50% off all prints

The Children's HourNow that we’ve got this season’s theatre images uploaded, we’re offering 50% all prints until the end of March. Enter the code SLT50 during checkout.

Children’s Hour photos will go live this weekend.

Mardi Gras at Greenbriar

Greenbriar-3518 Last night, we photographed the Mardi Gras Ball at the Greenbriar Community Care Center, where many of our senior citizens live. This was a very special event for a lot of them — the King said, “This is the happiest night of my life!”

The “floats” were decorated cardboard boxes that rested on the wheelchairs, and all the walkers had strings of beads handing from every side. The staff of Greenbriar spared no effort in creating a festive atmosphere.

Bayou Liberty Jazz Band

I really enjoy working an event where people are relaxed and having fun.

Our favorite band, the Bayou Liberty Jazz Band, was on hand to provide music. We were expecting 2-4 inches of snow (we were afraid the event might be canceled!) and a short iPhone clip of their tribute to the weather is below.

The Grand Marshal, Ms. Francis, was celebrating her 104th Mardi Gras!

Ms. Francis celebrating her 104th Mardi Gras The King and Queen dancing with relatives.

I’ve also posted a portrait of the King and Queen on my photo blog.

Here is the Bayou Liberty Jazz Band (recorded on my iPhone):

The redesign is live!

After a bit of fiddling when I should have been working, the redesign is done.

Unfortunately, when I removed a test directory, I inadvertently removed a large number of images. I’ll be slowly replacing them (or deleting the post, depending on my mood).

Changes to my photoblog

I’ve been using Pixelpost for a little over four years, but I’ve decided to shift to WordPress for my photoblog. Pixelpost is great software for photoblogging, but lately I’ve become a little frustrated with it.

The big thing is that I can’t post with my iPhone, and I can do that with WordPress. WordPress also has a much more active development cycle, a wider user base, and a very rich set of extensions, add-ons and templates.

You were good to me, Pixelpost, but it’s time to say goodbye.

Close Enough

20060103175316_pwood-20d-060101-1192Famous Spanish Civil War photographer Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

I like to interpret that as not only physical proximity to the lens, but mental proximity to the subject. One way to achieve that mental proximity is to feel empathy towards your subject.

Take this image for example. Most people driving down the street would see a pile of trash waiting for pickup. A photographer, though (especially one who had also been through Katrina), would see a family’s prized possessions, thrown out by a tearful family.

When you have water up to your roof for several weeks, very little can be saved. A beloved family portrait, ruined in its frame, is destined for the trash heap.

I showed this image at a photography seminar once. Afterward, several Katrina survivors, tears running down their faces, came up to me to share their own stories, knowing I would understand.

You don’t have to survive a major hurricane to empathize with your subjects. But if you can understand their situation, try to understand how they feel, you can better create an image describing it.

20051211165725_misc-030828-9549 Empathy isn’t the only way to get close to your subject. Understanding its behavior can also help; wildlife photographers have know this for years. If you know what an animal or an insect is going to do, you can better prepare yourself to get the image.

Take a few minutes to study behavior. For example, if you watch a dragonfly flying about in a field, you’ll notice that it will return to the same perch many times over. If you put yourself in position, you can wait for the dragonfly to come to you.

What does a tree frog do right before he leaps? Where do hummingbirds tend to hover? How long does a deer freeze when startled? What time of day do the red-winged blackbirds sing while sitting in the reeds?

Don’t just wait for the pictures to come to you. Take the time to study behavior (and this includes people!), and you can be sure to be in the right place at the right time.

Get a little closer.

My Most Popular Image

20051013084927_alnc-20d-050605-5601I posted this image a long time ago on my photo blog, and since then it’s been my most hot-linked and shared image.

Following the links back from my server logs and stats pages, I’ve seen this image on Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, LiveJournal, personal blogs, and forums specializing in funny pictures, pets, pests, critters, acid rock, race cars, vampires, pirating, gardening, shopping deals, goth lifestyle, and many, many more in languages I don’t speak.

Although I think it’s cute, it isn’t anywhere near my best or my favorite image.

I used to get mad that people were stealing my images, but I don’t worry about that anymore. They’re not making me pay any more for bandwidth, they’re not claiming them as their own, and they’re not using them commercially (at least I don’t think so). And the only way to completely protect an image on the internet is not to post it in the first place.

So I don’t worry about it. After all, images want to be seen.

Conflict and Contrast

Conflict is at the heart of all story. For an image to imply a story, it must include conflict.

20070509185359_pwood-30d-070424-0510The easiest and most obvious way to include conflict is to portray actual, physical conflict. A fight is something no one can ignore, whether we enjoy watching it or not.

20070509185511_pwood-30d-070424-0596Another easy method is emotional conflict.

In this image (to the left), you can see that, even if you aren’t familiar with the story of Cabaret, the distant stare of the woman and the last, lingering glance of the man show some sort of strong emotional conflict going on.

Stage plays, by definition, portray plenty of conflict and drama, and the photographic possibilities are endless.


Not all stories (and images showing a story) are about open conflict, though. More often, we try to imply a sense of story by showing contrasts. The visual contrasts of light versus dark, soft versus hard, color versus monochrome. And the conceptual contrasts such as big versus small, mechanical versus natural, expected versus unexpected. All these can imply a sense of story.


In the image to the right is an example of contrasts of textures. Notice the tones throughout the image are very close, but the very smooth rubber play surface of the water contrasts with the sharp, random branches of the tree.





The image to the left is showing several different types of contrast, both visual and conceptual. Light versus dark. Bright colors versus drab browns.

Life versus death.


This close-up of a Roseate Spoonbill shows several type of contrast as well. Beautiful versus ugly. Color versus monochrome. And expected (the soft, beautiful pinks of a bird) versus unexpected (the wrinkled, vulture-like ugliness of his head).





And the last example, the formal, reverent facade of the Alamo versus the frivolous pink hat and teddy bear of a tourist.





Not all images imply (or should imply) a story. But if they do, it makes them vastly more interesting. Understanding the concepts of story, and how it is achieved in an image through conflict and contrast, can help you make stronger images.

iPhone Photo Editing

n758168790_1979310_4130981The best camera is the one that’s with you.

I’ve been taking lots more photos with my iPhone than with either my G9 or my 40D. It’s always with me. I read with it, I text with it, I keep track of my calendar and to-do list with it, I surf the internets and play games with it, and every once in a while I even use it as a phone.

But I’ve really been enjoying using it as a camera lately, and that’s due partly to some of the really cool photo editing apps and special effects programs available for the iPhone.

I have an entire page on my phone dedicated to the best trail camera and photo apps (and part of another dedicated to the ones I’ve tried and just don’t like).

3571904988_7968d9a20f_o They include: Photogene, Photo fx, PhotoForge, FastCamera, FotoTimer, QuadCamera, NightCamera, Flickit, Mobile Fotos, Picture Safe, Panorama, CameraBag, FocalLab, CinemaFX and DSLRemote. I’ve been experimenting with all of them, and some are really, really powerful. It’s amazing that you can do this sort of editing on a phone.

PhotoForge is almost like a mini version of Photoshop: curves, noise reduction, unsharp mask, cloning. All that is possible using PhotoForge.

CameraBag, and CinemaFX are simple filter effects programs that produce some very nice results. I’m really getting into the Holga and Lomo looks.  Photo fx, by Tiffen, is a little more advanced and customizable.

None of these apps cost me over $10, and most were under $3. Definitely worth it for the fun I’m having.

2nd Annual Worldwide Photowalk


Julie and I recently signed up for the 2nd Annual Worldwide Photowalk in New Orleans.

This event, sponsored by Scott Kelby, Adobe, NAPP and a host of other companies, will be held on July 18th in cities all over the world.

A photowalk is nothing more than a group of photographers walking around taking pictures, then getting together at the end to talk about the day and show off their images. It’s a wonderful chance to get inspired, to meet new people, and to see how other photographers see the world.

Last year’s photowalk included 236 cities in 47 countries, with over a million photographs taken by 8,324 photographers.

We went last year, and the images in this post are some of what we came back with.

We started on the Canal Street Ferry for photos of the sunrise over the river, then caught the streetcar to the Garden District for a wander around the beautiful homes and cemeteries.

20080918184715_080823-2397Then we caught the streetcar back for a walk around the French Quarter before finishing up with lunch and sharing images.

The participants in this sponsored photowalk will (if they want) upload their images to groups on Flickr. All the images from our group last year are here on Flickr.

The photowalk leader in each city will pick out the best image from the day, and the photographer will receive Scott Kelby’s latest book, Digital Photography 3. The best images from each city will be reviewed by Scott Kelby, and the best overall image will get a grand prize, which includes a full version of Adobe Creative Suite, a Wacom Tablet, and two tickets to Photoshop World.

It’s a great way to spend a day.  We’re looking forward to it.


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