Aug 2012 06

Now that summer is in full swing, I’m sure many of you have been tending to your gardens.  As an avid gardener, I’ll often take time out to photograph the flowers I work so hard on helping grow. However, I am the first to admit, my flower photography is lacking.  This is where I met Justin Jayubo  to help me and others who might be challenged in this area of photography. I met Justin on Twitter and soon started to follow his photography. He is a student of the arts and freelance photojournalist based in Northern California. While keeping a diverse style in shooting,  his main subjects include landscapes, nature, sports, and street photography. Aside from photography and school, he enjoys collecting art, traveling, comic conventions, video games, and spending time with family.

Justin breaks it down for us into five easy tips on how to photograph flowers.

1. Familiarize Yourself with the Environment – I usually find myself doing macro shots in the morning or late afternoon. The direct light on flowers can really throw off the colors I look for. Shadows and highlights can be hard to avoid during the day when the sun is shining on almost everything. If wind is a problem, then I avoid using a tripod, and use the lens image stabilization.


2.Water the Plants/Flowers – Water can give the petals a more rich and healthy color. The droplets add a new dimension with their reflection, which I always find interesting. Don’t hose the flowers soaking wet, but enough to make it look natural.

3. Know Your Bloom – Find out what exactly you’re shooting, what time of year they bloom, and what they look like at all stages of life. If you’re shooting something that blooms once a year, then make sure you get what you want before the flowers wilt. I always make sure to get pictures of cherry blossoms once spring arrives.

-4.Smaller Aperture – Having a smaller aperture will bring more of the image in focus. If you want more of the flowers in focus, then more depth of field can give you what you want.

5. Experiment – Try composing shots at various angles and distances. Explore the possibilities and creative process before moving on. I try to find new ways to compose shots each time I go out and take pictures of flowers.

 

If you would like to see more of Justin’s work you can find his website HERE. You can also find him on these social media channels, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook,  and Tumblr.

 

Apr 2013 17

When we launched What’s App Wednesdays we wanted to look at some of the apps out there that helped photographers edit their smart phone images. What we forgot to do is start with the basics. So this quick 5 tip post is designed for those who are just starting out with their iphones or want to capture better images.

As with any type of photography, you need to know your camera.  In this case, it’s  your iphone.

 

1. Learn Composition

According the Wikipedia, the rule of thirds was first jotted down in 1797 by John Thomas Smith. The rule of thirds is the basic guideline to use when composing your shot. On your iphone, when you click on your camera icon hit the “options” button at the top in the middle. This will give you two options, Grid and HDR. Turn the grid on.  You will now see a grid appear when you are composing your shots. Do not worry, this will not show up in your pictures, it’s merely there to help you compose and straighten your images.

 

2. Focus

Instead of just tapping on the camera icon and letting your iphone do the thinking, try using the focus button and show it exactly where you want the focus located on your image. If you tap on the screen lightly, a small blue box will appear. This is your focus button, you can move this anywhere you like on your image and your phone will focus on that area. You should also note, this will adjust your exposure. The point where the iphone is focused, is also where the phone will read for its exposure.

 

3. Stand Still

This goes with regular cameras as well. I was intrigued by a young man who was rollerblading in a park. The amazing flips and heights he reached were unbelievable. I wanted to catch it on my iphone and it took me about 5 tries, but I finally got it. First, I set the focus point to the ramp where I knew he would jump. Then each time he reached that area, I would hold my breath, steady the phone, rest my elbows on my chest and take the picture. I finally caught the image I wanted but it took a few practices.

 

4. Find the Light

I found one of my favorite trees, a magnolia tree was in bloom. Be still my  heart! I started snapping away and yes, I admit I did not look for the light. On the left, you see my first attempts, very dark and murky. The image on the right, I moved my camera up and towards the light, even straight out of iphone it looks heaps better than the first image. This is true with regular cameras as well, always find the light and work with it.

 

5. Know your Flash

Your flash is attached to your camera, so it will not be the most flattering since it’s not diffused in any way. Since it’s attached, you should know that the flash has a range on it. The results are varied but most reports tend to agree that anything more than 15 feet away will have poor results. So using your iphone and flash at concerts will not give you the desired effect you desire. Also, turn the flash off when you are photographing reflective subjects such as mirrors and windows. The flash can also be harsh when photographing people at night. So you’ll just need to practice in various set ups and situations to see what works best for you.

These are 5 very basic tips to help you get started on iphoneography. Over the course of time, we will continue to review  apps and hardware that help you on your way.

 

Jun 2013 12

Newborn photography takes a lot of patience. This is no surprise to the photographers who specialize in newborn photography. Sessions can last anywhere from a half an hour up to four hours. This is one photography specialty where the client is in complete control. For those of you just starting in this category, there are a few things to keep in mind when capturing those tiny clients. Here is our 5 tips on photographing newborns

1. Warmth

Newborns are not able to regulate their body temperature. Keeping babies warm helps them stay healthy and comfortable. So with this in mind, you’ll be able to have a successful baby photo shoot. Typically, start with them all bundled up. You might also want to think about warming up your studio or bringing in a space heater to warm up the area. When doing photos of the baby without clothes, start by undressing them and laying them with their diaper on (but unhinged) and resting skin on skin on their mom or dad with a blanket over them. This way when you transfer them from their parent to the set up, you are also transferring that heat with the blanket over them. Let the baby get settled in before taking off  the diaper or transferred blanket.

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2. Know their Happy Times

Babies have happy times. Typically it’s usually right after they feed or they wake up. Identifying these times will typically lead to a better photo shoot. Newborns  rarely have control over their muscles including smiles, so if you or the parent are waiting for the baby to smile, know that it’s rare to get these and in fact a lot of those smiles come in their sleep. The main objective is to make the baby comfortable.

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3. Get a Close Up

Those eyelashes, those cheeks  and those tiny fingers and toes are so important  at this stage. Change your lens out from a portrait to a macro. Focus on all those little details, which will never be this small again. I personally, like the photos that show the scale of their tininess.  These detail shots also make for a great addition when you are putting together a photo book for your client. Fill those pages with portraits and details and you’ll have an ecstatic client.

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 4. Lights, Sound and Action

Babies are very sensitive to noises and light. So with this in mind, you’ll want to be prepared.  Try diffused light when photographing babies. In other words, try window light. If you must use strobe, then I would find the biggest softbox you can find to diffuse the light as much as possible. The main thing is to not keep flashing a strobe in a baby’s face. Choose your shots carefully. As far as noise, they love constant soothing noise. There are free apps out there that can  provide you with white noise.  Remember, it was very noisy in the womb for babies and they tend to like muffled white noise to comfort them.

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5. Get the Siblings and Parents Involved

This is such a special time for the whole family. Now is the time to get them involved. Have a sibling kiss the baby’s forehead. Have the parents kiss the toes or fingers. It’s fun to see how proportional the baby is to the rest of the family. Remember, from this day on, this is the tiniest the baby will ever be again.

There is one other tip that was not included but it’s probably the most important, patience. Newborn photographers have the patience to wait for the baby. Babies have a way of not doing what you want them to do, so relax and be patient. This is the baby’s shoot and he or she is running it. You just need to know what the baby needs and  make sure they are comforted at all times. This will ensure a happy baby, happy parents and a happy photographer.

 

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Special thank you to Milwaukee newborn photographer,  Christine Plamann  of Christine Plamann Photography for supplying us with the adorable photos. You can check out more of her work on her website or blog.

 

 

 

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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