Going Down to Georgia

Athens Rocks painted on a colorful fire hydrant.
SONY f/3.5, 1/125 sec, ISO-1600

Welcome to Athens! For my first time visiting Georgia, I didn’t realize that Athens was an hour and a half away from Atlanta, but after the plane ride and a two-hour shuttle, I made it to the University of Georgia. This is where my UPAA Symposium conference was for the week. Located in downtown Athens, the university was a hilly area with many picturesque spots. I can see why this was chosen for the photography conference.

The top image was a random hydrant we found when walking around. Thought it was an excellent reflection of how downtown Athens felt.

Georgia Theatre sign
SONY f/2.8, 1/1000 sec, ISO-800

The Georgia nightlife was rocking, and after a few days at the conference, we finally did a thorough look at the nightlife for ourselves on a Thursday night. The downtown was colorful and lit up, giving an excellent backdrop for photos. It was the perfect ambiance for young college students with an active downtown nightlife.

Girls smiling at a selfie camera.
SONY f/1.8, 1/200 sec, ISO-6400

Gave me a great chance to practice more of my street photography in a lively downtown. The photo above was in a bar called the Church that was created after a nun left the convent and came down to Athens. Inside, these girls were taking photographs in the photo booth. With the pink lighting and some fun expressions, I lined up the photo for a great snapshot.

I had the 85 Zeiss lens on my Sony A7riii, so I could aim for some low light by not sacrificing a low shutter speed. Taking the lens down to F/1.8, I had to hold very still and aim my focus at the correct spot.

Football Player tossing ball around.
SONY f/4.5, 1/500 sec, ISO-800

Aside from the downtown nightlife, the conference had a lot of great photo opportunities at our workshops. One day, we were able to learn from Kevin Liles about sports photography. He had a UGA football player modeling at an empty Sanford Stadium. Focusing on him tossing the football around, I took a series of photos and landed one with the UGA logo straight on the football.

We also were able to visit the locker room, and it was gorgeously lit.

University of Georgia Bulldogs jerseys
SONY f/3.5, 1/160 sec, ISO-3200

During the photography conference, we had our Nikon Shootout. The annual competition was to see if we could produce a photo in-camera, with no editing. My entry below was the first one. I’ve since edited it, but imagine this photo with less color and some shadows in the middle of the bikers.

Bikers coming down the road in downtown Athens.
SONY f/3.2, 1/1250 sec, ISO-1000

Most of my photos that night were a lot of action photos. I was low for this photo, at the slowest stoplight in all of Athens. I crouched down and checked my settings as they waited for the light to turn green. As they took off, I focused on the first wheel in the middle while lining the background up with the top of the stoplight.

A guy skateboarding and high-fiving his friend.
SONY f/3.2, 1/320 sec, ISO-1000

The next photo above was a random guy who told me I had a great smile. This opened the opportunity to ask him if he’d help me with a photo. The rules didn’t say we couldn’t stage the photos, so I did just that. I asked him if he could ride his skateboard toward me, but it wasn’t enough. So I asked him to high-five his friend, who was also in the pink hat. I lined up the lights in the background and focused on her hand that was already out. Everything lined up, and the focus stayed on their hands and his face for a fun action photo.

I almost entered this photo, but it was too dark for me when I saw it. I edited the darkness out and adjusted the shadows and highlights to make the subjects pop.

Busy restaurant in downtown Athens called The Place.
SONY f/1.4, 1/500 sec, ISO-10000

The last photo I tried taking at a restaurant called The Place with my 35mm lens. It was a spur of the moment, and the lighting was a glowing yellow in the place. Luckily the young woman looked up, which made the photo come together. The place was very homey, and there was a lot of activity.

The last picture was during the previous day I’d be in Athens. Friends had a Graphix camera with them, and we’re testing it out by focusing on me. While they were setting this up, I took out my camera and pointed at the lens to pull the focus there. The others leaning over his shoulder made for a great candid photo.

Old camera left in focus.
SONY f/1.8, 1/500 sec, ISO-400

These are only a few photos from my time in Athens. Every day was a new adventure, and I haven’t even mentioned the other conference classes and activities I was able to participate in. It was a nice break from the real world, but I’m back in Texas, refreshed and ready to implement all the things I learned.

Snap Map

To Ghost or not to Ghost!

Snapchat Map

Brand new features hit Snapchat this week. The term “Ghosted” has a new meaning and if you ever wanted a friend to know where you are right now, then Snapchat has a new tool for you.

Welcome to the Ghost mode. It’s part of the new Snapchat Map unrolled in the latest Snapchat update. To access the map, go to the main start up screen where you take pictures and videos and pinch two fingers together on the screen to open up the new map feature.

It will prompt you right away if you would like to allow GPS to track your location. This is the only way to use the map. Once you’ve succumbed to the peer pressures of Snapchat and agreed to this new TOS, then you will see a map similar to the one in the image above.

This is where the real fun begins. If you’re friends are using the new Snap Map and have not turned on ghost mode, then you will see where they last updated their Snapchat. It will appear as their bitmoji or as a silhouette. As far as I’ve seen, you do have to be friends with the person. Sorry to all of those who are looking to stalk celebrities.

It will also show you where major event stories are happening. Right now I’m seeing stories about parades and baseball games on my map.

You can also click high density areas to watch local Snapchat stories. This is part of the Our Story feature, which allows you to post to not only your My Story, but the Our Story for everyone to see. 

If you do not want to become a part of this map, but want to remain a ghost, and still see your friends who are using the map. Check out these easy steps.

First, you need to click the settings icon on the top right corner that looks like a gear wheel. From there, you will see Ghost Mode, where you can click the check-mark box to green. It should look like the first image below.

Snapchat Ghost Mode

If you want people to see you on the Snap Map, then you can unclick the Ghost Mode and the image below will pop up. From here you can select certain friends who can still see you even when you have the Ghost Mode turned off. If you wish for everyone to see you, click All Friends. You will then appear in the Snap Map for all of your friends to see.

Snap Ghost Settings

Remember that Snap Map only updates from the last time you used GPS with Snapchat. There you go. An easy guide to Snapchat’s new Snap Map and Ghost Mode.

The Wichita Theatre!

Wichita Falls Theatre - A J L 3 Photography

Had some fun this weekend shooting in Wichita Falls, Texas. We went to the theatre downtown and I was able to snap some pictures since the houselights were on. Rarely does this happen in Wichita Falls when ever I visit. Normally, the lights are off, so this was a big hit to get all the lights on.

We were able to take pictures across and under the Wichita Theatre Performing Arts Centre. The above picture of the theatre was where the entrance used to be, but since it is not used anymore they just turn the lights on when there is a performance. The building right next to the actual theatre has been converted into a theatre itself and combined with the old one. This allows for more space and a bigger crowd.

Wichita Falls Theatre - A J L 3 PhotographyOn the left, you can see an above view of the theatre with the sign slightly cut off. It reads ‘Wichita’ in neon letters that change colors. A lot of this has some LED’s installed giving it a newer look. You can still see where all the old tiles and theatre setting are and what has been retouched. For most part it is still looking like the original theatre.

It was a fun shoot, and I’m glad I’ve finally been able to get the lights with this beautiful theatre. It has been a long waiting game. Let me know what you think of the photos in the comments. Also, below is the last photo of a larger image of what the theatre looks like. Overall this theatre design looks retro, but feels brand new. It’s a great contrast to all the old buildings in the city.

Wichita Falls Theatre - A J L 3 Photography

Garage shoot set for the evening…

Selena Photo Shoot - AJL3 Photography

This past Thursday, I met up with Selena, one of the local models in San Angelo. Along with my friend Jason Archer, another local photographer with an impressive knowledge of photography, we set out to one of the seldom used parking garages. This one is partly abandoned and the bottom is used for public parking.

The above photo is of a lighting set up we arranged near the entrance to the garage away from any oncoming traffic. We busted out the Alienbees for this particular shoot. I used the PLM system and Jason used a beauty dish and a blue gel set up. We synced our connections and started taking pictures.

Since it is already dark in the parking garage, we have a good control on how the lighting will look like. Except for a few openings, the majority of the parking garage has very little light coming in.

Selena Photo Shoot - AJL3 PhotographyAs you can see towards your left, we positioned Selena at some particular angles to get some nice catch light from the sun rays setting around the garage. We exposed for the lighting behind us and then used the rest of the fill light to light up Selena accordingly.

This is a rather easy set up. With the PLM system, we set one Alienbee right on top of her, to give her hair a natural shine and to cover up any shadows from the left. With the beauty dish with an AlienBee, that was facing on the other side of Selena opposite the PLM system. This gave her the soft light and glow on her dress.

Of course make sure you adjust accordingly with the sun setting, we lost light a lot faster being in an inclosed space.

The last picture below is one of my favorites. We had Selena pose for us leaning down and then with just using the beauty dish gave her a shadow that glowed towards one part of her face. The PLM system was shooting away in the distance giving her some rim light. The blue gel gave off a hint of more blue in the photograph, for a darker and mysterious feel.

I did have the trouble of her eye looking too much like a cat, so instead of Selena looking at me, I had her look away, allowing the other white part of her pupil to be seen and it looking a lot more natural.

And as you see in the picture below, since the sky in the background was already going dark, it was a better choice to go with a faster shutter speed to make sure we had a good sharpness on Selena since half of her body would be in the shadows.

Of course I would like to thank both Jason and Selena for working with me on this photo shoot. It was nice working on a personal project. Let me know in the comments what you think of these photos.

Selena Photo Shoot - AJL3 Photography

Blue and Gold Homecoming Time…

Angelo State University Homecoming - AJL3 Photography

This past week was a thrilling time at Angelo State University. For me personally, there was a lot of work. Four months of work all rolled into one week where we would be hosting alumni from across the states. There were plenty of campus activities going on too, including them wrapping the ram in blue and gold paper. This is a shot I’ve been wanting to try for a while, so the paper treatment on the ram statue really gave me a great opportunity.

The real challenge, was making sure the paper, which was gold, didn’t look orange. As you can see on the bottom the way the light glows from the ambient light, it gives an orange glow. This is what I was trying to avoid for the paper on the ram. The best way I did this, was on my white balance, I used the kelvin settings. White balance has a lot of great settings, but when you really cannot get what you like, think about adding blue or reds in by using the kelvin setting. In this case, I added a lot of blue and lowered the kelvin settings almost as low as you could go. This gave me a natural yellow gold color on the ram, and still allowed the ambient orange light to shine through.

Angelo State University Homecoming - AJL3 PhotographyOf course, I wasn’t able to attend all the events going on during the week. For the most part, I just enjoyed them, and didn’t always bring my camera. On the left is one I took at our Ram Jam, a tailgate party before the game.

It was a nice look at people preparing some tailgate food. There were more than just those few tailgating. In total, there were about 2,300 people at the tailgate party. Many of them arrived early and left late.

The clouds were giving me some great diffusion, and here the tent gave me enough diffusion to shoot at a shutter speed of 160. I alternated my shutter speed from 160 with tents and out in the open, I shot at 320 to 400. The clouds helped a lot and I didn’t have to raise it more than that for this Saturday event.

Angelo State University Homecoming - AJL3 Photography

Of course Ram Jam had a lot of other things going on. Here is a picture of the San Angelo Nature Center showing off one of their many reptiles. They showed off two different snakes to the students and community and were able to touch the snakes.

Angelo State University Homecoming - AJL3 PhotographyEarlier on the Friday before Ram Jam, I shot a few test shots and was able to come up with this gem of a picture. I used a tripod for this one, allowing me to have a natural glow that the flash would not have been able to recreate.

The decorations gave a good contrast with the blue wine glasses and the surrounding background gave everything an orange hue for that more homey field.

I left the exposure open for about 1.5 seconds to 2 seconds. The aperture was set to f8 to give a more sharp look instead of possibly having a bokeh effect on the back wine glasses. This also allowed the front wine glass to be pretty clear. A little sharpening in Photoshop cleaned up the little bit of blur I had from pressing the button as I set the camera to take a long-exposure shot.

There were some interesting shots this week, and many were different. I tried to use different skills I had this week, and I think I succeeded.

I finally have time for some personal photo projects, so look for new posts in the next few weeks.

Angelo State University Homecoming - AJL3 PhotographyAdded Photo: The photo below is a new photo I added. Went back to see what else I had from Ram Jam. Had an excellent picture from the Angelettes, the Angelo State dance team that performs with the ASU Band. I love the colors from this picture. The sun coming towards me always gives me a problem. At this point, it’s about location. You don’t want lens flare unless you like those. If you’re not a fan of them, just position yourself to where you know from any angle the sun will be blocked by something and no lens flare. It was just a good crisp picture of the many events that go on during Ram Jam.