Yes, I have been MIA…for this entire year. I thought I was going to be able to blog all the way through this, but it turns out I can’t blog, leave my job, pack, have a sinus infection, and road trip all at the same time.

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August SoCal Photog Shootout

August SoCal Photog Shootout

It was a hot weekend. My quads were sore. And come to think of it, so was my left shoulder. For a minute, I couldn’t remember what I could have possibly done to make myself feel so out of shape, and then I remembered. The prior evening, I had spent three hours at my first SoCal Photog Shootout, and with all the crouching, getting low, and standing upright again, I had made my legs sore. Carrying around my camera equipment was apparently too much for my shoulder. Was I that pathetically out of shape???

I wasn’t sure what to expect at my first shootout, but I had a great time shooting, meeting new people, and observing other photographers. We met up in Irvine Regional Park, and if you can imagine a group of 50 photographers swarming around a handful of models, well, that’s exactly what it was. I felt like a paparazzo! This is how we looked:


Yes, it was a little crowded at times, sharing angles and jostling for position, but I was just there to learn something new about lighting. So I had a great time snapping some random photos and talking with Doug McNamee from Tilt N Shift (that’s him up there holding the reflector) about how to think about different light and when to use fill light outdoors. Based on Doug’s suggestions, I even tried out using my flash outdoors while there’s still daylight (which I’ve never done) but it was tough since the light we were getting was already so great. And it was also the first time I got to shoot anything using reflectors, which I now know that I love. I’ve decided that I must get one of my own, although it will be a workout (for Edwin!) to hold it up properly.

A big thank you to Hanssie Trainor and Matthew Saville for organizing such a great event! Also, huge props go to the All Made Up Team for doing such a fabulous job with the hair and makeup, and also to Triple Scoop Music for their generous donations!

Some of my favorite shots of the day:

Kaylie was the first model I worked with during the day. She’s actually a dancer and is down for trying anything, so some of the poses she got in for us were amazing! And, of course, she is just stunning, which makes it hard to take a bad photo of her.







In my second session of the shootout, I went along with Rachel Amara and David Liggett to try out some couples shots. Seriously, these two look like they came right out of a clothing catalog. I even heard multiple people asking them if they were a real couple because they just looked so comfortable together.





And then I finished out the day with Kaylie and David. I wish I had eyes like these…



And of course, a big thank you to all the models at the shootout – they were fantastic! It wasn’t an easy day to look calm, collected, and sexy!

On Top of Old Smokey

On Top of Old Smokey

I heard it before I saw it. It was the day we were to drive through the Great Smokies, and I woke to the familiar sound of rain. And it wasn’t just a drizzle, it was a downpour. What was to be a day of hiking and enjoying the great outdoors was quickly turning into a day of just…driving.

Then, miraculously, as we drove into the park, the rain began to clear. Even though it was still cloudy, we were graced with the occasional ray of sunshine. The downpour made the trails a little too muddy for hiking, but the clouds made it a great day to take photos of running water. My sadness about the rain quickly turned into excitement. Excitement because I was going to have the chance to experiment with my tripod.

I just have a cheap, really light tripod that I bought many years ago when I knew even less about photography than I do now. Even though I’ve had the tripod for a while, I’ve rarely had the opportunity to use it. And now, empowered with my tripod, I became so obsessed with photographing water that we spent nearly our whole day taking photos…of the same stream! Every time I thought we could move on, I had to see what would happen if I held the shutter open just a little longer, or if I bumped up my f-stop just a little more. I was so engrossed that we almost didn’t make it to Memphis in time to grub on some Corky’s. I know! But notice I said almost. Of course I got my Corky’s!

I really do wish we had had more time to enjoy the Great Smokies. But the lure of BBQ pork ribs was just too great.

Some of my favorites from the day:

This is what I thought our whole day was going to be like. And that’s what I felt like. A boiled peanut.


But…ta-da! No more rain!




I’m sure we spent well over an hour here. It was so gorgeous that I just did not want to leave. And I was having too much fun with my tripod.






Geek Date 1.0

Geek Date 1.0

We called it a geek date. She wanted to know what all the dials on her camera meant, how to create a more dramatic depth of field, and when to use which setting. So one day, over lunch, we brought our cameras and I tried to show her everything I would have wanted to know when I got my first SLR.

I purchased my first SLR with my first significant bonus. I had been working for nearly two years, and decided that I deserved a “bonus gift”. A good friend of mine from college bought herself a Gucci handbag. I, on the other hand, bought myself a Canon Rebel film SLR. I had never owned a camera in my life. And I had no idea what I was doing.

That summer I took a street photography class at NYU. It helped me understand how to better frame a photo and forced me to take a roll of photos every week. The more I shot, the better I got – and that was probably the biggest lesson I learned from that class. It was the extent of my “training”. But at that point, I was still shooting in an automatic setting, and half of the functions of my camera were lost on me.

I’m not sure exactly where along the way I figured out how to use the manual functions of my camera, but I know it happened once I got my digital SLR. It gave me the freedom to experiment and know exactly what settings I used for which photo – something I found frustrating as I was trying to teach myself on my film SLR.

A while back, my coworker decided to purchase her first digital SLR. She ended up getting the Canon Rebel Xsi (I made a strong case for the Canon!), complete with a fancy camera bag from Costco. And when she asked to have a “geek date” – her words, not mine – I was happy to oblige. We went over what all the dials on her camera were, what aperture and shutter speed mean, and how to use the manual, Av and Tv modes (and even talked a bit about why you would choose to shoot manual instead of either Av or Tv).

Since then, my coworker has told me that our mini lesson was really helpful for her, and we’re looking to schedule our next geek date. I’m definitely looking forward to it, because, since I am clearly no photography expert, geek date 1.0 was as much a lesson for me as for her. There are many things about my camera I take for granted, and things I do I can’t explain. Trying to answer questions from my coworker was just another reminder of how far I need to go. We’ll likely soon reach the limits of my photographic knowledge, so I’ll have to challenge myself to have something interesting ready for geek date 2.0…and hopefully become a better photographer because of it!

Since photos always make everything more interesting, here’s a photo I took…the day after geek date. I had hoped to have more fun photos from geek date, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. So I took this while stuck in traffic on the way home from work.