Tag Archives: photo tip

Group Photo Project – Learning together

Check out the photography of my 52 Photo Walk Group!

Photograhy made by the 52 Week Photo Walk group organized by photographer Dan Splaine of Test of Time Photography.  The online group is part of his program of photography workshops and photographer tours he presents.

One of my goals as a photography educator is to give my photography students opportunities to practice the photography skills they learn in my workshops.  The photographer tours that I present are all built around the bringing photographers to unique locations to practice different types of photography.The 52 Week Photo Walk group I have organized on Flickr is another methods I have provided to get folks out with their cameras.

We have a group of 95 photographers  participating in the Photo Walk program! This group has worked hard all year and much of their beautiful image making is found on our group page.

Becoming a good photographer requires regular practice.  The more you work at learning your tools, practicing your camera work the better your photography will become.  Make sure you take some time to look at the photography produced by this wonderful group of photographers   I hope you admire their efforts and appreciate the work they are putting into their photographic craft.

Want to learn more about becoming a better digital photographer?

Make sure you sign-up for my email list (see right sidebar for form) so you can receive notices about my photography education program and photo tips.  I present photo workshops in my studio and at locations throughout New England and beyond.  In 2013 I will be introducing more interactive online learning programs that you will not want to miss.

 

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The Most Important Photo Accessory

A point that I make in all of my photo workshops is about the most important photo accessory that every photographer must use. What is the “most important” photo accessory? you ask.  Your feet.  If you want to improve the look of your image; move!

Changing your camera position, your point of view,  is the  best way to improve how your photography looks. Compose your image carefully and fill your frame.  Only include the essential visual elements in your frame. Determine your camera position relative to the direction of the light falling on your subject.  Select a focal length the create the arrangement of distance you want to appear in your photo and then move your feet.  Don’t believe me ?  Here is what the iconic photojournalist had to say about the subject.

Source: pinstamatic.com via Dan on Pinterest

 

I offer a program of photography workshops and photographer tours at my studio in Nashua, NH and in locations throughout the Northeast. For more information contact me at info@testoftiemphoto.com .

My next photographer workshop is October 13-14  in Lincoln, NH.  For information about the third annual WHITE MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHER WEEKEND  go to the workshop website.

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To Become a Better Photographer Look at Photography Critically

A tip for improving your photography

Do you ever look at the photography in magazine and on websites and think “why does this image look this good”?   Are you wondering why your photographs seem to lack the impact that you see in  professionally made photographs?   Let me first say that if you are asking these questions, if you are thinking critically about your photography – Congratulations!

 

Good photography is thoughtfully conceived and executed.   Devoting time looking at other photographers work and finding inspiration and insight in those images is an important way to improve you own photography.   Now, I am not suggesting that you mimic or outright rip off the work of other photographers.  My advice is to develop your critical eye, to learn how to find the qualities in an image that make it successful.  Use that insight to inform your own creative process and approach to image making.

How do we define an image as successful?  My standard for success is very straightforward: the viewer response.  If you make a photo that engages the viewer, which captures their attention and elicits a response, you are successful.  If the viewer is distracted by a technical flaw or bored, you’re not.  A response can be cognitive – your photo makes them think, emotional it evokes a feeling or perhaps they become engrossed in narrative the story in your photo.

Good photography engages the viewer, it captures their attention. Good photography also inspires, entertains and is a catalyst for action.  For example the photography of Lewis Hine (1874-1940) who used photography as tool of social reform.  His photography directly led to child labor law reforms because of the impact they had on the public awareness of the issue.

When you look at photography made by others begin to deconstruct the visual elements and creative techniques employed in its creation.  Break down the building blocks, the creative components of the shot. Analyze lighting sources  – quality and direction, subject features, composition, optical choices, camera position, color, tone, mood, emotion and all the features of the image.  Consider the relationship of these elements and the impression they have on you – the viewer.  Use those insights when you make your photography.  Identify the elements in your scene and use your critical assessment skills to arrange them in your camera frame.

Photographer and photo educator Dan Splaine of Test of Time Photography  in Nashua, New Hampshire. ©2012Daniel J. SplaineABOUT the AUTHOR:  Photographer Dan Splaine has more than thirty years experience creating original photography for corporations, institutions and individuals. He operates TEST OF TIME PHOTOGRAPHY in Nashua New Hampshire, a commercial photography and corporate assignment photography services company.  A live action and location photography specialist, he is most noted for his photography of people.  His assignments have involved travel to dozens of countries and at locations throughout the United States. ranging from tropical rainforests to the hall of Congress.

Dan Splaine is also a photography educator and  he presents a program of digital photography workshops and photographer tours.  The tours and workshops are held in New England and at international locations.

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What Photography Students Say About My Photo Workshops And Photographer Tours.

Ten testimonials from some of the photographers who have attended one of my recent digital photography workshop and photographer tours. 

I present a program of photography education for adult photographers of all skill levels.  I host my digital workshops at my studio in Nashua, NH and at locations throughout New England.   The photographer tour I organize at locations in New England as well at international locations.

Listed below are some of the testimonials posted by my photography students on the website of the IMAGE MAKERS PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKSHOP meet-up group I run. These comments are much appreciated and I think they show the level of positive experience my photo workshops offer to my photography students

 

“It was a great class. Dan was very informative. I really enjoy his easy-going and comical personality/instruction. He makes confusing concepts very easy to understand. Perfect Boston sites for this workshop.”  Izzy S.

“OMG, this was such an AWESOME Class! Dan was AWESOME! I learned so much and had so much fun! And I’m looking at my pictures now and I am SO PLEASED! They came out incredible! Thank you so much for your time and sharing your knowledge Dan!!! “  Erica M.

“A great opportunity to see Boston in a different light (pun intended!). Dan provides the foundation before letting us loose to shoot, then provides whatever amount of supervision/advice each person wants. Definitely recommend”  Marian

 “A lot of really awesome work to review this month! Dan’s informative comments about each participant’s individual shots are so helpful. These meetups are a great way to share knowledge and learn how-to’s from other photographers. Again, thanks Dan for putting all the time in and being so willing to share your knowledge.”  Sharon R.

 ”I always take away at least a few new ideas from Dan’s classes and this workshop not only did that but gave me a great way to challenge myself even more with a handout that included exercises. Thanks again, Dan.” Corinne C

 “Had a great day and shot some decent images. Now to work on editing. Met some new people, practiced a new technique, shot some good images, had a great lunch and got exercise. Can’t ask for more…Thanks Dan it was really great”   Laurie L-B

 “A very welcoming, fun, casual gathering of budding photographers,lead by a pro who graciously lends his time, studio space, knowledge and humor to the group. I’m looking forward to next month’s meeting”  Linda L.

 “Great weekend full of information and techniques…and the ability to go out and try these tips. It was wonderful that if we needed one-on-one assistance Dan was there to help. Thanks very much for a successful photo weekend getaway.”   Christine C

 “Thanks, Dan, for the well-presented workshop and accompanying worksheets. You’re great explaining all the points and oh, so patient with the queries.”  Jeanne P.

 “I loved the informal setting. It was very easy to ask questions and the discussions were very informative. I walked away with a better understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. And also learned some valuable tips. I loved this workshop” Angela Smith

Digital photography workshop at the TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY studio in Nashua, NH. The photo class is one of the many offered by professional photographer Dan Splaine at the studio and locations throughout New England. ©2012 Daniel J. Splaine - All Rights Reserved

 

My digital photography education program for adults includes field photography, studio photography, on-location sessions involving a range of photography topics. The photo tours are held in interesting locations and events around New England. For more information contact me at info@testoftimephoto.com  or visit the TEST of TIME PHOTOGRAPHY website and add yourself to my email list.

Thanks to all the photography student who attended one of my recent workshops and photo tours.  A special thanks to all of you who posted sch positive comments and testimonials. I look forward to seeing you at your nest photo workshop.  _ Thanks, Dan

 

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July photo Challenge FIREWORKS PHOTOGRAPHY

Have some summer fun with your digital  camera and join in the photography challenge for July 2012- FIREWORKS PHOTOGRAPHY.

 

Join in with the other members of the IMAGE MAKERS PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKSHOPS meet-up group for this photography education experience.  Register for the event (it’s FREE) and share your fireworks photography with this group of over 200 photographers.  You can download a FREE guide to Fireworks Photography prepared by me to help build your photo skills.  Photographers can also win a private photo tutoring session if they participate in this photographer challenge.

 

 

 

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Developing your photographic style

Often a photographer’s identity can be determined by simply viewing an image.  Their personal style is so well-formed that each photograph they create is readily recognized as distinctly their own.  Consider the example of Ansel Adams.  His images are iconic and if you are not familiar with each  photo he made you arguably would know one when you saw it.

So how does a beginner photographer develop their own photographic style?

The ability to create original photography on a consistent basis requires practice and skill. For those starting to learn photography I suggest two paths to follow on the way to establishing their own unique photographic style.

My first suggestion and something I urge photographers of all skill levels is to study the work of other photographers. An examination and understanding of the images created by others will help inform you own perspective.  I am not suggesting that you mimic the style of others, rather use their work as inspiration and a source of insight about photographic content, technique and design.

In my over 30 year professional photography career I have constantly referred to the work of other photographers to expand my understanding and refine my personal point of view.  Other photography provides reference points and a standard for comparison.  Apply that reference material to your imagination and intellect to create the photography that illustrates your own unique viewpoint.  As you develop your photographic skills learn how to deconstruct the images of others to find the techniques applied in their creation.

Digitla photography student at New Hampshire photography workshop hosted by photographer Dan SplaineMy second suggestion is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the camera and the photographic options that it provides.  Understanding the physical controls and how incremental adjustment will affect your photograph is fundamental to achieving predictable results.  Creative control of your photography begins with technical expertise.  To make the photography that matches your vision you need to know how to control your camera.

Making correct exposure, understanding optical choices and focus control are fundamental photography skills. Once you establish mastery of technique you can then maintain creative control, you can actually begin to shoot and make consistent results.

Your own personal photographic style is a product of your imagination and how you process your experiences and impressions. Digital photography requires study and practice to be creatively consistent.   That consistency of results builds the the foundation of style.  Ansel Adams did not get accidental results; his beautiful photography was the product of exceptional technique and a highly personalized vision.

To learn more about digital photography and to learn more about this topic you should consider attending a photography workshop.  I offer a full program of digital photography workshops and photography tours for adult photographers.  On September 14, 2011 (7 to 9 pm) I am holding the PHOTO COMPOSITION and DESIGN workshop at the TEST of TIME PHOTO studio in Nashua, NH.  Please consider attending this or any one of my many digital photo classes.

Pro photographer and photo educator Dan Splaine of Test of Time Photography in Nashua, Nh

Dan Splaine _ Photographer

 

About the Author:  Dan Splaine is a professional photographer and photo educator who operates a commercial photography business in Nashua, NH.  He produces custom, unique images for businesses, institutions and individuals (regionally and nationally) with particular expertise in public relations and location photography. In his thirty plus years photo career he has photographed in dozens of countries and location ranging from rain forests to the halls of congress. He teaches photography workshops at his New Hampshire studio and conducts photography tours in New England and internationally.

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2011 WHITE MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP announced

I would like to invite you attend my WHITE MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP on the weekend of October 15 and 16, 2011.  We are presenting this weekend program with the able assistance of our partner NH TOURS.  Join us at the Mountain Club on Loon, a great resort located in the heart of the White Mountains in Lincoln, NH.

Student at the White Mountain Photography Workshop presented by photographer Dan Splaine  ©2010 Daniel J. SplaineJoin us for a weekend of immersing yourself into exploring the White Mountains with your camera.  Our package features many items, including photo instruction, a critique session and accommodations at a very comfortable resort.  This is our second year for this workshop and we expect it to be very popular.  If you have a partner or spouse that is not into photography, you may want to consider bringing them along to enjoy the resort amenities.   They can enjoy the spas and nearby shopping while you are happily tramping around the forest.

To view a video about the workshop with images from last years event go to the following link.

White Mountain Photo Workshop information video

This weekend program is open to adult photographers of all skill levels. It will be a great experience for beginner and advanced photographers alike.  The package includes accommodations (one night), photography instruction and handouts, lunch on Saturday, evening photography critique session, a voucher for the Loon Mountain Gondola and of course plenty of photo opportunities.

For registration,  information and a schedule of the workshop click here

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me at info@testoftimephoto.com.

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Photography HOW-TO: Window Light portraits

WINDOW LIGHT PORTRAITS

 

 

Example of potrait made with window light by photographer Dan Splaine

Portrait of young women made with available window lighting. Photograph©2009 Daniel J. Splaine -TEST of TIME PHOTO

 

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).

Young monks studying in Buddhist temple -Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India

Scene from a Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Tawang, Aruncahel Preadesh, India. The lighting of this dark interior space was provided by a large open door ("window light") behind the photographer position. ©2010 Daniel J. Splaine / TEST of TIME PHOTO- All rights reserved

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.

 

Example of potrait made with window light by photographer Dan splaine

Portrait of young women made with available window lighting. Photograph©2009 Daniel J. Splaine -TEST of TIME PHOTO

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!

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GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER HABITS – PHOTO SKILL BUILDERS (Part 1 of 2)

Over the decades I have spent being a student and teacher of photography I have learned many techniques and methods to make better photographs.  From the good old days of darkrooms and fixer fumes to the wave after wave of rapidly evolving digital image making, photography has been my constant learning experience.

From that, I have developed a set of habits that I encourage my photography students and old hands with cameras to embrace and make their own.  Some of the ten tips (5 in this post,5 more to come)  I provide to improve your digital photography may seem a little obvious but remain important.  The fact that they are obvious may lead to them being easily overlooked.  This is a distillation of insight acquired in over thirty years of learning and working at becoming a better photographer and will help you do the same.

ALWAYS BRING YOUR CAMERA :  The number one reason why people miss good pictures is because they don’t have a camera with them! Make it a habit to always carry a camera with you, because you never know what you could miss.  If you do not have your full digital SLR kit with you at least consider carrying a point and shoot camera. Compact digital cameras are simple to bring everywhere.  A basic camera, with a few memory cards, batteries give the capacity of taking thousands of images.  Be ready to shoot and make the most of your everyday observations and moments. Photography skills are built by making images not by wishing you had your camera with you!

 

Scenes from digital photography workshops & photo tours offered by Dan SplaineSHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT! and then Shoot more : If you think you shoot enough – you don’t (especially if you have a digital camera, because there is no added cost to taking more photographs).  Why take just one picture if you can take several?  Make a regular habit using and operating your camera in a wide variety of shooting conditions. Attempt to make images in ordinary and exceptional moments of your daily experiences to practice your photographic craft.

Are you in a place you may never visit again?  Your opportunity costs (the price of getting there) is a major investment when compared to the minimal cost of making digital photos.  Is this something you will ever see or experience ever again?  Is this such a common experience that you  have never looked at it for its image  potential ?  Take a picture, because even the most boring day-to-day scenes can become historical in just a few years of time.  Practice your skills on a daily basis.

 

TRUST YOUR EYE: Studying the laws of composition is fine, but when it comes down to it you must trust your eye.  Make a conscious effort to scrutinize the arrangement of the subject elements in your scene thoughtfully. When you frame the shot, move your camera position and fully explore the scene. When you find an angle or composition that FEELS good to you, take the picture immediately!  After the first frame, which is your instinctive response, you can (and should) get several more shots.  Compare that sequence of shots on the computer to learn about your photographic point of view. Your personal style will change and improve with time.  The viewpoint you take with a camera is distinct and interesting. Trust your instinctive response to the view of the scene and build your trust in your point of view.

Train your eye: Look at the photographs you have taken and analyze them,  begin to critique your own work. How does it match up to what came to mind (pre-visualization) before you pushed the trigger?  Did the image turn out like you planned? Do you like the composition? Critically analyze the aesthetics, the emotional impact and the technical features of your photographs.

This self-review stage is essential for you to improve your photographic skills and style.  Examine how the light source and direction affect the scene. How well did you capture the scene as you visualized it?  How was your focus control and the accuracy of your exposure settings?  Deconstructing your image making techniques and comparing the results to your creative intent builds your photographer’s “eye”.

Know your camera: You don’t need to memorize every feature right away, but over time you should be comfortable enough so that operating your camera becomes second nature. It’s like learning to shift gears or ride a bicycle – only when the machine controls become instinctive are you really driving.  Understanding the mechanical functions and how they affect your images is essential to gaining control over your results.  What does your F stop selection or aperture do to change the look of the photo?  How does your light meter respond to different subject conditions? What settings can you select to match a particular lighting situation?  Practice using your camera controls in no pressure shooting conditions so you will be ready for your more important photographic opportunities.

 

This collections of habits for building your photographic skills is the first 5 of 10 that I offer to digital photography students that attend one of my photography workshops.  To learn more about the workshops and tours please contact me at info@testoftiemphoto.com.

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VisitNH.gov adds photographer itenerary

Attention photographers who are seeking inspiration! If you are looking for nearby destinations that get your creative energy flowing  I have great new guide for you.

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.

 

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