Jun 2013 27

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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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5. Experiment

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.

 

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Special thanks to members Rommel Tan and Saul Blumenthal for providing us with such beautiful fireworks images.

 

 

Jul 2013 08

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Jul 2013 10

Congratulations to Your Best Shot 2012 winner Alejandro Santiago from Canada.  His image made it through four rounds of  judging by professionals and Adoramapix members  to take home the top spot of Your Best Shot 2012. His photograph on that foggy February morning  is the epitome’ of amazing street photography. ybs2012

Alejandro grew up in Miami, Florida and studied design at Parsons in New York. All throughout his life, photography and design have been a way for him to communicate the things and people he loves. You can see more of his street photography & portraiture on his website or his Facebook page.
I asked Alejandro to tell us a little more about his winning  photograph. He said, ” This photograph was taken on a foggy winter morning in 2012. I remember watching the fog outside my window and not being able to sleep.  I packed my camera and took to the streets before sunrise.  The photograph was  taken just a block from Lake Ontario. This man was crossing the street to get on a streetcar. This was an important morning for me because I made a choice to wake up, explore the streets with my camera and make photographs. That’s how creativity is — you need to claim it. I’m working on tracking down the man in the photo. I would love to give him a print. If you know him please contact me!”
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Not a lot of people understand or recognize street photography and what it entails. I asked Alejandro to explain it for us. He said,”

Street photography forces you to use all your senses to be completely present and  in the moment. It can feel like fishing because you’re attempting to capture a moment. Some days you come home with nothing other days you come home with a great image. I always make an effort to wander the streets with my camera at least once a week, it’s almost like a workout for my eye  and camera.  The best thing about street photography is that it doesn’t require planning or scheduling–the streets are always ready for you.  I recently began a Tumblr about my street photography in Cuba. Its called, Oye Cuba.
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I had to ask Alejandro what was in his camera bag. He said, “It’s easy to get caught up in gear and fantasizing about all the things you don’t have, but for me creativity is about exploiting those limitations and using what you have. I shot that photo with a 35mm lens on my Nikon D7000. When I’m on the streets I try to keep my travels light.  Though I like to use a speedlight which I usually hold in one hand and my camera in the other. Sometimes I put a small softbox diffuser on my flash it makes a huge difference. Good light is the most important thing for me.”
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I wanted to know if Alejandro had any advice on those just starting out on street photography. He replied, “Treat street photography like a workout, its a skill you need to develop that requires discipline. Don’t think so much, experiment, and make accidents on purpose.  Also, share your work. If you take a picture be sure to give it back to the world for people to experience. That will help encourage your growth.”
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Thank you Alejandro for your advice. You are an inspiration and your work is thought provoking. It speaks volumes without saying a word. In case you are wondering, Alejandro picked the Nikon D600 as his camera. His image along with 11 other winners will also appear in our YBS 2012 Adoramapix Photo Book.
Jul 2013 29

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Sep 2013 30

Oh hello Fall, we’ve missed your cool temperatures and beautiful colors. It’s easy to to be so inspired this time of year with Mother Nature’s grand show of changing colors and temperatures.  When it comes to photographing the Fall, there are a few items you may want to think about to step out of the box of just snapping a picture. Here are 5 tips to get you going.

1. BUMP IT

Try tweaking with the saturation a bit. You don’t need to go overboard here but  a slight bump in both the saturation and contrast will make the image pop. Nature already puts on a fabulous show so a slight bump is more than enough to make your image speak.  For those of you that are  little more advanced, you can also change your in camera settings to give you more vivid colors.

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2.  Change It Up

It’s easy to get caught up  and take all your images from the same angle. So now is the time to try something different, your subject isn’t going to move on you so take your time and change it up. Try getting close to the ground and maybe focusing on what’s in front of you while throwing your background out of focus. Not everything needs to be in focus with fall photos, depth of field can really make your images take on a whole new feel to them.

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3. Follow the Story

Nature has a way of incorporating itself onto buildings and fences. This can tell a beautiful story. Break away from just photographing trees and leaves. Try finding other fall stories, like vines that reach across an old stone house or moth changing its colors for fall. Open your eyes and you’ll see there’s more going  on around you than just the change of the leaves.

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4. The Golden Light and Overcast

Those evening moments just before the sun sets illuminates a warm glow. This is the perfect time to go out and photograph foliage. When this happens, incorporate as much sky as possible. Also sunrise is another fantastic time to catch the beauty of the season. However, more often than not, skies are overcast or it’s foggy. Don’t let this deter you. You just need to think differently. Catch the fog in the mornings with just a peek of color shining through your image. This can make for a moody image. Or, if your day is overcast, simply go up close to your subject, eliminating your background. You can still catch colors and tell a story by isolating your color.

 

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5. Tripod It

Have fun and keep it steady. You might want to catch movement with water and slow down your shutterspeed. In order to do this, you’ll need  something steady to put your camera on.  Or you may want to get in the image yourself!  Now is the time to experiment and take your time. If you don’t have a tripod, try setting it on your vehicle, a fence or a park bench. This is the perfect time of year to experiment with iso, shutter speed and aperture. Take your time, find what works for you and give yourself the freedom to play with Manual Mode.

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Special thanks to Jenna Van Valen of Roverexposed.com  for supplying some of the fabulous fall images. Written by Michelle Libby for Adoramapix.

 


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