I made a last minute decision yesterday to head back out to Ocean City NJ to photograph the 59th Street Pier this morning. Friend/client Kate Ryan met me out there and I was glad to have the company. It was a heavy overcast morning with moments of the sun breaking through. The colors were not as intense as they had been on my first visit last week, so I decided to change my view up a little and work a little tighter, concentrating on the front piers as apposed to the entire pier. This image was processed using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. In situations where the color does not appeal to you or doesn’t fit the mood consider going with B&W.
I downloaded a new iPhone app this morning: Camera Awesome by SmugMug. Above is my first Camera Awesome image, created from the original iPhone photo below of the New Croton Dam.
Original dull and boring photo by Rick Sammon
The free app (with paid options) offers unlimited creative control over photos you take with the iPhone, as well as photos that are in your Photos gallery on your iPhone.
Getting back to “unlimited” creative control, the app has almost 300 presets, filters, texture and frames, but you can tweet them and combine them for endless, and original, effects. Thirty-six of the effects, more than enough to start your photo fun, are free. You can buy other effects in groups of nine for 99 cents.
For the opening image for this post, I used the More Wang effect, one of the man Presents. Other cool effects/options include: Awesomize, Transform, Filters and Texture.
Hey, I’m Rick Sammon. Now, a lot of people ask me, “Rick, what is your specialty?” Well, I reply, I say, “My specialty is not specializing, because I do it all. I do people. I do travel. I do wildlife. I do studio. I do HDR.” Now, all of these specialties actually have something in common. Of course, you need a good camera. You need a good lens. You need a good tripod. But a lot of people don’t realize you also need a good ballhead.
Now, the coolest ballhead I found is from Induro. It’s called the Induro BHL. Now I think that “L” stands for low profile, because these ballheads are smaller, lighter, more compact than most ballheads out there. They also support more than most ballheads, but I think that “L” also stands for love, because you’re going to love this ballhead. It’s going to make your photography more fun, and you’re going to get better pictures.
Let me show you what I mean. All the ballheads come with a universal mount; which means you can mount them on any tripod. I happen to be using one of my Induro tripods. They also come with an Arka Swiss compatible quick release plate; which means you can very quickly, very easily release your camera or lens. You see here I have one plate mounted on my lens, my telephoto lens, and I have one plate mounted on the bottom of my camera so I can change lenses very quickly and very easily.
But, and this is a big but, this is really cool. It has a double locking system. What I can do here is if I release this, watch this. The camera and lens is not falling out on the ground or in the drink, and it’s not falling forward. It’s kind of like a watch stem. You release it and then you have to turn it so this is really cool, and I’ve seen this happen, believe me, in a lot of my workshops where the cameras fall on the ground. So you lock it in very quickly and tighten this up and then you’re ready to shoot.
So, get this. All of the Induro ballheads, just like all of
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO SEE A LARGER SHARPER VERSION
I photographed this Cyclamen with the use of natural light and a window!
Many folks ask do I “exactly” use the window as a light source. Well I place my subject close to the window. I position a reflector behind the flower so that it bounces some light onto the other side of the flower to “even out” the lighting. Once I am happy with the lighting I start to look for the background. By positioning my camera up/down or sideways to include the part of the background I like.
For the example image above I used the grass for the green background so I had my camera and lens positioned downward. If I wanted a blue or white background I would have positioned it towards the sky. Next I make sure that the background will be blurred. Because I am shooting from a window chances are my subject and background are far enough apart that I can use an f/8 or even an f/13 with out any problem of bringing in “too much detail” from the background. However I wanted the flower to be a little softer so I stayed with an f/6.3. Why a little softer? Well, in my opinion flowers are pretty and they lend themselves nicely to a softer look. If you get every detail in focus sometimes you will portray a hard look with out it being your intention. The same is true if you over sharpen or over contrast your flower images or even if you over-saturate your images. There is no right or wrong it is just a matter or preference and I prefer my flowers on the Softer Side.
Looking for a reliable battery charger? Well then, go get this one now, right now, I’ll wait.
Seriously though, if you’re using speedlights (or any AA rechargeable battery consuming device) then you know what a hassle it is keeping them charged. At one point, I literally had every outlet in the house littered with little 4 count battery chargers that took all night to charge and sometimes wouldn’t even charge one or all of the batteries in the deck.
So after a few years of frustration with small chargers, I finally sprang for the PowerEx 8-Cell battery charger.. and I am in love. This charger simply rocks! It has individual charging circuits for each battery and can charge either AA or AAA rechargeable batteries. What’s so great about the individual circuits is that you can mix batteries of different charge levels at a time. With most standard chargers (the cheap-o ones) if you have batteries of different charge levels, it won’t charge them.
Another great thing about this charger is that you can charge your batteries in 1 hour!! When I first used this charger, I was able to charge 16 batteries in less than 2 hours!! That is awesome. Also, it has a “Soft” charging cycle which extends the battery life and only takes 2 hours to cycle. If you have a bunch of AA rechargeables lying around that won’t hold a charge anymore, this charger will condition old batteries and bring them back up to optimal performance. It also has a LCD display that tells you the status of each battery.
There are many other cool features about this charger, but the ones I listed above were enough to sell me on this product. I seriously may buy another one soon.
I haven’t yet switched to the PowerEx series batteries because I have so many Energizer batteries lying around that still seem to kick out the juice, but over time I am planning on slowly migrating to them.
If you’re on the fence about getting a good charger, then go ahead and make the jump. I can’t believe I waited so long to get one of these, it simply makes my life easier.
An L-bracket allows photographers with short focal length lenses without collars, to easily change your camera from a horizontal position to a vertical position.Here is my D7000 with a matching specific L-Bracket attached set in the horizontal position.
The problem with L-Brackets is they are all designed to fit each individual camera. So if you change to a new camera you have to buy a new L-Bracket for that camera. Not that it would be a big deal if the L-bracket was cheap, but my last one cost me $130.
Acratech makes a Universal L-Bracket that will fit most all DSLRs and other camera formats as well. This bracket runs about $225 which is pricey, but it will fit all your cameras and will prevent you from having to spend way more in the long run buying L-Brackets every time to buy a new camera.
Transport your gear quickly and easily over all kinds of terrain, trails, beaches, docks, fields, just about anything. There’s two kinds of carts, the Beach Rolly and the Multi Rolly.
The Multi Rolly has a foldout chair for photographers so you can sit on your shoot without unpacking. Wide tires let you navigate in sand, mud and just about any terrain. Easy assembly. Fold flat for transportation in you vehicle and it sets up in seconds.
There are lots of accessories too, like cargo nets and bottle holders. The Rolly is made with precision German engineering, and it’s made of sturdy aluminum frame which prevents corrosion and makes it lightweight too. Carry your gear with these and save your energy for fun.
Here we are in 2012. Already. It doesn’t seem like a year ago that we ushered in 2011, but calendars don’t lie. 2011 was an interesting year for me. I spent more time in the office building my business and less time in the field doing what we all love to do – photography. As I culled through images made in the past year it quickly became evident that I didn’t get out enough. I live in Moab, for God’s sake. Arches and Canyonlands are in my backyard. There is no legitimate excuse to not be out exploring this beautiful landscape more often. So, in 2012, I resolve to do just that. I’ll spend more time making images and less time marketing them. Not too much less, because I do still need to pay the bills.
Every year I squeeze in a few big trips, consisting of a couple weeks each, to locations throughout the western United States. Looking back on all the photos from our 2011 adventures brought back some wonderful memories. We celebrated my son Jackson’s second birthday at a campground in Death Valley, ate dinner by a campfire on the beach in Cape Kiwanda, summited a 14′er in Colorado (Jackson’s first!) and spent Thanksgiving week exploring Valley of Fire in Nevada. No doubt, I am a lucky man.
The images I’ve chosen to share as my favorites aren’t necessarily my best. One photo was five years in the making, another has tremendous emotional appeal, a couple I just really like and some were made in a place I’m now obsessed with and can’t wait to visit again. If I were assembling a 2011 portfolio to present to an art buyer only a couple of these would make the cut. The important thing is that these images mean something to me. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed making them.
Slot Canyon & River Rock, Nevada
I found this slot canyon by chance while wandering around Valley of Fire State Park one morning following a sunrise shoot. I was struck by the contrast of warm, colorful sandstone walls and the cool blue river rock in the mud on the canyon floor as well as the three dimensional feeling created by the wide angle lens and striations in the rock.