Archive for January, 2011


photographing artwork – the sopwith camel pilot

Today, I spent an enjoyable morning with this wonderful early 20th century oil painting.

This is a portrait of William Y. Bogle, Jr. His son, William Y. Bogle, III, is a friend of mine. I’ve yet to meet WYB IV and V – number five is now in boarding school in Connecticut.

This portrait was painted in 1925, when Mr. Bogle was 30 years old.  During World War I, he had wanted to serve in the U. S, military, but was too young, so he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and had a distinguished career piloting the famous Sopwith Camel airplane, pictured here.  

 He did land a plane in a tree once, but walked away with just a few scratches on his face.  The portrait, to me, shows a sophisticated and dapper young man, war-weary yet wise to the ways of the world.

The painter was a Danish artist, with the distinguished name of Johann Waldemar de Rehling Quistgaard (1877-1962).  The artist’s name appears clearly in the bottom right corner.

This painting is very small, measuring just 5 7/8 ths inches by 4 3/8 ths inches.  The detailed brushstrokes are pretty amazing.

My assignment was to photograph the painting and make some prints.  Working with such a small painting is tricky.  My photograph appears above. I made several prints for my friend Bill, including one that is 13 inches by 19 inches – almost 10 times the area of the painting.   The print is tack sharp and shows Quistgaard’s skill with a brush, perhaps even more clearly than the actual painting does.

How did I shoot the painting?  Here was my setup:

I propped the painting up, placing it on a white foamcore background. You can see how small the painting is – note the arrow pointing to it. Using a very sturdy tripod, I aimed straight down at the image.  I shot “tethered” to a laptop, so I could check that the image was in sharp focus. See the laptop screen, zoomed in of Mr. Bogle’s face. The face in the painting is just over an inch tall. 

Two lights were used, set at about 45 degrees.  This avoided glare bouncing off the surface of the painting, but was a sharp enough angle to show the texture of the painted brushstrokes.   The camera was mounted with a pro-level Nikon 105mm macro (close-up) lens that provides absolutely amazing clarity and sharpness. 

I love shooting artwork.  Do you have an old family portrait – or any other artwork – that you’d like to have photographed?  I’m ready!


Natural Beauty Headshots

Recently I had the pleasure working again with my friend, Erica.  For part of our shoot, we did headshots. 

Normally, when I work with a model, there is a very careful makeup application, by the model or a makeup artist. The hair is carefully set. In these images, Erica is wearing no makeup at all and she didn’t fuss over her hair. The pictures, to me, have a natural, informal and intimate quality.  The compositions are, purposefully, very simple.  As I often do, I was shooting from fairly close in, with the camera about 3 feet away from her face, to connect the viewer to Erica. I did very little editing in Photoshop, to maintain the natural feel of the images. 

Let me know what you think, by email of comment on the blog.


The Smile of Faith

Faithful readers will recall I have written about smiles from time to time. It’s a topic that fascinates me –  I try to learn as much about as I can about smiles.

When I’m shooting portraits, I’m usually aiming for a smile. “Say Cheese!” doesn’t cut it – it just leads to that teeth-clenching, tense fake smile.   With children, I’ll often make a goofy face or say something silly. With adults, one of my tricks is to ask them to remember a happy experience from their childhood.  Just about every time, a broad smile pops out immediately. I’ve learned to be ready to hit the shutter button.

I wanted to pass along this short reflection, written by David Anderson, Rector of Saint Luke’s Parish, my church in Darien, CT.

The Smile of Faith

I read this week that a typical small child smiles six hundred times a day, and old men smile two and a half times a day. That tells you all you need to know about the course of human life.

 As we get older, we get more “serious.” I put that in quotes, because mostly we’re not getting really serious about life—in which case we’d be smiling more like six hundred times a day—we’re just getting sourer and sourer. Life hasn’t worked out like we planned. Things have gone wrong. We can barely eke out two and half smiles a day.

 We can’t smile, we can’t laugh when it all depends on us and we have to manage it all, keep it all going, “make it happen.” We can’t smile until we trust, relax a little, let it be. That’s the whole message of the gospel: God has everything under control . . . so you don’t have to.

 I could talk more about laughter, or just give you a reason right now to do it. So here’s one I heard recently.

 An elderly woman walked into the local country church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps. “Where would you like to sit?” he asked politely.

“The front row, please.” She answered.

“You really don’t want to do that,” the usher said. “The pastor is really boring.”

“Do you happen to know who I am?” the woman inquired.

“No.” He said.

“I’m the pastor’s mother,” she said indignantly.

“Well,” replied the usher, “do you happen to know who I am?”

“No.” she said.

“Good.” he answered.


couples shoot

Recently I had the privilege of shooting with Brad and Kandi, the couple pictured here.  Sadly, Brad and Kandi live on opposite sides of the globe, but they were together over the holidays. I’m hoping these images will make the long stretches when they can’t be together a bit more bearable.  We did a variety of fun and serious poses.  This is a terrific couple who clearly care for each other very deeply. Who knows what the future will bring for them?  My guess is they’ll be living much closer to one another before long!


1940’s glamour headshot

Faithful readers will recognized Tori – a friend and a wonderful model I’ve worked with before, for example here.  In this shoot, we were going for a 1940’s glamour look – think Hollywood publicity still for a movie star.

A couple of notes about the image.

I used just one small light, about 5 feet to camera left and aimed down from above. This gives a very high contrast and dramatic look. I converted the image to black and white with a special software, Nik Silver Efex Pro, which provides a film-style effect to a digital image. Finally, I cropped the image as a perfect square. The square crop isn’t used much today, but it’s a classic and goes well, I believe, with the feeling of this picture.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome.


my photo in “usa weekend” – this weekend!

So, it’s a big rush for a photographer to have an image published in the newspaper. It’s an especially big rush if the picture is in over 700 papers around the country!  This image appears in “USA Weekend,” a Sunday suplement magazine published by USA Today.

I took the picture above of three dynamo women, Maggy, Pam and Sharon, who have a cooking blog called Three Many Cooks. Check it out here.

For this image, we had in mind a “Charlie’s Angels in the kitchen” look, so I had Maggy and Sharon turn towards the outside.

These amazing women are starting a weekly column in USA Weekend this weekend. Check it out, including a short video (and, of course my photo of them with a photo credit!)  here.


my blog stats for 2010

I just received these interesting stats from WordPress, the company that hosts my blog,  about activity on my blog for the year 2010. I like the idea of 29 full 747’s.  I’m truly grateful for those who read my posts. Everything below comes straight from WordPress:

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2010. That’s about 29 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 58 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 90 posts. There were 190 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 291mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 22nd with 205 views. The most popular post that day was baptism and joyful family gathering!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for philip johnson glass house, beauty, glamour model, glamour, and jessamyne.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


baptism and joyful family gathering! November 2010


Glamour Model Shoot January 2010


Beauty Lighting October 2009
1 comment


Philip Johnson’s Glass House October 2010


High School Senior Photos August 2009