How to Improve Your Black and White Photography

On June 14, 2017 I attended a Photography Meetup with the Montgomery County Photographers Meetup Group. The meetup was hosted and organized by Lester Picker.

Picker started off the evening talking about why even bothering with black and white photography. He mentioned the historical case for it — it started a long time ago. However, it wasn’t really until the Civil War photographer Matthew Brady that it took off and became popular. Then, he mentioned several pioneers in black and white photography. Those pioneers included Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and Ansel Adams.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

Picker then mentioned some of the modern masters of black and white photography. Those include Sebastio Salgado, Nick Brandt, and Patrick Demarchelier.

Picker also talked about color as a distraction, abstraction in black and white images, how black and white photography reveals the soul, and how black and white images are evocative.

Finally, he gave some tips:

  • Immerse yourself (read, go to exhibits)
  • Practice shooting in black and white
  • Practice looking at the light
  • Go way too far; have fun
  • Make “Test Prints”

 

August is Fair Time

August may mean still sweltering temperatures and the approach of the end of summer, but it also means time for the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. A multitude of food vendors, lots of carnival rides, animals, home arts, arts and crafts exhibits, and assorted livestock shows make this event one of the outstanding affairs of August. The fair runs now through August 20th.

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McKee-Beshers Sunflower Fields – That Time of Year Again

A few years ago I heard about these sunflower fields that grow in the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD. The state plants the fields primarily to lure doves – which come after the flowers are mowed down – for hunting season in September. For the few weeks each year the fields are in bloom, it attracts photographers like me, artists, hikers, and birders.

Last week I made several visits out to the sunflower fields with two different photography http://www.meetup.com groups that I belong to. In previous years I have just gone by myself and I have gone late in the morning (10 a.m., but at least it wasn’t high noon, which as any photographer knows, harsh sunlight is a no-no). It was a very interesting experience to meetup with my fellow photographers and talk with them about their shooting styles and methods, and what equipment they use.

Here are some tips and tricks from my visits to these fields, as well as the pointers I learned from talking to the other photographers:

  1. Be sure to take bug spray, as there are bees and other bugs in those fields that you will be swatting at.
  2.  Take a step ladder with you. This is so you can get the wide sweeping views of the fields. This was my first year of bringing along a ladder (I kept forgetting to take it along the last few years I’ve been), so I was able to get the sweeping views of the fields I had heard so much about. I not only got the wide sweeping views of the fields, but interesting perspectives of the flowers as well. IMG_6488
  3. As I mentioned earlier people mainly go there to photograph the sunflowers, but the flowers are not the only subjects you can take pictures of. For instance, in a past year I have gotten a macro shot of bee on a flower. This year, a member of one of the meetup groups wanted to take pictures of birds, such as goldfinches, so she was using an app on her smartphone to attract the birds. Further, I saw another person taking pictures of a spider web. Additionally, while there one day, I had the opportunity to take a picture of a dog.IMG_6477
  4. Lastly, I did a little Facebook Live (I had been wanting to do one for a while,  as I love technology and trying new things, so I figured this was a great time to try my hand at doing one). Anyway, I interviewed one my fellow meetup members and his advice was to practice, practice, and practice. Just keep going out there and shooting. Find what you like and hone in on that and keep trying new things. In terms of macro photography, the key is to make sure everything is in sharp focus.

 

Habitat for Humanity Home Dedication

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Last weekend, I had the chance to photograph two home dedications for Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland, a nonprofit that builds simple, decent, energy efficient, and affordable housing for those living in substandard conditions in our community. I’ve volunteered for Habitat for Humanity before in many capacities, including photographing their ReStore products, so to be able to photograph these home dedications was a privilege.

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2015 Year in Review

Well, 2015 has been quite a year! I have been more active on this blog, which I will continue to use in the new year.

So, without further ado, here is my 2015 year in review.

January: Gettysburg

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February: Deer in woods

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March: Drip from Recycling Bin

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April: HMX-1 Helicopter

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May: WWII Flyover

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July: WWII Memorial at night

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August: Montgomery County Fair

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September: The National Zoo — Bao Bao

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October: Harper’s Ferry

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November: Eggnog Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

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December: Loch Ness Monster at Brookside Gardens

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Brookside Gardens: Garden of Lights

On Thursday, December 3, 2015 I went to Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights display to enjoy the gardens and dazzling colorful lights that are on display this time of year. This is the first time I have been back to the garden of lights display in ages and since I’ve had my latest camera, a Canon Rebel T3i. I was amazed by how easy it was and how spectacular my photographs turned out. Here are the settings and how I was photographing the light display.

1. I was not using a tripod, but in low light level situations it is always a good idea to do so. I was not doing so because mine is currently out of commission (on my list for Santa). In order to compensate for this I bumped up my ISO to the max it would go, which was 6400.

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2. I was shooting in manual mode because I wanted to be sure that I was in charge of all of the settings. IMG_5463

3. I had my white balance mode set to tungsten and I think that worked out well, as the lights didn’t have a yellowish or greenish tinge to them. IMG_5477

4. Finally, just have fun. For a few of my pictures I decided to go for the abstract and draw circles with my camera while I was taking the shot. IMG_5473

Hope these tips help. Happy shooting! Happy Holidays!

Salad Days: Reaching Back into the Old Gray Matter

I came across this writing prompt for my Blogging 101 class called Salad Days and it is asking us to if there is a period in our own personal lives that we think of as the good old days? If so, to tell a story about those innocent and/or exciting times (or lack thereof). I was born in 1981, so I was a child of the 80’s and 90’s. I think certainly my childhood was a time of innocence and I certainly don’t carry a lot of the worries I carry now. I don’t really have one specific story to tell from my childhood. However, I do have various photo albums, as maybe some of you do. What some of you may not do is sort your photos like I do. For some reason I decided to dedicate a photo album solely to concerts I attended. So, when I open that album I can look at those pictures and see a picture of Garth Brooks and say, I remember that concert. That was a fun concert. Another album I have is for family and friends. Then, when I went away to college my Freshmen year, I started another photo album. So, somewhere, I have a photo album filled with pictures from my freshmen year in college. Now, whenever I feel like going back to the good old days or remembering fun times, I pull out a photo album.

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