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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Photo Safari! How to make the best of your zoo trip.

I have always enjoyed visiting zoos. I have been to zoos all around the country and even in other parts of the world, but not until recent did I decide to start taking photos while I was there! I have not had the chance of going on a dedicated photo safari yet so while I am saving up my pennies, I will enjoy taking photos of wildlife inside of zoos! This blog post has some photos I took while at the Denver Zoo. Honeymoon-304

More after the jump!

Pros of photographing zoo wildlife:

-They are more than likely ALWAYS there. Zoo animals do not migrate so other than the occasional periods where they need to be housed inside or are in transition to new habitats, you pretty much know where they are going to be.

-You have prime set up locations for your photos. Not only are you safe at a zoo, they also set up viewing areas in places where people can best see the animals. Though a low to the ground wide angle shot of a lion sleeping would be the desired photo you want on your Flickr or Facebook page, you can almost always guarantee a shot from the walkways and viewing areas.

Honeymoon-343 Honeymoon-353 My tips for Zoo Photos:

-Go on an Overcast Day. Though you can go any time, there are always less people at the zoo on an overcast day and the animals are normally more active.

-Get to know your zookeeper. Make sure you say hello to your friendly neighborhood zookeepers. They are generally full of knowledge you can use for your blog and may even give you access to something you wouldn't normally be able to. I remember once as a kid, we had gone to a zoo in some city we were visiting. It was still considered a winter month and was bitterly cold and lightly raining on and off. We were one of the only families there that day and I think the zookeeper felt bad that we did not have much to see, so he walked us through an indoor area that was not readily available to public. What a treat!

-Macro lenses work great in aquarium areas. I don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner, but after seeing a young girl chase a fish inside of a tank with her father's iPhone I decided to to give it a try with my camera and the 70-200 2.8 (which has a close focusing feature) I had attached in stead of digging through my bag for my macro specific lens.

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Thank you for reading! Be sure to subscribe to see when I post new photos from my adventures!

 

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!

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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB1dEKd9XGk&w=480&h=360]

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

Telling my story: Imperfect Images

So this is an old blog post I made many moths ago, but I wanted to repost it with the photo link correct. These were taken before I knew what to do with a camera, but these photos are a landmark to my photographic journey and I cherish them for that. Enjoy!
Horse Running 1
Blog post right after the jump!
What makes a good photo? Is it razor sharp focus? It is amazing color?
I love the days of travel photographers roaming through some wild country side in central Asia or North Africa capturing whatever they can on 36 exposure rolls in their 35mm cameras. If a photographer in Africa was being chased by an elephant through the jungle he did what he had to do to take that shot and thought in the moment and when he/she was safe and sound back in the studio developing photos it didn’t matter if the focus was a little soft or if was just a little underexposed.
I find that it is these photos that trigger something inside us that show us that we are all human, in a world full of airbrushed and photoshopped images, a gritty photo cuts through all the noise that is filled with “perfect” images. i like the sense of urgency in a photo that is a bit blurry. I am not saying its ok that a photographer produces less than quality work, but it doesn’t always have to be a half step short of a magazine cover photo.
Well I can’t say I have ever been chased by an elephant but i have had to deal with a less than perfect shot to portray the perfect moment. The example I am talking about today was on a trip through Normandy, France. In my opinion, Normandy is one of the most beautiful countrysides in the world. The family farms there are all divided by these ancient hedgerows that have grown thick and strong over hundreds of years. They are so thick, they were known to sometimes stop German tanks from moving forward during WWII. Well, many of these farms raise horses and are free to roam throughout these farms that are protected by these thick hedgerows. I was traveling at dusk in a coach driven by a very cranky Englishman who was not interested at all in stopping to let me take photos. Lucky for me, it is very hard to drive fast on these thin winding back roads of Normandy, so I was able to snap some photos through the windows of the coach.
After turning a corner, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a fine specimen of a horse had taken interest in our coach, I could only barely see him through the hedgerow but as we started to speed off he galloped along with us. After a couple tries, I was able to capture this:
I was so astounded by the horse’s conviction, he continued to follow us and caught our driver’s attention, well even the cold exterior of the brit was melted away and he actually slowed to a stop as we came to a larger opening to get a better look at our equine acquaintance.
As we came to the opening, I was surprised to see that he had been joined by a friend who were both looking at us very curious. I don’t blame them though, we were in a very big bus on a very small road. Before we left again I snapped this one:
Horse Running 2
Though, neither of these shots are great, they helped me tell my story from this leg of the trip and are definitely some of my favorite images that I took. I will treasure having these forever because I know I was there, I know what I saw and it helps depict what it was that I was experiencing at the time. The light was fading fast and I could barely see the horses during that last photo but because of the wonderful advances in photo manipulation I was able to pull out enough detail to see what I was trying to portray.
Don't ever be afraid of a less than great photo; photos are meant to tell a story, and if they do that, mission accomplished.
Stay tuned for more!

Mobile Phone Photography

So, everyone and their brother have smartphones now and Instagram is flooded every day with square cropped images featuring anything from someone's beautiful hipster lunch to the most beautiful cliche sunset you have ever seen. But pro photographers have also jumped on board and started doing some amazing work with their phones. Some of my favorite work with phones are the numerous big name street photographers who like spending time away from their DSLRs and sometimes even find a small rangefinder bulky and in the way. There are so many beautiful images to be seen so I figured I would share some of mine! Enjoy!

Turn to clear vision

Sleepy kitty

Cortana chip

Baseball on the iPhone

Bird attack

Relaxing on the wal

Boat

Untitled

Double exposure

Barber shop

So do you take photos with your phone? Do you have something you would like to share? Well post it on my Facebook wall, on twitter or in the comments below!

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.

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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.

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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