Saturday, December 8, 2012

What Is Next for Me?

What Is Next for Me?

These last few months I have gathered a lot of information, watched a lot of videos, and practiced a lot in not only taking photos but learned how post processing can enhance or even ruin your photo. I've also started my steps into taking my hobby into more of a business, but not fully at this time. I don't want photography to turn into a job, but who also doesn't want to make money? 

How did I get started? I first got started when asked by a friend to take pictures of their family for holiday cards. I did some research on how this type of photography is done on the business side, and also decided what if I wanted to venture farther then doing this as a favor. So to make things clear with them; I said I will do about an hour worth of shots, I'll choose which ones I like, edit them, allow you to recommend any changes you would like, and I will give you large resolution 8x10 and 4x6 images you can do with what you want. I decided not to do any legal documents as I wasn't going to use their photos in any way. However, they did send me a holiday card which I just so happened put up at work and people saw it. A few people asked about it, as I normally don't have pictures up in my work space. I was able to get into that I took these photos for them, and allowed them to do anything they wanted with them. 

I found out this is hardly ever done, and thought it was actually a cool idea to go forward until I decided on which type of business model I wanted to go through. So I continued to do this, but changed a few requirements. I offered an hour session, and started to charge for the photos once my weekends started to get eaten up for this. I charged 10 dollars a photo, 3 photo minimum. Here, I took the photos I liked loaded them to google drive and allow them to see the pictures. I told them the pictures they would get would be much better and be edited to what my photos normally look like (my style of photos). The ones they chose I did my photo processing and showed them again. They decided if they still wanted them after editing, I didn't offer changes in these photos. Normally at the end of a hour shoot, I had about 30 images that were ok, about 12 that were great and normally had 1 or 2 photos that were perfect. Once they decided on the images, I gave them pre-cropped 8x10 and 4x6 of the photos so they could take them any where and have them printed without needed to wonder how to crop the photo to make it look good on those types of prints. So far, this has been working pretty well.

This lead me into getting bigger into photo processing and working on a workflow, so my photos have a constant look to them that would be my style. This ensures they know what their photos should/could look like without actually seeing them when they choose which pictures they like. Lightroom 4 has been an amazing tool for this, and I continue to learn more functions in it each week.  I've made presets that I'm able to just click on and create a common starting points with how my pictures should look, and then I am able to fine tune them. I was able to kick out a total of 33 pictures (counting both 8x10 and 4x6 crops) in less than an hour. 

So whats my style? Mine tend to be vivid colored, high contrast, and sharp edges. The other are those that make the picture look like a pastel painting.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Catch up

It has been almost 5 months since my last blog, and my photography has taken a turn for the good. One of my most recent pictures have gotten great feedback from friends and family. I took to the beach a few days ago to get pictures of the large waves on Lake Michigan do to Hurricane Sandy, however, the pictures that turned out had nothing to do with the waves. One example is the beach front picture, taken with my 100mm lens:
Beach Crash
 However, another photo taken made me realize something. That the computer screen highly affects how I edit my photo, and when I print that photo, it's always darker. I did a bit of research, and I don't know why it never hit a bell, that my TV screen (I use for a computer monitor) was set on vivid and high brightness. It shows everything brighter than normal, and was done so for gaming. Here is the photo, was also taken with my 100mm lens:

The Beaten Path

After additional research, I was able to find two products that would help with this coloring issue. One for the screen, and one for the colors, exposure, and white balance. The first one I recently purchased (yesterday actually) and is called: Colorchecker Passport from x-rite ( This product saves time in photo processing big time, and allows you to get true color in your photos. Since I shoot in a RAW format, some coloring is lost, but is able to be retrieved if you have the correct color profile for your images. This product does that, and helps big time. For a hundred bucks, a great tool to have and works for portraits and landscapes.

The other product that is out of my budget currently, is the ColorMunki from x-rite ( and comes in at 500 dollars currently. This is a device that you would hang on your screen and with the magic of software and hardware, it is able to calibrate your screen. You are then able to calibrate your printer with it, making your screen and printer have the same calibration. This allows a "what you see on your screen, is what you get on your printer" effect. The setup is minutes, and if you print your photos a lot, or would want to, this could save you ink and paper over time as you don't need to print and edit, print and edit, and print and edit to find the correct settings.

I've also done some flower photography with my 50mm lens, which acts as a 70mm lens due to not having a full body camera. Here is a photostream of those:

Let me know what you thought about the images, any feedback on the products or tips for them are appreciated.


Start of FallA Crying RoseUp Close - RosePurple BlurFlowersLilly Pads

Flowers, a set on Flickr.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Type of Photography?

I was always intrigued by photos in magazines, for as long as I could remember. As a kid I loved being in front of the camera, video or photo. I enjoyed the funny faces, the memory, and seeing how other people saw things. I also enjoyed stealing people's cameras and taking random pictures, giving them a big surprise.

I then entered a stage in my life where I thought spies were the coolest things in the world, and one of the best things spies could do is take pictures. I remember going to our local 'junk store' and purchased a small spy camera that took small 35mm film. I remember taking hundreds of photos with it of random things; rocks, trees, friends, animals, and tons of other things. I ended up with many of those orange film canisters, and used those to hide things in (who looks in those things anyway). Going to the store to get them processed, waiting the hour+ while my mom shopped was one my most eager times. I was always in a rush to see how my pictures turned out. I actually still have a few of them today.

I think this is why I enjoy the photography today. Some of the main things I love to take pictures of are my pets, landscapes, lightning, animals, and just nature in general. I enjoy being able to capture what people see as cute, or amazing. Something that makes them smile, or sparks a memory from their past. This is also why I enjoy living in the time that I do, because the internet allows me to share my photos with strangers in a mass scale. Not to mention, no more film to buy.

Currently I only have the kit lens that came with my Nikon 3100 , which is an AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6g VR. I also purchased an AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR. These two lenses have been working great for my photos, however, I am finding I want more. One of the things about doing pictures of nature, is detail. With the lenses I get, I can actually pull off a pretty close picture and get decent detail. However, I normally have issues getting the desired bokeh (blurry background). Since my money is tight, and lenses being expensive (but so worth it), I tend to stick with what I have access to. Currently, I am limited to what American TV has to offer and luckily for me they carry a good amount of Nikkor lenses for my camera and at normal price I can get from anywhere else. Few weeks ago I put in an order for a 50mm lens, and waiting eagerly for it as they have been out-of-stock and haven't yet restocked it. One of the main things about this lens is the f/1.8g that is has, should be able to give me the bokeh I am looking for. I also purchased a Macro Lens set on Amazon that should be allow me to do some Macro photography with it (link for product). I'm hoping this well let me have more fun with nature photography. I'm thinking my next purchase is going to be a smaller one, and surprising by this Best Buy has a great number of filters for sale that have good to great reviews. The one I am specifically looking at is the Polaroid Optics 58mm HD multicoated neutral density fader filter so I can do long exposure pictures during brighter days so I can get that misty looking water in photos.

I was also looking into playing with fire, light graffiti, and splashes (thanks to Alex Koloskov for that). Most of these pictures will be better if I have the filter and 50mm lens.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Santa, Introduction


Who is Santa? No, I'm not talking about that jolly guy from the North Pole. I'm talking about me, Steven Santamour. My nicknames over the years have changed, but for the past 10 years most people call me by my first name or by Santa. Mainly this is due to it being in my last name and growing up we mostly called each other by our last names because there were 4's of everyone. Four Steves and four Mikes and then a few others with the same name. It was much easier to call everyone by their last name, well besides mine. So they cut of half if it and luckly, that was Santa. Before that, due to my heritage, they called me Chief but quickly faded as that is when 'racial' names started to become big issues (even if the person didn't care).

So what makes me who I am today? I'll go all the way from the beginning and then go over some of the highlights that I remember that allowed me to make decisions that I have. I was born into a military family, the Air Force. My mom and dad met there, and the funny thing about that is my mother is from Watertown, Wisconsin and my dad is from (pretty near) Watertown, New York (I found this to be pretty neat in itself). I have one brother is is four years older than me, and one step-sister (through my dad) that is seven years older than I am. I didn't really have much of a relationship with my step-sister as she lived in New York (not the city) and I was too young when she visited then. I can't remember much prior to when we moved to Racine, and only remember a few things from that time. This was from about K-2 grades, and I do remember a few things during this time that shaped me into what I am today. 

I have no idea when this was, but it was during my time in Racine. I remember getting Simpsons tennis shoes and I remember my mom yelling at me. I don't remember what I did, but I remember it made me pretty mad. I turned to her and told her that I was going to run away. She told me, go ahead but if you leave those doors don't come back. Like any child, I said fine and put my Simpsons shoes on and walked out the door. I didn't even manage to get down the block where I played in a puddle and got my shoes dirty. Without thinking about it, I ran home crying and my mom didn't say a thing about me running away. This always stuck in the back of my mind no matter what I did, my mom would always be there. Even if she said she wouldn't. I also remember getting in trouble a lot, I don't remember what I did, but I remember it happened a lot. I use to get spankings all the time, and when I was really bad the belt came out. When I was really really bad, my dad used his hand (yes his hand hurt worse than his belt). Over the years, my tush go pretty tough and soon spankings no longer worked and my mom couldn't wait until my dad got home so she used a yard stick. Much to her dismay, it broke on my butt and I laughed at her as it didn't hurt anymore. This was the point where spankings stopped and groundings started. She started to take away things I enjoyed, mainly the computer and Super Nintendo. The reason I told this part is between the spankings and the groundings, I learned at a young age that everything I do has a consequence: good or bad. If it was bad, was I willing to take it? To this day, just about all my decisions are based of off those spankings and groundings. I would like to thank my parents for having that hard love that many people today believe an unnecessary punishment for kids. 

From there we moved to a small village name Reeseville, which is also in Wisconsin. There I started out as the bad boy from Racine but quickly toned it down as I started to know people. It wasn't until middle school that I started to get into computers, and High School when I got into webdesign and Macintosh computers. I played the alto sax in elementary, wrestled in the sixth grade and senior year, football from seventh to senior, chorus from sixth to senior, plays from sixth to senior, musicals from sophomore to senior, did a few years of forensics in there somewhere, and did a few years of basketball. Outside of school I also did bowling, which I still enjoy doing today. Mostly during this time I simply learned to fine that line right before getting into trouble, and push the limits on that line. I did cross it a few times, but as I learned young everything I did I knew there could be a bad consequence.

High School my main source of cash was working on a farm with a few friends. This included bailing hay, milking cows, fixes fences, and anything else that needed to be done. I also did a roofing a summer where I learned that it was not something I wanted to do. After graduation, I went into the retail world at a Sportings Good store (can't even remember the name). During this time, my friends and I were deep into fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and a text base game called "Realms of Despair". We also spent many nights sleeping over in tents, or crashing in the bedroom at Syrj's (one of the many Mikes in the group). These times taught me the meaning of true friendships. After graduation, I went into a more specialized retail that I would enjoy. I started working in the electronics department at Staples, which happened to have a few friends from school which made it fun to work at. In a year or so, Staples started to offer a program much like the Geek squad and by this time I was familiar of basic repairs and fixing issues on computers. As everything, it came to a stop by getting fired. Horse play was my last strike, and it was due to shooting a rubber band into another employee's eye. Yes, I did yell headshot. I took a few months of unemployment in which then I was kicked out of the apartment due to my roommate not paying the rent (even though we were paying him). I moved back into my parents house, and to be honest I don't remember what I did. I think it was about 2 months of unemployment until my friend Evans (one of the Steve's) got me a job at Herzing in the call center. I was only a few days of quiting when I was told that one of the guys in the IT department walked in and quit. I told them I would be able to do basic computer support if they needed it. Long story short, I'm still working in the IT department to this day. I am currently finishing up my Associates in Information Technology (finished early 2013).

Last winter I picked up a new hobby, and it was something I always enjoyed. I love to manipulate photos with Photoshop, but I was always intrigued with taking photos. I decided to jump into the photography and purchased a Nikon D3100 and a 55-100MM lens. It also came with a kit lens 18-55MM lens. I jumped right in, clicking away at everything. Photos can be located at:

Some other general things about me:

I'm 27, and will be turning 28 in 9 days (August 21st). I own to cats; Mushu (named after the dragon in Mulan) and Wooks. I love dragons and have a dragon tattoo on my upper arm. I have this thing if my friends have something I need to have the same thing but better (especially in the computer world). I love to play video games (MMORPGs, First-Person Shooters), camp, fish, and sports. My football team is the Carolina Panthers (closet thing I have to home town team), and I'm an anti-packer fan. It's not because I don't like the organization, as they are a huge benefit to Wisconsin and I love their business is set-up. I just don't like them since everyone else in Wisconsin does. With that said, I tend to do opposite of what most other people do. I currently live in Glendale, WI and also single.

Mainly, this blog is going to cover my photography hobby and some of my rants. Hope you enjoy my blog!