Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

2/21/2014

The Portable Strobist

Filed under: Art,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Now, you can take David Hobby with you on the road!

Okay, not really.  I mean, I suppose you can if you’re Joe McNally or somebody like that, but guys like me, and my faithful readers (both of you!), probably can’t afford to actually take the famous Strobist with us on a shoot.  (If you’re not familiar with David Hobby or his blog, The Strobist, you really should check it out, by the way.  He used to post a lot more…
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12/21/2012

40+ Things Every Photo Assistant Needs In Their Bag

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

What do YOU consider “essential gear” on a photo shoot?

I’ll be honest, most of the time, I’m shooting it’s usually a pretty “run and gun” affair while out interacting with the public.  People generally refer to that as “street shooting”, but I think of it as “impromtu portraiture”.  Either way, I’m generally working alone in situations like that, so the idea of working with assistants is pretty alien to me.  Still, I have to admit I’d really love to assist…
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11/11/2011

Pros You Should Know

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, not geek professionals, in this case.

Normally, I don’t blatantly promote other people who aren’t either ultra-cool geeks or paying me money, but, in this case, I’ll make an exception.
I’m really into photography.  I wasn’t always, but the December after I finished chemotherapy, I bought my first digital SLR camera.  It cost what I thought of as a small fortune, but it was worth it.  Shortly after that, I took a couple of seminars.  One from the ever popular Joe McNally and another one by a guy named Syl Arena.  The class I took eventually became the book The Speedliter’s Handbook and is pretty much THE book to have for someone shooting with Canon Speedlites.  The class, and book, were fantastic.  Syl was a genius teacher and a really nice, patient guy, too.
Well, he’s the inaugural “pro” on the Pros You Should Know feature at the Borrowlenses.com blog.  It’s worth checking out, not just for him, but for the rest of their blog, too.

And, if you’re not into photography, I apologize for not having something for you this week.  If you ARE, though, trust me and go read up on Syl Arena.  It’s worth it!

11/10/2009

Brief Joe McNally Seminar Update

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, I may have mentioned once or twice that I was going to take a photography seminar this past weekend.

To say that two days with Joe McNally, 25+ year veteran of Life, National Geographic, Time and others, learning about flash and portrature was fantastic is an understatement.  I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but I figured that it was mostly going to be over my head.  Still, at a mere $150 for two days worth of access to a brilliant photographer like Joe McNally, anything I might possibly pick up would be worth the money.  I’m so, so glad I took that attitude and just went in with as open a mind as possible, ready to soak up whatever I could.  I learned so much in those two days that I think my brain is going to melt and ooze out my ears.

First of all, I was completely expecting to roll out of that class with a wish list that was filled with all kinds of expensive “big” studio flash and portable power packs.  I was anticipating a list of equipment that ran into the thousands of dollars.  Instead, I was shown what tiny, hot-shoe flashes can do.  I listened to a pro talk at great length about how much we can get out of shaping the light that comes out of many different light sources, but especially how to use these little “pocket” flashes to get big effects.  It was, to say the least, an eye-opener.  It completely changed how I think about light and flash and portraiture.

Secondly, I’ve learned to use my camera in a totally different way.
I now sight with my left eye and use a different stance, which I now think of as the Joe McNally Hold, or the McNally Stance.  It lets me stabilize the camera better, keeping it tight in against my left shoulder and use what turns out to be my strong eye.  For years I’ve known that my left eye was stronger due to my slightly varied perscription, but I’d always forced myself to use my right eye, which I’d thought of as my dominant eye.
I also had gotten used to shooting in full manual mode, but now I’m changing to Aperture Priority mode as my “default”.  Why?  Beacause, as Joe said, using a camera in full manual mode, is “… like driving a Ferrari to church.”  That digital camera is a very sophisticated bit of electronics and not taking advantage of all that built-in smarts is, well, just a waste.  So, now, I’m trying to take full advantage of those smarts for a change.  My learning curve oof photography just got knocked down a peg or two, but I’m okay with that.  I’m hoping that it will result in some better pictures, eventually.

And, finally, based on what I saw this past weekend, the secret to great photography, somehow, is gaffer’s tape.  Man, they used that stuff for everything!

Incidentally, you can see some of the photos I took at the seminar on my Flickr page; Joe McNally Seminar.

If I get time, I may write some more about what I learned at this fantastic seminar.  It’s a little overwelming at times to consider all the “stuff” he poured into our heads.
Again, it was fantastic!

11/1/2009

Creative Focus

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I have some focus problems.

Forgive me, dear readers, I know it’s been weeks since I’ve had a decent week of real news, commentary or updates.  It’s the season.  Fall always slows me down and throws me off balance.  October and November are always crazy, hectic, chaotic months for me.  Set aside the fact that everything seems to be family oriented, which serves as a reminder that it was August of 2005 when my divorce was final, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving in 2004 when The Queen of the Damned hopped on her broomstick and flew off cackling, leaving me quite effectively without family right before the holidays.

No, set that aside, because, clearly, it doesn’t effect me at all.
Forget, too, that it was the Fall of 2006 when I started coming down with pneumonia that turned into a football sized tumor.  Or that it was August of 2007 when I finished chemotherapy and looked, for all intents and purposes, like a walking corpse, a living ghost.
Because, as much as I’d like to blame the slump on all that, it really has little to do with it.  What’s more true is that I get endlessly, uselessly busy in October, getting ready for the social obligations of November.  Oddly, December has far fewer social obligations than November and I look forward to the relative peace of December, even without snow, and the joy of Christmas, the rebirth of light into the world.

Sadly, I’ve done far too little so far to prepare for November’s fun and games, and I’ve been a little paralyzed with the Herculean task of clearing the clutter in my house.  That, along with an impending visit from my parents, and my usual Thanksgiving party, which is being a little displaced this year, is why I’m not even going to pretend to try my hand at NaNoWriMo this year.  It’s also partly why I’ve been so long between any real updates.
I have been working quite a bit the last two weeks, often working late, sometimes far too late, to try and get things accomplished at work.  Also, I’ve been working out.  Yes, I know, I was doing that before, some, but now I’m doing it more.  Not only in the morning, but, when I can manage it, a second, lighter, workout in the evening.  I’ve been using those iPhone apps I reviewed not too long ago, FoodScan and DailyBurn, to track my inputs and outputs and discovered that I hadn’t been working enough to burn off breakfast!  So, I stepped it up a bit.  I think the results are showing, too.  I’ve dropped a little over 10 pounds in two months, which seems pretty sustainable to me.  More importantly, I feel better physically and, I think, look better, too.
But, that takes time, dear readers, and, while the extra exercise has been helping me sleep, it’s also been putting me out earlier, which means less writing time!

But, it’s not all grim!
I’ve also been busy because I’ve been reading more.  Some fiction, but a little bit more non-fiction, like The Dip and Think And Grow Rich.  I’ve also started to work my way through the backlog of photography books I’ve been accumulating.  Most recently, I’ve been reading The Moment It Clicks by Joe McNally, and I’ll read his other book on photography, The Hot Shoe Diaries, next in my non-fiction queue.  (Who knew that the advice of not bothering to light your subject’s feet would produce a visibly better photo for me?)  Also, I got these two books because this coming weekend, November 7th and 8th, I have signed up for a two-day lighting and portraiture seminar taught by Mr. McNally.  And, to say that I am looking forward to it is beyond understatement.  I recognize that the only way to improve my photography is to take some kind of instruction, and, of course, get out shooting more, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to work on those meager skills.  The class shouldn’t be more than 200 people, so I’m not sure how “hands on” this will be, but, from everything I’ve heard, McNally is a fantastic teacher, so I’m sure I’ll learn something that makes the more than reasonable $150 fee money well spent.  After all, just reading a few pages of The Moment It Clicks has visibly improved my self-portraits, I think.

It may be that I’ve been pouring all my creative energy out either via photography or solving problems at work, but I sure don’t feel like I’ve had anything left to write at all, much less well.  Or, it may be that I’ve just gotten out of the habit of writing every chance I get and not worrying about the quality of the work.
In any case, you’ve just gotten a bit of an update on what I’ve been up to lately, so, I guess, that’s good enough.
For now.


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