Lower East Side - Photography Tip

I took this photograph two days ago, when I was reshooting the Houston St shots three years apart.

After snapping that one, I turned toward my friend who was holding my pup, Pumpkin. I loved everything I saw - my friend's body language leaning over toward Pumpkin, her blonde hair and black clothing, the placement of her boots and the three straps sticking out, Pumpkin's expression and body language with her white heart on her chest, wondering what Pumpkin's looking at, the sidewalk, the wet gutter, its reflections, the manhole cover, the sidewalk to the left, the posts, the construction walls, the NYC construction sign...and "BILLS". 

That may be a long list but that's everything I notice when I'm taking a picture. It's the details in a photograph that draw the viewer in and create a story for them to relate with the image. 

I took this from across the street and neither of them knew I was taking this photograph. I was lucky to catch Pumpkin concerned with something across the other street so she wasn't looking at me. It would be a totally different photograph if she was looking at me - and in my humble opinion it would not be as interesting.

Docks

Photography Tips

Continuing on from yesterday's post about aperture/f-stops, the photograph below is of a lake with four docks and the shoreline at the back. Unlike yesterday's photograph where only the water drips were in focus, for this shot I wanted everything in focus to create a graphic feel and flatness. It has more of a stacked look with an f-stop of f/16 than it would have had if I opened up to an f/9 or lower. And the crisp reflections in the water from front dock to the shoreline also influence the image looking flat.

The confusing part of f-stops is when the aperture is closed down it is the higher number (making everything in focus), while the lower numbers mean you are opening up (making only the object you focus on to be sharp). One would initially think that stopping down (f/16) would be the lower number and opening up (f/1.4) would be the higher number.

Just remember when you want everything in focus, change the f-stop to the higher numbers and when you only want one part of the image in focus, change the f-stop to a lower number.

And don't forget that when you change your f-stop you will have to adjust the shutter speed and/or the ISO number (aka film speed). All three of these settings are dependent on each other. 

Intrigue

I haven't looked at this photograph in a long time. Somehow it is even more intriguing than the last time I saw it.

Photography Tip:
This is a good example of depth of field. The foreground is in focus and the background in blurry. You can create this effect by opening up the aperture. It is also called the f-stop. It is the ring on the lens that has numbers sometimes from 1.4 to 22 or more. The lower the number, the objects  further away from what you focus on will be blurry. The above photograph was shot with a f/9 which is fairly high, however in this case the foreground is very sharp and the objects in the background that are very blurred were very far back.

Tomorrow I will post of photograph with a higher f-stop to show the difference.

Photography Tips #12

This post started out with me picking a photograph from the dated archives that only goes back to 2012 and I have a lot more to organize. I start with the date - 03/18 for example - and if I didn't shoot on that date I'll go for the file name - 0318 for example.

Today's was the file number. There were other ones that were 0318 but I went with this one, not because I thought it was a great photograph but because I thought I could show you how to salvage a shot that you would normally delete.

So, this is the 'After' I messed around with the file in my digital darkroom aka Photoshop. I did not do anything I couldn't have done with a negative in a real darkroom:

 
 

The screenshot below is what the file looked like as shot. I did the screenshot because when I open the NEF file it reverts to the color information even though I shot it in black and white. Having you you at the color version wouldn't give you an accurate difference in the before or after.

So, as you can see my original was way over-exposed. I shoot on manual so I messed this frame up, trying to catch my moving targets - the biker and the runner - in the same frame. Looking at the screenshot now I kind of like it like this but that doesn't make this post a Photography tip.

Moving on, this is the list of what I did in Photoshop to create the above 'After' version from this 'Before' version:

  1. using Levels, I moved the left side arrow and slid it slightly to the right
  2. using Curves, I chose to click the Auto button
  3. using Brightness/Contrast, I also chose to click the Auto button

And that was it, easy-peasy.

 
 

Note: The photograph was taken on 5/7/14.

Airplane 2

My second shot of an airplane was a last second grab. I was actually shooting windmills, which actually look a lot like airplanes (see Power Up), when I suddenly heard an aircraft engine. It was a way's off but I turned and realized this was as close as I would get. I rotated the lens to the max (105mm), composed it and clicked all in one move, before it got to far away. I had know idea I managed to get a clear and detailed photograph. I really love this shiny metal bird frozen in the vast deep blue sky.

 
 

Lens Test

Slow Saturday traffic so I'm going to bore you with the lens test I did today with my Nikon ED 80-200mm 2.8. It was made before the digital invasion so on my D800 it mimics around a 120-300mm. And it weighs a ton. I haven't used it in a while and wasn't sure if the focus was aligned properly.

It was still light out but nearing the end of the day so I was using a pretty high ISO in order to keep the shutter speed fast enough. I didn't want any shake from the weight which is around 3lbs on top of the 2lb camera.

Next, I needed a model. I didn't want to shoot the bushes so I enlisted Pumpkin. She was hardly happy about it but finally acquiesced. Here are four shots with the data. 

All the photographs were a focal length of 80mm. There seems to be more depth of field in the last two shots with an f5 and f7.1 than there was in the second photo that was f10. Maybe it's because I was closer to Pumpkin. Anyway, I think the focus is working okay. Oh, and in the last shot she was asking for a raise. 

 
   
  
 
  
    
  
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   ISO 2000, 1/100sec, f/6.3

ISO 2000, 1/100sec, f/6.3

 
 
   
  
 
  
    
  
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   ISO 5000, 1/160sec, f/10

ISO 5000, 1/160sec, f/10

 
 
   
  
 
  
    
  
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   ISO 2500, 1/160sec, f/5

ISO 2500, 1/160sec, f/5

 
 
   
  
 
  
    
  
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   ISO 2500, 1/200sec, f/7.1

ISO 2500, 1/200sec, f/7.1

 

This is a photo of the lens (pulled off Google images).

 
 

Crossroads - Photography Tip #11

Hope you are surviving your Thanksgiving food coma. Since it is Thanksgiving I thought it would be a good time to give you a photography tip.

This tip is about looking for light and shadow. Photography is all about light, as is painting, film, theater and concerts. It also happens to be how I see the world every single day. I have a photograph I took that is literally light and shadow. It's called Crossroads, shot on film, an actually won best abstract photo in a contest (I think it's the only contest I've ever entered - I'm not a fan of them).

 
 

I was walking by that same location a week ago and, based on the light that day, I took another photo with the idea of doing this post.

This is what the shot looks like without the light...

 
 

...boring.

Then when I was out shooting last Sunday, I took one more shot of the same subject. It is similar to the first shot, but also very different.

 
CrossroadsRevisited_2956.jpg
 

I love sharing my passion for photography and passing on the knowledge I've learned. If you're interested in taking your photography to a new level I have a great group workshop and also private sessions, both available in New York and Los Angeles. Gather some friends or come alone and take you photography to a whole new level.

Wedding Photographer

OK...I am definitely not a wedding photographer. But if I was, I certainly wouldn't pose the happy couples behind bars for their memory of a lifetime. I hope it isn't an omen against their future bliss.

I did take this picture. From the side. Their photographer was on the other side of the fence...

 
 

...and the couple caught me in the act of grabbing this shot. I'm glad they busted me. It's a much better picture with them looking into my lens instead of the photographer on the other side of the bars.