Much thanks to Jeff Butler who saw the photo I entered in the Department of Energy’s “Hit me with your best SunShot” photo contest. The photo won best in show and Jeff chose to share it on his 7 Minute Solar website. I’m grateful for the recognition but more importantly, pleased to know there are good people like Jeff who advocate Clean Energy and saving our planet.
During a maintenance check of my blog, I received an alert that my current theme was out of date and required an update. Unfortunately, during the update, my blog crashed!
Oh no! I was afraid I lost everything! Fortunately, all was ok and recovered after a tech call to GoDaddy. They’ve been great helping me fix occasional issues. Unfortunately, my beloved theme I worked so hard to customize, was no longer usable. I had to find a new theme and retro fit my content and re-configure it, including all my social media links. UGH!
So. Welcome back to my blog and it’s new look! It’s pretty close to the last one, but more important, content is back and working as it did. My apologies for any inconvenience.
From a recent shoot, I had the privilege of photographing an Audi r8 super car. I had the car for a brief time, and no rigging was permitted, so to make a rolling shot, I edited it in post using Photoshop. Here’s the before and after:
While driving home on California State Route 14 from Nevada, the winds began to gust and I noticed some unusual cloud formations. I was nearing Red Rocks Canyon State Park when I pulled over and took this shot. These are rare lenticular clouds, and yes, those iridescent purple hues are real. if you’ve never seen these clouds before, they are spectacular! I hope you get a chance to see them some day.
Settings: 100-400mm lens at 200mm, 1/3200 second @ f/5.0, ISO 125
Photographing into the sun can be tricky, but if you follow a few tips, you can get spectacular results!
Get there early, before the sun rises or sets, find a spot and setup so you are ready to shoot when the action begins. The sun sets and rises very quickly, you will only have a few minutes to get that iconic shot. There are several apps Sunrise-Sunset, The Photographer’s Ephemeris (available for android and iphone) that can help you find out the exact time at your location.
Shoot in the Raw format to retain the broadest range of colors and tones. You will need to process your Raw files in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, or other editor. There are plenty of tutorials on the internet you can find to help you get started, if you are new at processing Raw files. An explanation or lesson is too lengthy for this blog post.
Shoot in Aperture Priority, because the light will be changing rapidly. The sharpest part of the lens is usually two or three stops from wide open, I recommend starting there. F/5.0 – f/8 in this range, will also work well. Or, for more drama, try stopping your aperture down (very small opening) to f/22. This will enhance the rays coming off the sun, giving them a starburst look.
If you have a lens that has an image stabilizer built in, only use it if you are hand-holding. If you are using a tripod, turn image stabilization off. There will be a switch on the lens, if it has it. Just remember to turn it back on when you are finished, otherwise your next photo session could have some blurry shots.
Hot Tip! Use exposure compensation to underexpose your shots. Sunrise and sunsets work best underexposed by a stop or two less.
Do not use any sunset/sunrise automatic modes, if your camera has them. They are fully automatic modes designed to assist those with no technical knowledge, but in most cases these modes will not give you the best results.
Tripods are recommended. Although you will be shooting at fast shutter speed, I still recommend a tripod. It forces you to be more deliberate with your composition.
Auto white balance is ok, but if you want to more control of the warm tones, set the white balance to shade. This will increase and enhance the orange hues.
Remove the UV filter if you have one on your lens. I stopped using these filters long ago, and found they offered no benefit, and in fact could make things worse. Light will bounce of the filter and refract all around the inside of the lens, creating bright areas. These filters can also reduce contrast and saturation because the glass often has no coatings.
Meter the scene away from the sun itself, on a medium-bright areas in the frame. never directly into or on the disc of the sun itself. Use Evaluative (Canon/Sony) or Matrix (Nikon) metering modes.
Turn off Auto focus. Manually pre-focus on an object (cloud, mountain or building) in the distance nearest the sun. A tripod is recommended, and this will prevent your auto-focus from hunting, if it has trouble focussing. Because you only have a brief time to get the shot, any delays will cut your shot count down and you may miss the best shot.
Clouds are your friend. Best sunset/sunrise shots are right after a rainfall, when the clouds are beginning to clear. Although, any clouds can add more drama to your shots. Low lying fog or mist can also add drama.
Find an interesting foreground object, a building, tree, people, anything that adds interest, and creates depth, and include them in your composition.
Avoid centering your horizon line. Set the horizon either closer to the bottom or to the top of the frame, dependent upon what is more interesting, the sky or the foreground. Most likely, it’s the sky, so place the horizon lower. The rule of thirds overlay in your viewfinder can help you compose. But, rules can always be broken, so do what you think works best.
I like using a telephoto lens for sunrise/sunset shots. Any focal length from 100mm – 400mm will work great. At long focal length, the sun will appear oversized, and the foreground and background will become compressed (appear closer together). Conversely, if you prefer to make the sun look small and the scene to appear more vast, use a wide angle lens.
Our move to a new place in Los Angeles is done. The exciting work of re-establishing myself and meeting new friends has begun. I’m excited about the change, but being a life-long east coaster, it’s going to take some time getting used to the culture here. Admittedly, I’m home sick. I miss my old house in Plainfield, and all my friends and family back in NJ, but LA is my new home and I’m committed to giving it a chance and to do the best work possible, give back to others, and make a new life here.
On Tuesday, November 15, I was honored to photograph And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank at the Jersey City Theater Center. Produced by Normal Avenue Productions, the show is a poingnant multimedia play by award-winning playwright James Still, directed by Susan Kerner. It weaves videotaped interviews of teen-age friends of Anne Frank, Holocaust survivors Eva Schloss and Ed Silverberg, with live actors, recreating scenes from their lives during WWII.
The message of senseless persecution of people worldwide, based on nationality, religion, race and gender, could not be more timely. Eva Schloss, an internationally honored Holocaust educator and posthumous stepsister of Anne Frank, participated with the actors and director in a post-play discussion.
Fortunately I was available when I received the invite to photograph. I’m happy I was able to provide this amazing group with my photography, and I hope the shots help as a reminder of what intolerance and hatred did in WWII.
Much thanks to Eden, Jeremy, Susan, Olga and all the cast and crew of Normal Ave Productions and Jersey City Theater Center. Please support your local arts centers.
I added sound to this set of slides and happy to share. It’s HD, view it large and crank up the volume:
In reality, it’s the female bumblebee that stings if threatened, the male is basically harmless 😕 . This has nothing to do with the movie, but I wonder if Tamara, this Bumblee’s owner, may have something to say about that! Tamara? (hehe)
Tamara and her husband Greg are good friends, and when Tamara announced she bought this car, I had to photograph it. Much thanks that she agreed, and so we spent an afternoon photographing, here, in my studio/garage. It was pouring rain and miserably cold, so we were unable to do some planned rolling shots. Instead, I concentrated on details and made the best of the bad weather.
This car has awesome lines and with patience adjusting lights, moving the car into position, I came up with some shots that I think turn an ordinary shoot into something much better and befitting of this car.
First, some specs:
Year: 2010 “Transformers” Camaro – US build quantity was 1,900 with 200 delivered to the Canadian market.
It’s a type LT2: LT is marketing short for Luxury Touring and is used to identify high-optioned models.
Colors: Yellow, black racing stripes, “Transformers” badges and a black leather interior.
Engine: V6, DOHC, direct-injection w/variable-timing, 304hp @6400 rpm’s and 3.6-liter/220 cubic inches. This is a quick car.
Mileage: EPA 18 mpg city/29 mpg highway. Impressive economy for a performance car.
Transmission: 6-speed manual. Manual is more fun, period.
Brakes: ABS 4-wheel disc
Tires/Wheels: p245/50R19. Nineteen-inch tires are big, mounted on solid 19×8 polished billet Aluminum.
Suspension: 4-wheel independent, MacPherson struts front, Coil over gas shocks multi-link rear. Stabilizer bars, front and rear. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Weight: 3,872 pounds. This is heavy. Could benefit from a diet.
Audio: AM/FM/Sirius XM/CD, Aux. audio input via USB, 9-speakers, Boston Acoustics Premium, total 245 watts. Yay.
Comfort and convenience: Leather seats, leather shift and steering wheel, driver seat 6-way power adjust, heated seats, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power steering, brakes windows, door locks, reading lights, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control. Me like.
Instrumentation: Classic style “meter” gauges, oil pressure, transmission temp, tachometer. I love old-style metered gauges, I hate digital.
Telematics: wireless phone data link via bluetooth.
I’m sure I missed something, but you get the idea.
Here’s the light box with some favorites:
My fondness for Camaro’s goes back to high school. My first car was a 1974 Type LT Camaro, in Inca Bronze, with a 350 cubic inch v8 and I purchased it used in 1977. So glad I found these old Polaroids.
This is an opinion, to make the case for NOT UGLI-IFYING your photos with watermarks!
I see it every day, spackled over photos posted on social media sites all over the web. Watermarks are ugly, and they do nothing useful. We already know it’s your photo, you are sharing, right? So why be redundant.
Unless you are an amazing professional, the reality is there’s only a small chance your photos will ever be stolen. And watermarks will not prevent your images from getting stolen regardless of who you are.
Who are those horrible theives anyway?
Most likely, it’s the average person who wants to refresh their wallpaper, or a person who wants to make a print and hang it on their office or home wall. Yes, that’s awful, it’s wrong, they should ask permission first, and pay you, but you can’t stop them, watermark or no watermark. If they want it, they’re going to screen-shot it, or right-click it off your web page, crop or clone out the watermark in Photoshop or other editing software. A more savvy user may know code enough to decipher the HTML and download the original. Those dirty S0#$ of B!#%*’$!!!.
In the rare instance, someone steals your photo for commercial use, again, a watermark will not stop them either. However, there are some things you can do without watermarking to help prevent theft, that I will explain later. But more important, stop worrying about your photos being stolen.
Why are watermarks ugly?
They are distracting, egocentric, and destroy everything that is good about a photo. Leading lines, rule of thirds, golden mean, light, gesture, color, all those traits that make a photo strong, are rendered broken.
But what I dislike the most is the egocentricity. It’s as if you are screaming “This is MY signed masterpiece, I made it, I’m amazing, I own it, I’m great, and don’t even think of stealing my precious jewel. Your lucky I even let you look at it. And while you’re looking, don’t forget to press the “Like” button and “Vote for my photo” buttons.
The watermark is not real ink from a pen, or paint from a brush, and is not personally signed by your very own hand. It’s an electronic font, tattooed into the photo, like a branding iron on the assess of a herd of cattle.
Why should you care?
You shouldn’t. Get over yourself. Does it really matter that someone likes your photo enough to want to use it for wallpaper or a screen-resolution print for their office or home? The quality will be screen-resolution, and horrible quality at best. Do you really think you are outsmarting the bad guys?
Ok smartypants, what can I do to protect my precious masterpieces?
If you are that concerned about protecting your photos from theives, there some steps you can do that are better, actionable, and don’t muck-up your photos with goofy, ugly, ego marks.
1. Register your photos copyrights with the U.S. copyright office. This way, if you register in time, you may receive statutory damages up to $150,000 for willful infringment. Legal fees and costs may also be recovered. Here’s the link to the US Copyright Registration website. Ok, I registered my photo, how do I know someone stole my babies and are using them to earn commercial windfalls? This is tough, but there are some tools that can help search the web for stolen photos:
2. Add your copyright notice to your EXIF data. What is that? EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) is data that is embedded into your photo that contains info such as what camera, lens, focal length, f-stop, aperture, time of capture, GPS location data, and the biggie – copyright, and your name. This identifies the photo as copyright protected and that you are the owner/author/maker. You can add the copyright info, even if you don’t register your photo, and you should. If you are concerned about theft for commercial use, you must register with the government’s copyright office, to be certain. It’s illegal for someone to remove CMI (copyright managment info) in your EXIF data, that identifies your name as author and copyright holder, and the fines start at $2,500 and to up to $25,000 plus lawyers’ fees, if infringed upon. Most people don’t know these consequences.
3. Make it more difficult for others to take your photos without your permission. Disable “right-click” so that novices cannot easily download. READ the terms and conditions of any website you post your photo, particulary Facebook. You can watermark untill you are blue in the face, but once you post directly on certain social media websites, you are likely signing away your usage rights to them. This defeats the watermark, and turns it into just an ego mark. If you disagree with the terms, post a link to the photo from your own website, instead of uploading the photo itself. Be smart about this, plus social media sites often down-sample your photos, which deteriorates the quality and color accuracy. This is huge, no photographer that’s worth their salt wants their photos tampered with. The irony is, posting a watermarked photo on social media, is like saying, I love myself more than I care about the quality of my photos posted here.
5. If you must share a photo directly to a social media site, and you just can’t stop worrying about theft, downsize the photo. Re-sample the resolution/size down to a small, screen-resolution copy. This will make it impossible to use as a print. This may still not stop someone from stealing it for their website, but the smaller size will make it harder for them to want it.
Last words, please stop the insanity, and stop watermarking your photos. Let them be seen in all their magnificent glory, so you the art-tist can be proud. There may be exceptions where you must watermark (I cringe at the thought), but I can’t think of any right now. And yes, a long, long time ago, for a very short time, I too was the a victim of the watermark disease. Thankfully, I got the vaccine and my photos are all clean now.
Sound off! Agree, disagree, feel free to discuss and please do comment.
I recently visited the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, with some friends for a photo outing. The hub was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Santiago Calatrava, and it just opened on March 3, 2016. Although as you can see above, construction is still going on.
The design and position of the Hub will maximize the autumnal equinox sun rays, which occur in September, around the anniversary of the catastrophe. Calatrava designed the Oculus to resemble a soaring bird with wings spread, to add a spiritual dimension to the structure.
At the top of the structure is long window to let in light, known as the Oculus.
It is stunning to see, and will no doubt become a destination for tourists when visiting downtown or the 911 memorial museum nearby.