High in the Colorado Rockies

Every year I and some of my best friends do a lightning 4-day trip up to Colorado to climb one of the 54 peaks that are 14,000′ or taller. It’s doubtful we’ll ever climb all of them since we’re getting “old” now. This year’s climb was Mount Belford (14,197′). Three of us had climbed Belford in a past year, but wanted to introduce it to new members of our group. On the afternoon after we had lugged our gear up to high camp, I took photos with my smartphone… enough photos to create a “photosphere.” Back in Dallas, I stitched those photos together and produced the following video:

photosphere by Dallas creative photographer doing 360-degree photos

Click to view larger. Smartphone mount is by Joby, mini tripod (with velcro) is an REI UltraPod.

When people see this sort of video, they often assume I was using a drone. In actuality — as I mentioned above — all of the photos were taken with my Google Nexus 6P (Android phone), which I mounted on a small ball head attached to my trekking pole. Try to imagine standing in the absolute center of a sphere, and taking overlapping photos of every “square inch” of the sphere — above, below, and all around. Software called PTGui can automatically stitch all of those photos together into a “photosphere,” which can be further manipulated in other software (InstaStudio 360, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere) to produce the trippy kind of movie that you see above. In the case of this particular movie, I was trying to match the phrasing of the soundtrack with the movement in the video. That involved slowing down segments of an intermediate movie to match the music.

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Animating the Downtown Dallas Eyeball

When my son Joshua and I were exploring downtown Dallas last week, we discovered this 30-foot-tall eyeball sculpture. We immediately realized that it presented endless opportunities for animation, making for great Photoshop and Premiere practice. Enjoy my weird little exercise. This video is best-experienced with its soundtrack.* Crank it up!
 

Know somebody whose organization or business could use some fresh marketing? Give me a call! (214) 843-1484
 
*NOTE: the soundtrack was generated for me in Sonicfire Pro by my long-time colleague and collaborator Marco Ciavolino, owner of Enktesis LLC.



Lovers Lane UMC Sanctuary

I published an earlier version of this Photosphere, but then I figured out several ways to make it better. It’s kind of nice with the music, so turn up the speakers!

This kind of presentation is ideal for schools, large churches, hotels, and convention centers… or any venue where potential visitors would like to “look around” before they visit.

Have a use for one of these cool little movies? Give me a call! (214) 843-1484

View some other examples of my Photosphere-based movies HERE.



Goodbye, Old Friend

When friends ask me to photograph a house they are selling, I usually give them a copy of the photographs that I gave their Realtor. So many memories are bound up in the home where they were formed. We picture our mothers and fathers, brothers, and sisters, sons and daughters in the spaces we shared with them.

 

So This One is For My Own Family

When we moved to the States from Mexico in 1970, Mom and Dad were as poor as any other missionary couple. They were surely hard-pressed to come up with the down payment on the dumpy little house that a Realtor showed them in Van, Texas. It was a well-built house, but the property had been neglected. The back yard might as well have been a horse corral, but without any horses. The soil still felt abused by an oil gusher that came in on this spot 40 years before.

 

But Mom and Dad set to work. With the steady discipline that characterized their entire lives, they turned that little corner property into a cozy cottage in the middle of a neatly-manicured garden. Since I mowed the lawn, I was glad each time Mom devoted more of the back yard to her flower gardens.

 

After Mom passed away ten years ago, the flower gardens retreated. But Dad did his best to retain the beauty she had created. More importantly, he practiced such hospitality that the little house was often full of lovely friends and their delightful children.

 

Dad passed away last December. Since I was responsible for the security of his now-empty home, I didn’t even put his obituary in the paper. Why let burglars know about an empty house when I was 70 miles away?

 

Well, today we close on the sale of the house. A new couple will soon be living there. May the memories they form in this house be as wonderful as those that we formed there over the last forty-seven years.

 

Here are some of the photographs I took for our Realtor, and for us:

 


Take a Look Around and Around and Around

Take a Look Around and Around and Around. Wait for it….

Photo Spheres have been around (pardon the pun) for several years. But I had ignored them until recently, when a friend reintroduced me to their charm. During his visit from Baltimore, Marco and I went out and shot full spherical shots of several locations, including these three at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church (one of my clients). See how we used the garden shot ON THEIR WEBSITE (scroll down to bottom of that page).

 

NOTES:

  • Click on the icon in the bottom right to go FULL SCREEN. You’ll love it!
  • These are big images, so they may take a few seconds to load.
 

But first, a video adaptation of the Shepherd’s Garden Photo Sphere:

Here’s one with a music track:



No-Sweat Landscaping and House Cleaning

Last week, I shot three new houses for a friend down in Austin. The houses were ALMOST ready for listing, but there was finishing work remaining on each of them. The landscaping was not done yet. Driveways and walks were muddy; floors were dusty. There was a temporary utility pole in one yard, and some rubble in the yards. But because of the pressure to get these houses on the market, my friend asked me to shoot them as-is and Photoshop where necessary.

See How I Added Grass, Cleaned the Driveways, and Mopped the Floors Without Breaking a Sweat!

NOTE: Click on the two top slideshows to see them larger.

Getting Rid of Dirt, Adding Grass

Cleaning the Floors

More Before and After Shots

Here are the listings for the two houses which went on the market (a third house had already been sold): House One, House Two.



Video Version of Virtual Tours

Video Version of Virtual Tours

This format is excellent for posting on YouTube and embedding in your Facebook page. There are branded and unbranded versions. I recommend the branded version as it places your contact information at the beginning and end of the video. In your account settings, you have the opportunity to setup automated YouTube publishing, so new tour videos get published directly to your YouTube channel.
 



Dogs Wreck Home Staging

Dogs Wreck Home Staging

On a recent Real Estate shoot, I and the Realtor tried to hide some soiled cushions in an otherwise lovely living room. We gave up. The owner’s dogs had simply made themselves too comfortable! The photo of that room was too important to discard, so I retouched the couch so that the soiled cloth would not distract. You can see the results below:

 



She only THOUGHT the floor wasn’t ready!

She only THOUGHT the floor wasn’t ready!

NOTE: Real Estate Photography does not include structural retouching. This was for demonstration only.

On a recent practice/demo photo shoot, my host apologized that one of her rooms was not really ready for photography. It turns out that the carpet had been pulled up in the master bedroom, and the floor was being prepared for wood floors like the rest of the house. My original thought was to simulate carpet in that room, but I was able to clone enough wood floor from the rest of the house to produce a convincing virtual remodel. Click on the image to view it larger. See how many other edits you can spot! (VIEW FULL TOUR).

 



Panorama Inside a Restaurant

Panorama Inside a Restaurant

“It looks like a Norman Rockwell painting!”

That’s what a restaurant manager had to say about my recent shoot inside Buttermilk’s Cafe in Canton, Texas. We’re making arrangements to do the same kind of shoot inside two restaurants she manages in Terrell, Texas. Achieving the Norman Rockwell look was not completely planned, and I don’t know if I’ll be so lucky next time!

Take a look (clicking the image below will take you to Buttermilk’s website that I also built).

 

Dallas Photographer shoot 360-degree panoramas inside a restaurant or business



Panoramas? YES!

We do 360° panoramas of homes and businesses. Sometimes a good panorama is the BEST way to let potential buyers and visitors know what they can expect.

HDR Photos? YES!

It only makes sense to take advantage of high dynamic range photography. Our HDR photographs are an attempt to emulate what the amazing human eye and brain can take in.

Retouching? YES!

Some blemishes are temporary (brown grass, a gloomy sky). And some possessions are too valuable for the public to see or recognize. Retouch them! Ethical principles DO apply here.
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