Monthly Archives: December 2015

Photography on the Road

Photography on the Road


Taking your love of photography on the road is one of the really exciting assignments a photographer can get. Whether you are going out into nature to photograph a great sunrise, a phenomenal river or to capture some other wonder of nature or if you are going to an urban area to get photos that tell the story of a people, the safari nature of the trip is the same.


Safari is a good name for such a trip because like that hunter going into the deep jungle to bag big game, you are going to the unknown to get that perfect photograph. Your preparations have to be expert. Your discipline on the road must be focused. But above all, your determination to get what you came for must be relentless as you hunt the prize you want to bag, not with a gun but with your camera.


One mistake to avoid is over packing for your adventure. It’s easy to do because you may have the urge to bring everything in your studio “just in case”. First of all, if you have every piece of photography equipment you own with you, the likelihood that something will get broken or stolen is pretty good. So you have to know how to strip down your travel gear to just what you have to have to get the job done.


But how do you know that if this experience is new to you? One way is to do a few “dry runs”. Just as you went out and did practice photographs when you were learning your craft, take one or two test trips to the next town. Do these without the pressure of a deadline or a deliverable that you have to complete. An overnighter to take pictures at the zoo in the nearest big city will surface what is needed and what is not. Then repeat the exercise to take photographs out in the country where you may have to backpack your equipment in. You will find out pretty fast what “stuff” is worth the extra weight and what needs to stay home.


Your photography safari is a business trip to you and you have a mission. But your mission is about more than just going somewhere to get a snapshot. Just as every picture has personality and soul, the more you become part of the environment where you are traveling, the better your “eye” will be to capture the perfect photo.


Yes, you must stay focused on the purpose of the trip and stay on schedule. But don’t forget to enjoy the trip. If you are going to take a picture of a natural wonder, like Mount Rushmore, for example, spending time visiting with others going to that sight or talking to locals may surface some locations and secrets about the site that other photographers would not get if they just came, snapped a photo and left. Use the “down time” to charm the other travelers and let them charm you. Not only will your picture be a hundred times better, you will have a lot more fun.


Finally, as you reach your destination, your preparations need to pay off and you need to let them pay off. Here is where focus and the eye on the prize is crucial. It is so easy, especially when traveling, to become obsessed with the equipment, with the set up and with your settings.


Do all of that before you leave, or in the hotel room the night before. On location, the session is about your subject, not your equipment. Your equipment is there to serve you. Don’t worry about it. Trust yourself that you did a good job getting ready. You have quality equipment and you have prepared the lenses, checked the batteries and done all the right things. It all will work when it needs to work.


Now you keep your eye on the prize. Your expert eyes are needed to judge the lighting, the angle and every aspect of the shot to determine if it tells the story that you know this photograph has to tell. Here is where the artist in you works beautifully with the photographer to produce a photo that you will genuinely be proud of. And if you obey your disciplines and get that shot, it will be a photography safari that comes home having “bagged the big one” to add to your trophy room for sure.



Position of the Camera

Position of the Camera


Many aspects have already been said up to now that dealt with the position of the camera in relation to its subject when it comes to photography.

The camera, however, may be focused on the subject from various angles that can also affect the shot. The three basic camera angles are eye-level, high, and low shots. Among the three, the two basic angles are the high and low angle shots.

Basically, the angle of the camera has an aesthetic and psychological significance when it is seen in the context of the story. This is because the photographer can project an air of domination depending on the kind of angle that he wants to use or the way he wants to emphasize the subject through a distinctive camera angle.

With this, camera angle speaks only for the context in which it is found. You can’t surmise that the photographer wanted to express the whole concept or idea of the subject, in general, through camera angles. This is because camera angles only show a certain point of the story through the dominant position you may want to project.

Consequently, the correct determination of the best angle will render good picture of the subject that will, in some way or another, replicate the best view of the real scene. Keep in mind that the camera does not exactly capture the way the human eye sees a particular scene. Hence, it now depends on the expertise and skill of the photographer to determine the best angle to capture the best view.

There are many factors to consider in determining the best angle. Here are some of the basic and the most important factors in order to determine the best angle when it comes to photography:

  1. Point of interest

This is the most basic factor that every photographer must learn to master. Photography should always have a point of interest. This is where the story evolves.

After determining the point of interest, the angle of the camera will follow by emphasizing on the kind of drama the photographer wants to express in his shot. The idea is to attract attention, to compel readers to see the picture and derive it’s meaning.

  1. Lighting

In determining the best angle, lighting becomes a deciding factor in determining the personality of the subject in focus. This goes to show that the subject’s personality may change depending on the kind of lightning used in taking the picture.

Indeed, camera angles may seem ordinary but they best define what photography is all about. That is why the determination of the best angle in photography is extremely significant.

Rain Pouring Down

Rain Pouring Down


We’ve all sat, staring out of our window and cursing at the rain poring down or the flat, grey sky that just happened to cloud over for the few hours we’ve managed to set aside in our busy schedule to head out and shoot some photos. But all is not lost for the opportunistic and well-prepared photographer.

Be patient my little grasshopper.

After any rainfall or storm, comes a spectacular burst of light. Often this light lasts only momentarily, but is worth waiting for. But you’re never going to catch it if you’re still staring out of that window. Part of making good images is being an opportunist. Weather reports are easily accessible through the Internet or your smart phone, and on the radio, often with detailed information. You might be able to find out if the cloud cover or storm is about to pass. If not, head out anyway. Yes, it might all be in vain and remain gray and unappealing until nightfall and be a complete waste of time, but what if it isn’t? If you speak to, or read any book written by a successful landscape photographer, they will tell you stories about how they visited a place dozens of times and waited for hours before getting that one in a million image. Have a look at that image. Was it worth the time? Chances are it was. Imagine the satisfaction gained from someone looking at your image and letting out a breathless wow! Then you’ll be the one telling the stories.

A simple way to think about it is that you get out what you put in.

Be prepared!

Have you done any research on your subject? Have you visited your location at this time of day before? Do you have a list, or at least a mental outline, of the photos you want? Have you considered the equipment you might need to take? Answering these questions will take you a long way to being able to seize the moment when it does eventually arrive. Instead of fumbling around trying to attach lenses, tripods, filters and any other gadgets that might be necessary, (and I do mean might), you will simply be able to step out of your car, or hiding place, gear in hand, and calmly collect the images you’ve been imagining. A little foresight in taking care of these things beforehand allows you to focus completely on taking photos once in the field. As with anything else, if you can concentrate completely, you’ll likely get a brilliant image.

What’s your purpose? (Not to get too esoteric)

Think about what you are actually trying to achieve with these pictures. Do you even need blue skies? Many a moody, muted landscape has been created using the worst weather conditions. If you have an interest in shooting black and white images, you could be in for a real treat. Many subjects, such as outdoor portraits, can work better in overcast conditions, enabling you to pick up the lines in someone’s face and add character to the portrait without having to worry about your subject squinting their eyes from the sun or dark shadows appearing over half of their face.

Most successful photography, like anything else, comes from having a clear goal and taking the steps necessary to achieve it. It also comes from working with the elements and planning for various possibilities. Open yourself up to new ideas and you will find that your photography improves markedly.

Ten tips to taking a better image

Ten tips to taking a better image


If only I had a nickel for every time some one complained to me that the reason they can’t take good images is because of their camera. So here is a list of ten tips to taking a better image.


Tip 1 – Use All Your Available Space

Don’t be afraid to use all the space in your photo. If you want to take a picture of something, it’s perfectly for it to take up the whole shot with no or very little background. This will actually diminish distractions out of your shot and place the focus on your subject.

Tip 2 – Study Form and shape

This is a very important aspect to taking a strong image. Understanding forms in your images. Don’t see an object, she its shape and its form and find the best angle to photograph it from. Form and shapes are all around us and I highly suggest you read as many books on it as possible. If you’re not near a library and have some time to kill just Google form and shape on your phone.

Tip 3 – Motion In Your Images

Never have motion in your photos if you are photographing a still object. If there is something moving while you are trying to photograph a stationery object, your image won’t turn out anywhere near as strong. Also never put a horizon line in the center of your frame move the horizon off center as this will make the image more pleasing to the viewers eye.

Tip 4 – Learn To Use Contrasts Between Colors.

Some of the strongest images have shades of white, gray and black. You can take great shots with just one color on your subject, but the contrasts between colors in an image is what makes you a great photographer and not a bad one.

Tip 5 – Get Closer To Your Subject

This is one of the biggest mistakes most photographers make, not getting close enough to their subject. Get up and personal and close the distance gap. You can always reshape and resize a good shot but you can’t continue to blowup a distant object. Also if you cant get there with your lens then zoom with your feet. In other words, walk up to your subject. Sometimes a simple acknowledgement with your subject can make all the difference.

Tip 6 – Shutter lag

Shooting action shots with digital camera’s can be tricky due to shutter lag. What this means is, when you press the button to take the photo, it can take up to a second for the shutter to take a photo, by that time what you were photographing would have moved or changed somehow. This means you have to compensate for shutter lag by predicting what your subject is going to do and taking the photo just before it takes the action you want. More expensive digital cameras don’t have this problem. This problem is very common in point and shoot style cameras and cell phone cameras.

Tip 7 – Panning

If you are taking an action shot and your shutter speed is slow, pan with the object. Follow through with the subject, from start to finish and one of those shots will be a winner. You have more chance of getting a good shot if you take more then one photo. I teach this technique in my intro class, as it’s a good skill to learn and can really transform your work.

Tip 8 – Continuous Shots

To pan like I suggested above you will need a camera that does continuous shots and doesn’t need to stop and process after every shot.

Tip 9 – How To Take Fantastic Night Time Shots

Night time shots can be spectacular, almost magical…. if done right! If not they can look horrible. Without adequate lighting, even good camera’s can turn out crappy photos if the photographer doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Also key to night time images is a tri-pod and spend the most that you can afford. Going cheap on a tri-pod is a decision you will surely regret.

Tip 10 – Study your manual or take a class

Last but not least is to read your manual and/or take some classes.



Gentrification as defined by Webster’s dictionary is as follows: the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.

So what has this got to do with photography and my blog? Well it gives a photographer a subject matter to write about, a cause to pursue as it were. I’ve never understood why you would make an area better by displacing those that live there. Why not invest in bringing up the folks that live as well as attracting new residents also? Sure I understand it’s not a simple task and something that you do not do overnight but lets at least give it the old “college try” for once.

In May of next year I have my first show in five years and so for inspiration and direction I went to see a friend and very successful fellow artist Chris Fraser. I met Chris at his studio in West Oakland, which is where I took the images included in this blog post. It’s a neighborhood that is currently going through a very huge change which overall will be a negative and not for the greater good, my opinion, but that’s how I feel. I arrived for our meeting very early so I went for a walk with my camera in hand. Sure it was run down, homeless folks in tents on the sidewalks, and pigeons dining in pot holes in front of new lofts that start at half a million and the top out at just over a million dollars. The contrast of the haves and have not’s was vast but change is coming and the current residents will have to find new digs.

It certainly set the tone for my next body of work that day and also confirmed and changed some views of this photographer. How do you change society for the great good? Well that’s the $64,000 dollar question but I know you just don’t bring in the new and kick out the old because all you’ve done is move the problem.





The art world is often associated with being shocking or using shock value to get ones work across and recognized. Also shock value is not all naked body parts and sexual acts of debauchery sometimes it’s just words or even the shear look of something.


So how long has shocking been around? Well since the beginning of time really….. Where do we begin? Lets not go all way back, how about we start with the Victorians. They for one had an air of being tight lipped and conservative on the surface but lets not forget they came up with idea of ginger not being used in cooking (Google it) they also electrified the dildo, watch the movie Hysteria. Then there is Van Gogh who although not exactly shocking work he’s often associated with the shocking act of cutting off his ear. This of course later turned out to be just the lobe, but still shocking all the same.


As time progressed we come up the seventies and the era of punk music, my favorite being the Sex Pistols; a band that definitely shocked and discovered my Malcolm McLaren who also discovered Boy George of the Culture Club. This now brings us up today and social media the era of the many mini Andy Warhol’s as we’re all seeking our very own fifteen minutes, this photographer included. This past summer I was on Facebook and a friend of mine who I associate with being a bit of a “Southern Lady” and that if she was born a hundred years ago I see her saying “I do declare” had posted she was out with her “S.L.U.T.’s”. This of course caught me completely off guard but this group of southern ladies had come up with an acronym for their nights out at the cocktail lounge. So what did this acronym mean? Southern Ladies Unwinding Together, somewhat shocking but also easily explained.


So why do we do this? I have no idea…… It does however get you noticed and gets people talking about what it is you’re doing. I for one do like to shock I like the reaction it gets on peoples faces as they look at my work. I was once told that maybe I do it because of things that have happened in my life that shocked me so all I’m doing is shocking people back.


So the next time you’re shocked by something in the art world enjoy the moment after all it’s your choice to either be offended or understand the message behind it. I say and it has me thinking of those Victorians who were just really being human and living life to the fullest, all be it with a small serving of kink.

Wedding Photography

Wedding Photography