Photographing the Night Sky

Photographing at night can be one of the most rewarding genera of photography. It can also be one of the most challenging. The inability to see is the greatest problem, and knowing your gear well enough that you can set up and operate by feel will go along way to making your trip far more productive. I have been using my canon gear long enough that I can change lenses and operate the camera by feel and not need a flashlight to see by. Careful packing will also help, the less time you spend digging in a bag looking for a memory card, the more time you can focus on shooting. Before shooting at night, I completely empty my bag, and put everything where it belongs, then when I get on site, I do not need a flash light, just reach in the bag and grab what you need by feel.  If you have ever worked in a darkroom, this will all seem very familiar. Planning your shoot can make the whole evening easier as well. I scout locations during the day, taking note on where foreground and background elements are in relation to each other. I use a few apps during the planning. Dark Sky finder  (http://www.jshine.net/astronomy/dark_sky/) will help you find areas that have little light pollution. Find an area on the map with little light pollution, then head out and scout locations, looking for anything that will look good with the star field in the background. I use stellurium (http://www.stellarium.org/) to find where and when astronomical objects will be within the area that I want to shoot....

Cost of Admission. Thoughts of Turning Photography into a Business.

I hear something like this almost every time I talk to someone interested in photography: I’m looking to shadow a wedding photographer to get some insight to the beast that is wedding photography. I’m still an amateur and would really like to learn more about wedding photography. 1.) Wedding photography is really no different than any other photography, all the rules/guidelines still apply. What scares people is that a wedding photographer has to be good at everything, you will do product shots (rings, flowers, other important item to the couple) food photography, landscape photography, Architectural photography, you will have to do formal portraits, candid portraits, and some photojournalist work, all in one day on a crazy timeline, dealing with people who are emotionally…. unpredictable. Someone once told me, that the amateurs practice till they get the shot right, pros practice till they can’t get it wrong. If you want to work in the wedding field you need to master (or at least be very, very good) at all the genres of photography, because you will have to make images from just about every genre quickly and usually in poor lighting. 2.) Either you have the passion for the photography or you don’t (by the question raised I assume that you do. ) but the photography is just the cost of admission. Take the time to learn the business side, that is far, far more important. You will spend more of your time doing business, taxes, sales, networking, and other stuff than you will spend doing photography. Trust me on this. The business side is far less glamorous but this part of it...

Searching for Waterfalls

One of my favorite things to photograph is water. I love being outdoors, hiking, camping, fishing, etc. So, it makes a little sense that quite a bit of my time is spent searching out waterfalls that I can find. You will find that most waterfalls are not very accessible. It seems to be a very rare thing, to find a waterfall that is just a short walk from a place to park, I have found many that are a 1-2 mile hike.    ...

How to deal with underexposed images

  HDR has been around for a few years now, and most fall into the LOVE IT , or HATE IT categories. There really isn’t many people in the middle. But, that is not really what this post is about. The reason I bring up HDR images is you can use the principals of what HDR is to deal with some under exposed images. When I shoot at weddings or portraits (especially, weddings) we are often confronted with situations where we have to capture a scene that, quite frankly, our cameras just are not capable of straight out of the box. One such scenario is heavy backlit scenes. If we expose for the subject then the background will be completely blown out – gone. if we expose for the background then the subject is completely black. However, if we expose some where in between those two point we can use software to pull down the highlights and pull the shadows up. Here is our image. A wedding near sunset with the sun streaming through the bridal party. btw, electronic flash has been banned by the officiant ( for those of you who are thinking, “we should have set up a few AlienBee800 and just blasted the scene with extra light” ) .  I set my exposure to capture all the details in the highlights. Inside of lightroom i will adjust highlights -82, whites -82 and shadows +87 (salt and pepper to taste, every image will have slightly different values)   After that I set my exposure, so that neither my highlights/shadows clip: exposure +0.75, and it is looking a little flat so a contrast boost of +31   after...
Chasing the Light

Chasing the Light

Here one from the archives. This is from a family trip to the smokies.  We were taking an early morning drive through Cades Cove, when suddenly the clouds and fog broke and let the sunlight break through to light up the country side. I rushed to get in to place to get a shot, and managed to get one image taken before the clouds closed up and the sun was gone....