Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tips for Painting with Light

There are many different ways to "paint with light" in photographs.  All the ways I've tried it, I have used the same setup.  What I generally use is:

  • a sturdy tripod
  • a camera with manual settings (I don't always use the same settings, but I rarely use a shutter speed faster than 3 seconds.)
  • some sort of light source that you'll use to do your "painting".
Once you find where you want to do your shoot, take a couple of test shots to determine how much of your background you want to come through in your images.  If the background is too bright, either increase the aperture or increase the shutter speed.  I'd go with the aperture first.  You're going to want a longer exposure to be able to have time to do your "painting".

Oh, it also helps to dress in dark colors so you don't show up in your images.

Once you've got your test shots done, set the timer on your camera to give you a few seconds to get into position, then start your painting.

Here are a few examples that I did a few nights ago with some friends using LED (hula) Hoops as the light sources.

In this image, there's not much background visible, so I had to open up the aperture a bit.

This is more of what I was going for with the background.

The possibilities are endless.

Special thanks go out to Taylor and Natasha for modeling and hooping.

The rest of the set can be seen and purchased here on my site;  Have you done any light painting?  I'd like to see it.  Leave me a comment with a link to your work or any tips you have that I didn't mention in this post.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sports Photography

I have never considered myself a sports photographer.  Most likely because I'm not a huge sports fan.  As I sit here and think about it, I can only think of two sporting events that I have photographed.  A Jacksonville Jaguars NFL game and a good friend's (might as well say brother's) swim practice.  There are some interesting images to be captured in most any sporting event.  There are some boring ones, too.  The trick is, as with most types of photography, to capture the right moment.  For example, the swimmer entering the water after the starting gun is fired.

That is way more interesting than a few tenths of a second later when he's completely under the water and all you see is the remnants of the splash.  But don't get too comfortable in one position.  You never know how something will look from a different angle.  If you're allowed to move around, do it.

It also helps to be observant.  I don't know much about the various swim strokes, but after watching a few laps of various strokes and listening to the coach, I learned that the butterfly stroke looks a lot better in photos than the freestyle.  Or at least that's my opinion.

The rest of the images can be seen here at my gallery.

A few quick tips to leave you with in no particular order:

  1. be observant
  2. shoot with as fast of a shutter speed as you can.  These were taken at 1/1000 of a second.
  3. do some research online if you know you are going to be shooting a sport you aren't familiar with.  Do a quick Google Image Search or check out ESPN's website to see what images they are showcasing.
  4. if there are other photogs there, introduce yourself and ask questions.  It was an ESPN photog at the NFL game that told me he shoots at 1/1000 of a sec to capture the moments.
  5. don't get discouraged.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, leave me a note in the comments section below.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Concert Photography: Why I like it...

While many photographers shoot a wide range of subjects, myself included, they all have one particular subject that they consider to be their favorite.  Whether is landscapes, weddings, cars, boudoir, etc..., we all tend to gravitate towards a specific subject for one reason for another.  For me, it's concerts.

You never know what you're going to get as far as lighting.  Even if you see the same band over and over, their lighting is never the same.  I'll use a set of images from a Lucky Costello show that I shot at 1904 Music Hall in Jacksonville, Florida, to demonstrate what I mean.  The venue may have crazy lights sitting on the stage, as in this image:

This is Gerry, the guitarist for Lucky Costello.

Other times, or in the case of this show, a few moments later, the lighting will be almost non-existant, as shown in this photo of the drummer:

Adam, the drummer for Lucky Costello

But, just because the lighting isn't crazy and look super-exciting, don't stop shooting.  This photo of Adam is one of my favorites from that show.

And it's not just lighting.  Some venues really like their fog machines and will use them to the point where there's no point in photographing anything because all you're getting is images of fog.  It would be like holding a white sheet in front of your camera and just taking photos of that for an hour.  :(  Other times, though, the fog can produce some cool images, such as this:

Lucky Costello at 1904 Music Hall

The other great thing about shooting concerts is that if the band doesn't move around too much and you find you're getting a lot of repetitive looking images, you can turn around and shoot the crowd.  Lucky Costello is famous for drawing a fun, eclectic crowd.  There will also usually be a few people with LED hula-hoops.

Stephanie watching Taylor hoop

Part of the crowd watching Lucky Costello

I've also learned not to put my camera away until I'm back in my car after the show.  Had I put it away before I left the venue, I would have missed out on this awesome shot of Taylor hooping in the alleyway next to the venue.

Taylor hooping outside

The rest of the photos from this show can be seen here on my site.

These are just a few of the reasons why I love photographing concerts.  What do you love to photograph?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Harry Potter and some of my favorite images

A few years ago, I went to The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.

The park had been hyped-up so long before it ever opened that there was no possible way it could live up to the expectations that I had built up in my head.  It probably also doesn't help that I have not read the books and only seen a few of the movies.

My biggest complaint is that the park was much smaller than I expected.  I was anticipating something the size of the Magic Kingdom at Disney.  It seemed much smaller.  There were a few shops (the lines of which were about 30 min to well over an hour to get in, BTW.  Who wants to wait in line that long just to get in and maybe find something to buy???), a couple restaurants (we ate lunch at one and the pot pie was so bad I didn't finish it) and a couple rides.  Over all, I was not impressed.

However, my disappointment aside, I made the best of it.  Looking for different angles and waiting on clouds to move, I got some great images.  Such as these from the main attraction, Hogwarts.

Hogwarts the ride at Universal's Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Hogwarts the ride at Universal's Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

A good lesson to take from this is to try and make the best of a bad situation.  You're already there.  You can either complain about it and have a miserable time, or look for a better angle and come away with some great images.

Larger versions of the photos, as well as other images from the trip can be seen and purchased at John Shippee Photography: Wizarding World Of Harry Potter.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Traveling and planning

This last trip was really a two part trip.  The first was to spend the Christmas holiday in Italy with some good friends.  This part of the trip went without issue and was nice and relaxing.  

Generally when I travel, I do some research beforehand to get an idea of a few things that I want to do in the city I will be visiting.  I do not, however, plan every moment of every day.  To me, that is not a vacation and does not leave any time to relax and enjoy myself.  For Catania, my only plan was to visit with friends and go with the flow.  It was great!  Here is an image from Syracusa, a town that is a short drive from Catania, that we visited one of the days in Italy.

The second part of the trip was to bounce over to Paris to spend New Year's Eve.  That part did not go quite as planned.  While I had a great time, I should have done some better planning and research before leaving.  Some issues were that the Louvre is closed New Year's Eve, New Years Day, and every Tuesday.  Those happen to be the only 3 days I was there.  The other issue, which wasn't necessarily a problem, just more of a disappointment.  Paris does not do anything for New Year's Eve.  No fireworks, no concerts, no announcers.  Nothing!  I don't know about you, but I like fireworks.  New Year's Eve without fireworks is like pizza without cheese; it just not the same.  A great time was still had and I managed to come away with some of my favorite types of souvenirs: great photos!  They are cheap, don't require dusting like little nick-nacks do, and are fun to share.  Below is one of the shots of the Eiffel Tower. 

More of the images from my trip to Paris can be on my website John Shippee Photography.

What are some of your favorite travel tips?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Travel Tip and St Severin Church

One of my favorite things about visiting Europe is walking around the cities and stumbling upon random finds, such as the Church of Saint Severin in Paris, France.  This is where the photo above was taken.  As is the one below.

I recommend either walking around at sunrise or just before sunset.  Not only is the lighting amazing during these times of day, but the crowds of tourists are generally not on the streets either.

It's a great tip for traveling.  Leave time for yourself to wander the streets and get off the beaten path.  You never know what you'll find!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Travel tip and Catania Italy

This image was taken during my recent trip to Italy.  It was taken near Catania, Sicily.  This photo, however, is not the reason for this post.

Having just returned from a 3 week vacation traveling around Italy and France, I learned a very important lesson at all the airports; a lot of suitcases look exactly alike.  You know that great Victorinox suitcase that you got at Target a few weeks ago?  Yeah, so did a lot of other people.  There's a good chance one of those people is on the same plane as you.

There are various ways I saw that people had modified their luggage to make it more unique and easily identifiable.  Some had little ribbons tied to the zippers.  Some had wrapped fabric around the luggage handle.  And some people used duct tape to make different designs on their bags.  While these all worked, I don't like the idea of putting duct tape on my luggage and I feel like the ribbon could easily get torn off in transit.  Who knows what happens to your bag once it is out of sight down that conveyor belt???

Today, while I was browsing through my site, John Shippee Photography, I noticed that one of the products that is offered through my store is a photo luggage tag.  How awesome is that?!?!  It's a great way to make your bag recognizable, you can pick any image from my site to do it with, and it looks a lot better than duct tape.  I'll definitely be ordering a few, just as soon as I decide which are my favorite images today.