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Friday, December 31, 2010

Digital Pinhole Photography

Until recently I never thought that I would use any of the "digital modes" available on a digicam. For me, I shoot in RAW and Aperture Priority and usually adjust the final exposures in Manual Mode. That was until I started using the Panasonic Lumix LX5 and said, What the Hell?" and started playing around in the various creative options offered in camera. Several of the posts below were shot in Film Grain mode. This, in Pinhole, creates that effect with a pale center and surrounding vignette. This old corn shed is in the woods way behind our house on a snowshoe trip the other morning. I shot it in 5 or 6 different modes and liked this one the best. Jeff

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jack's Foot

Emotional impact. Think about that when deciding on what you are seeing in the viewfinder. Images that elicit a response from the viewer often are one's best images. Here is the foot of Jack, our first grandson, in my hand. Jack, a vibrant 150% healthy 7 year old, was born 6 weeks prematurely weighing 5 pounds. When I held him for the first time at NYU Medical Center, I was overwhelmed by emotion and then noted his foot in my hand. Wow, this was a foot, a tiny foot, the size of a full term infant's hand! With the help of our terrific son Ari, we composed this image with a Canon G2 digicam. The fold out and twistable LCD really helped to frame the image. Setting was P mode and image was converted to B&W in Photoshop with some corner vignetting added to throw the viewer's eye toward the central, important part of the image. Jeff

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The Village of Canajoharie, home of Beechnut is slowing dying. Beechnut is relocating 20 miles away to replace their 100 year old plant and slowly a ghost town is forming. Wander around and you see abandoned factories, buildings and old mills. I saw this scene last week and was struck by the drabness, decay and coldness of the winter's day. I could have shot it in color as the buildings were red brick and paint, but the grayness of the day and its "mood" directed me to shoot in a high grain monochrome called "Film Grain" on the Panasonic Lumix LX5. Wide angle of 24mm captured the scene. The camera chose the f stop. With multifunction modes in newer digital cameras you can choose settings that reflect yours and the scene's mood. Jeff

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hibiscus in B&W

Macro-photography. There are different ways to approach this from dedicated macro lenses, extension tubes, screw on macro filters or a damn good compact camera that has a close up Macro feature. We have this hibiscus plant in the house and it produces beautiful large deep red flowers, For this, I used a Panasonic Lumix LX5 pro level compact in macro mode. I shot a variety of images in color and monochrome. The best result was with one of the "My Color" modes, "Film Grain" which reproduces a high contrast grainy image reminiscent of B&W ISO 3200 films of the past. This B&W shot had so much more drama than the color ones. ISO was 1600, Shutter 10/2500sec and f stop 2.4 with focus on the stamen end. Jeff

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sharon Springs Boilers

Sharon Springs New York. Once a 20th century destination spot for those seeking the healing spring baths and waters, now a village trying to come back, but without the Springs. The old Spring houses and baths are in ruinous decay. These are the spring boilers that once warmed the sulfuric spring water for the healing baths. This was shot on my new Lumix LX5, an extremely versatile pro-level compact that shoots raw as well as a number of creative modes. I elected for this shot to use "Film Grain" to create the mood I was feeling in the boiler house ( yes, I trespassed) and at a wide angle- 24mm- to create the depth I wanted. The camera set the ISO to 1600 in this mode. The gritty grain matched the gritty interior. The image was developed in iPhoto to bring out the shadow detail and bring down the bright areas on the boilers. Jeff

Friday, December 17, 2010


Ah Venice. It's beauty, canals, people and food. This is a travel shot, but a travel shot with good light, symmetry and balance. Note the careful placement of the triple lantern in the lower right third. I waited for the woman to walk into the scene and fired the shutter when she was near the middle of the second arch, balancing the lamp post. If she was in front of an arch support, it would have been distracting. It was early morning, just past sunrise, creating a soft glowing light. As an added bonus, the lamp lights were still on. Taken with a MF Minolta Autocord TLR using Fuji Reala print film. Shutter 1/100 sec at f5.6.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Light and Shadow in Old Montreal

Photographs are waiting to be captured. Equipment is often secondary. My wife and I were visiting Old Montreal about 20 years ago. It was a drizzly day which created great reflections off the stone paving. Looking for a scene I immediately noticed this old carriage portal to an enclosed home-compound. We look for contrasts in light and the dark walls , and this stone floor coupled with the bright light beyond created a great shot. But, it needed a human element. Jeanette, wearing a red raincoat with black umbrella was the the perfect subject. Then I was using a Canon QL17 film rangefinder with a little fill flash on top. I composed vertically and had her slowly walk in . Just before the transition is where I fired the camera with a little flash to create some increased reflection from the floor and lighten up the walls.
Enjoy, Jeff

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Punk Rocker

Get close, fill your frame and look for the dramatic. I saw this band player at a Harley Rally. We struck up a conversation and he gave me permission to photograph his hands. I was intrigued by the tattoos and jewelry. The original shot was in color, but I changed it to a Sepia in PS. Color sometimes can detract from a strong graphic image, so a monochrome conversion works better. Shot with a Sony F828 in AWB, no flash.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I had the opportunity to photograph some families this weekend. I want to go over this simple portrait set up with you. The camera was a Konica Minolta 7D DSLR. I used 2 manual 5400HS Minolta flashes shooting through white umbrellas about 5 feet front left and right angles at 45 degrees to the subjects. Each umbrella was about 7 feet high and angled downward toward the subjects. Note the painted Muslin backdrop which has no elements to detract from the main subjects. The flashes were fired remotely with radio controlled transmitter mounted on the flash shoe and receivers on the foot of each flash. The left flash fired at full power and the right (to the photographer) fired at 1/2 power to give a pleasing ratio of main light and fill light. Thus the facial modeling needed to avoid a flat light look. The camera was set at ISO 100, f8, 1/8oth second shutter. The advantage of digital is that one can easily adjust the exposure by varying one of these 3 factors. Certainly integrated TTL flash systems with camera make this easy, but as demonstrated, not necessary. Jeff

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jay Street Reflections

Had to try out my new Panasonic Lumix LX5 tonight. These compact pro- level cameras get better and better. I wanted a professional compact to carry on my belt. This camera has had great reviews. I was wandering around Jay St. in Schenectady tonight after the rain looking for reflections of the neon signs. This was perfect, a red reflection, from a red sign in a puddle on dark stone pavings. Note the elements of design, the color and contrast. I did a little adjusting of levels and cropping in iPhoto. The image was taken at ISO 400, aperture priority, no flash and at 1/13 sec, hand-held. Ah, the joys of an image stabilized camera. Jeff

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Artist

Right there sitting on the bench was this charming artist, poet and playwright of Norwalk, Ct. My eye is always looking for a photograph, especially people and this kind gentleman was right there! With permission, I fired off a few shots with my Casio Z750, using a burst of fill flash. One good thing about most pocket cameras is their flash for fill. These little flashes create just the right addition of light to the ambient light, causing colors to pop and filling in the shadows. I had a little work to do in Photoshop to get rid of the flash reflection on his glasses. I then used "Portrait Drama" in Topaz adjust to enhance the image as I saw him. Lesson: always have a camera with you. Today's pocket cams just get better and better and allow you to always be ready to grab a great shot. Sometimes you just don't want to lug around a big DSLR. Jeff

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Aquariums create great photo opportunities. My favorite always are the jellyfish. The tips here to get this kind of shot, whether you are using a DSLR or a P&S are these. Set the camera shutter speed or time value (Tv) to at least 1/250 sec. ramp up the ISO to 400-800 to allow a more closed f stop
( greater depth of field), USE NO FLASH- the flash will create reflections from the tank and then place the lens right up to the glass. Don't worry about the WB as it is hard to get right with the lighting and diffraction created by the water. You'll fix that later in the computer. This shot was taken with a Casio Z750 pocket camera set to Sports mode ( fast shutter speed), ISO at 400 and then shot. I took about 20 shots to get the this one. In iPhoto, I adjusted the white/color balance, tint, details and applied modest noise reduction. I then boosted detail in Topaz Adjust using "Portrait Drama". Jeff

Mother and Child

The key to this type of intimate portrait revolves around beautiful subjects, great light and the willingness of our good friend Caren to allow me to interact with her and her beautiful daughter Sophia Marion. The light was a TTL bounce light from a Nikon 600 flash, bounced off the white ceiling and the camera a Fuji S3 Pro. You need a traditional flash, on or off camera to bounce the light off ceiling or a white wall. This creates a very soft light with soft shadows. Direct flash pointed toward the subjects creates that annoying "shiny forehead or nose" flash glare. During the shoot I was speaking softly to Caren to get her to show the feelings and emotion she has for her newborn daughter. Notice also how the hair, which I left over her face creates a little mystery, but yet one can see her warm smile. Remember, create soft light, eliminate the space between subjects and get them to express how they feel. Your portraits will have much more meaning and impact. Jeff

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Rose

The Rose. A new casino in Atlantic City. Simply noted on a morning boardwalk bike ride. I was struck by the all glass refective shell. How the morning sun played on it. Using the iPhone this image was snapped and edited to a high contrast black and white in Photoforge. Keep your eyes open and you will see photos all around. Jeff

The Orchard at Season's End

The apple orchard at season's end. I wanted to give the image a painterly, aged look. Thus, this IPhone image edited in Photoforge and PS Mobile. Jeff

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Lawn art. Simply taking a lunch time walk around the office and saw this. Using my 3G iPhone as a P&S camera, composed this shot. The great fun with iPhone photography are the "Apps" the hundreds of photo-editing and enhancing applications that allow you to use your iPhone as a portable Photoshop plus device. This shot was adjusted in the Tilt-Shift App allowing me to narrow in on what I wanted sharp and blur the rest. Then a little enhancement in Photoforge (my favorite!). In the computer I added a charcoal B&W effect with Topaz Adjust. Ah.......what fun!! Jeff

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Taoramina, Sicily

Travel photography? Who doesn't love it? When shooting travel images, not only do you want to record the timeless beauty of a place and its history, but ideally you want to add the human element. Having a person who just fits into the scene makes the image. This shot of the gentleman relaxing on Piazza Nuovo in Taoramina, taking in the sun, complemented the warm tones of the church wall on this sunny February day. Also notice how by framing the shot this way, he balances the image "weight" of the large door to the left. Technical: Sony F828 digital with Zeiss 28-200mm lens, in P mode. Jeff

Vietnam Veteran

This is Bill. Bill served in Vietnam in the early 60's as an Air Force advance officer. I met him at a local Amusement park in Albany and immediately was struck by his pride and love for country after all these years. His chiseled face reflected a hard earlier life to me. Graciously Bill allowed me to chat with him about his war experience and photograph him as he recalled his younger years in 'Nam. He became quite reflective and I was fortunate to capture his expression. Technical: Canon SX10 IS in P mode, AWB. Post processing in Topaz Adjust in Details mode to bring out his seriousness. I chose a sepia tone reflecting his age and the age of his experience 50 years ago when he was 21. Thank you Bill, thank you for your service and letting me photograph you. Jeff

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Hot Rod

Photos are everywhere! One just has to be aware and look. This pic was taken on a ferry to Delaware. I was blown away by the design, form and colors. I chose the Lensbaby on my Maxxum 7D DSLR, setting the f stop at 2.8. The Lensbaby lens allows you to control what part of the image is sharp and what partis de-focused. It's worth going to their website
@ www.lensbaby.com to see their various lenses and how they affect sharpness v. distortion. Photography is so much more fun when creative! Jeff

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pugs on Lark

Cute little dogs! For this shot I used my Konica Minolta 7D, DSLR, as I wanted to control depth of field. Using a Sigma 28-70 2.8 lens I shot his at about f3.5, focusing on the front pug. Depth of field or sharpness from front to back in an image is controlled by several things including lens focal length and camera to subject distance. Wide angle lens have great depth of field. Closeness to the subject limits depth of field. If I used a pocket cam, the depth would be deep and it would be physically impossible to throw the back pug and fence out of focus. But then one could spend an hour in front of the computer using Photoshop. My philosophy- try to get it right in the first place. Jeff

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Joy on the Boardwalk

Another reason to have a pocket camera, be it an iPhone or a small pocket camera. This joyous moment was taken on the boardwalk of Ventnor, NJ. Just walking along I saw this boy singing and dancing in the shower to the delight of the young girl I suspect he was wooing. I grabbed the Casio Z750, put it on multiple shots (which isn't a lot compared to a DSLR) but was effective enough to capture about 5 frames quickly, this being the being the best. Good photographic fortune benefits those prepared to seize it. Have that little cam with you!! Jeff

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jackie at the Window

Taken with a Casio 750Z pocket camera in NYC about 4-5 years ago. We were visiting friends and their lovely daughter was running around the apartment with her teddy bear. I saw the massive window, I saw this little girl and I knew what the picture had to be. Notice the strategic placement of her in the lower right third, allowing the expanse of the city to be seen as guided by her hand placed on the glass. Metering was tricky. I spot metered off the dress to retain some detail in the little girl. If I hadn't, this would have been a silhouette due to the expanse of bright outdoor light. I had to do some perspective control, contrast and levels adjustment to make it come out just as I visioned it. That's the lesson..use your vision, keep your eyes open and photographs will appear! Jeff

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Times Square at Night

This was a tricky shot. I used a Canon G9 set at 50mm lens focal length and set exposure for night at f5.6. 1/15 sec at ISO 400. The camera was balanced on a monopod and as I stood in the center of the Times Square Island I took 5 overlapping images, carefully turning the camera so that about 1/3 of each frame would overlap. I did this procedure about ten times. Back at the computer I carefully assembled, lined up the best frames from the 10 sequences, rotated the center frames around an axis that would cause them to line up with the lateral frames and voila! Times Square in Panorama! I have a 3 foot version of this hanging in my office. Jeff

Blues Singer- Solid Smoke

iPhone again! Look at this night club like lighting at The Linda in Albany. The iPhone was held steady and I recorded this shot. No Flash! No 3 pound DSLR! The pic was edited in what I think is one of the best photo apps, PhotoForge for iPhone. Remember, as said by Chase Jarvis "The best camera is the one you have with you". Enjoy, Jeff

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Swing Dance

What fun! A swing dance party. Technique: Slow shutter speed of 1/8 second coupled with fill flash creates a sense of motion blur coupled with sharpness as caught by the flash during the exposure. F8 chosen for depth of field. Then 5 images were loaded into Photoshop, sized at 5x3.3 inches each. A new file was made at the same 240 dpi resolution at 26x 4 inches and the individual shots were dragged in, and merged. Needed a little bandaid/ clone to remove the panel edges. Finally the floor was smoothed and blended using Topaz Adjust-Simplify Mode. This shot would be near impossible from capture to process in the film days. The joy of digital! Jeff

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Fish Monger

Boston Hay Market, a Saturday. Many times public markets or fairs have the most interesting people. This lovely fish cleaner did not speak English. We spoke the universal language of travel photographers. I smiled, she smiled back, I raised my camera, showing her and smiled again, nodding my head up and down. She returned a big smile realizing my intent and the photo was taken. I said "thank you" smiled and waved as I went on. Note the very blurred part of the image, starting at her coat and going out. For this shot I used the KM Maxxum 7D with a Lens Baby lens attached. This neat little manual lens allows for a sharp center image with blur to edges. Exposure was f2.8 at 1/60th sec, all set manually. Jeff

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Butterfly

Insect imagery. This represents the need for shallow depth of focus to isolate the insect from its background. A dedicated macro lens with extension tubes can work but I prefer a greater subject to distance factor to allow me to capture the butterfly without scaring it away. For this shot I used a Minolta 7D DSLR with a 2.8 70-200 tele lens at 2.8. Note how the image plane of the insect is sharp and the background is thrown into a complimentary de-focused blur. This can not be done with most pocket or non DSLR digital cameras. They are terrific if you want a deep focal plane. Jeff

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Christman Sanctuary Lower Falls

The trick to flowing water photography involves timing, equipment and technique. Timing in that you want to go out after a good rain when the rocks are wet ( thus dark), in the morning on a cloudy day to avoid sun spatter highlights throughout the scene. Equipment - you want a good prosumer or DSLR camera that allows you to control depth of field and has a large enough sensor ( APS) size or higher to limit noise. To blur the water you need to reduce the shutter speed to longer than 1/15 sec. Tips to do this are: shoot at ISO 100, not higher, choose f16 or f22 for aperture, adjust your meter or histogram to avoid scene underexposure. A tripod and polarizer filter are a must! Jeff

Monday, November 1, 2010

iPhone Imagery

What a little joy. As Chase Jarvis says, "the best camera is the one you have with you".
The iPhone is a little PS digicam in your pocket that allows you to express your creativity on the go. See it and shoot! What makes it even more fun are the Apps in iPhone you can download and then edit your image in camera! These are all printable with upsizing to 8x10!! This image taken on Pearl St in Albany of the old Lodge department store was then developed in Photoforge and framed in PS mobile. Jeff

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall from Mt. Whitney NY

Fall photography-we all do it. Who doesn't love those bright colors. To really get it right though you need to do a few things. One, get up early to get the tangential light of sunrise, 2) go out when there is a dense cloud cover to offer contrast to the leaves, 3) wait for break in the clouds to have the sun stream forth with its light to create the scene perfectly. For this shot a wide angle lens is a must. I used a Tamron 11-18mm with a 72mm polarizer, also a must to have color pop and add contrast. Camera was a Sony A 330 DSLR. The last ingredient for the nature photographer, and the most important is..................Patience. Jeff

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Safed Girl

Safed, Israel, town of Jewish Mysticism. There I found this beautiful young girl relaxing on a curb. I used a Canon SX10IS camera with a great 28-560mm lens at about 400mm to capture her pose without intruding on her personal space. My preferred method for people photography is the technique I described in " Nora Spring 2009" below. That was not possible here. Jeff

Nora Spring 2009

Nora, A beautiful lady I saw in New Hope, PA last year. As soon as I saw her I knew I had to photograph her. The technique that I used was simply to start a conversation with her about her home and the town. As we talked and she relaxed I asked her if I could photograph her while were chatting. She agreed, as most people do if they feel the photographer is not being intrusive. My favorite street photo cam is the Canon G9. Small enough to not scare folks, but of excellent quality to produce terrific images. This was my favorite which I "developed" in Photoshop and then tweaked to the effect I liked in Topaz Adjust, a must have plug-in. Look at her, she is gorgeous and regal in her years. Jeff

Saratoga Hats

Like the tin-type, Polaroid SX-70 imagery is essentially gone. The film as originally made, malleable in warmth for up to 2 hours is no longer made. I still have one cherished pack left!

This technique reminded me of kindergarten finger-painting. What fun to compose and take a photo and then sit in a sunny place with a stylus and "smush" the photo to create the adult version of finger-painting! More to come!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Morning Light at the Basilica

I consider this one of my best images. Taken at St. Peter's Balicia in Rome, July 1995 about 9 AM. I used a Minolta Autocord TLR camera with a fixed Rokkur 75 mm lens and Fuji Reala film. I decided to use an incidental light reading with a Gossen Luna pro meter to get the fastest shutter speed at f 5.6, which was 1/15 sec. Perching the camera on a charity box ( cum tripod) I started shooting my 12 exposures on the roll. This was the last image, the capture of a young couple in love in front of this beautiful light. You don't need a complicated DLSR to take a great photo. You just need to be in a good place , know your equipment on hand and understand light and how to expose for it.

The Backstretch

Action shots require a lot of planning in equipment, technique, location and practice. This shot taken this summer at Saratoga Raceway involved pre-focusing, presetting the f stop ( f11) and shutter speed at 1/750 at ISO 400 on a Fuji S3 Pro with a Nikon 55-200 VR lens. WB was set to cloudy. I wanted good depth of field, and stop action. To do that I boosted the ISO to 400.
What an opportunity! It's fall still with reds, yellows on the trees and then a snowstorm, just enough to create a lovely contrast. When moments like this occur, grab a camera and head out! This shot was taken at Thatcher Park near Albany, NY with a Canon G9, no filters in P mode. White balance was set to cloudy with a good color result.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Woman in Siracusa

Look for interesting people and photograph them. I noted the contrast of her sadness and the hope represented in her bright red fluffy scarf. It is these contrasts that create an image that grabs the viewer's eye.