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Monday, 19 August 2013
The Advani-Shanks Vedic Wedding
Mood:  happy
Topic: Weddings

One of the great things about being a wedding photographer is getting to meet new people at a joyous event.  But occasionally you meet old friends when you least expect it.  Such was the case with our latest wedding. 

We first met the bride, Dimple, at Needleman's Bridal Expo.  She booked an appointment to come and talk to us in more detail, but it had to be out a ways after she returned from her trip to India.  That was our first hint that this wedding would be a little different than our usual fare.  For while we had photographed weddings in the past that incorporated Indian decorations or elements into their otherwise American / western weddings, this was our first where they incorporated only a couple American traditions into their otherwise Indian / Vedic wedding activities. 

Our second surprise was meeting so many old friends at the event itself.  It turned out that many of the bride's family had worked or still work at IBM.  And back long before I began Ayer Photography, back before I consulted with Eastman Kodak, and long before my IBM career took me out of Vermont and around the globe, we had worked side-by-side as young engineers - back when a million bits on a chip was a big deal!  So, it was a bit like a reunion - catching up on 30-plus years with friends you barely recognize, yet surprised at what you still remember.    

As we got to know Erik and Dimple, I asked them how they got engaged.  Dimple told me that after dating three years, she "knew he was the man (she) wanted to spend the rest of (her) life with."  It was on the occasion of their third anniversary together that Erik took Dimple on a surprise trip to New York City.  Erik kept trying to convince Dimple to go to the top of the Empire State Building, but her fear of heights held her back.  So, he was forced to go with his backup plan and proposed when they returned to their hotel.  Dimple described it as, "I couldn't believe it.  He was so sweet and he was so nervous!  But he proposed before he turned thirty, just as I wanted." 

She went on to say that the story of their engagement typified their courtship.  She said, "he goes with the flow and I always plan things.  But sometimes it is important to just let things happen.  Either way, it always works out with us - sometimes planned, sometimes going with the flow and realizing how being in the moment can become so special and show our true love for each other."  

When it came to the wedding, they chose to have it at the Sunset Ballroom overlooking beautiful Lake Champlain.  And facing west as it does will often experience a sunset when the weather cooperates.  They chose the weekend of August 17-18 as a way of honoring Erik's mother.  This was just one of many elements that made this a very family-centric wedding celebration. 

In keeping with her family traditions, Dimple had long dreamed of having an Indian Vedic wedding ceremony.  While there are almost as many variations as there are Indian dialects, she was able to incorporate several core traditions and rituals into her wedding. 

It began with Mehndi night, a celebration held at the Hampton Inn Champlain Ballroom in Colchester, Vermont.  Mehndi, or Henna, as it is sometimes known in the western world, refers to the creation of intricate decorative skin designs by the artistic application of henna paste.  The paste will create a temporary stain where applied to the skin as it dries.  The groom told those gathered at the celebration that the amount of henna the bride chose to have applied was traditionally proportional to how much love she has for her husband-to-be.  Tradition also has it, one of the guests explained, that how long the mehndi lasts is indicative to how well the bride is cared for after the wedding.      

When we went to photograph the bride getting ready, we found that the Hindu bride does not wear white (white in the Indian culture is usually reserved for funerals). Instead, her intricate gown is a bold red or maroon.  In fact all the clothing for an Indian wedding is boldly colored and intricately beaded.  So colorful is the clothing that flowers are only used in petal form or in garlands during the ceremony and as table decoration at the reception.  A western wedding is almost monochromatic by comparison.  

The wedding itself begins with Swagatam, or the welcoming of the groom.  The bride's family greets the groom and his family and then escorts him to the wedding location.  As the bride makes her entrance, the groom his hidden behind a curtain.  Only after she has made her grand entrance and is standing next to him, is the curtain finally removed. 

Parents and family play a much stronger and more visible role in a Vedic wedding than a typical western ceremony.  And parts of the ritual are quite beautiful and touching even for those of us who did not understand a word that was said (because it was all in a language foreign to us).  Food is exchanged, and garlands of flowers are exchanged, as are vows.  Normally, I am told, the groom places a necklace on the bride instead of the exchange of rings.  Erik and Dimple, however, did both.  

Following the ceremony, the bride changes into a third beautiful, intricate and heavy gown before joining the reception.  The reception was more familiar to those of us with more experience with western weddings.  Introductions, toasts, dinner, cutting of the cake and first dances are celebration elements common to most of the weddings we have photographed.  Because Erik's mother had passed away, he danced with his sister and announced he was dedicating an emotional dance to her memory.


As we went out on the roof to take a few portraits, the sun began to set.  And while not the most dramatic we have ever seen, the sky did grace us with a touch of orange to add its blessing to a great day!    

Of course it takes a fairly large team of people to pull off a great wedding celebration like Erik and Dimple's. Here are some of the professionals that worked together to make this day a delight!

Wedding Professionals:

To see additional photographs from Erik and Dimple's wedding-related events:

For more details about the wedding ceremony itself (and some of our photos), see our blog post regarding the Vedic Wedding Ceremony.

Posted by Linda & Warren

Posted by ayerphoto at 7:36 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 September 2013 3:56 PM EDT
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Friday, 16 August 2013
A Panoramic View
Mood:  spacey
Topic: Pix of Week

I had to go the Sunset Ballroom the other day to go over some plans for an upcoming wedding.  If you have never been there, it is worth a trip to stop in.  It is located on Shelburne Road in South Burlington on the top floor of the Comfort Inn Suites.  And when the weather cooperates you can walk out of the ballroom onto a rooftop patio with a great view of Lake Champlain, and on occasion, a sunset since you are facing west. 

After we had finished discussing all the arrangements for a complicated setup, I hung around on the roof for a while taking a few shots.  (Well, it was a sunny day, so I brought my camera - who wouldn't?)  It was way too early in the day for a sunset, in fact the light was still high enough to be a bit harsh, but I decided to try a hand-held panoramic shot. 

To do this you set the camera on manual and take a series of shots, such that they overlap, but when stitched together will form one very large panoramic file.  I had only tried this manually in the past, and only with a few images.  This time I took five and decided to test PhotoShop's automated PHOTOMERGE feature

Since it was so bright, I also used Nik Color Efex Detail Extractor on the raw files to bring out more details in the shadow and light extremes.  Once complete, it looks really weird shaped, so I then crop out the part of interest and fit it to the longest aspect ratio my lab will print in a standard size, which is 4:1.  Here is the end result - my panorama of Lake Champlain from the Sunset Ballroom.    

While this blog post is only a low res file, the original is huge and will easily print at full quality at over 5 feet wide and even more on canvas.

For the camera / photo enthusiasts, the shot specifics were:

Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L USM at 24 mm 

Exposure: 1/500 at f/9, and ISO 160

Settings: Manual Mode, Parital Metering, no flash

My past experiments with earlier generations of stitching software did not always produce pleasing results and too easily got confused as to how the images went together.  But this one did just fine, even in the distorted extremes that I cropped off.

So next time you are on the roof of a tall building, take the wide view. 

Posted by Warren   

Ayer Photography of Vermont       


Posted by ayerphoto at 7:24 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 16 August 2013 7:51 PM EDT
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Thursday, 8 August 2013
SmugMug Migration Live
Mood:  surprised
Topic: Ayer Photo Website

If you have been following our blog for a while, you know that website updates and particularly host platform changes have not gone well for us.  In one case it was an unmitigated disaster.  So, when our gallery / store host, SmugMug announced that it was launching a new platform, my first reaction was "Oh No!"  I was fully expecting to be dealing with bugs and features that did not live up to their promise for many long weeks.  I am happy to report.  No, make that extremely happy and relieved to report that that was not the case. 

Yes, there were lots of frustrating moments, and I still have them.  However, they were all related to my lack of experience with the new platform and my seeming aversion to making sure I am editing a single page and not all the pages at once.  They color coded the editing blocks and I still messed up way more times than I should have.  But I am getting better, especially after having to go through and undo so many inadvertent edits. 

The old SmugMug was little more than a database of galleries.  It was customizable, but only with a fair amount of coding knowledge that I never took the time to acquire.  So many of our customers probably never really understood what our gallery site looked like, because they just went directly to their gallery with a link and never looked around from there.  And we certainly did not encourage them, because it was not really conducive to casual browsing.  In addition there was minimal ability to incorporate text that would explain anything.  

The new SmugMug is now close to a complete photo-centric website platform.  It lacks some key functionality to be a complete solution, but we are able to distribute much more of our site to the SmugMug platform without forcing you to come back to our main site just to navigate to another gallery, for example.

So, only 8 days after the SmugMug launch and only 5 days after I started working on the migration, we have gone live with our new gallery site.  And it is more than just a new look.  We have completely reorganized our gallery structure, made it browsable by both prospective customers who want to see our portfolio, and current customers looking for the images from their session or event.  It addresses many questions right within the gallery site without having to return to the main site whenever text is required.

We hope you will take a look at it and let us know what you think.   

As with any major overhaul, some links had to change.  We have tried diligently to test all our gallery links and fix those that had to be changed.  But if you find one we missed, please let us know so we can correct the coding.

Now, without further adieu, here is a direct link to our new gallery site. 

Check it out!  We hope you like it!

Posted by Warren

Ayer Photography of Vermont                  

Ayer Photography Galleries                


     Trey Ratcliff's full review         

     Scott Kelby's impressions                  

Posted by ayerphoto at 12:48 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 8 August 2013 1:28 PM EDT
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Monday, 15 July 2013
The Wells-Zorzi Wedding
Mood:  hug me
Topic: Weddings

This past weekend's wedding was that of Doug Zorzi and Joanne Wells. It was beautiful in no small part because for once the rain held off and we were treated to sunshine, comfortable temperatures and dry dirt roads, instead of muddy dirt roads. This was particularly important for this wedding because the ceremony was held at the Old West Church.

The Old West Church was a new venue for us and if you want to go there, we recommend that you take an old fashioned paper map, if you do not know your way around. It is located in one of those places in Vermont where you get zero bars of service - no GPS, no cell, no LTE, and not even SMS for text. 

The National Park Service describes the Old West Church as "an extremely well preserved meeting house, that has served the community of Calais (Vermont) since 1825."   It is further reported that the First Meeting House Society of Calais was formed 1823 "to select a plan for a meeting house." 

A plaque on the wall of the church says that it was funded by selling boxed pews.  And in fact it is these boxes that make it somewhat unique in that not all of the seats face forward.  And as the photographer who needed to get from one side to the other during the ceremony - it made for some very circuitous routes.  While the designer is unknown, some believe the selected plan may have been that of the moderator of this Society, Caleb Curtiss, who had migrated from Salisbury, Connecticut. Curtiss family tradition holds that Caleb's plan drew upon his memory of the Salisbury Meeting House.  Other interesting features include an accessible three-sided balcony.   

Tradition has it that the church was originally owned by six denominations, the Baptists, Universalists, Congregationalists, Christians, Free Will Baptists, and Methodists. But, the building was also used for secular purposes such as community meetings and plays.  And while it has a couple of wood stoves for heat, my grand daughter, who lives near there and has attended Christmas events there says that it can be quite cold inside in winter.  But that was not a concern for this wedding in July.  Instead we worried that it might get too hot, but an overcast sky made for near ideal conditions - temperature wise.       

We first met the bride, Joanne, at one of Needleman's Bridal Expo's in the initial planning stages of her wedding.  When we later sat down with her and her husband-to-be, Doug, we knew it would be a great event and unique in many ways!  When I asked them about their love story, they said, "We found true love the second time around.  We now have the perfect family of three sons and three daughters."   

Interestingly enough, it was Doug that had three sons, one of which was unable to attend because he is currently serving in the military.   

But they were a great group and fun to work with.  When we spied an old overpass near where the groomsmen were getting ready, we got them to give us their version of the famous finger-snapping scene from West Side Story.     

And Joanne, as you probably guessed by now, has three daughters, all of whom were able to participate in the grand event as bridesmaids.  One of them makes jewelry and provided all the necklaces and earrings for the three sisters.    

When you have a group as close as this one, and they have a great sense of humor, it makes for some great spontaneous moments.  It is at those times, I almost love the "outtakes" better than the formal posed shots because they show fun authentic spontaneous joy - that cannot be faked!  

And others are a bit more contrived, but they made them so much fun! 

We often warn brides and grooms that not everything will go according to plan.  Something will go wrong - hopefully minor - but there is almost always something that has to be ad libbed. And we watch for it because it can lead to some great spontaneous expressions.

In this wedding, one of those moments came during the exchange of rings. The groom placed the bride's ring on her finger first and all went well. When the bride came to put the groom's ring on his finger, however, she could not get it on! She pushed and pushed. The groom even tried himself - all to no avail. Finally, they adapted and she placed his ring on his pinky finger amid uproarious laughter!  

Ensuring no one will forget this wedding for its pure joy!

They greeted their guests after the ceremony and we took a few group portraits.  One of the bridesmaids then suggested we go to downtown Adamant, Vermont. 

Adamant is a tiny unincorporated village in the rolling countryside between Montpelier to the south and Calais to the north.  If it were on a highway, you would probably pass it before you noticed it.  But, the washboard dirt roads insured we drove slow enough to fully appreciate its beauty.  Its population was last recorded as having only 53 residents, but they managed to have a theater, a music school, and a gorgeous park in "center" of the village. 

Interestingly since Adamant has no government and no legal status, it has no universally recognized boundaries.  This apparently has given rise to the aphorism that "Adamant is a state of mind!"  And a fine state it is!     

The pond even had a couple of waterfalls.    

There are some beautiful spots in Vermont if you know where to look.  

When we were finished, we headed back into Barre, Vermont to the Knights of Columbus hall for their reception and a dinner provided by the Hill Top Restaurant.  Butch Getek, serving as DJ and MC, kept the party moving.  One highlight was their cake from Delicate Decadence, for which Joanne had won a door prize at the Needleman's Bridal Expo!  

In sharing ideas for their wedding we had told them about the Anniversary Dance that we had seen others use at their receptions.  This is were they have a dance and every so often the DJ will ask all couples to leave the floor who have been married less than a certain amount.  Of course the newlyweds are the first to leave, and the final remaining couple had been married over 60 years!   

When Butch asked the couple if they had any advice for the newlyweds, they said they sure did. The man told them that marriages are like ships in that you needed to know who was in charge. Now he said that he always thought of himself as the captain, but his wife was the admiral!

When it comes time to throw the bouquet, you never quite know what you are going to get. At some weddings, they are aggressive in trying to catch the bouquet, while in others, just the opposite.  In either case the best parts of the resulting photos are usually the expressions on the faces of the ones who did not catch the flowers.   

The woman in red almost has it, but misses at the last second. The bouquet continues on to the floor and rolls over to the feet on the bridesmaids, who pretty much just stand and look at it!

Finally, one of them bends down and picks it up, while everyone else just watches.  

All in all it was a great celebration of two great families coming together as one. We were happy to have been a part of it and wish Doug and Joanne our very best!  

Of course it takes a fairly large team of people to pull off a great wedding celebration like Doug and Joanne's. Here are some of the professionals that worked together to make this day a delight!

Wedding Professionals:

To see additional photographs from Doug and Joanne's wedding:

Posted by Linda & Warren

Posted by ayerphoto at 2:36 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 July 2013 5:35 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Love Story - Tyler & Alexis of the Guard
Mood:  special
Topic: Love Stories

We love to hear how couples meet and fall in love.  So, we ask the couples, whose weddings we photograph, to share a little of their story.  We first met Tyler, when we photographed his sister's wedding back in 2009.  So we were delighted to work with this great family once again, and happy to meet his fiancé, Alexis. 

When we asked them how they met, here is what they said: 

"Tyler and Alexis met in 2008, while both working a tour with the Vermont Air National Guard.  As the summer went on they became close friends.  As their tour drew closer to an end, they started to realize they didn't want want their relationship to end with it.  Before long, they were considered a couple!"

"After dating for about six months, Alexis made her stays with Tyler permanent and made the move to Morrisville, Vermont.    Tyler's family instantly grew close and made her a part of the family with ease!" 

"That summer the family starting making plans for the cruise they take every couple of years.  Mind you that by family, I mean one that includes about 20 aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins!"

"The cruise was set for October 2011, and Alexis couldn't have been more excited, since she had never been on a cruise.  They would fly to Barcelona, Spain, and travel around the Mediterranean for a week." 

"She had brought up the idea of an engagement a few months before the cruise, but Tyler insisted it would probably be a while before they were ready for that."

"The first day on the cruise was at sea, and they had a great time learning the ship and relaxing at the pool.  That night they had reservations for dinner with the entire family, although they were such a large crowd and split into two tables, it was a great time."

"After dinner Tyler, Alexis, his sister, Jaimie, and husband Rick went to the top of the ship for fresh air and to admire the view.  As Rick insisted he needed a moment, Tyler and Alexis continued to the back of the ship to see the moon, telling Jaimie to meet them back there." 

"Little did Alexis know what was coming next."

"As soon as Tyler and Alexis reached the back of the ship, she looked out over the sea. admiring the reflection of the moon on the water.  Tyler then called her name to get her attention.  As she turned around, she found he was down on one knee; and then he asked her to marry him!  Alexis was beyond excited and in disbelief that it was actually happening, but didn't hesitate to say YES!"

"After a moment of taking in the excitement and celebrating, they quickly went to find Jaimie and Rick, who were slowly making their way to the stern of the ship.  They were overjoyed with the news, and Rick quickly made his way to the stage poolside to announce the engagement over the microphone!"

"The cruise was definitely a trip of a lifetime, and a story that they will
continue to talk about forever."  

"The wedding was set to take place at the home of Tyler's parents house in Morrisville, Vermont.  But, with weeks of rain leading up to the day, it was decided that the ground would not be suitable for such an event.  The location was moved a couple of miles away to his grandfather's house, also in Morrisville and turned out to be even more beautiful than visioned!"

"Rehearsal had also taken place at the wedding site, followed by dinner at
The Hardwood Ranch (the family camp) in Elmore.  It was set to a luau theme with a roasted pig, tiki torches and fun drinks all setting the mood for the next day."

Their wedding turned out wonderful, complete with a rainbow, tractors, and fireworks. For the full story on their wedding CLICK HERE to see our wedding blog posting.

Posted by Warren

Ayer Photography of Vermont


Posted by ayerphoto at 3:31 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 16 August 2013 7:13 PM EDT
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Monday, 1 July 2013
The Maxfield-Demars Wedding
Mood:  on fire
Topic: Weddings

We first met the groom (Tyler) way back in 2009 when we photographed his sister's wedding.  He was one of the groomsmen in that wedding.  We loved the family and were delighted when they asked us back to photograph Tyler's.  It is so much fun to photograph a second wedding in the same family or circle of friends, because you see so many people you know, it is like a reunion of sorts.  And in some ways it is easier, because you already know some of their family traditions and know what to look for.  

The bride (Alexis) and groom (Tyler) were both members of the National Guard, and I am told that that is where they met.  (CLICK HERE to see their LOVE STORY)  This made for some unique aspects to this wedding - the bride being kidded about having "non-regulation" nails and the officiant pausing during the ceremony to thank them both for their service.  

The wedding was originally planned to be at the home of Tyler's parents, where they had recently put in a pond. It was a beautiful spot and we shot their engagement photos there.    

It is a beautiful spot and we had grand plans for some of the photos for the wedding.  Unfortunately in the few short weeks between this photo and the wedding itself, it rained.  And rained.  And rained and rained.  A few days before the wedding it was decided that there was just too much mud and the hillside, where the wedding was to take place too slippery to be safe for a party crowd.  So, less than a week before the wedding, they had to change the venue.  Now this is not the first wedding we have photographed where they had to change the venue, but it is the first venue change with so little lead time.  It made for what the matron of honor called, "one very stressful week!"    

In the end the whole event was moved up a generation to the home of Tyler's grandfather. It was another lovely spot - nice to have a plan B that was as nice as plan A - but flatter and drier - with great white-fenced horse corrals and lots of room for the tents. Because of the daily rain storms they had tents for the ceremony and tents for the reception and tents for the walk between the tents. And they all turned out to be necessary, for while there were periods of sun, there were numerous showers between times.    

One of the traditions of this family is a great rehearsal party after the rehearsal. This time it was a luau theme at the Hardwood Ranch in Elmore. With all the rain we wondered how accessible this would be at the end of Hardwood Flats Road (a dirt road). But, aside from some ditch erosion we got there and back just fine. And of course there were more tents that proved their worth when it started to rain long before the night was over.   

While all weddings have key elements in common it is always a delight to see what the couple will do to make their celebration a little different.  Often they will incorporate some unique mode of transportation for the bride or groom or both to use in getting to the venue.  Sometimes it is an antique car, horses, an RV, a fire truck, or in this case an old tractor.  

Originally it was supposed to bring the bridal party to the venue, but since the venue was moved to the place where the bride was getting ready, it was switched to bringing the groom and his groomsmen.   

As time for the ceremony approached, we could see a storm brewing in the distance as the guests found their seats under the tent. After considerable debate on the wisdom of going or waiting, it was finally decided to "go for it!"  

The "ring bearer" announced the bride was on her way.  The rain held off as she walked toward the tent.  The groom came down the aisle and met her, taking her hand just as Lauren Paine sang the lyric "... take my hand."  And then they walked together out the other side of the tent with the officiant, braving the elements, should they come.  

They got through a lot of the ceremony, one reading, the vows, and even the exchanging of the rings.  But part way through the harp music, big fat rain drops began to tap out a beat on the tent.  The wedding party waited for a moment to see if it was going to be just a few drops, or become a full fledged shower.  That it was to be a shower was soon evident and they scurried under the tent with their guests to finish the last couple of elements of the ceremony, before recessing down the tented pathway. 

For the rest of the day it was just a series of showers interspersed with sun.  At one point we even got a gorgeous rainbow and were able to run out for this shot.   

We were never able to get very far from a tent or a porch, for the breaks were short lived and the rain always returned.  So we would take a few shots, then join the reception.  When another break came along, we would gather another group for a photo.  

In between breaks, we ate, danced and cut the cake in the dry tent. 

And then another photo with another tractor.   

As the sun began to fall, the party kicked into high gear directed by Supersounds.   

And the groomsmen stood in the rain for the traditional cigar!  

And then after it was dark and it stopped raining and the Doppler radar suggested the next shower was at least a few minutes away, we all went out to watch the fireworks!  After all, when both the bride and groom are in the Guard and it is only a few days before the fourth of July, they must be practically mandatory? 

And for the younger guests they had provided sparklers which were a big hit. But the bride and bridesmaid had reserved five for themselves, and we decided to try some lightpainting. This is where you hold the camera perfectly still, and the couple stands perfectly still, while a bridesmaid runs around them painting something in the dark with a sparkler. What is only revealed by looking in the camera's LCD after it is done. 

All in all, in spite of the sporadic rain showers, it was a great time with great people celebrating the marriage of a great couple!     

Of course it takes a fairly large team of people to pull off a great wedding celebration like Tyler and Alexis'. Here are some of the professionals that worked together to make this day a delight!

Wedding Professionals:

To see additional photographs from Tyler and Alexis' wedding:

Posted by Linda & Warren


Posted by ayerphoto at 8:44 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 16 August 2013 7:12 PM EDT
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Thursday, 27 June 2013
Speedlite Modifiers & Lack Thereof
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: Photography

I was shooting some portraits the other day a little later in the day than I had originally wanted to.  As a result the sun was a bit harsher and I found I had more trouble than expected getting enough light out of my modified speedlites to balance the ambient background.

When I got back to the studio I wondered whether I could have eeked out a bit more power by using a different setup or modifier.  It dawned on me that while I have used all of the modifiers I have in my arsenal at one time or another, I never compared them under identical conditions.  I recall Don Chick once suggesting to those of us attending his talk on portraits that we should experiment with an egg to understand what different lighting setups did, so we could use them more effectively on a real shoot. 

So, while I did not use an egg, I did try to answer two questions in a more controlled, apples-to-apples way:

     a) How much maximum light do I lose with various modifiers?

     b) How much "softening" does each technique offer? 


I limited my setup to one or two Canon 580 EXII speedlites with and without modifiers.  I did the whole thing inside and while the ceilings and floors were white, this did not affect my results except for the Rogue Flash Bender, which of course relies on bouncing light off the ceiling.  And lastly, while I tried to be consistent from shot to shot, I did not take the time to be super precise, but I estimate the error from this at no more than 1/3 of a stop.

The first step was to pull up the spec output from the speedlite manual at different settings.  At a power of 1/1, ISO=100, the spec output at different distances and manual zoom settings is as follows:

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     28 mm    f/20    f/14    f/10      f/7       f/5

     50 mm    f/28    f/20    f/14      f/10     f/7

     105 mm  f/38    f/28    f/20      f/14     f/10   

The first step then was to use a light meter and measure the output of an actual speedlite and see if I produced the spec result. Using two different speedlites and the 105 mm results repeated multiple times, I got these results:

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     28 mm    f/18    f/14    f/10      f/7       f/5

     50 mm    f/22    f/18    f/13      f/9     f/7

     105 mm  f/30    f/22    f/14      f/11     f/8

The results were at spec within measurement error at 28 mm zoom, but at the highest (105 mm) zoom, I consistently measured a lower output than spec even on my newest speedlite by more than 1/2 stop. 

WIDE (DIFFUSION) PANEL  [ 1-2/3 Stop Loss ] 

The simplest modifier is to simply pull out the built in "wide panel" and place it over the flash.  The manual describes this as extending the zoom coverage to 14 mm.  The measured output results were:  

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     14 mm    f/9      f/7      f/5.6      f/4      f/2.8

Comparing to the 28 mm zoom results, putting the wide panel in position appears to reduce the light output straight ahead by about 5/3 stops. 

HIGH SPEED SYNC  [ 1/3 to 2/3 Stop Loss ]   

The next most obvious modifier, likely to be invoked by necessity in bright light is to use high speed sync (HSS mode on speedlite) to be able to use shutter speeds about 1/250 or 1/300. The trouble here is that while below the camera sync speed, the light from the flash on the subject is pretty much independent of the shutter speed letting you control the flash light with aperture and ambient with shutter speed. At speeds faster than the sync speed the light from the flash will also be dependent on the shutter speed so balancing becomes more complicated. The measured output for one speedlite in HSS mode at power setting of 1/1 and constant zoom of 28 mm, the results were:

     SHUTTER     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     1/320          f/16    f/11     f/9       f/6.3    f/5.4  

     1/640          f/13    f/10     f/6.3    f/5.6    f/3.2   

At a shutter speed just above the sync speed at 1/320 the effective light output was measured about 1/3 stop under the non-HSS measurement for the same zoom setting.  At a shutter speed of 1/640 the effective light was measured about 2/3 stop down.    

TWO SPEEDLITES  [ + 1 Stop Gain ] 

The next "modifier" was to mount two speedlites on a common bracket and fire them together.  I used a Photoflex Dual Shoe Flash Adapter.   These results were as expected.  

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     28 mm      -        -        f/13      f/8       f/5

     105 mm  f/45    f/32    f/22      f/16     f/10  

The measured output was about double what it was with one light, that is, an increase in light by about 1 stop.            

ULTIMATE LIGHT BOX  [ 1-1/3 Stop Loss ]    

My next modifier was Harbor Digital Design Ultimate Light Box. Again the measurements were of one speedlight, set at power 1/1 and measured for ISO=100. The results were:  

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     28 mm    f/11    f/9      f/6.3     f/4.5    f/3.2

     105 mm  f/11    f/9      f/6.3     f/5       f/3.2   

As compared to the 28 mm zoom actual, the loss by adding the Ulitmate Light Box modifier is about 4/3 of a stop, so you lose a little over half of the light.  The other thing you notice is that the box does a great job of diffusing the light.  Adjusting the speedlite zoom had no effect on the measured output from the box.   

DOUG BOX LOCATION LIGHT BOX  [ 1-1/3 Stop Loss ]  

My next modifier was a Doug Box Location Light Box.  As with the Ultimate Light Box, adjusting the speedlite zoom had no effect on the measured output of the box, so I have only included the 28 mm zoom results below:        

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     28 mm    f/13    f/9      f/6.3     f/4.5    f/3.2   

At the closest distance of only 5 feet (pretty close for a box of this size) the loss appears to be down only about one stop, but at greater distances (7 feet and beyond), the drop is more consistently about 4/3 of a stop, similar to the Ultimate Light Box.   

ROGUE FLASHBENDER (LARGE)  [ 2-1/2 Stops Loss ]   

My next modifier was a large Rogue Flashbender.  Since this is not as simple as the other modifiers, I tried to use it in what could be a typical fashion.  I set the speedlite to a zoom of 50 mm, and pointed it straight up at the ceiling.  I attached the Rogue Flashbender and kept it fairly flat.  In measuring the light output, I tried to block contributions from the ceiling to measure mostly straight forward reflections. 

     ZOOM           5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     50 mm UP     f/7.1    f/6.3   f/4.5    f/3.2     f/2.2    

These results indicate about 5/2 stops (2-1/2 stops) loss from the 28 mm actual baseline.  Obviously these results can be varied significantly by tilting the speedlite at a different angle or shaping the bender differently, but this does give a baseline for comparison.     


My next modifier was a translucent white umbrella. Again, the zoom setting made minimal difference to the measured output, so I just report the 28 mm zoom results below.

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     28 mm    f/11    f/9      f/6.3     f/4.5    f/3.2   

As with the other front-attachable modifiers, the output was down about 4/3 stops from the 28 mm actual baseline.  


My next setup was a surprise. It is exactly the same as the previous setup but I turned on both speedlites and fired them together. The surprise was that instead of gaining a full stop of light, I only seemed to gain about 1/3 of a stop.  This is about 1 full stop down from the single light 28 mm actual baseline.    

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     28 mm    f/13    f/10    f/7.1      f/5       f/4   


For my next setup, I simply turned the setup around and swapped a silver reflective umbrella for the white translucent one.  This produced the following results:  

     ZOOM     5 ft     7 ft     10 ft     14 ft     20 ft

     28 mm    f/13    f/11    f/9        f/6.3    f/4

     105 mm  f/11    f/9      f/7.1     f/5       f/3.2     

Interestingly, the results are similar to the white umbrella EXCEPT for a boost of about 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop in the 10 ft to 14 ft distance range. I am not sure if the shape of the umbrella tends to focus the light out in this range, but it acts like it and it was repeatable. The distance measured here is from the light stand - the light actually travels longer because it goes back to the umbrella before being reflected forward again. 

And also interestingly, zooming the speedlites to 105 mm actually produced less light in front.  I suspect this is because the speedlites themselves block any light reflected right back to them, and when tightly zoomed more light falls into this category. 

With both speedlites set to 28 mm zoom, there is a loss of 1/3 to 2/3 stop over bare speedlites in the 10 ft to 14 ft range. 


Of course the power or intensity of the light is only one consideration in an actual photo session.  It is also important to know how directional or diffuse it is - at least relatively speaking.  In some cases where the gear must be carried, it is nice to know what the tradeoff is, if you opt for the more portable lighter setup?

For the second set of experiments, I took a simple self portrait.  I sat in a chair about 10 feet in front of a brick wall that was dimly lit with a couple of incandescent ceiling spots.  This was just enough to keep the background from going black, but was about 3 or more stops below the light I would meter on the subject. 

The lighting setup was placed on a stand about 7 feet high and about 9 feet from the subject and about 45 degrees off the camera-subject axis.  The camera was set for a shutter speed of 1/60, ISO=800, and an aperture of f/5.0.  For every setup, the speedlites were set to a zoom of 50 mm (except when using the wide panel) and the power was adjusted so that f/5.0 was measured at the subject location.

I purposely used no other light and room was fairly dark so that it was easier to tell what the modifier was doing to the primary light source.  As the subject, I tried to look at the same spot about halfway between the camera-subject axis and the light-subject axis.

Once I took the image, I brought it into Lightroom, converted to Greyscale and then measured the relative luminosity on the bright left cheek and the darker right cheek.  I then subtracted the two readings as a relative measure of the contrast / ratio between the directly lit side of the face and any feathering on the dark side.  The absolute numbers varied widely depending on how I selected my measurement points, but the relative order of softest setup to harshest remained fairly consistent.

TWO LITES w/WIDE PANELS  [45] (1/16 - 0.3) 

Somewhat of a surprise was that the "softest" score (45-46) went to the setup employing two speedlites.  Both were BARE except that I pulled out the wide panel diffuser on both.  The use of two lites also gave the "light" source an effectively wider profile.  Each of the two lites was set to a power of 1/16 - 0.3 .


The second softest setup by this measure was afforded by another two speedlite setup. This time two lites with a White Translucent Umbrella. This produced a score of 47 on one measure and 50 on another, with both set to a power of 1/16. It produced this result:    

ROGUE FLASHBENDER (UP) [48-49] (1/8) 

This setup produced the best result using only one light.  In this case the speedlite was pointed at the white ceiling and had a large Rogue Flashbender attached an left relatively flat.  Power was set to 1/8 to achieve f/5.0 at the subject.  The result was:    

Obviously, we also pick up a bit more light on the upper forehead consistent with a lot of light coming off the ceiling.  


The next setup achieved similar results, but was done using two speedlites again, but with a silver reflective umbrella.  Both lites were set to a power of 1/16 and produced this result:    

DOUG BOX LOCATION SOFTBOX [52-50]  (1/8 - 0.3)

Another very similar result was achieved using the Doug Box Location Softbox with one speedlite.  In this case the power was set to 1/8 - 0.3 and yielded a score in the 50 to 52 range.  This is the result:  

In this case the box was pointed directly at the subject.


For this setup, I kept everything the same except that I pointed the box to the subject's right, so the light was feathered.  The result was very similar to previous setup.  

WIDE PANEL DIFFUSER [48-51]  (1/8)

Another setup producing similar results was a single speedlite with its Wide Panel Diffuser in place to give it an effective 14 mm zoom.  Again the power was set to 1/8 to achieve f/5.0 at the subject.  Interestingly this solution is by far the easiest and most portable of all the modifiers as it is built in. 

TWO SPEEDLITES BARE (50 mm ZOOM) [53-58] (1/64 - 0.7)

This setup consumed the least power - using a setting of only 1/64 - 0.7 to achieve f/5.0.  The setup was a little touchy on where I picked my measurement point, so result was a little less consistent than some.   

As you will see below, the harshest light came from using one speedlite bare, so the fact that we used two lights creating an effectively larger broader light source helped quite a bit.   

ULTIMATE LIGHT BOX  [55-57]  (1/16 + 0.7) 

The next setup employed one speedlite with a full Ultimate Light Box in place.  The power was set to 1/16 + 0.7 to achieve f/5.0 for the following result:    

PARTIAL ULTIMATE LIGHT BOX [58-59]  (1/32 + 0.3)  

The Ultimate Light Box can be disassembled and used in pieces.  It is made up of an inner diffuser around which is mounted another larger diffuser.  For this setup I removed the outer diffuser box and just used the inner little diffuser.  Interestingly while it used more power than a bare speedlite, it did not provide much softening benefit.   

ONE SPEEDLITE BARE (50 mm ZOOM) [59-59]  (1/32 - 0.7) 

In this last case, I used just one speedlite, zoomed to 50 mm and set to 1/32 - 0.7 power.  As you might expect this consistently produced the harshest light by the measurements in this experiment. 

In case you were lulled to sleep by the similar postings above and it is hard to compare all the way back to the first postings, I have reposted the TWO LITE w/WHITE UMBRELLA portrait from above to it is easy to compare to the SINGLE LITE BARE setup immediately above. 

Lastly, I repost for more direct comparison the result from the setup above that used only one speedlite, but the Wide Panel Diffuser was pulled out:    


Maybe I should call it surprises rather than conclusions.  While we all know that broadening or diffusing the light source will soften the light, this attempt to quantify the benefit with different approaches produced some results I did not expect:

1.  I was surprised at how little benefit the partial Ultimate Light Box made.  In fact I probably would not bother with it, as the benefit is too small to justify lugging it around by itself.  If I could not use the whole thing, I would not use it simply to soften the light. 

2.  I was also surprised at how big a difference just using two speedlites mounted less than 12 inches apart with no modifiers made as compared to a single lite, everything else being equal. 

3.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see the huge impact of using the built-in Wide Panel Diffuser was.  In fact, using two lites with both utilizing their wide panel diffusers produced a result rivaling the softest by this test.  Given that this particular modifier is built-in to every speedlite and is never left home and requires lugging no extra gear, this is good to know.  Relatively speaking, it requires quite a bit of gear to beat it. 

4.  Another unexpected surprise was that I expected the Doug Box Location Softbox to be better than it was; I certainly did not expect a single speedlite with its Wide Panel Diffuser to be comparable.  Now there are times when the softbox is useful, but its limitations in terms of portability, and the inability to use additional speedlites (cannot mount more than one Canon 580 EX II) limit its flexibility.  Interestingly two speedlites with Wide Panels produced better results by this measure.  Were I to have measured more complicated setups where I had the freedom to feather the light more, the softbox probably would have done better, but in this simple test and where ambient and reflectors would contribute to an outdoor total lighting solution, I might question whether this gear was worth the space.

5. There is not a lot of difference in the loss associated with any of the box / umbrella modifiers. They all "cost" about 1-1/3 to 1-2/3 of a stop, so you basically waste about 2/3 of the available light you have to work with to use them. The Rogue FlashBender will cost another stop, halving the light again. This means it is probably best used as fill or to shape light in conjunction with a bounce off a larger surface.

6.  When using a softbox type modifier or translucent umbrella there is no benefit to changing the speedlite zoom.  It appears to be approximately the same as it would be at 28 mm.  The single exception is when using a silver reflective umbrella.  In this case manually zooming the lens to 105 mm, for example, actually reduces the forward light output, I suspect because it reflects more light back to the speedlite which blocks it from proceeding to the subject.    

7. I like the results of the translucent umbrella and find it more pleasing in this example than the silver reflective umbrella. Of course other tests have convinced me such umbrellas are not the best solution outdoors with any kind of wind. They too closely resemble a sail and have led to damaged equipment more than once. 

While most real portrait situations have more considerations than just one modifier on one light in a dark room, this experiment helped me understand in a more quantifiable way the lighting budget "cost" of each of these modifiers, and the relative softening benefit of each in at least one apples-to-apples case. In cases where I need a very portable and rapidly deployable solution, this does indicate a possible change in strategy over some of the things I have tried in the past - where I should be able to get a better benefit for less ergs of energy exerted.

May all your light be flattering.

Posted by Warren

Ayer Photography of Vermont                   

Posted by ayerphoto at 10:26 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 27 June 2013 5:08 PM EDT
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Friday, 21 June 2013
Jeremiah - The First Day
Mood:  mischievious
Topic: Jeremiah

When you miss a family member, you cannot help but to think back to when he first arrived - the first day as a member of our family - and how it came to be.   

Jeremiah could be said to be a native-born Vermonter.  He was born April 27, 2006, to Lolli and Duncan in Alburgh, Vermont.  It was a beautiful spot off the beaten path, far removed from any well travelled road and on the shore of Lake Champlain.  It was probably close to doggy heaven because he had lots of other dogs to play with in big fields and a barn.  The woman who owned the place ran a dog rescue, but catered primarily to Bichon Frises and Westie's, which she allowed to breed.  

We met him on July 29th at the age of 13 weeks.  We were told that he was the last of his litter available for adoption.  In fact, he had already been adopted by another couple, but had been returned, saying their landlord would not let them keep the dog.  He was playing with his sister (who was being retained for breeding) in the yard when we got there.  He was shaggy and a little unkempt, having been jumping and running in the open fields. 

He was apricot colored instead of the characteristic Bichon Frise white and very shy of people.  It took us quite a while to coax him over to get acquainted.  He finally let Linda pick him up and hold him, and for her at least, it was love at first sight.   

She held him in her arms for the entire one hour drive back to our house.  In that time, I think he adopted her, for he would literally follow her around wherever she went pretty much for the rest of his life.  

He never said a word or made a sound of any kind.  At first we thought he was just very shy.  As the days wore on, however, we began to wonder if he even had a voice.  Could it be he was mute?  Had his previous owners traumatized him into being silent so the landlord would not hear him?

Finally about a month after he came to live with us, he barked for the first time.  He probably thought we were crazy, we were so excited and loving on him!  It was like the faucet was turned on and he barked (talked) to us everyday from then on.  It soon became obvious that he was now comfortable and happy in our home and he would never again be called shy by anyone!         


Posted by Warren                  


Posted by ayerphoto at 12:45 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 21 June 2013 4:01 PM EDT
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All About The "Cuppa Joe"
Mood:  hungry
Topic: Food

Coffee.  I thought about starting with a corny line, "I don't always drink coffee, but when I do, it is ..." except that I almost always have a cup of coffee or two in the course of a day.  Chonda Pierce has called it in more than one of her comedy routines the Christian drug of choice.  

And there was certainly a time in my life when I was a part of that America "that ran on Dunkin's." 

I still recall my first sip of coffee.  I was a teenager attending a banquet with my parents.  It was a big sit down affair and I was very thirsty.  We kept waiting for the waiter to come around so I could order a beverage, but he was no where to be seen.  But there were others, making the rounds with pots of coffee - caffeinated in one hand and decaf in the other.  My mother suggested that I flag one of them down and try some coffee, while waiting to get my real drink.  So I got my first cup of coffee.  My mother suggested adding cream and sugar, because, as she put it at the time, "most people have it that way." 

To put it mildly, I hated it!  I disliked the taste of that concoction so much that I would rather be thirsty than drink it!  The remainder of the cup sat there for the rest of the dinner untouched!  I assumed that I did not like coffee.  Hard to believe now, but that was the conclusion I drew and did not try it again for a couple of years. 

My second taste of coffee was much more rewarding.  I had gone with my father to the marina, where he stored his boat for the winter, to do some work on the hull - the kind of work you can only do while the boat is out of the water.  It was still winter weather, the wind was whipping and I was very very cold.  My soda quenched my thirst, but did nothing to warm me up.  At our lunch break my father offered me a cup of coffee from his thermos.  I remember thinking I was cold enough to drink plain hot tap water, the taste not being a prime criteria as long as it was warm. 

To my surprise, I actually liked the taste.  You see, my father was apparently not like "most people," as he drank his coffee black with only the faintest hint of sugar.  Turns out, it was not the coffee I disliked, but simply the combination of milk in coffee that seemed to insult my sense of good taste.  My father liked it fairly strong, but not bitter.

He told me the story of camping with his father (my grandfather) where he had his first cup of coffee.  My grandfather was a straightforward practical man and his idea of the easiest way to make a cup of coffee while camping was to throw a handful of grounds in a saucepan of water and hold it over the campfire till it got dark.  As you can imagine, this was not a subtle cup of coffee - this made JOLT look like baby food.

I copied my father's recipe for coffee until one day I simply left out the little bit of sugar altogether and decided I liked it even better!  My motto then became, "If it is not good enough to drink black, it is not good enough to drink!"  It meant I could taste the subtle differences between brands and blends, but without the milk or cream to cut it, did not like it bitter. 

In college I shared an apartment with two other guys.  One of them contributed a percolator to the cause, but insisted that only he operate it to make the daily brew.  We used to say his coffee was so bad, that it would not even keep us awake.  When my other apartment mate and I wanted something with a better flavor, we would actually resort to drinking a cup of tea! 

I read recently that coffee drinking, as well as that of tea, came to the colonies from Britain, as did so many cultural things at that time.  At the time of the American revolution the population was pretty evenly split between coffee and tea drinkers.  But after the Boston "Tea Party," it was considered unpatriotic to drink tea, and coffee was the American drink.  The British had "tea time" but Americans had "coffee break."   

As a young adult I loved Dunkin Donuts' coffee.  Back in the day (yes, I am now old enough to "have a day"), their coffee was ground and brewed fresh every 18 minutes.  It was strong, smooth and oily and full of flavor without being bitter.  We were such fans we even had a Dunkin Donut Christmas tree ornament. I still love that kind of coffee - I just cannot get it at Dunkin Donuts anymore. It reminds me of a souvenir coffee mug I bought in Lexington, KY once -

It looks good, but it is just not all there.  Some of the flavor is missing. 

So, we would buy our coffee beans, grind it ourselves and brew it at home.  The trouble with that is, that to taste right, you really had to brew a pot of at least 7 cups and preferably 10.  That is a lot of coffee for one person.  So, it is better to share.  But, therein lies the rub - not everybody likes the same taste.  And we have become a Burger King society in that everybody wants it their way! 

In the interests of harmony and a good cup of coffee you wind up making a list of the flavors or blends you like, until you find one in common, so you can make one pot.  That is how we came to drink hazelnut flavored coffee - for my wife and I, it was the third favorite of each of us.  A full pot of our third favorite was better than any attempt to make only one or two cups of a better blend.  Such was the technology of coffee making at the time.   

Of course you could get something special elsewhere once in a while.  For a few years I would fly through LaGuardia airport almost weekly and have time to kill waiting for my connection.  In the evening there used to be a lounge on the second floor of the terminal that would have what they called a Bailey's special.  It was a cup of coffee laced with Bailey's Irish Crème and you got to keep the mug.  

Almost 30 years ago, I think I had a complete set.

Nowadays we have a Keurig K-Cup brewer.  The coffee flavor is not quite as good as if you had brewed an entire pot of your favorite coffee, but it was pretty close.  And if you brew a single cup of YOUR favorite coffee it is better than a whole pot of your third favorite!  This means no more hazelnut flavored coffee in our house.  My wife drinks her Green Mountain Breakfast Blend, and I drink my Timothy's Fair Trade Organic Nicaraguan for breakfast and Van Houte Honduras Extra Bold for lunch.   

And I have it in my favorite mug.  I did not get this one as souvenir in some faraway airport.  This one was a gift from my grand daughter, Audrey Sunshine.  Such is the simple pleasure of a "cuppa joe."  

Posted by Warren

Ayer Photography of Vermont        

Posted by ayerphoto at 12:09 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 21 June 2013 8:21 PM EDT
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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Mood:  flirty
Topic: Pix of Week

On our recent trip to the coast of Maine one of our frequent photographic subjects were the ubiquitous seagulls.  They are always there, semi-tame, common, but still interesting none-the-less. 

I used them for practice of several different techniques, some of which I discussed in prior postings.  

Interestingly of all the seagulls I photographed over the week, I remember two in particular.  They each stood out in their own way.  Just thinking of them reminded me of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Any of you remember that.  I am not sure if it was required reading way back then, but it was popular at the time for a variety of reasons.  It is perhaps because of its celebration of unique dreams and unique spirits in a sea of commonality that caused me to remember these two separate from all the rest.

The first was an odd fellow.  His (or her?) coloring was different from all the other gulls on Cape Neddick that day.  But it did not seem to bother him.  He seemed comfortable in who he was, held his own and gave me some of my more interesting poses.  Perhaps he understood that he had something, no one else had?  

For the camera / photo enthusiasts, the shot specifics were:

Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L USM at 105 mm

Exposure: 1/500 at f/14, and ISO 640

Settings: Manual Mode, no flash  

The key challenge of this shot was to use the AI Servo mode for Auto Focus tracking of a moving subject.  Once engaged, this AF mode will track the focused subject and predict the correct distance just before the shutter is tripped.  While most of the Canon settings were left at default, I did turn on AF Expansion, which activates focus points adjacent to the selected point to help you keep your subject locked in focus. 

A second seagull was one I encountered up at Cape Porpoise where I had gone to shoot the lighthouse on Goat Island.  This was a pretty typical gull, but he chose to sit and pose for me giving me several different poses.  Then he started "talking" or "calling" to something across the bay.  I was just intrigued by his tame individuality.  

For the camera / photo enthusiasts, the shot specifics were:

Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

Lens:  Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS USM at 195 mm 

Exposure: 1/1600 at f/2.8, and ISO 100

Settings: Manual Mode, no flash  

Since he was so cooperative, the challenge was only to keep from blowing out the highlights in the bright sun since I wanted a wide open aperture for a shallow depth of field. 

It is interesting the feelings and memories a simple seagull can conjure up.  Perhaps it is the nostalgic pull of a formative time long ago that seems hard to recapture in the sound bites of today.  A person of the modern day on watching the video of Neil Diamond's "Be" overlaid with quotes from Richard Bach's book, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" and scenes from the movie commented that it required immense patience to watch it all without "committing suicide."  Yet, for those of us who grew up then, who learned to stop and listen and have the patience to formulate goals and find the inner strength to achieve them, we are grateful for the reminder that some things cannot be fully appreciated in a 30 second sound bite.  

Someone else commented that they had first heard "Be" and read JLS back in the early 70's when they were only 15 "and it changed their life."  I cannot go that far, since its world view is a little too eastern for me, but there is much to appreciate in its message.   

So, if you are too young to have ever heard of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, or wondered what could a simple bird say to you, have a listen and watch the beauty of "Be" on YOU TUBE at 

Here is hoping that the next time you see a simple seagull, you will stop and look at the world just a little different ... maybe just for a moment, and get a glimpse of something bigger than a sound bite.

"We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill."

"The gull sees farthest who flies highest."

Posted by Warren    

Ayer Photography of Vermont             

"Be" by Neil Diamond (1973)

"Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach (1970)         

Posted by ayerphoto at 2:50 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 21 June 2013 11:02 AM EDT
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