Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Roxy Theatre

Last Saturday night a friend iinvited me to do some photos for the Roxy Theatre Group here in Miami.  This was a musical based on the fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea called "Once Upon a Mattress".  It was a drama, musical and comedy with some great actors and actresses.  I found my self laughing behind the lens more than a few times.  You should check them out at http://www.roxyperformingartscenter.com/.  If you would like to see more performance photos go to http://www.eldridgestudios.com/ and click on the link provided there.  Thank you Roxy Theatre for the privilege of the shoot.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Photographic lessons as taught by a 2 year old...

As you all know I had the pleasure of taking a few pictures at a friends wedding this past Saturday.  After the wedding I went through almost 400 images and processed most of them. Some of them I spent some extra time with just to make sure they were perfect. I use Lightroom 3 so when I was finished I selected all the photos and set them to export. Obviously, this was going to take a bit of time so I left the room. I came back to see my son playing on the computer (here is where the sinking feeling started)... He was so proud that he was able to get it to do something... Yep, he deleted all the photos from the library. I always have backups of the originals so no worries there but the processing was lost!  I couldn't be angry with him (he was just SO proud) and could only laugh as I started the processing again. I did learn three things:

1) Never leave your 2 year old in the office alone if you want to keep everything intact.
2) Consider exporting a catalog with the processing information as an additional back up.
3) Deselect everything and lock the computer before leaving. 

It's a good thing he is cute!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thank you Frankie and Brittany

I just wanted to say congratulations on your wedding and thank you for giving me the privilege of photographing this special occasion.  God bless you both!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blog Post# 50!!!

When I decided to start writing about photography I made a comitment to post something every week.  This blog was started in February of this year and here I am at post number 50!  Currently there are 21 people following this blog and now there are 118 fans of the Eldridge Studios Facebook page.  I know it is just the begining.  Thanks to all for helping to make this fun and exciting.  I have learned a great deal by writing these posts and with luck you've learned somthing too.  Remember, if you have any questions just send them my way.

Prints available at www.eldridgestudios.com starting at $50.00

My photographic history to date:
For this post I have decided to tell the story of how I got into photography. The story begins around 1981 when I was 8 years old. Spider-man has been my favorite superhero ever since I can remember. Everyone knows that Spider-man’s secret identity is Peter Parker who earned a meager living as a photographer for Daily Bugle. I can remember going to my parents and asking for a camera. The very next day they surprised me with a Canon 35mm point and shoot. In the beginning I went through a lot of film. Even if I didn’t have any film I would shoot away just to hear the motor drive. I just loved the sound.

Years past and I used the hound out of that point and shoot. I never really advanced past that until I was in college. In March of 1993 I received my Private Pilot License and was amazed at the view out of a small single engine Cessna. I decided that I wanted a bigger better camera so that I could capture what I saw with more efficiency. I talked to my parents again and in true form my next birthday I was surprised with a Minolta 5xi SLR. The Minolta was not the best but it was light years ahead of my old camera. I had some decent luck using it but I wanted to learn more.

I enrolled in a black and white photography course in collage. To this point I was more of a “documentation photographer” with no real understanding of art. The professor kept trying to explain that my images were technically correct but lacked real substance. There was this one guy in the class that really stood above the rest of us. Every image he displayed was amazing. When I decided that I would rather view his photos than mine I decided something about my photography needed to change. Sadly, I realized this just as the class ended…

After getting married in July of ’98, Kim and I went to Great Britain for our honeymoon. The Minolta broke just after arriving. We have almost no pictures from that great trip…. We moved to Greensboro, NC where Kim attended UNCG to get her masters in music theory. Needless to say we had no extra money for a camera.

In 2000 we moved back to TN and I was finally able to get a good reliable camera. The Nikon F100 was what I purchased. I quickly fell in love with the Great Smoky Mountains and nature photography. I picked up a book by John Shaw called “Nature Photography Field Guide". This book did a great job of explaining everything related to exposure and what types of equipment is needed etc. I still read this book from time to time and I find it enlightening every time. Yes, it is a book written for film photography but much of what he has to say applies to both film and digital (not to mention the photos are astounding). I was officially obsessed.

Fast forward to 2005. Kim and I moved to South Florida (Homestead). The mountains were gone and I just resigned myself to a life without photography. I still loved it enough to purchase a Nikon D200 but did not use it very much. My son Zackeal was born on July 29, 2008 and suddenly I had an interest in infant photography (go figure). It wasn’t until 2009 that I really started to get my focus back. After hearing Kim tell me over and over to stop whining about not having mountains and take photos here, I decided to go. It took me one trip to realize what I had been missing. Thanks Kim for teaching me that the world is full of great photographs waiting to be made. Now 2010 is half over and I am more obsessed than ever. My photographic interests have changed to an extent. I still find nature and wildlife photography the most interesting but now I am into studio, architecture, cityscape and street photography. I have been networking with other artists and photographers and find that educating others is of great interest. Thanks to all those that have supported me to date and to those who continue to do so.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Another World

Yesterday was mine and my wife's 12th Wedding Anniversary. It just seems like we just got married!... Time certainly flies and with Zackeal running around it seems like it is in high gear.  I love you Kim!

Well, we decided to do a dive in Key Largo to celebrate the milestone and while we were down I snapped a few pictures. We do not own a fancy underwater camera set up but the Canon SD-800 does pretty good for a point and shoot with some age.  Generally speaking many of the same rules (or guidlines) are the same under water as they are on land.  Ideas like the "rule of thirds" or "when you think you are close enough to your subject get a little closer" all still have their place.  One of the largest challenges is the fact you have to be aware of so much more than photography.  Things like how deep you are, how much air you have left, how long have I been down and what type of sea life am I around all have presedence over the art...and for good reason.  Still to me this makes it all the more rewarding.  One day we will get Kim a full camera set up but for now the best camera for underwater photography is the one we own...

Every time I dip my head beneath the waters I am amazed at the amount of life that exists there and just how fragile it can be. Each creature relies on a set way of life to continue its survival. Sometimes I fear that we (man) fail to fully understand the law that binds the ocean and all that dwells there. The tides are the very heart beat of the earth and if we are not good stewards of what is given to use then we risk a great deal!

The ongoing crisis in the gulf will have a devastating and lasting effect on a very fragile ecosystem. Currently there is no end in sight and it is going to getting worse. We must not allow this to become the norm. We cannot become desensitized to the situation and think that it is just going to go away.  

May these photos be a gentle reminder of what is at stake.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Landscape Photography

This genre of photography is probably my overall favorite style. This is because it encompasses so many different aspects. You could find yourself standing before a mountain as the sun sets or a raging waterfall in the early morning. Each season of the year offers dramatically different views of the same areas giving you a reason to return again and again. Typically, you have time to set up the type of shot you are looking for and then all that is left is waiting on the proper lighting. This sounds like easy photography right? Well, it really depends. If you are the type of person that simply drives up to the same place every season, gets out of the car, sets up your tripod, clicks off a few photos and then leaves the area then yes, it is easy. The real challenge of landscape photography is finding ways to make your photos different than everyone else’s. This can be as simple as walking a few feet or positioning your tripod in a different way. It could be as complicated as hiking several miles to find the location where tourists do not visit.

Prints available at http://www.eldridgestudios.com/ stating at $50.00

When photographing landscape I generally have my camera in one of two modes. Aperture Priority or Manual. Aperture Priority is a setting that allows you to control the Aperture and the camera controls the shutter speed. This way you have a little less to worry about and since the mountain typically will not be going anywhere the shutter does not matter. When in this mode you need to learn to use the exposure compensation feature of your camera (button with a +/- sign). This feature is used when the camera doesn’t get the exposure right. It allows you to manually override the camera's settings while keeping the Aperture the same.

There are times in landscape photography where the shutter speed is important. Specifically when you are shooting waterscapes and you want the water to have that silky look.  To accomplish this you need a slow shutter speed. If it is windy and you don’t want the trees to show all the wind movement then you would need to have a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement. In manual mode you can adjust both the Aperture and Shutter speed independently to get the exposure that you want. 

Finally, you really need a good tripod for Landscaps as well.  Since you often deal with very slow to slow shutter speeds you will have to have some way to steady the camera.  Make sure the tripod is a GOOD solid tripod.  You likely did a lot of research when you purchased your camera.  I would recommend doing the same thing when looking for a tripod.  If you purchase a $10.00 tripod from "Wally World" then you can expect about $10.00 worth of stabilization. 

Landscape photography is very rewarding and can be as challenging as you want it to be.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Something Different

Yesterday was the 4th of July and that means FIREWORKS!!  Actually, it means a lot more than that but for the sake of photography we will concentrate on the Fireworks part.  This was my first attempt at firework photography.  I wasn't really sure what to expect but I was able to understand some basics after the trip.  The first thing I realized was the aperture was mostly used to control how bright the fireworks were (not completely but mostly) and the shutter controlled how many fireworks you captured at one time.  If you leave the shutter open too long then you get multiple bursts and that tends to muddy up the image.  On the other hand, if you don't leave it open long enough you fail to get the full light spread of the burst.  I found about a 3 second exposure with around an f-8 or greater being the prime.  After this first test trip I am already looking forward to my next firework outing!  Don't be afraid to try something different and if you fail....well, then that likely means you've learned something.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

You Must Understand the Basics

The amount of money that you spent on camera gear does not matter if the basics of photography elude you.  Just spend a little time on Flickr and you will see a large amount of photographers that simply do not understand the basics.  Their images are over/under exposed, the composition does little to draw your eyes or they rely so much on post processing that it is hard to believe they started with a photograph.  Granted, there are many good photographers that post there as well.  Some will say "I don't want to perfectly follow the rules, I want to be my own artist".  You know, that is great and I would encourage that line of thinking however, you must first know the rules before you can properly break them.  Here is a list of basics that you must understand before you can improve your photography.

1.  Understand how light behaves:  You must understand how the direction and intensity of light will affect your subject.  For example in Landscape lighting you have, front light, back light, and side light.  You must know how the time of day also affects the landscape.  If you are shooting portraits you have to understand how to harden or soften the light as well as determine the direction.

Prints available at http://www.eldridgestudios.com/ stating at $50.00

2.  Basic Exposure:  This is a combination of ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.  See my previous blog series on these subjects for more information. (psst....  just click the links)

3.  Basic Composition:  You can gain a lot of compositional knowledge from looking at painters as well as professional photographers.  You will begin to understand ideas like the "rule of thirds" or leading lines.  Turns out that they are more of guidelines than rules but it is something you need to understand before you go breaking them.  Click the "rule of thirds" link above for a previous blog post. 

Photography is an art form but if you do not first understand the technical basics then you will notice that your art becomes stagnant.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Photography Podcasts

When I am not writing or reading about photography you can bet that I am listening to podcasts about photography. Podcasts are a great way to stay current on trends, equipment and sharpen your creative ideas. They are no substitute for taking photos mind you but when you find yourself unable to take photos they are a great alternative. Admittedly, there are some really BAD podcasts out there and I suggest steering clear of those. You will know soon after you start listening whether or not to invest your time. Just like anything else you have to take the good and throughout the bad. For instance; if they suggest that you make a certain setting change on your camera then just try it out in a neutral situation and change it back if you don't like it or think you have a better way of doing things. The list below is a collection of my favorite podcasts that I listen to regularly. They will give you a great starting point and can be found through iTunes. The other great thing about most podcasts is that they have blogs and web pages with "show notes” so that you can follow up on what you have heard.

1. The Digital Photo Experience
2. Nikonians (The Image Doctors)
3. Photofocus
4. This Week in Photography
5. D-Town TV (This is a great video podcast)
6. Pro Photo Show (weddings/portraits)
7. Camera Dojo