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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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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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

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

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

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

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

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

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

Landscape and Streetscape Photography Tips

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!

Change your Perspective: Using a fisheye lens

060_Blackwattle Bay Rokinon 8mm Tests

First, let me say that the lens in discussion today is the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 fisheye. This a fully manual lens that allows you to fine tune every little detail but does not include the comforts of automatic modes of any kind (Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program, etc etc) or even autofocus. But what it offers are crisp beautiful images with plenty of contrast and clarity.

Fisheye lenses are nothing new. They were first invented to be used for weather instruments and astrophotographers, so the entire sky could be captured from horizon to horizon. I am not an astrophotographer.

They have since, been adapted to many different types of photography. The largest is definitely skateboarding and other extreme sports and the exaggeration of lines can turn a difficult trick and to something legendary on film. I am not a skateboard photographer or videographer.

So... why the heck do I have a fisheye lens?

Funny you should ask...

Street Photography

This is a given. Street photos can be taken with anything, if you go out looking for something in particular and that is exactly what I did with this particular outing. It was July 3rd and I was out at Barefoot Landing to capture some of the nightlife for my blog and the blogs for my day job. I think all in all, they turned out pretty well; either way, it was the perfect opportunity for me to realize how awesome this lens really is.

Barefoot 7-3-2013-8
Barefoot 7-3-2013-7

Real Estate Photography

This is something I do a lot of at my day job. The neat thing about this lens is that excites you about using it. I don't know how to explain it, but even using it in real estate photography makes that type of work fun again ( keep checking back for my upcoming full length post on real estate/resort photography!) It takes a little more work is post, to get the distortion to an acceptable level, but I think it is worth for the type of shots I have been able to get with it.

WB 332-8

Family and Beach Photography

This is by far my favorite application so far. With this lens, I am able to get family of 10 in to creative poses and have fun with needing a ladder or something crazy. In this particular shot, they decided they wanted a shot of everyone with their heads close together, so I slipped on the fisheye and was able to oblige with no resistance or time to figure out how to make it happen. But then I decided to keep it on for a few more shots including this jumping of all the grandkids.

Sellers Family-20
Sellers Family-18

Wedding Receptions

This is probably one of the most fun applications for this thing. Walking around, I was able to really get some great shots of people enjoying themselves on the dance floor and hanging out. Even a fun shot or two of the bride and groom.

Mitchell and Kaitlyn
Mitchell and Kaitlyn

What do you think would be a fun use for a fisheye lens? Maybe you have one, and use it for something in particular? Leave your opinions in a comment below! Be sure to subscribe to see some of the fun things we have coming up!

-Jarrett

Photo of the day: Playful beach portraits

A really short but sweet photo of the day today. This little fella was hilarious to watch; I love photo shoots where I get entertainment out of watching the kids react to me and to themselves. I know that parents love their hyperactive children and though I know they want their kids to behave but that is not always going to happen. Kids are kids! They love to run and play and laugh and jump. Don't get me wrong, I am not a parent myself and I know there is much more stress involved in raising a child than I know. Don't think of the photographer as a guest but more as part of the family. The reason why is, the kids will be more relaxed around someone who you treat like a friend and less like a business associate. Forrester Family-37

Forrester Family-35

As a side note, I am starting to notice that anyone under the age of 6 likes the look of a 70-200 2.8. It is a huge lens and either they are made uncomfortable by it. What I have started doing instead is using either 50mm or 85mm. The 50mm is great because the front element is so small that the kids don't focus on the camera but stay on the idea of getting the picture taken. The 85mm is great too because it puts enough distance between me and the subject but not so much that the kids forget they are getting their picture taken.

Enjoy!

A Photographer's Worst Nightmare

A Photographer's Worst Nightmare: So I recently had the worst week I have experienced thus far in my photographic career.

My camera crapped out on me. It didn't completely die but it was effective for not much more than a paperweight without some serious work. The shutter curtain snapped and needed to be replaced. the mirror moved perfectly and all the electronics were fine, but the sensor was not being exposed to anything because the shutter curtain was not raising. Luckily I have access to other cameras while my workhorse is in the shop getting some TLC.

This was not the worst part of my week.

Most feel that a photographer's worst nightmare might be damaging their gear or getting something stolen; I agree this leaves much to be desired on the fun scale but I have other things much more frightening in the works. One of my clients, did not like my work. It took a lot of wrestling with my pride to write this out but I think of it as a chance to share my growth and maybe help someone else. She called and was very nasty about how much she disliked the work I had done for them. Because they had been traveling, I could not even offer a re-shoot. I am aware that many people complain on vacation in hopes to get things for free. I have worked in the resort industry for over 4 years now and I run in to this all the time. But the problem was that looking back at what I sent her, I realized something: I didn't like my work either. I had never sent out work I didn't like before, but these I truly would never show and that was the problem. I at once offered her a refund. I would never make someone pay for photos I didn't even like myself. But the hardest part was realizing, for the first time, I had not worked hard enough to make these photos what they should have been. I understand that everyone has these types of things happen and I try my best to make sure my clients are as happy with my service as possible. That is why, I buckled down and made sure my next photo shoot would be the best experience I have ever offered.

I scouted longer, I searched for open shade, I timed the golden hour perfectly, I remembered everyone's names and used them frequently and most of all, I provided some of the best photos that I think I have ever taken. Being a former professional ballroom dancer, I have learned (and have tried to overcome some of it) how to be confident, over confident even and I use this to my advantage in some cases; but I now feel like I don't have to put on a show as photographer. I am comfortable in my style, I learn more every day, and I know at the end of the day that people are happy with my work. Hope you enjoy some of the photos from the shoot:

-Jarrett

Gould Family-17

Gould Family-12

Gould Family-5

P.S.: For the camera geeks out there who are interested, I shot all of the photos for this particular shoot with a Nikon D3200 I had on loan and a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 Thanks for reading!

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!

Long Exposure-1

Photo of The Day: The Wrestler

When I was a kid, I LOVED professional wrestling. I just thought it was the coolest thing. Why, I'm not sure but that's not the point. As someone who understands the complexities of dance, I have a new appreciation for the work many of these guys do. It takes a ton of dedication to your art to do it correctly with all the difficult choreography that is being shared by two men they weigh more than I knew could be lifted so easily. Well, just like many other types of sports, wrestling starts with farm leagues where up and coming wrestlers learn how to hone their showmanship and acrobatics until they are ready to audition for the larger companies such as WWE or ECW. I know all of this because, a good friend and bandmate of mine is an athlete in a local company. It is really fun to watch him do his thing; interacting with the crowd and watching these fans cheer for him. Anyway, here is my portrait of Blake.

C4W-15

Comment below and let me know what you think!

D7100 - Worth The upgrade?

Though I have not had my hands on the wonderful piece of gear, what I have seen and read an immense amount over, I figured I would give my thoughts on this new camera.

The D7100 is the replacement for what now seems the slightly dated D7000. The D7100 now boasts a 24 megapixel ASP-C sensor and the legendary Expeed 3 image processor from the flagship Nikon D4. It boasts a 51 point AF system that is more spread out than it's predecessor with some new bells and whistles including 6 frames per second burst, a spot white balance mode, and a new 1.3x crop mode which will allow for smaller files(using only 15.4 megapixels), and faster burst(up to 7 frames per second in crop mode). At first I was completely convinced that this was only a ploy to market to nature and amateur sports photographer but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I think my favorite thing about this crop feature is that it crops to where the focus points group, which means that there will accessible focus points on the very out skirts of your image that will deliver tack sharp images.

Another interesting thing about this camera is that it does not have a low pass filter. Similar to the D800E, this feature will allow for sharper images but could possibly cause moiré when shooting fabrics, feathers or other items with fine details. But overall I think the positive of not having the low pass filter outweighs the negatives for sure. On the back of the D7100 is the sharpest screen Nikon as used yet and on top is an OLED screen giving you your camera's vital information. The camera will have a max shutter speed of 1/8000 of a second and a flash sync speed of 1/250th of a second. Finally, one of the features so widely praised on the D600, the D7100 has dual SD card slots with the ability to share between them in numerous variations.

My thoughts:

It would be a wonderful workhorse of a camera. I like that it has a larger megapixel ratio and a faster burst of 6 frames per second which would be great for weddings, capturing certain moments, but I'm not sure it's enough.  I would really need to see some test shots showing off the ISO capability. Many weddings and concerts have dim lighting situations so I would need to see if the 24 megapixel sensor can handle to added stress of higher ISO's. I do not feel comfortable shoot my D5100 higher than 1600 ISO in any situation so if this camera could give my images less noise in a higher register, I would be on board.

I love the focus points and the ability to configure them according to your needs. Though I would love to go full frame, I'm not sure if it is worth the extra 5-600 dollars to reach for the D600. The price of the D7100 should land somewhere around 1200 body only. With D7100 I will have complete handle on all my lenses I currently own, plus open myself to d-series lenses because of the built in autofocus motor. For me, even waiting on test shots, I think I know what camera I am saving up for.

 

Videography rig for the Non-Videographer

Just a short little post today showing how I do video for the real estate packages I do here in the Grand Strand. Video is not my strong point but I certainly do enjoy it, I dont normally include video but was asked to by a client and after explaining I do not have the experience in it, I was willing to give it a try. This company in particular had purchased a camera for me to use for both video and stills. Luckily they took my advice on the type of camera to purchase and I was able to work with a Nikon 3200. Maybe this was a bit selfish because of my desire to work with this camera which is known for spectacular video on a budget. The kit lens is not the most amazing thing in the world but it was great for what they needed and because of the VR, I could almost handhold. I attached the camera to my tripod which is pretty heavy duty, then I hold out in front of me two of the legs to act as a steady cam. To further stabilize the video, I put the camera strap around my neck to hold everything together. With this setup I was able to walk around freely with smooth transitioning video.

Stay tuned for more!

tripod-video