Princess Cereus

August 29, 2010 § 6 Comments

Ah, the Night-Blooming Cereus, a magical flower.

She blooms for just one night in July or August, starting to open her petals to the world just after the sun sets. Getting larger and spreading her petals further, she gives off a beautiful fragrance to lure pollinators for the duration of her short life. She reaches her apex of beauty, and then daylight breaks. Princess Cereus closes her petals to the world as the sun rises, and then dies.

Not even the most handsome, strong prince can save her. But luckily my eye caught her.

Of the macro flower photos that I have taken, this is one of my favorite flower photo shoots, and here is one of my favorite images from the evening:


Since the Cereus only opens for one night (key word here), I got to try my hand with the strobes. It was now or never, as Elvis sings.

Using two Canon Speedlite 580 EX II’s, one slave was bounced off of a white diffuser, while the master strobe was held above the flower through a diffuser by an innocent bystander (whatever family member I could dupe).
of course I used the Canon 5D mark 2 in case there were any low light issues.

My dad also partook in the photographing of the flower, so we switched off as flash holder. In other words, I got a taste of my own medicine.

This was a fun and challenging macro shoot, since I usually do my macro photography during the golden hour, or inside where I can control the flower of choice.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful flower, and I hope she blooms again next year!

Thanks for stopping by.


8 Tips for Photography Beginners

August 23, 2010 § 8 Comments

I got my first dSLR about 3 years ago, and although I had been interested in/surrounded by and dabbled in photography throughout my life, it turns out that I didn’t know squat.

Instead of putting the camera on the little green box setting, I took it as an opportunity to learn everything I could about photography and my camera. I dove head first into photography, and found that I actually have a passion for photography, and cannot see myself without a camera. EVER. Since that fateful day, I have upgraded my camera, and am constantly working on developing my eye.

That being said, I have had those just getting into photography approach me with questions, and I have found some common themes. I have put together this list to help new photographers that may be a bit overwhelmed, and having been there not that long ago, I hope drawing from my experience will help the newbies.

8 Tips for Photography Beginners

  1. Read the manual.
    I know, you would rather watch paint dry. At least skim it. You need to know how to change the aperture and shutter   speed (Whatever those are). A lot of questions that you have are answered in that little book that came with the camera. You have the key.
  2. Learn the basics.
    Check your local camera store for basic camera classes (some are free), as well as local community colleges for a more drawn out course. However, if you don’t have the time or cash to do that, there are a ton of free resources on the Internet.
  3. Just shoot.
    Practice, practice, practice! Get the dial off of that little green box and learn about how each setting affects the photo you take. Know what what an aperture is and how to change it on your camera model, as for shutter speed and ISO.
  4. One of my camera’s first outings, this tree root was photographed multiple times:
    Tree root system

  5. Go shooting with other people.
    No matter the skill level, you can learn from someone else. You may find than you know more than you think you did by teaching someone else, and will learn something new by observing others.
  6. Get more than one memory card and battery.
    You need multiple cards. They are so reasonably priced, you can’t afford not to. batteries for your camera can be a bit pricier, but it is worth it to have an extra one when you really need it.
  7. Look at LOTS of other photos.
    There are so many options with the Internet, look at photos and decide why you like them. What makes them work for you? Is it the colors? The depth of field? The composition? Look at the famous photographers, and learn from their techniques.
  8. The Internet has a plethora of information.
    No matter what your views are on social media like Twitter and Facebook, there are many reputable photographers involved who have a wealth of knowledge they love to share.
  9. Use a photo editing software.
    Most dSLR’s come with some sort of photo editing/managing software. Personally, I wish that I had used Adobe Lightroom from the moment I downloaded my first photo, but hindsight is 20/20. There are also free photo editing software companies available that you can check into. However, DO NOT rely on the photo editing software to fix your mistakes, you must learn how to make a photograph in the camera. The importance of the software is in the metadata, or information about your photo. The digital age is a great time to learn photography, because you can shoot your images, download them 2 minutes later, and see where you went wrong. It is better to do this on the monitor than your little LCD so you can actually see your image.

I hope these tips are useful, and please feel free to add to this list on your own as you go along in your own photographic journey.

Thanks for stopping by!

When you have a moment please…

August 17, 2010 § 8 Comments

As you may recall, I recently went on Scott Kelby’s 3rd Annual World Wide Photo Walk. This photo won the best image for the local photo walk in Venice Beach, CA, but didn’t get too far in the world wide contest.


Which is fine, I really wasn’t expecting to win. And receive fame, fortune, and a ton of cool prizes.
OK, or just the cool prizes.

But you, dear readers, have the power to vote for the People’s Choice award:

It is the first photo in the sixth row. Don’t be afraid to give it 5 stars all the way.

Thank you in advance for your vote!

And thank you, as always, for stopping by.

Home reflection

August 14, 2010 § 6 Comments

Home reflection, originally uploaded by kej328.

Testing out the ability to blog from my Flickr page.

What better than to test it out with a nice reflection of my favorite place? A different view of home, certainly I never really see it like this.

And taken on the fly with the iPhone, edited with Photogene.

Thanks for stopping by!

Leave as is please…

August 10, 2010 § 4 Comments

Humans just cannot seem to leave well enough alone.

An example of this is Oat Mountain, a mountain in the Santa Monica Mountain range. It is owned by the gas company, and the peak is home to telecommunications, so it has been spoiled.

Aside from that fact, well enough cannot be left alone. I recently went up there for the first time in about 18 months (I have been going there since I was a toddler), and of course brought my camera.

This photo was taken in February 2008, and note the wall on the right of the photo:

Oat Mountain

I took the following last weekend, July 2010.


Now, Oat Mountain is kind of a hike to the top, and the only way that someone can get to it in a car is by owning a key (which not to many people have access to).

I am sad that someone would travel to the top of the peak, with spray paint, just to deface a wall that very few people will see.

I noticed when looking through my Flickr set of Oat, that the scenery has changed (of course), but so has my eye.
In February 2008, I was taking photos like this:
Oat Mountain

And in July 2010, I took a photo like this:
Oat Mountain

Now, for those of you that say, “What kind of camera is that? It takes such good pictures!” the first photo was taken with m first SLR, a Canon Rebel XTi. The last photo was taken with my iPhone.

Quite interesting to compare the type of photography and to see my growth as a photographer.

A couple of my favorites from this latest trip up there:



Of course I found the flowers on the otherwise brown mountain.

I’m also experimenting a little bit with some Lightroom presets and customizing:


This aged tone really spoke to me for this photo, because the tree is old, and the surrounding vegetation is brown anyway. I always think warmly of Oat Mountain because it has been part of my life, so this tone reflected my warm fuzzies for it as well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival 2010

August 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last weekend, Santa Paula experienced an influx of hot air balloons for the third Citrus Classic Balloon Festival. About 16-18 balloons showed up for a soiree of color.

I caught a few photos as the balloons were rolled out and set up before the sun set:

Crafting the Balloon

Taken with the Canon 5D Mark 2 (the only camera I use anymore), Canon EF 24-105 L.  f/7.1 to get a good amount of focus, at 1/80, ISO 100.  Cropping and color correction done in Lightroom 2.

I liked focusing on the guys that were working with the balloons to get them up and running for us to enjoy.

I played around a bit with this photo, keeping in mind the recent Creative Live weekend with David DuChemin, “Vision-Driven Photography”:

Working the giant

Taken with Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon EF 24-105 L. f/5.6 at 1/25, ISO 200.
This particular photo didn’t go along with my original vision, and I wish I would have done a few things differently with it, but I knew that it was important to the story of the balloons. In terms of editing, I used Lightroom to direct the eye a little bit by using some gradient filters.

In terms of the vision I had for this event, these photos are the closest to what I wanted:

Balloon detail 3

The colors and the detail of the balloon are pretty much what I wanted (the execution to get exactly what I wanted was just a bit off).

Ooh and aahing

I love this photo because it shows the wonder and awe that goes along with seeing these huge balloons lit up. It also looks a bit like the Wizard of Oz to me.

This little guy was tuckered out before night even fell:


I had to get his picture, his face was perfect.

Check out the rest of the set here , I really like how a lot of these photos turned out, and can’t wait for the festival next year!

Thanks for stopping by!

ESRI UC 2010

August 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

My career happens to be Geographic Information Systems, map making for those of you not familiar with the term. Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map, find me a location….. (Just imagine Babs singing that!)

Every year, thousands of my fellow GIS’ers and I attend the ESRI User Conference (the industry conference) at the San Diego Convention Center.

Here are a few photos of my take on the ESRI UC from this year, (July 12-16) recently featured on the premier GIS website, GIS Lounge:


The ESRI logo at the San Diego Convention Center.


Attendee Kelly Minniti solves “Where in the World?”


The new GeoLounge allows attendees to kick up their feet for a much needed break.

Check out the rest of the set and let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by!

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