Fireworks are a delight to young and old. They evoke a lot of emotion for people as they typically celebrate momentous occasions. According to Wikipedia, they have been around a very long time dating back to 7th century China. It’s no wonder something this beloved has been documented since its origins.
Here are 5 easy steps to get you started on photographing fireworks.
1. Use a Tripod
This is one of the most important features. The key to photographing fireworks is long exposures which means, you will need to keep the camera still while releasing the shutter. Don’t have a tripod? Improvise and put your camera on top of a stable, hard surface such as the top of your cooler or on your vehicle. Remember, you are trying to capture the trails and the movement of the fireworks not the movement of the camera.
2. Turn Your Flash Off
Fireworks are usually fired off meters away from the public to ensure safety. Your flash on your camera will not reach the fireworks. Most on camera flashes only have a reach of a few feet. Turn the Flash off.
3. Manual Mode
Photographing fireworks is a lot of experimentation and trial by error. In order to tweak and get the best results, you’ll need to put your camera on Manual mode. You need to do the thinking for the camera. So where do you start with manual? Well, let’s start with the lowest ISO you can, 100 is ideal. You want a low ISO to have a clean shot. Next your aperture. Generally, you can go from f8 to above and experiment with how wide you want your lens opening. Personally, I stick between F14 and F16. This seems to give me the results I am looking for. Next is shutter speed. This is the tricky part but also the most fun to experiment. I usually start on the “bulb” feature so I can control the trails and look. If you are not comfortable with the “bulb” setting, then try a setting of 30 seconds to begin. You can then adust shutter speed depending on your results and your tastes. It’s ok to chimp and adjust on fireworks shots!
4. Manual Focus
Setting up your shot is important. Remember, you have it on a tripod, trying to change its position after every explosion, will not work. Let a few fireworks go off so you can get a sense of their location in the sky. Next, put your focus on manual mode and set your focus point to those few bursts. This works best as it is hard for most cameras to focus when it’s dark. You’ll need to tell your camera where to focus.
These are general guidelines. It’s ingredients to a recipe. You get to add or subtract how you see fit until you think it’s perfect. Don’t be afraid to use different lenses, change your shutter speed, try a double exposure. It can be fun and rewarding. Plus don’t forget, they happen every year so if your images didn’t turn out the way you had hoped, learn from your experimenting and try again for the next year.
HDR, or “High Dynamic Range” photography comes with a ton of opinions and critics. Basically you either really love HDR or you hate it. Over the past number of years it has become a very popular type of photography but also has a fairly poor reputation for being very unrealistic and extremely over done. I won’t lie, when I first started shooting them I made all the early mistakes most people usually do. Here a 5 tips to get you going in the right direction!
1. Less is More
The whole purpose of HDR photography is to bring out the details in shadows and highlights that your camera’s sensor can not do with one shot. The problem is you will see a lot of people going with 6+ images to merge together into one HDR photo. This brings out way too much detail and can sometimes flatten it out. You best bet is to try and merge 3 photos together with just a couple stops difference at the most. You have one neutral, one over exposed by a stop or two, and one under exposed by a stop or two. This will keep the image looking more realistic but at the same time give you that HDR look.
2. Shoot in RAW
If you aren’t already shooting RAW, you should be…even more so for HDR photography. With RAW files you are able to change the exposure of an image entirely in post processing. So you can get away with taking only 1 photo and adjusting the exposures in your photo editing program to give yourself the 3 different exposures you need. Doing it like this will keep issues like camera shake/movement and subject movement from happening and giving you a sharper image. It doesn’t work in all situations but it is absolutely a very handy way of getting a great HDR image.
3. Use a Tripod
If you are already familiar with shooting landscapes, even more so at night than you are likely already using a tripod. However, it is extremely important for creating photos that require multiple exposures. This allows you to take your 3 images while constantly having the same scene, horizons, subject, etc. When you bring your file into the HDR processing software (I personally used Photomatix) it gives you options for file alignment but to play it safe, always use a tripod. Also if you can, pick up a remote shutter or use the timer on the camera to reduce all camera shake for each image. Also quite handy (the remote) for long exposures!
4. Shoot at a low ISO
Shoot at low ISO, ideally 100. HDR processing introduces a lot of noise into your image so start with a lower ISO to minimize that problem. Every HDR image will have some noise, in post processing you can use certain tools and filters to help reduce noise.
5. Take it Easy with the Sliders
When I say sliders I mean the adjustment sliders in the HDR program you use such as Photomatix. Putting too much into strength, saturation, etc. can result in just a very ugly over done image. You create “halos” around subjects. If it looks over done to your eyes, it likely is. Bring that strength slider down. Also Photomatix is not the end of the editing process, take it from there into Photoshop or Lightroom to make final touches but editing is another topic all together!
Thanks to guest blogger Matthew Pugliese. Matt started shooting back in 2009 as a hobby with a Canon Rebel. His main area for photography has always been the urban landscape of New York City. He has been shooting HDR for about 3 years now. What started as a hobby, has now turned into a way of life for him. You can view more of his amazing work on his website and flickr account.
It’s summer and that means it’s time to travel! With vacations and adventures awaiting you this summer, it’s important to document your travels. There are a few techniques you should keep in mind when packing your suitcase and your camera. We talked with Tracey Heppner of Follow Your Heart Photography Tours to get 5 key tips on successful travel photography.
1. Pack the Right Items
Pack only what you need and what you want to carry. Remember, you probably aren’t going to have help during your travels carrying around your stuff, so less is more!
When I travel, I travel with one main body (Canon 5dm2), a second body (Canon 5d) that I use for backup (or if I’m in a place I don’t want to keep changing lenses I put one on it), a long lens (70-200, 4.0) a wide (16-35, 2.8) and a 50mm, 1.2 mid range lens. Why do I choose those lenses? Well for one, I don’t own a 28-70 anymore. So instead, I bring the wide for scenery and buildings, the long for distance. I use the long for when I like to stay back and document life and the 50mm for great portraits when I really to embrace the culture and its people.
I also pack more than enough memory cards and my Macbook pro with a pocket size hard drive. I have my files copied 3 times. I do it because I like to know that if my laptop got stolen, I still have my hard drive and cards. Or if my hard drive corrupts, I still have my cards and laptop. I cover my bases.
I carry this all in my Lowepro computrekker backpack. It’s compact and it’s in all there. My batteries and chargers fit wonderfully as well as my laptop. It’s the perfect travel bag when I want to be compact. My backpack has traveled everywhere with me – throughout the USA and Canada, all over Italy, Turkey and Germany, and to many islands of the Philippines.
Good shoes are important too! The amount of walking you will do, you want to make sure you have great soles on your feet. Also, don’t forget travel insurance. You always want to bring that, not only for yourself but to cover your gear if anything were to happen.
Study where you are going and be sure to go off the beaten track . When I am on the ground wherever I am traveling, I like to have a good idea of what I want to see and do and leave the rest for wandering and going with the flow.
For example, my first visit to Venice, Italy, I knew I wanted to see San Marco square. I found it on a map, photographed it and then ventured through the back streets. I found more jewels and gems by going off the beaten track than I could have ever imagined.
Each place has its own iconic shots that I want to get. I make notes in a little note pad that I stuff in my bag so I won’t forget. I love lists, so this works well for me. When you shoot these iconic places, try and get different angles and shoot it from a different point of view than what is normally “typical”. You could come up with one of your favorite “postcards” from that city by looking at it in a new light.
I also research the areas and places to see if there are special events and cultural things that are going on that I will be able to photographed and really make my experience in these amazing places unforgettable.
3. Photograph Passionately
Shoot it like you’re never going to shoot there again. I always have in my mind when I’m shooting in different places abroad, “If I don’t ever make it back here again, I want to make sure I have all I can get from my shots.” That sounds like a big order to fill, but if you really document and be journalistic in your approach, it pays off. Try telling a story through some of your photos so that when you get back home you have these images full of life and meaning behind them and you will LOVE them for years to come.
I did this when I was at Oktoberfest in Munich one year; I didn’t know if I would ever be back here. So I put on my 50mm and my wide and away I went, getting in the faces of beer-drinking tourists and locals inside the big beer garden tents and yet capturing the massiveness of these with my wide. I haven’t been back to Munich or Oktoberfest, yet, but I am really happy with how I captured my time there. I didn’t miss anything.
4. Be Friendly
A smile goes a long way. Not only does it allow you to engage the locals and what’s going on around you when you travel, it also allows you to ask permission to take their photo for a portrait.
I have experienced this time and time again. Once in Chinatown in Manila, Philippines I was walking down the street and saw this most adorable old Chinese man vegetable vendor. I knew there was a portrait to be had there. So I started up conversation and we chatted some, I looked at his beautiful vegetables. And then I popped the question: “Picture? You?” At first his smiled and said, “No, no!”. I looked at him with a smile and said, “just one.” And he obliged. One of my favorite photos.
Another time I was in Nagercoil, India, I saw these two beautiful Indian women. They had little English, I smiled lots and played with a baby that another girl had beside them and began shooting photos of the baby. Then I looked at them and said, “Picture?” And their first shot was no smiles. I then smiled at them and encouraged some smiles. Bingo. Another favorite street portrait of mine.
5. Write it Down
Trust me on this one – at the very least, write down the places you stayed at along the way and if you can, make some notes about your day. I have a little “travels” book I bring with me to write the date, place, accommodations, companions and highlights in. I have kept it since 2007 and it is fun to look back and remember.
Facebook and blogs have made documenting our travels and lives so much easier than even 10 years ago. I recommend photographers to blog about their travels. If you have Internet access while traveling, blog one photo a day and write a bit of what you did. Not only will everyone who follows it have something to look forward to, it will help you to remember what you did. You can always do more in-depth posts when you get home.
When I visited Germany & Italy for the first time, I did this – I blogged a little bit each day. My family and friends were able to follow along in my adventure while I was gone. It made it more “real” for them to see a photo or two and a story behind it.
My blog is filled with images and stories, both past and present, meaning there are still photos I haven’t blogged about and written about from years ago that I decide to blog about years after.
When you write about your travels after the fact, you can relive your adventures…it’s like you are there again! But warning – it will also awaken your wanderlust and you will probably in no time be planning your next trip!
Your passion is photography. Our passion is preserving it. However, we need your help once it leaves our doors.
If you’ve made an Adoramapix Photo Book of a big event in your life, I’m sure you put a lot of work and energy into its creation. In order to save your precious memories for future generations, you’ll need to do a little more work to take care of those photo books. Here are some great tips and reminders to keep your treasured memories safe and sound.
1. Handle your Photo Books Carefully
We pride ourselves on using true archival photo paper. Photo paper must be handled carefully. You basically have a large print in your hand that is heat pressed into a photo book. So with any photo paper that is not protected by glass or a frame, handle it carefully. Although our books are very durable, human hands contain oils and salt which over time can take its toll on a print. We suggest to turn the pages with your fingertips and make sure you, or anyone else looking at your photo books has clean hands before sitting down and admiring the memories. Also, if you notice a fingerprint on your photo paper, take a soft, dry cloth to buff it out lightly.
2. Humidity and Sunlight
Humidity and sunlight can have damaging affects on your photo books. Try to store your photo books at room temperature. Humidity can cause moisture to get locked between your photo pages and cause the photo pages to “stick” together. Once they stick together, unsticking them may mean the paper will rip. Direct sunlight will fade the colors of your photo book. This also means, not storing it in a basement where mold and mildew may accumulate or worse flooding. Also, same goes for your attic. Heat rises, it gets very hot in the attic and fluctuating humidity can permanently destroy your photo books. You want to be able to control the natural elements in order to preserve your photo book for future generations.
3. High Traffic Areas
I recently was contacted by photo book member Allison of Everyday Adventures. She loved her Adoramapix Photo Book of her wedding, so much so, she had it displayed lovingly on her coffee table for all to see. She was kind enough to send me pictures of the aftermath. Unfortunately, a number of combinations may have led to its damage. One being humidity (see tip #2). Secondly, it was in a high traffic area. A sneeze, a spilled drink, water from someone’s overcoat all could have contributed to her pages sticking together. The pages in your photo books have a surface coating (an emulsion) which, upon getting wet and then drying, will more than likely adhere itself to the print next to it. Which in this case, was the next page. You want to be able to control the human elements in order to preserve our photo book. This means, keeping it out of high traffic areas, instead store it and bring it out on special occasions for viewing.
4. Lay Flat
Your Adoramapix Photo Book should be stored flat. In other words, do not rest it vertically on a book shelf. Instead it should lay flat or horizontally. This helps minimize any warping to the pages. Photos standing by themselves upright will warp over time.
5. Archival Boxes
These are your photo book’s best friends. The archival boxes we sell are the best guarantee for long lasting beautiful photo books to stand the test of time. By using the archival photo book boxes, you can create a smaller, controlled environment that offers protection from dust, UV light and the human factor.
Every photographer hits a wall, or draws a blank at one point or another. I did so just recently. Here are a few tips that just might help you get out of that rut you’re in.
1) Walk Away
2) Work on your backend
What I mean by “backend” is the following. Work on items that are photography related, such as taking the time to update any software that you use on or PC or Mac for photography. During my rut I spent a day dedicated to updating my Canon camera’s software. Programs that I have currently on my Mac for my Canon camera are EOS Utility, Digital Photo Professional, and Image Browser. Programs usually have automatic update setting. But at times you have to manually check for updates either via the active program or via the camera’s manufacture’s website. As well I use Aperture for Mac and I had discovered at the time that it was due for a software update as well. Once I updated all my software I had discovered that the various programs worked better that before and made things a lot easier for me when processing photos. There are more programs that I use; I’m just listing the ones that needed an update during my rut.
3) Rethink you’re plans and goals
I had to revamp my photography goals and projects; the plans I had originally were ok. But could have been better, so after some thought and going over my current situation I had reprioritized what I wanted to do and get done. Some items got pushed back from my original timeline. And that is totally fine for it gave me more flexibility and room to work with. Better to push a project back than to totally abandon it I say. A perfect example of this is the following. One project that I was working on was that I was looking into getting a new external hard drive for my Macs backup system that I had originally set up. It’s a robust system that involves three (yes… three) external hard drives. One main/master back up drive and the other two drives are mirror copies of the back up drive. Basically it’s a back up for the main/master backup drive. If the Master back up drive fails, I have the other two drives that would take over in the process. In layman’s terms… No data or photo lost. Recently one of the back up drives had failed and crashed. Mind you of course the other two are still working. And took over the role of the failed drive. So my photo files and my entire Mac’s files and settings are still currently safe. I manage over 10,694 photos, and over 80 documents. Call me paranoid about my back up set up, but this current failure that I had did prove my point that it could happen. I was going to get a replacement drive a few days after the failure happened. But after some thought, I thought it would be best just to wait a few more weeks to get it. After all the other two drives are doing well, so no major rush on replacing the failed drive. Matter of fact I plan on getting two drives for a total of four. One main back up drive and three mirror drives will be my upgraded back up system.
4) Make the time to work on unfinished photography projects:
An example of this is the following: Some time back about over a month ago. I purchased a used Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens, at a very low price. I cleaned it up and thought to plan on testing it in the next couple of days after I purchased it. Well guess what? I never got around to testing the lens. It was basically never tested because I never took the time to do so. So I did exactly just that, make the time to test out that lens. No agenda, no particular item to photograph. Just go outside take a walk or a bus ride to any random location such as a park and just start shooting. To my pleasant surprise the lens works quite well and I did manage to capture some good photos in the process.
5) Use Instagram:
In a recent blog post that I had written. I said. “When I post photos to Instagram. It’s usually a preview of an actual photo that I’m about to take. I gauge how well a photo is going to be responded to or “liked” by the amount of people that comment or like the Instagram photo. The responses to my Instagram posts are always a gauge of how well I did with my personal styling in selecting the subject that I choose to photograph.” This still holds true and as well the feedback that you get from liked photos does in a way tell you how good your photography idea was when you photographed the subject and posted it to Instagram.
If you would like more inspiration and tips feel free to check out Luis Castro’s original blog post HERE.
Luis Castro owns and operates JPeg Image Photography out of New York City. He specializes in portrait, fine art and event photography. To see more of his work you can check out his webiste JPeg Image Photography, his Flickr page or his Instagram handle is @JPEGIMAGEPHOTOGRAPHY.