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Preview: Daily Tips To Improve Your Photography

Daily Tips To Improve Your Photography

One of the best kept secrets on the Internet! Feel free to share -- but only with cool people! ;)

Updated: 2017-10-06T04:07:48.083-06:00


01/02/09: Editorial assignments


I'm always collecting pictures for editorial self-assignments. I have a list of editorial projects I'm working on with no particular time frame and I enjoy being able to shoot these assignment. Old Catholic churches are one of my favorite assignments -- especially churches in areas that may no longer be financially self-sufficient (that's a fancy way to say these churches are in blighted areas!). Some day these churches may close -- and former parishioners will enjoy being able to see the images of the churches before they closed.

I also like taking pictures of people talking on phones. Years ago we didn't carry our phones with us wherever we go -- now that most everyone carries a phone with them, we get to see animated discussions in public places. It always makes me chuckle to go to a place like a them park and see people talking on phones. And I won't hesitate to snap a picture of someone making an expression while talking on their phone. Sometimes it's hillarious!

Another favorite subject I've photographed for over 20 years -- building implosions! I've photographed about five or six over the last 20 years. It's just interesting to get to a blow-down site (that's what they sometimes call implosion sites!) and elbow yourself into position to capture the building coming down.

What kinds of editorial things to do you like to "self-assign?"

01/01/09: We're back! :)


We're back!  I resolve to resume and continue blogging daily photo tips and general fun photo related items on a daily basis in 2009.  Bookmark me...check back often to keep me honest!

I hope Santa Claus was good to you during the holidays...I did not get the Canon EOS 5D Mark II that I wished for...but I'm not sure if it was because I was naughty (for abandoning my daily photo tips during 2008), or if it was just due to Santa's compressed budget this year.  :)

I did get a cool new gadget -- not directly photo related -- but I can always find a way that a new toy is photo related.  I got an Olympus digital voice recorder (model VN-4100PC).  I intend to use this cool little device to help me keep track of my constant thoughts about photography...and to help me journal some of my photo assignments.  Have you thought about how convenient this would be to help you with your shooting?  Think of the can record your thoughts while you are shooting...or...if you are like are driving past a cool location that you'd like to shoot later (with or without a model...but with the right light for sure!) and you can't exactly write down what you are thinking / seeing while driving.  A digital voice recorder would certainly help you make a note of what and where you saw what you saw!

10/23/08: Win $10,000 or one of 200 memory cards from SanDisk!


Does your point & shoot camera record video?

Check out this contest from SanDisk!

10/21/08: 5 reasons to try Adobe Lightroom (or 5 reasons to upgrade to version 2.0!)


Check out this article from Dave Johnson -- PC World Magazine's resident photography expert -- about Adobe Lightroom.

10/01/08: Short but cool behind the scenes sports photo shoot video


Check out this short behind-the-scenes video of a sports photoshoot by St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer Chris Lee. Call me a photo nerd, but I love being a voyuer on stuff like this! ;)

09/23/08: Well, this is pretty cool...


Just click here.

08/27/08: Who is Anton Corbijn?


Anton Corbijn is a famous photographer known mostly for his work with the rock band U2. His style is described as showing raw emotion. I was influenced many years ago to become a photographer when I first saw Corbijn's famous picture of Peter Rowan -- the boy on the cover of U2's album titled "Boy" (and also the younger brother of U2 frontman Bono's good friend "Guggi"). Rowan, coincidentally, is now a well-known Irish photographer.

Since his initial work as a still photographer, Corbijn has branched out into directing music videos and feature films. You can check out his official web-site by clicking here.

08/19/08: Real photo, or fake?


Take the quiz...

See if you can determine which of the images are real and which ones are fake (computer generated). I got 9 out of 10...much to my own surprise...but then again, I faked my way thru school so I know what I excel at! :-)

06/30/08: Interview with Jay Maisel


This is an old piece but very relevant -- timeless you might say.

Read this interview with Jay Maisel from Photo Insider. Jay is an amazing photographer known for his mastery of light and gesture in his photographs. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak in St. Louis about 5 years ago -- probably one of the best photographer talks I ever attended.

03/02/08: Samsung made this for photographers...


Samsung's new SyncMaster 2263X Dual Display monitor, I'm convinced, was built for photographers. The dual display couples a 22 inch primary monitor and a detacheable 7 inch companion monitor -- seems like the perfect setup to work in Adobe Photoshop to me! You have your image workspace on the main monitor and actions or other palettes on the 7 inch companion monitors. Samsung's new monitor earned a Popular Mechanic's "editor's choice" award in the April 2008 issue. The 7" companion or "sub-monitor" connects easily to an available USB port and can be used in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) modes. Estimated price is around $550.

Seems like a great little set-up especially if workspace is at a premium. Or, if you are like me -- you work dual screen using a laptop and a separate monitor. With the Samsung...I wonder if it would be possible to work with THREE monitors for one PC? I'm getting greedy... LOL

03/01/08: "But what if I want all three girls in focus?"


A friend of mine sent me this interesting article. It's about a new company called Refocus Imaging -- and the ability to change the focal point in a digital imagine during post processing. Check out the article:

Looks pretty cool, eh?

02/29/08: Quote of the day...


I know I've been off-line a apologies...I've got too many projects right now! But we're back again...and what better way to return to great quotes than one from the master -- Ansel Adams...

"There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."

-- Ansel Adams

02/28/08: Dymo disc painter


I saw this nifty little disc painter from Dymo featured in the recent issue of Rangefinder magazine. Check it out...

02/27/08: Fascinating article...


Check out this article about photographer Paul Nicklen -- the "photographer of the north."

02/26/08: Small aperature can reveal dirty sensor!


EDIT: Thanks to Oleksandr for pointing out my error on this post. :) I love the photo community on the internet! :)

We went ice skating recently and the rink has a rule about taking cameras out on the ice. Naturally, this is a rule I completely disregard. :) With that rule in mind I did use my 4th string trusty 4 year old Canon EOS 10D. I love shooting slow shutter of action shots (especially sports and children...bonus when I can combine the two). In order to get the slow shutter I need, I have to stop the aperature way down.

A small aperature can reveal nasty dirt specks on a DSLR sensor at a low / slow shutter speed that a normal or fast shutter speed would not reveal. See below for examples...

sensor specks barely noticeable... (1/45 second, f22, ISO 100)



...dust specks even more noticeable! (1/20 sec, f32, ISO 100)

(image) And here's a fast shutter speed -- same camera and lens. The image below was shot at 1/500 second, f5.6. The sensor was not cleaned for this shot...but you can not see the dust specs.


02/25/08: CNN interview with Anne Geddes


Click here to watch a short video interview (about 6 minutes) with Anne Geddes. Anne tells us what inspires her to photograph the babies in the way she does and speaks about some of the challenges in photographing new babies.


12/13/07: Four Elements of a Great Photo


Supremely talented travel photographer (and Nikon shooter) Bob Krist states that there are four basic elements to a great photograph:

1. Good color
2. Good composition
3. Beautiful light
4. A sense of moment - a storytelling element

Keep these simple things in mind when shooting travel, nature...or really any kind of photograph. You'll see great improvement when you are consistently accomplishing all four elements in your images.

12/12/07: Are you shooting at the edges?


I watched the Tom Brokaw special "1968" on the History Channel tonight. Well...I watched as much of it as I could while trying to assert my role as "Mr. Mom" on evenings when my wife is at work. LOL

One of the people they interviewed was, of course, some kind of hippie radical expert or something...gee, I really wish I would have remembered his name! He talked about the hippie culture and the Haight-Ashbury element that would consistently "go to the edge." This concept really struck a chord with me -- at least as an visual artist. :)

Am I shooting at the edges? I I pushing my talents and abilities as a photographer further and further each time I pick up a camera? Am I doing the same when I sit down to work with the images in my favorite image editing program?

Are you shooting at the edges?

12/10/07: Peter Miller's favorite shots...


Maybe it's just a slow sports news day...but I LOVE it when Sports Illustrated does these features of their top photographers and their favorite shots. Check out uber-talented sports photographer Peter Miller's gallery of favorite shots...

12/09/07: Interview with Denis Reggie


Here is a Canon "Explorers of Light" interview with Denis Reggie -- check it out...

12/07/07: Quote of the day...


Clay Blackmore...on posing group portraits...

"We do everything we can to make the women look as beautiful as possible...and then we stick the men in there."


12/06/07: Check out these portfolios


I'm fascinated by photojournalism -- the style of pictures where an image can tell an entire story without words. I get a lot of inspiration from looking at the portfolios of working photojournalists.

Check out this web page of of the Wichita Eagle that features the portfolios of their top photographers.

12/05/07: Question from the mailbag...


S.R. from St. Louis sent me this recent question -- he is an amateur film shooter considering a Canon DSLR purchase.

Question: "With the Rebel Xti, can I shoot a picture by composing/viewing the image using the LCD display, or do I always have to use the view finder to shoot and the LCD is only for review and to view the settings?"

The Rebel Xti does NOT have "live-view" (LCD screen shooting) -- you have to compose via the viewfinder. The 40D on the other hand DOES have live-view shooting capabilities.

The thing to realize about live-view is that you have to manually focus as the auto-focus doesn't work with Canon's live-view shooting mode. You can pre-focus using the shutter or back-button (the 40D has a focus button on the back of the camera…an improvement over previous Canon high-end consumer models that only allowed you to back-button focus via the * button and a custom pre-set -- the 40D designers went ahead and added this as a separate button) and THEN activate live-view.

While I love the new 40D, I personally am not super jazzed about live-view shooting -- about the only time I've used it is when I want to take someone's picture before they think I'm going to take it -- in other words…at family gatherings during dull moments. :)

Perhaps when I get more time to shoot nature / macro detail shots, I'll find more use for live-view shooting.

12/03/07: REALLY high end wedding!


Want to learn more about a wedding that cost $90 million? Check out:

for all the details on the June 2004 wedding of Vinisha Mittal to Amit Bahtia. The celebration lasted SIX days! (Most people are lucky to have a honeymoon last six days!)

11/30/07: Quote of the day...


This quote is rather controversial, in my opinion, as photo contest judges often have a much lower threshhold to define the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer.

"People who earn less than half of their income from photography are amateurs. This has nothing to do with the quality of their photography."
I've seen contests where the official rules state that an amateur is someone who earns less than 5% of their income from photography. To each their own (definition). :)