Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gift Books

I now have months worth of reading and experimenting in Photoshop thanks to the following three books from my daughter and my wife:

Skin - by Lee Varis;
7-Point System - by Scott Kelby;
Adobe Photoshop CS3 for Photographers - by Martin Evening.

All look great, all slightly different, all designed to keep me at my computer in Photoshop.

But, I definitely need to practice my lighting portrait skills after looking at some of the pictures I attempted yesterday. I used off camera flash, bounced, but too far away thus creating some hard shadows behind the victims subjects.

Plus, I need to get out and just shoot some more non-portrait shots.

But, I'm still having lots of fun learning Photoshop.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Courtenay Christmas Parade

On November 24 I drove my wife, Rena, to Courtenay so she and a few others from Port Alberni could participate in the parade as a little band that was thrown together. I'm not much for Salvation Army banding any more but my wife enjoys it greatly and I took some pictures.

They are basically just snapshots, nothing overwhelming (except, of course, the ones of my lovely wife - she's the one playing the Euphonium and wearing no hat) but I've put them up in a Phanfare album for anyone who is interested. It is also linked in the sidebar.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Let's Go Hollywood

One way to learn a new program or technique is to actually do tutorials that you read about. These pictures were made by following a technique in December's Photoshop User Magazine presented by "the Lad", Corey Barker. It is titled "Let's Go Hollywood" and is based on a movie poster effect that he saw for the movie Aeon Flux. So, I gave it a shot on a couple of pictures I had of my grandsons, Nathan and Ben.

Who knew Photoshop could be so much fun. Well worth the investment.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Making the Most of Mistakes

I like lone trees. I see them and I want to photograph them. Too often I don't stop to shoot them, but I will make it a project someday.

I took this picture outside of Drumheller in October on our way to Saskatchewan. When I looked at the pictures most of them were blurry. I think it was due to the wind and an unstable tripod. Partly because of this I purchased a new tripod, but I still basically like the shot. So tonight, I started playing with it a bit. I purposely over-sharpened it, extremely so, then applied a few Nik filters including this Polaroid Transfer and finally giving it an overlay layer blend dialed back a bit.

I kind of like how it turned out even though it really is a discard and should have been thrown out. It doesn't matter, I had fun doing it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0

While relatively new to the whole full-blown Photoshop scene, I have been enjoying learning how to better use it and how to spice up my pictures with proper developing techniques and also the use of different actions and plugins. I have been trialing Nik Software's Color Efex Pro filters, first version 2.0 and the last few days, version 3.0. There are some very useful filters that give pictures some pop and different effects.

Version 3 is mostly an interface improvement that is very nice. Plus, the U point technology is a great feature for turning on or off the filter effect on different parts of the picture. It is quicker and easier to use than brushing or erasing the effect and, to my still untrained eye, seems to work quite effectively.

It is good enough that I have been seriously thinking about buying it. However, I have been experiencing some crashes while in the interface that needs a ctrl-alt-delete to bring up the task manager and shut down Photoshop. It has happened frequently enough that I'm a little hesitant to buy it. It could be that I am taxing my computer too much and I'll have to experiment a bit more.

Also of interest is onOne Software's PhotoTools 1 Professional Edition. I have downloaded the trial version and will install it shortly to provide a comparison. However, I am beginning to wonder if there is any end to spending money in the hobby/profession.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reworked Picture

I bit the bullet today and purchased Photoshop CS3. I kind of feel like I've graduated out of kindergarten and moved into 1st grade.

Here's the big thing I like about taking pictures and playing with them in my sandbox, I mean Photoshop. No politics, no arguments, no disagreements like what I seem to experience in too many other areas of my life. (Gee, maybe it's me and not everybody else!)

Anyway, I posted an earlier version of this picture here. I was never quite completely satisfied with it so I just spent some time working it again and came up with what you see here. I used the brand new NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0. My 15 day trial of version 2.0 just ran out yesterday and I checked the site and the new one had just been released so I get another 15 day trial. I like it too much and it's another $300 program so I'd better get with it and start shooting some portraits for money or something.

UPDATE: I just kind of looked at both pictures and I still like the first one better so I better go back to the drawing table on the one above. Lots of fun.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Revisited Photo

I have taken over 4900 images on my camera since I purchased it in June of this year. Most of them are probably throw aways. Many are still waiting to get developed from the RAW format I shoot in. Plus, I've learned a lot about developing them in Adobe Camera Raw and then playing with them a bit in Photoshop. Tonight I went back and looked at some of the first shots I made. This one was taken when I was in Campbell River in June. It is shot number 288. I'm not a boater but the shot appeals to me tonight, probably because it is gloomy and cold outside and this looks much more inviting.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NAPP Portfolio

One of the benefits of NAPP is a small online portfolio for posting pictures. It is not a replacement for my Phanfare account, but it is one more place to post pictures. You can view my pictures and others by clicking on the link in the sidebar.

I also have links to a couple of Phanfare albums, one and two, where I am posting full res pictures, sometimes with a bit more explanation on what I've done with them.

Check them out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I joined NAPP, The National Association of Photoshop Professionals. I had been thinking about it and when I read that you got a 15% discount at Adobe's store, I figured it would just about pay for itself when I purchase Photoshop CS3 in a few days. (Just haven't bit the bullet yet.) The fees were $129 US ( I think I got $10 off because of a David Ziser DVD I bought a few months ago) and it will save me around $97 when I buy Photoshop. Plus, I will get their magazine, a very interesting looking one that I have seen in Chapters for $15.95 or thereabouts. Let's see, 8 or 9 issues at $16 each plus tax equals more than the membership itself. Cool!

So does this make me a Photoshop Pro? Nah! Not yet anyway. But there are lots of tutorials and videos and stuff on their site accessible to members only.

I think it's a great deal. I'll let you know if I change my mind.

Next purchase. CS3 when the 30 day trial runs out or the Canadian dollar climbs higher again.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Still Playing with PS

I played around a bit more with a picture posted previously. I just did a vivid overlay and then added a border.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Photoshop Fun (While Learning)

I posted a couple of pictures of my wife, Rena, and I a couple of days ago. We took the pics on our recent trip to Saskatchewan. I have been playing around in the 30 day demo version of Photoshop CS3, trying to learn different and new things that will be useful if I actually ever do this as a business. I gave the extract filter a try on the picture of my wife and pulled her out of the picture and put her in with me. A little bit of scaling and it almost looks like we were both in the picture at the same time. A uselful tool to say the least.

I know for many these things are second nature in Photoshop, but it's all new for me and, even though a ripe old age of 53, it is invigorating learning all this new stuff. Now all I have to do is figure out how to retain it.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


In finally got around to installing the 30 day trial version of Photoshop CS3. Whew! Quite the program. I had started to get to know some of the features of Elements 3 (an ancient program since they just released version 6) and some things are a bit different in terms of menus and toolbar buttons. Of course, the major difference is in all the additional, pro features that you don't get in Elements. Like masks and smart filters and many others I haven't even begun to explore.

I did a couple of cool things and I've posted some pictures below. Following Scott Kelby's Photoshop CS3 book, I double processed a picture. I had a picture from my recent trip to Saskatchewan of the sun shining through some clouds that looked quite neat. However, the picture was exposed for the bright sky and the foreground was deep in shadows. Basically, you open two copies of the raw file in Photoshop, one corrected for the sky and one brightened for the dark foreground, put them together, with the bright copy on top and then make a mask and just paint the dark sky back into the picture. Very cool and gives you a picture that you probably can't capture in camera.

So here was the best I could do using just regular processing. You can see that the bottom is very dark and I was not at all happy with how it turned out.

But using the double processing I mentioned above, I was able to get this picture, which, though not perfect, is a far better picture than above, although I'm sure there are those who would consider it overprocessed in Photoshop. I kind of like it a lot, though and that's the main thing for now.

**UPDATE** On closer inspection I see that the horizon line is not level. I will be fixing that later on and reposting the picture below.

**UPDATE 2** This has now been fixed.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Scenic Portraits

This was one of the stops my wife Rena and I made on our recent holiday. I believe this was on the way to Vernon from Banff. It was pretty enough that I pulled out the tripod and set it up. So we took some pictures of ourselves.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Old Fire Engine

This is a close-up of some detail from an old, horse-drawn fire engine taken at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, SK on October 18, 2007.

The picture itself was taken just with the on-camera flash. The ISO was at 800 because initially I thought I could shoot inside this museum with available light. Some post processing was done to remove the color and get the look I was happy with.

For the most part, I am still just experimenting with the different features in Photoshop (and only Elements 3 currently.) Lots to learn even in an older version of Elements.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pumpkin Patch

My wife and I went on a field trip with my grandson's pre-school this morning (actually, we followed the bus in our vehicle). We went to a pumpkin patch just outside of Vernon where I took this shot of, well, pumpkins, obviously!

Saskatchewan Sunrise

My wife and I have been on Vacation that has taken us from our home on Vancouver Island to Cranbrook and Kimberly to see my brother and on to Saskatoon and Regina with stops on the way to see my mother and relatives (some of the relatives I haven't seen in 16 or 17 years.) We are now in Vernon visiting my kids and grandkids.

I've taken a lot of pictures but haven't had much time to work on them. I did manage to work on this sunrise that I took on Tuesday morning shortly after we left Saskatoon at about 7:30 Saskatchewan time. I hope the odd one or two of you that drops by this site enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Glowing Grass

I continue to play around a bit in Photoshop (Elements 3 currently but hopefully CS3 soon) and thought I would see what I could do to spice up a picture I took this summer in Kekuli Bay. The first photo below is a picture of some grass blowing in the wind. One night I was sitting by the fire, the propane lantern was sitting on the table and I noticed the grass blowing softly in the breeze, lit by lantern light. I got my camera and tripod out and took a few shots. I wasn't real happy with what I captured so I tried again the next night and this was one of the one's I liked the best. Last night I did some level adjustments and improved it a bit and this is the result.

Then I thought I would play around with some of the filter effects in Photoshop and I liked the one below the best. I really enjoy the abstract effect of the shot. I know it is obviously altered but that's some of the fun that I'm having right now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Portraits of Sisters

I am continuing to play around with Elements in preparation for upgrading to CS3 some day. I've been working on portraits I took for my church directory and came up with this shot of Mackenzie and Jenna. I kind of like it. The black and white look was made using a gradient mask layer. I was surprised at how it turned out.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Another Sproat Lake Scene

Although I don't think anyone is visiting this site, I will continue to post some pictures from time to time. I spent a bit of time working this picture, also taken while camping at Sproat Lake the first week of September. I've photoshopped it quite a bit for effect. I wanted the water blurry (since I didn't get it in camera) but the tree sharp so I worked it a bit. I kind of like it. I should be tracking what I do to these pictures because I never remember after I've done it. I'll have to start doing that.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Scott Kelby Photo

Check out this picture by Scott Kelby taken at Glacier National Park (note: click on the picture to see a bigger version. I love the smooth effect you get on waterfalls by using a slow shutter speed. I have been attempting similar things myself but I have to learn to get up earlier before the light is too bright to get the slow shutter speed. Either that, or invest in some good ND filters.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Animoto Slide Show

I'm still playing around a little bit with this Animoto site. Here's another slide show with a few pictures from our vacation this summer. Animoto currently allows and unlimited number of 30 second shows. Longer ones are either $3 per show or you can sign up for a year for $30. It could be an interesting way to show off photos.

I have to admit, it's a little wild for people of my generation, but it seems to be right up there in league with YouTube and Facebook and stuff like that. Wow! You can even post it on Facebook.

Animoto Slide Show

I'm continuing to experiment with different ways to show pictures. I have a couple of Slide shows in previous posts and here is one from a new one just making the rounds called Animoto. Click play below to show what I did in just a few seconds since I already had some small photos set aside that used in the Slide slide show previously.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sproat Lake Park Scene

I spent some time on selfish endeavors tonight and worked on a picture I took a couple of weeks ago while we were camping. It's just some rocks in the water, but I like the scene. I might do some more work on it later, but this is what it is for now.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Portrait of a House builder

I volunteered to take portraits of people in my church for a church directory so that I can learn and possibly add it to my business interests. During a lull, my daughter showed up and wanted to borrow my truck to pick up a compacter because she and her husband are building a house and that's what she's working on today. She looked pretty cute in dirty, grubby clothes and I made her sit for a quick shot in exchange for borrowing the truck. The result is below even though she said, "don't put it up on the internet or anything. Too bad, Terri. It's going up on Facebook next.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The only thing worse than having a picture taken of you when you are totally oblivious to the fact is to have one taken with a dog hunkered down underneath you. I absolutely love this picture. I was busy trying to take a shot across a little pond of the bride and her sister when the groom's son (I think) took this shot of me. Now, you have to understand that I really don't like dogs (or cats even though we currently have three residing in our house) and that's what makes this picture even more delightful. I knew there was a dog running around but I had no idea that he had posed me for this picture with him (or her, who knows? I didn't look that closely.)

But hey, it almost looks like I know what I'm doing, doesn't it.

(By the way, I took way too many pictures squatted down on my haunches. Boy, did I suffer for the next few days.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Brian and Nadine's Wedding

Here's a few pictures from the wedding that I shot recently.

Summer Vacation Slide Show

I've been looking for a way to more easily share some of my pictures and here's a new way that I've just discovered. It's pictures from the summer in the Okanagan that I have referred to in a previous post and linked to (I believe) to my Phanfare site. But this might make it easier all around. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blog Name Change

I've decided to change the name of the blog from (the rather lame) Reflections II to what I think I will call my photo business if it ever becomes one. I rather like just using my first name, in full and so Timothy's Photography it is (for now anyway).

Processing Pictures

Whew! It is a far greater task than I anticipated to go through photos and sort them, convert from RAW and I still have cropping to do and some minor photo retouching to do. My eyes are aching, but it is a vast learning experience. I now begin to understand the importance of work flow. Mine currently needs a lot of refining.

I still intend to get some pictures up, but most of my time has been spent working on the pictures.

One thing I am beginning to understand: I either need to get a far speedier workflow or teach my wife how to do it. It would be next to impossible to shoot a wedding every week, still work at my mill job and try and stay on top of getting pictures ready. Not possible. Of course, I currently have no other weddings planned, but I have offered to do a church directory for my church so that will be the next project.

Someday, I hope to make some money at this, at least enough to support my photo habit.

I've put up a couple of links in the sidebar to two excellent sites. Have a look.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What I've Learned

I got through my first wedding shoot yesterday. The pictures still need to be processed but a quick look through shows adequate coverage. I don't know if it's any better than what anyone can get just by grabbing a quality camera and shooting but it's a first learning step.

Some thoughts on what I still need to figure out:
  • posing techniques
  • better understanding of lighting
  • using fill flash for outdoor shots
  • keeping fit
On that last note, I have let my exercise slip these last several months and I suffered for it yesterday. My legs ache from squatting down to get shots free of background clutter and/or get to a level to shoot those who are seated. My left bicep is sore from bearing the brunt of carrying the camera while shooting. The camera isn't exactly light, especially with a flash perched on top and my arm was complaining by the end of the day.

In short, lots still to learn and it's hard work. Harder than I would have thought.

But now, some of the fun part; the processing and picking out the best shots, cleaning up some of the backgrounds and getting them up on a slide show for the bride and groom and family to see.

No money involved in this learning experience but I'm still interested in pursuing it to see how far I can take it. Nothing like a new venture as I approach my 53rd birthday.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A First For Me

I'll be leaving in a few minutes to attend a wedding of a friend. They weren't going to have a photographer so, since I'm exploring this as a possible sideline, I offered to shoot their wedding in exchange for the experience and to start building a portfolio.

The only real thing I'm nervous about is making sure I get all the "standard" shots and hoping the rain holds off. Of course, I want to do my best to take it to a level beyond just a guy and a camera. This involves being more aware of lighting and angles and shot composure than the average shooter. So, we'll see.

Above all, it is a learning experience. I know the couple will get some higher quality pictures because the DSLR just takes better pictures than the average point and shoot. Plus, shooting in RAW I can go into the pictures and set the correct white balance and other things that can help make up for any minor mistakes in the field.

If I need to use flash, I have my shoot through umbrella ready to go off-camera aided by my lovely assistant who also happens to be my wife and very supportive of my attempts (although she's still making me pay personally for all my equipment).

Check back later. I'll try and post a couple of the better images.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Problems and Progress

Time to write a few comments on this new (renewed) passion (obsession). I've been busy reading photo blogs and playing with pictures and trying out Phanfare, an online photo site similar to Flickr but better in my opinion although I'll have to pay for it if I want to continue using it. I've protected most of my albums so only those I want to see can see them but, if you're interested you can have a look at some of my Favorites.

On to the problems. I had ordered a couple of lighting kits from a store in Ohio that arrived while I was on vacation. When I opened them up, one of the strobes was missing. Great. So I phoned the store the next morning and no problems, they would ship it to me. They did so very quickly. Along with the shipping via USPS comes a notification from them via email that allows you to track the progress of the parcel. Very nice. Last Thursday, the notification showed that there was an attempt to deliver it, but no indication in the mail box that the parcel was now waiting at the post office. (My assumption was that it went Canada Post once it crossed the border, just like the previous parcels.) The next day, I inquired at the post office, but they had no record of it. Great......where's my flash? The email notification that evening showed an attempt to deliver on Friday and that a notification had been left. But, I didn't have one.

Yesterday, I returned to the post office, they still had no record. So I went to a couple of couriers just in case it had come through them. No luck, although it turns out I was on the right track. Then I finally punched the number into Canada Post's web site and it showed attempts at delivery but that the parcel was still in Nanaimo, about 50 miles from where I live. So, back to the post office and she suggested that I go to the main post office today and talk to someone named Keith.

So off I went today to the main post office, Keith was out but a very nice postie copied my papers and said he would call and look into it. A little while later he called me and said it showed that it had gone to one of their partners at the border and the only partner they used was Purolator. So I called them and they told me it was at the local Purolator drop off. I went up at lunch and, at last, got my parcel. All along I was annoyed that a drop off card wasn't left, or someone brought it in and forgot it or it got mixed up with something else.

The final irony of it all is that after work today, I took a better look around our porch and, sheesh, there was the card lying beside some rose bushes. All that fretting and fussing and anger for nothing, except they need to use some better stick-um or something.

So, that's the problems. The progress? A union buddy who plays in a band asked if I would take photos for them so they could send them to places interested in hiring them. A good opportunity to continue to practice photography and build a portfolio and maybe someday, I'll actually feel like I can charge a fee for all of this.

My first wedding is coming up in a week and a half and that should be challenging and interesting and scary. Again, it's a freebie and they weren't going to have a photographer, but I still want to do the best job possible. A customer is a customer whether they are paying or not. The benefit for me is building a portfolio, getting experience and finding out if I might be any good at this.

The new picture on my profile is one I took last night using a flash and a shoot through umbrella. I was trying to do an assignment found on the Strobist blog. I didn't quite manage to accomplish the challenge but learned some about lighting. I think the picture is okay, considering it was taken in my kitchen, by myself using the camera's shutter timer. (Okay, my wife did push the button for the last couple of shots for me, including the one I've used.)

Of course, on close inspection I should have trimmed my beard and mustache. Another time.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Lots of Pictures

I've just returned from two weeks holidays camping (well, if you call it that, we do use a 19 foot travel trailer with a queen size bed and a bathroom down the hall) outside of Vernon, B.C. Saw lots of family and friends and took a ton of pictures with the new camera. A lot were simply snapshots but I was trying to learn the features of the camera and get back into the specific abilities of an SLR versus a point and shoot.

Some mistakes I made were: changing the ISO for low light situations and forgetting to change it back in bright light settings; switching to aperture or shutter priority for specific shots and then forgetting to change that back to adapt for different situations; just plain failing to make changes to ISO or shutter or aperture to accommodate the shooting situation; and relying too much on the auto focus and ending up with the wrong thing in focus - too common a problem for all of us.

But, all of this is a good learning experience and it is why I took so many shots. Some of the one's I think are better are posted on my Flickr Photo page. Here's one I especially like:


Friday, June 22, 2007

Venturing Forward

Welcome to a new blog. Unlike my previous blogs this one will be focused on a renewed passion in an old interest - photography. I have called it Reflections II because I thought it fit with a photography theme.

I hope to use this site to document personal progress with this medium and also point to some of the great sites that I have already discovered that can help take your's and my photography to another level.

What are your photo interests? Everyone likes to take photos of friends and families, but wouldn't it be great if we could figure out simple techniques for improving those photos?

From point and shoots to the latest in digital SLRs I have been learning a lot over the last few weeks. I went ahead and splurged on a new Canon 30D with a 17 to 85 mm zoom lens. In the near future I will be purchasing a budget lighting system.

What are my interests? I love shooting landscapes and recently did my first three pic panorama stitched together with the software that came with the camera. I have used it as my banner photo above. But, I always wanted to do portraits and recently have been considering getting into the wedding photography business. This has in part been motivated by a desire to both find a way to support another expensive hobby and also because of ongoing shutdowns at the mill I work at. I'm still working but.....

Anyway, I'll be trying to get some good info on this site, probably basic stuff initially, but that is where I had to start in moving into the digital SLR world.

Until the next time.