“Try to imagine, if only for a moment, what your intellectual, political, and ethical world would be like if you had never seen a photograph.” –Susie Linfield (Director of Cultural Reporting & Criticism program at NYU)
iPhone Obsessed is a new book about iPhone photography. It was created by Dan Marcolina, a communications design professional who does amazing print, Web, and video work. If you’re interested in learning more about about taking your iPhone photography to the next level, being spontaneous, and learning more about the iPhone photo apps out there you’ll appreciate this book. It’s also available for free on the iPad.
Obsessed with the instant gratification achievable with his iPhone, designer/photographer Dan Marcolina dedicated an entire year to performing a series of mobile image experiments. The amazing results, as well as the many insights on how they were achieved, can be found in this gorgeous, four-color iPhone photography guide. Without ever leaving your iPhone, learn how to create artistic photographic effects such as blurs and vignettes, high dynamic range, traditional film effects, black and white, and more, using just the right combination of over 45 low-cost iPhone apps covered in this book.
Project H.i. (H.i. is an acronym that stands for “Homeless Interviews”) is a new film project produced by David Leech. It’s a documentary of sorts, but more than that.
Everyone knows about the homeless problem. It’s pervasive. There’s not one metropolitan area in the world that’s not affected by it. It’s all around us. But if you’re not homeless it’s usually something that you don’t want to think about too much. It’s unpleasant.
My colleague David Leach has embarked on a unique film project with Project H.i. He’s going to document the stories behind at least 50 homeless people. The project will be unique because there will be action items behind some of the interviews. It then becomes even more real.
David’s H.i. project has been inspired by P.S. Zollo. Take a look at P.S. Zollo’s work on Flickr and you’ll see why it’s inspiring. There’s a story behind most of P.S. Zollo’s images. And many of them are of homeless people.
David Leech’s Homeless Interviews H.i. project is going to require putting resources in motion: film crew, travel, equipment. David conservatively estimates the expenses to be roughly $33,000. He’s using Kickstarter to help raise budget and awareness. Take a look.
This will definitely be a photography app to watch. Social media is taking off. And everyone has a camera on their phone. The popularity of both the iPhone and Android is solid. And people are still lapping up the whole idea of sharing their whole life on the Web. It can get raw. But that’s what the people want.
Pete Eckert calls himself a blind visual artist. His photography is inspirational. And his ability to show sighted people how he “sees” is eye opening.
(Photo Credit: mastermaq on Flickr. I think this is a federal building in Canada. But I liked the shot.)
A recent New York Times LENS article has outlined some important news for photographers: It’s OK to photograph federal buildings from public spaces.
Thanks to an October 2010 settlement by the New York Civil Liberties Union, photographers are no longer restricted from photographing federal buildings from public spaces. The NYCLU sued the federal government on behalf of Libertarian activist Antonio Musumeci. Musumeci has posted the original footage from his arrest that sparked the federal trial.
“This settlement secures the public’s First Amendment right to use cameras in public spaces without being harassed,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “While we understand the need for heightened security near federal buildings, any rule that results in the arrest of people for exercising their First Amendment rights is clearly unconstitutional. We’re pleased the federal government finally recognizes this fact.”
If you’re getting more serious about photography it’s likely you’re starting to bring your camera with you almost everywhere. If you’re like me, you’ve always either got your camera slung over your shoulder or close by. For better, or worse, not everyone is as passionate about photography (or art, or freedom, or journalism for that matter) as you and me. And unfortunately you’re eventually going to get hassled if you photograph in public places. That’s why knowledge of this federal lawsuit is important.
I have been questioned by police, security forces, and others while photographing buildings. In the wake of September 11 there have been egregious liberties taken by otherwise-well-meaning law enforcement officers in the United States, all under the pretense of homeland security. But the fact is that we still have many freedoms. Unfortunately, it takes federal lawsuits to defend some of them. And while I don’t see eye-to-eye with many lawsuits I think that this settlement is an important one. Without it we stray too far down a road towards a police state.
If you’re going to be photographing in public places it might be a good idea to download a PDF of the official information bulletin from Department of Homeland Security and carry it with you in case you get questioned. I was once harassed by Federal Protective Service officers in front of what turned out to be an FBI building in Los Angeles. I didn’t know the building had FBI offices in it. It wasn’t marked, and I wasn’t photographing it. I was actually photographing the building right next to it. Still, the officers came out and harassed me, asked for my ID, and asked me questions they had no right to ask. I was compliant with their order to stop photographing, and I left. Armed with this new information, however, I think I would have pressed the issue and stood up to them.
I’ve been taking a look at this new tool from Animoto. It makes it super simple to build cool collages from your photographs.
I wanted to highlight it here just to give you a sense of what you can do with your photos, beyond sharing static images on a photo sharing website, or making prints.
If you’ve been eager to feature some of your video work this tool makes assembling video collages a cinch. It also makes it easy to insert still images, text, and have it all play out with great music.
Take a look at the sample I threw together in just a few minutes:
Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.
I can think of a bunch of different ways to use Animoto. I think it would be fun for sharing family photos and video – especially since it’s so easy to grab quick video clips using your cell phone. Mix that in with your photography and it’s sure to please the folks.
Professionally, I think it’s a more exciting way to share information about products. It might be a fun and creative way to review the year’s work you’ve done for a client. Also, companies are always having events where it’s nice to feature a re-cap.
When it comes to lifestyle photography there’s one theme I keep on hearing form professional photographers: keep on shooting more!
While the idea of shooting more may seem intuitive it’s a tough one to practice. It means bringing your camera with you virtually everywhere you go. Make it a practice to keep that camera slung over your shoulder. Make it an appendage!
Lifestyle Photography Opportunities Are Serendipitous, Just Like Life
It was a really windy day. I had been cooped up inside all day, working. So when late afternoon rolled around I needed to get out and take a walk. But the wind was so fierce it almost made it uncomfortable. But if you live near the water, wind can also be a welcome event for people who thrive off of it: windsurfers and sailors.
At the time I was living down in San Diego County and a great walk on the beach was less than 10 minutes away. Knowing there may be some windsurfers down at Cardiff-by-the Sea I headed down there. I brought my camera with me, as I normally do. I’m glad I did because I saw some awesome wind surfers, like Sean Potter (in photograph).
- If you’ve got a versatile walk-around lens you can be ready for many different situations – zooming in on the action, going wide for panorama shots. For me, I like to use my Nikon NIKKOR 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR II. It’s got the zoom at 200mm, but it’s also got the ability to fairly wide at 18mm. It’s what I used to get this shot.
- Keep your camera with you! You never know when you’ll see something worthy of a photo.
- Look for the story in an image. Take a few shots and try writing something about what you see.
Erika, what kind of point-and-shoot digital camera did you own before you purchased a DSLR?
The Canon PowerShot something-or-another. It’s the same one Maria Sharapova used in the Canon commericials. She was taking pictures of her dog.
What’s one of the reasons you wanted to upgrade to a DSLR?
To take better pictures. I wanted to get better depth of field. I wanted to have fun with making more “artsy” stuff. After a trip to Yosemite, seeing the fun things my brother and mother were doing with their DSLRs, I really wanted to get one.
How long did you research DSLRs before you purchased one?
Maybe a month.
What were some of the most influential factors affecting your decision about which camera to buy?
I liked the feel of the Nikon D5000. Other people I knew had Nikons and were happy with them. From the research I did, I knew I didn’t really like the way you had to use one of the dials on the Canon. So it was mainly about feel.
Which new camera did you decide on getting after all of your research?
I bought the Nikon D5000.
What do you like most about your new Nikon D5000?
I really like the way I can flip the live view display to get different angles. I also like how I can flip it back down so it doesn’t get scratched.
What kind of kit lenses came with the new Nikon D5000?
The 18-55. And the 55-200.
Have you rented any other lenses yet?
Not yet but I want to. I want to rent a super telephoto lens so I can get super close up shots of nature.
What do you photograph most often?
Flowers and other nature.
What’s your favorite type of photography: portrait, landscape, nature, etc.?
What’s something (a photo tip) that you’ve recently learned that’s made a difference in your photography?
I learned how to make a star burst by using a high F-stop, like f/22. And I learned how to make creamy-looking waterfalls by slowing my shutter speed down and using a tripod.
The reality is that a high quality lens, combined with a fast camera body, make an extraordinary difference when you’re shooting a sporting event. That’s why you see the pro sports photographers lugging around lenses the size of a fullback’s thigh. Those lenses (and the cameras attached to them) ain’t cheap.
But what do you do if you want to photograph a special sports event? What if you’ve got an opportunity to get down on the field for a pro ball game? Or, you want to get some high quality images from your son or daughter’s big game?
The answer is to rent a lens!
Renting a pro lens, camera body, and other expensive camera equipment suddenly levels the playing field for “weekend warrior” photographers.
Here’s my recommendation: rent one of the following lenses for a weekend and you won’t be dissapointed. You’ll come away with some shots that will make your mouth water. Friends and family will want prints. You’ll have a blast renting a big, fat, pro lens. You’ll be addicted. I guarantee it!
This lens is fixed at 300mm f/2.8. That’s nice and tight and you’ll be right up where the action is. The shallow depth of field coupled with 300mm means that you’re going to get the subject super sharp and the background nice and blurry – the way you want it. Also, don’t forget, if you don’t have one you’ll also need a monopod, or tripod to hold this monster. The massive lens mounts onto the monopod or tripod, not your camera body!
RENT NOW — Nikon 300mm f/2.8 from BorrowLenses (buy the insurance!)
RENT NOW — Canon 300mm f/2.8 from BorrowLenses (buy the insurance!)
This 400mm lens is also fixed at f/2.8. Get ready to submit some shots to Sports Illustrated. The shallow depth of field you’ll be able to achieve is crazy. And talk about being up tight and close. Your friends and neighbors will see the shots you produce and be throwing money at you to buy an image of their kid catching a fly ball in the outfield. You may even recoup your lens rental fee!
RENT NOW — Nikon 400mm f/2.8 from Borrow Lenses (buy the insurance!)
RENT NOW — Canon 400mm f/2.8 from Borrow Lenses (buy the insurance!)
Consider the 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens if you’ll be closer to the action and need to zoom in and out. You’re still able to achieve f/2.8 all the way from 70 to 200mm so you’re all set with shooting in low light and that sweet shallow depth of field. The 70-200 is a professional photographer’s workhorse and would make an ideal second lens to carry on your backup camera (ha ha).
The very nature of most sporting events means fast-moving action. And the excitement of the moment is often times focused on one or two players in close proximity. For you, as a photographer, this translates to the following:
Frames Per Second - You need to crank out as many frames per second (FPS) as possible. Make sure you’ve got your camera set to burst mode. If you’re going to be serious about this you’ll need a camera body that lets you pull off 8 FPS. You don’t want to miss that critical moment! Here, rent one of these pro bodies and you’ll be firing off more than 8 FPS. And you’ll get “the look” from people. They’ll be thinking, is s/he a pro??
Depth of Field - A shallow depth of field will make your subject pop. Shooting a telephoto lens at a wide aperture (low F-stop) will allow you to keep the subject in tack sharp focus while blurring the background. A long telephoto lens, like a Nikon 400mm f/2.8 will do nicely.
Shutter Speed - While you’re bursting away at 8 FPS you’ll also want to be down to at least 1/1000 of second to freeze the action. Anything less than 1/1000 of a second and there may be some motion blur.
ISO - The limited light of a gymnasium means you’ll have to turn up the ISO so that you can achieve that 1/1000 of a second shutter speed. The higher the ISO, the faster the shutter speed you can select. Remember, you want to achieve at least 1/1000 of a second. If you’re inside a gym you’ll need to turn up that ISO.
The Sports Camera Settings
If you’re outside on a relatively sunny day set your ISO to 200. Get your big lens mounted on a monopod or tripod. Make sure you’re in Continuous Shooting (burst) mode. Shutter speed shouldn’t be a factor. Use Aperture Priority mode, select f/2.8, and go crazy.
If you’re inside, or dealing with limited light, set your ISO as necessary, up to 1600. Put the lens on the monopod or tripod. Make sure you’re on burst mode. Still set your aperture to f/2.8. Periodically check to make sure you’re achieving at least 1/1000 of a second.
GET THE SHOT AND HAVE FUN!