Monday, January 31, 2011


I slowly open the door as to not startle her. The scent of peppermint and homeopathic oils greets me. Right away fond memories fill my mind. I smile broadly like the mischievous child I once was.

 “Hi Abuelita” I say to the shadowy figure sitting in a rocking chair in front of me. I wait for my eyes to adjust from the brightly illuminated living room to the dim window light that illuminates her room and softly caresses her face.

mija, my child” she says as I lean over and tenderly kiss her forehead. She doesn’t look too good. She hasn’t for a while. My grandma is turning 84 this month, and I can tell from the way she moves that the years weigh heavily up on her.  She looks at me knowing exactly what I’m thinking.
“I never thought I would live this long, I’m already living overtime you know? I’m stealing oxygen from the youngsters” She tells me in Spanish and the corner of her lips curl up into a smile. She thinks she is hilarious and I can’t help but to chuckle.

“Grandma, I think you’re going to be around for quite a bit longer” I reassure her as I’m fighting back tears, but more than anything I reassure myself. At that moment Peter walks into the room and my Grandma’s face lights up when she sees him.  I secretly feel jealous that she might like him better than me. 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011



This is a post I've kinda been wanting to do for a while now. Before I go any further I just want to put out my little disclaimer that this is just my opinion, but the following pictures really do tell the story. The reason for this post is I hear people say that the camera and equipment doesn't matter, just the person behind the lens. To me they both matter. Skill, vision, technical know-how (the person behind the lens) is extremely important if you want professional results and there is a reason that professional photographers use the "expensive" equipment. Now, I'm not saying that you're not a "professional" if you use a Rebel or equivalent, because if you have a business license and people are paying you for your photography, then you are a professional. I simply wanted to show some advantages that "professional" equipment can give you that consumer grade equipment never will.

A friend of mine happens to have a Canon Rebel xti which I was able to get my hands on. I had about ten minutes to take some side by side shots with it and a 5D mark II and various lenses. The 5D mark II was shot using neutral settings (no sharpening, color saturation, etc.) and the Rebel had "pumped up" settings for color and sharpening in the camera. I applied the same amount of sharpening and color saturation in photoshop. I think this is why the colors are so similar.

These first two photos show how a full frame sensor (5D mark II) shows a much more diffusely blurred background than a 1.6x cropped sensor (Rebel xti) even shooting at the same aperture-in this case f3.5. Just look at the house and Land Rover in the background. 

Shot w/ 5D mark II & 35mm f1.4l lens @ f3.5

Shot with Rebel xti & kit lens @ f3.5

In the next two photos you can see how you're not getting your money's worth by using expensive glass on a crop factor camera. Let me explain. I put the Canon 85mm f1.2l II lens on the Canon 5d mark II and I am using all that wonderful glass to make the image. When I put the Canon 50mm f1.2l lens on the Rebel xti I get basically the same field of view as I do with the 85mm/5D combo. What this means is roughly half of the glass in the 50mm lens is not being used to make the image because of the 1.6x crop factor. Basically you'd be using only half of a lens you payed $1500 for. Ouch!

Shot w/ Canon 5D mark II & 85mm f1.2l II @f1.2

Shot w/ Rebel xti & Canon 50mm f1.2l @ f1.2

These last two photos show how much sharper a Canon "L" prime lens is than a kit zoom lens. The "L" primes have so much better contrast, color, and sharpness than the "L" zooms too (that's kinda why we sold all our "L" zooms except one and bought "L" primes instead). Man, we can't wait to shoot a wedding with all that wonderful "L" prime glass! After looking at our wedding portfolio, we can't help but think how much nicer, more vibrant, and less noisy those images would have turned out if we had our "L" primes back then.

Oh yeah, all these crops are from the center of the frame where all lenses are their sharpest. There is absolutely no comparing the "L" lens and the kit zoom.  

Shot w/ Canon 5D mark II & 35mm f1.4l @ f3.5

Shot w/ Rebel & kit lens @ f3.5

I know some people might be saying that the 5d mark II has the advantage over the Rebel xti because of the extra resolving power of having 21mp, but even if you had a 7D (top of the line 18mp crop camera) the results would still be the same for real world use. Besides, megapixels don't always mean "better" pictures, just larger pictures. In fact, the 5D mark II has so much resolution that it will actually show the flaws in the lenses where a lower res camera won't (kind of why you need to use expensive glass with it to get the most out of it).

Also, an old Canon 40d crop camera (and the Rebel xti used in this post) will give better overall image quality than a new 7D crop camera because the pixel density is at a better ratio to the size of the APS-C sensor. The original 5D will also give better image quality than any crop camera hands down. But, if you want the ultimate in image quality from Canon, go with the 5D mark II. It is an awesome camera with image quality that no other Canon camera can match.

Something else about the more pro-grade cameras is that you don't have to search through menu after menu to change your camera settings. I must have tried for like five minutes to adjust both the aperture and shutter speed in manual mode on that Rebel. Definitely not a camera I would want at a wedding.

One last thing, I wasn't able to use the Rebel's lenses on the 5d since they are made specifically for the crop cameras. I am going to get my hands on a top of the line Tamron zoom lens to compare it to a Canon "L" prime and I will also compare a Canon "L" zoom to a Canon "L" prime just to show how awesome the primes really are. That way I can shoot everything with the 5d at neutral settings instead of "pumped up" settings with the Rebel to give a more accurate representation of how the lenses render color.

I know this post is probably my longest yet, but I hope some of you found it beneficial. Once again, I'm not knocking you if you use Rebels and kit lenses, I'm just showing that there is a difference between expensive equipment and affordable equipment. I'm curious to hear what you all thought about this post.


Grants Pass & Medford Oregon Wedding Photographer

Friday, January 21, 2011


I am covered in flour, it smells like something is burning, and I am not sure I have all the ingredients for the recipe I endeavor to complete. It’s my first time making brownies from scratch; they are supposed to be a “surprise” for Peter. So far though it’s looking like the only surprise he is getting is coming home to find his wife trying to put out a fire while covered in dough. Oh, and that burnt smell, yeah, that is the chocolate chips I attempted to melt in the microwave to replace the cocoa powder in this recipe. Yes Internet, I am that amazing. I call it creative cooking.

As we are speaking the brownies are in the oven and I’m crossing my fingers so that they turnout some what eatable. Whish me luck!


Thursday, January 20, 2011



You know what they say, "photography is all about lighting", so here is another post on lighting. Actually I was so stoked that someone commented on my last "FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS" post (thanks JT), that I decided to answer their request comparing these two softboxes. 

As always I am stating my disclaimer that this not the way it is or should be, just my opinion. We'll leave it at that and get on to the good stuff.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  I asked Kenya to pose for me since I was doing an experiment. She didn't know I was going to post these for everyone to see, otherwise I'm sure she would have done herself up. OK enough talkin'.

Actually just one more thing -I promise. Inside each Apollo was a single Canon 580ex II speedlight. I used the awesome Canon 5d Mark II and the even more awesome Canon 85mm F1.2l II lens. The images you can produce with that combo are drool worthy!

This first one is with the huge 50" Apollo

This is with the smaller, yet nicely sized 28" Apollo

Here is an awesome size comparison shot!

CONCLUSION: Do you want softer, wrap-around light (50" Apollo) or do you prefer more of the sculpted look (28" Apollo)? For me it depends on the situation. 

I thought it interesting that the background in the first image (50" Apollo) looks brighter than the second image (28" Apollo) even though neither the camera settings nor flash settings changed. Subject to light to background distance didn't change either. The only thing I can guess is that the 50" Apollo is a much larger light source, thereby causing more light to "wrap" around Kenya and reach the background instead of a smaller light source like the 28" Apollo which would cause less light to "wrap" around Kenya and therefore cause the background to be darker. The background may have been only 6 feet away by the way.

Any how, you can definitely see a more "sculpted" look (harder more pronounced shadows) produced by the 28" Apollo. The 50" Apollo has a "softer" look to it with less pronounced shadowing since the light can wrap around the subject, eliminating shadows.

If any of my fellow photographers found this helpful (I know there has got to be at least a few reading this) then let me know please. It makes me feel like I'm not the only gear-geek out there.

If anybody has any requests, leave a comment at the end of this post and let us know. We will see what we can do. I'm planning on a review between pro grade cameras and lens versus consumer grade cameras and kit lenses next week. If anyone has ever told you that equipment doesn't matter, just the person behind the camera, I'm here to tell you they are dead wrong. I will show you next week. Until then...


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I never dreamed of becoming a photographer, it wasn’t part of the plan. To be honest I never considered myself a creative person. In school I was the kind of kid that would rather take a writing class than art (which you can probably tell by my awesome spelling skills).  I remember sitting in class with nothing but a pencil and a notebook as my companions; I was the only one taking writing as an elective. Can you say dork? I would rather write a report than draw anything.

     In a way I was confused about the word “creative”. In my mind “creative” people were the ones with amazing artistic talent, the kids that could paint like Picasso, the one that always had fresh innovating ideas for their project. I was not that that kid. So I thought: I must not be “creative”. No one ever told me otherwise, I was allowed to believe I had a lack of creativity. I find it funny now that I think about it because those writing classes I chose to take were “creative writing” classes.  Creativity existed within me but in a different form than I had imagined. Writing was my passion as a kid. It was a way to escape into a fictional world. I loved creating characters and making their stories come to life, but photography was never part of the plan.

     With his camera Peter showed me a world of possibilities and I traded my pencil and notebook for a camera and a lens. My passion is still telling stories, but now I do it from behind the lens. I am a memory catcher. I am a photographer. I am creative.  I dare you to do what you love and inspire others along the way.
Photography was never part of my plan yet here I am doing what inspires me and hoping to inspire others….


Monday, January 17, 2011


I had been sick for about 4 days straight, I was getting a little stir crazy, and both Kenya and I were dyin' to get out and shoot. You could say we both had an itch on our trigger finger. I feel sooo cool when I say that, but Kenya just thinks I'm a dork. As much as it kills me to admit it, she's probably right-(just don't tell her I said so). 

Any how, I was feeling better Saturday afternoon so we loaded up some gear (yes! gear!), picked up Kenya's sister Ailin, and headed out in search of a cool location (hopefully dry). After about 1/2 hour of driving back and forth we finally found "the" spot, much to the dismay of Ailin. It took a little persuasion but we finally convinced her this really would be an awesome spot, and started setting up.

Kenya's sisters are like our own little guinea pigs that we perform all sorts of photographic experiments with. We love our little guinea pigs! In 2010 all of our sessions were done using only available or ambient light and we only broke out the flashes for like 10 minutes at the end of two sessions because there simply was not enough ambient.

So, you guessed it! Time to REFINE "NSP" (that means "Natural Style Photography" :)  If you don't say each letter like N, S, P but instead you pronounce "NSP" out loud 4 times in a row (as if it was a sound,  like nsp nsp nsp nsp) it kind of sounds like a sick techno beat! Yeah, I know, I'm a dork.

Enough rambling. Basically we have some really awesome lighting equipment and we are going to REFINE our style using everything we got this season, bringing it all to the plate. We feel it is going to give our clients the most bang for their buck (and the best photos too!).

So here are a few of our first results using some of that awesome gear:

This is how I felt getting to use some new gear!

One of my favorites

Ailin is laughing at my funny jokes ;)

Kenya's not sure, but there is something about this shot that she really likes.

Grants Pass and Medford High School Senior Photographer

Friday, January 14, 2011


    I know, I know. I said I was going to get to this post about a month or two ago, but you know what they say ,"better late than never." For those of you just tuning in I wrote a blog post here about the reason I loved shooting landscapes and the friend that started my interest in photography in the first place.

    Well, one day he was talking to me about how interesting portrait lighting was and that he wanted to practice taking some portraits. I said, "Why would you want to do that? I'll never take pictures of people, it would be so boring." I guess I'm eating my words now, huh? I actually really love doing portrait photography -even more than landscape photography (gasp!)

    So what changed? Put simply, Kenya. You see, when we were still dating we went to Hell's Gate Canyon (it's one of Kenya's favorite places) with her sisters, and of course I had my camera. But the unexpected happened and I thought to myself, "I guess I could try taking some portrait pictures." You know what? I actually liked it and the portraits weren't half bad either! It probably helped that those girls love posing for the camera.

    Even though I said I would never do "people" pictures (or get married), look at me now. I absolutely love being married to my wonderful wife and photographing amazing people with her. Just remember to never say never, and don't be afraid to give new things a chance, you might just like it (:

    I wasn't able to find those images, but here is the next best thing; my second attempt at portraits with a beautiful model ;)


Thursday, January 13, 2011


    I haven’t blogged for a while. To be honest I really didn’t feel like it. Peter and I had a terrible cold for the past few days. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed with a good book all day, which I did. I read this awesome book called “Love is the killer app” by Tim Sander. I think it’s a must read book not only for business people but for anyone out there looking to advance their careers. His big thought is that you can move forward in your career and make work life much more fulfilling if you became a “lovecat”. I’m not talking about the warm fuzzy kind of love. Sander describes “bizlove” as "the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with your bizpartners."
    So what are our intangibles? Our knowledge, our network and our compassion, by sharing these three things we can add value to other’s lives and our own.  If you are looking for an easy, interesting book give this one a chance.

Happy Thursday

Monday, January 10, 2011

For Photographers: Lastolite TriGrip vs. Photogenic Eclipse umbrella vs. Westcott Apollo

For Photographers : 30" 1-stop Lastolite TriGrip vs. 45" Photogenic Eclipse umbrella vs. 28" Westcott Apollo review.

    After hearing Kenya beg me time and time again to write some gear reviews for our blog, I think I'm ready to take a shot at it. I really was hesitant to blog about this kind of stuff, and I'll tell you why. Basically I was worried that other photographers would see what we used and how we used it and then "steal" our ideas. I figured this wouldn't be good for us because we have only been marketing since the middle of June 2010 and we haven't had a chance to make a name for ourselves and stand out as different. I mean come on, we shot two weddings at the end of 2009 with limited gear and then went to Mexico for half a year. That meant we weren't hear to book weddings for 2010 (although we second shot at one wedding).
    Well, Kenya kinda-sorta put my fears to ease by letting me know that it doesn't matter what gear anyone else has or how they use it, they are still not us and we have our own "natural style" that nobody else can duplicate. So I began to think about all the other photographers in the valley (there are a ton!) and how nice it would be if instead of being "competition" we can be colleagues and help each other out. With that in mind I decided to start writing about what we do, how we do it , and the gear we use to do it with. Basically we decided to "share the love because love is knowledge".  
    So, if you are a fellow photographer and you are reading this, please let me know if it is helpful. Heck, you can even ask questions if you want and Kenya and I will try to answer them (just expect me to do the same:)  Keep in mind that this review is only my opinion and I'm not saying that it is the best way to go. So with that said, let's continue.

    Fortunately for me, I had a very beautiful model - Kenya's Abuelita.  She was so cute beforehand, telling me she wasn't "done up" enough for a "professional photo shoot", but as soon as the shutter started clicking she was hamming it up for the camera! Oh yeah, never mind the white napkin in the foreground -remember this was just a test :)

    The gear (I LOVE gear!!) I chose to use was a Canon 5D Mark II camera and a Canon 50mm f1.2L lens. For the off camera light I set up a single Canon 430 EX II on a light stand which was about four feet from Abuelita. 
   Now of course I needed some kind of light modifier to "soften" things up a bit, so I decided to start with a Lastolite TriGrip diffuser to shoot the light through since we often have one or two with us on every shoot we do. We have been debating for some time on using these diffusers to modify strobe light instead of umbrellas or soft boxes. The reason is that if they work good we were thinking that we won't need to bring extra light modifiers like umbrellas and soft boxes since we have to pack everything with us for shoots.  
    Anyhow, this first image shows the results of the 430 EX II/ TriGrip combo. I think the light has a "flatter" look to it, which I'm not necessarily a fan of. I expected to see a "hot spot", but the light seems to be quite diffused. I think the flash could have been turned up about 1/3rd to 2/3rds stop though, which probably would have rendered more of a "hot spot". I didn't use the 48" TriGrip diffuser because I figured the difference in light wouldn't be that different seeing that the flash is only about 8 inches away from it.

   This second image is the 430 EX II/ Photogenic Eclipse umbrella combo (this is a reflective umbrella, not a shoot through). You can see there is a definite difference between this and the light quality of the first image. Although the umbrella definitely has a "hot spot" in the center of the light pattern (you can see on the right side of her face on her cheek the light is brighter) I kinda like it for this type of shot. 

    Lastly we have the image shot with the 430 EX II/ Westcott Apollo combo. The Apollo isn't quite a true "soft box" since there is only one piece of diffusion fabric instead of the two that a real soft box would have, but for our intents and purposes I call it a soft box. The quality of the light is quite soft and diffused, but still sculpts her face rather nicely. You'll notice too that there isn't quite the "hot spot" as there is with the umbrella. By the way, I had to up the power on the flash by about 2/3rds to 1 stop to compensate for the light being bounced through the diffusion fabric. Oh yeah, this is the 28" Westcott Apollo and not the 50" Westcott Apollo (that thing is HUGE).

    I should mention that the difference in light patterns between these light modifiers will be more noticeable if the subject to light distance increased. I think I will probably do a test just to show the differences for a future post.

    Man, I can't believe how long this post is. I guess thats what happens when you get me talking about gear. Did I tell you I LOVE gear? Anyhow, I hope at least one fellow photographer found this blog post informative or helpfull. If you did please let us know. Oh yeah, if you would like a more in-depth comparison between the 28" and 50" Westcott Apollo or the 45" and 60" Photogenic Umbrellas (reflective and shoot through), let us know and we will do it. 

PPB (Yes I did get teased about my initials in school, what's worse is that Kenya is rolling on the floor right now teasing me about my initials. Some business partner, huh?)  

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I am married the most amazing man in the world. Sometimes I really wonder how he puts up with me. I can be pretty obnoxious from time to time. Like the other night for example, all he wanted to do was finish our nightly reading. I on the other hand wanted to be difficult. 

“Can you please just read your part”- he patiently asked

“But I burned my arm” I said to him pointing at the dark brown spot that was left behind from attempting to bake a pizza. I had made that my excuse for everything lately.

“Kenya, please…” He begged me with his sleepy eyes. I sighed and began reading, with a British accent of course, or as close to a British accent as a Mexican gets. Then when he tried to point out words I had skipped in my reading, I simply replied:

“But… it is my British accent” and cynically laughed. Peter rolled his eyes at me

“You don’t think I’m funny, do you?” I proceeded in my British accent.
No reply…

“Well, I happen to think I am very funny” I told him and continued my broken reading. He took a good look at me, probably wondering why he had married such a hot mess.

“What?” I asked

“You are acting like a five year old”

“No I’m not, you are just jealous ‘cuz I’m way funnier than you are”

At that point I realized how much of a pain I can be and wondered how Peter could put up with me. If I was him I would have divorced me by now. I am the most fortunate girl in the world to be married to him.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011


2010 was so much fun, definitely a learning experience for us. We really enjoyed seeing the way our photography style evolved, from our first session till the last one. I know I said this before but it is worth repeating, we are truly blessed with the best clients ever! With out you guys we would not be able to do what we love, photographing amazing people. For that we thank you. We have learned a lot from each one of you, and we hope that this is the beginning of a friendship.  To be honest I don’t think we will ever stop learning. It is a forever ongoing process and we look forward to keep learning and perfecting our craft this year.  

Thank you to all the fabulous people out there who followed our quest and cheered us on along the way. You hold a special place in our hearts :) And we look forward to sharing much more in 2011, but for now here are the highlights of the past year (or the past six months since we were out of the country for the first part of the year!) …

Drum rolls please…..