Intermediate

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Videos: Steel Wool Light Painting

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Warning! Even though burning steel wool creates spectacular effects, it is dangerous and you need to take safety precautions for yourself and everything around you!!

The first video does a great job of giving you a brief rundown of how to take photographs of burning steel wool but I highly recommend that you also view the second video before trying out the technique. The second video goes into much greater depth about the process and the reasons for needing to be safe.

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Review: Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the Dark

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the Dark is a amazing book that has many examples of fantastic night photographs as well as step-by-step instructions for how to get the same kind of results.


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How to Photograph Children

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The Top Three Things to Do When Photographing Children

  • Spend a lot of time with your subject
  • Get down on their level
  • Use a wide open aperture for limited depth of field

Copyright 2011 Maria HendersonThe photograph on the right was taken by Maria Henderson, one of my students. This a wonderful example of the top three things you should do when photographing children. The depth of field is shallow with the eyes in sharp focus and her angle of view is nearly level with her subject. The composition enhances the immediacy of the shot and emphasizes the child’s enthusiasm. Click to continue »

Review: Crafting Reality: Painting with Light

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Captain America and 3-D BoyCrafting Reality: Painting with Light is an inspiring eBook by Eric Curry. The photographs in the eBook look like HDR images but they are created in quite a different way. Small sections of the subject are illuminated from different directions then merged together with Photoshop. Eric goes into detail about how to take the photographs and the settings to use in Photoshop.

Throughout his eBook, Eric emphasizes that you should think and plan your shots.

So often during my public presentations and coaching new photographers I advise them to think in terms of “concepts.” Do not just go out into the environment and photograph neat stuff you happen to see, but take the next step and envision an idea first, then try to create that vision you see in your mind’s eye.

This is good advice and Eric spends a lot of time telling you how to plan a photoshoot. He tells you what he does and why as well as which equipment he uses. Crafting Reality: Painting with Light is an extremely thorough how-to book and I highly recommend it.

You can find more videos about painting with light at Eric’s YouTube Channel and on his website American Pride and Passion.

Black and White Photography with a DSLR

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Why Shoot in Black and White?

The answer is simple; black and white is timeless. Black and white images transcend the here and now to stand on their own. It is easier to see the art in a black and white image because the image is removed from reality. Rather than mentally comparing the photographic image to the actually subject as perceived by the eye, the viewer is forced to examine the image as something separate from reality — something that has a life of its own.

Using a DSLR to Take Black and White Photos

Even though you can use Adobe Photoshop to convert a color photograph into a black and white photograph, the best results are obtained by taking the photograph in black and white. There are those that would contend that Photoshop is better but I prefer being able to get instant feedback via my LCD while taking the photo. Being able to evaluate a shot immediately after taking it is one of the main advantages of using a digital camera. I don’t have to imagine what the image would look like in B/W — I get to actually see it. I prefer to not lose that ability. Besides, if you save your images in camera raw and JPEG, you get the best of both worlds. The camera raw file will be in color and can be processed later. I prefer to have the most opportunities to make creative decisions. For me, creativity occurs before, during, and after the shoot. Click to continue »

Night Photography

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Nighttime is one of my favorite times to take photographs. There is always the element of surprise! Long exposures make it possible for your camera to record something that you can’t even see. Click on the thumbnails to see the larger versions in a lightbox.

17th Street Causeway BridgeThe only caveat for shooting at night is that most of the automated features of your camera will not work and you really need to use your camera in Manual mode and understand the relationship between ISO, speed, and aperture. When I’m taking photos at night, I try to take two of the three settings out of the equation. Since it is difficult to focus at night, the first thing I do is to stop down my lens to a small aperture such as f/8, f/11, or f/16. This increases the depth of field so that focus is not so critical, i.e. the greater the depth of field, the more of the subject will be in focus. Next I set the ISO at the optimum of my camera. Since I have a Canon camera, I set the ISO to 100. If you have a Nikon, set the ISO to 200 instead. The reason for using the camera’s optimum ISO is to reduce noise. Long exposures are inherently noisy so it is important to do as much as possible to reduce noise. Sometimes you will have to increase the ISO to get the shot. The duration of the shot is the main thing that you will use to get the exposure. Increase or decrease the shutter speed until you get the correct exposure. Click to continue »

Review: The Digital Photography Book, Part 4

Friday, March 9th, 2012

The Digital Photography Book, Part 4Summary: The Digital Photography Book, Part 4 by Scott Kelby is a worthy addition to his series of digital photography books. It picks up where volume 3 left off and, like the other books in the series, contains many useful tips written in a non-technical, conversational style.

Scott Kelby, author of The Digital Photography Book(the best-selling digital photography book of all time), is back with another follow-up to his smash best-seller, with an entirely new book that picks up right where volume 3 left off. It’s even more of that “Ah ha, so that’ s how they do it,” straight-to-the-point, skip-the-techno-jargon stuff people can really use today, and that made volume 1 the world’s best-selling book on digital photography.

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Forced Perspective

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Forced Perspective

Forced Perspective

Creating a photograph like to one on the right doesn’t require Photoshop. All you need are two willing participants, a bright environment, and a small aperture. The image is from Jill Harness’ mental_floss website. The real secret is the small aperture. Try f/16 as a starting point. The reason why you need a small aperture is because you want both of your participants to be in sharp focus. A small aperture has a larger depth of field and enhances the illusion.

Do a Google serch for “forced perspective” and you can find many examples.

Follow this link to find out more about trick photography.

Best Digital SLR Cameras

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Best Digital SLR Cameras is a new website that I have created dedicated to spotlighting Amazon’s best selling DSLR cameras. The cameras are broken down into entry level, enthusiast, and professional categories. If you are in the market for a new DSLR camera, this is the place to shop!

Shop for the Best Digital SLR Cameras.

Review: Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Summary: Buy Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (the Kindle version or the Printed Version) now! David duChemin has written a fantastic book that clearly examines what it takes to make photographs that communicate. If you are serious about photography, read this book!

Perhaps the steepest learning curve in photography is learning to see as the camera sees.

Review: David duChemin has his own way of talking about photographs. Rather than using standard vocabulary of art criticism, he prefers to talk about the Message, Elements, and Decisions.

The camera will create an illusion the moment we release the shutter; if we want a hand in creating that illusion, we need to understand it.

He states that first you have to see the 2-D image that the camera will make when you shoot a 3-D subject. By seeing and detecting the lines and shapes that the camera will record, you will be better able to control what the photograph will communicate. The Message is what you intend to say, the Elements are what is within the frame, and the Decisions are the choices made for aperture, speed, ISO, point of view, etc.

This is not a book for everyone. If you shoot intuitively and don’t want to think, this book isn’t for you. The book covers a lot of the same territory that I cover in my beginning lectures. My approach is that you need to learn as much as possible about your tool, the camera, to improve your skills. The process is probably going to be painful but it is the best way to improve your photography. In my mind, if you don’t know anything about how a camera works, you are using your lizard brain to take photographs. This is the part of our brain that we share with reptiles. Unfortunately,our lizard brains don’t want to take photographs. Mainly, our lizard brains want to eat and have sex. If you don’t believe me, next time you are confronted by an alligator, give him your camera and see what happens.