Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If Mel Gibson was a Photographer

'Passion of the Christ'

The final shots of my Christmas Series. All taken at the top of Mt Tapyas, Coron, Palawan, Philippines @50mm and 10mm respectively.
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Path to the Cross

Path to the Cross... Literal or Figurative? Part of my Christmas series. On the back side of Mt. Tapyas, Coron, Palawan, Philippines. @10mm
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Photo For Sale for Christian Book Cover

Just in time for Christmas. The subject line is sarcastic, unless you happen to be searching for a photo for the cover of your new Christian book or Christian rock album. Taken at Mt. Tapyas, Coron, Palawan, Philippines. @10mm
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kate Moss

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Leaving the Path

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...and I Can't Get Up

A sprinkling of the Fall, early morning. Mill Pond @50mm and 10mm respectively. View these full screen, and you'll 'get it'. They make great desktop backgrounds, especially if finding your icons is not important.
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I've Fallen...

At Mill Pond Park in Bellmore. @50mm
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Taken at 10mm, some contrast adjustment in Picasa. The real Brooklyn Bridge isn't bent... or is it?
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Da Brooklyn Bridge

@10mm, contrast adjustment and linear gradient to add some contrast to the washed out sky.

I think this is very cool. A friend of mine did some HDR processing on one of my photos. Check out some of his work: AfterEffects.
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Great 50mm Lens

An acquaintance of mine is buying an SLR camera and my first piece of advice is what I tell everyone who is doing the same... if you buy just one lens, make it a 50mm f/1.8. She is kinda new to the SLR photography arena, so I figured I would take the opportunity to post info here rather than just on a facebook post. I'll keep it basic.

The 50mm is my go-to lens, its the lens I keep on the camera by default. I personally do not use the kit lens at all, I almost never take it with me and I can count the number of photos I take with it (albeit if you are a more casual photographer it might be better suiting). I've taken about 80% of my photos with the 50mm, and about 80% of my best photos with it.

50mm means that the lens doesnt zoom at all (its called a 'fixed' or 'prime' lens). Seems kinda lame, but because a fixed lens it has some other special properties...
  • First, 50mm happens to be something of a magic number. They say that the focal length of 50mm is closest to that of the natural focus length of the human eye. So your photos will be be taken with a more 'human' perspective. This makes is a great lens for "people pictures". (if you're using a pro-sumer cropped sensor camera, this is a little bit off - but its still a very natural view point).  I believe its a viewpoint that will generally make you a better photographer.  
  • Because it is a "fixed" lens, it is very fine tuned. The focus is perfectly set in the factory. There is only one moving part. On a typical lens, there are several interior lenses moving together at once to get to the best focus. Every lens no matter how big the focal range has a sweet spot where it is in best focus. The sweet spot on the 50mm is... 50mm, so its always got real sharp focus.
  • f1.8 refers to the maximum size of the aperture. The smaller the number the larger the aperture. A larger aperture means more light gets in. More light means you can take pics in darker conditions. The largest aperture that you'll find in consumer and most pro grade lenses is f/1.2 ... a standard kit lens is somewhere between f4.0 to f5.0 range. So this particular lens has pretty close to the best possible aperture in existence.
  • Also, without getting too technical, because the aperture is so large something special happens, the depth of field of the picture shortens alot. So when you take a photo of someone, their face could be in perfect focus but everything else fades to a blur. People love it. Its called "bokeh" and its pretty much only possible with an SLR camera.
  • Its light and small.
  • The best part is... its cheap! You can get this lens (in most makes) for around $100. Its not because its a terrible lens, its cheap because its relatively easy to manufacture. As I mentioned, there are few moving parts - most lenses require very precision manufacturing to perfectly time and tune the opticals.
Where to buy it:


For you 
Nikon people

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pump(kin) It Up

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You Bet Your Lucky Apples

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Monday, September 28, 2009

I Heart NY

I have no doubt that most people won't believe me when I say that I wasn't trying to take a picture of this young lady's rear... but I really wasn't. (Why do I even bother trying to explain myself). Lensbaby is great for crowds. I was actually just playing around with the Lensbaby 2.0 pointing it at the crowded street and doing the Lensbaby finger-wobble and finally got a decent pic.
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Times Square CD Shoot


(both @50mm f/1.8)

So I'm walking thru Times Square and these guys stop me and offer a CD. One of them asked me where I'm from, I said "Long Island... Nassau" and he said "oh, the rich part". He noticed my camera and said I should do some photos for money for them (they must be subscribers to my photoblog). He was talking about photos 'another time' but I said "how about some right now?"... it was my repayment for the CD. They were actually pretty excited to take some pics and really liked how they came out. When I was leaving, the other guy asked me where I'm from. I answered the same as before and he said "oh, the rich part". Actually pretty nice guys though.
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Really these blog post titles are really not even making sense anymore. Taken somewhere in Manhattan on Bowery. @10mm
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Flower Cart

In Chinatown, Manhattan NY.
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Miami Sea Gazing

At South Beach, Miami 70-200mm lens, taken at about 150mm
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Daisy Dukes

At Old Westbury Gardens @10mm
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tips on Shooting Concert (or most Low Light photos)

I just read a post on one of my favorite sites, Lifehacker, about shooting concert photos. In summary they told you to shoot 'wide open'. Of course shooting 'wide open' (meaning as low an aperture as you can) seems like an obvious thing. But you might not be shooting with a top grade lens where you can stop down the aperture to something that will actually let in some workable light (like f1.8). I posted a comment there with my own tips, so I figured I would repost it here with some more detail.

Odds are you are not shooting in Manual mode - or you would know what to do yourself - so don't start playing with both shutter time AND aperture. Here is where I suggest you start:

I would suggest shooting in tV mode (shutter priority mode) and play with the shutter length of the shot. If you are at a terrible distance there is often little action at all so the only blur you need to deal with is what you can hand-hold. I shot photos at a concert recently and was able to get away with 1/4 sec exposure - steadying my camera on my knees (in a seated position). The results were pretty steady shots. Longer exposure time will ALWAYS solve your lighting issues (but adds some new issues: blur, camera-shake, or sometimes overexposure). Do this:

Step 1. Switch to tV mode (on Canon SLR cameras). Your flash will be disabled, unless you popped it up. So make sure it is disabled.

Step 2. Play with shutter length (time) and see what the maximum time you can tolerate to get a clear and steady shot. Except with intentional extended time-lapse, blur comes from unsteady hands usually, not moving subjects! Start with a a long shutter time, maybe even half a second and start taking pics, click up one stop at a time until the shot is not blurry (it will likely be underexposed) but concentrate on it being blurry or not - forget about the lighting now.

Step 3. Take a look at your photo. If it looks like there is enough or too much light go to step 4a, otherwise go to 4b.

Step 4a. If its properly exposed, you are lucky! Shorten your shutter time until the picture is properly exposed.
Step 4b. If there isn't enough light in that shot, adjust your ISO up one step at a time until its exposed properly. You'll probably land at 800 or maybe even 1600. Remember, with higher ISO comes graininess (on most SLRs).

So here is how the tV setting works - once you have the shutter speed set properly you'll take care of the blur (but you'll be letting in less light), next the aperture will open up automatically to help bring in the light (but short of having an expensive lens its unlikely it will open up enough), but lastly you'll need to adjust the ISO in order to let your sensor process the light faster to help expose it.

Some Other Tips:
  • Choose the fastest lens you have.  Your 50mm f1.8 will absolutely kill your telephoto lens in low light.  Just get yourself a better spot in the audience.
  • Don't worry about the aperture, it will set itself and it will shoot wide open given that there is hardly any light.

  • Another tip, turn off autofocus and switch to manual. It will be too dark for your autofocus to see the shot and it might not let you take the photo. If you are more than 30 feet away or so (which is probably anything thats not in the front few rows) you are focused to infinity on most lens. If you are closer, try autofocus - it might work.

  • Last Tip: put down the camera and enjoy the show! Its rare that you'll take too many concert photos that look very different from each other let alone look like any . I like to enjoy the start of the show without staring thru a viewfinder, take a couple dozen photos some time in the middle and then put the camera away or on standby in case something "happens". Trust me, your favorite songs dont "look" different in each photo.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wave goodbye

At Long Beach, New York @200mm (a safer distance than she is).
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Bill at Long Beach

The wimpy Hurricane Bill at Long Beach
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I'm board, so am I.

Two (suspected) surfboards at Long Beach, Long Island New York.
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Ride the Wave

Two (suspected) "lovers" at Wantagh Park (Cedar Creek Park).
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