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A New Year and a new focus on my photography

Several of my family and friends have noticed that I have SLOWED down a great deal in updating my blog as well as taking pictures. It’s true, work has beat me to death and its been hard to find anything of substance to take here in Austin. Suffice to say, as a landscape photographer I was indeed very spoiled when it came to beautiful surroundings.

A good friend of mine who recently produced his first photo book as a gift (amazing by the way) has been nagging me to “Just Shoot.” So, with the New Year now in full swing, I decided to make a new years resolution to take more pictures this year than I did in 2007 (the year I started shooting again). In 2007 that was 35 outings or shoots. In 2010 there was only 13. So, I have a TON of work to do.

The following two shots are the first of this new year.

On The Way Home

On The Way Home

I found myself fighting with my cameras. As with any tool the less that you use it, the more painful it is. Never the less, this is the first shot. Since I shot hand held I felt my composition was off, but I was happy with the final look. As most know I am a huge fan of  B&W, so here is the same image after converting it.

On The Way Home - B&W

On The Way Home - B&W

Finally, this last shot was for my daughter. She was involved in an audition with the Joffrey Ballet Company’s summer intensive program. A criteria for being selected in this intensive is very much like model and any other professional performer. You must have a head shot, but in this case it was a select position and pose. After I shot what was required for the audition, my daughter asked if she could copy a pose from a calendar. I had to set up my alien bees (my lighter meter was dead since I haven’t used it in SO LONG) but I winged it with some good guesses and trial and error to get the following:

My Tiny Dancer

My Tiny Dancer

Considering I don’t have a studio and this was shot in my kitchen I am pretty happy with the result.  I want to thank my friends and family who are encouraging me to focus more on my images. I have to admit, I have missed it and playing with my cameras again as well as doing my conversions, updating my web site and more has been fun.

Happy New Year

</David>

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PUBLISHED – Digital Photo May/June Issue – Page 12

Yesterday ended on a high note… one that I wasn’t expecting. I just got back from Seattle and had all of my mail. Some of which included a new barrage of magazines I need to read. One such magazine was Digital Photo. The May/June issue had arrived. So, I started to flip through it and there it was…. my picture of Graham Harrell of Texas Tech on page 12. I got an entire page for my one image as well as a very nice write up.

Talk about making my day…. this was a great way to end it.

Digital Photo May/June 2010 Issue page 12

Graham Harrell of Texas Tech in 2008

Last year I was very fortunate to have been published 5 times. (3 books and two city newspapers). I had thought that this may be a dry year and the folks at Digital Photo Magazine ran this shot. Its a REAL privilege for me to be carried in this magazine. I read it cover to cover every issue and participate in their contests and forums. It was nice to get recognized and included in the magazine.

Thanks to everyone at Digital Photo Magazine !

</David>

PS – My original posting of this image and its write up can be found HERE

On my way to Austin

Finally, after almost 9 years its time to move back home to Texas. On my first trip down I decided to drive from Seattle to Austin. 4 long days of driving, but the reward was several nice places to stop and take pictures along the way. One such place was Yosemite National Park.

Being that Ansel Adams is one of my favorite photographers, I had to take a moment to go to his old stomping ground and see what I could see. The park in April was still full of snow. It was hard getting to everything I wanted to see because of the snow but I did manage to get several shots. This is the first one I have processed from that trip.

On my way to Austin via Yosemite

</David>

Capture El Paso – Photo Competition

Not many know, but I grew up in El Paso, Texas. I still have family and friends in El Paso and try to get there as often as I can. (Which is generally about once every three years these days). The last trip I made to El Paso was in December 2008. While there I went to go shoot out in the desert by Hueco Tanks.

The Capture El Paso is a photo contest, now in its second year. Its a community project put on by the El Paso Time Newspaper. Basically, people submit photos of the city, its people and culture and visitors vote on the images. The selected images are printed in a coffee  table book and sold. Its a great project with some fantastic participation.

Being this is my home town, a friend reminded me to enter and I am a photographer I had to submit something. The problem is, I only had so many shots taken when I was there in December.  So, I entered four. I would appreciate it if everyone would go check them out, vote and leave me a comment. (they are always appreciated).

Here is one image I submitted. Its from the desert near Hueco Tanks. Thanks in advance for looking at my work on this site:

Capture El Paso Photo Contest

Home - The Desert of El Paso, Near Hueco Tanks

Home - The Desert of El Paso, Near Hueco Tanks

UPDATE – This image was selected and published in the 2009 Capture El Paso book.

</david>

Digital PhotoPro- Contest Entry

I recently entered the Digital Photo Pro’s Art Of Photography contest. My entries can be found here:

Image 1
Image 2

I also entered the Digital Photo Pro’s “Your Best Shot” Contest. Those images can be found here:

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3

Image 4

I would really appreciate it if everyone could go check out my images, log in and vote. There are some great images out there and DPP has a really good site (in case you havent seen it already.

Thanks in advance for taking a look and voting

</david>

Digital Photo Pro Magazine – Content Finalist

Recently I entered a contest on Digital Photo Pro Magazines web site. I found out after weeks of voting that one of my three images was selected as a finalist and can be found here (my Image on their site) I would REALLY apprecaite it if everyone could go take a look, and vote for my image. 5 Stars is the best rating. While there, check out some of the other images. There is some really nice work on the site.

The qualifying image

For All The TreesThanks for looking

</david>

Travel Photography – Securing your camera gear

Travel opens up so many opportunities for new images. The terrain, architecture and local culture changes and affords photographers the opportunity to find their “eye” again or get out of a rut by having new things to explore and shoot.

This was the case with me and my anniversary trip to Vegas was the cure. The only problem is that when I travel I tend to travel HEAVY and take everything. My camera bag weighs 42 lbs and when you are in Vegas you don’t necessarily want to talk around with $18,000 in camera equipment for your entire stay.

So, what do you do when you want to take everything but you don’t want to have it with you at all times? The safes in the hotel rooms are too small for 2 bodies, 7 lenses, filters etc and there was no way I was walking around with my shoulder bag or backpack for 4 days loaded with my camera gear.

The answer I found in an article in Popular Photography, its called PacSafe. The good people at PacSafe have a very unique product that’s very functional, priced well and worth EVERY PENNY.

The PacSafe is a Steel Mesh (called eXomesh) cover for backpacks and camera bags alike. This steel cable mesh covers your entire camera bag and allows you to lock it to something stationary with a padlock. It prevents anyone from taking items out of the bag, or accessing your gear. It installs in 2 min and folds up for storage just as fast. I can honestly say that it’s the best security add-on for traveling photographers I have ever come across. If I could remember who wrote the article that turned me on to the PacSafe I would send them a Thank You card because this device allowed me to take all of my gear, leave it in my room in plain sight while being totally secure. All I had to do was carry a key with me for the lock and remove the steel cover when I was ready to go out to the Valley of Fire National Park.

the PacSafe

the PacSafe

Everything is included in the PacSafe. It comes with the steel cable wrap, the cable to close the wrap and lock it as well as a carrying case and three keys. When ordering the PacSafe, take a moment to measure your bag. They offer several sizes and getting a PacSafe that is the right size is important. There is plenty of room in these so it doesn’t have to be exact. The idea here is that you want the safe to close and be secure. If there is too much slack then the bag is accessible. So be sure to look at the sizes listed on the web site and measure you bag for a good fit. I purchased a PacSafe 120 which completely covers my Tenba (Shootout Large) Backpack and or my LowePro  (Commercial AW).

There is a video on the PacSafe web site that shows you have to install or cover your bag properly and how to stow it away when done.

PROS:

  1. The device is simple. Its simple to install, use and put away.
  2. Its Sturdy. You really need a set of professional cable cutters to cut this thing. A knife or box cutter wont do it.
  3. Its relatively inexpensive. When you consider the cost of a professional bag or backpack to be around $300 US another $80 to protect that investment as well as the gear inside is a reasonable expense.
  4. Its built well. I looked for signs of frayed cable, bad joints or poor construction. I couldn’t find any. The device is well made, solid and sturdy.

CONS:

  1. The biggest limitation of the PacSafe isnt the PacSafe itself, but where you anchor the bag. You REALLY need to secure this to something solid. A sink drain pipe wont do it. It needs to be a solid piece of heavy furniture, to a mounting bracket in your car or too a pipe that is welded in place. The best security is only as good as the weakest link. Where you anchor your bag is critical.
  2. The lock could be more robust. While it is a very good lock, a thicker pad lock or Master Lock would be better. If you replace the lock, make sure the bolt size will fit through the cable end. Otherwise you cant lock the bag properly.
  3. The beads on the cable which keep it taught in the locking bracket are plastic attached to the cable. I haven’t disassembled one of these yet to validate they are plastic throughout, but if they are then a hammer could crush one allowing the cable to slip and open up a bit. I need to look into this to validate the beads construction.

On scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) I would honestly rate this product a solid 8.

The PacSafe worked great for me, protected my gear, while giving me the freedom and security to have a great trip and all my gear at the same time.

If you have comments or questions about the PacSafe, I am happy to answer them. While you are here, please take a second to look at some of my images.

</david>

PS- Thanks to my friends at DPS and Popular Photography Forums for their comments and requests for additional information in the review.