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Beginner Photography: Best of 2016

Happy holidays! This post is going to be a look back on my photography journey so far this year, as we’ll be reviewing your best of 2016 photos for the live show this week.¬†

So, this might not be much of a dramatic transformation as I only started this series 4 months ago, but I can certainly say I’ve tackled new projects and stretched myself. I mean, I was second shooter on a wedding! That’s crazy. I found out which genres I’m not great at (landscapes, still life) and some that I was surprisingly good at (spooky, wedding, street). I started shooting with a borrowed Olympus E-M10¬†with a Lumix 14-42mm lens,¬†which felt like a revelation after using my Samsung smart phone for so long, but now I am feeling limited by my gear again.

I found that I need to work on mastering my camera settings. I still rely on automatic mode a bit too much, I don’t nail focus as often as I’d like. I’m better at finding my shots rather than creating them, I could use to plan more.

So I’m going to post my favorite images from these past few months below,¬†in chronological order:


This shot was taken with my phone, so the settings were out of my control. But the sun was high, so the shutter speed was fast and the ISO was low. I love the mood, the action, and the colors. I feel I successfully captured the joy of children in summer. 



Another phone shot! I could not have planned something like this. Just a beautiful moment I happened upon in the Muir Woods. The light filtering through the trees, the backlighting of that lone stump.


I loved this bright turquoise wall, and I only had to sit for a few minutes to catch someone walking by it. I shot at 1/400th of a second at f/8 and ISO 200.



This is one of my most successful shoots to date, and one that I actually planned out instead of winging. I dressed up my daughter in a vintage dress and applied some makeup to appear dead. I shot behind an old school and an abandoned church at sundown for the mood. The leading lines bring you to her and then off into the darkness. 1/60th, f/4, ISO 800.



This shot is one of my favorites, and it may only be because I know the people in it. I cut off feet, but I love the mixed eye contact, the anxious energy and mood. I was second shooter for a friend who lent me her Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70 f/2.8. It was shot at 1/1000th, f/2.8, and ISO 1250 which is insane. I could have certainly shot at a lower ISO and shutter speed.



Another example of the right gear making the shot. I was shooting with the D500 and a 200-500 f/5.6. This was shot at 1/800th, f/5.6 and ISO 100.



My first attempt at night photography was my most successful. Shot with the Olympus at a 6 second exposure, f/5 and ISO 200.


So those are my favorite shots I took this year. I got to play with cameras I will never own and shoot with really talented photographers. I got to do some travelling and force my family into modeling. I got to practice making art in a way I haven’t in years. I am really enjoying this, and I hope you are having fun watching me try and fail and try and sometimes succeed. You can see all my past posts here.

What do you think I could use to work on this year? What would you like to see me try? What have you learned shooting this year?

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Live Show Recap: Adventure!

Hey ya’ll! We looked at your adventure¬†photos this week which was not nearly as popular as landscapes.

Folks: don’t somehow acquire Tony or¬†Chelsea’s phone number and call or text them about photography. That’s terrifying.

We don’t have a live show next week, but the week after, September 15th will be on car photography with a guest.

SDP now has closed captioning on the videos, so if that’s something you need, there you go!

Some photo news:

  • Instagram now lets you zoom! Which isn’t great.
  • submit your “Stop It!” photos to us at We’ll make fun of your worst or most cliche photos.

“Bokeh that pepperoni.”

Let’s get into some Chit-Chat, Chelsea’s favorite segment where people say mean/weird/funny things to us and we give them positive reinforcement for some reason:

  • Tony should be the president because he’s nice
  • Annie Leibovitz, like Harry Potter, lived in a closet
  • this just in: men criticize talented women
  • Tony’s goatee makes him look like a crazy jazz musician
  • Smaakjeks is our favorite commenter
  • Also this just in: Tony is chill “I’ve never seen people rally so well to bust someone’s balls”

What should T&C do a video on with Chris and Jordan from The Camera Store TV? Give us suggestions. Chelsea’s is knife fight. “Canadian, too nice, learn to sharper a tooth brush.” “Cut me with your apologies.”

Ok, let’s look at some of your adventure photos! I’ll highlight some of our favorites:

  • “that’s the appropriate dog” “yeah, like if you bring a wiener dog to the top of a mountain, you’re out. Thumbs down.”
  • “oh no, this is a danger
  • “was this taken by the front row of oxen?”
  • beach camping
  • “this is actually the devil

Tony pauses to make everyone upset. He’s sciencing. He’s also B.F. Skinner’s kid.

  • efficient vacuuming
  • dirt¬†run
  • flying¬†kid
  • base jumper. Naturally, Justin knows what it stands for off the top of his head.
  • winner of the night! Cave diving.
  • lovely B&W
  • “I free dive now, wrestle a shark while I’m down there, get the bends eight times.”
  • “woah, this baby’s an adventure
  • Krampus¬†tradition “this is a true adventure, when your town dresses up like brooms.”
  • through the ice
  • poor bull

Over to me for some of your comments, questions, etc:

  • sun flare was real, diver was underwater

Now to a portfolio! Skip the landing page, put as much as you can on the front page. Ditch the watermarks, they don’t work. Someone called Annie a “rake.” “Is that a bad thing? Rakes have only ever been good to me.” Back to the portfolio. Pare down your images in the music section, focus your portfolio on what you’re trying to sell. Pick all your best photos and put them on the main page.

Back to me for your questions:

  • how can you add adventure to your photos if you live in a flat, boring place? Add an exciting element! Boring can be a good backdrop.
  • can you use a studio umbrella as a scrim? Yup!
  • setting the white point on photos; it can get too bright, should you sacrifice contrast? Depends on the image. You only need a tiny amount of black point and white point.

Let’s get back to photos! Tony was editing some while I asked questions:

Back over to me for some viewer questions:

  • the hay people are from Krampus celebration! They’re called Schab and they are holding whips
  • Chelsea seems to have made up a holiday tradition of beating your parents awake
  • Hubble space telescope focal length is insane
  • Photokina meet-up!

Bonus portfolio, ’cause all the cute animals.

Pre-announcement announcement! T&C are doing a photo trip to Thailand and you can join them! Stay tuned for info.

Tony flipped through the remained of your photos and highlighted a few:

  • down the barrel
  • train baby
  • swing¬†chairs
  • pink sunrise
  • rodeo
  • desert¬†sky
  • dunes
  • parasailing
  • “that seems unsafe” “they love hugs though” “no, that’s really not right”
  • was this one meant for Stop It? “I want this airbrushed on the side of my van.”
  • horse¬†in a shirt, what’s more adventurous than that? Dude’s fully dressed.”

And we made it through them all! (Except for the ones I didn’t let through.)

We’ll be back in two weeks looking at your car photos!¬†

If you were wondering, after the show ends and you hear Chelsea chastise Tony, it’s because of him breathing on the lens.

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Beginner Photography: Adventure

Hey guys! The topic for this weeks upcoming live show is “Adventure,” which is a pretty broad topic. I was trying to think of what I could shoot this week to fit the theme, as I don’t get a whole lot of adventure in my day-to-day life. It just so happened that we were headed to my brother-in-laws for a family party over the weekend and my focus changed. Instead of shooting something adventurous for me, I got to shoot the adventure of being children.

I am lucky to have an adorable child and equally adorable nieces and nephews. They spent the day splashing in kiddie pools, sliding down plastic slides and (my daughter’s favorite) jumping in a bouncy house.

While I did just borrow a cute little Samsung WB1100F from my stepdaughter, I hadn’t thought to bring it with me. So as always, these are shot on my Samsung Note 5 smartphone.


The lighting and the color of this photo just screamed “summer” to me



The movement and expressions make this one a favorite.


final-175039And another of this cool baby in B&W to focus the image on her and not the distracting, bright pool in the back. 



The backlighting caused me to lose some detail in their faces, but I dodged them a bit to make up for it.


I spent some time with these images in Lightroom and Photoshop, adjusting the exposure,¬†cropping and straightening. I feel good about these. While the detail isn’t there, the colors, lighting and action make up for it. I think I captured the mood and joy of the scenes, which is what I hope for!

What would you do differently? How can I improve? Comment down below!