Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pushing White's Balance

As everyone that has been reading the blog probably knows, I love taking pictures that include the sky.  Especially if I can incorporate the sky into a picture where  it's not the main subject.  Plus, the bluer, the better!  My favorite times to get pictures of the sky are late afternoon when its blue and preferably with some white puffy clouds.  But this is easy.  I just go outside with my circular polarizer and turn it until the sky is nice and blue. 

This technique does make great pictures but there is an even better time to make the sky even bluer, right after the sun has completely gone down.  You are also going to have street lights and store signs on to make the picture even more interesting.  There is a time known as twilight, that happens right as the sun sets and this is when the sky will light up with different colors and you get great soft and warm lighting for landscape pictures.  This is the best time to take a landscape picture that involves other lights, because you can get the sun light to match the output of the electric lights.  However I'm talking about the few precious minutes after that.  Where the sun is completely gone and the sky looks almost black.  There is still some great blue sky in there, you just have to know how to capture it. 

Here are a couple of examples of different white balance settings to change how the camera exposes the scene.  In the first picture I used a Kelvin setting of 10000.  This made the picture very warm and yellow.

This second picture was taken literally seconds after the first with a Kelvin setting of 2500.  It renders the picture extremely cool and blue.  

Both the first and second shots were taken at the extremes of the Kelvin scale just to show that you can set your white balance to change what the camera sees.  Remember, the camera is an instrument of creation similar to a paint brush or pile of clay.   However most people use them as copy machines to take mediocre snapshots of things they see.  They leave their camera in auto and just accept whatever it gives them.  Digital pictures are free take a million!  Push buttons and change settings to make your camera push its limits.  By just changing the white balance you can dramatically affect the outcome of a picture, as seen above. 

This third picture is what we are looking for.  Its set a Kelvin temperature in between the first two closer to the cooler side in order to keep the sky and water a deep blue.  Its somewhere in the neighborhood of 3030.  The sun is completely set and gone but the sky is still nice a blue.  By setting the cooler white balance the camera exaggerates the sky and water making them even more vivid.

This is another example of auto white balance versus a manual white balance.  The first picture is set to auto white balance.  Now its not a terrible picture but it could be better.  It just doesn't grab your attention.  If it doesn't grab yours its not going to grab anyone else's and they will skip right past it.  

Here all I did was change to a custom Kelvin white balance.  I took this picture at 3330.  Even at night the sky is still blue, we just have to tell the camera to pick it up.  Here we have a great blue sky with a complementary yellow street lamp.  To me this picture is much more interesting and makes me want to look at it.  The first picture is just dull and boring.  The second one is vivid and has life. 

Here are a few more examples of capturing the blue sky right after sunset.  Again, the camera is an instrument of expression.  Use it to show feeling and tell a story.  Don't just accept the manufacturers settings of what they think will look best for all pictures.  This is almost never right.  When lighting changes the camera needs to change.  Next time you are out shooting try changing your white balance to see the difference for yourself.  


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my followers and friends!  I am very blessed to have so many great people in my life.  I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  Today is a short post as I just want to share some of my awesome family with you because I am very thankful for them!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

All things old

I love old buildings.  I like taking pictures of them because they are full of color.  They tell stories and allow your imagination to run wild with what might have been made or done inside them.  They are great subjects because they offer different textures from peeling paint to rust to broken windows.  Most of these are ordinary shots, but again, that's the great thing about photography... you can take pictures that are interesting to you! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little N- Greenwood, SC Children Photography

This past weekend my wife and I traveled to Greenwood to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with my family.  It was a fun and relaxing time with enough food to feed an army.  Of course I brought my camera, and on Sunday afternoon I took a few shots of the newest addition to our family, my cousin, little N. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

And the Winner is...


Thank You!

I just want to say thank you to everyone who participated in the free photo shoot contest.  We have had a great response to the blog and to the free photo shoot promotion.  A great deal of that response is due to some very special people and friends who I am deeply grateful for.  Many of you told others and shared the link on your blogs and facebook pages without me ever asking you too.  I am extremely grateful for your willingness and kindness to share my blog with your friends and family.  I am truly blessed and honored to have such great people in my life.  Thank you again.  It really does mean a lot to me!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tomorrow at Noon

Hey everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend and are looking forward to the big announcement tomorrow.  The winner will be announced at Noon so check back then!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Blast from the Past- E Boys, Columbia, SC Children Photography

*** Don't forget today is the LAST day to sign up to win the FREE 2 hour Photo Shoot***
****See post from Tuesday for more details and to enter giveaway****

Todays Blast from the Past was an awesome shoot I did a couple of years ago and now these boys are proud brothers to a beautiful baby sister.  I'm excited to do a photo session of the whole family in a couple of weeks!  I hope everyone has a great weekend!  Monday will be the next post and I will announce the winner!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stop to Snap the Roses

I'm sure that almost everyone who has a camera has at one time or another taken a picture of a flower.  I have never met anyone who hates flowers and most people tend to think flowers are great subjects for photographs.  That's because they are!  I love flowers and I love nature and I love taking pictures of both.  The problem is making the flowers look interesting in the pictures.

Most folks tend to find a flower they like, step up to it, bend over at the waist, hover over said flower and snap the picture strait from the top.  Now I'm not saying this is wrong, it will produce nice pictures of the flower.  That's the great thing about photography.  You can take the any picture the way you want to, how it strikes you.  You have control over how to tell the story of your subject.  So if that's the way the flowers look the nicest or prettiest to you then by all means do it.

If you look at most of my pictures you will see that I love it when the sky is deep blue.  I love it even more when the sky is deep blue with some white clouds.  However that means that rain is probably coming later in the day.  So, I love incorporating the sky into as many pictures as I can.  With flowers, I love to change the perspective of the pictures I'm taking.  I will admit I am super lazy when it comes to changing perspective and height of my pictures most of the time.  But, sometimes you have to get down and dirty to take interesting pictures.  With this picture, getting below the flowers and looking up at them, allowed me to get the sky in the picture and gave me the interesting perspective I was hoping for. 

These next few shots are from the side of the flower to give the flower depth.  When shooting from strait on top of the flower, the image will come out flat.  Shooting from the side shows the layers of the flower.  Used with this technique, a long lens can give you a nice colorful and soft background, instead of a background full dirt and dead leaves. 

I know these aren't flowers but the same rules apply to all kinds of plant life.  And it has a pretty sweet sky!

 REMINDER: Sign up for the free photo shoot before Friday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This Lake Is Full of Swans

How have I never been here?  As long as I have been taking pictures, this was my first trip to Swan Lake in Sumter, South Carolina.  It was fantastic!  The park is very well maintained and extremely clean.  Unfortunately I missed most of the color change, but I was still able to get some pretty colorful pictures of what hasn't already fallen.  I can not imagine how awesome this place must be when all of the trees lining the edges of the pond are full of color. 

Not only are the trees and pond gorgeous to take pictures of, but there is some great wildlife living there.  If you like bird watching or taking pictures of birds, this is the place for you.  There is also a great garden with tons of flowers and plants as well as old buildings.  All of which are great things to take pictures of.  You really can't point your camera in a wrong direction here.

I know next year during summer and especially fall, Swan Lake is on my short list of places to visit again when I have more then an hour to walk around!  Here is a link to some great information about the park and the wildlife: http://www.sumter-sc.com/visitingus/swanlake.aspx.

Here are some shots of my quick visit this afternoon:


JUST A REMINDER:  Sign up for the free photo shoot by Friday!  It can be used for anything other than a wedding; couples pictures, pet pictures, family pictures, Christmas card, even a corporate head shot. Or, sign up to win it as a Christmas present for a friend or family member! 

For this post I made the images much larger.  Let me know in the comments if you like them this way or if they are too large for your screens now.  Thanks!