The extreme storm over Manhattan on Sept 8th, 2012 which resulted in two tornados on the edge of NYC. There were, however, no reported sightings of zombies or Batman.
Magical Place… Daydreaming about traveling again. Where should I go next?
Apologies for my lack of posting for the past few months! During my Around the World with an iPhone trip, I diverted my attentions to my travel blog and posting photos on Facebook. Anyway, after much delay, I thought I would give some love back to this blog. Here are some bokeh beautiful macros to inspire you to get out and take some shots.
I have fallen in love with Tokyo, Japan. The people are some of the most friendly, polite, and kind people I have encountered. There was so much to capture, I shot for nearly 10 hours a day and still didn’t feel like I could do Tokyo justice. This chapter of my Around the World trip with my iPhone is all about street photography. I don’t have a lot of experience shooting this type of photography, so it was a new challenge for me. The gorgeous people of Tokyo definitely helped me get great shots.
Here are some behind the scenes videos of my adventures in Japan. It was freezing spending hours out in the cold, so by the end I went from dressing trendy to looking like a stay puff marshmallow man :|
For more photos, check out my Around the World travel blog for more photos.
I’m off to China next!
I am setting out on a trip around the world to capture photos for my very first travel photography book. I’m inspired by the freedom of shooting, editing, and sharing photos with a light-weight mobile device, so I’m leaving my professional camera gear at home and capturing the entire journey with an iPhone 4S (well actually two incase one gets tromped on by an elephant or snatched by a meer cat).
Over the past year, I’ve taken more pictures with my iPhone than my Canon 5DMKII. I’ve been really impressed by the dramatic quality improvements of iPhone 4S, and I honestly think that I will get better candid travel shots for my book with my iPhone. The best camera is the one you have with you and while I still adore my dSLR, shooting on the iPhone challenges me and makes me see capture photos in a new exciting way. Plus, it’s about 30lbs lighter than my camera gear!
When I started planning this world book trip, I had a list of about 100 places I wanted to visit spanning every inch of the globe. Unfortunately, being under a time constraint of 50 days and planning this all very last minute, I had to cut some incredible places because of technical flight details & burocratic red tape. Apparently, many cool places require travel visas which are not easily attained during Christmas holiday. Live and learn.
If you have any travel tips or suggestions for me, please put them below! I need all the help I can get!
Happy New Year Everyone! Every year I vow to become a better photographer. Last year I set some pretty lofty New Year’s resolutions for myself. This year I have very different plans that involve a little bit of travel — watch for an exciting announcement coming very soon ;) In the meantime, here are a few photography and life resolutions that I hope will help you on your quest to becoming a great photographer!
1. I will learn how to use my gear.
This is a resolution that everyone should commit to. If you don’t know how to use your gear, you will never get constant photos. Anyone can capture a happy accident on Auto, but a good photographer knows how take well-exposed, composed shots in any lighting situation. Moments happen so quickly that if you can’t react almost instantaneously, you’ll always be a few seconds behind that perfect shot.
If you are a beginner, I recommend reading your camera manual cover to cover. It’s tedious, but knowing the button to switch on live view or how to change your picture quality settings to RAW is important. Every time you get a new piece of gear, it’s wise to read the manual. I recently got a new flash and didn’t read the manual before doing a shoot. “How different could it be from my last flash,” I foolishly thought. Apparently, it was different enough that it made me delay a shoot for 30 minutes while I figured out how to detach my new flash from my camera. Fail.
2. I will practice my technical skills.
Once you’ve mastered how to use your camera, then it’s all about practising using it. Most of us start shooting without any previous knowledge about photography. Taking snap shots of your family vacation is very different from shooting a fashion shoot. I’ve taken photos since I was about 5 years old, but I didn’t become aware of composition and lighting until about 4 years ago when I got my first dSLR. I initially shunned spending time learning photographic technique, thinking that my natural ability would just carry me through until I magically learnt technical skills.
I was fine shooting random landscapes and some “casual” portrait sessions, but when I was hired to shoot someone’s wedding with rented gear I’d never used I was way out of my depth. I mistakenly thought that if I rented tons of professional gear, I’d just get great shots by pressing the shutter button. How very, very wrong I was. Firstly, I didn’t know how to use the gear and secondly, I had no clue how to deal with the extreme lighting conditions of shooting a wedding, like direct sun, dark banquet halls, and fluorescent change rooms. At the time, I didn’t even know how to identify different light.
While you can learn a lot about how to take great shots by doing, there is no substitute for knowing the actual technical skills necessary to take consistent shots. I’m not saying you have to know the math behind different f-stops, but you should know what an f-number is and that f/2 gives you a shallower depth of field than f/8 and when you should use one versus the other. All of this information is available online. It’s just a few Google searches away.
3. I will take more pictures.
I take about 200 photos a day on average. These days, I spend most of my time shooting with my iPhone. Regardless of what I’m doing or how busy I am I take photos. I’ll take photos of my wait in the Starbucks line, or my morning bagel, or my feet at a dentist appointment. I annoy my friends and family taking pictures of them everyday. While these photos are a documentary of my daily life, I’d say that about 99% of these shots would be considered rubbish to the outside artistic world. But, the other 1% are actually considered good photos that people might want to buy and stick on their wall.
The simple fact that I take so many photos, gives me way better odds that one of my photos will be great. The one thing I notice most about beginner photographers is how few photos they take. I would say the ratio of crap to good shots is about 30:1. We live in a digital age, where data is cheap, so there is no limit on how many shots you can take. Fill up your memory card, take 20 shots of a single piece of grass making sure the focus is tack sharp and the exposure is perfect.
4. I will not be limited by the gear I own.
Any camera can take a great picture. You can shoot a magazine cover with an iPhone or an award winning photo on a $10 plastic point and shoot. Never feel inferior to other photographers because they are sporting a $10,000 lens. When I first started shooting professionally, I shot with an entry-level Canon Rebel and one lens. Early on, I was invited to cover a nature photography workshop in Jackson Hole. Everyone had a giant luggage bag full of the very best gear money could buy, and I was there with my tiny Rebel and a $19 tripod. The other photographers joked about my crappy tripod and the fact that I was shooting a dramatic landscape with a 50mm lens. “You really can’t get nature shots without spending a bajillion dollars on this camera and this lens and this Gitzo carbon fibre tripod. Feel how light it is!”
I felt horrible. I confided about how I felt to Steve Simon, a legendary documentary photographer and one of the mentors at the workshop without a ton of gear. During the workshop, Steve toted around his Nikon and one lens in a small canvas shoulder bag. He didn’t shoot the landscapes, but instead focused on the people taking the photos. He was interested in the faces and the moments, rather than the landscape that had been shot a million times by Ansel Adams. Steve taught me that you don’t have to be limited by your gear, but rather shift your focus to what your gear is best at capturing. If you really need that $2500 70-200mm IS L lens, you can always rent it for $30.
5. I will learn to edit my photos and critique my own photos.
I get a lot of emails from people asking me to critique their photos. I’m always happy to help guide new photographers in the right direction, but ultimately it’s up to you to learn how to critique your own photos. Photography is art and the judgement of art is relative. I prefer photographs that are “pretty” with bright colours, beautiful models, sunsets, magic hour light, and bokeh. If you presented me with a photo of a gorgeous model on a beach with warm glowing light and a pile of stunning bokeh, I’d totally fave it. But that is just me and what I like. Some people think my style of photography is trite and unrealistic, preferring raw, gritty black and white images of street scenes.
Almost anyone can tell you whether a photograph is composed and exposed well, but does it capture a meaningful moment, does it say something about the world, does it present a new concept or change the way I feel someone feels about a subject? It’s up to you to decide what your answers and and present them in your own personal photographic style.
Once you’ve decided on a style, don’t let anyone shake your vision. People will inevitably disagree with your style, say mean things about your photos, and tell you how your photos would be much better if you did things their way. I get feedback like this almost daily. Almost every photographer I know, even the amazing, Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs does. Unless someone I really respect gives me meaningful criticism, I ignore the noise.
6. I will not give up on a potentially great shot
Sometimes a great shot is snapped in seconds, other times it takes 4 long hours of freezing your butt off. I can relate to feeling tired, cold, sore, and frustrated as a photographer, but if there is anything I have learnt over the years, it’s never walk away from a potentially great shot. Odds are that if you just wait longer or try harder, you will get the shot, especially if you have right conditions for a great shot like billowing clouds, magic light, or a gorgeous subject.
Never say, “I’ll just come back tomorrow” or “I’ll get that shot later”. You never will. Persevere through your sore neck, cold feet, and frustration and get that shot now, especially if you are traveling. I have never regretted staying an extra two hours to get a magical shots. I have always painfully regretted not stopping to get a shot, but I never regret staying to the bitter end of a glorious sunset to get a perfect shot.
Now I just shoot until I can’t shoot anymore. I stop the car and jump out and shoot when I see a rainbow. Always think, “this is my only opportunity to get this shot,” so make sure I nail it before I leave.
Whether you are taking your very first photo in 2012 or your 50,000th, I encourage everyone to keep taking photos and sharing them. Adventure out into the world more this year and don’t stop believing in yourself and your photography. Quick, grab your camera – there are amazing photos out there just waiting to be captured!
Holidays are the perfect time to capture magic moments with friends and family and take the time get creative with your photography. Here are some simple tips to get the best photos from your iPhone.
1. Shoot outdoor lights before it gets too dark
The best time to capture outdoor festive lights with an iPhone is during “blue hour” just before it goes completely dark. Catching the lights while you have enough ambient light will help you avoid getting blurry photos. You can help by using both hands to steady your iPhone while using the stabilizer mode. If you plan on doing a lot of night photography consider investing in a little tripod, the Glif or the Gymbl Pro make great options. Avoid leaning your iPhone on walls or ledges unless you have a protective case, one gust of air or curious cat paw can send your beloved iPhone tumbling onto the hard, unforgiving concrete floor.
2. Capture the sentimental details
It’s the small sentimental things that make your holiday special. Take shots of your favourite ornament, candles, table placings, and bows on gifts. To get great macro shots, position your iPhone at least 2″ away from your subject and tap the screen to focus. Use a second finger to get the proper exposure. Make sure you don’t get too close or the iPhone won’t focus! Also, you may want to add a bit of external light. For the above shot, I held a small twinkle light in front of the ornament to get more light on Santa and the reindeer.
Olloclip macro lens accessory. For this lens, you have to get within a 1/8th of a inch to your subject to get focus which is almost impossible to do without a tripod.
3. Use your headphones as a remote to snap shots in low light
One of the challenges with taking great holiday shots in low light is camera shake. If you are shooting ornaments in a dimly lit room use a tripod and your headphones as a cable release.
4. Change your perspective by shooting from a low angle
The beauty of shooting with an iPhone is that you can easily move it around and even position it on the floor to get really interesting shots. Changing the angle that you shoot from changes the size of your subject and also plays on the the light and shade and patterns on objects. Get low and make presents look huge as your kids tear open gifts. Play with perspective by shooting from underneath the tree or below a plate of cookies.
5. Use focus settings to capture amazing bokeh lights
One way to get “wow” holiday shots from your iPhone is to position an object in the foreground of a lit tree or some twinkle lights. The lights in the background will become small out of focus light circles called “bokeh”. The trick is to position the object at least 5-10ft away from the lights. Tap to focus on the object and make sure the lights in the background are out of focus, then adjust the exposure by tapping with your second finger. If you aren’t getting any bokeh, you need to move the object further away from the background lights.
6. Compose and fill the frame for great holiday portraits
Photographs of your friends and family are the most precious holiday memories. It’s easy to forget to compose shots with an iPhone, so turn on the grid mode and fill the frame with your subject by getting close and cropping out any background distractions. Since my friends and family are shy, Squatchi agreed to pose for me amid a fervent present wrapping session.
7. Focus on one point of interest
Holiday photos can often get cluttered with people, colours, and lights that all distract from what you are shooting. Use the Depth of Field FX in Camera+ to blur out the distractions and bring your subject to the forefront. Tap on your photo in the Lightbox and hit FX. You’ll find Depth of Field in the Special FXs.
8. Use Photo flash light to capture beautiful food photos
In between eating plates of cookies, brightly wrapped chocolates, and delicious buffets of yum, snap some photos of your holiday treats. iPhone food photography can turn ugly pretty quickly if you don’t light things properly, so if you are in a dimly lit room or restaurant, instantly add light by using photo flashlight (a continuos light source). Just tap on the flash icon in the shooting screen and choose the photo flashlight icon. Tap on your subject to get focus. Tap again with a second finger to get a second exposure point to get the perfect exposure.
9. Tell the story with captions
Make sure you capture the “story” of your holidays from decorating cookies to putting up decorations to loved ones arriving at holiday gatherings. Tell the story of these moments by adding fun captions. First, add a border and then tap the captions button.
10. Head outdoors for winter nature shots
You can capture some of the most spectacular sunsets during winter. Photograph barren frozen landscapes with stark silhouetted trees, or snow covered winter berries. It’s hard to get good photos if your hands are cold! Get some touch-screen compatible gloves so you can use your iPhone outside in cold temperatures. When your hards aren’t freezing you can spend the time to compose and focus on taking great shots.
Magic memories only happen once. Good thing you always have your iPhone in your pocket!