Maria and Erik’s Wedding

Maria and Erics Wedding Photos-253

Maria and Erik

Maria and Erik are a really great couple who planned a stunning wedding in Youngstown, OH. We started working together about 9 months before their wedding day, and set up an engagement shoot for their announcements. They were looking for an affordable wedding photographer to take stunning photos of their wedding, and I believe we nailed it.

When their wedding day arrived, they started the day in separate rooms at a hotel preparing for their wedding, then proceeded to the church in individual limos. They elected not to do a first look, and Erik was moved to tears when he saw Maria come up the isle.

Maria and Erics Wedding Photos-231

After the ceremony, we went outside the church for this gorgeous photo


We went to Mill Creek park for photos then on to their really well planned and stunning reception. We finished the day with a sparkler sendoff. If you’re planning a wedding in Cleveland, Akron, or Canton and need a wedding photographer, call me at 330-861-3684 or fill out the contact form.

Reebok CrossFit Games 2013 workout 13.5 photos from CrossFit Legacy

CrossFit 13.5 699This was the last week for the athletes at CrossFit Legacy to qualify for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games. Here’s the photo set from the workout.

Reebok CrossFit Open 13.5 at CrossFit Legacy

CrossFit pull up

The regional qualifying round of the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games is complete. The organizers of the CrossFit games wanted them to go out with a bang, so they saved what could be considered the most intense workout for last. Clocking in at 4 minutes, the 13.5 workout gave the athletes the shortest workout of the Open, which means it was probably be the most physically intense one too. As a general rule, the shorter the workout, the more intense it will be. Talking about the short time span, William Christian commented, “It’s…tricky. You can do anything for 4 minutes, but you have to be smart about it… For me, it was more of a mental challenge.”, referring to the intensity and duration of the exercises. The 13.5 CrossFit workout also had a twist that no previous workout offered.  It rewarded the fittest athletes with an additional “Bonus Round” of punishing workout time if they exceeded a preset number of reps.

CrossFit pull upThe 13.5 CrossFit Workout consisted of:
4 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
15 Thrusters (100lbs for men, 65lbs for women)
15 Chest to bar Pull-ups
*4 minute bonus for every 90 reps

As with the 13.4 workout, the athletes had to use a combination of free weights and pull-up type exercises. Comparing the two workouts, Brian Yoak said, “In difficulty it felt similar to to 13.4, in that it hit you fast”. To allow quick access to the overhead bars, the athletes are packed into a tight bunch of raw muscle power and intense, powerful motion that has to be seen to understand how impressive it really is. The close proximity of so many powerful bodies all performing identical movements is awe-inspiring.

CrossFit thrusterA thruster is a muscle-draining exercise that combines squats and a barbell. An athlete must squat down, lift the barbell off the floor, squat with the barbell on their chest, then stand and lift the barbell over their head. Performing a thruster during competition is quite different than lifting some weights in your garage or even just to warm up. There’s the pressure of completing enough reps to move on to the next step with the need to conserve enough strength to go back to the barbell and pound out another set afterward with no rest in between. “The bar felt heavier than 100lbs after the previous 60 reps, being able to control breathing while moving the bar was key”, commented Yoak.

“The extra capacity it takes for chest to bar increases breathing and if you don’t remain consistent in your movements and know how to breath when working as hard as you can, the thrusters would be tons more difficult.” – Brian Yoak

After the required number of thrusters are completed, the CrossFit Legacy athletes run to the pull-up bar and throw themselves into chest-to-bars. These are like chin-ups on steroids. “The hardest part was trying to maintain a good pace during the chest to bar”, commented CrossFit athlete William Christian. An athlete must lift themselves up high enough so their chest comes in contact with the bar they’re holding onto. The vertical lift they are required to perform is extraordinary with many athletes’ feet coming over 3′ off the ground with every rep. CrossFit athletes try not to simply do a chin-up type motion, but to complete a butterfly movement where they swing their entire body all the way back and all the way forward as if on a trapeze. This is a very efficient movement and allows for a high number of reps in a short period of time as long as a rhythm is able to be maintained, but it’s immensely tiring and quite difficult to continue rep after rep.

CrossFit thruster

The view from the bonus round

The athletes kept moving back and forth between thrusters and chin-to-bars until the 4 minute mark was hit. That is, unless. they were able to complete 90 reps (3 rounds of each exercise)  in the 4 minute span, in which case they got to continue the workout for another 4 minutes in a bonus round. The bonus round was an additional set of reps that pushed an athlete to the brink of their physical and mental endurance. CrossFit 13.5 098Many athletes really felt the burn set in around the 70-80 rep mark. Christian commented, “I felt like I was spent when I got to 70 (reps)”. The thought of another 4 minutes is a motivator but also a bit of a relief. Brian Yoak didn’t make the bonus round, but summed it up well, “I was disappointed i didn’t make it past 4 min, but the fear of the pain also made it a relief.” Typically, there was only one athlete from a heat that would be able to make the bonus round, and that athlete had the entire gym as a cheering section. All eyes were focused on that lone athlete throwing everything they had against the workout and never giving in. This test of the athlete’s mettle was rewarded by the satisfaction of knowing that they are among the most elite athletes in CrossFit and the additional reward of accruing additional points toward the CrossFit Regional score, propelling them further ahead in the qualifying round.

CrossFit pull up

I workout at CrossFit legacy because of the motivation. I see different people hitting different goals and getting an incredible amount of support. – William Christian

With the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Open qualifying round drawing to a close, CrossFit Legacy is able to look back with pride at it’s athlete’s hard work and effort. cross the gym, the scores were even higher than the 2012 CrossFit Games and the number of athletes competing was higher as well. Most athletes bested their 2012 scores considerably and have every confidence that the 2014 CrossFit Games will be an even higher mark in their personal best. Brian Yoak, CrossFit Legacy owner, is immensely proud of his athletes. Through their hard work and dedication combined with his drive to forge the fittest athletes, CrossFit Legacy sets itself apart from every gym in northeast Ohio, and cements it’s place as one of the premiere CrossFit gyms in the country.

Exotic Tulips in a Vase Still Life Photo

Exotic Tulips in a Vase

Exotic Tulips in a Vase

I wanted to shoot a still life photo of these exotic tulips that was outside of my comfort zone. This might not look like a terribly difficult image, but it took about 1.5 hours from start to finish to capture.

Firstly, it was at night, so there was no natural lighting to use in this photo. Natural light is so great because it’s so well diffused and it’s easy to see where any shadows might fall. When shooting any reflective surface, natural light is the best there is, but the sun was asleep for the day and I was left to use man-made light.

Secondly, I decided to use 3 flash units for this photo. It didn’t necessarily need all 3 flashes, but I wanted to push my comfort zone and challenge myself with this image. The most difficult part was making sure that there weren’t hard flash reflections on the vase. I wanted the viewer to be able to see the water and the bubbles inside.

Thirdly, I wanted to tint the photo somewhat blue, so I used flash gels. I had to experiment to see which gels to use and where not to use gels. It was time consuming to say the least. I used a combination of softening filters and studio umbrellas to soften up the harsh flashes. The main white flash was bounced off of the white ceiling.

I went with a white background to show the jagged edge on the tulip petals. I didn’t want the background to be totally blown out either, but I wanted it light and showing a gradient down to the bottom of the photo. I was going to use a fourth flash behind the stand, but Jake, my dog, kept walking around the studio and I was convinced he’d knock the flowers onto the floor, thus destroying a floor-mounted flash unit.

Photo set from the 13.4 workout at CrossFit Legacy

CrossFit 13.4 370Here’s the link to the photos taken at the 13.4 workout at CrossFit Legacy last Saturday.

If you were competing and don’t see your photo here, it’s because I wasn’t able to find a good angle to photograph you during your workout. It’s my goal to stay out of the athlete’s way during their workout to avoid distracting them or risking an injury.

If you’re a CrossFit athlete, please feel free to download any of the images from Flickr and use them on your blog, social media, to make prints for yourself, etc. All the images are licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Photo Set from the 13.3 CrossFit Games Workout at CrossFit Legacy

Here’s the link to the photos taken at the 13.3 workout at CrossFit Legacy last Saturday.

If you were competing and don’t see your photo here, it’s because I wasn’t able to find a good angle to photograph you during your workout. It’s my goal to stay out of the athlete’s way during their workout to avoid distracting them or risking an injury.

If you’re a CrossFit athlete, please feel free to download any of the images from Flickr and use them on your blog, social media, to make prints for yourself, etc. All the images are licensed under a Creative Commons license.

CrossFit Legacy Week 3 Workout for the Reebok CrossFit Games 2013

A completed muscle-up

A completed muscle-up

The organizers of the CrossFit Games really know how to test an athlete. The third workout (13.3) for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games was a test of an athlete’s mental toughness as well as their physical fitness.

There was no heavy barbell to press and no massive kettle bell to swing. This workout was all about seemingly endless repetition and the mental grit to keep going long after the muscles started burning and fatigue set in. The heaviest weight the athletes were required to lift was their own body and a medicine ball.

The 13.3 workout is timed at 12 minutes and consisted of:
150 Wall Balls (14lbs for women, 20lbs for men)
90 Double-Unders
30 Muscle-Ups

To complete one wall-ball, an athlete is given a medicine ball according to gender and must throw it against a wall to a specified height, men at 10′, and women at 9′.

Tossing a 20lb ball 10' high 150 times

Tossing a 20lb ball 10′ high 150 times

To throw the ball and hit the mark a few times is relatively easy and many athletes do it as a warm up exercise before their WOD (workout of the day). But to have to complete 150 wall balls is a totally different story. The mental grit of an athlete is tried as the count slowly creeps up over a long period. Most athletes threw the ball for over 7 or 8 minutes continuously, with some preferring the longer but lighter wall-ball work over the previous week’s heavy barbell work. For some, the heavy barbell work of the 13.2 workout was a wall that their muscles couldn’t break down no matter how much mental grit and drive. For others, barbell workouts are preferred over the grueling work of wall-balls. “I like the instant gratification a heavy barbell movement. Success or failure, the outcome is immediate. Long drawn out metabolic movements like 150 wall balls takes more mental strategy” – Leah Sommers

Double-unders require greater vertical leap and good timing

Double-unders require greater vertical leap and good timing

After the wall balls are completed the athlete moves on to the double-unders. This might look like simply skipping rope, but it isn’t. In order to complete a double-under, an athlete must have the rope pass under their feet twice during a single jump. This requires both prefect timing and a tall vertical jump. Many athletes are mentally exhausted by the time the wall-balls are completed, but they must clear their heads of the fatigue and focus their minds on timing their jumps perfectly and finding a rhythm or they won’t complete enough double-unders to progress to the next phase of the workout. Talking about double-unders, an athlete describes how it feels to move to them after doing 150 wall-balls, “I considered doing the DU’s (Double-unders) a privilege. meaning I was strong enough to get past the WB’s (wall-balls)…they were sort of a victory lap for me”. Double unders are very hard on their own, but especially after the punishment received at the wall ball. “Once you get the rhythm its not bad… but when your hips, thighs and shoulders are on fire after 150 WB’s (wall-balls) it sucks”

A hard-won, and textbook perfect muscle-up

A hard-won, and textbook perfect muscle-up

If an athlete is able to complete both the 150 wall-balls and the 90 double-unders, they then get to move on to one of the most challenging routines in CrossFit – a muscle-up. To complete a muscle-up, an athlete must grab a set of rings above their head and pull themselves up until they achieve full extension in their arms and lock their elbows. It’s an incredible feat of strength and is amazing to watch in person. The sheer effort required to do one-muscle up by itself is immense, but doing one after the previous workout seems

“I don’t pay this much money for a gym, I pay it for the training…I go to be trained by, and along side the best”

nearly impossible, however, some CrossFit Legacy athletes complete one or more within the 12 minute time limit. It’s a testament to their mental toughness, physical strength, drive to exceed, and coaching by gym owner Brian Yoak.

When talking to the athletes at CrossFit Legacy, every athlete I’ve spoken with has talked very highly about Brian Yoak’s coaching at the gym. A number of athletes have come from other CrossFit gyms to train at CrossFit Legacy specifically because of Brian’s drive and ambition to build the most elite athletes. Nobody at CrossFit Legacy is there to hang at the gym and pose. CrossFit Legacy was built with the goal to help people transform themselves into the fit, strong, confident person they always wanted to be.

Photos of the 13.2 Reebok CrossFit Games workout at CrossFit Legacy

CrossFit 13.2 148Here’s the complete set of 100 photos from the 13.2 workout at CrossFit Legacy. There’s too many to upload to this blog, so I created a set of Flickr.

Here’s the link:

Feel free browse the set and any of my Flickr photos!




Canadian Geese in the Snow

Snow geese 046The other day I was in my office and hitting a nice solid wall of writer’s block. I had been in front of the computer for hours and needed to clear my head in order to be productive again. Because I have the luxury of having a home office, sometimes I’ll lay down on my bed and nap or cook up a tasty meal to clear my head. That day, however, the snow was falling in big wet flakes and the sky was a dark slate grey. The snow had largely melted from the ground a few days earlier and the contrast of white snow, grey skies, and dark ground was beautiful.

I decided to grab my camera and lenses and hop in my Jeep to see what I could find and photograph. Experience told me that there was going to be some dramatic photographs to be had with weather like that. I am fortunate to live in a very rural area and nature’s beauty abounds all around me so I drove to an area with cut fields bordered by thick woods in hopes of finding inspiration.

As luck had it, numerous flocks of Canadian geese had decided to hang out in those fields at the same time I did. There were hundreds of geese walking around in the fields all around me. Some were sleeping, some eating, some grooming, and some just chilling out and enjoying a rest. I put on my 55-200 meter lens and started to photograph the beautiful creatures. They don’t move too quickly on the ground so I was able to keep my shutter speed somewhat low and my ISO low. Only when they took flight did I have to crank my shutter speed and ISO to capture them.

The geese allowed me to sit near them for about 15 minutes, during which time I photographed a couple more flocks flying in their classic “V” formation coming in to land in the field. From time to time one or two Canadian geese would fly away, but suddenly and without any apparent reason the entire flock of hundreds of geese suddenly began pounding their wings and took to flight in one throbbing, honking, beautiful mass of feathers and wings. They took off flying west then they all turned east en masse and disappeared from sight. The fields that 30 seconds before has been home to hundreds of noisy birds was suddenly silent and still.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Playing with remote flash triggers



I recently purchased a set of radio controlled remote flash triggers that allow me to remotely control up to 3 flash units

up to 150′ away from my camera. They are controlled by a transmitter that I slide into the hot shoe on the top of my camera and greatly expand my creative options. I’ll do an entire review and writeup on the units when I have used them more and can give a more accurate review.

I’d like to be able to post better photos of what I’ve been doing with the remote flash triggers, but the weather has been really cold and I haven’t wanted to take my camera gear outside in the falling snow just for some test photos. Here are a couple of photos of Jake and Chloe, my long-suffering dogs. They posed and suffered through my constant moving around of the flash units to see what different flash positions at very close range would look like. Because I was stuck shooting inside my creative options were limited, so I opted for closeups.



So far the remote flash units have been flawless, after I got the hang of syncing them together. I’ll post photos of the equipment and more photos when I have enough time using them to give a fair shake.

%d bloggers like this: