Friday, November 27, 2009

Union Station

I drove into LA Tuesday to photograph the big Thanksgiving dinner at one of the LA Food Bank distribution points only to learn that there had been a communication error and the dinner would not be served until Thanksgiving Day.   There were two other photographers (Romina Naiam and Carly Cram) with with me and after a short discussion we decided to spent the morning getting in a little street photography.  We walked a couple of blocks to Union Station and found a number of people willing to to model.

 I would love to use some of these images for my 365 Strangers project but only one meets the criteria
 I have set for this project:
      Introduce myself and learn the subject's name
      Talk with the person I want to photograph and learn a little bit
       about his/her life
      Remember the subject's name when it is time to upload the photograph

I only remember names of two people I photographed Tuesday :(
I should have written them down.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

365 Challenge

In the 1860’s, all art roads led to the Salon in Paris, which was the most important judged competition of art in the western world. In a period of just over 10 years, the Impressionist masters like Renoir, Monet, Pisarro, and Caillebotte battled it out in a competitive and cooperative tour de force that created a panoply of creations that we cannot imagine the world without.The reason Paris became the center of the art world to enable an explosion of new art was a combination of new technology in travel and communications combined with Napoleon III’s focus on the infrastructure around the Salon.

Today the same thing is happening – only no one really seems to realize it in a grand historical sense. It’s called Flickr. Flickr has become a techno-Salon, allowing the world to use the Internet to easily enter the competition and force them to evolve and improve their art. The automated “Explore Algorithm” does a pretty good job of automatically choosing the best photos that are uploaded every day. Go ahead and look at the current some of the best in the last 7 days. Click RELOAD a few times and I promise you will see something that impresses. It is quite unbelievable the level of art and beauty that is created every single day. Now, all of this amazing art on Flickr can either inspire or intimidate you depending on your mindset for competition. I hope it inspires you to upload one photo a day and see if you can make it in the top 500 or the top 10 for the say — and don’t give up. Competition makes everyone better; this is an undeniable truth and you are not realizing your full potential if you keep yourself removed from the process.

(From Trey Ratcliff" Don't get stuck in Customs) 

I got a good start with my 365 challenge.  I continue to shoot every day but reviewing and making a decision about which image should be uploaded and digging down into that instruction manual, is tougher that I would every have imagined. Getting back on that horse tomorrow.....


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Women's Conference

Yesterday I came to the orientation for volunteers and today is the big day. There will be 10,000 women  here today another 4000 for The Night at the Village and 24,000 tomorrow.

 I have been assigned to the Media Tent.  I was hoping I would be selected as a photographer - but here I am accepting the images that others are capturing, resizing and uploading so they can be posted on the Women's Conference Web Site - O.K. but not nearly as much fun as being on the floor in the middle of all the action.

We get the first details of our assignment from Sherie

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Gear

The Canon G7 and the little G11 are on the shelves and I would so like to have one of each. I like to use two camera bodies when I work with young children - so I don't fiddle around changing the lens - and I absolutely love my G9 - it is always with me day and night. It takes wonderful night shots and wide angles - but it has stopped capturing in Raw :( and although my 20D is still strong - I would like to have access to the new technology in the 7D.

So those are my reasons, however, I also need (note the difference - need as opposed to like) I need to return my friends 85mm f2.1 and purchase my own, plus, and this is a big plus, I need to replace my desk top computer or my laptop - they are both reaching the end of their life spans - AND....
I should finally move on from CS2.

Oh - one more thing on my wish list.  I would like   a really wide angle lens before I go on the San Diego Photo Trip. Both the 17mm f2.8 and the 16-35 f2.8 look really wonderful.

Those people who think Digital Photography is cheap because there is no film to purchase and no processing fees are in for a very rude awakening.

I keep plastering this quote from Chris Orwig (Visual Poetry)all over the house. I put it in the notes app on my Iphone too. Perhaps if I read it over and over again it will sink in and I will move on with the cameras I already own.

"Advancement in photography doesn't come from building up an arsenal of gear, Rather it comes from growth, which happens inch by inch and year by year."

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Brewery Arts Complex

I had the opportunity to visit the studio of photographer Rob Greer today.  His studio and his home are located in the Brewery Art Colony in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. You can see the colony as you drive North on the 5 freeway between the 10 Connector and the 110 Connector.  You will know it's the Brewery when you see a huge smokestack  piercing the skyline.

Learn more about the Brewery  or attend the Fall Artwalk October 24th or 25th 11am - 6pm.

Rob was a fantastic speaker,  He shared lots of information about his start in this business,
his work style and ethic.  

I had a bit of conflict when deciding where to write this post.   On this blog that is about me and my work - or on my Photo School New Blog since I went to the studio with my Cypress College Wedding Photography Class.  I chose this blog because there were a couple of  insights that I hope can begin to inform my own work.

One:  " Show your BEST Stuff".   This is something I have heard over and over again.  Jerry Burchfield  said it this way:  "If you have 10 show 5".  This is so tough for me.   I always fall in love with the images I create and I find it extraordinarily difficult to throw anything into the trash.  As a result I have thousands of images cluttering up my hard drive space and prints spilling out of the bedroom closets and hidden under or behind all our casement furniture.

Rob Greer, on the other hand, told us he goes through a process to select images for his own portfolios. He starts by asking friends and then respected photographers to review the 20 or so images he has chosen and asks them to identify their least favorite two or three.  I guess I could go to a portfolio review and pay to have my work reviewed by other professionals but I could probably make a pretty substantial down payment on a piece of "good glass" for the fee some of these critiques charge.  Rob suggested that new photographers get together and critique their own work, so I think I'll try to come up with a plan to organize a portfolio critique on campus.

(Do I think the two images I chose for this post are the best I captured today?  No....  Then why did
I post these - one seemed to document the space (see that smoke stack) and the other was a great detail. Maybe I will go through the files, find the best of the bunch, optimize one or two and replace these documentary images...... maybe)

Another point that resonated with me was  Rob's admonishment to be sure our  insurance is updated and that it cover equipment, liability and "errors and omissions".   I probably don't need errors and omissions yet, but I really should begin to research liability coverage and update my scheduled equipment since I bought the new Pocket Wizards this week.

I should check out membership in PPA and look at their insurance plans.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Photographer's Eye

Last week I spent some time reading  The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman .  Not only was it a great review of the elements of composition, I found the text and the images really inspiring.    Chapter one is devoted to The Image Frame. It is a dense chapter.  Freeman covers Frame Dynamics, Frame Shape, Stitching and Extending, Cropping, Filling the Frame, Placement, Dividing the Frame, Horizon and Frames within Frames - a lot of reading on a subject most photographers think they handle best intuitively.  I found myself trying  to think more analytically about composition as I captured images during the week. 

I noticed this window as I walked across the OCC Campus.  It is a view into one of the Ceramic's Instructors' Office and a 
perfect image for building my own portfolio on The Image Frame

Filling the Frame and Dividing the Frame are elements discussed in Chapter One of the Photographer's Eye.

Freeman states "Facility at using this frame depends on two things:  knowing the principles of design, and the experience that comes from taking photographs regularly."  I can't help but believe I could also improve my photography by reviewing my images with these compositional elements in mind.   Perhaps this would help me decide which images are most interesting, which are mundane and finally allow me to discard those that simply occupy a bunch of my hard drive space.  

Three Hundred Sixty Five_Day 9

Yes, I'm still taking one photograph every day.  This is the easiest part of the challenge.  Reviewing the images and deciding which is the best one to upload is the real challenge for me.  I finally got around to uploading images from days 7, 8 and 9 earlier tonight.  You can go to my Flickr Photostream,  click on 365 Challenge and keep up with everything I have uploaded.  You can also go to Tasra 365 and see the images everyone in the group has submitted.   

Reading a page in my manual every day however, has been an even bigger challenge and I have yet to make this a daily habit.  

I do think just getting these three tasks done everyday will improve my photography.   I've already noticed that I am not very persnickety about focus.  Sometimes my images are sharp in just the right place other times I don't quite hit the mark.   I think it is that I favor shooting wide open, and I tend be a little shaky- so this week I will test out some other 
f stops and see if it is possible to marry my love of shallow dof with precise focus - and maybe I should go back to lifting some light weights and build a little muscle in these hands and arms.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Three Hundred Sixty Five_Day 2

Cuauhtemoc Mexica Dance Group 

I captured so many images this weekend it was hard to decide which one to select for day 2 of the 365 Day Challenge.  I finally settled on an image from the Cuauhtemoc Mexica Dance Group.                          (Learn more here )  If you click on the image to see it full size you will notice that the headdress is sharp but not his face :(  Lesson learned, when shooting wide open at 2.8 be sure the focus point is where I want it.)

Manual:  I read pages 65 and 66 Setting the White Balance and Custom White Balance.  Setting WB is easy enough for me - just make a judgement and turn the wheel. ( I should memorize the settings so I don't have to try to see those little icons in the bright sun). Custom WB is a bit more difficult. Taking that extra step to find a white object and import the data is time consuming and a bit of a nuisance for street photography or when photographing events like the Watts Towers Jazz Festival. I just put it on AWB, shoot in RAW and make changes in Lightroom when necessary.

What a Weekend

I spent Saturday at the Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and  returned today for the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival today.  What a party it was.  Good music, good people and great fun.  

I chose images for this post from the Shine Mawusi troupe performance Saturday Morning. If you have a Facebook account you can learn more about SHINE Mawusi and the traditional African dances they perform.  You can see more images from the Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and the Simon Rodia Jazz Festival on my flicker photostream at 

S.H.I.N.E. (Sister, Healing, Inspiring, Nurturing, Empowering.  Mawusi – borrowed form the Ewe language of Ghana “In the Hands of God”.

I have a bunch of images so it is going to take some time to sort through them, make my selections and get them all uploaded.  Keep checking in to see more……

Three Hundred Sixty Five_Day 1

I was following up on an assignment to browse through the image of some photographers suggested by one of my instructors (Greg Bumatay Greg's Blog ) when I ran across this challenge posed by Scott Bourne to Tasra Mar.  The idea is to take three actions daily for one full year.

Take at least one photo every day
Read at least one page in my camera manual every day
View other professional images everyday

It sounded like something I could do - since I take photos almost everyday and spend some time viewing other photographers work either on the internet or at a gallery pretty frequently - the only thing I wasn't doing frequently - was reading that dratted manual.

Another incentive is that Scott states I will improve my photography drastically If I take these actions every day.  So I signed up and got started right away - I plan to add some of my images to this blog but  I also joined the tasra365 flickr group , so be sure to check in there to see all 365 of my images as they accumulate over the year.

I could not resist capturing a portrait of this precious little girl being carried in her mothers arms.
Yesterday I captured images of two of my grand daughters,  Zoe and Dakota.  Today I dropped by the Watts Towers Drum Festival and watched some amazing percussionists and dancers - I chose this portrait of a little girl being carried in her mother's arms as my first entry in the 365 challenge. The festival continues tomorrow so tomorrow's image will probably be created there too.

Manual:  Using the Quick Control Screen - I must have skipped this component on day one - at least I don't remember what I read - so I don't think that can count.  Today I read pages 38 and 39 Using the Quick Control Screen.  The problem is that I have already changed the settings in my camera - and the Multi Controller Button no longer controls this function.  It looks like I have a puzzle to solve. Finding my Quick Control Screen and how to access it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday

I’m in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago where my mother’s older brother lives. I traveled here with my brother to help celebrate my uncle Edwin’s 96th birthday.  It was a wonderful party but just a bit poignant because we see him growing more and more fragile as the days spin by.  Big Brother (that was the name we adopted from our mom) kept telling us how rich he was to have the love of his life by his side (married 69 years to our Aunt Gladys) and his family and his friends visit him.  We ate cake and ice cream and sang happy birthday – He gave us a great smile in return.

Happy Birthday Big Brother – we all love you. 

Lake Michigan - North Shore

I really wanted to see Lake Michigan from the North Shore.  I have been to Chicago several times and I have seen the lake from that perspective but never from the North Shore. So I twisted my brother's arm and he finally said O.K.  We jumped in the car and took off in the general direction of the lake.  When we got to Highwood, Il.  we took a chance and turned right.  Wow - did we discover a jewel - Fort SheridanForest Preserve  .     I couldn't wait to climb out of the car and start capturing images.  Here are three of my favorites.

I wish I could go out again today, but rain is forecast and I can't imagine my brother will choose to spend his morning driving me around the lake, and I don't think it would be particularly wise for me to go off traipsing through the forest by myself.  I Hope I can use one of the images I captured here for my new landscape assignment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Crystal Cove

I was down at Crystal Cove State Park with the Available Light class from Cypress College yesterday.  It was in the middle of the day and the sun was really bright.  I set my camera up and tried to capture some slow shutter speed images to make the waves really smooth - but I was not very successful. After a while I took a walk into the historical district and took photos of some of the cabins.  Finally the sun began to recede and I saw these little shoes sitting on one of the posts stuck in the sand.  When I stopped to look at them, I could just see a little guy pulling off his shoes and heading straight for the waves?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A lesson from Raul

I've been wondering how other photographers get such large photos on their blogs.  I looked at Ari's  blog this morning and sent him a message asking for his help...  later I saw Raul and told him about my frustrations. Right away Raul offered to help, and gave me a little tutorial on how to embed larger photos on my blog - so here goes my first try.....

 Voila. I had to change the format of the blog to fit in the larger image but I think this
 arrangement will do a better job of showcasing my work......Thanks Raul.

P.S.   Next time I won't make the mat quite so wide  :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

More Photos

  This is one of my favorite images from the shadow assignment in the Available Light class.

I came up with a "brilliant" idea this morning.  I decided to start a new blog to post the images I submit for class assignments. This will allow me to keep my Cynthia Terrell Photography blog primarily restricted to personal work and the portraits I create with families. The new blog is named Photo School News.  The address of the new blog is:


What a joy it was to work with Ariel and her family this week.  We were on the lawn at the Cerritos Library and boy did we have fun.  Ariel was a little live wire.  She climbed on the tree trunk and jumped down, she ran across the lawn and rolled in the grass - I was exhausted when I finished but captured some great images.  
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Where did the summer go.

I can't believe it, the summer has absolutely flown by and I didn't get any of my summer photos up on the blog.  I had a great time though, playing with the camera and capturing shots all over the place.  Kids, teens, infants and plenty of scenics - I can't wait to share them with you.
Today I had a great session with Mycala.  I'm posting some of her pics now and will post examples from the other sessions I had this summer - in the next few days.

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Pics

I was at dinner with some friends the other night and 2 out of three said this blog had way too much reading. So I'm trying to find ways to add more pictures without staying up all night constructing a collage through Photoshop.  Greg Bumatay one of the Cypress College instructors suggested Picasa (this link is to the Mac version but you know they must have a PC version) 
I signed up for their free service - but still haven't learned how to create a collage :)

You can get to a random selection of some photos I took of Dakota Grace last weekend by clicking on her name. but it not the same as having the photos right here on the blog page - technology - it is really hard to keep up with all the changes :(

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Making Decisions

One of my favorites from my portrait session with Gladia Bell *

I was reading an old copy of Photographer's Forum this morning and ran across an interesting quote by Gary Monroe.  "One must have an appetite for failure.  Ninety-nine percent of my photographs are near misses.  I don't make photographs for recognition.  I make photographs for my edification."

The quote captured my attention because, I also create photographs for my edification. Each time I complete a photo session I increase my knowledge of how the camera works, and how to work with the camera. Then, there is the joy that comes when the image appears in the dark room tray or on the computer screen. (I would say on the LCD screen of my camera - but I just cannot see enough detail on that tiny little screen.) It's hard work, but most of the time, picture taking is just plain great fun.  I'm reaching the point where I want to be paid for the time and effort I put into creating a great photo - hence all the work this summer establishing online galleries, and a website, designing business cards, and trying to post to this blog at least once a week. Yet, I know when I do reach the point of being paid for my work, it will always be the fun of creating the images that will continue to bring me back to the camera.

The other part of Monroe's quote - "Ninety-nine percent of my photographs are near misses." rings true for me too.  But probably I have more absolute misses and fewer near misses than he does.  I'm not willing to spend all those hours working on something that is not as good as I can get it when I'm in the traditional dark room, however,  on the digital side, it is difficult for me to delete anything but the worst of the worst. Up to this point I have been willing to post or print the "near misses" and close to the "gosh awfuls", because I like the pose, or the light, or the expression on the face - something attracts me to the photo even though I know the exposure is off, the image is a bit soft or something else simply doesn't work.  "Winnow judiciously", my instructor Jerry Burchfield admonished, more than once, as I tried to decide which image to submit for a class assignment. I'm just beginning to understand what he meant.

S0, starting today I'm committing to making better decisions, only the best of the best for publication.  I'll keep those "not quite ready for prime time" images in a separate folder for now - but no more near misses for my galleries....

* I love taking portraits of people over 80, I call these images my Legacy Portraits. Gladia is 87 years old. She still drives, stays busy  volunteering several times a week and keeps close tabs on her  friends and family.  She was bubbly and energetic the whole time we worked together.  You can see more of her images here.  An example of too many  "near misses" mixed in with the winners.