Friday, December 03, 2010

Tips for Photographing Christmas Lights

One of the best sights this time of year is the Christmas light displays. All the colors and design seem to bring life to the still of the night. Photographing these displays is a wonderful way to share the sights with others.  I have a few tips that might make it a touch easier to capture the moment in a wonderful image that you can share for years to come.
Photo by Scott Cramer
1. Plan or schedule you shooting time. The time of day is very critical to a well exposed photo full of colors. The best time is when the sky and the lights are as equal as possible, in other words the light from lights does not overpower the sky. My preferred time is shortly after the sun goes down, perhaps 15 minutes or so. I will usually take some test shots at two to three minute intervals starting at about 15 minutes after the sun goes down. When you have found the best time you will only have about ten minutes of shooting time, be ready!
    On the other hand, some folks like the pitch black background so you see virtually nothing but lights with some structure peaking through the lights. If this is what you are after then I would wait until dark sets in and then take the shot at a faster shutter speed.

    2. Use a supporting device. A tripod or beanbags, in case you are shooting from a car window, is very helpful. Actually, they are a must have in most cases because your exposure time will be slow. If you are after the black background look, I still recommend a bracing device.
      3. Christmas lights are for the most part tungsten; be sure to set your white balance to tungsten before shooting. This will ensure the colors you see are what you will get.
        4. Snow makes an interesting foreground, so don’t try to crop it out when framing your picture. Reflective items make for interesting foregrounds as well. If you are using the roof of the car as a base, try to get some of the reflections in the image.
          5. Turn off all flash accessories. Flash is not a good thing for Christmas light photos.

            After you have taken a few photos, use the remainder of your sight seeing to discover new and wonderful sights for the next shot. Christmas lights can be a little tricky but, with a little practice you will be creating wonderful images for years to come.

            Saturday, November 27, 2010

            Family Portrait Posing Tips

            Are you thinking of sending family portraits to friends and family during the holiday season? If so, I have a few tips to help keep those photos looking fresh and unique from year to year.

            1. Keep your poses interesting and different. Look at last year portraits and change up the posing somewhat. Change the arrangement, positioning and colors of the photos. The key is each subject should flatter the other while maintaining a sense of family between them.

            2. If you take photos outdoors, ensure the scene compliments you. For instance overcast skies tend to make objects appear flat and lifeless. Do not pick an area that has a lot of background traffic.

            3. Ensure all head wear such as Santa caps are not covering the eyes or creating a shadow across the face.

            4. Lighting - hair lights do not work well with people that are balding. If you must use the hair light with people that are balding then plan some extra time so you can move the lights around so the reflections are not beaming into the camera.

            5. Do not make family portraits a chore. Capturing unique and dynamic family portraits should be fun.

            Friday, November 19, 2010

            PhotoEditorX Review

            Photo Editor X Photo Editing Software Banner

            PhotoEditorX is a very complete software that can be used to edit photos in a very professional way. It's very easy to learn how to handle it and with this software you'll be able to edit your photos to become as good as the photos you see in magazines. This is a great system that will help you create perfect pictures from scratch and you don't need any photo editing skills to use this software.

            This software has a bunch of appealing features and it will take you plenty of time to explore them all. The program makes it possible for you to try image manipulation, simple rezising of your images and many other things and all the features are very useful whether you want to use this for private purpose or in your business.

            The greatest thing of all regarding PhotoEditorX is that it's perfectly suitable for professionals as well as beginners. Everyone can use this and get satisfied when they see the results. It's not exactly a low budget alternative since it's better than many expensive alternatives, but it is a cheap alternative with high quality.

            Thousands of people use this software on a daily basis, some of them work with it to edit pictures for magazines and newspapers. The results that you get are always amazing and there are simple guidelines to follow in case you don't understand how to edit your files.

            I think this software is totally fantastic and some things make this software exceptional. These four features are the ones that is most appealing according to me:

            · You get the same features as you get when you use PhotoShop but this software is a lot easier to learn how to handle and you will get this photo suite a lot cheaper than if you decide to buy PhotoShop.

            · You will get the same program that most publishers use and you don't need to have any particular education or experience to be able to get as good results as the publishers.

            · You will get a chance to restore old photos and this is amazing since you'll be able to keep all your old memories for centuries, which would be impossible without this software.

            · You can change the background and remove all unwanted things that shouldn't be there.

            These are only a few of the available features and you will probably find your own favorites as soon as you start using PhotoEditorX. The possibility to change colors, add frames, make teeth white and many other things are amazing and you won't want to work without this software once you've tried it.

            There are plenty of reasons why you should choose this software and here are a few.

            Budget – You'll save plenty of money by choosing PhotoEditorX as it's quite cheap and very cost-worthy.

            Results – You'll get better results than you could ever hope for with any other software.

            Saturday, October 16, 2010

            Help Your Photos Pop

            ButterflyAre your photos falling short in the pop department? One of the most over looked compositional elements can be to blame, Bokeh. Simply put bokeh is a technique where the photographer throws the background out of focus, creating a soft blend of the background objects.

            So, what does throwing the background out of focus do? When the subject is sharp and the background is blurred the subject tends to stand off from the background. Almost like a 3D object. Therefore, your subject is more likely to pop out at the viewers. In the photo of the butterfly the foliage in the background is blurred to allow the viewer to see the butterfly with out distraction.

            Throwing the background out of focus is not always as easy as it seems. Bokeh does have quality and quantity levels that make the blurring effect good and bad. Yes, you heard correctly there is good bokeh and bad bokeh. Without going into great detail, I am going to say that the blur should be smooth, blending the objects and lights evenly. Bokeh that creates shapes are not the most pleasing to view. To do this, we generally use a shallow depth of field, keeping the subject in sharp focus and the background out of focus.

            Steps to Creating Good Bokeh

            1. Equipment: A camera that allows you to control the aperture settings will be needed. A DSLR or SLR is preferred. If you have a camera in the point and shoot category check for an A/V or Portrait setting, either of these will usually work.
            2. Turn off any and all flash units. Flash is not good for boken.
            3. The objective is to get a shallow depth of field, which can be achieved in several ways. The shallow depth of field will throw objects behind the subject out of focus and hopefully creating a nice smooth bokeh. I prefer the A/V setting to be in the area or 4.0 if possible, 5.6 at the highest f/stop and 2.8 at the lowest f/stop. If your camera does not have the A/V setting, try the portrait setting. Generally speaking it does not work as well as the A/V setting. If all else fails, move your subject away from the background (more than a few feet).
            4. Focus on the subject and click.

            You can bring your photos back to life and make them pop with just a little good bokeh. Try it, I know you will like the results.


            Sunday, October 10, 2010

            Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 – Plog Photo Blog

            I came across this collection of photos and thought they are worth the sharing. This is a must see collection of photos.

            Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 – Plog Photo Blog

            Tuesday, September 28, 2010

            Adobe Elements 9 Released!

            Adobe Elements 9 Released!: "You can tell that Photokina is generating quite the buzz with all the product launches and announcements that have been leaking out recently. Adobe is no different as they announced today the release of Photoshop Elements 9! This is a great product and actually is my recommendation for the cost-conscious crowd when it comes to editing your photos. While Lightroom is a great resource for managing your photos and doing the “quick edits”, sometimes you do need the power of layers and more heavy-lifting tasks that Lightroom just isn’t equipped to do. To add Photoshop CS5 adds a pretty big … Continue reading


            Wednesday, September 08, 2010

            Adobe releases Photoshop Express for iPad & iPhone

            Adobe releases Photoshop Express for iPad & iPhone: "Adobe has introduced Photoshop Express as an application for Apple's iPad and iPhone. Previously known as Mobile, the app has now been optimized for use with the iPad. It enables users to view, edit and apply effects to images via gesture-based functions. Photoshop Express is available as a free download from Apple's App Store for new users and as an update including the new name for existing users. It is also available in the Android Marketplace."

            Thursday, August 26, 2010

            Canon Unveils Six New L-Series Lenses

            Canon Unveils Six New L-Series Lenses: "New glass includes 400mm f/2.8 and 8-15mm f/4 fisheye."

            I started looking at some of the new stuff from canon and noticed they have been some busy bodies and really flooding the market for fall and winter. Any how SIX new lenses, new camera and more!

            Canon EOS 60D DSLR announced and previewed

            Canon EOS 60D DSLR announced and previewed: "Canon has unveiled the EOS 60D mid-level DSLR, replacing the EOS 50D. However, following the launch of the EOS 7D, the 60D has been repositioned in the market, so isn't a simple upgrade to its predecessor. Instead the 60D is a smaller camera featuring an articulated screen and plastic body shell and utilizing SD memory cards. It combines the 18MP CMOS sensor and 1040k dot 3.0" LCD from the EOS 550D (Rebel T2i) with the AF system from the 50D. Meanwhile it gains the 7D's HD movie capability. We've had a chance to use a pre-production 60D so have prepared a hands-on preview, including sample images and movies."

            Saturday, July 31, 2010

            A few tips for Photographers Traveling Overseas

            Venice PanoramaUS Photographers going overseas should be aware that departing and entry into the grand ole USofA are not always the same thing. Actually, leaving is not hard at all, but re-entry can be a pain if not planned for properly.

            Reading horror stories about photographers having equipment taxed or just being hassled about their equipment drove me to put together a few tips from all these lessons learned.

            The biggest tip I seem to see is to simply prepare your self for overseas travel; nothing better than planning ahead. Start with our (US) own customs. They have a website full of info and a checklist to assist you in planning for your travels. The checklist is at the web site.

            To (hopefully) keep you from being taxed on your equipment when you re-enter the US you need to complete a CB form 4457. You can get a PDF copy by clicking here. My understanding is that this form must be completed prior to your departure from the US.

            The last bit of advice: try not to argue with the customs agent. I am sure they do not like travelers quoting regulations and such. Like a policeman told me one time, “you may win in court, but right now I am the law and what I say goes”. However, by no means degrade yourself or let your equipment be taken from you.

            Friday, July 30, 2010

            Ansel Adams lost Slides in Dispute.

            It appears the lost slides of Ansel Adams may not be that at all. Other photographers of the era seems to have taken photographs similar to the work of Adams. Hand writing on the envelopes suggest that Pop Laval could have taken them and  87-year-old Miriam Walton states her uncle Earl could have taken them because her uncle was shooting at the same locations as Adams during that era. Boy could this be a soap, where is Hollywood when you need them.

            To read the article click here.

            Wednesday, July 28, 2010

            Lost work of Ansel Adams found

            Man buys $200M worth of Ansel Adams' work for $45

            Ansel Adams (Photo by Troy Holden. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.)
            BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - A trove of old glass negatives bought at a garage sale for $45 have been authenticated as the lost work of famed nature photographer Ansel Adams and are worth at least $200 million, an attorney for the owner said Tuesday.

            This story is unreal, lost work of Ansel Adams selling for $45. Wow! To read the complete article click here.

            Sunday, July 25, 2010

            Royal family open Flickr photography account

            Rare pictures of the Royal family have been posted on the internet after Buckingham Palace opened an account on photography website Flickr.

            The images of recent royal events, archive pictures of the Queen, Prince of Wales and other members of the monarchy can be seen from Monday.

            More than 600 photographs have been added to the British Monarchy's Photostream account.

            Read the full article by clicking here.

            Monday, July 05, 2010

            Portfolio Reviews

            © courtesy of Michael Foley
            Judgment day is here, portfolio review. But are you really ready for the review? Portfolios are very important for photographers and should not be taken like a grain of salt. Some very important questions should be answered before you enter your review. Michael Foley, the owner of Foley Gallery in New York was interviewed by PDN on this topic and brings to light some interesting points that should be taken wisely. Read the entire article by clicking here.

            Sunday, June 27, 2010

            Photographing Fireworks

            FireworkWith the 4th of July just around the corner, I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about photographing fireworks.

            Photographing fireworks has always been an adventure for me. It seems every year the spot I have scoped out gets filled on the big day before I can get there. However, I do try to make the best of it and enjoy my shooting.

            I generally use a tripod, small flash light, memory cards - at least 4 gb worth of memory, remote shutter release, and confront items such as water.

            Finding a good spot to shoot from is the biggest challenge. You will need to do a little before hand surveying if possible. Make sure there are no trees or other tall obstacles in your line of sight to the fireworks. A good clear view is best. I do not recommend getting directly under them or down wind from the explosions, the smoke will float in front of the fireworks. I try to find a spot where I can see well without having to move the camera around.

            Once the shooting location is found set-up the tripod, camera and remote shutter release. Determining where exactly you will be shooting and attempt to pre-focus in the general area. When framing the area look for horizon lines ensuring if they are in your shot they are straight and any obstacles in the background or foreground that would cause distractions. Whether you shot in the vertical or horizontal position will be your preference; I prefer vertical.

            One of the questions I have been asked quite a bit is - How do you know when and where to release the shutter? I use a longer shutter time of 1 - 2 seconds, and when I see the tail of the firework starting to fade I will open the shutter. At other times I will open the shutter and leave it open capturing several at once. To do this you simply tape a black piece of foam board to the end of the lens and after the first explosion flip the foam board over the lens to cover the front, then when you are ready to capture the next one you flip up the foam board. Of course you can do this in photoshop as well, but sometimes doing it in camera is so much more fun. You can also use the bulb setting on the camera. To do this open the shutter by pushing the shutter release button on the remote shutter release and continue pressing the release button until the firework has faded away or you are happy with the length of time, then release the button. As far as where to frame, I do most pre-framing before the fireworks start; however, I do reframe on the first firework, lock in the tripod and begin clicking.

            The Aperture I use is in the range of f/5.6 - f/11. Some people like using faster speeds and some like using slower speeds. It is not necessary to have a super fast f/1.2 lens to capture fireworks.

            The focal length is from 35mm - 300mm, with most shoots occurring around 80mm. Again, this is your preference depending on what you are capturing. Tight shots can be just as interesting as wide shots, experiment a bit.

            I would recommend shooting in a totally manual mode, no flash. In auto mode the camera can really be faked out and there is no telling what you will get. Try to check as you are going to see if you are capturing what you want.

            Enjoy your shooting!

            Thursday, June 24, 2010

            Have Problems Removing and Filling in Objects?

            The new Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop CS5 will help those that have troubles with removing objects from photos. It is a remarkable tool that magically removes and fills the space with the matching background. Watch the attached video to see the tool in use.


            Casual Photographers Manage Your Photos Without The Expensive Software

            ArcoSoft has launched a new software package that seems to answer the expensive software problem for casual photographers. PhotoImpression has a price of $40 and a Free Trial period for you to give it a test run. The software has your basic editing tools and stacking capabilities. The software is lacking in some areas and some thought should be given before buying it. For the price it is not a bad choice for a basic program. To read more about the new software click here.

            Monday, April 12, 2010

            Its Here! Adobe CS5!

            Adobe unveils Photoshop CS5 & CS5 Extended.

            Discover breakthrough interactive design tools that enable you to create, deliver, and optimize beautiful, high-impact digital experiences across media and devices. Create once and deliver that same experience virtually everywhere, thanks to the highly anticipated releases of the Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR® 2 runtimes. Maximize the impact of what you've created through integration of signature Omniture® technologies. Click Here to check it out...

            Sunday, April 11, 2010

            Reuters Photographer Killed

            Photojournalism is a risky business, especially for those that wish to cover war and terror.
            During hostile engagements, enemy recognition is not always an easy task for soldiers and airmen. Blood pumping rapidly though the body, your heart is pounding, your mind is searching for something to justify killing before you are killed. Hasty judgments are made. Visions of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys can be clouded by personal emotion. Unfortunately, when our visions become clouded people die needlessly. In watching this video I felt this was the case. Photojournalist fall victim to the might of helicopter fire power because they were mistakenly identified as bad guys carrying weapons.
            Listening to the tone of the voice, it sounds as if emotions to kill before being killed were taking over the hunt. In my opinion some of the killing could have possibility been avoided if the personal emotions would have been observed or attention was given to the eagerness to kill. Of course, the eagerness to kill is driven by the mind set - kill before you are killed. This is my opinion and my opinion only. Feel free to watch the video and make your own judgment.

            Be aware this video is graphic. To read the full story by David Walker, on PDN click here

            "Leaked Military Video Shows Killing of Reuters Photographer"

            Wednesday, March 31, 2010

            Looking for revenue from your old photos

            State and Madison streets in downtown Chicago following the Chicago Fire in 1871.
            Millions of archived print photos spells new streams of income, or at least this is what the Chicago Tribune is hoping. In an attempt to create revenues the Chicago Tribune is looking to digitize all of their print photos; some 7 million plus. The up front costs are probably going to be mind blowing, but the long run should be fruitful. Time will tell and this project is worth following, book mark it. To read the full article click here...

            Wednesday, March 24, 2010

            Adobe Creative Suite 5

            Yes, it is true folks, Adobe has set a launch date for the new CS 5. Join them for their global launch. To see what CS 5 has to offer click here...

            Sunday, March 21, 2010

            Kangaroo Conservation Center

            Red Kangaroo
            This weekend we headed up to the Kangaroo Conservation Center in Dawsonville, Georgia to see the Mob. Yeah, you read correctly the mob. Well, not the mob as in bad dudes but the Kangaroo Mobs. The weather was nice and the drive was short, only 45 minutes. The center itself was not a bad deal, although the cost was a bit high for what you get. The people were friendly and the Kangaroos were out sun bathing and the whitetail deer were active. Overall the attractions were in good order.

            Blue Crowned Pigeon
            Bearded Dragon
            However, the photo opportunity was not as good as I had thought it would be. I really did not a get a good shot of the kangaroos. Most shots were long and I didn't have a 400mm lens. (The photo on the page here was blown up to 175 percent.) A disappointment for me. But the billobong center had a lot of photo opportunities. The billobong center had the birds, reptiles and lost kids. Just kidding about the kids.
            If you plan to visit and want some good kangaroo photos I suggest at least a 300 - 400 mm lens. Oh yeah, eat before you go.

            Monday, March 15, 2010

            The Wonderful Days of Spring

            Gazing out at the blue sky makes me long for spring and all the new growth that will be here soon. Spring is a wonderful time for photographers with all the new colors. It is a bad time to be caught sleeping. Don't let spring sneak up and pass you by. Check your equipment now, ensure it is ready. Below is a list I usually go through before I start my Spring sessions.
            • Clean your sensor
            • Check your camera, your lens and other equipment you might use for proper operation
            • Ensure you have ample storage, i.e.. cards and hard disk space
            • Clean out the camera bag and replenish expendable supplies, such as lens wipes and batteries
            Do not let the "oh no" of poorly operating equipment keep you from enjoying shooting in the Spring. Be prepared, happy shooting!

              Sunday, March 14, 2010

              Drought reveals Church

              I found this article while reading the National Geographic Daily News and thought it to be worthy of re-posting, in case you do not receive the Daily News. Reading this article brings to mind our own drought a couple of years back. Hopefully, those people that might have found odd objects in the water ways recorded them via a camera for generations to view later. Enjoy the article.

              Exposed Church

              Photographs by Diario La Nacion, Reuters (left) and Jorge Silva, Reuters (right)
              You might call it an act of God. A severe drought in Venezuela has exposed a church—pictured in 2008 (left) and on February 21, 2010—that had been inundated when a hydroelectric dam was built in 1985. Read more here...

              Saturday, March 13, 2010

              Georgia Cities...A Story to Tell (Photo Contest)

              Contest are a vital part of a growing photographers lifeline. Contest help the photographer grow, branch out and most importantly get their work in front of the public eye. To help all the growing photographers I will begin posting contest, as I learn of them, to this blog. To start this effort will be the

              The City of Valdosta is proud to once again participate in Georgia Cities Week with a host of events for citizens of all ages to enjoy. This year's theme is: Georgia Cities...Energy to Transform.  The City is proud to host the Georgia Cities Week Photo Contest 2010 and is looking for photos that capture the best of living in Valdosta! Read more...

              To see the complete list of 2010 Participating Cities click here!
              Happy Shooting!

              Friday, March 12, 2010

              30 Photographic Goals for 2010

              Creating goals and accomplishing them are not always the same. That really goes across the board in all areas. How many times have you set goals, but just never got around to putting the effort into accomplishing them. Reading this post from a friend sparked a thought that if I accomplished half of these, I would be on a good course for the year and perhaps increase the goals next year. I felt I should share this article "30 Photographic Goals for 2010", by Christina N Dickson as well just in case some folks have not seen it. To read the full article by Dickson click here. I feel it is inspiring and if you only set a few of the goals and accomplish them you should be on your way to a good photographic year. Good luck and happy shooting!

              Wednesday, March 03, 2010

              Canon Group Donates $168,000 To Chile relief efforts Following the Devastating Earthquake

              LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., March 2, 2010 – The Canon Group, including Canon Inc., Canon U.S.A., Inc., Canon Latin America, Inc. and Canon Chile S.A., today announced that they have pledged approximately $168,000 (15 million yen) to relief efforts for Chile, following the powerful earthquake that struck the country on February 27, 2010, causing extensive damage and loss of life. read more...

              Monday, March 01, 2010

              Chile Earthquake Pictures: Quake Spurs Tsunami Threat

              Chile Earthquake 2010: From Rubble, Grief

              Photograph by Victor Ruiz Caballero, Reuters

              As the sun sets on February 27, 2010, the day that a massive earthquake struck off the shore of Chile, people console one another next to a destroyed building in Talca... (read more)

              Sunday, February 21, 2010

              Photoshop online photo sharing and editing.

              Photoshop has entered the online photo sharing and editing biz. The service is similar to Flickr and all the others, with the exception of the editing. The editing module appears to be a little more in depth than some of the other services. The sharing module allows one to send their photos to other services, such as Flickr or Facebook; kind of a drag and drop thing. The service excepts stills as well as videos, like most other services.
              You can take it for a test drive or set-up an account, it is easy. Since, I already have an account I decided to put one photo on the system to see what it is about and how it looks when viewed. Click here to judge for yourself. To test drive the service click here.

              Sunday, February 14, 2010

              Snow Days!

              Fence full of snowAt last the snow days!! I was wondering if we were going to get any real snow days or not this season. I know we had a dusting a few weeks back but nothing of any amount. Of course if you compare this to the Northern states this is not a real amount, but for Georgia it is just fine.

              I didn't get a real chance to get out. My car did not take to the snow and decided not to start. So, I was limited by how much I wanted to walk. Off I went, but I forgot one most important item, CF cards. Yep it was but a short while before my camera was blinking the message "CF Card Full". So much for a lot of photos. So, I made snow angels and men instead.

              Thursday, February 11, 2010

              The New Rebel!


              The Family Camera is Back, Introducing the EOS Rebel T2i Featuring a Large 18-Megapixel CMOS Sensor and Full HD Video Recording with Selectable Frame Rates up to 30 fps.

              Tuesday, February 09, 2010

              Online Portfolio

              I have created a new site for my portfolio Darren Carroll photography. Feel free to go check my links and all that, feedback is welcome.
              The site is a mixture of html and flash. I decided not to go completely flash because of the SEO factor. I had to sacrifice somethings because of this, like the music. The color choice is based on the 18 percent gray theory and the photos actually do look different depending on their background. Click here to go directly to the site or use the link on the right side under the heading Photography Web Sites.

              Friday, January 22, 2010

              Online & Digital Print Sales

              The topic of to print or not to print for online sales has surfaced several times over the past couple of months. Believe it or not while reseaching it I found an article by Jason Anderson from the Canon Blogger on this very same topic. No need to reinvent the wheel. Here is the link to the article. Online & Digital Print Sales, by Jason Anderson. It gets interesting, enjoy it.

              Friday, January 15, 2010

              Another Holiday Season Comes and Goes

              With the 2009 Holidays sliding into history it is time to begin the photo files for 2010. Hopefully, everyone has cleaned up thier files, cards and equipment and is ready for the spring floods, flowers and fashions. What a wonderful time it is going to be! I can't wait to see all the new photos.
              Darren's Photography Blog - Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column