Taking pictures and making images

This morning, I forced myself up at the ungodly hour of 7am to get ready for the UGA Trial Gardens Open House. The garden was in bloom and beautiful. It reminded me that even if I don’t get couples flocking to have their wedding photos taken, I’ll *always* be reminded that it was my love of taking photographs of nature that got me started and still keeps me going. πŸ™‚ I shot a wedding in June 2010 and the highlight album is here (Amy & Miles). It’s not my best work, but I’m always eager to keep growing and learning. I’m learning to experiment and especially with digital, I can see what works and what doesn’t work.

Here are some recent photos I’ve taken (best viewed in large as a slideshow):

  1. Flowers from my hubby πŸ˜›
  2. A Bird Family: A bird set up ‘shop’ right outside our apartment. I missed the opportunity to take photos of their lovely blue eggs, but the chicks are more fun anyway.
  3. UGA Trial Gardens Open House: This happened today and I’m much more comfortable photographing inanimate objects or unsuspecting citizens. πŸ™‚
  4. Summertime: Ongoing summer series.

Feel free to check out my Photo Blog (hosted on Tumblr) and don’t forget to become a fan of Jane Ullah Photography on Facebook!

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The end of May

Well, what’s this? Another blog post! πŸ˜› May was one of the worst months in terms of allergies for me. In fact, this year is the worst I’ve ever reacted to allergens. So far, we’re still unsure what is causing my reactions, but I haven’t let it get me too down. I’ve been taking more pictures and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still not taking as many photos as I’d like, but I can see a noticeable improvement in the quality of my photographs. As so many people will tell you, getting better is really about taking lots of photos and experimenting & mentally filing away what works or not for you! My photography class is over, but I signed up for the next step towards the certificate which is learning about Photoshop. I’ve been pretty decent with my photo editing work in my biased opinion, but I know I have lot to learn. That said, here are some photos of my latest work.

This weekend, we went camping at Lake Russell Campground and as always, I had my camera, Sigma 10-20mm & Nikon 18-200mm with me. As always, you can check out my website, Jane Ullah Photography or visit my companion Tumblog for photos. Cheers!

More shenanigans. :P

This is a long overdue update. Life’s been rolling right along. In summary,

  1. I still have my job *knock on wood* although we have no idea what the next round of budget cuts will bring.
  2. I have a second wedding to shoot in June! This is awesome and I’m learning to be patient in this business. It’s all about networking which I suck at, but will have to learn in order to survive! I’m improving on my skills as well and enrolled in a photography class.
  3. I celebrated my birthday several weeks ago. I’m officially in my mid-twenties.
  4. Matt’s done with his spring classes. He smoked his GIS class with an A and passed his CompSci class with a B. So proud of him. :P. Crazy man that he is, he raced a 6hr mountain bike race on May 1, 2010 before his finals this week! It was his first race of the ‘season’ so he’ll only get better from here. Check out my photos from the Dirty Spokes 12/6hr MTB race on my site. The pics are on Facebook as well for you to tag anyone you know! I shot with my Sigma 10 – 20mm and the Nikon 18 – 105mm kit lens for the D90. My pictures weren’t “tack sharp”, but I did the best I could. I had a lot of fun shooting pictures of the bikers who were great. The biggest issues I faced while photographing the race were:
    1. I like using natural light, but in the woods with the trees blocking the light, my lens needed some help getting light in. The 18 – 105mm lens has a maximum aperture of 3.5 at 18mm and 5.6 at 105mm. Zooming in to 105mm meant the light I’d get with the f-stop of f/5.6 was not enough to keep the scene well exposed. An ideal situation would’ve been for me to rent the much faster 70 – 200mm f/2.8 lens which has a wide aperture and more zoom to it. So, I resolved to shoot in raw where I’d be able to bring up the exposure/brightening of some salvageable pictures without depleting the quality too much by editing the jpg directly. I also used my SB-600 flash at certain points to help with illumination and exposure.
    2. I do well with still photography (if I may say so myself. :P). Action photography would prove to be a challenge because you’ve got bikers flying past you at over 20mph. I had hoped to get close-up shots of the bikers’ faces with their bikes, but doing this was tricky because I need to stop the action by using a high shutter speed and get the scene properly exposed at the same time. An all-too-common scenario for me shooting at 105mm without the SB-600 flash was that the scene was dark so I turned the flash on which helps “freeze” the frame as well.
    3. I kept trying to make my lens compensate for the light situation by lowering my shutter speed to ‘unsafe’ levels (unsafe meaning I took the risk of increased blur in my photos to get more light. After getting disgusted with the expectedly blurry pictures, I kept the flash on throughout the event. Depending on how far you’re zoomed in or out, the maximum shutter speed the SB-600 will let you shoot at may vary. I also discovered I might need a battery pack for my flash (or a different grade of AA batteries, possibly Ni-Mh) because my recycling time was painfully slow in comparison to how quickly the bikers were flying by me! Anyway, I’ve learned a LOT about action photography primarily and I am excited for Matt’s next race (whenever that is). Hopefully, what I’ve learned will translate into better race pictures. πŸ™‚ For more of what I’ve been up to (pictorially), keep tabs on my other blog with photos. πŸ™‚
  5. Last month, I won an HP TouchSmart 600-1000t computer!! Surreal, right? Talk about God providing for his flock. Seriously, we had over 300 lbs of single-purpose electronics (60lb speakers, 1 clunky TV, a VCR player, a DVD player, a PlayStation 2 and a bunch of power cords). Our living room was a mess and then comes the most beautiful email I’ve ever seen saying I’d won the TouchSmart 600. πŸ˜› You just have to read my post on Jane Talks Tech to find out more, but suffice it to say that the TouchSmart was what we needed. It rendered said 300lbs of single-purpose equipment redundant.

Being a sole proprietor in the state of Georgia

Being me, I decided that if I was going to get into the photography business, I’d go the whole 9 yards. Here are the steps I’ve taken to become recognized as a business (it’s not 100% official, but I’m working towards it!)

  1. Registered to get a free Employer Identification Number with the federal government a.k.a. the IRS. It was an online process and rather painless. I opted to receive a one-time PDF download that contained my EIN number. This number is great because it allows you to do business without putting down your social security number (SSN) every time you do business with a vendor who requires an EIN or Tax Identification Number (TIN).
  2. Registration with the state is surprisingly more painful and I’m not completely clear on what needs to be done to be recognized by the state. I did visit the State Tax website and registered to pay taxes on whatever income (which is not existent at this point) I may earn.
  3. Registration with the county in which you are operational. What you actually need is a trade name application or a “fictitious name” application which allows you to ‘officially’ call yourself “J and J Photos” or in my case, Jane Ullah Photography. Thankfully, my county’s website was much saner than the State of Georgia’s so I have the paperwork and know what I need to get submitted i.e. 1 form indicating your operational business name which costs $30 and apparently, I’ll have to run an advert in the newspaper for 2 weeks which will also cost $$! Overall, I expected that I’d run into these administrative fees so I’m keeping meticulous records and planning on including these expenses on my Schedule C form for the tax year of 2010.
  4. Rented a P.O. Box that will serve as my ‘official’ mailing address to receive correspondence. Mail meant for Jane Ullah Photography (fan me on Facebook!) should be addressed to: Jane Ullah Photography, P.O. Box 943 Athens GA 30603
  5. Designed and ordered business cards for my business! I’m pretty proud of the work I did on my business cards. I heartily recommend that you use UPrinting.com which gives you a chance to preview what your card will look like called a “proof” in the PDF file format! I can’t stress how helpful that free feature was and they ship the cards promptly too!

It’s clearly a work in progress, but I look forward to becoming a small business owner/sole employee! Of course, I *still* have my day-job which I like and will be keeping, thank you very much. πŸ™‚

Overall, it’s not as painful as I anticipated, but I’ll surely keep you informed if that viewpoint changes!

2010 and more

Wow! Everytime I promise to keep this blog updated, I end up not posting at all. So, I’m done with promises. Deal? πŸ˜› Good.

What have I been up to? Well, a LOT:

  1. At work, I have my hands full and while I love being busy and I love my job, but at time, how I long for the slightly-less-hectic days of fall. πŸ˜› My year-end evaluation was great and reflected what I felt about my job/bosses and coworkers. I *am* blessed to have a job that lets me thrive and allows me to be able to leave the job at work & come home to do whatever else strikes my fancy like blog about technology, blog about my photos and work on my business (Jane Ullah Photography)!
  2. I inked my first contract to shoot a wedding this February. It’s my first wedding flying solo and I’m understandably nervous, but in a very good way! I want to exceed her expectations and get a good review too. So, wish me luck! πŸ™‚ I’ll be renting a backup camera, lens and dedicated flash from Borrow Lenses. I’ve never experienced any deal-breaking issues with lighting or camera, but I won’t jeopardize my job by not have a backup plan. I intend on attending her rehearsal for free in order to get acquainted with the church, etc.
  3. I purchased a new HP dv7-3080us laptop at a ridiculously low price ($200 for a laptop that’s worth $1499!). I participated in a penny auction site (Swoopo.com is like eBay meets gambling) and I initially paid $150 for the laptop ($50 actual price I won the auction for, but I spent ~$100 in bids). Being a lousy gambler, I ended up losing $100 more on the site so I tell people I paid $250 for the laptop counting my $100 loss in. Read all about my penny auction win here and remember that my results are not typical. Matt has inherited my HP dv9700t customized notebook and he’s absolutely loving his increased productivity and our old desktop computer will be inherited by his dad (to replace his ancient 2000-era desktop computer).
  4. Matt and I will be pet-parents! I adopted a 5-year-old mutt named “Ellie” and we are going to be moving in order to accommodate the need for a pet-friendly apartment! We will miss our old place, but now is the time for a new chapter in our lives: pet-parenthood! lol
  5. I’ve been learning about using social media to my business’s benefit and here are the steps I’ve taken towards to that:
    • starting a twitter account dedicated to highlights samples of my work (@janeullah)
    • starting a photo blog (powered by Tumblr and it also autoposts to the twitter account above) that showcases samples of my work and keeps potential clients/visitors abreast of events/developments in Jane Ullah Photography
    • registered my business with the IRS:  Getting my Employer Identification Number (EIN) number was surprisingly painless and don’t get suckered into paying money to ANYONE for getting your EIN number from the federal government. I’m currently filling about forms to register my business with the state and my county as well as opening a business checking account for photography related purchases. In order to open a business checking account, you have to be registered within your state and have your DBA (“doing business as” or fictitious name registration form submitted to the state/county). Even if you don’t have employees, it’ll be smarter to use your EIN for business related issues versus your personal Social Security number. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with getting registered and all. It promises to be interesting to learn about my small business tax obligations, et cetera.
    • Getting listed in several search engines (Google, Yahoo Local and Bing (pending) as well as directories online like Wedding Wire, Gathering Guide, and Eventective. To increase visibility, I took advantage of a $100 Google Adwords credit which didn’t last long (surprisingly) and I ended up spending ~ $63 on Adwords.
    • Creating a Facebook Page for Jane Ullah Photography and using that as another avenue to spread the word! Tip: get over 25 fans for any page you create and you’ll be able to create an easy-to-remember username for that page. For instance, to visit Jane Ullah Photography on Facebook, check out http://facebook.com/janeullah. My personal page on Facebook uses my other handle: http://facebook.com/janetalkstech.
    • Registering for a “Fundamentals of Photography” class which counts towards the earning of a photography certificate! I can only go so far with the manuals. I think having deadlines and class assignments will take my creativity up a notch.
  6. Matt’s kicking butt and taking names at his classes. He is currently on track to earn a certificate in Geographic Information Systems and will put those courses towards earning a degree in that field. It’s a LOT of work, but he is committed and I’m glad he’s letting me tag along to some of his IT-related classes! πŸ™‚ We’re such a quirky couple and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
  7. So, I could rattle on and on, but the point is: good things are happening in Jane’s world. πŸ˜› I’m in love with life and I hope you are too!

Enough of my horn-tooting. Duty calls! Ciao.

Here and there

So, if we are friends on Facebook, you may have seen the pictures that were taken of Matt & I by photographer, Blane Marable . Matt was hesitant at first because he is NOT into staged scenes. However, Blane was able disarm him and get him to smile even! LOL. It lasted for over 30 minutes and Blane took over 200 frames! Crazy. I haven’t been with my laptop today so I won’t have ALL of the pics uploaded just yet. In any case, I will keep this post short and sweet. More later. Ciao!
Posted by Wordmobi

Getting to back to basics

One sentence that can be used to describe my life right now: following my heart these days. Seriously. I may not be making the most money right now, but I will not trade a high flying job for the wonderful man I married, the wonderful family I married into and the incredible support & love I’m getting from my family & relatives. In other words, I have my own personal slice of heaven right here in Georgia. I’ve made unbelievable personal strides in my life and personal struggles & I’m frankly amazed at myself because I almost didn’t think I had it in me.

As a matter of fact, 2009 is shaping up to be a life-changing year for Matt & I. Let’s count our blessings, shall me:

  1. I’ve quit biting my nails and I’ve been “sober” since the 8th of June, 2009. My nails are growing out beautifully and Matt’s amazed at how ‘quickly’ they seem to have recovered. It’s a huge confidence booster for me because I’m always hiding my fingers when in public and it’s a new & fascinating feeling to be able to simply stretch my hand and not worry if I’m displaying my “good” side or not. πŸ™‚
  2. Matt is kicking butt in his GIS classes. Since he started taking classes in the summer of 2008, he has had solid As in all the courses he has taken! I can’t say how proud I am of him especially considering the grueling nature of his schedule (working at Wally world and on his free days, he’s at school or doing homework). He’s quite the trooper and I draw inspiration from him daily.
  3. I’ve become mentally stronger about myself and I have to say that leaving grad. school was the best decision I ever made, despite the heartwrenching sadness I felt at the time i.e. I felt like a quitter. However, like I tell Matt, sometimes you have to do things that hurt to protect yourself and nurture yourself. I’m not 100% out of the woods, but it’s the little things that indicate to me that I’ve come a long way. I’m learning to not be afraid to let things go, especially things that do not contribute positively to your life.
  4. My family and I are much closer now that they have internet access at home and just the past Saturday, I spent over 1.5 hrs chatting via Yahoo messenger (webcam and talking via the PC-to-PC connection) with them!
  5. I’m actively pursuing other avenues of interest to me i.e. photography, computer science, social service/activism, etc. For instance, I purchased a Nikon D90 early this year and as God would have it, I attended the Flagpole Music Awards and introduced myself to a man who would turn out to be a key figure in my quest to learn more about photography. As it turned out, I kept in touch with this man and he has introduced me to several important people in the community and has taken me under his wing (informally) in teaching me the ropes of photography! On the social service front, I’m a new volunteer for an organization that advocates for children and it is a very humbling task that renews my faith in social service workers and those who serve communities.
  6. My 2 new websites went up this year and are  going strong. They are: (i) Jane Ullah Photography (ii) Jane Talks Tech! so please support me and check out my sites! πŸ™‚

I could go on, but you get the point. I am just incredibly thankful to God for bringing me this far on my journey and the people He has brought into my life. As LG slogan says, Life’s Good(tm). πŸ˜€