Kies Photography LLC: Blog en-us (C) Kies Photography LLC (Kies Photography LLC) Wed, 25 Jan 2017 01:50:00 GMT Wed, 25 Jan 2017 01:50:00 GMT Getting Started with SuAS & Remote Pilot Certification! Wow! It’s really been awhile since I’ve written a blog! Time sure flies! So I felt that a great topic to discuss and share is getting started with small uAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) and obtaining my Remote Pilot Certification, which allows for commercial operation of a small uAS under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Over the past few years the popularity of uAS has literally skyrocketed and it became necessary for the FAA to implement new rules governing commercial operations of uAS. When I first started getting involved in uAS a couple years ago it was required that you have a Section 333 exemption to operate commercially. Obtaining a Section 333 exemption was almost equivalent to obtaining a sport pilots license, which requires 40 hours of flying an actual aircraft! So with that in mind I decided that I would wait for the FAA to come out with the Part 107, which requires one to take an Aeronautical Knowledge test, no flying actual planes! Yea! So in August of 2016 the FAA released the test and the study material. I must say that I was impressed with the FAA in getting this done!  I set a personal goal to pass the test and get my certification by the end of 2016. Before I discuss the process of preparing for the exam I’d like to go back and talk about choosing a uAS and discuss my first purchase.  Before making a purchase I did the research on the web and had narrowed my choice down to a 2 different uAS. What I really needed though was to talk to someone about what they used for shooting photography and video. Spending 4k on a system was not something I wanted to do from the start so I set a budget of 2k. So at this price point I was looking at the prosumer range of uAS. Since this was going to be my first uAS I was really leery of wrecking something that expensive!  So I decided to take a class that was being taught locally by DartDrones hoping his would give me the confidence I needed to start flying uAS. I signed up for the June 11th 1-day class and paid $360 for a full day of Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 training. The class was good because I didn’t know anything about uAS. Our instructor had a Phantom 3 (no Inspire 1). He went over all of the basics and we all got a chance to fly it. Looking back in all honesty I would rather have the $360, which would easily buy a Phantom 3 now! I was kind of disappointed that they did not have an Inspire 1 in the class.  The Inspire 1 is a stellar sUAS that is one of the best uAS for commercial and real estate photography! Oh well! Also I want to mention - what is up with taking classes these days and there is no study material given or provided? This is the 2nd class I’ve taken in the past year where no slides or material was provided! This does not make me happy! This was also the instructor’s last class. He was leaving the company blah. It was still a good class! I felt confident enough after the class to go out and purchase my first uAS. With the new information and one uAS flight under my belt, I hopped on Amazon and purchased the Yuneec Typhoon H. What I liked about the Typhoon H was the overall build quality, the retractable landing gear and the unrestricted 360-degree rotation of the gimbal. I did not come to this choice easily. I looked at YouTube video after VIDEO until I settled on this one. It met my budget and thought for sure that this would be a good place to start. I was a little reluctant to go with the Yuneec because the instructor was such a DJI fan boy. I mean fan boy yes he was. I think he actually steered me in the Yuneec direction because of that! But in this realm there are many other manufactures of drones. But just like the Nikon/Canon thing, there is the Yuneec/DJI thing to some extent. So on June 18th I ordered my Yuneec Typhoon H. Once the unit arrived, like a kid on Christmas day opening up the box and setting up the craft was exciting! After that wore off one of the things that really irritated me about the Typhoon H is the lack of a case.  Not only could you not order one, nothing really existed in the aftermarket that I found suitable. So it stayed in a box, which I toted around when I wanted to fly it. I eventually randomly walked into a hobby shop and found a rather large bulky soft case to put it all in. It works out ok, but it's tough to carry around especially when you factor in all of the rest of the equipment that I have to lug! But for now it works.

As you can see here I took the original packaging and just placed it inside the new case. Does it fit perfectly? NO, but it works and protects it. There is even room for the ST16 controller with the extended range antennae and other goodies too!  So with everything now fitting in its place I decided that I should probably update the firmware. I used to work in IT so updating firmware is simple? NO! I actually found a way to botch up the firmware update so much so that when I took it out to fly one of the motors would stop and it would just fly back down. So Amazon has an awesome return policy. On June 29th I sent that puppy back and got another one! This time with my YouTube video on hand I was ready to update the firmware on that bad boy! The directions from Yuneec were unclear to me; so glad I found a decent walkthrough! I was able to update the firmware and the craft was perfect! So on and off I took out my uAS and had some great flights. Here are some example images where I’ve shot a couple properties in Fredericksburg and around the San Antonio area.

In this shot above I was shooting a property in Fredericksburg for a client and since I was not yet certified this was practice. With the busy road nearby and all of the trees to work with it was kinda sketchy. I was not in my comfort zone here. The shot worked out great though and helped market the property. 

11619 Lower Crabapple Rd
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
In this shot I'm just trying to get a different perspective on the home. This is another beautiful property in Fredericksburg.

BPC "Murph 2015"BPC "Murph 2015"Lost Creek B&B
5000 S State Hwy 16
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
In this shot above I'm using the uAS to again get a different perspective on this old barn. 

31000 Interstate 10 Frontage Rd
Boerne, TX 78006
In this aerial shot I'm really trying to show the buyer the space and how it's currently being utilized.

So initially finding an ideal place to fly near the house was challenging. I now have a low traffic park nearby that is perfect to fly at.  I recall one of the first flights I took was near my house; it’s a vacant lot that is used for utility access and drainage but is close to the road. Some knucklehead stopped and said, “Hey you can’t fly that thing there!” I was like what? STFU! The guy was clearly on a roid-rage just yelling this and that. Anyhow it was ok to fly where I was but this guy was sure I was trespassing. So I have decided not to fly there anymore incase that knucklehead shows back up! In this video I was on my 2nd flight getting used to the Typhoon H and just having fun!

Over the next few months I kept up with the FAA and anxiously waited the release date of the Part 107 exam. I flew as often as I could but not nearly as much as I wanted. So the test became available and the FAA published the study guide. I took a look at the study guide; I was so new to Aviation I quickly realized that I would need some additional training to really understand some of the concepts presented in the FAA study guide. So I started searching for an online Part 107 training course. I went out to udemy and took a couple of courses there but it just did not seem like it was enough to get me thru the tests and I was failing all of the practice tests I took. So I kept searching and on Cyber Monday I got an awesome deal from  for $192, usually $299! It was totally worth it. I went though the course and videos and also went out to YouTube for deep dives on some subjects I had to work harder on. I took a month to review the videos and study. There are 5 sample exams and quizzes at the end of each module. I really took my time because I know that in 24 months I’m going to have to take the exam again and it’s good to know all this stuff! In studying for this exam I really got interested in Aviation looking at all sorts of Cessna flying videos on YouTube and sort of considered getting a pilots license but probably won’t anytime soon or at all. Every time I hear about an airline crash it’s usually a small aircraft that bites the dust.  In the journey of getting this remote pilots license you learn the basics of Aviation. It all starts with a review of the regulations. The FAA wants you to know when you can fly and where. Much of the where involves knowing where you are flying in relation to airports and knowing that manned aircraft always have the right of way. If you are operating near an airport you will have to know the various types of airspace that is regulated by the FAA.  There are also waivers and you will need to know about those. Suppose that you want to fly at night. You need a waiver for that and you’ll need to plan for that because it’s taking at least 90 days to get them approved. Next you will need to understand weather and how it can affect your uAS. This is where it starts to get fun! Reading METARS, understanding how to read sectional charts, airport operations, uAS loading and performance and physiology are also a few other things you will need to know to pass this exam. What is cool about signing up and taking the course from  is that they email you about once a week and ask if you have taken your test and it was helping me keep on track. Once I got through all of the practice tests I felt like I was ready. I called the CATS testing center - 800-947-4228 option 3 and paid the $150. On Dec 30th I showed up at the testing center, took the test and got a 97%!  Overall I felt great about making the decision to get my Remote Pilot Certification. I know now that I can legally provide my commercial customers with aerial photography and video and I feel confident that I am operating safely and within the guidelines of the FAA!


Happy Flying!






(Kies Photography LLC) Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification UAS Yuneec Typhoon H sUAS Mon, 23 Jan 2017 22:54:13 GMT
Crossfit Madness One of my favorite subjects to shoot is athletes. During the past year I’ve personally taken up Crossfit as a way to stay in shape and break the boredom of just going to the gym and working out. The idea to get into this Crossfit madness was a suggestion from a good friend of mine that had also been my workout partner for years and understood my frustration of trying to keep fit all on my own.  After some research, and soon thereafter a Crossfit gym opened up right near my house, Brodie Park Crossfit (BPC)! I stopped in and took the mandatory prep class using a PVC pipe to cycle through the typical movements that one would expect to encounter in an actual class. With my prep class completed it was time to go to my first real class. To start off a typical workout of the day or “WOD” will have a name associated with it. Many of these names are inspired by a fallen military hero or just the name of a gal or it could be anything really. It's written up on a whiteboard with the workout to follow. Before the WOD starts you have to be warmed up. This typically consists of a 200 meter run and an intensive calisthenics warm up session inside the gym or “box”. This consists of a combination of fast feet, high knees, burpees, pushups, jumping jacks, handstand walks, toe-touches, lunges, karaoke all usually happening in rapid succession. By the end of the 15 minute warm up you are definitely sweating and depending on the coach that is teaching you may already be worn out before the actual WOD.  In my first few sessions I was challenged in just getting though the warm up. Once the warm up is done there is typically a skills exercise or strength exercise that focuses on something like double-unders or handstands or it could be a deadlift session or another Olympic style movement. This will typically last for about 10 minutes. Once this is done then the WOD starts. A WOD can consist of anywhere from 3 to 10 different lifts or combination of lifts and a run or some other type of callisthenic activity thrown in between or at the end of it. The WOD may be AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) and is timed or just timed just depending on the WOD. Once the WOD is over the coach will lead you through a stretch session. One of the best things about this is the sense of camaraderie that takes place during the WOD and if you really put forth the effort in the WOD you also feel a sense of accomplishment. During my first few months of Crossfit I was happy if I was going 2 or 3x a week. Now unless sick I’m there Monday-Friday and might even try and do a few extra workouts in the evenings and weekends. What I like most is that the workout is different every day and the coaches are always thinking of new ways to punish us! That’s a good thing. So what does all of this have to do with photography? Well I’ve been shooting Crossfit events for BPC. You might wonder what is a Crossfit event?  A Crossfit event is a competition that can last 8 hours! The most recent event I shot was the "Turkey Slaughter" which consisted of about 22 people in 2 person teams all competing. This event started at 4:30 am. Competitors first task was to solve a riddle so that they could find out the first location they would have to run to. 

In this image these contestants are trying to solve a riddle so that they can determine where they first need to go. Once this was completed they had to run about 2 miles to the nearest high school, Bowie High. Once they arrived they had to solve another riddle and then had to complete a 400 meter bear crawl, long jumps with burpees and back peddle 400 meters!

Starting her 400 meter bear crawl! 

Long jumps & Burpees! Once the competitors completed the tasks at their first location they had to solve another riddle or algebraic math problem to get their instructions on the next location. To add to the madness they had to use the GPS in their smart-phones to guide them to the next destination! They also had a can of food added to their backpacks at each location!

One of the next stops was the Alamo Draft House parking lot where competitors had to complete 50 shoulder to shoulder deadlifts, front squats and thrusters!

Onto the next location! After solving the riddle that is! Here the competitors had to complete 10 minutes of handstand walks, 30 med ball slams &30 med ball cleans!

Next location Dick Nichols Park! Sand Sprints!

And puzzle assembly!! 

At the Longview Park location competitors had to complete 10 minutes of max handstand holds into max push ups!

Then, partner carry roughly 100 yards then switch!

Ok all done?? NO! Run 1.5ish miles back to gym! 30 minutes of rest/recovery and into the ..









My favorite image from the shoot was this one. This is what it looks like when you have nothing left in the tank and you think that you can't possibly go on, your team mates and coaches are encouraging you to get past that and get it done!

It's what I love most about Crossfit and what keeps me going back for more!


-- Rich

A well deserved beverage at the end of the event!

You can view all of the images from the Turkey Slaughter here

(Kies Photography LLC) Mon, 03 Dec 2012 01:40:24 GMT
Love This Land Well it's been awhile since I've wrote a new blog, so long that I've missed it! I must say that this year has been filled with some surprises! Recently I took a trip to Houston. I've always wanted to visit Reliant Park and catch a Texan's game. I am by no means a football fanatic. As a matter of fact I don't really know much about it other than how it's played and how they keep score. Anyhow, I decided it was time to take that trip and catch a game. A friend of mine has a place on the 25th floor of the Houston House, a former hotel that was converted to condos located right downtown. It was a great location because we were able to walk across the street and take a train to Reliant Park. Getting to the park was a breeze, but before going over we walked over to The Flying Saucer and had a couple drinks prior to getting on the train. Once we got to the park we only walked about 10 minutes to get inside the stadium. We took our seats and I was pleased that we had such a great view of the whole stadium. Although the seats were cheap I thought they were great. Here is an image from where we were sitting. I shot this on my trusty little Sony Nex 5N. It's been a great little point and shoot when I can't lug anything with larger lenses around. This one was also processed in Nik Software Color EFX Pro using the high key preset. I also shot it in shutter priority mode so that you could see motion of the players moving about on the field.

So Texan's WIN! 28-24 against the Vikings! So what? LOL. We left about 5 minutes before the game ended. As we walked out of the stadium I noticed that the sky was really looking cool and there were all sorts of statues of an old western theme, horses and stuff like that. This one was rendered in Nik Software HDR EFX Pro with the default preset. 

Well it's time to get on the train and head back towards the Houston House. We decided that we wanted to check out this place that we saw on the way to the stadium that looked cool. We got off the train and I saw the sign for The Continental Club! It's the same as the one in Austin. Cool! There was a band playing but I didn't want to pay cover so they had a band in the back that was playing for free. It was some Beach Boys cover band. It was cool we had a drink and after a few songs the band quit. It was still early so we headed out and ended up in some other bar that was next to the Continental Club. This place was cool we stayed and had a drink and then decided that we wanted to head out and try and grab some food. We walked by the Continental Club again and the dude working the front asked if we wanted to come in for free, we went in and there was this really cool band (Los Straitjackets) playing rockabilly and they all had these Mexican wrestling masks on. It was a killer show. Now I kinda feel bad for not paying cover :( 

Well all good things must come to an end. It was time to head out and catch the train back to the Houston House. As we got to the station we had just missed the last train by 5 minutes! Crap. Well I guess it's time to take a hike. I think we were at least a couple miles away. We were kinda hungry but the only place to eat was the Greyhound station and a Jack in the Box but that was out of the way. Gotta crash!


So in the morning I awoke to the sound of jackhammers and the bustle of downtown Houston. I decided that it was time to capture this incredible view I was getting of downtown from this apartment. I decided that this was definitely one of those HDR moments. I fired off about 8 clicks at varying exposures. When I left I couldn't wait until I could process these. I was really pleased with what I got. I didn't like the color version but I loved the black and white one! 

Having spent less than 24 hours in Houston I must say that there seemed to be so much more to see and do and shoot! We really enjoyed the game and hope we can visit again soon!

- Rich


(Kies Photography LLC) Wed, 05 Sep 2012 00:26:08 GMT
An evening with Peter Turnley Last night I got the opportunity to attend a presentation given by Photographer/Photojournalist Peter Turnley at the Blanton Museum of Art Auditorium on the UT campus. This lecture was number 13 in a series called “Icons of Photography” put on by Leica and the Austin Center for Photography.  I was really looking forward to this presentation, as it was certainly a great night in Austin, and the UT campus was buzzing with activity. As I entered the auditorium I noticed that the entire room was filled with camera geeks, I looked towards the right hand side of the stage, there were plenty of seats at the bottom near where the speaker was sitting so I took a seat right behind him. I got comfortable, got out my camera and decided that I’d take a couple of images of the legend. As the lecture began the room went completely dark except for the screen that was circulating his collection of images from the past 20 years. I was fascinated with his stories, Peter spoke eloquently and passionately for an hour talking about everything from the political turmoil of the 60’s as well as stories about his upbringing in a diverse school as a jock football player that got sidelined in an injury from a ligament tear. This is where it all began, while he was in the hospital for treatment he was given a photography book by his parents of the great French Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson that changed his world.  After seeing Cartier’s work, Peter was immediately inspired, he bought a camera and with all of his free time no longer playing sports, he started shooting after school in the black inner city of his home town. During this time Peter and his twin brother David, now also an award winning photographer discovered a street in their hometown called McClellan Street.  They decided to shoot in this neighborhood for a year as a project which yielded some amazing groundbreaking work.  The work was published with great acclaim in Popular Photography and, at the age of 17 both were published photographers. 

Peter then went on to discuss a summer project he was working on for the Office of Economic Opportunity in California during his time going to school at University of Michigan. It was a 4 month photo-documentary project photographing poverty stricken people in California, this involved travelling up and down the coast of California photographing people that were not so economically fortunate. Shortly after this project, these photos were published throughout California.  He then traveled to New York and showed these photos to a colleague named Eugene Smith that encouraged him to become a photographer because he said that he “had the heart for it” Peter took the advice to heart and dropped out of school.  He decided to go to France using money he made working in highway road crews, where he stayed for 8 months studying French at the Sorbonne. He fell in love with the country and the French language. He then went back to the University of Michigan and earned his degree in French Literature. He then decided that he wanted to go back to France and so he did and ended up getting a Master’s degree in political science from a school he called the “Harvard of France”.  Peter admitted that he never formally studied photography, but always wanted to be a photographer. Peter worked as a printer in France and eventually worked as an assistant for the great French photographer Robert Doisneau. He then started doing photo assignments for the New York Times, Newsweek, Time magazine as well as other French publications.  In May of 1984 Newsweek sent him out with a reporter to complete a photo-essay and a story on the living veterans of D-Day. He went out to Normandy and worked with many different veterans, getting the story of what occurred on June 6, 1944. After the project completed he handed the slides to the bureau chief at Newsweek in the France office, one of the slides got the chief’s attention.  It was of a soldier kneeling at the grave of his buddy that had died in battle next to him on Omaha Beach. It just so happened that the owner of Newsweek Kathryn Graham, was also there in the Paris office. She saw the slide of the soldier and stated that this image will be the cover of our next weeks’ edition, globally.  Peter then went on to work for Newsweek for the next 20 years  traveling to over 90 countries covering world conflicts in the Balkans (Bosnia), Somalia, Rwanda, South Africa, Chechnya, Haiti, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq (2003), the Gulf War (1991), and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Over the course of his time at Newsweek, Peter got 44 front covers.

As the images continued to circulate, it was like a trip back in time. I recall when I was a kid my folks subscribed to Newsweek. I recognized every cover that he shot. Many of the images and stories were of human suffering. He told a story about the conflict in Haiti and how there were so many bodies everywhere. As painful as the images were to see and hear about, I could appreciate how he put himself in harm’s way to bring these images back. Not all of the images were disturbing; many were of France, street photography, café’s and lovers.

Peter mentioned a few things that I took from the lecture that I reflected on -


He said that one of the most intelligent things that he did early on was seek out his hero’s. Not because he wanted something from them but because he wanted to be touched by their spirit and be in their orbit.

Peter defined his 40 year relationship with the camera as pretext and a reason to enter others’ worlds and additionally, the camera also offered a way for him to speak about his feelings about the worlds that he was discovering.


One of the most interesting things he mentioned and something that I didn't know is that most people think that photojournalists are dispatched to cover events, when in reality they are not. They are expected to have a pulse on what is going on in the world and respond appropriately.

As the evening went on Peter told many more fascinating stories, the last one was of one of the hero’s from 9/11. It was focused around an image that he captured at ground zero of a firefighter that had just lost a colleague in one of the towers. The whole story of how he even got in to take the image was an interesting story in and of itself.



(Kies Photography LLC) Fri, 20 Apr 2012 05:02:55 GMT
SXSW 2012 Wrap Up Well SXSW is over. It's been an incredible ride. I'm now backing up all of my images on my servers and I've also gotta start the process of editing. The final edited images are due to be turned in to SXSW by April 1st. This is the part that I'm actually looking forward to, the relaxing part where I sit and look though roughly 3.5k images that I've shot over the past 5 days. I must say that shooting SXSW overall was a great experience. I met and worked with some other great photogs. One of the cool things that the team did was create a private Facebook group where we all could post some of the images we were shooting and talk amongst ourselves about the experience. Almost half of the 170 photographers covering SXSW joined the group. I posted an image every day from one of the showcase bands that I was shooting. One of my favorite things besides shooting the showcases was enjoying the music and learning about new and upcoming talent. I've been going to SXSW for years as an attendee taking in the free shows and one year I also purchased a music wristband. By volunteering to shoot 5 shifts I was awarded with a music badge. This would allow me access into any of the venues. 4 out of 5 nights I was covering complete showcases so the opportunity to go see other bands outside my assignment was tough. The first night, Tuesday the 13th I was assigned to cover Joe King Carrasco & the Crowns at Skinny's Ballroom. I hadn't heard of them. They sort of sounded a little like the B-52's mixed up with a Tex-Mex flare, it was cool actually the guy had an amazing amount of energy. At one point he even jumped up on the bar and sang from there! As far as photographing them it was very difficult. I got to the venue a little early and started shooting the band that came on prior to Joe King. I was trying to nail a good exposure and it was nearly impossible, the stage was dark and above they had cheap looking chandeliers which didn't provide any good light. Another photog and I talked about the bad lighting and decided that we needed to do something about it badly. We talked to the stage manager and they tried to fix the lighting problem but it didn't help. So I was thinking well there isn't much that can be done to overcome bad light except use flash to equalize the red light. I hate using flash because it sucks for the performers and it can make the images look flat but In this case though I didn't have a choice. What was worse is that there was another SXSW assigned photog covering also using a flash so we were both firing flash their way. I was using a bounce card Velcro attached to my Speedlight in manual mode. I kept trying throughout the show to adjust the power of flash to negate the bad light but it was to no avail. They wrap up their set at 2am and I head home. The next day I get my day 2 assignment, for this one I'm shooting what's called the "Life or Death" showcase at Lustre Pearl.

This showcase consisted of 8 rap acts, a DJ, a punk act and a hard rock act. I arrive at about 7ish, the place is already packed and I'm trying to spot a good place to shoot from. As I look at my surroundings I'm in a large white tent and the stage is high, at least 6-7 feet. I notice that the SXSW banner is low and hard to see so I try to get it adjusted with the stage manager but they couldn't do it. I snapped a few shots and realized again that I would have to be using flash at this venue also. After the showcase started there were at least 20 other photogs with media passes and another SXSW photog all shooting flash. The other SXSW shooter was one of the worst photogs I've ever seen. He was on stage getting in the performers faces to take pictures and also standing on stage checking his phone during performances. I was like really? I did speak to the stage manager prior to the shoot and he didn't have any restrictions on where we could shoot from but it didn't make sense to be on stage shooting the way he did. Anyhow, as the rap groups performed I would primarily shoot from the side of the stage and then get out front to get the whole group. I shot 8 rap acts & a DJ the same way then a hard rock band called Wavves took to the stage. They sounded cool though my earplugs which remained in for the entire time I shot that night. I noticed that soon after they started playing that a mosh pit started and kept going throughout the whole performance. I was basically stuck on the side of the stage shooting. The lead singer which is also the lead guitarist had his back turned to me so I couldn't nail any good shots of him or the band for that matter. I tried to get to the other side and shoot but that wasn't working either. Next up was Trash Talk a hardcore thrash punk band. These guys were crazy. The pit got really crazy with stage diving and all. I tried to get some shots here but I wasn't about to get in the pit, I stood outside the pit and held my camera up and just shot. I'm still unsure if I got anything good. After this I shot more rap groups. When the showcase ended, I was glad it was over. I was exhausted from running all over the place all night trying to get good shots! There was an amazing amount of talent though, the performances were great. So with my first showcase down I headed home. The next day I got my 2nd showcase assignment. I would be shooting the Africa World Showcase over at The Copa which is known locally as a great place in town to salsa dance.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this showcase. One thing that bothered me right away is that I was standing waiting for about 2 hours for the first act to get onstage. I was working this evening with another great SXSW photog Kristen Lefebvre. Chief Boima didn't make it, so the first band that took to the stage was Sauti Sol they ended up starting at about 9, then Just a Band went on followed by Spoek Mathambo, Baloji & finally Seun Kuti & Egypt 80. I was right in front and couldn't move as there were tons of people behind me so I was shooting from right in front. Unfortunately again I had to use flash. I dialed it down in manual mode and just used enough flash to kill the red light and fill in the faces some. I used the same strategy for shooting the remainder of this showcase. I walked away from this one with a new found respect for the African bands; they were talented and very exuberant. I was totally blown away. Poor Kristen had to deal with a drunk bitch. But other than that it was a fantastic showcase for shooting! It was again time to go home. The next day I got my 3rd showcase assignment, The Girls Rock Showcase, which was at the Easy Tiger Bar and Bakery on 6th Street. This place is cool. They really have baked goods and brew!

One of the cool things about this particular showcase is that all of the bands have gals as lead singers. All of the proceeds from the event also went to charity. So shooting this event was somewhat similar to shooting the rap showcase with one exception, this tent was much smaller. As I was waiting for the set to start I met some other volunteers from SXSW and also talked to one of the members of Leftover Cuties. I also tried to set a good exposure with terrible the red/blue LED stage lights. I asked the sound guy about the light, he grunted and said that's what you got. So it didn't look like my red/blue LED situation was going to change so again I had to shoot flash. I did bounce some light from the top of the tent which was white so it worked ok but not ideal. Leftover Cuties was great! The lead singer was real sexy and kept her eyes closed for almost all of the songs which made it challenging to get the shot I wanted. Next up was, Sydney Wayser they were ok. The last 2 bands I shot really impressed me. Alabama Shakes and Girl in a Coma. Both great bands! Well another showcase shot, and it was time to go home. The next day I got my assignment which turned out to be the most awesome showcase I've ever shot and a freaking awesome way to close out my SXSW experience, an Indie/Pop showcase!

My assignment sheet said that I needed to show up to shoot the showcase at 9pm. Well I got there at 7ishpm and it's a good thing that I did. This venue and showcase was awesome. Finally I got to shoot a whole showcase without flash simply because the lighting was awesome! I was stationed on the left corner of the stage and stayed there the entire evening. The Jameses was great. I caught a few tunes and they rocked. Next up was DIVE this is absolutely one of my favorite bands. They reminded me of a band that I really liked in the 90's called Slowdive. Next up was Blouse a real dreamy sound as well. Soft Metals was great also. I dug Widowspeak and Craft Spells was cool also. The final band that took to the stage was Beach Fossils. The lead singer, Cole Smith of DIVE is also the guitarist for Beach Fossils. They put on an incredible performance and I'm now a fan. After researching I discovered that I was shooting a shoegaze showcase! Unreal. I simply couldn't have asked for a better SXSW! I thanked the SXSW gods for my assignments. I look forward to sharing the images later in the year with you all when I'm allowed to publish them!


- Rich

Update: March 30, 2012

I turned in 306 images at the SXSW headquarters in downtown Austin! I shot a total of 29 acts! There is a well deserved appreciation party tonight for the crew! 

- Rich














(Kies Photography LLC) Tue, 20 Mar 2012 03:25:00 GMT
Shooting at Rocky Mountain National Park  

I'm back from my recent trip to Colorado. I was able to get a few clicks in at Rocky Mountain National Park during my stay in Denver which was a very short 4 days. Time seemed to fly by and this usually means that it's a good trip and indeed it was. It's always great to shoot with other photographers and exchange best practices and just talk photography. My girlfriend Megan arranged a shoot for me with Cameron Miller. Cameron and Megan went to high school together in Summit County. Cameron has been shooting awesome landscape photography in Colorado and other places and has an incredible portfolio of images. I was really impressed with his work and thought that it would be cool to go shooting with him when we were visiting Colorado. It worked out great, Cameron met us at Caribou Coffee in Westminster at 8am. From there we drove about an hour and a half until we reached Rocky Mountain National Park and shortly after we reached the entrance to the Bear Lake Trail Head. This was my first visit to the park so I was amazed at the views we were getting on the way there. On the way we passed the Stanley Hotel, the site where the classic Steven King's "The Shining" was filmed. I was hoping to get to stop by and take a closer look but we ran out of time. It didn't seem as eerie as it was portrayed in the film but it was morning time. Anyways, as we approached the trail head I noticed a bunch of skiers and people going to the trail. I get my gear and start walking. I notice that the trail is completely covered in snow, about 3-4 feet and I actually can't even see the trail at all. So I asked Cameron "how far are we going to hike?” he replied "about a mile." I was like ok; I'm wearing tennis shoes and jeans. I have on a good jacket, no gloves but a hoodie. I guess I'm good to go. I started hiking, I haven't been in the mountains for a while so really quick into the hike I was huffing and puffing like an old dog. I had to stop here and there, and a few times one of my feet would sink really deep in the snow. Skiers would come down the trail and people wearing snow shoes were passing me up. At this point I wish I had spent that few extra hundred dollars for a carbon fiber tripod. I've got an aluminum one which is great and sturdy but not the lightest piece of equipment for sure! I knew I had to have it though as I'd be shooting slow shutter speeds which almost requires its use! As we traversed the trail that I couldn't see I just followed Cameron and his wife. I was a little concerned about sliding down the side of the mountain on some parts but luckily I didn't. Eventually we got to the spot, we passed the Nymph Lake which was froze over and then got to Dream Lake. The view from here is absolutely amazing! Can you see the guy in the lower right hand side of the image? Sort of gives you an idea of how immense the area is.

When I shot this image the area was quickly filling up with people. A few minutes prior to this shot I was able to get a few images in relative solitude. This all ended when a few people rolled up playing a radio. I took a few more shots, and decided that I wanted to get some pano shots in. After I did that I managed a few more shots of some trees and then we packed it up and headed back to the vehicle. The walk back was relaxing & we took a few more shots of ourselves with our IPhones and got to the car and headed to Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons for a beer! I couldn't have asked for a better day!

(Kies Photography LLC) Wed, 14 Mar 2012 03:52:05 GMT
Getting Ready for SXSW 2012! Well it's that time of year again in Austin, Texas where over 2000 bands will take to a little over 100 bar stages and perform at (SXSW) South by Southwest. I'm pretty excited about shooting it as this will be my first time shooting it for SXSW. I shot it last year for & this year I thought that it would be so awesome and cool to get on the SXSW team and experience it fully by earning a music badge by volunteering 5 shifts primarily shooting music showcases. I’m a huge music fan, and love discovering new cool bands… So I applied back in January of this year and on the 25th of January I was notified that I was in! I recall shooting it last year and it was an amazing experience. I was assigned to Maggie May’s for It was the only place that I shot at but there were some amazing bands that came though there. At Maggie May’s there are 3 stages. I was covering the downstairs and upstairs stage. I was shooting the band downstairs then going upstairs to shoot the band that was playing upstairs! I was up and down the stairs all night! Sets were kept to 20 minutes. So by the time that a band was wrapping up downstairs another set was going on upstairs! I did this 4 nights in a row, I got there about 7pm and left around 2am. I was totally wiped out on the 4th day. Not sure how I did it. One of the coolest moments is when OMD took to the stage. If you were around in the 80s then you might remember them. I didn’t even recognize them until “Electricity” came on. Wow! I was right in front in the photographer pit. I snapped this image of them performing which made it all worth it. People were really digging the show and they managed to play a few hits. They tried to stay and play more but they made them quit. Everyone was like awww that sucks but hey the show must go on, sorry OMD fans!


Ok, so enough talk about last year. Yesterday we had a meeting with all of the SXSW photography team, well over 170 people talking about shooting and general survival tips for the festival. Many people shared tips from shooting it in previous years and discussed best practices. I was there soaking up the information and taking as many notes as possible. I’ve got both a cheat sheet and survival guide for this year. I’m feeling good about my chances for survival, LOL. One good tip and one that I’ll use for sure is riding my bike. Chances are that I’ll have to park at least 2 miles from where I need to be. I have to find parking and ride my mountain bike to my destination. I’ve been told that they try and keep their photogs at the same venue for the entire shift, cool. Last year I didn’t ride a bike, this year I definitely will. So I’m eagerly awaiting my assignments. Soon I’ll get my venues and list of what artists that I need to shoot. SXSW 2012! BRING IT!


- Rich


p.s. If you want to see my shots from last year's SXSW go here

(Kies Photography LLC) Mon, 05 Mar 2012 22:29:35 GMT
My First Photography Exhibition So I thought that I would write about my experience in getting ready for my first ever photography exhibition. The opening is less than 2 days away. I'm excited about it and also a little bit frightened. Not because I think that my images are bad but because I'm showing them to so many people. Today, I thought about it and thought to myself that this is a good experience for me no matter what the outcome. So why not write about how I prepared, how I shot the images, and what all went into it... I found out about the exhibition though the Austinist, a local webzine that talks about all things going on in Austin. I believe they have others too like Chicagoist, Laist .. Anyhow, I read the requirements and I decided that I would enter my images from a trip I took last year to Klein Curaçao.

This is one of the coolest places in the Caribbean that I've been, although temperature wise it was actually really hot there. I thought about that day that I took the images and how I managed to schlep my gear out to the island, jumping off a tiny boat to shore scared to death that I'd drop my gear in the surf. We were told by the crew that if we wanted to walk out to see the lighthouse and the abandoned ship that we should do so right away because the temp climbs up to over 100 degrees quickly. So off I went.. It seemed like the lighthouse and ships were far off. As I approached I started feeling the heat climb rapidly. As I got near the lighthouse I started shooting. Things were looking ok on the LCD so I went over to the ships. This side of the island was very rough, it was clear to me why they built the lighthouse back in 1850 and why there were 2 ships that had run aground. It was windy; the surf was crashing up against the old abandoned ship relentlessly in its quest to take her out to sea.  I started shooting again. As soon as a huge splash jutted out the middle of the ship I snapped an image. I got it. I walked further down the beach, littered with plastic bottles and debris.. it was a shame to see all of this garbage on such a beautiful place. I kept on walking. What then appeared was a 60ft yacht that had also run aground. Looking down the beach I saw both of these vessels and thought this would make a great image. I started shooting again. I got another shot. I walked around more and noticed that this really awesome cloud formation was forming in the sky above the lighthouse. I ran over and got into position. I started shooting again and knew that I got the shots that I wanted. At this point I thought I was going to pass out from the heat. I hurried back to the hut on the other side of the island where the water was!

Well back to the exhibition preparation. I read the requirements.. a bio along with an artist statement  was required for entry. Ugh, an artist statement? Really?  I started writing my artist statement. After I figured out what it took to create the statement it just came to me. Next was the bio, not bad or as time consuming as the artist statement.  So I wrote both and turned in the sample images on Jan 10th and wait … well the 25th of Jan comes and  I’m accepted!

So now it’s time to read the requirements for the actual submission. In the gallery I’m limited to a space that is 4x3ft. That means with 5 framed images I can roughly have (4) 8x10’s and (1) 11x14. Well it’s time to take a trip to IKEA and see what types of frames they have. I got there and thought these frames kind of look cheap. A fellow photographer friend of mine, Carlos Austin suggested that I take a look at Aaron’s. Just so happens they have a buy one frame get one for one cent sale! Killer! I got all of the frames I wanted.  Now it’s time to get the prints done. I opened up an account with Millers Imaging, another great suggestion from Carlos. I next had to figure out how I was going to sign the prints. Typically, an artist will sign on the image itself – or on the mat. My images don’t have a mat. So I decided that I would create a watermark from my signature and have this printed along with the date on the image. Cool. I got my images back, framed the items and it all looked good! It’s the 28th due date to turn the work into the gallery! I drop off my stuff and realize that I forgot to turn in the price list and image information. I email this info a day late.


Well now I wait till Friday at 7:00PM. I’m looking forward to the opening!




Update: March 25, 2011

I got notified about a week ago that I needed to come pick up my work on 3/25/2011 so today I went to pick up my work. My work didn't sell. I walked into the gallery and one of the other artists that I spoke to at the opening was also there picking up her work. She seemed upset; I didn't know if she was having a bad day or whatever. I said hello and asked her about getting our work, she explained that I just needed to pull it off the wall. I saw the packing materials that I brought to bring my stuff in on the table so I grabbed my work and boxed it up and thanked the gallery owner and went next door for a slice of pizza and a beer. As I gulped down the beer and ate my slice of pepperoni za, I thought about the opening, it was definitely a great experience... despite not selling any of my work, I was thankful to have been chosen! Till next time!

(Kies Photography LLC) Thu, 01 Mar 2012 04:52:24 GMT
Practical Asset Management Today I attended an event with the Austin SMUG photographers group. Michael Sidoric gave an excellent presentation on Practical Asset Management. I was really looking forward to this event because I've been so guilty of not managing my media in the most efficient manner. As a matter of fact I've been really bad about it. The other day I needed some images for my PPA profile. I loaded up Lightroom and I was like ok. I'm going to pick this image from this collection and this other image from another collection. I went to that collection and tried to pull up an image and I got that [?] in the upper right hand corner of the image. You know that oh crap that image is not where Lightroom thinks that it should be. I start getting that sinking feeling that I've lost something. So, I'm like well I can search for that RWK_3430.. I know it's somewhere in the folder from 11-28-11 but it wasn't, oh wait a minute.... I uploaded that image to Facebook at some point... Yes, it's on my Facebook page! So I downloaded it from Facebook! It was much easier than searching thru my hard drives. So everything was ok for the moment. I was able to get my PPA profile completed and I was satisfied for now. Deep down I KNOW that I have these images backed up in a couple places. I'll just get it sorted later. This is the exact reason that I needed to attend this meeting this evening!


So Michael covered the tenants of Practical Asset Management. He gave an excellent presentation that lasted about an hour and a half. All the while I was thinking how unorganized I’ve become and that I’m really in a crisis mode and need to really get my media straight!


The tenants of Practical Asset Management are:




All of these tenants overlap each other in CREATE we as photographers need to ensure that we are creating and capturing quality & we also need to preserve and protect.


In CATALOG we need to identify, structure, store and retrieve. We should ask ourselves will I ever need this again?? We need to sort out the keeps/culls and ensure that we are cataloging originals only (RAWs) we should also ingest everything and then do the sorting.


We should be thinking about the who, what, when and where and also understanding how our metadata is stored. There will surely come a day when we will want to be able read the metadata and if we haven’t put a strategy in place to preserve it then it may not be there when we move to a new computer system. Michael suggested that we consider using Adobe Bridge for image management because it complies with metadata standards. I personally don’t like bridge but I thank Michael for the suggestion.


One of the points that Michael made is the implementation of what he called controlled vocabulary. This is a highly structured way of describing something. Defined by the way you shoot and also defined by the way that you retrieve. It should be rigid, limited and precise. It should also be flexible, evolving and controlled. This is the toughest part. Coming up with a schema, getting organized!!


Finally the last part of the presentation was CONSERVING

Digital preservation, three copies of images in two places and they should be stored in original format.


Michael also mentioned a few useful utilities and a new HDD that supposedly can withstand the force of 5000 lbs and a drop from 20ft, it’s the IOSAFE

The utilities mentioned were:

Carbon Copy Clone

Apple Backup

Disk Radar


One of the most interesting parts of this meeting was the part when he talked about the lifespan of SD/CF cards and SSD’s. I always knew that HDD’s all fail after a number of hours of use. What I didn’t know is that SD/CF and SSD’s also fail after so many reformats! After tonight’s session I decided that I would look into how these things actually work. I know how traditional HDDs work but SD/CF SSD not so sure.  


Oh I also won a door prize tonight!

It’s a PENTAX chap stick! YEAH!


  • Rich



(Kies Photography LLC) Fri, 24 Feb 2012 04:39:36 GMT