Central Park Sax Man

Central Park Sax Man in Black and White

While we were walking through Central Park in New York City we saw several musicians and dancers out preforming. This guy playing saxophone really caught my eye (or maybe it was because he caught my ear that I noticed as he was a great player).

Several good lessons can be learned from this picture. One lesson to learn is black and white photography can completely change a picture. With this picture, I didn’t like it in color and would have probably thrown it out. After making it back and white it became one of my favorite pictures of the day. I really like black and white photography for street photos so it was natural for me to try it on this picture. With other types of photos however, I frequently forget to try black and white if I’m not happy with it in color. In most photo editing programs such as Lightroom, making a picture black and white is a simple click of a button so it’s always worth a try.

Another lesson to learn here is I really wanted to change lenses so I could zoom in closer, but I remembered an import rule: always take the picture when you see it even if things aren’t perfect. I have learned the hard way that if you don’t do this you frequently end up with no picture at all because the moment is gone. In this case that is exactly what would have happened because right after I took this picture several people came around which changed the setting. After you get at least one picture with the current setup you can always make changes to exactly what you want. I have never regretted taking a couple seconds to get picture before making changes.

Central Park Sax Man Information

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Barn and Sun

Barn and the Sun

This is an old barn that Susan and I ride by a lot and had been saying for a couple years we should go get pictures. One morning we were up early so we decided to finally head out and shoot some. I like this picture because of the way the sun is coming through the openings and lights things up. It was a cold morning so if you look close you can see frost on the brush, which I think makes the sun light them up more. It was early in the morning so we were in the “golden hour” giving things a nice color.

I frequently find that the picture I think I want is a big wide scene with all of the surrounding scenery, only to be uninspired by the finished product. I have noticed that zooming in close on one specific spot is often much more interesting than the wide shot. That was defiantly the case with this shot. When I was zoomed out wide there were a lot of things in the picture distracting from the barn such as power lines and the road. Our eyes naturally filter those things out when we look at something we like, but the camera can’t filter like that. Because of this I have had to train myself to pay attention and look for these things before taking a picture. Zooming in is often a good way to overcome these distractions. Also, as in this case, I often find that the zoomed in picture is more interesting even if there aren’t “distractions” in the wide picture. Next time you are taking pictures give it a try. Go ahead and take a wide shot, but also include some zoomed in shots. You may be surprised how much it can change the picture.

Barn and Sun Information

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Pelican on Sanibel Island

Pelican on Sanibel Island, FL

We followed this pelican down the beach at Sanibel Island in Florida for about 15 minutes while it swam along close to shore. There were several other pelicans out also, but this one seemed happy to stay close by so that we could get pictures. I think this was a first for me as animals usually don’t want to cooperate for wildlife photography! I once sat outside for a hour trying to get a hummingbird picture. In that case patience paid off and I got a few pictures, but the bird kept flying up and as soon as I would move to take a picture it would fly off so I didn’t think it was going to happen. So having this pelican invite us along for some pictures was a nice change.

This picture is a good one to illustrate what I was referring about the use of a polarizing filter in the Wilson’s Creek picture. In that picture notice how you can see under the water where in this one there is a reflection on the water so you can’t see below. Normally in shots with water in them I like to use the polarizing filter for this reason, but in this case I wasn’t using one because I didn’t want to waste time and miss any shots. The polarizing filter works by rotating it until the polarized light is filtered out. I figured turning the filter and trying to get it perfect while the pelican flew away probably wasn’t the best way to get a picture. In this case I could have gotten some pictures using the polarizing filter since, as I said, this bird was happy to hang around for a while. With that said, I would have missed this particular picture because once the pelican finally decided to fly off it was gone quickly.

Pelican on Sanibel Island Information

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Dog Diving Excitement!

Dog Diving Excitement!

The Randolph County SPCA put on a “dog pool party” at the Tot Hill Farm pool in Asheboro, NC. We took our dog Lucille out and, as usual when she is in the water, she loved it. She dove off the side like this constantly for about an hour and a half, and she was just as excited for the last dive as she was for the first. She didn’t want to waste the time of swimming over to the one spot in the pool where she could go up the stairs herself, and instead would swim over to the side and want us to pull her out so we could throw the ball again. So after and hour and a half we were tired, even if she about another 7 hours of swimming energy in her (we know this because she has shown us before when we spent a day a the lake with her). The only time she was upset all day was when we finally made her leave! Our wish is that everyone could be as happy as a labrador retriever in the water!

For this picture I was in the water using the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS camera inside of the DiCaPac Waterproof Case WP1. Having the waterproof case leads to some fun shots that I couldn’t get otherwise. With it we can get underwater shots which gives some interesting pictures, but the less obvious (or maybe I should say less thought of) use is a picture like this. Even though I am not taking a picture under the water here, I would never take my camera in the pool, even if an impending splash was not obvious like in this case, without a waterproof case. As you can see, the prospective from being in the water is much different than if I had been standing on the side of the pool. Even if I had been standing on the other side with a long zoom lens to “get closer” I would not have been able to get this same angle.

Dog Diving Excitement Information

  • Taken By: Susan
  • Date Taken: 2-SEP-2015
  • Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS
  • Lens: N/A
  • Exposure: 1/250 sec at F/8
  • Focal Length: 6.2 mm
  • ISO: 80
  • Flash: Did not fire
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Wilson’s Creek Pisgah National Forest

Wilson's Creek Pisgah National Forest

I took this picture of Wilson’s Creek while on a family camping trip. Wilson’s Creek is located in the mountains of North Carolina near Grandfather Mountain and is a fun place for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, swimming, mountain bike, and fishing. To get to this spot take Roseboro Road from highway 105 in Linville. After crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway Roseboro Road turns into a gravel road. Continue to follow it down the mountain (watch for some nice views to the right on the way down). At the bottom of the mountain you pass some houses and shorty after that there is a small bridge over the river. There is parking on either side of the bridge and the starts here following the river.

If you decide to go hiking on Wilson’s Creek be prepared to get wet. There are many places where the trail crosses the river, and frequently not where you can just skip across on rocks. Also be very careful if it is raining, or if it has rained recently. After rain the river can get high, and the water can be moving very fast through it.

In order to get the “soft water” look in this picture (notice how the fast moving water over the rocks looks smooth) I used a long exposure time of 2 seconds. It is about impossible to keep the camera completely still and not end up with a blurry picture with longer exposure times so a tripod is a must here. Some other helpful tips are to use either a remote shutter release or set a short timer delay so the movement of pressing the button doesn’t blur the picture. If your camera has a mirror lock up feature it can be good to use with longer exposures also. With water shots like this I like to use a polarizing filter to reduce glare (it also works nicely with clouds). Notice how at the front of the picture you can see the rocks at the bottom of the creek. Without the polarizing filter there would have been a glare so you would not see anything below the water.

Wilson’s Creek Pisgah National Forest Information

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Charleston Cooks

Fruit with wide aperture

This picture is from a cooking class we did at Charleston Cooks in Charleston South Carolina. This was a hands on class with a fun instructor and great recipes. We had a lot of fun in the class and have been looking for something similar in our home town with no luck so far. If you are ever in Charleston we would highly recommend checking out their classes.

The sharp focus on the fruit in the middle of the picture with everything else being blurry is achieved by using a wide aperture. A fixed focal length 50mm lens is great for this kink of picture because they usually have the ability to get a very wide aperture. This effect is also perfect for portraits because it allows you to really focus the attention of the photo on the person’s face.

You can think of the aperture like the pupil in your eyes. A wider aperture allows more light in while also reducing the depth of field (amount of the picture that is in focus), while a narrow aperture allows less light in and increases the depth of field. In the camera information, the F number indicates the aperture setting (a lower number means a wider aperture). In the information below you will notice that this picture was taken at F 1.4. Aperture seems confusing at first, but once you understand it becomes a powerful tool to get the kind of picture you want. If you would like to learn more about this let us know in the comments and Paul will put together a more detailed explication with examples so you can get a visual idea of what the differences mean.

Charleston Cooks Information

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Bow Bridge, Central Park New York City

Bow Bridge Central Park New York City

This picture is of the Bow Bridge in New York City’s Central Park. The Bow Bridge is the first cast-iron bridge built in Central Park and the second oldest in the United States. The Bow Bridge is located Mid-Park at 74th St., west of Bethesda Terrace connecting Cherry Hill and the Ramble and spans 60 feet across the lake. Along with being a beautiful bridge to look at, it is always fun when watching a TV show or move to see a place and to be able to say “I’ve been there”. The Bow Bridge is one of those places.

Any time you are around calm water it’s always good to look for pictures that you can get with reflections. I would have liked this picture anyways, but the reflection of the bridge and trees in the water makes it more interesting. In order to get reflections the water needs to be very still, as any chop in the water will prevent the reflection. Because of this windy days usually mean no reflection photography. Luckily for us, on this day there was no wind so I was able to get the reflections I wanted.

This picture is also a good example of why a wide angle lens is usually my favorite for landscape photography. Without it most of the Bow Bridge would have been cut off and the context for the photo would have been lost. Zooming in more would have also cut off a lot of the reflections I like so much in the picture.

Bow Bridge, Central Park New York City Information

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Bride, Mother, and Mother-in-Law

Bride, Mother, and Mother-in-Law
This is a wedding picture of the bride, bride’s mother, and bride’s mother-in-law.

For portrait pictures our favorite lens is a fixed focal length 50mm lens. The down side to a fixed lens is that you have to move yourself backwards and forwards to “change the zoom”, but in most cases it is well worth it. A fixed focal length lens is easier to make so they tend to be cheaper, have wider apertures, and take better pictures than zoom lenses. That’s not to say we don’t love our zoom lenses, but any time walking back and forth to frame our picture as we want isn’t an issue the fixed focal length 50mm lens first choice. As an added bonus the wide aperture possibility also makes it great for low light settings.

Bride, Mother, and Mother-in-Law Information

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Greensboro NC Bog Garden Waterfall

Greensboro, NC Bog Garden Waterfall
 This picture is of Serenity Falls at the Bog Garden in Greensboro, North Carolina. There is no parking lot for the Bog Garden so I think it is often overlooked by people which is a shame. Parking is allowed on the side of the street on Starmount Farms Dr., or there is a parking lot on the other side of Hobbs Rd. at the Bicentennial Garden. Most of the bog garden is along an elevated boardwalk, but to get to the waterfall there is a trail off of the boardwalk that you take so be sure not to miss it. The park is covered in a canopy of trees which makes it especially nice in the summer because it stays cooler. Also, the elevated boardwalk gives the feeling of being on a hike, as opposed to walking on a concrete sidewalk, but is still more relaxed than a hike (I used to work in an office building around the corner and walked through most days in my work clothes and shoes). With the Bicentennial Garden right across the street, combining the Bog Garden and the Bicentennial Garden makes for a nice walk. When you are done, Friendly Center is right around the corner for shopping and places to eat.

The long exposure time of 30 seconds here allowed me to get the “soft water” look. The long exposure makes a tripod necessary so that the image isn’t blurry. It is also helpful to use either a remote shutter release or set a short timer delay so the movement of pressing the button doesn’t blur the picture when using longer exposures. If your camera has a mirror lock up feature it is good to use with longer exposures also.

Greensboro NC Bog Garden Waterfall Information

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Sunset Above Park City

Park City SunsetThis picture was taken at sunset above Park City Utah. For those that know the area we were parked on the side of Marsac Ave. just past Deer Valley looking down into Park City. It is possible to drive all the way through to Big Cottonwood Canyon from here (the road through to the canyon is only open in the summer). The whole drive is beautiful, and in addition to these views of Park City, you also get nice views of the Heber Valley further up the road.

Just before sunset and right after sunrise are know as the “golden hour” and this picture is a great example of why. Without the orange sky, this picture wouldn’t be as interesting. Sometimes you can even get pictures where everything has that orange/gold tent to it. This time of day is by far my favorite for taking landscape pictures, but it can also be frustrating at times. For this picture I only had about 5 to 10 minutes of these colors. Before that the sun was too bright, and after it was too dark. Because of this, it is always good to plan ahead if you know you want to get a picture like this. We had driven along this road earlier in the day, and the day before looking for where the sun would be setting, and where we thought we would get the best view. Even with this preparation there is no guarantee that the golden hour will product spectacular colors for you, but being ready increases you chances of catching the moment if it happens. And if you don’t get the colors…maybe your photos aren’t as spectacular as you hoped, but you still get some beautiful views. Don’t get so caught up in not getting the perfect picture that you forget to enjoy the moment you are in.

Sunset Above Park City Information

  • Taken By: Paul
  • Date Taken: 2-JUL-2012
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T1i
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
  • Exposure: 30.0 sec at f / 20
  • Focal Length: 36 mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Flash: Did not fire
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