Saturday, March 26, 2011

Steve Jobs Ruined My Website

Yes, it's true, Steve Jobs ruined my website. Every website I've ever had I built myself... from scratch... I learned flash, dreamweaver, html, and designed and built all of it for all of them. My last website was black... I thought it made for a good stage... it helped isolate the pics, kinda like watching a movie in a dark theater. But then Steve went and decided he was going to turn all of his computers nice and shiny with that awful plate of glass smushed onto what was a perfectly good monitor. So my nice black website became a nice mirror... great for removing food from your face, but terrible as a backdrop to my website. But I dealt with it, because I didn't have a choice... Steve didn't listen to me. Then I think adobe must have stolen steve's girlfriend in highschool, because he went and killed flash! Anyonevisiting my website on their iPad or iPhone would get nothing but a blank black screen... thanks, Steve, for making me learn HTML5 now. Booooo.
So I gave up... I folded... I surrendered. I plunked down a nice chunk of change for a template from I chose them because of what they do on the backend... an HTML mirror site for google and whatnot... nice dynamically resizing images that will be as big as your screen... iPad and iPhone compatibility... easy to swap out images. It was still a lot of work customizing the thing, and not quite as user-friendly as it could have been, but overall I am happy. My one gripe is the main example they use to advertise their "templates" isn't even really one of their templates... a professional designer went and coded it to include at least one option that isn't available to the regular joe at the regular price... a bit misleading, in my opinion.
So that is it, up above, my new website. Please check it out at, and let me know what you think.
I've started a new blog too... to match (sorta) my new website... check it out at Fun stuff over there, including an iPhone gallery that will be regularly updated with ridiculous snapshots. This will be it for blogspot, and it for my home-grown websites... sayonara!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cascada de Tamul... a Big Freakin' Waterfall!

Attention paddlers and wanna-be paddlers!!!! Visit your local pro-shop and pick up the latest issue of Rapid Magazine! The good folks up there in the nether-regions of North America have always treated me well.


In this latest issue you'll see a kayaking pic a took in Mexico of my friend Ben Kvanli. Ben is an Olympic lunatic who must paddle every day, lest his brain explode. This photograph was made at the Cascada de Tamul. Where the Rio Gallinas and the Rio Santa Maria rivers meet to form the Rio Tampaon, you will find the Cascada de Tamul... a behemoth. Ben, in his infinite wisdom, figured it would be a good idea to try to paddle as close as he could to the falls.... Now Ben is a strong dude... he paddled in the 1996 Olympics when they were in Atlanta (though the kayaking events were held on the Ocoee River in Tennessee), and like I said, it is very rare that Ben goes a day without paddling. Thank heavens he wasn't strong enough to actually make it to the falls... I don't think anyone would be. The air current alone from the downdraft of the thousands of cubic feet of water pouring over that cliff was thankfully enough of a barrier to hinder his self-destructive attempt.... because I guarantee if he made it all the way he would have been pummeled to death by the ferocity of those waters.... boooooo... no one likes it when a friend is pummeled to death.

Anyway... at least the attempt made for a decent photograph. :)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Meet George Hincapie...

Meet George Hincapie... George has raced in the Tour de France 15 times! He is one of only 2 riders to have raced on 8 winning teams. George currently races on Team BMC and rocks his own line of clothing, Hincapie Sportswear. George is a total badass, and a completely nice guy.

I have had the good fortune to shoot for the good folks at Bicycling Magazine a few times now. When their photo editor, Stacey Emenecker, first called, I hadn't done any real riding in at least 10 years. I found my bike, immediately scraped off the rust, and dropped it off at the shop for a tuneup. They had to replace all the wires, but before you know it my $400 bike was ready to shred (my chicken-legs would be another issue all-together). The first story I shot was just a one page expose of Asheville... they printed only a few pictures, but man had I gone all out! Since then Bicycling has assigned me to shoot various rides and trails in the area, of which I rode and photographed happily. But the kicker came late last year when they asked me to shoot portraits of George Hincapie...

Of one of the upsides to this down economy is the fact that magazines are less willing to fly folks places, and more will willing to look for local photography talent. I'd bet that 5 years ago Bicycling probably would have flown someone in or driven someone up from Atlanta for this shoot, instead of even considering a local shooter.... Thankfully, they asked me, and I was thrilled.

What started out as a mostly fashion shoot morphed into something very conceptually cool: Street George and Racing George... Street George is a bit more relaxed... he rides a top-of-the-line commuter bike and wears casual clothes... he smiles a lot... he is on your level and approachable (notice height of camera - at mid level). Racing George is tougher... he is competitive and fierce... he rides a top-of-the-line racing bike and wears sleek racing clothes... he gazes intently and stands above you, heroic (notice height of the camera - low as can be). Side by side, they are quite the dichotomy... notice even the cross of their arms...

george_hincapie-1-4 George_Hincapie-2-2
The coolest thing of all: Bicycling printed both as covers!!! Yup, two versions of the same magazine... same on the inside, but different on the outside. So not only did I get my first national cover, but I got it doubled! I was quite thrilled and honored. I can't wait for another Bicycling shoot.


Getting ready to launch a new website.... so if you are in need of a documentary, editorial, commercial, or portrait photographer in or around Asheville, North Carolina or Greenville, South Carolina, visit me!

Monday, November 15, 2010

How is it lit? Free print to the best guess...

How is it lit?
In a selfish effort to completely whore myself and my blog, I am giving away a free print (up to 12x18) to the person who diagrams most accurately the setup from the photograph above. It is the most intricate lighting setup of all the portraits featured in this layout, and I wanna see who guesses it... and it ain't all that hard. Please include, if you've got the voodoo, the under/over readings for each light as well!

Please submit your conjectures in the comments field... email an actual diagram if you so dare! I'll send a 100% coupon to whomever is closest... you can choose any picture you want off my site.

And since I've been neglecting this blog for so damn long now, I bet that I get very few responses, so your odds are quite good!

You've got all this week... pass it around.

BTW, that photograph is of stage producer, new cafe/bar/performance-house owner, and all-around neat fellow Chall Gray. Go and see him, have a beer or coffee, and enjoy show at The Magnetic Field in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC.

producer diagram

Thank you all for playing!

Hmmmmm.... who is closest...???

Camera setting: ISO 400 1/60 @ f4.

Lamp is ambient as-is (but it is not lighting the room.) What everyone missed is a speedlight @ -2 popped into the ceiling to light the room. If I had used the lamp to light the room it would have blown out and created a very warm-tomed room.

Key is a squished up silver umbrella to direct the light at subjects upper body / to keep it from spilling into the whole scene.

Subject fill is a RING LIGHT @ -2

Outside light is an Alien Bee with reflector and lots of blue gel. @ +-0

And so, EVERYONE WINS! Email me with your image choice (anything from my website) and I will send you a 100% coupon with a link. Sorry, but you will still have to pay shipping... there is no way around that.

We will do this again someday soon... I'll try and find a harder one.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Don't Use Crappy Photographs!!! Generic Photos Ignored Online

I saw this first on the NYTimes Blog, then on A Photo Editor, both referencing this study by web consultant guru Jacob Nielson (considered "the world's leading expert on Web Usability" by U.S. New and World Report)... now I am jumping on the bandwagon and presenting this very important information to you, my prospective clients.

The lesson: Bad photos don't work... Generic stock photos don't work... People ignore them.

We are assaulted by bad photos every day... everywhere you look your eyes are pelted with crappy stock photography and low-quality original trash. So guess what happens...? you begin to ignore them... they become part of the muddled cyber landscape of which you pay no attention.

Look at Jacob Nielson's eye-tracking study below. That is a Yale webpage with a terribly generic and rather poor (sorry shooter) image of students and laptops... now look at the blue dots that represent what the viewer payed attention too. See any blue dots on the photo? Nope!


I wish that Jacob had done the same study of the same page but inserted a high-quality, stylized portrait of a real student on the real Yale campus... I'd bet my supper that you'd see blue dots all over it.

Moral of this story? From Jacob Nielson himself, "Invest in good photo shoots: a great photographer can add a fortune to your website's value."

Solution: Hire me!!! I am a professional commercial, editorial, portrait and documentary photographer; I'm based in Asheville, North Carolina, but I've got a truck and I love to travel!