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Red Dahlia in HD Crop

I was traveling to Sussex County last week to visit a potential wedding venue for next year’s festivities. Yup, I’m engaged! With that said and me being my romantic self (or not), I was moved by the Dahlia gardens all over the property and snagged this unusual 16X9 HD crop of one of the red ones near the playhouse.

A 16X9 crop of a partial red flower

Happy May Showers and Leaf Drops

With the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend upon us, make sure you realize its significance and pay tribute to our troops of past and present. Here’s to hoping these past few days of May showers are behind us for this coming weekend.

Leaf Drops

I found this leaf about a month ago after a torrential downpour in front of my home and managed to successfully block off traffic to get this shot.

Water droplets from a torrential downpour sit on an oval leaf laying on the pavement.

Creative Cropping and a Magenta Columbine Flower

A little while back I was getting creative with a sunflower photograph and decided to crop it in a different way. Enter creative cropping. Remember these sunflower petals?

Well, I took this idea and ran with it to create an extremely dynamic composition. No cropping this time, though. All 12 megapixels are present and accounted for.

Magenta Columbine Flower

My community is filled with a bunch of interesting flowers. So many in fact, that I have infinite opportunity to create a new photo every day. If only I had the time… Kudos to our neighborly gardeners for keeping up with planting new ones all the time.

Shooting nature photos on a daily basis creates curiosity; at least with me. I always want to learn more about the subject after my shoot. I got lucky with researching this next flower because I had to dive in with no knowledge of its name. A quick search for perennial flowers in New Jersey and I nailed it on the first try. This is a Magenta Columbine flower.

A dynamic composition with lots of empty space of a magenta columbine flower.

Washington DC Attractions and the New World War 2 Memorial

I was recently in the Washington DC area for a close friend’s wedding celebration and decided it would be a great idea to stay an extra day or two to explore a few of the Washington DC attractions. The itinerary was simple. Wing it.

So, with that in mind, I think this trip was super successful because my girlfriend and I got to see DC lit up at night, The White House, Spy Museum, Olde Town Alexandria, and a whole bunch of other historical monuments like the World War 2 Memorial and the Washington Monument.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Washington DC area, the public transportation system is convenient, fast, and extremely easy to navigate. The Metro has a color coded system that navigates through DC and parts of Virginia in lighting fast time for a modest fee.

Spy Museum

Appearances can be deceiving; that saying rings true for the exterior of the Spy Museum as well. Most of the buildings in the DC area are exquisitely detailed and grand. Not as much with the Spy Museum… it was a nice looking building, but it appeared small.

Appeared is the key word here; we were astonished to realize the massive size of this building by the length of time that the self guided tour took to complete. The exhibit displays gadgets that were used through the ages and gives you a side by side comparison of how the technology has evolved over time. Audio/Visual bugs were really stealthy, even 50 years ago.

The tour progressed from technology and tactics to famous spys and stories that would have surprised even the most analytical person.

Be sure to put this museum on your to-do list for the next visit.

World War 2 Memorial

There is no better time to see Washington DC attractions than at night. The lighting is intricate and well thought out, from smaller pillar lights to flood lights for the Washington Monument. Even walkways have recessed lighting to help lead your eyes. The Mall is also less crowded so navigating to your destination is much easier.

The World War II Memorial looks great. I especially liked the pillars that surrounded the monument. Each pillar represents a state and was adorned with a wreath. Spend some time here and make sure you pay attention to every last detail. Look for significance in the gold stars and make sure you read the placards. Oh, don’t forget to look up when you’re on either side of the structure near the arches.

A view of the Washington DC World War 2 Memorial at night.

Moo.com and Photography Business Cards

After much thought on the idea of needing business cards or in my mind, lack thereof, I finally caved and ordered incredibly delicious custom made landscape photography business cards from the folks over at Moo.

This was a tough choice, too because I’m a loyal customer and love the products from Plasma Design.

Here’s why I chose Moo cards for my business:

  1. A near and dear friend/family member highly recommended them. Thanks Lindzer Studios!
  2. Moo has a location in the United States which means I get lightning fast shipping from Rhode Island. End-to-end creation, processing, and delivery took just 4 days. Incredible.
  3. The fit and finish is exquisite.
  4. Their cards are affordable.
  5. …and the topper that won my heart was that Moo uses this technology called Printfinity, which basically allows you to upload your entire art portfolio and get an assortment of individualized cards; it’s like having your portfolio in your pocket!

Landscape Photography Business Cards

I opted for their premium classic photography business cards with a satin finish and custom design using their template. I can’t be more pleased with the result of having 20+ individualized cards that showcase my work.

A spiralized background displaying the <em>Printfinity</em> technology with the front of the business card in the center.”></a></p>
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White Balance Hands On – Apple Blossoms

I thought I’d show you all exactly how I use the Color Checker Passport in my workflow to attain a correct white balance this time around.

Have a look at the small sized color swatches in the first photo and note the top half. Pay particular attention to the third row with little icons that look like mountains and sunlight; this is the group of swatches that will be used to color correct landscape photographs. The center is neutral, the two leftmost add a touch of coolness, and the two rightmost will add a bit of warmth to your color palette.

To color correct your scene, you must shoot your photograph under the same lighting conditions and incident angles as your reference shot. Also, the same exposure values must be used; any shift, and your colors won’t be true. So, in order to do this accurately, move your camera dial to manual mode and get a proper meter reading for 18% grey.

Now that we have the proper exposure dialed in, take your reference shot and forget about it till you move to post.

Once you get your images into the software editing suite of your choice, find the little white balance eye dropper and click the neutral white target for landscape that I mentioned earlier. Take note of the white balance temperature and tint, or simply lift the adjustment and stamp your remaining photos. That’s it. You’re done!

I show the Color Checker Passport on location and explain how to use it.

Apple Blossoms

I am back to the same location I created Weeping Dream, but only this time the seasons have changed. Apple Blossoms and Cherry Blossoms are in bloom and those same bare trees are filled with beautiful color; we have overcast skies again so color saturation is at its best.

An Apple Blossom tree flower close up.

X-Rite Color Checker Passport – Purple Hyacinth

I recently picked up a new color management tool called the X-Rite Color Checker Passport and just incorporated its functionality into my workflow. In a few words, this thing rocks! I don’t see this handy little color checker leaving my side any time soon.

So, what’s it do exactly? Well, you can use the passport in a few ways; I opted to simply use it as a white balance tool within my photo management suite. I take a snapshot of the color checker in my scene under the same lighting conditions and shooting perspective and swatch the landscape neutral target. I even have the option to add coolness or warmth to the photo by clicking the landscape swatches in either direction. Triple awesome.

Purple Hyacinth

Spring has sprung and the available flower assortment proves it. I stumbled upon a pretty patch of purple Hyacinths a few days ago and have been waiting for a cloudy day to reveal their beautiful colors.

A single Purple Hyacinth in focus among the out of focus purple petals and green background.

Macro Focus Stacking

Updated for 2013

I’m using a new macro technique (new to me) today called focus stacking; essentially, you take a bunch of frames with manual focus at the same exposure and bring focus to different areas of your photograph in each shot. you need the following setup for the best results:

First, set your lens focus to the desired macro scale. Once its set, do not touch it again.

Your lens probably has markings for 1:1, 1:2, 1:4, and so on. Line up your focus scale mark to the center and nail down your distance away from the subject.

Now you’re ready to set your exposure and start shooting some frames. Start at your subject’s closest features and work your way to the back by sliding the focus rail forward. Small movements make dramatic focus differences so move the rail carefully and take your time.

Depending on your subject distance, you may need to slide right or left and stitch a panorama so it’s a good idea to make sure you have x and y axis rails on hand.

Import and Stack

After importing the set, you merge the frames together and a focus stacked photo is born.

In the case of the daffodil, I wanted to emphasize the petal and leave other features out of focus. So, I took three shots at f/4.5 – one for the closest petal edge, one for the center petals, and lastly, one for the top of the petal ring. Adding focus to more frames generally creates a sharper photo when merged together, but since this is my first time, I opted to merely test the technique.

Yellow Daffodil to Kick Off Spring

Oops, I flubbed. I mistakenly shot this yellow daffodil with the focus stacking technique at ISO 3200. Luckily, my camera sensor resolves great detail with little noise through ISO 3200 and is generally acceptable at ISO 6400. I lose some dynamic range at higher ISO, but all is not lost. ISO 3200 is totally unnecessary, though. Especially in daylight. So, if you’ve been away from shooting for a while, remember to reset your camera before you use it again.

A focus stacked yellow daffodil reveals beautiful petal texture while leaving soft green stems out of focus.  The contrast of the black background with the yellow flower accentuates its beauty.

Art of Seeing & Using Pattern as a Design Element

I decided to attend another photography class on a whim last night over at Unique Photo in Fairfield, NJ. The class was called The Art of Seeing and its primary focus was to train your eyes to see differently. We touched on compositional elements such as lines, shapes, forms, shadows, color, texture, pattern, picture within a picture, and framing the subject using natural features.

The Art of Seeing was divided into three parts; the first was lecture followed by an hour for completing an assignment on what we just learned. We were tasked with using these compositional elements in a series of photographs taken within three rooms of the superstore.

We then gathered as a group again and shared photographs using the projector. Here, we each had a chance to explain our motivation of a particular photo and describe the compositional element we used. We saw the same subjects from different perspectives which is the reason this exercise was extremely valuable.

Two photographs of the same subject, where one is dull and boring, the other is a work of art. This can be achieved by using perspective and compositional elements within the photograph.

The Photographer’s Eye

For those that choose to learn these techniques by way of book, I highly recommend The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman. Michael uses the same principles and divides the book into several flowing sections with beautiful examples to support each design element.

Using Pattern as a Design Element

Here, I used a shallow depth of field to focus the viewers eyes towards the wrinkle in the lower left third of the photograph. Also, the black and white pattern adds dimension.

My Artistic Approach & Fire Road Flare

I recently updated my artist statement and suggest you read through it to understand more about my artistic approach, where I find inspiration, and how I add an emotional dimension into each fine art photograph.

Fire Road Flare

The Tourne in Boonton, New Jersey has wide, sweeping, fire road trails that get you to its peak. With the sun low in the sky, I opted to explore the fire road before dark; I was glad I had the time to see this gorgeous glow because the sunset was lackluster that day. Flare was inevitable here, but it only serves to enhance the golden tones along the rocky trail.

Also, notice the left side of the trail; you can see a patch of moss I photographed up close in an earlier blog post.

A gravel road leading up to the peak of the Tourne in Boonton, NJ is lit up with golden sunlight.