Monday, June 24, 2013


Fireworks at Werner Park - 2012
It's the time of year when there are a lot of fireworks displays but the really big ones will be coming up on the Fourth of July.  Here are three articles with helpful information.

Every year about this time Joe McNally posts an excerpt from the Life Guide to Photography

Scott Kelby's also reposts his fireworks article every year.

And this is from the archives of the New York Institute of Photography

Even though they all say basically the same thing, they all say it in different and entertaining ways.  If you're hunting for a place to practice, check out the schedule for the Stormchaser's games at Werner park.  They have fireworks at every Friday home game for the remainder of the season.


Monday, June 17, 2013

The Dance Recital

The Dancers

I could use this space to brag about my granddaughter, but the theme of this blog is photography so here are a few tips to increase your chances of getting a relatively good snapshot of the kids on the stage.  This photo isn't a work of art, but it's a nice reminder of the day.  It was taken with a 3-year-old, compact, point-and-shoot camera that fits in my shirt pocket.

Equipment Matters

I know, if you read the photography blogs and discussion groups you constantly read that "equipment doesn't matter, it's the photographer that counts."  Well, in general that's true.  In this case, due to the lighting, we are pushing the boundaries.  A camera with a bigger image sensor will gather more of that dim light.  This is a tough job for the most expensive cameras.  Leave the cell phone in your pocket and, at least, use a compact "point-and-shoot" camera.   

Get Out of the Auto Mode

Today's cameras are amazing.  They do most of the thinking for you.  Even the simple point-and-shoot does a great job under average conditions.  Unfortunately, the conditions at a dance recital are much lower than average.  Get out of Auto.  Many cameras hide the settings you'll need to change if they are in Auto mode. If your camera has a P (Program) setting, use it.

Get Close and Zoom-in

The dancers are in a pool of light surrounded by a sea of darkness.  This is guaranteed to fool your camera's exposure computer.  You want to eliminate as much of the sea of darkness as possible by getting physically closer and zooming-in.  I was sitting in the middle row of seats when I took this photo.  The camera lens was zoomed in as far as it would go.

Turn off the Flash

A built-in flash has a range of about 12 feet under the best of circumstances.  These are far from the best of circumstances. The flash won't help.  It will actually make it harder to get a usable photo.  Most important, it will annoy the audience and distract the dancers.  Turn it off.  If you don't know how, read your instruction manual.

Turn Up the ISO

You're probably not sitting in the most ideal spot to take a photo. Use your editing software to crop the photo so it looks more pleasing. I've included the original version of the photo in the inset.  It looks like I didn't even hold the camera straight.
The original.  Crooked and too far away...

Is that a lot?

Well, that's why they say "It's not the camera, it's the photographer that counts."  If you want average photos, leave the camera in Auto and take your pictures in the sunshine.

Getting out of the Automatic mode and learning how to use just a few features of your camera, even a compact, point-n-shoot camera, can result in better photos.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Dramatic Bear

A Sad Bear
This bear is sad. The kids have grown, moved away, and left the bear and his friends behind. I'm cleaning closets, looking for storage space. The bear and his friends are about to go.

This guy got a temporary reprieve while I was testing a new flash. Maybe he and all of his friends will turn into yet another photo project, each one posing for one last photo before they take a ride to the dumpster.

UPDATE:   The bear and his friends have found a new home.  Goodwill will accept old stuffed animals!