Get the Perfect Light Writing Sparkler Shot

Get the Perfect Light Writing Sparkler Shot

Every wedding photographer is always seeking to get the perfect image that will capture the unique setting, timing, and location of the big day. Bobby and Tanya of Frozen Exposure Photography + Cinematography have written up a quick tutorial on how to create unique wedding portraits using sparklers. Check it out and make your own photos shine! Want to Re-Enact This Shot? Brides: The “Light Writing Sparkler Shot” is always a favorite and such a cool way to celebrate, photographically, your new last name, or if your new last name is hard to write in “sparkler,” then spelling out “Love” is gorgeous, too! This shot is even MORE fun when another couple helps with the writing! Especially if that couple is recently married or engaged! Frozen Exposure recommends getting this photo in the middle of the reception, when everyone else is comfortable and after the “cake shot” so that you can be outside and have at least 15 minutes for this shot to be set up, laid back and fun. It really turns out to be a special moment between the couple, and if you have some or all of the bridal party together helping, then it’s always super fun when everyone runs to the camera after the shot, sees how perfect it turned out, and jumps up and down screaming. This is always a moment of major camaraderie. Photographers: Make sure to use the 36 inch sparklers  to prevent the sparkler from running out on you mid-word. Always remember to try this shot at a very low key time when the bride and groom are happy and ready to get 15 minutes away from...
How to Keep Your Gear Clean and Protected: Summer Edition

How to Keep Your Gear Clean and Protected: Summer Edition

Summer is full of outdoor excursions, worldwide travel, and photo/video projects which take advantage of the long sunlit hours.  Among all the wonderful outcomes of summer exploration it’s good to keep in mind how to best protect your gear when the tides may turn for the worst. Sea Sand Sun Considering your next photo shoot or outdoor adventure at the beach or on a boat?  Do it!  Just be prepared for the elements.  The beach and open waters are littered with hazards that can be potentially harmful to your gear. Use a UV filter and lens hood to protect your lens from loose sand or sea-spray. Bring an umbrella to shield your bag from blowing sand. Wrap your camera in a plastic bag when not in use. Keep your gear in a shaded place to protect it from intense sun exposure for lengthy stretch of time. Never change lenses or memory cards while on the beach.  If sand finds its way into your camera it could be devastating! If sands makes its way onto your gear use an air blower first to avoid scratching the glass elements before wiping it down with a microfiber cloth. Video tip: bring a wind screen for clean audio Fungus is Among us Summer (and winter for that matter) have varying degrees of temperature changes when going from indoors to outdoors and vice versa.  When gear is involved in this shift, condensation will occur and over time could wreak havoc on sensitive internal mechanisms. Place your camera and lens in a plastic bag when going from AC to humid outdoor weather to ensure condensation...
Breaking the Rules to Get the Most Out of Natural Light

Breaking the Rules to Get the Most Out of Natural Light

In photojournalism school, students are taught to underexpose when out in the field in order to achieve the richest colors and most intense contrast possible in a photograph. The trick, conventional wisdom explains, is to bring the exposure back up in post processing. I shot this way for years and it always treated me well. I’m still a big fan of the ‘underexpose method’ when shooting landscapes and documentary stories. The technique brings out the drama of what you’re trying to capture; old, wrinkly faces look like they belong to lost souls with millions of years of stories to tell, a canyon or mountain scape appears to be straight out of a dream with rainbow-like colors and dark, cloud-filled skies seem to hover over every crevice of the earth. Depth and drama are what this technique creates  — perfect for telling stories with a ‘wow’ effect. After starting my own wedding photography business, I slowly learned how to bend and, even break, the rules. My focus shifted from news stories that break your heart to telling the happiest stories imaginable — family moments of pure joy and love as young couples prepare for their next stage of life together. When photographing a wedding, you are trusted to document one of the most precious moments in a person’s life. I wanted to do these people justice by focusing on the beauty within. By capturing them in just the right light, I knew I could help them see their own beautiful depth radiating out. With this new goal in mind, my style began to morph. I no longer cared as much about the...
A Photographer’s Guide to Modern Urbexing

A Photographer’s Guide to Modern Urbexing

Jamie MacDonald is an Olympus Trailblazer who shoots nature and wildlife in the Mid-Michigan area exclusively with the Olympus Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds camera systems. He is also a contributor for Small Camera Big Picture. As a nature and landscape photographer he enjoys exploring new areas that have often been abandoned. Learn the tools of the trade to modern “urbexing” in the article written below by Jamie MacDonald. He has also been featured on our blog discussing a new light painting tool to create a successful light painted photo.  A Guide to Urban Exploration: By: Jamie MacDonald Urban exploration, or as it is more commonly known, “urbexing”, is the act of exploring properties that have been either abandoned or forgotten by the general public. Places that are often explored are abandoned factories, hospitals, housing complexes, and even old theme parks. For photographers, urbexing is not just about the exploration, it is often about capturing scenes full of complex detail and light, photographing scenes of decay and destruction in a way that many find hauntingly beautiful. In the following article I will discuss many of the things you will need to have a successful urbex trip. And as always, there are some rules to be followed, and a nice big disclaimer too. Disclaimer: Urbexing quite often can involve being on private property. And though many of the locations that are popular for urbexing look like no one owns them, they just may be. So by entering into any building or onto any property be aware that you may be trespassing. I take no responsibility for that. Now that we have the disclaimer out of the...
Adding Value to Your Image Archive with Keywords

Adding Value to Your Image Archive with Keywords

Seán Duggan is a fine art photographer, author, educator, and an Adobe Certified Photoshop Expert with extensive experience in both the traditional and digital darkroom. His Lightroom Viewfinder series provides photographers with the tools they need to effectively use Lightroom for organization, editing, and printing.  Adding Value to Your Image Archive with Keywords by Seán Duggan Maintaing a well organized image archive is an ongoing project. There is always work to do, whether it involves importing and editing new photos, or organizing and culling older images. One of the most important ways that you can “upgrade” your image catalog is by regularly adding keywords to your photos. In this article we’ll take a look at some essential keyword strategy for your photo library. Adding Value to Your Archive Keywords not only ensure that you can easily find the photos you’re looking for, but they also can significantly add value to your image archive. That value can be something that will impact you on a personal level, for the simple reason that you will enjoy your archive much more when you can easily find a photo when you need it. Value can also be measured in financial terms, because an image archive that makes good use of keywords will allow you to respond quickly to opportunities for monetizing your photographs. The more information you can add to your images that describes the scenes and people they contain, the more potential value they have. Starting Points: Basic Keywords How many keywords you apply to your photos, and what type of keywords, really depends on how you use your images. A portrait or wedding photographer...
8 Helpful Tips for Firework Photography

8 Helpful Tips for Firework Photography

Each year millions of people pack up their cars and head to a local destination to watch the sky light up and crackle. Firework shows are not only a desired destination for families but also for photographers looking to capture that perfect firework photo to add to their portfolio. This year we want to help you capture a special photograph by offering you a couple tricks that will prepare you for the beautiful lights in the sky on the Fourth of July.  8 Helpful Tips for Firework Photography Make sure to bring a tripod when preparing to photograph fireworks! Firework photography requires long exposures and slow shutter speeds. Using a sturdy tripod and a shutter release cord can keep your camera motionless and prevent you from ending up with blurry photos. It is a good idea to have a remote since you won’t know exactly when the fireworks will go off.  Always use manual focus instead of auto focus. For many cameras it can be difficult to use autofocus in low light situations. To prevent missing great firework shots try adjusting your camera to manual focus. Remember if you change focal lengths throughout the firework show it will mean you need to adjust your manual focus on most lenses.  Opt away from using a flash when shooting fireworks. No matter the power of the camera flash or add-on flash it will not be enough to reach the fireworks. Go flash less for the highest quality and clearest photos.  4. If you’re having trouble adjusting the camera settings try starting at the lowest ISO possible and a slow shutter speed. The low ISO will keep...
Destination Wedding Photography : The Checklist

Destination Wedding Photography : The Checklist

Being a destination wedding photographer is on the bucket list for many budding and professional photographers alike.  The industry is all about connections and referrals; once you have impressed several couples and their wedding parties, chances to be hired outside your region will have grown exponentially.  If you’ve proven yourself in terms of having a unique perspective and polished craft, couples who are planning destination weddings often bring their preferred vendors along with them.   The best method for success in this, and all facets of business, is preparation.  Here are a few tips to help you along the way if you are newly experiencing this avenue of photography. The Checklist When traveling via plane to shoot a wedding, the challenge is to pack as lightly as possible. Depending on what you normally rely on, this can be a true feat of ingenuity!  Not only must you consider weight restrictions, you also must  take into account the terrain in which you’ll be working within.  Will you be shooting on a beach and trying to drag your camera bag suited with wheels through sand?  Will you be on a boat with limited places to secure your gear or need some type of water protection? Will you be shooting in colder temps that drain your battery faster than you are used to?  Will you need power converters for outlets with different voltages?  These and many more questions must be considered beforehand and having a clear “essentials” list while packing is a must!  Here is a handy outline we created to help you pack!  Of course the gear you pack will vary dependent...
Bird Photography Advice from Nature Photographer David Bernstein

Bird Photography Advice from Nature Photographer David Bernstein

As the weather gets warmer and daylight hours are lengthened, those who have been stuck inside for the long winter months are ready to begin exploring the great outdoors once again with camera in tow.  I caught up with local wildlife photographer David Bernstein to answer a few questions regarding his experiences. Bernstein started out using a humble Rebel series camera and over time grew into being what he calls a “photo-naturalist”, taking pictures of landscapes and creatures large and small. He especially loves photographing birds and has graciously shared a few tips for those of us looking to brush up on our skills or begin a new photographic hobby. Kymberly: How did you get into bird photography? David: My father is a very talented photographer and I guess you can say that his passion for photography rubbed off on me at an early age. He built a darkroom in our house and gave me one of his old Pentax 35mm cameras around age 5.  My favorite things to photograph were squirrels and birds in the yard. For my 7th or 8th birthday he got me a cheap, used 300mm lens so I could get “better” shots of the sparrows.  Fast forward to 2008, after a hiatus from photography, I was taking my dog for a walk in the park and I noticed a really odd/cool-looking duck in the stream. I had never seen a duck like that before and I was determined to figure out what it was.  I went back the next day with my Canon Rebel, which had a 250mm lens attached, and luckily the duck was still there....
The Importance of Being Archived

The Importance of Being Archived

Our friends at SmugMug really care about photography and the importance of taking pictures in everyday life. This is part 2 of a 3 part series on improving your online life as a photographer, whether that is by improving your website or backing up your files. Here are some tips on how to avoid a personal, digital meltdown and keep your memories safe against fire, flood, hard drive crashes, and other unexpected blips in the matrix. SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website reprinted with permission  We see so many websites each and every day and love hearing about how people are using their online websites and how having an online presence affects so much of what they do. Not long ago we shared 6 top mistakes people make when they put together a website but this time we’re addressing a topic that most people probably don’t want to even consider: backing up your photo and video files. A hard demon to face but we’ll show you why it pays to prepare for a potential doomsday disaster. The Worst-Case Scenario Imagine this: you’re booting up your laptop, ready to email your recent trip photos to your friends, and all of a sudden you get the BSOD. In one split second, poof! Your hard drive is gone. As you wipe the sweat from your face, you realize – oh no! All the photos and videos I shot, all the things that I lived and saw in those two weeks abroad, those were the only copies I had. And they’re gone. Forever. Why Back Up? The subject of backing up your files...
Two Lighting Styles in 1 Shot with the Pocket Wizard MultiMax

Two Lighting Styles in 1 Shot with the Pocket Wizard MultiMax

Alexis Cuarezma is a San Francisco-based photographer who specializes in both on-location and in-studio portraiture. An alumnus of the Eddie Adams Workshop, Cuarezma has done assignments for the LA Times, the New York Times, HBO, and a number of international publications. He recently did a shoot with Shayne Skov for Sports Illustrated at Stanford University, where he had precious little time to essentially do two shoots at once. Cuarezma has a passion for bold visuals, bright colors, and high contrasts. However, his assignment called for “gray seamless”. To accommodate both Sports Illustrated and his personal style, Cuarezma harnessed the light grouping abilities of the Pocket Wizard MultiMax. He assigned all of the lights Sports Illustrated wanted for a uniform, seamless look to one channel and the punchier lighting setup to another channel and used the MultiMax’s Speed Cycler feature to fire off the two setups in succession. “As soon as I saw this, in my mind I knew I could use this. I didn’t care to fire off strobes at 10 FPS, however, I did care about being able to fire off 2 different sets of lights back-to-back because they don’t have to be the same setup/look. I have a Canon 1D Mark IV that can fire off 10 FPS. So that’s taking a frame every 100 milliseconds. In theory that’s 2 separate images in 200 milliseconds and with the Speed Cycler feature that could be 2 completely different looks shot nearly simultaneously.” Cuarezma set off to draw a lighting diagram for his assistants and to make this concept a reality. So long as the transmitting MultiMax is set...