Monday, March 31, 2008

Out With The Old, In With The New and Improved!

Some of you may or may not have noticed a small change to our website and to our photos. Our logo has changed!

We loved our old logo, but it was our first one and to get us up and going. We discussed it and went through many revisions and the final logo made it's debut yesterday. In case you haven't seen it, here it is!


We had our 'cute' logo for a while, but we wanted something more professional and something more robust that could withstand the test of time. We are hoping it will do just that. One of the benefits to having a graphic designer in the family is that I get to design our logo, marketing material and have fun. I loved making this logo. It still says 'teamwork' and 'ducks', but it also says 'professional' and 'elegant'.

We hope you like it and will always recognize it wherever you see it.

Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wedding Shots For In Good Company

Saturday was a busy day and so worth every second. We hooked up with Jason Rhees of In Good Company to shoot the details of a wedding he was doing all of the planning for. He was great on the phone and awesome in person. He had his crew working well together and the details were pretty incredible. It was at Park Privé in Costa Mesa. You would have a hard time believing this place was in an office park, but it was so cool! Outside terrace, beautiful grounds and this was the first wedding being held there. Jason, thank you for having us shoot the event. It was great working with you and we look forward to doing it again!

We spent some time shooting as they set up and meandered around scoping out the place. The sun finally came out and was beautiful. Kymberli and I worked so well together. We both have our strengths in shooting and it really showed. You'll see that in my photos and hers that are on her blog.

The bride and groom already had their niece set as the photographer, so we just did our own thing. I will say as a note to aspiring photographers - don't shoot the formal shots directly in the sun. It makes the people squint and complain and makes for harsh contrast. Plus, you need to make them happy. If they are squinting and grouchy, move around. Unfortunately we didn't get any say in where they were positioned, but even the groom asked her if they could move towards the shade and she said no because this was better light. Inexperience can hurt photos and he was right. They should have moved to some shade. She could have adjusted the settings to balance the tones and get a much more pleasing look.

Here are a couple from yesterday. I will post more tomorrow. And yes, my wife got me back on the 'frame' wagon. I used to do it with all of my photos. Now I am back doing it because it makes the photos 'POP'. Thanks, Babe.


Friday, March 28, 2008

The Peace And Quiet Of A Mile Away

The title of this post is kinda weird, huh? Yeah, well, a mile from our apt. is one of my favorite places to get away from the LA lifestyle. The El Dorado Nature Center has a few trail you can walk that are amazing. Full of wildlife, ponds and nice people. I shot out there last weekend for a couple hours and truly enjoyed life.

I am thankful I got to see so many wonderful things and got to soak in the beauty of what God has given us. So many times I take it for granted. I was blessed with seeing lizards, flowers, soft-shelled turtles, and birds (of course). The most amazing was an osprey that was fishing. I got some photos from across the pond (too far away for clean shots), but it was beautiful. He was so graceful as he plunged into the pond and came up with a huge... nothing! He missed the fish, but got a bath!

Here are a handful of images from my personal adventure walk. I just might have to do it again this weekend.


And here is a fun shot. Taken with my new Sigma 10-20mm. This is virtually in my backyard!


I love Southern California and the beauty it has.

Animal Abuse? Call 211

Kymberli and I were driving home tonight and heard that LA County has adopted a new hotline in dealing with people abusing their animals.

If you see or hear someone abusing their animals you can dial 211 from your phone and you'll be connected to someone you can report the abuse to.

I have not tried it, but heard it with my own ears. If anyone knows the full story i would love to hear it. I hate animal abuse and if I do see it I WILL call.

This May Be One Of The Best Posts Of The Year

I want you to stop and think for a minute. Do you have a dog or cat? Do you love them? Now imagine they are living on the street without you in a poorer country and just want your love, but can't find it?

Kirsten Lewis is a photographer from the States who moved to Mexico and found a calling most would turn away from. My wife found her blog the other day and insisted I check it out. I was reluctant (I can be very stubborn), but I did. This woman is doing amazing things. To make a long story short, Kirsten moved to Mexico and needed a spark to get her back into loving photography. She found it in charity. She started the ANNUAL EYES OPEN PROJECT (found on her blog) where she will donate the proceeds from the sales of the photos on her site to one of the three charities listed. You all know my wife and I have a love for cats and dogs and that we volunteer every Saturday at the Seal Beach Animal Care Center in Seal Beach, CA. Her blog post hit home and now I am sharing it all with you. The entire story can be found on her blog, but here is a quick review and 2 images from her site (posted with permission © Kirsten Lewis).

"WHAT IS IT? A Donation Image Trade Fundraiser

WHEN? From March 23rd to April 18th 2008

HOW CAN I HELP? Make a donation and get the word out. Send a link to this post to all your friends and family.

FELLOW BLOGGERS before publishing your next post consider making mention of this fundraiser with a link. I would be indebted to you forever and will also send you an original 5X7 of your choice from below.

SIGN THE CARD: After you make a donation please be sure to make a comment on any of the posts this week. They will all be featuring the organizations above. Please leave your name, where you are from and anything else you might like to say. It will be included in the card when the donation is made in April.

THE DONATIONS: I will present the donations in April. I will be videotaping the actual donation and then posting it on the blog so you can ALL SEE what you helped to do.

THIS WEEK: Keep checking back to learn more about these amazing organizations.

HOW DOES IT WORK? I have chosen 26 original images are limited edition and taken this year at the Refugio, Centre de Acopio and around Paso Ancho. I have made it real easy for ANYONE to make a donation starting at just $10. Just choose the image(s) that you like, decide what size donation you would like to make and purchase the image. Your purchase will be mailed right to your house! The size of the actual images or the amount of different images you choose will determine how large of a contribution you would like to make. You could also purchase images for friends and family and send the photos to them instead!"

Tell me this isn't awesome!!! I am going to donate some money to try and help as much as I can. Kirsten, this is an awesome thing you are doing. Keep us updated as to how things are going!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Day At The Beach

"Um, honey. Come check it out. Quackenbush finally blogged again!"

Yes, it has been a few days, but I am back. I was experiencing internet overload and needed to watch a few movies, exercise and work on some photos. So glad I did!

We had a shoot with one of my wife's good friends and her daughter last week. Christy and Alexis were awesome and Alexis is a pro in front of the camera. She was not afraid to get in the shot or even ask if we could do a few shots that she wanted. You go girl! (Wow, did I just type that?) Thank you to the both of you for allowing us to photograph you!!!

It was windy and really sunny, but I wanted to share 2 photos I liked and our experience so that it might help others out.

First off, the shoot was at 11am. Yes, bad light because it is contrasty, but sometimes you have to make it work. Everything went well until I realized I did not have my flash. It's not that I was surprised. I purposely did not bring it because of the light. Ooops! Check out this first photo. I thought I had a great shot in the flowers, but what I needed was a fill flash for her eyes. *Note to self - always bring your gear. No matter what.


This next shot is one of my favorites on the day. Alexis was chill, all smiles and the colors of the balloons were fantastic. My wife had the great idea to stop and get the balloons for the session. Great idea, babe!!


We burned through two hours very quickly and had lots of fun. The weather got pretty cool and we kept talking about how great it will be when it gets warmer. I just have to say how thankful I am to live in SoCal. 85 degrees in March? Yes please, may I have another?

Tomorrow I will have photos of the El Dorado Nature Center. There was an Osprey who was fishing, a soft-shelled turtle checking me out and I got to use my 10-20mm Sigma Wide angle for the first time. Awesome lens!!

Have a great night, morning, whatever it is where you are.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Internet Overload

"How come that Quacky hasn't posted a blog in almost a week?" No worries, I am alive and there is a good reason. Burn out.

I am constantly in front of a computer. 8-9 hours at work, then i come home and 2 more or so hours. Then, if I have the time, I can blog my own stuff. It's been a long week and I needed to regroup. I have some photos to post of last weekends shoot with Christy and Alexis, but I decided to edit them all and then post the ones I liked before doing 2-3 posts.

So, please be patient. I will be posting more this weekend. Happy Friday!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Will You Take Me Home?

There is a time in a persons life when you have to stand up for what you believe in and not fear what others think of you or what may happen to you.

Ever since last July, my wife and I have been volunteering at the Seal Beach Animal Care Center. We walk the dogs on Saturday mornings, but most of all we sit with them in their runs or in the play yards and pet them, talk to them and play with them. We try to show each and every one of them love. So, when we heard about the Carson Animal Shelter mistreating its animals we had to get more information. That information was not easy to hear and worst of all it sucks when you see it first-hand. You can read all about it here.

First, let me say this, the SBACC people are amazing and the dogs and cats there are treated incredibly well. They are clean, have clean and warm beds, blankets, food, water, are shown love constantly and get a yard to run around in. They are walked at least twice a day and for long walks, too. Up and down the street, the grass, and all over.

The Carson Shelter dogs are in a sad state. I am deeply saddened and feel such pain for these animals. The part that makes me angry is that the people running the shelter do not care for animals. You can see it just by going into the shelter.

We took part in a protest at the shelter yesterday and I am glad we did. I know it is only a small part, but it's a step in the right directions. A wise man mentioned to me today that be it baby steps or adult steps, as long as they are in the right direction they are good steps. Thanks, Jim. This protest was to spread the awareness to the public about the deplorable conditions, the killing of animals without waiting to see if owners claim them, the mistreatment inside and the blatant disregard for life. It sickens me. It saddens me and it makes me so full of anger that the protest was a must for us. Here is a photo taken by Ryan Olshan (Not pictured) of the group of us.

Photo © Ryan Olshan

We got to the shelter a little early and took a walk through to see what it was like. The runs (cages) were full of feces and 90% of them did not have a blanket for the dogs to sleep on. Now, I am usually warm and can handle being chilly, but yesterday was cold with the wind and these animals were huddled in corners just to stay warm. Some did not have water and dogs need water. It's common sense, but obviously the shelter doesn't require common sense when it hires people or gets volunteers.

Oh yeah, volunteers. That's another thing. When we were walking around we saw a volunteer walking a puppy around by the runs. It didn't want to walk anymore so what does she do? She starts to drag it. I could feel the blood run to my face as it reddened and I stopped and turned to look at her. She was right near the puppy's run, but that is no excuse. Mistreatment, plain and simple. Can't handle the way a puppy walks? GTF outta the volunteer business. The more I write the angrier I get, but I am going to get it all out there. As a volunteer, I know that there are days dogs will try your patience and days you don't want to be there. It doesn't give you the right to be a complete brute and drag a puppy. How would you like it if someone was babysitting your child or grandchild and didn't like what they were doing and decided to drag them by their arms or legs? You'd be pissed, huh? Bet you can see it now, but then again, I saw you do it so I am guessing you don't understand.

I am sickened by what I saw. Not only that, one of the pit bulls had been neutered and the glue came undone. Yes, glue. Not staples or stitches, they use glue. And the only explanation they could give was "It happens". Yep, it happened because you are cutting costs and doing what you want to do to get home quicker to your families. You don't care what the animal is feeling. Oh yeah people, animals can FEEL, did you not KNOW that? So they had to take the pit bull back to the vet and have it redone. I hope they use staples or stitches this time to make sure he doesn't have to go through it AGAIN!

The protest was small, but I hope effective enough to make people aware of the situation. And there is GOOD NEWS! Cathy (one of the protest organizers and animal rescuer) was able to rescue a beautiful, loving dog! It was such a good feeling to see that. She dedicates her life and soul to making the world a better place by doing whatever she can to help the plight of these dogs. Tell me this dog isn't happy now?


I love how happy the dog was. Mike walked him to his truck and he was running with a hop in his step. He even got up on his truck to look in the back. He KNEW he was going for a ride and going to a great place. Thanks to Cathy, Ryan and Mike for getting this dog set free!


If you feel strongly about this and want to help, please contact Cathy or Ryan. You can find their info on the LADACC blog or contact me. I will help forward your info. I aim to get involved more with this because I am still in shock at the conditions and Cathy made a good point of saying that this is 'clean compared to what it normally is' and that I believe. I would be willing to bet money that they only cleaned it up because they knew we were coming. Here is Cathy's Blog.

My wife said it best. She said in her blog, 'Cathy and Ryan, if you are reading this, I am positive that halos are awaiting you in Heaven. I feel that I have a big heart for animals, but you two take the cake. God Bless both of you in your fight with this and we will be supporting you.' Babe, you are so right. Cathy and Ryan, keep it up and feel free to ask us if you need anything. We will help as much as we possibly can.

God, please bless the animals at the Carson Shelter and all of our shelters in the world. Please watch out for the animals. Keep them warm, safe and for the ones that do not make it, we know they are with you by your side in Heaven.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Squawking, The Endless Squawking

Birds. Yes, I know. I am obsessed with birds. I have tried to deny it, but I have a problem. I love birds. I am fascinated with flight and with the many different species of birds on this earth. Kymberli will tell you how much I drive her nuts by pointing out different birds and naming what they are. It's kinda nerdy, but I love it. Secretly I think she does, too. ;)

Today was no different. Where I work there is constant squawking daily. I knew that one of the birds was a pair of mockingbirds. I have seen the pair daily and they get pretty close as they do their fly-bys. I have said to myself that I should post myself outside my office and get some photos of them. So today I did. This is definitely my favorite photo of the day. I just love how close I was able to get and how vocal the bird was.


The main chatter comes from a group of yellow chevroned parakeets (I had to look that up). These birds are beautiful, but Nuh-hois-eeeey! Wow, they make a racket that you can hear down the street. I wandered near the tree they were in and looked hard to find them. They are camouflaged so well that it took me 5 full minutes to actually see one in the leaves. Then they flew to the open trees with very few leaves. That's when I got some fun shots.

These birds remind me of lovebirds. They are constantly necking. First one would nuzzle the other, then they'd kiss and then one would bite the other and then the squawking continued. It was hilarious. I wanted to get in closer, but they were wary of me. So here are some of the shots. I am happy to have met a new species of bird today. I wonder what it will be tomorrow!


Ok. So I love birds.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Colossal Blunder Thursday

This blog is not as chipper or happy as my past ones. It is to serve as a red flag, a warning and guidance to all of you up and coming photographers, as well as, the feet-planted-firm photographers.

I went on my business trip 2 Sundays ago and took some nice photos. Then, when I came back home I went to our local park and spend a good deal of time capturing photos of the wildlife. I edited them, posted them, soaked up the smiles and congrats from my wife, but I failed to do the ultimate thing. I did not back them up.

I preach to everyone telling them to back them up. Even my wife will tell you that I constantly tell her "You never know what can happen, so back up your stuff right away".

Well, I lost about 13 GB of photos yesterday. I honestly don't know exactly how it happened, but I have a good idea. I was trying to clean up my computer and I must have dragged one of the folders into my Trash without really focusing on what I was doing. Wednesday was not a good day for multi-tasking. I then emptied my Trash and last night when I went to find the photos the ENTIRE folder was gone. 3 searches came up with nothing.

Needless to say, today I am in a VERY bad mood. It is no ones fault, but my own and I am upset because I am the boy scout who is always prepared. Yesterday I was not. Fortunately I might be able to recover a few files and there were no paid clients photos in there. I back those up right away. No, it was my own personal photos that I failed to back up and it's upsetting.

So young and old - back up your photos right away. [b]ecker (a fellow photog) always, always talks about backin up and I always agree with him, but you still have to do it. Back it up on DVD, twice, then back it up on an external HD and then put them in separate places. Not in your home, but have another location set up in case your home is vandalized, burns down (God forbid) or any catastrophe happens.

This is my vent for today. I am off to work to try to recover what I can and get over being so angry with myself. I don't want anyone's pity, just make sure you back up your stuff. This should serve as an example to all of you out there. This Pupil now understands the value of backups.

A&K with G&C at CPK in HB

I felt like abbreviating everything in the headline tonight. Just because that's the mood I am in.

Last night was a great night. Kymberli and I got to meet Gabriel and Carlie Ryan at California Pizza Kitchen in Huntington Beach and we had a great time. You two are so much fun and so full of life!! Thank you for taking the time out to meet up with us.

We discussed so much and I have to say that we are blessed to have friends like this in the photography community. One of the subjects we talked about was the fact that when I went to college (many moons ago) you didn't get the openness of photographers. If you asked a photographer how he/she shot a certain session they got defensive and were very reluctant to help you. I even got sucked into that mentality for a long time and it sucked. For me and for others. Thank goodness that we have outgrown THAT!

We had a great meal, talked shop, had quite a few laughs and had such a wonderful time.

Actually, time kinda flew right by and before we knew it dinner was over. We are definitely going to have to do this again sometime. It was interesting because I felt like we were really getting into conversation, but the place started to fill up and we all had to get home for our beauty sleep (there is not enough sleep to help this chrome dome).

Here is one of the photos that my wife took. She did a great job using my camera. Thanks, babe!

Here are a few pointers I would like to give to all of my fellow photographers out there.

1. Don't always bring your huge backpack with a ton of your photo gear to dinner. It makes for a fifth wheel under the table. Bring a point and shoot and ENJOY the moment.

2. Always, always check the ISO on the camera before putting the flash on and messing with the dials.

3. Be yourself in the photo. I was being all serious and Gabriel and Carlie were just being themselves. I look like a tightwad in the photo. Had I been more relaxed and going with the flow I think the photo would have been even more fun!

Here's the photo of the three of us.


Monday, March 10, 2008

An Adventure In The Park

Today it was so nice here in SoCal that I just needed to get outside and soak up the sunshine. I decided to hit Old Faithful (El Dorado Park) for some bird shots. It was so nice that I walked around and shot about 175 photos, but really just enjoyed being out there and loved being in the sun.

The park was filled with Great Egrets today. They were getting lots of tasty treats from the stream and they were cautious of me, but not as much as usual. Here are some of my shots from today. The only editing I did was some sharpening and cropping.

I really need to make it over there more often.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Tiggers Like to Bounce!

They certainly like to play! Boy are they beautiful. I realize I am a little late in getting my last photos up of the Tigers at the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL, but here they are. I went through them and wish I could go back as I sit here at the Tampa Airport.

Just look at how much they enjoy each others company, but also the incredible size of the male vs. the female. One thing to understand is that the male was bred by a guy to be big. I think the guy is an idiot for doing that sort of thing, but nonetheless the big cat is here.

My lens set up was not ideal for this situation. I would do it differently for the next time so that I could eliminate the fence lines, but you get the idea. One of my favorites is when the male yawns. His gaping mouth could engulf the females in one bite. Absolutely incredible.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Doc Connors? Is that you?

I got to my newest hotel today and it is awesome. Not much to look at on the outside, but beautiful on the inside. Gorgeous. These guys are getting an amazing location for an A/C seminar. Beside that, I was greeted by many of the locals when I arrived. They came out in numbers just to say hi, well... they were in the sun and as I parked I put them in the shade.

These brown anoles were everywhere and I think they are awesome. When I was a kid living in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, I used to try and catch these guys and man they are fast!

Here are a few shots I got of them, just for the fun of it.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL

Hello My Loyal Readers!! All 10 of you. LOL. I am writing from Tampa, FL as I am on a business trip. The great thing about going away on business is that I get to see more of the country and photograph different areas. The bad thing is that I have to be away from my wife for a week. :( I miss you, babydoll!!

This morning I decided to go to The Big Cat Rescue. What a fantastic organization. They rescue big cats from all over. Some of the cats rescued were kept as pets and some are from circuses where the cats just didn't 'perform' anymore. Our tour guide, Mike, made a great point when he said, 'This isn't a zoo. We don't have our animals perform, so some may be out and some may not. We'll see.'

When we got to our area to meet for the tour, this beautiful peacock was there. He was making a racket and some of the people said he was saying "Help me, help me." It really did sound like that.


Here are some of the other images I took of the South American Cougar, the Bobcats and some fo the beautiful Tigers. Just look at their eyes!


The best images of the Tiger couple will come later tonight or tomorrow. They were amazing. The male is 800 lbs. and the female less than half that, but when they played it was great. They were having so much fun.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Will you 'walk the world' with Jayson Rowley?

I challenge you to listen to my cousin-in-law's music and not let it hit you. It is simple and very to the point, but so friggin cool!

Kymberli and I went down to the Viento y Agua Coffee House on 4th St. in Long Beach to see him last Thursday night. Small place, tons of character and I loved it. Actually there is even more room for the character to blossom and that is very cool. There weren't too many people there and I was bummed because the music was so cool. He has 2 songs that aren't on his new 'walk the world' album yet, but I was so into them. He plays the guitar well, sings well, but the best part was the slide guitar. I am envious of anyone who can do that, but he was making it look way too easy. Rock on, Jayson!!

I am only posting this one photo because my wife got some seriously tight images from that night. Mine is just showing his action on the instrument. Check it out and check out his website.