Shutter Speed

Learning about your shutter speed can make or break a photo. One sure way to learn the effects of shutter speed is to shoot on shutter priority once in awhile and get the idea of how pictures look at different shutter speeds.

Our shutter speed control the amount of ambient light that is let into our sensors. With this said and having this one tool in your photography belt you are going to already begin to shoot better pictures. The reason I say this is because you can control the amount of light, the amount of movement and the amount of blur that you put into the picture when you shoot.

The faster you take you shutter speed the less amount of light will hit your sensor. This is simply because as the shutter is moving fast the sensor is expose a short amount of time, leaving in less light. If you slow the shutter down and use a tripod to steady the camera, you will allow the sensor to be exposed longer and allow more light into your sensor.

If you want to stop fast moving action it would make sense that you want to have a fast shutter speed. Keep in mind that as you speed the shutter you begin to effect the light into the camera. I get a lot of questions about dark pictures when shooting at higher shutter speeds. And this is why this happens.

If you want to make something have motion, you would use a slow shutter speed. Remember when we slow the shutter we make that camera very hard to hand hold. This is why you would need a tripod to keep the camera steady. Slow shutter speeds make moving water look like it is flowing.

Using shutter speeds means that you are controlling light. If you remember this you will be able to control your exposure. To learn the effects of shutter speed, again I would say to shoot on “Shutter Priority”.

Most of all to learn how to shoot your camera you need to shoot your camera. If it is in it’s bag until you need it, you will never get the hang of photography.

Slow Shutter


Print Or Send Out?

It’s funny even today with digital photography this questions is still as fresh as it was when I shot film years ago. Should you buy an expensive printer and print at home or should you send your prints out and have them down?

Years ago I would get into discussions with other photographers at out monthly photo club meeting. We would get into talks concerning should you buy all of your own chemicals and turn one room in your house into a dark room? “Mine was a closest in my parents house.” Or should you send the rolls of film out to have it developed?

I hardly ever print a picture at home. I don’t have a good printer. I just upload mine to Smug Mug or ShutterFly and let them do the work for me.

The reason I don’t like to print at home is the ink prices. I feel that even with shipping I can send my work out and have one of the above companies create my prints and mail them back to be for less than I would pay for printing at home. It is also nice to have Smug Mug mail prints directly to my clients. I never have to get involved in the process of mailing prints to my clients.

At the end of the day there really is no right or wrong answer to this question. What ever makes you happy and seems to make sense to you. I would like to hear about your picture printing. Do you Print of Send Out?

Shutter fly

Photoshop Elements

A lot of people don’t realize that when you use Photoshop Elements you also have a powerful organizer.

I have been using Elements since version 1. I have always been impressed about how easy it is to organize all of my photos. It is also really nice in that it allows you to build albums so you can keep your photos together. I also like that it imports based on events. A event is really the date that the pictures were taken.

Once you get all of your albums built and you have all of your photos imported; you can also builds tags. Tags allow you to really drill down to each person or even each place. They when you click on the tag no matter where the photo is it will be reviled.

I also like the faces feature. This allows the software to recognize faces if you marked them before as you are importing your pictures to the organizer. This is nice because if you are looking for all pictures of Aunt Sally you can click on her name and all of her pictures will be displayed.

How can you go wrong. If you do not have Photoshop Elements I would suggest to download the trail version and have a look. If you need more help after downloading it. Please pick up one of my DVD’s from:


Flash Triggers

Most people you will see with a speed light or off camera flash always seem to have their flash hanging off the camera. They connect the flash directly to the hot show of the camera. I also did this for years, I didn’t know of any better way.

Now I know from years of studying flash and the way that light falls off of our subject we need to get the flash off the camera and place it on angles. This will allow us to create different lighting effects.

There are a few ways we can get the flash off the camera. We are going to only concentrate on one for this column.

We are talking about flash triggers. Flash triggers come in many shapes and sizes and yes prices. So where do you start in your quest to find the perfect trigger? I am glad you asked.

If you go the cheapest rate, which I did this once. You will find triggers that work, sometimes. This means I was experiencing a lot of misfires. If you ever want to make a client upset, get them in the perfect pose and have your flash not fire. Also makes you look really like an amateur. This is not to say you have to buy the most expensive, pocket wizards. You need to find the middle of the road.

My triggers I go to most of the time is Impact triggers I bought from BH Photo Video, they are the only company that carries them. I have also heard really good things about Yongnuo. My next set of triggers I am ordering soon is the new Yongnuo YN-622N. These triggers allow is to shoot off camera and high speed sync, more on that later.

If you are going to buy any new triggers please don’t forget to use my Amazon link before you order: My Amazon Link.


HDR High Dynamic Range

We all love pictures, that is why many of you read this blog and watch my You Tube videos. But what do you or would you think of a picture with such detail and depth that is almost pulls you into the shot?

Step over to HDR, High Dynamic Range photography. It is so easy to take pictures in HDR that I don’t know why more people do not jump on this band wagon. So is every picture better in HDR? No be careful of portraits in HDR, I have met some people that can pull this off but not many. The main issue with people is if they move you will get an effect called ghosting.

To get a HDR shot the steps are simple. First see if you camera had a bracketing setting. If it does turn it on, you will be shooting three pictures. One normal exposure, one over exposure and one under exposure. The idea is that you will capture all of the ranges and tones in the scene.

There is great software to merge you pictures into HDR. I say this because once you put the pictures onto your computer you have to merge the three shots together to make one.

I will be teaching this LIVE on Sunday morning Feb. 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM EST. Please join me at: The Photography Guy.


Organize Your Photos

If you are like me and I know a lot of you who read this blog are. We love taking pictures and after a very short time you will have millions and millions of pictures. At one time I had them on three different computers.

One day I thought I need to get my digital pictures more organized and I wanted to move them all to one computer. I know you are thinking only one point of failure?

I first copied all of my images off the two computers I didn’t want to use to store them on. I moved all of the pictures to an external drive. NExt I had to find one program that I wanted to use to create all my albums and collections.

My choice is Lightroom. I started with version 3 and now using version 5. This is a great program and I would recommend it for everyone. It also allows you to correct a lot of mistakes that we make while taking pictures. I have enjoyed this program so much I even teach many new users how to use Lightroom.

Thanks for reading my daily blog, watching my videos and listening to the podcasts. I wanted to mention that I created a new Patron site This site allows you to become a part of my efforts by pledging your support. Have a look if you have a minute?


Tripod or Monopod

When you first started taking pictures I am sure that you like the rest of us started hand holding your camera and grabbing your shots. This is normal because no one wants to lug around heavy gear when they are out on a walking photo shoot.

I have found that over the years my family have become my gear people. As we head out on a photo walk or on a vacation each member has something that he or she can carry. I hand my bag to one, my tripod to another and so on.

So do you need a tripod and a mono pod? This really depends on what, where and when you like to shoot. I always like to have my mono pod strapped to my camera bag. It is small enough and weighs a lot less then my tripod. The mono pod is nice for shooting pictures in a gym where space in the bleachers are limited. I also like it when I am using my long zoom lens to steady it for those long shots.

Of course the tripod is also a really nice piece of gear to have. It allows us to grab the full family shot while on vacations. How many times have you got home and thought that you wished you were in more of the pictures. The tripod is also nice for those slow shutter  shots. In the end it is about the gear. One last thought if you do buy either one of these items, make sure you buy a good one. Remember they are holding your camera.


It’s In The Glass!

I have been making this statement for years. And every time I am asked what camera to buy, I respond with, “It depends on what you want to take pictures of”? Then the most important question would be, “Do you want a camera that you can change lenses on”?

The reason I ask this second question it will really answer the first one. And I always tell everyone that you want a camera that you can change lenses on. If not you are in a sense buying a point and shoot camera.

Most photographers me included will tell you that they have more money invested in the glass “lenses” then they do in their cameras. This is because it really matters what kind of glass you have for your camera. And there is no one lens that will work with every shoot.

The basic set of lenses that I recommend you have are: 50 mm fixed, Long Zoom 70 – 300 mm, and your kit lenses maybe 35 – 115. The last one I carry for landscapes is my 17-35 mm Wide Angle. If you get into shooting people and charging, like weddings or parties then you want even better lenses with Aperture of 2.8 or better. The main thing to remember is that it is in the glass. The better glass you can afford, the better pictures you will begin to make.


Panoramic Pictures

These day’s seeing more is always seeing the best possible image that a landscape can provide. I have enjoyed panoramic photography ever since it has been made easy to stitch the shots together. Years ago in the dark room we had a lot more work then we do today in getting the perfect wide, wide and yes wide panoramic shot.

What is a panoramic pictures? It is a picture of very wide angles. It is normally created using three or more shots then stitched together laying them side by side.

How do you shoot a panoramic? I always use a tripod and making sure my camera is level. I shoot the first picture to the LEFT, then center my camera and take another shot, make sure you over lap your pictures. Then I move the camera to the RIGHT and grab your last shot.

Pull all of you pictures into you favorite editing software and have it stitch them together.

It is also getting easier to shoot a panoramic using your smart phone. There are many apps that will shoot the panoramic just buy you moving slowly from left to right. The picture blow was shot using my IPhone 5.

Kitchen Panoramic

When Computers Join Cameras

I really see this movement into the new area of mirror less cameras as the computer is now being shoved into the cameras. With all the talk about how the digital processing is happening in the camera. And now we are removing the mirror and allow the camera to handle even more of the workload for what we are trying to capture.

We have seen for years the computer being placed into cameras. Almost any camera you pick up now has some kind of editing feature built into the camera. I can do a lot of edits even changing color and adding small items with my Nikon D600. I have even found cameras that will create a perfect panoramic just by you moving slowly from left to right and allowing it to grab the shots.

So in the bottom line is mirror less cameras better in any way then what we are using now? I am not sure and until I pick one of these up I really can’t answer that question. There are some key points to be made. One they are lighter then the full DSLR. Two the lenses are built smaller then the DSLR. But do these points make you want to sell what you have and run out and buy a new mirror less camera? I have to say NO for me. But I am just one guy with one way of looking at things. Maybe I am an old dog not wanting and new tricks? But what I am really looking at is that I have a ton of money invested in glass for my D600 so I am not ready to sell all of that at a loss and move onto something new.

If there are any companies out there who read this and build mirror less cameras. Contact me I would love to get one in and run it through it’s full range of motions. Pictured below is the new Sony A7R, selling for about $2,300.00 with no lenses. YIKS!

Sony Mirror Less