Charleston - Street Photography

Traveling is something that I feel I was made to do. I have had many opportunities to see different parts of the world, but still one of the easiest ways to feed my addiction is picking a place fairly close to me that allows me to get a couple hours away from home and immerse myself in a culture that is different than my own. Charleston is a beautiful old city and is very well known for it's historical significance here in the south.

Home to numerous colleges including the Citadel and the College of Charleston, a day in there is filled with just as many slouchy beanies and fixed gear bikes as there are seersucker suits and mint juleps. Make sure to watch the video and enjoy the photos!

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My New Project - Abandoned Myrtle Beach

The Grand Strand has been my home for 25 years. I grew up in Conway just 15 miles inland for the beach. After graduation I went to the beach for work and college. Since I was 17 years old I have had a job in Myrtle Beach and have made quite a life for myself here. I can remember as a kid going to The Pavilion and seeing the buzzing of the boulevard; seeing Peach's Corner and the rest of the downtown area lit up like a Christmas tree. There is no better childhood memory than laughing and playing with my family down at the beach. I am sure that my memory is not a very unique one. See, Myrtle Beach is place that many people call their home away from home. Every single year, Myrtle Beach says hello and goodbye to 14 million people and after labor day, we are left by ourselves to clean up the messes and hold things together until summer comes around again. With only 27,000 in our population, the city is very empty in the winter. After all the glitz and glamour is frozen over, we are left holding down the fort waiting for the loneliness of it all to fade away. Jobs are hard to hold on to and even harder to find when the tourists leave. The stores close. The water parks dry up and the roller coasters start to rust.

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Photographing History - The Steam Plant

The steam plant in Conway has been a part of the landscape since before I was born, but it is now coming to an end. Due to a clean air act, the EPA had to shut down this facility due to too much cost in converting the plant. My dad and I took a scary highway hike to get to the island in the cooling lake across from the plant for some sunset photos. Enjoy the video!

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A Baptising: Gathering at The River

Baptism-42A very large part of a Christian's walk is an outward statement to symbolize the change that is made within. Every denomination has something that fills this need. When a Christian decides to be baptized it is an outward testimony that the person has buried their old life, dying of self so that they can rise again and let the love of God live in them and be spread through them. Though it is a tradition, it is not ritualistic. There is no magic in baptism. The way my pastor likes to put it is this: "If you go down in the water without your heart cleaned first, You'll only come up a wet sinner."

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Baptismal services are a beautiful thing to witness if you never have before. Though our church has a baptismal pool inside the sanctuary(remains covered underneath the choir unless in use), our church most always opts for a baptismal service at the river. I like the sentiment a little better in the river because, it's so obvious that being baptized in this water isn't exactly cleaning you physically. The water is murky and brackish in places, a mixture of sand and mud and dark water doesn't exactly sound like something thats going to make "whites whiter and colors brighter". It's a true statement about the cleansing of ones soul. Enjoy the photos!

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Photograph What You See: Brookgreen Gardens

I want to start this off with a bit of a statement: When you travel to somewhere that is popular, don't focus on the photos that you see everywhere; take the photos that you see in your head. As we try to recreate the photos that we love so much of the area we have, we have nothing more than a copy of a photo that we love. I'm not saying you shouldn't take those photos, believe me I have, but make sure that you don't spend all your time on the photos of a specific place the way you have already seen it. Taking a photo of a lake? Go to the other side. Of a Bridge? Stand on it! Take photos of the pieces that you will remember and that will say something about your experience.Brookgreen-1

More after the Jump!

Brookgreen Gardens in Pawleys Island, South Carolina is a garden unlike any other. A beautiful sanctuary that was originally the location of four rice plantations but was later sold whole to Archer Huntington as a gift to his wife; a place that she could showcase her sculptures. It is a place that is extremely well known for it's spectacular landscaping and artwork. The sweeping hedgerows that lay across the lowcountry plantation are something that normally grace the pages of travel and gardening publications but there are so many things that tell a better story than just large landscape photos that show it all. Here is what I see at Brookgreen Gardens:

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Making Room for Smaller Cameras

Today's technology is growing at such a rapid rate. At one point, I remember the phrase "Technology doubles every 18 months" being thrown around and though I have no way of proving that for sure I can say that I would not doubt it in even the slightest. Everything is becoming more powerful and in smaller packages. I remember my first computer, which was the nicest thing out at the time in the consumer market, had worse specs than my iPod. Not to even mention the fact that there are now phones that are faster and more capable than even my first laptop which I received as a graduation present in 2007! That's absolutely crazy to me. Just to know that there are more powerful things in smaller packages being made every day. Now, I said all that to say this: Cameras are moving in the same direction. The first professional digital cameras had price tags of thousands and thousands of dollars. With Nikon's first standalone DSLR, the D1, the price was around 5,000 depending on your model and the photos by today's standards could probably be beaten by an iPhone 4. But here is the dilemma. the D1 looks like a professional camera. It's metal body and rugged features makes the thing look like a big mean picture taking machine and if you show up taking photos with something of that size, most people would assume you know what you are doing. But what happens when you show up with something that looks like a toy?

Take this photo for instance, this is a photo taken with a Sony NEX camera system by Mr Trey Ratcliff(www.stuckincustoms.com). He took his NEX system on a helicopter photo tour with the sole purpose of creating professional images to sell on his website. How crazy do you think the pilot think he was for going up with a such a tiny camera?

Today's cameras are continuing to get smaller and smaller with the same amount, if not more, features. Bodies like the XPro-1 and the X-100s by Fujifilm have been proven to produce stellar work by some of the industry's greats. David Hobby and Zack Arias are both very heavy hitters in the photography game that both make their money for producing stellar images with such small tools. The reason why is because they know that the guts inside these small packages have all the pedigree of the large 5 pound metal DSLR thoroughbreds they left at home in the stable. With new cameras being released every day like the Sony A7 and A7r, who is to say that smaller cameras wont be the new professional camera?

Here's the kicker though, with all the innovations in technology, the population in mass has not accepted the fact that bigger does not always mean better. The Sony a7 is a visionary piece of gear that could very well be the first of a new era of cameras to come, but even Sony knows that professionals won't use these cameras in every situation because it is so small. They are now releasing a grip that almost doubles the size of the camera for this reason. Small cameras make people look at you funny when they have given you a large chunk of money at something like a wedding. But everyone wants the retro styled cameras that are inspired by the days of old. The new Olympus cameras look like near replicas of their ancestors at first glance, and the Fuji X series follow the path of the Leica M2.

My point is, where do you quit paying attention to what a camera looks like and more at what it produces? Some of the most amazing work comes from some of the craziest places, so why pay more attention to a camera that looks more expensive? Little cameras are the way of the future so all I say in advice, is be careful as to what you think about how crazy it looks for a grown man shooting professionally with something the smaller than his palm. He might be producing some of the most amazing images and just don't know it. If you have hired a photographer based on the portfolio you have seen, trust that he or she knows that the equipment they show up with will provide the caliber work that you agreed to pay for.

Thanks for reading!

5 Tips for better Landscape/Streetscape photos

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips I am not a certified teacher, nor do I have a case of awards and accolades at home for all my photographic adventures, but what I do have is experience and I hope you find this helpful in some way! If you are not a landscape photographer, you should still try using some of these ideas, because I have found it to be one of the most relaxing escapes to do these types of photos even though I am primarily a portrait and wedding photographer.

I love taking photos of people; I hear their stories and try to make myself blend in with them to where you can see the real them through their photos, but sometimes that can get very stressful. Zack Arias said in an interview once that his hobby is his passion and it also happens to be his career and that if he isn't spending time with his family, he is better honing his craft because it is what he loves. I firmly agree with that. I have been asked numerous times why I decided to start taking photos and my answer has always been "Because I can't afford hobbies that don't make money." Though of course this was said as a joke, it was true. I love photography, but I had to focus on it terribly hard because I wanted to become great at it.

Well after being well in to a year after my first paying gigs, I feel I have learned a lot and have definitely seen my stress level rise. One way I have found that I can continually sharpen my photographic skills, but relax is landscape photography. There is something relaxing about being by yourself in nature and not having to focus on what you see in someone but rather what is all around you.

Click "Continue Reading" to see my tips on better landscape photography!

#1 - Use a Tripod

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This of course is an obvious one. When anyone thinks about landscape photography, they see a camera on a tripod. Being a mostly handheld shooter myself, I had to really learn to work with the constriction caused by the handy device. I have used many types of tripods over the years and yes, having an extremely nice tripod is great but completely unnecessary unless you are doing some commissioned extra large prints for a client. For exposures under a minute, you can feel safe with a light tripod unless its an extremely windy. I do not have a very nice tripod. The legs are actually from a Targus tripod system I bought at Walmart and the head is a used Manfrotto head that I found on sale. Before that though, I was just using a bargain bin Kodak brand tripod that I picked up at a yard sale. (If you have a light or flimsy Tripod, make sure to weigh it down some how! I normally tie mine down with my camera bag. #2- Know When Not to Use a Tripod

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Tripods are not always a necessity. I personally have had five or six camera bags, some big and some small but the one thing they all have in common is that they make carrying a tripod cumbersome; even if there are straps on the side or bottom of the bag, it usually is more of a nuisance than anything else. There have been plenty of times where the light was just right and I pulled out my camera and got the shot I wanted. If there would have been the task of taking my tripod out and getting it set up, I could have missed the photo or lost the composition I had in my head because I had focused too hard on getting the tripod set up.

#3- You Don't Have to Use HDR

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Now I know that HDR is a beautiful thing at times, and when done right it can create some of the most astounding images. I have never been able to make an HDR that I was happy with and I choose not to. There are plenty of people out there with tutorials on how to make HDR images but I have found that shooting with RAW and exposing for the mid-tones, I can show the image a little love with the dodge and burn tools and be completely happy with detail in most all of the dynamic range.

#4- Stopping Down Isn't Always Needed

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

When I first started doing long exposures and night photography, I was using really stopped down apertures such as f/16 or f/22. My thought was that the image would be sharper and more things would be in focus. But what I figured out, and you will too, is that smaller apertures focused at infinity will look the same but the larger aperture will take less time for the same exposure. For example: Having an exposure at f/16 ISO: 100 with a shutter speed of 30 seconds if the exact same exposure as F/4 ISO: 100 with a shutter speed of 2 seconds. How crazy is that!?!?

#5- Focal Length is Your Friend

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Now, I have seen some amazing landscapes taken with all types of focal lengths, but different focal lengths can create the exact look you are going for. When I go out shooting landscapes, I normally pack a standard length( 35mm or 50mm. Most likely the 35mm), an ultra wide (14mm) and a Fisheye. All of these lens types can be found for amazing deals. The Nikon 35mm 1.8 is sharp piece of glass for only $200 and Rokinon have manual lenses in all three of these types ranging from $200 - $500 each. With a longer focal length, such as a 50mm or and 85mm, it is very hard to hand hold without shake in lower light situation. I try to never shoot a focal length at a shutter speed slower than my focal length (Example: I wont shoot an 85mm at 1/60 of a second, but I will shoot a 50mm at 1/60th of a second.)

My favorite type of streetscapes are with my 14mm or 8mm fisheye where I steady myself up against a light pole or a wall and bring my shutter speed down to around 1/15 or 1/20 of a second (If I am really steady, I can do 1/2 second exposures this way. The image about is an example of this type) This allows me to catch the blur of cars going by and also expose for enough ambient light to capture the scene without causing too much if any camera shake. Are these pictures perfectly tack sharp? not in the slightest, but they are a ton of fun to take and extremely rewarding. All in all, a shorter focal length will produce better handheld shots than longer ones when using slower shutter speeds handheld.

These are just my opinions and take them as such. This is what I have found is very comfortable for the work I like to do and if you decide to start doing this as well, you will find what works best for you as well! I love learning and passing things along to others, so I hope you have enjoyed it!

Thank you very much for reading! Like and share with your friends to pass along the relaxing art of landscape and street scape photography!

Do you have any places you have been or would like to photograph? Let me know in the comments!

The "Froad Trip": My journey to Philadelphia

I have always been a fan of impromptu trips. I love just jumping in the car and going ridiculously long distances in a small amount of time. Maybe it's just the Smokey and The Bandit attitude of it all, but there is something very enticing about having "A long way to go, and a short time to get there". This trip falls under that category better than anything I have done in quite a long time.

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I have always loved video tutorials and many of the photo techniques that are now second nature are only because I was very studious in watching an amalgamation educational tutorials through YouTube.  One of the largest contributors to that is Jared Polin, otherwise known as Fro Knows Photo. His videos are really informative and he is fun to listen to. There are many more that I have really enjoyed over the years, but Jared's videos have always been at the epicenter because of the community that comes along with it. I have been active on his forums, listen to his podcasts and participated in Spreecast videos with him (this was pre-Google hangout). Anyway, for 6 weeks, I listened to him talk about a get-together at his home photo store named Allen's Camera. They were going to be running specials, giving away lunch from this really groovy taco stand, as well as portfolio reviews.

There were plenty of people that showed up, and though we had driven the longest distance, there were people who had flown in from longer distances, even a few Canadians jumped the border and came down to have some fun. Though most people were just showing Jared their work on their phones or i devices, but a few had portfolios as I did. I took a book I had made where all the prints were full bleed, and more of my recent work loose in a blank scrapbook. I had planned to place them correctly in the book, but I didn't get my prints until the day before I was leaving and simply did not have the time. But just knowing that it wasn't an iPhone, made me feel better.

Photos after the jump!

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We left late Friday night, and were home in the early afternoon on Sunday. Crazy short trip and a ton of fun was had. Thank you for reading/looking/watching!

-Jarrett

Photo of The Day: Blur The Lines

I am not landscape photographer but I do enjoy fun shots and working on little projects and learning more about the art of photography. I am a big big fan of Youtube and how much I have learned just by being able to watch the video set apart for use. The newest thing I have enjoyed learning about is Long Exposure photography and using ND Filters to have longer exposures in good light. An ND filter is short for Neutral Density filter which is basically sunglasses for your camera. This photo was taken in a slightly unorthodox way by using an 85mm lens which is telephoto and normally saved for portraits. These types of shots are normally done with wide angles to capture as much of a scene as possible.

Let me know what you think!

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Photo(s) of The Day: My night in Black and White

So, for my sister's last Spring Break as a high school student, we decided to stay down at my family's beach house. It's a nice change of pace considering it's about the same distance to my office but a very different bit of scenery. Anyway, because our beach house is inside a gated community, they have a limit on how many cars can be at each house at a given time and that usually means I end parking in the overflow site and walking in. This gives me the opportunity to breath in the funny little streets while I walk in. These photos are walking around, meeting up with some friends and taking advantage of the eery light provided by laptops, in the wifi area. Enjoy!

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Now keep in mind, these images are all shot hand held with a standard 50mm 1.8 lens with no flash. The ISO had to stay a little high but considering that I think the camera handled it very well! It was fun to be challenge by the available light and take photos unaware to some and quite obvious for others! Street photography is a very different style where you have to have a lot of nerve to not care what anyone thinks about you and your camera. Though I am no street photographer, these do have a little street flavor to them

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