• The Camera Gear I Use 99% Of The Time

    Sep 4 • Articles, Photography • 234 Views

    On more than one occasion I’ve had people stop me and ask what kind of camera equipment I use or recommend and to be honest only some of the gear I use is really worth listing here.

    Since I’m not a full time photographer I keep my budget strings somewhat tight until the expenses began to justify the costs. If I can get more than 20 uses out of a budget / no-name product while still achieving pleasing results then I feel my investment will have paid off with very little risk.

    Sure some photo pros will tell you need to drop a few grand to invest in top of the line gear but when your just starting out the last thing you need is the stress of going broke. I will tell you this. I am a thrifty shopper but I did invest in a quality camera (Canon 5D Mark II) and I believe in investing in quality lenses. Your glass doesn’t have to be L-Lenses built to withstand damn near anything but quality glass will help you get quality shots.

    If I were to start over I would invest in my lenses first and camera second.

    I do a majority of my photography on-location which means I need gear that can easily pack and travel with me and this is my current setup:


    Canon EOS 5D Mark II

    I switched from a Canon Rebel T4i to my Canon 5D Mark II about two years ago and going from a crop sensor camera to a full frame tough-as-a-tank camera was a decision I’m glad I made. My 5D has survived all the seasons that Ohio continues to throw at it including 18 degree weather for extended use.

    I like knowing that in almost any weather setting my current camera setup looks at mother nature and laughs as it snaps away without an issue.


    Tamron SP 24-70mm 2.8 Di VC USD

    The Tamron is my favorite walk around / video lens. The focal range it provides is extremely versatile and the VC which is Tamron speak for Image Stabilization is just fantastic. Plus with a 2.8 aperture I’m able to get shots in extremely dark and low lit environments that otherwise would require flashes or external lighting. Oh and it’s weather resistant as well!

    At a $1,000 dollars less than the Canon 24-70 2.8 L Lens that doesn’t come with IS it’s easy to see why this lens is quickly gaining popularity among amateurs and pros alike.

    Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens

    The nifty-fifty is a fun little lens to own. It has a fixed focal range of 50mm and the large 1.8 aperture allows you to create dream like shots with its soft bokeh and depth of field. The 50mm’s price point is what really sets it apart from other lenses is that for a prime lens it can be had for about $125 dollars.

    I picked mine up a few years ago on a Christmas special for around $80 dollars and its still one of my favorite prime lenses.

    Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens

    When it comes to portrait lenses the 85mm is where its at! The 85mm prime lens actually flattens out facial features giving the subjects in y our photographs a more aesthetically pleasing look. Because of the compression offered by this lens there is a lot less barrel distortion and with the 1.8 aperture you can completely put your subject in focus while leaving the background blown-out to again create that dream like setting.

    UTG Multi-Functional Tactical Messenger Bag, Black

    I’ve had this messenger bag for over a year and it holds all my gear I need for on-site jobs which is typically loaded with my:

    • Canon 5D Mark II
    • Tamron 24-70mm 2.8
    • Canon 50mm 1.8
    • Canon 70-200mm 2.8
    • CamRanger Wireless Camera Controller (CamRanger Mini Review)
    • Android Nexus 7
    • 2 CF Cards W/ 1 SD Adapter
    • 8 SanDisk Ultra SD Cards
    • 5D Battery Grip
    • TT560 Flash Speedlites
    • Remote Flash Trigger & Receiver
    • Flash Diffuser
    • Two spare LP-E6 Batteries and Wall Charger
    • Gray Cards
    • Cleaning Cloths and Pen Brush
    • Two small screw drivers
    • Lens caps
    • Lens Hood

    So after more than a year and the abuse I like to put my stuff through I’ve yet to see any actual wear on the bag. The only issue I have noticed is that I may be exceeding the weight capacity a little because I’ve had the shoulder clasp fail on me twice. I removed a few items that were key essentials and so far it seems to be holding up without any further problems.

    Some of my gear is more studio oriented but such as lights and umbrellas but with a little creativity I have made myself a mobile studio that I can fit into one small little bag from a studio kit I bought and that equipment is:

    • Neewer 180W Strobe/Flash Light
    • 5 light weight tripods
    • 4 white umbrellas
    • 5 600W Continuous light bulbs
    • 1 black reflector umbrella
    • Tethering cable for the strobe light.

    Is all this equipment necessary? For me some of it is but its also equipment I’ve accumulated over the years and not something I went out and bought all at once. I waited till my circumstances required the use of some of the specialized gear before I even considered purchasing it.

    As you can see my gear is not considered “industry standard top-of-the-line” but you know what? Client’s don’t care. They care whether or not I have the creativity and skills they are looking for to get them the desired shots they want.

    And that’s what should really matter. Not the gear you have but what you can do with it and how far you can push it.


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  • Trick Photography and Special Effects eBook Review

    Aug 27 • eBooks, Reviews • 850 Views

    It’s very rare that I read much of any book to be honest as I am more of a hands on type of learner. Reading text off of a page only allows me to retain so much information before my mind wanders and I’m re-reading the same sentence 3 times over.

    But there is one eBook that I actually enjoyed enough to read all the way through titled: Trick Photography and Special Effects written by Evan Sharboneau who also runs the Photo Extremist blog.

    (This article contains affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission should you chose to buy this product at no additional cost to you.)

    What Is Trick Photography?

    Trick Photography is basically the art of manipulating photos using a DSLR Camera and sometimes with the aide of photo editing software such as Photoshop.


    While this eBook is geared towards individuals wanting to learn how to create cool and unique effects through trick photography the author does assume you have some working knowledge of how to operate your camera in manual mode. Even if you don’t know how to use M-mode yet you can still learn a lot from this book so don’t discount yourself just yet!

    Who is Evan Sharboneau?flying_cat

    Evan is an extremely talented photographer I came across on YouTube a while back when I was looking for some fun and new techniques to try out. You can find his YouTube channel: Here

    I must say Evan has done a great job creating this book and the amount of detail covered is immense!

    To give you an idea of some of the many topics covered you’ll find subjects relating to: Camera bodies, lenses, tripods, long exposure effects and light painting techniques, in camera illusions, animal eye reflections, forced perspective, Photoshop projects, HDR Photography, Infrared Photography, panoramic image creation and a whole lot more.

    The beauty of Evans creations lies in the images he masterfully creates but how he explains step by step how you can create the same exact image.

    Now I know some people will be worried about needing Photoshop but keep in mind that many trick photographs can be done with just some simple optical illusions such as this image here:


    Or this image:


    or this one:


    As you progress through the eBook each new chapter provides you with something new to try and do and steadily gets more advanced which allows you to easily retain the information you just learned.

    Many of the photography books I’ve read in the past kind of jump all around the place going from learning how to get the right exposure and then straight over to which tripods are the best. It can sometimes be a confusing and jumbled mess and as most photographers tend to have creative minds which also tends to obstruct proper flow of information when trying to relay it back to someone else.

    Evan somehow managed to not only create an eBook that teaches you step by step as if he was working next to you but created it in such a way that I imagine may rival many college courses that attempt to teach specialized fields in photography.

    As I mentioned though not all of the techniques written in this book are for everyone and some require some specialized skills like creating the Infrared Photos seen below:

    Infrared Scapes

    Horse eating in the wilderness

    For the more advanced users or anyone familiar with photo editing programs you’ll learn how to create images like these:




    So What’s The Bottom Line?

    So now that you have somewhat of an idea of what this eBook covers you’ll be happy to know there is even more as an updated edition 2 version was released not to long ago that comes with over 50 video tutorials totaling 9 hours of videos and over 295 pages of information.


    Would You Recommend This Book?

    I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone that has at least some familiarity with owning and operating a DSLR camera.

    I can’t say I’d recommend it to anyone leaving behind the point-and-shoot world just yet or anyone just getting into photography as some of the information may be a bit overwhelming for beginners and first timers.

    What If I Don’t Like The Product?

    I know first hand with digital products sometimes things can be a bit dicey as your spending money for a product you haven’t been allowed to fully explore.

    Evan is so confident in his book that he offers a 100% 8 Week – No questions asked full refund. If you are unhappy for ANY reason at all within the 8 week time frame he’ll refund your money.

    This allows you the reader to assume very little risk when purchasing this book should you feel its not right for you.


    Your Turn To Share!

    If you have your own set of trick photos or albums relating to trick photography feel free to post the links below. Only links that lead to actual photos relating to trick photography will be approved.

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  • Why Getting The Right Exposure Matters

    Aug 18 • Articles, Photography • 284 Views

    When it comes to photography in any genre exposure plays an important role which can take an image from good to great. But what happens when you shoot an image that is underexposed or overexposed?

    Underexposed images are when not enough light is allowed or available to pass through to the sensor which in turn creates a darker than normal image. A lot of times you can adjust underexposed pictures by bumping up the ISO, slowing down the shutter speed, or using the widest aperture you have available.

    Overexposed images are the exact opposite where the picture is entirely to bright or “blown out.” To much light was allowed to pass onto your cameras sensor which distorts the image.

    Now assuming you are shooting in raw (which you should be) then you may be able to restore your under or overexposed picture in Lightroom.

    But is it better to have a picture that’s underexposed or do you want one that’s overexposed?

    Well, I just happened to take two very similar pictures with one being underexposed and the other overexposed and there’s a bunny involved! (Thankfully the bunny didn’t ask me to sign a release waiver.)

    The below image was shot at 1/160 of a second at f / 14, ISO 100 during midday. I adjusted the exposure for the bunny on the right to +3.57 in Lightroom.

    What happens when an image is underexposed?

    As you can see although the detail in the top left picture is quite hard to make out from the original shot due to the lack of proper exposure but when adjusted I was able to bring the detail back during post processing.

    There is a down side to adding a lot of exposure to an originally dark image and that comes at the cost of increase noise into your image which can be seen here from a 100% crop.


    While the image is technically “usable” for some minor web related stuff such as this article I wouldn’t use it for any type of print material.

    By increasing the exposure I may have brought detail back into the image I also added in a lot of noise.



    This image was shot at 1/10 of a second at f /5, ISO 100 during midday. I adjusted exposure for the bunny on the right to -3.57 in Lightroom as well.


    Here you can see the top left image has almost no detail and is blown out to the extent that upper left section of the image is almost nothing but white light.

    In doing the exact opposite of the underexposed image I adjusted the exposure on this image by moving the slider to -3.57 in Lightroom.

    However because so much light passed onto the sensor the detail of the scene could not properly be saved to the camera. All the camera saw was a bunch of white light with a few pieces of color.

    This caused the image on the right to lose a lot of detail and when decreasing the exposure it also distorted whatever colors the camera was able to pick up initially and corrupting the scenes true colors.

    So the answer to whether or not its better to be underexposed or overexposed should be pretty easy to put together. You have more of a chance of being able to save an underexposed picture than you do of one that’s been overexposed.

    But you should ALWAYS be trying to get a proper exposure beforehand by taking test shots and studying your surrounding area and environment.

    Plus you’ll have to spend less time post processing pictures for exposure adjustments if you get it right the first time!

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  • I “Want” To Be A Photographer

    Aug 13 • Articles, Photography • 216 Views

    I want to be rich.

    I want to be famous.

    I want to be the greatest.

    We all want something in life but just how many of us are willing to make the sacrifices it takes to go from wanting something to really wanting it?

    Let me explain what I mean.

    I love being behind the camera and every day I’m at work in my windowless office I dream of some day working full time in my own studio or on a set doing creative and unique photography. But if I only dreamed of becoming the photographer I wanted to be that’s all it would be a dream.

    Nothing more than a fleeting moment in time.

    Instead of just dreaming though my “want” to be a photographer pushes me further and further every day through practice, study, and both online and offline real world practice. In my free time at my current job I read books, blogs, and study the professionals and their stories about how they came up to where they are today.

    I work a full time job that’s often 40+ hours per week but when my work day ends I’m at home studying even more.

    I study their life, the sacrifices they went through, and what it meant to them to become accomplished and enjoying what they do for a living.

    It’s easy to say – “I want to be famous like so-and-so photograph” and go about your daily life. But those who really want to be famous and recognized will move beyond just simple words.  Those people will be head deep always “doing” instead of just “wanting” to do.

    If your passion for photography is so strong that that is what you want to do for a living don’t surround yourself with people who just “want” to but never do.

    Surround yourself with people who are striving each and every day to carve their own paths.

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  • How To Start A Photography Blog In 5 Easy Steps

    Aug 7 • Articles, Photography • 890 Views

    Blogging and Photography are probably two of my favorite things that I enjoy sharing what I know the most when I get asked questions like like “How do you…” or “How can I do…”

    I tend to light up when I start talking about either subject and on more than one occasion I’ve had the person I’m talking to tell me that they can hear the passion in my voice when I’m explaining the answer to their questions. I don’t make a living off blogging nor do I on photography but I’ll gladly share what I’ve learned and any knowledge I’ve gained just because it’s what I enjoy doing!

    Now whether you plan on starting a photography blog such as this one or just a website to showcase your photos this little guide will help you get started in whatever route you choose to take.

    Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. These are all products I use and trust.

    Start With A Domain Name

    A domain name for all purposes is nothing more than the web address you type in the URL bar at the top of your web browser to get you to a particular website.

    When choosing a domain name there are a few key concepts you may want to consider and they are:

    • Is it easy to remember?
    • Does it have brand potential?
    • Is it easy to spell?
    • Does it work?

    Is It Easy To Remember?

    Your domain name NEEDS to be easy to remember. The internet is impatient whether we like it or not domains names that are easy to remember stand out more.

    Does It Have Brand Potential?

    This area is more of a personal choice and depending on if you plan on running a photo blog or creating a website to showcase your photography should help determine what you choose. I chose iHeartPhotos.com for this blogs name because I personally believe it has a great branding potential. Many people have mastered the art of combining their personal names with their signature brand.

    Sarah Petty and Thomas Hawk immediately come to mind. Sarah has a mixture of her work and her blog all branded to her name. Thomas has a plethora of resources on his site using just his name but shares more of his work on Google+. (Slightly off topic but check out this great article on how to use Google+ once you’re up and running written by Jaime Swanson from The Modern Tog.)

    Is It Easy To Spell

    Remember when the domain name Del.ici.ous was a thing? Yea neither do they. Domain names with hyphens and numbers or exotically long domain names can be annoying and frustrating. I’m a personal believer that unless numbers are in your brand or business name avoid them at all costs. Hyphens get a slight pass but if you have more than one it may look tacky to your potential customers or readers.

    Does It Work?

    Does your domain name convey the message you are trying to get across? Plain and simple. JoeSmithPhotography.com tells me exactly who you are and what you’re about. You can find another great resource on choosing a name that was written by James Taylor at Part Time Photo on how to name your photography business where he goes into some really nice details of the do’s and don’ts of selecting a name.

    Once you have settled on a name and the purpose of your online presence it’s time to get started!

    Step 1 – Purchase A Hosting Package And Get A Free Domain Name

    BlueHost simply offers the best domain and hosting package deals I’ve seen. Right now we are hosted on DreamHost but once the year is up I’ll be switching this website back over to BlueHost just because I’ve had more issues with our current host.


    Click the sign up button then on the next page enter the domain name you would like to use. Since BlueHost allows you to have host an unlimited amount of domain names don’t worry if you aren’t 100% satisfied with your current domain as you can always add a new one later.









    The next step is pretty straightforward as you just need to fill out your contact details and billing information. BlueHost bills on an annual basis so when you purchase a package you are paying for a year term or longer. The more years you go the cheaper the rate becomes.

    Step 2 – Install WordPress

    Once you have purchased your domain name and hosting package you will get access to a back end system known as cPanel. The back end section can feel a bit overwhelming but right now all you need to locate is the section labeled “Website” at the top and once there find this icon:







    You will be directed to the WordPress configuration and install screen.

    Enter your site name or title – This could your domain name, your name, or whatever name you decide to call it. You can always go back and change it later so don’t fret over this area.

    Enter your admin username and password – Make sure to choose a good username and password.

    Enter your admin email address – This is the email address that WordPress will use to send you any and all communications that happen on your blog.

    Check the box and agree to the terms and conditions and click “Install Now”

    BlueHost will start an automatic installation taking care of all the hard work and within a minute you’re all set.

    Your blog is officially active and online!

    Step 3 – Start Blogging With WordPress

    Once the installation has completed you can now login into your new blog/website by going to:


    The WordPress login page will look like this:











    Enter the username and password you set earlier. You now have full access to your new WordPress blogs “Dashboard” and can change everything from its appearance all the way to the code itself.

    WordPress is a great platform to work with and the beauty of it is that its tough as nails so play around and have your way with it as you aren’t likely to break it.

    (Optional Steps)

    Step 4 – Change Your Theme

    In the Dashboard select Appearance>Themes> in the left hand menu:









    At the top of the page click the “Add New” button:




    From there you can search all the free themes currently available and to install them all you have to do is click on the themes image and click “Install.”

    The theme will install and you can either “Activate” it which will make it your current theme or keep browsing to add more themes. You are free to add as many themes as you like just try not going overboard. =)

    Step 5 – Publish Your First Post

    Ready to take the first big leap and publish your first post? Then you’ll love how easy this is going to be!

    While in your Dashboard go to  Posts>Add New>








    Enter the title of your post and your main text in the big white area then once you are satisfied just click the “Publish” button in the upper right corner.




    That’s all there is to it!

    If this guide helped you out in any way possible please share it so others can benefit from it or you’d like to share your new website with me by all means please feel free to leave a link in the comments section below.

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  • Should I Give My Client The Raw Files?

    Aug 1 • Blog • 417 Views

    Adam – Do you give your clients the raw files if they request them?

    It’s funny how often I get asked this question by fellow photographer friends and the answer is always no unless it is specifically requested and written down in a contract that they’ll receive all the raw files.

    If you aren’t familiar with raw files it is basically an unaltered image taken directly from the camera that hasn’t been processed. Raw files allow you to manipulate a picture from white balance, tones, shading, and more.

    The best analogy I have at the moment is this:

    A processed image like a JPEG gets processed in camera and the image is compressed and completed. To alter a JPEG you are basically painting on top of the image to edit it and a Raw image you are painting into the image itself.

    Now let’s get back to why I don’t hand over my raw files.

    My job as a photographer is to provide a “completed” image not ones that I consider unfinished which is exactly what a raw file is in essence.

    Inside the raw file you’ll find meta data that contains your camera info, your copyright details, camera settings, and more. All this information gets transported into your processed image when you say create a JPEG image from your raw file. One of the problems I see coming from handing over your raw files is also the fact that your meta data can be altered to represent false information.

    Someone can easily wipe out your copyright and replace it with their own either accidentally or intentionally.

    This can also be done with processed images but when you hand over essentially what is the source file you just make it all the more easier to do so.

    This also brings up another point that you (the photographer) will have your name attached to these photos. If you hand over raw files to a client because they think they can do a better job post processing the images and they butcher them your name is on them.

    Personally, I’m not cool with that at all. I’ll gladly alter photos to some extent for a client to provide them with more or less what they are looking for but that’s as far as I am going.

    So in closing under no circumstances should your client ever receive raw images unless specifically written out and they informed you of their intended use for the raw files.



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  • Review Of The CamRanger Wireless Controller

    Jul 25 • Reviews • 267 Views

    If you have ever done any kind of tethered shooting while in the field or in a studio you know working with wires can not only be extremely frustrating but in some cases hazardous as well. There’s nothing so annoying than having your tethered cable come unplugged in the middle of shoot because you or something else caught a hold of the cord going to your camera or laptop.

    As I begin to do more and more field work because honestly I hate being inside when working wired tethering just wasn’t going to cut it for me. But I do like being able to see how my images are coming out on occasions and the LCD on the back of 5DMK2 doesn’t always cut it.

    So I decided to bite the bullet and spend $300 dollars on a CamRanger.

    What is a CamRanger?

    Basically it’s a wireless router for your camera.

    How does it work?

    The CR unit is attached to the camera you are using by way of a USB cable which is provided. You then download the CamRanger software onto your Android/Apple device. I use a Google Nexus 7 (2nd Gen). Once the software is downloaded you switch on your device and then are asked to enter serial number that is shown on the back. Your device will pair up with CR unit and now you are wireless connected. It’s actually quite simple.

    Now when you take a picture it will be wireless transmitted to your paired device for you to easily review the images you are taking.

    Let’s get into the specs right away starting with…

    How long does it take to get setup?

    Initial setup took me 2 minutes. I can now knock it out in 30 seconds or less.

    Do I need to be connected to the internet?

    Only during initial setup. Afterwards no.

    Where do photos get stored?

    All the photos you take are still being stored on your CF or SD cards. A thumbnail image is being transmitted to your paired device.

    How far can it go?

    Like all wireless devices it depends on the environment and location. CamRanger states it can reach about 150′ before issues start cropping up.

    How is it powered?

    The unit itself draws power from your camera battery when plugged in and according the CR team at optimum levels will give you a full 11 hours. The rest of the power is drawn from a rechargeable battery which can be plugged into any standard wall outlet.

    How big and how heavy is the unit?

    The unit itself weighs in on the grams scale which I don’t have but it is lighter than my Galaxy S3. Thickness wise its as tall as a standard Ethernet  connection.

    CamRanger Wireless Device

    CamRanger Wireless Device

    2014-07-25 12.00.25

    CamRanger Thickness

    Pros & Cons of the CamRanger Unit


    • Obviously being able to wireless tether is the main selling point and it’s a hard one to top. The device performs exceptionally well as far as I’m concerned.
    • Ability to remote control your camera and settings.
    • View/Edit your images.
    • The unit is small, light weight, and easy to carry and doesn’t feel intrusive when attached.
    • The software to control and pair it with your device is free.
    • Long batter life.
    • Reasonable wireless distance of up to 150′
    • Great for those locations where you have to get your camera into an awkward spot.
    • Great support staff and response time.


    • Price point of $300 dollars feels slightly steep.
    • The unit itself is made of plastic which seems fragile and easily breakable.
    • Android and Windows supported software still feel very clunky.
    • Not weatherproof.

    Overall Opinion and Rating

    The CamRanger is a fantastic little wireless device and if I were to rate it I would give it a 8 out of 10. I absolutely love being able to connect to my Nexus and hand it off to a client or my assistant while I’m working and know if or where certain adjustments need to be made. Client’s like it because they can see exactly what I’m doing when I set the software to client mode.

    The biggest factors that concern me are how durable the shell really is and how well it will survive a fall from heights of 6′ and under. I don’t baby my gear I use and abuse it to get the shots I need.

    Quick note on the support team – I had a slight issue during my initial setup and contacted support. Within 5 minutes I received an email back and my issue was fixed. The CR team was quick to respond and courteous which is rare when you try to get any kind of technical support online.

    I would and do wholeheartedly recommend the CamRanger to anyone interested in wireless tethering.

    CamRanger is quickly becoming the quintessential gear that every photographer will want in their bag.


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  • 4 Tricks To Help You Photograph Fireworks

    Jul 11 • Articles, Photography • 206 Views

    Overall the holidays here in the United States we recently celebrated our Independence day and one of the ways we do so is by launching noisy and brightly colored fireworks into the night sky. Well I took pictures of one of the larger firework shows when I was downtown with some friends. Not thinking much of it I posted those pictures on Facebook and not to long after posting those pictures I had a few people ask me how I managed to get the fireworks to display so clearly and so sharp.

    So with those few requests for tips on how to photograph fireworks I decided to quit being lazy and create this post.

    My setup was a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and my new walk around lens the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8.

    I’ll be writing a review on the Tamron lens later but I’ve been wanting to test its abilities before I do so because a few times I felt it was hit or miss but that may have been nothing more than user error on my part.

    So how do you capture the brilliant lights illuminating the night sky at random chaotic intervals and then burning out quickly?

    The answer might be weirder than you think. You slow down your shutter speed.

    Many people are under the impression that because fireworks happen so quickly you have to be quick the capture all the cool light and effects. While the mindset might make some sense during daytime say during a sporting event it makes no sense during night time when your photographing from an unknown distance.

    Slow Your Shutter Down A.K.A. Drag Your Shutter

    Many cameras at least most modern DSLR and even some point and shoot cameras allow you to change your shutter speed. You can usually find this mode under manual mode which is most often marked with an “M”. By slowing down your shutter speed you allow the shutter to remain open longer allowing the sensor to capture more. The longer the shutter is open the more light is allowed to pass as well.

    1/15 a sec F/2.8 @ 70mm.

    Shutter speeds are defined by a 1/(number). The lower the number the slower the shutter closes. I wrote a quick article that explains more about shutter speeds.

    I should make a point that the Tamron lens I was using does have Image Stabilization / Vibration Control. This allows me to use slower shutter speeds than average lenses because the lens itself will adjust for handshake.

    Although I have seen some point and shoots also have this feature built in but your mileage may vary.

    The image to the right was taken at 1/15 a second at F/2.8 (Wide open) and at full range of the lens at 70mm. This image has been cropped in lightroom but no additional editing has been done to it.

    This image obviously isn’t 100% sharp because when you drag the shutter you have to hold the camera extremely still unless it’s mounted on a tripod or you’ll end up with motion blur.

    But I was able to capture this cool ball of light because I slowed down the shutter to allow the light the firework was creating to pass through my lens for a longer period.

    Quick Tip To Avoid Shutter Shake / Unintentional Motion Blur

    This really isn’t much of a trick as it’s more like a rule if you will like the rule of thirds. Are you required to follow it? No. Does it help? I think so.

    If your camera isn’t locked down on a tripod or doesn’t come equipped with Image Stabilization / Vibration Control / Vibration Reduction then you can still lessen the chance of creating blurry and fuzzy images by matching your shutter speed with your focal length.

    What I mean by this if your lens is say a 24-70mm and you decide to shoot zoomed all the way in at 70mm then you would set your shutter speed to 1/70. If your zoomed in around the 60mm length then you’ll set your shutter speed to 1/60 and so on.

    What I did was started at 1/70 then dialed back my shutter speed until I found a slower speed that I thought still looked good and gave the best clarity.

    Up Your ISO Settings

    ISO is an old term back from the film days that stands for something that really isn’t important anymore when it comes to digital photography.

    What do you need to understand about ISO is that the higher you go the more grain/noise your image will have. Since the lens I had was a F/2.8 and I was shooting wide open it allowed a lot of light to pass through it. But because of my distance from the light source it still wasn’t enough to capture a clear image of the above firework.

    1/40 a sec F/2.8 ISO 800 @ 70mm.

    To compensate for this issue I increased by ISO from 100 up to 640. This helped make the image you see above visible instead of being dark little colored specs in the sky.

    The fireworks shown here were shot at 1/40 a second at F/2.8 with ISO set at 800.

    Again you will need to adjust and dial in your ISO settings to find the one that works the best for you. Because of my distance from the fireworks launch point I found 800 seemed to be the sweet spot from where I was standing.

    And the final step or tip if you will is…

    Try not to use Auto mode / Green Square Mode. 

    Now I’m not saying this because I think everyone should always use “M” mode I’m saying it because most cameras are totally limited when set in Auto mode and trying to shoot fireworks at night.

    When you have auto selected and you’re trying to photograph those fireworks your camera goes into overdrive trying to lock focus onto an object it can’t see at night time.

    This usually triggers the pre-flash strobe which is trying to help the camera seek a location and often times ends up failing. Don’t believe me just go outside during night time and try and take a picture of the night sky with nothing to for the camera to focus on.

    The camera will usually just fail to focus and fail to take the picture.

    Fireworks provide their own light so using a flash first of all is totally pointless. The camera however doesn’t know that. There was a slight catch to this and that’s if the sky is already lit up enough with a few fireworks still burning in the air you can sometimes get Automatic mode to trip and take the picture.

    This picture was one I did in automatic mode to see if it could even register and focus properly and to my surprised it turned out better than I thought it would.

    Fireworks can be tricky little light balls because their fast moving, chaotic, and often done at unknown distances during hard to see in environments. But don’t let that discourage you from trying to capture their awesomeness.

    The very first images I took of fireworks were just awful. So were several others after that but I kept on trying and kept on learning. Are my images great?

    Nope, not by a long shot.

    Am I happy with how this set turned about?


    Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you photograph fireworks? Let me know in the comments section below!

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  • Do Photographers See Life Through A Fixed Lens?

    Jun 17 • Articles, Photography • 345 Views

    I love photography. So much so that I started this website to give me something to do when I’m not out in the field.

    I love the aspects of it as well as the technological curves and trends it puts you through. This field is such an interesting field as anyone can pick up a camera and call themselves a Photographer. No formal background or education is really required. All you need is some camera gear and the motivation to take pictures.

    Does that make everyone who uses a camera a photographer?

    In my opinion the answer would be no. You have casual shooters, creatives, hobbyists, enthusiasts and so on. But I think the one thing sets photographers apart from the crowd isn’t the gear or what their business cards say but their perspective on every day life.

    For example when you look outside a window right now do you just see the same thing you see every day or do you see the golden light bouncing off the leaves blowing in the wind? On those rainy days do you just see rain and ruined opportunities or do you see the droplets of rain bouncing off the ground creating small little puddles perfect for hi-speed photography?

    I’m certainly guilty of looking at a building and framing a shot even when I don’t have camera gear with me or finding lighting that’s just perfect and wishing I had some way of capturing the setting.

    I think most photographers see life through a “fixed lens” or their eyes if you will that every day people who only have passing interests in photography never seem to notice. That’s what I think sets us apart from the crowd. We visualize every day ordinary and mundane environments and then envision them to create or make something beautiful out of it.

    What do you think?

    Do you see the world differently since starting photography or have you always seen the world this way?


    Featured Image: Source

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