I'm Back.

Well, it's been over a month since my last post. At the end of May, I took a road trip down to Yosemite Park and the Redwoods in California. I really enjoyed being disconnected from everything. We we're gone for 8 days and I only had cell service for two travel days. It was great! The only downfall is, it's been really tough to get back into blogging and marketing. I'm trying to find a nice balance between work and enjoying life. I figure this would be a good post to just bring you up to speed with what I've been up to over the last couple of months. So, here we go. I had an amazing trip down to Yosemite National Park with my dad, brother and a bunch of my dad's friends. Here's a shot of my brother and I up on top of Yosemite Falls.

I have assisted Jetta Productions twice now on two separate Stock Photo Shoots. I never thought this would be of any interest but these shoots are a ton of fun and I have learned an incredible amount in the 5 days I have worked for these guys.

I was hired by ASI to shoot the Rock and Roll Marathon in Seattle WA. It was crazy! I had to get up at 3:30am and shot until 2pm. It was way more work than I anticipated but it was well worth it. I opened up a whole new avenue for work and actually had a great time shooting. It was pretty emotional watching people come thought the finish line. So many people had pictures of friends/family they had lost to Cancer. It was incredible to see people fighting for a cause and really pushing themselves to the limit.

I am training for my third STP ride coming up here in a couple of weeks. This year, I have really been training hard. I have gave up the booze for 6 weeks and have been averaging about 150 miles a week on my bike. I have also been doing spin classes and core training in between rides. It feels AMAZING to be getting stronger and increase my endurance. This year, my brother David will be joining me along with my Dad. Keep your fingers crossed for some sunshine.

Lastly, I have finally started to work on music again after a two year sabbatical. My buddy David (Positive ID) will be producing the whole project and it will be titled Positive Vibrations. We have 6 songs recorded and have been recording about 1 song a week. We're on track to get this thing finished up by Fall. I'm planning on doing a little show for the release after the release. If you haven't heard my first album, Walk With Me, go to www.josephaverage.bandcamp.com to download it for FREE!

Now that the fourth is over, let's all enjoy our long awaited summer!

- Mike

Think before you shoot.

Sometimes I forget how important it is to take my time when taking photos. There are so many things to consider when taking a photo; the lighting, the composition, obstructions, facial expressions, clothing, shadows and several other things.  Sometimes, I get caught up in the moment of having fun while working and realize later I made a mistake that will have to be fixed in post. Nobody is perfect and sometimes making mistakes can be good. For instance in these examples below, I learned some new tricks in Photoshop that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. These were some promo shots taken at Bellevue Community College a couple of weeks ago for some local musicians. I have never done the before and after thing and figured you guys might want to see some of the changes I make in post editing.



So in this shot, the guy really wanted to be in front of the door mainly because of the numbers. In hip hop, area codes are sacred. It's very important people know where you're from so he wanted me to put in the numbers "425" replacing the "444". The angles were way off! The lines weren't straight and that really bothered me. I used the Warp Transform tool to straighten up my lines. I felt like the white wall was really boring so I added a layer of a wall I snapped a while back, set it to a "Soft Light" setting and cleaned it up a bit. What did I learn here? Pay attention to angles. Don't be afraid to tell the client that the shot looks boring aside from the number bit, but do it in a positive manner suggesting putting in the are code in a different setting with more pop. That's why people hire us. It's not a bad thing to shut an idea down, but be nice about it and provide an alternative and explain why. It's their right to know.

Here is another shot that took a LOT of editing to make me happy.



Originally I thought the sculpture looked really cool. In the end, I hated it. It took away from my subjects. I used to several different blending, masking, erasing, cloning techniques to finally get this guy to look right. What did I learn here? Take more time to think about the shot. Focus on the composition first, then let everything follow. If the composition is good, the foundation is good. Then, you can paint your picture with whatever colors you want.

What do you guys think about the changes? Do you like them? Do you think they were worth all the time I spent on fixing them? Thanks for the feedback!

May 2009 "Photo of the Month"

edmonds-001 This month was spent transitioning into a new job location, traveling down to Portland to catch the Avett Bros, heading out to Spokane for the Bloomsday run and tuning my bikes up for the season.  I really didin't have the time this month to shoot much photography.

I went out on Friday to shoot the Ballard Locks with my brother but I really felt like I was forcing the Photo of the Month. Then on the last day of the month I got a call from my friend Darien Chin. Darien is a really unique and fresh local photographer. His images really stand out from the rest. I have been trying to link up with him for a while in hopes to learn a few things about photography and see what he's all about.

We headed down to Edmonds to shoot the sunset. We hit a few bumps in the road trying to find parking but we got set up just before the sun was setting. Darien practices a style of photography where you take multiple exposures and blend them together in post processing. This enables all the different elements in a photo to be perfectly exposed. This was the first time trying this for me so I felt a little overwhelmed with the sun going down quickly. After reviewing my shots this morning I was sure that the Photo of the Month had been captured.

Here is another photo I edited from the same night. It was hard to chose which one to use for Photo of the Month. What are your thoughts?

Lens - 18-55mm Nikon Af-S

Aperture - f/18

Shutter Speed - 22 and 30 seconds

ISO - 100

Tian Yi Graduated Polarized Filter

Edited in Photoshop CS3

Roomate Photo Shoot at the Sculpture Park.

So this last weekend I did a photo shoot for some roommates in attempt to document their bond. I think it was a great success! We went to the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. The weather was great and the scenery was amazing. I had never been there and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see some great art, views and people for the great price of FREE! Here are my favorites from the shoot but click the pictures to go to my flickr page and see the whole set.