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!

Recording History: The Pastor's Pen

I am getting married very soon! It's finally becoming very real! See, Annie and I are the last of three couple in my church getting married within a 6 week period and I had the pleasure of photographing one of them. While shooting this wedding for a long time friend Kim, and, her now husband, Kevin, I was able to practice a little for how we would like to set up the church for our ceremony. Bonus Points! With all jokes aside, it was a beautiful ceremony and an absolute joy to shoot. Everyone was relaxed and able to have fun and enjoy the day. Here is a little taste from the photos afterward.

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More photos after the jump!

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My pastor married Kim and Kevin, who happens to be Kim's uncle, and after the ceremony and the formal photos were done, it was time for the marriage license to be signed.

Pastor Buddy pulled his pen out of the breast pocket of his suit jacket. Many forget that a pen is similar to a watch;  a piece of functional jewelry for a man. A piece of his own personal history that holds genuine and amazing history that signifies what he has been through in his life. Well Pastor Buddy's pen is absolutely one of those types of constants throughout his life. After joining the ministry, he was given this pen. a beautiful, slender work of art that he has always kept. A pastor has many jobs; he brings us all together for sermons, marriages, funerals and more than I could tell you. But this pen has a special story because after having it for over 30 years, it has only ever been used for one thing: signing marriage licenses.

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This pen has only ever graced the hands of people on the most important day of their lives as they spiritually, emotionally and, with the pen, legally bind themselves to one another. This pen has one job, and that is to permanently mark a contract of two people's love for each other.

Call me a romantic but I think this pen has an awesome story!

Did you have an item used in your wedding that has a significant meaning? How about something you keep with you every day? Let me know in the comments below!

Photo of The Day: The Barefoot Movement

So a couple weeks back, I had the opportunity to shoot a band touring through Myrtle Beach. They are a bluegrass based quartet with an awesome sound. The venue was a little place called Shell Crackers in Pawley's Island, which is just south of Myrtle Beach, that I had no idea even existed. It was a little hideaway just off the highway that ended up being a beautiful venue for any show! One of the members of the band is from the area, so this was a private party of sorts with a very intimate feel. I went for the express purpose of taking photos but ended up really enjoying the concert. They are an awesome group with tons of talent and I hope to work with them again in the future! Enjoy the images! Barefoot Movement-46

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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!

Street Photography: Barefoot on a Breezy Night

So the Barefoot Landing is in full swing this year with their 25th Anniversary celebration. Because I work in the resort industry, I have learned to stay out of the populated areas but last night I was drawn to go get some photos down there, I am very glad I did too. I love street performers but Myrtle Beach has very few of them because of the zoning laws and permits needed that are not easily accessible. But the loophole is the privately owned shopping and entertainment centers where the companies hire performers to come entertain the crowds. Well walking around I jacked up the ISO with my new Rokinon fisheye and gave it a whirl. Comment below with your favorite images!

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This little guy was really digging the magician there. But he was pretty amazed by the crazy looking lens I had on the front of my camera too!

Thanks for looking!

-Jarrett

Senioritis

So, the wrapping up of another school year has already come and gone. This means that many young people out there are about to star their senior year itching to slip on the cap and gown and count down the seconds until they get to toss that square scholarly hat up in the air as triumph of their standard education careers. Many will be off to college in the fall and starting on a journey to adulthood. They, for the first time will have a taste of independence and freedom; the ability to stand on their own to an extent. All that is well and great, believe me, I enjoyed graduating; but at the same time, they shouldn't forget that where they are right now is a very important time especially for their parents. This is the last inkling of their little boy or girl getting ready for school in the morning, the last time they will get to see them play baseball or soccer for their high school team. The last prom they will get to take funny photos of their kids in the lawn with their dates posing awkwardly. Alright, enough with the cheesy "I Will Remember You" style reminiscence.

Because of this, I send out a message to all seniors: Get your photo taken as many times as possible!

With today's society, photos are integrated in to every piece of communication: phones, computers, music devices, social media. This overexposure (excuse the pun) to photography makes it very difficult to find the value in getting your photo taken professionally and therefore you should take advantage of every opportunity you get to do so! Many high schools are offering fun alternative shoots that allow you to be creative and fun with your photos instead of the plain jane Olan Mills style photography. Get a group, go on location, make it fun!

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The photos below are of friends of my sister who are all graduating this year. I was commissioned to do the casual spring portraits for the seniors this year and I am quite pleased with the way they turned out. Just a good example of how changing up scenery can make the most difference.

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Another tip: Talk to your photographer! I had everyone's photos taken and these girls stuck around and wanted a photo taken somewhere else; they decided on a bench near the river and that's where that sat down for these great poses. Light was a little harsh so the girls took turns hold diffusers for each other!

Thanks for reading!

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

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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!

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.