Play Ball!

Today I had a fabulous bride, groom and wedding party. They arranged some time at Jerry Uht Park, as they are sports fans and baseball nuts in particular.

We spent some time getting some truly unique shots at the park. Thanks Uht guys!

We hit the Art Museum steps (more later), then the beach. It was a great early summer day. Here’s the gang in a panoramic shot:

Here’s the ladies showing a bit of leg by the water.

Jessie and Jason, congratulations and thanks for letting us be part of your day!

Erie County Technical School Graduation

Last night we attended the Erie County Technical School graduation, where 231 students participated in the graduation ceremonies.

Here’s an image of our daughter Jennifer who received the Outstanding Senior honor in Hospitality Management program.
Here’s a group photo. Thanks to a random passerby to press the go button.

Congratulations Jen! One more Graduation to go…

Father William Rupp

On Sunday May 23, we celebrated the Thanksgiving Liturgy of the newly ordained Father William Rupp. Originally from our parish in Erie, Father Will recently completed his studies and was ordained a priest in the Byzantine Catholic Church.

Traditionally, the priest’s first Liturgy (Mass) is celebrated in his original parish. We had the honor of hosting Father Will in his first Liturgy, attended by many priests from the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, along with a full church of family, friends and members of the religious orders. A reception followed to wish Father Will the best in his journey of priesthood.

We are very proud of Father William. Our Byzantine Church is grateful for his commitment to the priesthood!

Congratulations Father William Rupp!

A Man and His Truck

Mike was nice enough to brave the mosquito hatch and pose in his truck so that I could test my flash system. This one lets me fire a flash from 1000 feet. I got as far as 400 feet and had enough. I was getting munched by the bugs too!

It’s nice being able to fire off camera flash from a distance regardless of ambient lighting levels. Plus I can control the brightness from my camera. This gives me more options for outdoor images with seniors, weddings and family sessions.

This will definitely kick up my beach photos a notch or two.

Thanks Mike!

Sonny Lombardozzi: The World’s Most Brutal Shredder

Last weekend I had the honor of working with Sonny Lombardozzi, an Erie-based guitarist known around the world as The World’s Most Brutal Shredder.

This first image was shot with four lights on a black background. You can clearly see the guitar which stands out well with the front and backlighting.

Sonny is pictured here with the official Saw Double 8-string guitar. Featuring fully scalloped fret boards, 4 808 EMG pickups and two pro Kahler trems, this 30-pound instrument is an amazing guitar…or guitars!

This next image features both the guitar and a Revolt Barbarian guitar amp head. Shot in high-key with a white background, the items stand out more clearly than on black.

I worked with Sonny on several promotional images for some of his sponsors, including Spider energy drinks, EMG pickups and Revolt amp heads. Look for some of these images soon on Sonny’s web site, his sponsors’ sites, and perhaps in print and other interesting forms!

Thanks Sonny for letting me feature a couple of your images!

Father William Rupp

On Sunday May 16th, Deacon William Rupp was ordained as a priest in the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.

The ceremony was performed at the Cathedral in Munhall, PA.

Father Will expressed his thanks for the support and inspiration provided to help him find his calling.
Will shares the joyous moment with Metropolitan Basil, the Bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Church in the Pittsburgh Archeparchy.

Will is the only priest to be ordained this year. He is originally from our own parish in Erie.

Congratulations Father Will!

Perfect Graduation Photos

Here are some tips for capturing great graduation photos.

1. Camera Choice. The larger the image sensor, the better the quality of images, especially in a dark auditorium or gymnasium. A digital SLR with a fast zoom lens (f/2.8) is best, followed by a prosumer digital SLR with a normal speed lens. Stabilization is a plus. Camera phones and inexpensive point and shoot cameras will usually disappoint in this situation.

2. High ISO. The tradeoff in a dark room is quality vs shutter speed. If you keep the ISO low, you risk camera blur or subject blur from the low shutter speed. So sacrifice a bit of crispness in the image for a sharper image taken at a higher shutter speed. Set the ISO at 800 or higher.

3. Stability. Even if your camera body or lens has some kind of motion compensation (VC, IS, anti-shake, etc.), you should still keep the camera stable as you shoot. A monopod or at least the back of the seat in front of you is far better than holding the camera in front of you with both hands.

4. Telephoto or Close. If you can only shoot from your seat, you’ll want to use telephoto, but that will only amplify the shake risk with the long lens. Better to scoot down front if allowed and shoot close to the stage. If not, zoom in as much as you can.

5. Turn off the dang flash. It’s annoying and will not make a bit of difference more than 20 feet away if you have a point and shoot camera. Learn how to disable it, and the camera will often compensate with better exposure parameters.

6. White Balance. If you can choose white balance, try a couple of test shots with indoor lighting settings such as tungsten or florescent. Often they will be better and more consistent than the “Auto” setting.

7. Pre-focus before the moment. A few seconds before your student approaches for their diploma, pre-focus on the official presenting the document and hold. Hold the shutter button halfway down, and then press it fully when they approach and receive their diploma.

8. Candids after. The student will be much more relaxed and happy after the ceremony is done. Use that time to get some group photos with their colleagues, siblings and friends.

9. Share! Make sure to post some images online, using Facebook, Flikr or your favorite image-sharing site.

Perfect Prom Photos

Prom night is such a busy rush! Last minute dress and tux and flower adjustments, dinner timelines and more. Here are some tips on taking great prom photos that you will treasure for ever!

Follow these tips to capture great photos at Prom time!

1. Choose a clean background. If possible, choose an outdoor setting with some greenery – trees, bushes, anything with green or flowers. Place the subjects several feet in front of the background. If indoors, take a couple minutes to select a posing spot and clear any clutter out of the background. Try to avoid direct sunlight. If you have no choice, place the sun behind them and off to one side and force the flash to fire. That will create a highlight on their hair, but you will have to balance the lighting with some front light from flash or reflectors.

2. Fall back and zoom. Most cameras have a zoom feature. To compose your image, you can either zoom out (wide) and get close, or zoom in (tele) and step back. Try the latter. By stepping back, you shorten the facial features and create a more attractive image of the subjects’ faces.

3. Stabilize the camera. If you have a tripod or monopod (stick), use it. If not, try to set the camera on a stable object. The worst possible way to shoot is to hold it out in front of you with two hands. The camera will move and the image will be blurry.

4. Know when to flash your subjects. In general, don’t use on-camera flash indoors. If you have an SLR camera with a separate flash, you can consider bouncing if off of the wall or ceiling. But indoors, the little camera flash will create a very cheap look and very hard shadows on the wall behind them. It’s better to use available light and shoot with a stable camera. Outdoors, a bit of fill flash may be good to minimize eye circles.

5. Mind the white balance. Most cameras have a white balance selection. Instead of auto, choose the white balance that is appropriate for the predominant light source. Outside in shade: choose Shade. It will have a great impact on your image colors.

6. Compose the groups. If you have multiple couples, take a couple of shots of each lady in full length, then half (waist up). Then get each couple, generally with the man a bit behind the lady and off one shoulder. Have him place his arms around her waist and you can show his and her flowers as well. Then get all of the ladies together and then all of the men, and finally, one shot with all of the couples. Avoid the “Adam and Eve” look with hands together in front. Hands at sides, or partially in pockets, or holding flowers or each other. A bit of physical contact between subjects conveys a much warmer, frendlier image.

7. One camera at at time! To have the photos come out best, make sure the subjects place their attention on just one camera at a time. Otherwise, the eyes of some subjects will not be looking at the camera. If you have one parent with all the gear and experience, let them guide the posing and the first shots, and then the others can step in before the pose is changed.

8. Vary your angle. Sometimes shooting waist level is a good way to capture the whole dress, or far above for a dreamy look.

9. Throw in some creative and fun poses. Everyone is nervous and feels a bit akward about being so dressed up and being with a crowd of kids and parents. Encourage the kids to loosen up and shoot some fun candids. Add the little sister or brother for a shot or two, or the family dog.

10. Multiple shots for multiple people. The more people in an image, the greater the likelihood that someone will be blinking in any shot. For larger groups, take at least 5 images. One trick is to have everyone close their eyes, and on a count of three, open them and smile.

11. Share! Post the images on your Facebook page, or Flikr page or other areas. But before doing so, spend a couple of minutes to rotate the images so they all show up correctly, and consider a few basic edits: Contrast, color saturation, exposure levels, cropping. These fundamental editing steps will take a good shot and make it great.

Enjoy taking great prom photos!