Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuna Tidbits

You miss 100% of the shots you never take -- Wayne Gretzky

I missed my normal self-imposed deadline for writing a post. It seems that I actually had a social life this past weekend, not my normal lame stay-at-home excitement. Not to brag, but I actually stayed awake until 11:00 . . . OK, 10:45. Anyhow, this week I decided to abandon my photo tips in favor of real estate news and I've gone the lazy route by including this video. Although this is not exactly about Wilmington, NC real estate, what I like about this video clip is that a) it's positive information and b) it's from a neutral source, MSNBC. Enjoy.

BRAG ALERT!! This past Sunday's Star News featured a story about my wife, Nancy Noel May. The reporter, Si Cantwell, also shot this video. This is a car that knows how to scoot.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tuna Group Hug

Operator! Give me the number for 9-1-1! -- Homer Simpson

Speaking of things obvious, this is as good a time as any to talk about editing your photos. The point of taking lots of photos is to increase your chances of actually taking an interesting shot. This process allows you to pick out the best and, here's the important part, DELETE THE REST. If you took 29 photos of you and your friends taking photos of each other at a party, chances are you don't need to post all of them to your Facebook page to show everyone how much fun you had and/or how cool you are. Try to pick out a few that tell a story or are, in your opinion, the funniest. Back in the day, people had flip out plastic photo sleeves. They would sneak up on you and drop one end of the sleeve and you were trapped having to look at four feet of photos. Today, we have digital. Take more, bore more. Photographs are like opinions -- you have plenty of them. You just don't need to go sharing every one of them with the world. Remember, with digital photography, you get instant feedback. So, take lots of photos, edit down and share your best. That's what the pros do.

Speaking, too, of Facebook, I now have a Facebook page. See the little Facebook badge thingy. I'm trying to figure out how to be a good Facebook citizen. I would appreciate your opinion. I am a Wilmington NC real estate agent and share that matter of factly and proudly, in the same manner as when people ask, in real life, what it is I do for a living. However, I am seeing more and more of my colleagues using Facebook as a billboard to advertise themselves, their services and their current listing inventory. Although I have been found by potential clients and long lost personal acquaintances, I look at FB as an opportunity to interact socially vs. advertise. As a practicing geezer, I'm afraid I'm either missing the point . . . or getting it. I'm just not sure which. If you are, let me know.

And so I close by saying opinions are like opinions. I got 'em, but . . . who cares? Scoot gently.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fresh Tuna

When I die, I want to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my grandfather . . . not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car. -- Unknown

Today, I want to talk about distractions. For example, say you're at work and you're supposed to be, well, working. But, instead, you're distracted, as in reading this blog. You need to be aware of distractions in your photographs as well.

Below are two shots of my wife, Nancy, in her art smart car (named Bebe). She wanted some photos to include on her website and on her blog. So, in following my own advice, I took a bunch of shots from various angles and distances. In the first shot, there's stuff going on in the background that distracts from the image I want. There are boats around the car and part of one that appears through the window. In the second shot, I moved in closer and got down lower, eliminating the distractions from the image. These shots were made late in the day so I added some fill flash to the second shot, but the point (less I become distracted) is that Nancy and the car are the main focus of the shot. You can tell that it's getting dark and that the photo was taken near water, but I don't think that the soft background competes with the subjects.

Click on the photos to enlarge them. Don't be afraid to move in close and change the angle from which you take the shot.

As a Wilmington NC real estate agent, I take a lot of photographs of the properties I market. I try to be aware of any situations that will detract from the main focus of the photograph. For example, I'm sure you've seen interior photos of homes with the TV on. So you wind up looking at the TV instead of focusing on the room. Another typical interior distraction is shooting directly into a mirror or other reflective surface, especially with the flash.

Sooo, the point is to make the effort to try to include only those elements that are important to the photograph. Sometimes, that means moving in close, maybe to one side, maybe high, maybe low. Other times, you may want to move back so you can include other elements that add to the story you're trying to tell. Just try to take control. The more thought you put into the process, the better your photographs.

Eat more tuna.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

5, 4, 3, 2-na, 1. Happy New Year

The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have -- Leonard Nimoy

It's 2009. I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. I'm excited about this year. As a Wilmington real estate agent, people ask me about the local real estate market, usually with the same downward tone in their voice that they use when inquiring about a sick elderly relative -- "How's your aunt Lucy?" The expectation is that Lucy (my real estate career) is not long for this world. So there's a certain disbelief when I say my business is doing well, thank you. My closed sales for 2008 slightly exceeded my production for 2007. Then, there's the look of skeptism. Poor man, is he trying to put a brave face on a dire situation?

Well, no. The real estate biz is tough, but, hey, I'm a tough guy. It's hard work and I work hard. It requires brains, creativity and fortitude . . . check, check and check, I've got 'em. I've been doing this for over 23 years, so I am used to seeing ups and downs.

Home values are down and everyone is pummeled daily with bad news -- newspaper, bad news; TV -- bad news; internet -- bad news. But, here's the deal. Real estate is local. The Detroit real estate market sucks. The same goes for a number of areas throughout the nation. Wilmington real estate is not nearly that grim. As a matter of fact, if you're a buyer, it's pretty good. There is plenty of inventory from which to choose and interest rates are hovering around 5%. If you're a seller and you've had your home for four or five years or longer, it's worth more than you paid. You can't say that about your Hummer. You've had shelter, you've had tax deductions and your home is worth more than you paid. What's the problem? If you purchased or re-financed in 2005, that's another story.

As the real estate market has changed over the years, I've adapted. The changes over the last couple of years have been more severe, but again, I've adapted. In doing so, I've been able to help my seller clients achieve what sellers have always wanted -- selling their homes at the highest price, in the shortest amount of time, and with the least amount of hassle. And, I continue to help my buyer clients find their best deals. I represent my clients well.

I'm not a miracle worker. I'll tell you what you need to know although it's not necessarily what you want to hear, but in the words of Larry, the cable guy, we'll get 'er done.

OK, so here's the first photo tip of the new year. Make sure you remove the lens cap.

Scoot on.