Now playing on FStoppers.com!

So a little news – I’m now writing for FStoppers.com! Crazy to think that a website that I’ve been reading and learning from for years is now something I’m contributing to. Also weird that I was once on the other side giving them interviews for Canon when I worked there.

While that means things may get a little quieter here, I’ll still be working on some student-focused guides that are geared toward multimedia journalists in training.

For now, though, check out my first article for FStoppers!

(And if you like it, please don’t forget to share!)

2016: Year in photos (And a big announcement)

So one of the things I discovered in 2016 is that working in marketing for a camera company, while an awesome and fun experience, actually leaves much less time for photography than I thought.

The other thing I found out was that it is incredibly hard to maintain multiple social media identities – something I always advised my students against doing, but seemed to be doing myself anyway.

So as not to bury the lede, as journalists say, I’ll get the big announcement out of the way – if you’ve known me as Journographica on Instagram and Twitter, you won’t anymore. I’ve switched all those accounts to the existing PicGuide account that I also own. So you’ll see a new name on Instagram and Twitter, but the same familiar person behind those tweets and pictures.

PicGuide. As in www.picture.guide, i.e. this site. Bookmark it please?

Anyway, back to the pictures.

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Three tips, better shot: The magic of Christmas lights

Christmas trees provide some of the best opportunities to have a little fun with lighting. That’s why it’s one of my favorite times of the year to take pictures.There are a few things that you can do to help improve the odds of getting a better picture when photographing the magic of Christmas lights.

Read on for more tips on how you can improve your Christmas light photography. Continue reading “Three tips, better shot: The magic of Christmas lights”

Buying a camera for the student journalist

In teaching multimedia classes in journalism and communications schools, one of the most frequently asked questions I get in every workshop or class I teach is “What camera should I buy?”

If you’re a student new to the multimedia world, the range of options can be intimidating. Do I get a camcorder? Do I get a Cinema camera? What’s this DSLR thing? (Hint, it’s a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera, I’m going to put that on the quiz)

You can read a million buying guides on the Internet and you’ll still be completely lost – but that’s because most general photography guides won’t apply to you – you’re not the general photographer. Communications students and journalists have specific needs in their industry. Any camera – really any interchangeable lens camera on the market today will take a good picture. Grandma and Grandpa will probably be very happy with the Costco special. But when you try to plug a microphone into that camera and find that you can’t, how are you going to record a video interview?
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Tips from Tony Northrup on shooting Monday’s Supermoon

On Monday, the moon will be the closer to the Earth than it has been since last century. Even my mom was excited to get a photograph of this.

So (for her, of course) here’s a guide from Tony Northrup to getting a great shot of the moon. I don’t personally do the stacking stuff, but it’s interesting nonetheless:

I met Tony at Canon Expo when I was working it last year. Real nice guy and he knows his stuff. Check it out and happy Monday night shooting …

Three tips, better shot: Jewelry and “El Bokeh Wall”

While I can’t take credit for the genesis of this technique (shoutout to Laya Gerlock and his “El Bokeh Wall” writeup in PetaPixel) I did take it and apply it to an engagement ring and took the whole thing out of the studio. The basic thrust of the technique here is that by using a wide aperture lens, a crumpled tin-foil background and some lighting, you can get some interesting results.

Here are some tips on how I made that happen and where I diverged from Laya’s technique just a bit.

Tip #1: Consider LED lighting

At first, I hit the foil and the ring with two separate Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes. In the example from PetaPixel, it worked pretty well given the black walls of the studio and the light modifiers available to the photographer. Not so much in my brother’s kitchen, where the walls and reflective surfaces of the foil and the marble countertop spilled light everywhere, even at the lowest power on the flash. Too much power for what I was doing.
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Amazing Star Wars art you absolutely must see

I caught this link over on PetaPixel earlier today – the work of photographer/artist Sebastien Del Grosso.

These Star Wars art pieces he created with action figures are amazing.

Makes me want to dust off the macro lens and get to work.

There are other amazing pieces beyond the Star Wars stuff on his site. Check it out.

These folks take better food pictures than me

I could write up a post about how to get better food photos, but you should really check out this post from the New York Times about how to get better food photos. It’s definitely geared toward the phone-photographer segment, which I suppose is most everyone.

While I’m at it, I have to give a shoutout to one of the best food photographers I know, Daniel Brennan. You seriously need to go check out his stuff, which is definitely more than iPhone food photography:

Daniel Brennan - www.danielbrennan.me
Daniel Brennan – www.danielbrennan.me

You can check out his work at www.danielbrennan.me.

And if the phone-photography thing is your thing, you should see how far another friend of mine takes the craft on Instagram through her handle, @kmlpeterson. When we met earlier this year, I swore she had been using some high end gear to do all those beautiful food photos, but – surprise – it was an Android phone all along.

Hope that’s some Tuesday morning inspiration to go make some nice food photos. Or just eat.

Three tips, better shot: That time Mazda USA picked up my picture

So if you’re a regular viewer of Mazda USA’s Instagram page, you may have noticed the featured image on this post pop up in your feed (and I’m sure the chance of you being a regular viewer of that and this page are slim). That’s my shot from a trip to the Valley of Fire near Las Vegas, NV, and yes, Mazda asked before using it. I’m using this as a good excuse to kick-start this blog again, so here goes the three tips on how I got that shot.
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Three tips, better shot: Stitching photos for the full picture

When I’m out and about, I don’t like to carry around more than a lens or two – this means that sometimes I run into a scene I can’t fit into one shot.

For instance, the 24mm lens I had the day I went to check out the in-progress Freedom Tower in the featured photo of this post was not wide enough to capture the whole thing. And this is the sort of thing that warrants getting the whole picture.

Now many cameras will allow you to do a panoramic in-camera (oddly, my phone allows me to do this, but none of my bulkier DSLR cameras do). But even still, a panoramic won’t work in every situation. This was not a straight up or down, left or right panoramic. This called for a careful stitch of six photos, two columns of three.

How did I accomplish it? Read on for a few tips.
Continue reading “Three tips, better shot: Stitching photos for the full picture”