It’s mid January and by now you might be a little New Year’s resolution-ed out. I’m not. I love fresh starts and new beginnings, especially when it comes to photography. The start of a new year is the perfect excuse to assess your progress and set attainable goals. Here are some of my personal photography goals for 2013. Hopefully they get you thinking about what you hope to accomplish as a photographer in 2013.
Don’t follow photography rock stars.
I could spend hours staring at the work of my favorite photographers. It’s inspiring and fun. However I notice a lot of photographers emulating the popular internet photographer du jour’s style and suddenly the blogosphere is saturated with a ton of clones. I understand that trends come and go. I don’t want to be one of them. Through trial and error I’ve learned that emulation (as it relates to the artistic qualities of photography not technique) doesn’t get a photographer far.
I don’t want to be a clone of Miss Three Million Facebook Fans photographer. I’m happy for her success and enjoy her work but I am not her. That’s okay. The less time I spend comparing myself to someone else the more time I have for personal growth. It’s impossible for me to discover who I am as a photographer while I’m constantly forcing myself under the shadow of someone else. Not in 2013.
Master off camera flash.
I adore good flash work. My Speedlite will not conquer me. I recently upgraded to a full frame camera and adore the flexibility the high ISO gives me but I refuse to let my flash get dusty. Natural light is beautiful but with proper technique so are other light sources. I want to explore them all.
In 2013 I will learn how to use off camera flash properly.
I’ve mastered the technical basics of photography. I know where my work is strong and where my work is weak thanks to a critical eye and a few helpful portfolio reviews. It’s time for me to take risks and stop worrying about how my work will be received by my peers. It feels great to hear positive feedback from friends and family but if the work doesn’t speak to my soul then it isn’t worth doing.
Photography is my passion. This year I will shoot what I want how I want. If clients book me that’s fantastic. If they don’t that is okay too. Eventually I will find a clientele that is a good fit for my photography style. If I don’t then at least the walls of my home will be adorned with pretty art.
What are your photography goals for 2013?
Veronica Armstrong is a guest blogger for Adoramapix. She is a freelance photographer and writer.. a double threat. Her young ones keep her busy but she never loses her passion for family, photography and education. Thank you Veronica for your inspirational words and motivation. If you would like to see more of her work you can go HERE.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.