Monday, January 28, 2008


I really love the look of sarongs on a model. There's something so sexy, and a bit exotic, about them. The sarong is very versatile too. It can be wrapped in so many different ways and used to hide flaws or to accentuate the form. The fact that sarongs come is so many different sizes, styles and colors is a great benefit as well.

A few years ago, a gentleman in India saw some of my Oregon Country Fair photos. In the images, many of the fair goers were wearing sarongs of one sort or another, including several of the ladies in my party. He really enjoyed the photos and was kind enough to send me a huge box of sarongs from his factory in India for use to use at the next fair. Both of the sarongs seen in this posting came from the supply that he sent to us and I still use them for the fair and for use in photo sets.

Whenever I travel, especially to any place tropical, I always look for new sarongs to pick up for my photography sessions. In 2006, on a trip to Hawaii, we picked up several new sarongs, and even bought some for souvenirs to bring home to the family. These were very well received. they came is especially useful when we had our Luau Party in 2007.

Clothing certainly helps to determine a mood, and sometimes a sense of location, in photography and the sarong suggests an exotic tropical locale, especially used with water and direct sunlight. Add a bit of sandy beach and a model shoot done is Alaska can be made to look as though it was shot on a tropical island.

I used a sarong for this model shoot with Sierra in September of 2007. Even though we were shooting along the Willamette River in Oregon, the sarong and the framing makes it appear as if we were shooting in some exotic tropical location.

So, if you enjoy shooting glamour, or enjoy just want a different look for portraits or other shots, pick up a few inexpensive sarongs and experiment with them. I think you'll find they're a lot of fun for both you and your model.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Photography Article

Just added a new article about the Columbia River Gorge, one of my favorite places to visit for photography. You can read it here.

You can read about it here.

Feedback is always welcome.

Not much else is happening photographically recently. I did help a friend last night with the flooring in the studio he's putting together over his garage. He has a great space for it, and I've got some gear he can use once the space it all put together. It will be fun working with him and show him how to set up and use studio strobes once we get everything going.

I also ordered a couple of new backdrops from B&H photo. These will come in useful when shooting in limited space as they are the Botero Collapsible units. I'm hoping they'll be just the right size for location shooting and for a smaller studio space.

I had been saving for a couple of new lenses, but unfortunately, the furnace went out on Tuesday, and had to be replaced today to the tune of a little over $2400. That, along with the new garage door openers and the repairs my truck is going to need, will set back my plans for a while. Fortunately, the money for the repairs is available, but it would sure have been nice to hang on to it for a while longer.

I'm getting a bit of the winter photographic blues, so I've been trying to work around them by writing more articles for my website. That's been fun and interesting and it allows me to put my photos to good use by helping others, I hope, learn more about photography, equipment and places to shoot. Still, I'd rather be shooting. Having a read day job puts a crimp in that during the wintertime, since by the time I get home, it's already too dark for outdoor shooting and I don't have any new models to work with right now. But, soon, I hope, there will be more shooting for fun and profit.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Working with MacJournal 5.0

I’ve been trying to find a good journaling interface that will work well with the Blogspot site. I had hopes for MacJournal, so I bought version 3.5 and tried it out. It was fine for uploading text, but it simply couldn’t deal with the photos. That is, to say, it would not let me insert the photos into the entry on the computer and then upload both the text and the photos to So, I used the Blogspot online interface, and that’s one of the reasons my entries for the first couple of years were so sparse. It was simply too cumbersome a process to pick out the photos, resize them for the web, upload them to a file sharing site, write the blogger post using their interface, then insert the photos in the right spot. And with the old Blogspot interface is was a major pain.

When the Blogspot interface improved, it became a bit easier, as I could use my own web server where I host my portfolio photos, but I still wanted a one step solution. So, I tried upgrading to MacJournal 4.0.

Despite the upgrade, there was no significant improvement. The Blogspot interface still gave me a better solution for putting the photos and text together - and especially for aligning photos the way I wanted them to be (left, right or center). But, at least with MacJournal 4.0, I had the option of downloading the photos from my online journal into the MacJournal interface so they would show up in the local entries. That was at least an improvement, and I was satisfied to use the improved online interface for Blogspot for the time being.

Then today, I got a notice from Mariner Software that MacJournal 5.0 was available and I could upgrade for a mere $19.95. The press release touted an improved interface with the ability add video and audio to the journal. So, I though, “what the hell” for twenty bucks, I’ll try it out. Maybe it will finally give me the working interface I’ve been looking for this time.

It didn’t. First of all, I’ve lost my ability to download the photos from the entries posted using the Blogspot interface. I don’t know why, as this seemed to work quite well with MacJournal 4.0.

Then, after I downloaded the initial entries from Blogspot, any attempt to download additional entries, caused the program to crash hard. I tried resetting the preferences, deleting the preference, and even removing and reloading the application, but nothing helped.

And, although this version of MacJournal is supposed to let me upload my photos, videos, and audio to an ftp server (preferably my own), it simply doesn’t work. By that, I mean, if I put in the ftp address, provide the correct username and password and the desired path, the files simply don’t upload. Interestingly enough, though, if I use .Mac, the photos do upload and MacJournal correctly links to the images (though without any alignment parameters). That’s what I’m doing with this entry.

You might have noticed that the images associated with this entry are somewhat aligned (left and right), but that’s simply because I’m using a work around of putting tables into the MacJournal entry and aligning the photos into the individual table cells. Edit: The table alignment didn’t work. I had to actually go add the photos later via the blogger interface, so this sucks even worse than I thought it did before.

So, I guess I’m only out $20 for this experiment, and although it does give me a one step option for uploading both photos and text in a simple unaligned format using a non-centralized location for the photos, it’s still a downgrade since I can no longer use the Blogspot interface and then download the entries with photos into MacJournal. I also don’t like having to put the photos into .Mac vs. putting them with the rest of my photos on my own server. Geez, why can’t someone just create a nice elegant user interface that works well across the board?

BTW, the photos are supposed to represent my willingness to experiment. :)

Test with photo


Test with photo and ftp to

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Back a few years ago, a Harley Davidson Drag Racing team came to me with the idea of creating a t-shirt they could sell at their drag meets. They lined up the girls, the graphic artist that would convert the photos into the final t-shirt graphic, as well as the t-shirt printing company. So early one Saturday morning in July, a big trailer pulled up in front of my house, and this very interesting bike was rolled out of the back and into my garage where I had set up a back drop and some studio lights.

The backdrop didn't matter a great deal since it was going to be cut from the final photos when the images were turned into the t-shirt graphics. The interesting part was that the bike, with it's extended front rails was much, much longer than I had anticipated, and though I thought that I had more than enough room in my garage studio, the front end of the bike stuck out of the garage and into the driveway a bit - which prevented closing the garage door.

This really wasn't a problem until the models showed up, and I realized that what the team had envisioned was a couple of nude girls on the bike with their "bits" to be covered by the team banners when the graphic artist did the final work later. To top it off, my 13 year old niece and my 65 year old mother were visiting from their small hometown in Georgia. I wasn't too worried about my mom and my niece, though they were quite curious about what was going on in the garage, but I didn't think it was the best idea to be shooting nudes in my wide open garage on a Saturday morning in the summer.

So, I got the bike team to help me rig another set of backdrops over the garage door to add some privacy and we started shooting. The team had several ideas, and we tried a number of variations, which did include some bikini shots. The rider had to dress up in full leathers and a helmet, and this meant we had to take several breaks to let him cool off (both physically and mentally).

At one point, my niece eluded my wife and manged to get out to the garage to get a drink from the beverage refrigerator, and her eyes got quite wide when she saw the shooting activity. She just had to run back inside to tell my mother that "Uncle Mark has a bunch of naked women and a biker gang in the garage."

Of course, that meant Mom had to come out for a look herself. She just chuckled at the site, and then she started chatting up one of the bike team members. Soon enough the shoot was over, the models hung around to get a few shots for their own portfolios, and the bike team loaded up the equipment in the trailer and got ready to leave. While I was burning the raw images to a disk for the team, the girls got dressed, the team finished their loading and my mom invited them all out to the back deck for a cold beer. She must have kept them out there talking for the better part of an hour, and when she got back to Georgia she bragged about how she had beers out on my deck with a biker gang and a bunch of naked women.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Great News!

On Christmas Eve our son gave us a call to let us know we were to be grandparents again. That's right, he and his wife have a baby due sometime in August. Then, a few days later, our youngest daughter called to let us know she is pregnant with her second child and is due in September. So, we're now in great spirits and looking forward to some new babies to spoil.

Babies do grow up so quickly though. Our first grandchild is now 18 months old and walking. Although she still loves to be held, especially at nap time, she's plenty active and prefers to be chased and needs constant amusement. Here she is when she was just one day old and fit easily into the crook of her grandpapa's arm. It will be fun to have a couple more at this age. I guess I'll be able to put one in each arm this time.

Of course, they'll grow up quickly too, but that's all part of the fun.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

An Old Favorite

I don't know what it exactly it is with this photo that makes me love it so - well, besides the beautifully obvious - but it's always been one of my favorites, despite being shot with a simple point and shoot camera. I took this over eight years ago during a shoot with a very close and lovely friend of mine. We spent a day at a riverside park shooting all different kinds of photos. Her husband brought his motorcycle along, and we decided to do a lingerie and leather shoot utilizing the bike as the main prop. I also shot the images in medium format film, but actually the digital photos were much better. I can't say why, exactly, but it may simply be the way the film was scanned. This shot, however, just captured the whole set quite nicely. It's sexy and erotic without being over the top, and it shows off the models best (and favorite) asset. As I recall, she was quite pleased with the shot as well. Sometimes, everything just comes together and we get the one picture that exemplifies the whole shoot.

That isn't to say that the shot wasn't planned. In fact, the light was metered using a handheld incident light meter, the camera was set to those readings, and the model was posed specifically for this shot. But everything just seemed to coalesce to provide an excellent result.

There are a few things I would do differently if I could recapture the image, but given the limitations of the camera I was using, it was the best, I think, that could be done. I wish there was a bit more background blur, but with the very small sensor of a digital point and shoot camera, that wasn't really an option. I'd also have the model lift her chin a bit more to provide more separation between her face and her shoulder. I'd probably lower the visor on the helmet to remove the distracting reflections, and I might (but I'm not sure) have the model twist her body just a little less, but only if I could keep her hips in the same position.

By the way, the model is a wonderful lady, beautiful in body, face and personality, and loads of fun to work with, and  she is willing to try just about any pose suggested. I think we both had a great time shooting that day. I certainly know that I did.