All posts by michaelsink

Our Hike to Clingman’s Dome

This particular journey started many years ago…

As a teenager I was turned onto the idea of summiting the highest peaks of each state, becoming a “peak-bagger” as it were.  This past summer I finally got to check off the first peak, at truly magical place called Mount Rogers that sits near the southwest corner of our lovely state. (I’ll post pics from that later on, wild ponies included!)

As the wife and I travel the country, if the schedule and mileage warrant it we will tick off these high points as we go and this time our travels had brought us to within spitting distance of Clingman’s Dome (highest peak in Tennessee!).

We started the day early to beat the heat and hopefully any crowds.  The moon was still high in the sky as we began the short but strenuous trek to the top,

At an almost 13% grade it was not the easiest half mile ever!

The views make it all worthwhile though as you look through the valleys of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

On top of the summit is a spiral ramp raising you up 45 feet above the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest (one of only a handful of sites in North America) affording the views below.

We missed sunrise by a few minutes but were treated to a gorgeous show nonetheless.   Not too crowded at all, the air was quite chilly and the wind was unrelenting at that altitude.

The tower itself is beautiful as well, doesn’t quite fit in with the surroundings but isn’t an eyesore either.

The Crosstrek enjoyed the view while we summitted!

Prints are available, please email for more info at info@michaelsinkphotography.com

Let me know what you think in the comments!  Have you been, what was your experience like?

Thursday Throwdown! Mad Max Edition

Today I finally watched Mad Max : Fury Road, and although I’m sure that this movie wasn’t for everyone I was enthralled for the entire 2 hours!  With some over the top violence, sparse and mumbled dialogue from time to time and a plot that may have been thin here and there you may wonder what I have to rave about here.

Well, I watched the Black and Chrome Edition (seek it out on your favorite streaming service  for purchase or pick up a disk for archival purposes).  This was the version that George Miller (director) prefers himself.  The oversaturated oranges and blues were to differentiate it from other post-apocalyptic movies and WOW audiences.  It did just that with a great box office record to show for it.

I have always had a thing for B/W imagery and movies,  probably stemming from my days in the darkroom back in the day.  It’s timeless, it’s classic, it doesn’t reflect whatever crazy hues were in style right now but gone next season.  I’ll show you an example here of one of my puppies…

This image is straight out of camera (SOOC) unedited and it’s fine.  Fine is nice (I should’ve mowed the lawn before maybe), but we want exemplary, we want AWESOME!  Don’t get me wrong, Frejya IS awesome but this image was just fine.

There, that’s better…  A little more contrast, a little more OOOMMPPFF!  I should totally hang this on the wall!

For another amazing B/W movie take a minute and seek out Pi (directed by Darren Aronofsky), shot in B/W using a high contrast reversal film process!

For a peek at what inspired this post take a look at the video below…  (let me know what you thought in the comments!!)

Caroline & Joe’s wedding!

We were honored to be asked to photograph Caroline and Joe’s wedding at Wisteria Ridge!  We had a gorgeous fall day with a constant breeze up in the mountains of Callaway, VA.

Shanna Bush was there guiding the way, ensuring everything went smoothly!

Just a little teaser before the big reveal!

Throw Back Thursday! (with a BONUS!!)

4 years ago we shot an awesome engagement session with a wonderful couple!  Beth and Louis asked us to come to their hometown in Lynchburg and scout out some spots.  We found this old building (I honestly don’t remember what it was, library maybe? Comment below if you know!) and Beth and Louis both went into supermodel mode! Add your own light from a strobe and nature helped out with a gorgeous sky!

  Oh yeah, that bonus we mentioned above?!?  Check out the Investments page on the website for update pricing on all our services!!  Fan us on Facebook to keep an eye out for Free sessions!  We have some ideas and need models, you’ll get some great images for a little time/energy on your part!

Well here we are… a post about life… loss… Pooh… puppies…

  It has been way too long since I wrote anything here.  You see,…

  Last year was CRAP! Angel and I dealt with a lot!  From BIG problems at the corporate dayjob to loss of loved ones, it was a bit overwhelming.  The clients we had were wonderful and allowed us to be creative and brighten what felt like pretty dark times.  Our families and friends were there for us and did everything possible to help out when needed and we owe them for that (you know who you are).

  I’m writing this not as a sob story but as a segue into a bit of a “phoenix-risen-from-the-ashes” kinda thing.  It’s been impossible to make myself create for this blog or update the website during this time.  I knew it had to happen but every time I would sit down to do “it”, it felt fake.  I was writing because I told myself I had to but it wasn’t quality, it wasn’t ME coming out through the words, they were just words… (look at the last few blog posts!) We have a lot of work from that time that we haven’t posted much because I didn’t want to shortchange the couple/family/senior with a less than stellar post.

  Snuggled in bed with my soulmate I resurrected an activity from our past and grabbed off our bookshelf a 1926 printing of Winnie the Pooh and started reading from the beginning to my wife before we went to sleep.  Doing the voices with the right inflection and tone and excited-ness or sadness (Eeyore anyone?) seemed to sooth both of our hearts and help us rest for the night.  We will be doing a special family photoshoot the the girls around Halloween!  A.A. Milne and his cast have been a staple of our lives since we were both young, I started reading to Angel in bed when we first started living together and honestly it’s something we should do more often! (she reads Twilight to me while I play Tiger Woods on the Wii sometimes!)

  Speaking of the girls, puppies are WONDERFUL!!  Our eldest is now 2 and still a little bundle o’ energy!  If you don;t already have one, get one, or two, or three, or…  wait, when does it become hoarding?

  So, to end this on an upnote, the website is getting an update, the pricing has already received an update (lowered!), we are going to be giving away some sessions with digital images soon keep an eye out here and on Facebook!  We want to stretch our portfolio and get some images up that we’ve been wanting to create, have YOU got what it takes?!?  We’ll be looking for dancers, tradespeople, vikings, etc.  Stay Tuned!

  Thank you all for being here, let me know in the comments what type of session you would like to have!

Technology Tuesdays!

Communication is key in any successful business but I felt it was particularly needed in an industry where anyone with a camera is a “photographer”.   People regularly trust one of the biggest days (their wedding) of their life to cheap or free “professionals”  with a snazzy camera.  When I started photographing bands at local venues and posting images online many people asked me to photograph something for them.  Whether that was their car, child, themselves, etc. I always told them flat out if I thought it was beyond my level of expertise.  I was asked by a good friend of ours to photograph her wedding and I told her I had never done that and would have to do some research before committing to it.

  After browsing the internet and discovering the term “Bridezilla” I then researched what creates this beast and found that it ALWAYS ALWAYS came down to communication, or a lack thereof!  (What does this have to do with technology you ask? We’ll get to that in a minute I promise)  It always came down to a breakdown from a vendor to the bride, or bride to vendor, or vendor to vendor.  Communicating is easy.  Clear and concise and worthwhile communication is another thing!  We make sure our clients know what to expect when they have their photo session or wedding.  I recently met a bride that NEVER MET her photographer until the day of the wedding…   and when the photographer arrived it wasn’t who she had contracted for, it was a couple of assistants!!  Whoa!  Stop the presses!  We meet a minimum of twice before the wedding, sometimes more, sometimes with other vendors to ensure that your wedding day is perfect!

  Now to the technology part…

  We have found a few products that have been EXTREMELY helpful in this aspect…

  We are not and will never be Apple fanboys here, so we have gone with mobile device running the Android OS.  We stay connected with a pair of LG Nexus 4 phones and Asus Nexus 7 tablets.  The Nexus line is the pure Android experience, no bloatware, no apps you don’t want, just Android the way Google intended it.  We stay connected via text messaging, email, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Reddit, Google +, you name it!

  We’ll focus on tablet productivity in this post though.  Our Nexus 7s are little traveling portfolios, almost always with us to show off images, video slideshows, etc.  Being able to whip out a 7″ tablet to show a potential client our work has landed us more than a few jobs in the past seven years.  Slideshows look great on here whether it’s a demo slideshow or a client’s first look at their engagement shoot (for weddings we like to review via projection the first time).  It’s a perfect size for a couple to look at and become absorbed in when we meet for the first time.

  I’m currently writing this blog post using a Logitech wireless keyboard with it

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   Bluetooth connected, standard batteries (don’t have to worry about charging), simple operation.  It just works!  I typically like to use the Swype app for text entry on mobile devices but a blog post like this would be an exercise in frustration on the on screen keyboard.  It runs on a couple of AAAs and honestly I haven’t replaced the batteries in the six months I’ve had it!  With a package a little larger than a paperback book I can do 90% of the stuff I rely on a computer for.  Coffee shop, airport terminal, business center you name it if I get inspired I can take advantage of it.

  Nexus tablets are fast, simple, they’ll get the latest updates the fastest, and they are generally more affordable than the offerings from Samsung, Apple, and HTC.

  As always, questions, discussion, it’s all welcome here!

Inspiration Mondays! – Darker places…

  Sometimes inspiration comes from different places…  Darker places…  Thinking back to what may have creeped you out as a child…  That dark corner of the basement, that room in the house that always made you feel uneasy.  That street that you walked home on with that one block that got your blood pumping…

  I saw this scene during assignment at Hollins University in the middle of fun filled Alumni weekend!

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  The mood all around was fun and refreshing as a summer storm blew through, but this empty corridor beckoned to me…  What does it say to you?

A Dogs Life – Saturday Blog Posts…

A dog’s life…  It’d be pretty cool right?  This weekly feature on the blog will follow our two goldendoodles adventures in my photography.  Occasionally these will be phone images, occasionally DSLR images, maybe film…  The medium doesn’t matter, in this case it’s all about the subjects…

For those who haven’t met them meet Freyja and Luna!

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  Freyja is a year and eight months here and is the lighter colored doodle in the back.  Luna is one year old this week!  They are sisters from different litters with the same poodle Dad and different golden retriever Moms. (In Japanese they say “go-ruden do-doru”)

  Luna tried to steal the show with this thoughtful pose and insightful eyes here…

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   Freyja seemed a little aggravated with her sister’s attitude here…

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  Those eyes just kinda melt your heart don’t they?

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  Finally I got them to focus for this one…

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  Then I switched it up for one here…

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  Freyja must have told her little sister Luna a joke right before this one…

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  …and it must have been pretty funny!!  Compose yourself there little Go-ruden do-doru!!

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  Well they were both a little tickled after that so we had some fun with the firehose toy!

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  Is it just me or does Freyja have “CRAZY EYES”?!?

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  Doing her best Michael Jordan dunk face (example here)

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As always comments are appreciated!  I’m sure the girls would love to hear from you!

Technology Tuesday – Robots are coming!

  Welcome to an all new weekly blog post Tech Tuesdays!   Here we’ll be discussing tech in all forms!  It’ll probably be photography but you never know!

  This week we’re talking about the future…

Remember Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons?  Well, she’s here!  Well, not exactly, this one does the work (at least vacuuming) without the attitude that Rosie came with!

I know, I know, it looks like a Super Nintendo on steroids right?!?  Well, it is way cooler than that!  It runs Linux, uses a “LASER” (say that in Dr. Evil’s voice), maps out the room and methodically vacuums the space you let it out in, returning to base to charge when needed and picking up where it left off!  Can you throw away your old vac?  Well, probably not, it doesn’t do stairs, or under the couch cushions, you may have to get in the nooks and crannies that it won’t fit from time to time, but that’s okay.  With two dogs roaming the studio there is a bit of hair occasionally, I can schedule it to run when we’re not around, or push a button and have it run whenever I want.  It’s like science fiction!  I know iRobot has had their Roomba around for a while now but that thing is like a drunk turtle compared to the virgo-like thoroughness of Neato’s machines.  Take a look at this comparison video…

  It’s pretty cool that the majority of vacuuming is taken care of, just an occasional deep clean from time to time!

  Find them here for more info!  http://www.neatorobotics.com/

  As always comments are welcomed!