The Effect of Weather on Light

I have long been interested in the weather and how it effects so much of what we shoot. So much so I am doing research on and will be posting a blog post soon on the effects of weather on photography. A former co-worker of mine, not knowing I have been pondering this theme for a while, recently sent me an article posted on on the science behind fall and winter sunsets. So, due to the season we are presently in I thought I would pass the article on. Hope you enjoy it:

As days grow shorter, the skies at sunset glow with the most spectacular hues, blooming with pinks, reds and oranges. Why are autumn and winter sunsets more vivid than any other time of the year?

The Science Behind Sunsets
First, a lesson in the colors of the rainbow: Blue light has a short wavelength, so it gets scattered easiest by air molecules, such as nitrogen and oxygen. Longer wavelength lights — reds and oranges — are not scattered as much by air molecules.

During sunrise and sunset, light from the sun must pass through much more of our atmosphere before reaching our eyes, so it comes into contact with even more molecules in the air. Much of the blue light gets scattered away, making the reds and oranges more pronounced.

During this time of year, weather patterns allow for dry, clean Canadian air to sweep across country, and more colors of the spectrum make it through to our eyes without getting scattered by particles in the air, producing brilliant sunsets and sunrises that can look red, orange, yellow or even pink.

A Eulogy For The Local Camera Store

Today is a sad day for Greenville, SC. Today is a sad day for our country. The internet won. Starting tomorrow morning, October 19, 2012, many of our cities will have a serious deficiency of readily accessible photographic knowledge. Years of acquired knowledge and expertise is gone. One person who knew the decades of cumulitive knowledge we had in our city told me “that is A LOT of knowledge just gone”. In Greenville, SC starting tomorrow morning go to 765F Haywood Rd. where Wolf Camera once stood, and a once thriving store where a huge amount of personal relationships had been built within those four walls are now all gone – permanently! Not just relationships between co-workers, but between staff and customers, people who very quickly transitioned from mere customers to our friends. People we laughed with, people we cried with, people we visited in the hospital when they were sick, they were in every sense of the word our friends.

Sure you can go online and look at camera specifications, but what do all those numbers and descriptions mean to you, which one in that string of techno-babble will meet or not meet your need? Sure there are those online who freely give their opinions on certain equipment but how many of those people literally have at their fingertips the ability to handle the different brands of cameras in question and explain to you in exact detail why only one will meet YOUR need, not his need, or your neighbors need, but YOUR specific need. How many of them in reality are even interested in YOUR photographic needs. How many of them have experience with more than just one brand of equipment. Many times people pride themselves in being a “Nikon Man” or a “Canon Man” and only have experience with the camera of their own personal bias. But an even greater question is, how many of those on Youtube or the online stores are truly interested in YOU, in short, how many of them are your real friends?

The younger generation is now wanting to experience shooting film, who will they turn to for immediate answers. They will have to start from scratch. Sure they can watch Youtube videos all night, sure they can acquire knowledge, but what about old fashioned one on one discussion, “What shutter speed should I use and why? What will the visual difference be between a shutter speed of 1/125 or 1/30? What f/stop do I use to get shallow depth of field and why”. When cell phones came out many of the camera stores prided themselves on offering their expertise to their customers even on the fly. Whether shooting cactus in the middle of the Arizona desert, or photographing their kids playing basketball, we were just seven numbers away, or at the most only eleven numbers away if they were out of state. When was the last time you phoned your favorite online store and they stopped and answered your questions or when was the last time you had a lengthy discussion with your computer screen and it gave you a comprehensive answer to YOUR needs based on decades of acumulated knowledge and experience.

I have taught the craft long enough, two decades, to know mererly imparting knowledge does not meet a persons needs. It was not until I started teaching one on one that I understood simply delivering knowledge does not meet the need. It takes time to slowly build not only the consumers knowledge but their confidence. It is magic to teach and watch the light go on in the eye of my students and to literally hear the confidence in their voice as they gradually learn to articulate and describe precisely what they are trying to visually achieve. Because of the events of today there are thousands of consumers in the country who are left without any souce of personal expertise and guidance to draw upon for their immedite needs. Perhap this is the end of an era.

Foolproof Art Studio app

Today’s blog will be a little different than any of the previous ones. I recently discovered an app that any photographer can use to turn their images into art. The app is called Foolproof Art Studio and comes in a free version (you are limited to manipulation of pictures from youriPad or iPhone camera you take at that moment, or as they say “you are limited to using feesh camera shots as input images”) or a paid version ($1.99). If you’re interested here is the link to their website.

One thing to note, you can “paint your images in either black & white, sepia, saturated colors, or the colors of the image itself (which is where I started).

If you are a serious photographer you have to give this app a shot. It is incredible what you can do with our images. I have only had the app a couple of days and have already been able to come up with some satisfatory “paintings”.


Shutter Speed – tricks of the trade


This will be the first of several articles on shutter speeds. Of the four aspects of exposure, (light, shutter speed, aperture and ISO), shutter speed is my second favorite, light being number one. Everywhere you look there is some kind of movement that can be recorded, whether that motion is “frozen” using a faster shutter speed or blurred a little with a slower shutter speed is first dependent on the light and secondly by how you want to interpret that movement. I will be focusing first on slower shutter speeds and giving you some tips to make your images look better.

Using a slower shutter speed during sporting events is a way to interpret what you are shooting rather than just recording. Most people go to an event, put the camera in program and shoot. However, by slowing down the shutter speed you can make your final image much more dramatic. In this case I set the shutter down to 1/30 sec. and followed the subject. As he got right in front of me, the shutter was tripped (while still tracking him) and this was the final result.

Photography and the Art of Seeing Light





Training your “eye” to really see the light in any given scene is the most important step toward improving your photography.
To see the lighting we must learn to stop and look at the actual shadows and gradients. Seeing is about awareness, but it isn’t easy at first. It takes a conscious decision to stop, and actually look and search the scene at length – to know what we see. The more you look, the more you will see and thinking about what you see will soon becomes the norm.

Low light photography using only available light


As a teacher I am always asked “how can I shoot such and such a subject in low light?”. Typically it is a parent photographing either a son or daughter playing indoor sports(these questions are far more numerous in the winter months when all the sports move inside) or throughout the school year when the kids have their programs in the school auditorium. I thought it would be good to just bullet point a few of the main points to consider when you find yourself constrained by a lack of light. For those of you I have already taught you will definitely remember “light is everything”

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Copyright Warning!

I was reading today in the most recent Photo Industry Reporter this alarming report – “Many of our customers probably think the photos they’re uploading to  social networking sites like Twitter and Flickr are theirs. They’re not. According to a report from The Next Web, sites like Twitpic, picplz, Color, vFrog, Instagram, Flickr and Lockerz (aka fka Plixi) all stipulate that they have the right to use posted photos for their commercial gain. 
Of course this isn’t usually stipulated up front when the user is signing up for these services. It’s buried in the legalese in the ‘terms of service’. As painful as it is to read a site’s terms of service, it’s really the only way to discover how a website will actually handle photos. 
It seems for now there’s something of a split between how websites handle consumers’ images. The ‘photo’ sites that are designed to store and make prints/merchandise from images (think Shutterfly, Snapfjsh, etc.) are not as interested in harvesting photos to sell to others. But social networking sites and applications like the ones mentioned above are explicit in stating that the photos being uploaded to their servers no longer belong to the uploader. As the Latin phrase famously warns: caveat emptor.”.


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