Yearly Archives: 2007

To a Happy New Year!

The Steineckert family Christmas card… my final post for 2007. After tons of headache with the concepts for this shot, the Capenter’s Christmas was my final inspiration.

What a year! I launched my redesigned commercial site almost a year ago, and followed it closely with the the launch of my completely custom blog, just a few months later. In that short time nearly 20,000 of you have visited from all around the world to see my work, helping us reach nearly 300,000 hits by the year end! In short, an over 500% increase since last year, thanks to you.

Many of you have asked about other resources concerning my work, such as:

-websites
-blogs
-video’s
-classes
-training courses
-seminars
-links
-tutorials

I will say, that with my plans for this upcoming year, there will be many ways to see me, and my work. Both through physical means, and digitally. Infact, all day tomorrow I will be working closely with one my web designers to complete yet another website…RealityShoot.com which I hope to have launched within a week or so! It will be showcasing my latest obsession with twisted photographic reality. I will announce the launch on this blog, so stay tuned!

So, I leave 2007 with a quick “thanks” to those who have been so helpful to me, with all that has happened this past year. Thank you to: my wife Tami, and family, Clint Decker, Matt Hurst, Simon Blundell, Tim Fellow, Ed McCulloch, Jim Heiser, and Frank Bonomo at Apple, Branden Steineckert, J-Four, Matt Wood, Dane Hansen, Natalie from Digital Photographer Magazine UK, The Black Book, especially Joe & Magi, my new friends at Joseph Reps, especially Joseph Pritchard and his family, the UVSC theater department especially Steve and Carla, all of my students, Matt Clayton from Square magazine, Canon for all your amazing products, Apple for products that seriously changed my life, all of my dedicated blog readers and other fans, and lastly, everyone else that helped get me where I am today. For all those I didn’t mention… sorry, I refuse to take my pills:), but THANK YOU!

Many of you know Branden Steineckert, formally of the “Used”, and now the full-time drummer of “Rancid”. Branden first contacted me to do some work for him, a few weeks before I flew to NY for Apple. He quickly became the subject in the photo I used for the presentation, and has since become a good friend. About a month ago, he and his wife asked if I would do their Christmas card, and so, this image was born.

As a young boy, my family had many Christmas traditions. One of those, that I have since continued with my own family, has been that of Christmas music. My mother was a huge Karen Carpenter fan, and I remember listening to her year round. She especially enjoyed “Christmas Portrait”, which –on its cover– shows a rather husky Santa, painting with the assistance of one of his elves. The illustration has a very Norman Rockwell feel to it, and it always stuck out to me. I knew I wanted to do a Christmas card like this someday, and felt the Steineckert’s were perfect for the part.

Though somewhat more simple than other work I have done, I believe it was all that this image needed to help create the feeling of a fun little Christmas morning. So with that I wish to say, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, and have a great, and Happy New Year!

Thank you all, from your dedicated artist, Bryan Niven

Finally, the Higginbotham family shot is out of the bag!

I produced this image months ago, but because the client wished it to be a surprise for Christmas… well, see for yourself, why I could hardly wait!

Just imagine for a moment, if you will, all of the food you would love to eat, but can’t, all the things you would love to do, but shouldn’t, and then think of a place where you really don’t want to bring the kids, but you have to.

One of the fun-nest things about my job is that it never gets old! For me that is extremely important, as I can hardly stay focused on anything for too long. Each new shot is a totally unique and exciting adventure. I think, aside from myself –though some of my shoots take longer than others– the KIDS enjoy the actual photo-shoot more than anyone. It is so fun to watch these kids look to their parents as if to say, “can I, really?” Most of the time I just hide behind the camera, laughing, as cereal is poured out into a shopping cart, and all over the floor, cats and dogs race around avoiding the spotlight, babies explore the studio, and little white rabbits nibble on green beans.

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This hilarious shot of the Higginbotham family was pretty CRAZY, to say the least. Every time I start a new project, I have to sit down, by myself, after the main concept meeting, and really think about what I am about to do. Though I continue to push my limits as an artist, while at the same time pushing the limits of technology, I still have to be realistic and smart about each production.

I ended up shooting the two kids together in the cart, because the nightmarish task of compositing tiny chunks of falling cereal, and cutting out detailed bars of the shopping cart basket, began to weigh heavily on the post production, and the budget. It was extremely hard to get them to multi-task by looking a certain direction, with a specific face expression, timing the pouring of the cereal, while at the same time keeping them motivated. Even still, I ended up using three sections of different images for the little girl, and two images for the little boy.

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Mom and Dad nailed the expressions I requested, and did not require any additional image combining. However, for the dad I did shoot the basketball separate, “spinning” it in photoshop, and I also had to remove the tape used to keep his favorite snack in place, on his shirt. Originally, his camera holding arm was also extended too far for the final layout, so I pulled it back and used some of his neck wrinkles to complete the now bent looking arm.

I still laugh out-loud when I look at the dad, with his rad sweatband, and Oreo face, and remembering how excited he was to HAVE to buy all the junk food for the photo-shoot. This particular family will also be involved with one of the video commercial’s on the new RealityShoot.com website, so look for that soon!

Well, I hope you like the new shot, and as usual, would love to hear what you think!

Have a JOLLEY Holiday!

Family photos have never been so fun, especially with 9 people, a cat, two dogs, and a horse!

So a few years back, I started taking what I then termed “REAL” family pictures. Over the years I have continued to evolve my photography into what it is today. In January I will launch a completely separate and new website, aside from my commercial work . The new site can be found at www.realityshoot.com and will be a place for people to come and see the “REALITY” of peoples’ lives.

These one-of-a-kind Reality Shoots include, high school senior shots, older senior couples, families, children, pets, engagements, and yes even wacky wedding shots. But lets not stop there, sky’s the limit! They are full production photo shoots, that require lots of planning, concepting, wardrobe, hair & makeup/stylists, lighting, assistants, and not to mention… time. You’ll feel as if you were on the set of a Hollywood movie, which for you mothers out there, will be the one time your kids will actually like getting their picture taken, I promise.

Hopefully it is obvious that these are to be taken in addition to more traditional photography, and are not meant to replace the more formal, and serious work. I look at these as “keepsakes”, something you will look back on years from now –regardless if the photo is outdated– and laugh as you remember how you were then.

I have decided to share the JOLLEY family with you for this blog. As you can see, I had my hands full. Between taking pictures of the horse, and chasing the littlest one around the studio floor, we had a fantastic time!

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This a collection containing “before” shots of the family members. They have already been cut out and are ready to start the long process of compositing. This is a more expensive feature, as it allows the family to come in shifts, so to speak.

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Although it is not quite finished yet, this nearly completed composite of the Jolley’s, shows a fun and exciting family, bursting at the seems with personality and unique interests. It is always a huge relief to see the client with a huge smile on their face, as they begin to explore the completed shot. Let me know what you think!

Cant get enough of the Canon TX1!

Check out my New York field test with the impressive Canon TX1, you just might double take when you find out how big the camera is and how bad the weather was!

As soon as the tickets were booked for my most recent trip to NY I pulled up “Dashboard” on my laptop to check my weather “Widget”. Sadly I watched as little rain clouds and lighting bolts began to appear on the days I would be there. I had a fair amount of business to do while there, but I always enjoy a few days to get some personal pics in too. The trip ended up being, (as I call it), an “umbrella special”, and I found myself pushing the limits of the newCanon TX1 , as I fought with the wind and rain, until I learned to embrace the nasty weather.

I used to work retail selling cameras for many years while going to college, and the number one question people asked me was:

“Should I buy an SLR, or a Point and Shoot?”

I always told them that they would need to make that choice based on how the camera will be used and who will be using it. Almost every time, (if the budget allowed), I would end up selling two cameras, an entry level SLR, and a pocket sized camera too. I always explained they serve different purposes, and that they would want to be able to choose when one was needed more than the other. Well, years have passed now, and almost all cameras are digital, but I still believe that the same situation exists. However, as these little point and shoot cameras continue to increase in quality, (both in lenses and sensors), I believe the margin –at least as far as the novice, and intermediate consumer are concerned– gets blurrier by the day. Besides, you cant film progressive HD video on an SLR, at least not yet.

So with that, here are some of the photo’s of that trip, shot exclusively with the TX1, which I must tell you is no bigger than a box of Band-Aids. Oh yeah, and most of these were shot during rain storms and strong winds, under my trusty umbrella. So don’t try this with your $400 camera unless you have damage insurance from the store where you bought it. Consumer Reports tells us not to buy the extended warranties, but I bet they would think differently if they were to spend a day trying to help frustrated vacationers understand that, “Oh, actually the manufacturer won’t cover that”…. If I had a nickel every time I heard those words!

Also, many people that know me quickly assume that because I am an experienced artist, all my photographs are manipulated, and that they should not be shown as examples for the specific device. So, be assured that all these photos never left Adobe “Bridge”. in other words, if the scruffy kid at Walmart knew how to work the $40,000 photo machine in front of him, I could have brought the files there, as they were only corrected for color and exposure. Hope you like them!

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The storm began to hit as I neared the water front and passed by these boats at the docks. The wind really kicked up and actually bent my borrowed umbrella, so I had to angle the umbrella off to the side, both to block the wind, and stay out of the shot. I love night photos as it allows me to really tweak the shutter, and exsensuate motion.

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I snapped this photo from atop two stacked park benches, using a pocket tripod, long exposure, self timer, and again using the umbrella-barrier-technique. All the color is completely natural from the lights of surrounding restaurants/bars. I was way up on a bridge and then used the two benches to get up high enough to use a long lens and get ONLY the pylons, water, and color in the shot.

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This was a shot from my window in the morning. At first I was annoyed as the camera kept struggling to focus through the dirty, rain-drop-stained, glass. So, instead, I tried to focus on the glass, and created this photo with an almost painterly effect to it.

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This is the same window from the middle of the room.

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One of the many perks of the place I’ve stayed at the last few times, has been the owners permission to go up on the roof of the building. Out of all the places I have been in NY so far, that is my favorite, especially during a terrific sunrise or sunset. This is a view from Midtown looking Downtown, where the twin towers have left us with an incomplete skyline.

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Though out of place, and perhaps not the ideal shot for most people, I put this shot in anyway because it always makes me laugh. I was carefully composing a shot of the subway stairs when a train let out. It was dark so I was shooting another long exposure and using my self timer. Moments before the shutter closed the rush of travelers stampeded past me, bumping me, and ultimately blurring the image. For a moment I wanted to shout into the crowd, “thanks a lot!”, until I looked at the picture and rather enjoyed it. I then tried to replicate it by purposely jiggling the camera just before the complete exposure, thinking I had to perfect this NEW composition… will I ever learn? Needless to say this is the original.

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Now, back on track. This is a simple shot of Uptown as seen from my favorite rooftop. I love how the low clouds on the horizon created a pre-mature, (and far too early for the time of day), sunset. The Empire State Building.

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The previous photo of the Empire State Building was the first day of that trip where the sun began to show through. So I raced to the subway to catch a train Downtown, hoping to get the most out of the sunset. There was construction on the subway that day, so I had to get off early. When I came out into the open air, I was greeted with a massive view of Tower 7. As I walked closer, I caught an angle of this beautiful old building reflecting warmly in the cold blue steel of the newly rebuilt Trade Center companion.

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As I walked around the huge tower, I watched these little white clouds, rushing past the very top of Tower 7, and snapped this shot.

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Even though I don’t live in NY, I have been deeply effected by 9-11, as I am sure we all have. Even still, I feel that most of the people I see visiting Ground Zero, are scrambling to get a shot of the construction fence that almost seems to guard this sacred site. Its almost as if they have a “ToDo list”, and once they document they have been there, they move on. I hear people saying things like, ” what am I supposed to be looking at, I cant see anything, lets go see the Statue of Liberty”, and I wonder why they don’t see what I see. This place, at the back of the WINTER GARDEN, (which I read was destroyed on 9-11, and had to be completely rebuilt), is a place where I have found great emotion for what happened that tragic day. I was hoping to capture the emotion of the couple to the right of the walking man, (middle right), as I had watched –just moments before– as they stared out into the massive acreage of construction, with tears in there eyes. Another sweet moment was listening to what seemed to be a friend of a paralyzed man, (far right), talk of how things used to be at the Trade Center. You can see Tower 7 to the far left of the frame.

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I always seem to spend so much time in the Winter Garden, hoping to see people who care about what is just outside the window, that I often find myself rushing around afterwards to also capture the sunset on the waterfront. This was a tour sail boat, headed out to catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty before dark.

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From there, I rushed around the tip of the island hoping to get a shot of the Statue of Liberty myself, only to find the the sun had just finished its light show minutes earlier. This was just to my right as I looked out toward New Jersey.

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Just behind me was a completely different temprature as I used a long exposure to take this shot of the skyline.

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A while later, again using a long exposure and tripod, the Statue of Liberty began to glow brilliantly green as the last bit of light slipped out of sight.

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After the sun went down it became extremely cold, and I began to head back. This was a shot I took of the US Custom House ,again all natural color. I had wanted to include the two homeless men hanging out on the stairs but, I took to long and they soon moved, not wanting their picture taken:)

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Oops, found out later you’re not supposed to take photos in the subway. This is what they look like at 3am.

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This was a cool looking phone outside a fancy business building downtown. There was a security guard that kept circling because I don’t think he could see my small camera, and most likely wondered what I was doing at that hour down on the ground.

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I loved how this shot shows some of the really old buildings of NYC, and then towering behind them stand new multi-million dollar buildings, strangely lit on various floors and sections… even at 3:30am.

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This was a scary looking door on “Stone Street”, and from the plaque nearby I found that it is one of the few originally laid cobblestone streets left in the big city.

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As I turned around I saw another old vs. new scene. While I was setting up my camera some guy cruises over and pulls his camera phone out, snaps a pic, and pulls out a cigar. “Thats what I came out out to do myself”, he says. I then responded with a laugh… “you want me to email you mine then, as we glanced down at his almost completely dark image on his cell phone screen. He laughed and surprisingly gave me his email.

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The next day I walked through Central Park, and found this leaf near a lake full of people rowing around in these tiny rowboats. The TX1 has an incredible macro mode, where you can literally rest an object on the lens and focus. This was a shot I took while holding the leaf right up against the lens barrel and holding it to the sun.

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Finally, that same day I took the Staten Island Ferry past Liberty Island. I was amazed with the detail of this shot as it was taken as we flew by the island in super, wind-blown, choppy waters. Not to mention I was hand holding the camera, between to big woman trying to film it with their camcorders.

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Once again, I was impressed with the detail captured by the Canon, as this was a shot through the mesh gate at the rear of the Ferry, and it was zoomed in as well! NYC to the right, and NJ to the left.

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This was an easier shot, sort of, as there was plenty of light, but again I am basically shooting beneath the armpit of some guy, (which you can see creating a little flare to the top right), and this Ferry is no pleasure cruise….can you say windy,cold, and BUMMPY. Hey at least it was free right?

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My final image for you is the low sunlit skyline of NY, as we came back to dock. it would be cool to have some one digitally matchup old footage of immigrants passing the Statue of Liberty and seeing this for the first time so long ago. I have to say, New York is one amazing place… “I Love New York”:)

 

Dont worry, I am still here!

Even with all the madness of life, it is so much more important to enjoy it!

Sadly, about 3 months ago in NY, my rep Joe began noticing small discolorations and little bubbles starting to form on my (then) current portfolio books. The bubbles continued to form, as well as the spots of almost “rain-bowing colors” until each laminated print was almost -if not completely- delaminated!

Months of work and thousands of dollars were put into those shiny new portfolios. Then, just as quick as they began circulating -driven by the calls from various agencies- they came to a screeching halt, in obvious need of complete repair.

So for the past few months I have been frantic, juggling photo shoots during this busy season, working hard to get the new prints for the portfolio’s done, having new books built to house the glossy prints, teaching 6 courses at the college near where I live, while at the same time, reminding myself that I am a father of two boys, and the husband of a dear wife who probably wonders if I even have THEM on my “ToDo list”.

After going through “just a few”, over priced ink cartridges and sheets of paper, and after some serious glitches along the way – I finally shipped my first new book off to NY this evening, carefully packaged in bubble wrap.

With barely an evening left, and after a small celebration with the family, I’ve sat down to give my much deserving fans a sorely needed update. So for those that have yanked my blog from your feed or possibly buried my bookmark under the more regularly updated sites, I assure you….”I am still here”.

As a boy, (riddled with ADHD), and even now as a 28 year old man, (still riddled with adult ADHD), I have always found it hard to be completely satisfied with just the written word , unless I was able to enjoy the occasional photo or illustration during my read. So, for those like me, I leave you with with a simple snapshot, taken with my little Canon TX1, while visiting my parents in California, for Thanksgiving.

While growing up in Ventura near the beach , I spent many sunrises and sunsets bobbing around in the ocean waiting for the “perfect wave”, and often would see seals like this. Although this was a familiar site, this old guy was most likely enjoying his LAST sunset, as his body, clearly aged, and -sadly- clearly injured as well, breathed softly as the sun disappeared over the horizon. Not wanting to disturb the seal, I used the TX1’s amazing zoom to get in close to him. As the already weak sun continued to deprive my camera sensor of its much needed light, I continued to snap away, each time watching my exposure struggle to adjust to the sunset in hopes of keeping my images sharp. Just as I was about to turn off the camera and head back to shore, I noticed a large tear welling up under the seals eye. So, while holding my breath and setting the self timer –easing the pressure of the shutter button– I snapped this last photo.

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People that know my work, often ask me if I ever take “regular” photographs, to which I always respond… simply, of course, whatever is worth capturing. Rest in peace big guy.

 

American Dream in technicolour!

Be sure to visit your local bookstore and look for issue 61 of Digital Photographer magazine –UK edition– and read, THE AMERICAN DREAM IN TECHNICOLOUR!

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Just a few days ago I received a crisp, plastic-protected issue of “Digital Photographer”, (DP), in the mail. I will admit that I was pretty nervous as I carefully opened the thin, see-through packaging that covered the shiny and somewhat mysterious issue.

It had been almost 2 months since I had been interviewed by the people at DP, and I had no idea what to expect. I knew whatever they put out would be great, it was just that I had no clue as to what they had written about me, until I received my own copy of the magazine months later.

It was wonderful to finally read the article that I had been wondering about for so long, and it was also exciting to see that they had done a wonderful job on the layout, the story, and the photos… I always get concerned when I don’t have control over the print output of my photography. It was just as I hoped it would be.Article7273 Article7475

So if you want to see the article, just pop into your local Barnes & Noble, Boarders, or where ever you go to get your caffeine fix, and pick up the latest copy, (or issue 61), of Digital Photographer magazine. I’d love to hear what you think!

 

Final image for Eighties Magic!

I recently finished the final image for Eighties Magic, so whether you saw my sneak-peek a few weeks back or not, be sure not to miss the final!

These last few weeks have been very busy for me, and personally I am beginning to wonder how some of you keep up your blogs so regularly. Regardless, because I truly wish to stay connected with you… here I am.

I am not a huge video game person, but I do enjoy an occasional 15 minutes with the old XBOX, and a skateboard or snowboard game. In-fact most of the games I own are games that can be played for a few short minutes here and there. This is because I don’t have the time to get deeply involved with role playing, or other such games. However, years ago after a near fatal snowboard accident, I spent over two months on my back, unable to move, and I played “Splinter Cell” the entire time. Needless to say, I beat the game, but more importantly, I feel I did learn something.

Even-though the hallways, and most of the buildings and courtyards were modeled after real places in the world etc, they were fake. They were places created for my enjoyment. The scary thing is I feel almost emotionally attached to some of those levels… as if only “I” experienced them. I also sometimes feel I was somehow smarter than the computer generated soldiers that I battled, as if I thought of something they didn’t plan on.

The reason I have told you this is because I also feel strongly attached [even] “emotionally” attached to my photo’s. So much of each image I create is from idea’s and visions in my head. Not to mention all the time I spend –even days– working on them. I then begin to feel that I was there… as if I was there “that night”, (which in the case of “Eighties Magic”, wasn’t even a “night” at all), smelling the exhaust fumes from the car that wasn’t running , and catching –ever so slightly– the faint odor of the gas-station restroom ,spilling out from a door that was closed and in fact locked. Even in ninety degree weather, in the middle of a summer day, I can still feel the “cool night air”.

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I shot this gas station near my home in Utah, where I live. The subjects were shot weeks earlier, and the car was shot just a few days later. I really wanted to capture the gritty feeling of that “night”, as if I could wipe the sweat and lipstick smudges off his face with a towel. As if at any moment, a short stocky gas station attendant would waddle around the corner scratching his head, in confusion.

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It’s just like those video games to me sometimes, where I am able to look back and almost physically remember being there… and yet –at least as it is with my work, most of the time– it doesn’t even exist. So hopefully you guys can “get inside” my work, and get to where you “remember” the location, or “feel” you have been there… somewhere, sometime in the past. Trust me, it’s really cool.

Digital Photographer Magazine

nterview with Digital Photographer magazine, UK, for their next issue!

About a month ago my rep forwarded me an email he received from Digital Photographer Magazine UK. In the email they asked if I did all my own photography and post production, and that if so, they would like to interview me for their next issue. I am excited to have this opportunity, and to hopefully gain further international exposure from it. The questions they asked me will hopefully allow people to see how I think, and perhaps get them excited about creating unique, new, and interesting photos. As it would seem, they are eager to share my work and the experiences I have had so far, thus helping –in any small or large way– the progression of photography.

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Imagine Publishing is responsible for some of the biggest, and fastest growing publications found in both the UK, and in the US, such as X360, n-Revolution, Advanced Photoshop, Photoshop Creative, Digital Photographer, i-Create, and many more! The magazine/article should be in stores by mid September, for those in the UK, and by late September, for those in the US. So be sure to visit your local Boarders, Barnes and Noble –or whatever your favorite book store– next month and check it out!

High Definition, in your shirt pocket!

I knew someday the time would come when I would be able to carry around a High Definition, Video/Digicam in my pocket… I just didn’t know it would be so soon!

| Tags: HDReviewVideo I still remember when Canon released the first “film” ELPH, trying to imagine how they got so much stuff inside the tiny camera, and wondering what was next. Then Canon released the first “digital” ELPH, and I was completely amazed! Over the years Canon has continued to blow my mind, releasing camera after camera with more and more break-through technology, and yet the packages seem to either stay the same, or even get smaller.

I have always had a smaller point and shoot, (POS), camera that I keep with me wherever I go, but continually longed for better quality and more manual capabilities. Soon POS cameras introduced aperture and shutter priority modes, and then even full manual modes came into the scene. Some even began to offer RAW capture, and added video to their bag of tricks. The RAW capture proved too early for most consumers, and the video was more of a fun “trick”, than worth while. Soon, video on these POS cameras began offering VGA quality, and the clip lengths were limited only by the size of the memory card. So the photo quality was fantastic, while the video was just OK, and then, HD became the new standard for television. So naturally, no one was excited to watch their VGA clips on their huge new flat screens, at least I wasn’t. In-fact I began to film less and less, knowing the video would look terrible on my TV, and there was no way I was going to carry a HD camcorder and a POS with me everywhere.

All this brings us back to Canon… and their traditional pattern for innovation. I cant even keep track of how many ELPH models have come and gone, but there is now one camera that shoots amazing quality photo’s and yes, you guessed it, HD video! For the first time ever, I can truly say I am satisfied!

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Presenting, the new Canon TX1 POS camera with 7 mega pixels and progressive HD video recording! Oh, yeah… and it fits inside your shirt pocket. Let me know what you think!

Sneak-Peak of my newest shot… Eighties Magic

I have always been drawn to the eighties, especially the “fashion” trends of that era. Hopefully you’ll get a laugh from these early stages of …80’s Magic!

This image is far from over, but I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. I’ve heard its “rude” to laugh at “ones own jokes”, but I seriously can’t get the images of these two out of my head. As I have been working on rough layouts for this shot, I’ll catch myself laughing out loud as I notice, again, how ridiculously funny these people look, all decked out in the raddest 80’s wedding outfits…ever!

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I recently sold my beautiful Canon 17-40mm 4.0 L for the even more beautiful 50mm 1.2 Lseries prime lens from Canon.

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I was so amazed by the quality of this fat new lens, that I wanted to share the results with you. So, below is a 100% crop of the mid area of the wedding dress… miss anything? Oh, its pretty alright, but the price tag is “pretty” ugly. That’s what you pay for quality I guess.

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This was my first production shooting with this lens, and the results were -as expected- nothing less than STUNNING! I plan on doing a short review of my experiences with the new lens, in the the following week, so stay tuned.