Christopher Waggener Photography

Archive for 'Art'

Going to zoos and aquariums sometimes makes me feel like the National Geographic Photographer I have always wanted to become. However after I get all of the images onto my computer I always have this feeling that I just cheated. The REAL National Geographic Photographers spend months researching and camping out in extreme environments to get that 20 seconds with a snow leopard or almost die from eating or drinking the jungle water when living with native tribes. I feel like I cheated because I stroll up to a tank or an exhibit where animals, lighting, and scenery have all been carefully placed to make it look good. I haven’t backpacked for weeks, or been on a boat for days, I just walk around in an air-conditioned building and shoot dangerous animals through glass or fences. But I still have fun and I still get some images that I am pretty happy with. I have taken pictures at the Baltimore Aquarium before, however, this time was different. I was at a science conference all week and took one morning and went over to the aquarium. It was me and about 10 other people in the whole place. Normally when I go to this aquarium it is wall to wall people and it is very difficult to see all of the exhibits. So this time I just relaxed and really got to enjoy the exhibits and animals that this place has to offer. I don’t know why but for some reason I really liked taking pictures of the alligators and crocodiles. It must be my current obsession with the show swamp people. If you ever get a chance go see this great aquarium. Hope you enjoy.

The title of this blog post sounds way more glamorous than it really is. It’s just a quick behind the scenes look at how unglamorous a photo shoot can be.

You would be surprised to know what type of simple equipment and resources a many photographers work with. It’s not all big fancy lights and set ups . Sometime the set ups and ideas are rather simple. There are many photographers that take the DIY approach to photography. I do this DIY approach often since I am a PhD. student and my photography budget is quite limited. I alway ask myself why didn’t I choose a cheeper hobby like collecting leaves, watching birds, or running, something not so expensive like photography.

I wanted to take this time to show you how I created the cactus image I showed from the Texas post a few weeks ago. I feel that many of you will be surprised of the equipment used to get the final image. To create the white background I just used old white cutting boards. Yeah, they were a little stained and had some scuff marks on them but you can make them pure white by blasting a little flash on them. When shooting white backgrounds typically light them first so that they are generally 2/3rds to 1 full stop brighter than my key light (main light). I can see this in many cases because the highlight priority warnings on the back of my screen are blinking at me. If you are really fancy you can dial in the proper lighting ratio with a light meter. Since I don’t have an extra 400 bucks laying around I just wing it by checking the histograms and the back of the camera. You can see the background lights on either side of the cactus. If I remember right, they were set to about 1/16th power. The Key light (one lighting the cactus) was about 1/32nd power. Those power settings are for all of you camera geeks out there that like to know that kinda stuff. The key light which is sitting on a cooler was set up after I got the background lights set. It is alway easier to set one set of lights up at a time instead of turning them all on and trying to adjust all of them at once.

The reflection of the cactus was pretty much getto rigged out of an ATV windshield.  You can see the bottle of cleaner next to it to get all of the dust off of it. This smooth reflective plastic surface is what gives you that nice reflection you see. I am sure by now you are looking around the cabin seeing the bottles of alcohol and boxes of food and such. There might have been a little drinking going on while shooting these pictures. Maybe that is why I am still picking tiny cactus needles out of my hand. I never have set up pictures or pictures of me taking pictures because most of the time I am the only one with the camera. So it was nice of my father to snap a few pictures of me setting  this cactus photo shoot up.

Hope you all enjoy. Hit me up in the comments or email if you have any questions about the setup or how to set up a shot like this.

I just noticed I misspelled windshield. I am just to lazy to go back into photoshop and fix the spelling. I guess I forgot that whole i before e thing they taught us in grade school.

The final image.


January 10, 2012 in Art, Personal, Places, Uncategorized

As most of you know I am originally from Texas but moved to Virginia when I was a child. I still have lots of family and relatives down there including my Father. Since I have been a child I have traveled down to this gigantic state two to three times a year and my father comes up to visit my sister and I about the same amount. Since the age of 12 or 13 my father has had a 1,400 acre place in Llano, TX where we go to deer and bird hunt. There was a lot more hunting in the beginning now we go and just sit around and drink beer, shoot guns, and take pictures. Thats right take pictures we have moved from guns to cameras. My Dad gave me my first SLR in 2001. It was a 35mm Nikon (Nikromat) that was my grandfathers from the 70’s, this metal hunk of steal was nothing fancy, no motor drives, no auto, no hot shoe, and no auto-focus, just a full manual beast of a camera even with the 70’s camera strap. I burned through countless rolls of film shooting this camera in Texas and Virginia. I still to this day love the unique sound it makes when you move the aperture ring and when the shutter opens and closes. From here there were more cameras until I have the one I have now. I am fully digital and really haven’t looked back to the film days much. I like many others have books of negatives and prints still waiting to be scanned in and transferred to a digital format. This “deer lease” in Llano has really made me a much more observant and creative photographer over the years. This place is nothing special in the way of looks. Its no Yellowstone or Florida Everglades. Its just a shrubby, cactus infested, flat place. However, this place as a unique beauty to itself and I truly love it and try to capture it on my camera when I can.

I got an iPod touch for christmas that has one of these fancy cameras on it. Yeah yeah, I know you are probably rocking the iPhone4s or some other smart phone. I am still carrying a phone that has no internet but it has a texting pad so…. this iPod touch was pretty exciting. I have really enjoyed it. This new little device has kinda jumpstarted and pushed me to be a little more creative and bold with my art. I’m not saying it has turned me into Ansel Adams or anything but it has sparked some creativity with me. A great photographer once said, the best camera is the one that is with you. I truly believe this. I am taking this little thing everywhere with me now and not lugging my big DSLR around. Don’t get me wrong I am not going to show up to your house taking your family pictures with it but this little camera has almost turned into a visual journal for me. So in this long winded post you will see pictures shot from my new iPod touch along with pictures I took with the big camera from this unique part of Texas. I hope you all enjoy and have a happy New Year.




July 21, 2011 in Art, Personal, Places, Uncategorized

My wife and I just made our anual trip to the Outerbanks of NC with our friends. This tradition has happened for the last 5 years. This year was no exception to the fun we have down there when we all get-together. Each year I travel down there with these huge photography goals and list of things I am going to shoot. However, every year I end up just relaxing and mostly taking pictures of the kids and families that are down there with us. This year we did something a little different. We went fishing with Captain Duke. I was a little nervous about getting sea sick before the trip but I dosed up on Dramamine and off we went. Good News no one got sick. We Caught over a hundred fish with Captain Duke and our 1st mate Bylin (not a typo, like Dylin with a B). We were fishing mostly Blue fish and Spanish Mackerel. One of the pictures below is of a large Spanish Mackerel we caught. We started off the fishing trip with some engine troubles but once we got out to the ocean we were on some fish. About every 30 seconds someone would yell ” fish on the line” and we would scramble and start reeling the line in. I was most impressed with the long fishing history of Captain Duke 4th generation fisherman with over 30 years of fishing experience himself. You can see in one of the pictures below a photo of captain duke and a large amount of fish. That is a younger Duke kneeling down. This picture was proudly displayed on his boat. The other thing that impressed me about these guys was that all of the lurers that we used and most of the ones on the boat are all hand made. I am always amazed at the craftsmanship that people take and learn for their job. I took pictures of many of these because they were all so interesting and different from one another.

I hate getting up early but I have learned if you wan to take some stellar landscape photos you need to be up early, like 5 am early. I took my camera out to Avalon Pier one morning and after waiting 20 o 30 min. for my lenses to defog (forgot about the change in humidity from inside to outside). I got some great long exposures on the beach. Most exposures were around 30 to 45 seconds. Thats enough time for the waves to make a solid white foggy look on the water. I used a 3 stop neutral density filter to aid in my longer exposures. It was really nice being the only person on the beach watching the sunrise. Well I honestly wasn’t the only person. I was accompanied by a young drunk guy passed out on the beach wrapped up in his towel. He was proudly displaying all he drank that night all around him. So other than that it was completely peaceful.

These beach trips are a highlight of our summer every year. I can’t wait till next year. Too bad I have to wait another 12 months.


















November 22, 2010 in Art, Personal, Places, Uncategorized

I woke up and saw fog. I guess I was the only one in Richmond excited to see some fog. I ran and grabbed my camera and headed downtown before work to get some images around Byrd Park. I like the feeling that these images give. Hope you enjoy.

October 4, 2010 in Art, Personal, Places, Uncategorized

Jennifer and I took a trip with some friends to the eastern shore. I took this picture going through the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel. I thought it was cool the way lines led into a point and the textures and contrast of the walls and lights.

July 28, 2010 in Art, Personal, Uncategorized

I have always noticed the patters in the walls of the elevators at school. I just thought I could make a cool picture out of it by changing the normal viewing angle and using a really shallow depth of field.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th.

June 2, 2010 in Art, Personal, Uncategorized

I am trying come up with a personal project that I can capture images that are original and interesting. I have a lot of access to science related objects and I am trying to document them in a cool way. Here are some of my Images that I have started with. I hope to add to this collection.

My family and I just took a trip to see my sister. We stopped by the National Aquarium. I took my camera and my father did not . Needless to say I think he was very disappointed on all of the shots he missed out on. I tried to take some artsy pictures and be original with my shots but at a place like this it’s hard not to become a snap happy tourist and snap away at everything that comes in front of your lens. I keep reminding myself about good composition.  I really was glad that I had my 50mm f1.8 and high ISO in this place. They both came in really handy. I took about 200 or so pics but I am posting some of the best. The jelly fish were absolutely amazing. I could have sat around and photographed those things all day.