The Cincinnati Smug hosted a presentation by Dan Swart, award winning nature and wildlife photographer, at Caesar Creek State Park. Dan has always been interested in nature and animals. His love of the outdoors, and his desire to capture and share its wonders led him to photography. For the past thirty years, he has been adding to his vast knowledge of nature and honing his craft. Since his retirement three years ago, he has been able to devote more time to capturing the amazing natural world and the creatures that live among us.
Dan uses three approaches to photographing wildlife and nature:
- Scenic Wildlife Image- this is basically a landscape image with a wildlife subject in the scene. Dan tries to place the animal according to the rule of thirds and uses a small aperture for great depth of field. This type of photo puts the subject in its environment and tells a story.
- Behavioral Image- this is an image that shows the subject interacting with its surroundings. Whether feeding its young, building a nest, hunting or playing this image shows the similarities between animals and humans. Dan uses a large enough f-stop to keep the subject in focus but soften the background.
- Wildlife Portrait Image- this is a photo were Dan uses a low f-stop and zooms in tight to create a pleasing portrait. He focuses on the eyes and tries to get an angle that captures catch-lights and eliminates a distracting background. Sometimes just shifting a foot or two can make a huge difference.
Dan only photographs wild animals, and many of his images were taken close to his home. He also loves to travel in his motor home and has spent time photographing around the country. According to Dan, the three disciplines he follows are patience, persistence and practice. He wants his photography to inspire others to get outdoors and explore nature and wildlife.
He has taken the time to learn the distance from the nose of a moose to its eye and then to its ears. Combined with the focal length of the lens, he calculates the f-stop he needs to get it all in focus. After years of practice, these decisions have become second nature to Dan, and he can concentrate on his composition and other aspects of the animal he is trying to capture.
Dan shared the following tips:
- Watch the direction the subject is heading and put yourself into a good position.
- Watch the direction of the light and the wind, stay down wind if possible
- Search for the best landscape environment for the shot.
- Get as close as possible to your subject but STAY SAFE!
- Watch your f-stop and iso, Dan uses AV priority.
- Focus on the eyes, use live view if your camera has it.
- Use a tripod and cable release.
- Use back button focus and Al Servo AF.
- Remember: patience, persistence and practice- the Swart Way!
Submitted by the Cincinnati SMUG Scribe: Linda Palmer
The Phoenix East SMUG met to discuss everything concerning Lightroom. The leader, Nick Pappagallo, was gracious enough to teach us his knowledge on the subject.
He first stressed that using Lightroom will not necessarily make you a better photographer. The art of photography is about composition, the play of light, points of view. And the science of photography is understanding your camera and settings. On the other hand, Lightroom gives you the ability to process your photos your way in less time; therefore, Lightroom gives you more time to practice and learn the art and science of photography.
If you’re familiar with any of the Photoshop programs, you’re used to working with layers. Lightroom doesn’t use layers – it creates virtual copies of your photos. So you are always working on a “copy”; the original image remains intact. Personally, I’ve found some of the adjustment options more powerful in Lightroom than Photoshop. Now, if you want to create HDR, or get rid of the branch sticking out of your subject’s ear, you’ll need to use another program. (And you may want to remember to check your background before you take the shot.) Lightroom easily lets you export photos in and out of other programs and import them back in.
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Lightroom allows you to export directly to programs like SmugMug and Flckr. Upon export, you can easily add your watermark (leaving your own copy unmarked). You can create Collections that let you gather photos you might want to group together without removing them from their original file. Plus, you can customize the Lightroom screen with your logo!
There are people who love processing and people who believe that ‘what you see is what you get.’ Lightroom works for both groups and for those inbe
tween. But it’s one thing to know what Lightroom can do and it’s another to get Lightroom to do it! If you’re thinking about using Lightroom, watch some tutorials, read some articles, take a class (regularly offered through the Photograper’s Adventure Club). I can almost guarantee you that the time you spend learning to use it will quickly be recovered in the time you save at your computer. Now – go take some pictures!
The Sacramento Smug was pleased to welcome photographer and retoucher Antonio Genovia to this month’s meeting. While Antonio has only been involved in photography for an amazing four years his work is just as great, if not better, who have been shooting for many years. Self taught by trial and error and YouTube videos, his style and vision are incredible.
- break the rules: he doesn’t follow standards that we were taught in photography school such as the rule of thirds- he composes the shot that is pleasing to him.
- pre-visualize the shot: know what you want before you click the shutter, don’t just spray and pray.
We then discussed applying watermarks to photos for public view. He does not use watermarks for glam or fashion photography, but he always watermarks wedding images. His thinking is that it is free advertising. He says social media is a must if you wish to be successful in professional photography and that it starts with a great web site. He also said to establish a solid relationship with hair and makeup artists- iit makes a huge difference in the outcome of a shoot.
The second part of the session dealt with retouching in Photoshop, and even though he is color blind, he is amazing in his retouching skills and is much sought after by big name companies for both his photographic prowess and Photoshop skills. He gets the color right by using math, as all colors have a corresponding number. He uses these to create flawless results. We went over his workflow, and he is big on working in PS groups in the layers palate. His advice to those who use Photoshop is “just flow with it.” he puts on music and the marathon session begins.
There was huge applause at the end of the presentation as i think we all felt we were in the presence of a rising star.
Submitted by the Sacramento SMUG Scribe: Louis White
Have you been to one of our SMUGs? Whether or not you have (or are planning to), the only thing you need to know is that FisheyeConnect is your key to finding out where and when the next event meets.
In fact, it's the only way to be 100% sure that you know what's going on and where all those great photos came from last weekend.
For our December meeting, the Austin SMUG was treated to a presentation on flash photography by Quest Couch, founder of LumiQuest. LumiQuest produces a variety of accessories designed to modify the light output of standard hot shoe flashes. Couch talked a little about his products and offered some insights to help demystify photography with small flashes.
First, Couch talked about how the size of a light source affects shadows:
- The rule of thumb is that the larger the light source is in relation to the subject, the softer the shadows will be.
- A small light source close to the subject or a large light source that is far away will result in harsh shadows.
He offered a great example using a common incandescent light bulb. Given the same distance from a subject, a clear light bulb will produce harder light than a white coated bulb. The white coated bulb produces harder light on its own than if a lamp shade were to be placed over it. This is because the clear bulb contains a tiny light source, a glowing filament. Adding a coating to bulb has the effect of creating a larger light source by dispersing the light over its surface. A lamp shade further increases the effect.
- You need a white or light neutral colored area to bounce off of- a dark surface won’t do much good.
- You also need to account for angle of the light since the light will bounce at the same angle – i.e. if the flash is at a 45 degree angle, then the light will bounce off at a 45 degree angle.
- Distance also comes into play- bounced light travels a greater distance than direct light, which has the effect of lowering its power.
Couch then talked about diffusion, which can be a confusing concept:
- A common misconception is that diffusion is the same thing as softening and this is not necessarily the case.
- Photographers often attach small diffusers to hot shoe flashes, which helps to scatter the light- this may be very beneficial when bouncing. However, it is important to remember that a small diffuser does not soften the light.
- The only way to soften the light is to increase the size of the light in relation to the subject.
- A diffuser must be considerably larger than a small flash for it to soften as well disperse the light.
Distance between foreground and background elements in a scene affects exposure. Couch explained the inverse square law in layman’s terms, basically stating that the distance between foreground and background elements in relation to the distance of the light will have an effect on how much the light falls off. If the light source is close to a subject, light will fall off quickly before it gets to distant elements in the background. This is because the distance to the background is greater than the distance of the light to the subject. If the light source were to be moved further back from the subject, the relative foreground to background distance is decreased in relation to the distance of light to the subject and therefore the effects of light falloff would be lessened.
Couch’s presentation wrapped up with a a brief introduction to Lumiquest’s product line. All of the Lumiquest light modifiers easily attach to any hot shoe flash. There are different products to help photographers with both bounce and direct light techniques. Lumiquest even makes substantially sized soft boxes that attach to hotshot flashes with velcro straps. These soft boxes greatly increase the size of a flash head and when placed close to a subject they can produce very soft light.
Michael enjoys photography in his spare time. Urban landscapes, night photography, and environmental portraits are his favorite photographic pursuits. He shoots with a Canon 5D and a Fujifilm X100.
We had a very different type of photographer come speak to us in November. Italian born Josh Rossi is a master of compositry residing in Utah. We had people come from as far as 2 hours away to hear Josh talk about his skills. About 50 in attendance in the Lindon Studio co-op heard Josh as he got right down to business in telling his story of starting out. He told us of a class that had required him to photograph his classmates nude. He did not want to do the assignment and was told he would never come to understand light. Looking at Josh’s work now, he has more than proven that professor wrong.
Josh soon began spending hours and hours studying the work of his favorite photographers each day. He saved up enough of his income to quit his full time job and began working on his own work. He tried his hand in weddings with a very authentic style. He did a few very creative shoots and realized his style did not suit most brides. After contacting who he thought would be potential clients, he received some calls from interested people, including Devin Graham.
Devin is a very talented YouTube film maker. Devin invited Josh to come along on a shoot to Idaho the very next day. At this point, Josh explained to us how he would normally go on location to a potential shooting site 2-3 days ahead and shoot from different angles and lighting situations, as well as shooting the models for a full day. But he took up Devin on his offer and went to Idaho the very next day. He got about 20 minutes to do his normal routine at Devin’s location. Josh showed us behind the scenes images of his work from this shoot.
Josh went on to do yet another shoot with Devin and a team of unicyclists. This shoot proving to be under a whole new slew of lighting, background and angle restraints, pushing Josh to improve his skill on the spot. He soon began to work with Lindsay Stirling, as Devin was filming her music videos. Lindsay is a Violinist and has also become a YouTube sensation through Devin’s videos. Josh’s attention to detail shines through in his images with Lindsay. He used to buy stock imagery but now shoots everything he uses in a composite.
We opened up the floor for questions and he was asked about the hardest things to work on as well as his equipment. He said he uses a Canon Mark II and shoots mostly with a 24-105mm lens, and uses Radio Poppers and both Nikon and Canon flash units. He hates working on blades of grass and hair, and tries to visualize the final image before he begins a project, sometimes sketching his mental image of what he hopes for the end result. He doesn’t worry about how he’s going to accomplish it in the beginning, just what he wants to achieve.
This months images were provided by Glen Pearson of Pearson Photography.
Submitted by the Utah County SMUG Scribe: Heather Garcia.
Clane shared his own advice that worked with him in building his business and building his photography skills:
- Shoot anything for 30 minutes a day, every day.
- Find your vision and don’t pay attention to what others are doing.
- Study others, but don’t copy or steal.
- Copying skips understanding the craft of making an image.
His advice for building a reputation with clients was very simple: Don’t be a jerk! Don’t try to rip people off. He also thought one shouldn’t take money from someone if you don’t have an established record. Give the client what they want, because they are paying you.
As far as working during a wedding shoot, he gave us some insightful tips:
- Warm up.
- Get your head into the right space to do what you’re there to do.
- Listen to music before you start to work with the bride and groom.
- During the shoot, be sure to manage your time.
- Be sure to make time to get what images the couple wants.
Keep in mind that your work is a business. He likes to update his blog frequently, as it gets higher rankings on Google that way. Remember that you are providing a service for a fee, but be sure to find your inspiration from something other than money. Stay humble and work hard!
Erin Kohlenberg is a Seattle area photographer. Against the grain, she shoots with a Pentax K-5, loves it, but does wish it was a full frame camera. She shoots people and other subjects. Erin enjoys her Seattle SMUG because of the people she’s connected with and learned from in the group.