Category Archives: Photography

Catherine and Papa PhotoDay

To kick off my vacation week, on Saturday Catherine and I took the commuter rail into Boston for a day of photographic adventure together. Catherine was taking photos using Rebecca’s Canon PowerShot SD750 compact camera, while I was taking photos on both my iPhone 4s and my Nikon D80 DSLR.

We started off at Beverly Depot, where we watched for our train to come and practiced taking some pictures. One of my suggestions was that we try taking pictures of the same things and seeing how they compared. Here is one example:

Catherine's photo of the commuter rail map

Catherine's photo of the commuter rail map

 

Papa's photo of the map

Next, we enjoyed a short ride on the commuter rail from Beverly to Lynn.

Catherine on the train

Catherine on the train

In Lynn, we had to get off the train and get onto a bus into Boston, as they are doing bridge work on the weekends.

Catherine's hair blowin' on the bus

Catherine's hair blowin' on the bus

The route through Lynn was, as one might expect, quite slow and filled with traffic. At one point, the bus was caught in traffic behind what was apparently a massive traffic accident that had happened earlier. We waited for about half an hour as emergency vehicles squeezed around us on all sides and the bus tried to get around the traffic. Finally the bus had to do a u-turn and backtrack to Route 1 in Revere, and take that into the city. Here’s a photo of the commotion.

Accident scene

Accident scene

We did finally get into the city, about 45 minutes later than intended. We got onto the Orange line at North Station and took it to State Street, where we got out to have lunch at Chipotle.

Catherine on the Orange line platform at North Station

Catherine on the Orange line platform at North Station

Chipotle in Downtown Crossing

Chipotle in Downtown Crossing

Catherine took this picture of the truck that delivers her "favorite fruit snacks"

Catherine took this picture of the truck that delivers her "favorite fruit snacks"

Catherine enjoys her Chipotle

Catherine enjoys her Chipotle

Next, we took a walk through Downtown Crossing on our way to the Common. Catherine saw this funny sign for a Mexican restaurant and thought she should take a picture of it. So I did, too.

Catherine's photo

Catherine's photo

Papa's photo

Papa's photo

We made our way to the Common, where Catherine got a balloon flower from a vendor near the playground. She later told me this was her favorite part of the day.

Catherine and her balloon

Catherine and her balloon

Next we headed over to the Make Way For Ducklings sculpture, which for some reason had the ducklings dressed up as superheroes.

Catherine and the ducklings

Catherine and the ducklings

At this point, Catherine was ready to head home, so we headed back to North Station where Catherine got a little treat.

Catherine and the Yummy Donut

Catherine and the Yummy Donut

Thankfully, the trip home was much less eventful. We both had a great time on our little adventure.

A good day

A good day

Touch a Truck

On our way home from church today, we noticed that “Touch a Truck” was going on outside of the Cummings Center! We pulled a hard right, parked, and spent a half hour walking around and exploring the various large trucks that were parked for all to see. It’s a fun event for everyone, especially little kids. Catherine may have been the only kid who looked for and buckled the seat belt on every truck she got into.

Catherine in the driver's seat

Catherine in the driver's seat

You can see all of the Touch a Truck photos in our gallery.

Changes for PRWPHOTO

A little less than a year ago, I had the idea to start a photography business. I jumped into things enthusiastically, set up a website, contacted prospective clients, and even did a few photo shoots. However, I’ve found that over the past year, I simply haven’t had the time or the energy to build up the business. I have a full time job that requires a lot of energy and creativity, and leaves me feeling mentally exhausted every day when I get home. I have two kids who I spend a lot of time with. I have a wife to love and support. I have work to do around the house and other personal and family matters to tend to. There simply isn’t enough of me left over to engage in a business venture.

It’s unfortunate that it’s taken me this long to figure that out, because I’ve spent too much time worrying about how I could get some more clients, how I was going to have enough time to do marketing, advertising, and planning, and when I was going to fit these photo sessions in, should they come along. So, as of right now, I’ve decided to shut down Peter R. Wood Photography as a business. When I made the decision earlier today, I felt a great sense of relief and freedom, knowing that I could devote more of my thoughts and emotions to the more important things in life.

I am also excited because I now feel free to go back to enjoying photography. I’d love to revive http://prwphoto.net/ as a personal photography site. A place where I can talk about photographic technique and camera gear, show off photos I’ve taken, and share my love for the art. But I’m not going to worry too much about when or how I’ll get that online. You’ll still see my newest photos here on the blog, or on SmugMug, Flickr, or linked on Twitter or Facebook.

And I’ll still be more than happy to take photos for you, but I’m not going to spend any time or money marketing it, and I’m not going to charge anything for it. I’ll do it because you’re my friends or family, or a really cool or interesting person, and because I love taking photos. If you want me to take photos for you, just let me know!

Nikon SB-600: The Missing Link?

Perhaps some people think I’m the “missing link” between Gorillas and Photographers:

Gorilla Photographer

But for me, the missing link in my photography kit was a good external flash unit. This weekend I finally had the opportunity to purchase one.

SB-600

I purchased a Nikon SB-600, Nikon’s middle-of-the-line flash. It currently sells for a little over $200 and sits in between the ~$450 SB-900 and the ~$100 SB-400. This flash provides a great deal more power than the flash built into my camera, can be rotated and angled to many degrees, and can even be positioned off the camera and remotely controlled. One of its greatest features is the ability to bounce the flash off of a wall or ceiling. This provides much more flattering light for portraits than a direct flash.

On top of being a lot of fun and great for personal use, this flash will be a great asset for Peter R. Wood Photography and will allow me to offer more creative options to my clients. Head on over to photo.prwdot.org to check out my services and pricing.

You can also see some samples of other shots I’ve taken with the SB-600 in the Test Shot Gallery. (Also wanted to let people know that for some reason, SmugMug is making my photos look a bit darker when viewing them in the resized versions. To see what they “really” look like, you’ll need to click on the “Original” link that appears when you are hovering over the resized photo in the gallery. I’m working with SmugMug Support to figure out what’s going on.)

NECCC: Photography Galore!

UMass Campus Center
UMass

On the weekend of July 11-13, I traveled to UMass Amherst to attend the 63rd annual conference of the New England Camera Club Council. This was my first time attending a photography conference of any kind, as well as my first experience with anything camera club related. Here are my reflections on the weekend in 5×5 format.

Five things I liked:

  • Opportunity to photograph models outdoors, with signed model releases, so I can use the photos in my portfolio. Unfortunately, most of the models didn’t really fit what I’m looking for in my own portfolio, but I do think I got some good shots that I’ll be able to add.
  • Session called “Behind the Scenes of Nature Photography” with David Middleton. He showed various iterations of a scene until he reached the “final shot” and described how he got there. It was pretty cool to be able to hear his thought processes, and the criteria he used to decide what to eliminate and what to keep in various shots. As a bonus, David was a very entertaining and listenable presenter. Great personality.
  • Session called “Modeling Perspectives” with Peggy Arbene, Skip Hoyt, Paul Smith, and Gordon Yu. They went over how to do lighting, backgrounds, pose models, and how to assess and plan for a portrait shoot. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with portrait photography, and I got a lot of useful information in this session.
  • Session called “Digital Workflow: The Rest of the Iceberg” by Jim Craner. Offered some nice tips on how to organize and manage large collections of photos, and how to plan for various conditions out in the field. Jim also had excellent presentation technique (as he said, thanks to his many years of teaching middle school), and wasn’t afraid to demonstrate his technical knowledge in an educational and palatable way.
  • Opportunity to to essentially immerse myself in photography for a whole weekend. I carried my camera around with me everywhere, and stopped at any opportunity that I felt like photographing something.

Five things I didn’t like:

  • Didn’t receive the pre-arrival packet until after I got home from the weekend. It contained such useful information as where to park, a map, a parking pass, information on extra things to bring to the dorm, etc. This would have made my arrival and time on campus a bit less stressful. It took me about an hour from the time I drove into the campus to the time I settled in to my dorm room. I realize that I registered late for the conference (July 1), but still, that should have been enough time to get a packet out to me before July 11. Perhaps in the future they could send the contents of the packet via email, as a PDF or something. That would be more expedient.
  • NECCC website wasn’t very useful during the weekend. They should have kept it up-to-date with information on schedule changes, happenings, photos from the events, and information on the models. In general, I didn’t get the impression that the NECCC is a very internet-savvy organization. They should be using things like Facebook, Twitter, flickr and some sort of Wiki software to help organize and distribute their information, build an online community, and draw in the younger and more tech-savvy crowd. It also wouldn’t hurt for them to hire the services of a professional web designer and developer. I can recommend several good ones.
  • There was a wireless network on campus, but the NECCC didn’t promote it in any way that I could see. I had to ask about it at one of the registration desks and then get a slip of paper with information on how to access the network. This would be another thing that could help draw in the tech-savvy crowd.
  • The dorm and dining hall were located on one side of campus, while the conference was located in another part of campus. This required either a long walk or a bus ride, and the bus rides and bus stop locations weren’t strategically placed. For example, I would have expected a sign right outside of the dorm that said “Shuttle Bus” along with information on the schedule and route. I eventually found one of these posted somewhere inside, but this was after I had already gotten through most of the weekend. Even more annoying, at lunch breaks, I had to walk all the way over to the dining hall and then all the way back to attend the next session.
  • Most of the models that they hired to do the model shoots were not dressed very tastefully, at least in my opinion. I don’t know whether that was the models’ decision or the organizers’, but in any case, I don’t think I’d care to use most of the model shots in my portfolio. I realize that other people may have different goals and tastes for their own work, and if the reactions of the other photographers were any indication, it seems like most people were okay with the models’ choice of wardrobe. Still, I would have preferred some of them to wear more modest and/or classy outfits.

Five things I learned:

  • Photographers who are trying to take photos to be entered in a contest are a very tense bunch. Always concerned about the subject appearing exactly the way they want, getting into conflict with others who are trying to photograph the same thing. Sure, it’s nice to get a good shot without distractions in the background, but have a little patience. Lighten up a bit and enjoy!
  • Perhaps as important as a photographer’s skill in image capture is his or her ability to get to the right place at the right time. Many an impressive photograph are impressive in large part because the photographer had the funding and wherewithal to get to an incredible location at the right time.
  • I’ve definitely learned that my interests in photography tend toward photojournalism. For example, I was more interested in photographing the photographers who were photographing the models, than I was in actually photographing the models themselves. I just don’t have the interest in setting up a perfect shot with everything in the right place. I prefer to capture situations as they occur, and try to tell the story of what was happening as I saw it, and usually that doesn’t involve waiting until everything is just right.
  • I’d rather take photos of regular people like friends and family than photos of professional (or semi-professional) models. They tend to have more personality and are more fun to work with. There were a few exceptions to this, however, most notably Audra, who is a recent mom.
  • I learned how to observe and prepare subjects for portrait shoots, how to interact and how to give direction and suggestions on how to pose.

Five photos of models:

Five photos of other things:

You can see a selection of other photos I took over the weekend in the gallery.

Father’s Day Weekend, 2008

This past weekend, Rebecca, Catherine and I traveled up to Quechee, Vermont to see the Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival. We camped out at Ascutney State Park, as the Quechee campground was full, but most of our time was spent in and around Quechee and Woodstock. It proved to be a very enjoyable weekend for all of us! Read on for more details and photos!

Continue reading

Next week’s forecast: relaxing!

I’m liking this forecast for next week:

We’ll be heading down to Florida on Saturday for a week with my parents, sister and brother-in-law. Sun, sand, warm weather, a house on the beach, nothing to do but relax. :-) (Kudos to Tripit for the extremely usable, well-designed, and feature-packed website which produced the above forecast, among other things. Just forward an email confirmation to plans@tripit.com for airline tickets, car rental, hotel reservation, etc, and Tripit will automatically build an itinerary with all sorts of useful info.)

In the meantime, I just have a few days of work to wrap up, some packing to do for the trip, and an Apple Store opening to attend tomorrow night. :-)

Finally, if you haven’t already, please stop by Peter R. Wood Photography for some new photos, journal entries, and general photography information. I’d appreciate any comments or suggestions you have for things you’d like to see on that site!