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Category Archives: Travel Photography
Registration is now open for the New York City Photographer Tour on President’s Day Weekend. Join Photographer Dan Splaine and NH TOURS for this 2 night , 3 day excursion from New Hampshire to New York City. Explore the city, with your camera and learn new night photography and street photo techniques. The best part is we do all the driving!
This package includes round trip bus from NH and two nights hotel in Times Square. We will spent the weekend in the heart of Manhattan , taking in the sites and making some images of the urban landscape. For complete details and registration CLICK HERE.
This photographer tour is one of a program of photography education events presented by Test of Time Photography. We offer workshops in our Nashua, NH studio and at locations throughout New England. We partner with NH TOURS for all of our travel events and destination photo workshops. For more information contact us at email@example.com or sign up for our email list (see sidebar).
On Sunday I held a street photography workshop during the Chinese New Year Parade festivities in Boston’s Chinatown. Sixteen photographers joined me for a day of photo education and image making. The Lion Dancers and festivities made provided a unique subject to photograph and plenty of excitement.
Street photography is one of the oldest traditions in photography. As camera technology became smaller and more mobile (Moving from large format view cameras to smaller roll film cameras) photographers turned their cameras to the realities and moments they observed around them. The aim of this workshop was to immerse the participants into the urban environment and to have them practice this type of on the fly documentary photography. Despite the cold and crowds, they were able to make some remarkable images.
Check out the results on the group Flickr page.
This workshop is one of the program of digital photography workshops and photography tours that we offer at Test of Time Photography. Our objective its to build photographer skills and creative abilities so our students can create the images they imagine. This was a fun event and a great way to start of the year.
WINDOW LIGHT PORTRAITS
One of the most common subjects and one of the most challenging for in-experienced photographers is portraits. Photographing people requires communication skills and photographic techniques that can be intricate and hard to manage. Lighting for portrait photography can be infinitely complex but I want to suggest a simpler method that can produce fantastic results and make your portraits look great.
Window light is an exceptionally useful lighting source for your portrait photography. By using available light (the window) you avoid the complexity of using flash – artificial light-and the exposure control issues that it presents. We often over complicate the photographic creation process to the detriment of the results we get. The mantra “keep it simple stupid” (the KISS rule) should come to mind for your next portrait session. By simplifying the lighting you will be less stressed and can concentrate on developing a positive connection with your subject.
Ambient window light provides a large, even light source that provides a gradual transition from highlight to shadow. That quality of the lighting is soft and natural and can be very flattering for your portrait subjects. Electronic flash tends to be direct, contrasty and destroys the subtle transition between that highlight and shadow which is unflattering for portraiture.
When I refer to “window lighting” I have some particular features and qualities in mind. Direct noon time sun glaring through your window is equally harsh and unflattering as direct flash. What I am describing is the soft, diffuse lighting that you get from a cloudy day. North facing windows on an overcast day provide the best representation for this light source. This lighting has been used effectively in traditional painting for portraits and still life studies for centuries and should be a standard in your photographic inventory.
How does this old school (some would say original source of lighting) help in the digital camera era? The ability for film or digital sensors to record a range of lighting intensities in your photographic scene is limited. The dynamic range of the scene is the ratio between the minimum (shadow) and maximum (highlight) recordable light intensities. The human eye has an amazing ability to distinguish luminance difference, something in the order of 20 stops (20 EV) of exposure range. Your digital camera sensor has a recording range of somewhere between 6 to 10 stops of exposure depending on size and quality).
The diffused light from a window is lower in contrast and easily falls in the dynamic range and recording capability of your camera. Having a dynamic range of 5 to 7 stops of exposure means that camera is readily able to record detail in all the tones from shadow to highlight. Your results more closely match the natural range of tone we perceive with our eyes and creating a favorable response from the viewer of your photograph. Simply said the portraits that you can achieve with window lighting closely match what we can see with the natural eye.
By using window light illumination we reduce contrast, the severity of the tonal transition from highlight to shadow. Having a gradual transition in brightness adds dimension to portraits that is favorable to your subject’s appearance. How we position the transition zone, the arrangement of our subject to the direction of light, is how we control this effect. Learning how to “read” light and using it to improve your images is a fundamental skill. Using this source with your people photography is great way to build those abilities.
Another advantage of window lighting is that is a constant light source. Studio flash heads have a “modeling” light to provide an approximation of the changes in illumination and position make. You can observe those changes directly with window light. As you move your subject closer or further from the light or rotate them you will observe the changes in exposure levels and shadows. You can have side lighting, backlighting or full frontal lighting depending on the position of the subject and the camera location. Widow light is a very versatile light source that can be adapted for multiple lighting effects.
The ironic thing about all of the studio lighting equipment and modifiers that I have purchased for my inventory of photographic tools is that they are primarily used to replicate the qualities of window light. Granted the inventory gives me absolute control and the ability for creating predictable photographic results on demand. For a photographer building their skills as a portrait photographer I would recommend mastering using this available light source and learning about the qualities of light it produces, before I would recommend investing a dime in any advance lighting equipment.
I often extol my students in my photography workshops and tours about the importance of practice in becoming a better photographer. Giving yourself regular photo assignments to be accomplished is great way to help your performance with your digital camera. Window light is readily available so why not include it in your next practice session. Go makes some images!
Photography is a subject that is worthy of, and to be done well, requires study. My nearly 35 years behind the camera has been a continuous learning experience. Not only do I present photography workshops – I often attend them. Photography workshops provide an opportunity to remove yourself from the distractions of your daily life to spend some dedicated hours or days building your photographic skills. Photography workshops often can inspire and reinvigorate your passion for image making. Digital photography in particular has a significant learning curve and attendance in a photo class can help leapfrog your learning. Workshops presented by a well qualified instructor provide a forum to explore photographic concepts and creative techniques beyond your current skill level
How often do you actually pick up your camera and dedicate time to specifically making photographs?
No doubt those occasions are rare. A dedicated period of time concentrating solely of photography is the best way to rapidly advance your photo skills. Even a few hours provide an opportunity to focus on your creative approach to photography subjects. In my experience continuous photography during multi day and weeks long travels are really productive.
Workshops about a particular digital photographic topic or technique provide you the opportunity to explore new methods. Selecting a photo workshop that provides access to a unique location or specialized tools gives you a chance to test drive those techniques. I often host classes about studio lighting which allow new photographers to use lighting equipment and work with models they normally do not have access to. My photography tours bring photographers to locations that have been scouted and selected for their photographic potential. Workshops that feature a particular photo editing software help inform your purchasing decisions.
The social component of photography workshops adds important value. Spending a day with other people who share your interest in photography is another benefit of photo classes. In my opinion photography is a highly individualized form of personal expression. It is definitely not a team sport. That being said, the social exchange of ideas and the insights you can gain from a group of photographers can only build your understanding. In group critique sessions I find the peer-to-peer commentary and conversation well-informed and inspirational. Other perspectives on your photography and techniques are great learning tools. (To attend one of my photography review sessions click here).
Photographic ability and skills can be learned and have to be practiced. Attending a photography workshop will build your skills, confidence and inspiration. The investment of money and time can be justified by the value you receive, by how your creative ability to make photographs will increase.
I offer a program of digital photography workshops and photography tours (over 400 people attend in the last 18 months!) for adults. Some of the workshops are single photo topic sessions held at my studio or conducted in the field at nearby locations. Others are daylong sessions (like our Isle of Shoals Workshop held 7/23/11) or weekend packages (like our March 2011 weekend in Quebec, Canada). In addition to photo classes my schedule for the fall of 2011 includes a Photographers Weekend in the White Mountains (October 15-16). In April of 2012 I am leading a ten-day photography and cultural exploration in Ireland for STRABO tours. For more information and to receive notices of all my photography workshop contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The State of New Hampshire has added a new itinerary for photographers to their collection cultural tours of the Granite state. The New Hampshire photographer tour guide is posted on the VISITNH.gov website along with food,historical,adventure itineraries for visitors. Great ideas to inspire your travels in New Hampshire!
The New Hampshire photography tour breaks the state into seven distinct tourism regions and gives photographic tips for each area. The guide has been illustrated with images from NH photographer including yours truly. My image of a lobster boat on the Piscataqua river in Portsmouth graces the first page of the downloadable PDF.
The seacoast of New Hampshire is an endless source of inspiration for my photography. Maritime environments are dynamic and visually compelling and our little slice of coast in NH is a rich subject. If you want to explore the coats of NH photographically you should consider joining me for my ISLE of SHOALS photography workshop on July 23rd, 2011. To get more information about all of my digital photography workshops and tours go to the TEST of TIME PHOTO website.
I have to confess to being slightly jaded about the occasional celebrity that I encounter with my camera. It has been my experience that the public persona is often distinctly different from the one I see behind the scenes. Occasionally a public personality surprises me and pushes back on my cynical expectations.
I recently was providing photographic coverage of and public relations support for the New Hampshire Tourism Council 2011 Governor’s Conference. The keynote address of the gathering of travel and tourism professionals was television host Samantha Brown. Brown, a New Hampshire native, has been the presenter on several TRAVEL CHANNEL series and great match for the conference program.
As I photographed her speaking from the stage I really got caught up in her talk. Her transformation from actress and novice traveler to the very confident globetrotter she has become was delightful. What I really appreciated about her speech was her openness to the power of the experience of travel, how who you encounter on the road matters most. Her sincerity and enthusiasm for the experience is what rings true in her shows and makes her a great host.
For more than thirty years I have had what I consider a supreme privilege, the chance to travel to dozens of counties and to photograph people of many cultures. As I listened to Samantha relay her evolution as a traveler she revealed that same sense of privilege. She talked about her methods for visiting a culture and connecting before the cameras start rolling. Quiet walks into neighborhoods where people live are essential for the discovery process. She also presented her essential travel supplies including the all important jar of peanut butter.
Peanut butter is a handy snack that travels well but as I learned it can be a powerful tool of diplomacy. Brown often shares her stash with the locals, constructing sandwiches with local bread and jellies and revealing the primacy of the food in the American diet. Although the flavor is not often well received, the gesture works magically as an ice breaker. Good old PB & J can build bridges across the miles and cultural divides with the very human experience of a shared meal. I vow to never travel again without the jar of brown goo and the insight of Samantha Brown. Count me as one of her fans.