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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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!

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

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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!

Photo of The Day: Glamour Girl

So, my baby sis is growing up. She graduated this year, she is starting college in the fall and soon after that I will be married and the days of us arguing at home will be gone. That is a little depressing but one thing I will always be glad of is that I took the time to do some pretty killer photo shoots with her. She is always a willing guinea pig when I am trying out something and this shoot was no different. The front yard of my house is perfect for early afternoon portraits because of all the trees and amazingly diffused light. She got in her prom dress and Mom helped out with makeup duties. I really enjoyed this shoot and we had a fun time doing it! Jillian-3

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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

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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: Revisiting The Wrestler

So, after going to the wrestling match a few weekends ago, my friend was impressed by the images I had of him. It was a ton of fun shooting the wrestler in action but I thought that for his promotional prints and posters, he needed to have a portrait or two. Meeting him down at the training facility, I was able to snap a few portraits using some new techniques and equipment. Let me know what you think!  

Big Country-1

For those interested, I used a reflective silver umbrella and a speedlight being triggered by the on camera pop up flash. I am glad to have learned this strategy from The Strobist, David Hobby. Thanks for looking!

Photo of The Day: Catching the Moment

*Warning! Photography Rant Incoming!* I don't have to tell you how cliche certain phrases in photography are. Here is a list of the worst in my opinion:

  • "Sharing Precious Memories"
  • "Capturing Life"
  • "Painting With Light"
  • "Preserving the Essence of the moment" (whatever that means)

Anyway, it's not that these terms are incorrect, those are the job of a photographer, it is just the goofy ways we try to put what we do into words. You can describe a meal with all these amazing adjectives that will have my mouth watering by the time you are done, but by the standard I see today through newer photographers marketing themselves, you cannot do the same thing for your photography. Photography is art, its subjective and no one will like every image you take; that is a fact. Be proud of your work, and only show the photos that are your best. If your picture tells a story, you HAVE to tell that story WITH your portfolio. If one image you absolutely love because you know the story behind it, doesn't stand on it's own, I personally don't think it should be in your portfolio for people to see without a conversation; story telling with a photograph is what blogs are for. If I have a pile of candid shots of kids from family shoots, and that's what the family wants then of course that is what I will show them (that is the subjective nature of the art we produce).

Righty-O, on to the photo: Sam-1

This is a perfect example of a subjective photo. This is my nephew on Easter Sunday. He was all dressed up and was just the cutest little dude, but he was getting a little tired of all the clothes. He pulled at his collar and tie, ran his hands through his hair and insisted that we play some basketball with him. well as I was walking with him back inside, I just turned my camera on, slung it out in front of him and took a photo, He was so intrigued by something on the ground, deep in thought as he was pondering the existence of something splayed across the lawn on such a beautiful day. Is this the sharpest photo I have ever taken? Not even close. Is the composition the best it could be? No way, but what this photo represents is a memory to his family of him running around being the sweet little genius boy that he is. This is not a photo for my portfolio, but a photo that will mean something to his mother. That's what we do with photography, we use our elements: light, timing, emotion, and just a little luck to find and capture what will mean something to our client. Always practice, try to think differently and for the love of God find a new way to describe what you do if you are using any of the above or something similar.

Thanks!