A wedding to remember

Arms secured around her newly wed husband, Anna leans in and locks lips with Kidron for the first time as his wife, as the train-bearers and flower girl giggle over the fairy-tale-like sight.

Tearing up, but all smiles, the new couple is announced to the crowd as they make their way back down the aisle - the same stretch of ground over which they had previously marched individually.

Now, the attention diverts to me as the families and wedding party get that hurried look in the eye - they were excited to celebrate the new beginnings of their loved ones.

I finished up with 10 minutes to spare, and managed to get a little bit of everything.

No photo-story this time. Instead, I created a Facebook album so you can see a small selection of the nearly 300 photos the happy couple will be receiving via mail in a few days.

Check them out on my Facebook page, and be sure to "like" me while you're there!


Photogenic and fun: Anna and Kidron

This is going to be a short blog post, because a photo is worth a thousand words, so they say... and there are a lot of photos of Anna and Kidron below.

The young engaged couple chose beautiful Lemon Park in Pratt, KS for a wedding location. Having never been, and since I'm one to be as prepared as possible, they were gracious enough to allow the use of the location for their engagement shoot as well.

Enough talk, check out this photo story!

Anna and Kidron story flattened fixed.jpg

Umm... breaking news!

I know, I'm not a news site.

But, since I JUST posted about Adam Longoria, here's an update.

He's been found guilty!

Read the story here:


If you're in Central Kansas and you want to keep up with local news, be sure to follow the Great Bend Post and the Great Bend Tribune on Facebook.

MPEX Weekly Challenge: "Today's Paper"

Cheery is not necessarily the word to describe this week's post.
Midwest Photo Exchange challenged its followers to create a unique photograph that incorporated an issue of a newspaper published between April 1-6, with the date visible.
Locally, the big news has been the trial of Adam Longoria, who is being charged with a gruesome murder. Here's an excert from the Great Bend Tribune:
Adam "Longoria is charged in the death of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt, who disappeared the night of Aug. 21, 2010. Her charred remains were found three days later at the Venture Corporation asphalt plant near Dundee. Longoria is on trial for allegedly murdering her after an attempted sexual assault."
Yeah, not exactly a model citizen, eh?
Driving by the courthouse was slightly ominous, as you knew the alleged killer was a mere 100 or so feet away. The photo I came up with was my attempt at illustrating that feeling, while staying within the parameters of MPEX's contest.
Using a tungsten (full CTO) gel on my flash, I balanced for tungsten and turned daylight into a darker, gloomy shade of blue. The overcast sky certainly helped the cause.
The tricky part was getting the newspaper to behave in this nasty Kansas wind. I broke out the handy gaffer tape and forced the pages to behave so I could get this shot. Otherwise, I would have to get through a cardio workout chasing the silly thing down.
The winner of this week's contest gets something from Lowepro, which is a company that makes some pretty sweet bags for gear, something I could use right about now. Wish me luck!

My contest entry for March

Symmetry is the theme of Midwest Photo Exchange's March contest.

I found myself thrown into a little world filled with symmetrical elements at Northview Nursery in Great Bend, which is where my wife works as a horticulturist.

I have a complete photo album from the short photo-spree on my Facebook page.

The image below was taken with my brand new 60D (more on that later) and my 50mm f/1.8 lens.

I'm pretty happy with the shot, though it's hard to compete with the photos others have entered, which can be viewed on the MPEX photo contest tab of the company's facebook page.


Twilight shots: why they give me a headache, and why I love them anyway


I'll start with why I love them: they're so darn pretty! I mean, look at it ^  :)

Why I hate them: As you can see in the image above, there's a huge range of light intensity captured in this image, which is actually more than one image merged together.

Basically, I have to make sure I get an image that captures the proper exposre for the windows, then the sky, then the lawn and so on. In addition to different intensities, I have to keep in mind the white-balance differences between the sky (set for sunlight) and the indoor lights (set for tungsten).

Now imagine taking these photos, laying them on top of each other, and cutting out the parts that don't fit until all you have left is the accurate information.

So, why do I hate them? Well, I don't. I just don't like the headaches they can cause as most of the work is done post-shoot. You'll learn in future posts that I prefer to get my shot right while I'm there.

I shot this as a sample photo for Roger Sells, the broker for Coldwell Bankers here in central Kansas. I'm hoping to help some of his agents put out some quality curb shots this spring!

A week without a DSLR

As many of you know, I sold my old DSLR last week, and I thought I would be spending the week completely bored without something to shoot with.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Midwest Photo Exchange's weekly contest announcement: camera phone images.

Umm... Thanks MPEX, but you didn't have to do that just for me. :-\ I'm pretty sure I grew out of that whole "the world revolves around me" phase when I was 5, but I will file this away as a piece of evidence to the contrary!

Back to the contest - what am I going to do? No strobes, no DSLR, limited control over exposure elements...

It didn't take me long to decide to do a self-portrait after reading the post that inspired this particular photo contest. 

I just needed a similar rigging, which I made out of a cheapo-off-brand-not-a-Gorillapod, an office clippy, a rubber band and a table-top shoe mount I ripped apart with fury that burns with the heat of 10,000 suns dismantled for the sake of this project. I attached that masterpiece to an old broken tripod I had laying in my closet. I know, it just keeps getting classier!

Here's my set-up:

It didn't take me long to realize that the most visually striking hobby I have (other than photography, ahem) is airsoft. So, I donned a tactical vest, my trusty rifle and a few extras for effect, and took a few snapshots.

To replace a would-be flash set-up, I broke out my old heaters 500-watt continuous lights.

The resulting image was OK - the phone gets to determine what is in focus. Making lemonade out of lemons, I ventured off to the editing bay.

My eyes looked cold and unforgiving, so I ran with that, blacking out most of the color and upping the saturation on my eyes.


Some would argue this is technically unsound, but since photography is so subjective, and I had to deal with using a camera phone, I have to say I rather like the result. What do you think? Maybe you like the slightly stylized version below?


In other news, my new camera arrived Thursday evening, and I've only shot a couple different things to test it out. After getting a few more presentable images, I'll post about the Canon 60D and why I chose it over a higher-end model.

Goodbye, old friend

I peer through the viewfinder of my 2 1/2 year old Canon Rebel T1i, and dull pain starts to build in my knee as my elbow digs in for the sake of a steady shot in low light conditions.

click click click click click

I fire off the last few actions of the shutter on my old friend before saying "goodbye," capturing images of a pile of random bits I carry in my pockets every day - there's a good reason for that, but we'll get to it later.

As a former editor and photojournalist, I was proud to call myself the owner of my very own digital SLR, even if it was consumer-grade. That little rebel served me well, especially considering the 20-30 thousand photos it captured for me over the last couple years.

Now it's gone, sold to the first person in need of a used camera on a budget. Not to say it won't be just as meaningful to the new owner, or that it won't be put to good use, but I can't ignore that I truly miss my very first camera.

My Rebel saw hard times, like rescue crews raiding a house only to discover the tragic ends to a murder suicide. It bore witness to the aftermath of a small tornado ripping through a quiet Kansas town, and the mangled metal of car crashes.

Though the images of bad news found their way through my lense and onto my camera's sensor, the photos it recorded were more often than not the companion of a joyous event. It documented childrens' activities at the local library, two high school proms, a handful of weddings and senior portrait sessions and the traditional posed shots of award-winners.

These memories come in all shapes and sizes, and whatever the challenging situation, I managed to capture some type of visual for the sake of telling a story.

It was through that viewfinder that I learned to experience the world in a different way - to observe color as more than just a property of my surroundings, and to see those very surroundings as beautiful, not mundane.

Despite my sadness at handing over my first SLR for an envelope of cash, I knew it was for the better. It's time to move on and grow my arsenal of photography equipment. My next camera should be in my hands by the middle of next week. :)

Brandon, why did you take pictures of the junk you carry in your pocket?

The answer to questions like this is typically, "I wanted to."

This time, however, I did have an end goal - to enter a photo into the Midwest Photo Exchange Weekly Challenge.

The challenge was to take a photo of a subject that is predominantly black and white, but in a color environment.

After brainstorming for a while, I realized it was right in front of me. Almost everything I carry in my pockets is either black or white, or a combination of the two.

The pile of random junk also happens to remain in one spot on my bedside table when I get home from work, and signifies that my day is pretty much complete.

We'll see how it holds up to the competition, all of which is posted on the MPEX Facebook page.

That's it for my first blog post ever! Another milestone behind me... what will I do next?