CAPTURING THE ESSENCE OF THE PLACES YOU VISIT

 

During our lifetime we travel to many places near and far. Sometimes for pleasure and sometimes for business. Most of the time we want to bring back photos highlighting our experiences. We want others to “see and feel” what we did. How the photos are taken makes all the difference in the world.

I like to look at places in two ways. First and the easiest is how is it different? What makes it unique? Then, how is it similar? There are differences and commonality in everything and everyone. The differences are the things that inspire and hold us in awe. The commonality is what make the places personal and establish a bond.

If the photos convey both they will entice us to go there because of the excitement of the new and and the comfort of the familiar. Very few people want to go somewhere that makes them feel totally alien.

 

 

I tend to start off with a wide shot to show the overall place that I am at and then I like to concentrate on the close up photos, the details. The close up photo makes the subject personal while detailing what is unique.

When photographing your subject be aware of the background. Once I decide what I am going to photograph I walk around it to see which background will enhance the subject. Using a  telephoto lens helps because it brings the background closer to the subject.  I like to use architecture to “frame” my subject.

Another favorite thing for me to do is to ask the locals what is unique about their town. I tell them that I am visiting and what do they suggest I not miss in my photos. You’ll be surprised at the history they will tell you as well as great photo opportunities.

While taking a photo of the Delphi Hotel a local stopped me and gave me some history and told me it had an inner courtyard.  I went in and saw potted plants and lights.

 

 

All these photos were taken on a recent assignment in Saratoga, NY. I only had two hours of free time to take these and many more photos. All photos were taken with a 70 to 200mm f/4 lens. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in little time just by using the rules of composition and lighting.

I showed these to my wife and now she wants to go to Saratoga.

New Orleans

 

Ever wonder whether you should leave a photo as a color image or covert it to Black and White or Sepia?

Here is how I decide.

First, what am I trying to convey to the person looking at the image? If it is a feeling of nostalgia or of an era gone by Sepia is probably the best choice. Black and white can do this also but at a much lesser scale. Black and white has more of a timeless feel to it. In both cases we are eliminating the realism that color provides.

 

When you eliminate color you eliminate information. This information is left up to the viewer to fill in. Making a photo Sepia or Black and White makes it more Idealistic.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the photo above I really liked the red brick and white accents of the building so I left it as a color image. Another reason I left it in color is the cars in the foreground. I feel those date the image to the present so how can it be timeless?

In the end it is an artistic choice. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.

Is Your Light Meter Working?

The light meter in your camera is a very sophisticated piece of hardware and software package. So if it is so good why do photos sometimes come out too dark or too light? Maybe it’s not as sophisticated as we think.

The answer to this is how it is programmed. All light meters built into the camera are programmed to “see” 18 percent nuetral grey. They don’t even see color. Only light grey, medium grey, dark grey and all in between.  If it sees brighter than medium grey it will set the camera so it darkens the image. If it sees something darker than medium grey it will set the camera to brighten the image.

The photo above has a white background which is brighter than medium grey. The light meter wants to make everything 18 percent grey and not white.  So in this case the meter tells the camera to “close down” in order to render the scene grey. As you can see it did a great job. In addtion, the people in the photo came out dark as well.

Knowing that this is the case I adjusted the exposure by one f/stop. Instead of the f/5.6 of the meter setting I took the next one at f/4. In order to do this you have to put the camera in MANUAL mode. You can also activate the exposure compensation button on the camera to +1.   

The light meters in our cameras really work very well. It is us as photographers to interpet the information and act on it so we get great photos.

I Like My Bread And Butter

As Photographers we all want to photograph the beautiful and sexy model or handsome couple. Sometimes we want to travel to that exotic location to photograph majestic mountains or seascapes. This is all great but let’s not forget the bread and butter photography. The executive portrait, corporate event, and the PR photo.

Setting up shop in the boardroom with 2 lights and a portable background.

I recently took some photos of the faculty and staff of a college. I know it’s not as glamorous as the sexy model but because I have done a good job for them in the past they keep calling me. I have taken photos at 4 different campuses and I have returned to each place 2 to 3 times for updates. One of the greatest investment that I made was to purchase portable studio lights 30 years ago. I can set up a temporary studio anywhere in 20 minutes. Here I set up my studio in the boardroom. I photographed 50 people. I took down their names and they picked their favorite photo. All this in two hours. What I like most is these assignments are on weekdays so they don’t interfere with the wedding photography.

 

 

Set up in any room, any size.

Concert Photos With a Pocket Camera

Neil Diamond in the spotlight Just went to a great concert! Neil Diamond is a powerhouse of energy and talent. He sang for over two hours without a break. He has so many hit songs that he could not sing all but he sang the ones we wanted to hear. I wanted to take some photos but they do not allow DSLR cameras at concerts. This is a big change from the last concert I went to. In 1978 I saw Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I was in row 20. With a 200mm lens I got close up photos of him. Now here I was with a pockect camera clear across on the other side of the arena. I think it was row 3 million and 6. The good thing was we had a clear view. So here are some tips on taking really good concert photos with a pocket camera (or any camera).First, I took the camera off the "P" setting. In this setting it will choose the ISO, shutter speed, and f/stop. Since Mr. Diamond only takes up a small area in the photo the camera will be fooled by the surrounding darkness. It's "program" will try to expose for the overwhelming dark area thereby making the entire photo brighter. The problem is that Neil Diamond is in a very bright spot light. He will be completly washed out.In "P" setting it will opt for a high ISO (800-1600) which degrades the image. Instead I put the setting on AV (Aperture Priority). This allowed me to choose the f/stop. I chose the widest f/stop that the camera has and let the camera choose the shutter speed.Next, I put the ISO on 400. This is plenty for the bright area that Neil Diamond is standing in. Now I zoomed in and composed the shot. I waited till he stood still and took the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

everyone standing singing Sweet Caroline

 

 

 

Point and Shoot Cameras

Lately I have been using a Point and Shoot Camera. For $200 I am amazed at how many features it has and the picture quality.
We have been busy filming our newest DVD which will be on getting the most out of your Point and Shoot camera.

When doing professional work I use my 5D and off-camera flash and tripod and so on. When on vacation or out and about the pocket camera is the ideal camera. Instead of carrying my equipment I put it in my pocket and go.

I have taken photos of children, pets, scenery, even a baseball game. As always, it’s not the camera but the person behind the camera that defines the quality of the photo.

I use the same rules of composition and lighting no matter which camera is in my hand.

The only thing that for me takes a little getting used to is looking at a screen instead of a viewfinder. I find it a little slow. Except for that the results are very good.

Of course nothing beats the larger digital cameras with the interchangeable lenses and external flashes. However, is it really practical and convenient to take all that on vacation or in every day activities? Get a Point and Shoot. You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

Public Relations Photos

PR and Advertising photos are always fun to do. Just like taking on any other photo assignment the first thing you need to do is find out what is in the clients mind.

PR photo for Realtor. What are they looking for? What message are they trying to convey to prospective clients. How do they see themselves? How do they want to be "viewed"?

The more questions you ask before taking on a photo assignment the better you will understand their needs and how to meet them. It is no different from a wedding or portrait assignment. Rush into it without asking questions and you can take the most amazing photos but not what the client wanted.

Ask, ask, ask.

After I took several photos to get the best expression I was asked to take individual photos. In the event that one or the other receives an award or needs to be featured in an ad or promotional piece.

Now the technical stuff.
We scheduled the session at dusk in front of a house. The first thing I did was take an exposure of the available light. That is my base exposure. Then I took a flash and placed it in the house

The look of a winner, friendly, professional, approachable, confident

and aimed it at the ceiling to light up the room. It was set at one f/stop higher than the existing light outdoor.

Then I took another flash and placed it to the left of the photo (their right) on a stand. I set that at one f/stop lower than the existing light. My camera was on a tripod and I just snapped a few photos. My camera was set for the existing light.

I then took the individual photos. Since it was at dusk and getting darker by the minute I checked the existing light. I had to drag the shutter from 1/30 0f a second to 1/8 of a second. I also bumped the ISO from 400 to 800.

How many photos have you seen of realtors that look like someone in the office took the photo? These photos might be the first thing a prospective client might see. What kind of impression will they leave? If it’s positive everybody wins.

Keep your clients happy and they will come back again. Meet their needs and they will recommend you.

Not just another realtor. Smart and a go getter. This is the guy you want to sell or buy your house from

IF you feel you need help in this type of lighting consider getting The Ultimate Photographer DVD at our store. Mixing flash with existing light  is explained and shown in great detail.

Compose for the Background first

step one. compose your background

When taking photos of people outdoor composition is very important. Good composition is what puts an ordinary photo over the edge into a great photo.

The thing to remember is that there are two things you are composing. First there is the composition for the background and second the composition for the subject.

To make life easy for yourself compose the background first and then place your subject within it.

step two. add your subject

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you take this 2 step approach to your photos your results will improve dramatically. Of course, a little posing helps too.

If you feel you need help in composition or posing check out our DVDs.

Don’t Forget The Details

When photographing weddings it’s important to take photos of the details.

Although most of the times this means close up of things sometimes it’s the house or hotel that the bride got dressed at. Whether wide angle or close up it is important to capture the places and things that were part of the wedding.

The first thing I do when I get to the wedding is photograph the house and any decorations that are specific to the wedding like bows or wedding bells. If it is a hotel I will take a few photos at different angles and the name of the hotel if possible. If there is some really neat landscaping I’ll photograph that too.

These are things that the bride and groom will want to see. On the day of the wedding they are so busy they might not even notice some of these things. Later if they get a book these photos can be used as background images.

I do the same thing when I get to the ceremony location. I’ll take close up photos of the chairs or pews especially if they are decorated with flowers. If it’s a church I’ll take photos of the outside and inside of the church and of the glass stained windows. If it’s a park or beach I’ll take photos of the trees and waves and so on.

Lastly, I take photos of details as soon as I arrive at the reception. Photos of the outside and inside of the location. Perhaps there is  something unusual about the architecture or the landscaping or the entrance. Once inside I get photos of the room, a table, the centerpieces, and the cake.

I was at a wedding several years ago where the cake table collapsed and the cake fell and had to be wiped off the floor. The bride came over to me crying and asked if I had gotten a photo prior to it falling. Yep, I sure did, as soon as I had arrived.

The first thing I do at a wedding is photograph the details.

The Best Thing About The Golden Hour

last rays of the sun equals perfect lighting

Manny times when I am called to take photos on location I have to work within the client’s schedule. In other words, I can’t always pick the time.
However, there are an equal amount of times when people leave it up to me to pick the time of the photography.

I always choose the Golden Hour. The time starting from one hour before sunset. My most favorite time within the Golden Hour is about 30 minutes before the sun sets. At this point the sun is about 40 degrees high or less and very weak. Just the right height and just the right intensity. Not to mention the beautiful warm color it gives to the skin.

to keep the shadows from going too dark I used a flash on camera for a fill light

Directional 3 dimensional lighting can be achieved any time of day. To do so requires off camera flashes and or reflectors plus know how.  The wedding photo needed flash because I was there too early.

That last 30 minutes just before sunset requires only know how. The photo of the young lady by herself required no extra light.

The best thing about the Golden Hour is the last 30 minutes.

 

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