I read an article today on Cinemagraphs and thought it was very cool concept. Basically taking a still photo and animating a portion of the photo. I’m providing a link to this article for you to review. Cinemagraph Article on Tripwire magazine –

A few weeks ago, I took a series of photographs at McKinney State Park of the Falls. 9 photos I took by mistake, when I held the shutter release down for 9 shots. Fortunately for me, I kept them and was able to use them for my first Cinemagraph.

Here is my 2nd attempt

Cinemagraphy – More true to vision


So here is my first attempt.

McKinney Falls in Austin, TX

It was a lot of work, but it was a learning experience I enjoyed. I did have to spend a lot of time in front of the computer editing, which sometimes makes me worry because I know how detrimental it can be to sit down for long stretches of time. I try to do what I can though. I exercise whenever possible and I try to watch what I eat. I even take a great natural health supplement which has been working great for me, and I highly recommend it . If you would like to see if it is right for you, you can find out here.

Flash Photography – outdoors – Part 7

Have you taken a portrait photo outdoors and the background was full of color and looked exactly what you wanted, but the subject of your photo was dark, had no detail or looked like a black outline?  In this post we will discuss using external light as fill flash and how it can help your photography and make your photo’s look better and more natural.

All of these photo’s were taken with a Nikon D800 with a 28-300mm Lens at a focal length of 52mm.  The Camera settings were WB: 5813k, ISO 100, Aperture of f/8.0, and Shutter of 1/180 sec.  The only change between photos were the placement of the flash and external diffusion added to the flash.  All flash output was set manually to 1/2 for consistent lighting.  The flash is a Nikon SB-700 Speedlight.  The Flash was approx 6 feet from the subject in each photo.  

No Flash

If you have ever taken a photo like the one on the left, where your subject is in shadow nd the background looks great, then this blog entry is for you.  Let us first understand why this photo look like this.  When  you look in the viewfinder everything looks great. Your eye’s automatically adjust to the available light, letting you see both the dark and light portions of the scene.  When a DSLR or any Digital Camera looks at a scene, there is an internal light meter that determines what the correct exposure should be.   There are a few things you need to understand about the internal light meter that helps determine the correct exposure.  Most DSLR’s have 3 or 4 different settings for the Light metering.  Spot Metering, Center Weighted Metering, and Overall Metering (Multi-Segment /Zone Metering).  In the case of the photo on the left, I was using Overall metering, which gave equal weight to the dark portions as the lit portions of the frame.  If I had taken a center or spot meter reading, I could have had the subject in the correct exposure, but the background would have probably been overexposed.

This is where a fill flash can help.  I’m going to show 6 examples of external Flash that give different warmth, softness and/or hardness to the light.  All of the techniques will help improve the photo. Some of them are more flattering than others.  It really depends on how you want your photo to look.  (I have purposely not taken a photo with the built-in pop-up flash on my camera, as i think it isn’t flattering at all.  I only use it in an emergency if I don’t have a flash with me.  I also only use it outdoor’s as a fill flash.  Sometimes, I will even drap a unfolded white paper napkin over the flash to help diffuse the light.  I might do a blog entry showing a before and after using this technique.)

Color Correction – Guide to Taking Better Pictures – Part 6

Have you ever wondered when you look at your photo’s on your computer or after they have been printed don’t look right?  Or have you looked at the back of the LCD on your camera and the color looks different than on the computer?  Or perhaps you have noticed that your photo’s that you shoot in Camera Raw don’t look the same as JPG?

Well your not alone!

When we take photo’s with a Digital Camera, the camera can’t capture color as well as we see or perceive color with our eye’s.  So when you review the pictures on the computer, the photo’s just seem to be a little off.  When you take photo’s and save them in .jpg, the camera will automatically set color for you based on which settings you have selected on the camera.  In Camera Raw the photo’s don’t have this color calibration set by the camera, it has to be set in the Software (Aperture, Photoshop, or Lightroom).

Sony NEX-7 Review

If your expecting a detailed technical review, go ahead and stop now.  I’m not going to tell you about all the features and functions that the Sony NEX-7 has and can do. I’m going to  discuss my experience and impressions of the NEX-7 these past 5 weeks.

Let me start by giving some background on my decision to purchase the Sony  NEX-7.  I currently own a Nikon D90 with a lot of Nikon Glass. I thoroughly have enjoyed taking photos with the Nikon D90 for about 27 months. I’ve learned a lot about how to use it, take some wonderful photo’s on vacations, of my children, friends, families, couples, landscapes. In all I’ve taken about 14,000 photo’s with the D90. I want to get the new Nikon D800, saving my pennies for my real “Professional Quality” Camera.  It is a little pricy at $3000, but I still plan on getting one after the summer and most importantly after paying for Summer vacation to Mexico this year.

Taking HDR Bracketed Photos – Part 5

It has been a busy past few weeks, I haven’t been able to update my blog. Work has been very busy and my son got married last weekend.  I thought I would share some tips on taking bracketed photos for use with HDR.

HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”, if you do a search for HDR or even look on my blog for “HDR”  you can see some amazing photos that use this Photo technique.  I’m not going to go into how you apply these techniques to create these photos.  I’m going to discuss how you take the photos to put in the software.

Aperture Priority Mode – Part 4

It has been a while since I wrote any blog posts. Why? Well, life, kids, work, vacations, TV, everything!!! I know it isn’t a good excuse, but it is the excuse I’m using. To be honest, I really didn’t know what I wanted to talk about. I had great intentions to do this fancy photography lesson’s and all. Well, I was looking back at some of my posts from last year and realized, that I didn’t start enough with some basic’s.

I wrote about Manual mode and the other settings on your camera. But I realized, that if you read it, I just threw you into the deep end, with out giving you any swimming lesson’s.

Flash photography – Guide to better photos – Part 3

So I almost forgot to write something today as I continue to write about my journey to taking better photo’s and sharing them with you.  So it is 11:55 at night, it was a long day at work, so I really didn’t want to write anything, but felt I needed to write something, since it is my goal to write something every day.

So the topic is Flash Photography.  I will probably write a future article about Flash Photography, as this can take volumes.  So there are  a couple of tips on flash photography.  I will update a future entry and give some examples of what I’m going to discuss today, but I really don’t have anything good in my portfolio that illustrates what I’m going to mention here, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

White Balance – Guide to better photos – Part 2

White Balance, what is that?

If you haven’t heard of White Balance, it means you probably haven’t read your Manual.  If you read in my last post, we discussed using Manual Mode to set the correct Exposure Level through the ISO, Aperture, and Shutter settings.  Well White Balance (WB) is something that is very important when you take a photo with a Digital Camera.

Manual Mode – Guide to better photos – Part 1b

In the previous post, we discussed ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed.  We had just taken a photo with a fast shutter speed and everything was perfect!

Well not so fast.  Remember when I mentioned that the key to a perfect photo was getting the correct Exposure Level or the correct amount of light into the camera Sensor?  Well just because you set the Shutter Speed to 1/150 sec, doesn’t mean you allowed enough light into the camera Sensor.  It is actually possible that the photo may be to dark, especially if the photo was taken late in the afternoon, when the sun wasn’t at it’s brightest.  So the real question is, “How do I allow enough light into the lens to the Camera Sensor to make that perfectly sharp photo?”.

Manual Mode – Guide to better photos – Part 1a

The most important thing I have learned when taking photos is learning how to use your camera.  By this I mean, learning to using the Manual Mode, usually there is a dial on the camera that has an M on it, this is manual Mode.  You will probably see additional letters and pictures on this, stuff like P – Program, A – Aperture Priority, Auto – Automatic, S – Shutter Priority (also known as speed – the shutter speed). There could be pictures of a Track star, Mountain Top, and a few other types of pictures.  This is a picture of my camera dial on my Nikon D90.  Let me begin by talking about the different modes from a high level and what they do.