What kind of bug is this?

I was in a funk recently, not really being motivated to shoot. Natalie saw a moth the other day and wanted to get a picture of it, so that started an evening of us taking pictures. I used my Olympus ZD 50mm f2 Macro lens and got the images below. I’ll send a free 8×10″ of your choice (from my online gallery) to the first person that can correctly identify this mystery bug. Just leave the name in the comments below.

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Continuing Education


On my Twitter page, it says I am an insatiable student. I do feel this is an accurate depiction of myself. Every day I hope to learn something new about my chosen profession or my passions (hobbies). Photography is no exception. I try to attend SMUG get togethers when I can, I have attended two sessions by David Tejada, and a workshop by Sandy Puc. It is important to me to keep learning more as I refine my craft and find my real niche in the photography world.

To that end, Thursday I will be attending a seminar by Peter Read Miller. He is a noted sports photographer, with multiple covers to his credit for the big magazines. I feel really comfortable on a youth baseball or softball field, but I want to see what he sees, and learn how he has gone about doing what he does. I am really excited about it. It is being hosted by Working With Artists, a local arts facility in Belmar, here in Lakewood, Colorado. Becoming a member of this group was a nominal fee above the seminar fee, so I went ahead and joined. One side benefit is that I now have access to very affordable studio space. I need to get in there and learn how to use a few things, but that is another extension of the learning process.

I never tire of learning. I want to be the best I can at what I do, and the only way to get there is to keep learning, on my own and with the help of others. I owe it to my clients, but more importantly, I owe it to myself.

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Olympus Digital Zuiko 50mm f2

Brick and mortar (by Chester Bullock)

Been ordering some new gear, and yesterday my new Olympus Zuiko 50mm f2 lens arrived. I didn’t have much time to play with it yesterday, but I did take a couple of photos. This is not by any means an exhaustive writeup or review, I need to use it more first. Immediate reaction though: WOW. This thing is crazy fast. Can’t wait to try it on my E-30 when it arrives next week. And I especially can’t wait to try it with my EX-25 for some serious macro work. I love this thing already.

And of course, I had to try a candid portrait with it. I need to work on this a little more, but I like it alot.
Crazy Daughter (by Chester Bullock)

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Getting Into Stock Photography?

Autumn colors in Colorado

Only one thing seems to generate a livelier debate in the photography world than Canon versus Nikon – stock photography. Magazines and blogs are rife with material talking about the evils of microstock, the difficulties of getting proper rights managed sales, and people wondering what the problem is. It has indeed become a world where anyone with a good camera can contribute, but it doesn’t appear a lot of people are making any money at it.

When I finally decided to get serious about photography a couple years ago, I thought I could make a go of being a stock photographer. Then I had a wake up call. I submitted several images that i thought had real potential, only to be rejected for what seemed like various and random reasons. Indeed, some of the stock photo companies seem to have so many reviewers working. As a result, the subjective part of what gets accepted and what doesn’t feels very disjointed and random. Ultimately, I did have some submissions accepted. I have even had a few sales (the sum total has amounted to about $3.50).

The bottom line is that, for me anyhow, stock photography was not all I thought it could be. Sure, there are success stories out there. But as with other parts of photography, there are a few well known success stories sprinkled in among the majority of people who have had little success. What made me write about this today? I was reading a copy of Photoshop User last weekend, and a nice parody of the concept of stock photography was presented. Earlier in the morning, there was a Denver Post article talking about how Colorado is pursuing the license rights as a taxable item. My hat is off to the photographer mentioned, Dan Coffey of Edwards. He has enough money coming in from stock photography to have a significant tax problem if the state can come after that income source. But he is one of the few. If you are thinking about getting into the stock photography game, think long and hard about it, and look at your images with a very critical eye.

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Snowflakes – The Sequel

I spent some time the other night working on the snowflake images a bit more. Here is a series of keepers (at least in my mind). All shot on my back patio here in Lakewood, Colorado. I actually thought about taking more during a more recent storm, but it was so cold when the snow was falling, the flakes were really small.

And don’t forget that you could win a $50 gift certificate to my online gallery by becoming a fan of my Facebook page. One fan will be picked at random on 1/31, so become a fan now!


Colorado Snowflake macro photo by Chester Bullock

Colorado Snowflake macro photo by Chester Bullock

Colorado Snowflake macro photo by Chester Bullock

Colorado Snowflake macro photo by Chester Bullock

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Golden Gate in HDR, as show by Chester Bullock

This HDR image came out far better than I expected it to in the wind and water vapor surrounding me. It has been chosen as an editor’s pick at HDRSpotting.com, and HDR afficionado website. And now you can hang it on the wall of your home or office by placing an order from my online gallery. White space has been added to the gallery version, allowing proper cropping for standard prints and frames.

Also, if you like my work, consider becoming a fan of my Facebook page. On January 31, I will select one fan at random to receive a $50 gift certificate to my online gallery (for a print purchase only, not for session fees).

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HDR – I Still Love It

HDR image of a gondola car taken near South Fork, Colorado with an Olympus E-510

I started shooting High Dynamic Range (commonly known as HDR) images roughly 2 years ago. I don’t shoot many (26 in my flickr gallery), but I enjoy shooting them. The gondola rail car in the photo above is the best one I have shot I think. Shooting HDR takes patience, at least with older dSLR’s like my Olympus E-510. Newer camera models, mainly ones that have arrived in the last 6-12 months, might have enough exposure bracketing built in to them to accomplish HDR captures with one click of the shutter release. Still others might have had a firmware update to accomplish this. It is my biggest hope that whatever Olympus brings out to replace the E-3 will have this feature.

I could write a tutorial on taking HDR images, but really, it would pale in comparison to the master, so I’ll let you have a look at Trey Ratcliff’s HDR Tutorial instead. I would also encourage you to check out his new book – “A World in HDR“.

After the captures, you need software. I have been using Photomatix HDR since I started doing HDR images, and highly recommend it. Trey does too, and he has even worked out a 15% discount with Photomatix (follow the link to see how to get it). Once again, Trey tells us the best way to use the software. For me personally, I usually play with a couple different settings in Photomatix to get the photo looking just the way I want to. For the gondola above, I think there were 4 versions, this one being the best (in my eyes). I would encourage you to experiment as well, and get the look that pleases you the most.

If you are looking for inspiration in other people’s HDR work, or if you have your own portfolio of images to show people, you need to take a look at hdrspotting.com. This collection of images is extraordinary, and I hope I produce something worthy of inclusion. To become a contributor, you need to obtain an invitation code. While it is not clear to me how people get codes to give away, if you watch #hdrspotting on Twitter or ask around in the HDR group on Facebook, you should see a code pop up. I will post them to my Twitter feed if they ever come my way.

If you are a flickr user, you should look into the HDR and Photomatix groups. Great pictures and discussions happen in both.

Get out and try your hand at HDR, and put links to your pictures in the comments below. I love seeing what other people do with this new type of imagery.

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Smugmug, or flickr, or what should I do here?

Each year about this time I wrestle with what should be an easy choice – do I keep my flickr site and whatever is serving as my art gallery, do I drop flickr, do I drop the art gallery? I go through this for about a week before deciding to leave things as they are. I wonder who else goes through this?

Here is my most recent rationalization for maintaining the status quo this year.

A. flickr is crazy cheap. $25/ year to maintain unlimited uploads, the price is ahrd to beat.

B. flickr makes sharing easy. Add in the Greasemonkey scripts for AllSizes and sharing on forums, etc is super simple.

C. the community in flickr is second to none. They definitely have nailed it in terms of getting exposure for your photos within the flickr world.

I am going to keep my art gallery host also, for the simple reason that I just started it and it doesn’t expire until next November. I stopped using Zenfolio (and would not recommend it to anyone) and started using SmugMug. I’ll talk about that decision in a future post.

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DIY Monday – Creating the Wet Look

Oogave product lineup
Earlier this fall I had the opportunity to do a product shoot for a local soft drink company who was taking their product national in Whole Foods. Made from agave cactus nectars, these drinks are competing for shelf space with a whole host of competitors. The owner was rolling out new labeling and needed pics quick. He chose me because of my experience in shooting highly reflective surfaces, particularly glass bottles. To make the images more compelling, the owner wanted the bottles to look like they had just come out of a cooler. Fair enough, but now I needed to figure out how to do it.

The solution turned out to be fairly simple. I set the shot up as I normally would for shooting glass, got the lighting right, checked some test images and liked what I had. Then I used a common household spray bottle filled with water (nozzle set to a fine mist) and sprayed the bottles lightly. The water beaded up naturally, and I started shooting. It was actually pretty simple.

A couple of things to note when doing this:

  • If you need to respray them, let them dry first. Towelling the bottles off can result in torn labels.
  • Use extra caution if the labels are printed on regular paper. Let the water sit too long, and they will change color.
  • Take your time. Rearrange the items as necessary, let them dry completely, then rewet as needed.

But Wait, There’s More…
Spiderweb by Sam Pierson
Just a couple of weeks ago I came across some very cool photos of spiderwebs that had waterdrops on them. The photographer, Sam Pierson, had gone out one morning after a foggy night and got some incredible shots (link above goes to a great gallery of them). When I saw this, I thought “those are awesome, I want to make one”. I don’t have any good webs like that in my area (at least I haven’t found any), but when I do locate some, I plan to take my spray bottle with me and see if the same principle can be applied to the webs. I think you can make the wet look whenever you want.

Special thanks to Sam for letting me use his picture here. You simply must check out his gallery, he has some outstanding images there. For more information about Oogave Soda, check out their website.

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Canvas Wraps

Sunlight Mountain Resort
I was waiting to write today until the canvas wraps I ordered from Canvas On Demand had arrived. I have always wanted to do a canvas wrap of a picture, but never really knew which one to do.

Union Meadows at CopperAs it turns out, we are decorating one room of our house in a ski theme, and the two pictures here seemed perfect for it. So last week I sent the pics off to Canvas On Demand and waited anxiously. Once I got the shipping notice on Tuesday, I knew they would arrive today.

They come packed very well so nothing gets damaged in transit. Standard shipping is via FedEx ground, but you can pay more to expedite it. The quality of these images is superb. After having these two made, you can be sure I will be doing more. Maybe some small 8×10’s of my flower macros. I could even add a water-color treatment in Photoshop first before I send the file in. I’ll bet those would look really sharp. I am glad I bit the bullet and did this. You should try it too!

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