Sep 182014

This limited time offer is available only to Conejo Valley and West San Fernando Valley high school Juniors and Seniors.  I’m looking to build a Senior Portraits Portfolio.  So you’re in luck.  We both win.  I’ll get the photos I need and you’ll get a set of fully retouched professional portrait photos at a price that you can’t beat, FREE (really).  This technique of mutual gain is used by many aspiring models and actors. We can even arrange for a few pictures with a good friend.

I’m NOT looking to do standard studio  headshots. I’ve literally done 1,000′s of  studio headshots.  What I want is someone interested in having some creative location photos that tell the viewer something about you.

Here’s what should you expect:

  1. After you contact me, we’ll arrange a time to talk and figure out when a session will make sense and what you are passionate about.  One must… A parent (or good friend) must accompany you on the shoot… they’ll make sure you’ll look your best.
  2. Next I’d like you to go on Pinterest search for “Senior Portraits” and find 20 or so Senior portraits you like.  This will give me an idea of what you like.
  3. On the shoot day, you should bring 2 or 3 “looks” of clothes.  We’ll meet at the first shoot location (there might be two) and go from there.  If you want we can arrange for a professional  hair/makeup artist at your cost… or you can just let your parent or friend assist.
  4. After the shoot I’ll pick the best shots and do minor editing.  We’ll review the photos either in person or via the internet.  You’ll pick the final 3-5 which will get a full retouch.
  5. I’ll email you the agreed upon digital photos for your use.  I’ll keep the original high res “negatives”.  You’ll get medium res images that will be great online (Facebook or other social media) and will support high quality prints up to 8 x 10.  Larger professional prints are available if you desire at my cost.

So that’s the process.  Even if you’ve already had some Sr Portraits taken you should take advantage of this offer if you didn’t get that really “Killer” image you were looking for.

The best way to proceed is the send me an email at: or call me at 818-991-8056.

Canon 6D ISO test

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Apr 032013

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures where I needed to use a flash or high ISO and the pictures looked good at ISO 12,800. I was beginning to wonder if it was just my imagination. So I decided to do a project and test my Canon 6D at different ISOs.

The setup… The camera was tripod mounted and I used the WiFi feature to remotely trigger my camera to eliminate any camera shake (I forgot to turn for image stabilization). All shots were done with the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS at f8.0 with the Canon 6D in AV mode. I chose ISOs of 200 (the native ISO for the sensor) 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and 12800.

The following pictures are cropped to 1:1 magnification. The picture with 6 images (the the ISO settings native) is without any adjustment. The picture with 3 Images I made minor adjustments in LR4 to noise and clarity. I spent no more than 30 seconds make the adjustments.

Frankly I was surprised at how little noise was apparent in the undoctored photos. With just a few seconds of corrections in LR4 there is certainly no appreciable difference. Although I see minor shifts in color I could quickly and easily fix that.

Westside Story

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Mar 242013

I’ll be photographing the Calabasas High School production of Westside Story with performances April 16-20.  You can purchase tickets at  Here is a sample of some of the pictures.  You can see more at

Costa Rica

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Feb 222013

At the end of January my wife and I took a tour of Costa Rica with Caravan Tours. The size and topography of Costa Rica dictated that it was primarily a bus tour. Overall we found the 10 day tour an extremely good value at $1,099 (all in it was $1,299 per person including insurance.) The hotels used were definitely upscale and the tour included everything except airfare (hotels, all meals, tips, taxes, and fees).

The tour focused largely on the animals and geography. We saw monkeys, crocodiles, lizards, snakes, frogs,  and turtles along with many kinds of birds. The geography included mountains, volcanoes, wet lands, rain forests, and the arid west.

The following gallery is a sample of my pictures.  You can find the full gallery at:



Venice Canals

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Jan 052013

We’ve now lived in CA for over 30 yrs and somehow never managed to take the time to see the Venice Canals. I understand that 20years ago they were in really bad shape, but today they are experiencing a rebirth.  Lots of construction and top end homes and a nice respite from the hubbub of LA.

Regan Library

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Dec 312012

My wife and I went to see the Christmas Tree exhibit at Reagan Presidential Library last Saturday. We’ve been there several times before so we focused on the trees.

In all there were 24 trees, one for each decade of the United States… 1770 to present. The trees were each decorated with artifacts of the decade they represented not in the style of the decade. So for instance the 1890′s tree had period items on it such as a ferris wheel and other other memorabilia from the Chicago’s World Fair.

The Cat in the Hat tree represented the 1950′s and the old cell phone (often referred to as the brick) represented the 1980′s.

Dec 182012

I received my new Canon 6D December 7 from B&H.  I ordered September 17th (announcement day) but Canon didn’t deliver the camera to dealers until about December 1, 2012. In fact Canon, as of this writing, has not delivered the battery grip to any retailer yet.

This is my first Full Frame DSLR and I have to admit I really love it. The body is priced at $2,100 so it is mostly a pro/semi-pro camera. While I love it, I have to admit it’s not perfect.

Being a full frame camera did require me to buy a new travel zoom lens as my previous cameras were all APS-C (smaller sensor size).  My Tamron 18-270mm Dii, which is designed for use on an APS-C camera, vignettes badly on the 6D, so I got a Tamron 28-300mm Di which is designed for full frame cameras.  I’ll discuss the new lens at another time.

So why was I so excited about the Canon 6D that I ordered it the day it was announced.  There were actually 4 main reasons:

  • Very high ISO capabilities (up to 102,400 ISO)
  • Built in WiFi
  • Built in GPS, and
  • In Camera High Dynamic Range (HDR)

I’ll cover each of these in detail and cover a few other observations.

1/160 f5.6 ISO 12,800

High ISO – I remember only a few years ago when ISO 1600 was the fastest speed available.  More recently 6,400 ISO was the top speed. So what’s the big deal. Using 6,400 ISO as a starting point, 102,400 ISO is 4 f-Stops  more light or it will expose in 1/32 of the light. In plain English you can take a properly exposed photo in almost total darkness. The downside is that at ISO 102,400 the noise (think grain) is definitely noticeable. But I compared the noise to my other camera, a Canon T2i, and the noise on the 6D at ISO 56,200 is about the same as the T2i at 6,400. In my tests so far noise is manageable at ISO 12,800 or lower. Here are two examples shot at ISO12,800. Click on  images to see detail in a much larger version (they don’t look sharp at this small size.) Use the back button on your browser to return to this site.

1/4 sec f8.0 ISO 12,800 – click on the photo for a bigger sharper view

WiFi – Remember I’m a tech guy so WiFi seems a natural evolution. I predict that within 2 years all DSLRs will have WiFi. Why do I think it is so important? Basically because WiFi tethered shooting (Canon calls it remote control) offers so much.  I do a fair amount if studio style work and the ability to immediately see the picture on a large screen is really helpful.  If I had a permanent studio, I’d have the camera WiFi hooked up with my computer and a secondary display on my computer that is 32-40″.  This would allow the models/subjects see how things are going and make coaching a lot easier.  From the computer you can control all the majors settings. Besides actually tripping the shutter from the computer there is an interval timer.  So if you’re into time lapse photography this is your ticket.

The WiFi feature supports 6 different hook-ups including:

  • Computer remote control (Windows and Mac)
  • Phone and Tablet remote control (Android and iOS – but currently limited on an iPad)
  • Web Services – you can upload to 1 of 4 services including Canon’s free iMage and Facebook
  • Camera to Camera transfers (really?)
  • Direct to WiFi printers (I never print without some post processing), and
  • DLNA Streaming (think Media Player)

Personally I’ll never use the last 3 features.

GPS - The good news is it is built in and works as advertized. I’ve found it to be extremely accurate (about 10 ft).  It can even tell when photos are taken in different parts of my house (which isn’t a mansion.) So what’s the bad news? If you enable GPS it is busy figuring your location EVEN when the camera is turned off. This is important because it depletes the camera battery even when the camera is turn off.  I’ve found that GPS depletes the battery about 15% per day, with an update every 30 seconds, even if the camera is turned off and not used. I’ve set up update to 5 minutes and the battery drain appears to be about 8%/day.  I don’t think I should have to remember to turn on my GPS.  I don’t need to remember to turn on a function for any other meta-data and I’d like the GPS coordinates not to be an exception. Frankly, since it doesn’t really have anything to do with taking a picture I often forget to turn it on. Finally I was hoping that with the battery grip turned off, there would be no GPS battery drain… but GPS still flashes and drains the battery.

I’ve submitted to Canon suggestions to add some new Custom Functions to disable GPS when the camera is turned off. Since this is all software based, hopefully they will release a firmware update to optionally change how GPS operates.

HDR – High Dynamic Range. Well there are actually three somewhat related functions located under “SCN’ on the dial mode.  All in one way or another deal with multiple exposures.  IMPORTANT NOTE – ALL SCN functions only work with JPG  images and settings. This is sort of a pain since I always shoot in RAW.

First HDR. In this mode the camera (which can be handheld) takes three shots in rapid succession varying the exposure. The camera then aligns the photos and makes a composite that takes the shadows from high exposure, the middle tones from the middle normally exposed image, and the highlights from the the low exposure.  This is great for backlit scenes. There are advanced ways to do this in post processing if you remember to bracket multiple exposures, but the in camera operation works really well and it’s easy. One word of caution, for this to work well everything in the frame needs to be absolutely still. I took an HDR photo that looked out of focus, because the trees were swaying gently in the breeze.

Next is Handheld Night Scenes. In this SCN mode, 4 photos are quickly taken, aligned in the camera and combined to produce an image that is really very acceptable and no tripod is necessary even though it is a very low light shot.

The final SCN I’ll discuss is Night Portrait.  This isn’t really a multiple exposure and requires a flash. The way it works is a long exposure is taken to expose the background, then at the end of the exposure while the shutter is still open, the flash is fired to light the foreground subject. So since the 6D doesn’t have a built in flash you’ll have to mount an external flash for to enable this mode. I think it is interesting that the camera will let you use this setting even without a flash mounted.

Other Observations – there are several other nice and not so nice things with this camera. The following is a list of what I have found in no particular order.

  • Plus – The mode dial has a lock button. This is really great as everyone without a mode dial lock has accidentally changed the mode (P, Av, Tv, M, etc.) and ruined at least one shot.
  • BIG Plus – Increased AF sensitivity. The AF ability seems to be based on the f Stop the camera displays in the viewfinder.  In tests I’ve found that the outer AF points can focus in outdoor lighting beyond f8 meaning I can use my 2x extender outdoors with my f3.5-6.3 zoom lens through it’s entire range (with the doubler in place the REAL f Stop is f7.0 to f13…  2 f stops higher).  The center point AF is more sensitive and works in lower light situations up to f5.6 as displayed in the viewfinder. I have had an issue with the doubler where the camera got confused and wouldn’t take a picture because it could not determine the AF mode. I had to remove the doubler, take a picture, then but the doubler back in place and all worked fine.
  • Minus? – The On/Off switch is in a new location, located next to the Mode Dial. While this seems like a pretty good location, it takes 2 hands to raise the camera and turn it on.
  • Plus – Auto ISO range is fully adjustable with a Minimum value and a Maximum Value when combined with a Minimum shutter speed  and the very low noise image using Auto ISO really works. BTW – prior to this camera I’ve never thought auto ISO was worth using.
  • Minus -The Depth of Field preview button is in a new location and difficult to reach.
  • Minus – There is no button or selectable button to bring up Automatic Exposure compensation or bracketing.
  • Plus/Minus – Camera Battery. The good news is that is appears to be very smart. It has a serial number so you can track its performance. The bad news is there seem to be problems using ANY of the generic batteries.  I tried some and they would register in the camera (but the camera worked but showed the battery dead) but the big issue was they didn’t appear to charge.

While I’ve used the camera extensively for the last four weeks, I’m sure I’ll uncover a few more thing things that I like and dislike.  As I do, I’ll update this post.