iPhoneography

Railroad JunctionThey say the best camera is the one you have on you, so I have been making a point lately to leave the DSLR at home and to work on my iPhoneography. Will my phone ever become my serious camera?  Not anytime soon. But, this practice is good because I don’t bring my DSLR with me everywhere I go and there are times when all I have with me is my camera phone. I want to be able to get the most out of those photos.

Just like you would never shoot your serious camera in auto mode, to get the most out of your phone photos, you have to get away from the native camera app. I use the Lightroom Mobile app (which is free and you don’t have to have Creative Cloud to use it), but there are other quality shooting and editing apps out there. Before taking the picture, the app lets you adjust your exposure, white balance, and your focus point. On the iPhone 7, Lightroom is able to shoot in RAW which is awesome because after the fact, you are able to get more out of your photos. After you take a picture, Lightroom Mobile allows you to do basic edits of the image and then you can save it to your camera roll and share it out on social media.

I recently did a comparison between two photos of the same thing, one of them was shot with my D3100 (which is not a high end camera by any means) and one was shot with my iPhone. While the iPhone camera has come a long way, and apps like Lightroom Mobile allow you to be more creative with your images, it still does not measure up to a DSLR.

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

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Photographing Winter Festivals

20170127-20170127-DSC_0098A few weeks ago was Snowfest in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Snowfest is an annual snow sculpting and ice carving competition and though its chilly, its really a fun thing to experience. After photographing the festival two years in a row, I have some advice for anyone looking to shoot a winter festival like this.

Although as you can see from the photo, there wasn’t much snow on the ground for this year’s festival, these types of festivals typically lack contrast in the photos (white ice sculpture against a white snowy background) I recommend staying away from the festival during the day. Personally, I prefer to shoot under the lights after the sun goes down. Some festivals, like the Plymouth Ice Festival, will backlight their sculptures bringing out the contours of the piece and adding interest the sculptures. With night shooting, be sure to bring your fastest lens and in a few places, I wished I had brought my off camera flash. I think that could’ve helped a few of my shots. If you’re trying to catch action, a tripod won’t help you. If you can go when the artists are out working, I find that my best pictures (both this year and last year) are of unfinished pieces that show the action. And if you can catch the ice flying like in this shot, even better!

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18-55 kit lens, handheld

Date Taken:
January 27, 2017

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

Finding Inspiration in the Changing Seasons

Tiger

I don’t know about you, but this time of year, I always lose motivation. The trees are bare and the temperatures are cold. I’ve been making a point to take my camera with me when I go out and I don’t even pick it up. I have been using this lack of inspiration as an excuse to organize my lightroom catalog. I’ve been going through my old photos and making sure everything has a star rating and proper keywords. One good thing about doing this is I stumbled upon some good shots I didn’t know I had. This shot of a tiger is one of those I discovered. How have I not posted this before? Hopefully, soon I will be snapping pics of the Christmas tree and holiday festivities, but for now, rediscovered old photos is keeping me occupied.

About the Photo:
As this shot was from 2 summers ago, I really can’t tell you much about my thought process when I took it. It was a single RAW exposure with basic edits done in Lightroom.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 55-200 kit lens handheld

Date Taken:
July 22, 2015

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

Taking a Photo a Day

Chipmunk #11

Once again, I am embarking on a Photo a Day Project this summer. I enjoy this because it forces me to look for interesting subjects in the every day. Also, I like to use this project to learn new techniques and editing styles. Back in 2011 I tried a Project 365 (where you take a photo a day for a year) and that was just too much for me. First off, it is very hard to start a project like this in the winter. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find all white landscapes very inspiring. Not to mention, I really don’t enjoy spending time outside when its below zero. If you’re looking to try something new and get some inspiration, I highly recommend trying a photo a day project, whether you have the dedication for a 365, that’s up to you.

About the Photo:
This guy comes by my house all the time but I’ve had a hard time capturing him. I know how fast he moves, so I knew I fast shutter speed was in order, so I used my 50mm lens because it is the fastest in my arsenal. Because Mr. Chippy was sitting in the shade, I upped the ISO to 800 and got a shutter speed of 1/500. The D3100 doesn’t have great noise performance so I had to do some noise reduction in Lightroom to smooth out the green.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 50.0 mm f/1.8

Date Taken:
June 8, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page.  To make sure you don’t miss any of my photos during the summer, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! To see what’s in my camera bag, check out my gear page!

Lets Talk Editing!

Butterfly House

Over and over on the blog, I preach that the gear does not make the photographer. One simple way to elevate your photography is by upgrading your photo editing software. When I got started in photography, I used Google’s free editing software, Picassa. Its inexpensive and enables the photographer to make very simple changes to a photo (i.e. exposure, contrast, simple color adjustments, crop). It is good for basic snapshots, but doesn’t really do what a serious photographer needs. Photoshop is expensive, so my first upgrade was to Photoshop Elements ($74 on Amazon). While it is a step in the right direction, it is not easy to use. And, like Picassa you have to save a copy of every photo you edit which takes up a lot of space on your hard drive, not to mention its a pain when you want to re-edit a photo. Then, I hear about Adobe Creative Cloud, a $9.99/month subscription service in which you get Lightroom and Photoshop. I signed up for a 30 day free trial and never looked back. Lightroom is so much more user friendly than Elements and its Library function is a godsend in photo organization. All three of these programs have RAW editors, but I definitely recommend Lightroom. If you’re not interested in a subscription service, you can purchase Lightroom 6 on Amazon. Of course, you do need Photoshop for more advanced edits. I’ll have Chris write on that later.

About the Photo:
This was a single RAW exposure with basic edits done in Lightroom. In a future post I will detail what I mean when I say “basic edits”.

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 55-200 kit lens, handheld

Date Taken:
June 3, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page.  I have started my summer photo a day project again this year. To make sure you don’t miss a single day, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr!

Tulip Festival

Field of Tulips

I saw recently that the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan was just rated the #1 flower festival in the US by USA Today readers. This was the second year that I made the trek over to Holland to see the blossoms and it really is beautiful! To see tulips of all colors, lined up in rows really is a sight to behold! The festival is over now, but if you are planning a visit for next year, I highly recommend Windmill Island Gardens. One thing to note, it gets very crowded during the Tulip Festival. If possible, plan your trip before the festival starts to get the gardens to yourself!

About the Photo:
If you are into photography at all you have probably heard about the importance of lighting. In the middle of the day on a sunny day, the sun is directly overhead and it casts harsh shadows. I’ll be honest, I’ve heard this over and over again and I tried to obey it but I never really understood what it meant. Well, looking at my Tulip Festival pictures, I finally understand. You can see the uneven shadows on that white tulip. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it. All rules are meant to be broken sometimes, and I think the shadows add something interesting to the image. Below, I’ve posted a photo from my visit last year when it was overcast and lightly raining. It doesn’t look as bright as the above photo (a flash would’ve helped with that), but the cloud cover provided nice, even light. The water droplets don’t hurt either.

Water on Tulips

Camera Gear (for both photos):
Nikon D3100 with 8.0-55.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens handheld

Date Taken:
Top: May 8, 2016
Bottom: May 10, 2015

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! Visit TulipTime.com to plan your Tulip Festival visit!

#igtravelchallenge May: Great Skies

`Lighthouse & Lens Flare

When talking skies, I had to go back to my trip to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Rain was on the forecast, but we decided to take the chance and drive up there anyway. The results were stunning! We got beautiful shots of the rain falling over Lake Michigan. I learned my lesson, that’s for sure! Don’t let the weather deter you from exploring and photographing!

About the Photo:
When I saw the sun in the sky this day, I knew it was the perfect candidate for a sunburst! To do this, you’ll want to be in Manual or Aperature Priority Mode on your camera and set a small aperture (larger number). I recommend starting around f/16 and taking shots, each time getting a smaller and smaller aperture. Especially if you are shooting RAW, you may not see the results on the back of your camera, but once you import it into Lightroom, pull out the highlights and you should see a sunburst in the sky!

Camera Gear:
Nikon D3100 with 18.0-55.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, handheld

Date Taken:
April 1, 2016

Thanks for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr!