It’s that time of the year….fireworks

 

Tamron eBook_Fireworks_Jillian Bell_June2017-1 jpeg.jpgOur friends at Tamron and the amazing Jillian Bell just released in time for the Fourth of July a great ebook on shooting fireworks. Follow the link below to get this wonderful resource just in time for you to read up and get the best firework shots this Fourth of July. Tamron recommends some great gear in this ebook. Don’t have what you need? Remember, we have all the gear you need!

Link: http://tamron-usa.com/product/lenses/pdfs/ebooks/JB_Fireworks__Jun2017.pdf

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Keeping your camera current with firmware

A little camera maintenance goes a long way – consider it a small time investment to ensure you are ready to take advantage of every photo opportunity that crosses your path. For example, when was the last time you updated your camera’s firmware?

A camera’s firmware is essentially the software residing on your digital camera that is responsible for handling image processing. The firmware is capable of controlling a whole host of functions, including which features you can access from your camera’s controls.

Your camera manufacturer may post firmware upgrades on its website, but you may not receive any notification of their availability, so you’ll need to check from time to time. Updates are sometimes issued to fix software bugs or other nuisance issues, so it’s worth the effort to ensure you’re running the latest version.

Consider adding your email address to the company’s communication list to receive updates. It’s an easy way to keep your camera current and in top shooting condition.

If you would like your camera’s firmware updated please call us at 319-395-9121.

When Good Camera Cards Go Bad-Protecting our Images from Corruption

WSmiling little girlhen Good Camera Cards Go Bad – Protecting Your Images from Corruption  Camera cards are trusted to hold and protect our precious photos but, in order to do this well, we need to do a few things to make sure they can do their job.

Impatience Incorporates Errors: Your digital camera media can be corrupted if the camera is turned off before the image is finished being written to the card. A similar error can occur is a camera card is removed from the camera or from a computer’s media drive before the data has finished writing. Make sure that the ‘read’ light is no longer flashing on your media drive and select the ‘Safely Eject Media’ option on your toolbar. You may then safely eject the card when prompted.

Dead Batteries Can Corrupt: If your digital camera ‘dies’ due to exhausted battery power, you can corrupt your digital camera card and possibly damage the card and the images stored on it. If the flashing red light is signaling that you are about to lose battery power, play it safe and power down. It’s better to protect the images you already have rather than continuing to push for one more shot, which could cost you everything on the card.

Keep Them Covered: It’s amazing how poorly we treat our digital media sometimes. We keep cards in our jacket or pants pockets, in our handbags, briefcases or in drawers, leaving them to be jostled and in contact with dust and other contaminants. It doesn’t take but a second to store your card soundly. Consider our selection of inexpensive quality card case options including anti-static and waterproof designs

Quick Tips on Fireworks

1064142_592884940752061_1639679166_oFirst and foremost, you need to find a good location and get a feel for the composition you want to capture. Include a beautiful skyline in your images or just zoom in so the sky is your main background. In addition, find a safe, secure place to mount your camera. Use a tripod or any of our Fat Gecko camera mounts to stabilize your camera to anything nearby. Attach a Fat Gecko Vise to a nearby railing or a Strap Mount to a pole. Timing is also important, as you will find that the best images to take are at the beginning of the show, before the sky fills up with smoke.

Once you find your location, attach your camera to your support. Set the camera lens to “Manual Focus” and adjust it to “Infinite Focus”. Have your Camera Mode set to “M” and adjust the Shutter Speed to be between 1 and 20 seconds. In addition, set the Aperture to around f/11 and the ISO to 200. A wider aperture makes for bigger, brighter streaks, but can be blown out, while smaller apertures make for tight and colorful bursts. Use your cable release to fire the camera immediately following the rocket’s launch. You can shoot in either JPEG or RAW, but RAW files will let you better adjust the exposure afterwards in software to get your ideal image. If you are using a Point and Shoot camera, see if there is a “Fireworks Scene” mode.

You can also experiment using the “Bulb” setting, for those DLSRs that include it. If you cannot find the “Bulb” setting in your Mode Dial, set your camera to “Manual Mode” (M) and slow the shutter speed all the way down to make the Bulb (B) appear; this forces the shutter to remain open for as long as you leave the shutter release open. Set your Aperture between f/8 and f/16 and your ISO at around 200. If you want to brighten your pictures, raise the ISO to 400 or so, or adjust the f/stop to change the look of the firework trails. Open the shutter when you hear the rockets fire and close it when the burst is over.

If you want to capture multiple “bursts” in a single frame, a fun trick is to leave the shutter open for a long period of time and control the exposure manually with a HAT. Lock the shutter open and keep the lens covered with a hat. When you see the rocket launch, remove the hat until the burst is complete; then re-cover with the hat. You can repeat this multiple times and then use the cable release to close the shutter and end the exposure. This technique, along with all longer shutter speed techniques, is best when there is very minimal ambient light. If you are near street lights, or if there are other bright objects in your frame, your photos may become too blown out during these long exposures.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the show! Take a few test shots to nail down the settings & technique you want to use, then sit back and enjoy the show, while you control your camera remotely. You know the technique, now try it for yourself.

What You Will Need:

  • A Camera That Allows You to Shoot in “Manual (M)” or “Bulb (B)”
  • A Fat Gecko Mount or Tripod to Stabilize Your Shot
  • A Cable Release / Wireless Remote to Trigger Your Camera
    (If You Do Not Have One, Use the Self Timer Function)
  • Plenty of Memory Cards and Charged Batteries

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Picture This: Photographing Spring Flowers

The month of May means sunny days and flowers in full bloom, but did you know that photographing flowers is often better when the sky is partly cloudy or overcast? Bright and direct sunlight can sometimes overpower the flowers’ colors, creating a washed out and overexposed effect.

When it comes to photographing flowers, your unique viewpoint plays an important role your final results. You stand before a field in full bloom, and while it’s beautiful in your eyes, the ability to translate its majesty through the lens requires a few techniques and a bit of planning.

For example, instead of standing above the flowers, consider getting low and shooting from that vantage point. Don’t shoot right away, but instead, spend a few moments taking in the scenery and contemplating which parts of nature speak loudest. Photographing from a lower point will allow you to better capture the details in the petals and the center, the small veins in the leaves and the slight change in hue in the bloom. Filling the frame whenever possible will add more grandeur to the image and experimenting with your perspective may lead you to uncover new ways of seeing nature – and sharing it with others.

Finally, consider how much of the background you would like to include in your images as this will affect which aperture you select. Do you want the flower to fill the frame? If so, choose a large aperture. If you prefer more depth of field and want to include the background, choose a smaller aperture. Experiment with your settings to see how this impacts your overall composition. Which do you prefer?

So, rush to the field to enjoy the scenery but take your time as you stand in the blooms and have fun with the options in front of you. This is where your creativity reveals itself!

Photo Pro U Photography Tip of the Month

It is so awesome to be getting warmer and warmer days and have the bright sun out, but often that is not the best for shooting photos due to harsh shadows. Here are some ways to work around the sol.
If shooting a portrait, head-shot or something else that you can control the location:
Many pros shoot early or late in the day when the sun is lower and less harsh, but I know you often need to work during the school hours, therefore move the subjects to open shade – a walk way with an overhang, the shadow side of a building, or under a large tree for example.
If you want a directional look use a large reflector to bounce some light at the subject like in shade1 attached, or try a little bit of flash.
Another approach is to have the subject face away from the sun and then make sure to expose for the face or other important areas like in shade2 attached and not the bright background. In this example a reflector was used again to bounce some lighton the subject and give a catchlight in the eyes.
If shooting an event:
If you are shooting an event out in the bright sun where you can not relocate the subjects try shooting with the sun at 45 degrees or so in front of you. I used to do this shooting pro football so the players faces were not in deep shadows inside their helmets. Also, the crowd in the stands in the background are in the shade and therefore less distracting – see fb attached. Again, make sure to be exposing for the part of the subject you want to see detail in.
If any questions do not hesitate to give us a call or e-mail.
Our education division, Photo Pro U, now has its own blog with additional tips and ideas: https://photoprou.wordpress.com
And Photo Pro in Cedar Rapids is always available to help with your photography – any questions, trouble shooting gear or photography issues, new or pre-owned equipment, lenses, flash units, accessories, prints, etc.
319.395.9121  www.photoproonline.com 153 Collins Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
shade1  shade2  fb (1)

Jump into spring with macro photography !

Written and macro images by: Justin Tedford, Class Instructor

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We may have woken up to sleet and some ice this morning but it’s still spring! Noting goes better with spring than dusting off our macro lens. Macro photography can open a whole new world photographically. You start to see things differently and notice the slightest changes and details in your subject. Macro can also be a challenge. There are may things we should t take into consideration as well. I am going to discuss a few of the things that can be challenge as well as some ideas and gear that will help you get some great macro shot this spring and through the summer.

Lenses and Extension Tubes

Camera and lens manufactures produce usually more than one focal length of macro lenses. Generally the most popular focal lengths are 90mm and 100mm depending on your subjects. When purchasing your first macro lens you may want to think about what subjects you are wanting to photograph. If you are looking to photograph insects or little creatures you may want look at purchasing a focal length of 100mm or greater like a 180mm. If you are just going to focus on flowers or other objects that mind your there a focal length of 60mm or 90mm will be just fine. Lenses are a 5440investment and sometimes your budget doesn’t allow for the purchase of a macro at the time you are wanting one. Don’t worry, there are other options . Introducing extension tubes! You may be wondering what is an extension tube. An extension tube is a hollow cylinder that attaches between your camera and lens. This allows for the lens to be moved away from the sensor of the camera and lets the lens focus closer. Extension tubes are a great way to get started. You can use these with your current kit lens or a prime lens like a 50mm f1.8 which works great with set of extension tubes. A good set of three will only set you back around a $100.00 and they will still allow you to auto focus if you choose.

 That three-legged thing we call a tripod 

The most important item out side of our macro lens or set of extension tubes is the three-legged thing we call a tripod. You may feel that a tripod is bulky and heavy, that it is. But again it is the most important piece of gear we use for macro. We don’t want to go cheap on our tripod. Spending around $169.99 will get you a great steady tripod. We need to keep our shots tack sharp and our tripod will help with this. Some times we are going to want a greater depth of field in our images. When we do this our shutter speeds may drop low enough that we just can’t hand hold our images. The tripod is now going to allow us to achieve a tack sharp image we are looking for. Some macro lenses are equipped with image stabilization. Image stabilization and the use of a tripod at the same time can actually work against you a produce and blurry image.

Telling our story 

We photograph to tell a story, and there are many ways to do it. In macro why not tell the story through your aperture and the use of depth of field. We can decide when photographing our subject if we want a greater depth of field to show more of our subject or a shallower depth of field and only show a few specific details of our subject. I like to photograph my macro subjects in Aperture Priority mode. This allows me to control my depth of field and the camera will control my shutter. Being on a tripod I won’t have to worry about my shutter speed too much. You still need watch it so it doesn’t get to slow if you have a slight breeze blowing that it wont blur your subject.

Accessories

The best accessory you should have in your bag is a shutter release. This will help so you don’t move your camera causing unnecessary blur in your images. You may want check in to a macro focusing rail for your shots. This will help make fine adjustment to your images focus without making huge changes. These I think are two items you should have in your macro tool kit. You may also want to look in to a circular polarizer. This filter will help remove the sheen of some leaves and will help the color saturation in your images as well as removing some time out of your post processing time later

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     Last minute tips ! 

Remember that photographing your shots on cloudy a day is like having the worlds largest soft box. Giving you beautiful soft light for your macro images and also remember that early morning or evening light is best. Theres a good chance that shooting in the early morning that there may be some dew on your subjects ! Remember that if your out shooting and run in to trouble to call the store at 319-395-9121 !

Quick Tip: Travel like a Pro

Travel Like a PRO

Traveling with photography gear can be a challenge. You want to be well-prepared but not bogged down with unnecessary items. And if you’re traveling with kids or other family members, you have additional luggage and items to consider. Here are some of our favorite tips from traveling photographers who know how to travel light while remaining prepared for any shooting situation:

Consider Your Schedule: How much time will you have to explore and photograph your favorite subjects? Consider your schedule to determine how much gear you will really need and use. For example, a family trip might give you more flexibility in your schedule than a business trip (unless photography IS your business), and this one issue will impact what you need to pack.

Consider Your Subject(s): For many photographers, a few key accessories will cover a multitude of photo opportunities. Consider bringing just one lens, such as an all-in-one lens with a 18-200mm range (or something similar), allowing you to transition from wide angle to solid telephoto. Unless you are embarking on something very specific, such as macro photography, a single lens will cover most situations while keeping your luggage light.

Multi-Purpose Packing: Choose a bag that can keep you hands-free while also carrying more than simply your camera gear. Like your photography equipment, you’ll benefit from a bag that does double duty carting your most important items.

Maintaining your camera gear !

Written by Justin Tedford

Camera gear is an investment and it needs periodically cleaning as everything does. I answer plenty of questions on a regular basis about maintaining camera gear and how to clean your camera and lenses. Maintaining your gear doesn’t come with a huge investment for supplies. Spending little as twenty dollars is all you may need to do to purchase the necessary cleaning materials.

Cleaning Tissues:  These little guys can be a great help in keeping your camera lenses clean. Have you ever had a finger print on the front of your lens? Besides that huge finger print on the front of your lens you now have oil from your skin. Use a cleaning tissue and a little fluid will help take that oil and print right off without transferring any of that mess to your cleaning cloth.  

Lens Cleaning Fluid: Remember to purchase a lens cleaning fluid that is meant for optics and not eye glasses. Purchasing a fluid that is meant for optics lessens the chance for damage to your lens coatings.

Lens Cloth: A good cleaning cloth should be a number one priority in your cleaning tool kit. Make sure your cloth is not abrasive; this will help you make sure you are not scratching the lenses front element. Some cloths can be washed, make sure not to use fabric softener when washing your cloth and let it air dry.

Blower Brush: I think this is the most forgotten tool to have. Visit the beach or a dusty back road? Sand or fine dust can scratch that front lens element again. Using a blower will help remove any loose particles that may scratch your lenses before cleaning.

 

Keeping your sensor Spot less!

               Unless you live in a bubble eventually you will get some dust on your camera sensor. How do you know if there is dust on your cameras sensor? Little black spots will start to show in lighter areas of your photograph like the sky for example. Don’t worry; your local camera store can help you clean your sensor. Some places may clean your sensor for free if the dust can be removed by blowing it off. Sometimes dust and debris are suborned and the sensor may need to be “swabbed”. There is usually a fee associated with this type of cleaning. Swabbing is a great way to remove all dust or debris on your sensor. If you’re up to learning something new, you can do this yourself but only with specialized fluid and swabs. There is always a chance you make scratch your cameras sensor if done improperly.

 Cleaning your body and lenses

My favorite tool for cleaning the outside of the camera’s body is a toothbrush. This will help get all that dirt out of the crevasses of your camera allowing you to blow off it off. I also like to use q-tips to get around little cracks and the view finder of the camera.

Always make sure that you never directly spray the lens fluid on a lens element. First, spray the lens tissue with a little fluid and rub on the surface of the lens in a clock wise motion after you have blown off any debris. Then gently use your cleaning cloth to polish the front of your lens. This is as easy as it gets!

Gear is investment, we wash our cars and keep up our maintenance on them so why not do the same of your camera and lenses. Please feel free to call the store with any questions at 319-395-9121

The Low Down on Long Exposure Photography

 

Some topics instill trepidation in photographers – especially those who are just beginning to hone their craft.  Long exposure photography often falls into that category, although there is nothing to fear as long as you’re open to experimentation and are willing to learn how to adapt to different situations.

In order to create long exposure images, you’ll need just a few specific tools. A trusty tripod is key and a DSLR camera capable of creating long exposure images.  Photographing moving light, such as those adorning a Ferris wheel or a highway packed with nighttime traveling cars, takes a bit of practice as light travels at different speeds in each instance. As you practice, you’ll begin to get a feel for how – and when – to adjust your exposure settings.

 

Check your surroundings to determine how much available light is currently affecting your nighttime surroundings. If there is substantial ambient light from sources such as office buildings, signs and traffic, your selected shutter speed will be shorter.  If the environment is an evening sky with little surrounding light, be ready to extend your shutter speed, possibly up to several minutes.

One way to practice nighttime exposure techniques is to photograph a highway with substantial traffic.  Mount the camera on a sturdy tripod and select a location that provides a wide view of traffic.  As you extend the shutter settings, you’ll notice that the light patterns of the traffic will change.  For example, they might start to look thinner and more detailed as you increase the exposure time. This particular exercise is a solid way to learn how to adjust camera settings for nighttime photography.  You can then move on to other more challenging environments and will be able to call upon this new earned experience moving forward.

Mastering long exposure photography is a skill that can improve your imagery in several other situations as it provides training for how to adjust exposure based on various lowlight situations. It is also one of the more artistic expressions of the craft and the stunning results created will certainly stand out in your portfolio.