Sunday, January 22, 2017

The How To – 12' x 8' Oklahoma! Musical Banner

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 280, ƒ/8, 1/100 [photo by: Dorie Griggs]
This year we are getting our PR for the musical Oklahoma! started much sooner than last year's production of Into The Woods. We are about 2 months before the performance with the 12' x 8' banner.

Last year we up just a little more than a month before the performance.

[photo by: Dorie Griggs]

Last year the banner was 9' x 6'. When I put the banner up last year I can remember the feeling that it wasn't big enough. I do believe that the 12' x 8' is plenty big for the space.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 140, ƒ/8, 1/100 [photo by: Dorie Griggs]
Every 2 feet there is a grommet to help you tie the banner to posts like I am doing here.

[photo by: Dorie Griggs]

You can get an idea of how really big the banner here is from the back with me on a 6 foot ladder.


1) Select your source to make the banner. I use Here is a link to their specs to give you an idea of what you need to supply as a file size.

2) Select your image. My recommendation is to shoot in RAW and in Lightroom or PhotoShop resize the image to the size of the banner. I did it here and exported the photo as a JPEG to 12 feet on the long side. You need to check with your banner source to see their specs. They said 150 dpi or more.

 3) Open the JPEG large photo in PhotoShop and then put text over the photo.

4) All State Banners can take most file types. The first time I sent them the PhotoShop file saved as PSD. The last two banners I just exported out of PhotoShop as JPEG. Again the size being the exact size of the banner at 150 dpi. As a PSD the file is 1225.1 MB file. As JPEG it is 66.1 MB file size.

The total cost this year was $229.44. I only paid $206.50 because they were running a 10% discount.

Now this is only part of our PR. Here are two Facebook Cover size photos for the people to post on their pages to help promote the musical as well.

Stay tuned to see other ways we use photography to help market the musical.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Still Photographers – Showstoppers

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 2200, ƒ/4, 1/80
When you go and experience the Theatre you are seeing the sequencing of a story into moments. Within each scene there is build to a crescendo and then all of these different scenes build to a showstopper most of the time.

A showstopper is a performance or segment of a theatrical production that induces a positive audience reaction strong enough to pause the production.

Nikon D4, NIKKOR 14-24mm ƒ/2.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/125
Now when you compare the two photos above the main difference is one is a theatre production and the other is real life happening in real time.

For a scene to be a real showstopper the actors must portray through their body language, expressions and tone of voice what would be in a real life situation.

Now what the theatre has in common with still photography is real life is more like video and moving constantly and with theatre and the still image the pause of the action allows time for the audience to absorb the moment.

Nikon D3, NIKKOR 85mm ƒ/1.4D, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/100
In life we have moments where we ponder and think. If a writer is describing this brief moment they may take four or five pages to describe all that weighs on the character as well as their thoughts and/or dreams. In real life you cannot hear or read those thoughts of people. However in real life the expressions of the person communicates often some of this which a writer only has text to convey.

Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/250
Actors must convey those four to five pages of text from a book into the play version of that book. The playwright may have notes to the side of the script to help the actor know what they are trying to communicate, but still what it boils down to is capturing in a moment the expression, body language and tone to communicate to the audience the character's thoughts.

Photojournalists/photographers are not actors in a play. If they are a photographer and they are shooting a scene that will be used in advertising to sell something or doing public relations for a corporation they often will assume the roll of the director. They will place the actors and create the scene to communicate all that they need to capture to move the audience to action.

If they are photojournalists they cannot take on the roll of director. They take on a different roll. The best way to describe that roll has been to be the fly on the wall. The photojournalists can fly around the room looking for a better perspective to see what is going on and then they capture moments as they happen to the later communicate to their audience what happened.

Nikon D5, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.3, 1/400
What does the novelist, playwright, director, actor, and photographer all have in common no matter their roll? Each is aware of what they are communicating and why. To move the audience you must know what you are trying to capture as a photographer.

Nikon D750, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/500
If you are a photographer you are capturing moments for which you hope they make others pause. As a photojournalist I have learned to do my research before I show up. Listen a great deal with my ears and eyes. I clarify through questions to understand the situation so that I am doing all I can to be true to the moment and not to my preconceived thoughts. I look for those moments that will capture and hopefully be the showstopper that makes you pause and absorb the moment.

I want my pictures to worth the price of admission that my clients pay to see them. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

More than just a photographer

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/800
I can relate to these boys in so many ways. What they are thinking I am not sure, but they do make me think of feeling alone even tho there are people around me.

The reasons these boys may feel isolated is quite different than my own isolation. They are living in one of the poorest nations on earth–Togo, West Africa. When you go into their homes they don't have a closet with many outfits and shoes. This maybe the only thing they have to wear or maybe one more outfit.

When I would peek into their kitchens I saw no food.

So we might interpret their expressions as related to their poverty and hunger for food. However, I believe that people hunger for true friendships that are deep with roots that bind them to others.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 5600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100
 They are looking for a nourishment that comes from deep within people.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/500
When there are people who have these deep relationships with friends they have wells within them that are overflowing and able to glow and give to others. Here you see these guys who are friends that exude happiness.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 450, ƒ/1.4, 1/250
One place I continue to find those with wells full are in the houses of worship. These people search beyond what people can give to them for even a relationship that will sustain them even more.

What I love about my profession is capturing all of this and helping to direct people to know where to find that living water that refreshes the soul. It comes from being able to be open and real with your friends. They know your flaws and you know theirs. It comes from God who is forgiving and looking for a relationship with you.

When people just see me as a photographer I feel isolated. It is when they see me for who I am and not what I do that I really connect.

I use many different skills of mine from my studies of Social Work, Education, Theology and many experiences to help people connect to the world in which they live. My ultimate goal is to connect people to deep relationships with others and I hope as well to God.

Who am I? I am another person looking for another person to go through this life together. I know I will need many people to make this journey exciting and new.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tip to make your website work for you

This is a marketing tip I learned about websites. When people come to your website they need to know what you do and then have an action item you are encouraging that they take.

This is my website and the action item is at the top in the menu. "FREE Download" is what I want people to click on to be able to get their email address and contact information. They are then enrolled in my monthly e.Newsletter and I give them the FREE Download of the "Tips for Better Photos" PDF.

They just fill out the form that you see here and then they get an email with their download link.

I am not expecting a ton of signups for this FREE Magazine/Book, but I am hoping that I get some engagement from my website that I can measure with something that I can then use.

Go to my website at to experience this and see if you think you need to do something similar for your website and then I hope you enjoy the FREE "Tips for Better Photos."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Creating the Publicity Photo for the Musical Oklahoma

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/8000
This morning we spent the time shooting promotion shots for Roswell High School's Theatre performance of Roger & Hammerstein's Oklahoma. We were shooting a variety and then we will pick the one favorite we all have for the 12' x 8' banner that we will put in front of the school.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/400
This is me and the setup for shooting the first photo that Dorie my wife took of me. Now I am shooting High Speed Sync of 1/8000 to make the sky go darker and create more of the "Big Sky" look you would have in Oklahoma.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 400, ƒ/6.3, 1/4000
This was the first photo we started shooting.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1400
Here you can see my setup. I am using [2] Alienbees B1600 for the lights. To power them I am using the Paul Buff Vagabond batteries. To trigger the lights I am using Pocketwizard AC-9 pugged into the Alienbees B1600 and then into the Pocketwizard TT5. This is receiving the signal from the Pocketwizard TT1 with the AC-3 to dial in the exposures on the camera.

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/8000
I am shooting low again to emphasize the big sky.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/640
I tried to keep it simple by not moving all around the farm but rather make use of more time at the same location and vary the camera angle.

Nikon D5, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/4000
Last night we watched the movie of Oklahoma with Shirley Jones starring as Laurey Williams. I feel like this last photo has that same look and feel of the movie.

I wonder which of these might be the banner photo we use to promote the musical Oklahoma.

Here you can get a feel for what we are creating when all the type is added.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Treat your Camera like a Pen and you will get better photos!

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 1400, ƒ/1.4, 1/200
If photographers would take photos the way they write all of their photos would most likely be ten times better in quality.

So many people just pick up their camera and point and shoot. Just try and do that with writing. Go ahead and try it. Pick up the pencil or pen and just write.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100
For those of you who use the methodology of "Spray & Pray" how is that working for you? Your percentage of a photo you like is probably better than just clicking one time and moving on.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 18-55mm, ISO 320, ƒ/4, 1/100
The famous photographer Ansel Adams first chapter in his very first book was about the concept of previsualization in photography is where the photographer can see the final print before the image has been captured. Adams is often quoted as saying “Visualization is the single most important factor in photography”.

Adams was referring to not just what was in front of the camera, but rather his interpretation of what was in front of him all the way to the print before he clicked the shutter.

The reason most photographers are not producing work like Ansel Adams is because very few have taken the time to think about what they are trying to capture and say with their photos.

Previsualization is applied to techniques such as storyboarding, either in the form of charcoal drawn sketches or in digital technology in the planning and conceptualization of movie scenery make up.

The advantage of previsualization is that it allows a director, cinematographer or VFX Supervisor to experiment with different staging and art direction options—such as lighting, camera placement and movement, stage direction and editing—without having to incur the costs of actual production. On larger budget project, the directors work with actors in visual effects department or dedicated rooms.

At the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London they have displayed the sketches which then are turned into models like here.

After they have done this then they make the actual set that will be used in the movie as you see here for Diagon Alley.

Now compare this set to the street of Cecil Court that most likely inspired J. K. Rowling for Diagon Alley.

This is why Harry Potter the movie is a little more exciting than the just point and shoot of the tourist that I was on Cecil Court. The street has been the inspiration and then the artists create their vision of what they want to use to convey a mood for a story.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000
Even in sports the creative photographer is anticipating. I am down field waiting for the action to come to me. I have thought about where I need to be and what I want to capture.


Treat the camera like the pen. Before picking it up and putting it to your eye have some idea of the sentence you are going to write. If you don't you will have only gibberish and that is why your photos don't work. You didn't know why you took the photo and no one else will either.

Take this one step further and have in your mind the caption that will accompany that photograph as well. This will help you know what you are trying to say with your photo.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Super Simple Headshots

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/200 – [2] Alienbees B1600, White Background & Lastolite Triflector silver/gold kit.
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid

Keep your gear as simple as possible so that you are able to concentrate on the people. For this headshot setup I keep it super simple.

Here is the Lastolite-Triflector reflector that I am using for the headshots.

This helps kick light under the chin and into the eyes for what I consider a very flattering light. Now the main light is a beauty dish most of the time or a white umbrella. I prefer round light modifiers for the catch lights shape.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/200 – [2] Alienbees B1600, White Background & Lastolite Triflector silver/gold kit.
The reflector is always slightly less than the main light. To soften it more just use a white rather than the silver. If you want to warm it up use a gold reflector.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/200 – [2] Alienbees B1600, White Background & Lastolite Triflector silver/gold kit.
You want the main light up about 45º above the camera lens and straight above it. This will make the light that is hitting the face to come down across it and help those cheek bones pop and give some contours to the face. Straight on to the model will kill those cheek bones and flatten out their features.

By the way I also like to use a tripod so I can glance above the camera at times to keep more of a personal connection with the people. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

How I get clean images with my Nikon D5

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Bo Scarbrough (9) hurdles a Washington Huskies defender during the first quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at the Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

Anonymous said...
very clean images for such a high ISO, .... is that because of the shutter speed? I feel like above 6400ISO (D5 - f/2.8 - MMA), my images degrade heavily
This morning this was a comment left on my last blog post. I realize that way too many people buy a camera and pull it out of a box and just shoot. The camera should give me great images.

First of all it isn't due to shutter speed. It is due to proper white balance, exposure and post production that let me get more out of the camera than many with the same camera.

Now when the Smart Phone manufacturers want to show off their camera capabilities they rarely put it in the hands of just anyone and then use those photos to sell the phone. They hire a professional. The professional not only will know how to compose, but they know how to use all those settings on the camera.

Backstage Tour

So I will take you on the backstage tour of my process. First let's see the image above as a JPEG right out of the camera first.

This is the RAW Nikon Image and then I just told the PhotoMechanic Software to generate a JPEG. This would be very close to what the camera would have produced had I had it set to save as JPEG rather than RAW.

Hopefully you can see that I rotated and cropped the image and then I did a little more work. However there is a critical step that I do that made the color look correct. I did a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc.

Here is a blog post just explaining custom white balance with the ExpoDisc.

Since I am shooting RAW I ingest all the images into Adobe Lightroom.

First after cropping the image in the editing module I correct for the lens

Second I adjust vibrance. Usually between +25 to +28. Then I adjust the exposure, highlights and shadows.

Occasionally I will adjust the noise.

When I do slide the Luminance slider I often need to sharpen the image as well. Here I am showing you that in Lightroom. Always have the image at 100% and I prefer to see the skin tones if available when doing this. I don't want to over do it and they now look plastic.

Usually this takes care of 98% of most of my workflow.

On another forum we had new Nikon D5 users talking about how horrible their noise was when shooting at high ISO.

First off, often people miss the exposure and are at least a 1 stop under exposed or over exposed. That would certainly contribute to increased noise.

Second, if the Active D-Light function features is on, that would explain why the images look flat. Now if you shot RAW then the Active D-Light function will not affect the RAW file and you can fix it. I recommend not shooting JPEGs and shooting RAW and this alone will help tremendously.

Third, I would recommend using noise reduction in post verses having it active in-camera.

Another photographer Joey Terrill did his on test and created a blog on the Nikon D5 here on noise.

Here I did my own lowlight test using just one candle as the source of light.


All cameras have many settings that can make your images look like crap or incredible. These settings were designed for all kinds of conditions. You must understand what the settings will do and then set the camera to technically get all you can out of a situation. Then you take that image into a software light Adobe Lightroom or Adobe PhotoShop and pull even more out of the RAW file.