Category Archives: Photography

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f.3.5 – 1/160th – ISO800 – Window light on left side

I forgot how much I like shoot portraits with window light. Our new house has some large windows in the dining room and it was perfect for some soft light in early afternoon.

Also, my wife is beautiful.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly photos available to license at iStockPhoto.com

Lately, I’ve rediscovered macro photography. My first macro photo was shot in 2014 during my photo project. I had a macro photo shooting session with my pal, Jamie Carroll and we discovered this dragonfly just chilling on a plant in my backyard. I decided to put my speedlight on a stand and shoot some macro photos (50mm lens mounted backwards). The speedlight adds some extra contrast and lighting that really makes these great.

My macro photo gear consists of lens extension tubes and a reversal ring. Altogether, this gear cost maybe $30. Combined with my 50mm lens and Canon Rebel XS camera, this setup is plenty good enough for me. It’s not about the gear, it’s about your eye.

I have 17 photos of the dragonfly available for license at iStockPhoto.com. See them all here!

Snacking and hanging at the beach

Amelia and mom on the beach

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Macro flower photo

I used 50mm lens attached to extension tubes and used manual focus and natural light.

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f4.5 – 1/60 – ISO 400 – 50mm lens with 2 lens extension tubes (for a closer, more macro-type image)

Macro flower

Flash photo a day - 365 photo project

I did it!

I shot a photograph a day in 2014 that utilized lighting (studio lights or flash units). I wanted to learn how to use lighting to make great photos – so this was my solution. I didn’t cheat either. Each day I shot a new photo (excluding 5 days during a family emergency). To see the whole photo project in a pinterest-style layout, check it out here. You can click on any photo to see it larger. As I wrap up this 365 day photo project, I want to recap what made this project a success – and it far exceeds just learning how to use photography lighting. Here are the many ways this photo project helped me grow and get better at my craft.

Create something I’m proud of every single day.

Something that isn’t directed by a client. Something I have full artistic control over. I’m the client! For so many years – literally since I started college and doing design on a professional level, I’ve never put forth a consistent effort to create for me. It forced me to get better because I couldn’t blame the flaws on ‘the pesky client’. I now see the evidence and benefit of having a side project that I have full control of.

Even if I had a day full of ‘minutia’ – I could look forward to the photo a day.

Even if I spent my day making detailed design or coding revisions and replying to endless emails, I could at least create one thing each day that I was proud of.

Think on my feet.

I was forced to think creatively every day. What would I photograph? How would I light it? How do I shoot a photo, edit it and post it when I have a looming deadline on a freelance project or other obligations? These challenges helped me think on my feet and push to create something I was proud of, whether I had 30 minutes or 3 hours to create something.

It made me a better designer and developer.

The act of creating a photo a day with lighting pushed me to be more agile and learn faster and try new things in other ares of my professional life – like web design and development. I would often think, “If I could figure out that lighting problem last night, why I can’t I solve this coding problem on this website?”

In these fresh stages of creativity, we are not affected by financial worries or job obligations—we are simply playing, expressing ourselves, making our soul grow and returning to the essence of creativity. The realizations that we recognize during these activities should be transferred over to our main craft.

Paul Jun

Practice makes perfect.

By doing something every day and trying something different each time, I learned a whole lot about good and bad light and how to use my equipment. Now, I feel that I’m a much better photographer than this time last year. I’m now thinking about how I can utilize this, ‘do something everyday’ concept to other areas of my life: web design/development, learning guitar and harmonica, photos of my daughter? How could I do something for just me in those area that I would learn a lot from and get a lot better?

It revolutionized my productivity.

I work a full-time job, do freelance work, home improvement projects, prepare for a new baby, AND this flash photo project. When I started this project, I was hesitant as to whether I could get everything done each day. Adding this photo project forced me to utilize my time wisely and get my work done first and procrastinate later (oxymoron, right?). What also helped was reading and applying the concepts in the book Getting Things Done