Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

It's finally that time - the time for my yearly review - two of my favorite photos from each month of 2013. They were a little harder to select than in previous years - between traveling more(NYC, Rome, Finger Lakes etc) and simply having more time after quitting my job at the farm - not to mention that I like to believe I've become a better photographer. My biggest photographic accomplishment of the year was vastly improving my landscapes - the last few years working on the farm I really started to notice great light - now I finally had the time to act on it with my camera. I also think that my black and white film photography improved much - I shot lots of rolls - but those aren't represented here as the year in review is all digital(no real reason for this - accept I've always done it this way). Anyways - click HERE to view this year's review.
 Enjoy. Steam Study #1 Possibly my favorite film shot of the year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Niece and Nephews

I shot a few portraits of my niece and nephews for my Mom(aka Grandma) a few weeks ago. It was amazing how well everyone cooperated - well almost everyone. Andrew stood in the group and smiled perfectly a few times, even once while the baby of the group, Charlie, was smiling. ...but Andrews roaming around and hamming it up made for some of my favorite shots anyways. I used two speedlights in shoot-through umbrellas to light the session. I came aways with about 15 great shots - here are a few. One piece of advice when shooting portraits - have a quick trigger finger - you never know when the magic is going to happen.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Indian Hill

Where the River Bends... Yesterday I parked my car at the Covered Bridge, walked along Furnace Run, cut across an old farm field(the Pasture Field), hiked up and along the Indian Hill, down the other side, along the railroad tracks past Szalay's, and through the woods behind the Big Field back to my car. A great hike indeed.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Xmas Morning

XMas Wrappings First lets clear up a misconception - "Xmas" doesn't take the "Christ out of Christmas" but is an old abbreviation that comes from the Greek word for Christ, which starts with an X and the "mas" is from the Latin "Mass". Learn your history before ranting. Anyways - this post is a continuation of yesterday's - more wide angle shots - this time on Christmas Morning. Like an idiot I forgot to put my recharged batteries back into my flash - so these are mostly natural light - I say mostly because I did use the pop-up flash a few times. I rarely use the pop-up flash with my Sigma lens because it is so wide that the flash can't cover the whole field of view - leaving a dark spot towards the bottom of the image. I didn't take as many Christmas mornng photos as I would have liked to because I had tweaked my back pretty bad the day before - so I was in a bit of pain - until the 'cup(s) of cheer' kicked in....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wide Angle Eve

Twas the Night Before Christmas My Sigma 10-20mm lens has issues with blurriness on the left side so I rarely use it anymore - but for some reason I was in the mood to mess around with its ultra-wide angle effects on Christmas Eve(the blur is apparent in the above photo). Its a fun lens - unfortunately it has been back to Sigma a couple of times and for considerable money but nothing changed - for this reason I will never buy another Sigma product again. I know that Sigma has improved their quality control - but they already have enough of my money. Anyways - it was great Christmas Eve at my parent's house - followed by Laura and my gift exchange back at home....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Shopping

Christmas Eve Shopping Selfie Today I completed my tradition of doing most of my shopping on Christmas Eve. I roll around singing along to the Christmas songs on the radio and not worrying about the traffic and lines. Some people seem to get so annoyed by Christmas - they must be doing it wrong. Anyways - I know my posts have been light this Holiday Season but I have plans to really pick up steam in the New Year. Lots of stuff to shoot and new techniques to share. Merry Christmas from all of us at Zipper City Photography.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wandering the Woods

Pines Yesterday I decided to get out for a hike - it had been a little while and I knew it would be a longer while with the weather forecast consisting of so much rain. As with most times when I go out with no specific photo plans, I came away with no amazing photos. It was a grey day and my main concern was just being in the woods. I followed some coyote tracks, chased some deer, heard a screaming hawk and saw a woodpecker hanging out with robbins.....of course I still snapped a few photos...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Three Random Photos

Crash 1 Sometimes you just feel like posting a photo of one of your cats - this is Crash. The light was coming through the windows in a cool(or I guess warm -lolz ;)) way yesterday evening...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Book

The Book This post was supposed to be a big exciting announcement for my new book - "Welcome to Cuyahoga Valley National Park". Unfortunately it is not. My plan was to self-publish and sell through my website a collection of color photographs taken in the Cuyahoga Valley. Flickr had just come out with an app to make photo books with the photos that have been uploaded to their website - I thought this would be the perfect way to make my book. Turns out the photos are not reproduced in nearly the quality that I would consider selling. The photos are flat with hardly any saturation, unsharp, and with visible lines from the printing process. On top of all it my cost was $45 not including shipping. Adding in shipping and a little bit of money for my efforts would send the price of this sub-par book through the roof.  I've begun the search to find out if anything of significant quality can be made for a reasonable price. Updates to follow.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Portraits

Laura and I Last evening I shot portraits of couples at a Christmas Party with Laura assisting me. The location was a very nice house - they asked me to set up on the stairs. I immediately saw multiple problems with this. I would have barely any room to set up my lights and I would be virtually right on top of the subjects. While I tried to figure out how I could pull this off I also realized I would be partially blocking the entrance to the party - I didn't think that a bunch  photo gear is what guests should see as their first impression of the nicely decorated home.  We ended up finding a better location in the back of the house - it still wasn't ideal(the background was too busy) - but it was much better. I had room to set up an light stand with an umbrella for my key light and I bounced a second light off the wall on the other side for some fill. In the small cream-colored room light was reflecting everywhere but I managed to get it under control enough to take some decent portraits. There was a slight color-cast from the walls that I corrected in Photoshop. 
Above is a test shot - I set the self-timer and right before it went off we moved into this goofy prom-pose...and lost it....

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snowed In

I really wanted to go out and shoot in the wet, heavy snow we have been getting all day. I drove my car to the top of the neighborhood and realized there is no way I could get around without getting stuck. I carefully looped around and returned home. Total bummer.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cold Sunrise

Me Oh the things I do for you, my loyal readers. Yesterday was my last day before I pick up some morning part-time work, my last day to sleep in, but also my last day to shoot the rising Sun. My rosy cheeks in the above photo prove that the sunrise won out....and it was a cold one! I was running and jumping around the Langes Trail to keep myself warm. When I would come upon the image I wanted to make I instantly switched into photo-zone-mode - that is until I would realize my fingers were about to fall off. After about a half an hour of hiking and shooting I started to warm up and be able to hold the camera steady. No, I wasn't going to mess with a tripod on a morning like this - I am dedicated, just not that dedicated.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tangier Snaps

Fun My friend Kyle and his girl, Getta, invited Laura, Terra, Greg and I to Tangier to see the band The Scintas do their annual Christmas Show. I didn't know what to expect but they were really entertaining, albeit a little Jesusy at the end for my tastes. The candid photos I shot were pretty much the exact opposite of the candids I took for my last post. This time I had my Nikon L35 AF loaded with long expired Kodak T-Max 400 - kinda like Instagram shots but minus the "insta" part. I acquired a few rolls of the T-Max in a camera bag I bought at the flea market last Spring. The T-Max being around 15 years expired seems to have added to the graininess of the film - new T-Max should definitely be less grainy than Tri-X but it isn't here. No biggie for these shots but good to know when I'm considering what to do with the rest of the stuff. There was a bit of fogging of the negatives too - not sure if this is related to the age of my film or my fixer - I have some hypo-check though... I'm always amazed by how well the 30 year old Nikon exposes with its pop-up flash - far better than the Android smartphone Laura carries.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Frank Comunale at The Highland

Frank, Santa and Sheriff Barry On Saturday morning I shot a charity event hosted by Summit County Councilman Frank Comunale. There was a free move, bicycle raffles, clowns, photos with Santa, a food drive and more. It was a very nice event. I originally met Frank Comunale when I was a car wash manager - I commented on a pin he was wearing and he noticed my name tag - turns out he knew my Dad. I later ended up working for his family's company. He is the most friendly, generous, and charitable person I have ever met. I shot most of the photos by bouncing my flash off the ceiling even though they weren't all white. I still prefer to deal with color casts in Photoshop than to have the flat, boring look of direct flash. I also used a gradient filter to reduce the highlights on the top of everyones heads that occur with bounce flash. All in all for a tough lighting environment I was happy with my results.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Paintings/Fine Art Here are 4 photos from the roll of film I shot the North Pole the other day(Peninsula). They didn't really fit with the theme from the last post so I am putting them here.  That is all.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The North Pole

The North Pole The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad does special trips for kids every year based on the book The Polar Express. The trains leave from the Northside Station in Akron and end up at 'The North Pole' - The Peninsula Station. Yesterday morning when I woke up it was warm and dreary outside and I started to think about the North Pole - not all lite-up with actors dancing and Christmas Music playing - but in black and white and as un-festive as possible. I loaded my Minolta X-700 with Kodak Tri-X 400 and drove down there. I think I achieved the desolate, out-of-place look I was going for - there is something really interesting about the juxtaposition of these images - to me anyways.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

O Christmas Tree, O Instagram

Shiny Brite When shooting digital, color photography I usually try to make the images and crisp and colorful as possible while still keeping them realistic. Sometimes, however, I find that I like going for a more 'vintage' look - which to me usually entails slightly desaturating the image and adding a vignette(evidenced by these Christmas Tree images). It got me to thinking about the 'Instagram look' of faux light leaks, faded colors, vignettes and lens flares. I've always been a fan of everything vintage but I was wondering how much of the trend goes beyond that - more so in the direction of a reaction against digital perfection. I'd be willing to bet many of the photographers who are keeping film alive aren't mostly old timers who never gave it up - but younger ones who never shot it when it was the only option - wanting a different and maybe a more unpredictable result. As I was spending my work day pondering this a couple things came to me that I found ironic: 
1. Camera phones are continually improving in quality by leaps and bounds but only to have people slap filters on the resulting better images that "dumb them down". 
2. Some day this retro/vintage/old school look is going to go out of style and look dated - retro looking dated - an interesting concept I think.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Browns Game

No, Thank You Haslam This year I bought Laura some Browns tickets as part of her birthday present - because, you know - the Browns are the gift that keep on giving. I think I can speak for most Browns fans when I say that Haslam can take his new scoreboard(financed by the city) and shove it you know where. When the Browns had winning teams in the late 80s fans would pack crappy old Municipal Stadium in freezing cold temperatures - a scoreboard(or adding more over-priced seating) is not the problem in Cleveland. I'm always going to be a Browns fan and I do love attending games in person - but I hate that some of the money from my $9.75 beer is going to line the pockets of that thief and tone-deaf idiot of an owner Jimmy Haslam.