Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Don’t pack up and go home after you’ve shot that beautiful sunset. There are still plenty of things to shoot! Grab a tripod, a fast lens and start looking.


For this photo of Stage Center, I got up in a parking garage across the intersection with a tripod, a 35mm lens on a Canon 6D, set at iso 200 f8 and exposed for 20 secs. The power was off at Stage Center, so when I exposed for it, the rest of the surroundings were overexposed, creating an almost infrared looking effect.

img_2542Night downtown

I came across this shot along Broadway walking back from Deep Deuce and didn’t have a tripod with me, so I improvised finding a strong pole to brace the camera against. Canon M5 with Kodak Extar 24mm movie lens at f1.9 iso 400 1/4 sec. The lens doesn’t cover the entire frame, hence the heavy corner vignetting. Do yo like the color or black and white better?

Festival of the Arts

While I had planned on shooting this photo of the Festival of the Arts from the roof terrace at OKCMOA, I had been walking around the festival for a couple hours, so I didn’t carry a tripod. To steady this 1/2 sec. exposure, I sat the camera on the granite railing around the terrace. Rock steady! I used the Canon M5 with a Rokinon 12mm lens at f8 iso 200.

Plaza District

Sometimes light happens and you just go with whatever you have. I came out of an assignment at Lyric in the Plaza District to find it had just rained. I had a Canon M5 with the trusty 22mm lens and exposed at iso 800 f2 1/200 sec. hand held without bracing myself against anything, which is why I used a higher shutter speed. With APS-C chip, your depth of field is wider than full frame, allowing me to get most of the image sharp even at f2. Careful standing in the street! While pedestrians have the right of way, if they don’t see you, it won’t matter!


Outdoor movies are cool, but it has to be dark to watch them! I was shooting my Canon M5 at iso 1600 with the 22mm lens, and waiting for the best balance of the crowd, buildings and screen. This exposure was 1/80 sec f2. Thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, I was able to bring the screen down to match the rest of the frame. Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Keep shooting!



Cheap tricks…

A common trap people starting out in photography fall into is shooting everything with front light. A quick “cheap trick” to add pop to your photos is to shoot a silhouette. Align your subject against a clean, bright background and expose for the background. You don’t need to shoot manual!!! I shoot 95% of my photos with AE-Aperture Preferred auto. Just dial -2 stops into your exposure compensation dial and shoot away. Wide apertures also help to isolate the subject from the background.

An added feature of shooting “wide open” is the bokeh effect in the background.

Silhouettes can add depth to your photos too.

Find the good light and make photos!


When do I break the rules…

As in all of art, photography has a set of rules all it’s own in addition to the larger sets of rules: design, color, composition. Photography’s rules have more to do with exposing the image. Use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the subject. Use the lowest iso you can to improve the quality and reduce noise and grain. Focus on the subject and use a plenty of depth of field to keep things sharp. The “Program” setting on cameras with automatic is designed take care of all those in one setting. And for most people starting out, it is the safe way to get good photos, letting the camera do the work. But the art of photography doesn’t really start until you get off program and learn how the shutter speed, iso, f-stop and focus work. Then you can use those basics to manipulate the images to what your vision allows.

For this image from Bricktown I wanted to add to the feeling of dark deserted buildings. Using a vintage 16mm movie lens on my Canon M5 causes vignetting in the corners, I intentionally raised the iso to the highest settings, iso 25,000, and underexposed 1 stop. This gave the image the raw “early day” spooky look I was after.

One of my favorite techniques is to use a slow shutter speed which blurs the image. I compare the technique to that of the impressionist painters. Blurring color and shapes and creating new emotion and feeling.

In the car photo I used panning, following the subject with the lens, to create the blur of Christmas lights in the background. I panned the camera against a stationary object, the Crystal Bridge at the Myriad Gardens, to create an abstract, and rotated the camera on the lens axis to create the spinning tree.

All of these images came about because I learned the “rules” and then made the decision to “break” them. Get of Program and break some rules!


Keep your eyes on the…

I’ve said before, but my vision is “always on”. While I’m walking, driving, sitting. This gets to be a challenge while driving!

Recently on the way home from The Oklahoman, while stopped for a light, I looked to the side and noticed a manhole cover ajar. When the light turned green, I advanced to a place to park and got out with my camera and captured this.

Shot in color, but chose black and white to add to the power of the design.

While heading back to the office after stretching my legs, I found this.

I used my iPhone. Again converted to black and white to emphasize the design.

Curious minds see photos.

– Doug

Let’s get this rolling

Well, since my big things in the works, things got crazy. I had two solo shows, one at PhotoArt Studio in the Plaza, one in the South Gallery of the Crystal Bridge and and had my work shown at JRB Art at the Elms Gallery in the Paseo, all in very quick succession, then plop, nothing.

Well, I’m rolling again with my photographic art, so I hope to get this going consistently again.

Let’s give it a shot…

– Doug

Big things coming!

Quick post.

Lots of stuff on my plate right now, keep checking for something big coming in February.

Helped Karen move out of Honky Tonk Girl Dec. 29. Sorry things didn’t work out for her, but I am sure grateful for the opportunity she gave me to get the fine art photography going. I will still have a couple of photographs in the Avalon Building in Paseo, but they are down the hall at Bonedust Oklahoma. Jayme loves The Kiss and The Lookout in the rough wood frames, so she is going to be carrying them. Bonedust has lots of great stuff, I can’t go in there without falling in love with something, and it always seems to be the right size. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you!

Going through my work trying to get some organization to it and doing some hard editing for some things I want to do down the road. Stay on the road with me, and I promise it’ll be fun!


High Key


High Key can create some interesting translucent affects when done right with good lenses and proper exposure.

I built a mini studio on my kitchen table for a series of flowers and seeds one afternoon and did it again months later to photograph Monarch wings.

It is simple to construct. The first time I used several sheets of plain white letter paper, a piece of 8×10 glass I removed from a frame, some bricks, a macro lens and a couple of off camera flashes.

I laid the paper flat on the table, stacked the bricks on the sides, placed the glass on them, securing with some tape so it wouldn’t shift, then placed two of my Canon 580EX strobes on two more bricks and aimed the heads at the paper. I used an Off Shoe Cord to fire one and the other is set for “Slave”. I then set the flash exposure compensation dial to the highest setting on the over-exposure side. That will render the white as white and give the subjects the translucent quality.


I modified the set some for the butterfly wings. I used an upside down aquarium as the platform, a white photo reflector underneath for the background and then found two small boxes the same size to set the strobes on and aimed them through the glass walls of the aquarium.


I then cropped, added a frame and adjusted the contrast of the single wing photo using “Snapseed” on my iPhone 4s to complete the look.

Just as I envisioned it.