Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

I’ve been busy with work and other issues for a month or so. Now’s a great time to have a photo walk and enjoy the outdoors. The walk is set for 3pm Sunday, Oct. 26 in the historic, restored area of Colonial Williamsburg. We’ll gather at 3pm in front of the Barnes and Noble Bookstore on Duke of Gloucester Street in Merchant’s Square. Hope to see you there!

Read Full Post »

The one filter that you absolutely, positively need in your bag is the circular polarizer. A polarizer is a filter that polarizes the light going through it to noticeably darken blue skies, reduce reflections and increase color saturation in your photos. The “circular” in its name means your auto focus and auto exposure systems won’t be affected by the polarized light and will focus and meter normally. Regular, non-circular polarizers are a little cheaper but won’t offer this extremely useful feature.

Polarizers are two pieces of polarized, coated glass that rotate relative to each other to increase or decrease the polarizing effect. Depending upon how much you rotate the filter, the effect can be subtle or quite dramatic.

Non-polarized, right, polarizer at max, left. Note saturated trees, sky at left.

Non-polarized, left, polarizer at max, right. Note saturated trees, sky at right.

The standard filter minuses apply here. Circular polarizers are expensive and will put two, not one additional layer of glass between you and your subject. (If you remember my earlier post about filters, you’ll remember that anytime you put glass in front of your camera, it causes some degree of image degradation.) Oh, and they’ll cost you at least one f-stop in exposure…depending on how much polarizing you do (i.e. if your base exposure is f/8, you’ll need to shoot at f/5.6 or thereabouts with a polarizer). Add to the pluses the added saturation, reflection control and the ability to double as a neutral density filter.

I think the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to polarizing filters.

Using a polarizer is simple, just rotate the filter as you look through the viewfinder. When you see the amount of sky darkening/saturation/reflection elimination you like, make the picture. Understand that if you change your camera’s orientation to the subject (i.e. change from a horizontal to vertical shot), you’ll need to re-adjust your polarizer.

I picked up a trick long ago that helps me quickly see where the maximum amount of polarization will take place. You simply make an “L” with your thumb and index finger, point your index finger at the sun and pretend your thumb is tracing an imaginary line across the sky. With that line in mind, the area of sky on the shadow side of your thumb will get the most benefit from the polarizer. A subject in front of that line will not see any benefit from a polarizer.

Hopefully, this photo shows how its done.

Hopefully, this photo shows the area of maximum effect.

So, if you’re still unconvinced about the value of a polarizing filter, borrow one from another photographer (that’s another benefit of attending photo walks…well-equipped photogs!) and give it a few turns (literally). I think you’ll see why I made room in my camera bag for this “must-have” filter.

Buy one.

Read Full Post »

The weather was great, more than 30 people showed up…a good time for all. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of my group as we gathered at Huntington Park in Newport News, Virginia. We spread out across the park and got to work soon after the 10 a.m. start time and, though many started their day shooting photos in the rose garden, we eventually spread out and found subjects to shoot in every corner of the park.

Photo walker Jeff Abrahamson composes his photo in the rose garden.

Photo walker Jeff Abrahamson composes his photo in the rose garden.

We made photos for a couple hours and re-convened at a local pizza joint for lunch and heavy duty photo talk. I was pleased to see how shooters from all skill levels intermingled, looked over each others photos and shared their experiences shooting in the park. When the day was over, I asked for suggestions for making the next photo walk even better. The overwhelming reply?  “IT WAS OVER TOO SOON!

Take a look at their work at the Flickr page devoted to this photo walk. You’ll be sorry you missed the fun

Even I managed to find a different angle on a park statue

A different angle and dramatic lighting helped make my photo of this sculpture stand out.

Read Full Post »

Tomorrow (August 23) is the day set for a world-wide photo walk sponsored by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. I’m leading the walk in Newport News, Virginia and, if you’re new to photo walks, here’s a list of things you can do to make the event more enjoyable.

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Most photo walks last a couple hours. Wear shoes that allow you to be mobile on and off the beaten path. Who knows were you’ll find that “once in a lifetime” photo?!
  • Bring a camera and a couple lenses. No need to bring everything in your camera bag to one of these. For example, I’m planning to bring a camera, a wide zoom, a tele zoom, flash and extension tube. That’s it. The point of these photo walks is photography, not weightlifting. Don’t bring along more than you want to carry for a couple hours.
  • Have enough memory cards. Estimate how much free space you’ll need, then bring 50% more. No one likes to run out of memory space in the middle of great photo opportunities.
  • Listen to the weather forecast and dress accordingly.
  • Introduce yourself! Don’t be shy. A photo walk is a social event! Have fun and meet new people who share your love of photography. Maybe they’ll share their lenses with you!
  • Afterwards, upload your best photos and comment on other people’s pictures. I know you want to see their photos….and they want to see yours too! Share tips and don’t be shy about asking others how the “got  that shot.”

It’s not too late to sign up for a walk in your area. Check this website for cities with photo walks near you. Get out there and have some fun!

Read Full Post »

Want to hold your camera for long exposures without having to resort to a flash or tripod? It’s not hard to do once you learn the proper way to hold your camera! The trick is as simple as putting your arms close to your body. As the photo below illustrates, doing this eliminates the “flying elbows” syndrome that is at the root of camera unsteadiness. 

I learned to shoot this way years ago from the late Eddie Adams. He showed me that by simply tucking my elbows into my sides, I could steady myself enough to consistently shoot sharp photos at slow shutter speeds. That one tip has followed me throughout my career. In fact, I can still handhold my camera at shutter speeds as slow as 1/15th of a second! Give it a try and see if it helps your available light shooting. Please post how this tip worked/didn’t work for you!

Read Full Post »

An idea book, for me, has become a useful tool for those times when I have trouble coming up with a new way to approach an assignment. Having subscribed to magazines like National Geographic, American Photo and Smithsonian for years, I was constantly finding inspiring, interesting photos that I wanted to remember for future “borrowing.” Twenty years ago I devoted a three-ring binder to be the place where I would stash those visual ideas for future use. The wee effort spent in pasting clips into this book has paid off handsomely throughout the years. Today, many pages are yellowed but that binder is still chuck-full of great ideas for lighting, composition and ways to approach tough photo situations. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Grab a binder during the back-to-school sales and start one of your own. I’ll be starting my third volume soon…

Read Full Post »

Believe it or not, there’s a right and a wrong way to carry your camera. A ridiculously high percentage of shooters carry at least one of their cameras across a shoulder. This exposes the camera to a greater risk of getting dinged and abused by door frames, corners and any other object you might brush up against.

You can cut this risk substantially by learning to carry your camera correctly.

All it takes is orienting the camera so that the lens points inward toward your body, not away from it. The photo below illustrates this concept nicely. Carrying my cameras in this way has saved me countless dollars in lens repairs and bent hoods. Sure, it’s still possible to ding your camera. But, as you can see, your elbow and/or shoulder will take a hit before your precious DSLR.

The price for this knowledge? Tell a friend about this blog!

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »