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Showing posts from 2013

Snapshot

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Is photography art

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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.

Tips and tricks to image watermarks

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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 wat…

Enhancing a night scene in Lightroom

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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.

To prove it, I have decided to show you some post processing on an image that was done right in the camera. I normally start off showing the finished product first, but in this case I'll start with the before image. You can see that it's a pretty decent shot. Exposure is good, composition is nice, we have a nice light trail leading into our frame; a simple, quiet scene of a neighborhood bar on a corner. This is how it looks like with no editing.

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 t…

Taking risks and living with the decisions

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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 tha…

How young is too young for photography

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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.
As you can see, he is quite the ham. Every time I point the camera at him he'll look into the lens and say "cheese". He is also fond of pressing the buttons on the back of the camera. At first it was just the fun of pressing buttons. As he became aware that the buttons actually do something he got a kick out of the preview button and the live view button. Trust me, he knows the difference.

Color Isolation in Lightroom

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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.

Such was the case with Motif No.1 located at Bradley Wharf in the harbor town of Rockport, Massachusetts earlier this year. You can see my version of the location here. Diane and I had gone there with a bunch of friends from a local camera group to photograph the various points of interest. Motif No.1 is a fairly famous attraction having been made famous by local artists including Lester Hornby and John Buckley.

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 i…

Pro Studio Photo Shoot

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It all started with a grand idea.

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.

YouTube Photography Channels Worth Subscribing

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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.

You get what you pay for - $20 softboxes

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I love a bargain.  Who wouldn't?  If you have read some of my previous posts you know how much I love eBay.

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.

Getting a retro film feel with your digital camera

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What was it like to shoot in the days of film? Those of us who have made the transition from film to digital have fond memories and mixed emotions about the change over. Some embrace the new technology while others miss the "good ol' days". Myself, I love the vast possibilities digital offers and that is why my old film cameras currently reside in a drawer collecting dust.

Recently I read a post on PhotoCamel.comabout 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.

All about photo licensing

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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.

Beware of scam photo contests

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Three to four times a year I host a photo contest for members of 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.

Five tips for buying photo gear on eBay

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I love eBay. You can find just about anything on eBay. Specially if you are budget conscious, but who isn't these days?

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.

Pinterest, the modern mood board

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As a graphic artist I have worked in print shops, sign shops and screen printing shops among others. Today I work as an illustrator in my own shop as a tattoo artist. The one thing all these jobs have in common is the need to translate a customer's idea into a tangible visual product. The problem is that most of my customers either do not have the visual language to explain their concept or may not have a clear concept of what they want to begin with.

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 cust…

Orphan works and what it means to you

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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.

Documenting your equipment

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Photography equipment is expensive. When a piece of gear gets lost or broken because of our own fault it can be depressing. In this situation there is no one to blame but our own stupidity. Specially a hard working photographer who's all over the place. If the loss is due to someone else's negligence it would be nice to get compensated for that piece of gear.

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.

Share the love

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Early May of this year my wife and I went with Pat Cook's group, Beyond the Photo with HDR, to Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT. It was a great event with so many photo opportunities. Since the seaport is considered a living museum there were plenty of things to do and places to visit.

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.

NYC street photography with Steve Hill

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I love street photography. Getting out into the streets, looking for that unique image that captures a moment, tells a story or gives us an insight into the human spirit can be very challenging. Add to that the need to be quick with the camera and you have the makings of a wonderful photographic event.

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.

Introduction to digital noise

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Back in the film days, high ISO films were notorious for creating a very grainy image. It was the trade off for having enough sensitivity to light to be able to capture low light situations. In today's digital age we have a similar problem called digital noise or image noise.

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.

Why settings don't matter much after the fact

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I recently went on a trip to Mystic Seaport with Pat Cook's group, Beyond the Photo with HDR*. It was a great day for shooting and capturing images for HDR. Of course there were plenty of opportunities for all kinds of photography and this portrait op landed in my lap. I just had to take it.

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.

Upgrade Merry-go-round

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Canon's release of their entry level full framed camera, the 6D, was a heralded event that received its fair share of anticipation, trepidation and arguments. I for one was looking forward to its arrival as I was in the market for a FF sensor but couldn't justify the cost of a 5D or 1D. Plus the fact that they have more features than I really need.

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.

Multiplicity Self-Portrait - a MPG event

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Saturday turned out to be a great day for a meet up. On the schedule was a repeat performance of last year's multiplicity event, a fun project that stretches the imagination, pushes editing techniques and forces the photographer to multitask in a unique way.

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.

The little rubber band that could

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"It's the little things that matter the most."

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 outwhy 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!

Save money by buying older generation quality

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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?