Recently I visited the historic Eastern State Penitentiary located in Philadelphia, Penn.
Recently I visited the historic Eastern State Penitentiary located in Philadelphia, Penn.
Recently I started to collect some images for a Tamron Enewsletter on Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York, one of eight state parks Tamron USA will be holding photo workshops in this year. I came across one image that was completely different than the others, and I had forgotten I created on my last trip to the park. What made it different from the rest is that it was a panoramic image created from 5 separate vertical images, when viewing this image I realized this is a technique that I do not use often enough.
The definition of Panorama is “an unobstructed and wide view of an extensive area in all directions” and in photography it is capturing elongated fields of view using either specialized equipment or software. The simplest way to create a panoramic “style” image is to use an ultra wide lens like the Tamron’s 10-24mm at 10mm’s to capture your scene, then in Photoshop software crop the image so it appears elongated either horizontally or vertically. The issue I have with this technique is that when using an ultra wide-angle lens is that you get the expansion effect between foreground and background subjects, which usually makes your foreground subjects look larger than they should and your background subjects look smaller.
Since I did not want the look of an ultra wide lens, I needed to capture this scene in a different way. So to create this horizontal panoramic, I turned my camera to the vertical position and with a Tamron 28-300mm VC lens set at the 40mm focal length I took 5 separate images from left to right, each a small part of the entire scene I wanted to create a final panorama of. When capturing the images I overlapped parts of the scene in each image by 15 – 20%. You will need to do this so that the Photoshop software can create a seamless merge of all the images. Once I had the images captured I opened Photoshop and imported them into the program through the Photomerge section which is under the FILE dropdown, then under Automate. Once the images are imported you have a few options to create the Panorama, in the case of this image the settings were: auto layout, I checked the box for “blend images together”. Once that was done, I clicked OK and Photoshop did the rest by processing files and creating the panorama. Today there are a number of very sophisticated software options besides Photoshop, and depending on the level you want to take your panorama images you have many options.
The second of the 4 seminars I am teaching is by far the most popular. Kids Sports Photography is a basic level class that was inspired by my family and friends needing advice on how to photograph their kids during the sports season.
Timing is everything – Kids Sports photography:
Join this session for tips on how to capture action as it happens. Indoors or outdoors, we'll discuss the importance of light when photographing any sport. Discover how anticipation, panning focus, and multiple bust modes will decrease the number of missed shots and blurry photos. There is a difficult aspect with sports photography in the fact that each sport has its own difficulties. My goal is to give you the tools to approach your sports photography the correct way. In return, you'll capture more consistent, better photographs.
After talking to several people, I realized that the hardest part about sports photography for beginners is that everything happens so fast, and there is so much to set up in camera to get the best results. The best thing you can do here is to set up as much as possible before hand knowing once you found settings that work, they will not change as long as your location doesn't change. I start in a Shutter-speed Priority Mode, and move to Manual Exposure once I know my exposure values. In this class, you will learn how to set up your camera.
Shutter speed is the biggest issue. With outdoor events, there is plenty of light for fast shutter speeds. I recommend using a longer focal length for the best results; my favorite is Tamron's SP 70-300mm VC USD lens. Its affordable, fast, and incredibly sharp!
Tamron SP 70-300mm VC USD @ F6.3, 1/1000 sec, ISO200
Indoor events propose this shutter speed challenge. I start with a 1/250 sec, the lowest F-stop I can, and a rather high ISO setting. 1/250 sec is just about right for basketball, wrestling or volleyball. If your kids are older OR you have a faster sport like gymnastics or hockey, you will need more speed, F2.8 optics and a newer camera sensor are essential for the best results.
Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 VC USD @ F2.8, 1/250 sec, ISO1000
Another quick tip is to shoot compositionally loose. I generally shoot horizontally, with my subject in the middle for the best autofocus tracking. Compositionally this is not ideal, but with current technology I can safely crop out up to half of the photograph and still make 11x14 enlargements. Use classic Rule of Thirds ideas for dramatic photographs.
Tamron SP AF 70-300mm VC USD @ F8, 1/800 sec, ISO 100
The most important thing I can mention is, get there early and be prepared. Talk to your kids about running plays so you know the action before it happens. Take a look at the field/court/arena for your best place to photograph. Get to know the team and coach so they will be more willing to let you photograph the team. If you are in the same place often, take notes of the school and your exposure settings. If it worked last time, it will work this time and these values will give you a starting place.
Thank you for reading. Check out Tamron's event page for exact times and locations. http://www.tamron-usa.com/events/
I’ve had a goal for a while to hike from Berthoud Pass to St. Mary’s/ Alice, Colorado where I live in one day. So a buddy of mine and I decided to attempt it. Of course, I had to bring a camera. The Continental Divide Trail runs along the backbone of the country. We would hike a small part in Colorado. We would start from Berthoud Pass and follow it along five summits (Mt. Flora, Mt. Eva, Parry Peak, Mt. Bancroft and James Peak) before descending through St. Mary’s Glacier and back home.
I know it sounds crazy, but I just love photographing adventures like this! There is something about the majestic mountain tops that summon me to visit. I am drawn to them like a magnet. Amazing blue skies against the foliage or snow as the sun dances between the clouds and paints the landscape. The crisp air, challenging conditions and grand landscapes keep me returning for more!
With more than ten miles to cover through wintery conditions and limited winter light, I chose to leave the tripod at home. Having time to set up and carefully compose seemed unlikely as we would be on the move. I would go handheld using the Vibration Compensation (VC) in the new Tamron SP 24-70 f/2.8 VC USD. This stabilization technology really locks on and holds still while shooting handheld.
For some, going light means a point & shoot camera. For me going light means only taking a Tamron SP 24-70 f/2.8 VC with a polarizer and a Nikon D800 body. After all, I could bring several more lenses right? I took into account that high wind was probable if not guaranteed. Ice crystals, snow and dust would most certainly get into the body if I changed lenses, so I decided to go light and shoot the entire day with this combination.
When shooting handheld, I constantly pay attention to the metering. I like to shoot aperture preferred mode, A on some mode dials AV on others. I desire higher f/stops for more depth of field, so I shoot between f/8 and f/16 for most situations like this and then monitor the shutter speed making sure it doesn't go below 1/60th of a second. With VC engaged, I get the results I’m after. Also, depending on the amount of snow, I use the +/- exposure compensation mode to over expose making the snow brighter, but being careful not to blow out the highlight detail.
A long story shortened, it was a long grueling hike! We made it back home just before 10pm. The Vibration Compensation worked amazingly in harsh conditions all day long! The only downside was walking the last three miles through the glacier with a headlamp in the dark. Even with that, it was a great adventure! The following images were processed from RAW. Hope to see you out there. Enjoy!
Every morning for a week, this was the view from my room. And after seeing this the first morning, I felt compelled to be up to watch this daily. Of course every day was different. The clouds moved quickly and would burn off within a few hours and sometimes less. The wonderful thing is that I was in the same location every day and so my challenge was to find where the best images were in a scene that was constantly changing, but from a singular perspective.
It is the combination of pollution and temperature which creates the fog and mist in the Kathmandu Valley. The nights get into the 40's while the days can reach the mid 70's. These extreme changes and the fact that all of this is trapped in a valley make for a moody morning of photography.
Using the Tamron SP 70-300 VC lens I was able to frame up specific subjects in the image. The effect of using a telephoto lens creates the effect known as compression. What this does is effectively flatten the elements in the image making objects that are far away and those that are closer to appear almost in the same plane. In the first image you see a smoke stack next to trees as the dominant form with the faintest hints of factories in the background. Shot at 210mm f5.6 1/320 the second image is broken up into three planes divided horizontally by the clouds. In the top third you see electrical tower and factories. In the middle you see a smoke stack that is emitting smoke (actually a brick factory) on one plane. And in the final third, just trees. It was shot at 220mm at F10 (to increase the depth of field) at 1/320. The third image is just clouds and trees, but it is the light playing off of the clouds which makes the image enticing. Shot at 300mm f5.6 1/800 Because there is fog and the sun is backlighting the subjects, these images are very low contrast, but this adds to the flavor and the mood and is much closer to how it appeared in person.
Whether it is Maine or Nepal, usually the haze is most prominent in morning or evening when temperatures are rapidly changing. It is worth getting up a little early to witness these changes and you might even get a good shot or three!
I headed out with a headlight on a cold and breezy morning before sunrise. I wanted to get high on the unnamed point next to St. Mary’s Lake, Colorado to capture sunrise images. The sun emerged over the horizon as I neared the summit of the point. As I emerged from the tree-line, the cold breeze turned to bitter cold accompanied by extremely high wind.
I dropped my pack, removed my tripod and extended the legs. After hiking for almost an hour, I knew my camera and lens had made the adjustment to the cold conditions. For outings like this, I put it in a zippered case so it can gradually change to the outside temperature as I hike to the destination. I removed my camera and placed it on the tripod. The wind was so strong and continuous that I had to hold the tripod down as I photographed.
To keep your hands as warm as possible in these conditions, I try to anticipate the start settings I will use and set them in the camera before leaving the house. This way I will minimize removing my hands from gloves during the shoot. I also highly recommend using gloves with leashes that attach around your wrists so you don't accidentally have one blow out of your hands and down the mountain as you remove it. Guess how I figured that one out?
The settings I set in the camera before leaving are settings I know I want or I know will be correct. One of these is RAW+ small jpeg. I know I will process from RAW, but I like to have the small jpeg for immediate viewing. This way I can toss them on my phone or pad for easy quick review on the couch or on a plane. They may not be perfect, but are enough to review and choose for editing the RAW version.
Another setting is white balance or WB on your camera. I know I want the daylight, commonly the sun symbol, setting so I retain all the subtle hues in the sunrise. If left in auto white balance, the camera is likely to shift the setting from image to image washing out most as it attempts to turn yellow and magenta light into white as it would with a light bulb. Daylight white balance is a fixed setting that doesn’t change.
For my nature landscapes, I like to use a quality circular polarizer. I rotate the polarizer to the dial in the look I’m after. Simply put, a polarizer removes or forces the reflection. I use it to remove undesired light reflection from atmospheric particles. In this case, mostly crystals of ice and snow blowing in the wind. They reflect the light, so I dial the polarizer to remove this reflection. Sometimes I dial to get the reflection. You can clearly see it through the camera as you turn the polarizer. Don’t forget to always turn your polarizer in the same direction it screws onto the lens to prevent it coming off, hitting the ground and rolling off a cliff! Guess how I figured that one out?
Finally, in a situation like this with high wind, take two or three images of the same shot. I do this because I’m never sure how the wind will gust or momentarily ease. I’m using f/stops to maximize depth of field which means slower shutter speeds at a lower ISO. Taking multiple images of the same shot increases you chances of getting a sharp image in high wind. I keep my hand firmly on the neck of the tripod holding the legs down. There is no reason to leave your camera packed away until it is warm outside. With the right game plan, a little suffering and the right equipment you can create some incredible images in the winter.
The following images were taken with a Tamron SP 24-70 f/2.8 VC USD lens and a Nikon D800. Also used was a circular polarizer and a tripod. Keep warm and Enjoy!
One of the things I do to keep sharp is give myself mini photo assignments. I really enjoy hiking and climbing near St. Mary’s Glacier in Colorado. I have been there multiple times throughout my life as I grew up. There are a group of trees up by timberline next to St. Mary’s Lake that always capture my attention while I’m there. Of all the places in Colorado I have been, this is one of the most bitter cold and windiest in the winter time. Those words really don't do it justice because it really is brutal!
I set out to shoot the area one cold morning after a snowstorm. I headed into the area to capture some winter landscape images. Winter landscape images are very compelling to me. Anyone can get out of a car in the mountains and take some snaps that will look good. Winter photography however takes commitment and a willingness to suffer. I don’t know exactly why, but I just love it!
After creating some sunrise images, I proceeded to the batch of trees I always visit while in the area. There is one tree that has stood in the face of the weather for years right at timberline. Brutal constant wind combined with extreme changing temperature throughout the seasons and over the years have given this tree a unique weathered character.
My mini photo assignment was to work this tree into many images from different perspectives. Many beginning photographers tend to camp out in one place after finding a decent place to take an image. I do this exercise to remind myself to walk completely around my subject to get different looks at it. I make sure to raise my tripod to its highest and lowest setting during the exercise.
Here are a few of the images taken during this exercise. Don't forget! With digital, once you own the equipment, shooting is free. You just erase what you don’t want. So take lots of pictures.
Nikon D800 body
Carbon Fiber Tripod
One of my last blogs that I posted a few months ago, I was talking about the not so winter I was having on Long Island and having to travel to Montreal to see snow. Well, that turned out to be a real bad idea, because mother nature decided to finally hit us with some bad winter weather and then follow me around for a while on my travels. One of the places I was looking forward to was Myrtle Beach. The Carolina Nature Photographers Assoc. was having its annual convention there at a hotel right on the beach. I thought to myself "boy, this is going to be nice... Beach, sand and warm weather". The beach was there, and my room on the 12th floor looked over the beach nicely, but as far as the warm weather goes, I don't think it ever went past 55 degrees. A bummer for South Carolina!
No matter what the weather is, and after this past winter I can't believe I'm complaining about 55 degree weather, I still try to find some time to shoot where ever I am. In this case the Apache Pier was within a few hundred yards of my hotel and seemed like a good place to capture some long exposure night images. I really liked the patterns in the support planks and noticed that I got a mirrored look to them when I put one of the posts directly in the center of the frame. The image below is a 30 second exposure shot at F/22 and an ISO setting at 800. I used an LED flashlight to light up the entire inner structure, since there was so much light coming from the pier itself my first few images without it came out very dark. Since LED lights can sometimes come out a little on the cool side I used one of Rouge Light Modifiers warming gel filters, that normally go onto a speedlight, over my flashlight to warm up the color a bit. Another thing to remember when using a flashlight on long exposures, always keep the flashlight moving and don't leave it pointing at one spot too long, this will cause a hot spot on your image that will not look good.
If you haven't had a chance to visit Tamron's website lately, you should. It's recently redesigned making it easier to find events in your area, and how to videos / articles. 2013 is exciting because Tamron has added Subject Specific, How-To Seminars. I am presenting (4) of the total (8). Through my next few blog posts you will get a taste of what I will discuss.
Looking Into a Small World, Macro Photography: Understanding, and successfully seeing the world through macro photography brings to life a new perspective. When considering the smaller scale, every detail plays a bigger role to identify the subject, decrease distraction, and create a truly impactful image. Through this seminar, we will clearly define what macro means; discover how subtle decisions make big changes; and make sense out of an abstracted scene. Lastly, when dealing with common macro subjects such as insects, flowers, and jewelry, we will discuss how they are handled differently indoors and outdoors, commercial vs. nature etc.
Now the hardest part about getting into macro photography is really training your eye to look at a scene. What parts are you inspired by? Are there any unique elements? Have you looked at all the different perspective ways to look at the subject? Here I am looking at a basic one light set up on a bouquet of flowers. I like photographing roses because I feel everyone can relate to them in some way. The hard part about them is making your rose photo look different than any other rose photo you have seen before. Rose petals create amazing leading lines throughout an image and I enjoy how my focus lies on the edges of the petals rather than in the center of the bloom. Don't be afraid to rotate your images to create the best balance and use of lines. With most macro photographs, there is not a clear orientation, so have fun with it.
The next thing I look for is flower deformations. This makes your images unique, and adds intrigue. Be careful with white flowers. You will need to over expose slightly to get the correct whiteness. Macro is all about leading lines. I took this next photo vertically, creating a strong upward line with the daisy stem; then leading your eye back downward with the deformed, curved petal. Simply composed, blurred out, non-distracting background makes this piece my favorite of the three.
The last image I almost didn't get… Thinking I've shot every flower in this bunch, I set my camera down and noticed all the wonderful bubbles forming on the vase itself. Like I said in the beginning: Look at every aspect of your subject. I cropped as a panoramic because I pictured this image sitting above my couch in the living room. It also emphasizes the bubbles, minimizing the hard green diagonal lines.
Thanks for Reading – Jillian, Tamron USA Technical Representative
Most of the time when you are rock or ice climbing, you are either climbing or you are on belay with the other end of the rope to manage. This makes photographing these activities difficult if not impossible. On this day, there would be two other climbers allowing me to roam freely while photographing the ice climbing.
I am myself a mountaineer and have climbed steep ice a few times. I am intimately familiar with all the moves, techniques and equipment involved with the sport. Even though this is the case, it doesn’t actually matter to me whether I am totally familiar or completely unfamiliar with a sport because I do the same thing before photographing. I read and learn about it taking in everything I can. I review past photographs from photographers who regularly shoot the sport to become familiar with the key moments to photograph. Then I actively pre-visualize the key moments and me releasing the shutter at exactly the right moment to get the shot! I do this every day until I am actually there to photograph the event.
One of the things about ice climbing that makes it difficult is the bone chilling cold. Of course, in order for waterfalls to exist, they must be out of the direct sunlight and very cold. For this reason, management of both equipment and personal comfort become the keys to freeing your creative energies for the shoot. I use zippered camera bags for this to manage the extreme change in temperature. As I walked from the warm car to the ice climbing routs in Vail, my equipment had over 30 minutes to slowly become the same temperature as the outside shooting environment. This helps to prevent fogging of your lenses and condensation inside your camera body.
As with snow, the key to ice climbing photography is exposure, over-exposure to be exact. While a modern camera is excellent at auto exposure most all of the time, snow or light sand will cause the cameras meter to under expose images. This is because images composed primarily of snow, ice and light sand are, as a whole, brighter than the gray value a cameras meter is set to base its exposure on. This is why we still need manual settings so we can compensate for this exposure difference. I can shoot it in manual mode, a challenge with gloves. Alternatively, I can use program or aperture priority mode along with exposure compensation to get the right exposure. I prefer aperture priority or aperture value on some cameras.
To properly expose for the ice, I start at 2/3 (also shown as +0.7) of a stop over exposure and create a test shot of the ice with a climber included. Just as with snow, it is important to over expose enough to make ice lighter, but also to retain detail in the ice. My goal with this is to get the ice closer to its actual brightness without over exposing. Then, if needed, I go the rest of the distance in post production.
I want cut time at the computer to a minimum, so I believe it’s best to do all you can to create the best image possible in camera during the shoot. I refine all photographic processes to achieve this. Unlike the old days of film, I over shoot these kinds of activities because it doesn’t cost me a thing. I believe that once you own the equipment, shooting is free whether taking one shot or a million. For this reason, I fill my cards with images knowing the worst thing that will happen is that I will have to erase images. The images were created using a Tamron SP 70-300 f/4-5.6 Di VC and a Nikon D800.