Ian Kuhn Photography: Blog https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Ian Kuhn Photography [email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Tue, 24 Nov 2020 04:52:00 GMT Tue, 24 Nov 2020 04:52:00 GMT https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u1055614636-o747915818-50.jpg Ian Kuhn Photography: Blog https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog 96 120 Probably the Last https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2020/11/probably-the-last Honestly folks....I don't even know why I'm doing this anymore, or paying for this website.  I haven't updated the blog in 3 years, and I've pretty much given up on society since Trump took office (I realize he's leaving office now, but his supporters, and the people that think just like him are still out there).  

I'm pretty much just done with society, and I can't even remember the last time I took something resembling a professional photography, or updated any of the galleries on this website. 

My Bachelor's Degree in History is useless, I don't have the money to pursue a Masters...and I'm honestly thinking I should've gone into one of the sciences, but again I DON'T have the money to pursue a Bachelors in another field. 

I've been unemployed a solid 8 months now, and quite frankly I don't WANT to work anywhere that I'm actually qualified for, which creates a bit of a conundrum doesn't it? 

As far as photography goes, I pretty much put it aside for the full time job I had because quite frankly this wasn't paying the bills.  For that matter I couldn't even convince my own mother to spread my name around to her other real estate agents to try and get more real estate business.  Guess that says a lot about how crappy my photography is then, doesn't it?  I honestly don't know why I even thought starting a photography business was even a good idea at this point.  Hell, even I've started taking more photos with my cell phone because, why bother with quality?

My wife thought it was a bad idea when I first mentioned the fact I wanted to start doing photography professionally, and I guess I should've just listened to her. 

I'd say maybe it's the Pandemic and the quarantining, but honestly....I gave up on this business a long time ago.  Guess I just didn't have the heart to believe it just yet.  It's a sobering thought really, and I've thought a few times about just converting this website to something else and using the blog for something besides photography, but again....why even bother?  Not like anyone besides my dad actually reads this thing anyway.  I don't even know why I'm typing it out now other than I can't sleep and feel like I need to get it off my chest. 

Anyway.  Happy Holidays.  


- Ian.


[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) last Rant https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2020/11/probably-the-last Tue, 24 Nov 2020 04:51:26 GMT
Happy Veteran's Day https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2017/11/happy-veterans-day It is Veteran's Day Weekend, since Veteran's Day was yesterday and I don't think there's anyone out there that would begrudge us taking the whole weekend...especially since the Marine Corps Birthday was Friday.  As a Marine Corps Veteran these are days that are obviously near and dear to my heart.  And as usual, I ended up working.  

Don't get me wrong, I have no issue working on Veterans Day, I just find it infinitely amusing that my wife and son got off Friday for Veteran's Day and neither of whom have enlisted or are old enough to even do so...along with all the other kids in school who got off and are not yet old enough to even think about enlisting.

What made think to post today though is a post someone made on Facebook in one of the Veteran groups I belong to. The question was essentially, "When did it hit you that you were in boot camp." 

I have to honestly say that it was the Tuesday after Labor Day for me.  I had "Stepped on the yellow footprints" on August 10th, 1998, so as you can imagine I'd been there just under a month at that point.  We were in one of our classrooms and the topic of discussion was physics.  Specifically the physics of a bullet as it travels over time. 

Usually, when I think of physics I think of my buddies in High School, as I did again that day.  There was a Physics Club that they belonged to that every year would go to the local amusement park (Darien Lake way back in the day for those that are familiar with Western New York) and they would drop pennies from the rollercoasters and do the math on how long they would take to hit the ground from the various high points. 

The math I was learning was very similar, only instead of how long will a penny dropped from a 70' rollercoaster take to hit the ground, my math was how long will it take a bullet to travel 500 yards, and given the curve of the bullet how many clicks up do I need to adjust in order to hit my target.  Keep in mind that there was no question about what was meant by "target."  Sure we may have been getting ready to go to the rifle range at some point to shoot at paper targets, but those targets were painted to look like people.  They were painted to look like people because that was the point.  We were learning Physics to learn how to send a bullet 500 yards down range to kill a human being.  

When you're 17, and all of your friends literally just started school that same day and you're in your class setting learning how to kill people, even though you signed up to be a cook (or 3381 - Food Service Specialist), it is indeed a very sobering wake up call.  You have to remember that when they say, "Every Marine a rifleman" they mean it.  Every Marine is trained how to shoot, and to kill, in boot camp.  It doesn't matter what your Primary MOS is, if they need someone on the front line, and they look in your direction, you're going. 

So yes being a Marine means a lot to me, even after 15 years of being out of the service.  Even though I was, "just a cook," and even though I was fortunate enough to never have been in combat.  I knew going in that I could be sent at any time and not come home. 

So for everyone that signed up, and managed to come home I say, "Thank you for your service."  for those that didn't come home, either completely, or mentally, or physically intact, again I say, "Thank you for your service, and thank you for your sacrifice." 

Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) air army corps day force marine navy usmc veterans https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2017/11/happy-veterans-day Sun, 12 Nov 2017 13:23:40 GMT
New Things and Old https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2017/10/new-things-and-old This post is basically to let you all know that yes I am still alive.  Things have been very hectic over the last year, and to put it mildly it’s been a roller coaster ride.  There have been plenty of ups, and a few downs over the past year or so, and well, there’s a lot. 

On the upswing my wife and I did move into our own house.  Its funny how you never really realize how much stuff you have until it’s piled up in boxes in your living room.  My son has started second grade, my wife is teaching a class that she loves (So far, it’s still early in the school year, but she’s been far less stressed than she normally is this point in the year), and I am back serving as Receptionist at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, which as you all know is a place that I love with all my heart.

On the down side, things have gotten very political for us over the past year, and while I try to avoid talk of politics and religion, it’s rather difficult in this day and age.  As a veteran and a teacher we are very concerned about the our futures, and as a father, I see a LOT of hate in the world today, and I find myself trying to explain things to my son.  Even today I woke up to a mass shooting in Las Vegas, and I am at a loss for words. 

Where we moved we feel fairly safe.  The neighbors are friendly, my son has made friends with a little boy across the street, and I go to bed feeling mostly secure.  I still make sure all my doors are locked, but I don’t feel like I HAVE to sleep with a weapon within reach.

Right now I have a few irons in the fire and I’m hoping to work them into something spectacular, but that’s all I can really say about those for now.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2017/10/new-things-and-old Mon, 02 Oct 2017 16:17:45 GMT
I'm Back...ish https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2016/1/im-back-ish Hey folks!  Long time no see.  I apologize for that as I sit here and realize that it's been almost a year to the day since I last posted anything.  For those of you that kept up with me, despite the lack of update, believe me I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This one is going to be an update rather than photography based (just like old times, right?), but I feel it's important. 

I don't know how often I'll be able to update this thing going forward.  I have been very busy, and I have been fluctuating between being so busy that I've barely been home and sitting in my house smacking myself in the head trying to think of ideas. 

The past year has been...important.  I ended up with a POS car, that at least still gets me from point A to point B.  My wife, son, and I have more than healed from the accident.  We were lucky to begin with.  No major injuries just very, very sore, for about a month or so.  (They never show that part in the movies and tv shows do they?  Bruce Willis crashes his car and he doesn't even flinch.  I couldn't close my hand flat for a month.  Trying to click the shutter hurt like a wicked...b....witch, and my wife's ribs were sore most of the Spring. 

I'm in the process of redoing my portfolio, and I found seasonal employment with a national company that has kept me VERY busy over the fall.  As in 60 hour weeks during the September.  Which is great.  You all know I love to work, it just meant that I wasn't available to do things like update the blog.  As much as I would love to post some of the photos from those shoots, I was just the trigger, they belong to the other company. 

For those that think I'm being evasive not mentioning what company it is...it's in an attempt to separate the various sections of my life.  As this is my blog, and I'm apt to say what's on my mind, I figure keeping the two worlds separate.  Let's just say I absolutely love working for this company, and after having dealt with some of their competition...I'm very glad I made the right choice in applying with the company I did.

My wife is starting to come around to my photography after a half dozen years.  We've been looking to buying a house in the not too distant future, and after looking at some of the photos my wife turned to me and sang my praises.  It was a good feeling.  Same thing after our little guy got his first school photos back.  Again, I won't name companies out of respect, but it was nice for my wife to turn to me and go..."I really should've had you do them...but they were his first school photos and..."

Anyway.  I'm going to try and update more often.  I know that has been difficult in the past, and I suspect that trend will continue as the shooting season starts to warm up and get heavier. 

Other than that, I hope everyone has been having fun so far in this brand new 2016.  And I look forward to seeing everyone over the course of the year.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Off-Topic Update https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2016/1/im-back-ish Wed, 27 Jan 2016 13:31:37 GMT
The Last Entry? https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2015/2/the-last-entry For those of you that follow me, you've probably noticed that I've been exceptionally quiet the last month or so.  I really don't know if this is the proper forum for this or not, but I figure it's my website, and I just need to get it out there.  Last month my family and I got into a car accident.  We're all okay, but the car is totaled.  As it is I'm waiting on the check from the insurance company to come in before I can get a new car.  Couple that with the fact that I have not been steadily employed since November, and I've learned something about myself.  In the past month I've barely left the house.  I haven't had a car, and even on the weekends my wife has practically had to drag me out of the house.  As it is I haven't even picked up my camera since the accident and it dawned on me. 

I'm depressed. 

I didn't think I was.  I have been very depressed before and compared to that, I've just been kind of bummed, or at least that's what I thought, but all the warning signs are there.  I have almost no interest in anything right now.  Don't get me wrong, I love my family, I love spending time with them, but aside from that I've been sitting on the couch looking for a job and watching Netflix.  I'm not scared to drive, although my wife will tell you that I'm still jumpy and paranoid, I just...don't want to go out.  It's just really feeling like being kicked in the gut when you're already down.  jobless for almost two months, and then the car getting totaled on top of it just...sucks.

With all that in mind, I'm debating shutting down the website.  It's not that I don't love it, or sharing my art with everyone, I'm just...tired.  Don't worry, I'm not suicidal or anything, but I do recognize the signs an symptoms, even if some are more subtle than others, and will be talking to my PCP about it in the very near future. 

I don't mention all of this for pity.  In fact I debated posting it at all, because I'm not normally one to just put it all out there, but like I said I just needed to get it off my chest. 

In good news after 3 months of being unemployed I did get called up to do some sub work, and once my background check clears I should be starting next week after orientation.  With any luck it'll be enough days during the week to help me get back on my feet.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2015/2/the-last-entry Fri, 13 Feb 2015 19:55:07 GMT
Happy New Years, 2015 https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/12/happy-new-years-2015 Just sending out a quick message to all of you to wish you a happy new year.  Here's hoping that 2015 will be even better than 2014.  I hope everyone had a great holiday season and I look forward to hearing/seeing all of you in the year to come.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/12/happy-new-years-2015 Thu, 01 Jan 2015 05:00:00 GMT
Pre-Christmas Update https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/12/pre-christmas-update This is just going to be another quick update.  As it's been a busy few weeks.  As it is I just realized I never actually updated last week, and for that I apologize.

  • After today it is officially too late to order cards by Christmas.  If you would like an order and can get it to me by end of business today it can still get there on time, but after close of business today...no more.
  • The promo shoot went well, despite it being a bit drizzly for the first half. Z and B and their troop are always fun to work with.
  • Despite being down one job since Festival is over I've been trying to stay busy with the photography.  Unfortunately, being down the steady paycheck a month before Christmas does put a damper on my mood, and I've been trying my hardest to not let it get to me.
[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Christmas Quick Update https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/12/pre-christmas-update Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:47:22 GMT
Quick Update https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/12/quick-update Just letting everyone know that I am still alive.  The time over the past few weeks has been a little wonky between the end of the Festival season and then Thanksgiving last week, and the holidays quickly approaching.  A few quick notes:


  • Its not too late to get your Christmas cards done.  In fact I have one week left before photos have to be submitted in order to be printed and here on time.
  • One of my friends and previous client asked me to do some video work for her tomorrow, and even though I don't normally do video, it's a project that I'm still happy to be a part of.
  • I also currently have plans to go to the Charlotte Comicon in a few weeks, with my wife and our little second shooter.  If you see me, don't hesitate to say hi. 

That's really it for this week, as I said, it was just a few quick updates.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Comicon Quick Update Video https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/12/quick-update Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:41:49 GMT
Thanksgiving 2014 https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/11/thanksgiving-2014 Hi folks, me again.  I know it's been awhile and I apologize for that, but it's been a busy few weeks with especially with CRF ending this past week, and believe me, I appreciate your understanding.  (See last year's entry The Importance of Family for the full skinny on why this time of year mean's a lot to me.)

This year is always a mixed bag of emotions.  Happiness with spending time with my family, and the success of another season at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. Sorrow at the end of the season as I see the friends I've made both past and present leave once again. 

Every year, for just a few months, I get to be a part of something grand and huge, and I meet lots of interesting people from a variety of backgrounds, and I got to have new experiences.  For those that don't come to festival every year because they think it's the same every year, it's really only the same on the surface.  There's new acts from old friends (If you didn't get to see The Angels,  or The Castilles this year...I am so sorry, you missed out on two wonderful new shows from some of our local actors).  There are acts by fan favorites, folks that have been around awhile, some since the beginning such as Don Juan & Miguel (whom Boyo absolutely loves), Hey, Nunnie, Nunnie (whom the Boyo also loves and will gladly sing some of their songs for you), and some that even fly under the radar of most, but really shouldn't such as Hannibal the Liar (If you've not seen his show you have yet to be amazed) among others far too numerous to mention here. 

This year I got to have a blast.  I learned the HOW of juggling clubs during an offsite workshop put on by London Broil (Many thank again to Louie, Matt, & AJ).  I'm still working on it, and I'm not quite there yet, but I know how, which is the foundation...and they were all wonderful in working with all of us, so I'm getting there.  Louie even made me promise that by the time they come back next year, I'll have it down.  My wife doesn't know this yet, but I may be practicing at my step-sister's house later today if weather permits. 

I got to see the Almost Homeless Comedy Tour with some of the other Festival favorites at the Galway Hooker.  I also got to learn how some of these folks got together over the years.

The point in all of this, and I'm sorry I've meandered a bit, is that there a lot of people, every year.  I've met new people, made new friends, and seen old friends go. The festival isn't just about the shows, it's also about the camaraderie, and the family. 

I would just like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  Whether you're local, already far away, or even on the road traveling from this point to the next, Thank You.  Thank you all for everything you do.  The joy and happiness you bring to each other and to those that you meet along the way.  Whether we're able to say it in person or not, it is appreciated.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Carolina Renaissance Festival Family Off-Topic Thanks Thanksgiving https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/11/thanksgiving-2014 Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:07:04 GMT
Let it NO, Let it NO, Let it NO! https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/11/let-it-no-let-it-no-let-it-no By now I'm sure most if not all of you have heard about what's going on in Buffalo (also why the blog is a day late..I've been following my newsfeeds the last few days and lost track of what day it actually is).  For those that follow me regularly, you know that I'm originally from the land of Hot Wings and snow.  This weather is NOT typical.  Typically we'll get 8' in a year.  From what I understand based on my Facebook newsfeed, and the news, they got all 8' in less than 48 hours.  All joking aside it is scary to have that happen.  There's already been a handful of deaths related to the weather, and I'm sure once they get things cleared they'll find more based on the number of cars that were absolutely buried up there. A few roofs have already collapsed, and now the kicker.  They're expecting warmer temperatures and rain the next few days...which means that for as heavy as that snow already is, it's about to get heavier.  And as that snow starts to melt, all that water...well...it has to go somewhere. 

On the lighter side, most people are having a pretty good sense of humor about it.  My friend aka Trixi Firecracker has had her Instagram photos of her and her dad posted in various news outlets including Yahoo News, The Washington Post, and there was another one that I'm forgetting right now.  Her favorite hashtag?  #TellElsaToQuitIt. 

My dad is hunkered down with my step-mother and his Facebook feed, consists primarily of screenshots of Jack Nicholson in The Shining

I've had a few friends post photos from the middle of streets that normally traffic would be far too dangerous to get in the middle of.

Overall though, as much as part of me would love to be up there and experience it...I'm really glad I'm not.  The trailer we lived in wasn't all that great in the first place.  I can only imagine how cold it would be right now, not to mention how scared we would be of the roof collapsing.  Given that we have our son, who has only seen the few inches we got down here last year, other than the few feet we got when we still lived in NY when he was a baby.  I wouldn't want to put him through what they got up there this past week. 

Most of my friends are taking it in stride, as they are inclined to do.  I've seen Frozen references, White Wall/Game of Thrones references, The Shining. I do know however that as much as they are enjoying the unexpected time off...most of them are also silently ticking off the hours not worked and doing those calculations.  Then there are folks like my step-mother who gets stir crazy very easily, and I just received word that the roof where she works just collapsed.

What gets me, is that in some ways I feel like I never left.  When I wake up in the morning, I generally watch the weather report.  Since Tuesday I turn on the tv, and see a map of Buffalo, instead of Charlotte.  I listen to the radio on the way into the Festival...and I hear the Radio DJ's talking about the Bills Game, and the looting of the Doritos truck. 

The first day I was watching my Facebook Feed and listening to the news to the point that I didn't want to go outside and go out in to it.  I had to remind myself to open the window blinds and see that I wasn't buried in snow. 

For any of my friends back North who actually read this: Stay Safe, Stay Warm. 

For any of my followers down here: Stay Safe, Stay Warm...and be glad you don't have to shovel.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Buffalo Off-Topic Snow https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/11/let-it-no-let-it-no-let-it-no Sat, 22 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT
It's Not Just For Knives https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/11/its-not-just-for-knives Sorry for the lack of post last week.  Things got busy what with Halloween and all.

I am a humbled man.  I know I've talked about my grandfather and being an NYIP student before.  One of my goals is to always learn something new.  I've often said, "Any day I don't learn something new is a waste of a day," and quite frankly, I just got schooled. 

For those that saw my last post, you know I took the Scott Kelby "Shoot Like a Pro Tour" Seminar last month, and wow did I learn something new.  I've often heard that you should always sharpen your photos, but up until I took that seminar I always looked at my photos straight out of the camera (SOOC) and thought, These look fine.  They're sharp, they're in focus...they're fine.  I don't need to sharpen them.  One of the things that Scott drilled into our heads was "Sharpen.  Always."  And after taking his seminar, I can honestly say that my photos have already gone from "Fine." to, "Wow!"  Some of the first photos I posted on the photography forum I belong to were even along the lines of color and crispness.  Sadly, until Scott Kelby showed me what I was missing by not sharpening in post, and WHY we should sharpen in post and HOW we should sharpen in post...I didn't know it.  I'm looking at photos that I thought were great before, and re-editing some of them, and I am absolutely floored by the differences.

Sometimes the differences are subtle, but it still gives it that extra bit of oomph.  For that I am eternally grateful.  This is why I always seek to improve myself in everything that I do and always try to keep an open mind.

That's all.  I know it's a short one.

Next week I'll be talking about the importance of paring down your photos.

Go on then, stumble on.

Oh yeah...and don't forget the Gaffer's Tape.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Scott Kelby Sharpening Tips https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/11/its-not-just-for-knives Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:00:00 GMT
If You Flip Past Fast Enough...It's a Movie https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/10/if-you-flip-past-fast-enough-its-a-movie This week I'm going to discuss something that my uncle drilled into my head, and now that I've seen it elsewhere, I can honestly say "Thank You!" for doing so.  When I first started out, I used to post every photo to Facebook that wasn't blurry.  If you don't believe me, check out my some of my early stuff from the Buffalo Museum of Science on my personal Facebook page. The problem with doing that is that you then have a series of essentially the same photo, with only minor differences.  They may be all excellent shots of their own accord, but you don't need or want to see 12 shots of the same Velociraptor skeleton from about 10° difference. Sure they're all in sharp focus, maybe I played with the aperture a little bit to get a shallow Depth of Field, or a deep Depth of Field, but essentially, They. Are. All. The. Same.

My uncle saw that album, and basically chewed me out in his way for doing it, and I don't blame him.  If I, as the photographer that took the photos, am getting bored going through the album, when I know and can pick out every nuance of the "different" shots...imagine how someone looking at my gallery must feel where they may not necessarily be able to pick out all those minute differences. 

This sentiment of paring everything down and showing only your best was reiterated to me last Friday during the Scott Kelby "Shoot Like a Pro Tour" seminar.

Sometimes it's very difficult not to do it too, the biggest scenarios I can think of are things like the Museum, or events like the Renaissance Festival.  At the museum I had an hour lunch...every day...with nowhere to go.  So I'd eat my bagged lunch in about 10 minutes, then wander the museum for about 45 with my camera before heading back to my desk.  So when you spend roughly 225 minutes (3 hours and 45 minutes) a week in a place that (at the time) doesn't change a whole lot...or at all save for one or two traveling exhibits at a time...that's roughly 187.5 hours a year. (For those following the math, 45 minutes x 5 for one week, which is 225.  225 x 50 weeks (figure 52 weeks in a year, minus holidays and vacation time) = 11250 minutes / 60 minutes in an hour = 187.5...whew), Anyway, that's 187.5 hours a year...in a place that most people don't spend more than 3 hours in total.  From that timeframe subtract the exhibits that don't allow photography at all, and well...you have a lot of photos, of the same exhibits, day after day, week after week.  I probably catalogued every exhibit piece in that museum that I was allowed...a couple of times.  In fact at one point I had made it my goal to do just that, just so I didn't shoot the same things twice. 

Special Events, or events like the Renaissance Festival can pose a similar problem.  If you follow my Facebook Page or on Twitter then you'll often see a post with something to the effect of "Just edited down 578 photos to 57."  This doesn't mean that I took 521 photos that were bad and only 57 came out nice due to divine luck.  It means that I have gone through those 578 shots and found 57 that passed all the tests, and are unique enough to not get culled.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Narrowing Down Your Shots, I use the method described by photographer Steve Simon, and will eliminate similar shots in the 2nd or 3rd step before posting them online. 

By the way, the 2nd and 3rd steps, are where my wife really hates being a photographer's wife.  I'll show her my screen with two similar images side by side and play "optometrist" with her.  "Honey, left or right?" If I'm lucky she'll choose one.  If I'm not she'll say, "I like the left one because of X, but I like the right one because of Y." If she's unlucky, I have another similar image, and will continue the game until I'm down to one image of that particular subject.

Quite often she'll look at me and say, "They're both good, just post both."  For the most part I refuse to do this if there are only minor differences, for the very reasons mentioned above. 

As someone who gets to wander the festival site with camera in tow, there are many, many times that I've taken multiple shots of something, whether it's the joust, or Don Juan & Miguel, or an interesting patron. Of course I'm not the only one with a camera, and I often see other albums of the festival.  Fairly often I start looking through an album and I will see that out of 700+ photos, I see what I would've narrowed down to about 70 unique shots. 

Now, I don't say this to be negative.  I'm a firm believer in "to each their own," and as I said previously, I would've narrowed down the shots more, but I definitely think narrowing down your shots is a good idea, and I thank my uncle profusely for hammering that into my head.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Albums Excess Narrow Scott Kelby Shots Steve Simon https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/10/if-you-flip-past-fast-enough-its-a-movie Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:00:00 GMT
Scott Kelby Week https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/10/scott-kelby-week This week has been a busy one.  It was ¡Fiesta Renaissance! Weekend at the Carolina Renaissance Festival this past weekend although I was in Uptown Charlotte as part of the World Wide Photo Walk which is put on by Scott Kelby every year.  This was the 7th year that he has organized this, but only the first year I was able to partake as I typically end up having to work the weekend it takes place.  According to the official website (http://kelbyone.com/photowalk/) there were 1,052 cities participating with 20,057 participating photographers from all walks of life.  Definitely check the website linked above for more information on what the World Wide Photo Walk is and how benefits the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya, because I can not do it justice here.  Ours was led by Lisa Crates, another NYIP alum, who led a fantastic walk and was a delight to meet.

Tomorrow (Friday, October 17th) I will be getting the chance to meet the man himself as Scott Kelby is coming to Charlotte as part of his "Shoot Like a Pro Tour" (http://kelbyone.com/live/event/141260/).  For those of you that are unfamiliar with Scott Kelby, he has written numerous books on digital photography, runs KelbyOne, which has many various trainings or photographers, and runs "The Grid," a live podcast every Wednesday at 4 pm (and available to watch on the web after).  I haven't gotten the chance to take part in his seminars yet, but just from talking to a few other people that are going, I simply can't wait. 

Chances are if you've seen photos of a Bucaneers home game, you've probably seen some of Scott's stuff.  He's a phenomenal photographer, and just from what I've learned by catching "Reruns" of "The Grid" I am beyond exited for this seminar.

Catch you all next week.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Scott Kelby Shoot Like a Pro Tour WWPW2014 World Wide Photo Walk https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/10/scott-kelby-week Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:00:00 GMT
Picture vs. Photograph https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/10/picture-vs-photograph If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what is a photograph worth?  I recently saw an argument on Facebook about the upcoming "Nikon Photo Contest" with a blurb asking followers if they think smartphone photos should be allowed.  The comments seemed pretty split down the middle between "cameras only" and "it's the skill of the photographer, not the gear."  To be fair most of the "camera only people" were actually saying, and I agree with this sentiment, "If it's a Nikon photo contest, then the gear used to take the photo should be Nikon, otherwise it's just a photo competition sponsored by Nikon.  That's fine in it's own right, but not what the blurb stated it was.

For those that have been following me, you know that typically I feel it's about the photographer, and not the gear, but this got me thinking though, "What is the difference between a picture and a photograph?"

To me a picture is just that a picture.  Someone held up the camera, smartphone, pinhole box, etc., pressed the shutter, light entered in, exposed the film, or digital sensor and it is what it is.  That is a picture.  It could be a landscape, it could be a portrait, it could be top secret documents, I don't care.  It's a brief moment captured in time and that's all that it is.  It may be pretty, it may not, it just...is.

A photograph on the other hand, especially in terms of competition, would be the same as a picture only with a few extras.  A photograph should have certain elements.  It should follow the rule of thirds, not have overly blown out highlights, too dark shadows, good contrast, good color, a solid subject, proper lighting, great composition, leading lines, sharp and in focus, etc.  Now, it may follow some or all of these, and completely ignore others.  Part of my job as a photographer is to be able to know how to utilize these various rules, and when to ignore these various rules. The photograph itself should be able defend these rules, or the ignoring of these rules, without me standing next to the photo saying, "Well...I did X, because of Y." 

As a photographer, I can take a well exposed, in focus shot of a person, place, or thing with my smartphone, or with my Nikon.  I know how to compose, use the light available to me and take the shot.  I've seen other well known photographers use smartphones similarly and take extraordinary photos with them.  We know the limitations of our gear and can work with it or around it as we see fit. 

On the flip side of that coin, I've seen people with $2,000 cameras that have no clue what it is they have in their hands, and have no desire to learn.  The have a camera, and can take pictures. They will leave their camera in Auto, press the shutter, and the camera will do all the work.  Some of the photos might be good...Hell's Fire, some of them might even be great, but it's the camera doing all the work, not the picture taker.

Now please, please, don't feel that I'm knocking amateur photographers.  I'm not.  We all had to start and learn somewhere.  As you'll note I specifically said "...and have no desire to learn."  There is a huge difference in my book.  I'm not even belittling Auto mode.  It's there for a reason and has it's uses.  Part of the way I made the transition from point and shoot to DSLR was to put my camera in Auto or Scene mode, see what the settings were, and then mimic the setting in Manual, and then adjust as I saw fit.

I would set my camera to whatever scene mode I was going for, (since I picked up my DSLR when I was still working for the Buffalo Museum of Science, we'll use that as an example) and I would snap the picture...and it would be a picture as I wasn't worried about the finer points of photography, I just wanted to see what the camera could and couldn't do, and what it thought the settings should be.  I would check the settings it chose, especially the Photographer's Triangle of F-Stop, ISO, and Shutter Speed, and I would replicate it in Manual mode. 

Then I would adjust things as I saw fit.  I'd stop down the f-stop which would open the shutter, which meant that I would have to slow the speed and/or lower the ISO to compensate (I think I have that in the right order...it's much easier when I have my camera in my hand). 

For example, there's a native Incan headdress that caught my attention, but I don't want the exhibit behind it to be sharp and clear in the photo.  In Auto Mode let's say that the settings my camera chose were f/8 at 1/100 sec and at ISO 400.  I would set these settings into Manual mode once and retake the photo.  In theory it should come out exactly as the Auto mode photo did.  Which would likely have a clear background.  I don't want that.  I like a shallow Depth-of-Field, so I'm going to stop down my f/stop to f/4 (the minimum for my kit lens.  At f/4 it opens up the aperture 4x as wide as it was at f/8, otherwise known as 2 stops.  (f/8 --> f/5.6 would let in twice as much light, f/5.6 --> f/4 would let in twice as much again.).  If I were to shoot at f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO 400 the photo would then become VERY BRIGHT.  To compensate I'd have to either change my shutter speed so that the speed is faster (so double twice so we've now gone from 1/100th sec to 1/400th sec), lower my ISO to allow for more light to hit the sensor, (lowering it from 400 to 100), or some combination thereof.  Since I had the time when I was wondering the museum on my lunch breaks, I would often play with all three just to see how they interacted with each other.  In the scenario above I would've gone with the f/4 at 1/400th of a second and left the ISO at 400.  this would've allowed for a nice fast shutter speed, a blurred depth of field behind the mask, and the ISO would have been more than sufficient. The result would be a lower Depth of Field that I was happy with.  I would take the photograph. 

I hope I have explained the difference between a picture and a photograph sufficiently in this brief snippet.  As always if you have any questions, or need clarifications, please, by all means leave your question in the comments below, or feel free to email them to me at: [email protected]

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Explanation Photograph Photographer's Triangle Picture Tutorial https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/10/picture-vs-photograph Thu, 09 Oct 2014 12:00:00 GMT
A Return to Festival https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/10/a-return-to-festival In two days the Carolina Renaissance Festival starts it's 21st Season, and quite frankly I am excited.  My first job after moving to North Carolina from Buffalo was as the Receptionist there and I love it.  I love the people I work with there, I loved that it was a seasonal position so it gave me time to do things like focus on my photography during the off season, and I love that I'm able to combine so many of my strengths and backgrounds into one job.  I graduated with my Bachelor's in History, and very few jobs actually utilize it.  There I get to.  During Festival days, I'd usually get to "go play" depending on how busy the phones were.  I'd take the time to photograph the various acts, and patrons as things caught my eye.  Being there week after week gives me the time that if I catch one part of an act that I want to get a photo of but missed the shot or an alternate angle (such as with the Falconry show), I have the opportunity to get it next time, and that's not something that happens with most event style photography.

This year my position changed, so depending on how much I'm needed I may be seen on site even more.  Keep in mind that when I am on site with my camera, I in no way am affiliated with the festival...usually.  With few exceptions I am off duty, and am simply just not going home, typically the Boyo and the Wifeling are with me (with their tickets), also enjoying the various entertainments the Festival offers.

One of the reasons we have gone to the Festival every year, and this started long before I worked down here...we used to go to the one in Sterling, NY every year with a large group, is to see the actors in their costumes, to enjoy the various stage acts, (if you're an English Major, which many of my friends are, check out Zilch the Torysteller...), and to generally have a good time. 

Every year I set goals for myself.  Some are more easily obtainable than others.  The first year I made it my goal to get at least one decent photo of every act.  I figured 20+ acts, spread out across 14 days shouldn't be completely undoable.  I think I got all but a few.

Last year it was to get the few acts I missed and to get more of the various themed costume contests, and patrons, which I think I was successful at. 

I haven't set too many new goals yet this year, but one of them is to get shots of some of the new acts premiering this year, either as stage acts or as Artistes du jour (I'm looking at you Angels and Castilles).  All in all I think it will be another wonderful Festival season.

Given that the Festival runs from this weekend which is the 4th, until November 23rd, I don't know how much I'll be able to post weekly.  It is definitely my goal to stay on top of things and post weekly as I have been, but I know that it is not always possible with the crazy work schedule Festival entails.  Especially as I know it can be difficult getting BACK into it after Festival is over.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Carolina New Acts Renaissance Festival update https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/10/a-return-to-festival Thu, 02 Oct 2014 12:00:00 GMT
Christmas is Coming https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/9/christmas-is-coming I know it’s a scary thought, and I am one that doesn’t like to see Christmas crowding in on Halloween and Thanksgiving, but it IS just around the corner.  We’re only a season away.  As usual things will be busy for me in October and November with the Carolina Renaissance Festival (Huzzah!), but I still have availability for scheduled shoots.

I have not heard back from the printers yet as to what the cutoff date to have photos returned in time for Christmas is yet, but that’s a good thing…that means that there’s still plenty of time.  If I recall correctly last year the cut off was early December.   So whether you want a family photo package to give to Grandma, or want to get your Christmas cards ready to send out in time for the holidays, start booking now. 

I got our Christmas photos done as cards last year to be sent out and they looked wonderful.  I actually had a hard time choosing which template I wanted to use because they were all good.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Christmas Deals Specials https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/9/christmas-is-coming Thu, 25 Sep 2014 12:00:00 GMT
Senior Portraits https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/9/senior-portraits I realize that it’s a bit late in the season for this, but it’s still something that I’ve been thinking about and would like to share.  I had a potential client ask me back in July if I could do her daughter’s Senior Photos, to which I of course readily agreed.  We had agreed to meet up in mid September to do the shoot, only to have her contact me in late August and tell me that her school has dictated that they can’t have outside photos for senior portraits.  The students have to have their portraits done by the school photographers.  Now the silver lining to this is that the client loves my work in general and wants me to do “Senior” portraits anyway for her own purchase. 

This is actually freeing up our time as we both work for the Festival, and doing the shoot was going to be a tight for both of us time wise in the first place, so now we can take our time a bit.  All this got me thinking.  If there are any other parents out there in the same boat I will gladly do portraits for you anyway.  

Now, part of me can see the logic behind this as it allows for greater control and continuity between photos, but it should be about the expression of the students.  These are young adults who, like it or not, are capable of making their own decisions, or by this point in their lives, should be.  They are between 17 to 19 years old typically, old enough to vote, hold a job, buy cigarettes, or even enlist in the military.  I’m all for having guidelines that they have to adhere to with the final decision being made by the school, but the seniors should have their choice.

If the school says, Senior Portraits must not have anything that may be deemed vulgar in them, I am okay with that.  No swear words on their shirts, not hand signs of any kind, sure thing.  I can even work with guidelines such as “nothing provocative.”  I always love that statement because let’s face it, what one person finds provocative another person won’t think twice about.  Even then one dress may fit one person one way, and fit another person completely differently.  What is provocative?  A bare shoulder?  A tight dress? Cleavage? How much cleavage is too much?  Perhaps we should go Victorian, and say “no ankles?”

Again, this isn’t meant to be against school policy, but if a school gave their students guidelines and said, make sure, X, Y, and Z are showing (or not showing as the case may be), then it we should rely on the Senior to be a responsible human being and follow those guidelines.  If they don’t, then the school withholds the right to not publish the photos. 

Everything has a price.  If a student is treated like a responsible adult, and does not follow the guidelines given, then they deserve to not have their photos published.  However, if a student is given *gasp* responsibility, and they show that they are capable of being responsible adults, then they should be rewarded by having the photo of their choice in their yearbook, rather than being stuffed into a mold that they may or may not fit.

This is going to go off on a slight tangent here about age and responsibility.  Back when I first started working at the Museum of Science I was working for Admissions/Retail, and we had a few very simple rules we were supposed to follow, sent down from the CEO. 


1) Don’t sit down on the job (unless of course you had a medical need for a stool/chair). 

2) Don’t use your phone. 

3) Don’t use the computers for personal use (i.e. go  on facebook)


That’s it.  Those were the three big rules.  At the time, I had quit smoking, gained an enormous amount of weight, and the arthritis in my knee was acting up to the point that I often used a cane.  I refused to sit down.  It wasn’t that bad, and I could manage.  We had this “kid” working with us however that would constantly sit down and play on his phone. 

Every day I’d remind him of the rule, and every day I’d get ignored, or he’d outright break the rule. (I remember one time the Manager on duty had taken the stool that was there and had put it away.  As soon as she walked out the door this kid went over, grabbed the stool and brought it back). Then one day this kid went and complained to our manager (whose opinion was vocally, “I don’t care what the CEO says, as long as he doesn’t see you do it, I don’t care what you do.)  My manager pulled me aside and asked me what was up.  When I explained the rule breaks to him, he shrugged, and told me, “He’s only 18.  He just graduated High School.  Think of where you were at that age.”

My response?  “He’s 18.  He is an adult.  When I graduated high school I was 17.  By 18 I had been in the Marine Corps for more than a year where I learned things like how to take orders, and follow instructions.  By 18 I learned how to follow directions as if my life depended on it, because it very well could.  I was learning how not to get shot, and how to return fire at 18.”  Now I realize that there is a HUGE difference between not sitting on the job, vs. how to sweep an area, but the point is, he was an adult.  If he had committed a crime the judge would not look at him and say, “Well…since you just graduated…” 

Now, I realize I’ve gotten somewhat off topic, but please understand what it is that I mean by treating 18 year olds like adults.  I know it can be a scary concept, and with each passing year I find the concept scarier and scarier…As it is, for me, 17 was half a lifetime ago…

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Portraits Regulations Rules Senior https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/9/senior-portraits Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:00:00 GMT
Why Would You Do That? https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/9/why-would-you-do-that One of the things it seems that I've been stumbling on the internet lately is one of the debates that many photographers face.  "Why do photographers watermark their photos?"  Let me start by saying that not all photographers do, and opinions vary wildly on whether or not we should or not, and if we do, where and how to watermark.  This stems from a couple of factors, especially in this digital age.  I'll start with the anti-watermarking argument and work my way up. 

Typical photo that is unwatermarked. UnmarkedTypical photo that is unwatermarked. Last I knew, my uncle fell into this category.  His opinion, and there are many like him.  Is that it's ugly and detracts from the picture.  If you don't want your picture stolen, it's simple...don't put it on the internet.  (In light of recent events concerning celebrities...I'm half inclined to agree with this.) The overall argument for this line of thinking is that if it's on the internet it will be stolen/used without permission and there's little to nothing that can be done about it.

Yes, everyone knows that you got this photo off of a website, and who the photographer was, but it can also impact the photo negatively. ZOMG WatermarkYes, everyone knows that you got this photo off of a website, and who the photographer was, but it can also impact the photo negatively. The second group is the "You Shall Not Steal!" group.  These are the photographers that will plaster their copyright or "PROOF" over the middle of the photograph as large as it can be so that no one WANTS to steal it, or if someone does it is glaringly obvious.  It's almost like public shaming, except most of the people that share photos like this without crediting the photographer, in my opinion, are generally to apathetic to be shamed by it in the first place. 

This watermark is like the Nike Swoosh...it's there, but it's not right over her face. Oh...that guy!This watermark is like the Nike Swoosh...it's there, but it's not right over her face. The third group is the group I fall into.  We will post our watermark or copyright on a photo, but try to do it in a way that is unobtrusive to the photo itself.  It is a way of branding.  This way people know who the photo came from.  Most of us, and I only claim to speak for myself here, basically feel that photos will be shared, with or without permission.  At least if it's shared someone, somewhere might just care who took the photo and where to find that information.  They may even *gasp* want to purchase another photo. 

Given the number of events that I do that are out of my own pocket and I don't get paid for them, I like the idea of the free advertising.  When I go to the Bike Nights on Thursdays no one is paying me to be there, but if a biker likes the photo of his bike he can share it.  Maybe his buddy needs a photographer for something, I don't know.  Hell, maybe when his buddy sees me taking a pic of his bike he'll be less apt to ask me what I'm doing.  This doesn't just happen with photographs either, think about when you drive down the street in your neighborhood.  If someone has had work on their house done, what do you see?  You see lawn signs for Acme Roofing and Siding, or John Doe & Sons Asphalt company.  It's free advertisement for them.  And you've already paid for their services.  Let's face it, if your mechanic was willing to give you free oil changes and all you had to do was put a bumper sticker on your car with his information, wouldn't you do it?  I would. 

Photos get stolen.  In that the first group of thinkers is absolutely correct.  If it's on the internet, it will get stolen/used without permission.  Putting a brand on it will not stop it, but it will at least let people know where it came from.  Me, I want my logo out there.  I want people to know me and where to find me.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Brand Opinions Photographer's Rights Pros and Cons Watermark https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/9/why-would-you-do-that Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:00:00 GMT
A Few Quick Updates and then Bike Nights https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/8/a-few-quick-updates-and-then-bike-nights First of all, I know I said that I would try to post more frequently again since my long absence, and then I went and left for a few weeks for the wedding instead of the ONE week I was planning on.  For that I apologize. 

Next are some quick updates.  A lot has changed over the last few months.  I quit the tech support gig, I loved the people I worked with, but the hours were not steady and there were a lot of things that I was told going in that didn’t turn out to be the case once I was firmly implanted.  So for my own sanity, it was time to leave.

I’m back at CRF (which I love) and my job has changed from Seasonal Receptionist to Seasonal Marketing Assistant, which was unexpected, but welcome. 

Since my hours are much steadier once again I have decided to start going to Bike Nights again.  I love going to Bike Nights.  Even though I don’t ride myself, my dad has ridden for as long as I can remember, and Bike Nights are an awesome time to meet some very interesting people, and that list isn’t even kept to the bikers.  Last night I sat next to a gentleman who worked for Xerox, and one of my bartenders was originally from Rochester, NY. 

The bikes themselves are the real reason I love to go to Bike Nights.  Although I didn’t see a lot of it last night, usually there are a lot of nice, custom bikes at Bike Night.  Most bikers love showing you their bike, especially if it’s a custom job.  My dad even has a tattoo of the cover art for The Grateful Dead’s Cats Under the Stars, which matches the paint job on his gas tank. 

I think my favorite one from last night was the blue chopper shown here.

Ian Kuhn Photography: Bike Nights 2014 &emdash; Blue Chopper III

As soon as I saw him riding in on that one, I knew I had to get a shot. 

Anyway, I think that’s all for this week.  Hope to see everyone soon.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Bike Nights https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/8/a-few-quick-updates-and-then-bike-nights Fri, 01 Aug 2014 02:00:00 GMT
No Update This Week https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/7/no-update-this-week Sorry folks,

I know I only recently got back into posting weekly, but I'm getting married today, so no update this week.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Announcement Off-Topic https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/7/no-update-this-week Thu, 03 Jul 2014 03:41:54 GMT
Keep Calm and Stay Cool https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/6/keep-calm-and-stay-cool It is that time of year again, and this is a post I’ve had in the back of my noggin’ for some time but just haven’t written down until now.  As much as the technical part of photography is important, it’s also important to remember the professional side.

Part of the professional side is to dress the part.  As many of you know during the spring months I work for Grad Images doing graduation photography throughout North Carolina.  Just like any other business there is a dress code.  We have to dress professionally.  That means dark suit and tie for the gentlemen and a dark outfit for the ladies.  During the spring it gets warm in North Carolina.  Some graduations are indoors and some are outdoors. 

The indoor ceremonies can still get extremely hot.  When you’re in a coliseum with literally thousands of people, and you’re under hot lights waiting for graduates to cross the stage, it can get really warm.  The outdoor ceremonies…well if we’re lucky they’re under a tent that will at least deflect some of the heat.

Given that we’ve officially started summer this past week, and June and July are popular months for weddings I figured I’d talk about staying cool while staying professional.  Given that my own wedding to my long time fiancée (often referred to here as “wifeling” because we’re not yet married, but she’s far more than a fiancée to me) is next week, and that I just passed an article about  the professionalism of photographers from the viewpoint of a wedding planner in a HuffPost article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sandy-malone/5-cardinal-sins-committed_b_5435815.html), I figured I’d throw my two cents in. 

Professionalism is always important, and part of that is looking the part.  As I mentioned before with Grad Images we have to be in suit and tie at all times when we’re at a graduation.  Weddings are very similar.  For weddings and other large events it is a very similar concept.  While I personally don’t believe you need to be in a suit and tie all the time at a wedding or special event, it mostly depends on the level of wedding/event, but you should always blend in if not be better dressed than the event itself. 

For example, our wedding is going to be extremely informal.  We have both been married previously, and feel that this is more of a picnic with friends that happens to have a wedding taking place more so than an outdoor wedding.  I, as the groom, will be in slacks and a polo, or short sleeve dress shirt, no tie.  She’ll be wearing a sundress.  Shame on me, but we’re not going to have a photographer there, but if we did, we’d expect him to dress similarly.  I don’t want the poor person dying out there while we’re all staying (relatively) cool.  However, if it were me, I’d probably wear a light shirt and tie. 

Again, we should always blend into the background.  The Huffpost article mentions a photographer who wore bright orange shorts which were visible in every shot just about from guests at the wedding.  You should never be spotted.

I did a few events for the Buffalo Museum of Science while we lived in Buffalo and I was working there, and I also have done events down here.  Fundraiser?  Shirt and tie.  The exception to that was one of the Buffalo Museum of Science events I did I wore my museum polo, but that’s because that is what every BMS employee was told to wear for that event. 

For the Evening with the Alexanders event I did at the Charlotte Museum of History, I was given a shirt by event coordinator.  Again, that’s what I wore because that’s what made me blend in. 

As I said though a lot of this comes down to wearing clothes that more or less make you really warm, if not downright hot.  What follows are a few simple things you can do to stay cool, while still staying professional. 

Many of these tricks I actually learned as a patron of various Renaissance Festivals.  (Typically either Sterling Renaissance Festival, in Sterling, NY, or the Carolina Renaissance Festival down here in Huntersville, NC).

  • Stay hydrated.  Drink water, and lots of it, drink it every chance you get.  Come graduation season I keep a case of water in my trunk. It can get really warm, but warm/hot water is better than no water.
  • Stay calibrated.  What I mean by this is maintaining your body’s electrolyte levels.  At the Renaissance Festivals, that typically means eating a pickle.  Wedding or special event, eat something salty…then drink lots of water.
  • If you find yourself getting too warm and possibly overheating, find a bathroom and run cool water over your wrists.  It’s one of the tricks I learned as a festival goer in Sterling.  Running cool water over your wrists will help bring down your core temp and get you back to normalcy. If you’re able to, and it won’t mess up what you’re wearing, you can also put a cool, damp paper towel on the back of your neck and that will help cool you off as well.

I realize that some of these are not always an option.  When you’re doing a graduation, or a wedding you need to do as much to keep cool before the ceremony begins and just bear through it during the ceremony itself.  Special events where you’re wandering is a little bit easier.  The plus side is that most graduations or weddings, the ceremonies themselves don’t last much more than an hour typically so if you can do what you can beforehand you should be good to go.  When you’re at a reception you still need to be mindful of the time, especially because (most) wedding receptions will still have a schedule. There’s typically, the cake cutting, the first dance(s), garter & bouquet toss…not a lot of time to use the bathroom and cool off, but if you take the opportunities when you’re able, you should be fine. 

Remember folks...


Keep Calm, and Stay Cool.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Dehydration Events Overheating https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/6/keep-calm-and-stay-cool Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:13:09 GMT
A Quick Note https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/6/a-quick-note I realize that I haven’t done a blog in quite some time.  (Not since last December apparently.)  This is an article I debated a long time in writing.  Mostly because it is very personal to me, and secondarily because I know most people won’t care one way or another.  (***NOTE: Rambling ahead…you have been warned***)

Part of the reason I haven’t written in so long is due to the job situation.  Festival season was over and I was doing the Tech Support gig full time.  And because of that I almost ended up on anti-depressants again.  Fortunately, the festival needed me early this year and my fiancée and I decided that I should quit the Tech Support gig rather than doing both for a number of reasons.  First of all, if I stayed there I was going to need to be medicated again. 

I suffer from depression, and the Tech Support gig was not helping the situation.  I don’t remember the exact diagnoses, but I think it was Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder.  Basically, I’ll have periods where nothing can stop me, but then once I stop…it’s very hard to get me going again.  I stopped doing the blog entries because I was working the two jobs, and I just couldn’t get myself back into it.  Even now, I’m basically forcing myself to start again in hopes that I can get back into it.  

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suicidal.  It’s a common misconception that depressed people are suicidal, but this is not always the case.  I know with me, I’m the guy that will sit through a crappy movie because I fell it has to get better at some point.  I believed this when I sat through Ice Princess, Twilight, and Jurassic Park III.  I’m the same way in my life.  Even when it was at its worst after getting divorced from my ex, part of me thought that it has to get better eventually…it certainly couldn’t have gotten any worse…or so I thought. 

The thing is though, once I do get into a funk, it is extremely hard to get me out of it.   I tend to let life just pass me by.  I barely pick up the camera let alone do anything with it.  I barely leave the bedroom or living room.  There have been times over this past winter that the only time I left the house was to take the Boyo to daycare.  Beyond that, I stayed holed up in my bedroom either working or sleeping.  I had no desire to leave.  (Keep in mind I did tech support from home.)

Now…the good thing is that typically, once I do get moving again, I’m like a freight train.  I find things to do to keep busy and stay happy. 

The second reason I left the Tech Support gig was that in order to do the Festival gig, I would’ve had to drop to part time at the Tech Support job which would’ve lost me my benefits, and had no guarantee that I could go back to full time in November once the Festival was over.  Now, to be honest, the only benefit I had working there was paid time off…which wasn’t a huge benefit in the first place.  You had to fight to get it in the first place, and quite frankly most of the time it was a bigger pain to request it and have it denied than it was worth.  So, losing the “benefits” really didn’t matter much.

The wifeling and I discussed it and we felt that it was healthier for me to leave the job all-together and take my chances in November.  Part of the problem was a change in the process of how things were done at the tech support gig.  They opened us up nationally and closed 19 other call centers simultaneously, which caused our queues to go from slight breaks (maybe 30 seconds to a minute) between calls to over 200 calls waiting, which left the customers on hold waiting for one of us to pick up for 20-30 minutes.  Breaks were suspended almost all day every day the last two months I was there.  (I know you’re thinking I worked from home, I could just walk away, but no…I couldn’t.  I still had scheduled breaks and goals and quotas to adhere to.) 

I’m not exactly Mr. Positivity to begin with, but the environment was becoming extremely toxic to my well-being, and while I loved my coworkers, and would welcome them into my home any day of the week, the environment itself became too much. 

While I won’t make any guarantees I hope to start doing the blog more regularly again.  Part of the issue has been that with my work schedule (that changed every two month based on performance), I haven’t had time to do photography related things, which meant that overall I’ve had nothing to talk about.

I’m back at Festival though, and I’ve had an idea floating in my head the last three years, that I might actually process and develop this time around.  Even though it’s temporary, it’s a place that I love, and there’s just something about driving up the gravel road that first time each year that makes it feel like coming home after being gone for months.  We both think that this’ll be good for me.

Photography does help with all of this because I do get to get out of the house.  If I'm able to get outside and go to a park, I'm getting lots of sunlight, and fresh air.  If I'm able to go to an event it's always great to see people having a good time.  Especially if it's something like the Heroes Con with all the cosplayers, or a Zombie walk where people have put a lot of thought and effort into their costumes and love to show them off.  I love doing photography, and it's a great way to get out of the funk I get into sometimes.

- Ian.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Depression Off-Topic https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2014/6/a-quick-note Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:30:00 GMT
Moral Fiber https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/12/moral-fiber Something occurred to me today, and while this post won't necessarily be directly photography related, it is something that's on my mind.  The question that occurred to me is what makes us who and what we are.  I've seen studies that say that we are the product of our 7 closest friends. 

I think it's more than that though.  I think that at our core, we are who we are and it takes a lot to change that.  At my other, call center, job I was second in line to get a call as we were nearing the end of the night.  My boss told me to switch my status if I wanted to as I had already had a rough night and was looking forward to getting off work.  Switching my status would have prevented me from getting a call.  I told her I wouldn't.  If I did that, then what happens?  The guy behind me gets the call.  I wouldn't do that to him.  I told her that General Order #5 is To quit my post only when properly relieved.  Granted it may not be a duty post, haven't stood that in 10 years, but it's still intrinsic.  It's still part of who I am.  If it's my duty to take that next call then so be it.

That's what prompted me to write this post.  No matter how crappy my day was, no matter that it was only two minutes before quitting time anyway, I physically could not lie like that.  And that's what it would have been...a lie.  A lie to myself and a lie on the time card.  And even if it weren't an outright lie, it simply wouldn't have been honest. 

It got me looking at some of the influences in my life, and I realized that every person I idolized or character that I was fond of growing up and into adulthood each had their own set of rules.  Growing up I idolized Superman.  You can't get much moral than that for a small kid.  I remember watching Christopher Reeve growing up...and the image of him talking to Lois Lane and saying that he never lies being still firmly implanted into my head.

Then there was the Marine Corps.  While I can't tell you I idolized any particular Marine, there is definitely the Marine ideal.  What the Marine should be.  Honor, Courage, and Commitment.  I've often heard it said that self-discipline and honor are what one does when no one else is looking.  If we can't hold ourselves accountable, we can't expect someone else to hold us accountable.

Even the movies I've enjoyed where the "hero" is on the wrong side of the law more often than not, they still follow some internal guideline.  Rules of right and wrong that are unbreakable. From Leon in the Professional, to Jason Statham's Frank Martin in the Transporter series.  They both had their own rules and guidelines.  Even Dexter lives by a strict moral code imposed on him by his foster father, Harry.

Even in books my favorite characters tend to be intrinsically motivated.  My favorite book series, Anne Bishop's "The Black Jewels" series is a perfect example.  Even the most powerful people in their society still adhere to their own code of honor and justice.  It's often said throughout the series, "Everything has a price." 

Given all of these, I've often thought that who and what we are is an amalgamation of what we take in.  Our friendships, our favorite characters, our favorite movies, etc.  I've certainly held myself to my own measuring stick.  One thing I've noticed...I never reach the top of that stick.  There's always room for improvement, and there's always room to be better. 

That's what I strive for everyday, and in all aspects of my life.  To be a better businessman, a better consultant, a better photographer, and a better father.  A better person. 

That's all for this week.  Like I said, this one wasn't directly photography related, but then not all my posts are.  See you all next week.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Business Characters Commitment Courage Fiber Fiction Honor Life Marine Corps Morality Morals Rules Self-Discipline https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/12/moral-fiber Thu, 05 Dec 2013 11:56:15 GMT
On the Importance of Family https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/11/on-the-importance-of-family I know I said I wasn't going to be back until December, but the Carolina Renaissance Festival is over (will be updating the album shortly with the last few photos) which means I'm down a job and have a little bit more of an open schedule.  I love the Festival, believe me, and seeing it end for the season fills me with bittersweet emotions as I am glad for another successful season, but I'm still sad to see it go.  Although I have plans to do a blog update on the CRF, there's something else on my mind currently and I wanted to share.

I've often said that there is nothing more important than family.  As a photographer I do try find a balance between my home life and my work life that allows me to spend time with my family whenever I can.  Granted these past few months I've worked non-stop, but I do appreciate it when I can. 

Ten years ago this year, I was living in Macon, GA.  My wife at the time was active duty in the Navy, and we had decided as a couple that I was going to move to Macon (where we said we were going to live after she got out) and I was going to setup house and get things ready.   That was the plan anyway.

What ended up happening was that I got down to Macon to this little 2 story house that had been converted into 4 one bedroom apartments.  The floor in ours was sagging so badly I didn't dare put the bed up over it.  I slept on the couch.  I found a part-time, minimum wage job working for Suncoast (to which I'll be eternally grateful to Tim and Wes for giving me the opportunity to work with them), but which really didn't pay any bills.  By the time I got the job, I was living off of canned vegetables that I had brought down with me, and 2 Pot Pies a day.  At only $.50 a piece, it's actually not bad.

At the time I was under the impression that my wife couldn't get liberty for the Thanksgiving so I was stuck in the apartment by myself, with only my cat for company.  I decided to splurge that day.  I went and sold plasma for a couple bucks, and I splurged on a frozen TV Turkey Dinner.  Sadly, the $1.30 I spent on that dinner was in fact splurging.  It cut a huge hole in my very diminished budget, but it was Thanksgiving, and that dinner felt like a feast.  I even gave Crescent, my cat, some of the turkey. 

Fast forward a few months...the Friday after Valentine's Day to be precise, and I got an unexpected visit from my wife.  She was dropping off the divorce papers.  I also found out in the aftermath, that she had actually gotten off for Thanksgiving.  She was at her aunt's house.  About 30 minutes away.  I simply had been forgotten. 

A lot has changed over the past ten years, much of it for the better.  I am in a better place, with better people, and that is what I'm most thankful for.

Now, I don't tell this story to you for sympathy, or out of regret.  I tell this story to all of you to show you why family is so important to me.  I also share it in hopes that if I don't answer my phone today you will understand why and not hold it against me.  I'll be spending the day with my family, both by blood and by choice, and I hope you'll be spending time with your own family. 

Anyway, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  May your hearts and stomachs be full. 

Editor's Note: For anyone that wants to call me after the holiday, please feel free.  I avoid Black Friday shopping like the plague so I will be by the phone, and I am offering some sweet end of the year deals.  Remember, shop small this Saturday.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Black Friday Experience Family Personal Shopping Thanksgiving https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/11/on-the-importance-of-family Thu, 28 Nov 2013 06:09:23 GMT
Last Blog Until December https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/9/last-blog-until-december My Dearest Readers,


Recently I took on two jobs.  One which is full time overnights, and I have also resumed my position as one of the receptionists for the Carolina Renaissance Festival.  As the Festival is a place that feels like home to me I am happy to be here I had to make a hard choice.  Since I will be working two jobs from now until late November, I thought it best to not stretch myself too thin and will therefore be putting the weekly blog updates on hold until after the Festival closes. 


Thank you for your understanding.


Ian J. Kuhn

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Hiatus https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/9/last-blog-until-december Thu, 05 Sep 2013 04:00:00 GMT
Quick & Easy Home Studio https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/quick-easy-home-studio In-Home Studio setupToday's entry is going to be a bit of tutorial and a little bit of history.  I'm going to share with you how I setup my first in home studio.  It's actually a setup I still use for the most part.  This setup won't work for everyone, but if you are interested in creating your own home studio, what I'm about to show you can be easily modified.

As you can see from the overall setup, I used a lot of what was already in my house and spent very little money on the extras.  The backdrop is actually hung from picture moulding that is in the house, the backdrop itself is some old material I had laying around the house hung up with safety pins and bent picture hooks.  The light itself is a floodlight which can be purchased at just about any home improvement store, in this case harbor freight, coupled with a clamp and flood also purchased at Harbor Freight.   I think I spent roughly $20 on both.

The umbrella and reflector I got as a gift for enrolling in the New York Institute of Photography (NYIP), but can be purchase at your local camera supply store.  If you need a really cheap reflector aluminum foil and cardboard can work in a pinch.  As you see I have mine propped up in a chair and I'll use books, boxes or whatever I can find to prop it up so it's at the best angle.  A white cotton t-shirt can be used as a diffuser if you have a way  to hold it in front of the light.  Cheap clamps with wires from old hangars can work.  So can obedient and patient teenagers if you can manage to get ahold of one.

Again, this is a very simple setup, that can work very well.  In my studio I actually created two backdrops, one with the blue fabric you see in the photo, and one using an old white sheet.





Ian Kuhn Photography: Tutorial Photos &emdash; For the backdrops themselves, as you can see I folded picture hooks into the correct shape using a pair of pliers, and used a safety pin to hold them in place.  Initially I had tried using masking tape, but the tape was not strong enough to hold up the fabric, not to mention how time consuming it was to get enough tape up there in the first place.  Any heavier tapes I was worried about pulling off the paint.  Using the hooks this way allows me to put up the fabric quickly using the step stool that doubles as my sitting chair, and to remove it just as quickly. 

The best part about this setup is that it doesn't take a lot of space to set up.  Typically I need between 3-5 feet wide, between light and reflector, and about 5-10 feet from backdrop to camera depending on who/what I'm photographing.

As I said, this is a great setup, especially if you're just starting out and strapped for cash.  Hope you learned something, and I'll see you next week.


Ian Kuhn Photography: Tutorial Photos &emdash;

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Backdrops Cheap Easy Lights Reflector Setup Studio Tutorial https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/quick-easy-home-studio Thu, 29 Aug 2013 04:05:00 GMT
Service https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/service Today's post is about customer appreciation and customer service.   It's something that's been on my mind lately, and I figured this is as good a place as any to mention.  Personally, I try to treat all my customers the way I would like to be treated.  I treat them like family and friends, or at least I try to. 

Honestly, I'm not sure if I try treat all my customers the way that I would like to be treated, or if I expect the same level of customer service that I would give.   Sometimes that line gets a little blurred.  I've seen far too much bad in this world to not try and make it good whenever I can.

No matter what we do, we are always trying to sell ourselves.  I learned that a long time ago.  It doesn't matter what you do, it can be related to customer service.   If I had a Sergeant in my line who wanted a 3 egg omelette (not an option, by the way) I had to find a way to tactfully tell my superior that it was not an option.   Fortunately for me, at least in the USMC I had protocol that I could fall back on. 

After that I worked various odd jobs before, during, and after college.  From movie theater usher to Cutco knife salesman every single job had something to do with customer service, and customer appreciation.  Few things matter to me more than customer service. 

We all have our days, both customer and service member, both good and bad.  The important thing I try to remember as a customer is that it's not the person serving me's fault.  As someone doing customer service I try to remember that if a customer is upset or angry that there are ways to diffuse it.  Fortunately since I've gone into business for myself I haven't had any upset customers, but working in the movie theater, and at the museum we got some odd calls every now and then.

This is going to be a short one this week, but all I ask folks is that we respect one another.  On both sides of the phone, desk, counter, and/or handshake.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Appreciation Customers Service https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/service Thu, 22 Aug 2013 04:05:00 GMT
"Aperture Priority" https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/-aperture-priority So I realize that this entry is extremely late, and I do apologize for that, but in a way I think it was fortunate.  Normally I try to write these over the weekend, then I schedule them to post first thing on Thursday mornings.  That gives me a few days in case things come up.  (Un)fortunately we had the wifelings nephews this past week, so time flew by even when I wasn't working this past week.  As it is I woke up this morning and said to myself, "Wait...it's Thursday already?  Where did the week go?"  But this time I think it worked out.  I had a really bizarre dream last night that got me thinking about what I do, what I'd like to do, and curious to know what others would do.

In the dream that I had I had to follow the president around and get pictures while he was getting a haircut.  In the dream we were walking everywhere, including crossing a 5 lane street (10 lanes both ways) at a stoplight...and there was no Secret Service with us either (which was probably the strangest aspect). 

Anyway, in this dream we're at the barber shop when thick black smoke starts pouring out of the windows of a "locally famous" restaurant across the street. (It was one of those dreams where you know it's locally famous just because…).  Then of course, the windows brighten and you see flame start coming out of the windows. 

That's where the dilemma came in.  Do I continue to photograph the president getting his haircut, like I'm supposed to, or do I go across the street and photograph the burning building?

Now, in the dream, everyone looked at the fire with about the same amount of interest as one passes a stopped police car on the highway.  There was an initial, "What's that?" reaction followed by the "Oh, nothing serious" then moving along of everyday living.  And that was the attitude of everyone in the dream. 

While the dream is a dream and being a dream is surreal and absurd in any number of ways, from running across a busy street with the president to the nonchalance of the locals to a local place burning to the ground, it still left me with the thought, in this day in age, if you have two special events going on, which one do you choose?

In the example of my dream I was with Mr. President.  That's a once in a lifetime event for most people, if that.  Even if I am taking a photograph of something as mundane as a haircut.  On the flipside, fires happen fairly often.  They can happen anywhere.  Lots of people have seen them and you can pretty much get to one with little to no effort.  In the dream, both events created about the same amount of excitement. 

So I pose this question to all of you.  If you were in this position.  Which option would you choose?  Stay focused on the President? Or on the burning building?  Leave your choice, and why, in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Choice Decisions Focus Questions https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/-aperture-priority Thu, 15 Aug 2013 18:44:12 GMT
Comparison Between Cameras and Rifles https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/comparison-between-cameras-and-rifles I've debated posting this one for a long time as it seems that every time I think about posting this one, some national tragedy occurs that brings weapons of all kinds into the spotlight again.  As we're coming up on the anniversary of my enlistment/EAS I figure now is as good a time as any to post this.

This is going to be a bit of an odd post.  As most of my followers know I did spend four years in the United States Marine Corps.  While I was enlisted my Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was a cook Food Service Specialist (don't we feel special???).  As everyone knows about the USMC however, every Marine is considered a rifleman.  We learn it in bootcamp, and have to qualify every year that we stay in. 

Now, just to get this thought out of the way.  I am not pro-gun.  I am not anti-gun.  I'm for the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms, but I do not believe that every American should own a gun.  What I am for however is safe ownership of guns.  Locking them up when there are children in the house, making sure that everyone (adult and child) is familiar with gun safety and gun safety rules.  Treat every weapon as if it were loaded, never point at anything you do not intend to shoot, etc.

There was a lot that I learned on the range that I feel pertains to using a camera as well.  Here are some of mine:

  • You need a solid standing base to shoot to avoid missing the target; essentially forming a tripod with your body and centering your gravity.  Keeping your arms tight to your body.
  • With a rifle there are methods of wrapping your hand in the sling to steady your shot.  I've used a similar method at times when using my camera.
  • A slow steady squeeze of the trigger will allow you to take a fine shot rather than pulling the trigger and missing the target.
  • Anything you point at can be shot whether intentionally or not.
  • With a rifle and a camera you typically need two hands to shoot. One hand will squeeze the trigger, while the other steadies the barrel/lens.
  • You need to know the special physics behind your craft.  Trajectory and speed for rifles, and light for cameras.
  • You need to know your subject.  How it moves, and how it will react to what you're doing.
  • Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.  This is true for cameras too.  There have been many celebrities, high school kids, teachers, etc. that took a racy shot and "accidentally" had it posted for the world to see.  We live in a very interconnected world, and it is very easy to slip up or send something out that may be inappropriate.
  • Never point at anything you do not intend to shoot.  For me as a photographer, I believe this applies mostly to event photography.  If someone says that they do not want their picture taken, don't take their picture.  There are plenty of other people at the party, no reason to upset someone unnecessarily.  Don't even point the camera in their direction if you can help it.

This post again, is not necessarily to be tongue in cheek or to advocate, or not advocate the use of firearms.  This is merely to present the idea that a lot of the things that we learn in life can be translated into other areas of our lives.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Comparison List Rifle Safety Shooting Tips Tricks https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/comparison-between-cameras-and-rifles Thu, 08 Aug 2013 04:05:00 GMT
The Joy of Nature Trails https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/the-joy-of-nature-trails I love nature trails.  Even when I manage to walk them up and down and not see a single wild animal beyond birds and squirrels, I still love them.  There's just something about the smell of the trees, and the usual chitter that comes from the woods that makes it all worth while.

Now, I haven't been able to go out on the trails in some time, especially between the heat, the storms, and just a generally busy schedule.  It's still one of my favorite things to do though, especially if it's a trail in or near a National Historic Site.  Last Spring I went to Fort Dobbs ,which has a short trail (only about a mile and a half, if I recall correctly), but it still intrigues me to think about what that forest looked like 250 years ago during the American Revolution when it was still being fought, but that probably just the History major in me talking.

One thing that I have found shooting in the woods is that it can sometimes be very tricky to get a proper exposure.  If you'll recall the Photographer's Triangle (ISO, Speed, and Aperture) needs to be set in balance in order to get a properly exposed picture.  Typically on a sunny day you use what is called the "Sunny 16" rule, which is typically and ISO 200, at 1/250th of a second, at f/16.  This is the general rule of thumb on a sunny day to get a properly exposed photograph.  Now this does not mean that you have to shoot at those settings, but by utilizing the Photographer's Triangle you are able to adjust accordingly.  If you need a speed faster than 1/250th of a second, let's say twice the speed at 1/500th, you will need to open up your aperture to f/11 (which will allow twice as much light in).

In the woods you will have to make sacrifices based on what setting is the most important to you.  Do you want a fast shutter speed to catch the deer that might run by, or the heron taking off on the lake?  Then you'll have to raise your ISO and/or open up your aperture in some combination to compensate. 

Keep in mind that your aperture setting also controls your depth of field so if you open it too wide, you may stop the deer in it's tracks, but if you don't nail the focus where you want it, the deer will be blurry. 

If you want to make sure the deer and everything around it is tack sharp, you want a smaller aperture for the wider depth of field.  That means you'll need a lower ISO and/or a slower shutter speed.  Now if you combine the slower shutter speed to catch the deer running while utilizing the panning technique, you should get a nice sharp deer with a nicely motion blurred forest behind it.

With ISO a faster ISO will let more light in which will allow you to use faster shutter speeds and/or smaller aperture settings, but at the expense of more noise or grain in your photo.  The upside to this however is that with today's digital cameras noise is less prevalent at higher ISOs than it was with film, and some cameras actually have a "High ISO NR (Noise Reduction)" setting which will further help with higher ISO shots.

Anyway, that's all for this week.  Hope you found it helpful, and I'll see you next week.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Aperture Forest ISO Nature Photographer's Triangle Shutter Speed Tips Tricks Woods https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/8/the-joy-of-nature-trails Thu, 01 Aug 2013 04:05:00 GMT
To Shoot or Not to Shoot https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/7/to-shoot-or-not-to-shoot I know I touched on this subject not that long ago with the "Oh the Places You'll Go" entry back in January, but I read something this week that really brought it home.  What I'm talking about is the decision of a photographer to shoot, or not shoot, in any given situation. 

I read this article (Photographer's Break Kate Middleton Labor News) about the two photographers that caught the royal couple getting out of the car and heading into the delivery center this past week, and they chose to give the Duchess of Cambridge her dignity, and not shoot.  It's a rarity to see photographers opt to not take the shot, and when you add in the media frenzy that was waiting for that exact moment to happen it's heartening to see two photographers who chose not to. 

It's interesting to me to think that there were probably a lot of media outlets that would've paid a lot of money for those shots, but these two chose not to do it.  In the Yahoo article linked above, Parshotam is quoted as saying, "she’s a woman in labour. I just wanted to photograph the commotion and convoy of cars. That was a personal decision we both made. To take a picture of her would have been overstepping the mark."

I admit that I don't normally read Yahoo News, but the wifeling was sitting next to me on her laptop and I happened to glance over and caught the article.  I'm actually kind of glad that I did. 

Whether to take the shot or not is almost always a hard decision.  The biggest factors to me to consider are relevance in the world, and  the humanity and dignity of the subject.  As an American, I'm not as concerned about a royal birth, especially as the monarchy in England has been a figurehead for so many years rather than a by-the-book monarchy, but I can still see where it would have world relevance.  You only have to look at the media camped out in front of the hospital for that last few weeks to see that. 

Dignity and humanity of the subject is the trickier portion.  Some photos will emphasize the humanity, despite degraded conditions.  I'm thinking specifically of the Dorothea Lange photo, "Migrant Mother" from 1936. 

Anyway, that's my two cents for the week.  I apologize for the short post, but it's the summer and I've been especially busy for the last few weeks.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Decisions Dignity Humanity Parshotam Royal Baby Sacks World Relevance https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/7/to-shoot-or-not-to-shoot Thu, 25 Jul 2013 13:14:38 GMT
If You Like it Then You Should Put a Frame On It - Hang it on the Wall Test https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/7/if-you-like-it-then-you-should-put-a-frame-on-it---hang-it-on-the-wall-test A couple of  weeks ago I talked about how to narrow down your shots and how hard it can be sometimes to pick out the best out of a series.  I like to do what I call the "Hang It On the Wall Test."  This test is exactly what it sounds like, and is a phrase I often use on the forum I belong to.  You look at your picture, and you ask yourself, "Would I hang this on my wall?" 

The thing with photography is that it can be very subjective.  There are no hard and fast rules for what makes a good photograph.  There are certain things that we may strive for, such as leading lines, rule of thirds placement, well exposed, and proper white balance, but in the end it falls down to the particular viewer's preference.  When I was part of the Science Museum Camera Club in Buffalo we had judges that would say that something was off, let's say depth-of-field.  Depth of field can be very subjective.  Typically portraits are done with a shallow depth of field which blurs out the background and makes the subject pop.  This may not always be the case.  Just because I prefer a well blurred background, but sometimes this can be difficult, and what I consider to be well blurred and what you consider to be well blurred, may be two different things.

The difference in this case?  Whose wall is the photograph going up on?  I may show two different photographs.  Same subject, same background, and for the sake of argument we'll even say same pose.  The only difference we'll say is f-stop.  The first photo will be done with a f/2.8, the second with an f/8.  All else being equal, we'll get two very different photos.*

*When I say "All else being equal," I am assuming that you remember the photographer's triangle of ISO, Aperture, and Speed.  When you change one, you have to adjust one or both of the other two in order to get the same properly exposed image.  To go from f/2.8 to f.8 in this example we have reduced the amount of light in our photo by 1/16th which means that we would need to reduce our shutter speed by the same amount (1/500th - 1/60th), raise the ISO significantly (ISO 200-1600), or some combination in the middle.  Personally, if I can I would reduce the shutter speed only, as I try to use the lowest ISO possible.

In the example above we will only concentrate on the depth of field component which is the aperture setting.  At f/2.8 focus will have to be dead on where you need it to be.  Chances are the eyes and nose will be in sharp focus, and the rest will fall off while the background is completely out of focus.  At f/8 not only will your subject be in focus, but so will your background most likely.

If you're outside then the background may be distracting if it's in focus, if your subject is in front of a backdrop in a studio though, then this may not be considered distracting. 

In the end, all that matters is if you want it on your wall or not.  I hope you found this informative.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Aperture Depth-Of-Field F/Stop ISO Photographer's Triangle Shutter Speed Tips Tricks https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/7/if-you-like-it-then-you-should-put-a-frame-on-it---hang-it-on-the-wall-test Thu, 18 Jul 2013 04:00:00 GMT
Photography Etiquette at Weddings https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/7/photography-etiquette-at-weddings So, this past weekend I went to a wedding, not as a photographer, but as a guest.  The wedding itself was great, as was the reception.  It got me thinking about etiquette for guests around photographers.  The photographer at this wedding was the mother of a friend of mine, and she was excellent from what I saw.

I've been to a lot of wedding over the past few years with a lot of different photographers with a lot of different philosophies on guests using personal cameras at a wedding.  I have seen photographers who insist on being the only one with a camera, I've seen photographers who welcome other people with cameras, and I've seen every permutation in between.

To be fair usually the photographers who insist on being the only photographers are usually nice enough to tactfully suggest that the guests relax and enjoy the wedding.  I have also seen contracts where the photographer vows to leave if they so much as see another camera.  Personally, I don't get that mentality.  I find it hard to put the camera down myself, and a lot of guests will have cameras.  It's a part of weddings.  As a photographer you have to be secure enough to know that the bride and groom (or whoever is paying for the wedding) hired you to be there.  The quality won't be as good, and even if they're a guest like me who is a professional, the guest won't have the best angles and the best position.

The wedding I went to yesterday I think had the right idea.  They had the professional photographer for the wedding shots.  The staff at the location told all the guests to go relax under the tent and find their seats while the wedding party got the professional photos done. This is a tactful way to make sure that no one was in the photographer's way, and then they had throwaway cameras on each of the tables for more candid shots.  They also asked anyone that did have a camera to post the photos on Facebook and send a link to the bride and groom so that they could see ALL the pictures.  I know some photographers get nervous about this idea because if they have good/decent/any photos up on Facebook, etc. then patrons are less likely to buy their photos.  There was a wedding I went to a couple years ago that had an awesome idea that I loved.  At each setting there was a card with the photographer's information and an access code so that guests could go online once the photos were up and not only see the gallery, but purchase any photos that they wanted for themselves.  I actually purchased an 8x10 of my wifeling and I along with our child (who was about 1 at the time) that I had asked the photographers to take because I knew I could get the photo later on their website.  (If I could remember which photographer it was I would link their site to here, but it's been a few years.)  That photo is the only close to formal photo I have of my family that wasn't taken via remote.

The purpose of this blog is for those in between weddings where people are allowed to take photos "alongside" the paid photographer.  What I want everyone to remember is that there is a reason that there is a hired photographer at a wedding.  They are there for a reason.  They are paid to be there.  Please, please, please do not get into their way when taking your photos.  They may be just as good...in fact depending on what equipment you're using and how much knowledge you have about composition and lighting it probably will be just as good if you're jumping in front of the paid photographer to get it.  In fact, if you're getting in front of the paid photographer it will be better, because the paid photographer's photo will have your head in the shot.  Again, please don't photobomb your friends' weddings.  There is a paid professional there. 

I've seen it happen a few times at weddings where the paid professional is taking photos of the wedding party, and everyone and their Uncle Harry is standing next to/near the photographer getting the same shots that the paid professional has composed.  Only problem is, now the bridal party is confused as to which camera to look at.

If you are ever at a wedding where I am shooting, please, feel free to take as many photos as you want.  All I ask is that you don't stand in front of me.

Update:  Here's the link to that photographer I mentioned from a few years ago. The Creative Photography.  If you're getting married in the WNY area and can book them, do so.  Very friendly staff.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Courtesy Etiquette Tips Tricks Weddings https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/7/photography-etiquette-at-weddings Thu, 11 Jul 2013 13:56:01 GMT
Narrowing Down Your Shots https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/7/narrowing-down-your-shots This article is going to discuss one of the harder parts of photography to me.  It's something I learned that I HAVE to do as a professional from my uncle, and although sometimes it's a pain it has to be done.

One of the toughest things for me when I'm editing my photos is deciding which one to choose.  There are a lot of times as a photographer where I take multiple shots of something from slightly different angles.  Afterwards I have to choose which one to submit to the client, or to put in an album.

I've seen a lot of albums, on Facebook especially, where people will post an album with 20 pictures, and except for slight variations, they are all the same photo of the exact same subject.  I admit that even I have been guilty of this, especially when I was first starting to those steps between amateur and pro.

To give an example, I used to work at the Buffalo Museum of Science as the Group Reservations and External Relations Associate receptionist.  On lunch I would get an hour break, and I was told to take the entire hour.  As I usually brought my lunch that meant I would usually take 10-15 minutes to eat my lunch then I would wander around the museum for 45 minutes with my camera.  I swear I have probably catalogued every exhibit in that museum between 2009-2012 with the exception of those exhibits where photography was expressly forbidden.  Either way I have lots of pics of things like the velociraptor skeleton.  I have it from multiple angles.  From the side, straight on, in the old exhibition room, in the new exhibition room, you name it.  Now even though I have many pics of this particular skeleton, it doesn't mean I want to post all of them in the same album. 

I've probably taken 100 shots of that skeleton under various conditions, as mentioned earlier from different angles and in different rooms.  This is where the narrowing down comes in.   The method that I use I discovered while reading The Passionate Photographer by Steve Simon (www.stevesimonphoto.com).  What follows is a truncated version of the method and how I follow it.  If you really want to get into more explicit detail on how his system works, buy the book and read it.  It's well worth it, and I keep my tabbed copy sitting on my desk.

The first thing to do is to go through the photos one by one and see if they are technically correct (in focus and correct white balance).  If you are using a program that allows you to rate your photos label it with 1 star.  I use Adobe Photoshop Elements (APE).  Anything that is either blurry due to camera shake or subject movement, incorrect white balance, etc. doesn't get rated.  Some people will delete these photos from their hard drive.  I don't.  When you read Steve Simon's book you'll discover why you should keep even those that aren't technically perfect.  I then make sure to use APE to write my ratings and metadata to the file, and then move all of my one star photos to their own folder inside the home folder.  I then label it as such.  The system I use is usually the date followed by the subject.  In this case, I'll use today's date just for the example with the home folder being "2013-07-04 Velociraptor."  Inside of this folder I will make a folder for the RAW images "2013-07-04 Velociraptor RAW" and then I will create "2013-07-04 Velociraptor 1 Star." All of the RAW files go into the RAW folder, and all the one starred items go into the 1 star folder.  As I have my camera set to shoot jpg and RAW this is the most efficient method for me.  You may find something that works for you better.  Every month or so I will backup my RAW images to DVD.

Once you have done the initial run through take a break.  Whether this is a cup of coffee, a smoke, or a Firefly marathon is up to you.  Any way you slice it, walk away from the computer.  Let your eyes rest, let your mind rest.

When you come back go through all of the photos that you labeled with 1 star.  Check for any above average photos.  Again this can be subjective, but for me these are the ones where I feel that I nailed the shot, and I mean nailed it.  What I wanted sharp is sharp, the rule of thirds line up perfectly, and the lighting and white balance are exactly as I wanted.  These are also the photos where when I look at them a second time I usually stop my wifeling and make her look at the photo, and even she goes, "Wow." (Trust me, it happens less often than I'd like.)  As I go through these photos I label them with a second star. Once I'm finished I'll move all the second star photos into a new folder labeled, you guessed it, "2013-07-04 Velociraptor 2 Star."  For my velociraptor photos these are the ones where the spine lines up nicely with the bottom or top third of the image, depending on how much of the legs I want in frame.  The head is at a nice angle, etc.

Personally, I nest all of the folders.  My first folder will be the default "My Pictures," in it I will have folders labeled with each year I've been shooting, as well as a few photos for the things that I use often, such as business logos for my watermarking, website reduced photos for the forum I belong to, etc.  After that I have a folder for each month.  Then one for each day I've downloaded the photos.  While every folder is labeled with a date, not everyone is labeled with a subject unless I feel it is necessary.  If I'm just keeping tooling around during the weekend taking family photos, there is no reason to label it family photos.  If I'm doing a shoot for a client however I'm going to want to be able to find these photos quickly, even without the APE keyword tags.  Redundancy is a good thing. 

After you have gone through this for the second time, it's time to take a quick break and go through it a third.  For this I will hook up to my large screen monitor and look at images full size.  We're double checking for sharpness, so the large screen can help.  You also want to compare similar photos.   This is where it can get really tough.  By now I've probably "tossed out" a lot of photos from the pool.  What's left are those images that any image by itself is a good shot. They're all technically perfect, they all line up nicely, they are clear and crisp with no errors or artifacts in the image.  Let's say I've narrowed it down now from 100 to 10.  They may all be from different angles, or they may be from a very similar angle.  Let's say 3/4 body profile with the head looking straight at the camera.  In APE I just hit F12 and it allows me to compare images side by side.  If I have two very similar images this is where I'm going to double and triple check sharpness, check the lighting etc.  Is one exposure slightly off?  Is there a yet unseen artifact in the image, whether it's a smudge on the lens, or something out of place in the background?  I mentioned earlier that our velociraptor changed exhibit halls, is one background more distracting than the other?  All of this can be very subjective, but I recommend making a decision and moving one into round three and leaving the other behind.  After this third round, you know what to do.  Label the winners with a third star, and move them to the new folder.  

For most projects three stars is where I stop.  There are usually very few photos by this point, at least compared to what I started with.  In the velociraptor example I started with 100 images, and maybe 3 or 4 of them will rate 3 stars.  Same is true with client photos.  If you're doing a portrait session, let's say a headshot, there are only so many different positions you can place the head and shoulders, so a lot of these photos will look the same to the untrained eye.  The key is to go through, pick out which ones have the best lighting, the best sharpness, etc.  And give those to the client for use.

If you are building your portfolio, this is where the next two steps get extra tricky.  4 Star photos are typically the ones where you take the shot and can't wait to get back home and see them.  These are the ones that when you take the shot, you know you nailed it.  You want it on your wall, whether it's your physical living room wall, or your Facebook wall.  These are the ones that when you take it you just want it.   As Steve Simon says, "These are the diamonds in the rough."  When I worked at the museum I had a digital frame on my desk.  These were typically the photos that when my boss would walk by my desk she would stop and tell me that I needed to quit my job and become a full time photographer, because she didn't pay me enough. 

5 Star photos are the portfolio worthy ones.  These are the ones where even six months or a year later you can look back and remember exactly how you felt when you took that shot.  Just looking at them fills you with a sense of pride, and typically the first word you think of is, "yes." I have my computer set up to change my wallpaper every couple hours.  The 5 star photos are the ones where they come up in rotation and I stop what I'm doing to admire the photo again.  To me these are like the wallet photos of your kid.  They're an extreme rarity, but you want to show the picture to everyone you meet.

Anyway, I hope this helps.  As usual, I have not been endorsed in any way to critique The Passionate Photographer or Adobe Photoshop Elements.  These are merely the methods that I use and allow my workflow to be at it's smoothest.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Adobe Photoshop Elements Book Portfolio Ratings Reviews Steve Simon The Passionate Photographer Tips Tricks https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/7/narrowing-down-your-shots Thu, 04 Jul 2013 04:05:00 GMT
The Photographer's Ephemeris Review https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/the-photographers-ephemeris-review Given that this pasSupermoon Rises Over Cannon Research Facility in Kannapolis, NCCannon Research Facility Supermoon t weekend was the Supermoon I figured this would be a good blog post for this week.  This week I'll be reviewing the use of "The Photographer's Ephemeris."  As always, I am not getting paid or anyway reimbursed for this review.  This is just an app that I have found extremely useful, and others do too so it's worth mentioning.

The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE) is a very handy tool that is available in multiple platforms.  It is free to download to your PC, but has a small fee to download as an Android App.  I have been using the PC version for a few years now, and I can say it was honestly the first app I paid for when I finally bought a smartphone.  In fact it is one of only three apps I have ever actually paid for and it is well worth the cost.  Now that I think of it, I remember being in the car after purchasing my smartphone, and as the thought crossed my mind, the wifeling glared at me with a "What?  I know that look." So I told her that I could finally get TPE for my phone.

With the application in general it allows you to search for a location and pinpoint whatever location you desire.  You can even save frequently used locations to make the process even quicker and easier.  In the Android App you also have the option to allow GPS tracking and can pinpoint your location using the compass icon. 

I found out the night of the Supermoon that if you doubletap the compass icon it not only centers on your location, but actually adjusts the map for the way that you're facing.  It was a few degrees off when I tried this, but I don't know if standing so close to my car had anything to do with throwing it off, or if there were any other environmental issues that may have been involved.

Other features include lines for sunrise/sunset, and moonrise/moonset, as well as giving the information on times for all of this information for specific days.  It also has information on elevation above sea level and azimuth of your selected celestial body. 

One thing that I have noticed is that in the PC version some days will have an asterisk and the information says something to the effect of "extra celestial phenomenon" these tend to include things like eclipses, but the asterisk doesn't always tell you what might be occurring in the sky.   Most times you'll already know from the news what might be occurring such as eclipses, meteors, etc., but every once in awhile there will be something on TPE that I can't find what the extra phenomenon might be.  Now to be fair it's been awhile since I've used the PC version as I always have my smart phone on me.

There is a spot on both apps for all three twilights (Civil, Nautical, and Astronomical), so that you can plan your shoot accordingly.

There have been a number of times I have used this app and known where I wanted to setup my shot before I even walked out the door.  It has also allowed me to change ideas as necessary because I have looked at spots and thought, that would make a great photo to get the moon rising over that field.  Only to realize that it's not quite facing the right direction at the right time.  This is readily apparent when you think of moonrise and sunrise on the horizon during the summer and winter times.  They may only be different by a few degrees, but those few degrees can make a big difference.

I think that's about all for this week.  Anyway, check it out for yourself, it's definitely worth it.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Android Apps Astronomical Azimuth Civil Moonrise Moonset Nautical PC Photographer's Ephemeris Review Sunrise Sunset Supermoon Tips Tricks Twilight https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/the-photographers-ephemeris-review Thu, 27 Jun 2013 11:30:00 GMT
Summer Solstice https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/summer-solstice As you'll recall I did a blog about Moon/Nightscape photography just as we were coming up to the Winter Solstice (click here for link).  This time I figured I would talk about taking photos during the harshest light of the day. 

Typically the hours of 10-2 are the worst times of day to take photos.  There is very little to no shadow, which causes many photos to come out looking flat.  I know this may be confusing as I have said previously that sometimes working during an overcast day is ideal.  This is not a contradiction, and I will explain why not in an article for another day.

With very few shadows during the harshest light of day pictures will come out looking flat with very little depth.  Portraits can come out especially bland as there is no shadow on the face to denote character, and usually harsh light will cause your victim subject to squint.

If you have to shoot during these hours for whatever reason there are certain things that you can do to minimize the harshness.

Most reflector disc sets will come with a black "reflector" that you can use to shade your subject if possible, (i.e. flowers or people) which will absorb some of the light.

Another option, which can be good for those touristy snapshots is to use your flash.  I know that seems counterintuitive when there's too much light, but this is for those times where the direct overhead sunlight is causing deep shadows from something, (i.e. awning, baseball cap, etc.).  If you're only using the onboard flash that comes from the camera, there may be an option called "Fill Flash."  I know I had that option on my old Nikon Coolpix Point & Shoot, and I have seen it on other cameras.  If you don't have an option that explicitly says "Fill Flash," use whatever flash you have available to lighten some of the deeper shadows caused by overhead lighting being blocked.  If you have an off camera flash you can usually set the flash to about 1/4 power and that will provide enough light to provide a fill flash without washing out your subject.

As we are talking about harsh light now would be a good time to mention highlights on your camera, often referred to as "The Blinkies."  There is a setting on most cameras that will allow you to check your photos for contrast.  If your sensor is receiving too much light it will wash out the photo.  The same effect as when film was overexposed.  Any spot that is overexposed will start to blink when you have the highlights setting turned on.   This is an indication that you have lost detail.

This is where a little bit of training, and a lot of common sense go along way.  Most pictures will have some part of the picture that blink.  These are your whitest whites.  For example, if you take a photo of a person out in the sun, you might see part of their eyes begin to blink.  This may even occur under studio lighting where the studio lighting is being reflected.  A little bit of "the blinkies" in this case is okay.  If you are taking a landscape photograph and the entire sky starts to blink, that's when you know that you definitely have to adjust your exposure and tone it down a notch.

Typically during the day, especially for a landscape photograph, photographers will follow what's known as the "Sunny 16" rule.  The general rule is that at f/16 (a fairly small aperture setting) with ISO 200 film (or the equivalent on a digital camera), the shutter speed should be set to 1/200, or as close as you can get (typically 1/250 on typical film cameras).  This setting (in theory) should provide a properly exposed photograph without your highlights being too light, or your shadows too dark.  Photographers will then adjust their needs accordingly to maintain that balance. 

Always remember the "Photographer's Triangle" of Aperture, Speed, and ISO.  Any time you change one of these setting it affects the other two.  If we are doing a portrait and want to change our f-number from f/16 to f/4, a difference of three stops overall (f/16 -> f/8 -> f/5.6 -> f/4), we would need to compensate by either using lower ISO film, or it's equivalent, or changing the shutter speed.   If you remember the smaller the f-number the wider the aperture, the more light is being let in.  So, at f/4 we would let in three times as much light at 1/250 of a second as we would at f/16.  If we don't increase our shutter speed our photo is going to be extremely bright and probably completely overexposed.   If we increase our shutter speed.  If we double it to 1/500 it might still be too bright, but if we go as high as 1/1000 it might be slightly underexposed.  The nice thing about today's DSLRs is that they often have 1/2 and 1/3 stop increments so you can fine tune your exposure.  I know my Nikon and most Canon's will have a meter built in that can be viewed in either Live View mode or through the eyepiece.

Another step that can be taken to bring down the brightness is to use a Neutral Density (ND) filter.  These come in a variety of shades and will usually be marked as (-1, -3, etc.) which will indicate how you will need to adjust your compensation to get a properly exposed photo.  ND filters are especially helpful when you need to photograph something using a slow shutterspeed but in a bright environment such as a waterfall.

I think that's all I'm going to hit you with this week.  I apologize for the lengthy article, but I figure I've been skimping out the last few weeks while I changed over the website and blog so it evens out.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Aperture Daylight F-Number F-Stop Highlights ISO Noon Photographer's Triangle Reflectors Shadows Shutter Tips https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/summer-solstice Thu, 20 Jun 2013 12:00:00 GMT
Zenfolio Free Trial https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/zenfolio-free-trial Well folks, I know I've been all but invisible the last few weeks as I've been looking for a new host site.  The good news is I think I've found one.  Instead of having my Blog on one site, and my photos hosted by another I think I will be able to have everything in one place.  Zenfolio here is offering a 2 week free trial, and I'm going to take advantage of it.  I won't be posting too many photos, or transferring my old blog posts until I'm sure that I want to keep it, but I figure it's a start.

I've already seen a lot of features that I like...such as the "Schedule Post" option which will hopefully keep me on schedule as I won't have to remind myself to write and post at certain times.  This should allow me the freedom to write a post when I have a minute, and schedule it for later.



[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Free New Off-Topic Starter Transfer Trial https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/zenfolio-free-trial Fri, 07 Jun 2013 22:33:22 GMT
Family First https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/family-first It's somewhat ironic that I should be writing about trying to balance family life and photography life as my son is trying to crawl on top of me while I write this.  The exact words that just escaped my lips were, "Go snuggle your Opa."  Yes, this one is going to be a short one on top of a non-existent one from last week because my dad is down to visit.  He's spending time with all of us, but is gracious enough to watch the small child while I work for a couple of days as well.

I almost didn't take the jobs this week because he was coming down, but he reminded me that it's not only important to spend time with family, but to support them as well and that I need to do what I need to do.  It was similar words last year that prompted us to move down to Kannapolis from Buffalo in the first place...as much as he'd miss us. 

Sometimes saying, "Family First" almost seems paradoxical.  Does that mean go to work so you can provide for your family...or take time off from work and spend more time with family?  I think it really depends on where you are in life.  Currently we don't have a surplus of money for me to take time off...which means I have to take the job.  At least we have a loving family that doesn't mind my being gone for 6 hours or so at a time while they're down here to visit so that I can work.

I think I'm going to end this one here, as the boyo has snuggled up to me which means I am now having to type with one hand, and Opa and I are watching his DVD from his trip to Africa with my uncle that he took a few weeks ago.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Boyo Family Off-Topic Opa Short https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/family-first Thu, 16 May 2013 23:00:00 GMT
A Very Successful Weekend https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/a-very-successful-weekend I was extremely busy this past weekend as some of you may know.  I did headshots and a few theater poses on Friday, had someone take advantage of the Mother's Day Discount that I'm offering on Saturday morning, and then went to downtown Kannapolis for the Kaleidoscope of Culture Festival to mostly take some shots for The Village Washer Wenches.

The crowd wasn't as big as I was expecting, but they still had a decent showing, but to be fair it was a bit chillier than anticipated, and the gray skies kept threatening to open up.  The performances were great, and I've already promised the girls that the next time I'll get video for them.

All in all it was a grand time, and I certainly enjoyed myself.  Having only been down in Kannapolis for a little less than a year, I'm still learning about some of the events that go on around here.  As it is, I only yesterday discovered that there was a baseball team here, and that was due to a friend living in Texas asking me if I had seen them yet.  When I looked at the map I realized the stadium was only a few miles from the house, but in the opposite direction of the way I normally travel.

It has certainly been interesting for me since I've been down here.  I took part in my first ever Zombie Walk in China Grove, I got to participate in the Evening with the Alexanders, and I spent a good part of the faire season at the Carolina Renaissance Festival.

If any of you happen to know of anything else that's coming up, please let me know.  I would've been at The Loch Norman Games, but I knew nothing about it until I saw the paper the day after.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Arts China Grove Events Festival Kannapolis Multi-Cultural Renaissance Village Washer Wenches Zombie https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/a-very-successful-weekend Thu, 02 May 2013 23:00:00 GMT
Two by Two with Puns of Blue https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/two-by-two-with-puns-of-blue For the few of you that read my blog every week, you know that this week's blog is late due to an unexpected Real Estate Photo shoot.  As the location was not far from my mother's house I decided to walk.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day without a cloud in the sky, and as I only had to walk about a 1/2 mile, it made more sense.  Especially since as a rule in Real Estate photography you can't have cars in the driveway, so I'd b looking to park away from the house anyway. 

On the way back I was looking up and realized just how blue and vast the sky looks without clouds.  I don't know if it's because I have a toddler myself now and I'm just looking at the world with refreshed wonder, or if it really is such a rarity to me that it just struck me.  Having grown up in Buffalo we see gray skies usually from about September to around May.  June, July, and August we'll get a couple of cloud free days, but usually there are at least some clouds somewhere in the sky.  A truly cloud free day is a rarity.   Usually we have just the opposite and it's gray sky from horizon to horizon.  This doesn't even include that most days, I was stuck in an office without a window to the outside world, so even if the skies were blue and cloud free...I didn't see it.

What first made me notice how blue the sky was, was the walk up to the location.  As I've been doing Real Estate photography pretty steadily over the last year, it's always nice when you can have a beautiful day to shoot the exteriors.  Let's face it, if you're browsing for a new home online you don't want to see a gray, cloudy, depressing scene.  You want bright, happy, sunshine.   Plus, all that extra sunshine coming through the windows helps to light the room too.

Now when I'm able to I like to shoot exteriors during the golden hour, when the sun is setting, but a lot of times I just don't have that opportunity shooting homes.  The other problem with shooting golden hour photos, at least from a Real Estate perspective, is that it can change the color of the house. 

I have one Real Estate Agent that I work pretty exclusively with, and 9/10 she tells me what she wants, or doesn't want in a shot and I can give her the finished photos an hour after I get back to my computer.  It's always nice to have a quick turn around time and to be able to give the client what they want.  I'm thinking that perhaps next week, I'll go into some of the tips that I've picked up and that have been suggested to me both by her, and by other photogs.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Blue Skies Real Estate https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/two-by-two-with-puns-of-blue Thu, 25 Apr 2013 22:45:00 GMT
National Tragedies https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/national-tragedies I realize that some people are probably already tired of hearing about the bombing at the Boston Marathon, and I've already seen Facebook postings asking how three people dying in Boston is any worse that hundreds and thousands dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, but given current events I hope you will understand my need to talk about it here.

The big difference to me, especially as a Marine Corps Veteran, is expectation.  Whether you feel that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is just or not, the men and women in uniform understood when they enlisted that there was a chance that they would never see home again.  When they got their orders to go into a war zone they are taught to expect to not go home again.  Even the civilians in the war zones, have some expectation and realization that they may not survive the night. 

In Boston, people were playing a game.  They were running, they were having fun.  They had no reasonable expectation that they would not go home or back to their hotels that evening.  They had no reasonable expectation that they would lose loved ones. 

I was going to speak about the role of photographers and photojournalists in such matters as this, but my boyo just woke up, and we're going to spend the day together.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Bombing Boston Marathon National Off-Topic Tragedy https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/national-tragedies Thu, 18 Apr 2013 22:45:00 GMT
Take Both Shots https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/take-both-shots This week's lesson is something that I learned the hard way.  Very early in my photography career I made the mistake of listening to my client rather than my heart, and almost got burned for it.  In case you hadn't guessed from the title this blog entry is about taking both shots.

This can be an extremely fine line to walk.  On one hand, the client knows what they want (in theory), but they hired you for your creativity and vision.  If you have the time, and sometimes the time is literally less than a second, take both what the client wants, and what you think should be done. 

I can think of one time in particular, where I was about to take a shot the way I thought it would look best, and the client told me that they wanted something else.  Not a problem, they're the client right?  Lo and behold when I'm done with the initial editing process, the client wasn't as happy with that shot as they thought they would be.  When I mentioned to them what I had been thinking about doing at the time I got, "Ooh...that would've looked good."  

Does that mean I didn't put my all into the shot that the client wanted?  Quite the opposite actually.  I thought the client had a clear vision of what they wanted and I wanted to make the client happy, ergo I did my best to do just that. 

Part of it is confidence.  Growing up I was never particularly confident in myself.  In fact I still question myself most times, even when I shouldn't.  I can honestly tell you that after that incident when things like this come up I will usually tell the client, tactfully, that I will be happy to do the photos as they request, but I would appreciate the opportunity while we have it to take the photo as I see it too.  Usually there's no further discussion.  

Now granted taking both shots is a lot easier now than it was in my grandfather's time.  In his time it would have involved many, many rolls of film.  Now...it's a lot easier to keep a spare SD Card on you than 5 extra rolls of film if necessary.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Chances Clients Happy Ideas https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/take-both-shots Thu, 04 Apr 2013 22:45:00 GMT
Follow Your Heart...And Use the Guide https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/follow-your-heart-and-use-the-guide Let me start this entry by explicitly stating that I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for what I'm about to say.  All opinions expressed herein are my own. 

This entry is about gear.  Not the body of the camera itself, but what I use to carry it.  Again, this is what I use, and what I have found helpful.  I refuse to get into a debate about camera bodies and which manufacturer is "better."  Some use Canon, some use Nikon, others use Fuji, etc.  Use what is comfortable to you.  Not just in your hands, but for your pocketbook as well.  I've gotten flack before about not having a "Professional Grade Camera," and all I can think is that my "cheap" (trust me...my wife often tells me that my camera was not cheap), has far more options than what my grandfather and uncle used when they were the most active.  I've always felt that while the right lens/body combination can help you achieve what the look that you're going for in your photography, if you don't know how to put it together, or what each lens and body can do then it doesn't matter.

This entry though is going to be about the gear I use to carry it.  When I first bought my DSLR, I realized that I would need a case to hold it.  My first one was a small case from Lowepro , which is often mispronounced as Lower Pro (even I do it more than half the time without realizing), that I picked up at Best Buy (a Rezo 110 AW if I remember correctly).  It was exactly what I needed.  It fit my camera body (a Nikon D5000 that had been on sale at the time) and the 18-55mm kit lens separately.  It also had room for the cables, extra battery, and SD cards that I had purchased.  It had the option of a shoulder strap or a belt loop which I enjoyed and would often switch based on what I was doing that day.  The thing that made me fall in love with it thought was the All-Weather Cover (AWC).  At the time I bought my camera I was living in Buffalo and working at the Buffalo Museum of Science.  I often brought my camera in and would take pictures during my lunch breaks.  As a courtesy to our customers we as employees would park at the end of the parking area (roughly 1/4 mile away from the entrance), and for those of you that don't know, Buffalo weather is not very nice between the months of September to about April or May.  If it's not snowing it's probably raining.

The AWC on the Lowepro bags are sewn onto the bag and get nestled into a pouch on the bag itself.  They're fairly waterproof (I've never had problems with leakage), and they dry off fairly quickly.  Usually to be safe I would just wipe them down with a paper towel when I got in.

About a year or so after that purchase, I got a new lens.  That meant I had to upgrade my bag, so I had gone back to Best Buy and had looked at the bags.  Of all the ones I looked at, I kept going back to the Lowepro bags.  I decided to hold off on a purchase and went to the website when I got home.   The website (http://www.lowepro.com) is easy to navigate, and my favorite feature is the bagfinder page of the website (http://bagfinder.lowepro.com/lp/choose-profile) which allows you to enter the information on your gear including body/bodies, lens(es), flash(es), cables, cords, SD Cards, etc. and then narrow your search via your preference for styles of bags, whether or not they have AWCs, are carry-on compliant, etc.  One of the other features that Lowepro offers is their patented slip-lock system which allows you to interlock some of the bags together, special pouches, etc.  I personally have not utilized the slip-lock system, but I like having the option to do so and as the amount of my gear grows I have a feeling that it will come in handy.

I've had the idea for this entry in my head for awhile, but I purchased my most recent bag a few months ago in preparation for my trip to Tucson and wanted to give myself at least a few months of use before I wrote a review on it.  My most recent bag is the Slingshot 202 AW, which is carry on compliant, has room for me to put the camera with a lens attached, an extra lens, my flash, business cards, cords, cables, battery, charger, etc.  As I went to Tucson to do a training video I also had a small handheld camcorder that was on loan from the company I was hired by in there along with all of it's cords and cables. 

Being a Stay-at-Home dad I'm used to sling bags, so that was my first option.  The only feature that didn't live up to my expectation was that although there is a tripod/monopod holder on the bag, the tripod I bought is too large for it.  As I purchased the new tripod at the same time I ordered the new bag online in preparation for the same trip I was unable to compare sizes, but I still blame myself for that one.  I do however have a monopod that goes nicely into the aforementioned spot so it is certainly not wasted space.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, this is what I use.  It's what I've fallen in love with and will continue to use in the future.  If it helps someone find a good bag to carry their gear then so much the better, but it is certainly not the only one out there.

Edit: A pic of my current bag...

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) AWC All Weather Cover Bagfinder Gear Lowepro Product Review Rezo 110 Website https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/follow-your-heart-and-use-the-guide Thu, 28 Mar 2013 22:30:00 GMT
First Day of Spring https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/3/first-day-of-spring With yesterday being the first day of Spring I thought I would take advantage of it.  For those of you following me on Twitter @IanKuhnPhoto you know that I had a real estate photo shoot first thing in the morning, and then I spent the rest of the day outside between Jetton Park and Birkdale Village.

The temperature was a bit cool at first, and the skies started out really gray, but in the afternoon it warmed up nicely.  So much in fact that I started the morning with my heat on, and ended it with the AC cranked in my car.

There's just something about walking nature trails this time of year that refreshes and relaxes.  The trees are beginning to bloom, you can hear the geese honking as they fly over the water, and the birds are usually all out chirping.  Overall, not a bad way to spend a morning.

After lunch I had decided to stop by the Wolf Camera store in Birkdale Village to price check a few things, but unfortunately that location is closed now.  It was still a nice afternoon for a walk around the village though.  Some of the restaurants even had up weather blockers and had patrons sitting outside.

I've only been to Birkdale a couple of times since we moved down here and it's only ever been to the Wolf Camera and Barnes and Noble sections.  I must say that I've been missing out.  I decided to walk the whole village, or at least all of the shops.

I have seriously been missing out.  We tend to eat a lot of organic/homegrown foods due to allergies and what not, and I found a couple of shops that I will definitely be going back to.  I found a nice spice shop, and also Isabella's Olive Oils & Vinegars where I got to taste some fantastic vinegars including a Dark Chocolate Vinegar.  (Believe it or not, it is much tastier than it sounds.)

Overall it was a very nice day, and I apologize for what seems like a A) a short blog update, and B) a somewhat incoherent one, perhaps I will explain in a future update.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Birkdale Village First Spring https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/3/first-day-of-spring Thu, 21 Mar 2013 15:45:00 GMT
A Visit From an Old Friend https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/a-visit-from-an-old-friend So last week I was graced by the presence of an old friend of mine.  She’s one of those friends where we may as well be cousins since we grew up that way.  Our dads worked together for years, so we were always over at each other’s houses growing up, playing on the playground during the company picnic etc.  Typically we stay in touch via each other’s tweets, texts, and Facebook updates, as over the years we’ve gone on to lead our own lives. 

For the past few years now she’s been doing modeling and burlesque on the side as Trixi Firecracker, so we’ve been planning on doing a shoot together for some time.  My family moved down here though so it was always a “If we’re ever in the same town…” goal. 

Last week, she came down to visit a few of her friends that don’t live too far away and so she was nice enough to grace me with her presence.  We got to catch up with each other.  Loves, losses, new friends, old friends, and just the random catching up that friends do. 

The shoot went well, despite having a pint sized assistant.  Or because of the pint sized assistant, take your pick.  Now I want you to keep in mind that normally when I schedule a shoot I don’t have my three year old in tow, but as this particular client was a family friend I couldn’t not introduce them.   And of course she was as amused by his antics as the rest of us.

We did a simple one hour session with a pin-up style shoot, and after that we went to go see the Dale Earnhardt Statue in downtown Kannapolis.  In the year I’ve been down here I think this is only the 2nd time I’ve seen it, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve actually been down at the Research Campus area to walk around.  I’ll definitely be down there with my camera again in the future.

You can see the full gallery from the shoot here:  Trixi Firecracker

You can see other photos of her on her Facebook or on Model Mayhem (Caution: Some photos may be NSFW)

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Burlesque Model Model Mayhem Pin-Up Trixi Firecracker https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/a-visit-from-an-old-friend Thu, 14 Mar 2013 16:45:00 GMT
Updating... https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/updating There is a lot going on this past week and next week.  If you remember my last post, “Playing with Fire,” I mentioned the importance of backing up your data.  I am extremely lucky right now.  The Friday after my last post my computer died on me.  Or at the very least it gave me the BSOD.  Luckily the IT gods smiled upon me, and the husband of a friend of my step-mother walked me through a bunch of things over the phone, and I’ve got this beast limping along again.  He’s pretty sure it’s a software issue, but I’m backing all my photos up on DVDs before we do a clean slate wipe.  He had me partition my computer, and in theory when we do the wipe everything should still be in the partitioned section, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.  I spent about 6 hours yesterday backing up my Adobe Photoshop Elements Catalog, and today will be spent bouncing between this blog entry and backing up my RAW files.

Monday also brings exciting news as an old friend of mine is coming down to visit friends in South Carolina, and is gracing me with her presence so that we can work together on a shoot.  Look for the twitter updates on Monday.  With any luck next week’s blog will also have some shots from the shoot.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Backup Catalog Elements Off-Topic Photoshop RAW https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/updating Thu, 28 Feb 2013 17:30:00 GMT
Playing With Fire https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/playing-with-fire Well folks, I had an article planned today for a quick, down and dirty home studio setup, but apparently I’m going to talk about the importance of backing up your data instead.  Right now I am playing with fire.  I have no functioning external harddrive and lately my computer has been randomly shutting down.  Today it’s happened to me twice so far…and I had to restart a project three times because of it. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I do have an external hard drive that I used with my old laptop, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to like the new laptop (New as in I got it two years ago…) so I have all of my old music, and all my photos from 2010 and prior on it with no way to retrieve them.   This also includes all of the newborn photos of my son.  I’m confident that they’re all safe and secure in there, but until I can actually retrieve them, I’m more than a bit disappointed. 

Now of course I know better, but I’m not exactly swimming in money that would allow me to go out and buy another external drive…especially since I’m relatively sure I can recover the old one…eventually.   It’s one of the reasons I’ve been using online galleries such as those available on Google+ or on SmugMug.  I don’t have all of the photos on there, but at least I have the best ones up there in case something happens. 

I am kind of worried that one of these days my computer is going to randomly shut itself off and not restart, but I’ve been working to get everything backed up as I can.  Any client materials of course are burned to disc and placed in my fire safe.

Anyway, I apologize for the late update today, but as I said I was delayed uncontrollably.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Backup https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/playing-with-fire Thu, 21 Feb 2013 17:30:00 GMT
Another Wet Weather Wednesday https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/another-wet-weather-wednesday So, yesterday was yet another Wet Weather Wednesday for me, and unfortunately for me I had to leave the house for a few hours as they did the quarterly pest spraying.  After considering a few of my options I decided to try out the Botanical Gardens over at the UNC Charlotte campus. 

I have to say it was a pleasant surprise.  It was a lot smaller than what I’m used to, but it was still presented very nicely and well worth the trip.  And to be perfectly fair and clear, the Botanical Gardens I usually/used to go to are the ones in Lackawanna, NY near Buffalo, which are absolutely huge.  Also, I only saw the indoor segment of the gardens and wasn’t able to wander the outdoor section, so I honestly have no idea how big the full gardens are.  That will be a project for another day I’m afraid.

I’m seriously at the point though that I wish it would just stop raining on Wednesdays.

I did get some nice shots of some of the flowers and plants while I was there, which I have added to the flowers gallery here. 

I’m afraid it’s another short one this week as I’m in prep mode for Valentine’s Day once my sweetheart gets home.  Speaking of sweethearts, it’s still not too late to book a session for photos for that special someone.  It may be too late for Valentine’s Day itself, but Easter, and then Mother’s Day are both right around the corner.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Botanical Gardens Flowers UNC Charlotte https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/another-wet-weather-wednesday Thu, 14 Feb 2013 17:30:00 GMT
Sometimes, This Job is for the Birds https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/sometimes-this-job-is-for-the-birds So, for the first time in weeks I was able to go outside and enjoy sunny weather by my lonesome.  Given the couple of choices I had been considering, including Tiger World, The Carolina Raptor Center, one of the local parks, I decided that I would go to Tiger World.  Then I double checked admission online, and found out it was closed on Wednesdays.   At least I found that out before I drove down there.  That being the case I decided to go to the Carolina Raptor Center instead.

I’m definitely glad I made the trip.  I got to meet quite a variety of birds including a couple of camera shy ravens, a magpie that kept telling me to “C’mere,” a couple of different owls, osprey, and a number of hawks.  Seriously folks, if you’re ever looking for something to for a couple of hours, going to see the birds is well worth the trip.

My only complaint, and it’s a half-hearted one at best, is that I didn’t get to see the eagles.  Apparently the eagles had hatchlings and are extremely noise sensitive so that aviary was closed off.  You can however watch them live on webcam in the gift shop/center.  I was told you could watch it online as well, but I can’t seem to find the link currently.

I’ll be posting a few pics of the birds in the next day or so, but unfortunately I’m not feeling well currently, so it’s going to be a short blog update this week.  Same reason it’s so late, for which I apologize.Caro

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Birds Carolina Raptor https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/sometimes-this-job-is-for-the-birds Thu, 07 Feb 2013 17:30:00 GMT
Wet Weather Wednesdays https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/wet-weather-wednesdays Well, it happened again.  I know I posted a blog the other week, "Never Forget to Look Around You", about the importance of having a backup plan and a schedule.  And that is what I spent the majority of the day doing yesterday.  It seems like I haven’t been able to go out shooting for over a month.  The boyo was sick about four weeks ago, it rained 3 weeks ago, boyo was home sick again last week, and then yesterday, was gorgeously warm…and rainy…again.

This time though I had things to do.  Small errands for the most part that just took a long time to complete.  Mainly involving getting my car inspected and switching my vehicle registration from New York to North Carolina (finally), and then calling my insurance company to finalize the switch now that I have all proper paperwork.  Like I said, nothing too difficult, just time consuming. 

So, most of my day was spent dealing with that, and by the time I was done with that, I had enough time to grab lunch with a friend before taking them to work.  While I was at lunch it dawned on me that with everything else that has gone over the last two weeks that I hadn’t gone through all the information that I picked up at the CVB, so it was time to do so. 

While there are a variety of apps for smartphones for things to see and do locally, such as AAA, TripAdvisor, Next Exit, Park Finder, etc., the information is still split amongst each app, and with some of them there is no way to add options.

***DISCLAIMER: I have NOT been endorsed by any of the apps that I have just mentioned.   I only mention that I find them useful, so they’re worth checking out.***

So, when I got home I started reading through to see what interests me, and input the information into an Excel database, which includes not only the name and location, but whether or not it is indoors or outdoors so that I can have an immediate backup plan if necessary, and I’ve set aside a column for later that will allow me to add the distance from the house.

I’m afraid this is going to be an extremely short one this week since I’m still recuperating from the cold my son gave me, and can’t currently hear out of my one ear.

Just as a side note though, for those of you that have been reading along, please don’t get the idea that I won’t shoot in bad weather.  Sometimes the best shots are when the skies are gray.   There is significant difference however in gray skies and downpouring rain.  Especially when I don’t have protective gear for my camera.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Apps Database Off-Topic https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/wet-weather-wednesdays Thu, 31 Jan 2013 17:30:00 GMT
2 Browncoats, a Nightwing, and a…a…Hey, What is That, Anyway? https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/2-browncoats-a-nightwing-and-a-a-hey-what-is-that-anyway This past weekend I went to the Charlotte Mini-Con, which is a small scale Comicon that took place at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte.  It was my first con.  If I have any say in the matter it won’t be my last either.  I’ve had plenty of friends who have done various cons through college and after so they had plenty of advice to give me.  My favorite being, “Bring your camera and take lots of pictures,” because I didn’t plan on doing that…

All kidding aside though, when I first heard about the Mini-Con one of the major reasons I wanted to go was for the photo opportunities.   I admit it; I collected comic books as a kid, and even into my 20s.  I remember growing up watching all of the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve ad nauseum, and I even remember my dad once bringing me a reprint copy of Action Comics #1 (First appearance of Superman), a few old Batman comics.  When I started collecting myself I was a Marvel kid, mostly X-Men. 

So going into the Mini-Con, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I had a feeling it would be about on par with what I saw.  When we got there, the Ecto-1 was parked outside, and once you went in, it was literally wall to wall comic books and merchandise.  It was enough to make an old fanboy drool…just a little. 

It seemed like it took a little while for things to warm up, but once they did they really got going.  There were the obligatory Stormtroopers and Klingons.  I saw Dr. Who in a few variations, a very lovely female Nightwing who was tiny and spry.  It took me almost 2 hours to get her photo because every time I spotted her she was gone in an instant.  Supergirl walked in on the arm of Snake-Eyes.  I saw a version of the Joker that I had never seen before (Gold/Yellow suit instead of purple).  A very convincing Kaylee and Jayne.  A Dark Knight Joker and Catwoman, as well as an old-school Nightcrawler and someone that I assume is from the world of Mario, but honestly, no one I talked to could figure out who she was supposed to be.  The best description I have is an orange jumpsuit, large freckles, and carrying a mop.

Now, part of the reason I’m writing this post is because although any cosplayer wants to be photographed, or at least should, especially with the effort they put into the details, it doesn’t mean that as a photographer you shouldn’t ask permission to take the photo. 

In a crowded place like a comicon, I would say that it doesn’t even have to be a verbal question and answer.  A nod, or simple gesture such as lifting your camera should be sufficient.  On the off chance that someone doesn’t want their photo taken ***gasp*** respect their wishes and don’t take the shot.

The biggest problems to overcome at a con though are lighting and distance.  There are plenty of bright lights, but I would recommend a flash, unless you can be that steady, and your subject is not moving.

Distance can be a problem for two reasons.  1) Getting enough distance to your subject.  Most cosplayers put A LOT of time and effort into their costume.  Therefore they would like to get a full body shot.  This can be a huge issue when you’re in a crowded room.  If you use a wide angle lens you risk distorting your subject.  If you use a longer lens (85-135mm typically), you have to back up more, and with that many people the gap won’t be there for long.  2)  Getting closer to your subject.  I know this is the exact opposite problem from the one that was stated above, but it can go both ways.  For example, at the Mini Con, they had this awesome backdrop to use that was designed to look like an Action Figure’s packaging.  If you backed up enough to get the whole thing in there, the person was usually dwarfed by the size of this thing.  It was still awesome though.  Not to mention that during times when there are a lot of cosplayers on the stage, there are also typically a lot of photographers on stage.

Unfortunately, I was unable to stick around for the official costume contest, so I know I missed out on a few other costumes, but overall I had a great time.   I think part of the fun was that I went with a friend who had almost no experience with comic books in general, so it was fun being the tour guide even if I only knew a little bit more than they did.  

Anyway, I think that’s enough for this week.


[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Charlotte Comicon Comics Cosplay Distance Etiquette Focal Length Grady Cole Center Mini-Con Tips https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/2-browncoats-a-nightwing-and-a-a-hey-what-is-that-anyway Wed, 23 Jan 2013 17:30:00 GMT
Never Forget to Look Around You https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/never-forget-to-look-around-you Overall, yesterday was a bust as far as going out and shooting went.  Since I was going to have the day away from the Boyo, I had initially planned on going to a Nature Preserve or State Park and going for a hike with the camera.  Anyone that knows me knows that I love spending time with my kid, but when it comes to taking photographs there are certain places that I can’t take him, and take photographs.  At least not easily.  So on days that he’s not with me, I try to hit up the places that would be otherwise more difficult.  He’s still too little to go hiking through nature trails with daddy, and nature trails (or at least the ones I’ve come across liked aren’t stroller friendly.)

Unfortunately for me, I made at least one big mistake yesterday.   I didn’t have a backup plan.  The weather was crappy, and while a gray day, whether it is cloudy, foggy, etc. can make for some wonderful shots, it was drizzling something miserable and I don’t have anything to protect my camera from rain right now.

I was hoping to go to a State Park or Nature Preserve, get a couple of nice shots and then write it up in the blog here to let all of you know what I shot and where I went.  Instead I ended up with the second option.  I went and did research instead.

One of the things that a lot of photographers forget is the tourist industry.  Try and look at things with a new eye.  I lived in Buffalo for years, and I don’t think I have a single shot of Niagara Falls in my archives.  Niagara Falls is a major tourist attraction.  One of the 7 wonders of the world, depending on whose list you’re reading, and I’ve passed it up.  I saw it a million times growing up on numerous school trips.  I’ve been on top of the Falls, behind the Falls, and at the base of the Falls, and yet I can’t think of one time I’ve ever actually taken a picture of them.  It’s one of the hazards of living somewhere.  You see it all the time, and so you forget about it.

So, not wanting to miss out I dropped the boyo off at daycare and went to the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.  There I met a wonderful young lady named Tasha who greeted me with a smile and helped me for almost an hour with finding things to see and do around here.  She gave me many suggestions and gave me numerous suggestions based on my preferences including things I can do with the boyo, and things I can do without him.  I figured since I was there I may as well kill two birds with one stone and get all the information I could and get start to get it organized.

After talking to Tasha I headed for lunch, and brought my information laden bag in to the restaurant with me.  The waitresses realizing what I was looking at attempted to help me as well.  One suggestion was to go mall walking.  Which, while mall walking is great, it’s A) Something I can do with the boyo.  If need be I can kersplunk him in his stroller and walk the mall if I want to. B)  I don’t find mall walking particularly relaxing or invigorating.  The other waitress Priscilla, who was my actual waitress, actually sat down with me and gave me a few ideas.  Some I had never even heard of before, and had the weather been nicer I would’ve gone, but everything she could think of was outdoors.  Absolutely gorgeous areas, and wonderful ideas…just nothing I could pull off yesterday. 

The thing to remember is that no matter where you go there is something worth seeing.  Something that is designed to bring in tourists.  My goal yesterday was to find something indoors and preferably cheap.  I ended up with enough information, and it was getting late enough into the afternoon, that I decided that I would go home and look through all the booklets that Tasha gave me and compile a couple of lists.  This will allow me to manage what’s indoors, what’s outdoors, what I can do on my own, what I can do with the boyo, etc. 

I apologize for the delay in blog entry, but I think that given what’s happened over the last few weeks, I’m going to move my blog entries from Wednesday to Thursday, so that when I go out on Wednesdays I’ll still have time to get an entry done in a reasonable amount of time.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Backup CVB Convention and Visitor's Bureau Research Tourism Tourist https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/never-forget-to-look-around-you Thu, 17 Jan 2013 17:30:00 GMT
Oh the Places You'll Go https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/oh-the-places-youll-go Today’s blog is going to be slightly off topic.  I realize it’s also two days late, but unfortunately life happens while you’re busy making other plans.  For those of you that actually read this and don’t know, for the most part I’m a stay-at-home dad when I’m not out taking photographs.  A lot of the time if I’m just doing landscapes, I take the boyo out with me for a walk and we go exploring together.  I think for the most part it helps my landscape photography, because many times he’ll spot something that I may have overlooked.  He definitely gives me a new perspective on a lot of things, and not just in photography.  The main reason I tend to update the blog on Wednesdays is because that is the day that we set aside to take him to daycare so that I get at least one day a week to sit down, uninterrupted, and do what I need to do, whether it is general house maintenance, photography related, or other.

Well, this week I didn’t end up taking him to daycare.  He had pneumonia earlier in the fall, and he’s been coughing a lot the last few days, so Mama and I weren’t sure if his pneumonia was coming back, allergies were acting up, or other.  So, he stayed home with me and we went to the doctor’s office.  Doc says that it’s just allergies/cold, and prescribed us some OTC kiddie Benadryl. 

The reason that this is all important is that sometimes it’s funny the path life takes for us.  I was scheduled to do real estate photos for my step-sister who is putting her house on the market soon, but because I can’t bring the little guy with me for that I had to reschedule for the next morning.

So, I talked to my mom and she can watch the Boyo Thursday morning while I go to do the photos, with the only caveat being that she has a dentist appointment to go to late-morning/early-afternoon so time is limited.  Of course Thursday morning comes up, and I’m running late (for me) out of the house.  It didn’t help that a little guy was snuggled in his bed and didn’t want to get dressed. 

I skipped breakfast thinking that I would barely have enough time to get to my mother’s, drop off the Boyo, get to my step-sister’s, take the photos, and get back before my mother had to leave.  When I got to her house I found out that she had to leave about an hour later than I had previously thought so I had a little bit of leeway.  Deciding that getting breakfast on the way to my step-sister’s house was a good idea, I headed out. 

When I got to one of the intersections I knew that there was a fast food place if I turned, but I spaced and couldn’t remember if I had to turn left or right.  I have a standing rule that anytime I come to a fork in the road, and I don’t know which one to take, I take the right.  (Has to do with growing up watching Ichabod Crane.   When Crane came to the fork, he went left, and lost his head.)  As soon as I made the right turn, I knew I was headed in the wrong direction.  As I approach the next intersection to turn around it happened.  Up ahead at the intersection, SUV got T-Boned. 

From where I was I didn’t even see the SUV get hit at first.  It looked like they had misjudged where the median was and tried to correct.  I literally saw the SUV “jump” about three feet, and had initially thought that they had hit something in the median, like a curb.

As I approached the intersection, I knew something was odd because the SUV was near the wrong median for what I thought I saw.  Upon making the left turn, I saw the other car.  The driver looked dazed, but given the deflated airbag I think that’s understandable.  I pulled into the parking lot of the church (I think…honestly wasn’t paying attention to the building when I pulled in), and after a few of us made sure that everyone was okay, it was time to wait for the cops to show up and take statements.  Which, thanks to the days of modern technology, everyone was on a cell phone within seconds of the accident, and I think Fire, EMS, and Police were there within a matter of 5 minutes, if that long.

I have to admit, having the camera in the car, I was very tempted to take a few shots of the accident.  You have to understand that it’s nothing to do with the general morbidness of an accident, but my grandfather was a crime scene photographer for a number of years.  I was wondering if I should take photos in case either party needed them for insurance.

I think the thing that stopped me the most though was the kids.  Both vehicles had infants in the car.  From where I was, everyone appeared to be fine, but as a parent seeing infants being pulled out of the vehicles stopped me cold.  The front end of the car was completely smashed, and the side of the SUV was pretty well dented, but as I said, it looked to me like everyone was fine.  Both parents were walking back and forth and the children although crying appeared to be more scared than hurt.

I know photographers get a lot of bad press for how they can act during an accident or in crisis situations.  There was that incident in New York City not that long ago with the photographer accused of taking photos instead of helping the guy that fell onto the subway track, but just like EMS, Police, and Firefighters we are trained to do a specific job in all types of situations.  In a critical situation, a photojournalist’s job especially, is to keep a cool head and take the photos.

Should I have taken photos of the accident?  Probably, and I think that if I had happened upon the accident rather than being a witness to it I would have been able to do that. 

Either way, I hope both families are safe and secure.  I congratulate all of the emergency personnel on their quick response time, and for the witnesses that stuck around.

It still amazes me the twists and turns that life can take.  The only reason I was even at that accident in the first place is because I took a wrong turn, after being late (or thinking I’d be late in any case), after rescheduling.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Accidents Boyo Emergency Landscape Off-Topic Real Estate https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/oh-the-places-youll-go Fri, 11 Jan 2013 17:30:00 GMT
Arizona https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/arizona I know I said that there would be no blog post last week due to the holiday, but I did intend there to be one yesterday.  Unfortunately, a huge project caused a little bit of a delay, so my apologies.  While I can’t go into details, what I can tell you is that I am working on a training video for a piece of machinery for a company out in Arizona. 

The short of it is that I was hired last minute to fly out and shoot the video, and I’ve been working on the editing and processing, along with some voiceover/ADR as it was filmed in a factory so the background noise has made the original sound pretty much unusable.

The downside to this unexpected trip was that I flew in on a Thursday, shot what the company needed on Friday, and then flew out Saturday morning.  I have never been to Arizona before, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance to get out there again.

What was nice was that I was not only invited to partake in the company’s annual Christmas luncheon, but we finished up early enough that I was able to head out to Saguaro National Park – West for the rest of the afternoon.  Unfortunately, the park…being a National Park, closes at dusk, so I didn’t have an extraordinary amount of time to explore, but if I ever do get the chance, I’ll definitely be going back.

If you’re interested on seeing some of the photos I took while I was there, click here.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Arizona National Park Saguaro Training Travel Video https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/arizona Thu, 03 Jan 2013 17:30:00 GMT
Travel https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/travel It’s going to be a short blog post this week since I’m packing so that I can leave tomorrow.   I’ll be doing a combination of video/photo shoot for a training video.  Since I will be traveling, and since it’s been a long time since I’ve traveled by plane, I figured I’d take this moment to discuss air travel as a photographer and what I’ve been learning along the way.   Normally I drive when I can.  I was never big on flying to begin , and after 9/11 I simply hate waiting in security.  I’ve never waited well.  I love the flying itself, but I absolutely loathe the waiting.  Plus with driving there’s so much to see, that even if I don’t get the chance to pull over and start clicking, it still gives me ideas.

Something I learned when I got my flight confirmation is that the airlines now charge you for checked baggage.  Let me tell you, this sucks to me.  I’m going to be gone a total of 3 days, and everything I’m taking with me could theoretically fit in my carry on bag.  All except for one thing.  I’m not allowed to bring my tripod on as carry on, which means it has to be checked.  So yes, I am paying $25 to ship my tripod more or less.  Granted since I HAVE to take a checked bag to carry the tripod I’m throwing the majority of my clothes in there too, but if it weren’t for that one item…

I did discover a magnificent app for my smartphone called “MyTSA” that has a quick search option for things that can be brought on the plane and what can’t.  It also has features for various airports to check delays/arrivals, wait times etc.  So that was handy.

This tip I got from one of the other photographers that I follow on Twitter, and if I could remember who I’d give them credit, but I actually read it a long time ago and dismissed it as I had absolutely no travel plans at the time let alone air travel plans.  What they suggested was that you take all the cords you need to take with you and put them each in sandwich bags and label the bags, so that as you go through security everything is already labeled.  This also helps you as the photographer because if security does go through your bag, you can put everything back in its correct pocket quickly.   This will be especially true for me, because not only do I have my standard camera cables (Computer USB, A/V connector and Charger), but I also have my phone charger, and since I’m borrowing a video camera, I’ve got the cords for that as well that I’m not used to having.  Putting them in the bag will make sure I don’t leave a cord somewhere unexpectedly, because the last thing I want to do is lose property that isn’t even mine.

As I’m writing this I’m listening to KelbyTV’s  weekly webcast (Wednesdays at 4) “The Grid” (www.kelbytv.com/thegrid) and they just mentioned that if you are traveling, try to schedule extra days to go shoot other things.  This is one of the few things that I’m going to regret about this trip.  Unfortunately, I was unable to set my own schedule, otherwise I would have.  I’m a little disappointed, because it’s going to be a very quick trip.  I will literally be flying in tomorrow, meeting with the client for dinner to discuss the last minute details, doing the shoot Friday, and then coming home Saturday morning.  I will be in an area that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get there again, and I don’t think I’ll be able to go sightseeing, despite being only 15 miles away from a National Park.  We’ll see though.

Anyway, that’s it from me this week.  Since next Wednesday is the day after Christmas, there won’t be a blog update, unless something really hits me.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Apps Cords Kelby The Grid Tips Travel Tripod Video https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/travel Wed, 19 Dec 2012 17:30:00 GMT
Winter Solstice https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/winter-solstice The Winter Solstice will be upon us next Friday, and since it’s the longest night of the year, I decided that I will take the time to talk about night time photography.  Night photography, can be some of the hardest photography, but reap some of the heaviest rewards.  The usual Photographer’s Triangle of ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed becomes an even harsher mistress at night. 

For the purposes of this blog I’m lumping all photography after the sun dips below to the horizon at dusk until it peaks over it again in the morning as “Night” Photography, even though we will be including dusk/dawn shots as well.

For any photography that takes place during these lowlight hours you’re going to want some means of keeping your camera stable and steady.  Preferably this requires a tripod, but even the old standby of nestling your camera into a beanbag on a table will work. 

As always we want to keep our ISO as low as possible to prevent noise.  This becomes increasingly harder the darker it gets, but by keeping the camera on a tripod you can lengthen the shutter speed to make up for it. 

One of the other things that we will have to keep in mind concerning shutter speed, is where our photo is being taken.  If we’re taking it in an urban area that has lots of lights, we can reduce the shutter speed, but if we are out in the middle of the desert in Arizona we’ll need a longer shutter speed.

Speaking of ambient light, we’ll also need to pay attention to what phase the moon is in.  During a new moon, we’ll need a much longer exposure time than we will need during a full moon.  Next week during the Winter Solstice the moon will be in the Waxing Gibbous phase so it’ll be fairly bright. 

You’ll also need to take into consideration the subject of your photo.  Are you taking a photo of the moon itself, or the landscape lit by the moon?  Taking a picture of a grassy field lit by a bright moon will be a lot different than taking a photo of that same field covered in snow.  Growing up in Buffalo, if there’s one thing I know it is snow.

One of the hardest things I had trouble figuring out when I got started was what white balance to use. During a sunny day it is obvious, you would use the sun setting.  If it’s cloudy use cloudy.  One trick a lot of photographers use is during twilight switch to either the shady or cloudy setting to bring out the rich tones of the setting sun.

What happens when the sun actually sets though?  Switch back to daylight.  I know it seems counter-intuitive because it’s dark out, but one thing you can use to remember this is that the light of the moon is actually the light of the sun being reflected. 

Speaking of white balance, if you are taking photos of the moon, you will have to manually adjust your light meter and underexpose your photo if you want to get all those wonderful craters to really pop out at you instead of having a bright white disk on a black background.

The first part of the Photographer’s Triangle that we will consider is ISO.  The lower the ISO, or film speed, the less noisy it will be however we need to make sure it gets a proper exposure so we can’t have it too low either.  Growing up with film I was always told that indoors you need an ISO of at least 400, preferably 800.  Outside on a sunny day gets 200, cloudy days 400.  This is still a fairly decent guideline to use, except that you have to remember that it’s just ISO that you need to consider.  These numbers are based on the objective that the camera will be handheld and would need to have a fast enough shutter speed to combat camera shake.  We’re using a tripod so we can cheat a little and go with a slower ISO since we can lengthen our exposure time.  For this example we’ll take a picture of the moon itself.  Since it is dark out, but we’re using the light of the moon, we are going to stick with an ISO of 400.

The next part of the triangle to consider is Aperture.  Again, I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around this when I first started.  For those of you into photography you know that the wider the aperture (and lower the f/number) the more light gets let it).  This is akin to the irises of our eyes widening in the dark to let more light in.  The problem is it lets more light it in, but that light is unfocused.  Our brains will interpret the light patterns, and let us focus, but the camera doesn’t have that option.  When I first started out I kept leaving my aperture wide open thinking that it would let more light in.  The problem then became Depth-of-Field and not being able to focus properly on what I wanted.  And of course with the small screens on the back of a digital camera, slightly-out-of-focus doesn’t look out of focus until it’s already downloaded to my computer and I begin swearing at myself.  So, long story short, keep your f/number where you would for your subject in the daytime.  Since we’re technically doing a landscape photograph, we’ll leave it between f/11 and f/16 which are good “landscape numbers” that provides a great depth-of-field and will allow us to focus with a greater margin of error. 

The third part of the triangle is shutter speed.  Here again, things get tricky.  It needs to be slow enough, especially for landscapes that you can capture the image, but fast enough that you don’t get blown out highlights either.  Or in the case of our moon photo, slow enough to capture and bring out the details of the moon, while still being fast enough that it doesn’t become the white disk I mentioned earlier.  With a Waxing Gibbous, 1/500 sec should be spot on (providing that the other two sides of the triangle are set accordingly). 

Another tool we need for night time photography is a way we can see what phase the moon will be in.  A quick Google search for “Moon Phase Calculator” will bring up numerous options to use with varying degrees of usability.  I prefer the United States Naval Observatories site which can be found here:


I am in no way endorsed by, or am endorsing this site, but it’s what I use.

[email protected] (Ian Kuhn Photography) Ambient Aperture Calculator Dawn Dusk ISO Landscape Lowlight Moon Moonscape Night Noise Phase Photographer's Triangle Photography Settings Shutter Solstice Tips Tripod Twilight White Balance Winter https://www.iankuhnphotography.com/blog/2013/6/winter-solstice Wed, 12 Dec 2012 17:15:00 GMT