My name is David Smith; I am a self-taught photographer/photographic artist.  I am married to my very beautiful and talented wife, Sylvia.  Without her, I would not be who I am today–together we have a wonderful son, David Jr.

My goal for  this blog is to share some of the things I have learned, from photography, lighting, and photo-retouching.  I love photography, especially what comes after pressing the shutter button–the “art” of post processing using Photoshop and other software plug-ins.

I  shoot with a Nikon D200 and my old D100 serves as back-up.  Currently, I have three lenses available to me; A Nikon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6, a Nikon 50mm f/1.8, and a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.  I use a couple of Nikon SB-26 flashes for outdoor work; If I need to shoot indoors and need more light, I have three Elinchrom BX250Ri’s.

Feel free to look around and leave comments if you like.  I hope you enjoy this blog and my photography!   By the way, all photos on this blog were shot by me and are copyright protected.

House Cat Abducted By Aliens: Turns To Zombie!

It’s been awhile since I posted to this blog… it’s also been a long time since I did anything creative with photography.  The other day I was using Zite on my iPhone and found a cool article on digital painting—creating a zombie cat.  Sadie the Zombie
This is the first time I have ever attempted to do anything like this… It’s coming along ok, but its far from perfection.

I want to add a mouse which is depicted in the article, but this type of art is difficult for me. I can’t draw anything but stick figures!  Pictured below is the original picture I took of my cat.  I knew I was going to be painting over the photo, so it was just a quick snapshot using the on camera flash.

I shot the original pic in camera RAW at 1/60sec f3.8, iso 100.
_DSC0013The photo was processed using Adobe Photoshop CC.
I had a lot of fun creating this. Hopefully with more practice, I can get better at digital painting. My wife hates this one!

Woman Groped by Astronaut at Museum: Astronaut Says “It Wasn’t Me!”

Washington D.C.:

Today in Washington DC, a woman (my mother) was allegedly groped by a thrill seeking astronaut.  The  astronaut denied all accusations of wrong doing…Just kidding!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1/50sec, f2.8, ISO400, 11mm

What an awesome shot!  I just love the expression on my mothers face.  My parents were here visiting us for a week this past July.  We decided to take a trip to DC for the day to visit a few museums in the Smithsonian complex.  This shot was taken at the National Air and Space Museum, located in Washington D.C.   I wanted to travel light, so I only brought my Nikon D200  equipped with a Tokina 11-16mm lens.

This is one of those rare moments when the perfect moment in time is captured.  My mother was just getting scolded for being “too close”  by a gentleman speaking to a small audience.  I didn’t realize what was going on until after I looked at the back of the D200 and looked at the shot .  Once I saw what was captured, I started laughing…hard!

Sometimes the best moments in pictures are taken when you’re not expecting anything more than a mere snapshot.


Why My Photos from the Aquaurium and Zoo Look Great and Yours Suck!



Have you ever gone to an aquarium or zoo and see creatures you just wanted to photograph? If you want to take an amazing photograph, then you have to do it the right way.  When I go to an aquarium, I see most people standing back from the display; they usually use a point and shoot camera with flash, or sometimes they have a nice setup… but still don’t get in close. Your not going to get great results using this technique.

The best way, and the way I shoot exhibits behind glass, is to put my lens right on the glass of the display.  I always have a lens hood installed so as not to make glass to glass contact–no flash.  I hand hold the camera and shoot in manual mode with auto focus off.  If your shooting a stationary subject or something that moves slow, it will be easy to get a good shot.  If however, your photographing fast-moving fish, it will be difficult to get a quality shot in focus.  Adjust your shutter speed and aperture for given light conditions as well as ISO.  Give it a try!  Your friends and family will be saying “wow!” instead of  “oh that’s nice…”


This is a photo of some frogs, three to be exact, from the Virginia Beach Aquarium.

1/80sec, f3.5 ISO1600, 28mm.











From the same day, a Lion Fish–1/20sec, f4.5 ISO1600, 28mm.













The next picture is from the National Zoo in Washington D.C.  This little guy was definitely a camera ham!  When I first approached the glass, he was resting on a branch towards the back of the display.  After I set up and took the first shot, he came off his perch and came real close to the glass…giving me the “eye”  I think he really liked being photographed (unlike my wife!)  The lizard is a Green Crested Basilisk.

1/8sec, f6.3, ISO800, 16mm.


The glass on this display had a few smudges.  One suggestion might be to bring a soft cloth to clean them up a bit.  I’m not sure if the curators would allow this though!

Turn an Overexposed Photo Into a Work of Art


Here is a video demonstrating how to make an overexposed photo look like a work of art…if you have the proper tools to do it. In this tutorial, I’m using Adobe Photoshop CS6 Beta and Lucis Art 6.0. I do use the new content aware patch tool in Adobe Photoshop CS6, but it is not necessary for this to work. Any version of Adobe Photoshop will be sufficient. The main tool necessary is Lucis Pro 6.0. Lucis Pro 6.0 is a very unique pluggin; it can turn ordinary photo’s into beautiful works of art.

I have a head cold, so please excuse the extra sound effects!




Here is the finished product…to see how I did this, just watch the video.




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Click here for larger video.

Fast Action at the NHRA Races: Charlotte NC

Last Sunday (September 18th), David Jr. and I went to an NHRA drag race.  We attended the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at the zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina.  The weather was absolutely perfect for racing—I told David that we might witness new world records.  Well we did!  This photo  is from a record-setting race;  The US Army car, driven by Tony Schumacher, ran an all time speed record for Top Fuel Dragster of a blistering 327.90mph!  This was David Jr.’s first time seeing a Top Fuel race in person.  He had seen them on TV, but there is nothing like experiencing the mind numbing power of these cars up close.  I highly recommend going to see a Top Fuel drag race if you never have experienced it yourself.

I shot 177 pictures during the time we were there—I really just wanted to watch the racing, so I only shot a few dragster’s, a couple of funny cars, a couple of pro-stock and one set of pro-modified.  Since it was an overcast sky, I wanted the lowest iso possible with the highest shutter speed and smaller aperture, so I set the D200 at 200 iso and selected aperture priority at f/8.  The shot above was 1/320 sec.  I had the camera set for continuous high-speed shutter and “tried” to follow the cars as best I could.  I waited for them to stage at the tree—I couldn’t see the staging lights from where we were sitting (John Force Grand Stand, section J, row 33), so I had to guess when to push the shutter release.  These cars are so loud that I actually jerked the camera when they took off!  I followed them all the way to the end of the track.  I am surprised the memory card was able to keep up with the high-speed capture rate, since I was shooting in camera raw.  I managed to take 17 shots during this particular 3.775 second run.

David and I had a great time.  We hope to go there again as a family in April of 2012 to see the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.  That will be absolutely crazy loud!  Hopefully I can get closer to the action!

If you want to read more about the event we attended, just click here.


Dark Circles Under Eyes?: Use Photoshop to Fix Them!

Here is a 9 minute tutorial on removing dark circles under eyes.  The technique is straight forward and fairly simple.  Thank you for watching.











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For a larger video click Dark Circle Removal


David Allen Studios Website

Currently the website is under construction. I hope to have it up and running within the next few weeks.

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