Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays & A Happy New Year

December 24, 2011

Wishing everyone the very best in 2012 and beyond!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Slow Shutter Speeds

December 10, 2011

I have a tendency to get in a rut and shoot a certain way just out of laziness.  If it worked before and I got some good images then why change a thing. When I shoot action images I tend to want to get the subject sharp and that means using a fast shutter speed to stop the motion.

But why not think outside the box and try using different shutter speeds to see if you can create a more interesting image.

When shooting with slow shutter speeds try panning your camera as your subject moves by.  When panning vary your shutter speed to fit the speed of your subject.  This takes just a little practice to get the feel of how slow you should go in order to anchor your subject visually.  Just keep your arms tucked close to your torso and relax and follow your subject.

Of course you will want to push the bounds of visual perception even more whereby everything in your frame is abstract.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Editorial Photography

November 27, 2011

Years ago I did a lot of editorial/street photography.  I still enjoy shooting on the street, getting that fleeting image that just happens.  The key to fast action photography is just doing it.  Getting your timing down.  Knowing your camera and having it as an extension of your eye.  I used to preset my camera at the fastest shutter speed I could use.  You can't use a tripod when shooting fast paced action during protests or dramas being played out in a split second and with people moving in and out of your frame constantly. My shutter speed was set at 1/250 or higher depending on lighting conditions.  Yes, sometimes I would be pushing my film up to 1600ASA to get that faster shutter speed.  I would set my Aperture at f/5.6.  With this as a base, I could adjust my exposures up or down and still be able to stop motion and get the subject in focus.  Serendipity plays such a big role in street photography.  You have to be aware of your surroundings and see a possible image developing before it appears.  Your eye/finger coordination only improves with practice.  And when you get a photo that no one else will ever get because you were quick to see the potential, that is a good feeling.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rush Hour Traffic

November 20, 2011

I have lately been in some pretty amazing rush hour traffic jams.  So I thought why not write about my top dislikes about getting stuck in a 5 mile or longer backup on I-5 going south into the Great City of Seattle.  Here they are in no particular order.

1)  Drivers who suddenly change lanes into a moving traffic lane only to be passed by me as that lane stalls.

2) As I merge onto the freeway and ( after finally, someone grudgingly lets me in by centimeters) put my blinker on to move over to the left lanes and as I see an opening and begin to move over, a driver behind me who has just got into the traffic mess tries to cut me off by putting his blinker on quickly and jumps over to the lane that I have been waiting to get into for minutes and then lays on their horn as if I was the one who cut him off.

3) Drivers who think other drivers have cat like response as they cut in front of you at the last moment as their lane shows upcoming brake lights. Note to drivers, Brake Lights are a warning to slow down not speed up and cut others off.

4) Traffic flows much better if you happen to be caught in the right lane and you see in front of you merging traffic, just back off a bit and leave a couple car lengths in front of you for the merging cars, this keeps the traffic flow going instead of riding the car in front of you so no one can get in and then the car merging has to stop and then more cars pile up behind him.

5) My biggest concern in rush hour driving is a jack rabbit driver behind you.  As you go faster and get some distance from the car behind you, you see brake lights up ahead, you slow down, but the car behind you comes racing up and appears to touch your bumper as you wait for the sound of metal crunching.  And this is played out over and over again as you gradually speed up and the driver comes racing up to your bumper.  Does he/she not see that we are in a traffic mess and we can't go seventy through other cars.

6)  Having to keep reminding myself to focus because I just went a mile and can't remember doing it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Is This?

November 13, 2011

Shooting subjects that can't be easily identifiable makes the image more interesting.  Curiosity is just as great in humans as it is in animals.  I recently took some photos of two interesting subjects.  Can you guess what they are?   One is definitely more abstract and the other image, the gestalt hits you in a few seconds.  Good Luck.

First Image is of Metal Shower Rings 
Second Image is of an environmentally friendly Mail Drop Box

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Macro Photography

November 5, 2011

When shooting close up work patience is the key.  How many times have your heard that in shooting photos.  I have to constantly remind myself to Slow Down and take my time and really look at the subject and compose the image for maximum effect.  The thing about shooting close to your subject is movement.  Any camera movement or breeze and you can lose the focus of your subject ( but is this a bad thing?).  Sometimes, I use a tripod and this allows me to relax and take my time composing the image but still you have to be aware of motion.  Early morning is a good time to shoot because more often than not there is a calm atmosphere before it begins to heat up and wind arrives.  You can always use barriers to block breezes (cardboard that surround your subject) so you can shoot longer into the day but this does not make for a spontaneous, intuitive compositions that can say more about your subject than a more studio like image. So, in alot of circumstances I shoot untethered to a tripod whereby I can get in close to my chosen subject using different angles and experimenting with the subjects color and softness to create a more interesting photograph.  This intimate closeness to your subject sometimes generates a more authentic relationship in the final photographs than shooting a more defined sterile approach with a predetermined design in mind.

One other thing I have to be aware of when shooting without a tripod is my death like grip on my camera.  Years ago when we had cameras with film in them (yes they still sell those camera with film) I was getting a scratch that went horizontal through a good portion of the frames on a 36 exposure roll of film.  When I couldn't figure out what was causing this frustrating scratch on my film I brought the camera into the repair tech to find out what was causing these scratches.  He couldn't find anything on the back plate that was rough enough to make the marks.  After reviewing my shooting, I realized that I was holding the camera too tightly while shooting and putting extreme pressure on the back plate without realizing it.  I was so caught up in the shoot that I didn't pay attention to my death grip on my camera.  Now with digital that is not a problem but how you hold your camera still can make or break a shot.  When shooting close up work hand held, hold you camera firmly with the camera sitting in the palm of your hand and don't squeeze the life out of it.  Relax and focus, breath easily and press the shutter button calmly with out jerking the camera downward.

Finally, I always try and anchor the viewers eye to a focused detail in the close up.  Sometimes you can go so abstract that no one knows what the subject is and might lose interest.

I have selected a few close-up images of nature and a few images that were set up with a more predetermined design in mind.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

City Skylines

October 21, 2011

I have always enjoyed photographing skylines, whether it was Seattle or any other West Coast City Scape.
The trick to shooting this subject is finding that perfect place where the iconic local attraction meets with your creativity and camera knowledge.  If you haven't been to a particular city before then you will have to do some scouting.  Yes, you will find the usual tourists traps and you will want to shoot these subjects too but you will want to put your own personal artistic perspective on it as well.  What I look for when shooting skylines is first and foremost light and then, will my composition give a true sense of the place where even the locals will say, WOW.  Every once and awhile I achieve that mark. I use a tripod on all my skylines and stay away from special effect filters.  Straight shooting does the trick for me. I shoot sunrise and sunset light most of the time.  There are times when the air is clear and the sky this unbelievable blue that I can't resist taking daytime images of cities and their attractions.    

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Out My Backdoor

October 9, 2011

One of my photo buddies was working down at the Grand Canyon as the Park Department's official photographer years ago.  He was in photo heaven.  One day he was sick and in bed and he looked out his window and he saw these wonderful cumulus clouds in a perfect blue sky.  Well, he forced himself to get up and set up his 4X5 and shoot them out his back door.  He took 2 frames and went back to bed.  As it often happens in stock photography those simple, easy images to make become best sellers and the cumulus cloud image he took was one of his all time big money makers.  I have always remembered that, it doesn't always have to be an elaborate set up shot that can make you money sometimes keeping it simple can do the trick.  I often now step out on to my back deck (at all times of the day) to take cloud images when they look good.  And sure enough some of these have sold.  Not huge amounts but enough to keep me shooting these subjects ever chance I get.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Recession Images

September 24, 2011

I bought some small piggy banks and a couple of larger piggy banks a few years ago before the Great Depression.  I was thinking about the economy and how people would need to start putting money back into savings and into other safe investments.  I was going to shoot a family of pigs with the parents, so to speak, teaching their little pigs to save and invest in their future.  I never got a chance back then to shoot them with that concept in mind.

Fast forward to today's economic fiasco.  As I was looking for new concepts to shoot I remembered the little pigs and thought about the state of the economy and the hardships the Great Recession has wrought on the working class and the working poor, so I decided to shoot these family of pigs with a vision of society where the older generation will have more wealth and the younger generation will have less and will suffer for decades for the greed and dysfunctional government that rule them.