Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New York City

While in NYC, you should get an overview from Rockefeller Center. The immense city spreads before you and with a majestic sky can really be "breathtaking" as they say. This is a composite panorama of 3 images, with some tweaks in Lightroom. Empire state bldg center, Chrysler bldg on left and far right light on top, my daughters new home.  If you visit, just be prepared for sensory incitement!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Was cleaning out some old magazines and such and found this to be of interest. This was Brandons’ first venture into the digital composite arena done by Pat Diamond our original and only artist.(1988).......Along the same lines The paint brush was the first digital image test I did in ‘92 using a rented NikonF3 DCS with a 1.3 megapixel sensor that’s right 1.3..... cost of camera then was 25,000.00. Of course everyone remembers the Sony Mavica and the Kodak DC40 soon to follow for consumers, in 1994.     My how far we’ve come! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Grand Strand

Sometimes you just get a feeling;  to be in the right place, to be ready for 'those' moments.  Those times when preparation and timing come together and you're  presented with nature at its' best.  Such as it was  for last nights sunset. Cherry Grove to Murrells Inlet. 1/250@ f8  ISO 800. I just love how the wave lines lead into and  are repeated in the sky. Hope you do as well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


My friend and fellow photographer Jack Thompson,  famous for his historical Myrtle Beach pics. Taking a second after hanging his "Moon over Myrtle" at the Jetport. Single speed light off camera and popup camera fill.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Redeyed owl

If red eye is giving you trouble when using flash. Then try bouncing or softening the light with a diffusion attachment. If you have control over environment then switch on some light in the room or get the subject to look at a bright light then back to camera. Or simply use the preflash that most cameras have today. There are also easy fix tools in most photoprograms. Heres a really obvious example.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Super Bowl Rings

A few years ago, had the unique opportunity to meet and photograph Dwight ‘The Catch’ Clark, (thanks to Matthew Phisters' He also wanted images of his FIVE SuperBowl rings! It was my pleasure and if you’ve never seen one of these ........ here you go! They were very large and were only out of his safe just for the pics. Note that I used hard light to bring out the sparkle, of the jewels.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Rows and rows of circuit boards are pretty dull. By adding just one speed light with a CBO filter you can insert a bit of interest. Mix in available talent, place appropriately on a nodal and at converging lines and the composition is complete!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Farm to Table

Coastal Uncorkeds’ 2nd annual 'Farm to Table' was a memorable event, successfully and extensively planned by The Brandon Agencys’ own Candace Howell. This will give you a flavour of the evening.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Its one of the privileges of photography. Sometimes seeing the unseen or being first to experience, or getting behind the scene access. I’ve photographed molten steel, computer inards, and light bulbs being manufactured. Actors in the wings
--Artists creating, and you may remember close up and personal with the Moomba snake. These shots give an inside look at some new technology, that will help save lives. The new TOMO radiation at CRCC right here in Myrtle Beach. Adding some colored gels to the flash gave the scene a bit more drama and interest, and discovering that the laser alignment light was photographable was a bonus. The longer the exposure the more prevalent it became.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 11

Last week, my long time friend Dave Klee suggested we shoot the flags at the old Pavilion site, we decided on a sunrise and were presented with a glorious morning. But a little preplanning was necessary. With such strong backlight we needed to add some light to the front of the flags. See if you can spot them.......

Friday, September 2, 2011


Sooner or later, after kids and flowers, all photographers turn to wildlife for their subjects. This guy was hanging out looking for his next meal. They can be so expressive he’s just posing for a couple quick frames. If you train your lens on anything really, check your viewpoint and change it if the background is distracting, maybe complicated, too bright or merging with the subject, and use a larger fstop to soften the background and separate it from the subject.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beach motion

I mentioned previously the endless possibilities of capturing moving lights with slow shutterspeeds. Well if you move the camera with a slow shutter, you have infinite possibilities as well. Add color and you can be your own Matisse.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


For something entirely different! At the beach the other day and an ominous storm came up. Over the ocean the lightning seemed to be rehearsing for armegedon. Thought I might improve on previous attempts. So set the tripod and since ambient light of twilight was still glowing, used a polarizer to lengthen the exposure. This gives you the time to capture one or several strikes. The aperature was f22 and shutter was opened for 2 seconds repeatedly till I had captured a few strikes. Got lucky with a few and liked this one best. The serenity of the seaoats and a passing storm, how symbolic of life!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marina Inn

Architecture has always been a favorite subject. Studying a building for optimum light and composition is like stealing. The architect has done the hard work, you just have to make him look better. If you can put water in front of a building with lights even better, your half way to the goal. I’ve firehosed or waterhosed parking areas for that purpose. Lakes, ponds or fountains are always welcome, they give a base with the reflection, and produce an aesthetic, that other framing just doesn’t accomplish. You can opt for a mirror finish or like this with a little texture. If you're on a boat, jump up your ISO to increase your shutter speed. Not bad for a grab shot. 1/20@f5.6 Timing of course critical.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Feathery waterfall

I’m often asked, how do they get those waterfalls to look “feathery”? Well this example was simply shot in low light requiring a longer shutter speed.... Thus producing some “feathering”. But I further increased the desired effect by adding a neutral density filter, a polarizer can also be used, to further lengthen the shutter speed. Of course a tripod or suitable rock was required, to eliminate camera shake. The iso was also set to a low 100, and fstop was 22, final shutter was 1/10 of a sec.. Interestingly just 10 ft from this cool fall the Alaskan skeeters were thick and big, thankfully it was a short hike back to the car.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Skywheel Myrtle Beach

For those who've not had a chance to see the new Skywheel at night, here's a couple variations. Using a slow shutter speed on a moving object, especially colored and lighted, yields unlimited possibilities. These ranged from 1/30 to 10 secs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another of the almost 100 setups on that day! Using cross light shows the detail of the wood work. Natural light from a window just to the left provided the fill. Framing courtesy of the architect.


I've been in some beautiful spaces......this one was particularly lavish. Shot for the trim and mould, it was awash in natural light, but the falloff or contrast was extreme. With 4 speed lights, one in dining area, one behind staircase , one behind main chandelier and one at camera, was able to balance all light sources..... and with all the rhythm, and careful selection of point of view, it was one of my favourite from the shoot.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bathing Beauties

I've been kidded my whole career about shooting girls in bathing suits. Never thought it such a big deal, just doing my job! I just don't do this all the time. This was back lit with fill. PM me if you're really interested in the tech stuff.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Power in Heaven!

Just a little self assignment exercise. Saw it in a dream and had to share it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Architecturally, a disaster, but still a building so highlighting textural features was still desired. Doing this in HDR seemed to be the natural choice given the bizarre context. The moving clouds from the multiple exposure was a bonus and contributed to the calamity of the scene.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sooner or later you’ll be photographing something reflective or shiny. If its convex or concave, it becomes even more of a challenge, as the subject will reflect its surroundings inescapably. With most things like jewelry, appliances, or even chromed motorcycles.....a white tent enveloping the subject will solve most reflections and create the illusion of shinyness and the look of polished gold, silver or chrome. This floodlight however just didn’t work in a tent as the mirror finish took on a milky white appearance that didn’t accurately record the chrome finish. After experimenting with clear plexi on white and white plexi as well as aluminum and stainless, the best choice was simply foil wrapping paper, giving the very surface needed to reflect the best attribute of the bulb. Lit simply with a softbox and umbrella, the detail of the rough surface is also accentuated. Another lucky break finding just the right background, but as I’ve alluded to before, luck is the residue of preparation and design.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bliss recipe

Really loving those little speed lights. Adjustable down to 1/128 power. This one was just outside frame and @ 1/16. Add a little fill, long exposure for ambient, add Chardonnay crackers and cheddar.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I've had the pleasure of photographing Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Trevino, Floyd, and other great golf industry leaders over the years. This most recent rising star has a quietude the others did not. Maybe because he's so young, and not as exposed yet, but already winning 4 PGA tour events, Dustin Johnson is destined to be one of the greats. He posed briefly for me on a recent video shoot.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cale Yarborough

-- Its always a pleasure to photograph someone in their environment. First they are inviting you into their domain, something not always done lightly. Second, it usually gives an opportunity for props that normally wouldn’t accompany a studio session. This day ended with more props than I’d ever need. I met Mr. Yarborough at his dealership and photographed him next to a trophy as large as he was among several others but after he felt comfortable with me, he wanted to show me his trophy room at the ranch. We met his gracious wife and entered the room full of memorabilia from a career of 30 years. Lighting the the room was a bare bulb for the background and the Yarboroughs was a small umbrella. They were quite at ease talking about the past and the collection. One of my favorite celebrity pics.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

If I didn’t mention it before, your light source can be varied including anything you might have at hand, candle? Flashlight? Cell phone even. This image was created with a small flashlight simply moving back and forth across subject during a long exposure. Allowing beam to stay in one spot of course brightens the area exposed. Less and darker. The pattern is up to the artist. Go do some light painting! A soft focus filter adds to the effect and emulates the look of the Hose Master technique brought to my attention by Scott Blaylock of Digital Arts and Graphics.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Broadway night aerial

Not often do you see night aerials, as the shutterspeed required to stop vibration is at least 1/125 of a second. And exposures such as this can be in the seconds normally. So what to do? The first thing is to bump up your ISO. The new digital cameras go upwards of ISO 6400, thats a long way from film days of maybe 800. This was ISO 800 and with steady hands, a large aperature and successive exposures, 1/15 of a second yielded several acceptable images . Yet to be seen what the new upside down house is going to do to this landscape!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This was an experiment in 'Painting with light'. My good friend Joe Carr and I used flashlights to bring an otherwise completely dark scene to life by simply walking thru the scene and highlighting the areas we thought should be exposed, all the while the shutter is opened and exposing the sky. You have complete control in what elements you'd like to emphasize. It gives you the ability to really paint. We did use the tungsten feature of the camera white balance. A fun excersize to try.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring has finally arrived and no clearer sign than the dogwoods budding. The way they leaf out to those beautiful white flowers always amazes me, so delicate and unfortunately shortlived. Much like us!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


-- Just a grab shot at a function exhibiting trend in selective focus and tilted framing......Also added a little lighting effect vignette in Photoshop for further emphasis on the main subject. Hope your desserts are as yummy for your Holiday. Lighted with on camera flash bounced.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The client said it was impossible. I couldn’t resist, so proceeded to evaluate. Considering that this was done on the run among 90 other setups same day, its relatively successful. The challenge is to light a very dark room and the subjects in the foreground, yet still retain the image on the highly reflective movie screen. Previously they have inserted an image over the white screen in post. I simply bounced the light off the wall behind me therefore eliminating direct light on the screen. And since light intensity falls off as the square of the distance to the subject, there was not enough light to reach the screen which was 20 feet from the light source. The foreground however was illuminated enough for the shot. The other challenge was the movie itself, trying to stop the action with a slow shutter speed and yet retain the depth of field required to keep everything in focus. By increasing the ISO I was able to shoot at 1/8 of a second @f8, hand held BTW and maintain a balance that worked reasonably well. The client loved the results and we moved on.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cecil Story

As sometimes happens, while searching for one thing you find a gem you've forgotten. Its a Christmas theme, but need to share it now. I typically photograph the Brandon family for their Christmas card each year, this was sometime ago with film. Using umbrellas and Elinchroms. The real challenge was expressions, so with five children, positioned them appropriately and let Cecil work his magic by simply reading The Christmas Story. This portrait has a nice feel about, notice the pyramid posing and the directional light.

Monday, February 28, 2011


As I've noted previously, night shots look best at twilight. And the window of opportunity for balance of twilight and artificial light can sometimes be just 15 minutes. HDR (high dynamic range) has changed that scenario, in that now you have the contrast control to expand or contract your highlight to shadow ratio. My good friend Joe@ convinced me to update my Photomatix for even more control in such instances and It now gives you options previously unavailable. Here's a couple results that give a wide range of exposure that could not be captured in a single frame.To make this more of a challenge the hotel shot was previously done on film with a full frame camera, the new D300 is Not full frame and the vantage point required a mini panorama merge to encompass the whole property, even with a 12 mm wideangle lens. note, you can now click the image directly to enlarge!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mike and music

Originally uploaded by Michael Slear
A friend is cutting an album locally, and asked me to document. So was experimenting with snooted speed lights in the sound studio and loved the feel of this image. It really projects the mood of the moment.

Monday, February 21, 2011

sunrise pier

sunrise pier
Originally uploaded by Michael Slear

Sometimes just showing up early is rewarding. Like before sunrise, which was nice in itself but clouds on a horizon are always hard to beat. If there’s color you have a pretty good chance of just another pretty photo. But we have lots of those, so, adding the knowledge of shutterspeed and movement of one of the elements of image the result is a little different, giving the sense of the moment, and movement. And as always a little rhythm always adds to a shot. The pier as well as the waves, you can almost hear them.

Uploaded by Michael Slear on 21 Feb 11, 8.36PM EST.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Originally uploaded by Michael Slear

Pictures within pictures are almost always playful, and at the very least entertaining. Framing up frames is even more fun so next time you pickup the camera try framing a frame, see where it may take you. Trying different f stops and focus areas will yield different results. This struck me as it reminded me of an old Led Zep album cover....... I mean Cd cover...

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Originally uploaded by Michael Slear
Funny how things come full circle..... 30 years ago we sold B&C, then Myrtle Beach Farms a multiple page brochure on the Pavilion, I even designed it and wrote the copy. In that brochure was a shot of the Caterpillar and to show the motion, yet freeze the action was a challenge for a rookie, given the limitations of film and equipment and the shot though albeit not quite as successful as this one, 30 years later. Same ride by the way and only couple photoshop clicks. I miss the pavilion.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Originally uploaded by Michael Slear
Just a grab shot with a pocket camera, but spoke to me. There’s something tribal and primordial bout hunting. Quite a charge if you’re not a regular. A little Lightroom to simulate HDR and Dave Hill and kinda takes you hunting with a good friend. Don't you think?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bahama Mama copy2

Bahama Mama copy2
Originally uploaded by Michael Slear
Color can be used in a supplementary manner or can be the main focus of an image. This example combines the 2 approaches. In outdoor photography, the use of color is a matter of recognizing and selecting combinations that already exist, and the opportunities for manipulating the colours in a scene are limited mainly to the framing or kind of light. In the studio your options are limitless with prop selection, backgrounds and light intensity. This image certainly builds on the rule of thirds, and combines complimentary colors, and note the subtle rhythm of the repeating grass shape with the repeating letters. All combine to produce a pleasing ‘wish you were here’ moment. Enjoy.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Originally uploaded by Michael Slear
Patience, as they say is a virtue, and as a photographer if I’ve learned nothing else its a virtue worth possessing. Many times I’ve regretted packing up, assuming the sky wouldn’t part or the people wouldn’t show or the varmint would poke his head out. If you just take a breath and relax, nature will usually come through. As was, in this case at Colleton River, starting off a dismal morning and cold as cold can be and in the lift up where the wind really chills you, waited until the color began to shine and I think patience once again triumphed.

Uploaded by Michael Slear on 17 Jan 11, 3.12PM EST.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What's within

Originally uploaded by Michael Slear
Starting off the new year with one of my all time favorite images, simple, uncluttered, and symbolizing a beginning of sorts. Its from a time when Ansel Adams ‘Zone system’ (an exposure / film processing technique) was required for such an image. Today of course photoshop allows for a myriad of adjustments with a keyboard stroke. One of my resolutions is to be more proficient with photoshop, apparently a life long endeavor. Whats yours? Happy New Year!