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
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.
The San Francisco SMUG meeting saw a changing of the guard. Our leader of 3 years, Joey Chandler, has stepped down and handed the reins over to Tess Pierson Kefalonitis and Regas Chefas Kefalonitis. Bonnie, the representative from Bay Photo, remarked on how much she enjoyed Joey’s meet ups and presented him with a generous gift from the company.
Hanson Fong, a San Francisco wedding and portrait photographer and a Canon Explorer of Light, spoke to our meeting. His talk, entitled “The Art of Lighting and Posing”, illustrated his portrait style which also utilized a few interesting props that he markets.
His top 2 tips seem logical, but he could not emphasize them enough:
- make the women look good
- make the person paying the bills look important.
Fong’s posing techniques involve:
- positioning people so that exaggerated differences are minimized
- people of similar stature are differentiated
- helping larger folks appear smaller
Fong offers several unusual products that most photographers do not offer. He sells tinted flash reflectors to help cool or warm a scene. His EZ-Step product was a clean way to easily add a few inches to a subject’s height, either sitting or standing, and helps create triangle- and W-style group portraits.
You can read extended notes from this meeting and others by joining the San Francisco SMUG on Facebook.
The Austin SMUG welcomed John Langford, a successful commercial, advertising, and editorial photographer, to their SMUG. Two years ago he decided he wanted to travel the world with a camera. He sold everything he owned and embarked on a journey around the globe that he dubbed “The Rompin’ Stompin’ Circus of Love Extended World Tour.” His travels have taken through over 20 countries, and the Austin SMUG was lucky enough to have him speak during a brief layover in Austin before he heads out for another year of world travel. There was so much interest in this SMUG event that our meeting had to be moved to a larger facility. Even then, it was almost standing room only at the First Universalist Unitarian Church in Austin with over 225 people in attendance.
John’s story is intriguing and exciting. He literally sold all of his possessions and was down to whatever necessities he could pack in a modestly sized bag when he started his journey. Even his camera equipment is rather downsized for a professional photographer. He chose to travel with only a Canon G12. Not only does this small camera make for light travel, it is also less intimidating when photographing people. An energetic and engaging speaker, John dove right in with a long slide show of images he captured around the globe, accompanied by interesting back stories. He showed some amazing shots of the places he explored and the people he met along the way. His shots are not your run of the mill snapshots. His images captured the personalities of people and the small details of their environments. A common theme in John’s images are creative captures of the small mundane details (he especially has a thing for brooms) that he said likes because they illustrate commonality in the world.
Averaging about a country visited per month, John has visited places such as Australia, Fiji, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, and the list goes on. This was more than a sight seeing trip. John sought to actively engage with people along the way. He talked about saying “yes” to people and being open to opportunity. In Fiji, he ended up working with a marine biologist for a while, photographing fish in pristine waters with his G12 in an underwater housing. While in Cambodia, he landed a job teaching photography to children. On another leg of his journey, he was befriended by a monk who accompanied him as a passenger on a rented motorcycle!
Though he interacts with many interesting people along the way, John is a solo traveler. Of course, he misses his friends and a sense of community while traveling and he has to contend with the loneliness of solitude at times. He developed a mantra of empowering words that he speaks to himself in the lonely times. These words include “gratitude”, “peace”, “openness”, “creativity”, “joy”, “compassion”, “acceptance”, “humility”, “willingness”, “clarity”, “playfulness”, “expansiveness”, and “courage.”
John also shared a number of quotes that he finds inspirational. The most powerful in my opinion was that of Storm Jameson:
“Only one person in a thousand knows the trick of really living in the present. Most of us spend fifty-nine minutes an hour living in the past, with regret for lost joys or shame for things badly done (both utterly useless and weakening) or in a future which we either long for or dread. . . .There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute, here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle. Which is exactly what it is—a miracle and unrepeatable.”
At the conclusion of John’s presentation, the audience erupted in a 2 minute long standing ovation. His words and images struck a chord with our group. Not everyone is in a position to take on an adventure like John. In truth, most of us can only vicariously live the adventure through his images and stories. Regardless, I believe everyone in attendance left inspired to live life a little more fully – maybe take a few more chances, maybe say “yes” when opportunity presents itself.
John’s images and the chronicle of his journey can be found on his site Cosmic Candid Camera. Prints of his travel images may be purchased on his site.
Submitted by Austin SMUG Scribe: Michael Connell
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.
Approximately 40 Seattle SMUG photographers came together to enjoy their meeting titled: “Food, Glorious Food!” The seminar and workshop was led by local food photographer, Ryan Matthew Smith. The workshop involved several food stations and, in true SMUG fashion, at least a dozen volunteers stepped up and helped pull off this elaborate seminar by handling grocery shopping, arranging for decorations and backdrops, loaning their lighting set-ups, coordinating efforts, and more.
This event began with a slideshow from Ryan Matthew Smith, principal photographer & photo editor of the James Beard Award, IACP and Gourmand winning Modernist Cuisine. He presented a wide variety of different food shots for magazine and media work; the range he shared was impressive – from abstract macro shots, to experimental shots, to classic shots. The nice thing about his presentation was that he also spent some time demystifying the shots. He broke down the types of lights he used, how he used them, and why some photos looked impossible. (It’s because they were! Photoshop is one of the tools Ryan uses to create his vivid imagery.)
What we appreciated most about Ryan’s presentation is that he made the technical aspects of the shoot sound simple. Although, as he shared, he does a great deal of brainstorming to come with new creative shots, the set-ups ultimately end up being fairly simple. He tends to use just one or two strobe set-ups. Because bouncing light is so important for his work, he often uses the ceiling to bounce and spread light.
Ryan also shared that there isn’t much need for a stockroom full of different lenses for his work; he typically uses just one lens (24 mm, f4). Because his work is primarily using flash, he really doesn’t find a need for a lens speed lower than f2.8. He does also use a 50 mm f2.8 and a 85 mm f2.8 lens on occasion, but for the most part, the 24 mm lens does the trick.
Some other tips he shared were:
- use a simple white background and one hot light for photographing translucent liquids.
- use a sound trigger to capture action in food (like a corn popping)
- use your phone to save new ideas that crop up while on the go.
What was appreciated about the different tips he shared were how simple tools and tricks can lead to powerful and vivid imagery. It doesn’t need to take a crew and tens of thousands in top-notch gear.
After the presentation, photographers split into five groups and rotated through different food stations and light set-ups. There were veggies, fruit, desserts, a cooking station, and a classic simple Japanese setting with chopsticks. Each station had a different lighting set-up: some with Speedlights, some with hot lights, and one with plain old ambient light. This allowed folks opportunities to photograph under different conditions and experiment with their approaches. Meanwhile, Ryan floated from station to station offering feedback and encouragement.A special thank you goes out to Ryan Matthew Smith for leading this event, even though he and his partners were in the throes of launching a brand new online business, ChefSteps.com. Ryan was extremely gracious to take time away from this venture to spend his time and experience with Seattle SMUG.
Submitted by the Seattle SMUG Scribe: SuJ’n Chon
SuJ’n Chon is a Seattle-based landscape and humanitarian photographer. She also works with arts and social justice organizations on projects aimed at bringing positive systemic change through arts and culture. SuJ’n is a Canon shooter and loves the four models she owns for different reasons (including her testy old skool Canonet). She likes attending SMUG events because other people’s fine work inspires her out of photographic complacency.
The Vancouver Island SMUG met at the Oliver Road Community Center, Nanaimo BC with guest speaker Mike Delves of MNP Accounting. Mike spoke to a well attended group of more than 20, with several new attendees.
Finance is one of the core foundations of running a business, but many photographers don’t have a basic grounding of what it takes to become successful. Mike spoke on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of companies such as Sole Proprietorships and Incorporation or Limited Businesses. Each type of business had its own set of pros and cons, and it wasn’t surprising to find that all types of business were represented in the room
Mike also touched on the advantages and disadvantages to leasing or purchasing vehicles and to most of us we were surprised to find out that over the long run that there is not much difference. He explained how camera equipment was depreciated and the allowable write-offs for home businesses.
As one can imagine, Mike was not able to cover all the topics regarding taxes in brief overview and recommended that we sit down with a professional accountant if we wanted to learn more.
Or SMUG co-leader, Neil Gaudet, then spoke to us next about being true to yourself and not to follow, but to lead, because that is what will make you an individual. Although we all love Photography, you have to remember as a professional that photography is also a business, and to be a successful business, you have to be profitable.
Neil’s tips on how to be profitable were:
- Be organized and manage your time effectively.
- Know and understand your clients and offer them an experience that they will not find anywhere else.
- Tailor your products to your clients needs and offer them a range of valued products to choose from.
- Present those products in unique and professional packaging.
- Make photographing your clients an experience that they will want to tell their friends about.
There are many photographers out there, but like any business, it’s not always the best person at their trade that is the most successful. You also have to be a successful business person, and you have to separate yourself from the crowd so that you stand out to your client base.
Todd is an amateur photographer that is hoping to make the jump to professional in the next few years. He mostly shoots landscape, nature and sports, but he’s going to try his hand at some portraits in the near future. For a peek at his work feel free to visit his site http://www.imagesbytoddross.com