Monthly Archives: January 2012

Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light

Ibarionex Perello is a freelance photographer based in Los Angeles, a writer, a podcaster and now author.  His book, published in late 2011 is titled, Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light.  For the past five years Perello has hosted a podcast called, The Candid Frame (Available as a free download at iTunes.).  I stumbled upon The Candid Frame a year or so ago.  There are dozens of photo podcasts on iTunes, but The Candid Frame is one of the best.  Now, I eagerly await each installment as I work my way through the three-year backlog.  Each podcast is an interview and conversation between Perello and one photographer.  It doesn’t matter if the photographer is well-known or someone still working to be discovered, Perello asks intelligent, well thought out questions.  For his effort Perello gets interesting responses in return.  The podcast is well worth subscribing to.  But I digress.  This is not a review of the podcast; it is about Perello’s book.

At about the same time I began thinking about writing this blog, Perello, in one of his podcasts, mentioned his book, Chasing the Light.  Through the podcast I felt I knew Perello’s photographic interests and style and I believed the book would be to my liking.  I was not disappointed.

This is not a “how-to” book that tells you where to set your shutter or aperture.  The first sentence in the book reads, “Each time I venture out with my camera, I’m filled with a sense of hope.”  Perello goes on to talk about how it was only after he learned to see light as it affected his subject and his mood, did his photography become what he hoped it could be.  “Start by asking yourself three questions,” he writes, “Where is the light coming from?  What is the quality of light? How much light do I have to work with?”  He answers these questions and more in an easy to comprehend style.

Do not shy away from this book if you are new to digital photography or think that a book length discussion on seeing light is not what you are looking for.  Perello provides basic camera exposure and metering information geared toward beginner and experienced photographers alike.  All written with his eye on the light and how it affects your images.

The heart of his message was for me, Perello’s explanation of the way brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness and pattern (He refers to them as the Five Visual Draws.) consistently affects how we are drawn to an image.  Through the rest of the book, Perello tells and shows with his own excellent photos how the five visual draws are weaved into images of landscapes, cities and people; in color or black and white; and with subjects that are obvious and subjects that become obvious when you learn to see the light.

As photographer and author, Rob Sheppard writes in the Forward of the book, “Ibarionex’s joy in photography comes through, too, in both the text and the photos.  These are positive photos that make you feel good about the world we live in.”

At the end of each The Candid Frame podcast, Perello asks his guest to recommend a one photographer who has been a personal influence and that the audience should know about.  I have listened to many Candid Frame podcasts.  Every time I hear the question I ask myself, who would I chose if I were interviewed by Perello.  After reading Chasing the Light: Improving Your Photography with Available Light I have my answer.

I recommend Ibarionex Perello.

January 23, 2012

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Digital Photo Tips & Tricks

Digital Photo Tips & Tricks

Start your day or photo shoot with freshly batteries.  Check cameras, flash units and anything else in your camera bag that needs batteries.  Recharge the rechargeable batteries.  Pack the charger?  Replace and/or have a fresh set of batteries for the disposables.

Check camera settings – Before you walk out the door, set the ISO, WB for JPEG shooters and exposure mode (shutter or aperture priority, AUTO, whatever).  Load memory cards into camera.  Extra reformatted memory cards are stored where you can find them quickly.  DSLR owners have the lens you want to use first attached to the camera.  When you are prepared before you step out the door, you are ready for that great shot that pops up when you least expect it.

Always use the camera neck or wrist strap.  Using a neck or wrist strap is one of the best habits you can get yourself into.  You are going to drop a camera some day, generally at the worst possible time.  Require your family and friends who use your gear to do it too.

Learn what the camera icons do.  All digital cameras have icons that adjust camera settings.  Point and shoot cameras more than most folk may ever need.  It is best to know what they do and how they affect you image.  Practice before you need it.

Check the date and time on your camera settings.  The date and time doesn’t have to show on your photo, but you do want the correct date and time embedded in you metadata.  Correct date and time helps you organize, locate, and identify your images later.  It will also help you twenty years later when you are trying to remember when the photo was taken.  Check after daylight savings time springs forward or falls back to see if the time changed automatically.  Some cameras do, some don’t.

Keep camera steady – Hold the camera in your right hand, support the camera or lens with your left hand. Don’t block the flash, autofocus port or lens.  Lean against something solid, hold your breath, and shoot between heartbeats (This last one takes a bit of practice.).

Shutter buttons have two stages.  Press the button halfway down and the camera sets focus and exposure. Press the shutter all the way down to take the picture.

Viewfinder – If your camera has a viewfinder and the image appears blurry, adjust diopter.  Viewfinder focus does not focus the camera.  Viewfinder image size is often different than what the sensor on the camera records.  Lenses zoom in and out, the viewfinder does not.

Images are first stored in the camera’s internal memory (“buffer”).  If you are shooting fast and the buffer fills, the camera stops shooting until one or more of the images are transferred to the memory card.

Don’t remove the battery or memory card from the camera while saving an image. You could scramble some of the images being saved and/or damage the card.

If the camera is turned off while an image is being stored, the image will be completely stored before the camera powers down and does not harm your images.

Images can be displayed on the LCD monitor after each shot.  Take a look and assess composition and exposure.  It is called “chimping,” but a good way to learn how your camera settings work.  Turn the LCD viewer off to save battery life.

Shoot a lot of shots of a subject, especially when learning new equipment.  The change of position, distance and angle gives you a whole new perspective.  You may be surprised by what works. (And what doesn’t)

White Balance (WB) – Be sure to set the white balance when shooting JPEG images.   RAW shooter set the WB in post-processing.  Of course experimenting with the “wrong” WB will give you some unique looks that might be fun.   Auto (the default) works in a wide variety of lighting conditions.   Daylight is best when photographing outdoors in bright sunlight.   Cloudy is best when photographing outdoors in cloudy or overcast conditions.  The setting will also warm images taken anytime indoors or out.   Incandescent or tungsten is best when photographing indoors under incandescent lights.   Fluorescent is best when photographing indoors under fluorescent tube lights.   Fluorescent H is best when photographing indoors under the new fluorescent light bulbs.    Flash best when photographing with flash. It is daylight balanced works to remove color casts in some situations.

 Trick your point and shoot camera to do what you want – Point and shoot cameras work well in Auto mode much of the time.  P&S cameras also have preset modes for portraits, scenery and fast-moving kids.  When you know what the modes do, you can use the presets for different types of photos.  Here is what you need to know.   Need shallow depth of field shoot in Portrait mode.  The mode sets a wider aperture.   Need a more depth of field shoot in Landscape mode.  Landscape mode sets the camera to a small aperture.   Need a fast shutter speed choose ‘Sports’ mode.  This mode will freeze most fast-moving subjects.   Need a slow shutter speed  Try night mode (if your camera has it) but this mode generally fires the flash.

 When done shooting, turn camera off.  Every effort saves little battery life.

Check to see if batteries need replacing or charging.  At the end of the day or before you pack your gear away, check to see if you need to recharge or purchase more batteries.  Don’t leave this important task until to the last-minute and you are less likely to miss the first shot tomorrow.

January 19, 2012

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