Perfectionism at it’s Best (Worst)

Ever make a mistake? Yes, me too and when I do they are normally doozies! I consider myself a perfectionist.  I was the kid who would not erase, but start over on a paper, it always took me longer because of this.  I still carry that bit of perfectionism into my life today and in doing so it imparts undue stress which is something I try to avoid.

When it comes to photography, I rarely have to edit, not that my photos are perfect, far from it many times, but I try to get my settings right in camera to avoid having to spend time in front of a computer to edit.  Last week that completely changed and I had an extremely humbling experience.

The story begins when I was asked by the lead singer of a headlining band to take their final bow shot at the end of the evening.  I knew it would be difficult because the lighting at these shows are less than stellar.  I accepted the challenge convinced I’d be able to give them something great.  Throughout the show I really fought with my settings and the non existent or highly saturated stage lighting, but I still thought “I can do this” because there is one thing I rarely do is question my skills.  Finally the moment came I climbed the steps up to the stage to position myself behind the drum kit and on my way I kept thinking, “I should have grabbed my flash”,  I really didn’t want to use flash because the idea was to capture the crowd behind the band.  I shot off the first few frames and thought my settings were adequate, however I had nothing to focus on as the stage lights were completely off except for this glaring green light bouncing off the cymbals. Still no realizing what was happening I continued to shoot as both bands took a final bow and my job was done.

On the way home the lead singer sent me a text message telling me how he couldn’t wait to see the photos.  I felt the same way, until I downloaded them into Lightroom. My stomach dropped, every single photo was dark; except for the green lights reflecting from the cymbals on the drum kit.  What was I going to do?  I completely broke down; THESE were the MOST important shots of the night and I had completely failed.  I began to question myself, my abilities and my judgement.  For three days I tried to work on the photos and just could not get anything usable.  I was devastated, I had ruined the photos.

dark-photo
Before

 

On the fourth day once again I received a text message from the lead singer asking when I would be sending the photos over, I told him they would be done later that night; again I broke down, but something at that moment hit me.  I could and would salvage the photo!

I needed to believe in myself and my abilities and understand I could solve the problem (with a lot of prayer and pleading to God).  Finally it came to me what to do and three hours later, the band had their photo.

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After

 

 

Here is what I didn’t realize at the time: The green lights were reflecting from the cymbals back to the sensor on my camera, so when I thought I was exposing for the faces, I exposing for the cymbals. I should have stepped forward instead of staying behind the drums and finally I should have used my flash and deal with the crowd in post processing.

Here is what I learned about myself: Always go with your gut! No matter what, do what your instincts tell you to do.  I should have used my flash.  Next I learned that I need to not stress over this, just breathe and work until a solution is evident.  And finally I learned I am human, and I make mistakes and I need to learn from them.  However, the biggest take away from this is that God has given me the gift of creativity and I need to rely on him and not on myself no matter how impossible the situation seems.  Thanks for following me, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Season Is Upon Us

Where I live in Florida we don’t have four distinct seasons, we have two; Snowbird season beginning in mid October and the season when they go back north which is normally after Easter.  During this time in South West Florida the events and concerts pick up and my camera sees a lot of action.  The weather is a lot more pleasant for outdoor events and weddings.  My season started on October 15 with a wedding held at one of the most historic country clubs in Fort Myers; The Edison.  I am fortunate enough to be able to work with my youngest son.  He is an incredible photographer and one I trust explicitly. The long view of the couple facing The Edison was taken by him.  Please visit his website at phloridaphoto

Between the special events I also schedule portrait sessions and was able to photograph an interesting fellow whom I believe is one of the many spirits which lurk in Historic Downtown Fort Myers, complete with orb and gargoyle (look closely).

I was also at Fright Nite where The Sick Puppies and Devour the Day headlined, there were also a few interesting characters out that night as well. You can see more of the photos from this frightful night by clicking on the photo below.

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October Madness

October is the month where my photographic life starts to pick up. With the cooler temperatures come more outdoor events  here in the beautiful state of Florida, specifically South West Florida.  I shoot more concerts, festivals and portraits during the fall & winter months than any other time of the year, and some weeks it’s totally crazy.  I  don’t mind  the crazy because October is what I call my “sad” month; it’s the month my father passed away thirty-three years ago on October 17.  I have written before that he too was a photographer and I know if he could see what I have done with a camera he would be incredibly proud of me, but I miss him.  This is also the month my oldest son Jimmy turns 33; where has the time gone?  I was just a young girl of twenty-four when this all took place, truly a lifetime ago.

I have a lot of wonderful events on the books and I’m sure I’ll be writing more as they unfold, but for now………daddy, this one’s for you.

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My father Azle Marteney and my first real camera

Summer Slump

The summer months in South West Florida are extremely hot and humid and not ideal for outdoor large venue concerts, and since I don’t often photograph local bands except for an occasional radio station event it’s been extremely quiet

However, just as the weather will be changing; concerts will be picking up and photographic activity is about to come alive.  A plethora of great arena concerts, along with some local shows with big name acts will be arriving in the next few months. I look forward to this bustle after a nice break.

Recently I’ve traveled up to the Tampa /St. Petersburg area and caught several large name acts; I’ve photographed  Alice Cooper, The REO, Def Leppard & Tesla Tour,  and the Heart, Joan Jett & Cheap Trick Tour.  These photos can be found on my Facebook page

Last night I was privileged to photograph The Cirque du Soleil show OVO at our local arena.  WOW! what an incredible show.  The colors were magnificent as the “bugs” danced, pranced, and flew across the stage.  The acrobatics for this show are world class and if you ever have the opportunity to catch such a show, make sure you go.  It’s well worth the money.

More photos can be found by following the links and going to my Facebook page

Paradise Found

I am so fortunate that I get to live in paradise.  I sometimes forget how beautiful our area here in South West Florida is. No matter what direction I travel I can find the natural environment I crave.  From beaches to swamplands it’s all here.  Today my travels took me to Sanibel Island and the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

While driving slowly down the scenic drive and stopping when something caught my interest, I felt so blessed to be able to have the day off and enjoy such natural beauty.  From birds to butterflies the day was full of surprises.  A lone Roseate Spoonbill and White Ibis looking for their breakfast and finding it.

Ding Darling

A curious Little Blue Heron signaling a warning of the alligator who was lurking close by.

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A lovely Common Buckeye butterfly unknowingly pollinating the flowers as it gathered life giving nectar.

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Even the pungent smell of fermenting palm berries carried in the warm breeze was refreshing in it’s erthereal own way.

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The nutrient rich tannin stained waters were bringing forth life to the White Ibis as it was searching for a quick meal.

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As I watched nature doing her thing, I was reminded that I am just a very small part of all of this, yet just as important.  Each of us have our place in this world, the birds, butterflies, the water, the land, all celebrating our creator.

Thank you for joining me on my adventure……until next time, happy shooting!

 

 

Eye Contact

You hear all the time that the eyes are the window to the soul, one of my goals when I’m shooting concerts is to get the eye contact; now mind you I don’t ask for it, I don’t do anything distracting to get it, but generally it happens, even when I don’t think they can even see me as with Alice Cooper.  I was way over off to the side and a couple of rows up, yet this happened;Alice Cooper-6

There wasn’t anyone that I could see in his direct eye contact, I even asked the photographer behind me if she got him looking our way…….she didn’t.

On Monday I got kind of the same thing, but it was almost as if I was recognized, don’t see how that’s possible, but REO’s bassist comes out on stage and this happened;REO

and it continues with the other two bands Tesla………Tesla-14Tesla-3

and…….Def Leppard;Def Leppard-15

 

Passions & Friends

As a photographer sometimes it’s not easy for others to understand why I get up at 5am on a weekend to go out and try to get that perfect shot.  Non photographers will never truly understand the passion we have for achieving greatness.  I’m really fortunate because I belong to a Meetup group of those like-minded individuals.  We have so much fun when we are together and we so enjoy our passion in life.  Yesterday was no exception.  We met at 7:15am for a great breakfast and then a trip a bit north to the Marie Selby Gardens; a place most had never been.  We arrived when it opened and ended up leaving when it closed; not realizing how long we were actually there.  This was a botanical garden full of beautiful surprises.  The photos we got were simply breathtaking and we all agreed it was the most relaxing day we’ve had in a while.

]’m so glad I have great friends to hang out with on a regular basis; yes it’s true I love spending time by myself and I do this often by going camping, this is my personal renewal time, it’s not because I’m anti-social or miserable or any other rhetoric that anyone thinks.   I love people, I love being around friends and family as often as I can, but I also enjoy down time where I don’t have to be accountable for anything or anyone except myself. However, days like yesterday renew my spirit as much as being on my own does, because I’m with great people.  People who are tolerant and have true hearts of gold and are truly happy deep within themselves.

My life over the past few years has blossomed into this amazing dream of doing what I love, and being with people I adore.  I’ve gotten to this place by my own hard work and dedication to my craft. Next week I will continue my adventure by being in the photography pit of a full weekend festival, again sharing my passion with many incredible photographers doing what we love.

There isn’t any negative in my world and I don’t allow it to permeate very far if it happens to enter.  I am happy and living my life the way I want with the people I choose.  My passion for my craft runs deep and there isn’t anything that can change that. I love being a photographer, I love people and I love that I get to live a full and happy life!

 

The Get-Away

Oftentimes we think of a get-away as going off to some exotic destination, but for me it’s time spent alone and/or with family. Some often ask me if they can come along, but I am hesitant for several reasons; I’m on a structured day to day routine with work and any photography I may have after work or any edits, so my personal time is extremely valuable. I really don’t want to be anyone’s entertainment for an entire weekend. I also crave that alone me time, to sit and do nothing, take a nap or go on a drive or hike and not feel responsible for anyone, but myself. If I do ask someone along it’s because I know they can go off an entertain themselves or they understand my need for solitude, mind you I’m not anti-social, I love people and I love talking to them, and finding out their story, however there are times when I simply want to be silent and sit alone and ponder things in my life and clear my mind. That’s the beauty of being solitary for a time. I’m an Introvert and for years considered myself shy, but yet when around friends and people I care for I am as outgoing as any Extrovert I know. Talkative, animated and full of life, the difference is, I don’t feed off of the energy of people around me, I feed off of quiet and solitude, it’s what restores my soul.

With my day job as an administrative assistant, I am either on the phone, or dealing with residents and vendors who stop by, or our employees, so daily I expend a lot of physical and emotional energy. Then you add to that after a full day of work, I go off and photograph concerts with loud music and lots of people and heavy equipment or shooting portraits of individuals and families with children, I have to be “on point” and my energy level must remain high as I am constantly talking and directing, By the time I am ready for some down time, I’m READY! I love being a photographer and I love the excitement of the crowd and the thrill of getting that perfect shot; it’s what drives me daily, but in order to keep going I have to spend time within myself and alone so when I’m asked if someone can join me in my short weekend sabbaticals, I certainly hope they understand why I am hesitant or tell them no. I need the time to recharge my batteries within myself. It makes me better at my work, it gives me clarity to see I’m doing the right thing and it rests my body so that I can keep up the pace set before me. Foggy Morning

It gives me peace.

Being Present

This past week and into this weekend life got a bit busy.  I work a full time job on top of being an almost full-time photographer. My photography work week began on Wednesday with an Elton John concert, followed by The Moody Blues on Thursday, Adelitas Way and Saving Abel on Friday and finished up Saturday with running a photo booth and photographing Trace Adkins. I did take time to join some of my fellow photographers to visit a most interesting ‘castle’  and today I met with an April bride.  The week was full of music and people, and lots of photographs.  To say that I’m tired is an understatement and my mind is also in need of refreshing.

Even with all the activity going on, I took a moment last night to make some observations.  As I was waiting for Trace Adkins to take the stage I took a good look around me and this is what I observed;  a large majority of the attendees were not really paying attention to the concert, they were on their electronic devices, either posting their activities or taking photos and videos.  While this isn’t necessarily bad, it did make me wonder if they were truly missing life by not being engaged and present.  Personally I try to put my phone down when I am out with friends, I don’t constantly check what is happening on Facebook or document what I am eating.  I do however post quite often when I am working events, but after my observation last night I am going to try to be more present in my activity.  Yes, I’m a photographer and I document life events and live music, it’s what I do, and I try to post on social media on the behalf of who I’m shooting for, but after I am done with my camera, I need to put my phone away and simply enjoy the music.  We get so busy taking selfies, recording the next YouTube video or simply capturing the moment, when in fact the moment is gone never to be returned.  Be present in your moment, enjoy the music, your family, your friends and loved ones.  Put down your phone and dance.  Music is cathartic and it take me to back to my younger days; especially with the bands I photograph, I want to take in every moment.

I am honored to have photographed some of the top names in every genre of music and to photograph in some of the largest stadiums & arenas and also incredible local events and happenings.  I also get to stand next to some of the best photographers in the business whom I get to call friends.

Please enjoy the photos from the week.  I truly love being a photographer.

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Canon 70-200 f2.8

Here I am with the box!
Here I am with the box!

I purchased this lens a few months ago and have had adequate opportunity to use it.  I have shot several concerts local venues and national acts, I’ve photographed a night wedding and I have taken portraits with it.  I am going to approach this with the Pro/Con format.

Pro’s

This is a sturdy lens (see con’s) with 23 elements and an all metal body which is dust & element resistant.

The lens is fast, with that f2.8 I am able to shoot in extremely low light situations;  with my Canon 6d I can successfully photograph in near darkness with little noise  at an ISO between 800 – 1600.  The wedding was a late evening outdoor wedding with very little lighting or should I say very little good lighting.  However with the help of the videographer (always make friends with the videographer!) I was able to have enough light to focus and pull some great images,  even with the ambient light as long as I had enough to focus with I was golden.

Focusing is quick and tack sharp and extremely fast with a manual override even in auto focus mode. It comes with a removable tripod collar, a hood and a beautiful carrying case.

Con’s

This lens is HEAVY.  3.28 lbs before you attach it to your camera body.  It’s not your day-to-day knock around lens that’s for sure and it requires a steady hand.  For such a large lens the telephoto is only up to 200mm on a full frame camera, so if you are looking for something to get the wildlife that’s far in the distance, this would not be the lens to grab.

This lens is not cheap.  The starting price is around $2500.00, but it is an “L” lens and it’s one of Canon’s top of the line and premier lens so is it worth the price? That’s for you to decide.

My Recommendations

I highly recommend this lens for those who are portrait or wedding photographers.  I do photograph portraits and weddings from time to time, but my most of my work is events and large venue concerts.  This lens is perfect for those dark venues, with bright lighting.  I have had some great results with this lens.

I hope this helps anyone who may be on the fence about making this large of a purchase.  Maybe if you are not sure if you want to spend the money, then  borrow the lens for a few days, see if it’s what you are looking for.  This is exactly what I did, I have a photographer friend who owns this lens and I was able to use it and well, I knew I needed to have it.

The Prize
IMG_1251 The Prize