Lauren and Josh – Dancing with the Stars?

(NOTE: You can spin the video all around by clicking on it and moving your cursor in any direction.)

Lauren and Josh Allen decided to celebrate their one-year anniversary with portraits taken in their wedding attire at Huntington Beach… in DECEMBER! All I could say was BRRRRRRR!

Lauren was a SpectraLight Photography SpokesModel when she was in high school and took AMAZING photos. I was thrilled when she called and asked me to do something unique for their anniversary photos. We created poses that were inspired by the hit TV show, “Dancing With the Stars.” #DWTS

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Great Photo Opportunities at the 2015 Cleveland National Air Show

Photo of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at the Cleveland National Air Show was modified in Photoshop to make the jets "pop" against the sky.

Photo of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at the Cleveland National Air Show was modified in Photoshop to make the jets “pop” against the sky.

It’s been a long time since I’ve attended the Cleveland National Air Show – going back to the days of shooting film. With my digital photo and video cameras in hand – I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to go this year!

I kept my photo count down to around 350 shots – unlike the guy next to me who was there all three days – shooting several thousand pics with a variety of extreme telephoto and zoom lenses. And he said he was just shooting for himself!

I captured some nice shots of a few of the stunt aircraft but the high flying Thunderbirds were my main focus as seen here.

Now the real work begins. Editing the video and photos will take some time. I’m just glad I kept the number of photos I took to a “reasonable” number!

Did you attend the air show? What part of the show did you like best? Please comment, share and like this post!

During the 2015 Cleveland National Air Show - the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the William G. Mather steamship docked at the Great Lakes Science Center.

During the 2015 Cleveland National Air Show – the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flew over the William G. Mather steamship docked at the Great Lakes Science Center. This image can be ordered as wall decor, a cell phone case, on a tote bag or T-shirt and more here.

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Fashion Photography from my Art Institute of Pittsburgh days

Lynn Agee was an amazing model during my college days at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Lynn Agee at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh – posing for a class photo assignment at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1978 or 1979.

The route to my degree in Specialized Technology – majoring in Photography/Multi-Media allowed me to explore the field of fashion photography while at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (AIP).

Two main challenges were finding models on a budget (Hey, I was a student paying for most of my education!) and finding unique locations to impress the profs.

I was fortunate to have a roommate who had an attractive girlfriend who was willing to pose for some of my class assignments.

Lynn Agee was an Interior Design student at AIP without formal modeling experience. She also had a car (which I didn’t) so we were able to scout out some pretty cool locations around Pittsburgh.

The location for this particular assignment was Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts – a performing arts center and concert hall located in the Cultural District in downtown Pittsburgh. After all these years, I can’t recall how I was able to finagle time at this prestigious location!

Lynn chose her outfit, I lugged in some tungsten lights to match the illumination on Lynn with the color temperature of the lighting in the hall and the result were some stunning photos of a beautiful subject – both the model and the building.

Not only did I get an “A” for this assignment, but I grew to love the challenge of fashion photography created on-location – one of many experiences that continues to serve me well as a portrait photographer creating glamour photos, high school senior portraits and family portraits throughout the U.S. today.

Here are some videos of high school senior girls that show how my portrait style has evolved since Lynn’s photo shoot.

High school senior SpokesModel photos created in the Cleveland area.

High school senior SpokesModel photos created in the Cleveland area.

Do you like this article? Please comment here and share on your favorite social media sites!

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Cleveland Arctic Plunge – Another one for the “bucket list”

Call it “midlife crisis” or just a little insanity. Last Saturday was my latest “bucket list” moment as I joined dozens of Northeast Ohioans for the 2015 Arctic Plunge at Edgewater Park near downtown Cleveland.

After jumping out of a perfectly good airplane two years ago, I thought it would be fun to dive into the frigid waters of an icy Lake Erie to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Team Fox (Parkinson’s Disease), University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Westshore Critical Incident Response Services.

Before taking the plunge, I videotaped my fellow “plungees” (plungers?) as they entered the water like sheep being lead to their slaughter. There were plenty of whoops and laughter as they proceeded in single file down the narrow channel that had just been carved out of the frozen lake by an excavator.

Then it was my turn. I peeled of my winter coat and pants, removed my socks and shoes, turned on my chest-mounted GoPro camera and ran into the lake in my t-shirt and shorts. Good times!

Surprisingly, while the water was cold, it really was quite bearable. The biggest issue I encountered were the chunks of ice floating on and below the water surface. I had a number of cuts and bruises on my lower legs when I finished.

When I got back to the registration tent, someone called a paramedic to attend to my bloodied legs. While he doused the cuts with hydrogen peroxide (which I couldn’t feel due to the numbness of my legs), I asked him how many people his crew had treated. Almost apologetically he said, “Well, you’re about the only one.” Proud moment for me – NOT!

Have you ever jumped in a frigid lake for a good cause? What was YOUR experience like? Please comment here.

Please THUMBS UP, LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE this story.

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9/11 – Where were you when our nation came under siege?

Photo of Statue of Liberty in New York City taken November 23, 2001 - about 10 weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

September 11th marks the thirteen year anniversary of the terror attacks on our country. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives that day and our country lost it’s innocence as well.

September 11, 2001 was a glorious fall day in Northeast Ohio. My oldest daughter, Jacqui, was home from school recovering from her wisdom teeth being extracted the day before. Around 9 a.m., my wife called telling me to turn on the TV to see coverage of a plane that had just crashed into the World Trade Center. As the minutes passed, another one hit the WTC, and then the Pentagon, and then Shanksville, PA. It was clear these were no accidents.

My daughter and I watched the coverage all day, wondering what was in store for the future. Could we expect major acts of terror every day? Fortunately, no. But unfortunately, our personal freedoms have come under assault.

Weeks prior to the attacks, my family had planned our first visit ever to New York City during the week of Thanksgiving. After 9/11, we debated whether it is was wise to go there with the possibility of more terrorism. We chose to go.

9/11 World Trade Center rubble in New York

9/11 World Trade Center rubble in New York still stood five stories high in November, 2011.

Our drive along I-80 through Pennsylvania to the “Big Apple” revealed our country’s amazing patriotism. We saw the American flag proudly waving over several overpasses and displayed from the windows of countless cars. As we got closer to NYC, we stopped at gas stations and restauraunts where it seemed that everyone we spoke to lost a friend or relative in the World Trade Center collapse.

Probably the most breathtaking moment as we approached the city from several miles out was our first glimpse of the Empire State Building. I imagined what that skyline would have looked like if the Twin Towers still stood. It became difficult driving as my eyes misted over.

There were many other emotional moments as we toured New York. At Grand Central Terminal there was a large display of photos and memorabilia of loved ones lost during the attacks. There was the gut wrenching view of the rubble being cleared away from the Twin Towers – still standing five stories high and smoldering more than ten weeks after the buildings collapsed.

9/11 attack - seagull flies over New York Harbor

A seagull flies over New York Harbor with the skyline missing the World Trade Center Twin Towers.

Fortunately, there was one huge reminder of how great our country is. The Statue of Liberty standing proudly on Ellis Island was there to remind us that our country will always fight for our freedom. It was a wonderful way to conclude our journey.

So what memories do you have from the day the world changed forever? Please share them with a comment.

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A commemorative photo remembering 9/11

Statue of Liberty in New York City after 9/11

Statue of Liberty in New York City after 9/11. See this artwork larger or order a limited edition commemorative print at (Note: the commemorative print does NOT have “” on it.)

“Cancel the trip – terrorists have attacked New York!” Those were the words I heard my wife utter over the telephone from work the morning of September 11, 2001.

There weren’t any more attacks on the U.S. after that, so just 10 weeks later,  my wife, two young daughters and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in New York City. There was a somber mood cast over the city with the huge loss of life after the Twin Towers fell.

Through it all, the terrorists failed to take away our freedom. Seeing “Lady Liberty” keeping watch over New York Harbor gave us comfort and a sense of pride for our country. It is those feelings that inspired the creation of the above photo.

The image on the left is the low contrast, original image right out of the camera. The image on the right was created in just a couple mouse clicks with Topaz Adjust – a software program that I use to enhance most of my outdoor photos. The text “We Shall Never Forget – 9/11” was added with Adobe Premiere Elements.

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Low camera angles can add visual interest to portraits


Sometimes, you just gotta “take one for the team” to get an interesting portrait. Click the photo to see it bigger. (Photo of me lying on the ground by Colleen Pishkula)

Over the years, I’ve found some of the best portraits require climbing a ladder or laying on the floor or ground.

Olmsted Falls High School class of 2015 student, Tori Pishkula, her mom, Colleen, and I set out for a “photo safari” in The Flats near downtown Cleveland this summer to create something a little different for Tori’s senior portraits.

When we came across this lift bridge, I fell in love with it’s massive structure and metal girders criss-crossing at 90 degree angles. When I viewed Tori and the bridge at Tori’s level, the size and “power” of the bridge just wasn’t obvious. Laying on the ground and shooting up at Tori with the bridge rising up behind her solved the problem.

Notice that I positioned Tori slightly left of the center of the photo so as not to block the view of the entrance to the bridge. I also posed her close to the camera so she stands out beautifully against the background. Most amateur photographers would typically place the person at the entrance of the bridge where they become lost in the photo.

Do you have any photo-related questions that you would like to have answered? It can be about composition, exposure, Photoshop techniques, cameras… the sky’s the limit! I will answer them here and sometimes create a video to give a better visual explanation.

Just post your questions in “Comments” under the title of this post.

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My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has surprise ending


Yep, I knew it would happen eventually. I’ve been waiting to be asked to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge but I never thought it would come from our Australian foreign exchange student from 24 years ago – Rebecca Freeman Haines! I asked her to do the ice bucket honors. She came all the way from Australia to be with us!

In this video, I weathered a bucket of ice water dumped over my head and then challenged my neighbors at Cypress Station in North Ridgeville and my co-workers at University Hospital’s Eye Institute Reading Centers to also support this worthy cause.

Watch the video to the end to see a surprise in my ice bucket.

Also included in this video are VERY COOL celebrity challenges from around the Internet including President Barack Obama, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, professional ice hockey player Paul Bissonnette, “The Besties” – Brittany and Brittani, Jimmy Fallon with Rob Riggle, Horatio Sanz, Steve Higgins and the Roots.

Please take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or make a donation to

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Fireworks photos with a unique twist – these aren’t your mamma’s snapshots


Fourth of July fireworks get a new look with simple-to-use software that almost anyone can master in minutes! This photo was taken by North Ridgeville photographer, Mark Madere - a portrait and commercial photographer covering Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

Fourth of July fireworks get a new look with simple-to-use software that almost anyone can master in minutes! This photo was taken by North Ridgeville photographer, Mark Madere – a portrait and commercial photographer covering Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

For years I’ve been bored with photographing fireworks. Fighting the crowds to get a good spot, dealing with hot and humid July weather, bugs, crying children… the list goes on. I’d much rather stay home and chill-out with the Mrs. – UNTIL NOW!

I recently read an article by a photographer who captured some great fireworks photos. He gave the technical settings that he used for beautiful shots that were taken over a scenic lake. His photos inspired me to see if I could create images unlike any I’ve made before.

So I set out for the annual fireworks display in my town – North Ridgeville, Ohio. The weather was cool and comfortable for a July evening. I was able to stake out a spot by the lake where the fireworks would be launched. The bugs weren’t annoying either (I think they preferred the taste of those around me.) And the crying children? It’s amazing what ear plugs can mask out!

For 20+ minutes I shot photos with my Nikon D90 camera mounted to a tripod with exposures ranging from one to four seconds at f/11 at ISO 100. If you don’t have a clue about the settings I just covered – have no fear! It seems that anyone can get decent photos with just about any camera – even with smart phones. If you already have photos you wish to add some excitement to – read on!

When I loaded the photos onto my computer – I was UNDERwhelmed by what I had captured. They looked similar to the old, boring photos I’d taken in the past.

I played with some Photoshop filters to see if I could add some pizazz to the images but nothing really excited me. I then opened a photo in an inexpensive software program (Star Effects by Topaz Labs) that I’ve used to spice up some photos from previous travels.  The two photos in this article were created with just a couple mouse clicks using Star Effects.

Topaz Labs is a company that has created several easy-to-use photo effects programs that can be used without even reading the instruction manual – well, at least after the initial install. It has a simple user interface that will have you creating photo masterpieces in minutes.

I found myself immersed for hours in the software as I created countless variations of each image.

To see how easy Star Effects is to use, I created this short video. Let me know what you think with a comment on this article.

By-the-way, Topaz Labs has a 15% discount available if you purchase through this link: Just enter 15topaz at checkout.

Have fun!

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Make a photo book about your favorite person – you could win $2,500

Make a photo book about your favorite person, share it with us, and you might win up to $2,500!

Make a photo book about your favorite person, share it with us, and you might win up to $2,500!

(This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.)

Blurb wants to meet your favorite person and in turn you could win $2,500! All you have to do is make a book about a loved one filled with all sorts of kind words, creativity and insight, and if selected, you could win $2,500! For every book you make (there are seven different categories, so seven different chances to win) you will receive a 30% discount on the printed product. With so many special people in your life (Hint: Mother’s Day is coming!), why not make a book for a few of them! With that much love to share, everyone is a winner!

Go to Blurb to check out the details of the contest to see what the categories are and when the entries are due. The 30% discount on My Favorite books will be applied at checkout when you use the promo code: MYFAVORITE.

Have you ever made a photo book for someone you love? What was their reaction? Please share it with a comment!

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