What once was old….

Gets recycled… and is considered cool again.

It’s interesting to see how, despite all of the advances in technology, people will still get the nostalgia bug and go back to, or try to at least simulate, the things of yesteryear. Once what was in fashion, what was “in”, became outdated. “Out of style.” “Old News.”

Then history repeats…and then it’s considered “vintage”….and cool again.

The same goes with photography. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s not good anymore. (Just because the Canon 5D Mark III came out doesn’t mean all of a sudden my Canon 5D Mark II became crap or started taking crap pictures)…it’s always been that way :-D j/k

With all of these advancements in noise control, auto-focus, camera presets, etc. There shouldn’t be any reason why anyone cannot produce a photo they should be proud to hang on their wall, no matter what camera they use. Yet, despite all of these advances in technology, many of us still cling to shooting with manual settings (I think it’s trust issues) :-). Some of us add noise to a digital photo to give it an analog film look. Some add light leaks, etc.

Why add these imperfections back that camera manufacturers have strived so hard to eliminate? For me, there’s more character. More color. More definition.

This past Sunday, my wife and I took my son to the Norfolk Zoo. I left my big burly DSLR at home, and opted to bring my Canon EOS M. I’m still working the 22mm EF-M lens, but I also brought along some old Canon FD lenses that are older than I am. Manual focus. Manual aperture. Built like a Tank. If you ever find yourself with an FD adapter for your particular camera brand, It’s worth checking out a few of these lenses. You can find them on eBay dirt cheap. It makes you slow down and really work on your focus and composition. No spray and pray here…

Black and white also seemed fitting for these old lenses I brought along. Of course pictures I took with the EF-M 22mm lens also got a black and white makeover.

This first one was with the 22mm EF-M. The bright outdoor sun illuminating the nearby window and door at the end of the hallway, giving a nice outline to the subjects.

EF-M 22mm
f/2.8, 1/30s, ISO 1000

My son wanted to get a better look at the giraffes. He thought he was big enough to use the spotting scope. Also taken with the 22mm EF-M lens.

Not. Quite. There. Yet. :-)

EF-M 22mm
f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO 100

One of the giraffes he was trying to see. We’ve come to this zoo probably 4 or 5 times in the last year alone. It’s a bit of a drive for us, taking about an hour and half with little to no traffic. We remember this little giraffe when it was barely walking, keeping close to mommy and daddy, with daddy keeping a very watchful eye.

FD 70-210 f/4
f/4, 1/60s, ISO 500

Now baby seems to be big enough to wander around on his/her own, exploring its enclosure (that sounds a bit depressing). I guess in a way we’re all caged. :-)

In any case, little giraffe here was stretching out, getting some of that midday sun warmth. This was taken with an old Canon FD 70-210 f/4 lens. Trying to keep a manual lens like this steady on the EOS M was a bit tricky, as well as trying to maintain some semblance of focus on the subject. This was taken at roughly the 150mm mark. This little gem of a lens I purchased off eBay for a paltry $20.

My son staring down the King of Beasts, while repeatedly saying “Hakuna Matata”.

FD 50mm f/1.8
f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/200s

And what did the Lion have to say?

FD 50mm f/1.8
f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/200s


These last two images were taken the the FD 50mm f/1.8 lens, the predecessor to the “Nifty Fifty”, “Plastic Fantastic”, EF 50mm f/1.8 autofocus lens.

Last but not least…I thought it was only fitting, seeing as how I was in a black and white mood, to include a shot of “Pros” to this genre.

FD 70-210 f/4
f/4, 1/640s, ISO 100

Once again taken with the FD 70-210 f/4 lens. This one was shot at roughly 180mm. I luckily had a fence post I could somewhat sturdy myself with.

I absolutely love looking at the black and white photos taken from times long forgotten. Something the newer generations, myself included, don’t remember or never experienced. No “soft” shadows there. Hard light was where it was at. Sharp, dark, piercing shadows. Awesomeness…

All general post processing was done in LightRoom 5. For my black and white conversion, I used Silver Efex 2. I have a preset I created that I aptly named “gritty B&W” that was applied to each of these shots.

Camera Shy

Out from behind the lens

Top Ten Reasons You Might Be a Photographer

#9.  30,000 family photos neatly categorized in Lightroom.  Zero photos of you.

That’s pretty much sums it up. I have thousands of family photographs. Parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, my wife, my son, you name it….and nada of yours truly. Aside from some family portraits we had done at JC Penny’s over a year and a half ago (it’s rather cute how they never touch the camera or light settings there…everything is already pre-programmed. All they have to do is press the shutter), there hasn’t really been any family photographs where I was in the picture. This troubled my wife. She said something along the lines of looking like a single parent because it was always just her and my son. I was always behind the camera….She was right….(sshhhhh!).

So while we went to North Carolina to visit some friends (back from my Shooting from the hip post), we also went to Duke Gardens. My wife was adamant that we were going to get some family pictures. It was an ultimatum of sorts. Well… I puffed out my chest, looked her straight in the eye and said:



One thing I realized….Duke Gardens is quite a walk. The temperature was also nice and toasty (it was noon). I had my camera bag and my bag with light stands and modifiers. By the time we found a nice place to take a couple snapshots, I was hot and sweaty. Needless to say, I could have used a mule…but I was the only jackass around. :-)

So as I mentioned earlier, it was noon…bright, blistering heat shining down on us. I may be half Asian, but I didn’t want our family pictures to be squinty-eyed from the bright sun. We found a shaded area near a pond, and I started setting everything up.


I used 2 yongnuo flashes, paired up with my Phottix multi-boom on a light stand. I had the flashes set to 1/2 power each, mounted to a 60″ shoot-through umbrella. Triggered with Pocket Wizard Plus X units.

I had a wireless shutter system plugged into my camera, with the remote in my hand. I had pre-focused, and then turned off automatic focusing. Granted if we moved a lot, we wouldn’t be in focus…

My camera was on a tripod (I hate tripods…) that had one leg sitting in the pond.

By the way….whenever you go into a department store and see those free umbrella bags at the entrance, grab a few. They work great as tripod leg covers when you need to use your tripod in and around water! :-)

So here we are….me and my better half. I should have worn better jeans….Notice the sweat stain on my shirt from the aforementioned heat.

And of course one with our son, Liem, getting a surprise sneak kiss/squish attack!

Christa Meola

Ooh La La!

It’s nice to feel like a winner sometimes.

Part book review, part rant on winning a prize.

For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Christa Meola is an internationally recognized (and gorgeous) portrait photographer specializing in boudoir photography. I highly recommend checking out her site when you have the time. I copied the following short bio from her CreativeLive Bio page that can better explain her personality than I can. :-)

I’m Christa Meola and I’m an international pro photographer based in NYC, specializing in photographing women. I’m a self-declared Sensualist and have been infatuated with visual storytelling since I was a kid. I received my first film camera as a Christmas gift at eight years old and it was love at first sight. Although I’ve shot for champion athletes, celebrities, and models, I have a penchant for working with the everyday woman next door. I believe that imagery is powerful, and that honoring our bodies, emotions, choices and impulses through photography is sublimely empowering. And profoundly sexy. My style and approach is simple, classic, emotional, joyful and genuine. I love challenges, finding solutions, keeping it simple and making it work. Empowering women to adore themselves and their bodies is the best job on earth – join me!

She is also the author of the book:The Art of Boudoir Photography: How to Create Stunning Photographs of Women.


It is an informative, and easy read into the world of boudoir photography. She lays it out on how to get your clients to be their best. The book is filled with Christa’s photography, showing the Do’s and Don’ts, how to pose, creating flattering light, helping clients deal with their insecurities, tips if you are a male photographer, etc. She also takes you through one of her boudoir sessions with a client from start to finish so you can really conceptualize everything you read in the book.


In any case, yesterday she hosted a launch party for her new boudoir workshop. One day I would love to be able to attend, but it’s not in the cards right now (credit cards or debit cards lol). The launch party had over 700 attendees from all over the world, as well as past “graduates” of her online boudoir workshops sharing their thoughts and experiences with how the workshop has helped them succeed.

You can watch the recorded replay stream of the launch party here.

During the launch party, she had plenty of giveaways for attendees chosen at random. The most coveted prize to be won was a free seat to her online boudoir workshop ($895 value). No…I didn’t win the seat lol (I wish!). What I did win was a copy of Totally Rad! Pro Retouch 2, a $99 value. Not too shabby! ;-) If you watch the recorded replay of the launch party, at 25 minutes in is where yours truly gets named the winner. :-)

Shooting from the hip

Street photography outing with the Canon EOS M

shoot from the hip

Shooting a weapon while holding it really low, at hipline, as the name suggests. Usually done by only highly skilled marksmen, since aiming like that is very difficult.

I do love the EOS M. Its image quality, size, versatility, and inconspicuousness.

This past weekend my family and I took a trip to North Carolina to visit some friends. Everytime we go down there we end up shopping…or  to be more precise, my wife and her best friend end up shopping while us dads are left to baby duty (and doodie).

Since I knew of the inevitable, I figured it would be a great time to hit the streets with the EOS M.

While trying to remain inconspicuous, and getting candids of people in various places, I literally shot from the hip as the definition above suggests, and my weapon is a Canon. ;-)

Shooting from the hip isn’t easy. I ended up with a lot of photos out of focus. I’m carrying my camera by the strap on my shoulder. The camera falls to about waist level. My right hand is resting on top of it, with my thumb on the shutter. When I see something interesting I want a shot of, I turn my body, so my right side is facing my intended “target”, half press the shutter to focus, and fully press to take a shot…all the while I’m looking off in another direction.

(Click any of the photos to be taken to my flickr gallery)

Looking for a laugh

I will say shooting from the hip provides some interesting perspectives and framing.

Lost in a book

It’s kind of like me playing darts by trying to throw them at the dart board while looking in the opposite direction….I’m going to end up hitting something, but may not be my intended target. :-)

Makin’ the move

People tend to tense up or look/feel awkward when they notice a camera pointing at them. Catching candids is like watching wildlife in their natural habitat, undisturbed.

“Sole” searching

The quiet shutter on the EOS M doesn’t make much of a sound that might otherwise alert someone that their picture was just taken.

Watching the world pass by

Got a little Captain in you?

And one of my son misbehaving at a restaurant, doing his Captain Morgan impression with a mouth-full of food…

and my favorite shot of the day….

Attentive Dad

This is our normal routine. The wives shop, and the dads are left to tend to the kids. Now, if I wasn’t standing up taking this shot, I would have been sitting down right next to them doing the exact same thing. Two dads, two kids, and no clue what’s going on….THAT would have made for a funny candid.

Army Strong

“Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Go Army!”

That was the Army slogan when my dad started his military career back in 1962. He is my stepfather, and I only first met him when I was about 9 or 10 (I forget…), but for all intents and purposes, he is my father…and not just a father, but a dad as well.

He wanted a portrait made of him dressed up with his medals. He said it would be his “last” portrait. He turns 74 next month, but looking at him you wouldn’t know it. He is full of energy and life. He has seen it all and done it all.

So I went over to my parents’ house. He had a banquet to attend later that evening, so I was hoping I could persuade him to go on base (Fort Lee, VA) early, and maybe I could get some shots of him at the Quartermaster museum where his photo and biography now reside, or perhaps at the banquet itself.

He didn’t want to do anything that extravagant, and just wanted a simple picture taken at the house.


Now my parents have a full house. Full of furniture, awards and photos on the walls, etc. The only area of the house where I would remotely be able to setup was their upstairs living room.

Now this upstairs living room as a large window covered only by sliding blinds. Light was leaking through each blind. I did not want to shoot his portrait with blinds in the background…

I didn’t have any backgrounds with me (I don’t own any :-))….But I did have my large reflector. I took the outer shell off and duct taped it to the blinds.

You can see from the setup shot the light peaking in from the blinds.

I had to move quite a bit of furniture around to have that cleared off area you can see in this shot. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.

I used two Yongnuo 560 speedlites, each set to 1/2 power. I could have used a single speedlite on full power, but this way I was able to minimize recycle times.

The flashes were mounted together using my Phottix Multi-boom (I love that thing), and were paired with a 60″ reversible umbrella. Yes, the umbrella was collapsed like that during the shoot. It provided more direction and control, and faster light fall off than an open umbrella could provide. As Zack Arias calls it, it’s a “poor man’s softbox”.

I used my Canon 5D II and 50L (what else). For a tight 1/2 length portrait shot with the 50L, I had to get in close. My reflector backing wasn’t wide enough for me to step back and take the shot since the 50L’s field of view was too wide. I didn’t want to get the blinds in the shot and have to get rid of them in post production. I like only having to tweak my photos, not turn them into full blown projects. Get it right in camera (or at least as much as you possibly can).

Camera settings:


ISO 100

1/200 Shutter speed

flashes triggered with Pocket Wizard Plus X units.

The resulting shot. I wasn’t a fan of the wrinkled background, but I had to make do with what I had, and it was certainly better than the alternative. As my wife said, it gives the background a little texture so he doesn’t fade away into it. Sometimes….just sometimes she can be right. ;-)

For those of you interested in military careers, read on. :-)

Colonel Clint Hodder is recognized as one of the Quartermaster Corps first officers of his time to dedicate over half of his thirty year military career in research, development, standardization, acquisition, and international interoperability of weapon systems and equipment that enhanced the U.S. Army and its NATO allies during the Cold War era. He improved our Army’s operational capabilities and saved millions of dollars in R+D. For this and much more, Colonel Hodder was made a charter member of the Army acquisitions Corps in 1990.

Born in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania on 14 October 1939.  As a distinguished military graduate of ROTC, he was commissioned a Regular Army Officer in the Quartermaster Corps in 1962.  His first two years of service were as a Tank Platoon Leader in the 3rd Medium Tank Battalion, 33rd Armor, at Fort Knox Kentucky.  Since 1964 he has served in numerous logistical, project management, and research and development assignments throughout his career.

From July 1964 to June 1966 he served as the Assistant Post Quartermaster in Kassel, Germany.  In July 1966, he activated and assumed command of Headquarters Company, 26th General Support Group at Fort Lewis, Washington, and subsequently deployed the unit to Tuy Hoa, Republic of Vietnam, in December 1966.  During his second tour of Vietnam from June 1970 to June 1971, he served as the Assistant Division Supply Officer, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile).  During his two tours of duty in Vietnam, he participated in four battle campaigns against the North Vietnamese Army.

He was an Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Pennsylvania from 1971 to 1973.  From 1974 to 1978 he served in the Lance Missile Project Office, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.  He was selected to be an exchange officer in the British Army from 1978 to 1980.  From 4 September 1980 to 24 June 1983, he commanded the 197th Support Battalion, 197th Infantry Brigade (separate), Fort Benning, Georgia.  From 1984 to 1987, he served as the Group Commander and Senior Standardization Representative, U.S. Army Research and Standardized Group, United Kingdom.  He commanded the U.S. Army Natick Research Development, and Engineering Center from 22 October 1987 to 22 September 1989.  From September 1989 until his retirement from active military service on 1 July 1992, Colonel Hodder was Dean, School of Acquisition Management, and the 15th Commandant, U.S. Army Logistics Management College, Fort Lee, Virginia.

Colonel Hodder has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Dayton, Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of Alabama, and is a graduate of the Naval War College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Defense Systems Management College, the U.S. Army Quartermaster Officer Advance Course, and the Armor Officer Basic Course.

His military decorations include the Legion of Merit (two oak leaf clusters), the Bronze Star Medal (one oak leaf cluster), the Meritorious Service Medal (three oak leaf clusters), the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (two oak leaf clusters), and the Vietnam Honor Medal First Class.

In addition to his military decorations, Colonel Hodder is a charter member of the Army Acquisition Corps, a distinguished member of the Quartermaster Regiment.  He is also the recipient of the distinguished Order of St. Martins and a recipient of the General Hastings Award. He is also a 2013 inductee into the Army Quartermaster Hall of Fame.

OK OK……just one more Stargate shot

I’m a big kid…

Plus my son was asleep, so I got to raid his toy box again muahahaha.

I had so much fun shooting the Stargate picture in the last post that I had to do it again….and with my Pocket Rebel ;-)

So my setup shot was a little bit different than my first Stargate pic. This time I used two flashes. One behind the gate, blue gelled, set to 1/128th power in a 45 degree Grid. The second was also set to 1/128th power, but on the opposite side of the frame, also blue gelled, bouncing off the white foamcore board for a little fill. Triggered with pocket wizard plus x units. The gate effect was courtesy of cling wrap once again, but this time I wanted it to protrude through the gate like the special effects on the show when the gate is first activated.

The resulting image: