Category Archives: Quick Tips

Harrowing Halloween Photos

Halloween Super Hero

Guys and ghouls and getting ready for the scary season, which means an opportunity to have some fun with spooky photos! There’s playfulness with Halloween that allows us to create whimsical fantasies in photography. Let your kids of all ages enjoy posing and getting in character for the camera. It’s the perfect time to have some fun creating ghastly good images.

Here are some of our favorite tricky tips:

Snap a Few Photos Early:If you want to shoot indoors or want to experiment with such things as flash diffusion, it might bode well to take some practice shots the night before and note your settings or adjustments. While it’s always fun to experiment on the fly, you’ll have young kids all dressed up and anxious to hit the streets for free treats. By experimenting early, you’ll be ready to apply what you’ve learned on the big night.

Take Photos of the Transformation: We often take photos once the kids (and kids at heart) are already in costume, but this year, begin taking photographs as they prepare to transform themselves from mild mannered school children to mighty ninjas. Photos of them having their faces painted and putting on their masks and capes are a wonderful way to showcase the anticipation of the evening. You can also photograph their costumes laid out in advance or close ups of a particular item such as a sword, headdress or shield.

Get into Character!: Let your kids indulge their imaginations by getting into character. You can take a few standard posed photos in front of the house, but this is the perfect opportunity to let them feel free to pose and play. Have them leap through the air in superhero fashion or strike poses with siblings and friends. If you’ve got a pet pooch that’s attracted to all the action, let him join in the fun, too!

Spooky Night Loves Low Light: Halloween images are ideal for darker backgrounds and low light conditions because they enhance the mood of the holiday. If you can get your young models to stay still, use your tripod, slow your shutter speed and tighten the frame to create haunting close-ups of their faces. Play with different angles – try shooting a bit lower to the ground and looking up at your goblins to create a more menacing effect.

Make More Lighting: If you’re photographing jack-o-lanterns, you may want to add more than a single candle inside. These carved pumpkins can be tricky subjects, so boosting the light inside may yield more needed contrast. You can also try using a small flashlight angled inside or even outside and propped up to create drama.

Happy Halloween!

How Histograms Help Snowy Shots

Photographing in the Snow
Photographing in the Snow

A histogram is a graph of the exposure of each image and can help you determine if images are over or underexposed. The ‘true black’ is illustrated at the far left of the graph and ‘true white’ is found on the far right. A well-exposed image will generally show points close to both ends. Each histogram graph tells a story about the exposure of the image and can guide you in making adjustments so that images are properly exposed.

For winter shooting, a histogram can be very useful in showing if bright white snow is spiking your exposure and causing your image to appear ‘blown out’ or overexposed. If this happens while you’re shooting, you can trick your camera by adjusting your +/- compensation button to adjust for this situation. And, if you’re shooting in RAW format, you’ll have the ability to adjust your highlights and mid-tones in post-processing if necessary. That said, it’s a lot easier to get the shot the way you want it the first time as opposed to having to make corrections at a later time.

Winter Fun in the Snow!
Funtime in the Snow!

Picture Postcards

CPL filter blog

Now, you too can make your Snapshots look like Postcards. The single best and simplest way to improve your outdoor scenic photos is to use a Circular Polarize Filter. This is a fantastic way to get those great vacation shots and have them good enough to hang on the wall. This filter enhances color, contrast and cuts out glare. It’s like when you put on sunglasses and everything looks so much nicer. Same thing for photos. Now is the best time of year to see the effects.

A few simple rules apply

1) Use outdoors on a sunny day for best results.
2) When using the filter, it is the only time I recommend taking off the UV Protection filter that should already be on the lens. You do not want to stack filters because they tend to stick together and not want to come apart.
3) If you were to point your thumb at the sun, then where ever your index finger points is where you will see the greatest effects of the filter.

Give it a try on your Summer Vacation this year.

Smartphone Photo Tip: Watch that Flash!

Smartphones continue to vie for top position as the tool of choice when capturing favorite moments, and if you’ve purchased a smartphone in the last year or two, odds are that the built-in camera is one that works well in many everyday situations. With the improvement of today’s tech comes a reminder that the basics of composition and how to properly use settings remains key in capturing that stellar shot.

One of the most popular mistakes smartphone shooters make is using the flash when it isn’t needed. The flash will often wash out the subject and create hotspots in certain areas, so err on the side of caution and only use it when its truly needed. Also, the basics of composition, such as shooting using the Rule of Thirds, are every bit as applicable with a smartphone as it is with a DSLR. The fundamentals can transform your Instagram feed from frumpy to fabulous, so use all the tricks in your toolbox, regardless of which camera you have in your hand.

customized-iPhone-case

Did you know that you can create Custom iPhone, iPad and Samsung Galaxy cases on our website? Check them out here

Recording your Road-Trip

On The Road

Road trips are a favorite American summer pastime – and with good reason. The idea of packing up the car for an impromptu weekend adventure or a two week traipse across the country is appealing and exciting, especially to those with a love of photography. The promise of new and spectacular scenery compels us to grab our gear and get going. Here are few tips to help you capture the magic as you take the trail:

Check Your Gear: Make sure everything is in order (you can use our travel checklist in this issue) before hitting the road. Adding an extra camera card and battery pack is also an excellent idea to make sure your gear is fully functional during the entire trip.

Stock Your Car: Comfort is key when hitting the road so remember to pack water bottles, snacks and a travel journal, along with sunscreen, a blanket or towels and your set of jumper cables.

Look for Landmarks: Photographing popular landmarks in your destination may be a common activity but your viewpoint will make the images unique. Play with perspective, play with poses and have some fun. It’s fine to start with a traditional group photo but branch out and get silly – you’ll love the end result and so will your Facebook friends!

Keep it Local: If you’re a foodie that loves to share dinner photos, make sure you choose a fun and local establishment to add authenticity. The waiters and staff will often gladly pose for photos and even take one or two for you. Local people and eateries make great road travel photography so keep your eyes open for the unfolding of what will surely be that perfect picture.

Picture a Photo Map: When the trip is over, have some fun with your photos by placing them a top of a map of your travels. Select a few of your favorite and superimpose them on top of the map, print it and display it as a reminder of your adventure. You can then bring the entire media card and we’ll create a photo book or other memento of your trip. Stop by and see what we can do!

Facebook Photo Fact

I really “like” the thumbs up!

As Facebook celebrates its 10th anniversary and continues its dominance as the most influential social media site, a recent Pew study shows that most parents have pretty specific opinions about photos of their children being shared without their permission.

In short, they don’t like it.

“Parents are especially protective of images of their children, as 57% of Facebook users with children under the age of 18 say that people posting pictures of their children without asking permission first is something they strongly dislike about using Facebook,” according to the Pew study.

Parents of younger-aged children are especially attuned to this issue, so when in doubt, make sure to ask the parents’ permission before posting a photo that includes their child. Some may want you to tag the photos so they know they are online and being shared; however, others may share but not tag. There will always be situations where this courtesy will be difficult to extend, such as at a concert or school event, but you will create goodwill by asking before uploading.

Stolen Smartphones: Lost Memories

Bergen County, NJ- Recent statistics show that our smartphones have become the most popular device we use for everyday photography. With over 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook EVERY DAY and another 40 million added to Instagram, we’re snapping at a rapid rate but with different gear than we used just five years ago. This trend in behavior makes sense, as smartphones are our constant companions, capable of handling so many daily tasks, and a built in camera that captures with impressive quality.

The downside to having this technology play such a central role in our daily lives is that, if our smartphone is stolen or lost, someone now has access to our most important data and hundreds if not thousands of photos that might be lost forever. Here are few tips to help you guard and protect your data now as well as what do if your find your smartphone has disappeared.

Backup & Sync Data Now: If you do one thing today, it should be to backup the data on your smartphone now – either to your main computer, online or, preferably, in both locations. For iPhone users, Apple offers iCloud storage, which is a fairly straightforward and seamless method of backup. Apple offers free 5GB of storage, but by today’s standards, you’ll likely need more. Fortunately, the annual price of storage isn’t pricey at $20 for 10GB and $40 per 20GB. You can enable the iCloud through your Settings>iCloud>Storage & Backup>iCloud Backup. If your phone is lost, stolen or damaged, the iCloud transfer to a new iPhone is simple and solid. Your new device will have all the data, apps, photos and messages restored at the last time of the backup.

For Android devices. DropBox and Google+ are both solid options to use to backup your digital photos. However, you may need to use another program such as SuperBackup or Google Restore to handle other items such as calendars, contacts and bookmarks. As Android phones continue to grow in popularity, we’re sure to see additional options available for comprehensive data backup. If you only follow one piece of advice in this article, let this be the one.

Enable Your Password: Yes, having to type in your password when you use your phone can be a bit of a hassle but not nearly as awful an inconvenience as having all your precious data and photos in the hands of a thief. While many thieves will wipe the phone clean of data, they sometimes first mine for information they can leverage to access your private accounts. A simple four-digit password can add another layer of protection and the thief may decide it’s just easier to wipe the data rather than access it. You don’t have your data but at least he doesn’t, either.

Know Your Serial Numbers: Having the serial number is no guarantee that you’ll get your phone back but having that information, called an IEMI or International Mobile Equipment Identifier, to file a police report and to report to your carrier might help identify it if it ends up being sold on the street.

Install a Tracker App: A tracking app is one of the best ways to identify the location of your cell phone and many phones have been recovered due to a tracking app. There are several popular choices such as FindMyiPhone, Lookout and Where’sMyDroid. These apps do require the phone to be turned on and some savvy thieves know to turn the phones off immediately; however, many do not and there’s a decent chance it can be recovered. There are countless stories of phones that have been lost or stolen being recovered through the use of a tracker app.

Ask Your Carrier to Brick It: If your smartphone is stolen, the next call you should make after calling the police is to your carrier. Explain what happened and give your permission to have them ‘brick’ your phone so that it can’t be activated by anyone else, even if they supply a new SIM card. If the phone somehow ends up in another country, your carrier can no longer intervene, but for those phones being used in the US, it’s an important safety step. They might have your phone but there’s not much they can do with it. A small consolation, but knowing the thief may no longer be able to use your phone will provide some piece of mind.

Your phone is a central part of your daily life, so take a few steps to protect it. The effort will be well worth it.

If you Can’t Make it Expensive, Make it Personal

 

Bergen County, NJ– One of the best things about photography is that it is such a personal craft. Giving a gift that includes a favorite image shows you care enough to make the effort. That said, we know how your schedule is packed and you’re short on time during the snowy season.  If you’d like to give a special gift but worry it takes too much time to create a personal keepsake, let us take care of it for you! We have a variety of photo gifts sure to show your loved ones that they mean the world to you.  Come by the store,  give us a call or check out our website and see how easy it is to create the perfect personalized gift.

What Makes Glass Fast?

aperturelens

Bergen County, NJ-  A ‘fast lens’ or a lens that uses ‘fast glass’ is one that has a larger aperture opening so it is capable of capturing light at a faster shutter speed than a lens with a smaller aperture. The term ‘fast’ is sometimes debated as hobbyists might consider an f/2.8 lens to be fast whereas some professional photographers consider an f/1.4 lens to be fast. A lens made with what is considered ‘fast glass’ can be a real asset when shooting in low light conditions, especially if you wish to forgo flash.

There is a budgetary consideration (read: it costs more) when purchasing fast glass, so evaluating how often you will be in the position to need this extra benefit is important. Many people who shoot in the field, in specialty situations such as evening wedding receptions, and in varied conditions find the investment to be well worth it because they capture countless moments they might otherwise miss. If such conditions impact your ability to earn money so that you can properly handle these situations, adding a fast lens to your kit might be the one tool that boosts your portfolio and client list.

Our favorite reasonably priced fast lenses are:

Canon 50mm 1.8,  Nikon 35mm 1.8,  Tamron 17-50 2.8,  Tamron 70-200 2.8,  Tamron 60mm 2.0

See our selection HERE

Be an Instagram Standout

Bergen County, NJ- According to a recent report, 16 billion photos and videos have been uploaded to Instagram in its short three-year history. That’s a lot of photography competing for attention! If you’d like to build a following, or even just delight the family and friends who follow you, we’ve got a few tips to help your images connect with your audience:
Be Bold with Black & White: Black and white images have a certain draw to them and using a black and white filter can garner great attention for your images. Consider shooting items with more dramatic elements when using black and white as the technique best lends itself to stark contrasts and strong shapes. You’ll need a solid representation of both shadows and highlights to maximize the impact so it’s important to consider the overall lighting and the subject matter when deciding if black and white is best.
Come a Little Closer: With a running feed of photos filling your smartphone screen, take a moment to note which images demand a second look. You may find that the images that are shot close with a shallow depth of field tend to stand out from the litany of images uploaded. You may need to adjust your phone a bit when shooting as the available lighting may have an impact, but keep the lens just a few inches away to discover the kind of impact this technique delivers.
Shoot a Story: Consider shooting several images that tell a story. It can be as simple as a child riding a bike or a journey through a park or museum. Shoot several images as a possible ‘storyboard’ and then arrange them in your posts to convey an ongoing dialogue. It’s best to post these kinds of images fairly close together so that viewers can recognize the progression – if they are too far apart, other images in a feed might mean your story gets lost in the postings of other members. Adding a catchy title with a Part One, Part Two, etc. designation can also help draw attention.
Hang a Hashtag: While you don’t want to go hashtag crazy, adding one or two can help your image grab attention and gain new followers. Popular ones such as #travelgram, #photooftheday, #nofilter, #NYC (or any other city) can help people find photos they enjoy, and yours may very well be among them.