We’ve Moved To Apple Valley, CA

It’s official — we’ve moved to California’s high desert, away from the traffic and smog of Los Angeles. CrayonPhotos.com is now located in Apple Valley, CA, serving the entire Victor Valley and surrounding areas.

If you’re looking for a photographer in Victorville, Hesperia, Adelanto, Apple Valley, Lucerne Valley, Oak Hills, Phelan, or any of the surrounding communities, from Big Bear to Barstow, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Rick Dickinson can be reached on his cell phone at 818-481-5184, or on his new office phone line at 760-980-1260.

Some More Photos From The Snake Shoot

Last week I posted a number of photos of Abby from a photoshoot at F40 Studio in Huntington Beach. The good folks at Southern California Herpetology Association & Rescue brought a number of reptile models, and Abby, Christa, Lauren, and Tadonisha provided attractive backdrops for the scaly models to climb upon.

Here’s a few additional photos of the other three models from the session:

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Christa Lamb

Model: Lauren Rosen

Model: Lauren Rosen

Model: Lauren Rosen

Model: Lauren Rosen

Model: Lauren Rosen

Model: Lauren Rosen

Model: Lauren Rosen

Model: Lauren Rosen

Model: Tadonisha Rodriguez

Model: Tadonisha Rodriguez

Model: Tadonisha Rodriguez

Model: Tadonisha Rodriguez

Model: Tadonisha Rodriguez

Model: Tadonisha Rodriguez

Model: Tadonisha Rodriguez

Model: Tadonisha Rodriguez

 

 

Model: Abby Crowther

A Few Photos of Abby From Sunday’s Shoot

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to meet up with some new photographer friends and a few talented models at F40 Studio down in Huntington Beach, CA. Thanks to Herman at F40, and the whole crew from the Southern California Herpetology Association and Rescue (SCHA&R), we were able to pair up quite a few lovely snakes and other reptiles with our even more lovely models, and have some fun.

I’m in the process of culling through the several hundred photos I took during the shoot, model by model.  However, to get things started, here are a few shots of the extremely good sport, Abby Crowther, getting to know a few of her reptilian friends:

Model: Abby Crowther

Model: Abby Crowther

Model: Abby Crowther

Model: Abby Crowther

 

Model: Abby Crowther

Model: Abby Crowther

 

Model: Abby Crowther

Model: Abby Crowther

 

Model: Abby Crowther

Model: Abby Crowther

 

Model: Abby Crowther

Model: Abby Crowther

Sea Turtle at Reef near Cancun, Mexico

A Whole New World, Underwater

Sea Turtle at Horseshoe Reef just north of Cancun, Mexico

Sea Turtle at Horseshoe Reef just north of Cancun, Mexico

On vacation a few weeks ago, I got the chance to explore a whole new photographic world, underwater.  We took a family trip to my brother-in-law’s timeshare in Cancun, and since I was planning to complete my PADI Open Water scuba diving certification while we were there, I brought along a new underwater housing for one of my cameras.

As a Southern California native, I was constantly amazed at the beauty and clarity of the waters in the Caribbean Sea.  You could look over the side of the boat, and easily see the bottom, 50 feet below you, through the crystal clear blue waters.  The murky, brownish-green waters at Huntington Beach, CA, have nothing on Cancun!

Under the watchful eye of Antonio Molina of Solo Buceo diving, I made four separate dives to reefs off the coast of Cancun: two to about 30′ at Chitales Reef, one to 55′ at Horseshoe Reef, and one to 50′ at Grampin Reef.  I made some new friends, saw some beautiful sea creatures, and came home with quite a few great photos and my Open Water scuba certification.

Kudos to Olympus for the extremely robust and well-designed PT-EP01 camera housing.  It kept my E-PL1 camera safe and dry, while giving me ready access to all of the camera’s controls.  I’ve got no complaints — it “just worked”, getting out of my way, and let me concentrate on my dive, and on taking photos.  That’s about all I can ask from a camera, or a photo accessory — don’t get in my way, and let me make the photos I want to make, with the control I desire over the process.

Dive Instructor Tony Molina (in the yellow-accented wet suit)

Dive Instructor Tony Molina (in the yellow-accented wet suit)

Porkfish at Horseshoe Reef

Porkfish at Horseshoe Reef

School of Caesar Grunts

School of Caesar Grunts

Eve and Eric at the reception

I Love Weddings

Eve and Eric at the receptionI love weddings.  They are hectic, chaotic, and fast-moving, but there’s magic there, too.

There’s something magical about the look of hope and love in the couple’s eyes.  They’re starting their lives together with a mixture of joy, anticipation, trepidation, hope, and love.  As a photographer, I get the privilege of capturing the elegance and emotion of the occasion for them.  It’s an honor, and a responsibility that I’m proud to accept.

 

Take The Voyage

Art hurts. Art urges voyages – and it is easier to stay at home.

— Gwendolyn Brooks, Poet

It may seem odd to quote a poet on a photography blog, but I don’t think that it is.

Poetry is, in my view, the art of choosing just the right words to concisely convey a thought, feeling, or image into the heart and mind of the reader.  Poetry relies upon the complex interplay of connotation, denotation, cadence, rhyme, alliteration, and metaphor to raise up a mere collection of words to be more than simply the sum of its parts.

But most of all, before there can be poetry, there has to be a poet with something to say, and the talent to say it well.

“What does this have to do with photography?”, you may find yourself asking.

It’s simple, really: Art isn’t easy; it takes work, it takes vision, and it takes talent.

You’re not going to get there by sitting on your couch, watching television.  You’re not going to get there by comparing camera specs on forums.  You’re only going to get there if you start moving, and devote yourself to putting in the work necessary to build your talent to the point that you can realize your vision.  And then, you get to visualize more.

It’s a voyage, and it’s not an easy one.

While writing Ulysses, to the best of my knowledge, James Joyce never spent any time comparing typewriter specs on the Underwood Forums, worrying about upgrading to this year’s new ribbon model, or comparing the contrast and resolution of different paper stocks.  Honestly, I don’t even know if he used a typewriter, or wrote things out longhand.  It doesn’t matter.  The tools don’t matter, and never did.

Instead, he lived his life to the fullest, and devoted himself to his writing.  He wrang evocative imagery and emotion from his soul, and sweat passion and dedication onto each and every page.

Do the same.  Live your life to the fullest, and pour your passion and dedication into the imagery and emotion you create with your art, your photography. It won’t be easy.  It will hurt, and it will be the toughest trip you ever take.  But, the best possible you lies at the end of the journey.

Take the voyage.

Flowers at Descanso Gardens

Go Play in the Rain

Flowers at Descanso GardensTry it.  You’ll like it!

Shooting under an overcast sky is like using God’s softbox — all of the harsh shadows are tamed, and everything takes on an almost magical glow, as beautiful soft light descends on everything from the heavens.

Despite the threat of rain, I took a relaxing walk at Descanso Gardens a few weeks ago.  This wonderful botanical garden is only a short drive from my home, and the start of spring has brought out all of the blooms on every flowering plant on the premises.

I brought a few of my cameras and lenses with me, but decided to leave all but one camera and lens combo in the car.  Instead, I just brought my trusty Olympus E-3 with me, with my all-time favorite lens bolted to the front: the 35-100mm f/2.0 zoom.

It’s an admittedly bulky combo, and certainly not the latest most-fashionable thing, but it’s all fully weather-sealed, and it does something else absolutely critical for me: it gets out of my way, and lets me concentrate on making the photo that I see in my mind. Long familiarity and experience with this camera means that I can find every control right under my fingertips without having to look for it, and it becomes just an extension of my arms, to be directed by will, rather than conscious thought.

It works for me.

In any case, this isn’t about the equipment.  It’s about the light, and the experience.

Find a camera that works for you, that you can use without over-thinking.  Hopefully, it’s weather-sealed.  If not, get yourself one of those plastic camera condoms to protect it.  Then, the next time you have a rainy day free, take your camera and go exploring.  You’ll love the light, and you’ll love the freedom.  Don’t over-think.  Just see the world with a photographer’s eyes, and follow your muse.

It’s a worthwhile exercise, and I guarantee you’ll enjoy the experience.  You’ll certainly love the photos you make when you follow your instincts, and make pictures to please yourself, rather than someone else.

 

Why use flash?

I was asked recently by a relatively-new amateur photographer, “Why use flash?”

He was mainly shooting photos in locations where there was plenty of ambient light available to make a proper exposure with his camera, and I suspect that the unspoken subtext to his question was that he was wondering if there was any particular reason for him to spend the money to buy an external flash for his camera (or even to use the built-in “pop-up” flash).

Here’s what I told him:

There are two main reasons for people to use flash when making photographs:

  1. There’s not enough ambient light to make a photograph without flash, or
  2. The ambient light that’s there is not to your liking, and you want to modify or replace it with “good” light of your own.

Most beginners only think of reason #1. (It’s dark, so I use flash.) Simply adding more light quantity, without giving consideration to its qualities (such as its hardness, color, direction, and relative brightness), typically results in the dreaded “person in a dark cave” portrait.

A more experienced photographer will use flash to supply the light that he wants, where and how he wants it, either alone, or in addition to the existing ambient light.

Personally, I use flash most often when I’m shooting outdoors, in full sun, which is a situation where most amateurs wouldn’t even consider using flash at all.

In full sun, you have plenty of light, but it’s almost always very hard (the sun may be huge, but it’s 93 million miles away, and casts very hard-edged shadows). Also, full sunlight rarely comes from a flattering direction; it’s almost always overhead, which gives people raccoon eyes, and hides their faces in shadow if they’re wearing a hat. Also, full sunlight gives your images more contrast than any camera can capture in a single frame.

Adding flash from my camera position allows me to fill in those shadows without erasing them completely. This way, I can reduce the contrast in the scene to the point where my camera can actually record detail in the shadow areas, and I can avoid raccoon eyes and see people’s faces up under their hat brims. The flash also adds a bit of “sparkle” to the eyes, in the form of a “catch light” reflection.

Outdoors, I’m not generally looking to overpower the sun with my flash. I usually prefer to use flash that doesn’t call attention to itself. Instead of making the scene look “artificially lit”, I simply tame the shadows, and bring them under control.

It all boils down to control.  Using flash, you’re able to take control of the lighting in your images, and are no longer at the mercy of the ambient light.  To a photographer, that’s a very good thing.