How did you Learn Lightroom?

Vietnam Wall

By David Morefield

One of the most common questions that I get asked by beginning photographers is, “What do you use to edit your photos?” I use Lightroom and Photoshop. The best way that I can explain the difference is that Lightroom is my General Practitioner and Photoshop is like a specialist; I really only go to Photoshop when I need to perform major surgery.

Of course, the follow up question is, “How did you learn Lightroom?” Honestly, much of what I learned about editing from from a photographer in Paris named Serge Ramelli.

Serge Ramelli has some excellent YouTube videos that he has shared, but those are just introductions into what he teaches. In order to get the full benefit of his tutorials, you really need to purchase his tutorials. Not only does he do a good job of explaining what it is that he is doing, but he includes a copy of the photo that he is working on so that you can follow along and learn how he achieves those effects during post processing.

Of course, as a photographer, when you have a vision of what you want the end result to look like and you know what is needed in post-processing, you can better plan your shot when you are on location. I find that many times, I am walking backward through my shot starting with what I want as the end result and then it is up to me to capture what is necessary in order to produce that finished product.

Without a full understanding of Lightroom, I would not be able to connect the dots from what my vision is to what I take with my camera. This is where I believe Serge Ramelli’s tutorials will become a great tool and help you learn lightroom, I know that I learned a lot from them.

Follow the link below to check out his tutorials
PhotoSerge

My Trip to Washington DC

Vietnam Wall

  By David Morefield

Some of you may know that my son Caleb was pretty sick when he was in the eighth grade and because of that, he missed his class trip to Washington DC.  I have a good friend that told me that she would make sure that Caleb got to see Washington DC when he was healthy and after telling Caleb, he was no longer disappointed about missing his trip. I had no idea that she was not only going to make sure that Caleb got to see Washington DC, but she was going make him feel like a Rockstar!

It started with a flight on a private jet to Manassas, Virginia and then we went to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy near Dulles Airport. From there, we proceeded to our hotel and began our weekend of adventure. Caleb and I enjoyed museums by day and then at night, we walked through the city of Washington DC and took in all of the sights. Of course, being the diligent photographer, I took my bag of tricks with me so that I could bring back some great pictures of our Nation’s Capital.

Many of you know that I have very strong patriotic feelings about the United States of America; after all, I have traveled the world and there is no other place on this planet that I would rather live.  Along with my love for my country, I have a high level of respect for those who have served our country, both living and deceased. When I visit a place like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I look at all of those names and recognize that each and everyone of those men or women had parents, friends and a future. Yet, they are immortalized on a wall because they went to a foreign country to take up arms when their Country asked them to go.

Iwo Jima Monument

Caleb and both stood in reverent silence as we both took in the magnitude of the monument. The following morning, we visited the Marine Corps War Memorial, aka The Iwo Jima Monument. We embraced the sun as it rose and I was able to get some great shot of the memorial with the city of Washington DC in the background. Once the sun was up, we took a walk to Arlington National Cemetery and I visited a couple of my friends who are interred there. Caleb and watched the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visited JFK’s burial plot. Caleb and I then headed to some museums along the Washington Mall and saw the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives Museum.

As we toured Washington DC, Caleb and I tried to take it all in in the three days that we were there.

In all, I think we got around nine hours of sleep in three days. Caleb and I had a great time in Washington DC and I even got some great pictures while I was there. This will be a trip that we will remember for a lifetime.

 

Treat’s Guide to Photography Terms

 

 By Treat by Shutterfly

Have you ever read a definition of some common photography terms that still gave you the feeling of “huh” afterwards? A definition that probably could have used an illustration to paint a better picture?

Well, the great folks over at the greeting card company Treat.com have too, so they decided to make an updated list of photography terms while also adding illustrations to definitions they thought could use some additional explanation.

Their resource includes a massive list of photography terms (around 500), almost 50 illustrations, some nice scroll functions, and an easy-to-read interface. It’s also an updated list with newer terms around digital photography that aren’t on some older lists found online.

Ready to get learning? Check out the glossary here.

 

A Note from David: Every once in a while, I come across something that is so well done concerning photography terms, that it’s better to simply recommend it to friends rather than try to reinvent the wheel. Many of you may be familiar with Treat.com’s parent company  Shutterfly.com . Once you understand these photography terms and their relationship to each other, you will be able to further understand the nuts and bolts of photography; ultimately making you a better photographer. The above was posted with permission of Treat.com. 

How to Disable Autoplay Videos on Facebook App with IOS 7

 By David Morefield

I have had a many of my friends asking me about why it is that they are getting warnings from their service providers about overusing their data plan. My first question is, “Do you have an iphone?” If yes, my next question is,  “Do you use the Facebook App on your phone?” It seems the answer is always a resounding yes.

The latest Facebook App uses an autoplay feature for videos that are posted in your newsfeed. This kind of bandwidth usage is sure to kill anyone’s mobile phone plan if they use Facebook a lot. To complicate the matter, when you go into the settings of the Facebook app, it seems that you cannot turn this feature off. The feature is not controlled by settings reached through the app, but through the settings on your iPhone.

Follow the following instructions and you will be able to disable autoplay videos on Facebook app.

1. Go to the Settings Menu on your Home Screen.

iphone-settings-icon

 

2. Scroll Down and select “Facebook” on the list

iPhone one

 

3. Selecting “Settings”

iPhone two

4. Disable Autoplay Videos on Facebook App by selecting “Off”

iPhone three

Now that you have solved the issue for your own phone, please share this with your friends using the buttons so that they too can save on their data charges. I am not sure why Facebook did this, but for those without unlimited data plans, this could get rather expensive very quickly.

5 Tips for Beginners in Landscape Photography

Sunrise at Steinhagen Reservoir

 

 By David Morefield

1. You do not have to live in some exotic location in order to produce great landscape photography that people will like and appreciate. Last year, I went to Israel and got some amazing shots. Yes, I have sold some of them, but my best selling print is of a location in Central Texas not far from where I live. Not sure where to go in your area? Hop in the car and go find something.

2. You do not have to have $12,000 of camera equipment in order to get great landscape photography shots. Currently, I am shooting the Nikon D7100, but I got started with the Nikon D5100. Learn to master what you have and enjoy shooting, don’t obsess on your camera envy. I was on a shoot once when a guy with a Nikon D800E and about $13,000 in glass walked up and asked me, “What settings are your shooting for the sunrise?” I asked him if he was shooting JPEG or RAW. He gave me a deer in the headlights look and I suggested that he keep it on Auto. You think buying a $300 pair of basketball shoes will make you into an NBA player? Just because someone has a bunch of equipment, it does not make them into a photographer.

3. Read the Manual to your Camera – Yes, I said read the instructions. You really should know all of the functions of your camera even if you do not plan to use all of them. You never know in Landscape photography, you may see something and have an “Ah, ha! Moment” where you quickly roll the dials and get a very special shot that you would have missed otherwise. Being that I like to shoot early in the morning or late at night, it is during those times as the light is changing, that I need to be quick to make adjustments before the light changes even more.

4. Shoot with other photographers. Not only is this generally good advice for just learning from one another, but you will make lifelong friends with the people that you go out and shoot with. I know that some of my favorite moments in the past years have been on photoshoots with friends.

5. If you are like me, the only expectations that you have to consistently meet are your own. I love the fact that I get to shoot what I want, when I want and how I want; it’s freedom. People will come to recognize this in your work and if they like it, they will will likely buy it. Learn from others, but develop your own unique style through experimentation.

My Letter to Jesse Ventura

 By David Morefield

I do not often use my site for a forum on political issues, but when it comes to our Country’s Veterans and their families, I believe in standing up for them; afterall, they stood for us. That said, I wanted to take an opportunity to write an open letter to former Gov. Jesse Ventura in hopes that he may read it. 

 

Open Letter to Former Governor Jesse Ventura

Dear Mr. Jesse Ventura,

Yesterday, you took anything positive that you have done in life and flushed that down the toilet, leaving an eternal legacy of being one of the biggest douchebags this Country has ever known.

If you think you are “clearing your name” by winning a $1.8M lawsuit against the widow of Chris Kyle, then you are sadly disillusioned. All you accomplished yesterday is causing further hurt for the grieving family of man who honorably served his Country. That family is not limited to the widow and children of Chris Kyle, but includes all of his brothers in arms and their families as well.

In pursuit of your own image, you have successfully alienated yourself from anyone who has ever served this Country by military or civilian service. Your actions are inexcusable and I hope that you will be treated as a leper wherever you may go. When you speak, I hope that others will continue about their way as if you are not even a frog’s fart passing in the wind. When you sit down for a meal, I hope that it will be in eternal solitude.

It has been said, “With age comes wisdom”, but you are the personification of the exception to this expression.

The action that you took yesterday was dishonorable and irreparable damage was done. You crossed a line and messed with an honorable man’s family. I hope that one day, you will issue a public apology to the Kyle family for the continued distress that you have caused them, even then it would not be enough for the hardship that you have pressed against them despite the death of Mr. Kyle.

 There are some things that you just don’t do and one of those is attack the widow of a servicemember.

Shame on you!

Sincerely,

David Morefield

Owner – Fluffyshotme Photography

 

If you agree with my letter, please share it with your friends to show your disgust for what Jesse Ventura has done

Pastor Boaz Omugah from Chemelil, Kenya

 By David Morefield

As many of you may know, I have been to Kenya a couple of times with my church on mission trips. During my first trip in 2009, I met Pastor Boaz Omugah from Chemelil, Kenya. He is a very special man and I am glad to be able to call Pastor Boaz my friend and brother.

Chemelil is located about 30 minutes outside of Kisumu, Kenya near Lake Victoria. When I first arrived in Chemelil, I was asked to take a look at a little boy named Collins. Collins had gotten his thumb stuck in the sprocket of a bicycle chain a few weeks before we arrived and his thumb and hand were badly infected. This was not something that a little Neosporin and a Band-aid would cure. I gave Collins an injection of Zylocaine and then cleaned his wound with the supplies that I had on hand. We then took Collins to the Kisumu General Hospital where eventually my team was able to get the boy help.

I got to see Collins again while visiting Pastor Boaz in 2010. To this day, Collins and I stay in contact through people like Pastor Boaz and his son Benard. That is entirely another story; what I want to write about is that a church brought Pastor Boaz to the United States this week in order for him to attend a conference with other ministers. During his trip, I was able to meet up with him and I took some video so that he could share what it is that he does in Chemelil, Kenya.

Pastor Boaz has 46 children in the home; most people would call them orphans, but Pastor Boaz and his wife Helen care for these kids as their own. Aside from raising 46 children in his home, Pastor Boaz runs a church, a school and teaches in Kisumu at a Bible college. In addition to those responsibilities, Pastor Boaz stays busy helping his community when issues arise. The local police call on Pastor Boaz to take in troubled teens on a somewhat regular basis. The man is just amazing and has a real heart for the Lord.

Another reason that I wanted to take a moment and write about Pastor Boaz is that he has been asking me for the last eight years to try to get some people who are trained in Agriculture, to volunteer and come to Chemelil to teach him and the people of his community how to become self-sustainable. Pastor Boaz would like to learn modern techniques of farming so that they no longer have to buy food and can feed themselves. Food and clean water are a challenge for his community, especially during the dry season.

Pastor Boaz is also looking for people to come and teach at his school with whatever skill you may be able to bring to his community. When I went back in 2010, I had promised Pastor Boaz that I would teach a computer class when I returned. I was really surprised when they asked me to teach basic networking 101. As Kenya is beginning to make major leaps forward in technology, those who can do even the most basic work can get good jobs (something that is very hard to do when you come from a tiny village).

If you or someone you know would like to go to Chemelil and help Pastor Boaz realize his vision for sustainability, then please either contact him directly via the information in the video or you can contact me and I will pass the message. Lord willing, I will return to Kenya in the future to help with the effort as well.

7 Tips How to Photograph Fireworks

 

Freedom over Texas

 By David Morefield

The 4th of July is just around the corner and if you are like me, you are looking forward to watching the fireworks with your family and having a good time. But, if you are reading this article, you are also looking for tips how to photograph fireworks.

1. Use the Fireworks as your Flash

Keep in mind that when shooting fireworks, you will be in the dark and then the fireworks are going to be a brilliant source of light, much like a flash. As Fireworks explode into the air, they will often light up the surrounding area, so you will want to make sure that your frame is not so tight that you miss the surrounding scene. I have made the mistake of just having a great picture of fireworks, with nothing else in the picture… It was time wasted and I would not recommend it. Find something of interest to be in the background or foreground to add an element of depth and interest.

2. You really need a Tripod and Remote Shutter Release

When doing any kind of timed exposure, you really should use a tripod for stability, otherwise your images will not be crisp and in focus. Triggering the shutter with a remote shutter release is a great way to reduce camera shake as well. If there is wind, you may consider hanging a sandbag or camera bag from the center of your tripod.

3. Time your shots with the fireworks show

Professional fireworks shows should have a rhythm that they will follow, many times this is set to music. While this is important, what you want to be looking for is the streak of sparks headed for the skies. Once you see that a mortar has fired, open your shutter. Once the mortar explodes, give it a second or two before closing your shutter, this will capture some of the great streaks and bursts of light.

4. Shoot in Manual Mode

If you are not comfortable shooting in manual mode, then it is time to break out of your comfort zone. If your camera has a timed exposure setting, I would experiment at night with an aperture of about f/8 and ISO of 100 to start and then find out how long you need to have the shutter open for a decent exposure at your location. You will be able to do this just a couple of minutes before the fireworks show start. Keep in mind that even though the sun goes down, the lighting will most likely get a little darker between sundown and the start of the fireworks. Be ready by the time the fireworks start.

5. Scout the area prior to the fireworks display.

There is nothing worse than figuring out that you don’t have a good vantage point for the fireworks and then you miss the best part of the show. Make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time to get to your location and find the best vantage point. Many times, fireworks displays are going to draw lots of people, most of which could care less that you are trying to get pictures. Claim your territory and try to eliminate people standing directly in front of you by using parking garages, bodies of water, etc…

6. Take pictures during sunset before the sun sets

One of the best ways to make sure that you have the right focus and have your shot framed correctly is to shoot the scene in daylight. I prefer to shoot buildings as the sun is setting because many times, you have enough light to see the building’s colors and you also have the lights of the building. This is useful later in post processing if you want to do some blending of the exposures.

7. The start of the fireworks show is usually the best time for photographs

If you think that you should save the best for last, then you probably haven’t shot many fireworks shows. As the show continues, the smoke in the air will likely gather into small clouds that can affect your shot. Try to get as many shots at the beginning of the fireworks show in order to make sure that you get some nice clean shots without a bunch of smoke hanging around.

I hope that you have found this tutorial helpful on how to photograph fireworks. As we celebrate our Independence Day on the this 4th of July, please remember to thank those who have served our Country.

Panama City Beach Florida

Florida-Blog-Post-Picture-PCB-PIer

 

By David Morefield

This past week, my family and I went to Panama City Beach, Florida. I have great memories of Panama City Beach as a kid, so I not only get to relive those memories, but make new ones whenever I go back.

The first morning that we were in Florida, my family and I went to Wright Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach, Florida where my cousin Jeremy Gates is the pastor. After church, we went to lunch and caught up on the past twenty years. I had not seen my cousin since I was in High School, so it was great to get to spend some time with him and meet his wife and daughter.

Tuesday afternoon, we rented a pontoon boat from Adventures at Sea and took it to Shell Island. If you have never gone to Shell Island, then I would highly recommend checking it out while you are in Panama City Beach. Shell Island is located across the bay from Tyndell Air Force Base and is not inhabited. Basically, you find a place to anchor your boat and then walk through the island to the other side where you can have a beach all to yourself. While snorkeling in the bay, we found starfish and countless sand dollars; which was a whole lot of fun. I even had a puffer fish follow me around for a while.

Wednesday morning, I woke up early and drove down the Russell-Fields Pier otherwise know as the City Pier. It was a cloudy morning and there were some ominous clouds in the sky, but thunderstorms come and go quickly in Panama City beach, so I figured I would get to the pier and see how the weather was. As I got out of my truck lightning struck the water about 500 meters past the pier, so I quickly aborted the photo shoot that morning. I ended up going to Thomas Donuts to pickup up breakfast and returned to the beach house as a hero.

The weather was more favorable the next morning, so I went back out to the pier around 5am. I love to shoot early in the morning and the light was perfect. The clouds in the sky reflect the colors of the sunrise and I just love the colors that can be captured at that time of morning.

The Russell-Fields Pier is a 1,500 foot long pier that provides not only some great fishing, but some fantastic views of the Panama City Beach coastline. I ended up staying out at the pier for a couple hours watching all of the activity. In retrospect, I was glad that I did not go to the pier earlier in the week. I observed Black Tip Sharks swimming within 30 feet of the shoreline and it’s probably best that I was blissfully ignorant of this earlier in the week while at the beach. I think sharks are cool as long as they are behind glass, but swimming in open water with them is not my idea of fun.

At the end of the week, we all felt recharged and had a great time. The beach house that we stayed in was great for a family week at the beach and was actually cheaper than staying in a hotel. If you are headed to Panama City Beach, Florida and you are looking for a recommendation of where to stay, look no further. The beach house that we stayed in not only had a great kitchen, but it even had an icemaker in the wet bar. This meant that I did not have to run out for ice everyday before walking out the backdoor to the beach, which was awesome. Here is the link to the Beachfront Oasis.

An Open Letter from a Veteran Regarding the Challenges faced by the VA

My friend, George Turek, is a true American patriot and former Naval aviator. George ran a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal called “An Open Letter from a Veteran” where he addresses his solutions  for immediate measures that he thinks would serve our Country’s veterans. I strongly agree with George’s letter and with his permission, I am posting the full text of the letter for you to read. If you agree with this article, I would ask that you do three things – Write your Congressman, Share it to your Social Media Pages and also Follow George on Twitter and Facebook.

GCT Letter

The following was written By George Turek

An Open Letter from a Veteran to:

Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator John McCain

Congressman Kevin Brady

Senator Dean Heller

Senator Richard Burr

Congressman Jeff Miller

Senator Bob Casey

Senator Jerry Moran

Senator John Cornyn

Senator Harry Reid

Congressman John Culberson

Senator Jon Tester

Senator Martin Heinrich

Senator David Vitter

Gentlemen:

Two serious problems presently confront the VA:

Problem # 1: Veterans are waiting too long to receive treatment appointments at VA Hospitals.

Problem # 2: Veterans are waiting too long to receive Compensation and Pension (“C&P”) benefits. There continues to be a significant backlog of Medical Disability Examinations (“MDEs”) which are crucial to the C&P process.

Both of these problems can, at least partially if not fully, be resolved simply.

Approximately 2,000,000 C&P MDEs are conducted each year on Veterans as part of the C&P benefits process. Some 1,600,000 of these MDEs are conducted in VA hospitals by VA medical providers. The remaining 400,000 MDEs are referred to outside private contractors. The VA has been outsourcing “overflow” MDEs since 1998. The outsourcing of MDEs has proven to be a huge success, for both our Veterans and the VA.

The VA medical providers who perform the 1,600,000 MDEs at VA hospitals are the same medical providers responsible for providing treatment to Veterans at VA hospitals. MDEs are extremely time consuming and take valuable time away from VA medical providers, time which they could be using to provide medical treatment to Veterans. Annually, the time these medical providers spend performing MDEs easily totals in the millions of hours.

Solution: Outsource all Compensation & Pension Medical Disability Examinations.

By outsourcing all C&P MDEs to private contractors, VA medical providers would be able to devote 100% of their valuable time to providing much needed medical treatment to Veterans. Outsourcing of MDEs has been extremely successful, and private contractors have the necessary staff and trained and experienced medical providers to quickly reduce the huge backlog of these cases. Outsourcing all MDEs would solve both problems: it would reduce the long wait time for our Veterans to receive appointments for medical treatment at VA hospitals by allowing VA medical providers to focus exclusively on providing medical treatment to our Veterans and it would facilitate the timely delivery of C&P benefits to our Veterans by significantly reducing the backlog of MDE cases.

The legislation being discussed by Senators Sanders and McCain is commendable and a step in the right direction, but would do little to immediately address either problem. Building 26 new medical facilities in 18 states will take years, which is time we cannot afford given the critical nature of these problems. Spending another $500 million to hire and train more medical providers would also be a lengthy process. Although well intended, the proposed legislation does not provide the services our Veterans need today. Our Veterans deserve timely medical treatment and benefits right now, without delay.

The solution outlined above provides an immediate win-win for both our Veterans and the VA. Let’s not delay any further in providing our Veterans timely access to the medical treatment and benefits they so justly deserve. Thank you for listening.

 

Screenshot 2014-06-10 12.04.54

 

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