Scott Kelby Guest Blog

Posted June 1st, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Scott Kelby and Brad Moore asked me to write an article for their guest blog this week. I chose to write on a different aspect of my professional photography business that most don’t know about.

Here’s the link –> Kelby Guest Blog by Mike Hagen

Guest blog

 





New CreativeLive Class: Outdoor Flash Photography

Posted May 30th, 2017 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography, Workshops  |  Permalink

Into to outdoor flash

Join me on June 6th for a free live broadcast of our newest CreativeLive workshop: Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography.

Here’s the direct link to RSVP and watch event live –> CreativeLive Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography

Course Details

How To Overpower The Sun For Great Photos

Relying on natural light may work for many scenarios, but how do you learn to control light more effectively with flash? A small flash can help make the most of your outdoor situations whether working in direct or dappled lighting. It gives you the ability to overpower sunlight and add warmth to overcast days.

Mike Hagen will walk through how to easily take control of your lighting and ultimately control of your photos. If you’re new to using a flash, this course will teach you:

– The essentials of your camera and flash settings
– How to build and set ambient exposure
– Using your flash on and off camera
– How to freeze action and add motion blur
– How to use modifiers and reflectors with off camera flash

No matter if you’re shooting portraits, sports, or macro photography, Mike Hagen will show you all the ways to define your subject and enhance your images. This class is a perfect follow-up to Mike’s How to Shoot with Your First Flash and will give you the confidence to use your flash in all situations.





Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2 Real World Review

Posted May 29th, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink
Tamron 70-200mm

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2

Here’s all you need to know about the new Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2 lens: It is an excellent lens for a very attractive price.

Seriously, I have never used a Tamron lens this good in my entire career. I’ve owned three Tamrons over the years and have always been disappointed with something about them. My previous Tamron lenses suffered from low image quality, build quality, feel, function, flare, chromatic aberration, color fidelity, or a mix of each. This new 70-200mm G2 lens from Tamron is truly excellent, and that’s coming from a long-time Nikon die-hard.

There’s been quite a bit of buzz about this lens in the photo media, so I felt I had to try it out myself. I purchased my own copy from Adorama.com and have been using it for the last two weeks at school track meets and in my hometown of Gig Harbor, Washington.

The Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 is available in Nikon and Canon mounts. For this review, I tested a Nikon mount version and used it predominately on my Nikon D500. It is a full-frame lens and works seamlessly with full-frame and cropped-frame cameras. My Nikon version is fully compatible with cameras like the D5, D750, D810, D7500, D7200, D610, D5600 and so on.

One of the biggest things going for this lens is its relatively low price. At $1,299 it is less than half the cost of the $2,800 Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. For this price differential, you can buy the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 and the new Nikon 200-500mm lens ($1,400) while still having enough money left over for $100 of Starbuck’s lattes. That’s at least a week of coffee for us Washingtonians!

AF Performance

100m

This photo is indicative of the lens’ clarity and AF performance. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

On my Nikon D500, the autofocus performance of the Tamron is truly superb. It is snappy and accurate and among the best-performing autofocus lenses I own. The silent wave motor is truly silent and effortlessly tracks moving subjects, no matter how fast they are moving.

hurdler

Photographing hurdlers was no problem with the Tamron. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

I took the lens to two track meets and shot over 3,500 photos of athletes in motion. Of those images, I estimate only about 150 to 200 shots to be unusable. Half of the unusable shots were my fault for mistakenly twisting the focus ring rather than the zoom ring while shooting.

This AF “hit” performance is a big improvement over all previous Tamron lenses I’ve used and matches up with any of my pro Nikon f/2.8 lenses. Really, I was very impressed.

milers

Getting tack-sharp images of athletes running the mile is no problem with the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

I just finished writing my new book; Nikon Autofocus System 2nd Edition and I wish I had this lens during the writing process. I definitely would have given Tamron a shout out in my lens section of the book as a high performing 3rd party lens.

Vibration Compensation (Image Stabilization) Performance

The VC (vibration compensation) mechanism on this lens is excellent. I’ve found that mode 3 works the best for my hand-held sports and action work, as it is designed to be the most aggressive.

There are three vibration compensation modes:

Mode 1 – This is a basic mode that tries to strike a balance between finder-image stability and vibration compensation performance. This mode isn’t as aggressive as Mode 3, but is a good all-around VC mode for when you want to “see” the VC effect through the viewfinder.

Mode 2 – Panning mode. Use when panning left or right with moving subjects.

Mode 3 – Prioritizes vibration compensation performance, compensating only at the moment the shutter is released. This is the most aggressive setting and Tamron claims it compensates up to 5 stops. I haven’t fully tested it to see if their claims are true, but I have found this mode to be “best” during my testing. When I have more time, I’ll try to hand-hold some 200mm shots at 1/15 second or 1/8 second shutter speeds to see if it is truly possible.

Low light portrait

Photographs in lower light levels are no problem with the excellent vibration compensation settings on the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Minimum Focus Distance

The lens focuses down to 3.1 feet (0.95 meter), so at 200mm, it has a 1:6 reproduction ratio. This is definitely sufficient, but doesn’t focus as close as the Nikon (1:4.8) or Canon (1:5) models. If I were using this lens to do macro work, then I’ll add an extension tube to improve its close-focusing capability.

Handling and Ergonomics

Handling is very good and the lens feels solid. The zoom ring is at the front of the lens, so depending on what previous lens you were using, you’ll have to get used to holding the lens at the front of the barrel.

My first two days using the lens was a bit frustrating because I would rotate the focus ring by habit, thinking I was rotating the zoom ring. Not a big deal, but some of you Nikon and Canon shooters will have to spend time learning new muscle memory.

Gig Harbor Bay

Make sure you put your hand on the correct control ring when zooming, otherwise you’ll accidentally rotate the focus ring. Tug boat and sail boat Gig Harbor, Washington. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

Tripod Foot & Lens Collar

Tripod mount

The lens collar and tripod foot are designed with the Arca Swiss standard. This is a very nice touch.

A very nice touch is the tripod foot on the lens collar. It is designed with the Arca Swiss plate architecture built in. That means if you are using a RRS or Kirk or Arca Swiss quick release system, you won’t need to purchase an additional plate.

The lens collar is solid and stable. It is designed so you can quickly and easily remove it from the lens barrel for more comfortable hand-holding.

What Needs Improvement?

Lens barrel switches

There are four switches on the lens barrel of the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Lens barrel switches

I regularly and inadvertently toggle the lens barrel switches on/off while taking the lens in and out of my camera bag. There are four lens barrel switches:

– VC (image stabilization) mode: 1 – 2 – 3.

– VC on/off

– AF/MF

– Focus distance limit: Full or infinity to 3m

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had all four switches turn on or off as I brought the camera out of the bag to take shots. Sometimes it is the AF/MF switch, which turns off autofocus. Just yesterday I accidently turned off the focus distance limit switch. I was shooting a close up of a crab on the beach and couldn’t figure out why the lens wouldn’t focus closer than about 10 feet. I pulled the camera away from my eye, and quickly diagnosed the problem … SWITCH!!!

The switches on Nikon lenses are much lower-profile and therefore don’t get inadvertently moved while using the lens in the real world.

Lens Caps

The lens caps work “fine”, but they are a bit clunky. The front cap works better than the rear. My problem with the rear cap is that it doesn’t mount/dismount as easily or quickly as the Nikon OEM caps.

The Tamron rear lens cap works with my Nikon lenses, but it doesn’t easily snap into place like I’m used to with the Nikon cap. The solution is easy though; I’ve decided to use only Nikon lens caps! I have enough of them, so I’ll be using the Nikon caps from now on.

Yacht narrows bridges

Yacht under Tacoma Narrows bridges, Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Summary

Overall, I give this lens two big thumbs up. I have decided to keep the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 in my camera bag as my primary pro 70-200 lens. I’ll work around the minor issues I detailed above because the cost of the lens is so much lower than the cost of the Nikon. Auto focus performance is among the best I’ve seen and the resulting images are top notch.

Tamron has come a long way and if this lens is any indication of their commitment to excellence, I’d say Nikon and Canon better keep upping their game!

Order Links

Adorama

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Nikon Mount

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Canon Mount

Amazon

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Nikon and Canon Mounts

Additional Sample Photographs

 

Kid pic

Group of kids. Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

track portrait

Portrait of track athlete. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

sprint finish

Women’s 100 meter sprint. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

sprint finish

Women’s 100 meter dash finish. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

 

hurdles

100 meter hurdles race. Nikon D500 and Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2





New Book – Nikon Autofocus System – 2nd Edition

Posted May 18th, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Nikon autofocus 2nd edition cover

RockyNook and I have been hard at work preparing the second edition of our top-selling Nikon Autofocus System book. This edition includes updates for the autofocus systems in the new Nikon D500 and Nikon D5 cameras. I’ve also added new imagery, fixed errors from the last book (thanks internet!) and updated quite a few sections. If you are a Nikon shooter wanting to get the most out of your autofocus system, then this book should be right up your alley.

The eBook is available now and the hard copy books will be available beginning June 19th, 2017.

Purchase Links:

eBook and Hard Copy –> RockyNook

eBook and Hard Copy –> Amazon.com

Author autographed copies –> VisAdventures.com

 

 





Five Tips for Backyard Wildlife Photography

Posted May 4th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Wildlife  |  Permalink
Coyote

This coyote has been hanging around our yard lately. Whenever the sun is out, he’ll take a nap out in the open to soak up some rays. I shot this from my front porch with a Nikon D500 and a 200-400mm f/4.

If you have a backyard, odds are that you also have animal visitors from time to time. Most urban backyards see their fair share of birds and squirrels. In more rural areas, backyards might even have deer, coyotes, raccoons, and bears come through from time to time.

Photographing wild animals from the comfort of my home is one of my favorite pastimes. I find it gratifying when I’m able to create a beautiful wildlife image on my property, especially knowing that a warm fireplace and a refreshing drink are just a few feet away.

Here are five tips for successful backyard wildlife photography.

Keep a camera & lens at the ready

Always have your camera ready to go with a lens mounted. I make a habit of leaving my telephoto lens & camera mounted on a tripod in my office, so all I need to do is grab the setup and start shooting. Backyard wildlife is often on the move, so you want to be able quickly get into position whenever an animal enters your yard. Rifling through your camera bag while trying to find your gear usually means missing the shot.

fawn

Baby deer in the woods. Every spring, we see a new crop of baby deer in our yard. This one was hiding in the woods and remained motionless while I photographed her with a Nikon D750 and a Nikon 200-400mm f/4.

Use driveway alert sensors

I’ve installed driveway alert sensors at a couple places on my property to indicate whenever something is moving outside. They are very inexpensive and are an easy way to have something always on the alert for wildlife. These sensors allow me to carry on with my life, but be alerted when something is happening outside. (Here’s a link to some driveway motion alert sensors at Amazon)

rabbit and purple flowers

My driveway alert sensors let me know whenever things are moving around in my yard. We have so many rabbits that the sensors that sometimes the sensors drive me crazy! Nikon D500, 200-400mm f/4.

Use your house as a blind

Shooting from inside of the home is a great way hide from wildlife. I recommend opening a window or door so you don’t shoot through the glass. You might need to remove a window screen so you can shoot through the open area.

Whenever I get lazy and photograph through a pane of glass, I find that I get “OK” photographs, but they just aren’t super sharp. Take the time to open the window. You’ll thank yourself later.

Deer in yard

Two deer in the yard licking water off of each other’s face. Nikon D500, 200-400mm f/4.

Shoot at eye level

Your shots will look much better if you are able to photograph the animal at eye level. Whenever possible, get outside and lower your tripod legs so the camera is low to the ground. Shooting from this perspective will produce much more dramatic images. Also, a lower perspective has the added benefit of moving the background farther away so the animal pops from the scene.

Deer in grass

Deer laying in the grass on a rainy day. Photographed from my living room through my open patio door. Nikon D500, 200-400mm f/4.

Use a fast shutter speed

Most of the wildlife you photograph in your backyard will be skittish. Since they’ll probably be moving around a lot, I suggest shooting at 1/500 second or higher. This will help freeze movement from turning heads, twitching eyes, and sudden movements. I you are having difficulty reaching 1/500 second because of low light, then increase your ISO to 3,200 or 6,400 (or higher) in order to get the shutter speed you are after.

rabbit in the grass

Rabbits are twitchy animals and always have something moving on their faces. You need faster shutter speeds to keep everything sharp. Nikon D500, Nikon 200-400mm f/4.





VertiZonical – A Simple Photo Composition Memory Aid

Posted March 11th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Vertizonical

I received a phone call the other day from a previous workshop attendee named Craig Quartz. He called to tell me a quick story about his last Meetup Group in Portland, Oregon where he was asked to share his top-ten tips for photography. While presenting to the group, he listed off a number of tips on exposure, exposing for the highlights, focus, and composition.

After finishing his tips, everyone in the room room yelled out, “What about Vertizonical!?” For the last number of years, he’s been sharing his favorite tip called Vertizonical to anyone in the club who would listen, but he neglected to mention it to the Portland Meetup group that night, so they all yelled it out in unison! Craig first learned this made-up term from me a few years ago at one of my workshops and now he shares it with anyone who will listen. I was talking about photographic composition and I made up the term vertizonical on the spot during the class. Obviously, the term stuck around!

 

Galapagos Sunset

Galapagos sunset in horizontal composition. Nikon D800, 200-400mm f/4, handheld.

Galapagos sunset

Galapagos sunset in vertical composition. Nikon D800, 200-400mm f/4, handheld.

Vertizonical is simply an approach to help you remember to always take both vertical and horizontal images of each scene you photograph. This discipline of shooting vertical and horizontal allows you the most options when you are editing your images back home after your photo shoot. It is much easier to take another 30 seconds in the field to shoot a different orientation than it is to try and do some industrial Photoshop work on your computer to create a composition that you never produced.

Galapagos lava field vertical

Galapagos lava field in vertical orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos lava horizontal

Galapagos lava field in horizontal orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Look at these photo examples from Galapagos in this blog post. Many of the images from this volcanic landscape are austere and dramatic. I love the challenge of creating compelling landscapes in difficult locations. While on the location, I work hard to compose my imagery in the best way possible. Even so, I’ve found over the years that I’m hardly ever the best judge of my compositions while I’m on location because my emotion takes over and due to the thrill of just being there.

Years ago, I was so confident, that I just “knew” that a specific composition was perfect as soon as I saw it. Unfortunately, I’d get home from my shoot and wish I had more options to choose from. Now that I’m older and wiser and more disciplined, I take the time in the field to shoot almost all my scenes vertically and horizontally.

hermit crab horizontal

Galapagos hermit crab in horizontal composition. Nikon D7000, Nikon 200-400mm f/4, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos hermit crab

Galapagos hermit crab in vertical composition. Nikon D7000, Nikon 200-400mm f/4, Gitzo CF tripod.

Since I’m a professional photographer, this approach pays off financially for me in various ways.

– My book publishers often need images in a specific orientation for layouts.

– A commercial client needs a specific orientation for their brochures.

– A portrait customer needs a specific orientation for a wall display.

Shooting both verticals and horizontals of all my subjects helps me make more sales and reduces the amount of work I have to do in post-processing.

So, the simple summary is to shoot vertical then shoot horizontal. Vertizonical!

Galapagos beach

Galapagos beach in vertical orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos beach

Galapagos beach in horizontal orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

We are headed to the Galapagos again this year and we’d love to have you along on the adventure. Check out our workshop page for more details at Visual Adventures Workshops.





Nikon Firmware Updates for D7200, D500, D750, D810, and WT-7 Released

Posted March 7th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

D500_16_80E_front34l.high

Nikon has released firmware updates for four of their cameras and for the WT-7 wireless transmitter. The updates fix a variety of issues related to wireless transmission of images, custom settings, distortion control, histogram displays, and some lingering software bugs.

Nikon D810 Firmware Version 1.12: Download Link

– The WT-7 wireless transmitter is now supported.

– Fixed the following issues:

Multiple exposures were not recorded correctly.

Incorrect histograms would be displayed for some images viewed in the RGB histogram display during playback.

If On was selected for Auto distortion control, distortion would appear at the edges of photos taken with NEF (RAW) + JPEG fine selected for Image quality and Medium selected for JPEG/TIFF recording > Image size.

Photos taken immediately after lenses were exchanged would not be recorded at the correct exposure.

The protect icon did not display correctly.

If On was selected for Auto distortion control, the camera would stop responding when the user attempted to take pictures with NEF (RAW) + JPEG fine selected for Image quality, Small selected for NEF (RAW) recording > Image size, and RAW primary – JPEG secondary selected for Secondary slot function.

Shutter speeds for the electronic front-curtain shutter would sometimes be faster than 1/2000 s.

Pictures would sometimes not be recorded.

D750 top

Here’s an overhead shot showing the articulated screen and the smaller LCD panel on the top of the camera.

Nikon D750 Firmware Version 1.11: Download Link

– The WT-7 wireless transmitter is now supported.

– Fixed the following issues:

Incorrect histograms would be displayed for some images viewed in the RGB histogram display during playback.

If On was selected for Auto distortion control, distortion would appear at the edges of photos taken with NEF (RAW) + JPEG fine selected for Image quality and Medium selected for Image size.

The option chosen for Custom Setting f5 (Customize command dials) > Change main/sub in CUSTOM SETTINGS MENU group f (Controls) would not be saved when Save settings was selected for Save/load settings in the SETUP MENU.

Pictures would sometimes not be recorded.

Nikon D500 Firmware Version 1.12: Download Link

– Fixed an issue that resulted in unreliable connections between the camera and the iOS 10.2 version of the SnapBridge app.

Nikon D7200 Firmware Version 1.02: Download Link

– The WT-7 wireless transmitter is now supported.

– Fixed the following issues:

If On was selected for Auto distortion control, distortion would appear at the edges of photos taken with NEF (RAW) + JPEG fine selected for Image quality and Medium selected for Image size.

Pictures would sometimes not be recorded.

Optimal exposure would sometimes not be achieved in photos taken in live view using a lens with electromagnetically controlled aperture (type E and PC-E lenses).

Nikon WT-7 Wireless Transmitter Firmware Version 1.1: Download Link

The D810, D810A, D750, and D7200 are now supported.

HTTP server mode is now available in Turkish.

Fixed an issue that prevented PASV mode connections to certain ftp servers.





Six Reasons to Shoot With Two Cameras When Traveling

Posted February 28th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
Two cameras

Here, I’m toting two cameras under the watchful eye of Che. Vinales, Cuba. Photo courtesy Steve Carr.

Too Much Weight?

Photographers are a finicky bunch. We want the highest quality images but in the smallest package possible. We know that DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras provide the best images, so we bring a “big” camera on our trip, but we don’t want to take along a second camera body because of the additional weight.

Since traveling with a lot of gear is a major drag, some travel photographers opt to bring along just one camera and one lens. To be fair, there are some good reasons to bring only one camera on a trip:

– Keeps gear kit simple

– Keeps weight down to a minimum

– Makes air travel easier

– Fewer issues at customs and border crossings

 

Nikon D7200 and D500

Bringing two cameras from the same system on you next trip is a good idea. Here, a Nikon D500 and D7200 make a great travel pair.

Even though these points might provide a compelling argument, I highly recommend ignoring these thoughts and always traveling with at least two cameras in the same system. When I say, “in the same system,” I mean that use the same lenses, batteries, and cards. Here are my six reasons why it makes sense to always have at least two cameras with you while traveling.

Six Reasons to Travel with Two Cameras

1. Redundancy
The most obvious reason to bring two cameras on your next trip is redundancy. If one camera fails, you’ll have another camera that you can keep shooting with. On just about every group trip I lead, someone’s camera dies for one reason or another. The last thing you want to happen is to be in the middle of the most beautiful place in the world without a camera.

2. You look like a pro
I know there are a number of schools of thought on how you should dress and what you should look like when traveling. Some travelers want to try to blend in to their surroundings so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Other’s go the full tourist route and wear the gaudy tropical shirt with knee-high socks. Since I’ve already decided that I’m going to have multiple cameras with me, I dress in such a way that people assume I’m a professional photographer. People on the street see me coming and already know what I’m doing because of my gear. I’m often able to use that to my advantage as I explain my project and the purpose of my photography. This frequently gets me preferential treatment as business owners allow me to photograph on their premises or property owners allow me onto their roof-tops.

Shooting in a storm

Looking like a pro during a storm in Havana, Cuba. Here, I am shooting with a 70-200mm lens on one camera and a 24-70mm lens on the other camera hanging from the other shoulder. Image courtesy Steve Carr.

3. Multiple lenses available instantaneously
I usually travel with two cameras out at all times. One will have a medium lens like a 24-70mm and the other will have a telephoto lens like a 70-200mm. I keep the cameras slung over both shoulders so I can quickly pull up either body to get the shot. Having two cameras means I can shoot very quickly and don’t have to spend a lot of time fumbling around with lens swaps.

4. Perspective changes
Having two lenses always mounted on two active cameras means I can quickly get two perspectives on the same scene. Over the years, I’ve discovered that I tell better photo stories when I photograph the same scene from multiple perspectives. Having the two cameras out, “prods” me to move around more. It is easy to get lazy in our photography and shoot all of our images from the same spot. Having two cameras out helps to break that lazy habit.

Wide angle courtyard

In Trinidad, Cuba, I used two cameras continuously. This one was with a 14mm and the one below was shot with a 70-200mm.

Telephoto tower

In Trinidad, Cuba, I used two cameras continuously. This one was with a 70-200mm and the one above was with a 14mm.

5. One for video, one for stills
Having two cameras also means you can dedicate one for video work and the other for still photos. On some trips, I like to pre-configure one of my DSLRs to that it is optimized for HD video capture. For the camera shooting video, I set everything up in full manual mode including ISO, shutter, aperture, and focus. I also mount an accessory microphone on this body so I can capture great ambient sound. For the other body shooting still photos, I generally configure it for aperture priority, auto-ISO, and autofocus.

6. One for timelapse, the other for singles
I love creating timelapse photo sequences when I travel and do this quite often. However, the problem with shooting timelapses is that it takes one camera out of commission for the total duration of each location. For example, when shooting a sunrise, creating a timelapse requires one camera to be continuously shooting pictures for about 45 minutes to an hour. If I bring along a second camera, then I can use it to create different images in the area. I use my second camera to shoot macro, landscapes, telephoto shots of birds, and whatever strikes my fancy.

 

Bonus Tips

1. If you do shoot with two cameras, make sure you synchronize their clocks. This will make sorting your photos on your computer much easier later on.

2. You’ll need a way to simultaneously carry both cameras over your shoulders. I highly recommend the camera straps and mounts from Peak Design as these are what I personally use. There are also quite a few other options from companies like Black Rapid, Op/Tech, and SpiderHolster.

Summary

I hope I’ve convinced you to make the weight sacrifice and bring along a second camera body on your next trip. Having two cameras gives you lots of options, and most importantly, you’ll come home with better photographs.

Keep on shooting!

 

 





Juxtaposing Old and New

Posted February 16th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Travel, Workshops  |  Permalink
Model T

Showing the old with the new can be an important aspect to your story telling. Don’t skip juxtaposing classic elements with modern elements in your photography. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f/2.8

Lots of times in photography we want to compose the scene we’re photographing so that it appears as if it is from a specific era. Professional photographers often want our images to appear timeless. This approach gives our images more staying power and therefore allows them to be used in any decade. As I travel the world, I make sure to compose a good percentage of my images so they don’t include elements from vastly different eras in the same scene. This is often easier to do in nature photography, but it can be very difficult in urban environments.

During a recent trip to Cuba, I was constantly struggling with this approach. Much of Cuba is stuck in 1959 but their nation is also struggling to fit into the modern world. For example, many of the cars are pre-1960 American vehicles, while the many of the buildings are from the 1700s and 1800s. Couple that with the modern imported cars from Asia and all the people with cellphones walking the streets and you have an amazingly diverse visual setting.

Cuban street

I love this photograph showing a classic car on a quintessential Cuban street … BUT! … look at that modern white car on the other side. What to do? My options were to not take the photo, or take it and embrace the modern element. Nikon D750, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8

Trying to isolate a visual element while eliminating elements from different eras takes quite a bit of effort and patience! At some point during my trip, I decided that I would embrace the juxtaposition between old and new and use that as a thematic element in my story telling. Rather than fight it, I decided to embrace it! I set about tell Cuba’s story in a way that would show how the modern era is quickly emerging.

That’s a lesson I have to learn over and over again in photography. I go into a scenario with a certain mindset and find that reality is different than I expected. Rather than trying to impose my will on my surroundings, I find I get better images when I adapt to the scene. Next time you go out photographing on a trip, I encourage you to adapt to your scene as well. Your photographs will thank you.

 

Buick

Even “classic” cars in Cuba have lots of modern elements like the LED headlights and aftermarket radiator fans. Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8.

 

Pink chevy

Even a classic scene like this is filled with modern elements. The girl with the cell phone. The guy’s tennis shoes. The modern car in the background. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f/2.8.





Skepticism in Street Photography

Posted January 30th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Skepticism vs. Luis The Wheelbarrow Poet

Trinidad street

Street in Trinidad, Cuba. Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8.

I think a healthy dose of skepticism is good for everyone. Being skeptical prevents us from blindly following an ideology without researching details for ourselves. Skepticism often helps protect us from deals that are too good to be true.

In Cuba, I used a healthy dose of skepticism to stay away from street scams. For example, one of the most common scams is the guy who walks up to you and tells you that he has a bunch of Cohibas (high end Cuban cigars) in his pocket for sale at a special price. Right. I’m sure they’re legit.

Luis

My blurry grab shot of Luis on his wheelbarrow taxi. Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8, handheld.

On the other hand, sometimes being skeptical gets in the way of creating great images. Case in point, I was walking through the streets of Trinidad Cuba one evening and noticed a gentleman sitting on a wooden wheelbarrow with sign that read Taxi. It was an obvious attempt at humor, but my first reaction was that this guy was trying to earn a buck from camera-toting tourists. So, I took a quick (blurry) grab shot, and kept on walking.

Before I got more than a few steps, the gentleman said, “Where are you from?” I thought to myself, “Oh great, here comes the sales pitch.” But, as I looked at him a bit closer, I could see he was genuinely interested. So, I told him I was from the USA.

He asked, “What state?”

“Washington,” I answered.

He then started telling me all kinds of facts about Washington. Details about the geography. Rivers. Proximity to Oregon and Canada. Information about Seattle, Tacoma, the state capital Olympia, the Puget Sound, the Pacific Ocean, conifer trees, giant forests, and lots more. I asked him if he’s been to Washington, and he said, “No, but I’ve written a poem about Washington.”

“Really?”

“Hold on,” he said. He held his index finger up in the air and began rifling through a box sitting on the cart with his other hand. He pulled out 20 notebooks filled with his hand-written prose. He leafed through multiple notebooks until he found his poem on Washington and the Northwest. Then, he proceeded to read me the poem in Spanish.

Luis

Luis’ poem of Washington State. Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8, ISO 5000.

After he read me his poem, I asked if I could take a picture. He said, “Of course!” What a beautiful trade. He shared his art with me and I was able to use the opportunity to create a lasting memory with a fun picture.

My lesson in all this? Don’t let skepticism prevent you from participating in a beautiful moment. I’m happy I stayed to listen and engage with my new friend Luis, The Wheelbarrow Poet.

 

 





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