Category Archives Photography

Yesterday I got the opportunity to fly up to Atlanta to photograph the Falcon’s incredible new stadium with Michael Benford and the wonderful Falcons photo crew (this was the debut regular season home game for the Falcons in their new stadium, and the Falcon whooped the Packers, so it was quite a night!).

The shot you see above, which shows the light streaming into from the retractable roof in the center of the dome, was actually taken with my iPhone using Portrait mode (thanks for the tip, Kalebra). The lens used in the shot you see on the back of my Canon 5D Mark IV was an 8-15mm fisheye lens at 15mm. Such an amazing stadium – can’t wait to share more with you.

I had truly planned to do a post with all the images and stories using Adobe’s Spark Page (the photo storytelling site/app that is absolutely ideal for this type of thing), and oh yes, there are plenty of stories, but by the time I got out of the stadium and got to Terry White’s house (Terry lives in Atlanta, and was kind enough to let me stay in his awesome guest suite), well…it’s no literally 2:48 am as I write this, and I have a flight back home to Tampa in the morning, and blah, blah, blah, it ain’t happening tonight.

Check back later today ’cause it’s entirely possible (Hey, anything’s possible) I have the Spark Page story up with photos, stories, and other stuff. Lots to share so I hope you’ll check back (and I am hitting the sack).

Hope you all have a rockin’ Monday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I’m in Denver on Friday with my Lightroom seminar. If you’re out that way, I hope you’ll come spend the day with me. It’s only $99 for the full day, and it’s 100% money-back guarateed if it doesn’t totally rock (dont’ worry — it will totally rock!). 

I’ve been there hundreds of times. We all have, I’m sure. We’re prowling the streets in an unfamiliar land and there they are, right there in front of us. A local character, personality oozing and dressed just how you’d ask a model to if you were epitomising the destination. You want to take a photo, right? But what’s the etiquette?! Do we pay? Do we ask? If we ask we break the element of surprise which affords us that reportage, candid shot. But what if we want to use the photo? We need a release in many circumstances so we need to go say hi and get a little signature. Well here’s how I do it!

If, for example, we’re out and about in Havana (which I hear you Americans are allowed to do now) there will be a local puffing on a Habinero and you will want a photo. But guess what… they have a price. It’s in situations like these where the person has basically put themselves there specifically for that purpose and it’s their living, so these people need paying. So here’s the first rule: if it’s someone making their living from donations, donate. Monks, street entertainers, buskers, beggars, they need paying just because. If you can get a model release signed, happy days. That leads me on to the next point.

If you’re paying and if you want to use your resulting photos to their full extent, the model release is something you should strongly consider. In my bag I have a small wedge of them for ‘just in case’ situations like these. Getting it signed, however, isn’t your consideration but theirs. If they point blank refuse and you’ve worked your way through your powers of persuasion and landed slap on the floor there’s not a great deal you can do, but then there won’t be a great deal you can do with your photos either. If the person isn’t recognisable you don’t need to deal with this at all, it then all comes down to you. So there’s the second rule: model release!

Next up it’s the fiscal aspect. How much do you pay? Well it all depends on how bad you want the shot and what plans you dream up for it’s subsequent use. If it’s someone who’s expecting to have their photo taken, they won’t ask for much. A £/$/ or two will suffice in most cases. When the stakes are raised be prepared to get value for money and get your bargaining gear engaged! Although I won’t recommend it as an option, here’s a tactic I’ve used in Cuba. Plaza de San Francisco. There was a church I wanted to go up on top of. I saw a balcony, I knew it existed, but I just couldn’t get to the right part of the building to access this balcony. That is until I found the right person, and had the foresight to arm myself with the right currency. Sure, my CUCs (Cuban Convertible Pesos) were good, but I had something more valuable – sweets! With the right amount of sweets, which are a rare and valuable commodity there, I was able to negotiate my way behind the special doors to the balcony for the shot I wanted!

So lastly, if you’re travelling and you think you’re going to come across some models you’ll shoot, always have coins and small notes with you separate from the rest of your money. This way you aren’t revealing to any unwelcome eyes where you keep your cash, and you aren’t showing that you’re (relatively) rich. As if your camera isn’t a beacon for that already! You could consider making it cheaper for yourself by offering a copy of the photo, which I did to get this couple to walk past me in New Jersey. A much cheaper version, and a souvenir for them.

Let me know if you have your own experiences shooting models on the go, I love to hear from you.

Much love
Dave

Above: me traveling light in Italy’s Dolomites – minimum gear packed into a minimum sized rental car. 

Recently I’ve had a flood of emails, texts, Facebook comments, direct messages — you name it — about which is the best lens to use for travel photography and so I thought I’d tackle that here today.

The lenses I’m going to recommend (it’s really just one lens, but you need a variation of it depending on whether you’re using a Full Frame body or Crop Sensor body) I came to fall in love with the hard way — by traveling with WAY too much gear. So much gear that for a few years it tended to kinda ruin either a part of most of the trip due to taking so much unnecessary gear.

My goal is to travel with just one lens that does it all — that covers such an awesome range that:

(a) I don’t have to carry a 2nd lens at all

(b) Which means I don’t have to carry a camera bag with me either (it stays in my hotel room, mostly empty) and I don’t’ have to worry about someone snatching my camera bag because I don’t have one with me.

(c) I can still enjoy my vacation, which is really important.

Today, I’m just covering Full Frame (so this isn’t the longest post in history – Crop Sensor picks next week). 


Nikon Shooters: Get the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G  VR Lens ($946 at B&H Photo). This is a very lightweight, super-sharp, freakin’ awesome lens. Jay Maisel uses it and swears by it. Enough said. It was one of my favorite lenses back when I shot Nikon.

Canon Shooters (like me): Get the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens for Canon (it’s $599 at B&H Photo. A steal!). Full disclosure – Tamron is one of the sponsors of my weekly show “The Grid” but I had this lens long before then. Other disclosure: It’s not the sharpest lens in the world, but it’s plenty sharp enough, and it only weighs 190z. I take this puppy all over the world, and I love that I never have to change lenses.

NOTE: Why don’t I use the Canon 28-300mm, which is sharp as a tack? It’s because it’s not a compact lens, and really wouldn’t work for travel. It’s heavy as anything (nearly 4lbs), expensive as anything (around $2,400), and it so old it’s a “push/pull” zoom – you don’t rotate the barrel to zoom in/out – you tug it in/out manually. Not for travel. Every time I’m at Canon HQ I whine like a baby to them about not making an updated, lightweight, inexpensive 28-300mm. It’ll happen one day, just not this day. Fingers crossed it’s while I’m still young(ish). 

Sony Shooters: Sony has the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (around $900 at B&H), which isn’t as long as I’d like (300mm) but is wider than either the Canon or Tamron by 4mm, and you’d think 4mm doesn’t make that much difference, and at the long end it wouldn’t, but on that wide end it actually does. So, it’s a pretty nice range, and it’s fairly light at just 1-3/4 lbs. Now, if you don’t want to spend that much, and you really want that 300mm on the long end, Tamron makes a version of that 28-300mm lens I mentioned for Canon, in a Sony mount version for $599 at B&H. Worth considering.

Warning! Don’t fall into this trap!
With any one of these lenses, you won’t have to change lenses during the entire trip. If you take even one extra lens, you’ll experience a phenomenon called the “two-lens two step” where you take a shot, take two steps and then you’ll realize you need the other lens, so you switch lenses. Then you take two more steps, “Rats! I need that other lens again…” and this will continue your entire trip. Don’t fall into this trap.

Next up, Crop Sensor picks (but not today — this post is already too long).

Hope you found that helpful.

If you’re anywhere in Irma’s path…
(like we are here in Florida), here’s hoping you stay high and dry. Thanks to everyone who has reached out on social, via email, texts or calls with good thoughts and concern. We so appreciate your good words and prayers. We hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. :)

Hope your weekend is much better than expected. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. If you’re looking for something really great to watch this weekend, we just released three killer classes in past few weeks. Take a look at Tracy Sweeney’s “Newborn Photography Master Class” and Viktor Fejes’s “Advanced Photoshop: The Psychology and Science behind Color Grading” and Serge Ramelli’s “Using Photoshop and Lightroom to Create Amazing Cityscapes.” You’ll love what you’ll learn. 

It’s one of the most long-awaiting books of its kind, and we’re so excited it’s finally here (and in bookstores right now), it’s Moose Peterson’s ‘Takeoff: The Alpha to Zulu of Aviation Photography’ — an incredible book designed from cover to cover to help you create amazing photographs of airplanes, on ground or in the air, and tell the amazing stories surrounding them through your pictures.

First, check out the book’s official trailer (below), from Moose himself:

Here’s the book’s description from the back cover (but if you can’t wait any longer, here’s a link to order yours now on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or direct from the publisher at Peachpit Press).

Aviation photography is the perfect mix of sleek, beautiful machines, blended with nature’s beautiful skies and fields, along with a fascinating collection of fearless pilots and capable crew, all wrapped in a rich, significant, and crucial part of history. Few genres combine this many elements and invoke this much passion from photographers. This one-of-a kind book from Moose Peterson, one of the world’s most recognized experts in aviation photography, not only teaches you exactly what you need to know to start making beautiful, intriguing photographs of aircraft but inspires you and pushes you creatively and technically every step of the way.

Moose takes you through all the basics for camera gear and settings, showing you what he travels with and the settings he uses to get those tack sharp images. He covers one of the most important aspects of aviation photography—light! And, he gives you a number of examples of how to take the best advantage of that light any time of the day. He shares the critical techniques you’ll need to master to create the illusion of flight, speed, and romance in a still image, including which types of prop blur you’re aiming for (and which types you want to avoid).

You’ll learn how to make the most out of air shows and fly-ins—what to shoot while you’re there, and what you might want to skip or avoid altogether (and why). You’ll learn how to photograph aircraft on the ground, from ground-to-air, and ultimately air-to-air, and how to capture one of the most important elements in aviation photography today: the fascinating pilots and crew—the people!

Moose shares many wonderful stories and adventures along the way, which illustrate how, as photographers, we’re also storytellers, and the importance of bringing out those stories in our aviation photos. Plus, you’ll gain free access to his acclaimed KelbyOne film, Warbirds and the Men Who Flew Them.

With this book, your camera, and your passion, your success in aviation photography will quickly take flight!

The book is in bookstores right now — orders yours from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or direct from the book’s publisher, Peachpit Press.

We’re so proud of the incredible work Moose has done with this book, and how openly and honestly he shared his techniques, his images, and his stories with the readers. We were honored to get to work with him on Takeoff as his publishing partner, and my hearty congrats go to Moose and his wonderful family for creating some really unique in our industry.

Also, a big high-five to my in-house book team — Olympic Gold Medal editor Kim Doty and the world’s best book designer Jessica Maldonado, who knew how special this book would be, and worked so hard to craft a book that will have such an impact on so many photographers. You two are the best!!! Also, a very special thanks to our wonderful publisher Nancy Davis at Peachpit Press for having the vision to get behind this project from the start, and for believing in it from start to finish. Thank you, Nancy, you rock!

Well, you can see we’re very excited about this (this is a big day for us), and we hope you’ll tell your aviation-loving photographer friends about Takeoff! They are going to love it!

It’s a short week this week — let’s make it a great one! :)

Best,
-Scott

#Love #Me—two of the current top three hashtags on Instagram. Perhaps that follows suit with what many of the population think of hashtags being overused as narcissistic, vain, attention-grabbing props, but let me tell you that that isn’t (always) the case and the correct use of hashtags can boost your performance and reach on Instagram. Your chances of tantalizing and captivating new followers, collecting likes, inducing comments, and generally increasing engagement are vastly increased with the correct use of hashtags.

Here’s how they work: 

Every post on Instagram can be accompanied by a caption and up to 30 hashtags. It’s down to these hashtags, along with geolocation data, that photos are discovered by non-followers and potentially appear in the Explore section. Basically, if you want to achieve maximum reach and target a specific, active audience in order to grow, then you need to wise up to hashtag use (coupled with posting things that people actually want to engage with).

The problem is this: Let’s say you’re a travel photographer, like me. If I post a photo, I could hit the caption with the hashtag #travel and expose it to Instagrammers, searching among the approximately 205,296,724 (give or take) photos bearing that tag, and the audience that comes with it. To help with the point I’m going to make, in the time it took to write that last sentence, and progress to this one, there are now 205,296,962 posts with the #travel tag—138 photos posted with one tag within the space of fewer than 30 seconds. So, before the lesson, here’s the point: if you post using a popular tag, you potentially open yourself up to a massive audience, but that audience is very, very quickly lost because that photo of yours shoots straight down the Most Recent feed, constantly replaced by other posts. There are 205,297,745 now—another 783, as well as our initial 138, since I typed out the first number! So, in the time it’s taken me to compose this one paragraph, there have been nearly 1,000 posts onto Instagram with the #travel hashtag, and if we also use it, we’ll likely just get lost in the feed. Let’s beat that!

The trick is this (and there is a trick!): if we want to beat the system, and keep our posts in a place where they are more likely to be seen by people searching tags, then we need to use a less-common tag, but one still appropriate to our post. How about this for an idea to get started: let’s say that our post fits the Travel category and that photo is this one.

I took this shot last November in Eastern Iceland.

This photo could be accompanied by #snow or #reindeer, just as a couple of examples of tags which fit the content. But, in order to get maximum exposure to the people who search the category, we could also use #IcelandTravel #VisitIceland #BestOfIceland, which span between the categories of Iceland and Travel, or get more specific and go for something like #MyStopover, which is a hashtag drawn up specifically for photos of Iceland as a marketing campaign by IcelandAir.

Keeping up? So, if we use a less-common hashtag, we’re still hitting an active, searching audience, but that audience will see our photo for a longer time in the feed than one we post in #travel. If we were to take a moment when posting to consider hashtags and use #ig_iceland or #absoluteiceland, instead of #travel, we’d really open up our reach and our opportunities.

Here are a few more examples:


Rather than #Instafood, how about #CleanEating?

 


Rather than #Instatravel, how about #Italian_Vacations?

 


Rather than #DogsOfInstagram, how about #SquishyFaceCrew? (Credit to Kaylee Greer —with permission.) 

The more specific the hashtag, the more engaged the users are! Let me know how you get on, and go check out my Instagram feed to see my tactics—I’m @HybridDave.

Much love,

Dave

Happy Monday, everybody. I’m going to tackle a question I get asked a lot while out on my seminar tour, and even though it sounds like a simple one, I think it’s an important one. The question is along these lines:

Q. I’ve heard that hard drives die after a certain amount of time, and so do CDs, and DVDs, and optical drives, and all the stuff we backup our photos onto. I’m not sure there’s any storage media that lasts even for 10 years. What about uploading them to someone else’s digital storage like Google photos? Are they always going to be around? What if Google goes out of business, or somebody buys them? I stilll remember what happened to Kodak (and Kodak Photo CDs in particular). What do you recommend for protecting our most precious photos?

A. First, I agree — I don’t know of a single storage media that I would trust more than just a few years at best without replacing it entirely, and adding a 2nd backup copy, and even then I wouldn’t trust them 100% (same goes for any online backup solution. It feels like they’re just one major internet hack away from being wiped out). All that being said, there is one method that has stood the test of time and I can’t recommend enough (for a myriad of reasons beyond protection), and that is making prints. Simply making prints nearly guarantees that your images will last, probably at least 100 years, if not more. 

I have photos from when my parents were kids, and from when my brother and I were babies, and the only reason I have them today is that my parents made prints back in the day and literally stuck them in a shoebox. Say what you want about that method, but it worked, and the only reason why many of us even have those historical images of our family is that our parents did that simple act of printing and storing them in a dumb ol’ box. Wasn’t that dumb after all.

This begs the follow-up question: What are you doing to preserve the visual history of your family?

If you did nothing but upload the images on your cell phone to MPIX or Bay Photo Lab or even Costco for gosh sakes, and you made a bunch of 4×6 prints when they were on sale cheap, and you took ’em and put them in a waterproof/fireproof box you get at Staples, you’d almost be ensuring that your most precious photos would live on for many, many years after you’re gone (and your heirs could actually find them and have access to them).

This is important stuff. I hope that gets you to thinking this morning.

Have a great Monday, everybody!

-Scott

P.S. If you’re a Lightroom user, check out my post today on over LightroomKillerTips.com about edge-to-edge borderless printing in Lightroom. 

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