J. Smith Photography: Blog http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) J. Smith Photography smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) Sun, 05 Jun 2016 22:53:00 GMT Sun, 05 Jun 2016 22:53:00 GMT Playing with Textures http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/playing-with-textures Just outside of Mexico City is the national park Desierto de los Leones. It's a great place for photography - I've done portrait sessions there and enjoy walking the grounds of the monastary and the trails.

This last time we came across some beautiful flowers and, of course, I had to take pictures!

I've been wanting to play around with using textures in my photography and took some pictures of cool textures there.

When I got back and started going through my pictures, I kind of liked some of the flower pictures I took, but I wanted to add something to them, so I thought I would play around with textures. The below image is one of my favorites, so far:

28MAY2016 Desierto-128MAY2016 Desierto-1

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) ciudad de mexico desierto de los leones df flores flowers mexico mexico city national park park parque nacional texturas texture textures http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/playing-with-textures Sun, 05 Jun 2016 22:53:15 GMT
One of my favorite cities ... http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/one-of-my-favorite-cities I recently had the opportunity to tavel to England and - being there over a weekend - spent a day in Oxford. I really enjoy the city with its history and culture. And Oxford University is there!

Oxford-3Oxford-3

I took a guided walking tour and we were able to go into Exeter College for a bit.

A view of the outside of the chapel at Exeter College:

Oxford Exeter Chapel-1Oxford Exeter Chapel-1

Inside the chapel:

Oxford Exeter Chapel-2bOxford Exeter Chapel-2b

 

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) UK chapel england exeter oxford university http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/6/one-of-my-favorite-cities Sun, 05 Jun 2016 22:43:12 GMT
Culture and Art http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/culture-and-art As I've mentioned in previous posts, one of my favorite museums is the Soumaya Museum here in Mexico City. There is a wonderful selection of art andacross a variety of genres.

Enjoying history as I do, particularly Mexican history, I was thrilled to see the following in the Museum:

Museo Soumaya-2Museo Soumaya-2

"The Embrace" ("El Abrazo") by Jorge Gonzalez Camarena

This painting references the Spanish conquest of Mexico - a Spanish knight and an Aztec Eagle warrior are depicted. The two are embracing as they kill one another - a symbol of the simultaneous fusion of the two cultures and the ending of each.

 

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) art conquest culture history mexico mexico city museo museo soumaya museum painting http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/4/culture-and-art Thu, 28 Apr 2016 01:20:14 GMT
Ocean Paradise http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/3/ocean-paradise My wife, years ago, decided that for an upcoming birthday she wanted to go someplace on the beach, with lots of sun - and without the kids. It didn't take much to convince me. 

Since we are living in Mexico, we decided that we would go to Cozumel for 8 days; Greece had been on the list (since we lived there for a few years). 

It was a wonderful time. No schedule, no constraints, just lots of sun and sand!

We took the opportunity to take a ferry over to the mainland and visit the archeological site of Tulum. It's a very impressive site - right on the cliffs. I made the below image, which is actually a few individual shots, stitched together:

Tulum-1Tulum-1

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/500s

Aperture: F11

Focal Length: 70mm

Lens: EF70-200mm f/4L USM

ISO: 200

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) ancient archeology cancun cliffs cozumel history mexico ocean palm trees ruins tulum http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/3/ocean-paradise Wed, 09 Mar 2016 02:31:50 GMT
Misty Morning, New Meadows, Idaho http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/new-meadows-idaho This past summer we were able to spend a few days in the mountains in central Idaho, at New Meadows, which is near McCall. The mountains are, for me, one of my favorite places and I always feel refreshed after some time in the clean, clear air, breathing in the smell of pine trees. I enjoy the mornings, when the air is particularly crisp and clear, even in the summer. There's something about being in the mountains that waking up early isn't as much of a chore, but something to be looked forward to, especially with a nice big mug of hot chocolate!

While in New Meadows we rented a beautiful cabin and got together with family, some of whom we had not seen for quite some time. One morning I woke up early and made the below image while there was still some morning mist in the valley:

New Meadows Idaho panorama-1New Meadows Idaho panorama-1

It's actually a panorama, three images stitched together.

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/160s

Aperture: F11

Focal Length: 70mm

Lens: Canon EF70-200mm f/4L

ISO: 125

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) daybreak idaho mccall mist morning new meadows http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/new-meadows-idaho Sat, 27 Feb 2016 17:12:49 GMT
Havana, Classic Cars 1 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/havana-classic-cars-1 One of the iconic things of Havana, Cuba, is the classic cars. It's pretty neat to see classic cars all over the streets. While some look like they've been on the road since they were built, there are some that look like museum show pieces; I can't imagine what it has taken to keep them in that condition.

Here's the first image of classic cars - this at the Plaza a la Revolucion, with the statue of Jose Marti in the background:

Havana Plaza de la Revolucion-3Havana Plaza de la Revolucion-3

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/400s

Aperture: F10

Focal Length: 17mm

Lens: Tamron 17-50mm

ISO: 200

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) classic car classic cars cuba habana havana plaza a la revolucion revolution plaza revolution square http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/havana-classic-cars-1 Mon, 22 Feb 2016 00:41:47 GMT
Waiting for the Light http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/waiting-for-the-light I had the opportunity to recently photograph the iconic Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, but to do it over a span of time.

The difference in the light is pretty impressive - and all in the span of about an hour! Moral of the story - wait for the light!

First shot, at about 5:45pm:

Meh.

Angel-1Angel-1

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/40s

Aperture: F5.6

Focal Length: 50mm

Lens: Canon EF50mm f/1.8 II

ISO: 200

 

Second shot, at about 6:00pm:

Better.

Angel-2Angel-2

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/25s

Aperture: F10

Focal Length: 35mm

Lens: Canon EF 24-105mmL

ISO: 200

 

Last shot, at about 6:45pm:

Much, much bettter!

Angel sunset-1Angel sunset-1

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 13s

Aperture: F11

Focal Length: 35mm

Lens: Canon EF 24-105mmL

ISO: 100

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) angel angel de independencia angel of independence cityscape light mexico mexico city patience sunset http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/waiting-for-the-light Thu, 18 Feb 2016 01:00:13 GMT
Steampunk Halloween http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/steampunk-halloween My mother is an incredible seamstress; she has traditionally made Halloween costumes for her grandkids. These began (for my daughters, at least) with princess dresses and the like, but have changed and matured as they have. When my eldest daughter asked for "something like an engineer or mechanical but adventurous" I knew it would by right up Grandma's alley. She makes and sells steampunk jewelry on her her site on Etsy, and has also branched out into American Girl doll outfits. (Starting with steampunk, of course!)

When the box with the costumes arrived, everyone was excited. Grandma had already mentioned to me something about welder's goggles for the "engineer" outfit, my mind was working on how to photograph it. The faux leather jacket and all sealed it - it had to be a dark, high-contrast, low-key image. I came up with the below:

2015 Halloween-62015 Halloween-6

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/40s

Aperture: F5.6

Focal Length: 50mm

Lens: Canon EF50mm f/1.8 II

ISO: 200

This is lit with a single softbox, camera right. Flash at about 1/8 power.

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) halloween light modifier low key portrait portraits steampunk http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/steampunk-halloween Mon, 01 Feb 2016 01:39:19 GMT
Havana Museum http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/havana-museum Havana is an interesting city and a great place to photograph. What caught my attention and continued to draw my interest were the contrasts. I've lived in Latin America several years now and great contrasts and disparities are everywhere, but there was something unique about Havana.

The below image was made in the Havana Museum. In one of the upper floors, there are a few rooms with statues. This image caught my eye because we have an elegant statue in a museum looking out onto a scene of people hanging laundry on the balcony of what was once probably a very upscale home. It's an interesting visual allegory of the wealth divide.

Havana city museum-98Havana city museum-98

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/125s

Aperture: F8.0

Focal Length: 21mm

Lens: Tamron 17-50mm

ISO: 800

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) contrast cuba disparities disparity habana havana museo museum statue http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/havana-museum Sun, 24 Jan 2016 22:40:22 GMT
Museum Photography http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/museum-photography I really enjoy museums and particularly photographing in museums, though it can be a challenge, for many reasons. I think the lighting is purposefully done to make it difficult to take photos!

However, I thankfully have my trusty "nifty-fifty" - my museum lens. It's a fast lens - F1.8, which allows me to gain a bit more in making images in low light. 

We've discovered the Soumaya Museum here in Mexico City and it has become one of my favorite art museums. The collection is very good quality and varied. One sculpture that caught my eye the first time I went was the "Lady with Veil":

Lady with Veil, B Lombardi F-1bLady with Veil, B Lombardi F-1b

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Aperture: 1.8

Focal Length: 50mm

Lens: Canon 50mm

ISO: 200

Lady with Veil, B Lombardi F-2bLady with Veil, B Lombardi F-2b

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Aperture: 1.8

Focal Length: 50mm

Lens: Canon 50mm

ISO: 200

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) low light mexico mexico city museo soumaya museum nifty fifty sculpture soumaya soumaya museum http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/museum-photography Wed, 20 Jan 2016 23:00:43 GMT
Havana, Cuba http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/havana-cuba A few months ago I had the opporunity to travel to Havana, Cuba - an interesting city, particularly for photography! I still have not yet finished going through all my images from there, but I have pulled out a few of my favorites, including the below image:

Havana street-7Havana street-7

EXIF Data

Shutter Speed: 1/80s

Aperture: 11.0

Focal Length: 32mm

Lens: Tamron 17-50mm

I really enjoy all of the different things going on in here: the classic car, the kids up on the balcony. It was one of those things that just happened - I was walking down Prado road and there it was! Like so many street scenes in Havana, it's trying to get the timing and the composition right. 

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) cuba habana habana vieja havana old havana street scenes http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/havana-cuba Mon, 18 Jan 2016 02:19:05 GMT
Beginning a New Year ... http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/beginning-a-new-year Another year has gone by and another goal to post more regularly to my blog ... The past year was busy and I still have several hundred images to get through! Since that is the case, I will begin by posting about my backlog ...

This past summer we had the opportunity to visit with family in Idaho and California. While in Idaho, my youngest daughter and my maternal grandfather bonded and I was able to capture the below image, which is one of my favorites. I like it so much not for composition or some technique, but because of the meaning it holds for me. Whenever I look at this image, it brings a flood of memories to mind.

Family really is the meaning behind it all.

26JULY2015 McCall-1726JULY2015 McCall-17

My wife is a faithful journal-keeper, maintaining a written record of our family lives; my role is to try and be the visual journal-keeper for our family, doing it through images.

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) bonding family generations memories memory http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/1/beginning-a-new-year Sat, 09 Jan 2016 20:22:53 GMT
Photo of the Week - Week 10 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/5/photo-of-the-week---week-10 Here it is, about two months since I've last posted anything here. The good news is that I have been busy shooting and have lots of things I would like to post. The bad news is that time seems to escape me and I don't get around to actually posting ...

A while ago we had the opportunity to go on a tour of the Basilica de Guadelupe here in Mexico City. It is perhaps the most important Catholic religious site in all of Latin America. At the top of the hill there was this great statue of Michael the Archangel looking over the city. However, the cityscape behind was lacking - it was a polluted day in the early afternoon. Not a real inspiring background.

I decided when I made the image of the statue that I wanted to make a composite image using a sky background I already had. Some Photoshop work later and I got the below:

Archangel, Basilica de Guadelupe, Mexico CityArchangel, Basilica de Guadelupe, Mexico City

 

 

 

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) archangel basilica de guadelupe cityscape composite composite image mexico mexico city michael statue http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/5/photo-of-the-week---week-10 Thu, 28 May 2015 23:03:29 GMT
Picture of the Week - Week 9 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/picture-of-the-week---week-9 We were able to travel to Valle de Bravo, Mexico, to see the Monarch butterflies in their overwintering area. The migration is a really amazing process; you can read more about it on Wikipedia here. It really is amazing to see millions of monarchs in one place!

Here are a couple of images from the trip:

31JAN2015 Valle de Bravo monarchs-231JAN2015 Valle de Bravo monarchs-2 31JAN2015 Valle de Bravo monarchs-431JAN2015 Valle de Bravo monarchs-4

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) butterflies butterfly mexico migration monarch nature overwintering valle de bravo winter http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/picture-of-the-week---week-9 Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:57:48 GMT
Picture of the Week - Week 8 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/picture-of-the-week---week-8 I have been trying to frantically catch up with my goal of a post per week ... I have been photographing, but have been slow in going through my images and getting things posted.

We were able to visit the LDS Temple in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I got some good images of it. Below is one of my favorites:

LDS Temple, Las Vegas, NVLDS Temple, Las Vegas, NV

Since we traveled there with only carry-on bags, I left my tripod at home and had to hand-hold, which resulted in too many blurry images. I borrowed a very lightweight tripod from my nephew, which I used for this image.

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) architecture las vegas lds mormon nevada temple http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/picture-of-the-week---week-8 Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:32:24 GMT
Picture of the Week - Week 7 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/picture-of-the-week---week-7 We recently were able to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico; I wish we had more time there! It just means that we will have to go back and visit again sometime.

While there we visited the site of the Tree of Tule, which is one of the oldest trees in the world, at about 1,500 years of age. It is a beautiful park and plaza area around the church. Hopefully we make it back soon! There is a brief Wikipedia article on it that you can read here.

Oaxaca oldest tree-1Oaxaca oldest tree-1

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) arbol arbol del tule mexico nature oaxaca oldest santa maria del tule tree tule http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/picture-of-the-week---week-7 Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:24:39 GMT
Picture of the Week - Week 6 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/picture-of-the-week---week-6 During the summer of 2014, we had the opportunity to go to Skyline Drive in Virginia. While there and hiking around some of the trails, I came upon a small memorial flag that had been left as part of a run/walk to commemorate fallen U.S. soldiers. This particular flag had been left for USA Pfc. Andrew L. Tuazon, who was killed in action in Mosul, Iraq on 10 May 2004. You can read more about him on the Fallen Heroes Memorial and also his obituary and profile here.

25JUL2015 memorial flag25JUL2015 memorial flag

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) fallen flag iraq. iraqi freedom memorial remember skyline drive soldier virginia http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/picture-of-the-week---week-6 Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:49:44 GMT
Picture of the Week - Week 5 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/picture-of-the-week---wee-5 We recently had the opportunity to visit the Botanical Garden Cosmovitral in Toluca, Mexico. It is an old market building that has been converted to a botanical garden and has some stunning stained glass. I can't wait to go back and have more time to photograph there! (We had about 20 minutes there as it was a stop on the way to another destination.)

Stained glass, botanical garden, TolucaStained glass, botanical garden, Toluca

The below image is of the entrance to the building. Apparently at a certain time during the spring solstice, the light hits this man at a perfect angle behind him, illuminating the entire frame. 

Stained glass, botanical garden, TolucaStained glass, botanical garden, Toluca

 

Stained glass, botanical garden, TolucaStained glass, botanical garden, Toluca

 

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) botanical garden cosmovitral jardin botanical light lighting mexico stained glass toluca http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/picture-of-the-week---wee-5 Sun, 08 Feb 2015 16:29:07 GMT
Picture of the Week - Week 4 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/picture-of-the-week---week-4 Now that we have moved to a new place, I had to come up with a new "studio" here in the house to do portraits in. 

I really enjoyed the huge loft we had in our last place, but we unfortunately do not have that here. What we do have, however, are a couple of massive closets, with correspondingly massive doors that swing out nice and wide. The doors are probably about 8 feet tall and opening them up I have a nice, wide place to put my cross bar to hang backdrops on, creating something of a huge clam shell.

I decided that I would try some high-key portraits as a first shot. The lighting is done with three speedlights, one on each side shooting through an umbrella to light the backdrop, and a third in a smallish softbox to light the subject. Here are a couple of examples:

 

 

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) high key home studio light modifier portrait portraits studio http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/picture-of-the-week---week-4 Sun, 08 Feb 2015 16:19:15 GMT
Picture of the Week 2015 - Week 3 http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/picture-of-the-week-2015---week-3 One of the traditions I have is to take portraits of my daughters on or near their birthdays.

I knew going in that I wanted something in black and white, and an image that was more serious in nature. Our eldest daughter can be more serious and pensive, taking things seriously at times, and I wanted something to reflect that aspect of her personality.

I also wanted the lighting to be simple - one light, nothing more. I used a single flash and a white shoot-through umbrella to light this, with her younger sister holding the light so it was quite close, flying over her and a bit in front.

17JAN2015 Lydia-1b17JAN2015 Lydia-1b

17JAN2015 Lydia-317JAN2015 Lydia-3

Again, just a single light, shoot-through umbrella, but a more colorful picture, with the background showing up and not totally underexposed.

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smith.scenes@gmail.com (J. Smith Photography) light modifier personality portrait portraits shoot through shoot-through single light umbrella http://smithscenes.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/picture-of-the-week-2015---week-3 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 23:15:23 GMT