Category Archives: photography

500px and showing off your pics

[dropcap_1]M[/dropcap_1]y new site for showing off images is called 500px.com and they beat the pants off Flickr and most other photosites by a large margin.  You can click on the image below and see what I mean. You get the image and all the details you would like to know about the image plus an comments.

You DONT get the infamous Facebook compression fuzziness or the dated Flickr interface.  And you can sell your images through 500px which is always a good thing.

You can write a blog on 500px. You can have a portfolio that is separate from the main photosite. You can embed images into your own website. You can track friend’s posting of new images and you can build a catalog of favorite images that you like. You can upload FULL SIZED IMAGES and to top it off,  it’s cheap for a year 49.95 for the year with unlimited uploads.

What else is there? How about an iPad app that brings an excellent way to show your images on your IPad. After fighting with Flickr on the iPad for the better part of a year, this means alot to me.  And you dont need to log in to see new images, just open the app. There are third party apps for the Droid users and they provide much of the same user experience. Since I dont have a Droid, I can not personal vouch for these apps.

You can find my 500px site here:

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Also posted in Articles, Competition, musings, Portfolio, portraits, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Shooting a veggie a day

So today was a practice day for me. I have been threatening for weeks and weeks to shoot some food and today was it. Or at least some of it. I used a 50 dollar battery operated LED video light, a mirror and a home made silk that uses Toughspun. I spent about ten dollars for the various veggies and fruits which is cheap for models. I used a c stand to hold my video light attached to my monopod stand which doubled as a boom. The mirror provided some light from the side and underneath the glass. My post processing was done in Lightroom using a preset that emulated Kodachrome 25 since I wanted that very contrasty punchy look. You can see from the set shot that I didnt do anything special other than clean off the end of the dining room table.

I used my D300 with two lenses. My first lens was a favorite of mine, the 17-55 F2.8 and the second was a Lensbaby composer at F4. My ISO was 400 and I shoot from 1/60 to /1/160. No flash was used, just the video light which I got from Amazon for something like 50 dollars plus 30 for a battery and charger.

When you are shooting something like this, it can be trickier than people at times as the still life does not move at all unless you move it. So you are always on the look out for reflections, lines, composition and so on. You need to worry about color and texture plus what props you are using. Lighting becomes critical for shadows and highlights.

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New Year, New Site

WordPress

[dropcap_1]I[/dropcap_1]  hate New Year resolutions as a rule. To promise to change something for a new year because you feel guilty about it can not be a good way to effect a change. But, in this case, I decide that this year I would do a few things differently. I started early by joining the studio coop in December. I posted about that a bit ago and so far, it has been a very good arrangement.

A second thing that I really wanted to do was make over my website. I had not been happy with my hosting service for a long while. It’s not that they were “bad” or anything but I had ongoing issues with memory and WordPress plugins not having enough and they could never get it to work quite right. In truth, they sell canned templates and hosting service for those templates. I dumped that two years ago and built my own wordpress site using iBlog. So I was already out of their comfort zone in doing that. I was also paying alot more than I needed to since I was not using their sites or any of their features. I had found them too limiting for what I wanted to do.

So last month. I ordered up a new domain name which will be the umbrella name for my photography, my fusion video efforts and some training work coming down the pipe. Signed a deal with Machighway.com (they host on Macs) and started a new site. After one disaster of a template, I started over, found a cheaper template that worked alot better and you now see the results.

[blockquote]Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.- Henry Ford [/blockquote]

Welcome to my NEW and IMPROVED website and blog for Michael Sweeney Media.. aka Michael Sweeney Photography. I’m able to put up my blog, my galleries, a nice splash page and more without any issues with memory or other troubles. I plan to get back on a regular posting schedule and I plan to put up more images now I can get it all to work better. Please, take a look around and be a bit patient while I get the bits and pieces moved over and working again.

Thanks for visiting!

 

MikeS

 

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Class is in session – Beyond the Basics

English: A Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera with K...

Image via Wikipedia

Beyond The Basics

Taught by Professional Photographer and member of OC Photography Center, Michael Sweeney.
Have you ever wondered why the background of pictures are pleasantly blurred? How about that cool image of the child blowing out the candles on the birthday cake but they are not the typical white faced blasted look? Have you ever wanted to make art for your walls but none of your pictures look like those you see for sale? Have you wondered why so many of your snapshots look like everyone elses?

If the answer is yes to any or all of these questions, then this is the class for you.

This class is for those that have either completed our beginning photography class or have been working on their own and would like to take their photography to a new level. This class is where we will review the basics and then take things forward so you can start to be the artist you want to be.

The class will cover the following topics.

  • Basic camera operation refresh
  • Shutter
  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Light
  • What is light, really?
  • Small lights vs. large lights – your pop up flash vs. the sun for example
  • Why is any of this important?
  • Shoot to the right
  • Sunny Rule of 16
  • Design Principles – How do I get the pictures to just grab you?
  • The rule of thirds
  • The golden ratio
  • Shoot high/shoot low
  • Don’t be a bullseye
  • Why the subject doesnt have to always look at you
  • A bit of blur can be a good thing
  • Flash is your friend at any time of the day or night
  • Why use a flash
  • Shootout at high noon or how I learned to love the sun
  • How to use flash as an accent
  • How to avoid that lovely white blasted vampire look
  • Capturing Pixels
  • What is all this about megapixals and what do I really need?
  • Why are over exposing highlights really bad?
  • The great war, JPEG vs RAW files
  • Does the lens really matter?
  • OK, I have pictures, now what do I do with them?
  • Anyone can print now, using online labs
  • Resolution and what it really means to you
  • Color space and no, it’s not something from Home Depot
  • Editing on the cheap, options for the non-pro but enthusiastic user
  • Putting pictures up on the web
  • How can I make a book or calendar?

Class Time
Evenings: Tuesday evenings
Dates: February 28th & March 6th, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm- 9:00 pm.
Fee: $90
Where: At the OC Photography Center
714-529-3686
Remember to bring your camera, something to take notes and smiles!
Please reserve your spot a least a week before first class. Thank you. Look forward to a great class!

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Our New Studio in Brea

We have a new (to us) studio to shoot at for clients of Michael Sweeney Photography. I have partnered with a Co-op in Brea that leverages the power of having several photographers splitting the costs of running a full service studio. What do I mean by full service? I mean, we have a front desk, a frame shop, waiting area, a private viewing room, make up area, three shooting sets and plenty of safe parking. And there is as killer cafe a few doors down from us 🙂

You can find the our new co-op studio at OC Photography Center in Brea, California. This location is very close to the Brea Mall off the 57 Freeway and Imperial.

590 West Central Ave.

Suite A

Brea, CA 92821

Directions

studio-2011-12-16-09-13.jpg

Also posted in portraits, studio, training, venue, wedding photography

Dare to Think Differently

It’s that time again, holidays, Christmas shopping, Black day, Cyberday sales AND… Christmas Cards!! Oh yeas.. time to gather the family around the tree for the obligatory happy picture. Did you catch the sarcasm there? Christmas portraits always seems to bring out the worst in the families. Nobody wants to get dressed up, nobody wants their picture taken with the glued on fake smile and nobody wants to have a last memory of it.

So what to do? Change it up!! Be Different!!! Nobody says that the picture has to look like everyone else’s picture. The rules do not say only red and black clothes are allowed. So give yourself a bit of permission to be different, to think different and to act different.

Here is our Christmas card to everyone else this year. Enjoy!!! And please, have a fun and happy holiday season. Life is fragile and life is short, don’t waste it.

If you like what I did for my own family, call me and set up a session for your own family 🙂 We will find the perfect way to get that different portrait for your own family card.

Merry Christmas from the Sweeneys and Apple

Also posted in studio

Cynthia and Annasel Wedding at Mission Inn, Riverside

I did a favor for a wedding shooter friend of mine, Angela Stanton and worked as a last minute second shooter for a same sex civil union (wedding) in Riverside at the First Congregational Church. Cynthia and Annasel were married at the church and then the reception was held at the Mission Inn which is  just down the street from the church. As a second shoot, I take my lead from the primary shooter but I was still able to get some nice shots.  I put together a short slide show of the wedding and the reception using just my shots. The couple obviously cared deeply for each other and the family was very supportive and happy for the couple. It was nice change of pace to be involved in this wedding and meet everyone involved. I hope you enjoy the slide show and congratulations to Cynthia and Annasel, I wish wish you the very best in the coming years.


The music is is “Crazy” from Stars Go Dim (SGD) and is licensed from TheMusicBed.com

The Mission Inn is an awesome venue to shoot at with great architecture and spectacular lighting in the evening. It was wonderful grounds to shoot at, passageways, arches, stonework and more.

 

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Scott Kelby’s 4th Annual Photowalk Team Disneyland

So on October 1st, 2011, Scott Kelby‘s 4th annual photowalk took place around the world and I led my photo walk at Disneyland here in Southern California. It was a small group comparatively speaking but it was a fun group. A couple of the folks I had known off Flickr but never met in person and the rest were all new friends.

Scott Kelby 4th Annual Photowalk Team Disneyland

We started in Downtown Disney and went to Tomorrow Land from Main Street. Then we looped our way around the back of the park. My goal was to show off some of my favorite shooting spots that were not the common “Kodak Moment” locations. You know the spots, where the little Kodak plaque was put so the tourist knew where to take the picturesque spot picture. Are those even still around or am I just dating myself again?

Our photo walk officially ended at the French Market in New Orleans Square. I say officially because after we ate, we still held together as a group till I had to leave which was around 2PM. During this time we play with flash in the middle of the day and how to use it effectively for portraits at the park.

All in all, it was a lot of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

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Skips Summer School Las Vegas

I always like summer school as a kid. The classes were smaller, more informal and alot more fun than the rest of the year. Not to mention they helped get me out of school earlier. Now that I’m a working stiff, I find that instead of summer school, I take short breaks for various seminars and classes to stay on top of my game as a photographer and to network with old and new friends.  One such “break” that I recently took is called “Skips Summer School” and it was held in the boring city called Las Vegas 🙂

I had managed to score a free ticket ( THANK YOU PHOTODEX!! )to the 3 day event from Photodex on Facebook but I had to look up what I had won. It seems that Skip Cohen’s summer school is a well kept secret by those “in the know”.  Fine, now I too know about it and I went ahead and booked a room at the Mirage and also booked a Dodge Charger as a rental to drive there. I mean, if I have to go to Vegas, I want to have some fun along the way and what better fun is a muscle car. My five year old daughter decided though that it was HER car and I could borrow it for the trip 🙂  Just as an FYI – the image below was taken with my iPhone using the Apple HDR setting and then run through Photoshop on the iPhone.

Skips summer school rental charger
Of course, being California, it rained from the time I left to the minute I arrived at the Mirage. So much for stopping along the way and taking some fun shots of the car with the various abandoned buildings on the highway.No matter, what counted was I had gotten there and it was time to go meet people. There as a small expo of vendors there and it is always fun to go chat with the vendors and see what kind of deals that they have and maybe meet someone whom I have been talking to on the phone or by email

Then it was time for dinner and a drink and to bed. After all, an eight hour drive is bit much. Why eight hours? Because there was four crashes on the way there, one was a rolled car and one was a  head on. Either way, it made for a very, very slow drive in the rain.

The next morning, Summer School kicked off in ernest with Jerry Ghionis speaking. If you have not had the chance to listen/watch/learn from Jerry, find the time, make the time or beg the time to do so. Jerry is an amazing presenter.

The video quality is not the best due to my using a dinky Flip camera. There were people there shooting with the full blown HD DSLR and yes, I was a bit green with envy.

We had Bambi Cantrell and Roberto Valenzuela who both are very inspirational and motivating speakers. Roberto in particular really “spoke” to me about shooting in shadows and how to use them. I find myself shooting a lot in the middle of the day or on really bright locations. One take away from Roberto is that you need to shoot, you need to practice and you don’t need alot of to practice with. His case in point is shooting with his trademark melons and bananas. You practice shooting to get the lighting with them and then when it’s for real, you already know how to do it and you don’t waste time.

The one thing from Bambi that I took away was instead of saying “I can not do that” is to say instead “I really wish I could but”. I’ve started to use that and not just in my photographer and it makes a difference.

Tamara Lackey showed grace under pressure when her Mac decided it didn’t want to talk to the projector and so she got to “wing” it for several minutes while they got everything back on track. As always, she was poised, excited and enthusiastic about being there at SSS.

One the treats of the best treats was an open forum with the presenters after the formal ones and after dinner. Anyone could ask any question and the panel would answer as a group. it was a lot of fun and very informative.
Open Forum at Skips Summer School

Other presenters were the ever popular Vincent LaForet, Kevin Kubota and Bobbi Lane. It was an amazing three days and you could not help but get excited again.

The demos were really good. I attended Clay Blackmore’s workshop and his show and tell about posing was worth all the effort of getting there.

Here is a gallery of images from Skips Summer School

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Disneyland Photowalk in October

So Scott Kelby is having the 4th annual photowalk on Oct 1, 2011 and in the spirit of that event, I am a leader for a photowalk at Disneyland. Why Disneyland? because it offers a way to involve the entire family in a photography event. Too often I find myself at some shoot or another without anyone from my family.  The kids are too young, it would require babysitters for my wife to tag along and truthfully, she would be lost at some of the events I go to.

So with the photowalk at Disneyland, we will be starting the walk at 8AM when the park opens and ending the official walk at 11AM which is just in time to grab a bite, meet up with the family and continue on the day at Disneyland, possibly with new friends.
Cotton Candy Face by Canon Point and Shoot
You can sign up here for my walk. You will need a season pass OR you need to get your tickets ahead of time. We will be meeting at the Compass Book store and cafe then walking into the park on Main Street.

All levesl of photographers are welcome to come but I can tell you from experience to leave the big zooms at home. Most times you will be shooting somewhere from 11mm to about 100mm. My favorite lens on a crop sensor body is the cheap 18-55mm VR nikon lens. If I feel ambitious, I will shoot with my D300 and my 17-55mm F2.8 lens which works out to be about an 80mm lens due to the 1.5x factor. The 70-200mm F2.8 is rarely out of the bag and tends to draw too much attention. If you want to go light, then just bring a 50mm lens and use your feet to “zoom” 🙂

 

 

 

Disneyland E TicketEnjoying Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Classic Star Tours Trifecta

 

Riding the Rockets

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