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Beginner Photography: Street

Hey folks! This week’s topic is street photography, which I love. I’m really excited to have Gisele Duprez on the live show. She’s an incredible street photographer and a good friend of our crew. You can see a blog that Gisele wrote for us a while back here.

You can also see my first post on street photography here, which, frankly is better than this one. San Francisco served for some great shots. But to be fair, I was shooting over a whole weekend. This week I just went out for a few hours. My family went with me down to Kelly Drive, which is a lovely jogging/biking trail along the river in Philadelphia. It was a nice day and there were a lot of people out. I didn’t want to capture joggers and bikers though, as that’s where I’d shot for my sports blog previously.

There are a lot of challenges to street photography, but many of them are self-imposed. It’s scary to photograph strangers! I have the tendency to never get close enough, which can cause me to miss focus and include too much busyness in the background. When shooting street photography, you want to look for interactions between people. To zone in on a moment in the midst of a lot of unfocused chaos. But what you’ll see a lot of is people on their phones, or determinedly zipping through a crowd. It can take a lot of shots to find something worth seeing.

Technically, here are some tips. Using a smaller camera with a movable screen on the back is great. You can hold your camera down and pull out the screen which can disguise where you are pointing your camera and whether or not you’re even shooting. Holding the camera to your eye is certainly more conspicuous. I choose to shoot on aperture priority at a low to moderate f/stop so that I have some leeway on my focus. I almost always convert my shots to black and white in post to eliminate distractions which inevitably exist in street photography. Here’s a helpful video from Chelsea on the subject:

Here’s what I got:

f/4, 1/400th, ISO 2oo

This one is my favorite, the eye contact made it.


f/4, 1/640th, ISO 200


f/5, 1/400th, ISO 200


f/4, 1/1250, ISO 200

I realize now that my camera chose a crazy fast shutter speed to freeze the water, which was unnecessary. 


f/5.3, 1/400th, ISO 200


So those turned out okay. The first shot is the only one I would really keep, but I love street photography and practice makes perfect. I have a few spots I know I’d like to go out and try again. I look forward to seeing what you all come up with this week and to hearing from Gisele on Thursday!

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Beginner Photography: Contrast

Hey y’all! This week’s topic is “contrast” and that could mean a few things: contrasting colors, contrast between the subject and the setting, contrast between light and dark. I attempted to capture each of these this week. I’m attracted to contrasting light in general, but I’d like to challenge myself to look for color in my shots more often.

My first idea was to shoot my black dog on my already high contrast black and white rug. He’s a reluctant model. I shot him from above to make the carpet fill the background and used Aperture priority to keep my aperture low to gather as much light as I could in my dim living room and blur the background. Please forgive my dirty carpet.

f/3.5, 1/15th, ISO 1600

His paw looks weird because he hurt it and has a bandage on it. Poor pupper.

Then I went through and found an old shot of some green weeds growing through a grate over a rusty red background. 

f/5, 1/80th, ISO 400


And the last one is a shot I took of a safety helmet in the rubble of an abandoned building. Pretty self-explanatory.

f/4.5, 1/80th, ISO 500


These aren’t my most aesthetically pleasing photos, but I think each one properly represents the different types of contrast that Chelsea listed for our topic this week. It’s really just a matter of keeping your eyes open for unusual compositions. I think it’s a great practice to get out of your comfort zone and look at the world around you differently. Are any of you shooting on the theme each week? If so, how has it changed your photography practice?

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Live Show Recap: Black and White

Hey guys! We looked at your black and white photos this week and you came out in force. Lots of great shots.

We just got the LoupeDeck for Lightroom, but we haven’t tried it yet, I’m sure we’ll get a review out soon. Canon released some new cameras, but we don’t have them yet. They don’t like us.

Get our t-shirt!

Support us at Patreon to vote for the live show topic each week, plus get videos early.

“I like to just be silent so it seems like a really long time.”

Okay, we start reviewing photos here:

-a pick right off the bat for this cute baby

Krystal, always killin’ it

texture (nice one, James!)

-tiny boat, big sky


tracks (good one, Rod!)


-dramatic peanut, or the ship from Arrival?

-god rays

-time to wait


Time for my “comments or feelings“:

-FOLLOW THE RULES ughhh why do you all hate me

-I was drinking a Yard Brawler which explains my mood

-tips to grade black and white (including video)? Crush the blacks, blown out whites, high contrast: Adjust by color so that you can make different parts pop.

-is the split between mirrorless and “proper” cameras generational? Not really, it’s either sticking with what you know or trying something new. Generationally, younger people are using smartphones for photography. Watch “Death of the Consumer Camera.”

Back to photos:

-fog plan

-“cute-iful to the max”


Time for chit-chat! The part of the show where we highlight your weird/confusing/mean/dumb comments on our videos:

-WtF Shr has an strange voice

-“we need to see those pale legs more often”

-“you know what I’m pissed about? Everything!”

-Chelsea & Dog Live “Qbert, you m-fer”

-for sure a bit strange


Back over to me for some questions:

-Affinity Photo for iPad? Yes, we have a review coming out soon.

-advice on digitizing old prints? Just scan them at a high resolution and then go in and do some retouching.

Back to your photos:


-bride on a bike

-“oh, Midsummer. The Swedes, they like to drink.”

-a pick for pandering

-long shadow

-bespectacled man

-happy belated birthday, Justin! Not you, Chelsea.

-ghost reflection¬†“I’m too scared of metaphors”

-“it’s like some people are wearing glasses, and some people are bespectacled”

-another horn player


-this one didn’t get a pick, but deserved it



-Selma boys

-girl being held

-dramatic smoker

 Back to me for some questions/comments:


-please don’t send us pics of your junk, I’ll send them to your family

We really didn’t do any questions when they went over to me, we just kept going through pictures:

-lady in a barrel

-terrifying doll


-two men on a bus

-a beer brand should sponsor us (please!)

-intense face




Over to me for some $:

-I dunno, some stuff about a camera

-Sigma 18-35 for low light with a Sony a6XXX series? Maybe with the a6500 but you’ll need to manually focus. Probably better with Canon or Nikon though.

Back to photos:

-lovely portrait

-lonely white dog

Last questions from you, the audience:

-how did Tony decide to go from IT to photography and was it a financial risk? For sure, yes. He was doing both concurrently, but he saw the death of his IT career coming since no one was reading manuals for later Microsoft versions. You have to keep up with trends and change your focus to fit them. Google images then killed the stock photo business, so they shifted to writing photography books and making videos.

-how to reproduce the black and white auto effect in Lightroom? Just do it manually, adjust your contrast, follow our top tip.

A few last photos:

-pick for this dog that looks like my dog

-obscured face

And that’s our show! Next week’s subject is travel photography. See you then.

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Beginner Photography: Black and White

Hey Stunners! This weeks’ live show topic is black and white. I just so happened to shoot a few weeks ago when I was at my parent’s house in Connecticut over father’s day weekend. My parents live in the neighborhood my dad grew up in and where much of his family lived. His grandparents used to live on the Niantic river on an acre of land with grape arbors. My mom suggested going down to their old house to ask the current owner if we could photograph the area so that I could give my dad framed photos of it for father’s day. The man who lived there has owned it for 25 years and was happy to show us around and let me take pictures of the property.

These shots wouldn’t really stand alone as great work, many of the shots could use a focal point, but for the project they do what was intended. I chose to make most of them black and white so that they would look timeless and reflect the area as my father remembered it.

There are a number of reasons you’d choose to shoot black and white:

-to bring the focus to shape and texture

-to create a mood

-to eliminate distractions

-if the colors in the photo add nothing to it

This video is applicable to almost all types of photography, but especially b&w:

Here are my shots:

f/7.1, 1/100th, ISO 200



f/7.1, 1/320th, ISO 200


f/7.1, 1/80th, ISO 200



f/7.1, 1/500th, ISO 200



f/6.3, 1/60th, ISO 400


So you can see I didn’t have the best light, it would have been nice to go during the golden hour but time was limited. It also would have been better to go later in the season when the grapes were on the vines, but I’m sure I can try again. I liked the wide panoramas of the river the best. I used Photoshop to remove a few distractions like a lawn chair and some wood planks that took away from the timelessness of the scene.¬†

This project was as much about the action of shooting as the resulting images. It was really powerful to walk on the land that my great grandparents owned and learn more of the history of it (The house used to be a speakeasy! There were underground tunnels for runaway slaves!) I hope I was able to capture any of that for my father.

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Beginner Photography: Animal Interactions

Oh, hubris. I really thought this subject would be easy. I have animals! I can interact with them! How wrong I was. First, taking pictures of animals is difficult enough. They are generally fast moving, unless you know a sloth. Also, taking pictures of yourself is hard. Selfie+moving animals? Near impossible. I attempted to at least photograph my hand petting said animals, but even that is unwieldy using a DSLR. So then I tried to enlist my daughter, who, apparently, is only a good model when she has to stand very still and be creepy (see here and here and here.)

It has also been in the 90-95F degree range the past few days, so we have all been sluggish. Which resulted in either a very sad looking dog and cat or a very sad-looking child. 

I’m going to tell you now, this project was a failure. I missed focus a dozen times, I cropped the dog’s feet, my daughter’s shirt is wrinkled. I captured a few sweet moments, but they are still technically terrible. Here’s a funny video to make up for it:

So as usual I shot in aperture priority, but using a higher aperture to attempt to get Eloise and Hungry both in focus. Somehow that still often resulted in missing focus. I shot outside in natural light which worked fine, but my cramped back yard resulted is some busy backgrounds. I almost never got both of them looking at the camera. Ah well, this is what I wound up with:


f/3.5, 1/80th, ISO 200


f/5.6, 1/80th, ISO 200


f/5.6, 1/80th, ISO 640 (?!)


f/5.6, 1/60th, ISO 500


I don’t know. Looking at them now, I’m quite fond of them, but I just see everything about them that’s wrong. I need to work on manually choosing my settings and probably give back button focus a try.

Do any of these shots work for you? How would you have done things? I look forward to seeing so many animals on the show this week (and I’ll be there in studio!)

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Beginner Photography: Old Meets New

Hey y’all! This topic is a weird one, you guys are getting real abstract with your subjects. If you want to vote on the live show topic each week, you can become a Patreon donor!

I really didn’t know what to do for this week. The first idea I had was old and new architecture, but I thought that was a bit obvious. I am also lazy, so I decided to shoot something at home. I¬†might have stretched the theme a bit, but bear with me.¬†

I decided to take some shots of my antique engagement ring on my hand, as I also have a tattoo of a diamond on my ring finger. It seemed like a nice contrast of tradition and a more contemporary trend. I also enlisted my husband to hand model for me, holding a pair of his baby shoes. That kind of subverts the subject, as baby shoes would indicate newness and his hands are… not new. But they are, in fact, the same age.

Turns out taking pictures of my own hand is hard, positioning it is weird and not blowing out my skin and ring is pretty difficult. I shot on aperture priority and did some post processing to adjust the exposure. I then used an adjustment brush to bring out the clarity and contrast of the ring and my now-faded finger tattoo. I also broke this rule a bit to keep from losing detail in the ring:

Here’s what I came up with:

f/3.5, 1/80th, ISO 200


f/3.5, 1/80th, ISO 200


f/3.6, 1/320th, ISO 200


f/3.6, 1/640th, ISO 200


So, not the most challenging subjects, but I like them. Particularly the ones of Eric. I find hands very aesthetically pleasing, and his worn hands with the old, tiny shoes are pretty great together. How did you interpret this week’s topic? Did mine meet the criteria for you?

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Beginner Photography: Unexpected Beauty

Hello! This week’s photo topic is a weird one. I’m pretty sure by definition you should not be able to seek out “unexpected beauty” it’s just something that happens, but I did my best. I thought this tied in pretty well with last week’s topic of “abandoned.” I love abandoned buildings, especially at the point where nature starts to take back over. Living in a big city, there are a horrifying number of abandoned buildings, but seeing nature reclaim a space is pretty satisfying. Last week I added a human element as the subject, but this week I just went searching for something beautiful in what many people just see as decay.

I’m not sure if there’s any way to teach something like this, it’s just a matter of training your eye to find something to focus on in the midst of some amount of chaos. Finding a specific object, or a pattern, or the right light. Also some willingness to get close and get dirty. I for sure climbed into some places I wasn’t meant to be.

As usual, I shot with an Olympus E-M10 on aperture priority. I shot the same things multiple times from different angles to find what looked the most pleasing to me, and did some post-processing in Lightroom to crop, straighten, adjust the exposure, etc. 


f/5.6, 1/500th, ISO 200

Not sure why my shutter speed is so fast. The colors and pattern of these windows are so beautiful to me.


f/4.5, 1/80th, ISO 320

The vines growing through this piece and the natural framing of the leaves immediately caught my eye.


f/3.5, 1/160th, ISO 200

Ornate columns on a stunning abandoned home.


 f/3.5, 1/320th, ISO 200


So that’s what I came up with. Beauty is subjective, so I’m not sure if these will appeal to everyone, but since I was a teenager I have taken shots like this. I’ve always loved capturing age and wear on objects and seeing them change over time.¬†

So what do you think? Do these fit the criteria? How did you interpret “unexpected beauty”? I look forward to seeing your submissions this week!

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Beginner Photography: Abandoned

Hey folks! We’re back! The theme for the show this week is “abandoned” which is a pretty interesting subject. I love these more abstract topics and seeing the creativity they inspire.

If you want to vote on the live show topic each week, among other perks, please consider donating to our Patreon page at

I knew exactly where I wanted to shoot this week. Philadelphia has no shortage of abandoned buildings, but there’s one in particular that I love and is near my neighborhood. What I wasn’t sure of at first was what I wanted my subject to be. But if you’ve been following my photography journey so far, you’d know that my most successful projects have been creepy and featured my daughter, Eloise. So my idea was to place her in the midst of these ruins, and I’d already made her up to look like a ghost child before, so this time I went with more of an ominous, shrouded figure.

I dressed her in a black lace dress of mine and fastened it at the back, then used a sheer black shirt of mine over her face as a shroud. My husband chauffeured us there and we sprayed our legs with bug spray before venturing into the overgrown space (I grew up in Connecticut, my tick fear is justified.)

I used my borrowed Olympus E-M10 with a Lumix 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 as always. I had my camera on aperture priority at a low f/stop and everything else on auto. I placed Eloise throughout the space in doorways and on a staircase. I wanted her to just be a small part of the space, not necessarily a prominent focal point. 

I converted all the shots to black and white in post. The greenery and the graffiti were too distracting and took away from the eerie quality I wanted in the shots. I adjusted the exposure on them all for the white and black points:

And then used a radial filter to lighten up Eloise in some of the shots where she was a bit lost in the frame. It also gave her a bit of a glow around her. I also added some post-crop vignetting to make the shots look darker even though we were shooting in the daytime. Here’s what I came up with:

f/4, 1/250th, ISO 200


f/4, 1/200th, ISO 200


f/4, 1/250th, ISO 200


f/4, 1/200th, ISO 200


f/3.5, 1/320th, ISO 200


I really enjoyed this shoot. I wish I’d directed Eloise to do some more with her body language, it wasn’t until the end of the shoot that she pointed at something and I realized how good of a creepy pose that was. I’d love to shoot in this space again at the golden hour or the blue hour, but I didn’t want Eloise to have to be out there that late.

How’d I do? What would you have done differently? I can’t wait to see your shots this week.

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Beginner Photography: Lines

Hey folks! This week’s topic was a fun one: lines. I like these abstract topics, partially because I’m lazy and partially because I just like abstract photography. Not that these images had to be abstract, but that’s what I tend to when shooting something simple.

The problem I came across with almost all of these shots was a lack of focal point. So some of these wound up being more like location scouting for when I have a model (most likely my daughter) to put in the scene at a later date. I actually love simple, stark shots of man-made structures especially. I think it’s something about finding a rare blank space in the city.

As usual, I shot in aperture priority at my lowest aperture. Some of these shots were of repeating patterns, so it makes the most sense to choose a small focal point and let the rest of the image blur. It helps to eliminate background distractions and your brain fills in the rest of the pattern for itself.

I walked around my neighborhood looking for lines and patterns. I first went to the train tracks, but where I live they are just in a straight line, which doesn’t give a very interesting leading line. Those shots wound up being unsuccessful. The sun was high in the sky, though, which made for lots of nice shadows. I sought out a few staircases that I thought would serve as a good subject. There were also a number of stone railings I liked. I converted all the shots to black and white since the pattern and texture were the focus.

This was actually an old shot from my phone that I loved but found no use for.

There is a person sitting at the end, but I wish they were larger in the frame.


This is a spot I’ve shot before, in my post on architecture. I think this crop works a bit better.

f/3.5, 1/800th for some reason, ISO 200.


This spot you’ll recognize from my “spooky” shots here. It could certainly use a focal point, but I love the zig-zag shadows on the stairs.

f/4, 1/640th, ISO 200.


Another old shot from when I was in San Francisco. Pup prints.

f/9, 1/200th, ISO 200.


So, there’s lines! I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s interpretations for the live show this week. What do you think of my shots? At all compelling, or just boring?¬†

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Live Show Recap: Black & White Part 2

You jerks got an extra show this week because YouTube is the worst!

We reviewed your black and white shots again this week, and we have a new way to submit photos! Straight to Dropbox, no password and we got a flood of images. We also streamed live in 4k this week for the first time!

In a mere 2 days, we’ll have another live show on landscapes.

Chelsea mentioned that I like “ranchos” and if you don’t know what those are, ask me about it. I will extol the virtues of my new favorite show to you.

Photo news:

  • ¬†Go buy our Lightroom book on sale! and it’s only $19.99 for the paperback, PLUS 10% off if you use the coupon code YouTube.
  • Fuji X-T20

Ok, let’s get into your photos:

  • lovely portrait
  • “that’s super timely” in response to Tony mentioning Laverne and Shirley
  • bridge and fog
  • film noir
  • “I bet he flips tires at the gym
  • “you thought you could sneak spot color by us, Pedro! No sir.”

Over to me for some questions:

  • why does lens compression happen? It’s because of the angle of view. I can’t type out this explanation for you.
  • opinions on the new digital medium format system? Tony’s excited to see something new, but wants to give it time to develop fully. Also medium format files are huge.
  • what should we expect from HighRes scanned film pictures? Digital is just better.


Back to your photos:

Time to look at a portfolio! Mason Unrau. Gorgeous colors and lighting in your shots. Great full screen layout, not too many shots on the front page. Wonderful portfolio!

Over to me for some questions:

  • one of your top three places you want to photograph in your career? African safari, New Zealand, Iceland.
  • Photoshop composites? Great!
  • mirroless, M6 vs M3? The M6 isn’t out yet!

Back to your photos:

  • face in the crowd
  • storybook
  • oncoming train
  • snow and fog
  • portrait reflection
  • maternity
  • Shanghai
  • illegal miner¬†“what’s he mining?” “From the look of his fingers it could be chocolate?”
  • “that’s why I named our daughter Aardvark”
  • old-timey kid
  • old-timey man
  • environmental portrait
  • “this rope is dope”
  • mom. give me back my Pokemon Go account”
  • “this makes me want to get new perfume and go clubbing
  • landscape
  • lake view
  • “oh, I didn’t now I had this fear” “He’s like the ninja turtle that the other ninja turtles wouldn’t accept”
  • spooky baby
  • “this guy’s good
  • no one knows, but I have a one inch by one inch camera
  • next week, dogscapes
  • lovely¬†urban¬†portrait
  • and another!
  • thoughtful kid
  • izquierdo= left
  • “how do you know no animals?”
  • volcano
  • “like, if someone broke up with me I’d go look at this rock” “someone?”
  • Zach Divine “thanks, dad” “you made me take the last name Northrup, the whitest name for the coolest girl” “I like how he has a military haircut
  • “Zachary Stoner, now there’s a name you can really get behind”
  • gorgeous overhead shot
  • “and our channel will be so much more popular when it’s called Divine Stoner”

Over to me for some more questions:

  • least favorite gadget? This is a tricky question for us to answer on air…
  • trip to the US for street photography? New York, of course!
  • any trouble traveling with gear? Flying home into Boston once, but no, nothing really.¬†
  • what is the one thing you wish you knew when you started shooting? That the most important factor of your photograph is the subject, and the art. To shoot what you love, not what you think you should shoot.

Now some speedy photo reviews:

  • kids
  • skateboard
  • Zakim
  • buoy
  • dodgy birds
  • “that’s too much book”
  • bus
  • “Jack Brown, but he also is a cop.” “But not he kind that’s gonna hassle you.”
  • “everything you can’t explain in your picture is ghosts”
  • Hyper-speed round
  • elephant
  • spaghetti slurping
  • “Tony likes old people
  • “this owl will murder you”
  • happy dog
  • “did you know my dog has his own Instagram, but I don’t know who owns it? It’s not weird.” “It is weird, but you should check it out.”

And that’s all! Our show is called Divine Stoner now. Join us on Thursday for your landscapes.