Monthly Archives April 2009


Thanks to everyone who “Beta tested” my new portfolio yesterday, and shared their ideas on how to improve the experience. I didn’t mention that it was a beta test because…well…I didn’t know it was a beta test, but it clearly had a number of issues I hadn’t caught (mostly caused by me), and poor RC Concepcion wound up spending the day (and night) yesterday going into Flash and making all the edits and fixes.

To give you a peek into RC’s World, take a took at the screen capture above. That’s the template in Flash. Notice that the text is actually backwards and turned on its side (click on it for a larger view)—that is how RC has had to edit this site. He truly is a Flash hero! (and a great friend for putting up with all this on my behalf).

Anyway, posting the portfolio created so many comments, suggestions and questions, that I thought I’d follow-up with this quick Q&A. Here we go:

Q. Where did the original Web gallery template come from?
A. I bought it from a site named “” for around $79. What you saw yesterday was their template simply updated with my images. The effects, the transitions, the music, the sound fx—-those were the defaults built into the template.

Q. But we hate all those effects, and sounds!
A. I know. I read your comments. RC was able to edit the template so at least the background music doesn’t play automatically when you come to the site. However, the musical note icon makes it look like the music is playing when it’s actually not. Then if you click the musical note, nothing happens (it’s still off). If you click it once again—the music then comes on (so, to hear the background music, click the note twice). Also, thankfully he was able to kill the little sound effect that played when you changed photos.

Q. What about the Next and Prev buttons that appeared over the photos? They’re incredibly distracting.
A. I hear ya, and I’m very fortunate that RC was able to find a way to remove them, and still keep some of the functionality. Now, once the photo is open at the larger size, if you click anywhere on the photo itself, it brings up the next photo. There is no “Prev” button at this point, but I’m OK with that—at least those two button are gone.

Q. What about those transitions?
A. Well, they’re less obtrusive than they used to be, and so far we haven’t gotten rid of them completely, but RC is working on it. They don’t stand out nearly as much as they did, but I agree—they should probably go (if we can just figure out how!).

Q. What was with all the “Lorem Ipsum” text?
A. That was the placeholder text in the template. We didn’t realize that when you got to the end of a category, that Lorem Ipsum text started to appear. That’s fixed now (thanks RC!).

Q. Hey, ya know Tiger was actually hitting a 4-iron—not a 7-iron!
A. I know. It was just about the #1 most-mentioned comment from yesterday. I wrote the captions very late at night. I’m surprised I didn’t call it a putter.

Q. What about all the other typos? Like the wrong copyright date, and the missing quotation mark, and all that stuff?”
A. RC got those taken care of yesterday, too. Those were all totally 100% my fault. From now on I should write all captions during broad daylight.

Q. Can you set it up so when you click on your logo, it returns the reader to your blog?
A. Yup—RC got that taken care of last night, too.

Q. Was the template easy to update and maintain?
A. It was like squeezing toothpaste back into the tube. I don’t know what they could have done to make it more complex (see the screen capture up top). Unless you have an “RC” that can help you, make sure you buy a gallery template with an XML back-end (where you can update and maintain the gallery from a regular Web page, rather than having to be a Flash expert who can read backwards and sideways). This turned out to be the most expensive $79 I’ve ever spent.

Q. I saw a couple of people who said they thought the photos looked jaggy. What’s with that?
A. If you’re viewing the portfolio on a standard Web browser, they should look sharp and crisp. If you followed the link to the .swf file that a reader posted yesterday, then it expands to fill the screen, which artificially enlarges the images, which makes them look pixelated. At regular size and view, they look fine.

Q. A lot of people said they just didn’t like the design of the portfolio. Did you take their advice?
A. We fixed as many things as we possibly could, taking every suggestion and idea into account, and I think it’s much improved today (here’s the link in case you want to compare the updated and edit version to what you saw yesterday).

Q. Did anyone like the new portfolio?
A. I took the day off yesterday, and took my family to Busch Gardens Adventure Park in Tampa. Right after lunch I got a text message on my phone from a photographer who didn’t point out typos, or complain about the transitions, or complain about anything. He just wrote, “Love the new portfolio you put up. It’s terrific!” It was from Joe McNally.

Q. So, how do you feel about the new look?
A. Obviously, I chose it to replace my old one, so I must have liked it, but I like it much better now that your suggestions and ideas have been put in place. I could have saved myself a lot of grief if I had thought to send the portfolio to Terry White first, before releasing it publicly. He’s brilliant at testing sites for usability, and he would have caught a bunch of those things right off the bat (and as it turned out, he came up with some great ideas last night, too!). The things I do like about the new look are:

(a) I like the thumbnail layout, and that you can see full thumbnails of all the images in each particular gallery.

(b) I like that some of the thumbnails can be larger “feature” thumbnails to highlight your favorites

(c) I like that you can write a caption for each photo

(d) I like that you can view individual images, or click-thru a slideshow

(e) I like the little bit of motion that’s there now. Things don’t feel so static that way (but that’s just me).

(f) I like that you can see a black and white version of any photo by placing your cursor over the thumbnail.

(g) I think it has a pleasing over-all look, but again—that’s just me.

Q. How likely are you to try another new portfolio look anytime soon?
A. Not bloody likely!

Seriously though—thanks to everyone who helped me improve the online gallery. I don’t expect everyone to like any gallery I put up there (after all; not everyone liked the old gallery—especially me).

I think ideally you want a gallery that doesn’t distract the viewer from the images, that doesn’t have a bunch of sound fx, but at the same time, personally I want a gallery that has a nice layout and is fun to use. I think this newly modified template hits some of those things, but the search for the perfect portfolio gallery still continues, which is probably the last thing my buddy RC wants to hear. :)


Thanks to my Indy Test Weekend shoot up in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago (photo above by Jeff Rease), I was able to score an assignment this weekend shooting the first major Indy Car race of the season: The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (link).

I’ll be actually shooting the event for The Indy Racing League, and I’ve got a shot list of a lot more than just the Indy cars—I’ll be capturing all the scenes that make up the excitement of an Indy Car event, so although I’m taking some longer glass for the tight car shots, I’ll be mostly shooting wide angle and shorter lens stuff the entire weekend.

Anyway, it’s going to be a busy weekend, but I’m really looking forward to it, and I’ll let you know how it all went on Monday. Have a great weekend everybody!


First, I want to talk about yesterday’s Guest Blog post from Rick Sammon. Rick demonstrated once again what I love about the Guest Blog concept, which is that everyone brings their own ideas, their own take on things, and they create their own topic. It’s “their day” to share what they want to share, and although what Rick shared was about photography, it went way beyond that, and touched a lot of people. Thank you Rick, for reminding us about the most important things in life. Now, onto the news:

  • is doing a series of full page print ads featuring a number of different photographers who use MPIX, where they share their favorite MPIX products. Right now they’re running the ad you see above, and ever since the first ad hit, I’ve been getting loads of emails every day asking me about the laptop stand/ball head tripod combo seen with me in the ad. It’s actually a set-up I learned about from Joe McNally, and I talked about it last year here on the blog. It’s two pieces: (1) The Manfrotto 131DD Tripod Accessory Arm for Four Heads (link), and (2) The Gitzo G-065 Monitor Platform (link). You mount these on any tripod, but the one you see it mounted on her is a Gitzo Mountaineer tripod.
  • You might remember me mentioning here on the week before Photoshop World that we open the Expo floor to the public for two days during the conference. I learned today that in Boston, the Expo Floor at Photoshop World had the most number attendees of any Expo we’ve done yet (including the one in Vegas), and in this economy, that is really welcome news. Thanks to everyone who turned out to visit our exhibitors and take in some of the Photoshop World fun!
  • (Lame segue alert!) Speaking of Joe McNally (lame segue alert), he posted a hilarious video on his blog earlier this week, and if you’ve got 60-seconds, it’ll crack you up. Scroll down the page until you see the video clip. Here’s the link.
  • Photoshop Hall of Famer Jack Davis was at “The Estate” in Boston and captured a bunch of cool shots of my band, “Big Electric Cat,” during our live set using nothing but his iPhone. He used the iPhone app: TimeLapse to take the shots, then he used “PhotoGene and CameraKit to tweak em.” (NOTE: Jack is currently working on making his own iPhone app to optimize and enhance images taken with the iPhone’s built in camera. More on this when Jack gets near the launch). Anyway, Jack uploaded the images to a page where you can check them out (here’s the link).
  • Later today the third installment in our three-part series on using Wireless Flash will go live on D-Town TV (The weekly show for Nikon DSLR users). Here’s the link.
  • Lastly, one of my readers turned me on to this site, called “One Photo a Day.” You can pretty much guess what it’s about, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Here’s the link.

That’s it for today folks. Have a kick-butt Thursday and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.


With the help of photography Web guru RC Concepcion, I just finished updating my photography portfolio with an all new look, new functionality, and a lot of new images.

I started this whole process by buying a portfolio Web template, which I thought would be easy to update with my own images and text, but once I got it, I realized that I was in way over my head (it was much, much more complicated than I ever imagined), and so RC was kind enough to throw me a lifeline and help me get this up and running (believe me, it wasn’t easy).

Anyway, here’s the link to check it out (or you can click the portfolio link over on the top left of this page). It does take a minute to load, but once it does, then it’s pretty responsive.

Thanks RC for all your hard work in getting this little project (nightmare) up and running. I owe you a really yummy lunch. Or two. Maybe a dinner. Or Two.

Have Kid Will Photograph

Rick Sammon (bottom) falling through the air at 125 miles per hour over Namibia. (Is this guy nuts!?)

Several weeks ago, I was hanging out at Kelby Training in Oldsmar, Florida (founded by R.E. Olds – as in Oldsmobile) shooting two new Kelby Training shows. On my last day in sunny Florida, I saw Matt Kloskowski (unbeknownst to him) leaving work holding his young son’s hand. That night, from my hotel room, I sent Matt an email: Cherish every second. All too soon your son will be way too cool to hold your hand.

After my two-day shoot at “Kelby World” was wrapped up, Scott took me to Dunedin, where we had some Mexican food (totally awesome) before heading off to the Fat Tuesday parade (a dud, photographically). As soon as we got on site, Scott said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to shoot for a while and then split so that I can get home and put my kid to bed.” That was not the first time I had heard Scott talk about his kids. He had previously told me that he plays video games with his son every night, as I try to do (Mario Golf) with my son, Marco. Scott is a cool dad. He even wrote a book on the subject: The Book for Guys Who Don’t Want Kids.

Being a dad is my most important job. Over the past 17 years, my wife, Susan, and I have taken our son, Marco, named after Marco Polo, all over the world on my photo assignments – giving him a well-rounded education, especially when it comes to learning about different cultures and customs. Like Scott and Matt, I am a proud dad – super proud lately, because Marco was named (after working incredibly hard) the Valedictorian of his 2009 high school class.

Go to the Bio page of my website to see just how proud I am.

When I teach a workshop or seminar, participants come up to me and say stuff like this: “It’s been fun to watch Marco grow up in your books and magazine articles, and to see pictures of him in your slide shows, but don’t you find that taking a kid around with you to exotic locations hinders you photographically, logistically and creatively?”

My answer: (more…)