Joshua Davis Photography


The Pile: Thoughts, Life, and Photography of Joshua Davis

Capturing the Fourth

festival of fireworks displayAmerica’s Independence Day is almost here. With it comes hot dogs on the grill, fireworks, family, and friends. Maybe you don’t live in the US, if so these tips can still be used for any summer holiday. If you’re like most, there will be some memories you want to keep on film.

As a photographer, surely you’ll want to capture the fireworks. The shots you see in the chemistry book of multiple fireworks exploding are achieved using long exposures. Some are in excess of 5 seconds. With long exposures comes camera shake. So invest $15 in a tripod. If you’re broke use an improvised tripod device like a car roof, or tree stump.

Every year the place where I watch the firework has some incident, a stabbing, a literal mob… So my family always goes to a park near the show. If you want to take pictures, try getting away from the crowds, so you can have ample space to capture the show. And make sure to be away from obstructions such as trees and power lines.

Family, friends, and food, how do you capture it all? Try shooting in the late afternoon, and under a shady spot. This will lead to softer colors, and less chance of someones face being blown out from the harsh sunlight.

Food is the hardest subject to photograph. For a more flattering angle capture the food from the side, not from the top. If your camera has optical zoom, stand back, and zoom into the food, this increases depth of field*. Most of all have a great time, don’t spend so much time getting the perfect photo you have no fun.

*Depth of field is how blurry the background (and sometimes foreground) of an image is.

Filed under: Guides and Howtos

Flooding In Mid Atlantic Region

WashoutOver 200 streets in Virginia and Maryland where closed Wednesday as governor Tim Kaine declared a state of Emergency. The District of Columbia removed it’s emergency mode on Thursday, since rains had largely stopped. A stationary front is responsible for much of the rain.

The IRS headquarters where closed due to damage to electrical systems, and will be closed for several weeks. Tax operations will not be affected, and employees located in the flooded buildings will telecommute, or work at an alternate location. The National Archives will also be closed through the 4th of July. Documents like the Constitution are not damaged, but massive humidifiers are operating to help keep the environment correct for the historical documents.

Over five people are dead from flood related incidents. In Maryland 3 young men where killed after being swept off a flatbed from a pickup. The men had been rescued from a car in rising waters, when the waters swept them out the flatbed of the pickup.

When water is more than six inches deep and flowing it can easily knock an average adult over. Seek high ground immediately during a flood, and do not walk into flowing water. One foot of water can float cars and SUVs, while six inches can cause most vehicles to lose control.

Filed under: News Flash

New Camera

Fuji S5200After three years I finally have a new camera. The new one is Fuji FinePix S5200. My old camera took 4+ seconds to boot, this one takes 1 second, meaning less missed pictures. The CCD (Charged Couple Device) is bigger, meaning less grainy images. And the auto-focus system is much faster. So look forward to even better pictures in the future.

It’s been raining all week long, so no pictures with it yet. But according to authorities it will be drying up soon. Several major through-fares in the DC area where shut down because of mud or flooding. A metro station had 4 feet of water in the part where the train runs, almost spilling onto to the platform, which would’ve been extremely dangerous.

Filed under: Life

Best Creative Commons Images: Round Three


Excellent photographers put their images under a CC license, but rare is the beautiful image of a model. Here are two from Flickr.

Filed under: Creative Commons

All Lined Up

All Lined UpWaterfowl and babies, click to see larger size. Washington DC area has been getting rain, rain and more rain. Yesterday we got 6 inches of rain, a new record, and it fills up our 5 inch deficit. While working the mile and 1/2 circuit around a lake I came upon those guys and gals. Right when I started photographing the rain came. I’m not sure of the type so if you know please comment.

Filed under: Photography


MyopiaAlmost anyone who has a Flickr, MySpace, Xanga, or other similar account has at least one self portrait. Why do people do self portraits? Some are narcissistic, others had no model, and others where plane ‘ol board. Whatever the reason self portraiture has a element of experimentation.

If you go through the streams of many users on Flickr who have a lot of self portraits you’ll see exponential improvement. And even among those users have hit “perfection” in their self portraits you’ll still see that there styles have evolved.

Many start with taking a picture of themselves in a mirror. While I’ve seen some really nice shots, the lighting in a bathroom is often times dim, and the mirror tends to distort the image. So what’s the next step, why not hand held shots? Hand held shots always produce something unique. Once you capture a certain angle you may not be able to get it again. And their easy to take.

A tripod and self timer on the camerae really allow you to experiment. You have ten seconds to pose, and the final image can look like you where working with a model. Even if you don’t have a tripod you could use a bed, dresser or other raised surface to replace a tripod.

A non cluttered background also helps to make your self portraits better. Sometimes you can use a plain white wall, curtains or other surface as the background. Other times a bed sheet will work will. You can hang it on curtain rod, use closepins to pin it to a to some other surface like a shelf or closet door.

Experimentation is the most important part of photography. Your audience wants to see something different, not the same old rehashed thing.

Filed under: Guides and Howtos


Beautiful girl, beautiful light, what more could you want? Better composition is certain, and a better view of her. I really do wish the composition was better, I’ll try to get another shot like this, except with better composition.

Filed under: Photography

Google Evil?

Computer Data OutputGoogle, drop the tagline, “We’re Not Evil.” Google is materializing into a dirty player in the electronic sector. They’re better than Microsoft, contributing dozens of patches to the open source WINE (WINE Is Not an Emulator) project. But they squash competitors, and don’t give much back to open source.

After it’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) Google changed. It has the facade of a “Hip, open company.” Google will become the next Microsoft. They have nearly completed all the pieces for a online (and possibly off line) operating system. They’ve spreed sheet, word processor, Email client, calender, and drawing programs. Recently they created a version Minesweeper. Most of these programs use open source tools like PHP, and Linux. But the programs themselves aren’t open.

Then comes Google squeezing out the competition. Google recently started construction of a new server farm. Internal research concluded that the longer a search query takes to load, the less likely a visitor will view the page. The real reason they’re making themselves faster is to squeeze out future competition, and competition like Yahoo! or

But at least Google still gives back some. The Summer of Code project sponsors open source programmers to create and improve features of popular open source programs. As mentioned above they gave dozens of patches to the WINE project. The IPO has helped Google challenge the Microsoft stronghold. The less Microsoft, the more up and comers and open source projects can concentrate on development, not patent suits.

Filed under: Photography

Best Creative Commons Images: Round Two

The theme is animals. I’ve been down with a (biological) virus the past few days, so no updating. Feeling better, but not yet enough to right a full post. Here are some more excellent Creative Commons images I’ve found on Flickr.
Scratch it
Cow lomo no.5

Filed under: Creative Commons

Fathers Day

PrisonHappy fathers day, God. For many that is the only father in our life. Thankfully I have a father, I know his name, and talk to him every Sunday. But many of us don’t. For those who have a father, he may have been a bad father.

Many of the faults of my dad I apply to God. I talk to my dad once a week, and I talked to God once a week. That’s not fair to God, because he does so many things for me everyday. More than a dad could do, even if he lived with me. What helps me is to treat God, and dad as separate beings.

But that’s also one reason it’s so important for Christian fathers to be Christlike. Since God designed families to model humans relationships with him. A father is supposed to love his children, just like God loves his children. God also disciplines his children, but God is completely fair when he disciplines us. When a father fails to instill respect in his children via discipline he fails to instill a respect for God.

A word of note about the elephant image. The sermon at my church today was about – surprise! Fathers Day. The pastor told how elephants in Africa grew up without parents. Before the parents where introduced again to the babies, the children where literally wild. They would attack other animals, which elephants normally don’t do. When the parents came back the, baby elephants started behaving. I had written this post on Saturday, but couldn’t find a image to go with it, the elephant story gave me this picture to post.

Filed under: Photography