My photo
... is a freelance photographer working in Middle Georgia

Friday, September 28, 2007

Use That Telephoto

I like really tight action photos. They have so much energy and drama, really catch your eye. That's
what good photograph does.

To capture action this way you have to get really comfortable with your lens. Shooting long lenses
is one of the hardest things novice photographers have to master. The lens is bigger, more awkward
to hold. The field of view is much tighter. It is easier to get lens shake with a longer focal length.

Lots of folks use a monopod with their longer lens. If you are using a really heavy lens, or shooting a
slow shutter speed, a monopod is a good idea. With most of the 70-300 range zooms available now
you should have no problem hand holding the lens and camera. The monopod will be more of a problem
than a help. Really slows your movement.

Get out and practice following action with your maximum focal length. Don't preset but follow
focus. Chase the family pet or the kids around the yard, photograph cars moving down the road.
Get close enough to someone where you fill the viewfinder with their face and practice shooting.
Use that puppy. The rewards are well worth the work. Why have it if you can't use it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The fair

I worked in Macon Monday, shooting folks setting up for the Georgia State Fair.
It has been a long time since I have photographed the "Macon Fair" I usually do the Georgia National Fair in Perry since I spend most of my time in the Warner Robins office.

It is like going back home in a way. Seeing the photos in the round building, the members of the Federated Garden Clubs setting up for the flower show in the long building, a midway on grass and dirt, and forgot how small the cattle barns are compared to Perry.

Enough nostalgia. I was pretty happy with my pictures. Love the cow, didn't realize she had a hole in her ear until I was looking at my images in the computer. The light in this building was really sweet. Really wanted the angle with the folks in the backlighted doorway and the cow's face between the fence rails.

I walked out on the midway and found Milton Gonzalez helping set up the Family Swing ride. He was putting the fence around the ride. I watched for a few minutes and moved to this side of the ride for the light, and decided the low angle would be good with him carrying the sections. The light and angle kind of gave him the carnival strongman look. It all came together.

I still wonder sometimes why I can look at a scene and know where to stand, and what will make a decent picture. And why someone else can see the same scene, find another spot, and shoot an equally good or better photo. To me, that is one of the really wonderful things about photography. We each bring our own perspective,
our own vision to how we photograph a given subject. And hopefully each time we push that button we learn a little more about our craft. A big part of life should be about learning, growing and sharing. That is why God gives us these talents.

Monday, September 24, 2007

JPG Magazzine

I have a hard time with photography magazines. I seldom find a lot that interest me anymore in most of
them. The only one I subcribe to anymore is Shutterbug. I keep intending on renewing Digital Photo
Pro. I usually read a good bit in it. Picture is a really cool magazine, I often buy it from the local bookstore.
I check out the photo magazines on the magazine rack, but so often find nothing that makes me want
to give them five bucks.

So often I will buy a magazine just for the pictures. Don't care about reading many of the articles,
most are so predictable, and I am bored by technical stuff. I love looking through Black and White.
It is dedicated to black and white photography. Even the ads are black and white.

A new magazine has come along, been around for a few months. It is really different. You go to their
website and join for free. Then you start uploading your best images and then can enter them in
the various categories. Members vote to choose which images are published. If your image
is published, you get paid for the photo.

The site is great, lots of cool photos by photographers from around the world. If you don't share
your photos, still a cool place to visit.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Look Small, Think Big

Its easy to see the scenic shot when you are out shooting pictures. Mountains wrapped in clouds just beg
to be photographed. Work a little harder, look for the ones that are harder to find.

Look for colors and contrasts that work together with interesting patterns. The postition of the golden
leaves pull your eye to the blue berry. The veins in the leaves repeat the pattern. Had I not been looking I would never have seen this one. Only about a foot off the ground.

The textures in the stump are really cool. Add to that the lichen, the splits and the growth rings and you have an image that justs smacks you in the face. But again you have to be looking low and close to find it.

And I love the mop. So out of place hanging on these wood shingles I just had to shoot it. Love the texture and the contrast in colors-the green on the shingles, brown handle and white mop. I had black and
white in mind when I shot it, but had to leave it in color.

So look carefully, look small but think big. You will be happy with what you find.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Flowing Water

I have missed writing for a couple of days. We have been away to the mountains of eastern Tennessee.
It is truly amazing what a few days in the mountains will do. Must be my Highland roots. While out
exploring we found this really beautiful mountain stream.

I shot a few frames and decided to jazz em up a bit. The section of the stream was pretty shaded so I
dropped my ISO down as low as it would go, and slowed my shutter speed down to 1/8 second. I tried 1/15, but didn't get enough blur in the moving water.

I wanted to do a vertical, and came up with the second photo. I simply turned the camera at a slight angle
until I got the composition I wanted and shot away. Looks a bit more dramatic than straight up and down.

Anytime I do a wide shot I end up doing a detail shot. The last is my closeup. I looked for a spot with some
large rocks and fast moving water. I found this downstream about fifty yards. Water flowing back together
around these rocks making a nice pattern, good flow, so good blur in the water. The colorful leaves just
bring it all together.

Just be sure when you do this to keep the camera steady, because if the unmoving objects in your
photo are not sharp, it does not work. If you find a spot to shoot, you may have to come back when the
light is a bit lower. Usually early morning or late afternoon does best. Also gives more directional lighting,
which is usually a good thing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I covered a September 11 Candlelight Vigil Tuesday. Candlelight Vigils
make some cool photographs. Candlelight anything usually makes a neat photo.
The top photo was at a Good Friday service I shot in a Women's Correctional facility. This was your typical candlelight shoot, its dark, often only real light you have is the candles. So you jack up your ISO, crank down the shutter speed and have at it. Faces lit by the warm glow of the candles.

The candlelight vigil Tuesday was a bit different. It was during the day. Well, so was the one above, you might say. But it was outside at 11am on a sunny day. How do you shoot candlelight in the daytime? Well, you shoot in the shadows if possible, but be sure you are shooting against a darker background so the flame will show.

Of course by now you are always checking your background for unwanted clutter.
Another thing to look for is the lightness or darkness of the background. Sometimes you need the background to make your subject pop out. You don't want your subject to fade into the background.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sweet Light

Sometimes you find really sweet light, the kind of light that makes any subject look better.

When you find it with a good subject, life is good. Labor Day found me at the Jarrell Plantation.
In one of the old houses I found someone cooking on a wood stove, in the next room interpretive ranger Bretta Perkins was showing visitors how to make dolls from corn shucks. The light in this building
was incredible. All natural light flowing through the doors and windows.

So often when you get a situation like this, the light is really low. If you use a flash, even bouncing the light,
you ruin the effect. What to do? You look really closely at all part of your picture, see what the light is like
in each area. The top photo had stronger light hitting Bretta's face and the table, the visitors' faces were
in shadows.

You also watch the scene for a minute or two, looking for changes in the light. The main light source was a door on the opposite side of the room from Bretta. When someone moved in front of the door, she was in shadow, the sweet spot gone.

I went to manual and balanced my exposure so I would have enough detail in the shadow area to hold up, and still not overexpose the rest of the frame. I had to shoot at 1/6 second, so I propped against the wall, and braced the camera by pulling my elbows in against my chest.

Practice shooting at slow shutter speeds, it is well worth the time spent. Gives you a handy little advantage.

Friday, September 7, 2007

New Friends

One of the neat things about photography is going new places to take pictures. Each time a new adventure,
new images to make, new sights to see, places to explore. Anytime you are wandering a round with a camera
you also have the chance to meet some neat people. I believe that one of our purposes for being here is for fellowship and sharing our experiences.

It is not unusual for people to make a comment about me toting a couple of cameras, often with a huge lens.
It happens to all of us. Take to time to stop and talk a bit. You usually are quite rewarded. Labor Day found me at the Road Race in Macon and later at the Jarrell Plantation. Both gave the opportunity to visit with fellow photographers. Events like the race involve arriving early and waiting. Good conversation makes the wait easier.

While at the Jarrell Plantation I ran across Donna and Christy who were making good use of their Canon DSLS's. As I walked by, Christy offered to lighten my load by swapping cameras. Canon shooters seem to
always want my Nikons(just kidding). Anyway, I stopped and we talked for a while. These two are avid shooters. The photo above is one of Donna's from the Jarrell Plantation shoot. We had the chance to talk
photography for a while, and share a few ideas. I now have a new friend to share images and swap comments with.

The internet has made sharing photos so much easier. Donna has started a blog, and it has a link to her Flicker
site. Check out her images, she has a pretty good eye. Here is the link to her blog

So take the time to stop and talk next time the opportunity arises.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Shooting in the Rain

I shot the Northside-Houston County football game last Friday night. The rains came. I have not been that wet in a long time. I had checked the doppler during the afternoon, so I knew I would get wet. Just a question of how wet I would be.

I stuck a poncho in my camera bag because I knew I would need it. First quarter you could see the rain coming. I always really dread the rain coming during a game, but after it starts just go ahead and do my thing. I worry more about keeping my gear dry than me. Long as it is not freezing cold I can get by.

Todays cameras and lenses are pretty rain resistant, but try to keep them dry as possible. In the old days the bad part about shooting in the rain was changing film. You had to keep the inside of the camera and the film dry. Had to find a way to dry your hands, not an easy thing. With digital, our memory cards are big enough we can just keep shooting.

You can get raincoats to fit your camera with a 300 or 400f2.8 lens now. They work
really well. Any kind of plastic will do. I have seen folks wrap their camera completely in cling wrap. Not just for leftovers. Just have to keep the front of your lens dry. I keep some small ziplock bags and rubber bands to
waterproof my flashes. Pull them down over the flash, use a rubber band to keep the bag tight against the flash's
head, and another around the bottom spreading the bag over the top of the camera.

A quick toweling dried my cameras when I got to my car when I left he game. Three hours later I was still wet when I got home. The pictures made it worthwhile. Such is life.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Drag That Shutter

I shot the Labor Day Road Race yesterday. I believe this was the 31st race. I don't think I shot the first one, but
sure did a bunch over the years. It is so cool watching the runners near the end of the course. So many
determined folks, some who you would think not physically able to run from Pio Nono to Central City Park
for the 5k race, much less to do the 10k. But they do it.

Jacque Myers came to Macon from Tallahassee and ran both the 5k and 10k. Ran the 10k in less than an hour, wearing a Superman shirt. Should be Superwoman.

I spent a bit of time playing Monday morning. I do that more with digital. One reason is not buying film, and not having to process a bunch. My race shoot alone would have been over ten rolls of film. Also with digital, I can get an idea of what I am getting so I can adjust as I shoot. At the 5K start, I got down low, dropped my ISO as low as it would go, and shot a really low shutter speed with flash. My first shots were
way overexposed, so I was able to adjust and shoot some more. It was early and the ambient light was still
really low. I was fairly happy with the results. I shot a few standing and got this really nice wide shot.

The low shutter speed makes the action blur, and the really short duration of the flash stops the action.
The low angle just ads a bit of drama to the composition. So does the chopped off runners.

I did the ones shown here on Walnut Street. The sun was higher, and though overcast, a lot more
light. My Nikon's will only go down to 200 ISO, so if there is too much light, this doesn't work.
The Walnut Street shots had enough light to balance the exposure with the sky, Sadly my earlier stuff blew out the sky.

So the next time you are shooting some action, anything moving, try dragging that shutter. Might get some
nice keepers.

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