Monday, December 24, 2012

Name Brands!

Why do people choose name brand merchandise or products?

Growing up I wasn't aware that something with a name on it would make you special or superior to people who didn't own or use that name brand product!  I did realize if you had a Broker Tree Brand knife, it would hold it's cutting edge longer or if you had a Model 37 Winchester Shotgun it would kill game farther away or even win turkey shoots.  I owned neither of these two items.

I never even owned a watch till I went away to college.  My mother gave me a 17 jewel Chalfont wrist watch with a leather band.  I liked the fact it was waterproof and shock proof, but I had buddies in high school who owned Bulova watches with expandable bands which I thought were very cool!  I realized my watch wasn't a Bulova or top brand but it was given to me by my mother who gave me what she could afford wanted me to be always be on time for my classes.  It served me well, all through college,in the military, and during my teaching; I put it away after my mother passed away. 
Looking back at this, I never owned a watch before nor felt the need for one, I guess back then I just wasn't in to time!

I remember when Izod polo shirts became the very in thing to wear, the alligator, no matter where you went, it seemed acceptable and you felt cool.....because they cost more and everyone knew it.  Now people wear Aeropostle, Old Navy, Hollister and  other sundry names, but to me I always think of them as everyday casual shirts advertisements for that company.....and I don't wear them. To each their own.

We don't do weddings anymore, not because we didn't enjoy them or they were sometimes difficult, but it had more to do with making a commitments for something one to two years away.  We learned alot about photography and people when we did weddings. I used to get a kick out of seeing what other photographers were charging for their weddings and the names they gave to each offering: Dynasty(just the word sounds expensive!), Royal(you knew that one was pretty far up the cost scale) or the packages which were named after precious metals...Platinum Package, Gold, Silver, or Bronze(no matter what was offered in this package you knew it was a very affordable package); then there were the stones packages: Diamond, Ruby, Emerald, or Pearl.  The more costly the package the more you got, like larger albums, parent albums,enlargements, proofs and on and on.  I may have even been guilty of some of this in the beginning as I wanted to be looked at as someone who could produce a "Dynasty Wedding" very similar to everyone else.  However we came to our senses and gave our offerings in numbers; like Roman Numerals package I, II, III and hoped it was easier on our clients in keeping straight faces when they discussed our wedding offerings!

Quality to me is what makes a product desirable.  When I see advertising which states "New and Improved" I have come to expect that what they are really saying is "Cheaper made and inferior". When I used to see the term "Tailor Made" it meant made specifically made for an individual to exact specifications, to me that meant quality.  "Signature" also meant to me that if a person put their name on something they were selling, it  meant they assured that item had quality and they were proud to put their name on it.

At Limestone Lake Photography we want what we do to be the best possible and have the quality you  will be proud to display. We want your experience here to feel and be Tailor Made for you,  which  was part of the reason you chose us.  In this day of mass production we feel what we want to give you  is something which is totally unique and a one of a kind accomplishment.  When our photographs leave here, we want not only you to think and feel these are your best pictures ever, but we want that feeling also.  We feel rewarded when our customers are happy with our photographs and compliments inspire us.  The knowledge we have possibly never done our best no matter how good it is keeps our desire to improve foremost in our minds and striving to do even better next time.

We wish every photograph that leaves here to be as cherished as art and for us to be proud to be able to offer something we feel is worthy of placing our Signature on.  We are not a Big Name Brand place, nor will you see people walking around with clothing with our name on it; but it sure makes us feel good when told "I've heard of Limestone Lake and seen some beautiful pictures from there!"
We are very happy to live her and to be able to share this place with you in pictures and to be a "House Hold" name in your family rather than only just a "Brand Name!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

Camera Loyalty?

I don't hear much about which camera is best anymore, especially arguments as I did in the past!  When asked about which camera brand is best, I usually say "They are all good, just buy the one you can afford which has the features you think you will need!"
That is probably a true statement compared to what is available now  with what cameras were 25 or 30 years ago.  Has photography changed in that time, you bet it has!  I'll bet there are people taking pictures now that have never shot a roll of film in their lives!
The digital age is upon us!  Things now are not as they used to be.  I used to think there was alot to know about film....and there was, but nothing compared to this new age of digital in both cameras and computers.  The comparison is about like an old set of encyclopedias being compared to all the sea of information on the web!
Back when film was KING and before digital, your choices were based on brands of film(Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, etc.), types of film(black/white film, color print film, slide film, B/W Infared film, etc.) Speed of film(25 -3200ASA and specialty types) and back then you were at the mercy of what came back to you when you sent a roll of film you had used to take pictures with to a lab to be turned into prints, unless you were anal enough to process your own.  Even if you could be successful in trying to get beautiful prints from print film yourself, you not only needed an enlarger for producing color pictures, you had to take that roll of film and develop it in the dark using chemicals, timers, thermometers, and tongs.  You could literally spend hours and hours after you developed the film when you began to try to make prints.  You had to crop, dodge and expose the photo paper all the while trying to get the filteration using the three filter(Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) perfect.....and exposure had to be exact as did the temperature of the chemicals.  If one of those variables changed it completely affected the other two.  Trying to print color prints was a real PIA, it was much easier to just send them out.  Black and white was somewhat simpler, but to get Ansel Adams looking prints, you had to be even more anal!  Developing color slide film was a little easier as long as you followed the exact procedure.  AND owning a darkroom(a room for processing film and prints had to be devoid of light!) was just a tip of the iceberg.....owning the RIGHT equipment, paper for prints, the chemicals(some were not good for your health), timers, etc. I think you get the gist of developing your finished pictures from film and what a nightmare it was!  I digress!
So back to Camera Loyalty.  There were quite a few choices of all  the cameras as there are today, maybe not as many models as there are digital cameras(especially the upteen gillion point and shoot models, I never have figured why so many choices when one appears to do all the things the others do......almost confusing to the buying public!).  Now, as then, the big sellers were Japanese made and were some of the same brands you see today: Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax and Yashica.  Then as now there are two basic parts of a camera; the body and the lens.  With film cameras, we said the body was just a "light tight box", today with digital the body houses the sensor(captures the light as did film) and all the electronic components to record the image on a card which your computer will translate into images.
Most of those film camera bodies did pretty much the same thing as long as they had an accurate shutter.  Sooo..... the difference in the various brands actually was in the lens, mainly the glass and the formula for the number of elements used in the design for receiving the light that was transferred to the film.  From the 1920s the best cameras in the world were German cameras, namely Leica, and Rolleiflex, one of the reasons could have been their use of "rare earth" materials used in making the glass for their lenses.  Those lenses produced pictures that had a different look about them(black and white images), these cameras were expensive back then as they are today.  After World War II, the Japanese industrial output seemed to start with cameras.  During the Korean War a photojournalist named David Douglas Duncan started using Nikon lenses on his Leica and got outstanding results which started other photographers using Nikon cameras and lenses.  The Japanese camera market exploded in the 60s and 70s as their R&D started producing and rivaling the German cameras.
The cameras and the lenses got better and better and more and more people could afford cameras that gave excellent results and were more easy to operate.  Your choices were many and many times it boiled down to the quality and the way the pictures looked to you which were taken with the different brands of cameras on the market.
I tried many different brands of cameras and my choice came down to my owning Nikon cameras, I liked the controls but most of all I like the feel to the pictures I got with it.  However today, we use the Canon brand of cameras here at Limestone Lake mainly because of the lenses.  Not saying other camera lenses aren't good, but we love the look we get with the Canon  "L" professional lenses; they give us exceptional sharpness and the glass used in them transfer true and accurate colors which we think are outstanding and to the formula used in the placement and number of glass elements in their design!  Just outstanding!
By saying all the above, with all the cameras on the market, you should be able to get quality photos to record your family regardless of a certain brand which in this day and age of affordable digital cameras.  I do believe it is important to preserve images of your children and it is owed to them to see how they looked when they were children, those times cannot be gone back to, it is sad to say. Preserve and keep a record of your family, it's easy now with the digital age, less expensive and easier than it has ever been.  We enjoy being a part of this process and feel honored when you choose Limestone Lake Photography to give this  opportunity and this is why we wish to give you the best by doing our best for you!  It's fun and we enjoy what we do, we think you will also!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Schooling is possibly pretty different today than when I was in school.
When I was young, I went to a one room school which supposedly had all 8 grades and one teacher.  I don't remember counting all the enrolled students, but I would say there were anywhere from 15 to 30 kids at my school, Davis Branch( I'd like to say academy, but it wasn't).  I walked about a mile to get there through rain or snow, I didn't mind as to me that was how you got to school.  I do remember the school year being about 7 months as many children had to help with the chores and duties of living on a farm.  The heaviest machinery on the farms were horses and mules and the weeds and some crops were harvested with scythes while everyone knew how to use hoes and rakes.  Many families never owned automobiles as they had no need to travel anywhere and everyone owned horse drawn wagons and sleds.  I liked riding on these horse drawn sleds as I thought it was the smoothest ride ever; my dad didn't own a sled.  The wagons had solid axeles and the wheels had a steel band around these wooden spoked wheels which made the ride very jolty.  I digress, sorry.
Back then I got the idea that schools were for the purpose of stamping out illiteracy, I remember many people in our community, mostly elderly people could not read nor write.  I'm talking about writing their own name; when they had to sign something, they put an X, their mark and someone that could write would print their name.
As I got older and alittle farther along in school, I was getting lessons not only in reading and writing, but history, math, and science.  I just figured the math would help me know how to keep track of money and stuff like counting things and the history was interesting to me as it explained what had happened other places from a long time ago till now.  I had to practice drawing my name which was called cursive writing, thought that meant it had so many curves in the letters.  We had a chalkboard where we could go up front and write, do arithmetic and sometimes get to draw pictures(art) on the front wall which had been painted with flat black paint like a real honest to goodness slate board in some city schools.  Seems like we would stand in front of the room and take turns reading aloud, or would recite a poem we would learn.    The older kids would help us with our arithmetic(A Rat In The House Might Eat The Icecream, that was how I learned to spell that big word!) or take us to a corner away from the teacher and hear us read and help us with the hard words; today they call that mentoring or tutoring but we did it in that way.  I guess I learned pretty quickly as my teacher moved me after the first year, bypassing second grade, to be a third parents were proud in that that meant I was smart.  However, I feel looking back at it that it handicapped me when I got into high school, in both size and maturity and kept me out of sports and being able to understand things in the progression of knowledge.
Lives and times were much simpler back then and I guess we were just taught what it took to be able to think and understand about living during that period. I hope they do still teach some of the survival skills in school along with developing the awareness of what it is going to take to survive in the future. You always hear that teachers are "Teaching the future leaders of tomorrow!"; well I sure hope so.....who knows what the future holds and the skills I was taught would definitely not be enough in this present day and age!
The old Davis Branch one room school where I went to grade school and it is still standing, however in very poor condition.
The last picture is the farm house in the distance where I grew up and my dad farmed.  I have been over all those hills and fields.
These pictures are in black/white infared.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What Makes a Good Picture Good?

Before I started taking pictures, even before I owned a camera I couldn't see any difference between two very similar pictures.  I had a friend that was an amateur photographer, he would show me stacks of pictures he had taken and go down through a pile and say, "this is good,this is bad,this is good, this is bad, etc. and when I watched this process.....I could see no difference in two similar pictures.  Other than making me feel rather stupid, I was thinking that he was a very gifted person with super human powers in the fact he could judge in his mind so clearly.  Of course at that time, I was too timid to ask "just what is the difference and why is this picture better?"
I can do this now!  After many years and thousands and thousands of pictures taken and looking at the results, I can see differences.  Anyone can do this as alot of it really does boil down to Attention to Detail . 
Before Sheryl joined me in photography I was a typical photographer. Technically correct and looked for that smile or look in my subject, never mind if his tie was crooked, a button being unbuttoned, or had a pack of pens and pencils in his pocket as long as he was looking happy or somewhat normal. When Sheryl would help me and I was operating the camera, she had the most annoying habit of standing directly in the line of fire for my camera. When she stepped away, the tie was straight, pens gone, wrinkles in shirt gone and NOW I was turned loose to get that EXPRESSION I wanted. When the proofs came back(we still paper proof, it is good to hold in your hand what you wish to see) all was well and my photos began to look much better, even to me! The more Sheryl helped me with my subjects, the better my pictures looked and in this process I began to see the differences.
My getting to edit our pictures gives me more of a chance to fine tune and hone for the image results we are looking for in the pictures we want for our clients. This has helped me as I am able to be in the process for quality control for our images which reflect what sets Limestone Lake photographs apart from the photographs of others.
Sheryl and I like to have breakfast on the patio overlooking the lake with the weather permitting. We don't eat in silence and most of our discussions are in reality working brunches, of course we eat all our other meals together also, but at breakfast it is the beginning of a new day. Sometimes we talk about the previous day and what went on, like how could we have made it even better or made improvement in how we did the session. Or we will discuss our up coming day and what we would like to accomplish or what location we want to use for this session. We work together as a team and in doing what we do, we don't think of it as work, to us it's a challenge to ourselves in creating images which we want to be even better than anything we have done previously. We are not photographing only to please our customers, but to be sure we have done our very best and not be satisfied till we do. I will confess however Sheryl will push this limit much farther than I, but then I am always saying to her "You are are too much of a perfectionist!" However when it comes to me, she's very accepting as I'm anything but perfect!
Sometimes I can't understand why some of our clients will choose a certain image over some I feel would look better as an enlargement for their wall. Sheryl helps me with this and has said to me many times, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!" I guess they are seeing something much more personal than a technically correct similar image. I guess this is why grandmas can see the very image which touches her heart and I'm thinking I'm sure they are all beautiful to her.
I guess that is what makes a good picture good!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

What is Photography Anyhow?

Sometimes when I awaken and am laying there wishing I could just go back to sleep and can't because of thoughts that come swirling through my mind. 
Well this morning one of such thoughts was about a friend I met back years ago when he enrolled in a photography class I was teaching. His name was Bill West, he was taking my class because he had this camera  that had been a repayment from someone who owed him some money.  He told me that since he had this camera he thought he ought to learn how to use it.
Bill was just an ordinary person, a truck driver who drove locally with long hauls but no overnight travel.  He became very interested in learning how to use his newly acquired camera.  He was just an ordinary person, wouldn't stand out in a crowd, nor give any indication he was an extraordinary person.  He picked my mind every time we were together and once went with me on a trip to a large camera swap meet.  One of the questions he asked on the way there was " If you were just starting out, what camera and equipment would you buy and why?"  He was sharp enough to realize his "payment camera" was only a snapshooter, being so automatic in it's controls.
I guess I wasn't surprised when he found the dream Nikon outfit I had described and traded for it there, especially when he asked for my evaluation of each of these cameras he considered at that meet.  As you are aware of, some people purchase something for a hobby and never use it(as in exercise equipment).  I didn't know Bill that well at that time, but he picked up on all the functions and techniques of his camera equipment quickly.  Of course at that time I was thinking what a wonderful instructor Bill had.  About this time he and many in his classmates(another interesting stories and experiences) started going to weekend photography workshops sponsored through the Kentucky Park system.  They would have speakers on nature photography and a photo contest during this workshop.
To my amazement and pride Bill West, right out of the starting gate started winning and placing in these contests.  Not only that, he joined a photography club in Cincinnati as did all of my class members and if you could place higher than Bill with the entry for a judging/critiquing at each meeting, you knew you had a slide to be proud of.  He became that good!  He got his wife involved in photography by taking my class and through his coaching, she became very good also.  He told me their marriage was so much fun with them going on photo trips and in doing something together.
I was curious as to why Bill became such a very good, creative and talented photographer, so one day I asked him, "Why?"  He told me," Photography taught me to see!"   He said when he would be driving his truck, he would look at things but never saw them, but after taking pictures he saw things and how beautiful they were.  He said he had seen this single tree in a field he had driven past a hundred times before, but when he started taking pictures, he saw that single tree silhouetted against a sunset and that it was just breath taking.  He said after taking that photography class, he could see and quit just living day to day and became so aware of all the beauty around him!
Hearing that from a big old burly truck driver made me also realize why I loved photography so.  He indicated that I had inspired him, but little did he know how much he inspired me with his thirst for knowledge and what people can achieve when they put their heart and soul into something they love.
Not long after I moved here to Limestone Lake from Cincinnati, we lost Bill but he lives on in my heart and to all who knew him.