Week 15

This is a great idea! Follow them and watch life unfold!

you are my wild

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Shoot the Moon

Photographing the Moon

So many ways to make the moon beautiful!

Are you up for a challenge? Photographing a full moon certainly qualifies. This is your week to try your hand! Thursday night is the full moon, and we’re expected to have partly cloudy skies, allowing us (hopefully) a view of it. April’s full moon is called the Pink Moon, for a variety of wild phlox that blooms early in spring.

Keep in mind that there are whole books written on the topic of moon photography, so we’re just scratching the surface here. However, there really are just two basic challenges that stand between you and a good moon photograph: proportion and light. With the right equipment—if not some post-production finesse—you can manage.

Let’s start with perspective. You are really far away from the moon, so much farther than you are from anything else that will be in your scene. Your brain makes visual adjustments for that disparity; your camera, left to its own devices, does not. A longer lens will help. Grab a lens that is at least 200mm. Otherwise; the moon will look tiny and sad. For good detail, 300mm is more like it, but a telephoto lens is your best bet. Remember: With big zoom, you risk shaky photographs, so be sure to use a tripod and your shutter delay.

Now let’s talk about light. Though you’re shooting at nighttime, your subject is illuminated in sunlight. Try the Sunny 16 rule: Use an f/16 aperture with the same shutter speed as the ISO (e.g., ISO 100, 1/100 s). From there, experiment with different settings to find the sweet spot for your equipment and conditions. Also, remember how we talked about HDR photography last week? If you’re trying to photograph a moonscape, bracketing together multiple exposures can really help. You’ll get the best lighting of the moon in one exposure, then the best lighting of the rest of the scene in another exposure (or two). The composite of these images will more closely approximate what your brain saw.

While it’s a huge thrill to get a photograph that looks beautiful straightaway, your pal when it comes to photographing the moon is a photo-editing tool like Photoshop. Back at home, you can sharpen the angles and make micro-adjustments to the brightness, contrast, and colors to get the photograph looking its best.

Ready to try? Moonrise is at 7:10 p.m. tomorrow!

P.S. Check out this stunningly beautiful real-time video of a moonrise:

HDR Photography: Love It or Hate It?

Have you tried your hand at HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography? This post-processing method is still a relatively young art form. Synthesizing information from multiple exposures into one image, the result better simulates what our brains see when we look at what we’re photographing.

HDR Photography

Sample of photograph using HDR

Don’t back away waving your hands here, because the explanation sounds way more complicated than the process is. Basically, HDR is about constructing photographs that don’t sacrifice detail to the complex light of the real world. Modern photo-editing tools and digital cameras make it easier than ever before for even novice and hobby photographers to create HDR images. Even some smart-phone cameras are outfitted with HDR settings.

So, my real question for those of you who’ve tried HDR is this: Do you love it or hate it? There seems to be very little middle ground when we talk to our clients and other photography buffs. I think it’s a fascinating tool, and as with all tools, the person wielding can use it poorly or impressively. (I once heard a customer compare some of the HDR photos she’s seen to really loud bubblegum-pop music. “They just don’t even look real,” she said. “It’s like a magic show with a clumsy magician whose illusions aren’t believable.”)

I have certainly seen my share of that kind of HDR, where the photographer went a little, shall we say, nuts with the technique. But I can’t blame the tool for the way in which people are using it, and I have seen some really beautiful HDR photography that does what I think the technique was meant to do—capture images the way our brains do rather than the way cameras do. For that reason, I think HDR photography is fascinating. It has a potent power to evoke memory and emotion because the images look more like what made us grab the camera in the first place. So, maybe thanks to HDR we can finally share our vacation photographs without having to keep saying, “I guess you had to be there.”

What do you think?

20 Fun Things You Can Make from Your Photographs

Gone are the days when photographs were either framed for display or sealed in a photo album. There are so many more fun things you can make with your photographs now—not just digital alterations but objects you can actual hold in your hand and, in some cases, put to functional use.  Want to know what you can custom create from your pictures?

  1. Jewelry
  2. Motivational posters
  3. Pop-art posters
  4. Jigsaw puzzles
  5. Postcards
  6. Wrapping paper
  7. Alphabet art
  8. Photo blankets
  9. Quilt squares
  10. Calendars
  11. Note cards
  12. Mouse pads
  13. Statuettes
  14. Wallpaper
  15. Ornaments
  16. Vellum lampshades
  17. Vellum folding screens
  18. Tote bags
  19. Clock faces
  20. Cake decorations

Big changes are happening right now at our store, and as part of those changes, some of these options will be available directly through us.

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Take a look at our current services to see what exciting things we can already help you create with your images and watch for more information in the coming weeks about how we can make your memories better!

A Documented Life

Some images belong on big screens and in museums. Others belong in our homes in our DVD players and photo books. But really, nearly every photographed or video-recorded image is on some level art and/or documentary, isn’t it? Our cameras allow us all to tap into our inner artists and hold the reins on how we want the world and our experience in it remembered.

video yourself 1 second a day

Have you heard of the 1 Second Every Day app? Currently available only on iPhones (but coming soon to Androids, according to the manufacturer’s website), it’s a way to document your life as a series of 1-second clips, one for each day from the time you begin using the app. You can even retroactively add clips from your phone taken before you bought the app.

The 1-second app immediately made me think of recent viral videos showing a picture per year, or in some cases per several months, of babies growing up into teenagers and beyond. The rapid age progression is kind of mesmerizing. What I think is interesting about them is that they don’t just document changes in physical appearance. They capture something of the children’s essence, and how their personalities blossom over time. How are we to know when we push play on that bald baby with dimples that he’s going to end up with a bleach-striped waterfall haircut and a little gleam of mischief in his eyes? It’s really an interesting blended use of photography and video, a wonderful rethinking of time-lapse videography.

Of course, time lapse is nothing new to videographers. It has long required significant patience, the careful selection and situating of equipment and lots of waiting, checking, and careful synthesizing. Things like the 1 Second Every Day app and the time-lapse YouTube videos are sort of the other end of the spectrum, the easy end of quickly observing evolutions in our lives. The app documents these more as collage, making me think of what the dying must see when they say their lives “flash before their eyes.” The pic-a-year videos document more of a straight-line progression. Either way, I think they open an exciting new can of worms for camera-owners everywhere. Have you tried your hand? What were the results? Our staff would love to see them!