Standing Up For The Fallen

May 24, 2015

Memorial Day is the day we honor those who have fallen in service of our nation and communities. The Woodlawn Cemetery out by the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Spokane, Washington stood up 3500 full-sized flags in honor of these service members, and the pictures above are the result.

Not much more to say on these photos, except please take a minute each Memorial Day to honor our fallen heroes.
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Ten Minutes From Home

May 22, 2015

It takes something like 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything, so goes the general wisdom. I think, based on that wisdom, that I must be an expert at waiting in line and sleeping by now. I'd like to someday gain that accreditation for photography, but I've got a ways to go.

In an effort to get myself a little closer to that goal, I'll go out after my regular day job on a walkabout. These walkabouts generally take me into parts of Spokane I don't usually see. It helps inspire me to look for compositions that I may not have seen or considered before. For this evening, I wasn't disappointed.

I started down by the Hanson Carlson development down by the Spokane River and walked through the construction site, taking a few photos as I found opportunities, and ended up walking down the Centennial Trail towards the Spokane River.

Dirt trails leading off the main path led me to an area that was obviously a beach and a well-used place by those in the know. A couple of kids walking back along the trail told me of an elusive blue heron they'd seen wandering the shallows. Thinking I was going to get nothing but a few friendly bumblebees in front of my lens, I went looking.

As you can see from the photos, I wasn't disappointed. While I didn't manage to capture the heron in flight (it realized it could just walk away from me and be fine rather than fly), I did get a couple good shots using a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom lens. The bull snake in later photographs was a much better subject and didn't move at all when I stuck my lens in its face.

If you were wondering whether there is a point to all my yapping about this particular walkabout, yes, I think there is. You may have lived in Spokane all of your life, but never really looked around. It's very easy to get locked into your routine and not see everything our neck of the woods has to offer. Break yourself out of the mold, and go see or do something different at the first opportunity. You may just suprise yourself at all you're missing and how much you enjoy the discovery.
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How We Say "Thank You"

May 17, 2015

Many of us, including myself, have gone up to someone in uniform and thanked them for their service to the country or community. It is a simple way to recognize the men and women of the United States who've chosen a profession that demands they risk their lives when called upon to do so.

Just like any other job, much of the work involved in the uniformed services involves a number of daily tasks that are decidedly not life-threatening. Paperwork, fixing vehicles, cleaning equipment, answering emails and phone calls are generally not considered dangerous tasks. It's those other times when a nation, community, or a family calls upon these men and women to keep us safe that we recognize the extraordinary risks they take.

It's easy to disagree with the politics of a conflict, or point to the authoritarianism of a police force that is increasingly monitored by the public at large with cell phone cameras and social media. The few bad examples of what it means to be a public servant make the news, and in doing so can skew public opinion towards the negative.

What I find even easier, however, is not to always look at our uniformed services on such a macro scale. The individual wearing the uniform is the one who bears your thanks. That 90-year old gentleman who can still tell the stories of fighting in the Ardenne Forest knows he is not forgotten. The 24-year old soldier who spent an eternity in the Korengal Valley living on a hillside with no running water and no electricity for months at a time is honored.

Most individuals proud to wear their uniform are humble and sometimes embarassed by the public display of gratitude. Some might even argue that it is a hollow gesture designed to salve the soul for things we aren't willing to do ourselves.

It is is not. Having been on the receiving end of such thanks, I appreciate when someone takes a moment to thank a soldier, fireman, or policeman. When we go to the effort of an entire parade that brings the entire community together, we shed light on these men and women who have served in the past, serve now, and will serve in the future.
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Why So Sensitive? The Meaning Of ISO.

May 12, 2015

Left to Right: ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200

Let's get to the point. What does ISO mean in regards to your camera? It means the sensitivity of your camera to available light. In the old days, you bought film of a certain ISO (100, 200, 400, etc) and were stuck with that ISO for 12 or more pictures. Today, you can set the ISO of your digital camera for each picture.

Why do we care about ISO? It is one of the three parts to the holy grail of EXPOSURE. Yes, I broke internet protocol and typed EXPOSURE in all caps (ok, that's twice). The other two parts are shutter speed and aperture, which we'll discuss later on.

For our purposes, lower ISO (starting at 100) means your camera is less sensitive to light. Higher ISO, going all the way up to 204,800, means your camera will be more sensitive to light.

Why shoot at lower ISO? You're taking pictures on a sunny day, and a high ISO would overexpose all your pictures (they'd come out pure white, like exposing a role of film before you rewind it).

Why shoot at higher ISO? You want to take some action shots of your son playing football, and in order to get non-blurry shots, you have to set a very high shutter speed (1/2000th of second for example). This means your camera's sensor only gets exposed to the light for 1/2000th of a second, so it needs to be as sensitive to light as possible to keep it from being underexposed.

Take a look at theses photos of the orange I took. ISO ranged from 100 to 3200, all other settings being equal (aperture and shutter speed, white balance, etc). You can see the obvious difference changing your ISO makes!

All of these settings on today's digital cameras can get a bit overwhelming at times. Feel free to head on over to our Facebook page to ask you own questions or share your insights on shooting with today's digital cameras.

A final tip for the trivia hounds: ISO stands for International Standards Organization. Not as exciting as I thought either.

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How To Be Rich Without Money

May 10, 2015

"The photos were all quite beautiful. Thank you both for your kindness in doing this for us at the UGM crisis shelter. It was such a great thing, it made me feel good about myself. I haven't felt pretty in along time, so thank you very much. I think my children will be happy to see me looking alive again!"

Responses to the photos I take are generally positive, but it is rare to get messages like the one above. The week before Mother's Day 2015, I had the opportunity to share my camera with two of the women's recovery shelters in Spokane, Washington. In doing so, I saw more love and laughter shared than what we might find in our own daily lives. As these women worked towards lifting themselves up and making a better life for their families, I found myself silently thanking them for the lesson I learned that day: family first and always.

At both shelters, we were able to deliver framed prints to each of the families. In one instance, a mother of two had recently lost all of her pictures, and these were the first new pictures she had of her children. Timing really is everything!

At the end of the week, we received a great message from the director of shelter:

"I received some great comments from the staff at [ the shelter] about you and your photographs. You really blessed our residents in such a tangible way. You have a gift of making people feel beautiful and special. Thanks for uplifting our women and children during this difficult time in their lives. Your heart to serve us was a huge blessing. Thanks for sending me your link so I could see your shots. It was fun for me to see so many great photos. You’d never know these women were staying at a homeless shelter."

Until next time - Jerry
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The Camera Loves You

May 3, 2015

Untitled photo
Most of us spend very little time in front of a camera. Making ourselves the center of attention and knowing moments of our lives are being capture for further review tends to make us nervous. It also tends to make believe that "the camera hates me" or "I don't photograph well".

A good photographer will show you, through the pictures he takes and the confidence gain upon seeing high-quality, professional photographs of yourself, that the camera is there to bring out the natural beauty it sees.

I took the photograph above at Manito Park in Spokane, Washington on a partly sunny day. Equipment was the Canon 5D Mark III, 50 mm prime lens, with an aperture of f/3.2 and set at ISO 100. The natural light framed our model beautifully.

If you've considered having your portraits done, whether for work, your acting portfolio, or just to have for your favorite social media site, let us show you how much fun you can have and how great you'll look under the lens of a professional photographer.
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