Perseid Meteor Shower. (Lots of time to sit and just gaze up and out into the universe)

Perseid Meteor Shower

Bulb mode, 27 sec f/4.0 ISO 3200 24mm.

 

Yes I’m running on just a few hours’ sleep after staying out till after 3:30am photographing the Perseid meteor shower. Although I captured many images with meteors it was not at all what I had hoped I would capture. A sky watcher did not have to look in any particular direction, I seen meteors from the east to the northwest. I also saw many straight up above my head. But with that said I wanted to capture an image with just a touch of landscape in it and I just could not get a really bright meteor in any of my captures.

I did not have to travel far to set up my camera, I put my gear in the car and drove up the hill to the back field on the farm where I live and I had a great view of the sky. I was on top of a hill and other than a silo I had a view of the whole sky. I set up about 10:30pm and after about twenty minutes of test shot and getting my setting correct I was firing away. I used a shutter release which I had programmed for a 27 second shutter opening. I know after about 28 seconds the stars will move enough to cause noticeable streaks in the image or “star trails” as most people would call them. However I did not want star trails on this night. I put the camera in Bulb mode and I varied my ISO and aperture depending on which lens I was using. My ISO range was 800 to 3200. It changed as the night went on.

Although I did not get a really nice image like I hoped I would get I did have a lot of fun. I have a Dodge Durango that is perfect for working out of the back of the vehicle. The back door opens upward and this keeps the night dew from settling directly on me. The camera on the other hand was getting dew after a few hours and that is easily handled by placing a towel over the camera. The lens did well for about 30 minutes and then I would switch out from the 24mm to the 50mm, keeping one lens warm and dry while the other is on camera worked great.

It was so nice to have a camera with a WiFi connection because after the camera was set and the shutter release turned on I could just sit and view the images coming in on my tablet. I had the music playing low and it was a very peaceful night. I was alone and that made it more peaceful. Lots of time to sit and just gaze up and out into the universe, something I have not done in a while. The last time I was able to just sit and gaze at the stars (no photography) was last November while I was on Ko Chang in the Gulf of Thailand. I had really bad jet lag and sat outside a few nights and gazed the stars and drifted away into thoughts about everything and anything while the nighttime sound of the jungle played in my head.

So in the end I did capture one image that I liked enough to post. Looking to the northwest I captured this image at 3:07am using a 24-105mm lens. My camera was set to Bulb mode, 27 sec f/4.0 ISO 3200 24mm. My edit was made in Lightroom CC and just a touch of Photoshop to remove a dust spot and tone down the yellow lights rising up from the distant highway.

Thanks for reading and have a great day. J

Model vs Landscape (and then that leaves the rest of us stuck looking at a bunch of useless signs)

Covered Bridge-Edit

 

When shooting faces there are always blemishes that need editing, if you have read some of my previous posts you know my general rule is “if it wasn’t supposed to be there then remove it.” The ever so evil pimple that shows up on the model’s face the morning of the photo shoot or maybe the micro dots of mascara that falls from her lashes and I think most of all is the stray hair across the face as this is always happening. Now I must tell you I am constantly looking for these nemeses as I’m shooting, I will sometimes go right up to a model and literally dissect her face with my eyes and I’ll see nothing. Then somewhere between the snap of the shutter and the download to Lightroom all these horrible little gremlins sneaked into my photos… urrggg!!!

One might say “well go shoot landscapes and you won’t have this problem.” Wrong! How many times have I seen that most beautiful farmhouse sitting out over that beautiful grassy field and I stopped the car and jump out with the tripod and camera bag, my wife peeling herself off the windshield asking “what is wrong, why did we stop?” And me just so excited saying “just two minutes that’s all I need just two minutes.” Now back in the car and my mind is just full of blissful thought about the scene I just captured. A few miles down the road it happens again… OMG an old wooden covered bridge, oh how the photography gods have shined on me today. I’m on a high higher than any major league sports star could buy from his dealer. But with every high there comes the crash, like a NASCAR at Talladega and it is never pretty. I’m sitting there as I watch the download come into Lightroom and “what the hell is this?” Power lines? Where did they come from? Who put all these ugly road signs in front of the covered bridge? And that is the “crash.” But it is the reality of the world we live in. I call these “landscape blemishes.” They just shouldn’t be there. I know they are not like the pimple on the model’s face after all I guess somebody needs the power line to be there and electricity is hard to live without, but I don’t want it in my photo so it is coming out. Same with road signs, although I feel they are most times not as important as power lines in our life, we do need to have road signs because we have an ever-increasing population of idiotic people and for some reason society feels that if we put up a plethora of signs it will save the idiots from themselves, but… well like they say “you can’t fix stupid” and then that leaves the rest of us stuck looking at a bunch of useless signs and this bothers photographers more than any other group of people.

So I think by now you can see where I’m coming from and most likely you too have traveled this road, thinking you have something great, until you downloaded and seen what was really there. So how does this happen? Well for the most part we are not “seeing what we are looking at.” I think it was Jay Maisel that said that, actually I’m not sure who said that, but I know Mr. Maisel did say “Be aware of every square millimeter of your frame.” And that right there folks is not an easy task at all times. However with time you can teach yourself to see what you’re looking at and when you do learn this it is actually more frustrating and you’ll almost wish you never knew it. Why? Because now you start seeing what you’re looking at, you start seeing the power lines and the road signs as you’re framing up the shot and now you have to decide “do I want to find another angle or do I want to Photoshop the signs out?” Maybe to find the right angle for that farmhouse out in the field you will have to go up on the hill behind you, or walk out across the field. Hey nobody ever said “getting the good shot was going to be easy” and if they did, well they lied.

Now there is another angle (pardon the pun) to this dilemma and that takes us back to the model’s face. Why do I have to edit the model’s face? Let me say it like this; I could be sitting having coffee with a person, we are sitting right across from each other for thirty minutes and sure I can see them. But do I really see them like I would see them when I snap the shutter at 1/125 of a second and freeze the look for all eternity? No. This is more or less the same thing that happens with landscape and environmental images. The road signs and power lines are always there but we pay very little attention to them… that is until we snap the shutter and then all of a sudden we see them loud & clear. So in the end we have landscape vs model’s face, most likely I would find it easier to edit the model.

Happy shooting and remember “are seeing what you’re looking at?

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

IMG_3179

It Is Confirmed… Springtime is here. (Of course the ducks & geese and daffodils included are spring like sights)

_MG_0985-Edit

 

It really is a beautiful day here in Hunterdon County New Jersey today. I was out in the morning taking a walk and absorbing the signs of springtime. To walk along the canal and see the wild ducks and the Canada geese is always a nice sight. But to see a whole family ride by on bicycles is a true sign of nice spring like weather. Of course the ducks & geese and daffodils included are spring like sites; however they are always there even in the cold rain. But to see the whole family enjoying a cycle ride along the canal is the big confirmation that springtime weather is here.

I then left this area just north of Lambertville and headed just two miles north to the small river town of Stockton New Jersey and I stopped at the old Prallsville Mill. The scene was very similar with the wild ducks and geese in the mill-pond as they skeptically watch me ever so close. Seeing the big camera lens pointed at them is always very intriguing I know. Birds see color and most can see the blink of an eye at 200 yards, so surely they see my shutter clicking away. There were no cyclists to be found in Stockton, I think they were all gone on their rides headed north to Frenchtown. But I did see that another sign that tells me spring is here, the father & son fishing. This again is the confirmation of a beautiful spring day. Although the landscape is barren and lacks color it will soon come to life in a cascade of colorful flowers, leaves and grasses as it does every year.

So I close this post and head back out into the beautiful day to shoot a beautiful face. For this again the “outdoor” model shoot is yet another confirmation of warm spring day.

Thanks so much for reading.

The Smallest Thing Can Mean The Most (you don’t fight with your friends, if you’re fighting with your friends… )

Greg & Scott Sampson

Greg & Scott Sampson

My most recent photo shoot with a motocross racer was a success. I was a little nervous going into this project for the simple fact that the racer had never really done a studio style shoot. And given the fact that I was not going to be just doing the standard portrait style of “say cheese and click we’re done.” While I was surely going to do those standard headshots as I always do, after all everybody can use a fresh headshot. This is also a way to break the ice and let the new model get a feel for the whole environment of the all the crazy flashing and softboxes ect. But soon I would move on to the creative lighting that I so crave and must create and get it done in a timely fashion. I don’t want to burn the model out, new or experienced it doesn’t matter; I want the person to go away feeling that working with me was a good experience and a fun time. This then lets me leave the shoot feeling very confident that if I need to reshoot or just work together again in the future that getting a “yes” will be almost a given.

So the little bit of nervousness that I was feeling was that I had high hopes this young man could take direction well. While most people can do what you ask of them, they do feel a little strange when I get into the creative mode and start asking them to do things that don’t really make sense at a standard photo shoot. Or at least it doesn’t really seem to match up with what they envisioned a shoot should be. Example; I ask the model to turn their back towards me and look over their shoulder. See, you must know that part of my creative technique is not really going into detail about what I’m doing. Not because it is a secret, but rather if I sit and try to explain what and why I’m doing something I am wasting both our time. They may not know an f/stop from a focus ring, so why bother. Most times they have seen my work and know it is not run of the mill and therefore I just say “it is creative so it may seem a little weird” and most times they’ll just roll with whatever I tell them to do.

But Greg was an ace, not only did he do as I asked, he pretty much nailed it. I only had to shoot each pose three clicks of the shutter. I always do three clicks because of eye blinks and the like. I got the feeling that he picked up on the vibe of what I was doing because the shoot flowed along rather well. I would shoot a few poses and we would review them together on my tablet and quickly move on to the next set of poses.

Now for the rest of the story… So this shoot was taking place in a garage bay next to the area where the motorcycles are worked on. When we started we were alone, but Scott who is Greg’s father soon arrived and wanted to see what we were doing. Now I have to tell you Scott has a look and presence that would make most nightclub bouncers cringe. He is an amazing guy I could tell, why just in the short time I was there I heard him speaking to other friends and family members and his words of wisdom were being felt and absorbed by everyone whether they knew it or not. I quote “you don’t fight with your friends, if you’re fighting with your friends… well then they are not your friends.” Hey the guy is dead on right as far as I’m concerned. Don’t let the ink fool you, I could damn well tell this man is a good leader, father and most likely that friend that would always be there for you. But with all that said, what are the chances of just getting him to step in front of the camera with his son? I want to do it and really I have to do it. Because I know truly how photography works. This photo is going to mean a lot to somebody. I know it, I feel it and… ah what the heck. So I say “hey Scott what da ya say… I want you to step in here and let me just get one shot with you and Greg and this awesome bike you built.” I had to ask twice and I could tell her really wanted to do it although he played it cool and seemed a little reluctant.

So like I said; the photo is going to mean a lot to somebody, but whom? Will mom like it? It is a nice father & son shot and the bike is a work of art as far as motocross bikes go. Or will it be a shot that will take on meaning as years go by and they look back at the “good ole days? Well the answer came a lot sooner than I had thought. I had sent Greg a few quick edits that were cropped for Instagram as he had requested. The photos made their rounds and then I see this on IG and I knew that this photo was really worth the world to somebody. It made me very happy to know that the photo touched them.

 

 

Sometimes the simplest photo means the world to someone.

Sometimes the simplest photo means the world to someone.

Work In Progress

Work In Progress