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Live Show Recap: Nature

If you missed the memo, we had our show on Monday this week because T&C will be away on Thursday. We looked at your lovely nature photos, once I get my -ish together.

From cannibals to Schweddy Balls, we’re on an upturn!

Our live show¬†won’t be back until April 27th reviewing your landscape photos.

Starting with Chit-Chat! Where we reply to your mean/weird/funny comments on our videos:

  • take Tony to dinner
  • good joke?
  • Chelsea IS very funny

Now to your photos! Here are our picks:

Over to me for some questions:

  • non-photography gear that’s useful for shooting wildlife? Camoflauge, bug spray, boots, warm clothes, hand warmers, USB gloves, a stadium seat? Snacks. A big sandwich?¬†

Back to photos:

  • stunning puffin¬†shot
  • “this is like me at a party”
  • leading line
  • “you are having intimate physical contact with 5 or 6 strangers at any time” “what happened to you at Watkins Glen?”
  • “this dog has no fur. This dog is merely a shadow dog.”
  • white tailed eagle

Back to me for cool questions:

  • where do you find inspiration? Lots of Instagram, Easton Chang, Roxy Rodriquez. Classic photographers, TV and film. The Cohen brothers, PT Anderson.
  • what bird would you like to photograph? A kingfisher, a crow for Chelsea.
  • what photographic cliche bugs you the most and why? Spot color for Chelsea, glamour photography for Tony and me,¬†over-processed skin for Justin.

There are some picks that happen during the questions:

And now back to the photos:

Back to me for some questions:

  • the most interesting story you’ve seen told in a landscape photo? That’s hard.
  • did you feel intimidated when you started shooting wildlife? No, it was fun to be outside shooting. National Geographic was about it when Tony started, so he did well online.

Time for a portfolio review. John Doddato Photography. Good simple layout and cover photo. All your work is incredible! Maybe format your about me a bit better and take your name off of the blog link. You may want to set up a store for your prints as well. Otherwise you did everything right!

More questions:

  • any suggestions for doing nature photography at home or from a fixed location? Try different times of day and weather conditions, practice your technique. Set up a bird studio.

Back to your photos:

Some last questions before we end:

  • do y’all have any photos of puffins? Nope.
  • I had chili cheese fries for dinner
  • how to make the most of a cheap, soft lens? You just need to focus on mood and storytelling than something like wildlife that needs detail.

And that’s our show! Chelsea was hungry. So again, no live show until April 27th when we do landscapes.

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Live Show Recap: Animals & Wildlife

Animals, you guys! What could be a better topic? Nothing, that’s what. Animals are great. We had SO MANY submissions this week, so I’m very sorry that statistically, you did not get yours seen. But you got to see cute animals, so no one lost.

We have a few topics up for the next two weeks live shows, next week is Sports and the week after is Storytelling. You can see the upcoming topics here.

Photo News:

  • Our friend Chris Gampat, the Phoblographer, has an analog zine coming out! You can fund it and get a copy at sdp.io/zine.
  • “Here’s a story I personally related to as an astronaut and a dog lover.” Leland Melvin is an American hero.
  • Beyonce is having twins and got some real weird pictures taken by Awol Erizku. All hail Queen Bey.

Here’s Justin entertaining you while Tony imports pictures.

Ok, let’s get into your photos:

  • this sweet angel pibble
  • “Justin, I love you cause you think I’m funny even if I’m not”
  • Buffalo goes viral
  • damn, Kyle. This is a great sea lion.
  • “some of my closest friends are groundhogs”
  • backlit moth
  • and a backlit monkey
  • dragonfly
  • “bokeh balls”

Time for chit-chat! The part of the show where… ah you know what it is:

  • let’s celebrate Tony getting his drone certification!¬†
  • how bow dah?
  • pantsuit Chelsea
  • “I HATE GEAR NERD AND TEACHER”
  • nobody cares about digital anymore?
  • did radiation make Tony’s hair grey?
  • listening fatigue victims

Comment tips!

Now over to me for your questions:

  • Roxy!
  • food photography lighting?
  • how do you keep wildlife shooting interesting? Shoot new species, try to get your best shot of each.
  • when you first started shooting, how did you get outside your comfort zone? Have man confidence. “If someone else deserves to be mediocre, I do to!” Take classes to expand your focus, shoot for contests like DPReview. Shoot with groups.
  • culling process for your shots? Weed out the worst shots based on focus or framing, depends on the subject. Use star ratings to keep just the best.

Let’s look at a portfolio! Peter Bartlett. Great macros! Pare down the¬†wildlife shots, one per species. “I wanna know about you. You’re a flower.” Most people don’t leave the first page, so maybe have one main page of your best shots. Great work!

 

Back to your photos!

Back to me for some questions:

  • YouTube paid comments? Oh good, people with money can be heard.
  • Tony, why you no do astrophotography? Because NASA is doing what we need.
  • You can see Eric feeding my dog
  • classic camera posters from Etsy

This dog is my favorite.

Tony hates ostriches and had a dog growing up named Willie Nelson.

And that’s our show! We love your animals. Join us next week for sports.

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Beginner Photography: Best of 2016

Happy holidays! This post is going to be a look back on my photography journey so far this year, as we’ll be reviewing your best of 2016 photos for the live show this week.¬†

So, this might not be much of a dramatic transformation as I only started this series 4 months ago, but I can certainly say I’ve tackled new projects and stretched myself. I mean, I was second shooter on a wedding! That’s crazy. I found out which genres I’m not great at (landscapes, still life) and some that I was surprisingly good at (spooky, wedding, street). I started shooting with a borrowed Olympus E-M10¬†with a Lumix 14-42mm lens,¬†which felt like a revelation after using my Samsung smart phone for so long, but now I am feeling limited by my gear again.

I found that I need to work on mastering my camera settings. I still rely on automatic mode a bit too much, I don’t nail focus as often as I’d like. I’m better at finding my shots rather than creating them, I could use to plan more.

So I’m going to post my favorite images from these past few months below,¬†in chronological order:

Adventure: 

This shot was taken with my phone, so the settings were out of my control. But the sun was high, so the shutter speed was fast and the ISO was low. I love the mood, the action, and the colors. I feel I successfully captured the joy of children in summer. 

 

Travel:

Another phone shot! I could not have planned something like this. Just a beautiful moment I happened upon in the Muir Woods. The light filtering through the trees, the backlighting of that lone stump.

Street:

I loved this bright turquoise wall, and I only had to sit for a few minutes to catch someone walking by it. I shot at 1/400th of a second at f/8 and ISO 200.

 

Spooky:

This is one of my most successful shoots to date, and one that I actually planned out instead of winging. I dressed up my daughter in a vintage dress and applied some makeup to appear dead. I shot behind an old school and an abandoned church at sundown for the mood. The leading lines bring you to her and then off into the darkness. 1/60th, f/4, ISO 800.

 

Wedding:

This shot is one of my favorites, and it may only be because I know the people in it. I cut off feet, but I love the mixed eye contact, the anxious energy and mood. I was second shooter for a friend who lent me her Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70 f/2.8. It was shot at 1/1000th, f/2.8, and ISO 1250 which is insane. I could have certainly shot at a lower ISO and shutter speed.

 

Bird:

Another example of the right gear making the shot. I was shooting with the D500 and a 200-500 f/5.6. This was shot at 1/800th, f/5.6 and ISO 100.

 

Night:

My first attempt at night photography was my most successful. Shot with the Olympus at a 6 second exposure, f/5 and ISO 200.

 

So those are my favorite shots I took this year. I got to play with cameras I will never own and shoot with really talented photographers. I got to do some travelling and force my family into modeling. I got to practice making art in a way I haven’t in years. I am really enjoying this, and I hope you are having fun watching me try and fail and try and sometimes succeed. You can see all my past posts here.

What do you think I could use to work on this year? What would you like to see me try? What have you learned shooting this year?

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Beginner Photography: Actual Wildlife

Hey guys! This past week I was in Connecticut to see my family for Thanksgiving and I got to go out shooting with Tony, Chelsea, Madelyn and Justin. We made a video on shooting wildlife, so keep an eye out for that. We also made it into the local paper!

So I got to do some bird photography with some serious equipment. I borrowed T&C’s Nikon D500 with a 200-500mm f/5.6,¬†and that thing is intense. Shooting with a lens that big is a real adjustment.¬†

Tony and Chelsea know their wildlife spots, so we went out to Harkness Memorial Park and down to a little inlet surrounded by tall grasses. There weren’t a whole lot of birds out, just some gulls for a while. I practiced tracking them through a bird blind. One of the hardest parts was just getting a bird in the frame while looking through that insane lens. I would zoom all the way out to 200mm just to get the bird in frame before zooming in to 500mm to try and capture it.¬†Holding it still in blustering winds was hard enough just shooting a still subject. I didn’t get anywhere close to getting a moving subject in focus. Thankfully we had an obliging mockingbird who modeled for us as soon as we got there.

Here’s a great video on shooting songbirds:

And another on shooting flying birds:

Half of us had our batteries freeze up or die towards the end of our session, and of course a whole flock of turkey vultures and black vultures came swooping overhead as we were packing up. It was a rare and beautiful sight that I was completely unprepared to capture! Always have a spare battery, kids.

So here’s what I gleaned from my one trip out with our talented teachers:

Research your location

    • There are local bird-watching groups you can join who can tell you where specific species nest.
    • Choose a clear day, hard light is good for widlife.
    • If shooting songbirds, choose your setting, set up your gear and wait.

Bring the right gear

    • Dress for the weather! Gloves, boots, hats and coats were a must for us going out that early on a windy day.
    • Camouflage, netting, and bird blinds all help you get closer without the need for a huge lens.
    • A telephoto lens is the best if you cannot get close. Watch this video for some suggestions.
    • Spare battery!

Camera settings

    • Put your camera in shutter priority so you can adjust for still subjects to moving subjects.
    • Autofocus for moving subjects.
    • Keep your f/stop higher to increase your chances of getting the nearest eye in focus.
    • Use continuous shutter to fire off multiple shots in a row.

 Great model, nice setting, and some pleasing depth of field.

 

Another angle.

 

I just love the texture of this little guy’s feathers.

 

This is the closest I got to getting a moving subject in focus before my battery died.

 

I had a lot of fun out there. I can’t imagine wildlife will ever be my particular focus, but it was a really interesting practice and I truly appreciate how difficult it is to do now that I’ve attempted it. I did a bit of post processing on all of these shots, mostly cropping in tight (the Tony Northrup way) and checking my white and black points. I could use to do some noise reduction on the background of that vulture shot as well.

So how’d I do for my first time?¬†

And a final tip, don’t be annoying:

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Live Show Recap: Wildlife

Hey! I’m live in the studio this week and awkward as ever! If for no other reason, that’s a reason to watch the show.¬†

We reviewed wildlife again this week and as always we had some great submissions.

No live show until December 15th! Chelsea and Tony will be away traveling in Thailand for their photo trip. But once they’re back, Kyle Wolfe will finally be a guest on our show reviewing your night photography. Super exciting.

We have a huge sale right now in our store, so go check out our bundles and give gifts to yourself or your friends.

Okay, we get into reviewing your photos here:

  • foxy
  • “you’re running around in the park with your kids and there will just be monsters there.”
  • handsome tree frog
  • hedgehog!
  • great bison
  • “ugh, not today Roger”

Time for chit-chat! Our favorite part of the show where you make funny, dumb, great comments and we highlight them.

  • “I’m a certified photographer”
  • y’all are real conflicted about what it means to be a pro
  • Tony=Cliff Clavin
  • pro brothers

What is this. Why. No.

Back into your photos:

Over to me for some of your questions:

  • cold weather gloves good for photography? Mittens, or mittens with finger flaps.
  • how to wrangle family for portraits during the holiday? Drink! Jk. Threaten, use ultimatums. Use the matriarch or patriarch of the family as the instigator. Use dumb jokes.

Let’s do a portfolio review! JMB Photography. Stunning artistic work. If you want to be hired for portraiture, you should have a more professional site focused on what’s marketable.

More questions from you, via me:

  • what’s the most satisfying picture you’ve ever taken? For Chelsea it’s her bubble shot. For Tony’s it’s his osprey shot where it caught a fish. He’s vindictive.
  • what’s your favorite compositional technique? Depends on the subject. Tony’s least favorite is the golden ratio.

Back to photos:

Back to me for your q’s:

  • how many plates do you have? Like 50?
  • does shrinking an image size make it sharper? No.

Back to photos:

‘Nother question:

  • How do you keep a tripod from sinking in the sand? Are you in quicksand? Get out.

Back to photos:

How to explain AOL to children.

More questions:

  • any photography horror moments? Justin does. So does Tony. Don’t wear flip-flops.

More photos:

We’re speeding through now to get through before the end of the show.

Final questions from you all:

  • ¬†how can I take pictures with a drone without looking like a drooling pervert? Don’t take pictures in windows. Wear a tie.
  • 1DX Mark II as an underwater camera? Sure?

We breeze through a bunch of photos at the end, so just watch those. White squirrel!

Alright folks, that’s our show! We’ll be off for a few weeks, so we’ll see you again December 15th with Kyle Wolfe. Don’t forget!¬†

Edited to add: Fyn made a list of every animal displayed during the show! Holy cow:

Fyn Kynd 

 
A complete list of all species viewed on this show. You are welcome ūüėČ -your resident naturalist <3 Red Fox American Alligator Northern Paper Wasp European Red Squirrel Cheetah Herring Gull Gray Tree Frog Osprey European Hedgehog Eastern Gray Squirrel Brown Pelican American Bison European Robin Caribou Great Gray Owl Mallard American Elk Common Shag White-tailed Deer Coyote Song Sparrow Eurasian Jay Glaucous-winged Gull American Goldfinch Red Kite Eastern Bluebird Mute Swan Common Raccoon Cooper’s Hawk Red-shouldered Hawk Scarlet Tanager Canada Goose Sicilian Wall Lizard New Holland Honeyeater Northern Mockingbird Eastern Bumble Bee Western Bluebird Blue Tit Northern Cardinal Bengal Tiger Double-crested Cormorant Dingo Bald Eagle American Crow Japanese Sea Nettle California Sea Lion Black-headed Gull African Elephant Common Hippopotamus Great Spotted Woodpecker Nanday Conure Meerkat Moose Roseate Spoonbill American Robin Lion American Lady Wood Duck Magnificent Hummingbird Stellar’s Jay Great Blue Heron Ruby-throated Hummingbird American Flamingo Southern Giraffe Eastern Screech-owl Least Grebe Great Egret Downy Woodpecker White Stork Hoopoe Rook Laughing Gull Royal Tern Common Wood-pigeon American Black Bear European Coot Eastern Chipmunk Tree swallow Red-breasted Sapsucker Laughing Kookaburra European Eagle Owl Northern Goshawk Grizzly Bear Little Egret River Otter Glossy Starling Leopard Cope’s Gray Tree Frog Scarlet Macaw Ostrich Australian Pelican Eastern Rosella Small Tortoiseshell American Oystercatcher Galah European Nuthatch Mountain Goat Common Loon Tricolored Heron Wild Turkey American Bullfrog Black Swan Ural Owl Hooded Crow Rainbow Lorikeet Greater Roadrunner California Ground Squirrel Gray Wolf Red-tailed Hawk Bobcat Autumn Meadowhawk Tundra Swan Common Raven Sarus Crane Ring-billed Gull Black-capped Chickadee ¬†
Black Vulture 
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Beginner Photography: Not Wildlife

Soooo, this weeks’¬†live show topic is wildlife. Thing is, we did wildlife a month ago and I wrote a blog post on my attempt then.

Wildlife is a near-impossible task if you are not a dedicated wildlife photographer. It takes time, patience, and the proper gear. None of which I have! I went on a hike with my family this weekend and did not come across any wildlife besides an errant squirrel or a far-away bird. There were a lot of dogs on the trail, mine included, so what little wildlife may inhabit the area avoided us. So I took photos of what I had, which is my family and a beautiful setting.

For whatever reason, every shot I liked I wound up converting to black and white. My family was wearing bright colors which were distracting, and even though there were some nice fall colors in the trees, the sky and water both looked murky. 

I focused on the backlighting of the sun behind the kids when we were at the stream, which cast some interesting shadows. I think I was able to capture some of the joy of a warm late-fall day, moments of peace in a tumultuous time.

Trail shadows 

 

I cannot figure out how to separate my black dog from the background

 

I love the ripple in the water and the motion of her hand

 

A pause in motion

 

Soft glow

 

Girl in flight

 

I’m gonna be honest, this did not feel like a successful shoot. But I had a hell of a week and this was a moment of brightness. Please let me know what you would have done differently with these shots.¬†

Also, I’ll be in CT starting tomorrow, and¬†I’m be going out to shoot some real wildlife with Chelsea, Tony, and Justin! So I’ll have some actual wildlife work to show for myself. Keep an eye out!

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Live Show Recap: Wildlife

Wildlife, ya’ll! Regardless of my personal failure at shooting wildlife, you guys really showed up for this show. Great job! There are a ton of great tips throughout the show as T&C edit and critique the submissions. For sure watch through this episode if you need wildlife tips like I do.

This month’s schedule is a little wonky, T&C have been traveling a lot. Next week our show will be at 1pm EST on WEDNESDAY and we’re reviewing architecture photos. Then the whole crew of us will be in NYC for Photoplus!¬†

Oh hey, it’s my birthday in a few days. Thanks for your well-wishes!

Ok, let’s get into your photos and I’ll highlight our faves below:

  • right off the bat, this mourning dove is beautiful and Chelsea makes great jokes “#dovelive”
  • spidey

Here’s a question from you, the audience:

And back to photos:

  • laying eggs
  • kingfisher
  • “what does he have, a little letter?”
  • “you made Justin laugh, it’s that cute”
  • turtle doing pull-ups
  • pretty bird
  • fox’s day at the beach
  • omg baby boar¬†“I would hug it and keep hugging it and then throw it in the bag and bring it home”
  • “this is one of those wrestling death matches between butterflies”

Back to me for some questions:

  • what will Tony and Chelsea be drinking next week during the show? Water.
  • how do you choose portfolio photos? Crowd source. See what does well on social media, take time to reflect back on your photos.

Now for a portfolio review! Pare down your photos, keep the eye-popping ones on the first page, maybe ditch the staggered layout. Otherwise great job! Keep watching to hear great tips about building a portfolio and looking at your analytics.

Back to your photos!

Back to your questions:

  • crop sensor or full frame for wildlife? Tony likes a crop, Chelsea doesn’t.
  • do you color calibrate your monitor? Nope, but it won’t hurt to.

Back to your photos! Getting speedy now, there’s a lot to get through:

Some last questions from me:

  • Chit-chat?
  • how did studying art effect your photography? Composition, adding meaning to your photos.
  • wildlife baiting? Bird feeders are okay, roadkill for eagles okay, otherwise no.

Chit-chat! What are we doing anymore?

  • POS
  • Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy
  • Does photography have to be complicated? No.
  • more weird-ass flat earthers

Photoshop book is now officially out! Buy it.

Let’s go through one last chunk of pictures:

We did it! Thanks for your great submissions this week. Well done. Join us next WEDNESDAY at 1 for architecture photography. Or spot us in NYC at Photoplus, bring beer.

 

 

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Beginner Photography: Wildlife

Hahahahhaha oh man you guys, wildlife photography is not something you can just take up for a day. This stuff is serious. If you want actual, helpful wildlife tips, please visit this page of our site and learn from a real photographer, because what will follow here is just tomfoolery. 

I do not blame myself for my failure this week. Wildlife photography takes the proper gear, knowledge, and¬†lots of time and patience. I have literally none of those things. Not to mention, it’s Autumn in a city. All we’ve got are squirrels.

To take proper wildlife shots, it helps to have a lens with reach, so you can take close shots without actually getting close. You also need a spot where you can sit still and let animals get acclimated to your presence, camouflage and a bird blind would help you blend in and get closer. If shooting birds, choose a background and wait for them to come to you. Keep shooting the same spot until a bird comes into the space. A flowering tree and direct sunlight makes for a great setting.

So here’s what I attempted (and failed) to do:

  • lure wildlife into my backyard with bread (my dog ate most of it)
  • go to a park and stalk squirrels
  • walk around my neighborhood hitting up all the best gardens hoping to catch birds

So birds, smartly, avoid my yard. I have a big dumb dog. If I go out back and let him out, he scares everything away. If I don’t let him out, he whines and barks at the door, scaring everything away. So my baiting was a bust.

Next I went to the closest park. There were plenty of squirrels running around, but the adjective “squirrelly” exists for a reason. I generally shoot in aperture priority, but that seemed like a bad call with this fast of a target, so I switched over to shutter priority. That… didn’t work either. I wound up with VERY dark pictures of squirrels in trees. So then I just shot in automatic. Here’s the result:

Sigh. A blurry head and a sharp tail.

You guys. That is actually the best photo I got out of, I dunno, 50? I went home dejected, scanning gardens on the way. 

Right by the steps up to our porch we have a butterfly bush, which two weeks ago might have gotten me shots of a monarch butterfly or two before they migrated. As it was, though, I was left with some bees.

Not great, it’s not facing me so I didn’t¬†get the eye in focus

Once again. Got that butt though.

I like that I got it cleaning it’s¬†antenna, but I seem to have focused on the back leg

So all in all, the bees were my most successful attempt, and those probably count as macro. I certainly don’t have the equipment for that either, but they made a far better subject than the squirrels. I also had a great backdrop in the butterfly bush and direct overhead lighting.

Bonus: here’s a picture of my cat, indoor wildlife.

Hi Frank!