Blog

Releases, Blog Post

New Online Print Store Open to the Public with 15% off

Hello everyone, thanks for following me. 

We're happy to announce a brand new online store for my fine art prints. We'd love for everyone to check it out and to celebrate the grand opening we are offering 15% off any of my fine art prints. Simply enter the promo code may15 at checkout. 

Here are a few screen shots, but please click the button below to check it out. 

 

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Attend one of my classes or workshops!!!

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Releases, Blog Post

New Photos Added to the Shenandoah National Park Collection

Hello everyone, thanks for following me. 

We're happy to announce that 4 new prints are now available in the Shenandoah National Park Collection in my print store, which can be found here

These 4 photos were taken during a beautiful sunrise in the Shenandoah National Park on a cool spring morning in April, 2018. This location is one of my favorite spots for sunrises this time of the year, because as you can see, the sun will come up right behind this very cool tree. Luckily, on this morning, we saw low level clouds in the east as it came up. This equals great colors and a brilliant sun for photography. 

These prints are available in many formats and print sizes. 

Want to get shots like this in the Shenandoah National Park? Attend one of my workshops!!!

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Blog Post

How I Got The Shot - Blue Moon

 In this post I go through how I got the shot below of the Blue Moon Easter weekend in Virginia. 

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To get a really detailed shot of the full moon, quite a few things are needed. You have to have a camera with manual setting capabilities and a really long lens at a minimum. Most people use a 100-400mm lens, but that still doesn’t have the reach needed to get good detail. You will have to crop in too much and lose a lot of quality in doing so. 

 “Can’t I use an extender and basically double my lens length?” You say. Yes, you certainly can, and you will effectively go from 400mm to 800mm, but you have drawbacks in doing so. The first is quality. The 800mm that you are getting with you 2x extender is nowhere near the quality that you’d get by having a dedicated 800mm lens. You lose sharpness when you extend, which is fine for a lot of situations, but the moon has a great deal of detail. The second issue is aperture. When you use an extender not only are you doubling the length of lens, but cutting in half the amount of light coming into the lens. You 400mm f5.6 is now a 800mm f11.2. Ouch. Depending on the camera you now have to boost your ISO to compensate and that will give you noise. 

So so how did I get this shot? With a gigantic lens of 1100mm, which is my Meade ETX telescope.  

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I have a handy dandy eyepiece projection adapter allowing me to set my Sony A6300 up to use my telescope as a lens. I do still have a small aperture, but it is fine for this task. 

‘So do I just go out, plop my telescope on its tripod and shoot away? Not really. The earth spins about 25,000 mph (if I remember correctly). That is fast and you see it when you are using a lens that big on a tripod. To stop the action, I needed to increase shutter speed.  

‘My settings here with the telescope as the lens as 500 as my shutter speed and ISO2600. But I had 1 more problem, the lens was too large as the moon would not fit in frame. 😊 Okay, then how did I get this shot? I took 2 shots and merged them into 1 in Photoshop. 

Well that’s how I got the shot. Hope that answered a question or two. I’m setting up some moon workshops right now, so come out and shoot with me. As always, feel free to ask questions on Twitter or Facebook, and please follow me on each. 

 

Have fun!  

 

Blog Post

5 Reason Why Your Photos Suck

We’ve all been in there. You like a photo that you took, but it’s not getting the reaction on social media that you thought it would. Why? Is it that they don’t know a good photo when they see one? I mean this thing belongs in a gallery!!! 

Well....cupcake...perhaps your photo sucks. 

I am the first person to stand on a soapbox and say that social media has become the worst enemy for photography simply because even the worst photos get likes and loves. Really? Trust me, if you have friends you could put up a photo with someone’s head half cut off and the photo off weight and you’ll still get likes. So how does a photo not get likes if that is the case? Well here are 5 things that you can look at to determine if your photo sucks. Feel free to use this as a guide for looking at other photos as well 😊

 

Reason 1 - Bad Lighting 

Lighting is one of two critical components to a photo, so it goes without saying that it could easily be a contributing factor to suckage. Is the subject dark? Is the subject too bright? Are there weird and distracting shadows? All great things to think about when shooting.

 

Reason 2 - Shooting at the wrong time of day

This ties in to Reason 1 above, but when are you shooting your outdoor photos? If you say in the middle of the day then you are shooting in bad light (unless it is cloudy). A clear blue sky during mid day will give you the worst light of the day. Over exposed highlights and far too dark shadows because the sun’s light is so intense. The contrast kills you. How many portrait sessions have you had where the photographer chooses 1pm on Saturday? Hmmm. Why not go have a picnic or a walk and come back a few hours later when the sun is going down and the light is much much better.  

 

Reason 3 - Too much Photoshop 

Photoshop is a tool, just like your camera and lens. It can be used too much however. A good photo, unless you are doing compositions, will have very minimal, and hardly noticeable edits to it. Slight sharpness tweak, slight vignette, maybe a tiny white balance correction. They don’t take away from the photo you took, but enhance it a bit.  

Addition-faking a blurred background by using the blur tool in Photoshop looks horrible and is very easy to notice. If you don’t know how to do it in the camera then learn it (see Reason 4 below) 

 

Reason 4 - You’re trying to impress others

You feel great because you got 25 likes and a comment that you are an amazing photographer on your first photo posting on Facebook. Now it’s go time. So instead of staying within your skill level you decide to go for the gusto and hit the high and hard stuff. You are a great photographer, remember, you can do anything. Let’s charge money, let’s offer every type of service, etc. etc. 

This choice will more than likely kill your photos. Everyone is learning at photography, no matter what skill level you are at. I always recommend getting good where you are at before moving up a notch in the difficulty scale. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t know how hard a type of shot is then you are not ready for it. Research research research. Do your homework. Definitely challenge yourself but arm yourself with everything that you can beforehand.  

 

Reason 5 - blur or out of focus

With the extremely advanced cameras that we have today, it is extremely painful to see a photo posted of something blurry (if it wasn’t intended to be). A sharp photo brings in people’s attention. Maybe you were out of focus, maybe it’s motion blur, either way don’t post it because it sucks!  

 

These are just a handful of a thousand reasons why your photos might suck. Take a closer look, not just your photos, but those posted by others as well. Can you see some of the things that I point out? I bet so. 

 

If if you have any questions about your photos, need a critique, whatever, shoot me a message. I am happy to help. 

 

You may want to look into attending one of my Photo101 classes as well. I teach lighting and composition to help you take far better photos, with any type of camera. I have classes registering right now! Just check out my Classes section.  

 

Take care, have fun, enjoy photos.  

Scott

Trip Report

Sunset in the Sonoran Desert

Our trip began yesterday with a day trip ATVing through the Sonoran Desert. Most photos were taken during the midday sun so we'll see what we get from those, but here are a couple.  

 

Sonoran Sunset

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We were ending our ATV adventure as the sun began to set. Pulled off for a second and literally shot this through the front of the ATV.  

 

More to come one as we hit Sedona next.