B&W Impact

No matter what advances in photography have or will be made - I am constantly reminded that nothing holds a candle to B&W photography.  Strongly contrasting tones convey so much mood and feeling - B&W has so much more magic than color.  

Photo of Louisville, taken by my good friend Steve Parellis.  Taken with a Canon Rebel xti and a 28-135mm lens at iso 100.  
Panorama stitched together using Photoshop Elements Photomerge.

A few weeks ago I photographed a wedding in downtown Louisville and have been working on the images over the last few days.  The reception is always tricky because of lighting challenges.  The light is so much of the mood but I always struggle with color casts.  One of my favorite ways to capture the reception is in B&W.  For one, it eliminates any color cast issues.  Secondly, it allows you to photograph using higher iso for an antique film effect.  And finally, it captures a very 1950's elegant drama that feels like it belongs in a Frank Sinatra song.  In my book those are some pretty good reasons.  Lets take a look at some supporting evidence:
The image was not bad to begin with; however, this is a great example of color taking emphasis away from the bride and groom.  The background should frame them and point toward them.  I felt that it was doing exactly the opposite.  I felt that the couple got lost in the business of the colors - primarily because there wasn't sufficient contrast
In so many instances photographers try to eliminate shadows.  This is partly because so many times harsh shadows are not flattering.  However, there is defiantly a case for shadow in wedding photography.  And one might argue that B&W is defined by shadows.  Not only does the B&W version cause the Bride & Groom to pop off the page - it also brings out the detail in the Bride's dress.  All-in-all, this was a no-brainer.  Much better in B&W than in color.


((XM)) For The Holiday Season

99.9% of all the content is photography related; however, occasionally (as with this post) I take a few minutes to post about a service or product that I enjoy using.  I just renewed my XM subscription and purchased a new radio for the car.  If you have never given XM a whirl you really don't know what you are missing.  All you have to do is make one long trip this time of year to become frustrated with trying to find something good on the radio.  It's tough enough finding something in your own home-town  ... add driving in and out of range on local FM stations and the case for satellite radio begins to come into focus (had to get a photography alliteration in here somewhere).  Being able to listen to the same GREAT selection of music/talk/sports from my home in Louisville, KY to my parents house in Altus (middle of nowhere), OK makes a drive much more enjoyable.  

I'm not paid by XM or anything - I pay for my service like everyone else.  You should swing by a local dealer like Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, etc to check out pricing.  You can also check out XM Online for more information.  Ok, that's the end of my plug ... you may continue on your way.



There is an old saying that you have to spend money to make money. So so how is one expected to make the initial money needed to use in the multiplication of the rest? Photographers experience a similar predicament in regards to equipment. You have to work jobs to buy equipment; however, one needs the equipment to get the job. What is a so what is the solution?

The first piece of advice is to consider the borrow factor. When I shot film I was Nikon through and through. When it came time to move into the digital world my decision to make the move to Canon was based on three factors:

  1. I had sold my film gear a few years back for my wife's engagement ring ... yeah, I know - what can I say, she's worth it.
  2. In my own image tests (comes in handy working in a retail store with access to tons of cameras) showed me that Canon was giving me better image results at higher ISOs
  3. Most of my friends who are established photographers are Canon shooters
Number three was the difference maker for me. The ability to borrow gear meant I could focus more on the investment of the camera body and then save and invest in quality glass. If I had to do it all at once I would have ended up with a decent camera body and a crap kit lens. When making an SLR purchase one should always consider the borrow factor ... it is HUGE

In spite of the great ability to pester your friends for gear ... after a few times it starts to get uncomfortable. You will come to , as I have, the sad realization that you need to buy your own gear. So what is a photographer to do when they are short on green and need a lens? RENT IT.

There are TONS of rental sites out there - shoot, your local camera shop probably rents glass. However, if your shop is anything like mine , they are WAY over priced. Enter I don't remember exactly how I found this place, but it is the best. Great pricing and super smooth system. First, you hop online and browse the selection (They carry Nikon and Canon). Next pick the lens you wan to rent and add it to your cart. When you are ready, place the order. A few days (exact time depends on your method of shipping) later a box shows up on your doorstep. Inside is the lens. You get the lens for a week (or however long you rented it for) and then when your time is up - slip it in the pre-paid, return shipping bag and drop it off at the nearest post office.
Rentals are generally between $30-$50 a week based on the price and type of lens you rent. You can even purchase insurance for $2.00-$3.00 so you know you are covered in case something happens. This was my first experience with rentglass .com and I can tell you I will be using them again - until I can afford ALL the glass I want ... so I am thinking that will be never. If you need better glass and can't afford to purchase it ... check out they won't let you down.


are your images safe?

So - what is the biggest problem with backup? NO ONE DOES IT! Why? Two reasons - no one thinks about it until it is too late, and no one wants to manage it. What is the solution? Tons of people have solutions. Apple has a new automated solution called Time machine that takes the thought out of backup - simply set it up when your first install the OS. There are a few other automated solutions out there that require little to no upkeep. So what's the deal - why do people (including myself) ignore backup. The answer is simple ... no one sees the need. The average consumer doesn't backup because they don't see the pressing need for backup. I have to admit I was one of the masses for a long time - no backup. I had good drives, what was the need? All that changed when a friend of mine lost thousands of photos when he moved (not copied) his photo library to an external to free space on his desktop computer. A month later the external drive failed. Even though I did not lose any images - I instantly began to think of my images that resided on a single hard drive. The fact of the matter is - drives fail with little to no warning. Should we all switch to CDs and DVDs for backup .... doesn't sound like fun to me. The key with digital backup is redundancy. Having the data in several locations so that if one fails there are backups. A common form of this is RAID which can be used to link multiple drives in tons of configurations to automatically manage mirroring backup. The problem with RAID is that it has zero flexibility when it comes to expansion and is a pain to setup.

A few weeks ago I ran across a new device that takes the hassle out of redundant backup - it is the Drobo from Data Robotics. A 4 bay USB external storage device - it employs 'RAID like' redundancy without the overhead or complex nature of RAID. Wanna use small drives that's cool. Wanna use big drives that's cool. Wanna use a mixture of different sizes of drives EVEN BETTER! Have all four drive bays full with drives and need more space - just pop out the smallest drive and toss in a bigger one. If a drive fails you just get a replacement (any size you want) and pop it in - Drobo does the rest. Check out the site - it will change the way you do backup ... especially if you don't do backup at all. It is not a question of if your drive will fail - it is a matter of when. Don't be unprepared BACK UP YOUR DATA TODAY. I'm not saying Drobo will fit everyone's needs - but it is pretty darn cool. Give it a look - I think you will like what you see.


american backyard

"american backyard" - ©2007 rickmead designs

It never ceases to amaze me how something so extraordinary goes unnoticed for so long. My in-laws moved into their current home outside of Bowling Green, KY almost 5 years ago. Who knows how many hundreds of times I have walked by this photo. For some reason last week I was inspired to snag a camera and capture it. No major editing: a little cropping, sharpening and b&w conversion (IR style) in lightroom then exported as a jpg. Captured using a Canon 20D with a 17-40mm f/4 L lens.


RCR - renamed

Some of you reading this may be readers of Rick's Camera Review - my former blog/podcast.  I have been fighting it for about a year not ... RCR needs to die.  I don't have the time or the determination to produce a podcast.  I have revamped the blog and with a new look comes a new name.  Hope you stick around and subscribe!

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