Gregg Patrick Photography: Blog https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog en-us (C) Gregg Patrick Photography gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:35:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:35:00 GMT https://www.greggpatrick.com/img/s/v-12/u887342980-o899105487-50.jpg Gregg Patrick Photography: Blog https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog 120 86 Land of Fun https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2019/4/the-land-of-fun Last summer I was asked to create images for a book about a truly special place in Rehoboth Beach, DE -- an amusement park called Funland that has been operated by the same family since 1962.  As I learned, this boardwalk attraction has been enjoyed by many generations of families who have lived or vacationed in the area for decades.  The number of stories heard that included phrases such as "my parents brought me here and now I'm bringing my kids" are countless.  The book, "Land of Fun" has just been published so I'm able to share my cover image with you now.

In order to capture this image and others for the inside of the book, I made two trips to Funland -- the first for research purposes and to envision possible images; the second was a full day of shooting.  The author, Chris Lindsley, and I agreed that something including the iconic merry-go-round was likely the most suitable cover image.  The trick was capturing the right image.  We wanted an authentic image, not something staged.

On a busy Friday night we "camped out" near the merry-go-round watching fun-loving people of all ages hand a ride ticket to the operator and rush to get onto their favorite horse.  We would need permission from the parties photographed to publish their image in the book, so Chris and I would see someone we thought would be a good subject, approach them as they exited the ride, explain what we were doing, and offer them another (free) ride if they wanted to participate. It took a few attempts before the parents of this wonderful little girl and her younger brother agreed.

There were several elements I needed to consider when making this image:

  • We wanted parent and child as the subject to show the multi-generational appeal of Funland;
  • I needed to compose the image in a manner that would provide relatively blank areas for the title and the author's name;
  • I wanted the lights from the merry-go-round to be illuminated, so I needed to shoot with settings that would allow the background to go dark enough for the lights to glow;
  • I wanted to use studio strobe in order for the primary subject to "pop" from the rest of the image;
  • I wanted to have some blur in the image to show movement.

All of this was complicated by the fact that the merry-go-round was actually operating.  Since final composition was so important, I choose to set my lighting and focus on a particular spot, then recorded one image each time our subject came around and hit that spot.  Suffice to say, timing of the shutter release was critical.  

Both Chris and I are very pleased with the outcome.  It accomplished all that we wanted and more.  What's more?  Those florescent lights create "leading lines" that bring the readers' eye to the title and sub-title.  I had not foreseen that in my original plan, but it certainly is a nice bonus.  Additionally, I love that the American flag is visible in the background.  Amusement parks like Funland are a (dying) part of Americana, and I like that subtle reminder that Funland is an American success story.

"Land of Fun" is available for sale; you can learn more about the book and Funland,  and purchase copies here: https://www.land-of-fun.com/

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) "family vacations" "merry-go-round" "Rehoboth Beach" amusement park book cover Chris Lindsley family fun" "family entertainment" Funland Land of Fun Maryland photographer photographing a book cover Portrait photographer https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2019/4/the-land-of-fun Sat, 20 Apr 2019 16:11:58 GMT
The Shots I DON'T Have (Can You Help?) https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2018/1/the-shots-i-dont-have-can-you-help Photographers are always showcasing their most recent awesome image.  That's not what this post is about; it's about the images I DON'T have, but would love to showcase someday.  In addition to creating beautiful images for paying clients, I'm always brainstorming about epic images I'd love to create just because I want to exercise my creativity.  These images fall under the "personal project" umbrella.  In 2017 I did two such projects and two resultant images are shown below:

                

Here are just a few potential subjects on my personal projects list for 2018:

1.  A true dock-diving dog.  I'm looking for a dog that will fling himself or herself recklessly off the end of a dock in pursuit of a ball tossed into the water.  This shoot is going to require some interesting logistics as, like most of my work, I will still be using studio lighting in this watery environment!  No need to worry about safety and electrocution, just the damage to $1,000s worth of equipment.  But, hey, that's my problem and the images I have in mind from this session will be worth the risk.  But I am NOT so crazy as to attempt this at this time of year; this one will have to wait until summer.

2.  K9 officers and their handlers.  I have a great deal of respect for all police officers and I'd love to do a tribute by creating some epic environmental portraiture work for some officers.  And, since I love photographing people and their dogs, it makes sense for this shoot to be with officers from the K9 unit.  The images I have in mind would be made at night with all kinds of cool ambient (background) lighting.

3.  Performers.  I would love to work with other artists -- such as musicians or dancers -- to create images of them performing their craft in a way that adds texture and drama.  Location scouting will play a significant role in this shoot.

If you're reading this and know someone (or a dog) that fits one of these descriptions, I'd love to talk to them.  These personal projects are always a fun collaboration of talent and the participant ends up with some great images for themselves at no cost.

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) annapolis pet photographer annapolis photographer dancers dock-diving dogs k9 officers maryland pet photographer musicians personal photography projects photography https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2018/1/the-shots-i-dont-have-can-you-help Wed, 24 Jan 2018 12:30:00 GMT
Following the Rules https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2018/1/following-the-rules If you are NOT a photographer, you probably have said something like, "I don't know what makes some photographs better than others, but I know when I see one I like."

Well, there are a lot of different factors that go into making a good photographic image, but one of those is the composition -- i.e. where the various elements of the image are placed within the frame of the image.  There are various composition "rules" that have been developed over time.  These are compositions that we know are pleasing to the eye.  One of these is called "The Rule of Thirds."

The Rule of Thirds is fairly simple.  If you divide the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, the most important elements of the image should be placed along those lines.  And the most powerful position is where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect.  

Every month a group of professional pet photographers, assembling in a Facebook group called "Hair of the Dog," has a photo competition based on a different theme.  The Top 10 entries are selected from 100s of entries worldwide.  The December theme was "Rule of Thirds" and, as you've probably surmised by now, an image from yours truly was selected as one of the Top 10.

Here's the image, with the imaginary "Rule of Thirds" super-imposed upon it.

As you can see, Griffin is positioned along the line indicating the lefthand third and, most important, his face is at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical lines in the upper left.  This makes his face the most powerful element in the image and draws the viewers eye immediately.  Now look at the car; it too is positioned along one of these lines but not in as strong a position as Griffin's face.  These composition factors really help make this a successful image.  Other factors include the "leading lines" (the lines formed by the wall that lead your eye to the subject), the receding clarity (the fog in the background compared to the sharpness of the details in Griffin's face), and something we call "negative space" (the large area in the upper right that has been allowed to be left blank).

When I do a shoot for a client, I'm blocking out all of this in my mind as we shoot.  And again, during the selection consultation, I may play with the cropping of an image while explaining to the client why one crop works better than another.  This is the sort of expertise and service you'll get from me.  And this is what you should expect from any professional photographer you decide to hire.

Lastly, while these "rules" of photography will generally improve an image, any experienced photographer will tell you that there are times when it's best to break the rules.  There are simply some images that are so powerful on their own that they shatter the need to follow any rules.  The key is to know when you have such an image.

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) academy bridge photograph annapolis pet photographer annapolis photographer composition maryland maryland photographer pet photographer" photography rules rule of thirds https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2018/1/following-the-rules Wed, 10 Jan 2018 12:30:00 GMT
Wrapping Up 2017 https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2017/12/wrapping-up-2017 Another year, come and gone.  Like many people, photographers usually take a moment to reflect back on the past twelve months before charting a course for the upcoming year.  But we tend to view the past a little differently than others -- we literally see images.  I'll share some of my favorites from the year, but first a little background.

 

I was given a bit of a "wake-up call" on the health front early in 2017, so I made the conscious decision to devote more of my time to fitness activities which meant, by necessity, cutting back on time spent for photography purposes.  I was more selective about my personal photo projects and set a minimum dollar amount for paid projects.  With regard to the later I told myself, "I'm not picking up my camera for less than $X."  I know there was additional photo business that could have been had, had I not set that minimum.  But the results of the year were overwhelmingly favorable.  I really enjoyed my photography endeavors this past year.  Either I was pursuing special projects that had me excited about improving my craft, or I was creating photographic memories for others at a rate which made the hours spent worthwhile.  It's a plan I expect to continue in 2018 with one minor adjustment:  more dogs in the studio!

 

Oh, and not to be forgotten: I cycled a couple of thousand miles on the bike in 2017, dramatically improved my fitness, and lost 25 pounds.

 

My photo subjects are all seemingly over the map -- models, families, individuals, dogs, boudoir (not shown here as these are private sessions) and more.  But there is one thing that connects it all:  my passion for lighting.  I hope you'll agree that's what makes these images special.  Here are 15 of my favorite images, in chronological order, from just some of my shoots in 2017, with a brief description of each image.

 

I kicked off the year doing a "photo marathon."  I photographed 25 Hero Dogs in studio in a 5 hour long session.  I couldn't have done it without some great dog handlers!  Naturally, it was the smallest subject that stole the show -- Lucy, a Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever.  Unfortunately, Lucy has since been discharged from the training program due to a medical condition.

While we're on the topic of service dogs: this is Neon, in training to become a member of the Guiding Eyes for the Blind team.  We "puppy sat" Neon for a few days and, naturally, I did a studio session with him while he was here.  The studio lights would be a great addition to his distraction training I told myself.  Ha!  I just wanted to photograph this near perfect Lab.

This image made the "Best of" list for a different reason -- it's what's going on behind the image that was important to me.  I visited my oldest brother, Scott, in April.  His passion is building and flying large scale model planes.  This is one of his.  To put this scale in perspective, the wingspan is about 6-7 feet.  We went to the airfield so he could show me his hobby and I brought along photo equipment, including strobe lights.  To get this image I hoisted a strobe onto a light stand and extended it into the air as far as it would go -- about 20'.  Scott would make "passes" as close to the light as he dared and I'd be firing away.  So there you have it -- two brothers, playing, each doing the thing they love most.  Still kids, just more expensive toys!

One of several model portfolio sessions I did in 2017, this one with Sophia was particularly fun as I had the opportunity to play with colored gels on my lighting.

I'll photograph any dog that's up for adoption for free.  I usually do that in-studio, but Scout's foster family lives on the water so it presented a nice opportunity to do something more.  Suffice to say, this image produced a lot of attention for him!  

This is from one of many client shoots and it's included here for one simple reason: for once nature cooperated and we got a beautiful sunset during a client session!

I was doing a model shoot on a rooftop lounge in DC when Hayley saw this chair and immediately developed this photo concept.  Who was I to argue?  All I had to do was figure out a lighting set-up that would make the image pop.

In July I was contacted by a young lady and her mother.  Lauren wants to get into acting (and perhaps some modeling) and needed headshots.  It was a joy to work with this fresh, young talent.  She's a real natural in front of the camera.

This image was a surprise.  I attended a 50th birthday celebration for a co-worker'swife.  They are originally from Nigeria and most of their female guest wore traditional dresses to this event.  I had brought just one lens and one flash, but made the most of it with some artistic editing.

A goal in 2017 was to do more creative environmental portraits.  This was one such portrait I did as a personal project.  Ana Miller competes in triathlons all across the country and I wanted an image that captured her in that element.

Immediately following the project above, I did another environmental portrait with Naomi Littlefield.  A musician, she had recently taken up the flute again after many years of not playing it.  She told me it was a "rebirth" for her, hence the concept for this image.

Kimberley is a competitive body builder but asked me to do some non-athletic images of her.  She wanted them made immediately following a competition, so we set up a sunrise shoot the day after one of her events.  The first time ever I've had someone willing to get up at "oh-dark-thirty" for their photo shoot!

This is simply one of my favorite dog images of the year.  Lola is such a beautiful Aussie!  And she was born to model; she loved to pose for the camera.  Or she was just really mesmerized by that weird human making all those funny noises from behind that big, black thing in front of his face.

This image was made in one of the old batteries in the Presidio next to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  This young man, Kian, is one of two wonderful children of a very good friend of mine.

I wrapped up the year with a studio session with this charismatic pup, Rocky.

That's 15 of my favorite images of the year, but wait!  None of them include my favorite model of all, Griffin.  So, without any explanation needed, here are my top 5 of Griffin from 2017.

 

Lastly, I leave you with one last image, a behind-the-scenes photo that marks an appropriate ending to this blog post, and the year.  Wishing all my followers a very happy new year!

 

 

 

 

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) annapolis pet photographer annapolis photographer creative photography lighting environmental portraits maryland model portfolio photographer maryland pet photographer maryland photographer https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2017/12/wrapping-up-2017 Wed, 27 Dec 2017 11:00:00 GMT
Set Your Dog Free! (in Photoshop) https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2017/5/set-your-dog-free-in-photoshop As a Maryland photographer specializing in pets, I hear it all the time.  People see my images of dogs standing alone against a beautiful natural landscape or a cool urban setting and say, “I could never have my dog off leash like that outdoors.  He’d be gone in a second!”

Truth is, almost none of my photo images are made with the dog off-leash – even some studio images are made with the dog being controlled on leash.  I keep dogs on a leash or long-line and remove it later in the editing process.  Heck, sometime I even remove entire humans who are next to the dog, holding him/her in place!  I do it this way primarily for safety reasons, but it also necessary for the style of images I produce.  I shoot almost everything with studio lighting – even outdoor images.  That’s what sets my images apart and makes me one of Maryland’s premier pet photographers.  As a result, I need my subject to stay where the lights are placed/aimed and I’ve found very few animals that can follow instructions like, “OK, now move one foot to your left.”  Actually, none of them can follow directions like that.  Not even my guy, Griffin, who is a modeling pro!  Leashes provide both safety and control so that everyone -- the dog, the owner and the photographer -- can remain calm during the shoot.  Safety should be rule #1 for any pet photographer you hire.

So, here are a few examples of leash removal from my pet photography. 

During this shoot, we wanted to depict a little of Paris’ past (she was picked up as a stray and later adopted) and capture what is somewhat of a local iconic roadway -- the Academy Bridge in Annapolis, MD.  No matter what sort of “stay” command Paris did or did not have, I wouldn’t have thought for a second to rely on that next to a busy roadway like this.  She was tied – tightly – to the railing on the bridge.  But once that’s removed, it makes for a very cool image…

Scout was being handled during this shoot by his foster-sister, Mollie.  I wasn’t quite ready to begin this portion of the session, but when Scout struck that pose there was no time to reposition Mollie.  I started shooting and then, using another image in which Mollie had moved off the bench, cleaned things up in the editing process afterwards.

This is Neon, a Lab being raised in the Guiding Eyes for the Blind program.  As you might expect, even at the young age of nine months he has some excellent obedience skills but I never even considered taking advantage of that.  The winds were howling this day and occasionally a leaf or something would go flying past Neon and he'd break his stay and give chase.  I was working alone so, in this case, I put Neon on a long line that was attached to a sturdy post, just outside of the frame to the viewer’s left.

In this last image I didn’t remove the leash/long-line, I just hid it.  Bonnie, who has enough energy to power a small town, wanted to do nothing more than go leaping and bounding through all these tall grasses.  So I put her on a long leash that was connected to a stake that I had screwed into the ground among the grasses behind her.

In short, don’t think that you need to have an exceptionally well trained dog to get images like these.  We can make big, bold, beautiful, epic images that’ll become the center of conversation in your family room whether your pup has a world-class “stay,” or simply sees the outside world as his/her personal playground.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we make certain all the pups do get time to relax, run and play during the photo shoots too!

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) Annapolis pet photographer Annapolis photographer Maryland pet photographer Maryland photographer pet photographer portrait photographer https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2017/5/set-your-dog-free-in-photoshop Fri, 26 May 2017 16:41:26 GMT
My Favorite Images https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2016/7/my-favorite-images I love making environmental portraits and have acquired photo equipment with that specific purpose in mind.  What does that mean?  

An "environmental portrait" is more than just a picture taken outdoors.  First and foremost, it's a PORTRAIT.  That is, it's an image of a person, persons or (as I am known to include) an animal that places the photographic emphasis on the subject.  That emphasis can be created in different ways, but my preferred style is by the use of lighting (more on that later).  The surrounding environment in the image is there to add context; it plays a secondary, but important, role in the portrait image.  The context it provides should be a reflection of the heart and sole of the subject, whether directly (think: actor photographed in a theater) or through just the mood which the environment creates.  No matter the subject and the environment, when I'm making these images I'm envisioning them as wall art.  That is, I am striving to create an image that will be produced in large format and hung proudly in the subject's home, as any good portrait should be.

My photo gear has been selected almost entirely with this type of image in mind.  Most important, is my ability to take studio "portrait" lighting anywhere.  That means using studio strobes that are battery operated.  Recognize that in order for the photographer to truly control the light outside, we need strobe lights that create a light that is brighter than the natural sunlight.  Fortunately, today's technology allows manufacturers to make battery operated strobe lights that have sufficient power to do exactly that.  But that's not all.  I need to control and shape the light.  So when I arrive on location for a shoot you'll see me pulling all sorts of things out of the trunk of my car -- soft boxes, beauty dishes, umbrellas, snoots, grids, reflectors, and more.  Different images require different modification of the light and there is a tool for every job.

Secondly, I've selected lenses that are known to be flattering to humans and also create beautiful, blurred backgrounds (referred to as "bokeh" by photographers).  Longer focal lengths generally make individuals appear slimmer.  For dogs, I often go in the opposite direction -- short focal lengths that allow me to work close to the dog (for control) while still capturing lots of the surrounding environment.  These short focal lengths also add an essence of caricature to these images, which we generally like when photographing our goofy, furry friends.  Besides, dogs never complain that their nose looks too big!

Notice I haven't yet mentioned my actual camera.  Proper lighting equipment and lenses are far more important.  Frankly, any decent DSLR camera body can capture the information coming in through the lens.  But like everything, it's "garbage in/garbage out."  If the lighting isn't right, or the lens isn't doing a good job of transferring what it sees to the camera's sensor....well, game over.  That said, I use pretty darn good Nikon camera bodies to compliment all the Nikon "glass" in which I've invested.

All in all, I estimate that I carry about $20,000 worth of gear to a shoot -- all so that I can capture a uniquely stunning portrait that my clients will cherish forever.  To me, it's worth every penny to see the reaction clients have to their images.

Have a child, dog, or other family member that you'd like to capture in a very special environmental portrait?  Please call me at 443-326-2050.  Mention this blog post and I'll offer a special discount for any portrait session booked in August.  Additionally, please know that I offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  If you're not happy with the images, there is no charge.

 

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) Annapolis Pet Photographer Annapolis photographer Environmental Portraits Portrait Photographer https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2016/7/my-favorite-images Wed, 20 Jul 2016 19:24:37 GMT
Call Me When the Weather Gets Nasty https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/12/call-me-when-the-weather-gets-nasty I love inclement weather for photo sessions!  Some of my most dramatic and memorable images are due to a weather forecast that is something less than "sunny and blue skies."  I pride myself in making the effort to get outdoors and make images when one's natural instinct is to grab a favorite beverage and relax in front of the fire or television.

 

That was the case on Christmas day, 2015.  The temperature was mild, but otherwise it was a dreary day.  Given the weather and the spirit of the day, it would have been perfectly acceptable to sit in the house, enjoy my wife's holiday cooking, grab a beer and watch some football.  Instead, I forced myself to load the gear into the car, brush Griffin, and head out.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there was much more fog near the water than there was at our house.  Suddenly, I was excited about making some images.

 

We "played" with the Academy Bridge, which connects Annapolis and the Naval Academy with the Broadneck peninsula, using it's sweeping curves and receding light poles that faded into the fog to create an interesting sense of perspective.  At first, we were on the bridge where the sight of lightstands and a dog that poses was catching the eye of every passerby (lots of runners and cyclist out taking advantage of the warm temperature).  Then we headed under the bridge.  It was there that I decided to use a lighting technique that enables the photographer to "kill" the ambient light, while maintaining a proper exposure on the subject.  When taken to its extreme, this technique can literally turn day into night.  The result is this image, made at 1:30pm.  Except for some minor tweaking and cropping, this image is essentially SOOC (straight out of camera).

 

Because of my efforts, I now have an image of Griffin that is unlike any other, and certainly much different from a typical pet portrait.  Unfortunately, photo sessions like this can't be planned in advance with a client, but it does suggest that if the day you've scheduled for your photo session is less than "perfect," don't fret.  A good photographer can use that to your advantage.

 

I've always thought it would be possible to have clients that want to be on a "dramatic weather call list."  These would be people who are local and would love to have an equally dramatic portrait of their dog and/or family members.  They'd be willing and able to drop what they're doing when the situation presents itself and head out for a very special photo session.  What do you think?  Would it work?

 

If you're reading this and are in the Annapolis area, please let me know if you'd like to be on such a call list.

 

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) academy bridge annapolis pet photographer annapolis photographer maryland photographer photographing fog https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/12/call-me-when-the-weather-gets-nasty Sun, 27 Dec 2015 19:32:50 GMT
Time Passes https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/11/time-passes A girlfriend of mine once grabbed my camera and took some pictures of me when I had just returned from a run and was washing my car.  I complained at the time that I looked terrible -- soaking in sweat.  I distinctly recall her saying, "Trust me, one day you will be very happy you have these images."  That day has come.  I don't think I'll ever again have the fitness -- and the physique -- that is evident in those images.

 

Photographs truly capture time.  I think that is why we are so consumed by them.  They provide a means of stopping time so that we can revisit a moment many years later.  With that in mind, I think it is particularly important that we capture and preserve quality images of those that are close to our hearts while they are young because, as we all know, they change swiftly at that age.

 

Whether it is a growing child...

 

Child PortraitChild PortraitChild Portrait

 

Or a furry, four-legged family member who is greying...

 

Nikon D600

 

Make certain you have some quality images.  How soon after these images were taken would it have been impossible to replicate them?  A few weeks?  A couple of months?

 

In today's digital world, capturing the moment is only the first step.  Equally important, have them professionally printed with archival inks and paper.  Prints are, undoubtably, the best way to preserve and enjoy your photographs in the years to come.  Imagine if all your best images from years past were stored on a floppy disk.  Could you even access them today?

 

Naturally, I'd like to be the photographer you select and trust to capture those moments, before the time passes.

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) annapolis pet photographer annapolis photographer child children's photographer maryland photographer pet photographer photography of a german shepherd portrait portraits time https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/11/time-passes Sat, 28 Nov 2015 03:33:58 GMT
Creating Photographic Art https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/11/creating-photographic-art To be honest, I was tempted to title this post something like "Why You Need a Pro Photographer" or "Simply Having a DSLR Doesn't Cut It."  You see, while technology has advanced to a point where just about anyone with a DSLR camera can capture a well exposed image, that doesn't mean anyone can create a photograph that is truly worthy of becoming wall art.

 

For example, take this image.  This photo is SOOC (straight-out-of-camera) based on the settings that the computer in the camera thought were correct in aperture-priority mode.  An image like this is the first step I take to make a final image.  I'm not concerned at all about the dog's expression at this point; I'm not taking these images with the intent of actually using them; I'm just beginning to find the camera settings that'll give me the exposure I want.

For a typical amateur photographer, the above image may be the final result.  But for me this image represents just a starting point.  Note that while the exposure on the dog's face is OK, the colors in the background are washed out.    When exposing the above image I selected the aperture I knew I wanted to use in the final image (among other things, the choice of aperture effects which parts of the image are in focus, or not) and I let the camera select what it thought was the correct shutter speed, given that aperture setting.  That shutter speed tells me, in very rough fashion, where I'll want to start before making adjustments for the final image.

 

In this next image, I've changed the camera to "manual" mode so that I can override the camera's computer and have made an adjustment to the shutter speed.  In doing so, I'm looking for the correct exposure for the background, not the dog.

 

 

In this second image you see I've begun to bring the color back in the leaves and the background.  I've lost all details in the portion of the dog that is in shadow, but at this point that is irrelevant.  I know I'm going to be lighting that side of the dog with the portable studio lighting I've carried to this location, but I haven't turned on the lighting yet.  At this point in the process I'm still not concerned with the dog's expression, but in this case Jade was looking very majestic anyway.

 

Finally, I've determined the camera and light settings I want.  Only now do I begin taking photos that I know may be used in the final presentation to the client.  For the final image below I've made adjustments to my position for what I think is a more dramatic composition.  In Photoshop, I've spent additional time to remove the leash and add what I refer to as my "special sauce" to enhanced the beautiful fall colors.  The later is a technique/style that I have developed over the years and, frankly, is my own "trade secret" that I do not share.

 

 

The final image is one that I know the owners will want printed large, framed, and hung in a prominent place.  It will become a very personal piece of the wall art they have on display in their home -- both beautiful and meaningful.

 

Making exceptional images takes planning, thought, expertise, and skill.  When you hire a professional photographer, you are hiring someone who has spent countless hours -- perhaps years -- to acquire the knowledge and skill to make the ordinary appear extraordinary, and capture that in a photograph that you'll cherish for a lifetime.  The time they've invested to perfect their craft is what makes an artist a professional and, if you've made your selection carefully, that will be evident in the results they deliver to you.

 

 

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) Annapolis Pet Photographer Annapolis photographer Photography Photography blog Photography of a German Shepherd Photography technique https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/11/creating-photographic-art Mon, 23 Nov 2015 00:00:43 GMT
Giving Back (in a New Way) https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/4/giving-back-in-a-new-way Those of you who know me personally or follow my work closely will know that I am a proud member of HeARTs Speak, a group of artist that donate their time/talent to help homeless animals find homes.  (In fact, it was through HeARTs Speak that the Petco Foundation recently discovered my work and selected me to be one of just 14 pet photographers nationwide to create images for their 2016 fundraising calendar.)  This past weekend I had the good fortune of being able to give back in a very different manner, although it undoubtedly included someone who spoke from the heart.

 

I spent this past weekend in NYC with my daughter, Chelsea.  We had plans to see a Broadway show on Saturday evening and had spent most of that afternoon in lower Manhattan.  Among other things, we visited the 9/11 Memorial.  I was working in New York on that September day and remember the events of the day vividly.  As we walked the grounds of the memorial Chelsea recounted a friend’s father that never returned home that evening.  There were so many families that were shattered that day and, fortunately, ours was not.  Needless to say, I’m extremely thankful for that and as I made a few images at the memorial, I felt sadness for each of the names I read.  We learned from a passing tour guide that the white roses are inserted by volunteers into an individual’s name on their birthday.

 

 

We walked through the financial district some and then caught the #4 train uptown and excited at Grand Central Station.  Before leaving the subway, we spotted a young boy playing an electric keyboard, with his father/agent standing nearby.  Naturally, I took a few pictures – significant only because it caused me to take my camera gear out and enabled what happened next to happen.

 

As we strolled through Grand Central on our way to dinner in the theater district, Chelsea suddenly said, “Hey, that guy just proposed!”

 

“Where?”

 

“That couple over there,” she said as she pointed me in the right direction.

 

The absolute first thing that came to my mind was I want to capture this for them.  There was no time to make any camera adjustments or lens selection; I just started pressing the shutter.  I was using a Nikkor 105DC F/2 on my D600 and the camera was set to aperture-priority.  I checked the first image on the screen…dark...so I popped the flash.  In the end the exposure was f/2 @ 1/60th; ISO was 640. Not ideal, a little slow, I had to make some adjustments in Lightroom (fortunately I was shooting RAW files), but it worked.

 

The guy (his name is Tim I would learn later) had already risen from his knee, but I was able to capture the couple’s immediate reaction to his proposal – the excitement, surprise, disbelief, joy and, yes, the love.  She (Amanda) had obviously said “YES!”

 

Nikon D600

 

Nikon D600

 

Nikon D600

Nikon D600

 

I asked them for just one “posed” portrait, then handed them my business card and let them know I’d be happy to share what I had captured.  There are professional photographers that specialize in capturing such surprise proposals, but Tim had not arranged that.

 

Nikon D600

 

I’ve since learned that Grand Central Station has always been one of Amanda’s favorite places.  Conversely, despite the fact that he is from Long Island, Tim had never been to GCS until he started dating Amanda more than a year ago and she took him there.  Tim thought that since so many people start a journey from Grand Central, it was a fitting place to start their own.

 

I’ve spent the last two years developing a photography business with paying customers, but I couldn’t be happier to give Tim and Amanda these images.  They have told me they feel incredibly fortunate that I was there to capture this very special moment in their lives, but I feel equally fortunate to have been able to capture what will ultimately be great memories for these two people.  The satisfaction I feel to be able to provide something so rare, so special, so irreplaceable, is hard to describe.

 

This is one of those stories that causes me to wonder, “what if?”  What if we hadn’t caught that train uptown?  What if we hadn’t stopped to watch and photograph that boy playing in the subway.  What if Tim had hesitated and proposed a minute later?  What if Chelsea had been looking in another direction and missed the proposal altogether?  I am hoping that the luck that caused all these elements to come together and put me in the right place at the right time is an omen of good things for Tim and Amanda in the future.

 

For me this experience this serves as a reminder that life in New York moves on after 9/11 in some very positive ways.  Although I’ve pledged never to forget the tragedy of 9/11/2001, I will also always remember the joy I saw in NYC on 4/26/2015.  Thank you Tim and Amanda.  Wishing you a long and very happy journey together!

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) Annapolis photographer Grand Central Station Marriage Proposal Maryland Photographer New York City Photography Romance https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/4/giving-back-in-a-new-way Wed, 29 Apr 2015 15:21:38 GMT
Just Showing Up https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/3/just-showing-up Woody Allen once said, "80% of success is showing up."  Similarly, I saw a print ad for Volvo today with the headline, "Great stories never begin: Well, we decided to stay at home and..."  Those sentiments are true, to a large degree, for photographers.  If we're not out there with our cameras, nothing good is likely to happen.

I remind myself this whenever I'm hesitating to load the car with gear and head out for the chance that the sunset will be dramatic and I'll be there to capture something special.  You see, my studio gear and the gear I use for location sessions is one in the same.  So to capture the type of images I want (and am becoming known for), I literally have to break down my studio, back it up, load it into the car, drive, unload, set up, do the shoot, put it all back in the car, then unload and set up my studio again when I return home.  In short, it's a pain in the you-know-what.

But, had I not fought that urge to be lazy and made the effort instead last Wednesday evening, I would have missed the opportunity to make this image:

If you've followed my photography at all, you know that I must have thousands of images of my own dog.  And I do.  Still, I'm ecstatic over this particular one.  Everything came together beautifully in this -- the sunset colors, the clouds, the ice flow, Griffin's pose and, of course, the lighting/exposure.  There's a good chance I will NEVER have the opportunity to make a similar image again.  In fact, I drove by the very next evening and noticed that the ice flow was completely gone.  It had either been blown out of the river or had melted.  Either way, a mere 24 hours later and an important element of this image was gone.

Admittedly, it took a little more than just "showing up" to get this image.  But that's the starting point.  Only after that does one's talent and craft have an opportunity to go to work.

I had a similar, but slightly different experience the very next evening.  Excited by the outcome on Wednesday evening, I made the effort again on Thursday.  Without a paying client, I took Griffin as my model and planned to just experiment with some different things.  As a result, I was there, on the dock of the St. John's boathouse overlooking College Creek when this developed.

Nikon D600

 

Had I been satisfied with the what is arguably one of the best images I've ever made of Griffin on the previous night, I would have missed this.  Even if I had been sitting at home and seen this sunset developing, it would have been over by the time I got to this or any other good spot.  And yet, "just show up" isn't the only lesson this image reminds me to heed.  I was there intent on capturing another great image of Griffin and I can easily become myopic in the pursuit of an image like that.  So, believe it or not, it did not come naturally to me to say to myself, "to hell with the dog, capture this sunset!"  But I was able to recognize that just in time on this particular evening.  If it had taken me just a few seconds more to come to this realization, I would have missed the ducks that flew perfectly into frame.  Lesson #2:  "Don't get hung up on The Plan."

I used to do a lot of landscape photography but haven't done so in years.  And I rarely shoot anything these days without adding my own light.  So this is quiet a variation from my norm these days, but I'm delighted to have captured this image and be able to share it with friends.

So there you have it:  get off the couch and just show up somewhere.  There's a very good chance it'll lead to success of some sort...well, an 80% chance anyway, if you believe Woody Allen.

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) Annapolis pet photographer Annapolis photographer Maryland pet photographer Pet photography Photography Woody Allen dramatic pet photographs dramatic pet portraits just show up sunset photography sunsets https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/3/just-showing-up Tue, 17 Mar 2015 01:33:12 GMT
And so it begins...my blog https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/3/and-so-it-begins It's March 1 and a Sunday, the start of a new week and a new month.  Seems like a good time to start a new habit; specifically, blogging about my photography work.

The weather this weekend didn't lend itself to a lot of actual shooting.  (Well, it wasn't inspiring to me anyway.  I'm sure there was someone else that was out there making beautiful images.)  Instead, I spent a fair amount of time in front of the computer studying various sources of information to improve my photo techniques, photo processing, photo business/marketing, etc.  Of particular note, I spent a fair amount of time working on my retouching skills in Photoshop.  As I endeavor to make special images of people, or people and their four-legged companions, the ability to make adjustments to skin tone and texture become much more valuable.  After practicing a bit, I set out to apply all that I had learned to just one image today.  You can see it below.

Now Chera is a beautiful woman and Bram is a gorgeous young boy, but studio lighting can bring out every flaw and, frankly, I don't always catch every bad shadow that's being cast while shooting.  So, unlike photographing the fur in dogs, which is fairly forgiving, human skin typically needs a little "help" to look its best.  I'm far from being a retouch professional (there are people who do just that, full-time, for high-end glamour photography) and I'm sure the changes I've made here could be made even better, but I think they get the job done.  My goal is to make adjustments, but NOT to the extent that I completely change the look of the person or eliminate distinguishing features.  Of course, what woman doesn't want to lose a few wrinkles and look a little younger?  So there is some of that involved.

You can see the before (left image) and after (right image) below.  Feel free to give me your own critique!

 

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gregg@greggpatrick.com (Gregg Patrick Photography) Annapolis family photographer Annapolis photographer Maryland portrait photographer Photography Photoshop Portrait photographer color corrections frequency separation photo retouching https://www.greggpatrick.com/blog/2015/3/and-so-it-begins Mon, 02 Mar 2015 03:59:38 GMT