Think Lighting

Think Lighting

There is no doubt the growth of cell phone camera technology has sent the entire world out trying to play photographer. So often the images posted to social media are almost indistinguishable. One of the main culprits is the destruction created by bad lighting. I’m not talking about cloudy overcast days. Actually those are some of the best conditions to take “pitchers” outdoors. (Sorry for the sarcasm!). Oh yeah, the other problems shows up when you take a picture of someone in front of a window looking outdoors. You wind up with faces almost black due to the shadows.

I found a video by Adorama, a camera store in New York City. The video does a great job showing you how to easily work around the condition I mentioned above. Yes you will hear some talk about shutter speeds and f-stops, but don’t let that bother you. In most cases you can make a simple adjustment on your cell phone to change the exposure slider to achieve the same results. Enjoy the video and give me your thoughts. business card


Mixed Light Selfie On The Beach

Mixed light photography

My wife Diane and I love the beach at Siesta Key, Florida. Anyone who has been to this beach raves about the white powder sand. As a photographer, I’m often left out of pictures. Which is OK. However, this particular trip caused me to think about a photo of my wife and I. Especially since we enjoy Siesta Key beach as we do. I’m always telling Diane, I want to create our portrait on the beach.

So one evening after we’d gotten cleaned up and had dinner, I told Diane; OK, let’s do the portrait on the beach thing tonight. The first words from Diane were; OK, let me fix my hair!  Imagine that. I told Diane, I want to get my camera set up, so I’ll head out and you can catch up.

The problem with this type of photography at this time of day is the low light levels and mix of light sources. With the sun setting or after sunset, you need a long exposure in order to capture the ambient light. To insure the light on the faces is correct, means you need to add some flash. Now you have a mixed light source. So how does this work?

First you need to make the giant leap of faith and shoot in manual! I  can hear you out there now: OMG – shoot in manual, what’s an f-stop? Yep, you will need to know your f-stop from shutter speed. The quick answer is to use the lens aperture to control the flash exposure. Then find a shutter speed to control the ambient exposure. After that, it’s just an issue to get the pose right. In this set up, I didn’t want to drag extra strobes, light stands, camera and tripod onto the beach. Although for you I’d make sure the extra lights are used. One other handy item was the hand held remote for the camera.

So after was all said and done, Diane and I chose the image below to have printed. OK, I’ll admit I did enhance the night sky a little. Let me know your thoughts!

We have this wonderful body of water here called Lake Erie. So if you’d like to have your family photographed in a setting like the one shown, contact me.

Mixed Light - night portrait on the beach

Diane and Tom on the Siesta Key Beach at dusk.

Light – Composition For Photography

Use Light and Composition

If you’ve been following me for a little while, you’ve heard me comment about understanding light in order to improve your photography. In the article attached to my post, I’d like you to examine the photographs of the artist – Vivienne Gucwa. First, notice how her images evoke a mood. Whether it’s the night scene or a snow storm. It sets the mood for the subject.

Secondly, when you look at her images do you notice your eye moving through the image. That’s her use of light combined with composition to accomplish that. Next time you pick up your camera think back to Vivienne’s images for inspiration. What are your thoughts?

Mount Rushmore Light Show

Electric lighting on Mount Rushmore at night.

Golden Hour Photography?

Golden Hour vs. Mid Day

The Golden Hour as referred to by photographers as the hour around sun up or sundown. The sun and atmosphere combine to give the photographer unique and colorful lighting. Photographers often avoid shooting mid day. Why? The more direct and overhead sun causes a lot of shadows, a lot of contrast and deep dark shadows.

So do you put the camera away during mod day? Absolutely not. This is where you have to be a photographer not a “snap-shot-er”. Huh? Yes, spend the time looking at the scene obviously for composition but also for lighting. Can you position your subject in a location where the lighting is softer and away from dark shadows? Can you shoot in an area that is in shade? Of course you can. You may have to think a little bit and take the time to find a location that gives the light you want.

Take a look at what Chris Gampat has to say on this topic. At the same time look how He controlled the light in his images.

Golden Hour vs. mid day photography

Choose an environment that offers soft light. If needed, add fill flash.

Make Shutter Speed A Photography Tool

If you have read some of my posts, you may have read this before: “You’ve got to be smarter than the camera!” That means understanding how the camera works and camera limitations. Cell phone manufacturers want you to believe that you can take professional photos with their product. Well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut! Good images are made not taken. So that means what I said earlier – “You’ve got to be smarter than the camera!”

Lets start with one of the tools used to create good images – Shutter Speed. Simply the time the sensor is exposed to light from a scene or subject. That time be be a fraction of a second to minutes. Shutter speed can be a very creative tool. Read on to learn more and see some wonderful examples.

Senior Portrait Photography

So you want to by pass hiring professional to shoot your child’s senior photos? OK, then do some research and learn what it takes to capture that perfect photo. Here’s a great article on where to begin. If you decide not to do this project yourself, then please consider contacting me to be your family photographer.

Zach Ashcraft: Taking Better Senior Portraits

To Flash Or To Not-Flash, That is the question!


After spend what might be way-to-much time on social media and watching people use camera phones and I-pads for photography, I’ve decided that I’m a “Camera-Snob”.  Yep that’s right, a Camera-Snob.  Watching the general public take pictures makes me cringe and crazy or crazier.

Let me explain.  In early September, 2013 my wife and I took a trip to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial and the Black Hills.  Both Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial have wonderful night time ceremonies.  Being a photographer, I had my camera and tripod with me for the night time light shows.

We’re sitting in the outdoor theatre, the sun has set and the show begins.  I’m looking around watching people take pictures of the ceremony with their camera (point-n-shoot, I-pad or camera phone).  Now my guess is we’re seated – oh, a half mile or more from the 4 faces carved in the mountain.  I found this humorous, people raise their camera, trip the shutter, they look down at the results and shake their head in disappointment.   Then without making any camera adjustments, the person raises the camera again, trips the shutter, looks down at the results and again shakes their head in disappointment.  Didn’t Albert Einstein say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?


Mount Rushmore photographed at night

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota shot in the dark. There was enough light at 8:30 P.M. after the sun went down to record this image.


So what do you do in this situation?  First of all turn off the flash.  The typical on-camera flash will effectively reach to about 20 feet.  So in the case of Mount Rushmore, you’ll see the 20 feet of the scene reasonably exposed and the rest of the scene will be BLACK.  Its physics folks, you can’t change it.  With your flash set to OFF and the rest of the camera in “auto”, you stand the best chance of getting a picture.  The way to get a good image under this lighting will depend on your maximum ISO speed available and if you have something to steady the camera for a long exposure, like a tripod.  Since its digital photography, you can make changes to the exposure to dial in the correct setting(s).


Mount Rushmore Light Show

This image was shot during the Mount Rushmore Light Show.


Oh yeah, you’ll need to understand something about photography to understand how to shoot in the dark using existing light.  Sometimes, you just have to be smarter than the camera.  Sorry the snob in me is coming out.

Fireworks photography

Interested in shooting fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July?  Here are a couple of helpful hints. 

Go ahead and leave your camera in automatic.

Use a tripod or steady your camera against a fixed object.

Use the manual setting, ISO 100, Aperture f-16 or higher, shutter speed on B – “bulb” and expose for 15 to 30 seconds.

Use the widest angle of view for your lens.  Watch the trajectory of the fireworks so you know where to aim your camera in anticipation of the next batch.

Feel free to experiment.  Looking for fireworks in your area check below.  Have fun and be safe in the dark!

  • July 1 – Independence – Elmwood Park; 10pm
  • July 2 – Chardon – Chardon High School – at dusk
  • July 2 – New Philadelphia – Tuscora Park – at dusk
  • July 2 – Mayfield Village – SOM Center and Wilson Mills Rds – dusk
  • July 2 – Hudson – Barlow Farm Park – at dusk
  • July 2,3 and 4 – Cuyahoga Falls – Blossom Music Center; Blossom Festival Band
  • July 3 – Bratenahl – Village Park – dusk
  • July 3 – Wadsworth – Memorial Park – at dusk
  • July 3 – Fairlawn – Bicentennial Park – 10pm
  • July 3 – Wellington – TBA
  • July 3 – Oberlin – Rec Center – dusk
  • July 3 – Medina – Medina High School – dusk
  • July 3 – Portage Lakes – Portage Main Park – at dusk
  • July 3 – Conneaut – Lake View Park – 945pm
  • July 3 – Lorain – Mile Lond Pier – 10pm
  • July 3 – North Ridgeville – South Center Park – dusk
  • Elyria – Canceled
  • July 3 Bedford – Chanel High School – dusk
  • July 3 – Brunswick – Brunswick High School – 10pm
  • July 3 – Avon Lake – Miller Road Park – dusk
  • July 4 – Massilon – Stadium Park – dusk
  • July 4 – Garfield Heights – none
  • July 4 – North Canton – 7th street near Memorial Stadium – dusk
  • July 4 – North Olmsted – TBA
  • July 4 – Orville – Orr Park – 1015pm
  • July 4 – Wooster – Kinney Field; 10pm
  • Parma – Canceled
  • July 4 – Cedar Point – Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky; at dusk
  • July 4 – Shaker Heights – Shaker Middle School, 20600 Shaker Blvd.; at dusk
  • July 4 – Solon – Solon Community Center – dusk
  • July 4 – Strongsville – Foltz Parkway – dusk
  • July 4 – Wickliffe – Coulby Park – dusk
  • July 4 – Geneva-on-the-Lake – Fireworks; Geneva on the Lake Resort Golf Course; 10pm
  • July 4 – Alliance – Silver Park – dusk
  • July 4 – Berea – Coe Lake Gazebo; at dusk
  • July 4 – Put-in-Bay- Over downtown harbor – 10pm
  • July 4 – Cleveland – The over Lake Erie – celebration begins at 630pm, fireworks at dusk
  • Euclid – Canceled
  • July 4 – Westlake – Clague Park – at dusk
  • July 4 – Mentor – Civic Center Park – 950pm
  • July 4 – Lakewood – Lakewood Park fireworks at 945pm
  • July 4 – Willoughby – Willoughby South High School, 5000 Shankland Rd.,; dusk – 10pm
  • July 4 – Eastlake – Fireworks at 10pm; Classic Park Stadium
  • Akron – Lock 3 park – 945pm, following a concert by the Akron Symphony Orchestra
  • July 4 – Lakeside – The dock at 945pm
  • July 4 – Bay Village – fireworks – Cahoon Park – at dusk
  • July 4 – Bainbridge – River Road Park – at dusk
  • July 4 – Cleveland – Nautica Queen; Dinner and Fireworks cruise on Lake Erie; call 216 696-8888 for reservations.
  • July 4 – Ashtabula – Canceled
  • July 4 – Atwood Lake – at dusk
  • July 4 – Aurora – City Center; at dusk
  • July 10 – Brook Park -City Hall – 10pm