Monday, May 30, 2011

Putting the Geese before the Horse


IMG_3929Has this ever happened to you: You’re fixing yourself a bowl of cereal, and without thinking, you put the milk back where the cereal came from…and the cereal? Yup, in the refrigerator it goes. It happens sometimes when I’ve got the flu and my head is all stuffed up.

For me, the normal way I blog works like this…first – I come up with a subject to blog about…then, conceptualize it…then shoot it…and only then…blog it.

Todays picture has me working the blogging process backwards, and I don’t even have the sniffles.

Last night I was at a friends house enjoying a bonfire and delicious BBQ (shout out to Shawn and Sonja…thank you!!!). Turns out, they had a horse…a beautiful horse…in a field…a field that, when the Sun sets, will be illuminated with beautiful early evening light. You know the kind…twilight; perfect for horse pictures.

So I ask the young lady who owns the horse if perhaps I could photograph him and her together; she agrees. I had waited until just before Sunset, and as if on queue, the western sky started to glow with pinks, oranges, deep reds, simply breathtaking late evening light. By now I’m starting to shake with excitement because I’ve been wanting to photograph a scene like this for years.

While setting up for the shot of Caitlyn riding the horse bareback across the field, my ears pick up a familiar sound; the squawking of Canada Geese flying overhead. I spin around and see the familiar ‘V’ formation of at least a dozen or so geese approaching from the north. IMG_3901Since there’s no reason to expect getting any details in the birds themselves, it made more sense to expose for the sunset instead, which of course causes the birds to became silhouettes against a beautiful sky. I find the perfect settings, wait for the shot then take it. Perfect!

By now Caitlyn and her horse were ready for the shot, in fact so ready that I could already feel the rumble of the ground behind me as the horse started it’s run. Furiously resetting my camera settings, I aim, focus and fire off 10 frames in under two seconds…just long enough to capture 3 good frames.

Sometimes doing things in reverse works out for the best. and sometimes they don’t, like the time I was sick and I tried putting the cat in the refrigerator and the my cereal in the kitty bowl. Hey, now there’s something to conceptualize!

Kevin Kratka

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let’s Talk High Tech


We live in a Facebook world. Need an answer to a question? Google it. News seems to travel faster than it can develop, and what used to take days or weeks now takes mere seconds…or less. Reporters in the field needed to find a phone in IMG_3582-2order to get their reports to their employers, now they just tweet it.

During the Vietnam conflict, war photographers would send thousands of canisters of film back to the states for development and publication. Now they whip out the satellite phone and upload them from middle of nowhere.

Our high tech world comes at a price though; the lack of human touch. Our cell phone and our laptops allow us to talk with all of our closest friends without ever having to see them. Instant movies on our TVs means no more trips to the video rental store. The internet and a credit card is all that is needed to order up anything from groceries to replacement parts for our cars. Even the UPS guy seems like a phantom when a box bearing our name shows up from Amazon. When was he even here?

In our high tech world, there are pros and cons. As with anything, balance is needed. The photo in this post is my latest stock image, created specifically to promote a high tech world. From concept to shooting to marketing…there was no human contact needed. I suppose I’m doing my part to fuel our high tech world.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Even rainy days provide “Kodak Moments”


If your old enough to remember what a ‘Kodak Moment’ is, then you know that they are moments when you wish you had your camera with you…but don’t!

So where is it, huh? What!? You left it…home? Because of a little rain?

Never let the rain stop you from taking your camera with you. Many camera manufactures make rain gear specifically for your camera and can provide a great deal of protection from the elements, some even let you go swimming and even diving with your camera!

On the other hand,  even if you own these cool accessories, you may not always have them when the rain starts. Plus…they can be a little pricey, sometimes exceeding the price you paid for your camera in the first place! So what’s a soggy photographer to do? Improvise of course!

The last thing you want is to get your camera wet –digital or otherwise. One trick I’ve come up with is to take a large freezer bag, gently create a small slit in the plastic just big enough for your lens to fit thru. Before trying it on your camera, reinforce that slit with some duck tape to prevent it from getting any bigger!

Next, place your camera in the bag with the lens poking out through the slit. Now, gently cover over any exposed areas with copious amounts of either more duck tape or perhaps electrical tape (because of it’s stretchy qualities). The idea here is that if any water or spray gets anywhere…it gets on the very very front of the lens only. I keep a chamois in my back pocket and gently wipe my lens clean when this happens. Cool…your lens is cleaner now then when you started!!!

Depending on your camera type, you may have to fiddle with your camera settings since some  camera lenses might move in and out during focus and/or when the camera is powered on and off. Check your settings to see if you can disable or otherwise manage these settings.

Finally your ready to take some pictures. With the back of the freezer bag open, it’s easy to slide your hands inside and make adjustments to settings, viewer screen, etc. and best of all…you can still take perfect pictures without the fear of the elements. In fact, you can even darken the bag with additional tape as this makes it easier to see your pictures on your cameras screen!

Of course, commonsense prevails. This little trick is not for heavy downpours or for standing out in the pounding waves trying to get a shot of the surfers. But for those occasional drizzly days of summer where you want to photograph the beads of water on a blooming tulip, it’s perfect.

There you go…weather gear for you camera on a budget. The next time the weatherman is calling for rain, consider this little trick and see what kind of images you can create, and never kick yourself again for missing that perfect ‘Kodak Moment’.

Kevin Kratka

Monday, May 16, 2011

The day goes pop.


If you’re a parent, then you know the joys that come from watching your children grow up. As a parent of three children, I’ve haIMG_3237d the privilege of watching my babies grow and grow and…grow. My youngest is now 7 and as much as I plead with him, he , like his siblings before him, refuses to slow down his growth spurts. Every couple of months, *pop!* new clothes, or  *pop!* a new personality trait emerges, most of the time for the best.

I present to you, muscle man, aka, Fireman Robbie.

This young man goes nowhere without his ‘fire gear’. Shopping, the park, grandma & grandpas house…Ok, I draw the line at bringing his gear into the Kingdom Hall.

Today he brings me outside to photograph him in his fire gear. It doesn’t take much convincing to get daddy to pick up his camera. 

Within minutes, out comes the lights, the soft box, extension cords, sandbags, uh….am I going over board here? Hey, these are my kids we’re talking about! Now where are those wireless strobe triggers…

However today will turn out to be one those days…one of ‘pops’, Today Robbie pulls a fast one; in the blink of an eye, he goes from fireman to just Robbie.

As I am prepping my camera for the picture I have in mind, testing the lights, taking some test shots…I slowly become aware that my 7 year old is taking off all his ‘fire gear’. He’s suddenly not interested, in fact, he’s walking away from the whole thing. Walking away…my picture was walking away!

‘Hey buddy…where ya heading?’ I ask, ‘I don’t want my fire gear on, I’ve changed my mind’ Robbie says, his voice trailing off as he drops his helmet onto the green grass at his feet.

“Oh no you don’t young man. Daddy didn’t pull out all this gear for nothing!” I think to myself

“Hey there, show me those fireman muscles before you walk away” I quip

Right away a he flexes for me, poses for a second, then walks away. I didn’t quite catch the smile, but I captured the pose.

“Ok daddy, no more pictures” Robbie says, his back already turned towards me, ‘you’re embarrassing me’.

For Robbie, it was just another day with daddy and his camera, but for me, I watched my son take the next step, one of many ‘pops’ yet to come, on his way to becoming more than just my little boy.

Kevin Kratka

Monday, May 9, 2011

Name that bug, win cool stuff!


WE HAVE A WINNER! Thank you everyone for your participation. Let’s do this again real soon!


Answer: Firefly Larvae


Spring is here! And while 55 degrees in the middle of the day – in the second week of May – may not seem like Spring, trust me, it’s here. Just ask the Black Flies.

So in honor of all the bugs who wake up and come out to play this Spring, I have decided to do a giveaway! All you have to do to win is:  IDENTIFY THAT BUG!

What to do:

The first person to email me the correct answer (just the common name will do), Wins!

The Prize:

The winner receives:

  • Set of 5 hand made, photo greeting cards from the Kratka Photography
  • Each card comes in its own protective plastic sleeve with matching envelope
  • Each card features a different photograph of a Maine scene
  • Cards are blank on the inside…perfect for any occasion

$20 value

Here are the five images that are included, one on the front of each card:



Aren’t they pretty? All five are included, one per card. A $20 retail value!

Ready? NAME THAT BUG and WIN!!!

IMG_2968 copy

Have fun!  (ok ok…one more hint….your kids love these things!)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The View from Above


If you’ve ever visited Maine, you’ve likely seen some of the ‘standard’ tourist sights; Cape Elizabeth "Two Lights", Portland Head Light, Pemaquid Point, L.L.Bean.

Ok, assuming you got seeing those sights out of your system, and you have some time to kill…are you ready to see some real beauty?

From Portland, hop on Rt.1 for a leisurely cruise up the coast, and depending on weather or not you stop for lunch at Moody’s Diner, in a couple of hours you’ll arrive at one of the hidden gems of Maine; the Midcoast Region. Ah, the Midcoast, my home-sweet-home and your chance to visit places like the Rockland Breakwater (bring comfy sneakers and sunglasses), and, amongst other things, Mt. Battie.

Now stick with me, because this next part is difficult, but trust me, it’s worth it. Continuing north on Rt.1, drive thru the towns of Rockland, then Rockport then Camden (about a 15 minute drive) and then...don’t… stop in Camden. Be strong. Just stay on Rt. 1 another mile or so out of town, and you will arrive at the Camden Hills State Park. Pay the small entrance fee, take make the quick jaunt up the motor road and you’ll arrive at the 800’ summit overlooking Camden Harbor and the town of Camden. Make sure to bring your camera and a lunch. The last thing you want to do is get hungry up there (because that would mean you would have to come back down!!!).

Enjoy the views. When your down ingesting all the natural beauty and fresh air, you can now go back into Camden. When you get into town, take a glance back up at Mt. Battie…see? Wasn’t it worth the drive? Don’t forget to update your Facebook friends and show everyone the pictures you took!

Kevin Kratka