Author: Aaron Barker

Photos in the Wild: Welfare Operations

A project that I have worked on for the last year at work has finally launched.  The Welfare Operations Training site.

When creating the site I wanted to use the iconic Welfare Square grain silos located next to I-15 in Utah as a recognizable banner on the front page.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find any good photos of the silos in the library of approved media.  So I decided to go take the picture myself 🙂

Here it is in place on the front page of the site.

Welfare Square Grain Silos

We also needed a photo of a computer in our “How to Use the Site” section and again, none of the images I had access to would work as I wanted a white computer (not the norm) that wouldn’t stand out so much.  So I went to the home studio on my white seamless paper, and did a little photoshoot with my own computer hardware.

Computer from studio shoot

The LCD is actually a black Dell 2001FP that I did some fairly heavy Photoshopping on to make white/grey.

So while they are my photos, they were taken on the company dime (I signed over full rights to them).  But it’s still cool to have my work out on an official site of the church.

I am grateful I had the skills and equipment to get the photos I wanted.

Freedom Festival Fireworks 2009


Made the annual visit to Provo High School to view the fireworks at the Stadium of Fire.

While waiting for the show to begin I was checking my twitter feed and saw Scott Jarvie mention his firework photo tips from 2008.  One of the tips was that he uses his telephoto to zoom in on shapes.  I didn’t exactly follow his advice, but it did make me zoom in in general to get more details then the “big picture” type view I have done in the past.  I definitely liked the different look it gave me.







Five Temples

Los Angeles California Temple

During a recent family vacation to southern California to attend a family reunion, I thought I would beef up the selection on my LDS Temple Photography site and take pictures of the temples along the way.  Sometimes it would just have to be at the time we were passing by them, and so the lighting wasn’t the best, but something is better then nothing I guess.

The temples we visited were:

  1. St George Utah
  2. Las Vegas Nevada
  3. Los Angeles California
  4. Newport Beach California
  5. Redlands California

It was interesting to see temples from various eras.  St George being one of the originals.  Los Angeles being from the 1950’s.  Las Vegas from when there was kind of a “lots of spires” wave going on. Newport Beach and Redlands from the “mini” temple category.

We first visited Los Angeles at the worst part of the day with stark lighting from straight above (the “passiny by” reference from above).  After a visit to the beach, I steered the family back for a second visit just at dusk and was pleased to get my favorite temple shot of the vacation (above).

The one I was the most surprised by was Newport Beach.  The grounds were just gorgeous.  Rivaling Temple Square in my opinion.  Sadly there was a heavy smog that morning so it has a nice grey sky to backdrop it.

Newport Beach California Temple

Of all the places I expected to have nice fluffy white clouds in the background… the desert of Las Vegas was not it.  Just as we turned the corner where you can see Las Vegas for the first time there was this rain storm pounding the whole valley (yeah, crazy).  It hadn’t yet made it to the eastern edge where the temple was and by the time I got there the leading clouds were in the background.  It was perfect.

It’s very difficult to get a good shot of the whole temple.  It now has many mature trees on a smallish lot.  Most of the pictures I saw online were from when the palm trees were brand new.

Las Vegas Nevada Temple

Redlands is a bit special for my family as it is the temple a city away from where my mom grew up, and where most of my extended family currently resides.  I love the palm trees that surround it and act as natural spires.

Redlands California Temple

Last and certainly not least, is St George.  Again a family favorite as some great-great-great-great-grandfather helped to build it and apparently has a hand print in one of the upper window wells.  It’s odd how the little casual shot you can take on the way into the grounds can end up your favorite, over the ones you walk around forever to find “just the right angle”.  It sure was nice of that tree to grow as a natural frame like that.  A touch cheesy maybe, but you gotta have one of those every now and then 😉

St. George Utah Temple

Many thanks to my family for putting up with my little side trips.  It was cool to visit 5 temples in 5 days, and it made for a memorable portion of our trip.

Provo Freedom Festival 2009: Flag Retirement Ceremony


Monday night I went to the Provo Freedom Festival flag retirement ceremony.  I have attended this many times over the years, and appreciate the reverence the American flag is given during it.  For any who may not know, burning the flag is the proper way to dispose of a flag when “it is no longer a fitting emblem for display” (US Flag Code Section 176)

Honorably Retired

At first glance a photo like the above may conjure up the opposite feelings then it is intended.  Usually you see the flag being burned in protest of the USA and the images are fairly offensive.  But when you think about it, where would you want this flag that you hold dear to end up? Crumpled up in a pile of smelly garbage?  That thought just doesn’t sit right.  The fiery end to the flag conjures up images of a Viking funeral (and sadly a few scenes from Star Wars) where the fiery end of individuals is seen as showing great respect.

Boy Scout Salute

I love seeing the Boy Scouts assisting in the ceremony.  I was able to assist in one when I was a boy scout and remember it giving me a greater respect and sense of patriotism.


Each time after placing a flag onto the fire (they had dozens to retire) the scouts that carried it would stand and salute for a few moments.

Full Flag Retirement Ceremony set on Flickr

Hill Air Force Base Air Show: 2009

P-51 Mustang

Canon 40D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM, 1/800, f/6.3, 200 mm, ISO 100

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go out and take some pics (the broken glass situation was naturally a fluke). So it was great to get out and take some pics at the Hill AFB Air Show.

I missed a few cool things while taking my son around to see some stuff, but that is also where I was doing my best work (being a Dad). I did get to see plenty of fun things though, and it was well worth the long drive, sunburns, and traffic to get out.

Hill Air Force Base Air Show 2009 Full set

More favs:

Thunderbirds at Hill AFB Airshow 2009 - Touching Tails

Thunderbirds at Hill AFB Airshow 2009



Photowalking Utah: Studio Lighting 2009

Canon 40D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM, 1/160, f/2.8, 115 mm, ISO 200

This month’s photowalk was a repeat from last year where we had multiple studio lighiting setups in the same room to walk around and try out.  I came out of the event last year excited about studio lighting and promptly dropped several hundred dollars into lights, stands, etc.

Since then, I have basically experimented on my sons and the occasional niece and nephew (I need to put some of these up).  I have been learning through trial and error and so was excited for this weeks events.  I say events because Thursday the incredible Rich Legg gave a mini-clinic on “How to Get Great Studio Lighting Results for Under $250” where I learned quite a lot as well.

These two events have revitalized my desire to shoot (much to my sons’ dismay) and to continue to experiment with new ways of shooting with my lights.  It also revitalized my desire to buy more lighting stuff, but I will have to hold off on that 😉

I am grateful to those who organized the events, and to the models for putting up with over 100+ photographers struggling to learn what to do.  Thanks to Rich for the suggestion of interacting with the models more I feel I had a much better rapport with them this year then last.

Full set of photos

Mark and Lydia at the St George Temple

Back in August 2008, Mark and Lydia got married down at the St George temple.  Unfortunately there aren’t many weddings from there posted on the internet to steal ideas from so I had to wing it.

This was my 4th wedding as the official photographer.  I still get super nervous, especially since it is family I am shooting for (Mark is my wife’s brother).  If I mess it up, I will still be seeing them later on.  Luckily things worked out great and there are some fun shots as a result.

Photowalking: Cactus and Tropicals

Canon 40D, EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro, 1/40, f/4, 100 mm, ISO 200

I had a great time at this months Photowalk with the Photowalking Utah group (also on Flickr).  I spent most of the event with my 100mm Macro on which definitely pushed me to see things differently then when I go around with my 28-135 zoom.  I also got to try out my new tripod which was awesome.  I wouldn’t have been able to get this shot or several others without it.

I also had some new Lightroom presets that I used on the pictures in post processing which made it go quite fast and I’m very happy with the results.

Full set of photos from the shoot here