Thursday, December 1, 2011

High Five Photo Tips for December

1. When shooting Portraits, alter you viewpoint and either get up higher and shoot down or lower and shoot up. Try direct eye contact and then have the subject look outside the field of the camera or inside the camera field. Try props or candid poses often during action such as with jumping or in an activity. Add light Painting.

light paining
senior 1 with heart senior 3
2. Lighting is the key to compositing. This will make the selections easier and the composite look real. The lighting on the subject and on the composite needs to match. Another trick - don't include the feet if possible. Plan ahead.
composite 2composite 1
3. Simple compositions are often best. Clean and pure. Follows my photo motto: Simplify.
Fish Market
4. Foreground elements help to balance a composition. Choose them wisely. Use leading lines to draw the eye into the photo.

Or just look for patterns and colors.

Times Square steps
Times Square
5. Location, location, location. True in photography as it is in real estate. Choose a great location and a landmark of that location to be the key focus. This is an infra red pannoramic shot vertically at Pepsico in New York.
IR Pano
Infra Red Panno

Accent Line Block
Closing Block

Saturday, November 12, 2011

High Five Photo Tips for November

Plan a photo safari to Africa!
1. Do your own trip investigation and analysis: a safari requires extensive planning as much as twelve months ahead for bookings. Do not trust a travel agent who may be, in fact, booking his first African trip. Read about the different countries and decide what might appeal to you. For instance, trips to Namibia and Kenya required long car journeys over poor roads, not an adventure for everyone. Our destinations, however, were well worth the drive.
Elephants in Mist, South Africa

2. The countries of Africa are very different in geography, abundance and variety of animals, and rules for engaging them. For instance, some only allow game viewing from park roads, which is understandable from a conservation viewpoint. The alternative offered by private lodges such as those next to Kruger National Park in South Africa, is off road viewing. The difference is profound. In the former, the action might only be viewed from a great distance with a long telephoto lens, unless you are lucky. The latter, far preferable, gives the true feeling of Africa. The driver and tracker not only take you to the animals, but it is possible to follow them. Since they have never been hunted, they have no fear of the vehicle and its occupants. Amazingly, the animals often proceed with their eating, hunting, or other activities as if unobserved. Following a pride of lions on a hunt and kill is an unforgettable experience.
Lion Cubs, Kenya
Namibian Dunes from the Air

3. Investigate the airline services: an older person with orthopedic problems cannot fly coach class for sixteen hours plus with ease. Explore upgrades with miles or stagger the trip by flying coach to Europe (6 hours), enjoying several days in Amsterdam or another major European city, and then continuing on.

4. Look at the type of tour. For the serious photographer, a tour led by a professional photographer who has done it before is a safe bet for success. Riding in an open vehicle packed like sardines with eight other tourists does not lead to good work. Ideally, three shooters per vehicle is perfect allowing one row per photographer.
Off Road

5. Know your equipment and make sure you have what is needed for this once in a lifetime trip.

I gave a talk on this subject Saturday, November 5, 9:15 to 11 am at HUNTS Photo and Video in Melrose, MA .  781 662-8822   Will be also doing at talk at the Newburyport Art Association at 7:30 pm on Monday, November 14th.  Hope to see you there.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

High Five Photo Tips for OCTOBER

High Five Photo Tips for OCTOBER:

1.One of the most popular angles to shoot is from the photographer's standing point of view. While this is fine with landscape and other general purpose photography, it does not create high impact visually arresting images.
Most of the professional photographers produce stunning and engaging photographs that have been taken from a low angle. In landscape photography, the foreground can be captured in detail when the photographer is really low and almost lying on the ground. Try to experiment with this style of photography by going low on the floor and take more engaging photographs.

The bottom angle allows the viewer a fresh and different perspective of the same scene or situation. A useful accessory is a small sturdy tabletop tripod. 

2. Try using a Light Reflectors for your outdoor photography. A 5 in 1 set is very handy to have.  A Translucent Diffuser allows you to diffuse direct sunlight to create softer light without harsh shadows. this is important for flower and people portraits in direct closer to mid day sunlight. The white, gold or silver reflector allows you to redirect light to the desired areas and the option of providing a cool or warmer tone (with gold or silver respectively). Reflectors can also become a quick white or black backdrop.

3. The Rule of Thirds is an essential guide for composition that helps balance your images.  Basically you divide your viewfinder into thirds, vertically and horizontally, which will give you 9 equal boxes.  Compose your image so that the center of interest is at one of the crossing points, rather than dead center. 

4. Another rule is to have your subject position so that it is entering and not leaving the frame, with space to give it breathing room. This varies in Eastern vs Western Cultures depending on the direction of writing!  You should master these rules to learn when they can be broken.

5. Next time you are shooting a portrait, particularly if a man, consider lighting a profile with split lighting.  This will often bring out the subject's true personality and "create" not just take a portrait.  A large soft box or window can be used, bringing the subject nearer to the front edge of the light source (closer to the camera) with the body at a 45 degree angle to the camera (try in both directions - towards or away from the light) while the face is facing the light source.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

High Five Photo Tips for September

High Five Photo Tips for September:

1.Depth of Field is a great creative tool.  Remember,    
The most important item to control is the aperture setting. The larger the aperture used, the smaller the depth of field range.
A good review at: How to use Depth of Field 
Tony at F 2.8 with 70-200 zoom racked out to 200 for bokeh

tony at 70
Tony at 70 mm_same settings
Even though set at same wide aperture of f/2.8, better Bokeh racked out ( ie the outer limits of the Zoom; so 200 mm on a 70-200mm zoom lens). Try it out.    

2. Remember to MOVE:  Every time you you go out shooting, try different camera setting on the same subject. Move around!  Low high, close up to zoomed out.Change lenses and perspective. Try a tilt.  Or think of the horizon line.  Centered or at 1/3rd. Vary it and see what works.  Be Creative!!
flowers low
Coneflowers from a low perspective

3. Use your Tripod.  It will help you take clear photos all the time whether it is action or close-ups.  
A great advantage of having a tripod is you can shoot images hands free. The reason is that you can use a remote release to start the shutter. 
People often using telephoto lenses will also find the tripod useful. As having longer lenses normally create more weight to your digital camera, a tripod will keep your device steady.
A tripod also slows you down and helps you think and create better images.

4. Black is needed to make an attractive B&W photograph, it says it right in the name, black and white.  If you've grown into the habit of using the histogram in Photoshop or Lightroom to show you the black and white highlighted areas don't adjust the exposure or increase the fill light to the eliminate all the flashing area.  Solid black in some portion of the image is not only acceptable, it's needed.  
Searching, Nude Matured Project

5.  A good landscape usually includes an interesting foreground as the focal point that leads you into the rest of the picture.   
fisherman's co-op
Pigeon Cove

Sunday, August 7, 2011

High Five Photo Tips for AUGUST:

1. Photograph the small things.
Instead of trying to fit in as much as possible in one shot, try breaking it up into 2 or 3 closer ones. Small details can often tell a story about the region your visiting. For example, the texture in a building or the details in a shop can often be lost if the photograph is taken from a distance too far away.
red shoes
Wooden Shoes, the Netherlands
2. Vary your Depth of Field to add Bokeh - blur to the background.  Try shooting with a wide open aperture, such as f/2.8.  If using a long telephoto lens, keep it long but get close to achieve this effect.  
Bearded Iris, Giverny, France

3. In the  middle of the day with lots of contrast, keep shooting and then convert to Black & White.  Look for patterns, textures, simple compositions. Some say, the most pure form of the art of photography.

Marine Railways, Rocky Neck, MA 

4. Don't put your camera away at Dusk or at Night.  Use a tripod and play with slower shutter speeds.  Or if you can't use a tripod, raise your ISO with a wide open f stop, such as f/2/8 to 5.6 to obtain a sufficient shutter speed to hand hold your camera.  At least the reciprocal of the lens length, such as need 1/200 sec or faster to hand hold a 70 to 200 racked out to 200 mm.  Turning on Vibration Reduction will also help.  
Following Mom, Elephants, South Africa

5. Consider using Fill Flash! Off camera or with the pop up flash using the Gary Fong Puffer to diffuse the light.  Can work pretty well with the camera on Program Mode and the Flash to TTL. For total control, however, meter in aperture priority with the f stop you want and then use those settings (or slower shutter speeds to drag the shutter) with your Camera in Manual mode.  Flash in TTL with flash exposure compensation down to minus 1 1/3 to - 2. Adjust as needed to get the fill you want.   
Alum floret with fill flash

Thursday, July 28, 2011

High Five Photo Tips for JULY:

1. Fireworks Season is approaching and there are many techniques you can try!  One is using the double exposure setting available in Nikon cameras - set for 3 to 5 exposures, ISO 200, auto gain on and single exposure mode.  Shoot when bursts are at their peak. This is an alternate to the old bulb technique with the black card over the lens between bursts.     
2. Another is Shooting Separate Fireworks Bursts then blending in Photoshop - Use a tripod, a cable release, zoom tele lens, camera on manual with shutter speed around 4 sec, aperture at F11.  Manual focus to infinity.  ISO 200. Do a test shot and evaluate it and adjust as needed.  Take a background image first before the show at a wide angle to use as your background image. Then lasso the individual bursts in Photoshop onto a new layer above your background and blend with lighten.  Move individual bursts as needed to line up as you like.   
fireworks blend
Fireworks over the Boulevard in Gloucester
3. Use Black & White to add Drama - especially for dull scenes. Then adjust the shutter speed to slow the movement of water in seascapes to really add drama. 
4. Try Intimate Compositions for Seascapes -    
The vastness of the ocean invites the photographer to shoot the grand seascape using a wide or ultra-wide lens. But a telephoto can be used to create intimate compositions from coastal scenes, specially if you have rocks. Try different focal lengths to search for a composition you haven't considered, use a long exposure if needed to create an abstraction and you'll have a new photo.
Thatcher's Lights after the Storm
Thatcher's Twin Lighthouses 
5. Get Close -  
Because wide-angle lenses take in a bigger angle-of-view than other lenses, using a wide-angle lens at the same distance from your subject will render that subject smaller than it would otherwise. To compensate for this, you'll have to move closer to your subject. Don't be bashful about getting close, particularly with super-wides.
Sepia Archway

Saturday, June 11, 2011

High Five Photo Tips for April:

High Five Photo Tips for April:

1. Play with Motion.  By varying the shutter speed, you can create more creative imagery.  Slow shutter speeds can add interesting effects but may require polarizing or neutral density filters to enable slow enough shutter speeds.  I prefer the
Singh-Ray variable Neutral Density Filter.  More about using motion creatively on my Rick Sammon Guest Blog Post.
2. Try Split Tones and Duotones to create more interesting B&W's. Images with pattern and texture create wonderful toned images.
Sugar Cane Factory Road

3. Embrace Change.  Look for new projects to excite you and entice you to go beyond your comfort zone.
4. Shooting wildlife - flora or fauna - get low for a unique look - get on the ground!  Use a frisbee for support and protection - to keep the dirt out of your equipment. If on a beach or dune using a tripod or monopod, always extend the lowest tripod leg to its maximum to prevent sand and water getting into the joints.
5. When shooting people, keep the eyes in the top third. Look for catch-lights and sharp focus.  Eyes are the key and the window to the soul.
Dog and Child Portrait

Thursday, June 9, 2011

High Five Photo Tips for MAY

5. Get Close to your subject.  The most common mistake made by photographers is that they are not physically close enough to their subjects. In some cases this means that the center of interest-the subject-is just a speck, too small to have any impact.   
42nd st
42nd Street Welcome
mayor of arthur Ave
Mayor of Arthur Avenue, Bronx, NY
Don't be shy. If you approach people in the right way, they'll usually be happy to have their picture made. It's up to you to break the ice and get them to cooperate. Joke around with them and share the fun. "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough" as per Robert Capa.   
Read more:,9171,267730,00.html#ixzz1KaBz4y9f

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Caring for Photography Collections

AXA Tips: Caring for Photography Collections
Here are some tips from our friends at AXA Art Insurance about caring for photographs.

When Transporting Artworks:

  • Make sure that the vehicle is large enough to accommodate the artwork and its packaging.
  • Make sure the works are professionally and correctly packaged for shipping.
  • Avoid using inexperienced art handlers.

When Framing, Hanging and Storing:

  • Make sure your artwork is protected with archival framing.Photo Collection
  • Glass vs. Plexiglas? Glass is easier to clean and care for but when it breaks, it can destroy artworks. If the photograph is of high value choose the added safety and protection of Plexiglas.
  • Always protect art from heat and direct sunlight. Never hang expensive art over a fireplace.
  • Use appropriate picture hangers for artwork, which are available at professional framing stores.
  • Avoid storing works in basements. If you must, be sure to keep the artwork at least 3 inches above the floor.

When Dealing with Insurance:

  • Keep your insurance company updated with the current values of your artwork. This should be done yearly or when there are significant changes in values.
  • Confirm coverage for the work includes shipping and transportation coverage.
This and more tips on the Johnsonese Brokerage Spring Art & Antique Insurance Newsletter:  
Spring Art & Antique Insurance Newsletter

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tips on Shooting Fireworks and Post Production

1. Use a tripod.
2. Use a cable release so you can watch the firework rocket trajectory with both eyes on the sky.
3. Use a zoom lens - 70 to 200 mm or more unless you need to capture the background.
4. Put the camera on manual and set the Shutter Speed for around 4 seconds and aperture of f 11.
5. Manual focus to infinity.
6. ISO 200.
7. Take an interesting background exposure - more wide angle. Use this as your background layer in Photoshop.
8. In Photoshop, choose your background image and then the other single fireworks images and adjust each in Camera RAW. Open your background image first. Use the Lasso tool (L) to select areas to use of each individual fireworks images and with the Move tool (V) drag each onto a new layer above your background image.
9. Blend each layer with Lighten.
10. Reposition each display (on its own layer) with the Move tool (V) as needed.
11. Then use the hi pass filter to sharpen as needed. (Flatten and then Duplicate the background layer, then select Filter, Other, Hi Pass filter, adjust for thin white lines, then select the Overlay Blend Mode).
One is a blend and I'm sure you could tell which one!! Enjoy and have fun. This new technique worked better for me then the bulb with the black card I had used in the past.
Straight Fireworks_Shot with Multiple Bursts in One Frame
Fireworks Montage_Gloucester Harbor
Which to you prefer?   Get ready to send yours along to:

Watch for more assignments and creative ideas!  AND sign up for a weekend Creative Photography Workshop.  See my Schedule on my website Event Page:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Still Point Art Gallery BLOG: Bobby Baker - Black and White Silence

 One of the Photographer's I mentor is the current Artist of Distinction in Still Point Art Gallery's current online show.  I am mentioned in the article as well.  Enhance your creativity and sign up for a Creative Photography Workshop!.
I just released my summer weekend workshop series- Creative Photography - to be held in and around Gloucester, MA, selected weekends in June, July and August.  The schedule is listed under Events on my website at:

E mail me for further information at

But for now, Enjoy the Blog:
 Still Point Art Gallery BLOG: Bobby Baker - Black and White Silence: "Bobby Baker was honored with the title of Artist of Distinction for the work he submitted and is showing in Still Point Art Gallery's curre..."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fresh RAW Food_The Simple Things in Life.

Grapes fresh off the Vine

Fresh Tomatoe

Life is a Bowl of Cherries

Fresh produce and the Farmer's Market.  All good things to look forward to after a long winter. Color or Black and White?  Food Photography can be very inspiring.  Look at the work with Peppers by Edward Weston.  He wrote:  It is classic, completely satisfying _ a pepper_ but more than a pepper: abstract, in that it is completely outside subject matter.
Red Twisted Sister Pepper

B&W Peppers

Red Peppers

So grab a basket and gather subject matter for a rewarding photo shoot.  Use diffused window light or soft light in studio with a soft box or translucent umbrella with your strobes or flash as the main light and reflector on the side for fill  for a natural effect.  Experiment!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

High Five Photo Tips_ #2_March 2011

High Five Photo Tips

JMP Top Five Monthly tips for March are:
1.      Try a star effect for the sun using a small aperture F stop such as f 22.  If there is too much glare, position the sun behind an object such as a tree and use a lens hood or shield the front of the lens such as with a cap or hat.   
Haleakala Crater, High Noon

   2.     Try HDR.  The new Nik HDR Efex Pro plug in filter for Photoshop or Lightroom makes the processing so much easier.
To shoot for HDR, I recommend using: 1.  3 to 5 exposure bracketed shots (each varying by one f stop for under, correct and overexposed images), with 2. Aperture priority (usually around f 8 or 11) so the camera will bracket by changes in the shutter speed, 3. A tripod,  4. Autofocus first and then set on manual, 5. Shoot on Continuous High shooting mode.
For Nikon you will need 5 one F shop bracketed images but for Canon you can choose 2 f stop brackets and thus will only need 3 images to get the same exposure info to use for HDR.  Check your camera manual for details on setting up bracketed images since it will vary.  I prefer my D3 since a dedicated button is right on the camera whereas for the D300 it is a menu item.

Haleakala Crater HDR with Nik HDR Efex Pro
3.     Instead of HDR, try double processing in Photoshop by opening the image as a Smart Object. Then Right click on this layer in the layers panel and select New Smart Object via Copy.  This will give you a second copy.  Since they are both smart objects, each can be adjusted in Camera Raw separately - such as adjust the lower one for the ground and the upper one for the sky.  You will want to keep the brighter image on the bottom background layer.  Then using an inverted or black mask on the upper layer, paint with white on this mask to expose the darker part of the upper image you want to include in your final image.  Use a medium sized hard-edged brush. Vary the brush opacity to adjust the strength of this adjustment or when done adjust the opacity of this layer to get the effect you want. Try using the gradient tool on this mask to add a gradual transition to your effect. Practice on your normally exposed middle image in an HDR sequence and see how you like it compared to your HDR image. Let me know what you think!
Double processed as smart objects

Original image_Horses in the meadow

 4.     Explore the capabilities of Lightroom 3.  You can download a trial version and have some fun.  The RAW processing is the same as in Photoshop but the workflow is better for photographers. You can then fine tune in Photoshop if you need some hi tech correction such as Content Aware Scaling or Editing.  Then just remember when done with your PS edit, to SAVE first before SAVE AS to have it go back next to your original image.   If you want to re-edit in Photoshop, make sure you select -Edit Original to see all the layers.  Let me know if you would like a list of my preferences for LR set up.

5.     Whatever downloading system you use, rename the photos during this phase and add metadata such as copyright and contact info. Keywords can be added and/or some basic processing can also be done at this time.  I use Lightroom and apply the Date, with the full year first, edit field with the name of the group or location and then the sequence number to each image.  I place them in a folder for each year under a subfolder for the date.  During the import,  I select Copy as a DNG and select  make a separate copy to  to save a copy of the RAW images under the download date to a portable or other backup hard drive.  Example of a file name would be: 20110222_MauiSurf_001 in the folder 2011 and subfolder 2011-02-22. I later rename this folder to add some descriptor such as Surf.

Surfer at dusk

Sunset HDR