I took a much needed vacation to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico and I even succeeded in not turning my entire trip into a full on photography assignment! I decided to take one camera (my camera “B” aka Nina) and one lens (Canon 50mm f 1.8). While I did get to spend days on the beach soaking up the sun, explore the island and R-E-L-A-X, I also spent an entire day in Old San Juan snapping away. Puerto Rico is a beautiful island filled with rich culture, delicious cuisine and beautiful (and colorful) architecture. Check out the photos below!
I had an assignment from a client to capture the city at night. I haven’t done any night photography in quite awhile so I had to break out my notes and remember some of the basics to creating successful night images. These are a few things that I keep in mind:
1. Use a tripod! I know, who wants to lug around another piece of equipment, especially at night? But tripods are essential to capturing sharp, clear images at night. For the most part, when you are shooting at night your shutter speed is extremely slow so any movement will introduce blur in the shot. The great news is that there are tons of affordable alternatives to the full sized tripods out there. As I talked about a few posts back my Gorilla Pod has been a great addition to my equipment collection. This was my first time using it at night at it was a great alternative to a full sized tripod. BUT If you absolutely must shoot at night without a tripod, look around, there are plenty of flat surfaces everywhere.
2. Slow down…your shutter that is.
As I mentioned when shooting at night you want a slow shutter, the slower the better. I shot all of my images with a 30 second shutter. Because I had my Gorilla Pod I didn’t have to worry about blur. You can also utilize the Bulb feature and have an even longer shutter if needed. This will come in handy when you are shooting sky trails at night or even fireworks this summer. Keep your ISO low, 100 or 200 if you can.
3. Plan ahead. Know where and what you want to capture before hand.
In this case my client wanted busy city streets with blurred motion of cars, lights and no people. With this information ahead of time I was able to adjust my camera settings before hand, map out a few locations, do a test set up while the sun was out and get straight to work when the sun went down. Since you don’t have the benefit of sunlight to see what you’re doing, it helps to know where you are going and what you want to capture ahead of time so that you’re not fumbling around in the dark trying to find streets, certain settings on your camera and set up equipment. Be mindful of whatever the laws are in the area that you are photographing. For example here in NYC as soon as you put a tripod on the ground (for video), you technically need a permit for whatever you’re doing. You would hate to get everything set up to photograph a major bridge at night only to find out that you can’t photograph it in a certain area at a certain time.
4. Go out and shoot! The 4th of July is right around the corner, what better time to pick up the camera, go out and capture some of the action. If you live in NY there are fireworks pretty much every weekend at Coney Island during the summer so if you’re looking for a free night photography challenge, you’ve got it.
I took part in the LRG/Jansport photo walk last week and of course I met some cool photographers, discovered a few places that I’d never explored with my camera and WALKED, a lot, but one of the highlights had to be the young man who took an L for the team by trying to give us something interesting to photograph. I present to you, The Fall:
He was a REALLY good sport about it and I hope he doesn’t have an extra leg or arm growing by now. Just another reminder that sometimes when you fall, you have to laugh, dust or dry yourself off and keep pushing!
I recently picked up two items that have been a tremendous help with my photography. First up, so far the most comfortable camera strap that I’ve owned, The Wapiti Strap.
The Wapiti Strap is handcrafted by photographer David Grubbs. This is important, who better to make a camera strap than someone who has carried around cameras for their entire professional career? The strap itself is made of Montana Elk leather and is extremely comfortable. I tend to wear my camera around my neck, sling it under my arm on my hip and this weird thing where I let it rest around both shoulders to take the pressure off my neck (you have to see it) so finding a comfortable camera strap that won’t strain my neck and support the weight of my camera and lens was a delight.
I’ve gone through a few straps and so far this one is in the lead for my favorite. They come in custom sizes as well as adjustable and non adjustable sizes. I think my favorite characteristic of the strap is that it’s fairly narrow. One of my biggest issues with most camera straps is how wide they are. For me, having a wider strap is very uncomfortable when I move my head around, it’s like it’s digging into my skin. Not cool. If you’re on the hunt for a new camera strap give The Wapiti Strap a try.
Now the GorillaPod by Joby is an interesting creature. It’s basically a small, flexible and lightweight tripod. Having traveled with heavy full sized tripods, carrying them and sending a couple to the ER or worse the graveyard (only killed one tripod actually) I was seeking an alternative for everyday use and for an upcoming trip in which I’d like to have a tripod available. I’ve seen a few photographers online reference this as something they carry with them and decided to give it a try.
Not only is this a fairly sturdy tripod alternative but its flexibility opens a whole new door to my creativity. Combined with Zoe’s (my Canon 6D) ability to shoot images wirelessly from my iPhone via the Canon Remote app, I can basically wrap the tripod around any random object (as long as it reaches around it) and shoot from an otherwise awkward or impossible angle.
AND this thing hangs on. I wrapped the tripod around my bar stool and it hung there…for hours…about 5. I totally forgot it was there and when I remembered, it was in the exact same place. It didn’t slide down or loosen up at all thank God. *Disclaimer* Be smart. Can you hang this thing from a tree branch 100 feet up or on a 20th floor balcony ledge? Probably. Should you, probably not. Use your best judgment.
The tripods come in different sizes for different camera models. I have the SLR Zoom version with the ballhead attachment because it supports up to 6lbs and is designed to hold a DSLR and zoom lens. Joby GorillaPods also have a bubble level on each tripod and sell different attachments such as wheels and suction cups to further add to the flexibility of this mini tripod. Is this a replacement for full sized tripods? No, if I’m out shooting a video or a film my first instinct is to grab a full sized tripod but this is an excellent alternative for photographers and videographers.