Category: take better photos


We are almost there: 24 July is the day of Scott Kelby’s third annual Worldwide Photowalk, and little Temple, Texas is joining thousands of cities worldwide in this massive, yet personal, event. If you are in the Temple area and are open, you simply must give it some thought; the more the merrier.

I have missed the first two Worldwide Photowalks because I was bouncing around the wrong place in the wrong country to be able to meet up with one of the several photowalks around my parts of China and Thailand. Now, I am stationary here in Temple as the walk comes around a third time and I am elated to be able to join in the fun.

Danny Everitt filling the theater with well-styled lyrics and a classic sound.

Salado, Texas seems to be a bit of an anomaly. Not that Central Texas in general is not interesting, but Salado is a quiet little tourist town with a second helping of culture and history for those who want more from their Texas experience. The Silver Spur Theater hosted the Texas Songwriters Song Circle and brought broad diversity of musicians and styles.

I saw a write up in Temple’s Sunday paper, and have been looking forward to it all week. My wife was a bit more hesitant, knowing little of the musicians on the bill, but both of us were pleasantly surprised and wished we would have dragged a few friends with us.

The show seemed to be inspired by RpT, Richard Paul Thomas, who himself was one of the singers. Also on stage was the band Shy Tree, who are based here in Texas now, after forming a few years ago out in Vegas. And my personal favorite (sorry to all the others) was Danny Everitt, pictured here.


I struck up a conversation with a high school student last Friday, noticing him working on editing a movie. Turns out, he was doing the final cutting for a student-made film which was a part of a theater class project (Harker Heights High School in Killeen Texas) and would be shown at their film festival the next day.

We talked about video, films, photography, and such. He asked me if I had done any video. Though very little, I  have played around with it some. He told me I really ought to give them something of mine to show in the film festival as well. Why not? It would be something different for them: all theirs are full cast and crew types of productions, whereas mine is a one man show used mostly for creative experimentation.

Balloon Toss
Balloon Toss

This was easily the brightest day I have experienced in a long time. In case you were wondering, I added very little contrast to this photo. Most of that is natural. So, with such a huge amount of light, I decided to zone focus.


The other day, a friend of mine was showing the photos from his daughter’s wedding. Initially, I was only in the same room and enjoying some conversation with someone else, but then I started to realize how incredible the photos really were. I asked who had taken them, because the wedding was out here in Asia and (believe me) a little out of the way to find a nice wedding photographer. Unknowingly, I had asked the photographer, herself.

Assuming, from the quality of the photos, she was an experienced photographer, I actually asked how she used her flash to balance the light so beautifully. After a brief exchange, which I still have a hard time processing, I found out she had used a regular, old point-and-shoot camera! How could it be?


“Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great” (Ratatouille). Today, I received an e-mail update with a great photo summing up the whole story. It really was a top-quality photo, even though an accident. Of course, maybe that is what makes it so great. It has that Lartigue effect (a not-yet-13-year-old Parisian boy who took some incredible photos).

The update came from some friends in China whose young daughter had just successfully undergone heart surgery this morning. Obviously, that is scary, a lot of emotions are involved, and words alone are usually all we get through e-mail updates from friends. Ok, maybe we get some snapshot. This too was a snapshot, but a powerful one. Photography can be so incredibly powerful, if wielded well.


It is called the Cactus. Why so, I have no idea. They are about $40 for a pair, and once you have them, you attach a radio transmitter to your flash hot shoe and the receiving to your flash. Place the flash anywhere you want and you have wireless radio flash triggering.

Of course, you could just buy the unnamed, expensive radio triggers, and they really are worth the $400 or so if you need super reliability and other kinda groovy features, but those kind of folks will not read this anyway! I had given up on my pair of Cactus triggers. I had debated giving them away and just sticking with optical triggering (using the light of a flash to set off another flash wirelessly), but everything changed the past couple days. Here is what happened.


After the past three or four days, I feel like I did sitting in the school principal’s office, waiting for the imminent whipping. It is in those times that you would do anything to avoid what is coming, and it is not so much the physical beating as much as it is the emotional tension of having to look your bad decision in the face.

My current humbling experience all started a few days ago with a wonderful meal and talk with a photographer friend of mine. It was not him, but just watching some of the videos he has produced recently really reminded me what a two-bit punk hack I am. It was not the technique, but how he captured the power of the story.

Then today, I shot a very “ok” family portrait session. That is “ok”, as in, I do not want to say more of what I really think. The harsh sunlight made things tough, not only for lighting, but for the quickly wilting subjects. Excuses aside, though, I really want to know what happened. How do I improve? What can I learn here?


Most of the time, my wife lovingly tunes out when I talk about photography. Every once in a while, though, she shares her thoughts. I always value her comments highly because they do not come from a photographer or artist, but just a simple, everyday viewer. And, when it comes to my photography, she is more than willing to be a hard reviewer, so none of that, “oh, that’s great honey” jazz. Here were her thoughts, as best I can recall, for the photos in the recent Graveyard Shift gallery.

Feel free to leave your own comments below. And please, leave some negative comments. Positive comments are only good for buffering the hard stuff.


I am no professional when it comes to storyboarding. There is an inspirational starting line, huh? Better to say it now before you read the whole post and either believe I know what I am talking about or (knowing better) find out I am full of hot air. So, with that self-deprecating disclosure, shall we talk about storyboarding?

I complained yesterday about not having many chances to tell a story. Then, I came to the conclusion that stories are all around us, and I just have to recognize them and decide to record and retell them (using whatever medium I think best…though that is usually in  photos for me). Today, a great story opportunity hit, and I am going to take it on. I am trying to think through what I want to do with the story: how to tell it, what medium, what will I need to prepare, and so on. See…I told you I barely know what I am doing. I am very much shooting from the hip.