Happy Holidays 2010

RemembranceAs we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.
— Donald E. Westlake

From my family to yours, have a great holiday and a happy new year.

Happy Shooting in 2011…

Last Minute Gifts for your Photographer

Down to the wire and unsure what to get that photographer in your life. Well here are some ideas that should be easy to find and will benefit any level of photographer.

  1. Gift Cards – OK this would seems obvious, but most of the time we are all bookmarking items we really want from various sites. The companies I like are B&H and Adorama in NYC and Unique Photo in NJ.
  2. Memory Cards – No one will be upset with an extra memory card. There are different sizes, so you will want to check and see what type of memory their camera uses.  Most semi-pro and pro camera’s leverage SD cards like the Sandisk Extreme III memory card.
  3. Camera Batteries – We can all use an extra battery. In the cold weather the batteries go fast and who wants to be in the perfect place with the perfect shot and the camera doesn’t work! Nikon Camera Batteries.
  4. A gift certificate for a photo workshop ($25 – $175) – There are several types of workshops. I’m in NY and have been very happy with Joe Dimaggio and Moose Peterson over the past two years.  Joe Dimaggio workshops are available via Adorama and Moose Peterson workshops.
  5. Online Training Classes ($24 – $199) – I personally recommend the classes at Scott Kelby Training. I’ve been a member for a year and the online classes have been invaluable to me.  I believe they would be a welcome gift for any photographer at $24 a month or $199 for the year.
  6. Online site to post photos – Another good idea might be a website to host and sell their photos. I currently use zenfolio.com and have been very happy. They use MPIX.com as their print shop and next year they will be adding support for MPIXPro.com products.
  7. Books – There are some great books out there for the photographer.
  8. Post Processing Software – We all need software now that photography has become digital.  There are some great programs out there for both the beginner and the advanced photographer.
    1. For the beginner
    2. For the intermediate to the advanced
      • Adobe Photoshop CS5
      • Photoshop plug-ins
        • NIK Software – I currently use “Color Efex Pro 3” and “Dfine 2.” and I’m looking forward to getting “Sharpener Pro” and “Silver Efex.” I have found these tools to save me time, allow creativity, and there is little degradation on the final image.
        • Alien Skin – “Snap Art 2” and “Exposure 3”
  9. Camera Cleaning Kit – A great stocking stuffer if you know they currently don’t have one. Giottos makes a kit that you can purchase on Amazon.
  10. Beginner Light Kit ($70) – At some point the budding photographer will want to take their flash work to the next level. To accomplish this they will need some tools. Westcott makes a 43″ umbrella kitthat is a great tool to start with.

I hope this list was useful and happy holidays to you and your families.

Use Composition to create great photos

Do you find yourself wishing your photos were more like your favorite photographers? Did you ever wonder just how they did it, get that shot that makes people stop and stare for hours? It’s one part experience and one part skill and we can learn the skills.  There are several techniques and tools, but I will tell you composition is a great place to start. Even the simplest camera can take great photos if composed well. Not convinced, then I would recommend reviewing some of the iPhone work from Chase Jarvis.  If you can construct a great photo with an iPhone then it’s all up hill from here.

Let’s begin our discussion with the rule of thirds. This is the most often discussed rule and the easiest to implement.  This one rule will help you increase the overall impact of your photos. In future posts I will continue to add to this rule by covering:

  • disappearing lines,
  • monotonous content,
  • light and textures, and
  • depth of field.

The rule works by creating an imaginary tic-tac-toe board in the view finder.  You want to break the view in to 9 segments, two vertical and two horizontal lines. The rule states that you should leverage the points of intersection and the lines to compose your photographs.  It is believed that these lines and points will create additional strength, interest, and drama in your photographs.

The photographs below demonstrate the imaginary tic-tac-toe board that you would see through your view finder.The first photo was taken at a concert and I wanted to convey the passion and feeling I heard in the music the Bobby Kyle Blues Band was playing. I placed Everett Boyd in the top right section of the photo and worked to place the point of interest on his face.   A larger copy of Everett can be seen in my gallery.

This photography was taken one night from the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn bridge.  In this photo you can see that the same rules work for landscapes.  I leveraged this rule by placing the main bridge structure on the left line and broke the picture up into a 1/3 to 2/3 ratio with the water line on the bottom.  You can view a larger copy of the Brooklyn Bridge on my gallery site.

Google has several other photos that demonstrate the rules of thirds.

One last point – Rules are made to be broken – Once you feel comfortable with this rule I suggest you look for ways to break it. You will take your composition to the next level. Have fun implementing the rule of thirds.

Happy Shooting…