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.

Sauce Bar

I recently was gifted an old tripod that is incredibly light-weight, so I've been messing around with long exposure shots. I can hand-hold a pretty slow shutter speed without a tripod but what I really wanted to try shooting in low light with a low ISO ('film' speed).

I was in a sort of restaurant - the kind you order then the blinky handheld device vibrates and you grab your grub. Not specifically planning to shoot there but I was waiting at my table and was captivated by the body language (there backs were to me) so I whipped out the tripod and shot this photo.


These were my settings: ISO 125, F-stop 4, Exposure 0.4 sec and it was shot at 8:45pm. I was surprised that the couple didn't move and was very pleased with the texture details in their clothing.

The Library

Yesterday I spent about an hour at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. I took some pictures and saw a lot of cool photographs in an exhibit there. My biggest surprise about the library is there were very few books. Lots of auditoriums and hallways and tabled reading rooms devoid of books. One area had a bunch of books but they were all dictionaries.

So here is a tiny selection of the photographs I created there. I'm also giving you the shot information which might inspire you to experiment with your photography. There is no a lot of light in the NYPL plus I like a little over exposure in this setting so adjustments must be made. 

I did not use a tripod and did not set the camera on a solid surface - everything was shot handheld. 

Photo 1 - I took this because I liked the solitude (I had to wait a few minutes because people kept walking up and down the stairs into my frame), the angle, the light and the texture.


Exposure: 1/40 sec, f/1.6, ISO 1250

I took a few shots in this hallway until I got what I wanted. My shutter speed was 1/5 sec (which is very slow, especially for handheld) because I wanted the people to be in motion and distorted. Again I was attracted to the light and intentionally overexposed to give it an ethereal look. I also liked the perspective. My aperture at 6.3 was to keep the depths of the shot in focus.


Exposure: 1/5 sec, f/6.3, ISO 2000

I wanted this shot because of the subjects - the grouping of the men in the painting and the girls on the bench. Both are engaged in conversation and I thought their expressions were similar in feel. The light was low and not ideal but I think I managed to use my settings to get what I wanted.


Exposure: 1/50 sec, f/1.6, ISO 2000

And finally...The Selfie. I'll let you figure out how and why I shot this one.


Exposure: 1/50 sec, f/6.3, ISO 2000

The Man - Photography Tip #5

I caught this man while I was walking across the street, camera at my side. No time to even think about shooting the picture. I saw his face. I loved everything about him. I raised my camera. He looked at me. And I clicked. The whole encounter probably lasted only a few seconds. One man. One shot. One done.

He has such a great face full of expression and a purposeful stride. If I had a chance to reshoot this photograph, I wouldn't change a thing. I love everything about it.


If anyone knows who this is, please let me know so I can credit him properly.

Photography tip: Don't overthink your shots. Practice shooting on the fly. See your shot, take your shot. This first one is usually the best one anyway.