Ninja training

I get asked pretty often, “where can I become a ninja like you, oh master”.  It’s humbling, but I am not really that good a ninja.  My best friend in High School, Ed, and I used to get into lots of trouble dressing up like ninjas and disturbing the peace.  The park police in Coloma, California are probably still on the lookout for us.  This is a true story, just ask my big sister for confirmation.

Anyway, I do get asked about photography and learning how to take better photos and then how to edit them.  I’ve started a beginners photo workshop (It’s a SNAP!) that is four classes with a photowalk at the end.  If you are interested in coming with us on our next photowalk, it will be May 4th in Troy, Ohio.  Send me a note and I’ll get you the details.

So, you want to learn photography?  There are basically two ways to do it.  First, buy a camera and take photos.  Trial and error is a great teacher.  It’s slow though, and you miss the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and successes of others.  That’s what comes with method two, ‘Learn at the feet of a Master’.

I started photography in the dark ages.  Really!  I was in the 7th grade and our science teacher had a darkroom where we could develop photographs.  I was hooked after watching that first image appear magically in the fixer tray.  It really was magic.  It was science magic.  Art and science combined.  I continued taking photos and in high school I was in the school newspaper as a photojournalist.  That was where I received my life’s calling.  I missed it though because I was goof-ball and didn’t turn in assignments on time.  But I was made to be on assignment with National Geographic, somewhere in Borneo, stalking the illegal Bornean trade in used toner cartridges.

When I got back into photography in a big way, the world had moved from analog  film (think record players) to digital (like CDs).  It’s a whole new world.  Now we can shoot THOUSANDS of images and if we don’t like any of them, it’s okay!  Wow.  It used to cost $7 or $10 for 36 exposures of black & white film.  I took over 2,000 images at a wedding in December.

So, takes lots of photos.  Billions, if you can.  But save yourself some time and learn from someone who can teach you what you want to learn.

So, without further ramblings, here are some sites on Ye Olde Interwebs that you can use.  Some are subscription only, like the Kelbytraining website, but they are professional and filled with knowledge.  Others are somebody with a webcam, but they too have info worth learning.  It’s usually a little harder to find the gems in the free sites, but hey, they’re free!  A great website, chock full of good info.  Strong in Photoshop skilz and all kinds of photography.  Teachers are first rate and the production is some of the best.  Cost is high, like $199/year or $25/month but they give out free daily passes so you can ‘try before you buy‘ and you can rent classes too.  They also have some great books too (mine are loaned out, so don’t lose them! 🙂  Another great site.  FULL of tutorials (the tuts) on projects, tools and skills in Photoshop.  They are a hybrid site, free and subscription.  If you are totally new to PS, check out their channel on the Basix.  Martin Perhinaik is the man and his accent rocks.  Their premium account is $19/month or $180 a year.  This is the best, all free, resource out there.  It’s also tough to find beginner material so you have to slog through ads, short articles and their constant ‘please subscribe to our newsletter’.  But hey, it’s free.  They have a newbie section here.  I’ll just send you to their photography channel.  Adobe is world famous for powerful, hard to use and hard to learn software.  No wonder there are tons of videos on YouTube and training classes just for Photoshop!  But they are true ninjas and Julieanne Kost does great stuff in her ‘Complete Picture’ series.  Free!  No beginner track though, so you have to dig for the basics.

Finally, here are two playlists on YouTube I have started and will continue to add to.  One is on photography.  The other on Photoshop.  Some repeat material from sites like PSDTuts in the PhotoShop playlist, but good stuff.

Family Photos!

My daughter, Gwen, asked me to take a portrait for an application she is turning in and I said “YES!”  It’s sometimes a little hard to see my family suffer through yet another photograph, so when they ask I jump on it.

Gwen's portrait

Gwen’s portrait

Simple setup.  I used my LumoPro LP160 flash into a Photeck Softlighter II octa/umbrella and fired away.  Lots of fun pictures, especially with the new hair color.  This is the one she choose for the application.


Studio portrait taken in Tipp City, Ohio by photographer Gene Simonalle of Gene'Scenes. More at

Just a quick note about the site

Just a quick note about the site

We’re upgrading the site this week, so things will be a little wacky until we figure it all out.  Have no fear though, the amazing photos and people will be here!

Thanks for your patience while we get this working.

A little audio/video work on the side

A little audio/video work on the side

Today I spent the afternoon installing an above mantel television for Linnea’s folks.  They upgraded to a 46″ LED TV and wanted it above the mantel of their fireplace.  I looked at drilling in the masonry and went “ugh” at that idea.  Since their mantel is wood and solidly installed, I decided on a pole-mount attached to a 24″ pipe that is threaded into a flange screwed to the mantel.  Here’s some shots of the completed install.




Above is the side view of the pole mount.  That’s a Chief display mount kit in there.  I love their stuff.  While it’s expensive, the quality and the ease of installation makes it SO worth it!  You will never regret buying a Chief installation kit, I can assure you.  I’ve used them for projector mounts, televisions, monitors and displays.  Quality, American made gear.


Below is the finished project.  Slick, floating look that works really, really well.



What to wear?

What to wear?

Just read a great post from DrewB, a mom who writes a blog on photographing your own children.  Here’s the link.  Her blog is here.

Lots of the points were spot on; dress naturally, comfortably, in coordinating but not identical outfits.  Relaxed is more important than impressive, as far as family portraits go.  Unless you’re Donald Trump, maybe.  Or the Queen of England.  Otherwise, be natural so your photographer, professional or family, can capture natural photos.

Be yourself!

Stage Door deli in Alexandria, Virginia

Stage Door deli in Alexandria, Virginia

The "Stage Door" deli and bar, Alexandria, VirginiaI went to Alexandria, Virginia last week for a class.  We drove all day Monday and I was pretty wiped out when we got there.  After a mini-nap, I went out to look for dinner–on President’s Day.  Most everything was closed, but I found the Stage Door bar and deli open.  I missed his name, but the guy in the window reflection is making me a meatball sub with mozzarella.  He did a great job with the sandwich too…really tasty.  He took his time making it perfect and packed it like it was a baby going out in the cold.  Definitely give this place a try the next time your in Old Towne Alexandria.

Found a review in the Washington Post’s eating guide.