2012 in review A GREAT YEAR!!


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Advertisements

Photographing in Low Light.


Recently I was asked about capturing images in less than ideal lighting situations. So todays post is inspired by that question, and I am going to explain how I go about capturing images in less than ideal lighting situations.

From day one, my favorite compositions have been night shots. Some of my better known compositions were taken in complete  darkness ,or light that was very dim at best. The technique I used during these night shoots, prepared me for shoots in places like high school gyms, where we have light, but the light is not very well adapted for the camera or the photographer.

This first photo is an example of how we can learn to shoot in low light situations.

Night shot with flash to illuminate the tree

Night shot with flash to illuminate the tree

As a test, I shot this image several times before dialing in the correct settings. As you can tell by the image my only real light source was the full moon, and as most of you know, often times when you photograph the moon, we tend to overexpose causing a blowout in areas of the exposure. We can combat this by bumping down our iso, or using a higher f-stop or cutting down our exposure time. The point is, several steps can be used to control blowout. For this image I choose to illuminate the foreground with a flash to insure my foreground would be visible. My settings for reference. ISO 400 F stop of 10, 15 seconds of exposure, and a first shutter flash. I accomplished my task of fore lighting the tree, but the longer exposure time did in fact cause the moon to be washed out. The composition however proves my point that photographing in low light, is a dialing in process, and often times you will have to take a few test shots to insure your composition. Now what if we can’t use a flash to light up our foreground? I can guarantee you, that if  walk into a high school gym and start snapping with a flash unit, it will be a short matter of time before someone asks you to stop photographing because your flash is distracting the players. So the question is asked what do you do?

This is my technique, and although my camera has some options within its programing to assist the image quality, the suggested methods should provide you with the ability to capture quality images in less than ideal lighting situations.

IF you have the means, I would suggest a lens that has f-stop capabilities of F-1 to 2.8. These wide open apertures allow you to capture all available light, and maintain higher shutter speeds. The issue here is that these lenses are expensive and most people do not own lenses like this. If this is not an option, than it is time to use what we know, and put into place our low light experience.

Although some grain will be present, you will have to bump that ISO setting up. The images below were taken with ISO’s between 5000 and 6400. My f-stop was between 4 and 5,6 and I maintained a shutter of 1/250 and 1/320 of a second. Ideally I would have prefered a shutter speed of 1/500 for action shots, but you have to take into consideration your cameras capabilities and the equipment you have to work with. It also helps if your camera has low light noise reduction software built-in to offer you better captures in your final compositions. I have found that my camera does well in this category and the key to successful captures is the knowledge of your camera’s capabilities. Unfortunately and until camera manufacturers deal with high iso noise issues, it is a problem that we will have to deal with or at least be able to work around.

My shots using these techniques.

iso 6400 @ 1/320 ,100mm

iso 6400 @ 1/320 ,100mm

iso500@ 1/250 100mm

iso5000@ 1/250 100mm

The final images have very little grain present and I used Lightroom to do my editing . Note that I did not use any sharpening or noise reduction in the edits, proving that the camera’s software and knowing its capabilities are key to the capture.

I hope that my suggestions, have helped you with this long-standing problem. If I can elaborate on any of the topics please contact me and I will try to offer suggestions or tips.

Thanks for the read, and remember to shoot the light.

Mike

Photographing in a Winter Wonderland


One great aspect of winter is the unique opportunities that we are offered as photographers during these cold months ahead. Snow and grey light are often overlooked by many and I can’t stress enough the point of just getting your carcass out there and snapping shots during the winter months. I like most, have a disliking for the cold weather but the draw of winter landscapes is enough to get me out in the field, just to see what I can capture.

So let me lay this out for you. Todays weather, 24 degrees, winds between 8 and 10 mph. Heavy snow fall at times, with grey skies. To most this sounds like a great day to just stay in. To me It sounds like a great day to snap some shots.

My first image was composed to show you just how much snow was falling, and if this horse had the ability to speak, I am sure he would confirm my assessment of todays conditions.

Snowfall

Snowfall

Both Images were captured using  a 7D camera. ISO 200 with an aperture of F-11 and a shutter speed of 1/45 of a sec. I also used the camera’s partial metering mode to  ensure an even lighting pattern across the composition.

Let me in

Let me in

With the conditions exposed, I continued along on my morning ride and came across this creek. I decided to play with some HDR pictures while photographing this scene.

Settings F-8, at ISO 400, 1/90th exposure time, metered with partial. Blended with photomatix and final edits done in Lightroom.

Creek Bed in HDR

Creek Bed in HDR

HDR  Creeekbed

HDR Creek bed

Standard Resolution

Standard Resolution

One last shot for the post. This image just offered some simplicity. As the snow flew, I looked at this scene, and thought it was a just a nice shot. I also shot this as a HDR, and my hopes in doing so, was to put an emphasis on the falling snow.

HDR

HDR

So was the goal achieved?

Until next post, my best to you all.

Happy New Year!

Mike

www.xroo.com

Santa Arrives


For the non believers, I wanted to share this shot just to prove that Santa Clause really does exist. I spotted him today at his humble home,in preparation for his long night of work. Now you may ask, what was I doing at the North pole, and I will answer with a simple,,, last-minute requests. And to clear up how I arrived, I have a jeep, the world is my trail.

Enjoy the shot and from everyone here at MSP.. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Santa and his tractor

Santa and his tractor

Seasons Change


First off, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone and anyone who comes across my blog, A very safe a happy season. With Christmas upon us, I have been doing some thinking as of late, and the greatest gift I have been given this year is the interactions and comments I have received from all of you here on word press, as well as twitter, and Facebook. Simply and with humble thoughts, Thank you!

The photos I am posting today are revisits to locations I have shot in the past, but with the arrival of some snow here in Western New York, they almost look like a totally different location. In addition, my daughter accompanied me on this shoot, and being one who will take advantage of a photo opportunity, I put the portrait skills into play and turned a landscape shoot into a portrait session.

Winter Reflectiom

Winter Reflections

Shot with the 7d, and a Tamron 10 -24 wide-angle, I employed an f-stop of 22 at iso 22 for 1/45 of a second. In addition I also used the cameras partial metering mode as well as one shot settings. We were dealing with 28 degree temps and gusty winds, so a tripod was used to aid us in the avoidance of camera shake.

Next on out tour we visited the small waterfalls located near Lockport, New York. This area is located within a small nature trail and it has become a favorite subject of mine as of late.

Falls

Falls with the snow

Shot again with the 7d , I used the Tamron 18-270 this time and played with aperture settings. This image was taken at f-32 at 1/5 of a second. Due to the position of the sun I used the spot metering mode to ensure that the background would not completely blow out the shot. By far not my best shot of this scenic area, but I felt it would work for a general photograph.

My favorite shots of the day, were of my daughter, who as a rule does not like to be photographed, but I threatened to beat her up if she resisted.. ( I’m Joking People) I’m biased but, I am blessed to have been given children who are good-looking, just like their daddy… ( Once again, I’m Joking) Alright, I admit I am not that funny, but I am going to stick by the statement that my children are gifts from the Heavens, and I am blessed for these fortunes.

Please allow me to introduce my very photographic child Alexandria.

lex2

Lexie

As she awaited my exit from the creek bed I snapped this shot as she watched a couple and their dog walk away from the falls.

I asked her to stand next to the tree and strike a pose as only she can do. This shot is one of my favorites of her.

Lex2

Lex

lex bw

Free Spirit

And in the spirit of tradition during the editing stages, We decided to go with a black and white composition. My personal thoughts: Black and Whites are always a nice way to bring out a true reflection of what a person is feeling or thinking about. Without all the color and distractions, I feel that B&W’s are always a good choice when photographing people. It allows you to capture the true beauty of one’s spirit.

I want to thank my beautiful daughter for being my model today, and for tagging along and keeping me company. These moments are precious to me, and as the seasons change, I look forward to sharing some pretty spectacular winter landscape photos. Not to mention that according to my research, Jan of 2013 will be the best time of year for me to capture that long anticipated shot of the Milky way. Fingers crossed.

Once again to all, A happy, joyous holiday season and let’s make 2013 a year for photos.

My best,

Mike

www.xroo.com

Then I Saw the Shot


My inbox has been filled as of late with subjects asking, “What Inspires Me?” Well to honestly answer that question, I wound have to answer with a solid , I DON’T KNOW.

I just go out there and do what I do. I get a feeling or I see something and move forward. This shot,the same holds true. As I have driven by this location many times I noted something different about it. An opening in the reeds, a calm water surface, plus the light seemed just right. With the clouds in the sky I decided to do this photo in HDR and set up my tripod in preparation for the final shot. After the capture I used photomatix to merge the images and re imported into lightroom to put the final touches on this photo.

hdr reflective

hdr reflective

On a side note, I recently heard some locals talking about a rare swan that had been reported as spotted in the area right after Hurricane Sandy. A point these people made was that the swan had a red beak on it, and its origin was European. Granted I have not researched this topic but I am assuming that this capture is of this rare swan.

Swan

Swan

Red Billed Swan

Red Billed Swan

To refer back to the whole “What Inspires Me” thoughts, I guess I can say that I dont need inspiration, being content to just shoot the world as I see it is what is inspiring. Being the winter months, life can kind of be blah, but it does not have to be. If your willing to endure the cold weather, and continue to get out there, you never know what will develop in front of your lens.

All my best to each of you.

Happy Holidays

Mike

www.xroo.com

www.msargentphotography.com

Noticed


Has any one noticed my lack of posts over the past two weeks? I often times wonder if the writings that accompany the photos are read. As of late I have had to put pictures on the back burner and been forced to take a job with long hours and back breaking work. I’m not happy about it, neither is my legs, my hips and my back, but we must do , what we must do.

I was recently asked if business in photography would pick up if I lived in another area. I kind of think it would, but when you have to compete with people who shoot in full auto mode, that call themselves pro’s and have no credentials to justify that claim, this is to be expected. I’m ok with that though, because the age old tale is true. People think it’s expensive to hire a pro, wait till they hire an amuetuer. Then they find out why a pro charges the rates they do. 

I on the other hand give people a great rate. i’m just that guy, that can do things for a little less money, just because I am in it for the thrill of the shot. 

Well, I don’t have much more to say right now,, Well I do but, I refer back to my original thought. Does anybody read the written part of this blog, or is it all about photo’s.

Desperately seeking and wondering.

Mike