Joe

iPhone camera tips Day 3 – Playing with Light.

Photographers use light to paint their subjects.  We’re constantly looking at the direction and quality of light at different times during the day.    Whether it’s natural light or artificial, paying attention to your light will help you create the kind of shots you’re looking for.

When I’m shooting outdoor portraits, landscapes or architecture only shoot at times during the day when the natural light is soft and warm; this limits shooting to early morning or late in the afternoon for the ‘golden hour’.  Since most of us use our iPhone cameras to capture moments in our lives it’s not practical to wait for the sun, we want to capture that moment and move on with our day.  So with that in mind, here are a few little tips to help you adapt to the light you have.

Full afternoon sun:  Photographing people in the middle of the day with full sun is tricky.  It can create pretty harsh shadows on their faces.  There are a few tricks to help you navigate harsh lighting conditions.  Turn on your trusty flash.  This one of those moments where your flash comes in quite handy and can really help fill in those dark contrasting areas.

If you have an option to get out of that sun, find some shade, perhaps close enough to a bright object so the sunlight will actually “bounce” on to your subject.  Your iPhone should asses the darker conditions and give you a correct exposure but if you keep getting dark images, refer to the focus/exposure lock feature on the first day of these tips.   Press and hold the area on your screen (your subjects in shade) until your camera locks in the correct exposure and snap your photo.

Look for back light:  This is tricky, you definitely need the right quality of light but if you’re shooting at the end of the day and there’s some soft beautiful light available. Shoot a few shots with the sun directly on your subject, then flip you position and put the soft sunlight either behind your subject or slightly behind and to the side.  You’ll see a lovely highlight on their hair.  Use the focus/exposure lock again to make sure you phone exposes your subject properly and snap you shot!drew-127-BLOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lighting too harsh – shoot for black and white:  You can’t really control the quality of natural light during the day.   Some days it’s cold and foggy, other days it’s bright and harsh.  On days when I get harsh light but still want to shoot,  I switch my eye to finding contrasts and I shoot my images knowing that I’m shooting for black and white photos. Black and white imagery can be very powerful when you embrace the shadows and contrasts.IMG_1333_blog

Using light without your flash indoors: If you’re shooting snapshots and people having fun, use that flash and capture some great moments.  But, sometimes you just want to get some interesting artistic shots with your phone.  Look for interesting light sources to light your subjects.  Candles, lamps, daylight streaming in through a window all create some drama and some fun creative shots!IMG_4803_blog

 

Coming tomorrow –  Day 4, Must have iPhone camera App’s

 

iPhone camera tips day 2 – Improving your composition.

We’ve all done it,  we see something interesting, grab our phone with one hand and snap a bunch of photos.  Sometimes they turn out while other times…well, not so great.  Composition is a big part of setting up a shot. It doesn’t have to be complicated, In fact, with a few simple tips you can take your average snap shot and give it an artistic feel.   Here are few tips to take your composition to the next level.


1. Have a steady hand:
 Hold your phone the way you would hold a camera.  Use two hands to keep it steady and use your index finger to gently tap the shutter button.  Most iPhones will allow you to use the volume button to snap the shutter but I find that to be a little cumbersome  and it can sometimes shake the camera.   I use the shutter button on the screen.

2. Check your frame: The most common error in composing a shot is to leave a huge amount of room at the top of the frame; especially when you’re capturing a group of people.  You may have to physically move forward or backward to fill that frame with exactly what you want.
Also, I good rule of thumb when photographing people is to put yourself on the same plane/level as they are; unless of course you’re shooting down from above for artistic effect.crop2

3. Rule of Thirds:
This is a commonly used photography term for putting your subject in one third of the frame while the other 2/3rds create a negative space. Try playing with your framing to create a little more drama in your shots.

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4. Angles: If you don’t want a straight forward shot, play with some angles.  Tilt your camera in different directions to give your subject a more interesting angle; this is especially good for architecture.

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5. Try having a point of view or focus point: Sometimes we want our foreground subject to be in perfect focus while the rest of the images falls a little blurry. This is called “Depth of Field”.  Try framing your subject in the foreground, perhaps even to one side of the frame, tap on the focus lock feature so your camera knows what to focus on and then snap your shot.  The rest of the image should fall away in soft focus.

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Coming tomorrow:   Playing with Light

One week of helpful tips for your iPhone camera

A few years back I was watching an interview with Annie Leibovitz.  Brian Williams asked her:

“What do you tell people when they ask you what kind of camera to buy?”

Her response :

“The iPhone…really, that is the snapshot camera of today” 

I found that to be true for myself as well.  I have several cameras.  The big Canon with the handful of lens’ I use for work is amazing.  I love my Canon but when I’m done working and just want to shoot for fun, my go-to camera is always my iPhone.  The quality of images with the new iPhone 6 are stellar.   It’s an 8 megapixel camera with improved low light (f2.2) abilities.  Not to mention the 1080p hd video.   If you don’t have the iPhone 6 yet don’t worry, the 5’s are also great cameras; very intuitive and easy to use.  But even the best cameras need a little coaxing in certain situations  to get the best shots. With more and more of us relying on our iPhone’s to capture moments or to just express ourselves creatively through Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook etc.  I though a few tips on iPhoneography would be helpful.

Today’s tips: Knowing how your camera works.

Tap or touch….Instant correct exposure.

Your iPhone has a passive auto focus and exposure system; meaning, it takes into account all the light in the frame and sets an average exposure.   In most cases, for landscape photos in full sun it does a great job.  But there are times when the subject you want to focus on is either much brighter or darker than the background in the rest of the frame.  In that case If you haven’t already discovered this on your own, this tip will literally change the way you shoot with your iPhone.

There two ways of controlling the correct exposure or focus on your iPhone:

  1.  Quick focus and exposure – tap once on your screen in the exact place where you want to set the exposure and focus.   – a little yellow box will appear.   – snap your photo.
  2.  Focus lock – Same principle as the quick focus except this time, press and hold in the spot on your screen until the yellow box appears again.  It will engage the auto focus/auto exposure mode and it will remain in that setting until you take your shot.  This is particularly helpful when you want to slightly recompose your shot without having your camera constantly changing the exposure.

The Flash:

I prefer to keep the flash turned off, only using it when it’s needed.  If you’re indoors and want to take some flash shots, don’t stand too close to your subject or the flash will blow them out and make them look like ghosts.    Your flash works best between 5-9 feet from the subject.  Once you go beyond 12 feet the flash is much less effective you’ll start to lose quality.

 The digital zoom feature:

Don’t use it. You’ve probably noticed that the quality of the image suffers when you zoom in.  This is because the zoom feature on the iPhone is only a digital zoom.  If you want to zoom in, walk toward your subject until you have the frame you want.  You’ll end up with much better quality images.

Clean your lens:

Our grubby finger prints are all over our phones.  That, combined with pocket lint will make give your lens an oily dusty film.  Ideally, use a very slightly moist lint free cloth to clean it.   If you don’t have one, Use a soft article of clothing – like your shirt.

 

Coming up;  improving your composition.

 

GALLERY STORE NOW OPEN!

It’s been many months in the making but my online store is now live and ready.

This is a small collection of both commissioned and non-commissioned work that I’ve shot over the years. Until now, these images have been only been available by special request. I’m excited to be offering these personally selected prints to the public. All prints are available in a variety of sizes, premium papers and reproduced by one of the best photo labs in the country. You can order these prints ‘as is’ or design the perfect frame, mat and glass to compliment your home.

 

Fine Art Prints for Sale!

I’m very excited to be working on the finishing touches of my online store.   Next week it will be open to the public and for the first time, you will be able to order prints as well as design a custom frame and mat for your images!

 

Stay Tuned!

Sneak Peek at my photo shoot with Accidental Bear blogger Mike Enders

Video Link – Accidental Bear Gets Fashionable

Inspiration: Richard Avedon

 

 

I don’t think there is a photographer working today that hasn’t  paid homage to Richard Avedon at some point in their careers.  He is on almost every list of the most influential photographers of the 20th century with a career spanning over sixty years.

You know his work, you’ve seen his images but perhaps didn’t know they were taken by him.  His photos captured the image of America that was style and fashion; helping to shape the way the world viewed us and the way we viewed  ourselves.   He brought a fresh perspective to portraiture by capturing sides of his subjects so rarely seen in the public eye; and he shot EVERYBODY.  His portrait collection includes almost every famous or influential figure of the 20th century.  His work in fashion was groundbreaking, often capturing movement and emotion rather than stiff poses.

I think the most fascinating bit of Avedon history is not how many famous people he photographed, rather it’s his beginnings that interests me the most because I think they were pivotal in helping him develop his style.  His first job as a photographer was in the Merchant Marines where he took identification photos.    I can’t help but think about how those days must have felt to him.  Every day he had people pose, motionless, until he snapped a photo on his old Rolleiflex Camera.  How many thousands of stiff boring photos did he take?   It’s no wonder he demanded movement and personality from his subjects!  Perhaps his style was born partly from the technical experience he gained and out of rebellion for taking the same photo every day for two years.

What jobs are we doing now that are, unbeknownst to us, preparing us for great things?  Something to think about….

 

 

The five simple tips for a successful photoshoot

So you don’t have the budget for a team of wardrobe, hair and makeup stylists to get you ready for your shoot?  No problem!   A little creativity and some planning will reap huge rewards in the quality of your images.  Just remember there are FIVE things you must have for your shoot:

  1. Have a goal
  2. Have a wardrobe
  3. Have good Hair and/or Make up
  4. Have energy
  5. Have fun

I’m going to poke some fun at my friend Phil’s expense to show you want I mean.   Phil and I have been friends for quite a while and he has my eternal gratitude for gladly volunteering to be a test subject whenever I had a crazy shoot idea.  Because of these informal creative outings we’ve always had a pretty relaxed attitude when it came to shooting.    A few years back Phil wanted to take some photos that he could use for his acting/modeling career – something vaguely reminiscent of an Abercrombie and Fitch Ad.  I left it to him to put together his wardrobe, work on his muscles and we had a few rough ideas on where we wanted to shoot.  We didn’t have a very specific goal but we thought our plan would be good enough. When the day came to shoot I showed up to Phil’s house and we went through his wardrobe.  We picked some stuff from his closet but to be honest, some of the items were fished out of his dirty clothes hamper – So, we did our best (not very successfully) to try and put together a few looks.  We threw some product in his hair, stuffed his wrinkled wardrobe in his backpack and headed down the street to shoot outdoors.   Now Phil, for his part had been working VERY hard to be in shape for the shoot.  He worked out constantly and didn’t eat much so his Abs would show up in the shoot.  His Abs looked great but the problem was he was so hungry that he could barely concentrate; after about a half hour I lost him to fatigue.

So to recap – we were going to shoot an Abercrombie and Fitch Ad on a budget with a dirty wrinkled clothes from Old Navy, flip flops, a model who was so hungry he was ready to pass out and photographer who only had a vague plan about where to shoot.   Needless to say it wasn’t a very productive outing.  We did manage to get a few nice shoots but for what we vaguely set out to do, it was a bust.

 

 

Cut to – 2 years later.  Phil wants to do another shoot.  He wants some stock commercial modeling images for his portfolio. I decided to approach the shoot the same way I would with any client.  We had a consultation.

The first thing we did was to HAVE a set of GOALS – specific shots he needed.  It turned out to be 3 shots in 3 different locations which is do-able but a very long and potentially exhausting day.  I prepared him for the day and explained exactly what he would need to do to have the day be a success. I picked 3 locations specifically to lend credibility to the shots we had planned and for the quality of light at the time of day we were planning on shooting.

 

The next thing we did was talk about HAVING A WARDROBE.  I had him start pulling pages out of magazines and online publications so he could see how wardrobe stylists were dressing guys his age in stock photography shoots.   There are tons examples on how to dress and style yourself for photo shoots, all you have to do is look for them.  Professional stylists can put together complete looks but also know which colors photograph well and which ones do not.  They know how to choose colors that might pop out of a background or conversely steal the focus in a shot.   There is a great online tool you can use to start putting together boards of images that you find while surfing the web; it’s a new web site called Pinterest .  It’s the perfect place to share inspiration and lay out projects. I highly recommend you check it out.

Once we went through Phil’s wardrobe it was obvious that he didn’t have much in the way of commercial wardrobe.  SO, armed with images he collected and some advice from me, he went shopping.  ALL professional stylists will pull looks from different stores to style their shoots.  They bring LOTS of choices in both style and color so they are prepared for different backgrounds and models.   MOST of those clothes get returned by the end of the shoot.   Phil bought his 3 complete looks for his 3 shots as well as plenty of options.  While he did keep some of the items, he ended up returning most of what he bought so wardrobe didn’t have to cost him a ton of money.

We made sure he had GOOD HAIR and/or MAKEUP.  He got his hair was cut a week prior so it had time to settle and he was able to get used to styling it himself.  This is something I recommend to everyone.  Make sure you don’t make any drastic changes to your hair the day before your shoot.  If you’re going to die it or get it cut do it at least a week before.   He also bought some simple make up for men.  You can get it an Macy’s – I recommend going to the MAC cosmetic counter and Macy’s.  They will be happy to find just the right shade of concealer and powder and even teach you how to use it.

Helpful tip for both Men and Women:  Go to Macy’s a few hours before your shoot and they will most likely do your make up for you.  Professional Makeup artist for free!  Just don’t overdo it.   And if your budget allows for the added expense, I can arrange for a hair and makeup artist to be on set for your shoot.

Since we had very specific GOALS I was able to plan out our day;  the shoot would take  9 hours total. We schedule breaks and brought plenty of food and drink so he would HAVE ENERGY.   In fact, I recommend that you keep your schedule light on your shoot day so you arrive relaxed and ready to HAVE FUN.  Get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water starting a few days before your shoot – it will help clear up your skin and minimize the bags under your eyes.   Try and avoid tanning beds or spray tans AT LEAST a week before you shoot.  Eat frequent small and healthy meals to keep your blood sugar up.   Thankfully this time around, Phil didn’t starve himself and lots of energy when he needed it.  We had a great shoot!   – it was lots of FUN because we were prepared and most importantly, we got ALL the shots we needed.

 

So there you have it –  Five simple tips to help you get the most out of your shoot.  Remember, whether your  a commercial client with a big budget or you’ve saved up money for a shoot for yourself,  Every shoot I book includes consultations and email follow ups so that you feel completely prepared.   Let’s make some beautiful images!

 

 

Inspiration: Dorothea Lange

“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind. To live the visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it.”

Dorothea Lange

 

We all have our inspirations; whether they be artists, writers, photographers, spiritual leaders or just people in our lives that show us who we’d like to be in the world, or who we’d like to be artistically.  Dorothea Lange is one of mine.   At a time when women just barely won the right to vote, Dorothea Lange had a career as a commercial portrait photographer in San Francisco in the 1920’s.  When the depression hit in the 30s, she took her camera to the streets and started documenting the breadlines, strikes and hardships of the San Francisco residents which lead to her most important work with the Farm Security Administration; collaborating with her second husband, Paul S. Taylor she documented the mass exodus of American farm families making her images some of the most recognized symbols of the Great Depression. During WWII she documented the forced relocation of Japanese Americans to internment camps.  Her collection of photo negatives totals over 25,000.

As a photographer, I can’t help thinking about her story. About the drive it took to follow your courage and convictions across the country.  About her relationship with Paul Taylor and how dynamic it must have been to have accomplished so much together.  To me she embodies a spirit so rarely seen today and one of the most important women of the 20th century.  She inspires me to not only be a better photographer, but to be a better person.

source: Dorothea Lange Fellowship

Welcome!

It’s a cold rainy Monday afternoon as I sit down to write the first blog post on my new web site.  I’m in a quandary; I didn’t want to launch my new site without having a blog entry to kick it off with, but I’m not sure exactly what one writes in an inaugural blog.  Perhaps I will say this: welcome to my new web site!  The site was built by my good friend and very savvy web guru Matt Clower.  Besides the new visuals and big beautiful gallery images, it’s interactive, mobile compatible and connected to social media.  I invite you to write comments, visit my Facebook and Twitter pages and if you like my work, please pass it on.

In the mean time, I vow to do my best to keep this blog updated fairly often about art and photography so book mark it, RSS feed it and check back often.

Until then have fun browsing the site!

Joe