Circular Polarizer Filter … your new best friend on those sunny days

  Have you ever noticed that the images from last weekend’s beautiful location turn out hazy and dull?  Well, you might need to take another look at how that light was interacting with the things all around us.  Have no fear, the circular polarizer, like my personal favorite Tiffen model here, is your answer.
Let’s get scientific for bit, shall we?  The visible light from the sun, reflected on non-metallic objects, becomes polarized.  Take a look at the glare on windows and water and you’ll see the dramatic effect of this polarization.  The electrons in the air molecules also serve to scatter and reflect the light in all directions, resulting in the haze in last weekend’s images.  In case you were wondering, because of the electromagnetic nature of the light waves, light reflected off metallic surfaces is not polarized.   Whew…my head hurts a little.A circular polarizer screws into the threads on the front of your lens and has a free spinning ring that frames the filter.  This allows you to adjust the polarizer to absorb the perpendicular light waves.   These are the culprits for that hazy blue sky in your image.  As an added benefit, a polarizer tends to improve overall color saturation in your image.  Here’s an example of landscape photography from the fine folks at Tiffen.
For those of us who always strive for in-camera results, saving editing time, you’ll be happy to read that your camera does not capture the degree of polarization.  So there are no software filters that can recreate the effects given to you by the circular polarizer.  Here’s another example of the need to get it right, with the right equipment, during the shoot.The amazing Gina from Phoenix, Az, was one of my favorite examples of the Tiffen, combined with some awesome off-camera lighting thanks to Zach and Jody Gray’s workshop, resulting in a killer in-camera portrait.  In-camera, as in more time not spent in front of the computer editing and actually having a life.  (In the interest of honesty…I did have to sharpen a bit in Lightroom, so it’s almost in-camera)
So when you’re in front of the lens and you see your photographer throwing on something that looks like your sunglasses for their camera, just know that there is going to be all kinds of dramatic awesome in your inbox soon. 
Have fun everybody…Sean

Two Ears and One Mouth


When I was a kid I remember my Grandmother telling me, in no uncertain terms, that children were meant to be seen and not heard.  Really?  I’m not allowed to talk?  Seemed kind of rude at the time but now I wish I could go back and thank her.  Not only did I manage to stay out of trouble more often than I probably would have if left to my own devices, but I’ll never know how much I learned because I wasn’t busy talking and I was able to actually listen to the stories being told around me.  A few years down the road, I taught students that anybody could be reached emotionally because everybody had a need.  If you met that need, then an emotional connection would be made.  Some people need to hear how awesome they are, some to hear that you have what they want in a monetary sense, and in one humorous case, someone needed to hear how cool they were because they had recently purchased a rare type of racing pigeon.  Hey, to each their own.  What really mattered was recognizing the individual’s need so you could make a plan address that need.  Note that wasn’t “meet” their need, just start to address it.  People are surprisingly forgiving if they feel that their need is a legitimate priority for you.

  There are literally hundreds of photographers in my area just jumping to tell my potential client how amazing they are and how tack sharp their latest photograph is.  Hey, I’m no different.  I usually chomping at the bit to release every image that I think is just technically awesome!  For example, look at the recent shoot with the one and only photog rock star, Huong Forest and the lovely Gianna and Manila in front of the lens.  I couldn’t stop jabbering about how incredible these ladies were and how I did this, that and the other thing during the shoot.  Well, to the potential client who is considering contacting me, is this really what she or he wants to hear?  Maybe, if they’re another photographer, but probably not.  They don’t know Gianna, they might not care what Manila’s story is and might not have anything in common with either of these ladies, but they absolutely do have needs of their own.  They may want me to sit and listen about their college years, how I’m going to deliver amazing wedding or portrait photos to THEM, or how they are completely cool for choosing to have their wedding at the local dairy.  Sure, I mean doesn’t everybody want to get married with cow manure in the background?  Well, after taking the time to listen and learning that her Grandfather, who recently passed away, owned a dairy when she was a little girl and those summer visits are her favorite childhood memories, yeah the dairy is a pretty stinking cool idea (no pun intended).  The problem is that if all I did was spend the entire consultation talking about how incredibly awesome I am (compared to the other hundreds of photographers she shouldn’t choose) and how I use that light and this filter, my overactive mouth wouldn’t allow me to actually listen and realize that what she needed was the affirmation of her decision on the dairy wedding.  If you ever needed proof, I saw this in action at a recent wedding during which I was lucky enough to assist Jennifer Halen and Desiree Rohlfs.  Jennifer had spent so much time and built such a strong relationship with the couple that the photography team was an invited guest of the wedding instead of just another vendor.  It completely changed the dynamic of the photos for the better.  The product delivered to the customer was better because the photographer listened to the needs of the client…not just the bottom line.  Stay tuned for more on that wedding in future installments.  All I can say for now is…a-maze-ing!! 

There’s an old saying…”We’re born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  If you’re speaking more than you’re listening, you may have figured out why nobody seems to be listening to you.

See you next time everybody.


This week I had the chance to head to drive to Reno and shoot with the amazing Huong from “Design by Huong”…ROAD TRIP!  After meeting our models, Manila (left) and Gianna (right), I quickly came to the conclusion that Huong only knows drop dead beautiful people. 


I mean seriously…how gorgeous are these two rock stars?  We spent the afternoon walking around the urban goodness of downtown Reno.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about Reno was the gritty aged buildings and grafitti.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the bright colors and individual style and when you have people like Manila and Gianna rocking it out, it just doesn’t get much better.







Later that evening the ladies showed us just how hard they could rock it when they braved strong desert winds and a mosquito army that seemed bound and determined to drain us all dry…except for Gianna.  I don’t know how she avoided it but I was more than a little jealous 🙂





As I drove out of Reno and listened to the navigator telling me I had 673 miles until I reached my destination (in an annoyingly cheerful British accent) I was almost bouncing in my seat because I couldn’t wait to get home and share these images with everybody.  Seriously, how awesome were Gianna and Manila?  These women absolutely rocked my world and and worked it for the camera.

I can’t even describe how awesome it was to work with Huong.  Do yourself a favor and check her out at Design by Huong and her Revealed site and her amazing boudoir photography.

  See you next time everybody!