Friday, January 28, 2011

Valentine's Promotion!

Valentine's Day is approaching quickly so take advantage of this special while you can.  This is a great gift for your loved one! Call or email me to schedule your shoot.

Sights of Columbia

These are a few older pictures that I have taken around Columbia, SC.  When the weather is right Columbia actually offers some really great picture opportunities.  I will be posting more pictures from around Columbia from time to time.  Stay tuned for a new promotion coming later today.  Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spot of Light

Today's post is about spot metering verses matrix metering.  This is a little more technical than normal so if you black out during this I apologize.  If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.  Nikon calls it matrix metering and Canon calls it evaluative metering.  Matrix, or evaluative, metering evaluates the entire frame and determines an exposure for the picture.  It tries to find an average exposure of the bright and dark spots so it doesn't blow out the highlights or make the shadows black. 

Spot metering takes only, you guessed it, a spot of the picture and sets the exposure for that spot.  To use this mode change your camera to spot metering.  Select the focus point you want to use and aim it at what you want exposed correctly and the camera will evaluate the exposure for that section of the picture.  Generally speaking you are going to want to use matrix metering for most of the pictures you take.  However spot metering is is useful for tricky lighting situations.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while now but needed some examples.  So, while I was in Disney over the holidays I ran across all kinds of tricky lighting situations and got some great examples.  The pictures themselves are b-sides at best but they are good examples of the different types of metering.  Spot metering will change your cameras shutter speed or aperture or both depending on what shooting mode you are in.  So, I have included the shutter speed and aperture of all the pictures so you can see the difference. 

In all of the examples below I have the matrix metering shot first and the spot metering shot second.  This first shot is pretty terrible but it is a good example.  As you know I love blue skies and this sky is far from blue so I switched to spot metering and exposed for the hotel.  Again, neither of these are great pictures but it shows the extremes at which it can change your picture.

f 5.0 1/100 Auto White Balance ISO 200
f 7.1 1/200 Auto White Balance ISO 200
This second set of pictures is a little better.  Here the neon lights were much brighter then the dark night sky.  So the Matrix metering blew the neon out just a little bit for my taste.  So I switched over to spot metering and exposed for the neon lights.  It lost some of the extra details in the picture  but there is enough neon on the building to outline its architecture.  This is very much a personal setting.  With digital you can try the picture in matrix metering and check the screen on your camera.  If you don't like it switch over to spot and try again.  Then choose the one you like the best!

f 2.5 1/25 Auto White Balance ISO 200
f 4.0 1/60 Auto White Balance ISO 200
In this example the Epcot ball was a little dark.  So I switched to spot and pointed at the middle of the ball to set the exposure. 

f 11.0 1/400 Auto White Balance ISO 200
f 8.0 1/250 Auto White Balance ISO 200
This is another picture that's not that great but shows the extremes between matrix and spot metering.  For the first shot the camera looked at the bright sun coming through the windows on the left and the dark globes on the right and tried to average exposure of both.  To me the picture is very dark.  So, for the second picture I switched to spot metering and exposed for the globes on the right side.

f 5.6 1/125 Auto White Balance ISO 200
f 4.5 1/80 Auto White Balance ISO 200
Finally, the building below was very bright from the direct sunlight behind me.  The first shot is again in Matrix metering which in this case did an excellent job of exposing the shot.  Just for fun I switched to spot and metered for the building and it made the over all exposure very dark. I put this one in here to show that there is no one setting that works for every picture.  As I have said before, with digital you should take as many pictures as you want.  Go ahead and change settings and push buttons to see what happens when you take another picture.  You can see what changed instantly on the back of the camera!  Again, photography is an expression of what you see and like, so take pictures of things you like at the settings that make them look the way you like.  Have fun with these settings and try them next time you are out taking pictures.

f 11.0 1/500 Auto White Balance ISO 200
f 14.0 1/800 Auto White Balance ISO 200

Monday, January 24, 2011

New for 2011

In 2007, I graduated from USC with a business degree.  I knew then that business was the wrong direction for me but since I started it, I wanted to finish.  My passion for photography started in college and when I graduated I opened my photography business, so the business degree did come in handy.  I have enjoyed every minute of it and will definitely be taking pictures forever.  I have another passion that most of you probably don't know about, building, designing, and working on anything mechanical.  In the Fall of 2010 I decided it was time to pursue another degree by going back to school for Mechanical Engineering.

With all of that being said, I am still going full throttle with photography and look forward to adding more weddings and sessions to the calendar for 2011.   Today I have added two major things to the blog that I want to point out.  First, at the top of the page you will see a new tab called Weddings along with my other work.  There you will find pictures from my wedding portfolio.  Secondly, from the request of many of my followers, I have added pricing information for wedding packages and portrait sessions to the contact page.  Feel free to contact me for any additional information or to set up your own shoot!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Lee & Stani- Columbia, SC Engagement Photography

Last weekend Suzanne and I met Lee and Stani to do their engagement session.   When you schedule a shoot in January you never know what kind of weather you are going to get but we couldn't have asked for a better day.  It was sunny and almost felt like springtime.  Lee and Stani were so easy to work with and it's obvious they are in love and ready to be married.  We had a blast shooting their pictures and they were both so natural in front of the camera.  I am really looking forward to shooting Stani's bridal portraits and their wedding in July! All of their pictures were amazing and there were just too many to choose from!  So, here are a few.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Framed To Hang

Framing a shot is a crucial part of composing a shot.  Framing and composition determine what is in your picture and what is left out.  You need to be aware of what is around your subject so you can leave out distracting elements like tree branches or poles.  You want the objects in your picture to lead the eye to your subject.  Not away from it.

For instance when you take a portrait of a person you want the background to be dull, soft, and out of focus.  You don't want the person looking at the picture to be wondering what is that shinny thing or what is that dog doing in the background.  You want to keep your backgrounds as clean as possible. 

Composition is done by moving the camera around to different points of view to balance objects with in the frame.  This can only be done before the picture is taken.  You can still frame your picture in photoshop later by cropping. But, in order to properly compose your picture you will have to move your camera in relation to the objects you are photographing. 

Here is an example of how moving the camera slightly can make a huge difference.  I wanted to get a picture of this gas station and its sign in Disney.  In the first picture, I got the entire sign and only a small part of the building in the frame.  You can read the sign clearly and the roof lines lead the eye to it.  It's also the brightest part of the picture so naturally that's what the eye is drawn too.

However I don't like how I cut off the words at the bottom.  It makes me wonder what they say and why they are cut off.  And, I don't like that I cut off the point the roof makes when it comes together.  That is just a personal thing.

This second image is of the same spot just framed a little bit different.  I cut some of the sign off at the top to show more of the building.  To me this makes a more interesting picture that is balanced as well. Again, the sign is the brightest part of the picture on the right side of the frame but is balanced by the blue sky on the left side of the frame.  They are divided almost equally by the top of the building.  To me the second picture has a better feel to it. 

Here is another example that changes the composition and framing to create a more engaging photo.  This first photo stinks!  The position of the boat in this picture is terrible.  It leads the eyes to the right side of the picture and off the page.  So instead of looking at the pond and thinking oh that's nice or something like that, it makes you wonder what is to the right of the boat that you can't see.

For the second shot I took a few steps to the right and a couple forward to recompose the shot.  Now the boat is in the lower left corner and the lines of the boat push your eyes towards the water.  And, you can even see where the grass is separated for access.  It almost feels like you are there ready to slide the boat into the still water. 

Also I didn't try to get the entire boat into the picture.  Sometimes it is ok to leave parts of things out of the frame.  It goes back to the idea of "part of the whole."  If we see part of an object our minds can imagine what the rest of it looks like.  Especially with common shapes like the circular sign of the gas station.  You can see part of the sign and your brain fills in the bit missing at the top.  The same way your brain knows that there is a front that belongs to the back of this boat.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Most Magical Place on Earth!

As I mentioned in a previous post I was able to spend a week in Disney World right after Christmas.  These are pretty simple shots and mostly of buildings with nice bright colors and blue skies.  I could not stop taking pictures of the architecture.  Every building was unique and each part of the park had different kinds of architecture.  I had so much fun in Disney riding rides and seeing shows and even more fun taking pictures.

On a side note, the only lens I took with me was the Nikon 35mm 1.8.  It is a FANTASTIC lens.  Its small, light, and just worked perfectly for almost everything I asked of it at Disney.  I am going to write a review with more pictures from the 35mm 1.8 so expect that early next week!  All of these shots were with the 35mm 1.8 so let me know what you think in the comments.

There is nothing here for scale but this thing was huge and looked just like Sam's guitar I have hanging in my office!

These are the story boards from the movie Tangled.  It was really cool to see how the Disney movies are made!

This was the coolest show, in my opinion, at Disney.  This was a movie set they built to show you how car chase scenes are filmed.  Here the "Hero" car is jumping over the river to safety from the "bad guy" cars.  These were highly modified cars powered by 1300cc motorcycle engines and they used all 1300cc's to try and tear all the wheels off of these cars.  It was awesome! 

This was in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids section of the park.  Giant Play-doh and of course I had to take a picture of the Giant roll of Kodak film.  

This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip but not my most favorite, I am saving that one for a later post.  This picture is just really simple and not necessarily of an interesting subject.  But as you know I love bright color and buildings and this just isn't the kind of architecture we see here in Columbia.