Friday, December 14, 2007

Ansel Adams; Changing Photography Forever

by Diana Cooper

Ansel Adams, most widely known in the photography world for his immaculate and accurate view of nature, changed the way people looked at photography. Adams described himself in three ways: a photographer, lecturer, and writer. But in actuality, you can combine these three facets and call him a communicator.

Born in 1902, Adams photographic vision was born immediately as he spent his childhood growing up in the natural beauty of San Francisco, California. As a shy and lonesome boy, Adams typically took long walks in the still-wild reaches of the Golden Gate observing and enjoying the nature.

Ansel Adams' true passion for nature photography came from the Yosemite Sierra, where he spent substantial time at from 1916 until his death in 1984. Starting with the Kodak No. 1 Box Brownie that his parents gave him, Adams hiked, climbed, and explored the beauty of nature.

In 1930 Adams met photographer Paul Strand, whose images had a huge impact on Adams. It was his images that helped move Adams from a pictorial style in the 1920's to straight photography. Adams eventually would become straight photography's most articulate and masterful photographer.

What characterizes Ansel Adams' nature photography more than anything was his will to travel all around the country in pursuit of both the natural beauty he photographed and the audiences he required. People began to connect Ansel Adams' work with any topic of nature or the environment itself.

While Ansel Adams is most known for his breathtaking nature photography, he also produced spectacular black and white photography. Adams made black and white photography what it is today through several pieces of work he created. His black and white images helped induce an emotion of timeliness and freeze a particular moment. While many believe color adds to a picture, Adams showed that a black and white image can say just as much, if not more, than that of a colored image.

One image that stands out that he created in 1938 was "Half Dome, Merced River, Winter", one of Adams' most beloved photographs of Yosemite Valley. He took the photograph with an 8"x10" view camera from the Old Sentinel Bridge near the Yosemite Chapel. This picture sums up his style perfectly with the gorgeous mountains covered in snow, trees all in front of the mountains also covered in snow, and a river flowing in the middle of the picture.

There are few photographers that have been able to leave a lasting image on people like Ansel Adams. His love and desire for nature enable him to take breathtaking nature photographs. And his black and white photography has made it what it is today.

Nature and wildlife photography: and

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Photographing Lightning

Lightning can be both a beautiful and yet frightening part of nature. Many of us find awe in watching the momentary bolts of lightning and have seen photographs which seem to have captured more bolts of lightning than are possible in a split second.

When photographing lightning, as with any unpredictable subject, the ability to capture that one fleeting moment is something we do not have the luxury of doing. Yet, what we can capture is quite impressive when we use the proper techniques. With lightning, the key is to let it do its show for us, and not to attempt to capture a momentary bolt. Here are some helpful lightning photography tips.

As lightning is a split second event, and often lightning bolts come in groups, we can use the lightning for our source of light. We do this by using a slow speed film (a low ISO on digital cameras), a small aperture, and a long exposure time at a point when the lightning's activity has increased. This exposure can be from 1 second to many seconds depending on the amount of lightning activity, and if we are taking the shot during the day or night. Even if we are taking the exposure during the day, often lighting conditions are very reduced during a storm; by as much as 7 stops or more from sunny conditions.

The idea is for us to pick our spot from which we are going to shoot during the storm; such as a cityscape, farm, church, or any other area we feel would make a good background (or subject) for the lightning. We can select areas from which we would like to shoot during a non-storm period and go to those locations when a storm is brewing.

If we are to set up the camera in an outside location, we need a sturdy tripod with some additional weight to hold it down during potentially high winds, and some waterproof cover for the camera. The use of a cable release is a must, for the sake of safety, and the best type to use is an air-bulb release as it does not use metal in the tube; not giving a source of continuity back to us in case the camera is struck by lightning. We need to set the camera to the bulb (B) setting for shutter speed, and probably an f/16 with the lens set to infinity, or a pre-determined hyperfocal distance. We then need to get to our safe place from where we are to trip the shutter.

An alternative to setting up the camera in an outdoor location is to use a windowpod we can attach to our car windows and attach the camera to it. The window should be rolled up as much as possible and the camera still needs to have a cover for protection. For those of us lucky enough to have a good view from our home, we can position the camera at a window, either opening the window or pushing the lens up against the window glass, making certain that any interior lights for the room we are using are turned off.

Taking pictures is a matter of holding the shutter open for a few seconds so we can capture one or more bolts of lightning. For the best results, we need to do this several times as we cannot pre-measure the exposure value of the lightning. We should plan to kill of a full roll of film (here, digital cameras have an advantage) doing this for different exposure times and various lightning effects. The end result will be several successful exposures with some really neat lightning effects.

A lesson on taking pictures of lightning cannot be closed without mentioning the potential danger in doing such. Lightning is electricity with an equivalency of thousands of volts of potential delivering enough joules to make the electric company salivate. Capital punishment by electrocution uses less power than what a lightning bolt can potentially deliver.

Safety during a lightning storm involves keeping yourself in a protected place such as a shelter where you are not exposed to an opening or a vehicle which is well protected from lightning due to it not being grounded, as lightning is attracted to portions of the earth which have an imbalance in their electrical state. Being separated from the ground breaks the continuity and prevents you from becoming an attractor for the lightning.

If you find yourself outside during a lightning storm and you feel the hair on the back of your neck and limbs stand up, quickly get away from the area as this is a precursor of a lightning strike. Wearing protective clothing such as a rubber raincoat and boots with rubber galoshes over them can add protection, but it is not a cure. Staying away from trees during a lightning storm is advised, not due to making you a better target (as it does not), but if the tree is hit and the ground is moist enough, you can still be struck due to continuity of the electrical charge or the splitting of the bolt; not to mention having a tree fall on you.

The effects on someone from being struck by lightning can range from the loss of fingernails and toenails, loss of hearing, severe burns, loss of sight, loss of all body hair, organ and tissue damage, organ failure, brain damage, fusion of skin, to outright death which is not uncommon from lightning strikes.

I hope my warnings about the dangers of lightning have not fallen on deaf ears. Taking photos of lightning can be quite a rewarding experience. Being alive to share those photos can be an even more rewarding experience. You do not want to end up being the butt of the old photographer joke where their last picture was a beauty.


This article is copyrighted 2005 by Robert Meeks. All rights reserved. Webmasters are allowed to use this article on their site so long as the content and copyright information stays intact and a link is provided, on the same page as the article, to Zhorkow's CargoShip.

About the Author

I have been involved with portrait and wedding photography professionally since the early 90s and been into photography since 1980. I presently write articles on photography and entertainment subjects as well do web design.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Making Money With Digital Photography And Live Events

By Richard Meredith

A few years ago I became interested in digital photography, mainly for web publishing and personal reasons. You know, how nice is it now to NOT have to deal with film, scanning pictures, and the costs of developing all of those "not great" photos that you didn't know were so bad until you paid to have them developed!

So, at the time I got my first digital camera a friend of mine was playing in a rock band, and needed pictures for their web pages and promotional printings and ads. When I first began to do their photography, I had NO IDEA what it all would lead to... and now I will reveal to you some of the MANY ways to make money, part-time, with your love for photography!

Now, at the clubs my friend's band played in- a lot of the time they would be in a line-up of 3 bands for the evening, of which I shot live pictures of my friend's band's performance. Then I got another idea, I'm there already, usually to finish the night with the band, so I started to take pictures of the other bands. Afterwards, as they were breaking down their equipment, I introduced myself as the other bands photographer, and explained that I liked their music and look- and also took pictures of them also.

I got the names of the band members, jotted down notes about which instruments each one played, and then got a mailing address to reach them. I told them that I was going to print up some proof sheets and send them off to them... all were very agreeable and willing (and why not, it doesn't cost them a thing).

Then I printed the proof sheet(s), and selected three of what I thought were the best- of which I made a little bigger on a separate sheet and used Photoshop to refine and enhance the images
prior to printing (all on my little ink-jet printer).

I composed a form letter that I could customize for each mailing explaining details like:

- The first proof sheet was all of the raw digital images

- The second one with the larger images was digitally self enhanced

- I would professionally print any pictures they wanted for XXX cost (considering mailing costs, printing costs at a local printing shop, labor for digital enhancement, and healthy profit margin)

- For any order I would give them a CD with ALL of the photos in digital form for them to use any way they wanted

- Add my contact information

- And finally my availability to book shootings with them in the future

Now I could personalize this form letter and send it with the proof sheets to the band, and when I would call them about a 8 days after I made the mailing to ask them if they received the proof sheets and which ones they liked (and I liked)- and I simply asked for an order.

It was amazing how well this worked, and I expanded the idea.

I would go to fund-raising events, marathons, special events hosted by radio station
personalities... always getting the contact information for reaching whoever is in charge of promotions and following the same system!

As you go along, you realize some other benefits to you new "business"- like free admissions (and no club cover charges), press passes, exciting opportunities to meet
interesting people and celebrities, discount drinks, and much more! It's amazing what people will GIVE you, if you just ask!

Then there are the home-business tax deductions that are eye-opening in themselves!

As soon as you can, upgrade to more professional equipment so you can not only "play" the part, but also "look" the part. Print up business cards, and make up your own portfolio of your "best" digitally enhanced photos of all kinds of subjects and previous shootings.

Seriously, this could turn your love for digital photography into an exciting lifestyle and an income that could surpass your present one!

But then again, I know I have only just scratched the surface with professional digital photography, and I'm sure you now have just entered a "think-tank" that will spur many more ideas for you to make digital photography more than just a love. Make it a great life!

Richard Meredith is the Author of
"The BLACK BOOK of Online Business"- An amazing FREE SOURCE ebook for the online business person!

Feel free to distribute or publish this article conditional only by including the by-line intact.

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