USS Tutuila Veterans - Portrait Photography

I like to think of myself as a pretty adventurous person; I get to travel a good bit with my job, meet new people constantly and overall put myself in situations where I get to experience a lot more than I normally would have with a behind the desk day job. Sometimes my job isn't as adventurous but it's still just as rewarding. A few weeks ago I had the express opportunity to spend an evening with a group of men that all served on the same ship in the U.S. Navy on a ship called the USS Tutuila. Some of these men served during Vietnam some during the Korean War and some even during World War II. They needed help capturing photos for their reunion album and they called me to help them out. I have a great respect for those in uniform and it was an honor to be able to photograph them. There were somewhere around 80 men plus their wives and children here 

Though this was pretty simple work, and they didn't want anything fancy, I still had a lot of fun interacting with these people and hearing stories that they were interested in telling. Many of these men served together during different tours, so to see them together all these years later was very cool. Anyway I curated just a few images that I'd like to share with you that didn't make it into their reunion book but will be in my personal collection forever because of what it meant to me not necessarily because they're the best portraits of ever taken. Hope you enjoy them.


Charleston - Street Photography

Traveling is something that I feel I was made to do. I have had many opportunities to see different parts of the world, but still one of the easiest ways to feed my addiction is picking a place fairly close to me that allows me to get a couple hours away from home and immerse myself in a culture that is different than my own. Charleston is a beautiful old city and is very well known for it's historical significance here in the south.

Home to numerous colleges including the Citadel and the College of Charleston, a day in there is filled with just as many slouchy beanies and fixed gear bikes as there are seersucker suits and mint juleps. Make sure to watch the video and enjoy the photos!

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My New Project - Abandoned Myrtle Beach

The Grand Strand has been my home for 25 years. I grew up in Conway just 15 miles inland for the beach. After graduation I went to the beach for work and college. Since I was 17 years old I have had a job in Myrtle Beach and have made quite a life for myself here. I can remember as a kid going to The Pavilion and seeing the buzzing of the boulevard; seeing Peach's Corner and the rest of the downtown area lit up like a Christmas tree. There is no better childhood memory than laughing and playing with my family down at the beach. I am sure that my memory is not a very unique one. See, Myrtle Beach is place that many people call their home away from home. Every single year, Myrtle Beach says hello and goodbye to 14 million people and after labor day, we are left by ourselves to clean up the messes and hold things together until summer comes around again. With only 27,000 in our population, the city is very empty in the winter. After all the glitz and glamour is frozen over, we are left holding down the fort waiting for the loneliness of it all to fade away. Jobs are hard to hold on to and even harder to find when the tourists leave. The stores close. The water parks dry up and the roller coasters start to rust.

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A Baptising: Gathering at The River

Baptism-42A very large part of a Christian's walk is an outward statement to symbolize the change that is made within. Every denomination has something that fills this need. When a Christian decides to be baptized it is an outward testimony that the person has buried their old life, dying of self so that they can rise again and let the love of God live in them and be spread through them. Though it is a tradition, it is not ritualistic. There is no magic in baptism. The way my pastor likes to put it is this: "If you go down in the water without your heart cleaned first, You'll only come up a wet sinner."

Baptism-26

Baptismal services are a beautiful thing to witness if you never have before. Though our church has a baptismal pool inside the sanctuary(remains covered underneath the choir unless in use), our church most always opts for a baptismal service at the river. I like the sentiment a little better in the river because, it's so obvious that being baptized in this water isn't exactly cleaning you physically. The water is murky and brackish in places, a mixture of sand and mud and dark water doesn't exactly sound like something thats going to make "whites whiter and colors brighter". It's a true statement about the cleansing of ones soul. Enjoy the photos!

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Sneaky Candid Photos: Youth Night

Well, I am pretty active in my church and I teach a Sunday school class that ranges from 12 to 20 which I really enjoy and it's a blessing every week to get to talk about God with them. Once a month, the church lets the youth have a service of their own on Wednesday night, a time when we all get together, fellowship and have a good time. Well this particular youth night happened to be the day that I received my newest addition to the gear family, a Fuji X10. I am absolutely in love with this camera and decided to try to put it through it's paces. Considering the conditions of poor light, I think the camera held up pretty well in quality. Just goes to show you, that you can make stellar images with the compact cameras of yesterday. Short and sweet today, but I thought I would add in a quick candid photo I took of my sister during one of our board games. Thanks for stopping by! Jillian Candid Black and White

Candid Rose Portrait Candid Table Wide Angle Candid Surprise Portrait

5 Tips for better Landscape/Streetscape photos

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips I am not a certified teacher, nor do I have a case of awards and accolades at home for all my photographic adventures, but what I do have is experience and I hope you find this helpful in some way! If you are not a landscape photographer, you should still try using some of these ideas, because I have found it to be one of the most relaxing escapes to do these types of photos even though I am primarily a portrait and wedding photographer.

I love taking photos of people; I hear their stories and try to make myself blend in with them to where you can see the real them through their photos, but sometimes that can get very stressful. Zack Arias said in an interview once that his hobby is his passion and it also happens to be his career and that if he isn't spending time with his family, he is better honing his craft because it is what he loves. I firmly agree with that. I have been asked numerous times why I decided to start taking photos and my answer has always been "Because I can't afford hobbies that don't make money." Though of course this was said as a joke, it was true. I love photography, but I had to focus on it terribly hard because I wanted to become great at it.

Well after being well in to a year after my first paying gigs, I feel I have learned a lot and have definitely seen my stress level rise. One way I have found that I can continually sharpen my photographic skills, but relax is landscape photography. There is something relaxing about being by yourself in nature and not having to focus on what you see in someone but rather what is all around you.

Click "Continue Reading" to see my tips on better landscape photography!

#1 - Use a Tripod

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

This of course is an obvious one. When anyone thinks about landscape photography, they see a camera on a tripod. Being a mostly handheld shooter myself, I had to really learn to work with the constriction caused by the handy device. I have used many types of tripods over the years and yes, having an extremely nice tripod is great but completely unnecessary unless you are doing some commissioned extra large prints for a client. For exposures under a minute, you can feel safe with a light tripod unless its an extremely windy. I do not have a very nice tripod. The legs are actually from a Targus tripod system I bought at Walmart and the head is a used Manfrotto head that I found on sale. Before that though, I was just using a bargain bin Kodak brand tripod that I picked up at a yard sale. (If you have a light or flimsy Tripod, make sure to weigh it down some how! I normally tie mine down with my camera bag. #2- Know When Not to Use a Tripod

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

Tripods are not always a necessity. I personally have had five or six camera bags, some big and some small but the one thing they all have in common is that they make carrying a tripod cumbersome; even if there are straps on the side or bottom of the bag, it usually is more of a nuisance than anything else. There have been plenty of times where the light was just right and I pulled out my camera and got the shot I wanted. If there would have been the task of taking my tripod out and getting it set up, I could have missed the photo or lost the composition I had in my head because I had focused too hard on getting the tripod set up.

#3- You Don't Have to Use HDR

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

Now I know that HDR is a beautiful thing at times, and when done right it can create some of the most astounding images. I have never been able to make an HDR that I was happy with and I choose not to. There are plenty of people out there with tutorials on how to make HDR images but I have found that shooting with RAW and exposing for the mid-tones, I can show the image a little love with the dodge and burn tools and be completely happy with detail in most all of the dynamic range.

#4- Stopping Down Isn't Always Needed

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

When I first started doing long exposures and night photography, I was using really stopped down apertures such as f/16 or f/22. My thought was that the image would be sharper and more things would be in focus. But what I figured out, and you will too, is that smaller apertures focused at infinity will look the same but the larger aperture will take less time for the same exposure. For example: Having an exposure at f/16 ISO: 100 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds if the exact same exposure as F/4 ISO: 100 with a shutter speed of 2 seconds. How crazy is that!?!?

#5- Focal Length is Your Friend

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

Now, I have seen some amazing landscapes taken with all types of focal lengths, but different focal lengths can create the exact look you are going for. When I go out shooting landscapes, I normally pack a standard length( 35mm or 50mm. Most likely the 35mm), an ultra wide (14mm) and a Fisheye. All of these lens types can be found for amazing deals. The Nikon 35mm 1.8 is sharp piece of glass for only $200 and Rokinon have manual lenses in all three of these types ranging from $200 - $500 each. With a longer focal length, such as a 50mm or and 85mm, it is very hard to hand hold without shake in lower light situation. I try to never shoot a focal length at a shutter speed slower than my focal length (Example: I wont shoot an 85mm at 1/60 of a second, but I will shoot a 50mm at 1/60th of a second.)

My favorite type of streetscapes are with my 14mm or 8mm fisheye where I steady myself up against a light pole or a wall and bring my shutter speed down to around 1/15 or 1/20 of a second (If I am really steady, I can do 1/2 second exposures this way. The image about is an example of this type) This allows me to catch the blur of cars going by and also expose for enough ambient light to capture the scene without causing too much if any camera shake. Are these pictures perfectly tack sharp? not in the slightest, but they are a ton of fun to take and extremely rewarding. All in all, a shorter focal length will produce better handheld shots than longer ones when using slower shutter speeds handheld.

These are just my opinions and take them as such. This is what I have found is very comfortable for the work I like to do and if you decide to start doing this as well, you will find what works best for you as well! I love learning and passing things along to others, so I hope you have enjoyed it!

Thank you very much for reading! Like and share with your friends to pass along the relaxing art of landscape and street scape photography!

Do you have any places you have been or would like to photograph? Let me know in the comments!

Telling my story: Imperfect Images

So this is an old blog post I made many moths ago, but I wanted to repost it with the photo link correct. These were taken before I knew what to do with a camera, but these photos are a landmark to my photographic journey and I cherish them for that. Enjoy!
Horse Running 1
Blog post right after the jump!
What makes a good photo? Is it razor sharp focus? It is amazing color?
I love the days of travel photographers roaming through some wild country side in central Asia or North Africa capturing whatever they can on 36 exposure rolls in their 35mm cameras. If a photographer in Africa was being chased by an elephant through the jungle he did what he had to do to take that shot and thought in the moment and when he/she was safe and sound back in the studio developing photos it didn’t matter if the focus was a little soft or if was just a little underexposed.
I find that it is these photos that trigger something inside us that show us that we are all human, in a world full of airbrushed and photoshopped images, a gritty photo cuts through all the noise that is filled with “perfect” images. i like the sense of urgency in a photo that is a bit blurry. I am not saying its ok that a photographer produces less than quality work, but it doesn’t always have to be a half step short of a magazine cover photo.
Well I can’t say I have ever been chased by an elephant but i have had to deal with a less than perfect shot to portray the perfect moment. The example I am talking about today was on a trip through Normandy, France. In my opinion, Normandy is one of the most beautiful countrysides in the world. The family farms there are all divided by these ancient hedgerows that have grown thick and strong over hundreds of years. They are so thick, they were known to sometimes stop German tanks from moving forward during WWII. Well, many of these farms raise horses and are free to roam throughout these farms that are protected by these thick hedgerows. I was traveling at dusk in a coach driven by a very cranky Englishman who was not interested at all in stopping to let me take photos. Lucky for me, it is very hard to drive fast on these thin winding back roads of Normandy, so I was able to snap some photos through the windows of the coach.
After turning a corner, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a fine specimen of a horse had taken interest in our coach, I could only barely see him through the hedgerow but as we started to speed off he galloped along with us. After a couple tries, I was able to capture this:
I was so astounded by the horse’s conviction, he continued to follow us and caught our driver’s attention, well even the cold exterior of the brit was melted away and he actually slowed to a stop as we came to a larger opening to get a better look at our equine acquaintance.
As we came to the opening, I was surprised to see that he had been joined by a friend who were both looking at us very curious. I don’t blame them though, we were in a very big bus on a very small road. Before we left again I snapped this one:
Horse Running 2
Though, neither of these shots are great, they helped me tell my story from this leg of the trip and are definitely some of my favorite images that I took. I will treasure having these forever because I know I was there, I know what I saw and it helps depict what it was that I was experiencing at the time. The light was fading fast and I could barely see the horses during that last photo but because of the wonderful advances in photo manipulation I was able to pull out enough detail to see what I was trying to portray.
Don't ever be afraid of a less than great photo; photos are meant to tell a story, and if they do that, mission accomplished.
Stay tuned for more!

My First Baseball Game

So, there is nothing more American than baseball. It's out "Favorite Pastime!" but I can't believe that I have gone almost 24 years of my life without going to a professional baseball game. I didn't grow up very sports centered, but I played 5 years of varsity soccer in school and 2 years of golf. Baseball never really interested me. Everyone said that going to a baseball game isn't really about the game anyway but I never went because I figured I would be bored out of my mind. I didn't plan on taking my camera, but I am so glad that I did. I am not a sports photographer, nor am I a street style photographer but I do enjoy dabbling in both and that is what I was able to do here. The game was a ton of fun to watch, the entertainment all around the field was great and the crowd was super friendly and relaxed. I love watching football and pretty much any level (especially high school and college) but when I watch football, there is nothing else my attention has to juggle. I love football for that but it gets very intense. At a baseball game, I have come to learn that the experience is what you go for. I enjoyed being able to just sit there with my family and enjoy the crowd, and the entertainment and running in to friends. Oh and the game.

Pelicans Game-9

Pelicans Game-11

 

Pelicans Game-8

Pelicans Game-4

Pelicans Game-3

 

Pelicans Game-13

Well I did take my camera out a few times to capture some things and I even shot some with my iPhone. I love iPhone street photography and was pretty happy with the way these turned out. Enjoy!

Baseball on the iPhone (This was taken with my iPhone5 with KitCam and edited with Snapseed)

Thank you for reading,

-Jarrett

Pelicans Game-5

Street Photography: Barefoot on a Breezy Night

So the Barefoot Landing is in full swing this year with their 25th Anniversary celebration. Because I work in the resort industry, I have learned to stay out of the populated areas but last night I was drawn to go get some photos down there, I am very glad I did too. I love street performers but Myrtle Beach has very few of them because of the zoning laws and permits needed that are not easily accessible. But the loophole is the privately owned shopping and entertainment centers where the companies hire performers to come entertain the crowds. Well walking around I jacked up the ISO with my new Rokinon fisheye and gave it a whirl. Comment below with your favorite images!

Barefoot 7-3-2013-3
Barefoot 7-3-2013-2
Barefoot 7-3-2013-4
Barefoot 7-3-2013-7
Barefoot 7-3-2013-6
Barefoot 7-3-2013-14

This little guy was really digging the magician there. But he was pretty amazed by the crazy looking lens I had on the front of my camera too!

Thanks for looking!

-Jarrett