on Facebook to see what I am working up lately.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architecture Challenge Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Photo Challenge The Modern Mon, 29 Jul 2013 16:26:46 GMT
Real Estate Focus - Rivercrest This week I got to shoot another Glendarroch Home. I was really pleased that they came back to me with another job. This time I handled getting in touch with the owners to schedule a time that would work for them (and for the lighting). I had gotten some new equipment that I was looking forward to using for this shoot. The thing I was most excited about was this tripod head. I was able to get everything level and square before taking the shots, so that I had to do very little correction in Photoshop. Another big improvement on this shoot was having an assistant. My wife told me after doing my first house that she wanted to help out on the next one like this. So, she came along with me this time. It really helped in so many ways. I was more at ease dealing with the home owners and really appreciated having another set of eyes and opinion on my compositions. Plus, there are so many things to pay attention to in every shot that it was so good to have her to help notice extra details that I missed.

So, that is about all I have to say. These homes that they build are beautiful. That makes my job much easier.  I am going to just highlight some of favorites. Creating these images was not easy, but I feel like improved a lot from the last luxury home I did. Every picture you will see is composed of 3 shots taken at different exposures and combined later to get a broader range of exposures (light to dark).


This is their formal living and dining space. Very nicely designed as you can see. I took a shot of this room when I first got to the house, but ended up coming back to reshoot this because the late evening light was so nice coming through the front of the house.

Living room / dining roomRivercrest_04


Arches. They are all throughout the house and really amazing. I love the light fixtures they use and the interesting patterns they cast on the ceilings.

Bar area and archesRivercrest_06


Here is the master suite. It had this great entrance into the outdoor living space (with fireplace).

Master bedroom and outdoor living areaRivercrest_08


The master bathroom was, um, nice.

Master bathroomRivercrest_09


You could tell that this kitchen and living area were designed around hosting. It seem like such a great space for congregating. The living room wall had 4 sets of French doors leading to the pool and outdoor living area.

Kitchen island and living areaRivercrest_14


This was the upstairs area. There was also a workout room, bedroom and balcony up here.

Pool roomRivercrest_17


This study was amazing. Wood everywhere and a nice view of the pool.



Finally, here is the pool and outdoor space. It had a great Roman bath feel to it.

Pool and outdoor living areaRivercrest_25


This was another really great opportunity for me. The photography was very challenging, and I know I still need a lot of improvement. I am also amazed that I was able to do this again for them. I love this work more every time and can't wait for my next opportunity.


By the way, here are the rest of the images from the home.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architectural Photography Custom Home Photography Fort Worth Fort Worth Custom Builder Glendarroch Glendarroch Homes Interior Photography Luxury home Montserrat Real Estate Photographer Real Estate Photography Sun, 28 Jul 2013 00:25:05 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Abandon Normal Convention Abandon normal convention. That was the theme for the week. So, how do you do that? What is "normal convention" anyway? Honestly, defining the terms in this challenge is really the hardest part. How can I go about defying normal convention if I don't even know what it is? I really thought about this one a lot. Do I break the common photography rules-of-thumb (or is it rule-of-thumbs?)? Do I photograph things in the real world that aren't normally photographed (something ugly for instance)? Or do I look for things that are already out of the ordinary and photograph them? My answer: I have no idea. I didn't come up with a great solution to this topic.

Really, this theme is bigger than just a weekly challenge idea. It's the thing that can set a person apart from the crowd. What makes my artwork worth hanging on your wall? Why would someone hire me to shoot their interior over the next guy? I once read an article where the author suggested looking at the photograph you are about to take and ask yourself one question: Have I seen this photo before? If the answer is "yes" then don't take the shot. It's been done before. That idea resonated with me, because I was already trying to do just that. I really do make an effort to be distinct in my photography. I do try to learn from other photographers, but I don't want to copy them. I want to be me. I think these Coldplay lyrics put it well:

You could take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You could climb a ladder up to the sun
Or write a song nobody had sung
Or do something that's never been done


My first idea was flowers. I have taken a lot of flower picture, and, no doubt, will take lots more. I usually avoid the dead ones though.

Dead flower, Dead hibiscus, Flower, Flowers, HibiscusDSC_5290 I saw pictures of these fields when they were in full bloom - incredible. I didn't have a chance to go see them, but I drove past them on the way to Houston. I can tell you I was the only one out there while they looked like this.

Dead sunflower, Dead sunflowers, Flower, Flowers, Sunflower, Sunflower field, SunflowersDSC_5303

My second idea came from something my wife told me about. She had seen some images from a photographer who does underwater portraits. Underwater, wearing regular clothes. That gave me the idea of having all my kids jump into a pool with all their clothes on. This one didn't come out exactly as I had in mind, but it was fun to do.

Swimming with clothes on, jumping in pool with clothes onDSC_5355_6_7_8_9


This shot just happened to fit with the theme. We saw this guy performing while we were in Houston. I'd say he has abandoned normal convention.Balance, Juggling fire, Street performer, Street performanceDSC_5454

I'm not sure if I have abandoned normal convention to become my own version of a photographer, but my goal is to be doing something that's never been done.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates. Also, go Like me on Facebook to see what I am working up lately.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Balance Challenge Dead flower Dead hibiscus Dead sunflower Dead sunflowers Flower Flowers Fort Worth Photography Hibiscus Juggling fire Jumping in pool with clothes on Photo Challenge Street performance Street performer Sunflower Sunflower field Sunflowers Swimming with clothes on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 17:35:39 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Same Location / Different Time The theme for this week's photo challenge (ok, it took two weeks) was to shoot the same location at different times in the day. My thought behind it was just to see how different a spot looks at a different time of day. That might mean being at an outdoor location and finding the differences between the light during the middle of the day (harsh light with washed out color) and during the "golden hour" (that time about an hour after sunrise or about an hour before sunset with soft shadows and nice orange light). Or it might be coming back to the area at night to get a completely different look to the same place than during the day. I did all of that in one location, but I had another thought for this topic. I wanted to find a place that would be completely empty during one time of day but busy during another.

The place I had in mind for the empty/busy contrast was the downtown Fort Worth train station. That proved to be a bit difficult. We don't exactly have a train station that's like a New York subway. The platform is nice and the main lobby is beautiful, but I had this idea of hundreds of people standing along the track waiting for the train and reading newspapers (or, realistically, just staring at their phones). Or I pictured being inside the main lobby with a huge crowd moving through the station. I went to the station multiple times and never saw anything close to that. I didn't go before work, so maybe that's the secret, super-busy time. If anyone knows what that really busy time is please let me know so I can try this again. Oh well, I still got something I was happy with (even though it took a fair amount of time and some Photoshop trickery).


So, my location for getting the scene in different lights was the Tarrant County College campus downtown (Trinity River Campus). This is the location that used to be the Radio Shack Headquarters. It's a very cool looking campus. I focused on the water feature. First, I went during the middle of the Texas...with no shade. You can't tell in this picture, but I actually melted. Surely there should be some reward for my bravery. Or not.

For this shot I added a bit of an effect on this to make it look like a miniature. Honestly, it's tough to get something interesting in the middle of the day.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Fountain, Outdoor water feature, Radio Shack, Radio Shack building, TCC, TCC Trinity River Campus, Tarrant County College, Water featureDSC_5104

Next, I came back the same day close to sunset. I thought I might get a different view of the front of the campus, but the sunset looked nice from the same spot. This is my favorite shot of the series. This is actually 2 shots blended together. I shot one that was exposed for the water and one that was exposed for the sky and combined the 2 (basically the top half of one shot and the bottom half of another).

If you are interested, I got a cool shot of the sun going down through the windows of one of the buildings. I also got this while I was waiting.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Fountain, Outdoor water feature, Radio Shack, Radio Shack building, TCC, TCC Trinity River Campus, Tarrant County College, Water featureDSC_5191_2 Finally I waited for dark to get the fountain with the lights turned on. Again, I shot this from roughly the same place. And again, I just went ahead and stuck my tripod in the water for a somewhat different perspective. Living dangerously.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Fountain, Outdoor water feature, Radio Shack, Radio Shack building, TCC, TCC Trinity River Campus, Tarrant County College, Water featureDSC_5253


And here is the train station. As you can see, this building is pretty amazing. This is the T&P Train Station downtown. It was built in 1931. The lobby features "marble floors, metal-inlaid panel ceilings, and nickel and brass fixtures, incorporating the zigzags and chevrons distinctive of the style." (Wikipedia) I got this shot during the middle of the day. This gave me a nice, bright room lit by natural light. I took 3 shots at different exposures to combine them into this shot. This let me get a wider range of light and dark than just one exposure would allow. The room is huge and had a huge echo each time my shutter fired. This gave me my empty/abandoned look.Architecture, Downtown Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Fort Worth Train station, Moving people, People moving, People passing, T&P Station, T&P Station Lobby, Train, Train stationDSC_5081_2_3

This next shot was the hard part. As I mentioned above, I never managed to go to the station at a really busy time. I figured my best chance to get what I wanted was to get the after-work crowd. I headed over with enough time to set up and get some test shots. Then I just needed to sit back and wait for the crowd. Well, it didn't quite work. Most of the crowd went the other direction from the tracks (since that's where the main parking lot is), and then some people saw me set up in here and obviously assumed they shouldn't walk through the space, so they went to a different exit. I was actually frustrated with people for being polite. So, what you see below is 14 shots combined. I did 3 shots with no one in the room like I did for the one above to get my base image. Then I took a shot any time a person or group came through the lobby. I took about 20 shots with people in them, but some of them overlapped and couldn't be used. Once I got everything on the computer I layered all of those together (11 shots with people) to get what looked like a room full of people. (That guy in the middle with the black shirt is me.) I would have loved to get all of this in one shot (with even more people), but I did the best I could with what I had.

Architecture, Downtown Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Fort Worth Train station, Moving people, People moving, People passing, T&P Station, T&P Station Lobby, Train, Train stationDSC_5134_5_6


This theme was probably the most effort for me of any of the past themes. I spent a lot of time planning and researching and a lot of time out shooting for this one - at least 3 trips to the train station and a couple hours at the college campus. Overall this was a good project.


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[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architecture Challenge Downtown Fort Worth Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Fort Worth Train station Fountain Moving people Outdoor water feature People moving People passing Photo Challenge Radio Shack Radio Shack building T&P Station T&P Station Lobby TCC TCC Trinity River Campus Tarrant County College Train Train station Water feature Sat, 13 Jul 2013 14:00:00 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: A Very Small Object A very small object. That was the theme for the week. I enjoy this kind of photography. When it comes to taking pictures of small items or an item up really close you need to have the right kind of lens. This kind of lens is called a macro. One of the best things about the type of lens is the ability to get very close to the subject and still be able to focus on it. Most lenses will allow you to focus on an object that is around 3 or 4 feet away (for a large zoom lens) up to about 12 inches (for a smaller zoom). With the macro I have, I can focus it 4 inches away from the subject. That's close. And it can yield some great detail. I have done a lot of flower and insect photos this way, but I wanted to try something different this time. I didn't do any flowers, but instead I did some indoor setup shots. I wanted to get some practice with lighting, so this seemed like a great time to work on it.


This first image needs some introduction and explanation. As I mentioned above, a macro lens is great for getting really close to an object. There is a downside though - a very small depth of field. If you want to understand a bit more about what effect the depth of field has then go check out the top half of this blog that I wrote a while back. Go read it. I'll wait... Foreground/Background in Focus. OK, to continue, a macro lens has a really narrow depth of field. That means if you are photographing something that extends back into the field of view it will be progressively out of focus. This can be a nice effect, but sometimes you want the entire object in focus. Well, too bad. That's just not possible. At least it's not possible with only one image. This photo of the pocketwatch is actually not one photo but eleven. Yes, eleven shots to create one image that looks like what you would expect to see. The technique to achieve this is called "focus stacking" or "focal stacking". The method is to photograph the object with the focus set to each area that you want to ultimately be in focus in the final image. In other words you focus on the area closest to the camera and take a shot. Then move the focus slightly farther out and take a shot. Continue this process until you reach as far into the frame as you want to be focused. Then all of those images can be combined into one image using the focused area from each shot. Here is an example of some of the images I took to create this one. I know the image is small, but you should be able to see how the focus moves from the front of the watch to the back in that series. This was a fun experiment and something I will definitely do again.

Focal stacking, Focus stacking, Pocket watch, Pocketwatch, WatchDSC_4615_6_7_8_9_1_2_3_4_5



Shot number two is just one image. This one was more for practicing lighting. Once again I got my toys out. Yep, my toys. These are the real thing too (anywhere from 25-35 years old). The Darth Vader in the foreground is from a tiny set. This guy is about an inch tall, so it's really a very small object. Darth Vader on the right is a 6" action figure. The one on the left is one of the 15" action figures (not a doll, mind you!). In the background is the Darth Vader carrying case for the small action figures. So here's the setup for this one. I had 2 flashes pointed at the tiny Vader to light him evenly (one from either side). With only those 2 lights he blended in with the rest of the black too much, so I had to add a 3rd flash that fired between him and the one behind him. This gave enough separation to keep it from being just a big, black blob. I used a somewhat narrow depth of field this time to show that the character at the front was the subject but still allow some detail to be seen in the background. If everything had been in focus it would have been too much happening in the photo with no strong focal point. Again, I really enjoyed doing this one and was really happy with the results.Action figure, Collectible toys, Darth Vader, Star Wars, Star Wars toys, Vader, Vintage toys, collectibles, toysDSC_4683



Setup number three was another lighting practice. This one was a bit more simple but took a lot of adjusting to get what I wanted. This is a small, travel chess set that I got for my son when I was in India. The pawns are about an inch tall. This was taken on my dining room table with no background of any kind. I had a flash about 3 feet behind the chess board and slightly above it. This light produced the nice sharp outline of the pieces with the bright highlights, the soft shadows on the board and the bright, blue highlight. The blue color is from a colored gel (thin, translucent, colored plastic) that goes over the bulb on the flash. Then I held another flash about 2 feet above the board at an angle. There was no colored gel on that flash, and it was set to a very low power so that it didn't wash out all the detail in the pieces. I really like how this one ended up, and I did almost no editing to it.

Chess set, Chess, Game pieces, GamesDSC_4765


While the objects were small, I think I created some big images. Macro photography is another fun field with endless possibilities. Leave a comment if you have other small object ideas.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates. Also, go Like me on Facebook to see what I am working up lately.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Action figure Challenge Chess Chess set Collectible toys Darth Vader Focal stacking Focus stacking Fort Worth Photography Game pieces Games Photo Challenge Pocket watch Pocketwatch Star Wars Star Wars toys Vader Vintage toys Watch collectibles toys Tue, 02 Jul 2013 14:53:07 GMT
Photo Focus - Bikes along the Canal One year ago this month I was in Belgium to co-teach a photography class. I think I could easily say that I learned far more than I taught. Being on a trip with another photographer was an amazing experience. We both had the same thing in mind - take lots of photographs. Our class wasn't until the end of the week, so we spent most of our time there touring the city of Gent (plus one day in Brugges and one day out in the countryside). I have been in many places in Europe but never this far east. It really had a different feel to it, and, honestly, I loved it. It is probably one of my favorites places I have visited. This was also my first trip as a "photographer." I have always taken pictures on trips but never when I somewhat knew what I was doing. It was such fun to see the city with this new kind of unhurried enthusiasm.

So, what does all of that have to do with this blog post? Well, as I spent time in the city, I noticed 2 majors themes in the city of Gent - the canal through the middle of the city and bikes. Bikes. Were. Everywhere. Obviously bikes were the main mode of transportation in the city. It was so cool to see them chained up to the railing or just leaning against a wall. It just seemed so...European. I knew I had to get "the shot" of bikes. I had an idea of what I wanted, and then as we came across the scene below I knew that was it. Sometimes in photography you just know when you nail it. You get a shot and know that there is no point in trying to do anything else with it. The image below was just that. It was definitely my shot of the day, and, in my opinion, was the shot of the trip. When I got home from the trip I didn't have to decide which picture to print to go above my fireplace. I only had to decide how big I wanted it.

But, really, why focus on this photo? Simple. This is the first photo I ever sold. I posted many of my images from the trip while I was there. I got a lot of very positive feedback and even some extra interest when I got home. This shot proved to be a favorite of someone else who wanted a copy for herself. I really had never considered selling my photography. It was equal parts flattering, exciting and scary. However, I realized that I really loved the idea of it. What an amazing thing that something I created would be displayed in someone's home! So there you go. That's why I am singling out this picture. One year ago, this was the first print I ever did for myself and the first print I ever sold.

Bikes along the canal in Gent, BelgiumDSC_2835


I thought I would also include how it looked right off of the camera. Like I mentioned above, I loved the shot right when I took it. The scene was perfect. But it needed something to make it great. First thing was to crop out the area in front of the first bike. There was way too much dead space there. Then I sharpened the image and added some contrast. I darkened the bottom right corner to make the hole in the brick less noticeable. Then I removed a good amount of color from the image. True black and white just didn't work for this, but I didn't want full color. Desaturating (removing the color) it by about 50% felt just right. It gave the image a more timeless and classic feel. A little color was needed to add some interest but not so much as to be a distraction.

Bikes along the canal in Gent, BelgiumDSC_2835


My kids have asked me what my favorite picture is of all the ones I have taken. Easy. This one. I love it. Not only do I think it's a great shot that captures the feel of my trip to Belgium, but it has a great deal of sentiment to it. This is a special photo to me.


Here are more images from my trip if you are interested.


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[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Belgium Bikes Bikes along canal Bikes on canal Canal Europe Gent Ghent Photo Focus travel photography Tue, 25 Jun 2013 17:15:51 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Emphasize the Flaws Wow, two weeks in a row writing a blog. This must be a record. This week's theme was to emphasize the flaws. I don't know that I have much to say in terms of describing my approach. It's pretty simple: find things that usually aren't seen as beautiful and make them interesting. Really, it fits with my approach to photography - there is a lot of beauty in the mundane. I had several ideas for this topic and ended up getting most of what I had in mind. While most of these pictures aren't going up in any museums (along with the rest of my photos that aren't going in a museum) I still feet like there is some interest to what I got. Think of this week as my contribution to the stock photography world. There is a wide sampling of "flaws" below - bricks, weeds, rust, peeling paint. How about that? I bet you can't wait to see. I'll be waiting at the bottom of the page to take your order.


One of the first things I thought of was weeds. Near our house is a field with some really huge, amazing thistles. They're giant. They stand probably 3 feet high and the flower is probably 3 inches across. So, even though they are pretty, they are evil weeds. (Although, my wife has threatened to stop there some time to cut some of them because she likes them.) Well, I wanted to get one of the thistles with some wildflowers in the background. However, in typical weed fashion, they were not cooperating. They all pointed the wrong way or didn't have the right background. This one below was the best I could get for that idea.

Thistle, WeedsDSC_3536

I did find this dandelion that was cooperative (and also huge).

Weeds, DandelionDSC_3616

This one was my favorite, but it didn't have the wildflowers in the background. Oh well, it's still a weed, so it's a field flaw (even if it is pretty).

Thistle, WeedsDSC_3519


The next thing I wanted to get was some brick roadway. There is a spot near downtown Fort Worth (on Camp Bowie) that used to have brick pavers for the road surface. Much of it still does, but there are sections that have been covered by asphalt. I had seen sections where the asphalt has been broken and the bricks are visible. It makes for a fairly terrible driving experience, but it looks pretty cool. You can see history coming up from the roadway. Both of the shots below are from the same general area (you can see the same building in them), but they are different sections of brick.

"Fort Worth", Brick, "Brick street", "Brick roadway", "Camp Bowie"DSC_3554

"Fort Worth", Brick, "Brick street", "Brick roadway", "Camp Bowie"DSC_3571


My last idea was from an area near my gym. They are really trying to develop the area and tear down all the old buildings to replace them with more condos (because West 7th apparently doesn't have enough condos). But, there are a few hold-outs in the area. I am rooting for those building and business owners to hang on as long as possible. I think it adds some character to the street. So, I wanted to get some rust and some peeling paint. Mission accomplished, I would say.

Paint, "Peeled paint", "Peeling paint", Rust, "Cracked paint"DSC_3605

I couldn't decide between this shot and the next, so here are both.

Paint, "Peeled paint", "Peeling paint", Rust, "Cracked paint"DSC_3610 Paint, "Peeled paint", "Peeling paint", Rust, "Cracked paint"DSC_3611

So, there you have it. Flaws. But, please don't tell me if they are wrong.


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[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Brick Brick roadway Brick street Camp Bowie Challenge Cracked paint Dandelion Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Paint Peeled paint Peeling paint Photo Challenge Rust Thistle Weeds Sat, 25 May 2013 14:00:00 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Reshoot Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote a new blog entry. It's been a strange time between the last entry. I haven't been able to put the time into my photography that I would have liked, and for a while there I was lacking in motivation. BUT...the motivation is back and so am I. The theme for this week is actually the theme from last week. I was really busy last week when we picked this theme, and I wanted to do this one well, so we extended it. I am really glad too, because I am pleased with the results. This topic was one that I suggested. I thought it would be a fun exercise to go back and photograph something we have done already. Many times I have photographed a thing or place and after the fact thought of a different image that didn't come to mind while I was there. Also, as I look back on my past work I have many examples of photographs that I very much feel I could do it better now. This is what I chose to focus on with this week's challenge. And, to be honest, I really think I produced a much better result this time. Of course, that's the point, right? I often laugh at car commercials that claim "This is our best model ever!" Well, yeah, I would hope so. How silly would it be to say "This one is pretty good, but the model from 2 years ago was actually better."

Well, that was a strange diversion, but seriously, this is the best version of these photos ever. Now let's get on with it.


For this set of images I went back to week 1 of our challenge. The theme was to shoot the same thing every day for a week. My "thing" was water. I did this water drop on the first day and really felt that I could do much better. I did some reading on how to place the lighting and what to use for the container and the drops. I was happy with my lighting, but I didn't have as much control over the drops. Once everything is in place, it's all about timing. The color in the water came from the color background. The water picks up the reflection of the flash on the paper and takes on whatever color paper I used. Overall though I think the result is good.

Water, Water droplets, Water drops, Water droplet photographyDSC_3291


Water, Water droplets, Water drops, Water droplet photographyDSC_3358

Water, Water droplets, Water drops, Water droplet photographyDSC_3324

Water, Water droplets, Water drops, Water droplet photographyDSC_3391


For the other set of images, I wanted to head back to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (or The Modern as we artsy people call it - and everyone else calls it that too I guess). Anyway, I have shot that building once before and didn't go during a good time of day for lighting, so I got a result that was just OK. I have seen it lit up at night and knew I wanted to get it then. I didn't realize that the way it is lit changes, so I took what I had. Here is my original shot of the building.

I went back before dark and got this one as the sun was going down. I wanted to get a shot of the buildings that I hadn't seen before. I felt like this was unique in that it focused more on the rocks in the foreground and de-emphasized the buildings somewhat.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The ModernDSC_3241

The blue lighting on the building worked really well with the color of the sky and reflection in the water.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The ModernDSC_3256 I wanted to get the moon in the shot, and on this one I also changed the white balance (the way the camera interprets how it "sees" white). This allowed me to get a different look in the color of the lights.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The ModernDSC_3271 Finally, I thought it would be neat to get the contrast in lighting between the restaurant and the neon blue.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, The ModernDSC_3275



This was a really good exercise. It was good to go back and look for ways to improve what I have done in the past. It was really good to be successful at doing better than I have done in the past. So, I hope you enjoyed the rerun.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates. Also, go Like me on Facebook to see what I am working up lately.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architecture Challenge Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Photo Challenge The Modern Water Water droplet photography Water droplets Water drops Sat, 18 May 2013 14:00:00 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Shoot the Same Thing This week the theme was for the two of us to literally take pictures of the same thing. We drew this option a few weeks ago and came up with some ideas for what the object would be. We wanted it to be something specific rather than just choosing a location. That way we would each have to really focus on shooting the thing in a unique way and deal with the same circumstances. We had two ideas: a Buddhist temple in East Fort Worth or the Earth Fountain on Camp Bowie. We went by both on the week we picked this theme. The temple was interesting looking, but we decided to do the fountain. However, it wasn't running. We postponed this shoot until it was running again. So, this was the week.

I went to scope it out on Tuesday to get some ideas. Wow, nothing! This is a strange piece of art in a really odd place (at least as far as photographing it goes). Take a look on this map. See the beautiful view on every side of it? Neither did I. Something ugly (no offense to the store owners) is in the background from everywhere you stand. The cutouts for the water are not symmetrical, so there is no way to get a shot of it with any balance to it. You can't really look through any of the cutouts to see anything cool (not even a view of downtown, which can be seen from there). Plus, the night I went to take pictures one half of the directional lighting for the sculpture was burned out, so half of the thing was in the dark. This was going to be tough. Here are some pictures of it on the artist's website to give you an idea of what I was working with. As you can see, it's not the most exciting subject, but that's part of the challenge. Sometimes you have to make the best of what you have.


I thought the stone was nice, so I wanted to get it up-close. I also liked all the layers, textures and shapes from this perspective.

Earth Fountain, Fort Worth Public Art, Philippe Klinefelter, Public art, Water feature, Water fountainDSC_2527_8_9


I got this one in the daytime obviously. Even though it wasn't hot at the time, the water just looks so cool and refreshing.

Earth Fountain, Fort Worth Public Art, Philippe Klinefelter, Public art, Water feature, Water fountainDSC_2495



OK, so here is my official picture for this water feature. I knew the art was a bit boring on its own and didn't think the lighting on it would be very good, so I brought my own. (Here is what it actually looked like that night.) I have an LED flashlight with a switch for white, red or blue light. I thought adding some blue to it would look good. I wanted to do a long exposure on this one to get the streaks of light from the cars passing by. If you don't know what a long exposure is, it is when you leave the shutter open for a long period of time. Typically you would take a picture in good lighting from anywhere between 1/100 and 1/4000 of a second (and even faster on some cameras). With a long exposure you can have the shutter stay open for up to 30 seconds (or longer, but the process isn't as easy). So the shot below took 13 seconds. That was enough time to properly expose the scene for the aperture (size of the opening to allow light) I selected.

While the shutter was open I used my flashlight to "paint" the top of the sphere with blue light, and I also "painted" the inside of the sphere with red. I also waited until there were a good amount of cars coming from both directions to get the good light trails from the head and tail lights. I was also important to make sure the cars were out of the frame before opening and closing the shutter. If the car is in the middle of the frame during either of those times there will be an obvious start or end to the light rather than a streak that goes though the whole frame. I also played a bit with the white balance of the shot. That is the way that the camera interprets the color white based on the temperature of the light (on the Kelvin scale). Have I lost you yet? Anyway, I set this image to have a more orange tint to the yellowy lights that were shining on the fountain. Notice how the street light looks green? It's not, but the type of bulb in there is a different color temperature, so the camera sees it differently than the other lights in the image. Science!

Earth Fountain, Fort Worth Public Art, Philippe Klinefelter, Public art, Water feature, Water fountainDSC_2473



I ended up getting an image that I was happy with, and it was certainly a good exercise. How do you take a good image of something that may not be interesting to you? How can you make the best of what you are presented with? How can you introduce something else into the scene to add some interest? I don't know if I made the best representation possible of this artwork, but I think I did my best. And, if I do say so myself, I think my shot is better than any other pictures of this thing that I have seen (including the ones on the artist's site). Now, I'll have to wait and see if my photogra-friend did better.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates. Also, go Like me on Facebook to see what I am working up lately.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Challenge Earth Fountain Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Fort Worth Public Art Philippe Klinefelter Photo Challenge Public art Texas Water feature Water fountain Sat, 20 Apr 2013 15:17:55 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Triptych trip·tych  
Noun (from the Greek adjective τρίπτυχοs ("three-fold"), from tri-= "three" + ptysso= "to fold")
  1. A picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together vertically and used as an altarpiece.
  2. A set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.


How is that for an lead-off?! Who knew you were going to learn Greek on a photography blog? I'll throw in even more amazingness... it's "triptyque" in French. That sounds even better. I think I'll start using that version instead.

This week's theme was my suggestion. I think. We put our suggestions into the "hat" so long ago that I'm not entirely sure. However, since you are reading my blog, it was my idea. And it was a wonderful idea. The best! Or at least it was a good topic that I have wanted to do for a while now. I am really pleased with what I got, and I feel like all of the submissions make for strong art pieces. It was nice to have a more serious theme since we have had several weeks of more silly (or at least, less-than-serious) themes.

Why use the idea of a triptych for a photo challenge theme? In the design world groups with an odd number of items are more aesthetically pleasing than groups with even numbers. See for yourself. Look around, especially at good design, and see if you agree. Even-numbered groups can work in some cases, but usually an odd-numbered group is better. Having a central image gives your eye an obvious place to begin and then work to either side to find more of the artwork. Besides, you're reading this on the internet, and everything on the internet is true. So there.

There are two main ways of creating a triptych (or triptyque for my French teacher mother). One is to use 1 image and split it into 3 sections for display. The other is to use 3 images that have a common theme between them. I went for the second option in this exercise because I have wanted to have some options in my portfolio that are intended to be displayed as a group.

Intro. Done. Move on to pictures, Matt.


"Some may boast of prowess bold
Of the schools they think so grand
But there’s a spirit can ne’er be told
It’s the Spirit of Aggieland."

What's that? Not everyone loves the Texas Aggie class ring? Nonsense. It's the best. I played with my dad's ring as a child and longed for the day I had my own. I have photographed it a few times, but I think this is the best one yet. Doing all three sides of it was my wife's idea (but I came up with the execution here). Go here to read about this amazing symbol of the tradition of A&M (and what all the elements of the ring represent).

Aggie, Aggie ring, Class ring, Texas A&M, Texas Aggie, TriptychDSC_2327



"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness." ~ Psalm 29:2

This is the first time I have shot Christ Chapel Bible Church. I love that even though it is so big, it still looks like a church. I didn't go during a great time of day, so I would like to try again with better light (and some clouds!). It's such a huge building that it's hard to decide what to focus on. I'll have to go again.

Church, Fort Worth, Christ Chapel, Christ Chapel, Fort Worth, CCBC, Triptych, Christ Chapel Bible ChurchDSC_2345_60_63



"We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it." ~ John Ruskin

This building is a couple blocks from my office building. It's a fairly unassuming building (white limestone blocks), but it is covered in these intricate details. It was built in 1929 using Italian Renaissance architectural style and was originally the W.I. Cook Memorial Hospital. There is some interesting history to the hospital and to the building. Now the building is the HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Worth. Drive by and see it some time. It's really a neat place tucked away on a side street.

Architecture, Fort Worth, Healthsouth Rehab Hospital, Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital, Triptych, W.I. Cook Memorial HospitalDSC_2282_7_8



"I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that.  It is a mystique closely approximating a religion.  And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox.  But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing.  For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America.  Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study and the passionate possession of all Texans." ~ John Steinbeck

What more can I say than that? It's Texas. It's awesome.

Bluebonnet, Cowboy, Cowboy boot, Fort Worth, Horse, Spur, Texas, Texas flag, Triptych, Western


This was a good theme, and, once again, I didn't even come close to exhausting the possibilities. Thanks for reading. Leave me some feedback if you have ideas for what might make a good triptych.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates. Also, go Like me on Facebook to see what I am working up lately.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Aggie Aggie ring Architecture Bluebonnet Boot CCBC Challenge Christ Chapel Christ Chapel Bible Church Christ Chapel Fort Worth Church Cowboy Cowtown Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Healthsouth Rehab Hospital Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital Horse Photo Challenge Spur Texas Texas A&M Texas Aggie Texas Flag Triptych W.I. Cook Memorial Hospital Western Sat, 13 Apr 2013 14:35:00 GMT
Focus on Easter - Churches Since this week leads up to Easter I wanted to focus on churches. I have gotten to shoot several beautiful churches in the area. I don't really have much more to say to lead up to the photos. The Lord in the old testament instructed the people on how to design and build the temple. It was all to point to His holiness and glory. Many churches to this day design their buildings to that same end with vaulted ceilings and beautiful materials. I hope you will enjoy looking at these images and celebrate the season.



This is certainly my favorite church (chapel, really) in Fort Worth. It is special to me because our church used to meet in this building when our church first began, and it is where I got married almost 17 years ago. This is the Marty Leonard Chapel at the Lena Pope Home.

Marty Leonard Chapel, Lena Pope HomeDSC_9191_2_3

Ceiling at Marty Leonard Chapel, Lena Pope HomeDSC_9207_8_9 Ceiling at Marty Leonard Chapel, Lena Pope HomeDSC_7146


This church is the Anthony Chapel in Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was designed by the same company that did the church above. The architecture was amazing (as was the location). I tried to get the same pictures of it that I have of the Marty Leonard Chapel.

Anthony Chapel, Garvan Gardens, Hot SpringsDSC_8250_1_2

Ceiling at Anthony Chapel, Garvan Gardens, Hot SpringsDSC_8269_70_71 Ceiling at Anthony Chapel, Garvan Gardens, Hot SpringsDSC_8292_3_4


This is another church I just keep going back to shoot. It's close to my office and so beautiful. It is the First United Methodist Church near downtown Fort Worth.

First United Methodist ChurchDSC_7446 First United Methodist churchDSC_9858

First United Methodist ChurchDSC_0484


This is my church, Fort Worth PCA.

Fort Worth PCADSC_8479

Fort Worth PCADSC_0754


This last one is Trinity Hills Baptist Church. I was out shooting something else that night and saw this building as the sun was setting.

Trinity Hills Baptist ChurchDSC_5783


I will conclude with this one even though it is not a church (since it's Easter).



Thanks for reading. If you are interested in seeing more I have a whole album of churches.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Anthony Chapel Arkansas Chapel Church First United Methodist Church Fort Worth Fort Worth Botanic Garden Fort Worth PCA Fort Worth Photography Garvan Gardens Hot Springs Lena Pope Home Marty Leonard Chapel Trinity Hills Baptist Church Sat, 30 Mar 2013 14:47:22 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Emphasize Scale The photo challenge blog is back after a two-week break. I considered not doing anything this week since I have been really busy, but I ended up getting some photos worth sharing. The theme for the week was emphasizing scale. I had a few ideas for the topic (it was my suggestion, after all), but like previous weeks I just didn't have the time to explore all the possibilities. I may have to run through all of the themes after we finish and do the ideas that I didn't get to do. So, I think my intro is done. Let's see: I welcomed you back; I told you I almost (tragically) skipped this week; I introduced the theme; I made excuses for why I didn't take many pictures; I summarized my paragraph to this point. Yep, the intro is done. Now on to my pictures.


"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

This was one of my original ideas for this theme. I didn't think of this as comparing the scale of one item to the other but considering the scale of something as small as an acorn that can become something as large as these trees. I took these at the park at the Trinity River. This was not easy to do this day because there was about a 20 mph wind blowing sand all over me and my camera. I could hardly see from all the dust. I know, it's tough work being a photographer. Anyway, these trees in this area are incredible and huge. I love being able to enjoy things like this so close to my office.

Acorn and treesDSC_1447 Acorn and treeDSC_1457


This was a fun one to do. I don't have the coolest, most photo-worthy vehicle, but I just needed some parts of it. I tried a lot of options for conveying this idea, but this one came out the best. I took a bunch of shots, put my things away and thought I was done until I realized how dirty my tires were. So I cleaned my tires, sprayed the driveway down with water, got everything out again and got this shot. It's amazing how much nicer a car shoot looks with clean, shiny tires and wet pavement. It's all in those little, extra things, folks. By the way, this toy car is one of about 10 that stay inside my truck. I'm not sure where they came from or when they showed up, but they have been in there for years and the kids play with them any time they ride with me.

Toy car with full-sized tireDSC_1592


I took some shots downtown one afternoon. It was cloudy, windy and cold, but I got a couple shots I was happy with. Now, this one below is not a great shot, and I have certainly gotten better ones of this building, but scale was the theme. If you look in the center at the bottom of the shot, you will see a small black blob. That's me.

Wells Fargo towerDSC_1465_6_7

For this shot, I didn't have anything in mind to compare it to for scale. I just thought this was so cool at illustrating the size of buildings like this. The super-wide angle lens I used helped exaggerate the height. I thought the flat grey sky helped with making this shot black and white (which is what I had in mind for it). This is the Carter Burgess Plaza (or whatever it is called now).

Carter Burgess PlazaDSC_1478_79_80



So, I am finally down to my favorites. I'm not sure that these really illustrate the theme of emphasizing scale, but I don't care. These photos are great. This was another series that I took lots of shots in different poses. The light was decent outside. It was getting dark and there were clouds, so it was like shooting inside a giant softbox. I liked the background on this one and the pose was good, but the light on everything else just seemed boring. This worked well in black and white, and I added some noise to it to make look like an old photo (and to disguise how yellow my Stormtroopers arms and legs are).

Old stormtrooper with Lego stormtrooperDSC_1522

Looking at what the rest of what I got from these made me realize I needed to go back out and get the lighting right. By this time it was almost dark, so I took my flash out and tried a few different areas for placing it. I ended up putting it behind some of the branches of the bush next to where I was shooting and pointed it into the main area of the bush. I was going for a look as if they were in a forest and the sun was going down off to the right. It threw the long shadows on the ground and gave enough light to look like it was getting dark everywhere else. You may have heard me say in the past that shooting Legos is hard. Well, I was really pleased with this shot. It's my favorite Lego picture I have ever done. Plus, I got a chance to work on my lighting, which is a weakness of mine.

Old Stormtrooper with Lego StormtrooperDSC_1553


Well, this theme ended up being pretty fun. I hope that you enjoyed what I posted, and stayed tuned to see what the theme is for next week.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Acorn Carter Burgess Plaza Challenge Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Lego Lego Star Wars Lego Stormtrooper Oak tree Photo Challenge Star Wars Stormtrooper Wells Fargo Tower Sat, 23 Mar 2013 17:39:15 GMT
Focus on Spring - Flowers I'm continuing with my break from writing about the photo challenge this week. The theme for the week was things that are shaped like letters. It's a fun idea, and I got some results, but there is not a lot to write about there. So, I decided that since it is Spring (or at least spring-ish), that I would highlight some of my favorite flower pictures.

I really enjoy shooting flowers. I'm sure I don't need to tell you why. You know how beautiful they are. They are made that way right from the beginning. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." ~Matthew 6:28-29 It doesn't matter if it is an entire field, a single rose or a close-up of a single petal - they are amazing. It's also amazing to me that the closer you inspect them the more amazing they are. Really, find a sunflower and look at it with a magnifying glass. You have no idea how much stuff is in there (and according to my wife, all that stuff has a purpose). Keep on reading to see a macro shot of one so you can see what I mean.



"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." ~Claude Monet

I feel that way about this photo. I took this shot during my first photography project. I called it "30 Days of Beauty," and the challenge was to photograph something beautiful each day and share the results. Starting that project is what made me realize I wanted photography to be more than a hobby. The first picture I took in that project was a butterfly on some flowers. The picture below was day 12 of the project and one that made me see that I could actually create something beautiful (or at least an appealing capture of something beautiful). This image is what I use for my business cards.

Single red roseDay-12



"Pansies in soft April rains fill their stalks with honeyed sap drawn from Earth's prolific lap." ~Bayard Taylor

This is in a bed at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden that is changed out regularly. We were there on a very sunny day, and the color on this area was just amazing. It helps that the flowers look like they go on forever (which they actually end abruptly right outside of the frame of this shot).



“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

This is one of my favorites. I had just gotten a new macro lens (used for taking extreme close-up pictures). This was on another trip to the botanic garden. Usually a photo should be extremely sharp (perfectly in-focus), but I think the softness of this one really makes the shot.

Soft pink roseDSC_0095



“The sunflower is mine, in a way.” ~Vincent van Gogh

This shot was from another 30 day project I did last year. The theme for that day was "Something Close Up." I'd say this one qualified. I actually took this in my backyard, if you can believe it. You don't have to go far to find something beautiful. One of my daughters planted this in a flower pot outside of her bedroom window (they grew to about 10 feet high). I had to do some twisting of the flower and hold it still with one hand while I took the picture (the slightest wind makes macro shots out-of-focus), but as soon as I snapped it I knew that it was the one to use. Once I got it on the computer I could not believe how amazing it looked that big. I had no idea all those shapes and patterns were in there.

Sunflower close-upDSC_5095



"A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books." ~Walt Whitman

This was another backyard shot. I had never really paid attention to how these look as they begin to bloom (even though we have them almost every year). I was pretty amazed to see this star shape. The petals also have a shine to them like they are covered in glitter.
Morning gloryDSC_7184



"Bring me home some flowers from your trip." ~Mrs. Jones

Many years ago, I went on a mountain climbing trip, and my wife was not invited (sorry, it was a guy trip). She wanted to go but since she couldn't she told me that I had to bring her back a picture of some flowers (we were going to Wyoming). It became a tradition that I take pictures of flowers on any trip when she doesn't get to go. Of course I take them when she is there, but I find something just for her when she isn't there. The shot below wasn't on a trip, and she was actually with me, but it is one of her favorites. We were at a wedding, and I had to escape during the reception. I found this out in a field at the Dallas Arboretum where the wedding and reception were held.

Queen AnneDSC_1435

I did "pick" this one for her for Valentine's Day this year.

Purple poppyDSC_0269



Thanks for making it this far. I really do appreciate the support you all have given me in my photographic endeavor. If you are interested in seeing more I have a whole album of flowers.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Dallas Arboretum Flowers Fort Worth Fort Worth Botanic Garden Fort Worth Photography Morning glory Nature Pansies Poppy Queen Anne's Lace Rose Spring Sunflower Sat, 16 Mar 2013 15:15:36 GMT
Real Estate Focus - My First Project This week, on a very special episode of Focus Blog, we will be looking at my first-ever commissioned photography assignment. This project has really consumed me this week, so I didn't put much effort into the weekly challenge. Hopefully this should be interesting enough for you.

If you don't know about it, I have a friend who co-owns a luxury custom home builder in Fort Worth with his brother - Glendarroch Homes. About a month ago we started talking about me doing photos of one or more of the company's homes to use in an ad campaign they are running in Fort Worth, Texas Magazine. I saw this as a great opportunity to get into an area of photography that has interested me for a while - architectural and real estate photography. I'll be honest - I'm not great at taking pictures of people. I know this, and really, I'm not all that interested in improving. I want to take great pictures of may family, but beyond that, it's just not something that I hope to excel at doing. I love nature photography, and i have really enjoyed the shooting I have done with churches and other interesting buildings. So, I wanted to jump at this chance to break into a new area.

As I mentioned earlier, this was actually the first time to be hired to do any photography. I've sold prints and calendars and such, but I have never been sent out to do something specifically for a client. That's a whole different thing from taking photos of whatever grabs my attention. This time I had a specific audience. Could I capture what he wanted? Could I represent his company in a way that he and his brother would be happy with?

So, how did it go? I spent a lot of time researching, looking at work he had gotten done in the past, looking at successful architectural photographers' work, reading, thinking, planning, etc. And guess what. It was tough. It was a harder task than I was expecting. Things didn't quite go as I thought, I was lacking some equipment that would have made things easier, and it took a lot longer than I thought it would (of course). Getting started once I got in the house was the hardest part. I felt like I just froze, not knowing how to begin. However, the more time I spent, the more comfortable I got, and things went smoother. I am very happy with my results for it being my first time to do anything like this. I hope the builder is happy, and hopefully he will use one or more of my shots in a magazine ad. You can be sure I will be letting you know if that happens. I'll also definitely being saying "yes" if I am asked to do this again. It was a challenge, but I was a challenge that I liked and an area I would like to master (or at least semi-master).


Well, I assume you are not here for my writing but for the photos, so let's get on with it. I am going to just highlight some of favorites and give a link to all of the shots at the end (so keep scrolling). Creating these images was not easy. Every picture you will see (except one) is composed of 3 shots taken at different exposures and combined later to get a broader range of exposures (light to dark).


Don't tell anyone, but a movie wasn't actually playing when I took this. (I added the Lord of the Rings image after the fact - shhhh.)

Media roomDSC_1082_3_4


Here is another interior photography trick I learned about. A typical shot (or multiple shots combined) will not allow you to see out windows. Usually the windows will just be a big, white blur since the interior is so much darker than the outside. So, you can take a shot exposed for the outdoors and combine that portion of it to your image to allow the viewer to see the interior and exterior in one shot (more like your eyes can do already). It's something that is expected when looking at real estate photos even though people may not even realize they expect it. When you are selling a home (especially one like this) you can't very well tell the viewer, "Sorry, but cameras don't really work that way, so you can't see what's outside."

Living room beamsDSC_1096_7_8


This was another tough shot to do. The doorway to the right is to the wine room. It was much darker than the rest of the shot, so I had the opposite problem as the one above. In order to get this I had to take a 4th picture that was very over-exposed in order to get enough light in that area. This problem would be easily solved with additional light, but I don't have any (see reference above on lacking equipment).

Formal sitting areaDSC_1123_4_5_6


The home had these amazing ceilings in many areas, and I really like how this shot emphasizes them.

Entry hallwayDSC_1148_49_50


Here are some obligatory kitchen shots (it was a beautiful and huge kitchen, of course).

Kitchen islandDSC_1154_5_6

I went with some softer color and lower contrast on this one to give it a more country kitchen look.

Kitchen sinkDSC_1160_1_2

Kitchen and eating areaDSC_1172_3_4


The living area had some amazing stonework and was so nicely decorated.

Stone fireplaceDSC_1187_8_9


Here is my favorite shot. This was taken from the master bathroom looking into the master bedroom. I like that the whole room is not visible, and I intentionally softened the color and contrast for the warm and calm look. I was going for a look that would invite the viewer right into it. I think I got it.

Master bedroomDSC_1221_2_3


Well, ultimately this was a really great opportunity for me. It was a major stretch in so many ways. The photography was hard, and I know there is a lot of room for improvement. I also know that the builder took a risk letting someone do this for the first time on such a high-end home. Starting out at the best is pretty intimidating.


Thanks for reading and thanks to those of you who have followed along with this whole thing on my Facebook page. If you would like to see the rest of the photos they are in this album.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architectural Photography Custom Home Photography Fort Worth Fort Worth Custom Builder Fort Worth Photography Glendarroch Glendarroch Homes Interior Photography Montserrat Real Estate Photographer Real Estate Photography Sat, 09 Mar 2013 16:11:45 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Forced Perspective So, this week's theme (Forced Perspective) might be foreign to you in name, but I'm sure you've seen it in practice. All you have to do is imagine the pictures you have seen of people "holding up" the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It's as simple as that - making the image appear to be something it's not. It's usually about the placement of the camera in relation to the objects being photographed (or in some cases, just changing the orientation of the photo). Most of the time the trick is just in changing the apparent scale of the two objects (making something appear larger, smaller, closer or farther away). This is definitely a more light-hearted theme than previous weeks. Some of these were fun to do even though they won't be winning any contests. And, by the way, only one of the ideas was original. Read all the way to the end because I saved my favorite one for last.


I think the effect of this one came out the best out of all I did this week. I wish I had some better color for this one, but since I am a bad painter it seems to be fairly appropriate to have a bad fake painting. Focusing on my hand made it seem like the townhomes were model size.

Painting the townhomesDSC_0752


I took this one off the other side of the bridge where I stood to take the picture above.

Toy train on real trackDSC_0742


These were fun to do, and my son was really patient with me (since we were out in this field for a long time). This one came out well, with his hair being lit be the moon.

Frame around the moonDSC_0811


This one isn't quite so fun and isn't as interesting without knowing the details. The nail is actually huge as you can see on the right. In the shot on the left it was about 6 feet farther back from the hammer, but since I zoomed in on the 2 objects, the camera lens compresses the distance. Here is the very glamorous behind-the-scenes shot of my setup.

Hammer and nailDSC_0871 Hammer and nail togetherDSC_0875


I saw this one one evening and got in the right place at the right time.

Clound coming out of chimneyDSC_0894


I got my wife to do some "modeling" for me.

Sitting on the wallDSC_0954


Holding onto ledgeDSC_0922

Here is my favorite. I got my 3 daughters to pose this one for me. The one who is floating away is just the type who would float away on some balloons if she could.

Girl floating away on balloonsDSC_0984

I know that no one will be wanting to print a copy of these, but they were a lot of fun to do. Plus, most of these can be done with even the most basic camera. Look around and try to find some fun ways to trick the eyes.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Baloons Challenge Chimney Creative Perspective Forced Perspective Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Moon Photo Challenge Train Sun, 03 Mar 2013 02:49:22 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Repetition This week's theme is just my style. We picked Repetition. This just fits with the sort of things I look for and appreciate already. I love precision, uniformity, consistency, patterns, etc. I LOVE ORDER! OK, sorry, that may be too much for some people (like my wife). Really though, it is everywhere. I think I could make a career out of this theme. So, if you know of anyone who wants to pay someone to take pictures like this, just let me know.

For this week I wanted to find buildings, bridges, etc. that have repeating designs, but I also wanted to find areas of repetition that weren't exactly the same thing repeated (non-identical repetition). I don't think I was really able to do that part of it like I had hoped. I also had some ideas for setting up some scenes to convey it (as you'll see). I didn't really achieve everything I wanted with this, but I found a lot I was happy with. We went on a short vacation in the middle of the week which meant I probably missed some things at home, but oh well. Now, on to the pictures.


So, if you can believe it, this was the first time I have ever gone in the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum. The building is beautiful...the art (in my opinion) is not. Seriously, there is a stick on display when you first walk in! Funny that a building that is so precise and uniform has such chaotic artwork on display. This is definitely a favorite from the week. I need to go back and get this place at night (and not in the winter, so there is some actual color in the background).

Fort Worth Museum of Modern ArtDSC_0470


This is the Lancaster Avenue bridge. The topside of it is fairly plain, but the girders are so cool. I've shot this bridge before but not like this. My wife was sure I climbed up onto the underside to get this shot, but no, I just found a spot where you can stand at this height. It looks like the supports go on forever.

Lancaster Avenue bridgeDSC_0398_399_400


This is another place I have shot many times, but it's just so beautiful (and really close to my office). I wish I could get some shots of these arches without all the cars on the road. That's why I cropped this one as a square.

First United Methodist churchDSC_0484


For this one, I was getting out some supplies to do the next picture. I saw a bag of dice in our "school closet" (we homeschool) and thought it would be cool for this theme. There's not much to explain about this one - it's dice, in rows, with a reflection. In fact, that's what I think I will name it.



This was one of the first things that came to mind. I'm sure you've seen something like this before...but not from me. I like how the lighting turned out.

Colored pencilsDSC_0414


We went on a short vacation, and I found this line-up by the pool. I would have loved to straighten all of these and adjust the backs of them, but the pool gate was locked. Alas, I had to settle for pseudo-order.

Pool deck chairsDSC_0511


This was the outside of the indoor waterpark we went to on our vacation.

Reflections of trees in windowsDSC_0584


And finally, just because I also love to be overly-literal. How's that for repetition?

No diving signDSC_0570


So, that's the end of this theme. This one was fun for me, because the ideas are everywhere. What will next week bring?


So, that's the end of this theme. This one was fun for me, because the ideas are everywhere. What will next week bring?


OK, enough of the repetition. Thanks for reading.


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Challenge Church Colored pencils Dice First United Methodist church Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Nature Pencils Photo Challenge Sat, 23 Feb 2013 18:28:31 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Is Something Missing? Week 6 is closed, and boy am I glad. The theme for this week, "Is Something Missing?", was really tough for me. I never really felt like I had any ideas that weren't just silly (so that's mostly what I did). I guess there are just some times when inspiration is fleeting. Well, I tried, so that is something. Right? However, I have seen that when I am in the middle of projects that I look even harder for interesting things around me. Sometimes it fits the theme and sometimes it has nothing to do with it at all. But how can that be too bad? I'm paying more attention to my surroundings to find something that inspires me. Even if it doesn't go along with what I am supposed to be shooting I can often find things I wouldn't have noticed otherwise. Sometimes I find even more when, like this week, I am really struggling to find a subject that fits the theme. I suppose ultimately that the answer to the question of "Is something missing?" is all of my ideas for this theme. Hmm, well, I think I have stalled enough. Does this count sufficiently as an intro?

I'll show you what I got for the week. Try to contain yourselves.


This is my favorite from the serious ones I took. I took a trip over to Avoca coffee shop. Take a look at the before shot to see what's missing.

coffee cup, latteDSC_0199


This idea was thanks to my kids. Here's my oldest daughter "reading."



This one was my son's idea. I would have liked to do this shot in a much prettier bathroom, but sometimes I have to work with what I have.



I spent some time wandering around the Botanic Gardens on one of our beautiful February "spring" days. I liked this line of trees that were completely bare (missing leaves?) and thought converting it to black-and-white would really emphasize the contrast between the white bark and the sky. nature photography, treesDSC_0245


This one didn't come out as well as I hoped, but the idea was there. This spot just needed and old couple sitting in it enjoying the gardens and the cool day.

empty benchDSC_0227


This was another one from the garden. They had a bed that was mixed with pansies and poppies. The poppies looked really cool as they were starting to bloom. It's just missing the flower.

macro of flowerDSC_0260


On Friday, my wife and I went on a Segway tour. It was so fun. What's missing here? Someone holding this thing up. Crazy! (By the way, the sign on mine said "Riding a Segway from Segway Fort Worth is more awesome than a shark high-fiving a bear in outer space, during an explosion.")



Something seems missing here too.



Ok, now this shot isn't technically the best, but it is definitely my favorite one from the week (and featured some great acting, by the way). And so that my wife doesn't look like she doesn't feed us, the food really isn't missing. It's all on the counter.

empty refrigeratorDSC_0149



And here's one last one before you go. So, what's missing? Well, my artwork on your wall, of course.

Fort Worth artworkDSC_0282



This week was tough, and I have to say that it wasn't the most fun or successful shooting I have had. I guess that's why it's called a challenge isn't it?


I have an email newsletter to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Botanic Garden Challenge Coffee Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Moon Nature Photo Challenge Segway Sat, 16 Feb 2013 17:24:52 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Foreground/Background in Focus It's already week 5 of doing this weekly photo challenge. The theme for the week was to do a shot with the foreground in focus and then do the same shot with the background in focus. I came up with this topic too, but that's not the main reason I liked it. I thought the real challenge in it was having something of interest for the foreground and the background. It also meant that the part of the shot out of focus still needed to add some interest to the shot without just being a distracting out-of-focus blob. I had some ideas for what I wanted to do, but most of what I got didn't really develop until I was already working on the project. I think there are really unlimited possibilities on how to do some really creative things with this type of project.


*warning - photo-geek content ahead*

So, how does the whole out-of-focus part work in a photo? When you take a picture, there is a certain area of the shot that is sharply in focus (assuming you focused well). The starting and ending point of the focused area is called the "depth of field." That just means how deep in the image is the part that is in focus. This can be anywhere from only being inches (or smaller) deep in the shot or can extend to the entire image. For the most part this depth of field is controlled by the size of the aperture (the opening that lets the light in) - the bigger the opening the smaller the focused area; the smaller the opening the more of the image is in focus. There are many for factors that cause this effect and this is a significantly oversimplified explanation, but let's be probably have either stopped reading or fallen asleep at this point.

I put together an example using the same image to show how depth of field changes as the aperture size decreases. The picture below was taken at f/1.8 on the left (huge opening) and progressing to the right with larger and larger depth of field (smaller aperture). You can easily see how the in-focus area changes. Having a narrow depth of field can be really helpful to remove a distracting background like the one in the example. So in order to accomplish the theme for this week I had to take one photo with the focus point in the foreground which blurs out the background and then take the same picture with the focus point in the background which blurs out the foreground. Got it?

aperture tutorialApperatureExample *end - photo-geek content*

OK, sorry about that. I just had to get it out of my system. I promise you won't learn anything else from this post.


Welcome back to those of you who dozed off or finally came back after the boring bit. On to the photos for the week.I'm just going to show the pictures in the order that I took them, since I'm not sure that I have a favorite shot for the week.


The first day I went out, I was actually headed someplace else, but passed by the First United Methodist church downtown and had to stop. I have shot this church before but mainly had focused on the architecture of it. The statue in the front seemed like a great spot to get the effect I wanted.

First United MethodistDSC_9858

First United MethodistDSC_9859

After my stop at the church I headed over to Oakwood Cemetery. I had seen pictures from there, and it looked like a cool spot. I plan on trying some more things from that location.

Downtown Fort WorthDSC_9886

Downtown Fort WorthDSC_9887

Self portrait?

Downtown Fort WorthDSC_9902

Downtown Fort WorthDSC_9903


The next day I went down to the Stockyards. I wanted to get some shots of those really great brick walkways. I found one isle with no one on it, and got some shots that I really liked.

Fort Worth StockyardsDSC_0023 Fort Worth StockyardsDSC_0024


The last day of shooting was with my super-cool brother-in-law who is a Fort Worth Motorcycle Police Officer.

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0054

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0055

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0048

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0049

Just for the irony of it...

Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0060 Fort Worth Police DepartmentDSC_0061


This week's theme was harder than the others, but I think it really could be fun to explore this more and work on telling a story with seeing something more in the second shot that reveals more meaning in the first shot. Maybe I will revisit this some day.


Pop quiz: Which makes the depth of field larger (deeper) - a bigger aperture or a smaller one?


I started an email newsletter last month to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architecture Cemetery Challenge Church Depth of field Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Fort Worth Police Motorcycle Photo Challenge Police Stockyards different focus same picture Sat, 09 Feb 2013 21:14:51 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Night Week number 4. The theme for the week was Night. It was my idea, so, not surprisingly, I liked it. The only bad thing about the theme is that I can't do it during the day. Odd. That was really the only limit for me. I don't feel right about staying out late taking pictures for fun while my family is at home. I didn't have a lot of ideas for the topic, but I was pretty sure I wanted to get more of downtown since I got a few shots during Architecture week. The other thought I had was a carnival. The Fort Worth Stock Show was going which has a nice carnival, but it didn't really work to go shoot it. I may revisit that idea and will definitely post the results. Light writing was another idea, which is easy enough to do anywhere.

To get my downtown shots I wanted to be up high. So, I just took a shot and asked the security guard if I could go on the roof of my building. He said, "Sure, just come get me when you are ready." I have been up there before, but it was the middle of the day in the summer. Yeah, not very smart. I got some cool shots but nothing like this. Of course, this time it was about 40 degrees with a 10 MPH wind. Not so smart either, but it was so amazing watching the whole city change as the sun went down. The buildings slowly showed their lights as the sky got darker. The buildings also continued to reflect the sunset colors even after the sunset wasn't visible.


Here is the photo for the week. It is definitely a favorite. This is 4 shots stitched together. It took a lot of work to make this look good and not like some camera-phone panorama that looks all curved. I'm sorry that I can't really post this very big, but at about 50% of its size it stretches across two 20" monitors. It's huge (and the versions below is cropped). I would love to print this, but I can't find a size that I can print that won't cut off about half of the width. You can see the reflected sunset in the two Bass Towers in the middle of the frame.

Downtown Fort Worth Night PanoramaFortWorth_Panorama

Here are some more shots I got while playing around 10 stories above Fort Worth.

Downtown Fort Worth NightDSC_9730

This is looking down at the corner of Summit and Lancaster.

Downtown Fort Worth NightDSC_9734

You can see the reflection of the sunset better in this closer shot.

Downtown Fort Worth NightDSC_9718 Here is the carnival at Will Rogers Coliseum about a mile and a half away from my office (still from the rooftop).


The only other shooting I did was just for fun. Sparklers! (One from each kid.)

SparklerDSC_9799 (This says "Hannah".)SparklerDSC_9793 SparklerDSC_9809 SparklerDSC_9782


This was a fun week, and it certainly makes me want to shoot at night more (and on top of buildings).


Leave a comment below if you know of any taller buildings I can get on (or maybe even fly over them)?


I started an email newsletter last month to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architecture Challenge Downtown Downtown Fort Worth Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Night Photo Challenge Skyline Sun, 03 Feb 2013 19:46:29 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Old and New Welcome to week number 3 on the photo challenge. The theme for the week was: Old and new in the same shot. To me that sounded pretty cool. I had a few ideas right away. It seemed easy enough to get a shot of an old building and a new one in the frame together, but since we did architecture last week I only wanted to use that idea as a backup. I tried to think of things at home that we had an old and a new of the same thing (or type of thing). I have a lot of toys from my childhood, so you will see how that came out below. Another thought I had was for cars. I didn't think I had enough time to pull that together, so I may have to try to make that happen some other day. I also had old and new camera equipment in mind. Again, look below for those results. The idea I kept coming back to was having my youngest child (5) with my wife's grandmother (88) - focusing on their hands.


So, here is my official submission for the week. My youngest child with her great-grandmother. I shot it intending to convert it to black and white, but after working with it it was obvious it needed color. Other than that it came out exactly like I wanted.

Old and young handsDSC_9551

While I was doing this my wife wanted me to get a picture of her grandmother doing "walkie round the garden" on our daughter's hand, since it is a childhood memory of my wife's.

Old and young handsDSC_9556


This was actually the first day I shot anything for this theme. I have photographed Legos before, and every time they are more challenging than I expect. The two guys in front and the rover are mine (about 30 years old) and all the aliens in the back are my son's.



The second day of shooting was out on the Main Street bridge heading into Downtown Fort Worth. I wanted to get a shot of old The Fort Worth Power and Light Company Power Plant (built around 1912) and the Trinity River campus of Tarrant County College (formerly the RadioShack headquarters - built in 2004) together at sunset. It proved harder than I thought.

RadioShack buildingDSC_9407 I hung around till dark to get some shots of the courthouse. That counts as old and new in the same shot, right?

Fort Worth CourthouseDSC_9491 Fort Worth CourthouseDSC_9494


My final day of shooting was with camera gear. I borrowed a friend's vintage cameras that belonged to his grandfather. I borrowed another friend's new Nikon to contrast against the old school.

Old and new camerasDSC_9593



This was a really cool theme, and I am really pleased with the results. This might have been my most fun week and topic so far.


For future themes, we have each submitted 10 topics. We are going to print out the choices and randomly draw one each week. We also are going to offer each other one thing we like about the other's submission and one suggestion for improvement. I am really liking where this thing is going.


Leave a comment below if you have some feedback.


Also, I am looking at starting an email list to send out monthly to keep people up-to-date on things they might have missed. You can sign up here, and I promise not to bug you with anything other than updates.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architecture Camera gear Challenge Courthouse Downtown Downtown Fort Worth Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Hands Lego Photo Challenge Vintage camera gear Sat, 26 Jan 2013 18:31:22 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Architecture So, it's week number 2 on the photo challenge. I came up with the idea this time. "What was my idea?", you say. Well that idea was architecture. Architecture can be really tough, and I would definitely like to improve in that area. It seems to me that there are a few ways to approach it. You can try to do something interesting with viewing a building in a new or unique way from how you would typically see it - creativity. Or you could focus on the details that are typically overlooked since people normally aren't scanning a building or structure for all the intricacies and see it as a whole instead - observation. Or you could wait for the light to hit things in just the right way with just the right color - patience. Maybe you can just take a really precise shot of it (perfectly centered, framed, etc) - precision. I think there is value in all of those ways. I think I need to improve in all of them too.


I didn't get out much this week to shoot (only 3 days, in fact). My official entry for the contest is a shot of Broadway Baptist Church near downtown Fort Worth. I had never seen the church before, but it really caught my attention as I drove around that day looking for interesting buildings downtown. (I really would love to shoot more downtown, but I never remember to bring change for the meters.) So, this church grabbed my eye with the amazing steeple. Most churches these days look like a Rec center, so I love seeing a church that looks like a church. For this shot, the moon was still out and made a nice accent to the details in the steeple. Of course, I had to stand in the middle of the street to get this angle, but I survived.

Broadway Baptist ChurchDSC_9155



The second day I went out was to my favorite architecture in all of Fort Worth - the Marty Leonard Chapel at the Lena Pope Home. I got married there almost 17 years ago, so it's pretty special to me (not to mention beautiful). I didn't submit any of these as my entry since I shot this place before. I did try to get some different views of it though.

I've never actually walked around to the front before, so I wanted to get one from this view. After I left, I realized that I could have waited 30 minutes or so and the sun would have come right through the ceiling glass and the front window (more patience needed).

I turned 90 degrees from how I have taken this picture before.


I have a few more from this day in my Churches album.


The third day was on a trip with the whole family to walk around downtown Fort Worth. I got these shots of the Bass Towers that I was really pleased with.

Bass TowerDSC_9284_5_6

Bass TowerDSC_9282


Week 2 is in the books. So, what should we do next week?

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Architecture Bass Tower Challenge Chapel Church Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Marty Leonard Photo Challenge Sun, 20 Jan 2013 20:17:56 GMT
Focus - Photo Challenge: Same Thing Different Day Recently I was talking with a photographer friend of mine about how to grow as photographers and how to grow the business side of what we do as well. We both felt like we wanted to be more engaging and to connect more with people. We asked the question: "How do you get people to care about what you are doing and have them want to be a part of it?"


So, how do we do that? What makes you more interested in what I do? He liked the idea of blogging as a means to connect more with people. I hope that it is something that makes what I do more personal to other people. Plus, writing out what I am doing should hopefully make me more deliberate and intentional about my photography.


Now, what does that have to do with the title above: "Focus - Photo Challenge"?


While we talked, he came up with the idea of a weekly challenge to "compete" against one another. The thought is that each week one of us will provide a project/topic/theme for the week along with any restrictions to it. We will work on the project throughout the week (without knowing how the other is working on the same theme) and then submit the work to each other on the next Monday. We will get a chance to critique, praise or suggest ideas for the other person's finished product. The point would be to push each other to improve and encourage each other to try new things and grow. I know I don't want to display my work to another photographer without feeling pretty confident in what I have done. Plus it will be very helpful to get input from someone with different taste or experience or expertise. The next week the other person picks the theme, and we go through the whole process again.


The theme for week one: Shoot the same thing, anything, differently each day.


My "thing" is water. I love to see water, to hear it, to be near it. I picked it in hopes that I could convey many of the different natures of water - movement, stillness, reflection, refraction.



My first idea for the week was water drops. I have wanted to try shooting this for a while. I need to improve a lot on my lighting and focus, but it was a fun experiment.

Water dropDSC_8861


Day 2 was a challenge for sure. I had wanted to try something I had seen before that had to do with a pattern being refracted through a wine glass. My lighting was way off for the effect to work, so I scrapped that and went with bubbles(!). I used my same setup for the light refraction but put the pattern under my wine glass rather than behind it and moved my flash next to the glass. I added some canola oil to the water and added a few drops of dish soap to separate the oil. Then using my macro I dove into bubble land.



Day 3 did leave me with much time for pictures. My family went to the Titanic exhibit at the Ft Worth Science Museum, so I did get a chance to take a shot of the waterfall in the courtyard. I've taken pictures of it before, but tried to do something a little different with it.



For day 4 I wanted to get some water in motion. I've shot the spillway at the Trinity a few times before, but it is a really cool spot - especially with all the recent rain. Again, I tried to get something different from a place I have already photographed.

Trinity RiverDSC_9131


Day 5 led me to the downtown campus of Tarrant County College. I had never been down there before, but I knew there was a nice water feature. It is a really beautify set of buildings. The emphasis in this shot seems more to be the campus and highrises, but the water is still prominent.

Tarrant County Community CollegeDSC_9143_4_5


For day 6 I wanted to get some reflections on water. There was rain in the forecast, and I didn't know if I would have any other chance to get to some water. So, this is some standing water in the creek in our yard.


So, there it is. Photo Challenge Week 1 is done. Now to come up with a theme for next week... Leave a comment if you have a suggestion.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Challenge Fort Worth Fort Worth Photography Photo Challenge Water Water Photo bubbles drops reflections refraction water feature waterfall Sat, 12 Jan 2013 21:37:10 GMT
Photo Focus - Couple on the Bridge So, here it is - my first real blog post (of any kind, ever). I am calling this my Photo Focus. The idea is that I can take a chance to highlight a favorite photo of mine (or yours) and talk a bit about it. There might be some story behind it that gives more meaning, or I might just talk about why I took it or what I had in mind or how I achieved the shot.

For my first entry, I am pulling a favorite of mine from Belgium - the couple on the bridge. This was taken on the 2nd full day we had spent in the town of Ghent. We were familiar with the area at this point and knew some places that we still wanted to shoot. The streets in the city were these amazing paver stones (see here The bridges there are simple but beautiful, and I really wanted to get a shot of these buildings from the bridge with the road in the foreground.

Couple in Gent, BelgiumDSC_3000 This bridge is actually used by vehicles (mostly delivery trucks and commercial traffic), so that presented some challenges. I would move to the center of the street and sit down only to hear a bus coming and have to jump up out of the way. I tried this a few times without getting anything I liked. I finally got out there with no traffic coming and got a good spot, but there were tourists on both sides of the bridge and a big, white delivery truck just over the hill. I was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the road, leaned over with my camera almost on the ground to keep from seeing the truck. I had seen this couple walking up the bridge before I got into place. In fact, right as they came into view, they stopped and kissed. I was disappointed that I missed it, but they would have been much smaller in the shot and wouldn't have had as much impact. I was able to catch them as they were looking at each other and got this shot right before another group walked right in front of them.

So, here is the "before" shot (underwhelming, I know). Obviously, it's crooked (I was sitting in a road and dodging buses, what would you expect?), but that is an easy fix. So, I straightened it and cropped out the tourists on the left. This made the couple a larger part of the photo and the obvious subject. I felt like the green tree and green umbrella were distractions. There is also a blue sign that is visible at the top of the hill, so the color needed to go. I went with the sepia tone since it worked well with the buildings and gave a nice romantic, older feel to the shot. There are some more things in the photo that I feel should be fixed still, but I'll handle that the next time someone buys a print of it.

Couple in Gent, BelgiumBefore

For some context, below is where I was for the picture.

Gent, BelgiumPhotoLocation So, there you have it. There was some adventure in getting this shot, some thought and some being in the right place at the right time.

[email protected] (Focus - Fort Worth Photography) Belgium Gent Ghent Photo Focus travel photography Thu, 03 Jan 2013 16:22:20 GMT