Monday, December 16, 2013
Recently, a member of the PhotoCamel.com photography forum I frequent posted a question to the members of the forum; "Are you considering yourself to be an artist? If no, what else? If yes, what's your message?"
While I think this is too open of a question, it does bring up a few points about the duality of photography, as a recording device and as an artist's tool. Here are my thoughts on what constitutes an artist and the use of a camera to create art. If you have a different viewpoint or philosophy about the topic, I welcome your thoughts. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below.
Friday, November 29, 2013
A big issue with photographers today is the problem of ownership protection of digital images. While there are a few methods and systems that can minimize fiduciary loss one of the easiest methods of image protection is the very basic and very simple watermark.
For those of you who may be wondering what a watermark is, let me give a brief description. A watermark is simply a logo or logotype that is placed discreetly somewhere within the frame of your image that identifies you as the owner or creator of the image. A watermark can be placed boldly onto your image or given a subtler look by applying a transparency or incorporating it into a design element.
The most basic type of watermark is simply the copyright symbol followed by your name. The watermark is then placed somewhere on your image and it identifies that image as belonging to you. For a more professional look brand the image with a logo or logotype. Anyway you decide to go, if you are going to mark up your images with a watermark my biggest suggestion is to make that mark up work for you. A © Your Name label in the corner has no real valid utility for you, or for the viewer. Let me explain.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
An old mantra from way back in the film days was to, "get it right in the camera."
Now that we are in the digital age I still hear that mantra repeated time and again. Unfortunately it's usually followed with some reference to not needing to do any post processing or some other such nonsense. That should tell you my feelings on that.
As with all your edits it should start with an analysis of the obvious. In this example there really is very little, but very little doesn't mean none. Again, I want to remind you that this is my interpretation for this image. You may or may not agree with some of my choices, that's up to you and how you see things. Hopefully by following what I do here you'll get some insight into the tools.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
There are countless stories of photographers who question themselves about whether they should or should not press that shutter button. In some cases that decision has led the photographer to a Pulitzer prize. Others, to a controversial discussion about the ethics and responsibilities of the photographer. Photo ethics is even a topic of study for almost all photojournalism majors in college. Ultimately it really boils down to what risk the photographer is willing to take and then living with that decision after.
For most of us, as casual shooters not involved in the realm of journalism, the decision seldom, if ever, comes up. But it does happen. Take the events of 9-11 for instance. As the horrific scene of chaos unfolded almost every aspect of that day was captured by a camera. Not all of them were handled by professional journalists. I would even go out on a limb and guess the majority of the images from that day were from cell phones and point and shoots.
Large, drastic events that rock our modern world unfold in front of cameras all the time.Tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, war, famine, all manner of human casualties are fodder for the camera. There is an innate desire for all of us to "look at the accident scene" of life. We are visual people after all. It reaches a stronger emotion when we see the images of disaster rather than to read about them.
Then there is the question when we, as observers looking at an image that is so horrific and so emotionally charged, ask ourselves; "what would I have done in that situation?" As I said above, for most of us that situation never happens. But it could. Perhaps not on a grand global scale as a natural disaster or famine, but in smaller, more quiet ways. I asked myself that very question this past weekend. "Should I press the shutter, or not?"
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Meet Evan, my grandson, a precocious three year old. As you can see, he is quite comfortable being in front of the camera. I guess when you are born into the family of a photographer you come to accept having a camera in your face as normal.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
There are times when I will take a photo without any clear idea of what I am going to do with it. It could be that something in the subject doesn't spark my creativity or I may have hurried through the process. Whatever the case, I will often take a photo just to document a location or event. We all do this.
In this tutorial I am going to show you one process to take a ho-hum image and add a little pizzas to it. Several techniques are utilized that can be adapted and applied to your own work and I'll point those out. Overall, this is a very simple process to achieve in Lightroom. In the interim, I will share my decisions for the choices I made to get this look. Remember, I did not have this look in mind when I first started.
I want you to compare the after product above to the before shot showing here. If you analyse it enough you can probably point out a lot of things that are wrong with this image. To save you some time I'll list some of the major ones here;
- Crooked verticals (hence crooked horizon)
- Very busy background on the left (those yellow lobster cages bother me)
- Bland sky (lousy weather)
- Lacks impact (colors are washed out)
The busy background at left was another problem I could do little about from this angle. Typically a change in shooting angle or a shift left or right can correct minor flaws. I was on the edge of a pier so my movement was limited. There is also the occasional, "that looks ugly back there, let me just move it out of the shot." There is no moving those houses. The photo is what it is.
So off to Lightroom to see what can be done with it.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Set up a large scale photo shoot with multiple stations, multiple models and a variety of lights for members to use and experience. Invite qualified members to showcase their talents manning the stations and, heavy sigh, hope for the best.
It took months of planning, hours of late nights and the coordination of many people but, I have to admit, it was all well worth the planning. Everyone who put in their effort helped to make this first big event a roaring success. All the stops were pulled and everyone came through far beyond expectations. Far beyond expectations.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
The internet is full of great photographers who are open and willing to share their knowledge with beginners. No matter what you are trying to learn, there is a tutorial, video or pod cast that goes along with it. As you start mining these resources you will come to find a favorite photographer or that one or two 'go to' sites. Here are a few YouTube channels that I found have overall good quality information for beginners and advanced shooters alike.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
|LCD4Video SB-60 Collapsible Speedlight Softbox Kit - 24"|
I recently received an email from a member informing me of a sale at ProCam.com on a strobist style softboxes (shown here from the seller's web site). You know, the kind that folds up nicely and fit on your speedlights. They are great for off-camera lighting. Of course I had to order a set.
I have three speedlights in my arsenal but only one portable softbox between them--I had bought a similar one a while back on eBay for about $40 and I love it--so a couple more would complete my set. The ones on sale were listed as originally being $79.95. Of course I chuckled to myself at that price knowing that it was grossly over inflated. But I figured that at $20 bucks I couldn't go wrong.
I actually received my order very quickly. I was surprised and delighted since I had a photo shoot that weekend I could try them out. Here is my first impression of these softboxes.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Recently I read a post on PhotoCamel.com about how someone with a digital camera could replicate the feel (aggravation, frustration, suspense, joy...?) of shooting film. The ensuing forum conversation ranged from, "what's the purpose," to, "what a great idea!" I thought I would share this little exercise with you.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
The American Society of Media Professionals (ASMP) is an organization whose goal is to empower and educate professional publication photographers. The following three goals are directly quoted from their web site.The Three Purposes of ASMP
- To protect and promote the interests of independent photographers whose works are primarily for publication.
- To maintain and promote high professional standards and ethics in photography.
- To cultivate friendship and mutual understanding among professional photographers.
Monday, July 1, 2013
My Photo Group. We are fortunate enough to be sponsored by Focal Press who sends us free photography books. Those books are used as prizes to the winning entrants.
The contest serves several purposes; it gets more distant members involved in a group event, it allows interaction from home and it allows members to explore their vision and compare it against how others interpret the same theme. Plus it gets them a free book. This particular contest serves to foster the photographer's talent in a self fulfilling manner. Unfortunately not all contests have the participant's good will in mind.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
The great thing about eBay is that it allows you plenty of choices; new, used, re-manufactured, local, global, etc. Since it is a bidding site it also keeps sellers competitive. Even with all these pros you need to be fully aware of what you are purchasing and from whom. The final burden of caution rests with the buyer. Here are five tips I have learned about using eBay to shop for photo gear.
Monday, June 24, 2013
The opposing problem to this is when I try to explain a concept for an illustration or layout and the customer has no visualization skills. There is nothing more frustrating than having to draw something out only to have the customer say, "it's not quite what I had in mind," or worse still, "I don't like it," with no further explanation. As I often point out, I can draw a hundred versions of something and still not give the customer what they want. Unless, that is, I have some inclination of what the customer is looking for.
That's where mood boards come into play.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Like other serious photographers I tend to browse through a variety of photography blogs and sites. I am also an active member of social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and a few others with photography sub-groups. Not only are these sites a great way to learn they are also a great way to stay in touch with and share ideas about the business of photography.
For some time there have been discussions (and scares) about what is termed orphan work and how it impacts photographers who use the internet as a marketing and networking tool to showcase their images. The most recent scare was when Instagram declared they would have rights to images posted on their web site by default. Meaning the could do what ever they wanted with your images. The mad rush to removeimages and resign from Instagram caused them to rethink their policy very quickly. However, the current ruling on orphan work as set forth by the copyright office is still one that all photographers need to be aware of.
Monday, June 10, 2013
I love doing street photography. In those situation I try to travel as light as possible for comfort and to minimize risk of loss or theft. In these situations you need to report the loss or theft immediately in order to maximize the chance of recovery. Obviously the more information you can provide the appropriate officials the better.
That led me to think about how to make critical information about a piece of gear readily available when I was away from my home base. This is where today's technology is a boon.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Along the waterfront there are a variety of shops visitors can explore. Many of them with a knowledgeable tradesman who will give you a little history lesson or demonstration of the crafts and trades from the late 1800's. I was so enthralled by many of these demonstrations that I spent more time listening to these folks rather than take pictures.
In particular there was the cooper's barn. A cooper is a tradesman who builds and maintains wooden barrels and casks. On this particular day there was a gentleman by the name of Sam giving a demonstration to a group of eager kids. It was fun watching eight and ten year old kids banging away at the metal bandings of a barrel under Sam's supervision.
As I was watching I had set up my camera on a tripod off to one side of the workshop hoping to get some nice shots of all the barrels and tools on display. Did I mention that the seaport is very accommodating to photographers? So long as you do not sell them commercially, that is. Strict rules on that, but that's a different story.
Monday, May 13, 2013
This past weekend we had the good fortune to be in the presence of a knowledgeable and successful NYC photographer, Mr. Steve Hill. Our group received a first class tour of Hell's Kitchen with someone who has a unique insight into the neighborhood and it's many denizens. Along with the tour came a large dose of photography tricks and tips, suggestions and plenty of inspiration.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Image noise is something most serious photographers have to take into account when creating a photo. Specially if a paying client is going to be on the receiving end. No one wants a picture that looks grainy with a lot of imperfections. Casual shooters could probably care less though I find many of them worry about it simply because it's mentioned so often everywhere you read.
Monday, May 6, 2013
After posting this photo of Mystic Seaport employee, Sam, to the group I was asked by another member regarding the settings used to get this particular look. I thought I'd share and elaborate on my response.
Monday, April 29, 2013
When it came out I was one of the early buyers down at Milford Photo and before long I was unwrapping my new toy. Not soon after I discovered one of the hidden pitfalls of buying new gear; compatibility. In particular it was the compatibility with Adobe's Lightroom 3 which did not support the new 6D. "No problem," I thought, "I'll just upgrade to LR4." After all, the newest offering from Adobe promised some nice features I would appreciate.
And this is where I got on the merry-go-round.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
We held the event in my home town of Shelton in an area referred to by locals as the slab, a large plot of land converted to public use that originally held factory buildings. The area offers many photographic backgrounds including so urban decay, a war memorial and a seldom used train trestle.
We had a great turnout of photographers who were teamed up into pairs to work together. Props were brought in, creativity was unleashed and fun was had. The end results can be seen in the meet up photo album, Multiplicity Self-Portrait. Check them out.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
It's amazing how true this saying really is.
I attended a street shoot meet up this past week end in New York hosted by native New Yorker, and fellow street shooter, Steve Hill. He had limited the event to ten people and we were waiting on a couple more to show up. In the interim, Steve was going over some finer points of exposure to a couple of beginners in the group.
One young lady there was having problems getting her camera to shoot above a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. After some discussion and subsequent head shaking we could not really figure out why it didn't want to shoot faster than 1/500. It just made no logical sense as there was no obvious reason that we could see that would prevent any dSLR from being able to go past 1/500. I shoot Canon while she had a Nikon and I was about to chalk it up to my lack of knowledge of the Nikon system when I noticed her pop up flash was up. Ding!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Electronic technology advances move at an astounding rate. Cell phones, laptops, cameras, you name it, the latest model becomes obsolete in a year or two. That's good for the manufacturers as they make their money pushing the latest greatest gadgets to the hungry consumer. But it's also good for the budget conscious consumer who can't afford the latest greatest gadget but still wants quality. How, you ask?
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