Monday, February 13, 2017

Shoot the Moon?

No, this is not some college prank post! 😁  Have you ever wanted to go out and take that perfect shot of the moon, but no matter how hard you try it just doesn't want to work?  Of course you have. We all have!  You even resort to the dreaded "P" mode, and this is what you get...

And yet, you know that people are out there getting shots that look something like this...

These were taken of the same moon, the same night, within minutes of one and other.  What's the secret?  

First off - USE A TRIPOD!  Even though both of these were shot on the same tripod, there's still more.

Second item of business is manual mode - across the board.  NO auto-ISO, NO auto-focus, No auto-aperture, and no auto-shutter control.  Yeah, I know - FULL MANUAL?  Absolutely.  And there is more.

Third item - get your shutter release and set it up.  If you have live mode, use it.  You are going to be shooting a long exposure, and these are essential to remove camera shake, even from the shutter action.

Okay, now that we have been slapped on the wrist with the ruler, just how do we get a shot like this? Begin with a nice long lens - in this case I used my Sigma 150-500 with a 2x teleconverter.  This was also shot on my Nikon D-810.  You don't need all this, but if you've got it, use it.  Ideally, you want to fill the viewfinder with the moon so as not to waste any of those hard earned pixels.

You want detail, and that takes time.  In this case, 1/2 a second.  ISO was set at 100, and the aperture was at f/29.  It really is a bright moon, so you want to stop down the camera and get the most out of that lens, especially if using a teleconverter.  This will not only give you more detail in the moon, but it will also help to create that really dark sky to accentuate the contrast.

If you're not capturing the image to show off the beautiful orange color from the sunset, you may want to consider using black and white mode to help with the detail.  These were shot in color.

These are not the only way to get this type of shot, but it should serve as a good starting point for you to play with.  Try to vary the settings until you are happy with what you see.  If you don't have a good teleconverter, you're probably better of just cropping your image.  I have taken many really great moon shots with a relatively inexpensive 300mm zoom lens on 10MP cameras, so don't think that you can't do it without a lot of expensive gear.

As a side note, my wife says she won't be happy until she can get a picture of the flag on the moon.  I won't repeat the subsequent conversation, but suffice it to say that she has been advised to go for perhaps a slightly lesser goal! LOL

Most importantly, get outside, set up your tripod, pull up a seat, and have some fun experimenting with different settings.  On a really bright moon, such as this one was, I have gone so far as to use an ND filter also.  Remember, winter usually gives a little better chance of a good moon shot because of the atmospheric distortion.  But what do I know - I like taking shots of the full, or nearly full, moon every chance I get.

Enjoy your night time shooting, and keep the shutter clicking!


Monday, January 30, 2017

More than photography...

Many people think of photographers for weddings, special events, or even that "Required" family photo.  They think of that book that sits in the hallway closet or maybe even on the coffee table that showcases that special time.  They may even have a large framed print or canvas hanging on the wall over their sofa to honor that individual or group that holds such meaning in their heart.  Is that all there is to photography?

Of course not!  Sure, we all see those ads in magazines or online showing that perfect product placement to promote whatever.  We see billboards and newspapers daily - all filled with photos.  Surely that is what photographers do.

Sure, some - no, make that most - make their living providing the services mentioned above.  But there can be so much more to photography than that!  My wife, Julie Everhart, and I believe that these are all great ways to make a living as a photographer - they're just not "Our Way".

We don't work for large advertising agencies, newspapers or magazine publishers.  We're not on anyone's payroll for that matter.  We don't shoot on assignment, and we only take shooting events and people of our choosing.  Are we snobs?  I don't think so.  Many people use the term "Freelancer" to describe this type of photographer.  One definition of this term (Wikipedia's) is "A freelancer or freelance worker is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term."

You see, we believe, as do many other nature and landscape photographers, that it is our duty to find the beauty in nature and present it to you so that you may enjoy sights and invoke feelings that due to location, health, finances, or whatever reason, you are unable to see on your own.

Perhaps it is that castle in Scotland,

or that Great Heron sharing a log with a turtle in the wetlands,

or maybe it's that Renaissance Fair that you couldn't get to because you had to work or it was too far away.

Maybe it was that sunset on the beach that you never got to see in person.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was something else that you saw, but wanted to remember at a glance whenever you wanted to just "Get Away".

Is this "Freelancing"?  We don't think so.  You see, we dedicate our time with camera in hand to you.  You are our long-term commitment.  Through the hours we spend taking the trips and working to get the perfect images, we always do it to give you the image that you want.  The colors from Autumn in the Northeastern U.S., the Magenta and Orange sunsets, the wildlife, flora, and fauna.  The historic landmarks, and even the street festivals and themed fairs offer sights for a lifetime.

It is your support through purchasing our work that allows us to continue our employment.  We have worked very hard for over 50 years between us to bring our craft to the level you see today.  We present original photographs, artistic impressions, and even original artwork and designs to you through our website and it's links to our online stores so that you may find the wall hanging, throw pillow, dress, shirt, pants, clock, or watch that says "I'm the one that you want".

Shameless plug?  Maybe, but we do like to eat occasionally, and the mortgage still has payments due each and every month.  We're here for you, and are happy to provide images that you may not even see, if you let us know of something in particular that you like.  After all - we took over 11,000 photos in 18 days in November 2016 while traveling throughout the U.K. alone!  Imagine how many photos we have between us that we "Could" make available to you.

Stroll through our website, and leave us a message if there is something that you have in mind that you would like to have.  You might be surprised.  The sidebar on this page also includes a link to Julie's Pinterest Board where she has fashion and wearable art highlighted.  Thanks again for your continued support!  We love working for you!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Organize Your Photos? Why Bother?

The worst problem a photographer has, even at a casual level, is finding that ONE photo that you know you have, but can't remember where you put it.  Sound familiar?

You can, of course, just dump all your photos into one or even many photo folders, but unless you really think through how you want them organized, that can still be cumbersome.  I just did a quick check, and see that I am currently sitting with 31,020 photos organized that I can cull through in moments to find the image I want.  Check out this screenshot of my "Pictures" folder.  Yes, over 6 TB of photos in almost 600 folders! How quickly could you find that one special photo?

There are many schemes that people use to try to organize.  Years ago, I organized my music collection.  OH MY!  Was that ever a nightmare!  Let's just say I really like my music, and have either purchased digital or digitized all my old vinyl.  The project of organizing it took far more time that I would want to invest today.  So what about my photos?  Glad you asked!

Almost 20 years ago, in the infancy of digital photography, I knew what was going to happen if I didn't organize.  I decided "You know Bob, your memory is really pretty good.  If you set up a folder for the year, a sub-folder for the month, and then sub-folders within that for every shoot, you'll be fine."  Moral to this story, "What did you eat for dinner last Thursday?" draws a deer in the headlights response.

I used to spend up to 15 minutes just drilling down to browse the sub-sub-sub-folders just to find the shoot.  And that was if I remembered what year it was!  Trust me, things do blur together on the timeline as it gets longer.

Quit procrastinating and get organized.  There are many packages that can help you do this.  If you are a hobby photographer or testing the waters at a higher level, you should definitely consider using a package that will help automate your workflow.  Imagine bringing home your camera, plugging the memory card in, and transferring all those prized photos onto your computer with tags to help you find them, and even preview the images to make sure you want them all before committing precious hard drive space to storing those images.  Perhaps they were all a little dark or you wanted them in a different format?  This can all be changed on their way to the hard drive if you use a package like Lightroom to handle the heavy lifting.  It will also synchronize those photos to all of your mobile devices as well.  Sound to good to be true?  It's not.

Of course, Lightroom is not free, and for many would not be considered cheap.  Another equally powerful package that will provide you with the same type of power is AfterShot.  For those on the Apple platform, their version was Aperture, but has been replaced in 2016 by Photo.

Regardless of the method you use, or how many photos you "Think" that you take, you really should consider organizing them.  Don't think so - here's a simple test for you.  Check the time, then open you gallery on your phone and scroll down looking at the photos.  When you get to the bottom, check the time again.  See how much time you just wasted?  That is what you go through every time you're looking for that one photo, but don't have anything organized.  Now, imagine if that was your computer and you had over 6 TB of images.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Thank you!

Our new website has been receiving a lot of attention since it went "Live" just over a week ago!  We have had over 1600 views since that time, and have continued to work on it to improve what we can offer you!

As part of that, Julie Everhart has been working very long hours on her Wearable Art and Gift collections.  We debated for some time on incorporating them into our website, but ultimately decided that Fine Art and Photography should include wearable art and other non-traditional forms of our work.

So, we are pleased to add another menu selection (as well as a big header post) to link you to the stores on Zazzle and Redbubble.  Julie has been operating these storefronts for over 8 years, and has provided many people with assorted clothing and home goods that can not be found anywhere else. These are all original creations of hers, and we are pleased to present them to you here!

Please click on the photo above to see all the various items that are available, and drop a line to let her know what you think of her work!     Send email to Julie