Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Taking bad pictures

"It's important to take bad pictures. It's the bad ones that have to do with what you've never done before. They can make you recognize something you hadn't seen in a way that will make you recognize it when you see it again."
--Diane Arbus




Pikes Place Market

Seattle has it's own magic for the holidays.

The real key to a shot like this is holding the camera still. Yes, that's pretty much the key to 99% of point and shoot photography.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I'm with family in Lake Stevens, WA.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Lake Stevens on the dock

This may look inviting but temperature was in the 30s (F)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I should have done this

Sorry I can't find where I found it, but check out Andrew McDonald's take on how to recover a lost camera.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My camera is gone

I could title this I lost my camera or My camera was stolen but that doesn't explain it fully.

We went into the city via the Long Island Railroad. The girls and I found a seat with a window and waited out the 15 minute ride. I put the camera on the seat. As we pulled into Penn Station we got up and lined up at the door. Just as the doors opened I realized I didn't have my camera. I pushed my way through the people trying to get out and my previous seat was empty, no camera. I checked all over the place, and in all the seats nearby. I lost it, but nobody voiced concern or called out for the owner. It was just an opportunist theft in my opinion. I was too slow and someone else was too quiet.

There weren't any valuable photos on the camera, so the loss was really monetary. And it just makes me mad that someone grabbed it and didn't say anything. I even checked the lost and found.

So now I'm on the hunt for a new camera. I'm interested in doing an ebay purchase of a used camera. To replace my camera new is much more expensive than the $125 I got it for brand new. Ebay looks to run $25-200, for used or new. I'll be looking.

UPDATE: I got a replacement! I'm super happy about it. I got the very same camera I lost for $60 on craigslist. So excellent.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My photos of running water

These photos were all up one of the Cottonwood Canyons in SLC, in the late afternoon (after 5pm). This made the light really nice and soft. I used shutter priority, and set the shutter at 1/5. Slight enhancement in Lightroom.

Try photographing running water. Just slow your shutter down, and make sure your camera is on a something that won't move. You need the crisp focus of something not moving (like rocks) so the blurred water looks like you made the photo that way on purpose, rather than just blurry photos. I know, I definitely got some of those too.



Not bad for a point-and-shoot photographer hopping around the rocks in dress shoes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My drive up the canyon

I had a wonderful drive up a canyon from Salt Lake City this week.

Driving up the canyon

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Something to aspire to with aerial photography

Please look at this aerial photography. By hand. From a balloon. Above Everest. Now this is some aerial photography that I aspire to.


He took this picture using a hand-held 35mm camera with a wide-angle lens while standing in the balloon's wicker cabin.

Mr Dickinson, of Budleigh Salterton, Devon, said: 'This photograph is one of the finest I've taken, and I'm immensely proud of it.

'It took several minutes to set up - I was in the stratosphere and carrying bulky breathing apparatus - and I wasn't sure it would even come out.

'So when it was developed, and it came out like this, you can imagine my delight. It's a scene that I'll remember for the rest of my life.'

(via @jimmacmillan)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kite eating tree

Its started out harmless. I just wanted an aerial photo of the lighthouse. I mean, how many aerial photos are there of light houses, especially this one.
Kite eating tree 1

Kite eating tree 2
But my disregard for the trees was my downfall.
Kite eating tree 3

Kite eating tree 4
And resulted in a climb, a struggle, snipping strings.

Kite eating tree 5
And finally I stuffed the kite in my hooddie for safe keeping and scored victory over the tree.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Photography is easy, and hard

From Paul Graham:
It's simply a way of recording what you see -- point the camera at it, and press a button. How hard is that? And what's more, in this digital age, its free -- doesn't even cost you the price of film. It's so simple and basic, it's ridiculous.


It's so difficult because it's everywhere, every place, all the time, even right now. It's the view of this pen in my hand as I write this, it's an image of your hands holding this book, Drift your consciousness up and out of this text and see: it's right there, across the room -- there... and there. Then it's gone. You didn't photograph it, because you didn't think it was worth it. And now it's too late, that moment has evaporated.

via kottke.org

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oregon Coast

Some photos of our trip to the Oregon Coast. I was so busy playing, that I only have these few favorites.

Cape Mears
This is the view from Cape Meares. Cape Meares has a lighthouse but I didn't take any photos of it. That's because I was busy with other embarrassing endeavors, that I'll get to in another post.

Cannon Beach - Haystack Rock 2009
Haystack Rock is the "anchor" of Cannon Beach Oregon. This is the view from where we stayed.

Both of these photos are pretty much straight from the camera with a little cropping.

The lesson I'm taking with me from this trip is: Take more photos (see point #3). I don't know if I was just being lazy (lame), or was waiting for the right moment (lame), or just having too much fun (excellent!). Oh, and I took a few photos with my wife's DSLR, (traitor to the blog!) I may show them later, because they turned out pretty good.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Crazy month

June has been pretty crazy. I haven't posted in a while but I will... We're off to Canon Beach, Oregon next week.

Cannon Beach Needles at Haysack Rock

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reflections on taking your time

Take your time.

We went to Washington DC last weekend. On Saturday we walked around the Washington Mall and visited some of the museums. What a great place to learn. We had such a good time just visiting the highlights and not rushing to see it all. We would return soon so there we'd get what we missed later.

At the end of the day I had a chance to visit the Lincoln Memorial on my own. It was packed with people so it was hard to get a simple shot of the monument. But I didn't realize that it over looks the reflection pool and the Washington Monument. I snapped a photo of the Washington Monument as I started up the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. I was there for Lincoln.

Washington MonumentWashington Monument
These were nothing special. They really are just snapshots. They aren't amazing by any means.

Then I snapped some quick photos of Lincoln. I was kind of in a rush to get back to my family so they were quick shots. But I kept taking more photos, really trying to get something different. This ended up being my favorite.

Lincoln Memorial
Everyone takes photos of Lincoln from the front. I was shooting for something different. He gets his photo taken hundreds of times a day. But it wasn't until I settled into taking my time for the photos that I started getting more creative and got a shot I really liked.

But then once I was in my "photo mode" I went back out and tried the Washington Monument again.
Washington MonumentWashington Monument
Just by taking a few extra moments I was able to get the shot of Lincoln that I was really happy with and this shot which was my favorite of the day. All it took was an extra minute or two. Sometimes that's all it takes just a little time.

I snapped these two photos again, and I liked them a little better. Then I walked down closer to the reflection pool.

Washington Monument
I took this first shot, that I really liked. Then after taking a few more moments I reframed the shot which turned (below) out to be my favorite.

Washington Monument

So take some time to get your shot. It'll be worth it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

More thoughts on buying a camera

New "Camera"! , originally uploaded by Shermeee.

One of my coworkers, Rosanna is buying a new camera. Her current camera is many years old and the battery won't last more than a few photos. So she has been shopping around and we've talked about different cameras she could want.

I want to talk about buying a camera... again.

After talking with Rosanna, she started her buying decision based on budget. Most people do. She is buying the camera for a trip to Italy and wants something that is easy to travel with. More specifically she wants a lot of zoom.

She's been going through lots of different cameras trying to decide on the best one. She has some pretty general wants, nothing really specific like time lapse, just a better zoom.

After talking more with her today I realized what she really wants in her camera purchase. She could be happy with any one of 100 cameras. What she really wants is to feel confident that she got the right one. So here is my buying advice for Rosanna:

1. Make a list of things you trust about your future camera. This means pick a brand you know you'll be happy with. List some features that you really like and used from your old camera. I'm going to guess that most people like me use probably five to ten features about 99 percent of the time they shoot and use the other hundred features available on the camera one percent of the time. For me It would be: Canon, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, P Mode, Macro, Timer, Video, maybe zoom, it also need to have a time lapse feature or at least have a firmware mod to add it for kite photography, or maybe flash, I try to avoid using the flash. Those features make up 99 percent of my shooting. If I bought a camera that was missing one of those features, I'd be quite unhappy with that camera.

This will be the "meat" of your camera finding. Once you got your list made, and your budget set then...

2. You should be able to narrow down your list to just a few cameras. Use this fantastic tool to find all the cameras with your features. I love this tool on DPreview.com. Then you can pick based look and feel etc.

3. Pick one you like best.

4. Find the best deal on that camera. Stop second guessing, stop looking at the green grass on the other side of the fence. If you really went through your list from #1 you will be very happy with the camera you get.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sunset over NYC

Take straight from the camera this evening. The buildings in the distance are in Manhattan. This is looking from the east.

Sunset over New York City

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Great minds think alike.

I'd like to say I'm as good of photographer as my wife. But she really has an eye for photography that I just don't have. However, we both took this same shot. It makes me think I'm actually thinking more like a photographer. The first photo is mine, the second is hers.

Putting both of them together it's interesting to see how different they are even though the general photo is the same. The major differences being, she crouched down for the photo, and I didn't. And of course the time of day was very different.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finally some photos from the sky!

It's taken a long time but I finally got some photos from my new kite. We went to Sanibel Island, Florida for a wedding.

So I took some photos during the wedding. They turned out spectacular! Well at least this one did.

Dan Sara Sanibel wedding

Sanibel Island-1

Sanibel Island-4

Friday, May 1, 2009

Warm spring in New York City

This was the view of crowded Central Park on Saturday.

I tired to get the kite up in the air but there was no wind. I would have loved to have a crowd shot from the sky, and the city surrounding the park.

But I'm pretty happy with this.

Central Park

I you look really carefully you can see a baseball diamond. That's about where I was trying to fly the kite. I got it up in the air a couple times but with so many people around I didn't want to risk letting a bunch of string out only to have the wind die again. Then the kite comes crashing down on someone.

I have yet to attach a camera to this big kite. I will soon.

(I added upped the Blacks setting and added some contrast in Lightroom.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New kite!

First flight for my new kite! I made this kite specifically for lifting a camera for aerial photos, but I didn't actually lift my camera with it because it was way to windy for this huge kite. But I did get out my smaller kite to lift my camera, a Sutton Flowform.

My Rokkaku first flight
Photo by my wife, using a Canon 30D.

There were only these two photos that turned out. All the rest were blurry. The wind was really strong.
Fort Tilden Beach

The heart stopping moment of the day
I put the camera on and it was happily clicking away. The wind was stronger as the kite got higher. I thought, "wow I wish the wind was this good every time I flew this kite before. Suddenly without warning the kite started to dive for the ground, with camera attached. Just so you know this kite is supposed to be really stable. Anyway, I glanced from camera, to kite, and back, watching in horror as the camera dipped into the kite and string eating bushes. Just as the string caught a tree the kite zipped upward again, but my racing mind thought this will not last. I will have to surrender this setup to the monstrous thicket. But the wind became my friend again and the kite powered upward and the string broke free of the tree.

A few moments later it happened again! Anyway I got the kite and camera back and we'll be trying again this weekend.

Fort Tilden Parking lot

We were pretty much the only people there.

Monday, April 20, 2009

That's exactly what I mean

From Digital-Photography-School blog:

Disregard all fear of what people will think of you as you snap away on the street or at your favorite venue or park. “Oh what a tourist!”, “That camera’s not even that great”, “That looks like a cheap kit lens”, etc. Don’t let others or the price/quality of your gear set limitations on you! We all have to start somewhere.

I’ve read it numerous times here on the DPS forums and elsewhere. It’s not the quality or price of the camera, but the photographer BEHIND the camera that makes or breaks an image. The only way we can improve our photography is to practice and shoot a lot, not by breaking the bank and buying the latest and greatest.

I think by "elsewhere" he means right here. I think Darren reads my blog. Darren are you out there reading this?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Saturday at the Cloisters

It's been pretty busy around here. So I'm just getting to a couple Saturdays ago.

We spent the day at The Cloisters.

A Cloister is basically a courtyard with a covered walkway. Some are indoor, some are outdoor. This museum is a collection of cloisters, a couple chapels, and lots of other amazing artifacts. Everything is amazingly old. Stuff this old is just incredible.



Stone carvings

Afterward we walked around Fort Tryon Park.

Tree trunk

I must be very honest and came up pretty empty handed with photos. Museums are really hard to photograph. The light is really low, you can't touch anything to stabilize your camera, a tripod is clumsy and obtrusive to the other guests and I didn't bring one.

I did take a few photos from the ground, a nice stable place to photograph, but the shots weren't that great. The first shot above had outdoor light so that helped. I really like the simplicity.

I think old churches and chapels are really neat, they make me want to be still and contemplate. I hope my photo of the chapel gets that across. It really was amazing in there.

The stone work was very old. I used my macro setting for that, I love the macro setting.

The results here were pretty ordinary photos, with quite a bit of touch-up in Lightroom. Sometimes the magic happens in the camera, sometimes it happens in the (digital) darkroom.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I have a question for you...

Ireland Winding Road
I'd just like to get feel of what readers generally feel about this. I think it's a hard question.

What would you choose to take on a trip overseas?

A. point-and-shoot camera of your choice

B. DLSR that the pros use with an array of lenses

There are good reasons for either answer. I'm curious what you'll say. Answer in the comments and let everyone know why.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just because you don't take good photos...

Just because you don't take good photos doesn't make you a bad photographer.

Hannah taking photos

What does? Taking a lot of photos makes you a good photographer.

I'm speaking in the personal journalistic sense here.
Beautiful photos doesn't make your life amazing. The memories and stories behind the photos do.

Looking at our photos we have great photos and a great life. But if someone is looking at our photos and thinks their life is not as good because their photos are not "professional" has the wrong attitude about their photos and about their life.

All my terminology is really ambiguous. Let me define my terms for this post.

Good photographer: Someone who actually takes lots of photos.
Bad photographer: Doesn't take photos, and ends up without a photographic record of their life.

Great photos: photos that record a memory
Bad photos: almost anything from a cell phone camera, I hate cell phone cameras, use them as a last resort. But if that's all you have bad photos are better than no photos. Bad photos are photos without a story or a memory in them. You've probably looked through a collection of old photos and wondered why you took a photo of some object. I have. Unless it was your first car, then there is a story.

The moral of this post. Take lots of photos.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Get over it and get the shot!

Taking a photo of Lake Tahoe

I have yet another great reason to carry a point-and-shoot camera, but not an excuse.

The big heavy expensive cameras have their place. Never discount their usefulness. They are very useful but sometimes obnoxious.

For my day job occasionally I carry a video camera out into public. It isn't a camcorder that you carry on vacation. It's a broadcast quality camera. Then add the headphones and wireless mic system and it starts to look really complicated and obnoxious. I mostly shoot in a studio type setting, but the first few times in public with this set up felt well, embarrassing with everyone looking at me. There's this pressure as people watch you to see what you video tape. Eventually I got over it but with that kind of setup in public, people watch you.

I was talking to another photographer about her new DSLR and how she didn't like carrying it around because it was a little "embarrassing" hanging around her neck, and she looked like a tourist or just felt dumb with the huge camera hanging off her neck.

Eventually if you shoot enough you get over it and you don't care. At least I did, with my big setup. The interesting thing is now when I take my point-and-shoot outside and start to work for an interesting angle, I'm once again self-conscious because I'm focusing really close or at an interesting angle with this tiny amateur camera. A "professional" looking camera gives you an excuse to work for a "professional" angle. Now without a big setup I just feel weird.

Anyway the point is get over it. Just get the shot. Practice, you'll stop caring what passers-by think.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Photography is art

solitude, originally uploaded by EyeFidelity.

I was looking through the Point-and-Shoot photo pool on Flickr and came across this photo. I like it. Someone else may not.

That is why it is art.

Right now on Digital Photography School there is a post titled "15 Creative Uses Of Overexposure" It is interesting that there are so many degrading remarks about the photos. Although some people love the photos, and some people are extremely negative. Again, this is what makes it art. Someone likes it and someone doesn't. I think the interesting part is the unusually high number of negative remarks for this more positive community.

But the same goes with my photos. Lately I've taken some pretty lame photos, stuff that I don't like, I didn't really take the time for the shots, I was forcing the shot or whatever. The end result is not something I would gloat about.

In summary I have two points

1 Even though I may not like my photo, someone else may.

2 We all take photos that don't turn out the way we wanted. Sometimes to liking and some to our disliking.

Again, this is why it is art.

I'll close with some photos that I don't like, but maybe someone will.

Low Light 1

Low Light 2

Wall at the 112th Precinct

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The best time to take photos

Ridgewood Bank at twighlight

The best light to take photos is at twilight. This is not because of the sensational light, which it is, but that the strength of the sunlight and the strength of other minuscule human powered lights become the similar making the sun the best (sensational) fill light ever. AND the light is not as direct.

I walk home from work about this time of day, at this time of year. It gives me a feeling that spring is approaching.

Try it. Take a photo at morning light or at sunset. Some of the best photos are captured during this time. In fact this is the best time to take photos of Christmas lights.

1 Use tripod. Your shutter speed will be slower because you should...
2 Turn off your flash. Keeping your flash on during this great light will change how hast long your shutter is open, if you are shooting in P mode like me.
3 Get some sky in there, and some human powered lights too.

Here are some other examples to try to replicate. And my favorite of the point-and-shoot Flickr pool is here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't underestimate self portraits

I briefly mentioned self-portraits previously.

Self Portrait 2:30am
Every self-portrait tells a story. When you do something awesome, take a self-portrait, when you do something lame take a self-portrait. The above photo is a perfect example. I flew home really late one night. My wife picked me up and when we got home to the door we realized she had locked us out. It was a rental and it was really late. We couldn't get keys from the landlord until the next day and we didn't want to pay a locksmith for a 2AM call. We were hungry and went to the grocery store for food. She was decidedly upset about it all. I laugh at the moment, she still cringes a bit inside.

We ended up sleeping at my sister-in-law's apartment, and were able to get the door open the next day.

The Brothers
Self portraits are a photo journal. For one family reunion my family went skiing. For most of the day we stuck together and had great fun. This photo was taken when we brothers decided we wanted to take a few runs down the "most difficult" chutes. I think it was the steepest stuff I've ever skied. We don't get to ski together often.

My Family on Cannon Beach
Share your personality. Hands down the most fun thing to do with my camera is kite aerial photography (or kap). I absolutely love it.

Express yourself. Just as writing is a free form of expression so is photography. A self-portrait is much like a personal diary. It is an expression of something internal. Self-portraits can be personal and special and they can be fun and playful. Please, please I ask you to take a look at these amazing self portraits by dcapfoto on flickr. You will not be disappointed.

And remember you don't have to take an amazing photo for your self-portrait to be amazing it all depends on your "self".

Thursday, February 5, 2009

From the Archives

I was in New York City for one day. I had only a few hours left to kill. So I went to Central Park. Central Park is so big. I had no idea how big it was. I was in the middle of this big city and I couldn't even tell. I just started walking around. Every turn I took I was more and more astounded at where I was. Then my path collided with another path and I looked up and saw this path and bridge.

Central Park bridge

I felt like I was the first one to ever find this bridge after years of being hidden. I felt lucky. So I took a picture. Really I may have snapped one or two, I can't remember but it turned out great. This photo and it reminds me of my first time exploring Central Park. After I took the picture it was time to head back to the airport. And off I went.