Weekend wrap-up, games, a boat, soccer, and menswear …

This was a good weekend. It started on Friday with a healthy games night with friends Monte and Anne.

We played a card game called Bohnanza, and if I could become a perfect ambassador for the game, I would. It’s a tough one to teach others how to play, but it’s a good game that teaches negotiation tactics, manipulation, mind tricks and haggling.

On Saturday, I played soccer in the afternoon with a league that needed an extra sub. It was full-field, co-ed, two 25-minute halves. The sides ended up being 10 on 8, because you have to have four girls on the field at a time, and our team only had three girls and the other had two.

We beat them 4-1.

I love that soccer is back in my life and love how good I feel after a game. I don’t have full game legs back, but I’m not in shabby shape either.

On Saturday night, we were asked to photograph a private charter boat party on Lake Michigan with a group of buyers, retailers and industry menswear folks in town for a trade show. We were able to enjoy ourselves with the private group and see some spectacular sights.

Then on Sunday, we worked out in the morning and in the afternoon, photographed that trade show that I referred to above.  It was Tina’s mission to get some Sartorial-type portraits of some of the better dressed people. So here’s a sampling below.















Tack sharp photos … how the hell do you do that?


In my circle of Photographer friends, we talk about each others work. We help each other define our styles, as it’s first and foremost one of the most challenging, yet incredibly important, aspects of becoming a successful photographer in an era when photography can be a very difficult profession to make a living in.

If I had to define my style, it’s clean, color-filled if not colorful, and sharp.

Above is a 100% crop from my recent self portrait. I spent a long time making sure my focus was spot on using Hasselblad’s focus feature in it’s capture software called Phocus. You can move focus in small steps using a button in the program from my laptop. It’s very helpful.

Someone sent me an email yesterday asking, “I noticed how sharp your photos are. Do you take care of that in post-production or there are certain lenses you use that give you such crisp effect? I can achieve that in post-production but I wonder if there are lenses on the market that can eliminate extra work.”

My response was long. But in a nutshell, my response amounts to the following:

  • Nail your focus points. Shooting a portrait, make sure your focus point is on the eyeball. If you focus/reframe, be aware that your lens might not accommodate this exactly and you may lose the focus.
  • Know your lenses. Not all lenses are sharp from center to edge. Especially wide open. I have a 16-35 mm/f2.8 lens that needs to be at f10 or f11 to have a decent focus from center to edge.
  • Follow the rule that the shutter speed must match your focal length (at least). If you’re shooting 50mm, shoot at 1/50th or faster. Image stabilization helps, but be careful.
  • Be aware of mirror slap. Many people don’t realize that the mirror in many DSLRs can affect the overall stability of an image. Handheld with a full frame camera, 1/30th is about the limit to a handheld shot. Maybe 1/20th depending on the lens. With my Hasselblad, 1/90th is pushing it, as minor handshake will screw up the image.
  • Consider shooting prime lenses. Double check the reviews for how they perform wide open.
  • Familiarize yourself with sharpening methods in post. I use Photoshop’s Smart Sharpen tool on many images, especially out of my Canon cameras. I have my own workflow that works right for me.
  • Calibrate your camera to the lenses you use. This is something I’m not as familiar with, but it’s a thing and it can be googled at your leisure.

That’s my bullet list. I could go into great detail on this topic as it’s something I push in my work to the point of obsession.

There are things that other lists include like steadying yourself against something stable when a tripod or monopod is unavailable. There’s a long list of things people do to get sharp images. Find what works for you and go with it.

What are things you do to guarantee tack sharp focus.

Got Crohn’s and a Colostomy bag? Be proud!


I’ve never seen a colostomy bag. Have you?

As a culture, we hide so much that makes us modern humans. And rather than embrace the things that make us, well, us, we do a great job of keeping that stuff under wraps.

I have a love/hate relationship with Photoshop for this very reason. While I think every image needs photoshop, sometimes I want to show people with all their bare flaws.

The issue is that most people don’t stare at another person, closeup with nearly as much detail as a person might when hit with tons of light. And while people look better in studio lighting, their blemishes are highlighted in ways that are unavoidable.

This conundrum is partly why I love this story/photo of a woman Bethany Townsend, just 23 years old, who has had Crohn’s disease since she was 3, who has decided to embrace her colostomy bag while on vacation in Mexico. Instead of hiding it directly, she put it out there … even decorated it.

It’s given legs and strength to others with the same condition to shout loud and proud.

Love it.

More here.



My new hero: Casey Neistat and his BAMF’ing videos

Over at Kottke, he posted this amazing video from filmmaker Casey Neistat and his son having a blast at a German waterpark that is built in an old airplane hanger.

I didn’t recognize Casey right away, until I went through some of his other videos. I found this one about the time he took an entire budget Nike was going to pay him to create a film and traveled the world in 10 days.

If by the end of the video, you don’t buy or at least make some mental promise to yourself to buy a plane ticket, you’re an idiot.

But then there’s the video below, that makes me crazy with jealousy and inspiration.

Casey takes $25,000 of the marketing dollars for The Life of Walter Mitty, goes to the Philippines and helps with the relief effort after that huge typhoon destroyed so much of their people and land.

This, dear readers, is something I’m dying and longing to do. If for nothing else, the kind of notoriety that Casey gets for doing such things. What a great guy, great photographer, great filmmaker and great editor.


Tina was gone for the weekend. Great father/dogger time. Kept my traditions sacred


Tina was gone for the weekend.

Annually, she and some women plan a girls’ weekend in nearby Michigan. They rent a house and spend about 48 hours figuring out why they love their lives outside of Michigan. :)

They have a good time, and Tina always looks forward to going.

It’s good for us, too, because we spend almost every waking hour together every day. We both experience a little separation anxiety when we spend any time apart let alone over night.

Weekends like the last one are good exercises in 1st world pain and torture.

Whenever Tina leaves me, or vice versa, for any spell of time, I’m sure to hurt myself quite badly and/or incur some large bill as the result of — what I’ll blame on — separation anxiety.

When I was in Thailand, I caught an acute stomach bug that laid me up in a Thai hospital over night. Tina was gone to dinner with a friend once and I cut my finger on a shard of glass while cleaning a glass tea kettle. I needed seven stitches. No matter what, if Tina’s gone, I’m a mess.

This weekend was no different.

On Friday night, I found some leftover potatoes in the refrigerator that I was going to cut up and make into fry up as a cubed hash brown type side for some chicken thighs I was grilling. Since they were covered in the fridge, condensation had accumulated in the Tupperware.

I heated some oil in a pan and cut the potatoes. When the pan and oil was hot, I threw them in, resulting in that cataclysmic snap and pop when water meets hot oil. Hot cannonballs of oil splattered out all over my right arm. It looks like a shrapnel wound on my forearm.

That night I played 2.5 hours of pickup soccer at a nearby field and largely forgot about the burns, although, I could feel them from time to time, reminding me of my idiocy.

The next day, all of the red spots turned into blisters.

On Saturday, I biked to the gym to relax by the pool and soak up some sun for awhile. I also wanted to sit in the whirlpool to soak after soccer. But the whirlpool was closed for maintenance.

After strapping my bike helmet on and exiting the gym, my water bottle’s top opened and leaked enough water in my bag that it was dripping on my legs as I walked.

“Shit!” I said to myself. “I hate this bottle.”

So I started turning my bag over to get the puddles out, when my phone slipped out of a front pocket, hit the ground and spiderweb cracked in that all-too-familiar way you’ve seen everyone else’s phone do, but you’ve been so good at avoiding for the past few Smart Phone years.

“Figures! Tina’s out of town.”

Frankly, I’m glad those were the only things that happened. I thought playing soccer, I’m in for it. On Saturday, I did my self portrait which involved fire. That could have been disastrous.

These things likely would have happened whether Tina was here or not. It makes for a better story, though, if everything bad happens when she’s gone.

It’s the closest I get to being superstitious.