Friday, December 11, 2009

Some Christmas Stuff

I love Christmas! It's the best time of the year. We get to celebrate our Savior's birth! We get to have some nice quality time with our families. I was overjoyed watching my kids getting excited decorating the tree! I love the snow too!

I took this one for a photo challenge on Steve Paxton's forum. It's a decoration on a table in our livingroom... It's in a small village. I love close up shots like this one and I especially love Christmas lights!

Christmas Angel (by John Brainard)

I shot this one at our Church's Christmas Tea event this year. It was a great time, though I was a bit uncomfortable being around all those women! 300 of them!

Christmas Tea Dessert (by John Brainard)

Have a Merry and God Filled Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Decorating

We love Christmas in our house! Naturally, we had a lot of fun decorating. Everytime I went downstairs my girls would ask in excitement, "Are you getting the tree?" It was great to see the same kind of excitement in them that I had when I was a kid. It really makes this time more special.

We were almost done before I realized I should have taken some pictures. Here are a couple from the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Decorating for Christmas (by John Brainard)

Decorating for Christmas (by John Brainard)

Yes. We decided a few years ago that we aren't going to go shopping on Black Friday. It just doesn't seem right to us that people are so concerned about getting good deals that they'll trample to death a Walmart employee.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Around My Pond

I woke up to a very beautiful morning and I took the liberty of sleeping in today. Having the two combined, I felt up to the task of playing with my camera for a bit. I went down to the pond and this is what I came up with.

IMG_027095 (by John Brainard)

Around My Pond (by John Brainard)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Long Days

The last few weeks, I have been very busy at work trying to finish up a project. I worked several hours last weekend. Yesterday we got the project to where we could hand to the client for testing. I was tired. I asked my boss if I could leave a little early. I had visions of going home and taking pictures of the girls outside, playing in the leaves, using my new lens! Unfortunately, when I got home, there were no leaves in the lawn to play in! Oh well... I was getting a bit frustrated and not really with it and the kids weren't really into it either. Fortunately, God is good and gave me a few gems anyway. Here are a couple.

Playing Outside (by John Brainard)

I was anxious for a long time to get some gels and a gel holder for my flashes. I finally did. My first idea was to fill the living room with some blue light. It didn't come out as I had anticipated, but I'm satisfied with the results. I'll try harder next time!

Blue Livingroom (by John Brainard)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flowers by the Road

Here are some wild flowers I saw growing by the road on my way home from work on Sunday. I was anxious to play with my new lens (Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L).

IMG_025881 (by John Brainard)

IMG_025878 (by John Brainard)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Golden Harvest Festival

We went to Beaver Lake Nature Center on Saturday for their Golden Harvest Festival. Instead of being lazy and leaving my camera in the car (I almost turned around to bring it back), I carried it with me and took a bunch of photos. I'm glad I brought it. It was an overcast day, so I got to see how good my camera works at higher ISOs. Here are a couple of pictures I took of some of the animals there.

Harvest Festival @ Beaver Lake (by John Brainard)

Harvest Festival @ Beaver Lake (by John Brainard)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Day of School!

Yesterday was the first day of kindergarten for our oldest daughter. She had a great time.

First Day of School (by John Brainard)

First Day of School (by John Brainard)

First Day of School (by John Brainard)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blue Angels

Here are the rest of the "Blue Angels" photos I took before my battery died on me. I'll be posting one more "Wrap-Up" set from the Greater Binghamton Air Show very soon.

Blue Angels (by John Brainard)

Blue Angels (by John Brainard)

Blue Angels (by John Brainard)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Harrier Jump Jet

This is the Harrier Jump Jet from the Binghamton Air Show this weekend. This is the only plane that posed for pictures!

Air Show: Harrier Jump Jet (by John Brainard)

Air Show: Harrier Jump Jet (by John Brainard)

Still more to come!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

F16 Fighter Jet

Here are a few more from the air show this weekend. It took several attempts before I managed to get a photo with a decent orange glow in the jet engine.

Air Show: F16 (by John Brainard)

Air Show: F16 (by John Brainard)

Air Show: F16 (by John Brainard)

Keep an eye out for a Harrier Jump Jet and some fireworks to come in the next day or so.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Third Strike Wingwalking

The best part of the air show this weekend was supposed to be the Blue Angels. I'm afraid it didn't turn out that way. As I was processing the days photos, the set from the wing walking woman struck me as the most interesting. This first one is by far the best of the set.

Air Show (by John Brainard)

Air Show (by John Brainard)

Air Show (by John Brainard)

Air Show (by John Brainard)

Hopefully there will be some F16, C130 and Harrier Jumpjet photos to come soon.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Yes... July 4th is just another day on the calendar. We don't need to celebrate that. What we need to celebrate is the brave men and women who fought 233 years ago for our independence as a nation and those who have been fighting since to preserve that! God Bless our soldiers and God Bless our country!

I had a great time celebrating our independence from Great Britain with my family at the Binghamton Air Show. Thankfully, my camera battery lasted long enough to capture some of the Blue Angels air show. Here's the first of what I hope to be many photos to come over the next several days.

Blue Angels Air Show (by John Brainard)

In anticipation of a lot of blurring due to the aircraft flying at high speeds, I increased my ISO to 200 and 400 while taking photos. Some were flying slow enough that I didn't need the higher sensitivity. I tried to keep the shutter speed around 1/1000, though I don't know if it was absolutely necessary. Hopefully I'll find out as I sort through my photos.

Hopefully I'll see you all tomorrow with some fireworks photos!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Playing In The Driveway

I finally dusted off my camera for some photos today. I let the girls play in the driveway and used the asphalt as a backdrop. This shooting angle is new to me, but I like it. I'll be sure to get the step ladder out more often!

Bethany (by John Brainard)

Caitlyn (by John Brainard)

Winnie (by John Brainard)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I'd like to introduce you to...

I'd like to introduce you to our latest family member, Remington. His mom is an AKC registered Rottweiler and his dad is most likely a lab. The woman we adopted him from isn't sure. She was given the litter of puppies to find a new home for.

Remington (by John Brainard)

Remington (by John Brainard)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

52 Self Portraits: Week 8

At the rate I'm going, I won't be done with this project for 3 years!

Here's my latest installment. I was excited to finally be able to play with my camera outside. The weather was nice with little breeze.

52 Self Portraits: Week 8 (by John Brainard)

Some things that are wrong with this picture are:

  • Flash not balanced with the natural light. I need to get some gels.
  • I wanted the background to go darker than this.. It looked the way I wanted on the camera's LCD.

As always, comments and criticisms are very welcome!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

52 Self Portraits: Week 7 (Catching Up)

These photos are much closer to what I was trying to achieve. What I'm missing in my arsenal is the ability to color my lights better and keep my light pattern tight. I didn't have as much control over the difference in the background and foreground lighting that I want. Either too much light from the foreground spilled onto the background, or the long exposure time due to hot, continuous lighting in the foreground allowed too much through in the background.

52 Self Portraits: Week 7 (by John Brainard)

52 Self Portraits: Week 7 (by John Brainard)

I made great use out of my "Stick-in-a-Cans". See my set up shot here.

My wife took our mop in to get converted back into a dog today, so keep an eye out for a session with her (the dog) soon.

Monday, March 2, 2009

52 Self Portraits: Week 6

I think I'm about two weeks late for this one. I had so much to do around the house the last couple of weeks, I couldn't spend the time I needed to get some photos.

I had an idea for this photo that I found on the Ikea website. Unfortunately I'm not able to find it. It was is a photo with a chair in the foreground lit by a lamp just behind it. The photo was white balanced for the tungsten bulb in the lamp, blue color cast on the background. I wasn't able to achieve it with this photo, so, this week's photo (Week 7) is another attempt at it.

52 Self Portraits: Week 6 (by John Brainard)

A friend from Church had called to ask if I'd meet him for breakfast the next morning while I was working on my self portrait project for the week. I thought it would a perfect opportunity to get some "candid" shots of myself, as if that's possible.... At least, I wasn't concentrating as much on posing as I was talking on the phone. I certainly wouldn't pick up the phone and pretend to be on it!

Keep an eye out for Week 7 very shortly (next day or so). I'm closer to what I wanted to achieve with that one, but not quite.

UPDATE: Here are the images I was inspired by. I suspect I'll need a tighter light pattern from my CTO'd flash in order to accomplish the look I'm going for. My gold reflective umbrella spills too much light onto the background making it difficult to control the lighting in that area. One of my next purchases will likely be the Lumiquest FXtra gel holder for each of my flashes. I may even spring for a Soft Box III.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Finally Some Scenics!

I wouldn't ever quite my day job to become a tour guide! I met with Beau this morning to go out shooting photos together. It was a great time and if I hadn't taken any pictures, the trip would have been worthwhile, but the locations I selected were less than ideal. We started out at Pratt's Falls only to find out the park isn't open until 10am. We were there around 8am. So, we went out to Chittenango Falls State Park where the main trail through the gorge was closed. We weren't able to get down below the waterfalls for some good photos. We wandered around there for a little over an hour though and then decided to head over to Onondaga Lake Park.

Here are a few photos from the trip that I thought were at least decent.

Onondaga Lake Park (by John Brainard)

Chittenango Falls Sate Park (by John Brainard)

Chittenango Falls Sate Park (by John Brainard)

Next time, I'm letting Beau decide where to go!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

52 Self Portraits: Week 5

Here we are on week 5 of my "52 Self Portraits" project and I'm still stuck on the black backdrop. I've been enjoying using it, but I'm hoping next week to get outside and do my portrait or switch to a white sheet for a while. We'll see how it goes... Now that I finally have both flashes off camera, I have a little more flexibility in my set ups.

This shot, I had a bare flash directed toward the black sheet from an angle in order to add some dimension to the backdrop. To my left is a silver reflector and my right is a flash bounced in a gold umbrella.

Feel free to leave your comments here or on Steve Paxton's forum.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

52 Self Portraits: Week 4

This was supposed to be a two light portrait. Unfortunately, I didn't read the red text on the hot shoe adapter when I added it to my cart! Oh well.. Hopefully I'll be able to find the right PC to Hot Shoe Adapter in town tomorrow.

The light is a 580ex II bounced out of a gold umbrella... I wanted to play with the gold umbrella and didn't feel like converting it to silver or putting my other umbrella on. I white balanced in UF Raw.

In processing, I decided I'd try the cross process look, so I found a tutorial online and saved my curve for future use. I also added a slight vignette.

52 Self Portraits: Week 4 (by John Brainard)

As always, the additional shots can be viewed on Steve Paxton's photography forum.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

52 Self Portraits: Week 3

I wasn't sure what I was going to do this week. I have already started running out of ideas.

I like the black background and using the smaller radius of light to fade things into the shadows. I also like having a prop, such as my guitars, in the photos. This week, I was sitting on the couch in the living room wondering what I was going to do. The guitar came to mind then, somehow, the lamp came to mind. It was fun trying to incorporate the lamp in the photo. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to achieve what I was shooting for. I wanted the light from the lamp shade to spill onto the background, creating a cone of light. It didn't work... I'll have to try it again.

Here's the photo I chose to use this week....

52 Self Portraits: Week 3 (by John Brainard)

Click Here for an additional shot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

52 Self Portraits: Week 1 & 2

I was thinking about ways I could force myself to learn lighting using my small strobes, or flashes and decided on a '52 Self Portraits' project. The idea is that after the first few photos, it will become more challenging to light myself in new ways. I'll be forced to think and work harder and experiment with things. So, I'm committing to doing 52 self portraits, one a week for an entire year.

Here is week 1:

52 Self Portraits: Week 1 (by John Brainard)

Week 2:

52 Self Portraits: Week 2 (by John Brainard)

You'll notice that if you follow the link for "Week 2", you will find some additional photos. As I process each session, I'll pick a couple of photos that I liked, but weren't quite what I was looking for. There will be something interesting to me about them and I will post them on Steve Paxton's forum exclusively.

Enjoy and feel free to comment here or on the forum.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Forum for Photographers

Paxton Prints Community Forum

A great photographer and asset to the photography community, Steve Paxton, has set up a forum to build a community dedicated to serving new and experienced photographers. Through the short time I have known Steve, he has been very helpful and encouraging. I learned a lot through his e-mails, through looking at his portfolio and through the tutorials on his website.

Take a moment to check out his forum, sign up and introduce yourself in the "Introductions" board.

Paxton Prints Community Forum

Image used with permission by Steve Paxton

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Playing With Smoke

When I first started getting into photography, I found a couple of blog entries on photographing smoke. I was anxious to try this out, but I didn't have a flash that I could use off-camera... until now.

This image, I created a grid overlay in Gimp as well as colored the smoke with a gradient.

Smoke Art (by John Brainard)

In this image, I duplicated the smoke layer and flipped it horizontally. I was surprised that it resulted in a very serious looking girl!
Smoke Art (by John Brainard)

A few things I'll try the next time I photograph smoke:

  • Shoot further away from the smoke than I was to capture larger patterns.
  • Shoot a larger quantity of images
  • Try burning two incense sticks together
If you look at Steve Paxton's smoke art, you'll see that the smoke starts and stops within the image. This is likely the result of using a snooted flash. I'll try to get a tighter beam of light next time and use a larger black background.

I learned that this is better done in a room you're not going to spend a lot of time in after you shoot the smoke, unless you like the smell of incense!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great 2008 and that it ended safely!

2008 was the year I started dabbling in Photography. I won't say I have made great leaps and bounds into it, but I enjoy every moment of it. The last few months have been slow, unfortunately. I'm looking forward to getting out and shooting more.

Here are a couple of photos of my latest toy from my quick trip out this morning.

Untitled (by John Brainard)

Untitled (by John Brainard)

Have a great and blessed new year!