I’ve come to believe the key to getting good environmental portraits, or honing your street photography skills, is learning to take advantage of distractions and becoming invisible.
Being young and in love can be quite the distraction. Oh…how I remember. Now a nice hot fudge sundae has the same effect.
Distractions…the low lying fruit.
Parades and public events are great ways to hone your street photography skills without drawing too much attention to yourself because people are usually preoccupied by the event itself.
Gambling in the streets of Paris
Go light young grasshopper…
Learning to travel light and being proficient with one lens can be a major asset. Leave the tripod behind and here’s why: we need to be fast, flexible, and under the radar to catch an authentic, spontaneous moment.
Congrats to our pals over at Gura Gear for winning the PopPhoto award!
Here’s the text of PopPhoto’s award release:
Best for the Gear-lugger:
Gura Gear Kiboko 30L Backpack designed by photographers while on safari in Africa and made of tough, lightweight fabric of the sort used in America’s cup sails, this 4-pound pack can hold lenses up to 800mm, and pro-level DSLR or medium- format bodies. The butterfly-opening front flaps keep you from exposing your equipment to the elements, and the backpack straps tuck in and stow. $429
It’s early in the morning–too early in fact. Last night you were out making photographs of a friend’s band, and the concert went later than expected. Now you’re in a car at 3:30 a.m. heading to a location to photograph the sunrise over a quiet lake. You’re tired, groggy, and you didn’t even get to eat breakfast. Not even bacon…
As you get closer and closer to the lake, your excitement and your anticipation grow. You arrive at the lake and find the scene you want to photograph. You find some nice foreground object to further enhance your shot and the sun begins to do its magic. The sunrise is spectacular! You shoot in landscape. You shoot in portrait. Heck, you even do some HDR. This truly has been a fantastic sunrise. Even better, you were there to capture it with your camera.
You are rather pumped as you head home. You’re excited to see what these look like on your computer! Once at home, you slip your CF card into the card reader and begin the download process. You let the card reader do its thing as you go to get a cup of coffee. On your return, you are beyond horrified.
Think back to when you were a kid, heading to school in the snow or rain.
Your mom dressed you up to look like that poor little kid in Christmas Story, including horrendous, floppy black galoshes. You just knew that the other kids would make fun of your big floppy rubber boots.
Things have changed dramatically today. Galoshes, renamed overshoes, have gone hi-tech. Gone are the slippery soles, the big ugly buckles and the floppy rubber. Modern material, grippy soles and a tight fit take their place. New overshoes fit like shoes, are easy to walk in, and most importantly, keep your feet warm and dry.
The best overshoes we’ve seen are made by NEOS, a company that makes both consumer and industrial footwear. Their “uppers” are made from waterproofed Denier nylon (think high-end backpacks) and their soles are lugged just like your favorite hiking boot. They are pretty snazzy-looking too!
NEOS come in insulated and non-insulated styles. The non-insulated overshoes at 20º of warmth to your feet and the insulated styles add 40º. The NEOS Navigator even has a 5” gaiter you can extend out of top of the boot for deep snow.
These new NEOS overshoes are high-tech and dare we say, even fashionable. You won’t have the big kids teasing you anymore with these.
You can check out the NEOS overshoe line the OPG Store.
Some people try to invent new products, and some people build a better mouse trap or an improvement on an product. If you’re a macro photographer you have obviously seen various clamps made from flexible tubing that have a clamp on one end to attach to your tripod, and a small clamp on the opposite end. These can be attached to the stem of a flower to steady it while moving in a slight breeze, or to use it to hold your diffusers and reflectors, which is what I use mine for.
I have never used or promoted these clamps to be attached to a flower stem on windy days. They may do a fine job holding the flower stem steady, but the petals on the flower are still blowing in the wind. So for me, a clamp’s purpose has always been for holding my diffusers and reflectors in place. I use them on nearly every shot to shade a flower and reflect light into dark areas.
Last spring I was contacted by my friend Craig who was working on a better idea for a macro clamp. I mentioned to Craig that I mainly used clamps for holding my diffuser and reflector and that I was looking fr a longer, stronger clamp. He showed me some ideas that had a long clamp which had more contact on the surface areas of the diffuser and reflector, and would hold them without the sag.
So, now we have Craig’s new and improved “Macro Field Support System” (FMS)
With the FMS, you have a longer clamp that is able to support your diffuser with less sag, making it easier to position over your flower, or easier to aim reflected light with your reflector.
The rut is on, at least in the northern half of the US. Now is an excellent time to get outside and photograph whitetail deer. At this time of year the males look their very best, with beautiful new coats, nice polished antlers, and necks swollen with the rut. They also have other things on their mind so they are not quite so secretive. Another thing I really like about this time of year is you have a lot more opportunities to photograph unique deer behavior. The deer in this photo is checking a scent post as he walks along a deer trail. Some of the other possibilities include fighting, scent marking, and various mating behaviors.
I like to work deer in local parks and sanctuaries where they are not hunted. One reason is that with all the hunters in the woods at this time of year, it is a lot safer for me. The main reason however is deer that are not hunted are quite a bit easier to approach and photograph. Even though I am photographing deer that are more acclimated to the presence of people, I still make sure to take my time when approaching. Because I would much rather earn the animals trust and be able to spend some quality time with it than do a sloppy approach and get one shot of the terrified beast before he bounds off never to be seen again. So take some time and do a good stalk. Never walk straight at your subject. Pause often, and avoid direct eye contact. Tail flicking, head bobbing, foot stomping, are all signs of nervousness. If you see any of these things take a break and let things settle down, before you move any closer. If you take some time here and don’t push your subject I guarantee it will pay off with more photographic opportunities on the other end.
Browse Steve’s images, read his blog, and learn about his workshops at his site www.stevegettle.com
The barn at Elmwood Farm in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
Today I’m working on one of the dozen or so one-day conservation photo projects I get to work on every year. I’m shooting at a small, old family farm in Massachusetts that is in the process of being conserved both for the open space and to provide some community garden opportunities. Like I have to do for many of these projects, I drove about two hours in the dark this morning to arrive at the farm about 20 minutes before sunrise. It’s not an ideal way to shoot, especially when you’ve never seen the place, whether in person or in photographs, but I love this kind of challenge and I think these types of photo projects have made me a better photographer.
Milkweed pod at Elmwood Farm in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
I’m blessed to have the opportunity to shoot in some of New England’s most iconic locations several times a year. Places like Acadia, the White Mountains, and Vermont. While I love shooting in these spots, it’s easy to get lazy and just shoot the same dramatic landscapes that look good from year to year. However, shooting in a less impressive location like where I was this morning makes me work a lot harder and faster. I literally had about 10 minutes to take a quick look around, and then I had to start shooting (heck, today I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place.) This place definitely isn’t as dramatic as Monument Cove in Acadia or the summit of Mount Monroe in the White Mountains, so it takes some effort to quickly surmise the scene, break it down into those few elements that I feel define it, and then find a simple composition that works with the light at hand.
I have to admit that every once in a while I just get lucky. This photograph of a pair of dancing western grebes is one of those situations. I was photographing waterfowl on a small lake in northern Idaho from my floating blind, when I noticed a single grebe off in the distance. Since I did not have many good images of this species I started to slowly work my way towards this bird. As I began to get closer, the bird started to call, worried that perhaps I was causing it stress I stopped, and continued to watch the bird through the peephole in my blind. Then I noticed a second grebe swimming into view from behind some reeds. The two birds slowly swam toward each other and then suddenly, without any preamble, the pair rose up and began rushing across the water in their courtship dance. Purely as a reflex I dove behind my camera and swung the floating blind and camera toward the pair, as I swung around I simultaneously opened the lens aperture up to f4 (knowing that I would need as much shutter speed as I could get to stop the action). As soon as the birds appeared in my viewfinder I held down the shutter button letting the motor-drive fire 8 frames per second while the birds rushed across the water. The whole thing lasted maybe five seconds from beginning to end. I couldn’t believe my luck; I had always wanted to see this courtship display, and to witness it from my floating blind, right at the bird’s eye-level, what an incredible treat. My hands were shaking with adrenaline as I nervously checked the back of the camera to see if I had gotten anything usable. To say that I was overjoyed to see that I had a few good frames would be an understatement!
Browse Steve’s images, read his blog, and learn about his workshops at his site www.stevegettle.com
I’ve finally decided on a cart! I was on the hunt to replace my homemade cart, and Outdoor Photo Gear sent me the two different Eckla Gear Carts to evaluate. I’ve decided on the Eckla Beach Rolly. I thought I would give you a rundown on each cart.
There are two different styles of Gear Carts by Eckla that are available: the Multi Rolly and the Beach Rolly. These carts are both light weight and fold easily to fit in the car. Both are durable multi-function carts with all-terrain tires. The tires are very versatile and can go anywhere you need them to go–whether it’s over rough terrain or sandy beaches. These carts carry your gear instead of you humping it on your shoulders or back! The no slip grips on the handles are fantastic and as soon as I saw them I knew I would like them. The handle is tall enough so that when you are rolling the cart, you don’t hit the back of your ankles – which was one of the problems I was having with my homemade cart.
Hey, everyone. John Batdorff here, and today I’m going to show you how to change orientation of your crop from Landscape to Portrait or vice versa. So first click on your image and then go over your Crop Overlay, that’s this box right here. You can click on the box or simply press the letter R on the keyboard.That’s going to activate the crop overlay. Now, to change the orientation in this case from Landscape to a Portrait you’re going to hit the letter X. If we want to go back to the Landscape, just hit the letter X again.
So basically this just the letter X cycle through the orientation. So I’m going to go to portrait. Now, if I like this I can move it around but I’m going to settle in right here and if I’m happy with this, I can either click on the box again or hit the letter R. And there we have it. So I hope that was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at John@BatdorffPhotography.com. Thank you.
Learn more about John, view his images, get info on his books and check out his blog here.