New Smugmug site

Yesterday, Smugmug announced and unveiled their new look.  It’s not just an update to their previous site – it’s a complete rebuild from the ground up.  I spent some time last night working on my page and customizing/organizing some things and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the upgrade.  It’s VERY fast, looks great, and is much more intuitive than the previous site.  Check out my new page –

One of the things I like is the multiple layers of folders and galleries you can now have – allowing me to better organize galleries of race track photos by location, date and even cars if I want.

Well done, Smugmug – this appears to be a pretty nice update!

After playing with the G1X a bit..

I’ve had the new Canon G1X for a little over a week now, and have had some time to play with it and check out the images..

To give a little background, my main camera is a Canon 7D DSLR with a couple of L Lenses (24-70 and 70-300),… I bought the G1X from the great folks at Mike Crivellos Camera to use for traveling and as something a little easier to carry around than my big DSLR setup. I have high standards for image quality after using the 7D for a year and a half now… and the G1X has exceeded my expectations with the quality of images I get out of it. It is a full-featured camera and is definitely aimed towards someone who wants Digital SLR features, functions and quality in a camera that is a little bit smaller and easier to carry around. There are only a couple downsides to the camera as far as I can tell:

  • Focal distance doesn’t go as far as some people might like
  • Aperture is variable as focal length increases, and it is f/2.8 at the widest aperture (many people are complaining that it should have been f/2.0)
  • It is a little heavy and bulky, it’s certainly not as easily pocketed as an S100 or something like that.
  • It’s a little slow to focus, so for action shots, it won’t be ideal. .but for travel (landscapes, buildings, portraits, etc), it will be great.
  • Finally, it’s not cheap. At $799, it is an expensive compact camera… but I believe you get what you pay for.

But it’s still much smaller than a DSLR, provides nearly the same image quality as a DSLR with kit lens, and you don’t have to fumble with lenses. Overall, I am VERY happy with my purchase, and so far have been exceptionally happy with the image quality.  Part of the reason the IQ is so high, is that it has a sensor that is nearly as large as what is in my 7D.. much bigger than what’s found in most compact cameras.

Pontiac Firebird

Backlit Firebird - taken with Canon G1X

Could use a new car for carrying around camera gear

I love my 94 Mazda Miata .. it’s a blast to drive, gets decent gas mileage, but doesn’t have a huge trunk. I think this would be a great ride to use for traveling to photo shoots with my camera gear… just need to take some collections from friends and family..

56 Benz wagon

how cool would this be?

I would be happy with any of the cars on this page, actually.

Adios, 2011…. Come on, 2012!

2011 was a lot of fun…. I shot a number of race track events (drag strip and road course), portraits, an engagement shoot and wedding, several architectural jobs, family events, collaborative shoots with other photographers, a non-profit organization to help families with special-needs children (THE most rewarding shoot I did all year!), and more.  I spent some great quality time shooting with photographers who helped me see things differently and how to try new techniques.. I also took the chance to shoot for another photographer, who was able to give me some great feedback on my shots in order to help me get even better (Dito, owner of

Facebook has been a great way to show off my work and get in touch with other photographers and groups with similar interests.  I’ve found inspiration and motivation by looking through the work of other photographers, which has helped really push me to a new level with my techniques.  I’m very thankful for the talented people whom I’ve had the chance to work with this year, whether it was just ‘playing around’ in a studio (Tim), or a location shoot with multiple models and other photographers (Byron, Greg, Coree, Katie, Lisa, Linda, Donna, Monica, Tom).  There are still other photographers I have yet to work with (or even meet), whose work inspires me.. I hope to get to meet some of them next year – Jim Perdue, I’m talking to you.

One photographer in particular who has really inspired me, and not even as a result of their photography, is Jen Burgess-Thompson.  I followed her work on Facebook, along with a ton of other photographers whose work inspired me.  On August 30 of this year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She bravely shared updates on her diagnosis, emotions, fears and frustrations with all her readers.  She created a blog, where she (and her friends) could update everyone on her treatments.  Jen saw an outpouring of messages, love, well-wishes and prayers from thousands of followers, including many people she had never met.  Jen is still undergoing chemo treatment, but her CA125 levels are now within “normal” ranges.  Jen’s strength through this challenge is inspiring, she’s not looking for pity or handouts.. more than anything, she wants people to see that she is not the “typical” cancer patient… she’s young, takes care of herself, has no family history, and there’s nothing that stands out in her history that would have been an indicator that she may end up getting cancer some day… and by her not fitting the typical profile of a cancer patient, it should increase everyone’s awareness.. and hopefully plant the seed in other people’s minds that they should get checked too.  Jen – I don’t know you beyond Facebook.. but you are inspiring.

Finally.. I have to give credit where credit is due – my amazing (and beautiful) wife, Emily.  She’s been supportive and encouraging of my photography for years, and this past year was no exception.  I sincerely appreciate your support and understanding of the long days.  Also, to my great friends and family who constantly inspire me (Reese, that’s you, buddy) and encourage me to ‘do more’… thank you.

So, as we wrap up 2011, I’m excited about what 2012 has in store… new photos, new friends, new opportunities and new challenges.. and with any luck, more new equipment!

The Power of the Print

As a photographer, I find myself taking anywhere between 500-1500 photos at a given event, depending on how long I’m there, and what’s going on.  I usually have no reason to get prints of my work, because they would just sit around in an envelope or a box somewhere.  I prefer to show my digital images on line (Facebook, Flickr, Smugmug, etc)..

However, prior to a recent shoot where I tagged along with some great muscle cars, I printed up a bunch of 8×10 prints and put them in an easy-to-carry portfolio.  When I committed to the shoot, I had one client who had committed to pay me for shots of his car.  When I arrived and met the other car owners, I introduced myself as a photographer.. I didn’t get an overwhelming response.. however, when I showed them my portfolio of 8×10 prints of other cars (primarily shots from a car show I had recently attended and from Sacramento Raceway), they were VERY interested.  I ended up getting 3 additional clients that day.

This past weekend, I went back to Sacramento Raceway to shoot the ‘NorCal Invasion‘.  Prior to getting all my gear set up, I walked around the pit area with my portfolio and a bunch of business cards.  I recognized one car from a shoot I did at Infineon Raceway last year and approached the owner.  I didn’t have a print of his car, but I did have my iPhone, and quick access to one of my online galleries.  I showed him my print portfolio that I was carrying around, and while he was looking at that, I pulled up an image of his car from Infineon on my phone and showed it to him.  He nearly fell over – he must have commented 3 or 4 times about how much he loved that shot of his car, and would want to order it.  By showing him what my final print products looked like, and an iPhone-sized image of his car – he could tell that a print of his car would look great.  That night at the racetrack, I made sure I got plenty of pictures of his car to add to my gallery for him… after speaking with him tonight, he’s very excited to order a bunch of prints in various sizes.

It just goes to show – that while our lives are becoming more and more digital every day (and I LOVE it!), there is still something VERY compelling about the power of a printed image that has much more impact than a picture on a computer screen.

This is the image of the guys’ car from Infineon that he loved so much.  It was one of my favorite photos from that weekend as well.. I was really happy to be able to find the owner of the car so I could show him the image I created… and then to see his reaction – priceless.  This is what being a photographer is all about!